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Thread: Backroom Errata

  1. #91

    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    From an essay on the international paranaissance of plutocracy enabled by globalization, the collapse of the USSR, and the opening of Chinese markets:

    (The whole essay is worth reading)

    @rory_20_uk

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The contagion has spread remarkably quickly, which is not to say steadily, in a country haunted since its founding by the perils of corruption. The United States has had seizures of conscience en route to the top of the new global order surveyed by the British journalist Oliver Bullough in his excellent book Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back. In the months following Palmer’s testimony, the zeitgeist swerved in the direction he urged, at least momentarily. Newspaper articles in the fall of 1999 showed how billions in Russian money, some of it seemingly tied to an alleged crime boss, had landed in the Bank of New York. These sums startled Bill Clinton’s administration, which readied tough new anti-money-laundering bills, designed to stiffen banking regulations. But the administration was in its last year, and passing any new law would have required a legislative slog and bull-rushing obstreperous lobbyists, so plans stalled.

    The Clinton-era proposals would have remained an unvisited curio in the National Archives had Osama bin Laden not attacked. But in the days after the Twin Towers collapsed, George W. Bush’s administration furiously scoured Washington for ideas to jam into the 342-page piece of legislation that would become the patriot Act. A sense of national panic created a brief moment for bureaucrats to realize previously shelved plans. Title III of the patriot Act, the International Money Laundering Abatement and Anti-terrorist Financing Act, was signed into law little more than a month after September 11.

    This section of the bill was a monumental legislative achievement. Undeterred by the smoke clouds of crisis, representatives of the big banks had stalked the Senate, trying to quash the measure. Citibank officials reportedly got into shouting matches with congressional staffers in the hall. This anger reflected the force of the patriot Act. If a bank came across suspicious money transferred from abroad, it was now required to report the transfer to the government. A bank could face criminal charges for failing to establish sufficient safeguards against the flow of corrupt cash. Little wonder that banks fought fiercely against the imposition of so many new rules, which required them to bulk up their compliance divisions—and, more to the point, subjected them to expensive penalties for laxity.

    Much of what Palmer had urged was suddenly the law of the land. But nestled in the patriot Act lay the handiwork of another industry’s lobbyists. Every House district in the country has real estate, and lobbyists for that business had pleaded for relief from the patriot Act’s monitoring of dubious foreign transactions. They all but conjured up images of suburban moms staking for sale signs on lawns, ill-equipped to vet every buyer. And they persuaded Congress to grant the industry a temporary exemption from having to enforce the new law.

    The exemption was a gaping loophole—and an extraordinary growth opportunity for high-end real estate. For all the new fastidiousness of the financial system, foreigners could still buy penthouse apartments or mansions anonymously and with ease, by hiding behind shell companies set up in states such as Delaware and Nevada. Those states, along with a few others, had turned the registration of shell companies into a hugely lucrative racket—and it was stunningly simple to arrange such a Potemkin front on behalf of a dictator, a drug dealer, or an oligarch. According to Global Witness, a London-based anti-corruption NGO founded in 1993, procuring a library card requires more identification in many states than does creating an anonymous shell company.

    Much of the money that might have snuck into banks before the patriot Act became law was now used to purchase property. The New York Times described the phenomenon in a series of exposés, published in 2015, called “Towers of Secrecy.” Reporters discovered that condos in the ultra-luxe Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in Manhattan were owned by a constellation of kleptocrats. One condo belonged to the family of a former Russian senator whose suspected ties to organized crime precluded him from legally entering Canada for a few years. A condo down the hall belonged to a Greek businessman who had recently been arrested in an anti-government-corruption sweep. The family of a former Colombian governor, imprisoned for self-enrichment while in office, owned a unit he could no longer visit.

    These denizens, all of whom denied wrongdoing, made their high-priced purchases in what has become a common way. Nationwide, nearly half of homes worth at least $5 million, the Times found, were bought using shell companies. The proportion was even greater in Los Angeles and Manhattan (where more than 80 percent of Time Warner Center sales fit that description). As the Treasury Department put it in 2017, nearly one in three high-end real-estate purchases that it monitors involves an individual whom the government has been tracking as “suspicious.” Yet somehow the presence of so many shady buyers has never especially troubled the real-estate industry or, for that matter, politicians. In 2013, New York City’s then-mayor, Michael Bloomberg, asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get all the Russian billionaires to move here?”

    The warm welcome has created a strange dissonance in American policy. Take the case of the aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a character who has made recurring cameos in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The State Department, concerned about Deripaska’s connections to Russian organized crime (which he has denied), has restricted his travel to the United States for years. Such fears have not stood in the way of his acquiring a $42.5 million mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and another estate near Washington’s Embassy Row.

    Over time, the gap between the noble intentions of the patriot Act and the dirty reality of the property market became too wide to ignore. In 2016, Barack Obama’s administration tested a program to bring the real-estate industry in line with the banks, compelling brokers to report foreign buyers, too. The ongoing program, piloted in Miami and Manhattan, could have become the scaffolding for a truly robust enforcement regime. But then the American presidency turned over, and a landlord came to power. Obama’s successor liked selling condos to anonymous foreign buyers—and may have grown dependent on their cash.

    In 2017, Reuters examined the sale of Trump Organization properties in Florida. It found that 77 of 2,044 units in the developments were owned by Russians. But that was likely an incomplete portrait. More than one-third of the units had been sold to corporate vehicles, which can readily hide the identity of the true owner. As Oliver Bullough remarks, “They might have belonged to Vladimir Putin, for all anyone else could know.” Around the time that Trump took up occupancy in the White House, the patriot Act’s “temporary” exemption for real estate entered its 15th year. Without anyone ever declaring it so, the ephemeral has been enshrined.


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    he war on kleptocracy had meanwhile been lurching forward on another front. If foreign plutocrats remained mostly unscathed as they made themselves at home in the U.S., American plutocrats eager to hide their fortunes abroad faced fresh trouble. In 2007, the United States experienced one of its bouts of moral clarity, jolted by the confessions of a banker named Bradley Birkenfeld, who came clean to the Department of Justice. (He would later tell his story in a book called Lucifer’s Banker.) What he freely divulged to prosecutors were his client-recruiting efforts on behalf of UBS, the Swiss banking behemoth.

    Birkenfeld described how he had ensconced himself in the gilded heart of the American plutocracy, attending yacht regattas and patronizing art galleries. He would mingle with the wealthy and strike up conversation. “What I can do for you is zero,” he would say, and then pause before the punch line: “Actually, it’s three zeroes. Zero income tax, zero capital-gains tax, and zero inheritance tax.” Birkenfeld’s unsubtle approach succeeded wildly, as did his bank. As part of an agreement with the Justice Department, UBS admitted to hiding assets totaling some $20 billion in American money.

    The scale of the hidden cash spun Congress into a fury. In 2010, it passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (fatca), legislation with moral clout that belies its stodgy name. Never again would a foreign bank be able to hold American cash without notifying the IRS—or without risking a walloping fine.

    Here was anti-corruption leadership at work—and U.S. waffling on display. According to one powerful strain of American exceptionalism, the nation boasts superior financial hygiene and a bedrock culture of good government. Indeed, the U.S. government has devoted more attention to money laundering than perhaps any other nation on the planet. But the bar isn’t very high, and the vigilance has its limits. In 2011, the Obama administration sought to collect more information about foreigners’ bank accounts and to share it with the relevant home countries. But banks—along with their lobbyists and intellectual mouthpieces—worked furiously to prevent the expansion. A fellow at the Heritage Foundation denounced the proposed standards as “fiscal imperialism.” The president of the Florida Bankers Association said, “At a time when we are trying to create jobs and reduce the burden on businesses, this is the wrong issue.” Bankers’ associations in Texas, California, and New York followed suit. The effort went nowhere in Congress.

    The pattern repeated itself when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, following the original fatca example, took the congressional template and extended it: Each year, banks would report foreign accounts to the tax authorities in the account holders’ home country. If every nation had signed on to the OECD standards, the effect would have been a hammerblow to tax havens, shattering the vital infrastructure that allows kleptocratic money to flow unnoticed. In the end, the United States was alone in refusing to join the OECD agreement, finalized in 2014.

    This obstinacy stood to subvert everything the country had done to lead the fight against dirty money: While the U.S. can ask almost any other nation’s banks for financial information about American citizens, it has no obligation to provide other countries with the same. “The United States had bullied the rest of the world into scrapping financial secrecy,” Bullough writes, “but hadn’t applied the same standards to itself.” A Zurich-based lawyer vividly spelled out the consequences to Bloomberg: “How ironic—no, how perverse—that the USA, which has been so sanctimonious in its condemnation of Swiss banks, has become the banking secrecy jurisdiction du jour … That ‘giant sucking sound’ you hear? It is the sound of money rushing to the USA.”

    Not long before the U.S. declined to sign on to the OECD standards, a branch office of the baronial Rothschild bank opened on the 12th floor of a building in Reno, Nevada, far away in miles and spirit from the home office in Paris. The bank’s name wasn’t announced on the exterior of the building or even listed in the lobby directory. Soon after the Reno outpost opened, one of the bank’s managing directors introduced the new branch’s services to potential clients in San Francisco. What made the presentation so memorable were the ideas included in a draft procured by Bloomberg. The script laid bare the reasons for wealthy foreigners to funnel money through Nevada: The state is the ideal place to hide money from governments and avoid paying U.S. taxes. The draft acknowledged a truth that bankers don’t usually admit in public, which is that the United States has “little appetite” for helping foreign governments retrieve money laundered within its borders. In fact, it has grown into “the biggest tax haven in the world.” (The firm said these statements were removed before the presentation was delivered, because they did not reflect the firm’s real views.)


    The US is "the biggest tax haven in the world"

    “They don’t send lawyers to jail, because we run the country … We’re still members of a privileged class in this country.”
    American collusion with kleptocracy comes at a terrible cost for the rest of the world.

    Paradoxically then, the formula remains: the only one left to save you from us is we.
    Vitiate Man.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

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  2. #92
    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    So without altering the framework and properly plugging holes you can set the tax rate to whatever you like - and watch the money flow between one's fingers.

    For companies, a tax on revenue / sales would help (not solve) money staying where it was created. For property, a high annual levy (call it what you like) would again help. In the UK council tax is basically "broken" with the upper limit being a matter of a few thousand pounds - so houses that cost £350,000 and £250,000,000 pay the same band. If they are owned by a shell company they do pay a lot more... unless they have an exemption such as they rent the place out. To who? Oh, perhaps another shell company that the person who actually lives in the property owns - who knows?

    An almost frictionless movement of money globally without some sort of global tax problem will always end up in such a mess - but those with will pay a fraction of a percentage point to bribe those in power to keep it that way.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
    "If you can't trust the local kleptocrat whom you installed by force and prop up with billions of annual dollars, who can you trust?" Lemur
    If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.
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  3. #93
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    So without altering the framework and properly plugging holes you can set the tax rate to whatever you like - and watch the money flow between one's fingers.

    For companies, a tax on revenue / sales would help (not solve) money staying where it was created. For property, a high annual levy (call it what you like) would again help. In the UK council tax is basically "broken" with the upper limit being a matter of a few thousand pounds - so houses that cost £350,000 and £250,000,000 pay the same band. If they are owned by a shell company they do pay a lot more... unless they have an exemption such as they rent the place out. To who? Oh, perhaps another shell company that the person who actually lives in the property owns - who knows?

    An almost frictionless movement of money globally without some sort of global tax problem will always end up in such a mess - but those with will pay a fraction of a percentage point to bribe those in power to keep it that way.

    Given that you oppose international courts and voted to take the UK out of the EU just as the latter is bringing in measures to try to plug some of these holes, how do you propose to do this to your satisfaction? NB. international bodies like the ECJ that rule between countries are to be avoided, as per your objections, so the measures have to be self-contained within each state.

  4. #94
    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    Given that you oppose international courts and voted to take the UK out of the EU just as the latter is bringing in measures to try to plug some of these holes, how do you propose to do this to your satisfaction? NB. international bodies like the ECJ that rule between countries are to be avoided, as per your objections, so the measures have to be self-contained within each state.
    Yeah, the EU is the magic bullet to all problems... Get a grip!

    To repeat myself ad nauseam - there's a massive difference between having an international court and having an Court system that can override national laws. I fully accept you appear to not understand the difference.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
    "If you can't trust the local kleptocrat whom you installed by force and prop up with billions of annual dollars, who can you trust?" Lemur
    If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.
    The best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with the average voter. Winston Churchill

  5. #95
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    Yeah, the EU is the magic bullet to all problems... Get a grip!

    To repeat myself ad nauseam - there's a massive difference between having an international court and having an Court system that can override national laws. I fully accept you appear to not understand the difference.

    Would you prefer to be within ATAD or without?

  6. #96

    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    So without altering the framework and properly plugging holes you can set the tax rate to whatever you like - and watch the money flow between one's fingers.

    For companies, a tax on revenue / sales would help (not solve) money staying where it was created. For property, a high annual levy (call it what you like) would again help. In the UK council tax is basically "broken" with the upper limit being a matter of a few thousand pounds - so houses that cost £350,000 and £250,000,000 pay the same band. If they are owned by a shell company they do pay a lot more... unless they have an exemption such as they rent the place out. To who? Oh, perhaps another shell company that the person who actually lives in the property owns - who knows?

    An almost frictionless movement of money globally without some sort of global tax problem will always end up in such a mess - but those with will pay a fraction of a percentage point to bribe those in power to keep it that way.

    The article describes great strides made in international regulation of transparency in banking, but identifies two deficits:

    1. Real estate regulation loopholes, exemptions, and special treatment.
    2. The failure of the United States to hold itself to its own international-legal standard (this seems like a problem the US has in a lot of domains).

    Going by this -

    The pattern repeated itself when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, following the original fatca example, took the congressional template and extended it: Each year, banks would report foreign accounts to the tax authorities in the account holders’ home country. If every nation had signed on to the OECD standards, the effect would have been a hammerblow to tax havens, shattering the vital infrastructure that allows kleptocratic money to flow unnoticed. In the end, the United States was alone in refusing to join the OECD agreement, finalized in 2014.

    This obstinacy stood to subvert everything the country had done to lead the fight against dirty money: While the U.S. can ask almost any other nation’s banks for financial information about American citizens, it has no obligation to provide other countries with the same. “The United States had bullied the rest of the world into scrapping financial secrecy,” Bullough writes, “but hadn’t applied the same standards to itself.” A Zurich-based lawyer vividly spelled out the consequences to Bloomberg: “How ironic—no, how perverse—that the USA, which has been so sanctimonious in its condemnation of Swiss banks, has become the banking secrecy jurisdiction du jour … That ‘giant sucking sound’ you hear? It is the sound of money rushing to the USA.”
    it would actually be surprisingly easy to crack open the current tax haven system if the US would cooperate and abolish itself as a tax haven. How funny would it be if half the 'great international effort' needed to rationalize tax policy against the wealthy and large businesses were just down to the United States unilaterally changing a couple policies on paper?

    But as the rest of the essay describes, the wealthy work hard to dissipate the political will to do so. Is there a way around this that doesn't depend on literal rhetorical class warfare?
    Vitiate Man.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  7. #97
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    The article describes great strides made in international regulation of transparency in banking, but identifies two deficits:

    1. Real estate regulation loopholes, exemptions, and special treatment.
    2. The failure of the United States to hold itself to its own international-legal standard (this seems like a problem the US has in a lot of domains).

    Going by this -

    it would actually be surprisingly easy to crack open the current tax haven system if the US would cooperate and abolish itself as a tax haven. How funny would it be if half the 'great international effort' needed to rationalize tax policy against the wealthy and large businesses were just down to the United States unilaterally changing a couple policies on paper?

    But as the rest of the essay describes, the wealthy work hard to dissipate the political will to do so. Is there a way around this that doesn't depend on literal rhetorical class warfare?
    One part of this is the EU's effort to make sure that any company wishing to operate within the EU has to sign up to ATAD. The EU, being one of the economic giants, has the power to do this, even with the US directly opposing it, even with every other economic bloc opposing it. One of the rationales of Brexit is to break up the EU and re-orientate Europe towards the US, hence the obnoxiousness from Brexiteers to burn all the bridges they can so that, even were the British populace to change their mind in the future, Europe would no longer have us back, and similarly with other EU-exit movements.

  8. #98
    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    One part of this is the EU's effort to make sure that any company wishing to operate within the EU has to sign up to ATAD. The EU, being one of the economic giants, has the power to do this, even with the US directly opposing it, even with every other economic bloc opposing it. One of the rationales of Brexit is to break up the EU and re-orientate Europe towards the US, hence the obnoxiousness from Brexiteers to burn all the bridges they can so that, even were the British populace to change their mind in the future, Europe would no longer have us back, and similarly with other EU-exit movements.
    And that has failed to work with my personal favourite case being Ireland not wanting to take money from Apple and going as far as to defend the company.

    In any case, the Panama Papers showed many politicians - legally - stacking money abroad. And this was one leak of information from one legal firm at one tax haven. So it is highly likely that this only unmasked some of the EU politicians enjoying the perks they pretend to want to end.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
    "If you can't trust the local kleptocrat whom you installed by force and prop up with billions of annual dollars, who can you trust?" Lemur
    If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.
    The best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with the average voter. Winston Churchill

  9. #99
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    In any case, the Panama Papers showed many politicians - legally - stacking money abroad. And this was one leak of information from one legal firm at one tax haven. So it is highly likely that this only unmasked some of the EU politicians enjoying the perks they pretend to want to end.
    You need to be more precise about what you mean with that.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._Panama_Papers
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...aradise_Papers

    I see one member of the EU parliament in this and dozens of people from the UK. If we can extrapolate from that, the UK parliament has at least four times as many corrupt members than the EU parliament and that's with fewer members overall. How then, can you deduce that leaving the EU would be better for the fight against corruption than staying in?

    Your argument makes no sense so far.


    "Topic is tired and needs a nap." - Tosa Inu

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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    You need to be more precise about what you mean with that.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._Panama_Papers
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...aradise_Papers

    I see one member of the EU parliament in this and dozens of people from the UK. If we can extrapolate from that, the UK parliament has at least four times as many corrupt members than the EU parliament and that's with fewer members overall. How then, can you deduce that leaving the EU would be better for the fight against corruption than staying in?

    Your argument makes no sense so far.
    First off, I was not saying that the UK was better.
    Secondly, one second you're on about precision then you suddenly extrapolate a minuscule data set and conclude that the EU - with such countries as Hungry, Romania and Bulgaria - has less corruption. Might there be a reason that the leaders of these three countries don't need to offshore? I'm sure that Germany ranks as one of the least corrupt countries on the planet. However, they've combined most of their systems with those that are known to be extremely corrupt.

    So... take the blinkers off once in a while.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
    "If you can't trust the local kleptocrat whom you installed by force and prop up with billions of annual dollars, who can you trust?" Lemur
    If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.
    The best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with the average voter. Winston Churchill

  11. #101
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    First off, I was not saying that the UK was better.
    Secondly, one second you're on about precision then you suddenly extrapolate a minuscule data set and conclude that the EU - with such countries as Hungry, Romania and Bulgaria - has less corruption. Might there be a reason that the leaders of these three countries don't need to offshore? I'm sure that Germany ranks as one of the least corrupt countries on the planet. However, they've combined most of their systems with those that are known to be extremely corrupt.

    So... take the blinkers off once in a while.

    What have the internal workings of member states to do with the EU? Didn't you complain that the EU overrides national laws? If the politicians of member states decide to be corrupt within their countries, what do you expect the EU to do that doesn't override national laws?

    Here's an example of corruption within an EU institution. Nigel Farage, MEP for SE England, notoriously rarely turns up to work, yet takes his MEP's salary and will take his pension in due course. What do you make of this?

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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    What have the internal workings of member states to do with the EU? Didn't you complain that the EU overrides national laws? If the politicians of member states decide to be corrupt within their countries, what do you expect the EU to do that doesn't override national laws?

    Here's an example of corruption within an EU institution. Nigel Farage, MEP for SE England, notoriously rarely turns up to work, yet takes his MEP's salary and will take his pension in due course. What do you make of this?
    Do you see the irony of what you've written? Probably not...

    If the countries do not follow laws, what they are doesn't matter. The UK generally follows its laws. The three countries I mentioned have a long history of corruption and do not enforce their own laws. The EU is finally developing a spine on issues such as Poland trying to remove many judges.

    Another example is when unfit horse meat was used for human consumption. The EU laws said this was illegal. And it happened anyway. And with the pretence that every country enforces laws the same it happily passes over borders with little more than a nod.

    Has Farage broken any of the rules for being a MEP? Are they allowed to take large amounts of money, a final salary pension, effectively private healthcare and do sod all? I doubt it. Hence this is another small reason why the EU as it stands is unfit for purpose. It should have remained similar to NATO where national assets were used rather than adding in extra layers of leeches whose only purpose is to enhance their own existence at the expense of both individual countries and the populace thereof.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
    "If you can't trust the local kleptocrat whom you installed by force and prop up with billions of annual dollars, who can you trust?" Lemur
    If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.
    The best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with the average voter. Winston Churchill

  13. #103
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    First off, I was not saying that the UK was better.
    Secondly, one second you're on about precision then you suddenly extrapolate a minuscule data set and conclude that the EU - with such countries as Hungry, Romania and Bulgaria - has less corruption. Might there be a reason that the leaders of these three countries don't need to offshore? I'm sure that Germany ranks as one of the least corrupt countries on the planet. However, they've combined most of their systems with those that are known to be extremely corrupt.

    So... take the blinkers off once in a while.
    Exactly, you were only talking about corruption in the EU. If I was supposed to guess from that that you think Britain is not better, why did you use the argument in support of Brexit? Or did you not? That's what I meant with more precision, I am left to guess what exactly you mean.

    As for extrapolating and precision, I found exactly one single MEP on the list, you said "some of the EU politicians". That's plural, so you already extrapolated from one MEP to several politicians, then say I'm imprecise for doing the same. At least I provided a source for my extrapolation, you provided absolutely nothing and left me guessing what you actually mean and where you take that info from.

    So yeah, it's your argument, you might have a point, you might not, from the sources I found, you're completely wrong. It's not even my job to provide sources for your argument...
    As Pannonian said, the local politicians don't matter since you specifically mentioned that the EU itself wasn't serious about corruption. Local politicians that aren't in the EU and are supposedly overruled by the EU say nothing about the EU unless they're British and will not be in the EU anymore soon. My second list has one EU MP and four British MPs, the other list has several government officials and other important British people and I wouldn't find any EU officials, so how exactly is Brexit going to help with lowering corruption based on the Panama Papers?


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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    Exactly, you were only talking about corruption in the EU. If I was supposed to guess from that that you think Britain is not better, why did you use the argument in support of Brexit? Or did you not? That's what I meant with more precision, I am left to guess what exactly you mean.

    As for extrapolating and precision, I found exactly one single MEP on the list, you said "some of the EU politicians". That's plural, so you already extrapolated from one MEP to several politicians, then say I'm imprecise for doing the same. At least I provided a source for my extrapolation, you provided absolutely nothing and left me guessing what you actually mean and where you take that info from.

    So yeah, it's your argument, you might have a point, you might not, from the sources I found, you're completely wrong. It's not even my job to provide sources for your argument...
    As Pannonian said, the local politicians don't matter since you specifically mentioned that the EU itself wasn't serious about corruption. Local politicians that aren't in the EU and are supposedly overruled by the EU say nothing about the EU unless they're British and will not be in the EU anymore soon. My second list has one EU MP and four British MPs, the other list has several government officials and other important British people and I wouldn't find any EU officials, so how exactly is Brexit going to help with lowering corruption based on the Panama Papers?
    One? Odd - here's 6: https://www.euractiv.com/section/eco...apers-scandal/
    Some more: https://www.politico.eu/article/5-wa...david-cameron/

    Oh, and several countries. https://www.dw.com/en/panama-papers-...ies/a-41033612

    Given the UK is currently in the EU, how exactly am I to refer to things not in the EU? I appear to be in a tiny minority that isn't telling everyone how I can predict the future of what things will look like - better or worse.

    To point out the obvious: Brexit will do nothing to improve corruption just as the EU has done little if anything to improve corruption - especially if every country in the EU and their conduct can be conveniently ignored - reminds me of New Zealand giving human rights... easily done since they have none in New Zealand at the time. The EU has passed some documents and they are toothless enough to ensure that they are easily avoided for everyone involved.

    Last edited by rory_20_uk; 02-13-2019 at 17:00.
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  15. #105
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    Do you see the irony of what you've written? Probably not...

    If the countries do not follow laws, what they are doesn't matter. The UK generally follows its laws. The three countries I mentioned have a long history of corruption and do not enforce their own laws. The EU is finally developing a spine on issues such as Poland trying to remove many judges.

    Another example is when unfit horse meat was used for human consumption. The EU laws said this was illegal. And it happened anyway. And with the pretence that every country enforces laws the same it happily passes over borders with little more than a nod.

    Has Farage broken any of the rules for being a MEP? Are they allowed to take large amounts of money, a final salary pension, effectively private healthcare and do sod all? I doubt it. Hence this is another small reason why the EU as it stands is unfit for purpose. It should have remained similar to NATO where national assets were used rather than adding in extra layers of leeches whose only purpose is to enhance their own existence at the expense of both individual countries and the populace thereof.

    I'm not sure how the irony works against me here. I've never complained about international bodies enforcing international agreements, either as an individual or against said bodies. Where you see the horsemeat scandal as the fault of the EU, I see it as the fault of the officials who are supposed to be enforcing the regulations, and the relevant bodies corrected matters when this became known, as it should. Like you said, the UK, unlike much of eastern Europe, is generally law-abiding. Which is why the ECJ, the arbiter of disputes concerning EU agreements between member states, has ruled in favour of the UK the vast majority of the time. Which makes the ECJ the protector of UK rights, not the threat that you paint it to be. As a comparison, what do you make of the US lobbyists' applications to Trump for any future US-UK trade deal? All the stuff that Remainers warned about, the American lobbyists have now formally submitted to Trump. And the Japanese have withdrawn from negotiations with the UK, as they reckon they can bend us over further than they currently have. Just as the Remainers had warned, but were dismissed as Project Fear.

    On your above complaint that the EU is not fit for purpose because there is an additional layer of leeches. What do you think of the additional 5,000 (minimum) officials that we need to find and pay for to deal with customs barriers that we currently don't have? You don't like the additional politicians, so you'd probably prefer inter-nation relations rather than a centralised Parliament. We also have that, in the form of EU commissioners, who are appointed by and represent the member states. Yet the EU commissioners were oft cited as an example of unelected bureaucrats who held the real power in the EU. So, of the two ways in which the EU's population is represented in the EU, the state-appointed commissioners are criticised by Brexiters as unelected bureaucrats that hold the real power, while the elected MEPs are criticised by Brexiters as an additional layer of leeches. The UK has 73 MEPs, not all of whom are corrupt like the arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage, whom you defend by arguing that he's not breaking any laws (even though I'd have thought that politicians should be subject to ethics as much as laws). You reckon that's a waste of money, and would get rid of them (even though Farage will still be taking his pension long after this), replacing them with thousands of officials who would otherwise not be needed. Which is more cost effective? 73 MEPs with associated officials? Or 5-10k customs officials? And the latter doesn't even include the cost of physical infrastructure, such as the port of Ramsgate that the government was banking on, but which is now deemed to be unuseable. I'd like to see the Brexiteers produce some accounts for all this, given that 350m/week for the NHS apparently paid such a big part in their side's win.

  16. #106

    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Related to plutocracy: http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/Alva...iketty2015.pdf

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    (Bad luck economy, Eurolads.)
    Vitiate Man.

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  17. #107
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    A Parliamentary inquiry has concluded that Facebook has corrupted the exercise of British democracy, and that electoral laws have to be rewritten from bottom up, and that all British elections (including the 2016 referendum) have likely been subject to foreign interference.

  18. #108

    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Buzz Aldrin says migrate to Mars to save humanity, but that doesn't make sense. If the premise is that Mars is a backup in case Earth becomes uninhabitable, then the reasoning is all muddled. Anything we could do on Mars to habitate it would be orders of magnitude more easily done on Earth, from subterranean dwelling to geoengineering. To say nothing of actually moving people.

    I support colonization, but migration is putting the speculative fiction before the horse.


    Also, it registered with me that this apocalyptic diary of a starving child in the siege of Leningrad

    Zhenya died on December 28th at 12 noon, 1941

    Grandma died on the 25th of January at 3 o'clock, 1942

    Leka died March 17th, 1942, at 5 o'clock in the morning, 1942

    Uncle Vasya died on April 13th at 2 o'clock in the morning, 1942

    Uncle Lesha May 10th, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, 1942

    Mama on May 13th at 7:30 in the morning, 1942

    The Savichevs are dead

    Everyone is dead

    Only Tanya is left

    -Tanya Savicheva
    reads a lot like last records of the dwarves in Balin's tomb:

    We cannot get out. We cannot get out. They have taken the bridge and Second Hall. Frár and Lóni and Náli fell there bravely while the rest retreated to Mazarbul. We still hold the chamber but hope is fading now. Óin’s party went five days ago but today only four returned. The pool is up to the wall at West-gate. The Watcher in the Water took Óin -- we cannot get out. The end comes soon. We hear drums, drums in the deep.

    They are coming
    As is often the case, real life beats the heck out of fiction.
    Vitiate Man.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

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  19. #109
    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, Cub Shoot 2 Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Treasure Diver Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Mahjong Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Slack Man Champion, Japanese Baseball Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Super Mario Mushroom Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Fish Kill Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, KF 9000 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    And Buzz is on the right path, but not quite there. Mars is still locked into the same cycle of the same star.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

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  20. #110
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    And Buzz is on the right path, but not quite there. Mars is still locked into the same cycle of the same star.
    You're not saying that climate change is due to sun cycles, are you?


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  21. #111
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    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    You're not saying that climate change is due to sun cycles, are you?
    Eventually, for species survival, we will require abodes that orbit other stars. However bogglingly long the time is compared with the scale of an individual life, Sol also has a finite existence.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

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  22. #112
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    Eventually, for species survival, we will require abodes that orbit other stars. However bogglingly long the time is compared with the scale of an individual life, Sol also has a finite existence.
    Well, yes, but so does the universe, ideally we should colonize beyond that as well.


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  23. #113
    Ni dieu ni maître! Senior Member a completely inoffensive name's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    Eventually, for species survival, we will require abodes that orbit other stars. However bogglingly long the time is compared with the scale of an individual life, Sol also has a finite existence.
    Hot Take: By the time the Sun turns into a Red Giant, humans will be long extinct or have transcended reality into higher dimensions.
    In all these papers we see a love of honest work, an aversion to shams, a caution in the enunciation of conclusions, a distrust of rash generalizations and speculations based on uncertain premises. He was never anxious to add one more guess on doubtful matters in the hope of hitting the truth, or what might pass as such for a time, but was always ready to take infinite pains in the most careful testing of every theory. With these qualities was united a modesty which forbade the pushing of his own claims and desired no reputation except the unsought tribute of competent judges.

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  24. #114
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    Well, yes, but so does the universe, ideally we should colonize beyond that as well.
    Exactly. If anything, we will probably accomplish dimensional shifts prior to FTL.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

    "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." -- H. L. Mencken

  25. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by a completely inoffensive name View Post
    Hot Take: By the time the Sun turns into a Red Giant, humans will be long extinct or have transcended reality into higher dimensions.
    I am hopeful we will not be extinct. Transformed? mayhap.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

    "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." -- H. L. Mencken

  26. #116
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    The information age or even modernity as a whole was so far quite a bit too fast for our brains to actually adapt to it as can be seen in all the circumstances where our scientists can only explain our actions and reactions by referring to stone age logic. If we can't even adapt to that, I would think it might be quite a while before we actually transform or transcend into anything higher.


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  27. #117
    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, Cub Shoot 2 Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Treasure Diver Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Mahjong Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Slack Man Champion, Japanese Baseball Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Super Mario Mushroom Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Fish Kill Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, KF 9000 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    The information age or even modernity as a whole was so far quite a bit too fast for our brains to actually adapt to it as can be seen in all the circumstances where our scientists can only explain our actions and reactions by referring to stone age logic. If we can't even adapt to that, I would think it might be quite a while before we actually transform or transcend into anything higher.
    agreed, but the "deadline" of our being eradicated by our own star is a good ways off.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

    "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." -- H. L. Mencken

  28. #118
    Formerly Wigferth Ironwall Senior Member Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    agreed, but the "deadline" of our being eradicated by our own star is a good ways off.
    Or so we assume.

    I recall reading a Sci-Fi novel, can't remember the name, where humanity had become advanced enough to detect instability in distant stars and map the galaxy, but hadn't got around to actually properly getting out of the Solar System. A Freak energy wave destabilised the Sun and they suddenly didn't have enough time.

    We died.

    So, we need FTL, we need electro-magnetic shielding, Cold Fusion to power the ships and computers smart enough to plot the jumps. Usable Cryo would also be helpful.
    "If it wears trousers generally I don't pay attention."

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  29. #119
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    agreed, but the "deadline" of our being eradicated by our own star is a good ways off.
    You mean like, after the 2020 election?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philippus Flavius Homovallumus View Post
    So, we need FTL, we need electro-magnetic shielding, Cold Fusion to power the ships and computers smart enough to plot the jumps. Usable Cryo would also be helpful.
    FTL is so nice and short, very much unlike the way to get there. In fact it looks a lot like the way stops before you ever even get there.
    Getting away from this star isn't so hard, actually arriving somewhere meaningful in a useful condition is. I'm not sure how cold fusion is going to help given that I'm not aware of any purely electric space drive. All the rockets we use depend on outputting quite a bit of mass on one end of a rocket to propel the other end through space. I'm not sure how having a lot of energy is supposed to help with having sufficient mass on board to shoot out at one end of the ship to move forwards. As for bending space around the ship for FTL, that's a nice theory, but so far that seems to require even more mass. Yes, mass and energy are related, but if it were that easy, we'd have electric spaceships already. It's not like we don't know a lot of the math already, or is it?

    It's similar with jet engines I think, haven't seen those in an electric version yet, probably because they depend on burning fuel and you can't just burn electric energy. All the electric planes seem to use propellers because those work with electric engines. The electric fire on your TV also doesn't warm you quite as well as burning actual wood does.

    Yes, I'm aware of ion drives, but I doubt they would profit a lot from enormous reactors, especially since a cold fusion reactor might add quite a lot of mass to a ship itself, requiring more energy and fuel for propulsion. The energy needed to even get near the speed of light is quite enormous. Maybe the energy from a dyson sphere (free fusion energy) could be used by focusing it on a lighter ship. Problem is the ship would still need energy to slow down again once it gets to its destination. Unless you want to use the colonists as a weapon.

    Point being I don't believe time travel is possible and FTL appears to basically break the same rules. Not sure about electric drives, we can barely get electricity to work for cars and that should be a priority before we focus on other planets. Now if the universe is actually full of dark matter and we could find a propulsion method that interacts with that like a propeller or jet engine uses the air on earth, that would sound useful to me (maybe coupled with the cold fusion to propel it?). Also quite a bit after the 2020 election though.

    And who will be first to tell us about the universe inside a black hole?
    Last edited by Husar; 05-08-2019 at 12:55.


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  30. #120
    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, Cub Shoot 2 Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Treasure Diver Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Mahjong Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Slack Man Champion, Japanese Baseball Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Super Mario Mushroom Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Fish Kill Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, KF 9000 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Backroom Errata

    I agree that FTL is the answer. But I do not think we can actually travel FTL in the sidereal universe we all share. We will have to travel on grav waves at "apparently" FTL speeds (with the wave doing the real moving); find someway to generate or use a wormhole connection (power issues about); or shift from one dimension to another, using the shift to arrive back at a different location in our own sidereal universe.

    Star Trek "warp drive" is, alas, almost certainly a literary device.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

    "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule." -- H. L. Mencken

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