Past Meddlework

Here we talk about past meddlework, and evaluate the long-term results. And talk about what we can learn from past mistakes. Also, if you must, a place to wax nostalgic.

Past Meddlework

Postby Phil » Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:07 am

A place to discuss what we might have learned from meddling we did in the past. Let us not discuss Cambodia; we all know about that already.
"Your job as a good player isn't to win money, it's to make good decisions." -- Mike Caro
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Re: Past Meddlework

Postby Ethan » Fri Jun 01, 2012 10:38 am

Never assume the nemone you're standing next to lacks the perspective to guess what you're doing. Versailles was just supposed to be a sop to Louis' ego while I got something important done, but he understood the symbolism. Now, they publish books and papers on the psychology of architecture.

Nice to know they appreciate the work I put in. Still. All this was easier when they couldn't read, or talk to each other across continents. Whose bright idea was that?



...I think he's joking about the literacy thing. -E
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Re: Past Meddlework

Postby Phil » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:35 am

I hope he is; after all the work we've done to spread literacy. If it turns out he was secretly working against us, I'll kick him. Which will leave a bruise on your shin. Sorry.
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Re: Past Meddlework

Postby Ethan » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:50 am

And the kid says I'm a paranoid. No, I was onboard with literacy. But every two-bit magician hates it when the audience knows enough prestidigitation to see through their tricks. That's my disadvantage. Yours, well...

Fiddle with a mind and your meme has one entry point to the human species. Build a building, paint a painting, and everyone who sees it for half a millennium will be infected by it. Old argument, I know. And your way, the results are more direct, more exact. Less localized, since people move more than sculptures. Unless Napoleon storms into your country and steals everything you ginned up for the glory of his homeland, which admittedly, I didn't plan on, so it would be graceless of me to take credit for it.

In any case, there's room for both approaches (and this isn't the first time I've admitted it).
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Re: Past Meddlework

Postby Phil » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:41 am

Sorry, forgot this discussions was happening. My point is that I'm not convinced that they are two different approaches. We don't build buildings; we influence how they are built. Remember, you're talking to the guy who convinced--uh, whoever that was back then--to meddle with Shah Jahan in 1631, and then meddle again with his architects. So, yeah, the one is more direct, the other potentially more powerful. But at bottom, it's coming back to the same thing it always comes back to: what do we mean by "better?" As always, the answer is: It depends.

As for prestidigitation, that's exactly what makes it different from using gimmicks for illusion: even those who know how it is done can appreciate the skill.

And now, yes, I'm arguing just for the sake of arguing. So what else is new?
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Re: Past Meddlework

Postby Ethan » Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:31 pm

Been trying to save the argument for when I had a better rebuttal than "I always hated that shirt, anyway. Didn't suit you nearly as well as you thought." But I'm running low on time to make it, and I like the thought of picking fights for old times' sake. The kid is more of a team player, despite my best efforts.

The Taj Mahal was an exquisite piece of work. It still is. I'm not going to bother jerking off by reciting my own list of edifices, you know it anyway and it's beside the point. And the point, as I see it, is one of the things we have in common with the nemones: a legacy. We all want one. Us more than most, to be honest. And I was sick to death of watching our efforts sputter and die one flagging mortal mind at a time long before I was old enough to really know what that could mean. Everyone repeats the same mistakes in every generation. However far forward we inch, it isn't enough to correct them. We have to teach them. Admittedly, setting ourself up as gods wouldn't pay off in the modern world, but it sure got the Egyptians to sit up and pay attention! And anyone who's ever grazed back to Mohenjo Daro, well... we had something there. And then it went away. All memory of it lost and squandered among the nemones... except the parts we put there in stone. Whichever of us did that -- and I suspect it was a great many of us -- was a genius the likes of which we should weep to have seen shaded.

I'm sick of losing things that way. Have been for centuries. And now I'm losing me, and I'm even sicker of that. Yeah, the kid's a worthy successor. Yeah, he's not going to forget what I taught him. But it was mine, dammit!

It isn't just that I've built my last building, and spend all my days scribbling plans for new ones you lot had damned well better see to completion. It's not the buildings. It's the fact that they're the only things more immortal than we are. They can do the work after we're gone. We can't come right out and tell the nemones who and what we are, what we're doing and how and why... but if we really want to teach them how, the teacher has to be able to keep hitting switches without us. Has to inspire like we can, and last as long as us.

Exegi monumentum aere perennius

reglalique situ pyramidum altius,

quod non imber edax, non aquilo impotens

possit diruere aut innumerabilis

annorum series et fuga tempoum.

Non omnis moriar multaque pars mei

vitabit Libitinam; usque ego postera

crescam laude recens, dum Capitolium

scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex.

Dicar, qua violens obstrepit Aufidus

et qua pauper aquae Daunus agrestium

regnavit poplulorum, ex humili potens,

princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos

deduxisse modos. Sume superbiam

quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica

lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.



Horace knew what I'm talking about.

-Q
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Re: Past Meddlework

Postby Phil » Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:43 pm

Qing, I think we have helped make things better. I think you have helped make things better. Yeah, I know, we hate each other's breathing guts (and you have no taste in shirts). But, if you really think you're shading, this isn't the time to concentrate on our failures. Look at what we've done for medicine: ask any mother how she feels about the decrease in infant mortality. Yeah, sure, there is poverty and suffering; but not as much as there would have been without us. Progress is real, and we're part of progress. That is fact.

I know, I know, it isn't as good as it could be. ὁιοί τ’ ἐσμὲν κρείττονεϛ. But look what we've done.

I don't like you, Qing. Never have.

But if you shade, I'll mourn you.
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Re: Past Meddlework

Postby Ethan » Sat Jul 07, 2012 4:45 pm

Of course I made things better! Of all the times to get conciliatory, you have to do it when I'm trying to pick a fight? Sure, tell the maudlin old man he accomplished something.

Should have insulted the Taj Mahal, that would have gotten your attention.

-Q
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Re: Past Meddlework

Postby Alexander » Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:42 pm

A collection of seeds: all the tokens, black and red, on my baize and leather backgammon board square.

The black pieces document the careful groundwork including research, switches, analysis and incrementalist in-garden discussion, done back in 1935-1936 to try to reconcile various party leaders in the Transcaucasus, including most notably Beria and Lakoba.

The red pieces detail the actual outcome, which is to say, Beria's poisoning of Lakoba, the fake assassination attempt on Stalin, the various Caucasian purges and show-trials leading eventually to the Great Purge itself with its million-plus deaths and catastrophic rending of the fabric of Soviet-era society, not to mention the decapitation of the Red Army leadership, who mostly didn't deserve it, and the NKVD leadership, who did.

This enormous and atrocious debacle was brought to mind by some current events in Moscow that fortunately didn't lead to any very terrible outcome, but could have. So I thought I would collect all the relevant seeds in a single place as a cautionary tale against high-level direct meddling with crazy and powerful people, especially megalomaniacs and schizophrenics.

I'm still working on assembling seeds for the recent events in Moscow; more later in another thread when I have them satisfactorily arranged.
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