The winners of POTF 45 were EmperorBatman999 and Abdülmecid I, earning 1 competition point and 5 rep points each. Well done!

Winning Post
Quote Originally Posted by EmperorBatman999 View Post
I learned this in a graduate-level seminar taught by a Turkish professor who is an expert on the Ottoman Empire during World War I. You don't get very far in academia spouting out myths; peer reviewers tend to not like that.

More than 60,000 Armenian men served in the Ottoman military. In 1914, following full mobilization, the army reached 1,250,000 men. As of the Ottoman Census of 1905-1906, the total Ottoman population was more than 18.5 million people, with 15 million of those being Muslim, and about 2 million of those being Armenian split between the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Churches (the Ottoman censuses were based on religion, not ethnicity or language). So 3% of the Armenian population was in the army, and between 5% and 6% of the Turkish population was in the army (from just about 8% of the total Muslim population): Note, I cannot get the precise statistic because apparently the precise ethnic makeup of the entire military wasn't documented in anything I can find online.

You can similarly see how the Germans even during World War I tried to blame the war's hardships and failures on the Jews in the infamous Judenzählung ("Jew Count"); the study was never officially published because they found that Jews were actually over-represented in the number of servicemen compared their overall part of the population, suggesting that the Jews were actually enthusiastic, patriotic, and willing participants in the German armed forces.

There was a political complication with Russia: Yes, they did promise the Armenians better treatment than the Ottomans, even just on the fact of being fellow Christians alone. There were Armenians in the Russian army recruited from both sides of the border, and there were Armenian guerrillas helping the Russians. And many of those Armenians would've had good reason in living memory to help the Russians: Sultan Abdülhamid II ordered the creation of a mounted auxiliary force comprised of Kurdish warriors called the Hamidian Cavalry whose sole assignment was to harass Armenian communities. Now, in the Russo-Turkish War of 1878, the Armenians came into the crosshairs of Ottoman Turks because, just like what happened later in World War I, they were accused of helping the Russians. However, the Hamidian Cavalry was over formed in 1890, long after that conflict had ended and long before it looked like there was going to be another conflict with Russia. Between 1894 and 1896, the Hamidian Cavalry launched a long string of massacres against the Armenians, and this is generally considered the actual start of the Armenian Genocide. At this time, there was no war with Russia and no evidential reason to suspect that the Armenians were plotting to rebel; the Armenian nationalist parties had little widespread support. The Ottomans instead provoked the Armenians into outrage while instigating the Kurds into attacking the Armenians by emphasizing territorial disputes between the Kurds and Armenians, all of which set the stage for a wave of massacres which killed thousands of Armenians.

So yeah, naturally in 1914, the Ottomans' actions 20 years earlier proved to the Armenians that they were no longer safe in the Ottoman Empire, so some did look for outside options, while others tried to assert their loyalty to the Sultan yet more.

We may also look to a similar, and much more significant, rebellion in the Ottoman Empire and the Arab uprising. Although the Ottomans still retained a sizeable Arab population in Syria, Lebanon, and northern Mesopotamia, close to the battlefront against Britain, the Ottomans did not make an effort to remove Arab populations into the interior in order to prevent them from siding with T.E. Lawrence's forces. The Young Turks' ire was an ethno-religious one, and it was targeted straight at the Armenians; this clear and biased targeting is the hallmark of genocide (the intentional removal of a specific ethnic group on the grounds of religious or ethnic causes), and Turkish troops gleefully carried it out with massacres and carnal assaults on the expelled Armenians they were escorting.

Winning Post
Quote Originally Posted by Abdülmecid I View Post
Yesterday the authorities of Chad announced the death of President Idriss Déby, who governed the country since 1990. The regular army has been fighting against the FACT rebels, trying to prevent them from capturing N'Djaména. Generally speaking, Chad has a rather eventful history of domestic instability, foreign involvement and invasions (check out the Toyota War against Gaddafi) and of course civil wars. President Déby was truly a child of his country.

As the former underling of the previous dictator, Hissène Habré (still alive in a Senegal prison, I believe), Déby's reputation increased for repulsing the invasion of Libya during the mid '80s. Unfortunately, Habré suspected him of conspiracy, so Déby fled, while his associates were summarily executed. He sought refuge to the two traditional antagonists of Chad, Sudan and Libya. While in Libya, there are even rumours that he cooperated with Gaddafi in revealing the intelligence secrets of Chad and perhaps even CIA. Finally, Déby managed to launch a coup that overthrew Habré and has been governing the country since then, having amended the constitutional limits of the presidency terms.

Similarly to his illustrious predecessor, Déby couldn't avoid counter-coups, violent insurgencies and nefarious plots, but the President proved to be remarkably resilient, although his son, notorious for punching ministers, was murdered in Paris. Politic-wise, despite his brief romance with Gaddafi's anti-imperialism, Déby has reoriented his foreign policy, helping France in her intervention in the Mali civil war and convincing Paris to freeze the assets of his opponents. As for the civil wars, in spite of some religious connotations, the Christian north versus the Muslim south, there are basically struggles between tribal warlords about who is going to monopolise the exploitation of the state resources.

Mahmud Mahdi Ali, the man who finally managed to eliminate President Déby, has a long history of involvement in various insurrections, as a head of groups with so many different acronyms that would daunt even the most ruthless bureaucrat of the US alphabet soup agencies. In the steps of Déby, he was welcomed in Sudan and then Libya, where he allied with the militias of Misrata and general Khaftar (basically the eastern Libyan faction). So, what does the death of President Déby mean for Chad and the surrounding lands? Are the rebels closer to victory or what will simply happen is the disintegration of central authority and the libyafication of Chad? I don't think the name or the creed of the dictator in charge matter, but a Libya-style anarchy wouldn't go well for an impoverished, already weak and ecologically vulnerable country, like Chad.

Runner-ups this week are Cookiegod and Iskar. See you next time!

Runner Up Post
Quote Originally Posted by Cookiegod View Post
Like Adrian said we're decades away from the AI people imagine. It's todays (maybe already slightly yesterday's?) buzzword with which start-ups get funds from hedgefunds, until there's no money left to be gained. Welcome to the era of dumb money. Couple of years ago everyone was raving about the "revolutionary" blockchains.

Artificial "intelligence"/Machine learning these days is literally just semiautomated statistics, and quite often done where it's completely pointless or useless, where doing it the slightly more traditional way would have been less work for the same result. What compounds this all is that, whereas you could affect the behaviour of a traditional script, fix bugs, change the way stuff works, there's no reasonable way to do this with the algorithm. Rather than tweaking it you have to redo the entire learning process if you find some issue.

All that said doesn't mean that there isn't a potential and a future in AI. It's just that the perception is way off. And looooooong before we could reasonably expect much of the dark sci-fi settings to play out, we'd have a lot of good stuff.

AI isn't the problem. A lot of other technical stuff is:

Social media is bad on a personal level: It makes you sick.
Social media is bad on a societal level: You absolutely can influence elections and decision making processes.
You can't make it with a couple of hundred thousand bucks like gullible fools believe Russia to have done, but it does ultimately lead to a techno oligarchy.
In the US this hardly matters, since it already is a plutocratic society, so power isn't exactly being taken away from the people, but in Europe it does matter.
When elections can be decided simply by tweaking the numbers slightly, deciding which political message gets seen by e.g. 100000 more people, then that gives you an insane power.
Like Iskar said the main issue is with the lower classes and their ability to find work. Obviously some new job opportunities do open up, but if we take drivers for example, which make up a huge percentage of today's jobs, there's no way that we can find alternative jobs for such an amount of people.
Conversely the high skilled white collar people can only expect their salaries to rise. Making a couple thousand jobs superfluous makes you an extremely valuable asset. This and the previous two points very much lead to the same result, which is the stratification and feudalisation of the world. The Pareto distribution has always been the natural state of wealth distribution, but technology makes this curve much more pronounced. Social upwards mobility has always been a hard thing to achieve for most people - Technology can ultimately make it all but impossible except for some lucky few. Those lucky few in turn get even more spectacular results. Even once we ignore dumb money magnets such as Musk and the vast amounts of money being pumped into stock markets without any corresponding productivity increase, the kind of success Jeff Bezos and Zuckerberg have would have been quite unattainable in previous centuries.
There are lots of ethical concerns to be had with CRISPR, neuroscience (just not Neuralink or any other company of Musk for that matter), and a number of other appliances.

True to human nature, there's also no way in hell this is ever going to be adressed by the world as a whole. We're much better at waging hot and cold wars than solving global problems.
The institutional inertia, btw., is also only ever becoming harder to affect as technology progresses. Has anyone here been trapped in some automated customer support and missed the old annoying human ones? Now imagine not only customer "support" working that way.

Runner Up Post
Quote Originally Posted by Iskar View Post
Quote Originally Posted by enoch View Post
The holy book of Islam was dictated by the actual prophet, who was a traditional OT prophet and thus realistic as a continuation of the God Yahweh's divine plan. The prophet controlled the Quran's creation and lived to see his religion set itself on its proper path.

Jesus, in the early Church, has similar claims to be a continuation in the scheming of the Great Y, however, in the current and most dominant Christian Schema, Jesus was not consistent with the One Mad God's previous methods, nor does he write any part of the Bible.

And to really slam the Son of the Sun, not even everything attributed to the ministry of Jesus is included in the Bible, and much of Jesus' story was intentionally cut by entrenched powers who took it upon themselves to judge what was divine gospel, and what might make the proles harder to dominate. The cherry, of course, is that the words of Jesus' own brother and many of those who likely actually knew him, were disavowed by the most powerful, secularly corrupt Christian sect hundreds of years after his death.

The same sect that slaughtered the temporally weaker and frankly more spiritual other sects (which happened to be more jewish and closer to Jerusalem as well as more likely to have been founded by those who actually followed Jesus the man), and then continued to slaughter or buy out any group that ever rose and began to ask, why don't we act more like Jesus told us to. The Cathars are a good example of named heretics, but the Franciscans and the Spiritual Movement they founded is a far more telling tale.

Islam is the real deal folks. Mohammed was the 8th and final prophet. Enoch to Mohammed. The holy path.

I'll just blatantly ignore the tongue-in-cheeky-ness of this entire thread any annoy everyone with serious arguments:
You're trying to make a point via the consistency with older traditions, which is one Islam can indeed structurally claim, though the explicit claim of literal dictation by an angel somewhat sets it apart from the traditional view on the Torah, but people better versed in this should probably comment on that. It should still be noted that the textualisation of the Torah likely happened way later (~5th century BC onwards) than the alleged lifetimes of the prophets many of its books are named after, so prophets writing their own books is not really the ordinary case.
Furthermore, your point against Christianity by lack of consistency with the OT does not work, since Christianity is all about breaking analogy while maintaining continuity. It is the very point of Christianity that Christ is not just another Rabbi/prophet, and even if the Arian heresy was banned more for political than theological reasons at the time one can point out its theological weakness nevertheless: If Christ is not god, then the sacrifice on the cross would not be a self-sacrifice of God, the only one who can actually wipe the original sin, and would instead be God vicariously punishing some (albeit elevated) human without actually wiping original sin - which is inconsistent with divine grace and would not be an act of redemption.

Finally, I'd be careful with using the Cathars as an example of "better Christianity" since they weren't Christian at all. They used some of the cultural forms and imagery of Christianity, but their belief was a strictly dualist one with complete rejection of all things physical or worldly. If the cathars had had their will humanity would have stopped procreating altogether and died out by 14-something. While that might have been better for the environment none of us can actually commend this without committing performative self-contradiction.
(Brutally killing them all off was still not a good thing, but that is a different point.)