Recent posts by beauval on Kongregate

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Give me your tired, your poor

So we appear to be in agreement that an international governing body, given the proper tools, power, and credibility, could solve a lot of problems, including the world-wide immigration problem. How, then, should this movement gain political support without decades of slow and questionable cultural change, and how do we convince the other governments to assist us in this endeavor? That is the real question, and I am curious as to how you and others believe that this goal could be attained.

How to do it quickly? Well now, I didnt say it was going to be easy. For a start, on this particular issue at least, the security council needs a lot more power. And we need to find a way to stop countries like Sudan and Somalia from ever getting a seat on it. I can’t see much happening while the countries that are causing this problem have an equal say with the countries that are adversely affected by it. You have to remember that what for us is a serious humanitarian and (yes Pete) economic problem, for many of the countries these refugees are leaving it is a positive boon. For them it’s not only a great way to get rid of some of their insurgents, it also relieves the pressure on resources which are severely limited, often due to their own bad government management.

That alone could take years, but I do think it’s possible. A mixture of economic sanctions and good old fashioned economic bribery is a powerful tool. So it really comes down to whether the world as a whole has the will and the conscience to do something really constructive for its people, whether each individual country is prepared to make a small sacrifice for the benefit of the world at large.

I can’t answer that, but judging the matter in the light of all the rampant greed and selfishness that we see all around us, I sometimes have my doubts. There are too many self absorbed people who are in denial that in a global economy what happens on the other side of the world can have a direct impact on their own lives. They can’t or won’t see the bigger picture, and unfortunately some of those people have a lot more political clout than they deserve.

But that shouldn’t stop us from trying. It’s time we grew up and educated ourselves out of the tribalistic notion that our little group is the only thing that matters. I found out while writing in another thread that it has been calculated that nobody on earth is more distantly related to anyone else than 40th cousin. In that sense we’re all one big family, and we need to ackowledge that.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Give me your tired, your poor

Essentially all I’ve seen here are some of the same conflated perspectives used by the Republican party. “It’s about the economy, stupid!”

If we concentrate on finding living space for all the people who want to come to the west for whatever reason, then we will see an endless flow forever. For me this is not primarily about making today’s refugees comfortable, it’s about stemming the flow and making life tolerable for all these people where they are, in their own countries. You just don’t seem to be getting that bit, and to compare me with some of the loonies on the extreme right of your extremely right wing political system I find downright insulting.

To stem the flow, we need to find ways to deal with all the corrupt presidents and politicians, all the warlords and all the narrow minded tribalists whose greed, ambition and xenophobic attitudes are causing these problems in the first place. And we need to do that in ways which are acceptable to the people we are trying to help, not by America trying to impose its own ideas of democracy on to people who don’t even understand what democracy is and how it’s supposed to work.

Pleasedonot brought up the UN. Right now it’s little more than a talking shop, but if it was given some teeth to deal effectively with those who flout international law and to punish those who feel entitled to behave as outrageously as they want in order to become rich and powerful at the expense of milions of others, then we might begin to get somewhere. If the UN is to provide leadership, then it will need to have power, concensus, and a large dollop of wisdom. At this juncture it doesnt have any of them.

And for Christ’s sake Pete, stop yammering on about fucking America. This is a word problem, and America is only 5% of it.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Give me your tired, your poor

This is the quote that irks me: “There simply isn’t enough money in the world to help all the hard luck cases out there.”

Alright, let me put it a slightly different way; there simply isn’t enough money in the world to help all the hard luck cases out there at this present time. I can’t help wondering whether you grasp just how big this problem is. You harp on about how well California has coped with a relative handful of Mexicans while ignoring the main issue. Here’s a list of ongoing mainly armed conflicts around the world. The fact that you have never heard of some of these countries and regions doesn’t make it any less real. Armed conflicts always produce refugees, lots and lots of them, and giving them all a pound note and a cuddle doesn’t help anyone.

People trafficking is a big worldwide business, and it’s growing. They move people to new countries, saddle them with a huge debt which they can never pay off, and turn the refugees into slave labour for the rest of their lives. Millions of people are ready to fall into this trap, and many will not survive the experience, as was amply demonstrated by the incident which prompted this thread.

If we are ever going to deal with this, it has to be done in a hard-nosed, pragmatic and methodical way, and will take decades even if we don’t make mistakes along the way, which we inevitably will. We need to educate the small minded racial and religious tribalism out of billions of people, somehow find a way to repair the basket-case economies which produce all the poverty and anger, deal with all the petty dictators and warlords who just don’t care about the misery they inflict on everyone else, and at the same time try to accomodate at least a few of the victims who are just a symptom of the underlying causes. Trying to give them all a new life is not an option. If we take in all the people who don’t just want but desperately need to come here, it will leave Europe destitute, and then we won’t be able to help anyone at all.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Give me your tired, your poor

Well, I live in one of the largest border towns along the Mexican border and there are few cities as prosperous. San Diego is thriving and has some of the highest property values in the nation. California bears the brunt of illegal immigration and it is the largest of the US states and continues to grow. So I’m not really seeing all this economic hardship that illegal immigration is supposedly responsible for.

So how were all these immigrants managed? What’s California’s secret? Did all these immigrants arrive by the trainload à la bestia, or did they come in manageable numbers? If the latter, what sort of numbers are we talking about?

I ask because right now Europe is facing a potential refugee problem which will dwarf America’s. What we are seeing now is just the vanguard. There are around 3 million refugees from Syria living in camps in the surrounding countries. They simply can’t cope with those sorts of numbers, and given time many of those refugees will gravitate towards Europe, especially when the people traffickers move in. That’s 3 million people from just one small country in a very troubled region.

There are civil wars in Libya, Yemen, Iraq inter alia, none of which look like coming to an end any time soon. Everyone I have spoken to who comes from the Middle East seems to think that it won’t be long before there will be a massacre of the Kurds in northern Iraq. Add to that the millions from sub-Saharan Africa who are trying to flee wars, hopelessly inept economic management and grinding poverty, an on-going civil war and genocide in Darfur, the utter madness that is Somalia, the Tuareg problem in the Sahara, armed conflicts in central Africa, and so on and so on and so on, and we have a potential refugee crisis which will suffocate Europe if we allow it to.

So what do we do, Pete? You appear to see all the solutions in glorious technicolour, while all I see is a grey fog of uncertainty. How did California get it so right, because right now Europe needs to know.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Give me your tired, your poor

I understand that there are political factors but I don’t understand how this isn’t—at its most fundamental level—a humanitarian issue.

It is a humanitarian issue, I am not disputing that. The question is whether we can afford to take in everyone who arrives looking for a better life. It’s all well and good allowing the occasional tramp to sleep in your garden shed, but what happens when 25 of them turn up demanding to sleep in your bed? It is undoubtedly a problem, a really huge one at that, and if we make no attempt to deal with it in a controlled manner then we are likely to be overwhelmed by it.

Militant Muslims, African Christian warlocks, genital mutilators and honor killers aren’t problems we’re facing when we address our immigration challenges.

They are where I come from. Not on a particularly large scale admittedly, but all these problems do exist in the UK.

if you’re only talking about people immigrating to the US for economic reasons

Why do Americans always assume that the USA is the only country where anything ever happens? This is an ever growing problem for Europe; it’s been predicted for years that we will have to face and deal with a huge influx of refugees as much of Africa, not to mention the Middle East, fragments into tribal violence and warfare. It’s starting to happen now, and will get worse.

Now, since you mentioned the USA and la bestia (I didn’t know about that, but wasn’t surprised), what do you propose doing if half a million Mexicans arrive every year expecting to find sanctuary and a better life? Where are you going to put them for a start? If America takes in every hard luck case who turns up on its doorstep, you will likely see refugee camps in every state, and cities like New York and Chicago sprouting shanty towns like the favelas in Brazil. Nothing will change for those people – they will still be struggling for survival in a giant slum, just like they were in Mexico. If this problem is ever going to be solved, it will need a more pragmatic approach than that.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Give me your tired, your poor

I’m not sure what you mean by “unacceptable cultures.”

Well, you could try shariat, some very bizarre African versions of Christianity involving witchcraft among other things, women being treated as possessions, female genital mutilation, honour killings, even election rigging

I’m not talking about people with skills – they are and always have been welcome here. The NHS would collapse if it wasn’t for all the immigrant workers in it.

I thought I had made it clear I was talking about refugees and economic migrants, who I see as a very big potential problem if they are allowed unfettered access into the EU, or the USA for that matter.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Give me your tired, your poor

The human suffering caused by shutting down borders is far greater than the human suffering caused by open immigration. A “serious immigration problem” is described very differently than a “serious humanitarian problem.”

By allowing unrestricted immigration, are we not just moving the humanitarian crisis from one country to another? No country has millions of spare homes available, or millions of spare jobs. So how do you propose to house and feed illiterate, poverty stricken, unskilled and unemployable millions who would arrive if they were allowed to? We would be utterly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers alone, without even looking at the immense social problems which would arise from all the alien, and let’s face it, totally unacceptable cultures which would arrive with them?

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Give me your tired, your poor

I don’t know whether this even got a mention in American news bulletins, but last Sunday around 800 assorted Africans drowned en route to Italy while fleeing war and poverty in their own countries. It was not the first incident of this type by a very long way, just the worst so far. We will doubtless see many similar tragedies unfolding in the coming months and years.

The cause is the same as always. The Mediterranean is not open ocean, and is generally very calm, but the people traffickers responsible for this always overload the boats massively, and sometimes they capsize. They usually head for Italy because it is the closest EU country to the Libyan coast, which is the main embarkation point.

The EU already has a serious immigration problem, and pretty much every country within it has its own ideas on how to deal with further influxes, usually reflecting only that country’s particular needs and fears. There have been mutterings over here about sending in the navy to sink the traffickers’ boats, but I don’t believe for a moment that anyone in Brussels has the cajones to authorise that. So for the moment we have absolutely zero leadership on this problem.

Now this should at least strike a chord in the USA, because of the related problem over there of illegal Latin American migrants trying to find a new life in their much wealthier neighbour’s territory. So what should we do? Do we pull up the drawbridge as Australia is doing, or do we let them all in, regardless of the cost to ourselves. And should we renew efforts to bring some kind of stability to the countries these people are so desparate to flee, leaving ourselves open to still more accusations of lingering imperialism? Personally, I think Australia is doing the sensible thing; there simply isn’t enough money in the world to help all the hard luck cases out there. While I have no problem with taking in political refugees, I see any attempt to try to help the poverty stricken billions by giving them a new land to be poor in as utterly futile in the long term. Does anyone have any views on this?

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Microfluidics and Electronic Noses: A Plausible Social Stratification

It’s partly commercial really: a bus company with e-noses installed on the busses, would pick up someone with a bad cold wishing to get on. Since they know 100% that the person has a bad cold in the infectious stage, as opposed to a non-infectious case of the sniffles, they could become liable for damages should that cold be passed on to other customers.

Public transport operators are common carriers – so is the post office for that matter. They offer their services to the public at large. They are certainly able to turn you away if you are drunk, behaving aggresively etc. because the law says that they can. So it would largely be up to the lawmakers to decide whether or not someone with a cold would be free to travel on a bus or train. If some wimp wants to sue the bus company because he caught a cold, that could be circumvented by legislation. But I do see your point. It would be very difficult to decide which conditions were an acceptable risk. As with many sudden social changes, it could be years before the law actually makes much sense.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Microfluidics and Electronic Noses: A Plausible Social Stratification

There isn’t too much available in the way of preferential health care for serious conditions anyway. Treatment for them is available to everyone on an equal basis, and to attempt to introduce a two tier system into the NHS would be politically toxic. There has been talk of penalising fatties, smokers etc. on the grounds of self inflicted wounds, but as far as I know that is all it was – just talk.

Being an incorrigible piss artist didn’t stop George Best getting a liver transplant, although it was seen as controversial at the time. His surgeon outlines the reasons he got one here. George still managed to drink himself to death.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Microfluidics and Electronic Noses: A Plausible Social Stratification

At first I thought this was going to be another of your transhuman threads.

I think that there are some diseases where you are already in serious trouble by the time you begin to exhibit symptoms. So if public monitoring meant that a serious condition could be identified in me at an early stage, I would see that as being a rather positive step.

There is already a bit of a social divide, certainly a financial one, between those who are blessed with good health and those who are not – e.g. if you want to buy life assurance, the costs will reflect certain medical conditions. Perhaps there should be a social penalty for those who refuse immunisation for petty reasons. And there’s certainly a social divide between the haves and have nots when it comes to accessible medical care, but that’s largely a matter of which country you happen to be born in. Many governments can’t or won’t afford health care for all their citizens.

So on balance I would see this as positive.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / The next President Clinton

So do you think that Elizabeth Warren would make a more plausible candidate? I don’t know too much about her, but she does appear to have some decidedly socialistic ideals (which would probably be well received on this side of the water). But I wonder whether America is ready for someone like that, and also whether she could lead the democrats to an election disaster because of her views.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Logic Puzzle

Yes, you’re right, I didn’t take that to its logical conclusion. I remembered broadly how the solution was worked out, but it still took quite a long time to get that far. It was getting very late, and I couldn’t be bothered to do any more checking. Mind you, in pirate A’s position I would have seen 95 percent as a pretty decent result.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Logic Puzzle

If the first three pirates get it wrong, we are left with the two youngest. Calling them A,B,C,D,E, with D & E left, D has to give all the loot to E. Otherwise E will vote against the plan and D goes over the side.

With three pirates left, E will vote against any plan because he knows that if he gets rid of C, he will be on to a winner. D, on the other hand, knows he is sure to die in that situation, so will accept just 1% of the loot to avoid that. So C divides the loot 99/1 with D, and E gets nothing.

Moving on to 4 pirates (and this is the tricky one), B needs the support of 2 other pirates, otherwise he becomes shark bait. So he gives 2% to D and 1% to E, which makes them better off to vote for B’s plan. In that scenarion C gets nothing.

So with 5 pirates, A needs to get 2 votes plus his own. So he gives D 3% and E 2%, keeping 95% for himself.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Logic Puzzle

I think that is probably crucial.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Logic Puzzle

I’ve seen this before, and it goes something like this. I can’t remember if this is the complete solution, but I can’t see any holes in it yet.

The oldest pirate gives 1% each to the two youngest to get their votes. They accept what on the face of it is a crappy deal because if they don’t the oldest pirate will be slung overboard, leaving four. The two next oldest pirates would then share the loot and vote to keep it, leaving the two youngest with nothing at all.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / The next President Clinton

Setting aside the asinine inference that the right hates female leaders

When the news broke, I had a look at a range of opinion pieces and blogs. Being a woman did seem to be an issue on some of them. I know you can write them off as just blogs, but it’s idiots with big mouths who elect leaders just as much as any other group.

Well, for that we would want to look at her policies and record, and that’s apparently off limits. I think that’s the better question, frankly.

Not entirely off limits, but I didn’t want this to become another Reps v Dems arguement. Maybe what I saw was unrepresentative, but I got the feeling that being a woman is going to be a big disadvantage to her. There have been women in high places before – Madeleine Albright, Condoleza Rice etc. – but they weren’t voted into those positions by the public. Hillary needs public support, and I’m wondering to what extent being a woman will affect her chances.

We’ve been through this before over here, but we do things a bit differently over here. Maggie Thatcher was already leader of the Conservative party when she went into her first general election. She was in a pretty safe constituency, so it was a foregone conclusion that she would become PM if she won. But the issue of being a woman came up over and over. It was still quite a revolutionary idea back then, and was used against her by her political enemies.

So I think the question is relevant.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / The next President Clinton

So it’s now official – Hillary Cinton is having another crack at the American presidency. Now then, a simple question. Is a country as deeply conservative as America ready for a woman in the White house, especially one who is (by American standards) a left winger?

I’m not interested in the rights and wrongs of her policies at this point – just stick to the question.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Full Body Transplants a Reality on a Personal Level

I can remember when Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant. The early patients didn’t last long, but in a way that didn’t seem to matter. It was the mere fact that it had been done that was so sensational. We knew that the medical teams would learn from their mistakes, and the process would get better.

So I expect similar results if this surgery does actally take place. I don’t imagine the patient will last long, but does it really matter? He is facing a long depressing death, and I imagine that being the first pioneer in this new and rather spectacular procedure could seem very attractive to him – go out with a big bang and not a whimper.

Now then, would I go for it? In his position I think I probably would. In years to come, if the procedure becomes as routine as having a new heart, I would certainly see it as a life enhancing opportunity. I am 64 now, and beginning to feel it. Why would I not welcome the chance to have a younger, fitter body where all the parts work as they should, and where I would no longer have to put up with all the little aches and pains that come along as you get older? I think I could cope with that. I live in my head – the rest is there just to keep my brain alive.

But where will they get the donors from? I would imagine that a fully functioning but brain dead body is quite a hard thing to find.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Logic Puzzle

There are two guarded doors. Behind one of the doors is pile of gold. Behind the other is a poisonous snake. You may ask only a single question to one of the two guards. Unfortunately, one of them always tells the truth and the other always lies. (You do not know which is which.)

Assuming that each guard is aware of the other’s truthfulness or mendacity, you ask each either guard “if I asked the other which door conceals the gold, which door would he point to?” They will both point to the door with the snake, so you choose the other one.

The second one may take a little longer!

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Logic Puzzle

There are three kinds of people – those who can count and those who can’t.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Logic Puzzle

IOD, there won’t be any grain to collect if you leave it with the goose.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Logic Puzzle

You also have to include 100 and 001 in the success list. That give you six winners and two losers, 75% chance of success.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Logic Puzzle

BSG can explain that :)

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Logic Puzzle

How do you get all three things safely across the river and to the market?

You take the goose first. The fox won’t eat the grain. You then go back and take either of the other two passengers. At the other side you leave the second item and put the goose back in the boat. Go back to the start, leave the goose and collect whatever was left. Take it to the other side, once again leaving the fox with the grain. Finally you can go back to the start and fetch the goose.