Sahasrahla's recent activity

  1. Comment on ‘A Civil Rights Issue’: Groups Hope Courts Will Toss Out Canada's First-Past-the-Post Voting System in ~news

    Sahasrahla
    Link
    With Canada's federal election happening right now a big topic in left-leaning online spaces (and I suppose in real life too if you like talking about politics in person) is strategic voting....

    With Canada's federal election happening right now a big topic in left-leaning online spaces (and I suppose in real life too if you like talking about politics in person) is strategic voting. Canada has one major conservative party which consolidates right-wing votes but left-wing votes are divided among 2–4 parties. The upshot of this is that Canada could get a Conservative government with only about a third of Canadians voting for it, so there's a lot of pressure to vote "strategically" for whatever non-Conservative party has a chance of winning your local riding. In practice, this typically means telling people to vote for the Liberals, the main centre/centre-left party, and it contributes to the idea that votes for any other parties are wasted. In fact the main third party, the NDP, are sometimes called "the dippers" partly because of the idea that they "dip" into rightful Liberal votes.

    Reading (and taking party in) some of the debates I started to think of the issue in terms of voting rights: even if there's no 'clear majority' of support for electoral reform, why should the support of the majority be required when the issue at hand is a minority of voters being disenfranchised? (Beyond just the pressures of strategic voting, if your vote doesn't elect someone in your riding it essentially doesn't count. Tough luck if your riding is a 'safe seat' for a party you don't support.) And why should we depend on political parties for change when the parties that form government are the ones that benefit from the current system? (In fact, the Liberals had promised electoral reform when they were at risk of becoming a 3rd party themselves but they reneged on that after winning a majority government.)

    So, I did a search for more information on this topic and it turns out that a court case had just been filed arguing that the current voting system is unconstitutional. Obviously this is too late to affect next week's election but I'll be very interested to see where this goes. However it happens I look forward to the day when every Canadian vote counts.

    7 votes
  2. ‘A Civil Rights Issue’: Groups Hope Courts Will Toss Out Canada's First-Past-the-Post Voting System

    Article: https://thetyee.ca/News/2019/04/25/First-Past-The-Post-Civil-Rights-Issue/ (April 2019) Press release (October 9th, 2019) about the court filing: Court challenge against Canada’s unfair...

    Article: https://thetyee.ca/News/2019/04/25/First-Past-The-Post-Civil-Rights-Issue/ (April 2019)

    Press release (October 9th, 2019) about the court filing: Court challenge against Canada’s unfair voting system to be filed today

    Tweet confirming the filing: https://twitter.com/Challenge4FV/status/1181992387394113536

    (Sorry about the weird format but I couldn't find a recent news article and I wanted to provide more info than just the press release.)

    7 votes
  3. Comment on Official Blizzard statement about Blitzchung's punishment at the Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament in ~games

    Sahasrahla
    Link Parent
    I read the first sentence of your comment before reading the press release. I was expecting a "sorry if you were offended" type non-apology but this isn't even trying to be that. If anything this...

    I read the first sentence of your comment before reading the press release. I was expecting a "sorry if you were offended" type non-apology but this isn't even trying to be that. If anything this statement is at least useful as an example of amoral and hypocritical corporate woke-ism: it drips with back-patting language speaking of inclusion and diversity and safety, but it's nothing more than a cynical attempt to use the language of social progress to advance their agenda and stifle criticism.

    Especially telling is this:

    Moving forward, we will continue to apply tournament rules to ensure our official broadcasts remain focused on the game and are not a platform for divisive social or political views.

    Supporting pro-democracy protesters against a brutal Orwellian state is "divisive" now, is it? Well, I guess that's true enough. This sort of thing just really underlines the fact that no matter how much corporations wrap themselves in rainbow flags or have women-are-awesome ad campaigns, when it comes to taking a moral stand that isn't easy and profitable they're still the same as they've always been.

    The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.

    It's been said but does anyone believe Blizzard would have been so harsh if blitzchung had said something like "we need to do more to address climate change"? Is there actual utility to such a bald-faced lie, or is it just a corporate PR reflex?

    17 votes
  4. Comment on ‘We fear Hong Kong will become just another Chinese city’: an interview with Martin Lee, grandfather of democracy in ~news

    Sahasrahla
    Link
    The whole interview is worth reading, but I wanted to highlight this at the end: There's a lot of gloom and pessimism about this and many other topics, but this quote is a good reminder that we...

    The whole interview is worth reading, but I wanted to highlight this at the end:

    With street battles in Wan Chai again about to rage long into the night, I press him to be more exact. Can the birds of civil society, free elections and constitutional democracy now move mountains, a few stones at a time? What are their chances of success?

    His eyes light up. “I’d say 1%”, he replies. “That’s quite high, don’t you think?”

    There's a lot of gloom and pessimism about this and many other topics, but this quote is a good reminder that we need to be hopeful enough to pursue even those 1% chances when things look most bleak.

    2 votes
  5. Comment on Todd Phillips Thinks Cancel Culture Ruined Comedy. Maybe He’s Just Not Funny Anymore. in ~movies

    Sahasrahla
    Link Parent
    Now that I think about it news organizations have always done this, in a way. Except they used to have to go stand on a street corner and interview passersby so they could have a few "regular...

    Now that I think about it news organizations have always done this, in a way. Except they used to have to go stand on a street corner and interview passersby so they could have a few "regular person" takes they could hold up as representative of public opinion. The main difference now is it's a lot cheaper and easier to cherry pick a few tweets on a topic than it is to pay a reporter (and maybe a camera person or photographer) to go out for an afternoon.

    4 votes
  6. Comment on So I went along. in ~talk

    Sahasrahla
    Link Parent
    Imagine the equivalent of these privacy violations before smart phones were so widespread. What if visiting the US in 1980 required you to bring years of private correspondence and transcripts of...

    These are not steps the general public should ever have to take, let alone innocent holiday tourists.

    Imagine the equivalent of these privacy violations before smart phones were so widespread. What if visiting the US in 1980 required you to bring years of private correspondence and transcripts of your phone calls for border security to review? The idea would have seemed like a ridiculous conceit from a satire of the USSR or East Germany. Now, though, with social media + email + messaging apps and everyone carrying smart phones to access them, this kind of personal information is easily accessible to anyone who detains you and as such is expected.

    Personally I haven't travelled to the US years and I wonder what preparations would be needed. I don't have any social media tied to my real identity, would I look suspicious for not having a Facebook or Instagram account? Would I need to make sure to have a bunch of private conversations on my phone for them to read so it doesn't look like I'm hiding anything? What if I don't even have a smart phone, would that be enough to throw up some red flags? Like you said, these aren't the questions someone should be wondering if considering a visit to a country that holds itself up as a beacon of freedom and liberty.

    5 votes
  7. Comment on 14-year-old shot by plainclothes Hong Kong police officer after protesters surround vehicle, as protests against an anti-mask law erupted across the city in ~news

    Sahasrahla
    Link Parent
    Yeah, it's really hard to keep track of what's happening and sort through all the news items, rumours, misinformation, etc. And, even if we knew exactly what happened, how do we sort out the...

    Yeah, it's really hard to keep track of what's happening and sort through all the news items, rumours, misinformation, etc. And, even if we knew exactly what happened, how do we sort out the morality of some situations? It's easy to find lots of commenters saying this shooting is justified under certain assumptions of the officer being attacked by a mob but then we have to ask, what other options did he have? What was he doing there in the first place, and what was he trying to do? What attempts at deescalation were there before the shooting? Was there an option to stay in his car or just leave, and if so, why did he confront the group of protesters alone? Or, taking a step further back, what's even the morality of remaining in the HKPF and trying to stop the protesters at all?

    Like anyone else here I want to try to check my own biases and try to look past my own snap conclusions. I mean, obviously I support the goals of the protesters and support the protesters themselves over the police; one is a group of people fighting for their most basic rights, and the other is the increasingly brutal tool of violent oppression used by an authoritarian state trying to assert itself. But, that doesn't mean one side is always good and the other side is always bad. Still, though. It's a cop shooting a young teenager, barely more than a child, in an effort to bring a modern day colony to heel as they fight for a degree of self-determination. I don't have to fully embrace the actions of each and every protester to condemn the actions and motives of this one officer.

    5 votes
  8. Comment on 14-year-old shot by plainclothes Hong Kong police officer after protesters surround vehicle, as protests against an anti-mask law erupted across the city in ~news

    Sahasrahla
    Link Parent
    That's not accurate either. It's a story that's still developing, but as near as I can tell the sequence of events is something like: Plainclothes officer approaches a protest in a private car....

    That's not accurate either. It's a story that's still developing, but as near as I can tell the sequence of events is something like:

    • Plainclothes officer approaches a protest in a private car.
    • Protesters accuse the driver of "bumping" into someone and surround the car.
    • The officer gets out and (in some order) shoots the 14-year-old in the thigh and is beaten by protesters.
    • A molotov cocktail is thrown at the officer (after he shot the kid) and the officer drops his gun while fleeing the fire. (And recovered his gun shortly after, pushing away a protester who had picked it up.)
    • The officer calls on his phone for help and is hit with another molotov cocktail landing at his feet. (He ran away and his shoe was on fire for a second or two.)

    The current headline makes it sound like the officer shot someone who set him on fire which, as near as I can tell, is completely false. The shooting happened before the molotovs were thrown and (if you want to get picky) the officer was never exactly "lit on fire", at least not in the sense that one would think after reading that. I don't mean to be harsh on a good faith effort to accurately say what happened but like the last shooting there will be a lot of debate and misinformation to try to argue the officer was justified in his actions, and it's worth being as accurate as possible.

    Sources:

    Article, Video of molotov 1, Video of molotov 2

    9 votes
  9. Comment on Hong Kong protesters rally against ban on wearing masks in ~news

    Sahasrahla
    Link
    There's already been another police shooting today: A 14-year-old was shot in the left thigh by a plainclothes police officer on Friday night in Yuen Long, as protests against an anti-mask law...

    There's already been another police shooting today: A 14-year-old was shot in the left thigh by a plainclothes police officer on Friday night in Yuen Long, as protests against an anti-mask law erupted across the city.

    And the court appeal has failed: A Hong Kong court has dismissed an application for an emergency injunction to halt the mask ban announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

    It's also worth noting that the mask ban is even more troubling than it seems at first because of how it was done:

    The [Emergency Regulations Ordinance] is a colonial-era law that gives the chief executive unlimited power in the event of an “emergency or public danger.” The ERO, introduced in 1922, has not been used since the 1967 leftist riots.
    ...
    The Civil Human Rights Front, an alliance of 50 NGOs which has acted as the organiser of recent mass marches, said the ERO was a draconian law from the colonial era.
    “Once invoked, the Carrie Lam government would be declaring the death of ‘One Country, Two Systems’, and that Hong Kong is now a colony under Mainland Chinese rule. This old severe colonial law must be abandoned to keep the government in check and stop it from persecuting Hong Kong residents,” it said.

    4 votes
  10. Comment on Elevator Hacking: From the Pit to the Penthouse in ~tech

    Sahasrahla
    Link Parent
    On the subject of unexpectedly fascinating long-form elevator media here's an ~8000 word New Yorker article about elevators: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/04/21/up-and-then-down

    On the subject of unexpectedly fascinating long-form elevator media here's an ~8000 word New Yorker article about elevators: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/04/21/up-and-then-down

    6 votes
  11. Comment on Interview with one of the developers of Interslavic: the constructed language used in "The Painted Bird" which aims to be mutually intelligible with all Slavic languages. in ~humanities

    Sahasrahla
    Link
    I saw an interesting discussion about this language here (regarding this video) and the number of speakers of different languages in the comments saying they could decently understand the...

    I saw an interesting discussion about this language here (regarding this video) and the number of speakers of different languages in the comments saying they could decently understand the Interslavic in the video was impressive. It will be interesting to see if this language can have broader success in helping people communicate.

    3 votes
  12. Comment on SpaceX Starship Update in ~space

    Sahasrahla
    Link Parent
    So, this made me curious and I looked up the etymology: mankind (n.) man (n.) It looks like "man" was originally gender-neutral and this gender-neutral meaning is preserved in some words. However,...

    So, this made me curious and I looked up the etymology:

    mankind (n.)

    early 13c., man-kende, "the human race, humans collectively," from man (n.) + kind (n.). Also used occasionally in Middle English for "male persons" (late 14c.), but otherwise preserving the original gender neutrality of man (n.). For "menfolk, the masculine division of humanity, the male sex," menkind (late 14c.) and menskind (1590s) have been used. Mankind as "the human race" displaced earlier mankin (from Old English mancynn) which survived into 14c.

    man (n.)

    "a featherless plantigrade biped mammal of the genus Homo" [Century Dictionary], Old English man, mann "human being, person (male or female); brave man, hero;" also "servant, vassal, adult male considered as under the control of another person," from Proto-Germanic *mann- (source also of Old Saxon, Swedish, Dutch, Old High German man, Old Frisian mon, German Mann, Old Norse maðr, Danish mand, Gothic manna "man"), from PIE root *man- (1) "man." For the plural, see men.

    Sometimes connected to root *men- (1) "to think," which would make the ground sense of man "one who has intelligence," but not all linguists accept this. Liberman, for instance, writes, "Most probably man 'human being' is a secularized divine name" from Mannus [Tacitus, "Germania," chap. 2], "believed to be the progenitor of the human race."

    Specific sense of "adult male of the human race" (distinguished from a woman or boy) is by late Old English (c. 1000); Old English used wer and wif to distinguish the sexes, but wer began to disappear late 13c. and was replaced by man. Universal sense of the word remains in mankind and manslaughter. Similarly, Latin had homo "human being" and vir "adult male human being," but they merged in Vulgar Latin, with homo extended to both senses. A like evolution took place in Slavic languages, and in some of them the word has narrowed to mean "husband." PIE had two other "man" roots: *uiHro "freeman" (source of Sanskrit vira-, Lithuanian vyras, Latin vir, Old Irish fer, Gothic wair; see *wi-ro-) and *hner "man," a title more of honor than *uiHro (source of Sanskrit nar-, Armenian ayr, Welsh ner, Greek anēr; see *ner- (2)).

    Man also was in Old English as an indefinite pronoun, "one, people, they." It was used generically for "the human race, mankind" by c. 1200. As a word of familiar address, originally often implying impatience, c.1400; hence probably its use as an interjection of surprise or emphasis, since Middle English but especially popular from early 20c.

    ...

    It looks like "man" was originally gender-neutral and this gender-neutral meaning is preserved in some words. However, I guess that doesn't really affect the perception of the words and the connotations (i.e. the exclusionary meanings) that go along with them.

    2 votes
  13. Comment on Melodicka Bros - Through The Water And The Waves (slow acoustic Dragonforce cover) in ~music

    Sahasrahla
    Link Parent
    Well, if you want a melodica cover of a classic '00s geek culture song there's always The Melodicatrix.

    Well, if you want a melodica cover of a classic '00s geek culture song there's always The Melodicatrix.

    1 vote
  14. Comment on The Intuitive Monty Hall Problem in ~science

    Sahasrahla
    Link
    An intuitive version I like is to increase the number of doors. Let's say there are 1,000,000 doors and one of them has a prize. You pick a door at random. The host then opens another 999,998...

    An intuitive version I like is to increase the number of doors. Let's say there are 1,000,000 doors and one of them has a prize. You pick a door at random. The host then opens another 999,998 doors and leaves #708,174 and your choice closed. Do you stay with your same choice or pick the other door? I think most people would feel like it was intuitive to switch because your original choice was an arbitrary one-in-a-million shot but why did the host leave that door closed?

    Some other ways to think of it with this same example:

    • You can play this game as many times as you want and every time you play it (whether you picked right on the first try or not) the host will open another 999,998 doors leaving just your choice and another door closed. Does this mean that every time you play the game there's a 50/50 chance the first guess you made was right? How are you so good at one-in-a-million guesses?
    • Your friend Bob picks a door. You can either choose to guess the prize is behind his door or one of the 999,999 others. You obviously pick all 999,999 other doors. The host decides to build suspense by opening your doors one at a time (leaving the prize one, if it's there, for last). You know it will take a while because while the prize is almost certainly behind one of your 999,999 doors the host will still have to open the 999,998 doors with nothing behind them. Eventually, after a long wait, there's only one of your doors left to open and the host asks Bob if he wants to switch. Do you think he should?
    5 votes
  15. Comment on How many users are here now? in ~tildes

    Sahasrahla
    Link Parent
    Off topic but I missed the news that Google+ finally shut down. I'm actually kind of sad because I was hoping GeoCities Japan (which was still around!) would outlast them so I could always be a...

    Off topic but I missed the news that Google+ finally shut down. I'm actually kind of sad because I was hoping GeoCities Japan (which was still around!) would outlast them so I could always be a hit at parties by sharing the fun fact that GeoCities outlasted Google+

    ...Google+ was shut down for business use and consumers on April 2, 2019.

    The GeoCities Japan version of the service shut down on March 31, 2019.

    So close :(

    4 votes
  16. Comment on How to be a professional author and not die screaming and starving in a lightless abyss in ~creative

    Sahasrahla
    Link Parent
    Ever hear what happened to Chuck Palahniuk? Chuck Palahniuk 'close to broke' as agent's accountant faces fraud charges: Fight Club author says his income has dwindled, as Darin Webb is charged...

    The system seems liable to so much corruption.

    Ever hear what happened to Chuck Palahniuk?

    Chuck Palahniuk 'close to broke' as agent's accountant faces fraud charges: Fight Club author says his income has dwindled, as Darin Webb is charged with embezzling $3.4m from his literary agency (The Guardian, May 2018)

    one of the authors at /r/fantasy

    Another /r/fantasy author I really admire is Michael J. Sullivan. He was a traditionally published author (with some pretty big deals, at least six figures I think) but he got to the point where he didn't like the deal offered by his publisher so he self-published instead. (I think the sticking point was he wanted to handle the audio rights himself but his publisher insisted on buying them for less money than he could make otherwise.) The more I learn about the publishing industry the more I wish more authors would do that and help break the oligopoly of the Big 5.

    I mean, it's kind of ridiculous isn't it? Authors are the foundation of the publishing industry but they aren't getting a living wage out of it. Rather, the publishing industry is being subsidized by "day jobs" that pay their workers instead. Imagine being a programmer and making a profit for your employer but having to work a second job at Starbucks because you weren't getting paid. (Well, some programmers work for equity only and do have day jobs, but when's the last time an author was paid with a 10% stake in Penguin Random House?)

    Of course, many would argue that authors are different—more comparable to hobbyists than employees—and to an extent I agree. Many aspiring writers want to bask in the glow of being published more than they want to make a living at it and many established authors are happy to keep their regular jobs and write on the side. At the same time though, even best-selling authors with a solid body of work can struggle to make a non-precarious living. There are also many industry-standard practices working against authors: very low royalty rates (perhaps as low as 2.25%*), mandatory to have an agent (who takes a further 15% cut) before they'll work with you, non-negotiable hoovering up of rights (ebook, audio, maybe overseas), often having to handle the majority of promotions, unpredictable and delayed payment schedules, no health insurance (I think), rights that will realistically never revert to you even if your publisher barely sells your book, and who knows what else.

    * To be fair, the author in that blog post argues that 2.25% is reasonable and he's happy with it.

    Obviously this is important for anyone wanting to be a writer (or anyone who just wants to see them get a fair deal) but I think it's important for everyone else too. Authors create a lot of the culture that we consume (both directly through novels and through the book-to-movie/show pipeline) and that informs us about who we are as a society. How many marginalized voices will we hear if we insist that career authors can only be those who are independently wealthy, those who are married to someone with a good income, or those who have the energy left to sacrifice their spare time outside of work and family obligations? Of course, many people even in dire circumstances have written and published novels, but like any other profession it can take years to really get good at it. If new authors aren't supported and if there's no realistic path to having a good career as a novelist then how many authors will stick with it, and how many people will seriously pursue writing with no hope of a financial light at the end of the tunnel?

    I don't know what the solution is but I think it will come from the bottom-up, with more authors and aspiring-authors recognizing how exploitative the industry is and going with an alternative. The Big 5 publishers act like (and are treated like) they're the only game in town but self-publishing is more viable than ever. It has a (not unfairly earned) stigma associated with it but any authors who can get past that will find larger royalties and more power to direct the path of their career. It's not a perfect solution, and working with Amazon is far from an ideal alternative, but the more that path is seen as viable (and the more authors take it instead of working with traditional publishers) the more those traditional publishers will actually have to offer a fair deal to keep talent.

    7 votes