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Thread: POTF 1 - Nominations

  1. #1
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    Default POTF 1 - Nominations



    Hello, and welcome to the first Post of the Fortnight competition. Before anything else, I’d like to thank my fellow committee members and the TWC staff who were so diligent in their assistance to us which we couldn’t have done without.

    POTF is about recognising the very best posts, the best arguments and discourse in the D&D, and appropriately rewarding it.
    You shall progressively earn these medals once you achieve enough wins, but first you must be nominated in threads such as this one. And it works like this.

    Post of the Fortnight - Rules Each user can nominate a single message, and the only valid form of nomination is by quoting with a link the chosen post in the PotF thread designated for it as shown below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aexodus View Post
    Looking forward to getting this kicked off for real!

    -Each 15 days there will be a new Nomination thread put up, and all the posts written during this period are considered eligible, if properly nominated. Exception are posts who are somewhat breaking the ToS; upon being acted by Moderation, they are always considered uneligible.

    - It is possible to nominate only one post per competition

    - There will be two competitions held every month, with a period for nominations followed by a period of voting. The submitted posts can be discussed in a dedicated space.

    - Only messages that have not participated in a previous poll and that have been published in the current period of given time in any section of the D&D area may be nominated.

    - The authors of the nominated messages will be informed so they can withdraw the candidacy if that is their wish.

    - The
    maximum number of participating messages in the final vote will be ten. If more than ten nominations are submitted, seconded nominations will take priority. After seconded nominations are considered, earliest nominations will take priority. If the number of messages submitted to the contest is less than ten, the organizing committee may nominate posts if it considers it appropriate.

    -The members of the committee will never nominate a message belonging to one of them, but the rest of the users can nominate their messages (organizers messages), and vice versa.

    -In the event of a tie, both posts will be awarded and both posters will receive rep and 1 competition point.

    -
    Public or private messages asking for a vote for a candidate post are forbidden. Violators (and their posts) may not participate in the running contest.

    - People are expected to consider the quality and structure of the post itself, more than the content of the same. While it's certainly impossible to completely split the two aspects when making our own opinion on a post, it remains intended, as also explained in the Competition Commentary Thread, that commenting and discussing on the content rather than on the form/structure of the post is considered off-topic for the purpose of this competition. You are free to nominate and vote for whatever reason you want, but what happens in public has to strictly follow up with the competition rules.

    A nominated post should:

    1. Be focused and relevant to the topic(s) being discussed.
    2. Demonstrate a well-developed, insightful and nuanced understanding of the topic(s) it is discussing.
    3. Be logically coherent, well organized and communicate its points effectively.
    4. Support its contentions with verifiable evidence, either in the form of links or references.
    5. Not be deliberately vexatious to other users.


    Good luck everyone!
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    Quote Originally Posted by elfdude View Post
    I don't understand, clearly if white people simply made better choices to treat others as their equal there wouldn't be all of this justified pushback.

  2. #2
    Katsumoto's Avatar laughs boisterously
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    Default Re: POTF 1 - Nominations

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    What prompted me to write this thread is Mulcaire's article in Palladium. The magazine is not impartial, but the author is a serious researcher, with a respectable record in War on the Rocks. Anyway, his piece is fully referenced, so his bias, real or unreal, doesn't matter. To sum up, he describes the embarrassing Shami Witness incident. Shami Witness was a twitter account, who was apparently very knowledgeable about the domestic affairs of the Syrian Republic, explaining the cause of the revolution and predicting its fate. As a result, he was closely followed by reporters and experts, while his pompous claims were meticulously copy-pasted and faithfully treated as the absolute truth. Unsurprisingly, Shami Witness was from the beginning a passionate supporter of the rebels and a constant critic of the government's authoritarianism. His views on secularism were a bit shady, although he was gradually revealed to be a fanboy of the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant. His fans promptly abandoned them, while it was also discovered that the "Syrian" expert was a lonely Indian writing online manifestos from his basement. The Syrian conflict has been marked by numerous mistakes from the press, from the early white-washing of sectarian factions and al-Qaeda affiliates to the lesbian girl of Damascus and the blind endorsement of a girl's exploitation as a propaganda symbol, but Shami Witness summarizes well the inadequacies of modern journalism.

    Firstly, it's particularly difficult to directly document the events, which forces many witnesses to rely on sources with questionable objectivity. This could range from a totalitarian regime monopolizing the source of information to an uncritical repeat of some activist's statements. In this case, at least, the problem derives from a genuine lack of resources, although it should still be expected from any professional reporter to name the origins of the information he shares and to clarify to his audience that he was unable to verify its credibility. Unfortunately, in my opinion, that's only the tip of the iceberg, because the aforementioned weaknesses mean that it is particularly easy for determined propagandists to distort reality. Some of the stories may have been promoted, because of the spicy drama and, thus, viewership, they may generate, but they also functioned as a convenient pretext for misinformation and a tool for confirmation bias.

    In diplomatic disputes and military engagements, like those of Syria, many important geopolitical interests are at play. Foreign governments and lobbies, under the thin veil of generously financed think tanks, hastily built websites and newspapers and NGOs, are perfectly capable of manipulating public opinion, in order to push their agenda. Regardless of how widespread naivety is, I refuse to believe that some genuinely believed that heart-eating jihadists would protect secularism or that a toddler can stream warlike messages in impeccable English from her mother's cellphone. There is always the chance that some journalists are influenced by party loyalty or nationalist jingoism and an irrationally racist hatred against their perceived enemies, but the most usual culprit is money. Especially about the Middle East, a great proliferation of self-proclaimed pundits was experienced, whose academic skills were limited to a Master in political science with an undefined subject (presumably because it was not even remotely relevant to even the Near East). For instance, I can mention the examples of Charles Lister, who cannot speak Arabic and whose salary is paid by the Emir of Qatar and Elizabeth O'Baggy, who was eventually hired by the notoriously aggressive and chauvinistic Senator McCain, despite being caught forging a fake PhD for her curriculum vitae.



    In conclusion, as the review of the "People Like Us" book underlines, getting qualitative information about foreign becomes increasingly difficult and requires a lot of experience and patience, even for the citizens of countries, whose media are recognized as particularly trustworthy. Propaganda can take many forms, from cherry-picking and censorship to appeals on authority and outright lies, so detecting it is not easy, even for the most prepared and skeptical audience. I may sound unnecessarily pessimist, but I am afraid that, as long as various interests are allowed, intentionally or not, to meddle in the distribution of information and journalism aims at profit, instead of his primordial duty of informing the people, the situation is practically impossible to improve, at least in a drastic manner.
    'There are clearly two sides, and those two sides are not the same. The right is more insular; it’s more extreme; it’s more partisan,” Faris said of the findings. “That’s not a subjective opinion; that’s an empirical observation. And much of what we try to do in this book is to document that and understand what it means and how it’s reflected in different behavior.'

    Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics

  3. #3
    Aexodus's Avatar stahp
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    Default Re: POTF 1 - Nominations

    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Cheney. View Post
    I’m just going to come out and say it, but Teutoburg Forest has got to be one of the most overemphasized battles in human history (right up there with Thermopylae). The popular myth of course, is that Germanic Tribes (led by Arminius) banded together and soundly defeated three Roman Legions (led by Quinctilius Varus) at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest -during the height of Roman power no less-, thus permanently ending Roman plans for the colonization of greater Germania.

    According to wikipedia, The Battle of Teutoburg Forest is comparable to Rome’s greatest defeat, “a turning point in world-history,” and one of the most decisive battles ever recorded: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle...utoburg_Forest

    In reality however, the significance of Teutoburg Forest -including our interpretations of its aftermath and role in thwarting Rome’s expansion plans- must be balanced with the following questions:

    1. Did Arminius and the Germanic Tribes decisively turnback the Roman Army from Germania?
    2. Did the loss of three Roman Legions put an end to the supposed Roman conquest of Germania?
    3. And did the defeat at Teurtoburg lead to a decisive end of Roman dominance and influence over central Europe?


    Quick overview of the battle (though not essential for discussion):

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Narrative: Arminius (a former auxiliary officer) betrayed the Romans and executed a perfectly -and meticulously- designed trap. Most tellingly, ambush and wooded terrain prevented the Roman army from forming organized lines, thus allowing the Germans to swarm in on isolated pockets of panicking legionnaires. Low visibility, climate, and rain also didn’t help. Many backup legions (who otherwise might have participated) were also tied down in the ongoing Illyricum revolts.

    In all, the 17th, 18th, and 19th legions (20,000 men total) were completely wiped out, Varus committed suicide, and a grief-stricken Augustus is said to have remarked; “Varus, give me back my legions!”


    #1 Did the Germanic Tribes (under Arminius) decisively defeat the Roman Army presence in Germania?

    Short answer: no.

    It’s easy to overstate the significance of Teutoburg Forrest because three whole legions were wiped out and never replaced. However, even with the massacre of 20,000 legionaries and temporary blow to army morale, the Roman military presence around Germania actually increased as a result of Teutoburg Forrest (up to 8 legions beginning with Tiberius) and incidentally led to the revenge campaigns of Germanicus Caesar, a true destroyer general and genocidal killer.


    Campaigns of Germanicus Julius Caesar

    The cruelty and depth of the Roman response should not be underestimated. In addition to capturing Arminius’s wife, enslaving the local population, and wiping out entire villages and farmland around the Lippe valley, Germanicus managed to goad Arminius into decisive battle, and defeat him at Weser River and the Agrivarian Wall. He even recaptured 2 of the 3 lost eagle standards form the 17th, 18th, and 19th legions. The totality of Rome’s revenge was thus complete, and what remained of Arminius extremely fickle coalition mostly fled across the Elbe. More important than regaining territory, Rome’s honor was restored, and in the years after Weser, Arminius himself would be disposed of by his own men, largely in attempt to appease the Romans.

    #2 Did the loss at Teutoburg put an end to the supposed Roman conquest of Germania?

    Again, this one is mostly false.

    While it’s true major military incursions into Germania ended with the recall of Germanicus (and would not be seen again until the Marcomannic Wars), it’s also true that Germanicus had mostly pacified Germania up to the Lippe and North Sea, it was thus up to Tiberius to decide what to do next.

    Rather than continue to push forward to the Elbe, Tiberius choose to withdraw. The reasons for this decision were possibly twofold:

    1. Fear of Germanicus's growing reputation in Rome and the possibility of being usurped.
    2. A cost vs. benefit decision that said the economic benefits of conquering Germania were not worth the effort.

    In the end, many historians agree that Tiberius made the right decision based on the second reason. Germania, unlike Gaul, had few urban centers and little to no roads and infrastructure -which were needed to establish a reliable tax base. The German economy (according to Caesar and Tacitus) was also not significantly devoted to trade and agriculture, but instead to animal husbandry, raiding, piracy, and plunder. The Germans -according to archaeological grave sites- also significantly lacked in quality iron production and were dependent on Roman imports. In all, -right or wrongly- the Germanic tribes were mostly seen as uncivilized barbarians by their Roman counterparts and separate from the iron-working Celts in Gaul. Assimilating them and establishing Rome rule in the empty forests of Germania then was not worth the effort and may been the historical calculus for all future Emperors going forward.

    #3 Did the defeat at Teurtorburg lead to a decisive end of Roman dominance and influence over central Europe?

    This one should also be seen as mostly false. The narrative is that Arminius was a unifier and liberator for the German people, yet even after he was disposed of by rival chieftains, the Germanic tribes went back to fighting among themselves, which they were accustomed to do and the Romans happily encouraged. In addition, the Romans would construct the Limes Germanicus, the largest series of frontier fortifications ever constructed (after only the Great Wall of China). The Romans would use the Limes and the Rhine/Danube legions (usually 1/3 of the Roman Army) to literally dominate all major affairs in Magna Germania, including trade, border control, migration, agriculture, war, and regional politics. For the next two hundred years the west bank of the Rhine (along with Gaul) would actually remain relatively safe from German migration and influence, which may have been the principle aim of conquering Germania and wiping out the Germanic Tribes had the Romans done so anyway.
    Under the patronage of Pontifex Maximus
    Check out the Post of the Fortnight Competition!
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Quote Originally Posted by elfdude View Post
    I don't understand, clearly if white people simply made better choices to treat others as their equal there wouldn't be all of this justified pushback.

  4. #4

    Default Re: POTF 1 - Nominations

    Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
    The main issue was the Kingdom of Italy barely met the requirements of the elitist "Great Powers" club. Italy could have been stronger than Portugal or Bulgaria, but she could never hope to compete, in financial, industrial and military terms, with the likes of France, Germany or the United Kingdom. These weaknesses were clearly reflected upon the efficiency of her armed forces, from an extremely fragile system of logistics to sloppily trained soldiers and an amateurish officer corps, completely unable to instill a vigorous filling of solidarity inside the regiments and to launch fruitful strategic and tactical operations. Superficially, the Italian army may have seem superior to the Hapsburg navy in Lissa or the Ethiopian army in Adoua, but reality proved otherwise. Even in neighboring Libya, the Italians effectively controlled only the coastline inside the artillery range of their fleet, while the skeleton Ottoman garrison and the Libyan irregulars demonstrated their flexibility in Tobruk and Sciara Sciat. In 1935, fascist Italy benefited a lot from technological advancement, unlike her adversary, which is why the conquest of the country and the expulsion of its royal dynasty became much easier. Lethal gas, especially, was particularly effective, as it decimated the men, destroyed their morale and disrupted their formations. In that case, Italy piously copied the methods of the Spanish during their struggle against the Rif Republic in Morocco.

    Meanwhile, Ethiopia was an organised empire, with a long tradition of statehood, while also possessing a central authority (according to African standards), capable of mobilizing several institutions, in order to defeat various invaders. The Empire could deploy a numerous army, reinforced with modern weaponry and able to execute a demanding campaign and complex manoeuvres in the battlefield. Of course, it remained feeble, when compared to the possibilities of an industrialised power, while "feudalism" was far from being eradicated, but when all these factors are explained, as well as Oreste Baratieri's obvious mistake of dividing his forces, the disaster of Adua can be explained somewhat convincingly. In any case, the Ethiopian achievement should be recognized as great and remarkable, as, in contrast to Isandlwana, it involved a decisive victory of the entire European force and not the neutralisation of just a detachment.

    Well, that's not correct, at least not for the relevant period. In fact, the opposite was true, as Italian nationalism was marked by a particularly aggressive spirit against France, despite the crucial role the Second Empire played at unifying the peninsula, contrary to the wishes of the Hapsburg monarchy, the Bourbon dynasty and the Papal domination. To be more specific, the Italians were furious (Tunisian bombshell) at the establishment of a French protectorate in Tunisia (which they bizarrely considered as Italy's "rightful territory), while some extremists (Garibaldi included) even advocated for the conquest of Corsica and Savoy. All this ideological "imperialism" was partially fueled by a remarkably jingoist press, whose influence on the electorate was so strong that it could determine foreign policy and the careers of ambitious politicians.

    Well, in addition to what I mentioned in my reply to Athanaric, Italy belonged to the Triple Alliance (together with Germany and Austria-Hungary), which was diplomatically hostile to the French-Russian alliance (the predecessor of the Entente in WWI). In what concerns East Africa, Russia's attitude was pure indifference (a small private colony named "New Moscow" had already been dismantled), but France certainly preferred an independent Ethiopia to an encirclement of the French dominion of Djibouti by the Italian colonies of Somaliland and Eritrea. However, that being said, I doubt global geopolitics played any significant role to the Ethiopian army being equipped by French and Russians. Such initiatives were very low priority, while their goals were generally defined as economic, opportunistic and comparatively short-term, namely the growth of the domestic arms industry, the increase of foreign political influence inside Ethiopia, the encouragement of investment and the opening of a new market for the industries of France and Russia. The consequent misfortune for Italy was essentially a coincidental byproduct (albeit not necessarily an unwelcome one), but it had nothing to do with the original objective.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: POTF 1 - Nominations

    Quote Originally Posted by cfmonkey45 View Post
    Because no one has actually provided any factual basis to the debates, here it goes. The Financial Times published an excellent article explaining how Macron's recent reforms have impacted the disposable income of French citizens.

    France is currently one of the most highly taxed countries in the world, with taxation reaching about 46.2% of GDP, compared to Denmark at 46.0%, the OECD average of 34.2%, and the USA at 27.1% (this includes all levels of government). [Source]

    France's Constitution has established the country as a heavily centralized state, with minimal Federalism. This means that most of the authority that local (rural) governments have is devolved. This has created a dynamic where virtually all of French politics is concentrated at the national level, which has led to a consolidation of power (and dissatisfaction) with the government in Paris. Contrast this with the United States (or Germany), where each individual state has explicitly guaranteed constitutional rights and power sharing agreements with the Federal Government.

    Part of Macron's reforms were to initiate tax reform and broaden integration into the European Union. Tax reform in France is desperately needed, since high taxation rates to GDP are correlated with slower growth. Additionally, by broadening France's integration with the European Union, it will largely bolster future prospects of European and French economic growth and largely dampen the potential negative effects of a Brexit (of any kind). Due to widespread corruption scandals, Emmanuel Macron managed to coalesce a large, new coalition to attract disaffected voters to a new Centrist, Neoliberal coalition. This largely avoided the Populist effects seen in other countries (such as the US and UK) because of their multi-round electoral system.

    Unfortunately for Macron, his coalition is dependent upon deals made in the French Senate. En Marche! controls a solid majority in the National Assembly, but only 6% of the Senate. Since Senators are elected indirectly by local legislatures and governments, En Marche! remains at a strong disadvantage, and it is required to make deals with other parties and Senators in government.

    This required Macron to formulate his policies in response to the internal dynamics of the French legislature, rather than with the popular mandate he was given. Macron's fiscal reforms were to reduce distortionary taxes (particularly the wealth tax and corporate tax), and instead rebalance the tax reform to encourage economic investment. Additionally, he wanted to fulfill portions of the Paris Climate Agreement to include a Gas Tax as part of the Carbon Tax Scheme. While these effects were trivial at first glance, they expose significant flaws in France's political and economic system that requires more comprehensive changes.






    Best ever description of the Mudpit.

    Quote Originally Posted by mongrel View Post
    This is what radicalization looks like, when someone dwells rather too long in the darkest recesses of online bigotry and feels the need to project this filth on others as if they were the honeyed words of some messiah guru or mahdhi.

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