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September 16, 2021

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The author had me instantly with:

Perhaps, despite my long career in technology and media, I’m a secret Luddite.
It's just so me.

Ebooks may be an abomination but how else are you going to be able to carry a semi-truck load of books around in your pocket?

It's been some years since I've read a physical book. I find it much more convenient to read them on my computer.

Ebooks are fine. Kindles are terrible (last I used one— the battery died) if you want to read a book with equations in it , but that is what iPads are for.

I read the piece and thought “ meh”. I like physical books too, but it’s all just personal preference. Plus what Charles said.

Perhaps, despite my long career in technology and media, I’m a secret Luddite.

I'm with wj.

I have a year and a half to go before I hit full retirement. When I get there, I hope to have as little to do with tech as possible.

I use it a lot, but it has a way of taking over your life. It's taken over enough of mine. I'm grateful for the career it's provided me, but I've had enough of it.

In the meantime, and perhaps paradoxically, I do almost all of my reading online. I use Libby, which is an app that public libraries (and maybe others) use to make books available.

So, library books, without having to actually go to the library.

When I retire, I'll go to the library in brick and mortar form. And when I'm not reading, I'll sit in the back yard and listen to the birds.

Can't wait.

I find it much more convenient to read them on my computer.

The convenience, for me, is being able to read in bed while my wife is asleep. We are probably about 2 hours off-cycle as far as our personal circadian rhythms. She's out cold by 10 PM and up by 5 AM. I've moderated my schedule since my vampire days of hanging out until 2 or 3 AM (or, until the sky starts getting light...), but I'm still kind of an 8 AM to midnight guy.

Given my druthers, I really like books. Physical books. Then again, I still take notes in longhand, with a pen (fountain pen no less) on paper. The range of senses involved in dealing with tangible, non-digital artifacts is more engaging.

To me, anyway.

Luddite.

I use Libby, which is an app that public libraries (and maybe others) use to make books available.

Interesting. Our public library does its ebooks with Kindle. I don't have a dedicated Kindle box, but my tablet has the app, which is sufficient.

While I prefer a hard copy, I do like being able to get a copy of something obscure and/or very popular (i.e. with a waiting list) without the long wait.

Ah, Ian Bogost.

Codex or e-text is very contextual for me. I usually read novels on my iPad since my old e-paper Nook died. Non-fiction does not go as well, in part because the tables and figures don't translate seamlessly. Also, if I'm going to teach it in a classroom or write about it, the physical codex is just much more convenient because the main citation systems are native to them and e-texts leave everyone feeling adrift with no fixed landmarks.

And, yes, random access and skimming, though those things could also be facilitated with other forms of skimming via word cloud and some graphical representations of how ideas link across the pages, but no e-publishers are doing that yet. The academic e-text startups are all trying to figure out ways to kill the used textbook market and become book spotify.

I do quite like Perusall for assigning shorter texts for classes, though - anything chapter length or shorter in pdf form. Perusall lets you assign it and then has the class annotate the readings. They interact more closely with the text and they get to see each others' comments and notes, which helps to get a discussion going.

You can tell that Bogost comes to lit from the informatics side of culture and media studies because he admits he's mostly a non-fiction reader (and you can feel this in the way that he connects with the video games he writes about as well, not a humanities scholar).

I know a lot of codex snobs in the lit departments, sure, but surprisingly enough, I think the majority of my lit friends and acquaintances favor audiobooks for their lit. I think that's because they listen to give their eyes a break and to detox from all the reading and commenting that is their daily work. It makes stories-for-pleasure a bit less worklike.

Self pub authors' e-texts don't look like trad books because it costs to hire a decent layout editor. My wife has published one novel through her agency (publisher declined to pick up the third book in a trilogy) and so the agency hired the same freelance layout editor that had done the previous novels (and also the same cover artist and the same book narrator for th audiobook once the book had earned enough to get an audiobook done). That's all out-of-pocket expenses that are usually covered by the publisher and paid back before the author starts to make any royalties. Most self-pubs aren't going to be able to make any money that way until they can build up a loyal readership.

Short texts on a screen are OK but whole books? I hate that. So, more than strictly necessary goes through the printer to be read on paper. Loose A4 sheets are not ideal but still, for me, beat the alternative. Despite my terrible handwriting I prefer to make notes on paper too. And the epic I am currently writing is 90% or more on paper and has to by typed afterwards into the computer (which takes ages). But imo the quality of writing is superior, if it's done by hand (i.e. with a pen) first.
I don't buy ebooks but while still formally a student I can download huge amounts of books in pdf form via the university library free of charge. Far more than I am ever going to actually read but as long as the need may arrive somewhere in the future...
No costs and no physical storage problem*, that's the main advantage.

*as long as the external harddisks do not die.

Ebooks are a very good solution for people with bad eyesight as you can adjust the font size to your liking. Also, the perennial issue with having a proper lighting setup is solved.

I'd love to have a place with a proper library, though. A professor in Paris I knew rented a second apartment just for his books...

Before I talk about the post, this

The pandemic marks another grim milestone: 1 in 500 Americans have died of covid-19

Holy shit....

But about the OP, I have a bit of a sideways take. Do you know anyone who has fell in love with reading without using books? Not fell in love with reading because of books and now finds e-readers make everything easier, but went thru them?

As is usual, my love of tech was tripped up by Japanese. I have avoided e-readers or anything that is going to swamp my Japanese. An early attempt to use the aozorabunko text format flopped for me
https://tejashdatta.medium.com/how-to-read-japanese-books-on-pc-39630cef04b9

And it looks like you still have to use java.
https://rxjun.hatenablog.com/entry/2013/04/17/012305

There was also the problem that you could either have an Amazon US account or an Amazon Japan account, and changing between them could result in various mishaps.

I often wonder what would have happened had google books been able to follow thru.
https://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/what-ever-happened-to-google-books

Like russell, e-books allow me to read in bed without waking my wife. That's a BFD because I go to bed rather early, but wake up between each sleep cycle and sometimes I like to read for a little while before falling back to sleep. That factor alone has been sufficient for me to go all e-reader since (checks e-library) 2014.

It's also nice to have the flexibility for a quick reading session on my phone when circumstances permit since it syncs with my e-reader.

I miss real books, but when we pulled a Marie Kondo session, about four tubs of books were donated to the local public library and the felt pretty good.

I doubt that I'm alone in this, but I feel a VERY strong cultural taboo against damaging or throwing out a book.

Which makes "de-cluttering" much like re-homing pets.

Better not to add the clutter, so yeah, ebooks, particularly for text-only books that I'm unlikely to read more than once.

Anything technical, with equations, tables, figures, needs a good index? Hard copy. The exception being the Table of Isotopes, because it's a pain to lug around 4000+ pages in two big volumes.

And really, who amoungst us does not have a Table of Isotopes on their mobile phone?

i like my Kindle Paperwhite. haven't bought a paper book since getting it (aside from some photo-heavy things).

but, it has its problems. the screen is sometimes agonizingly slow; the contrast is still a bit low; i don't love the blue-ish light; i'd like a bigger screen; and the browsing UI tends to become unresponsive (aka crash).

but those are all problems with the Paperwhite device specifically. if Amazon could make on that's as responsive and stable as an iPad, i'd be very happy with it.

And really, who amoungst us does not have a Table of Isotopes on their mobile phone?

Me due to lacking a mobile let alone smart phone. And it would be less about isotopes than thermodynmaical and chemical compound data (that would require several more volumes and thus likely exceed my physical carrying capacity.

Arguably ebooks and I go way back.

In the 1970s, my first job out of college was as a mainframe systems programmer for a large California bank. Mainframes, in those days, included something called TSO (Time Sharing Option). It allowed users, provided they were in the same building (or next door) and had a hard-wire connection, to create and update files. Now the Bank's busy computer time was overnight, when customer accounts were updated; during the day, there was lots of processing power going to waste.

I had a great manager. To this day, she remains the best manager I ever had. As long as I got all my work done, she was willing to wink at my using (unused!) company resources for a personal project. So I was writing a book. I believe it was one of the very first books (at least, first one not related to computers) composed entirely on a computer. And it was on a topic I happened to know well. It was a training manual . . . on how to fight with a medieval European broadsword.

It wasn't a book that anyone but me (and my co-workers, had they known it existed) could read off the computer. But it was definitely electronic originally.

I doubt that I'm alone in this, but I feel a VERY strong cultural taboo against damaging or throwing out a book.

Yep. A bit of a long story, I was just an extra in a movie about Yajima Kajiko, a Meiji feminist. (Check her out, really interesting woman) Yajima was appointed headmistress at a Presbyterian mission school over a lot of foreigners and this scene was where she was studying the bible and smoking a kiseru (Japanese tabacco pipe), she fell asleep and the bible caught on fire. One of the other foreigners, already feeling put out that a Japanese woman had been elevated over a foreigner (and was getting a salary of 5 yen while the foreigners were getting 3 yen!), had complained to the founder of the school, so I was one of the foreign teachers standing around looking disapproving and waiting for the founder, a woman named Maria True, to come in and bust her. When she comes in, she prostrates herself on the floor and apologize and Maria True forgives her and says that it's her fault. (all very Japanese, right?)

Anyway, not that I had to get in character (no lines) but the scene had a bible that had been half burnt and I remember feeling a bit sick on seeing it and I think that any book lover is going to feel nauseous when they see books damaged, trashed or destroyed. So how will the kindle user who somehow develops the same hunger for books (and it is, isn't it? I can't think of a vacation where I didn't go to a used book store, and I infected my daughter with the fever) feel when they see a book trashed?

...but wake up between each sleep cycle

I have night time pee cycles. Prefer paper books, and find getting rid of them is like throwing over an old friend.

and find getting rid of them is like throwing over an old friend.

i found that it's only the first armful that's tough. after that, they are as discardable as any other used paper product.

Is anyone talking about throwing away books? Even if my three tubs of book donations don't make it to the circulating shelves, my public library will sell them in their store and those proceeds will support reading programs. I got a kick out of seeing an entire shelf of the King's The Dark Tower series and Asimov's Foundation books, and Le Guin's Earthsea books and various Diskworld books that some young geek may stumble on.

throw them away? yes.

my library won't take them, and used bookstores around here are full. recycling the paperbacks is the best i can do. can't recycle the hardcover.

we have boxes of hardcovers in our attic that i haven't yet had the time to haul away. i've been kindof hoping to find a way to reuse them for something.

Seriously? It's pretty common down here and I can't believe it is rare. Have you tried googling for the nearest public library that runs a second hand book store?

This has been an odd week at ObWi for me. I live at ground zero for the Florida Man meme and apparently we're ahead of the game on both plastic film (bags/packing) use and recycling as well as repurposing of old books.

I feel off.

I think that I need to throw a baby alligator through a Taco Bell drive up window to get my chakras back in alignment.

Same here with the strong aversion to throw away books, even those that I do not like. Ironically, I would have least/less problems with a Bible (if it's a run of the mill edition at least). We own so many of those and most people either already have and/or don't need one, that there'd be no genuine (feeling of) loss.
Well, should the need arise to get rid of a larger amount of books, I know where to donate them. But it's more likely that soemone else will have to take care of that after I am dead.

Have you tried googling for the nearest public library that runs a second hand book store?

we went to the used bookstores that we knew about, and the libraries that were close by (as well as taking some technical stuff to the store near NC State).

we got the message that most of our books were unwanted trash, so we treated them as such. what we have left are things we thought we might someday re-read (it's been almost ten years, haven't yet!) and hardcovers that nobody wants.

maybe this area has a shortage of people who buy used books?

in any case, i've spent all the energy i need to spend on them.

The last time I parted with a bunch of books, I took them to Half Price Books. At the time they would give you at least a buck for titles they already had a bunch of copies of.

Many long years ago, one option was to send a big load of used books to Peace Corps volunteers in a distant foreign land, using "international book rate" (cheap!).

They probably have small mountains of books at this point, but I doubt that they cause as much problem as plastic bags.

Now, sending a bunch of remaindered "Art Of the Deal" to (non-Anglophone) Africa to be used for toilet paper, and making sure Trump knows about it? Could be a gofundme opportunity.

Now, sending a bunch of remaindered "Art Of the Deal" to (non-Anglophone) Africa to be used for toilet paper,

That's been done before with a different book.

I think that any book lover is going to feel nauseous when they see books damaged, trashed or destroyed.

But interestingly, I don't have the same reaction when it comes time to delete an electronic copy of a book.

I think that any book lover is going to feel nauseous when they see books damaged, trashed or destroyed.

after boxing and moving them a few times, and watching my wife grind her teeth for decades at having to take "big immovable bookcases full of books literally nobody is ever going to read" into account when arranging the furniture ... sacrifices must be made.

i kept my CDs. though i never use them (all have been digitized) and rarely buy physical media anymore. but i threw away all their hard plastic jewel cases and put the discs and inserts into clear PVC sleeves. two giant shelving units full of CDs now live in a single very heavy) cardboard box in the guest room closet.

When I was a kid my father succumbed to a door to door book salesman and spent money he could ill afford to buy a Book of Knowledge set, Lands and Peoples, and a set of encyclopedias. So, any time he perceived my siblings and me to be mishandling the books, we heard about it at length. So, I have some aversion to mistreating books or throwing them away.

speaking of throwing things away:

A single bitcoin transaction generates the same amount of electronic waste as throwing two iPhones in the bin, according to a new analysis by economists from the Dutch central bank and MIT.

While the carbon footprint of bitcoin is well studied, less attention has been paid to the vast churn in computer hardware that the cryptocurrency incentivises. Specialised computer chips called ASICs are sold with no other purpose than to run the algorithms that secure the bitcoin network, a process called mining that rewards those who partake with bitcoin payouts. But because only the newest chips are power-efficient enough to mine profitably, effective miners need to constantly replace their ASICs with newer, more powerful ones.

“The lifespan of bitcoin mining devices remains limited to just 1.29 years,” write the researchers Alex de Vries and Christian Stoll in the paper, Bitcoin’s growing e-waste problem, published in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling.

“As a result, we estimate that the whole bitcoin network currently cycles through 30.7 metric kilotons of equipment per year. This number is comparable to the amount of small IT and telecommunication equipment waste produced by a country like the Netherlands.”

I kept my CDs.

Hah, I kept my LPs :)

i had already thrown all my vinyl into the lake (when i was 16). CDs replaced it all.

Hah, I kept my LPs :)

Good to know I'm not alone there.

We still have lots those too. The problem are the record players getting old and not working properly anymore. Of course one can buy new ones (even with USB ports) but it does not seem worth the effort at the moment.

A voter ID law bites the dust.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/north-carolina-voter-id-law/2021/09/17/3c2a7892-17e3-11ec-a5e5-ceecb895922f_story.html

It occurs to me to wonder. How much is it to demand a voter have an ID if you think "All blacks look alike"? Even a bad fake ID would be plenty; no need for a quality photo.

Just to get everybody's adrenaline flowing, let me write in praise of Larry Elder. Yes, seriously.

Mind, Elder's positions on the issues are appalling. But if more major Republican politicians were like him, the party and the nation would be better off.

Consider. Tuesday at 10 PM, when it was obvious how the votes were going, Elder conceded. Not only conceded, but called on his supporters to "be gracious in defeat." No claims of fraud. No calls to overturn the results. That makes him better than Trump. Admittedly "better than Trump" is a very low bar, but it's one which most high profile Republicans seem unable to clear. So, good on him.

Not bad for being the Black face of white supremacy...

Something about burying Elder, not praising him

https://www.npr.org/2021/09/15/1037249065/larry-elder-newsoms-main-opponent-stoked-fears-of-election-fraud

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/09/15/trump-elder-california-recall-fraud-newsom/

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/politics/political-experts-larry-elder-early-claims-election-fraud/103-a15c6588-6039-4d2f-9952-687f4bc76020

Interesting, the link doesn't seem to work. I had a last link from the SacBee about how the claims of voter fraud depressed turnout among republicans. Ha ha, ha ha...

All the links are working for me.

Elder did show signs that he might go the voter fraud route.

What I appreciate is that, in the event, he didn't. Trump, of course, would have. On the evidence, a fair number, most even, of potential GOP candidates in 2024 can reasonably be expected to do so (assuming they don't win both Electoral votes and the popular vote). And probably most of the Congressional elections that they lose in 2022 win see fraud allegations, too.

That puts Elder one up on the lot of them. Admittedly a low bar.

The last one which I had to take out cause it left a blank comment. Basically, it said the elder depressed the Republican voter turn out by raising the issue of fraud. Lol

After all the redistricting is done, we'll see if they need to make any allegations of voter fraud. It's pretty clear after the last one that they will feel no shame for destroying election integrity so long as it gets them wins.

The joy of lowered expectations.

They are looking for Arizona style 'audits' even where Jabbabonk won by double digits. Even the Abbott of the Monstery that is Texas is talking about one, probably because he is under threat of a primary for not being RW enough.

An important, and thus far not much discussed aspect of the Australian nuclear subs deal.
https://thebulletin.org/2021/09/the-new-australia-uk-and-us-nuclear-submarine-announcement-a-terrible-decision-for-the-nonproliferation-regime/

The article points out that Australia currently has no nuclear power plants (bar one research reactor). And no other nuclear infrastructure either. Which means, at best, very long building and learning curves.

So it may well be that this is more a diplomatic gesture pointed at China than a pure military one. (And China clearly has gotten the point.) It will impact US alliances in Asia, and warn China off too vigorous military adventures, for years. Even if the actual submarines never appear.

So, will Japan be the next customer?

My daily newspaper has something on the deal that just tells me that the writer is not really knowledgeable about subs since he falls into the trap of reading 'conventional' as 'obsolete' and 'nuclear' as modern and advanced.
My guess is that Australia has more use for the latter due to greater reach and endurance (their current ones are more suitable for inshore missions I'd say*), if they want to expand the area of operation (to put pressure on China). But the French also had nuclear subs (or upgrades) on offer, so that could not be the reason to switch to USian subs. I read that there were some less than friendly disputes with France about the deal they were already closing with Australia and that may be a reason.
But I would not exclude the possibility that the US administration 'needed' work for Electric Boat who could otherwise be in danger (I am not aware that the US are ordering at the moment and Electric Boat is iirc the only company building nuclear subs in the US).
Plus Australia seems to have some habit to switch sub deals at the last moment. Germany also once thought that they had a deal but it went to Sweden instead (we were not too angry though since Sweden and Germany always try to one-up each other on sub contracts**).
I also do not know about compatibility of French weapon systems with those of other NATO states, i.e. whether French subs can launch e.g. Tomahawk missiles.

* in coastal areas or other 'narrow' regions I'd always bet on a modern 'conventional' sub over a nuclear one. They tend to be superior, if it's a true hide and seek situation.
**contracts for submarines, not subsontracting

My guess is that Australia looked at the development, production, and training timelines for the deal with France and decided that it needed more capabilities sooner. The US was willing to lease them some subs and let them train with the US in the subs.

Also, there's the matter of basing...

https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/09/16/u-s-seeking-basing-in-australia-after-submarine-deal/

So Australia gets some subs in the near term to speed their capabilities and the US gets a staging area from which to respond to Chinese escalation.

And if the US gets basing in Australia, I wonder if the US could also take on the storage and maintenance issues for the fuel? That might streamline the regulatory issues.

And on the original topic, if anyone wants any new book releases for the fall in hard copy, y'all should preorder right now. My wife's publisher is telling her that publishers are facing shortages and it will take a while before the publishing lists get caught up. So it's preorders for things you have to have in hardcopy and e-books for everything else for the near future.

The wife has one title that just came out in paperback and another new release in hardcover coming out next month. At least she has enough of a publishing history to get some books placed. Debut authors are finding it harder because there is no way to predict how their books will sell, so the publishers are leaning on the low-risk releases to carry them through.

So, will Japan be the next customer?

If Abe has his way. But we will have to see who the next PM is
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210917/p2g/00m/0na/044000c
(slightly dated, Ishiba has withdrawn and Noda, another female, has stepped up)

Noda was a latecomer and my take is that she was pushed forward on the principle that she could siphon off votes from Kono, who is a bit heterodox for the conservative establishment. That would mean that Kishida (a man) or Takaichi (a woman) would then get the nod. If Kishida were chosen, there would be some anger, as he's the least likely candidate. Abe is supporting Takaichi but she is really a piece of work, an avid Nippon Kaigi supporter, as right-wing as they come. I assume Abe supported her (which was a surprise as I think that the faction he is a part of supports Kono) because his program of womenconomics, which had a great deal of law changes but very little actual progress would be somehow justified if he were succeeded by a woman.

https://theconversation.com/japan-what-are-the-chances-of-a-woman-becoming-prime-minister-in-a-deeply-patriarchal-society-167643

And I always find these things after writing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3xob2n_QUs

A debate with translations of the 4 candidates

But the French also had nuclear subs (or upgrades) on offer, so that could not be the reason to switch to USian subs.

The French may have those on offer. But the deal with France, which got cancelled with the signing of the US deal for nukes, was for 12 diesel subs.

But according to what I read there was a clause in the contract that they could switch to nuclear should the need arise. Those were subs designed for a nuclear power plant originally, so the Diesel engines were a swap in the first place and could be replaced with the nuclear power plant anytime. Not a cheap refit, I presume, but an anticipated one.

Hm, maybe coal fired engines would have been a better fit for Australia. ;-)

The French boats were way over-budget, and they had reneged on a large part of the commitment for most of the construction work to be done in Australian yards - a political consideration which underlay the selection of the French design in the first place.
The chances of building nuclear versions in Australia would be close to nil, I think.

The previous administration was leaning towards the purchase of Japanese submarines (an extended range version of the proven Soryu class).
In terms of getting delivery of a usable weapons system which meets their requirements, this would still probably be their most sensible option in terms of cost/capability/delivery.

I have yet to see any real discussion of the practicalities of Australia operating a fleet of nuclear attack submarines (or indeed what it might cost).
Admittedly they would have a very large advantage over conventional boats in terms of sustained speed and range, which in the Australian context matter a great deal, but it could end up as big a mess as the French deal.

So, will Japan be the next customer ?

Seems unlikely.
They already have a large and very capable conventional fleet. They have no real requirement for nukes.

Though there's some talk of the US paying them to not to scrap existing subs as they bring in new models, in order to grow the fleet even larger, as a means of covering the US capability gap as it retires older nukes before their replacements can be built.

This actually might matter quite a lot (beyond the usual military oneupmanship) as it might just deter an invasion of Taiwan in that time.

The nuts and bolts angle is overlaid with the confront China aspect of this.

https://www.afr.com/policy/foreign-affairs/why-china-has-beaten-up-australia-harder-than-anyone-else-20201216-p56nud

How it also plugs into NATO is also pretty fascinating.

Basically Biden is telling the EU they don't matter, as he has done already during the withdrawal Afghanistan.

Of course nobody has any illusions regarding the self-interested nature of US foreign policy, but there was a hope that Biden would at least get back to the normal diplomatic standards among allies - so far he hasn't shown much interest in doing that.

Equally concerning is the sabre rattling with China - I don't even want to think about the endgame here.

I should have called it "perceived self-interest" really.

Of course nobody has any illusions regarding the self-interested nature of US foreign policy

which countries don't have self-interested foreign policy?

Puppet states I presume.

Basically Biden is telling the EU they don't matter, as he has done already during the withdrawal Afghanistan.

Not sure how you get to there. At most, he's telling them that they aren't the only ones who matter. (Although surely that was obvious long since. As in decades ago.) Which is hardly the same thing.

there was a hope that Biden would at least get back to the normal diplomatic standards among allies - so far he hasn't shown much interest in doing that.

Amazing how all of them seem to see it otherwise. The French are irritated at the moment. But that's newsworthy precisely because it is once again exceptional.

The writer of the e-book article lost me in the first paragraph, when he complained about wonky typography in e-books. My experience -- perhaps unique to me -- is one of the strengths of e-books is the ability to use a reader that lets you control the font, spacing, etc. When the hardcopy typography is bad, there's nothing you can do.

Of course, I'm the same person who runs a browser script against almost every web page I load to force the font, sizes, and spacing to match my preferences. My wife occasionally comments, when looking over my shoulder, that my view of the web is quite different than what she sees.

Basically Biden is telling the EU they don't matter, as he has done already during the withdrawal Afghanistan.

I interpreted it as a message that the US won't be fighting any land wars in Europe. Perhaps not in Asia, either. If I were highly ranked in the Army, I'd be nervous that it's a signal the US is going to be a naval and air power first and foremost.

If I were highly ranked in the Army, I'd be nervous that it's a signal the US is going to be a naval and air power first and foremost

I would say that, once the US finished conquering the continent, it has always been primarily a naval power. Simply because most of our borders are nautical ones.

Meanwhile Biden continues with his irrational ban on travel to the US from Europe.

I don't object to travel bans from countries with high Covid incidence (currently including the UK). But it's absurd to have a travel ban which doesn't apply to US citizens, and which includes low-incidence countries such as Poland while excluding countries with even higher incidence than the US, such as Israel and various Caribbean islands.

It's just Covid-security theatre.

there was a hope that Biden would at least get back to the normal diplomatic standards among allies

I feel that if Biden (or had Blinken or whoever) had done the rounds, there would not have been a withdrawal because the bureaucracy (aka the Blob) would have slow walked it. France and Germany, together with the US, Russia and China, are the 5 largest arms exporters

However, it may also be true that Biden is looking at a total reset of those relationships. I looked up the US liaison to NATO

https://www.act.nato.int/organization/national-liaison-representatives

And Col Julie Galin is listed, but when I looked her up

https://www.yokota.af.mil/About-Us/Biographies/Display/Article/2693194/colonel-julie-m-gaulin/

Colonel Gaulin is Vice Commander, 374th Airlift Wing, Yokota Air Base Japan. She assists the Wing Commander in the management, training, command and control of the Department of Defense’s only airlift wing in the Pacific theater. As the Western Pacific Airlift hub, Yokota Air Base provides mission-ready forces and base operating support to guarantee U.S. forward presence and crisis response.

Kind of surprised that the liaison to NATO would be a wing commander in Japan.

Amazing how all of them seem to see it otherwise.

I don't know how you could come to this conclusion - the view from Europe is certainly a different one.

lj, I get the feeling sometimes that we are looking for a grand rationale behind Biden's foreign policy, while it might have actually been a sort of clumsy impulsiveness behind the scenes

Sure, that's possible, so you have to sift thru the evidence. For me, Biden's previous opinions under Obama
https://www.vox.com/2021/8/18/22629135/biden-afghanistan-withdrawal-reasons

carry a lot of weight. I also strongly believe that, given the gnashing of teeth that has accompanied this, it had to be done the way it was done, though that can also be seen as my own foreign policy preferences talking.

lj, I get the feeling sometimes that we are looking for a grand rationale behind Biden's foreign policy, while it might have actually been a sort of clumsy impulsiveness behind the scenes

Which lines up with Biden's border policy, assuming "policy" is a reasonable description of what is administration is doing.

I get the feeling sometimes that we are looking for a grand rationale behind Biden's foreign policy, while it might have actually been a sort of clumsy impulsiveness behind the scenes

for another example of this, take a look at how the press rushes as fast as it can to come up with "The [New President] Doctrine".

Which lines up with Biden's border policy,

look out, there's a Nicaraguan in your hedgerow!

Cleek, how many people are living at or under the international bridge in Del Rio TX?

4, they're all named Greg. it gets very confusing at times.

but do be careful about that Nicaraguan. they've been know to steal your job in the middle of the night.

It's north of 10,000. Think that's good border policy?

whose "policy" is it that Greg, Greg, Greg and Greg should try to cross at Del Rio TX, and be forced to stay there until they're all processed?

nobody's?

but you'll blame Biden anyway.

Just got around to listening to 538's podcast on California's recall election. One line stuck out to me:
"California is a very blue state. But it is not a particularly progressive state."

That is my take as well. (Perhaps nous has a different view.) It isn't that California has gotten more liberal than it was during my first half century. (When, if you were governor, either your name was Edmund G. Brown or you were a Republican.) Rather, it's that the California GOP went off the deep end and embraced the far right. Making the state a gift to the Democrats.

Now, of course, the very brand is toxic for much of the state. But making the, admittedly heroic, assumption that a candidate could get past that, I suspect that a moderate conservative could win here again.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/17/politics/gallery/migrants-texas-bridge-us-border/index.html

https://cepr.net/biden-continues-trumps-policy-in-haiti-despite-bipartisan-congressional-pushback/

Trump called their country a shithole.

They agreed with him.

Naturalize all of them as American citizens so they can (great re-) replace (ment theory) genocidal republican pandemic-lovers and voting franchise thieves like Governor Abbot and company.

My preferred voting restriction laws would apply to all Americans named Marty. There may be a few innocent Martys left, but apparently laws that apply to all Martys, regardless of innocence, are kosher nothing-to-see-here yawns.

The world is coming apart. America is done.

Biden will be blamed no matter his policies or lack thereof, and gleefully so by the fascist, murderous, global warming, put me on that ventilator or else fanboys of the American conservative movement, and Vlad Putin and the CCP, all conservatives.

Forget the right wing fascist press. The beltway press is salivating over this Administration's total failure.

Ruthless rule by the fascist American conservative movement, a mass psychotic suicide cult, will be, as in 1932 Germany, the only remaining viable option for these killers.

It's fucking over. Kiss your asses goodbye.

Tax me even one cent, Republicans.

I fucking dare you.

It's north of 10,000. Think that's good border policy?

There is a refugee crisis. Refugees will do what they can to get out of a worse situation. Ask Greece.

Options: kettle them in where they are; let them in and put them in big camps; let them in and disperse them into smaller camps; round them up and try to send them back by force.

Every one of those comes with preloaded and pre-written opposition on both the international and partisan domestic front.

And every one of them is made more complex by Delta.

So what is the policy suggestion for how to handle this? Not the gripe about how what is being done is problematic, the concrete suggestion for the way it can be made better given the current context.

And mark this as an ongoing issue for policy because the refugee situation is going to happen a lot in the next few decades, both internationally and from one state to another.

This is beta testing for our future.

"California is a very blue state. But it is not a particularly progressive state."

That is my take as well. (Perhaps nous has a different view.) It isn't that California has gotten more liberal than it was during my first half century.

It's an interesting and difficult mix. It's very blue and very progressive, but the blue and progressive split along interesting lines because of class and race. The property tax issues and real estate investment turns a lot of limousine liberals and NIBYs into conservative allies on zoning, homelessness, and school issues, and the racism of rural CA turns conservative POC into blue voters.

So what is the policy suggestion for how to handle this? Not the gripe about how what is being done is problematic, the concrete suggestion for the way it can be made better given the current context.

Shouldn't the answer to this question come from the current administration?

Shouldn't the answer to this question come from the current administration?

Always the answer when there is a hard decision to be made. Then the complaining about the decision starts.

And one of the complaints is always that the other side were not consulted.

But when consulted: "isn't that the current administrations job?"

What are you hoping to see the administration do as a policy approach?

What are you hoping to see the administration do as a policy approach?

You're coming across as an apologist, answering a question with a question, as if Biden was not elected to deal with precisely these kinds of issues.

I'm not going to play that game and if the Dems get their asses kicked in 2020, it will be because of inaction like what we are seeing now at the border--and have seen since he took office, with record numbers of illegal crossings.

It was a crisis under Trump and everyone here agreed. Now that it's much worse under Biden, crickets. Don't think this kind of thing goes unnoticed.

i love the implication that it's Biden's fault that people showed up on the Mexican border. he didn't invite them. they aren't here to vote Democratic. but they're there, and ... waiting! they're being processed as fast as funding level will permit. but they're not being process fast enough? or is it too fast? too much compassion, not enough? should they be shipped to the Canadian border to wait in a more temperate climate?

or is this just another thing for the party of obstruction, sedition and the lash to complain about?

Wait a minute! I remember now--he put Vice President Harris in charge of the border. How's that going?

it's going fine. the people are being processed as required by law.

if you want them processed faster, tell your local Republican to maybe try governing instead of just posturing for Fox News cameras.

I can't form a strong opinion one way or the other on how well the Biden administration is dealing with the influx of Haitian immigrants. I don't know enough about it. I do know they came here because Haiti has a great number of problems from which people tend to flee. I guess I could read up on it and go into the specific decisions that the administration has made and attempt to analyse them critically. Or I could just note that bad stuff is happening and conclude whatever feels right.

You're coming across as an apologist, answering a question with a question, as if Biden was not elected to deal with precisely these kinds of issues.

Not an apologist, just a realist. The US is no different from Greece in the situation that it faces. There are refugees coming from other places and Greece has no control over who shows up to try the border. And Mexico is like Turkey.

We have the 1967 international refugee protocol and the 1980 Refugee Act to uphold.

There's no spigot to go and turn off to keep the refugees where they are.

I'll mark your suggestion down as "Lead, but not that way."

it's going fine. the people are being processed as required by law.

if you want them processed faster, tell your local Republican to maybe try governing instead of just posturing for Fox News cameras.

LOL. If there is a 2022 (not 2020, sorry for the typo) ass whipping, it will be this kind of double standard, hand waiving BS that makes it happen. The non-stop whining about Trump's horrific border policies is well-remembered, and no one here was playing dumb about the cause. Now, it's a mystery as to why there's a crisi.
Good luck with this line of crap.

"How's that going?"

Maybe they have the same contempt for her as American conservatives do.

Maybe they like the low taxes in Texas.

Maybe they are anti-abortion and want to start ratting out and exhorting teen rape victims and other women and their friends and doctors like the fucking law now allows them.

Maybe they don't give a shit about whether white Texans keep moving the ballot box locations on election day.

Maybe they want to help dig more swales in Houston after we pony up another couple hundred billion because Texans would rather wait and see about, if not deny, global climate change while ringing the federal cash register.

Why don't you Texans brag about these refugees and immigrants wanting to move to Texas, like you brag about Californians and New Yorkers moving in?

Maybe they want to catch the Covid-19 from your Lieutenant Governor and give it up for Jesus and not pay estate taxes after they buy the pandemic farm.

Maybe Trumpanistas flew to Haiti, infiltrated and bankrolled the migrants' journeys to the border, just as Democrats and liberals, and Soros Jews were accused of doing by Trump and his racist, antisemitic subhuman republican conservative movement, the stinking fucking lying filth.

I hope there is an ass-whipping in 2022, followed by an ass-killing.


The non-stop whining about Trump's horrific border policies is well-remembered, and no one here was playing dumb about the cause.

Trump's policy was wanton cruelty within the context of an immigration crisis. He and his band of sociopaths purposely did horrible things to people, while also funneling money to questionable but connected people to build some kind of wall.

Trump's policy violated both the 1968 and the 1980 standard for how refugees are to be treated.

That's what I criticized about his policy.

I never bemoaned the fact that all those refugees were showing up at the border.

Of course they were.

For reasons that had nothing to do with Trump or with our refugee policies.

Now, it's a mystery as to why there's a crisi.

no, there's no mystery. not even a tiny bit of head-scratching. Republicans are yelling "BORDER CRISIS" because you needed a new thing to yell about now that the election is over. luckily there's always good ol "BORDER CRISIS" - a tune you all know and love.

every 18 months, crisis or not, regardless of who is actually in charge, someone puts "BORDER CRISIS" back on the record player and you all you all get all red in the face about THE BORDER CRISIS! CARAVAN! SANCTUARY CITY! LA RECONQUISTA! MS13! CANTALOUPE CALVES! THEY TOOK OUR JERBS! you all sing along, shake your fists and point your stubby little fingers at the closest Democrat.

well, it's tedious and doesn't help anything get done. no policies can be made, nothing can be done. it is, like every other things the GOP yells, just another way to infuriate the rubes and keep them from noticing that the GOP isn't actually fixing anything.

It was a crisis under Trump and everyone here agreed. Now that it's much worse under Biden, crickets. Don't think this kind of thing goes unnoticed.

Things that are the same about Trump vs Biden border policy:

* lots of people are trying to come here
* the number of people trying to come here is overtaxing our ability to handle them

Things that are different:

* we no longer separate children from parents or guardians as a way of dissuading people from coming
* we're no longer trying to build a wall across the entire southern border of the US

Is it still a mess? Yes.

Is it a mess based on insane fantasies, deliberate cruelty, and clear animosity toward poor brown people? Not so much.

So on the whole, while not a fan of US border policy under either guy (or at all, in recent memory), I prefer Biden's.

Some context around much worse under Biden.

Also, to my list of things that aren't the same under Biden:

* people in my community aren't trying to figure out who is going to watch their kids if ICE comes and, literally, grabs them from their homes or places of work

I'm sure that crap is all still going on to some degree, but it seems to have died down somewhat. Maybe that's just the lame-stream media giving Biden a pass.

In any case, I see that as a point in Biden's favor, others may not.

One policy point on which a given administration has even the slightest hope of mitigating a refugee crisis before it starts is foreign aid. I don't think I need to add anything to that for anyone to figure out what I'm getting at.

how long till GOP TX becomes GOP CA?

not long?

Actor Matthew McConaughey, who has hinted that he's entertaining the idea (though it's unclear what party, if any, he would represent), led Abbott by nine points in a hypothetical matchup in the new poll, while former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Tex.), who ran against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) for a spot in the upper chamber and later took a shot at the Democratic presidential nomination, cut a previous 12-point head-to-head deficit against Abbott down to five in the survey.

keep showing people what Republicanism actually is, they'll figure it out eventually.

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