Profile

Cover photo
Chungy Nexen
37 followers|64,987 views
AboutPostsPhotosVideos

Stream

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
 
The little blurbs I write for Freedoom release announcements end up as part of the Debian changelog as if gospel.

Maybe I should spend more than 1 minute on them. :P
1
flussence's profile photo
 
Put a deliberate error in and see if they correct it
Add a comment...

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
1
Add a comment...

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
 
YouTube updated and now it's nearly unusable on tablets.

For clarification: it now shows a full-screen ad (paused) when opening, and you can only get rid of it by tapping a really unreasonably tiny "windowed" mode button, and then it forces you to browse videos in portrait mode, and it only fits one video at a time on the screen instead of having multiple videos on display all at once.
1
Chungy Nexen's profile photo
 
YouTube updated again and went back to sanity. Yay. :V
Add a comment...

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
 
This might be a late review given the set came out in 2009... and I've owned it since March. Anyhow, I'm talking about Star Trek: The Original Series on Blu-ray. (In most of the post, just "Star Trek" will refer to the original series, rather than the franchise at large.)

Anyone that has known me for any decent amount of time probably knows that I love Star Trek, and the original is one of my favorites. Actually, I still haven't decided whether I like it or Deep Space Nine better; both shows take the franchise in completely different directions and perform excellently at the task. It's a shame to not own it for my own enjoyment.

Going into a complete run-down of the series in a single post isn't reasonable. Star Trek itself varies wildly from the awful to the excellent shows, and plenty of middle in between them. When it's excellent, it's at the top of the game and provides exactly the right amounts of drama, action, and critical thinking; it can be suspenseful and exciting. When it's awful, it can be dreadful, predictable, and boring. All in all, it does manage to come out on top despite its failings, and has a wonderful charm and shouldn't be missed. It lasted only three seasons, and each of them has a share of bad and good episodes; unfortunately, the third season suffered the most. There is still great stuff contained in season 3, but due to budget cuts and production troubles, it also has the bulk of the "bad" episodes.

The Blu-ray release is based on remastering work done on Star Trek from 2006 to 2008. The original film negatives were scanned digitally into a high-definition format and subsequently cleaned up. Defects in the film were repaired as much as possible, color contrast was fixed; the very sharpness and consistent framing of the remastering is excellent throughout, it could be mistaken for a modern production in most cases. There are scenes shot out-of-focus or with soft focuses, and there is stock footage for which no high-definition treatment can be done properly. These are unfortunate but this is the best presentation of Star Trek there ever has been, and likely will continue to be so. It had a limited syndication as they were being done, and the first season was released on HD DVD ... the subsequent seasons had to be released in DVD only format due to the cancellation of HD DVD, and it took over a year for a Blu-ray release to be announced or come out.

In one of the most controversial moves, the exterior special effects (and a few more minor ones) were recreated with CGI. The broadcast of course showed these, and the HD DVD and DVD remastered releases both had them exclusively. I like them, but I understand the resentment about completely replacing the original shots. Perhaps one of the original justifications was that the old DVDs wouldn't go away, but that discards all the other improvements with the remastered series. Seemingly not wanting to get into a Star Wars situation, this was rectified with the Blu-ray release. Every episode uses video branching so that you may select the original effects or CGI effects (called "enhanced effects" on the menu) before starting the episode, and swap between them as you watch; the branching means that the bulk of the episode uses the same video stream, only the effects shots need to have two separate encodes. Nice of them, keeps the quality excellent and the disc space requires low at the same time. There was an effort to clean up the original effects too, though I'm not sure as much care went into them. There are obvious defects and damage on them. Given the production and re-using the same film or tapes many times in each episode, this might just be the best possible.

In the audio department, I don't have a surround system to properly review the entire thing. The DTS-HD Master Audio track is a 7.1 surround mix, and thankfully their choice of codec allows it to cleanly downmix to 5.1 and 2.0 (stereo) in exactly the manner that dedicated tracks (on DVD or HD DVD) would be. It sounds good in stereo, voices are always clear, sounds are panned between the speakers appropriately, and it is exactly as it should, which is a vast improvement over the DVD releases. There is a dedicated stereo track on season 1's HD DVD version, however only a 5.1 surround track on the DVD versions of all seasons, which makes voices sound distant and drowned out by what should be background music; I'm very glad this issue doesn't exist on the Blu-ray version. Also missing in the previous remastered releases is the original mono mix of the episodes, included in the Blu-ray. The most major audible difference is how the music cues and scores were re-orchestrated and re-recorded in the modern track; some audio degradation can be heard but not much in it. Nice addition, I suppose.

At least in my US version of the discs (which are region-free), every episode of the main series also has original mono tracks for French and Spanish dubs; the exception to this is The Cage, which has English audio only. Every episode, including The Cage and most specials, are complete with English, French, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese subtitles.

In my opinion, one of the most important but probably overlooked aspects of the Blu-ray release is the packaging itself. Each season is in a fairly standard Blu-ray case, with dividers in the middle to hold most of the discs. Seasons 1 and 2 have seven discs each, whereas season 3 only has six. No stacked discs and all of them are easy to remove and put back in. The first two seasons are little over twice as thick as a standard case, the third one is about 1.5× as thick. These are probably the most boring and down-to-earth cases that any Star Trek seasonal set (over the whole franchise) has ever been, and that's a GOOD thing. Rather that wooing with oversized and cool-but-impractical packaging (the HD DVD/DVD releases of the remastered series have about 5 layers of packing to go through to get to the discs), these are kept simple and easy to store and use. Does what it needs to, and no more.

One gripe I have about the packaging is that the labels on the discs themselves don't have enough details, all one might say is "Star Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 - Disc 4", which works, but there is a great deal of whitespace left on the label that could have been filled in with a list of episodes that the disc contains. Another thing is that where the episodes are actually listed is on the inside of the cover, which with all the discs in their proper places, the listings are obscured by the last discs of seasons 1 and 2, and both the first and last discs of season 3. This makes it annoying to scan through the episode list, it almost invariably requires the removal of at least one disc just to read all of them (or you can remove the paper from the Blu-ray box... which is tight enough that it presents some small difficulty in putting it back into place. Yes, I speak from experience).

The order of the episodes are in the original airing sequence. I have no strong opinions about this, but I know many fans feel like the original production order is the proper one. Nowhere on the Blu-ray does it indicate what order they were produced in, you'll need to look elsewhere (such as Memory Alpha) to find that out, if you want to. The in-cover listing of the episodes show the stardates, which MOSTLY meshes with the production order, but some are wildly off, and many episodes lack them entirely. Star Trek has very little continuity to make it matter which episodes to watch before others; only occasionally are prior events referenced, and those can be easily missed. Watching them in production order also would mean swapping Blu-ray discs in and out of the player at a higher rate than I personally would be comfortable with. Make up your own mind about this :)

The only real gripe I have about the order the episodes are in, is that the pilot episodes (The Cage and the unaired cut of Where No Man Has Gone Before) are stuck on the very last disc of the third season. In fact, only the first five discs of the season 3 box are actually season 3 episodes. Considering that these bonuses are from before the show's run, it would make more sense, in my opinion, to include them in the season 1 set. I bought the whole series all at once, where they are placed makes no huge difference, but it still strikes me as odd. I believe the justification for The Cage, is that it was eventually aired on TV in 1988 (mostly to fill in for a writer's strike that prevented work on The Next Generation Season 2), which technically makes it the last episode in airing order, but I find that to be a stretch. The unaired network pilot of Where No Man Has Gone Before was recovered from a German collector and has no remastering work done to it; the largest differences from the main series are that Kirk's opening monologue is different and there are 1960s-style act cards between scenes (ACT I, ACT II, etc).

In a nice bit of continuity, the final shot of Turnabout Intruder (the last episode of the series, in both airing and production orders), with the enhanced/CGI effects, shows the Enterprise flying into the stars set against a backdrop of the Eagle Nebula. The same nebula is used in the beginning of The Cage (also with enhanced/CGI effects) as "STAR TREK" comes up on the screen. Whether you watch The Cage first (I actually did that, myself) or last (disc order), this does provide an enjoyable connection between the beginning and end of the series.

The bonuses included on the discs are what has been seen in the original DVD season sets as well as the older remastered releases, among a couple new features. In ones ported over from the 2002 DVDs, you can get small glimpses of how the series looked before remastering, colors dulled and the lack of sharpness. The quality and value of these bonuses varies ("Life Beyond Trek: William Shatner" is probably the most boring and nonsensical one there is...). A handful of episodes include "Starfleet Access" that shows little tidbits of facts on top of them, mostly related to the remastering process itself; given a lack of people around that actually produced the show, not a whole lot of insight is really provided. It's packed full of all the bonuses they could do, and it's appreciated... but I think the series itself puts a whole lot more weight than these do.

Now as I'm finally winding down, my recommendation for The Original Series on Blu-ray: get it, absolutely, if you're a Star Trek fan. This is the best release the series has ever had, and likely will retain that status for years to come (I doubt there will be a 4K release nor much more to be told about the series). I managed to get it rather cheaply at about $130, which also puts it as one of the cheapest methods to obtain the show ever, too (I paid $100 for the HD DVD release of just the first season when it was new!). It should satisfy fans that prefer the original effects, they're all preserved with all the janky detail they always had. If you're not a fan of the show, buying a full season or series set probably isn't the wisest idea; you can rent it on Netflix or Google Play to check it out, the first season being the most consistently good of the three... if you get hooked and want it for keeps, then yes, get the Blu-ray :)
2
Vega Pausch's profile photo
 
Thanks for the very complete review! 
Add a comment...

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
 
SourceForge is now actively evil.
 
It appears that +SourceForge took over the control of the 'GIMP for Windows' account and is now distributing an ads-enabled installer of GIMP. They also locked out original owner of the account, Jernej Simončič, who has been building the Windows versions of GIMP for our project for years.

So far they haven't replied to provide explanations. Therefore, we remind you again that GIMP only provides builds for WIndows via its official Downloads page.
Source for version 2.8 (Stable). GIMP releases available from gimp.org and its mirrors contain the source code and have to be compiled in order to be installed on your system. For instructions, how to build GIMP from source code, please see this page.
135 comments on original post
1
flussence's profile photo
 
There's some funny irony in people posting it to Slashdot when both sites were owned by the same shitty faceless corporation last time I checked.
Add a comment...

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
 
I really hate this style of installs, on multiple levels. Will be glad to see their extinction.
 
I see more and more projects doing the "curl | sudo bash" method of installing something.  Not good on huge number of levels.  This is a good rant of people doing this for containers.

Yes, I know docker doesn't support signed images yet, hopefully that will happen someday...
None of these "fancy" tools still builds by a traditional make command. Every tool has to come up with their own, incomptaible, and non-portable "method of the day" of building. And since nobody is still able to compile things from scratch, everybody just downloads precompiled binaries from ...
50 comments on original post
1
Add a comment...

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
 
It seems bizarre to me that the internal storage of mobile devices (phones + tablets) tend to ship with internal storage partitioned between user data and the operating system partitions. Worst of all, the advertised space (eg, 16G, 32G, 64G, etc) is for the total capacity of the chip, while it's not wrong per se, it's misleading. The operating system will usually take up at least 4G or more on its own, just reducing the usable space for users (including music, movies, applications). This could be rectified by simply advertising how much space is partitioned for user data, but it's not ideal.

So here's my thought: Why do these devices ship with only a single storage chip? How much extra cost will it actually be to ship with two instead, one for the system partitions, and one for user data? I'm sure even a 8GB chip is good enough for the system for a long time to come. Both Android and iOS and built on top of Unix, neither one should have any issues whatsoever in partitioning out in this way, and both will benefit when users see that their 32GB devices actually has 32GB available to them.

Ranting over.
1
Add a comment...

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
 
 
When I first saw Bard, I got confused because I thought he was Orlando.
9 comments on original post
1
Add a comment...
Have him in circles
37 people
Gareth Schakel's profile photo
Michelle McCarthy's profile photo
John Lucia's profile photo
flussence's profile photo
Christopher Swanson's profile photo
Axel Hellström's profile photo
Mikolaj Swiergiel's profile photo
Tage Veflingstad's profile photo
Michael Swanson's profile photo

Communities

4 communities

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
 
 
Twenty-four hours after an attack by Da'esh (the organization formerly known as ISIS [1]) on Paris left 129 dead and 352 wounded, the Internet and the airwaves alike have been filled with profound waves of self-serving nonsense and stupidity from left and right alike. Everyone seems to have found a way in which this situation justifies their position – protect the refugees! Exile the refugees! Bomb someone! Stop all bombing of anyone! – and magically, it seems that one of the most complex political situations of our time can be reduced to simple slogans.

Well, I've run out of patience with this, so let me seriously discuss what just happened here, and what it tells us. I'm going to talk about three things which have combined to lead to yesterday's massacre: the refugee crisis, Europe's Muslim population, and Da'esh. I'll then talk about a few things which I think have little or nothing to do with what we're seeing – most importantly, religion and oil – and a few things which do – such as food and water. And finally, we'll talk about what it's going to take to fix this, both in the short term and the long term.

Being entirely out of patience right now, forgive me for being particularly blunt. I suspect that, by the end of this, you will be thoroughly offended by my opinions, whether you are American, European, or Middle Eastern, left or right: nobody has behaved well in the lead-up to this.


The first thing to realize about the refugees streaming into Europe from Syria and its environs is that not only are they not, by and large, terrorists – they're people fleeing these exact terrorists. France was just hit by Da'esh, with over five hundred casualties; in Syria, people are surrounded by Da'esh on one side, and a bloodthirsty army on the other side, and have been seeing death on the scale of yesterday's attack every single day for the past four and a half years. [2] If you were living there, you would very likely be fleeing, too.

But the second thing to realize about the refugees is that there are, in fact, Da'esh members among them. It's clear that at least one of the attackers came in from Syria as part of October's refugee flood, and there's no reason at all not to believe that quite a few more are among them, working both at short- and long-term goals. (More on which in a moment)

Everyone seems to have simplistic solutions, here: kick out all the Muslims (as America's Ann Coulter and Donald Trump suggest), settle the refugees more permanently, build giant prison camps. These solutions tend to miss a few very basic points:

(1) When you have hundreds of thousands of people who are quite literally willing to risk not only their deaths, but the deaths of their families, in order to escape, your odds of being able to keep them out aren't actually great, unless your plan is to mobilize a giant army and start attacking inward until they're fleeing in the opposite direction.

(2) You do not have enough prison camp capacity to handle this many people, nor could you build it. Nor do you have enough housing and residential infrastructure capacity to easily settle this many people, because the flux you're seeing out of Syria is very far from the end of it. 

This is why large regional disasters quickly tend to spread into adjacent regions. This is why it's important not to let regional disasters get out of hand, no matter how politically appealing isolationism may appear.


The second thing to be aware of is that this didn't happen in a vacuum: Europe has a very large Muslim population, and it seems that most of the attackers were French or Belgian citizens. This started out with Europe's colonial ambitions, back in the day: France, for example, ruled over Algeria with a mind-bogglingly bloodthirsty approach [3] for decades, but now has a large population of people with a right to French residence who have been moving in to the country in search of a better economic situation. (Hardly surprising, when you leave behind a colony wracked by a horrifying civil war for decades) And France is far from alone in this.

Europe's Muslim population is both profoundly European and profoundly not European. They are European in that they have been living there, often for more than a generation; they work there, they pay taxes, they have become as assimilated as they can. They are not European in that Europe has been profoundly unwilling to allow them to assimilate. This is far from a historical anomaly: Europe has historically defined itself in terms of villages or cities and their local populations, which one can't really join very easily. Groups marked as outsiders – be they Jews, Romany, or Muslims – have been considered only marginally European. At times, there has been a high degree of apparent assimilation: for example, Jews were thoroughly integrated into European culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, intermarrying, forming friendships and professional associations across the board. As you may notice, "thorough integration" can be an awfully chancy business. 

Muslims in today's Europe, on the other hand, don't have anything close to this superficial level of integration; France has been routinely passing laws banning Muslims from dressing the way they did in their home countries in the past few years, which should tell you a great deal about local opinions of that population.

So you have a large population who finds it systematically hard to find work, impossible to be accepted, the regular target of police, and told every day that they should probably be kicked out of the country. I'm sure you will find it shocking that, if you do this to a few tens of millions of people for a few decades at a stretch, you will end up with a disillusioned and disenfranchised youth, some of which will combine this with the general hot-headedness and stupidity of being a young adult to become easy fodder for people who have shown up to recruit.

Lots of people seem to have half-assed solutions here, and they tend to be even more foolish than the solutions to the refugee crisis. "Send them back," the European right frequently cries: back to where? Most of the Muslim population is no longer fresh immigrants; they are second and third generation Europeans. They don't have homes anywhere else. The European left, on the other hand, preaches a mealymouthed combination of urging assimilation and unmistakeable racism. 

For some context, go back to the Charlie Hebdo attacks several months ago. There was a large outcry, saying that what the magazine (a notable left-wing satirical organ) had been doing was entirely in the bounds of proper satire, that the satire of religion was a hallowed European tradition. What this explanation glosses over is that nobody on the receiving end of the satire saw it as satire of religion, for the simple reason that religious affiliation, in Europe as in the Middle East, has little to do with what you believe and much to do with who you are. Charlie Hebdo's targets weren't simply religious extremists preaching from Saudi mosques; they were a portrayal of the French Muslim population as violent extremists, the dangerous other. And that's precisely the European left-wing line: Muslims are fine, so long as they become completely European, to the extent that we can forget that they were ever from someone else. Which, realistically, might mean they have to intermarry for a few generations and acquire blue eyes and blond hair, but that's OK, we welcome them!

The honest fact is this: neither the European left nor the right have ever made the large Muslim community into a full part of society. One side has covered it in nice words, while the other side has blared its xenophobia from the rooftops, but nobody on the receiving end of either of these has been fooled.

You sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. What did you expect was going to happen?


And then we come over to our friends in the Middle East, the psychotically bloodthirsty bastards of Da'esh itself. It's a bit off to even refer to them as Islamist extremists in the mold of al-Qaeda; they've gone so far off the rails of Islam that the only clear ideology that often seems left is power and murder. Exhortations from theologians of any stripe aren't really going to have an effect on them.

But they seem to have realized that they are on an upswing of power, nobody having the resources or will to stop them, and have come up with the idea of spreading this worldwide, with attacks spreading to places like Russia and France – and, as soon as they can, everywhere else. Because as far as anyone can tell, they want to take over the world.

(Yes, this is a kind of screwy plan, and they barely even control chunks of land in the ass end of Syria and Iraq. But they've had enough luck with killing people that they seem to have convinced themselves that if they engage in even more killing people, it'll continue to work just as well. [4])

They seem to have one fairly simple strategic objective with these new attacks: drive a hard wedge between Muslim and infidel populations around the world, so that the Muslims will have no choice but to join them and become their army, overthrowing the local governments and establishing a world-wide Caliphate.

Unfortunately, political stupidity seems likely to help them. If the response to these attacks is to further isolate Muslim populations – both settled and refugee – then they will certainly have a far easier time recruiting among them. It's not actually going to lead to them taking over the world, but it will lead to bloodshed.

This recruitment tends to take a few forms. One is to recruit fighters to come and help in the bloodshed in existing battlefields; the second is to recruit suicide bombers and the like in other countries. These are somewhat disjoint processes, since the process of recruiting someone to commit suicide is rather different and targets different sorts of people, but there is also overlap: one strategy which al-Qaeda long favored was to recruit people to come to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, or Chechnya to fight, and later export trained fighters elsewhere.

One important thing about these tactics is that they seem to be realizing that surprisingly little training and planning is required. Yesterday's attack required some coordination among teams, but nothing spectacular; it did require practice in gunplay. But even this was fairly complex compared to the bare minimum required; consider the amount of chaos caused by the D.C. Sniper back in 2002.


Da'esh poses a particular danger because they seem to have latched onto the idea of exporting their violence to the rest of the world, but they're hardly the first or the last group to do this. If they were to be wiped out, I wouldn't bet any money that someone else wouldn't get the same idea soon after, much like al-Qaeda did before them. It's not even a particularly regional idea; the notion that if we kill enough people we can restructure the world to be perfectly {Aryan, Muslim, Democratic, Christian, Communist, etc.}, or to be the economic vassal states of the {X} empire, is frankly a cliché by now on pretty much every square kilometer of the planet.


So let's review where we are, for a moment. There's a large European Muslim population which is disillusioned, disenfranchised, underemployed, and generally treated as outsiders and fair political punching bags by the society as a whole. There's a giant stream of refugees pouring in to Europe, combining huge numbers of people running for their lives from bloodthirsty maniacs with small numbers of bloodthirsty maniacs looking to recruit. There's a factory of particularly bloodthirsty maniacs with a vision of taking over the world through (a) killing people and (b) convincing the rest of the world to treat Muslims even more like outsiders, who are actively trying to both create refugee streams and send out recruiters, to this end.


At this point, I expect to hear a chorus of voices blaming two things for this: religion (specifically, Islam), and oil (specifically, the West's insatiable need for it). To which my main response to both is "hogwash."

The reason I reject Islam as an explanation for this is that there's nothing particularly Muslim about any of it. The European Muslims which are being treated as second-class citizens aren't being treated that way because they pray on rugs facing Mecca, rather than in pews facing an altar; they're being treated this way because they're "dirty foreigners." (I'll spare you the actual terms used to describe them) Da'esh's plan to take over the world isn't rooted in a theological destiny of Muslims; it's rooted in an explicitly political vision of conquest. And quite frankly, the people being shot at the most are Muslims, too; remember who the refugees were running from?

More profoundly, people in the Middle East aren't systematically any more religious than people are in America. You have the same spectrum from the wholly secular to the crazed fundamentalist, with the former predominating in cities and the latter in the countryside. There's a tendency to assume (for example) that any woman wearing a headscarf must be extremely devout, or subject to domination and terror by some devout man; you have to back away and look at it in its local context, where sometimes it's a sign of devotion or a political statement, but it's also just what people wear; for many people, walking around with one's hair exposed is not done in much the same way people don't walk around in most of the US or Europe with their asses hanging out.

Oil is generally used as a proxy for "if only the Americans|Europeans never intervened in the Middle East, it would be peaceful there!" This bespeaks a rather curious innocence as to the history of the Middle East, combined with a reversed vision of (generally American) exceptionalism, that somehow our surpassing evil can corrupt otherwise noble savages. It's certainly true that without oil, most of the Middle East would be desperately poor – but as it happens, most of it is desperately poor anyway. Oil is not uniformly distributed, and Syria doesn't have that much of it to begin with.

There is one sense in which this is true, which is that the 2003 invasion of Iraq created a spectacular disaster. George W. Bush's belief that if we just created enough of a power vacuum, democracy would magically rush in to fill the void – the precise belief which his father didn't have, mind you, which is why GHWB made the explicit and deliberate decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power – proved to be exactly as unwise as it sounds when written so plainly. The result was a giant area of anarchy and civil war smack in the center of the Middle East, into which would-be fighters from all over the region (as well as other regions) swarmed: veterans of Chechnya and Bosnia found new employment in Iraq, as Sunnis and Shi'ites alike slaughtered one another. This anarchy, never resolved, has been the perfect factory of chaos which quite easily spilled over elsewhere.


But there's one profound factor which has driven the violence in the Middle East far more than oil ever could: water.

The entire Middle East has been in a water, and thus food, crisis for decades. In Egypt, for example, the Nile Valley has been drying out ever since the Aswan Dam was completed in 1970; as this once-fertile soil turned to desert, people have streamed into Cairo, doubling and tripling its population by forming tremendous shantytowns. Unemployment was extreme, as it's not like the cities suddenly had tens of millions of new jobs in them; the government kept order as well as it could by importing grain in tremendous quantities (the government's by-far largest annual expense) and selling bread cheaply. Unfortunately, a drought in Russia and Ukraine, Egypt's primary suppliers, caused those countries to cut off wheat exports in 2011 – and the government collapsed soon after.

Syria is a similar story: the lead-in to the collapse of Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship was steady droughts in the Syrian countryside driving people into the cities by the hundreds of thousands, leading to mass unemployment and unrest. People's livelihoods had simply disappeared. Stories like this repeat across the entire Middle East.


When we talk about the ultimate causes of the situation, this is the fact we tend to ignore: at the root of it, there isn't enough water, and there isn't enough food, and droughts have been hitting the area harder and harder for a decade. When there isn't enough food, people move from the countryside to the cities; and now you have giant groups of people who still don't have jobs or food, and that's a recipe for the collapse of governments as surely today as it was in Europe in the 1840's.

If you've ever wondered why I have often said that we need to be very actively worried about climate change, this is it. Changing climate breaks agriculture in various areas; the people who were farming there don't magically turn into factory workers or teleport to places which are (slowly) becoming more fertile; they become desperate former farmers, generally flooding into cities. 


So given all of this, what can we actually conclude? I think the most important thing is that you can't bury your head in the sand, and assume that problems in some other part of the world aren't your own. A drought or a civil war somewhere else can easily start to spill over in unexpected ways.

If you want to avoid terrible consequences, what you have to do is plan, and in particular never let kindling build up. For example:

(1) If you have a large, disenfranchised, population, this is trouble waiting to start. The only way to fix this problem is to enfranchise them: give them a full stake in your society. Yes, that means treating people who are very different from you like full equals. Yes, it also means that your society – that is, the set of people that you're responsible for – now includes a bunch of people who are a lot poorer than you are, and this is going to be expensive to fix. You're not going to like it. But you're going to like the alternative a whole lot less.

(2) If there's political instability, or worst of all, food supply instability somewhere else in the world, it doesn't matter how far away it seems: you need to get together with everyone else and have a serious plan to deal with it. Once masses of hundreds of thousands of people start streaming across the countryside, chaos will follow in their wake. 

(3) Climate change isn't an abstract fear for the future; it's a major political problem right now. You can't punt it away and talk about what to do about carbon emissions or its effect on the economy; you have to sit down and come up with serious strategic plans for what to do when agricultural productivity in critical breadbaskets drops sharply, or watersheds dry up. Contingency planning for any government needs to include anything from hurricanes to long-term droughts, and not just as one-offs, but what to do if these start happening a lot. The reason you need to plan for this is that it's not a goddamned hypothetical, you idiot.


What do we do in the short term? This is harder, because right now Da'esh has been sending agents across the planet to cause as much trouble as they can. One obvious prong of the solution is ordinary police work; that's proven far more effective than complex intelligence solutions at catching terrorists. Another prong is stopping their support system at the root. Because Da'esh's plans are so focused on actual conquest, a collapse of their regime back home is likely to have more of an effect on their satellite agents than the collapse of a more ideologically-oriented organization like al-Qaeda.

A third prong is to stabilize the situation in Syria: here the key isn't so much blowing anyone up as giving people a way to stop fighting. There are three key obstacles to this. One is Da'esh, which seems to be pretty committed to fighting for its own sake; this is unlikely fixable by any means short of straightforward military defeat. One is the underlying lack of food availability. The third is that quite a lot of people have reason to believe that they will be killed either if al-Assad regains power, or if he loses power. They need a serious guarantee of personal safety in any peace.

What this probably means is that a peace agreement will require very heavy international support: aid to rebuild the country, neutral military forces to guarantee cease-fires, and some way to deal with the underlying economic issues. That's going to require heavy international coordination of the profoundly unsexy sort: not deploying giant militaries to bomb targets and wave banners, or propping up regimes and helping them "suppress insurgencies," but working on the long-term realities of helping locals build a government that they're invested in – even when said government is unlikely to be either similar to Western norms, or friendly to Western aims. Military force to crush Da'esh is almost certainly needed as a precondition to this, but it's by far the smaller part of the game.


The short version is: if you want to fix problems, you're going to have to deal with some very serious, expensive, and unsexy solutions. Because life isn't simple, and you can't just bomb your way out of trouble.

[1] See this recent editorial for the argument for switching to the term Da'esh more broadly: https://www.freewordcentre.com/blog/2015/02/daesh-isis-media-alice-guthrie/ [Thanks to +Lisa Straanger for finding this more in-depth discussion than the Boston Globe op-ed which I had earlier cited]

[2] cf, for example, this infographic: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/09/14/world/middleeast/syria-war-deaths.html

[3] cf, for example, this obituary of a proud French torturer: https://plus.google.com/+YonatanZunger/posts/1PQQQ3XfnYA

[4] cf https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B3slX6-_20
499 comments on original post
1
Add a comment...

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
 
About time :) the Libav move was a mistake from the beginning.

(To be clear: I understand that the previous FFmpeg maintainer in Debian was one of the parties responsible for the Libav fork, and honestly felt to be acting in the best interest of Debian.)
 
Ending an era of shipping Libav as default the Debian Multimedia Team is working out the last details of switching to FFmpeg. If you would like to read more about the reasons please read the ration...
29 comments on original post
1
Add a comment...

Chungy Nexen

Shared publicly  - 
 
#NexusPlayer first world problems.
1
Add a comment...
People
Have him in circles
37 people
Gareth Schakel's profile photo
Michelle McCarthy's profile photo
John Lucia's profile photo
flussence's profile photo
Christopher Swanson's profile photo
Axel Hellström's profile photo
Mikolaj Swiergiel's profile photo
Tage Veflingstad's profile photo
Michael Swanson's profile photo
Communities
4 communities
Apps with Google+ Sign-in
  • PAC-MAN CE DX TV
  • PAC-MAN CE DX
  • Super Hexagon
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Links