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The Even Cooler Stuff From [History] Thread

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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic Registered User regular
    That_Guy wrote: »
    On the other side, you have some of the worst venereal diseases that have ever been seen by man. Syphilis still remains incurable with no known vaccine. In 1990 alone Syphilis killed some 250,000 people worldwide. Syphilis has been blamed for the downfall of many noble houses in Europe leading to breakups in power. Polio and Hepatitis have also been big killers throughout history.

    Err...what? It's just a bacterial infection that responds to antibiotics. There's been some resistance but it's very treatable.
    Thinking about it, the new world diseases are slow painful killers. The old world diseases sweep through and wipe out all in it's path quite quickly. What do you guys think? What side has done more damage in body count?

    I don't think it's really close unless you include nicotine addiction as a new world disease.

    chrishallett83Julius
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited February 2015
    That_Guy wrote: »
    On the other side, you have some of the worst venereal diseases that have ever been seen by man. Syphilis still remains incurable with no known vaccine. In 1990 alone Syphilis killed some 250,000 people worldwide. Syphilis has been blamed for the downfall of many noble houses in Europe leading to breakups in power. Polio and Hepatitis have also been big killers throughout history.

    Thinking about it, the new world diseases are slow painful killers. The old world diseases sweep through and wipe out all in it's path quite quickly. What do you guys think? What side has done more damage in body count?
    Ask any doctor about Syphilis. Or better yet, let's ask Web MD. You know, that website that always tells you that you're going to die and you have no chance to survive (make your time!)?
    How Is Syphilis Treated?
    If you've been infected with syphilis for less than a year, a single dose of penicillin is usually enough to destroy the infection. For those allergic to penicillin, tetracycline, doxycycline or another antibiotic can be given instead. If you are in a later stage of disease, more doses will be needed.

    People who are being treated for syphilis must abstain from sexual contact until the infection is completely gone. Sexual partners of people with syphilis should be tested and, if necessary, treated.

    The problem is tertiary syphilis. If you let the infection go on too long (several years), it starts affecting your brain and creating tumor-like masses in other parts of your body. At that point, the damage is already done.

    The vaccine isn't needed because the cure is antibiotics, which are remarkably effective. What happens when penicillin drugs (or penicillin-likes) don't work? You use a different antibiotic. Syphilis does not generally have resistance, and what resistance it does have can be easily bypassed, unlike, say, some staph aureus species. The plague of syphilis is simply the combination of cultural taboo (we just don't talk about sex or sex diseases) and access to health care services.

    EDIT: As far as interesting historical treatments for syphilis: We used to inject mercury into patients with syphilis. It caused horrible side effects, but it generally "cured" the syphilis (but left the patient with heavy metal poisoning, which can cause lifetime side effects). Arsenic was used later, mostly due to less (but still terrible) side effects (again, heavy metal poisoning).

    Also, syphilis has ALWAYS been blamed on "the other" historically. Here's a quote from the Journal of Military and Veteran's Health (note: This article has an awesome historical overview of syphilis):
    Syphilis had a variety of names, usually people naming it after an enemy or a country they thought responsible for it. The French called it the ‘Neapolitan disease’, the ‘disease of Naples’ or the ‘Spanish disease’, and later grande verole or grosse verole, the ‘ great pox’, the English and Italians called it the ‘French disease’, the ‘Gallic disease’, the ‘morbus Gallicus’, or the ‘French pox’, the Germans called it the ‘French evil’, the Scottish called it the ‘grandgore‘, the Russians called it the ‘Polish disease’, the Polish and the Persians called it the ‘Turkish disease’, the Turkish called it the ‘Christian disease’, the Tahitians called it the ‘British disease’, in India it was called the ‘Portuguese disease’, in Japan it was called the ‘Chinese pox’, and there are some references to it being called the ‘Persian fire’.

    Hahnsoo1 on
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    PSN: Hahnsoo | MHGU: Hahnsoo, Switch FC: SW-0085-2679-5212
    programjunkieElldren
  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    One of the great things about those nicknames is you can see how the disease spread eastwards following early infected sailors returning to Spain.

    It then probably reached China through European traders, and then the Chinese brought it over to Japan.

    Errybody havin' seeeex

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
    a5ehrenNocren
  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    I don't think it's really close unless you include nicotine addiction as a new world disease.

    While we're at it we could include cocaine-related deaths in that tally, I guess.

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  • That_GuyThat_Guy I don't wanna be that guy Registered User regular
    I stand corrected

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    Geth
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    Keep that line up and we'll have to blame the New World for the Irish Potato Famine.

  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Putting off writing about a-bombs until tomorrow.

    Instead have an entire Yale history course, The Early Middle Ages 284-1000



    And course materials:

    http://openmedia.yale.edu/cgi-bin/open_yale/media_downloader.cgi?file=/courses/fall11/hist210/download/hist210.zip

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
    BlindPsychicGnome-InterruptusElvenshae
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    Keep that line up and we'll have to blame the New World for the Irish Potato Famine.

    Julius Ceaser was assassinated in a failed attempt to stop World War One. His actions lead to the formation of the Roman Empire, which with its need for continual expansion lead to instability and civil war, leaving Anatolia and the Balkans vulnerable to Ottoman dominance which posed such a significant strategic threat to Russia that they felt compelled to mobilise when their own Balkan influence was waning.

    RchanenBlackDragon480Phoenix-DElldrenElvenshae
  • tyrannustyrannus Registered User regular
    I’d like to talk to you about Enron and mark-to-market accounting. I think it’s something that’s been beaten to death but I wanted to talk about the subject because mark-to-market is something we actually still use today.

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    So, Enron was originally an interstate pipeline company that got really big through a series of mergers. It’d be fair to say that Enron was Houston-based, considering that Ken Lay, CEO of Houston Natural Gas, (one of the Companies that merged and formed Enron) became the chairman for Enron.

    So, after these mergers, Enron eventually expanded its operations, moving into ridiculous things like broadband services and commodity trading (and weather trading but that’s hilarious). At its peak Enron was the 7th largest Company on the Fortune 500 and had annual revenues of $100 billion the year before the shit hit the fan. It wasn’t really an energy company anymore. Enron turned into more of a securities trading firm that just happened to get started in the energy business.

    Mark-to-Market Accounting
    Accounting-wise, Enron’s natural gas business was pretty standard. Their revenue recognition model was based on when it was earned. It was only until Jeff Skilling joined the Company did things get tricky. See, he wanted this thing called “mark-to-market” accounting. What this type of accounting allows for was when Enron signed a long-term contract; they’d normally be required to recognize the revenue when it was earned. So the income from a five year energy supply contract (one of these derivatives) would normally be booked over 5 years.

    Enron’s argument was the income from these long-term contracts could be securitized and sold to outside investors. The rights to collect, Enron argued, therefore qualified for accounting different treatment. They argued that the treatment for these rights was the same as the treatment for derivatives. Derivatives are usually pretty messy financial contracts whose values are tied to an underlying variable, such as the price of commodities, stocks or bonds. Eventually, Enron got special approval to actually book all five years’ worth of income into the year when the contract was signed.

    Wait, This Is Okay?
    Jeff Skilling’s (the CEO of Enron) argument was that the trading business portion of Enron was more like a financial services company. These are the types of companies that get to use that type of accounting. So, Enron’s trading in energy futures was akin to trading in financial instruments, which actually makes some sense. However, this was the first non-financial company to ever get to the opportunity to get this type of accounting.

    So Enron, with some help from its accounting firm, Arthur Andersen (who later dissolved as a result of the Enron scandal), wrote to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), who deal with this shit, with the above argument. The SEC, and the old head dude of it, was understandably nervous about this accounting treatment. It had no precedent for their industry. But then the SEC got a new head dude, whose name was Walter Schuetze. Remember how I mentioned Enron being a Texas company? Well, this new dude, Walt, had the following background: He was Texan, he fuckin’ loved oil and gas, and he loved mark-to-market.

    That very month, they get the approval. All in all, 35% of its Enron’s assets, or $22 billion, got to use this type of accounting. Later, Enron got to extend it to its other types of trading contracts.

    Enron’s Revenues
    The way that Enron would book these revenues was they would estimate all the future cash flows resulting from this long-term contract, bring these cash flows to the net present value through discounting, and show the revenue (gain) on their profit and loss statement in the year they signed the contract.

    Think of it this way:
    hNkQvWv.gif

    Say you want to invest $2,000 now, receive 3 yearly payments of $100 each, and then get a terminal value of $2,500 in the 3rd year. You use a 10% discount rate to bring it all cash flows back to now. This rate is based on risk. Just..just accept the rate for right now.

    So, the value of this contract is $126.97 By entering this contract now, you're going to be better off by $126.97. So that's what they'd typically book as the income in the first year.

    So, in Enron’s case, they would build, like a power plant. Like, for example, Sutton Bridge. It was a power plant that was going to start providing power in 1999. But, as soon as they built the power plant in 1997, they’d immediately claim the projected profit as income. Note the huge gap between the cash flow (which is zero) and the profit (which is fucking a lot).

    Of course, sometimes these assets would actually lose money. When that’d happen, these assets would be transferred to an off-the-books entity so Enron would actually never have to show the losses. Also, as a fun note, but this is where the real accounting fraud was. Basically, Andy Fastow, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), came up with a pretty crazy plan. This plan was to use special purpose entities (SPE) to hide the assets, and use Enron stock to compensate investors. This is totally another crazy area that I can’t get into here without blowing minds, so let’s just say that the use of these let Enron have its mark-to-market cake and eat it too.

    Mark-to-What-Exactly?

    So, when we talk about marking to market, it’s important to understand what the hell the “market” is that Enron is marking these things up to. So, the assets that Enron is trading in are very esoteric. It’s not like you can Google these things like you can stock prices. So what Enron would do is that they would pay firms like Arthur Andersen, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and other financial institutions to either come up with reports that give these assets a value, or they’d prepare the valuations themselves and want to get them fact checked. Either way, these valuations were often highly optimistic and in a number of cases not performed “independently”. What I mean by that is that the people review the valuations were so on Enron’s take and so consumed with bias that that Enron could say the thing was worth $100 million and the analysis would say $125 million.

    Let me give you a better example.

    Blockbuster
    So, in mid-2000, Enron is gangbusters. Everyone wants a piece of Enron. In July, Enron offered to make a 20 year exclusive deal with Blockbuster. Yes, the old place where you’d rent videos on VHS and buy old candy and have some teenage jerk be a dildo about how you owe $40.00 in late charges.

    So, instead of buying Netflix, which Blockbuster totally could have done, they inked this 20 year deal with Enron so Enron could play telecom provider. The plan was for Blockbuster to provide on-demand videos over Enron’s broadband network. Enron, at this point in time had a coast-to-coast fiber-optic network that and they felt that this would be the “killer app” to create demand.

    By now, Enron has gotten very good at derivative contracts. They’ve been selling the right to the collect the earnings from these deals to outside investors. For this deal, Enron started a tiny partnership, called EBS, whose purpose was to get someone to pay for the future earnings Enron would record its investment in this little tiny partnership as ONLY an asset on its balance sheet and then, when it could, mark it to market. Enron, using the valuation techniques discussed above, figured it could get more than $110 million dollars from the deal, which the accountants at Arthur Andersen approved.

    So, who eventually gave the $110 million to EBS? Some bank. This bank however only did so in return for a promise that most of the earnings from the Blockbuster deal goes directly to the bank and if these earnings weren’t enough, Enron would repay the bank. Enron got to get around recording this liability through the use of Andy’s SPE’s. So, all it now shows is an investment in EBS.
    So, now the little tiny partnership EBS now has the cash. The little partnership now says it has increased its revenue because of the deal. And Enron gets to benefit from that by marking up its investment in the little partnership to market, which was roughly $110 million dollars in total gain.

    What was the problem? Enron never had developed the technology to deliver this service. Blockbuster never actually had the rights to show these videos. I mean, the pilot program was rolled out to like, 1,000 people in Portland, Oregon and only a handful of them even paid for it. And the program sucked, nothing worked as it should have .The deal was doomed from the start and in March 2001 the exclusive agreement with Blockbuster was terminated.

    So, to summarize, there were no contracts for delivery of movies, games, TV, sports, music ever signed. No one ever did a damn thing. And yet, Enron got to book $111 million of revenue.

    We Still Use This?
    So the paradox here is that mark-to-market, when it’s going to be the most accurate, is when there are complete markets for the thing. Like, a freely traded stock has an easily determinable market value. The esoteric derivatives that Enron was trading, however, didn’t, and thus management estimates would heavily drive the values of these derivatives. Don’t get me wrong, Enron’s failings were their valuations of the fair value of these investments were heavily influenced by management (to the point of fraud) and the use of outside agents supplying valuations (which were always way too optimistic). In a world where the losses would have to be reflected in the financials, temporary flips in the market which could results in financial assets being marked down substantially could have a domino effect across the entire economy. I mean, you can see a lot of this in banking and it was a huge factor in the last financial crisis we had.

    However, fair value can provide more relevant and reliable information about the value of an asset than historic cost. Think about how awesome Manhattan is, and then put into your head that the historic cost for Manhattan is $24.00. You don’t get to adjust it. It’s $24.00. If I listed that as something I was willing to sell, is that really the true value of it?

    How We Do it Now:
    By the way, we still do things this way. NPV, Discounted Future Cash Flows, all of this stuff are stil ldone today. However, nowadays, there are more regulations around fair-value accounting and more disclosure that must be made around assets whose values are determined by mark-to-market accounting. For example, a Company that hands out loans has to value these loans that they handed out at fair market value. What they will typically disclose is that the fair values of the securities are not publicly traded, and that the value is not readily determined. You see these types assets classified as different levels, such 1, 2, and 3.

    Just know that 1 is easy (think Microsoft stock) and 3 fukkin’ sux (Enron’s assets would be retroactively categorized as 3).

    Nowadays, we also have a different definition for "market". The summarize current market definition is basically it has to should be a clear price that is set by someone other than the person that is offering the security for sale or holding the security.

    Anyways, this post was pretty comprehensive, but the topic of How We Do It Now is...outside of history! But if anyone wants me to go into further detail about Andy’s SPEs, I can.

    GooeyKanaprogramjunkieMazzyxsurrealitycheckspacekungfumanronyaMayabirdDarkPrimusDevoutlyApatheticVegemyteL Ron HowardRMS OceanicCindersGnome-InterruptuskedinikElldrenYoshisummonsdestroyah87MagellHahnsoo1NijaElvenshaechrishallett83HefflingrockrngerJobless Anarchistnever dieApothe0sisNSDFRandNightDragontuxkamenForarStormwatcher
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    There are many elements of Enron's conduct which are straightforwardly and intuitively inappropriate, but the scandal did touch on several areas of accounting practice where appropriate behaviour is not so clear. In particular:

    - when, exactly, is reporting net revenue (i.e., less costs of good sold) more appropriate than gross revenue? Intuitively, when the goods sold have some liquid value, perhaps on the open market, and the economic value added by the company doesn't alter this value - perhaps the company is eBay. But many actually-existing-and-legit companies have business models with unclear distinctions in how, exactly, they add value. Enron was probably not pursuing a financial institution's primary economic activity, i.e., pursuing diversification to reduce risk. But what, exactly, is the business model of the P&G parent company? What about General Electric?

    - what should 'arms-length' in mark-to-market accounting mean?

    - there's a kind of shell game going on in who, exactly, is charged to actually do the economic work in all of this "capitalism" nonsense. You may think, perhaps, that it is senior management who are responsible for making overall capital allocation decisions, you know, that nasty work which Gosplans and central planners fail horrendously at. But no: it is shareholders who appoint senior management, and it is they who take the risks (hopefully). So is it shareholders? But no: many shareholders are large and ponderous institutional investors, who as a matter of public trust devolve investment decisions to funds, actively or passively managed. So is it fund managers? But no: a fund, even an actively-managed private equity fund, would typically still have to justify its diligence to its investors, and it does so by invoking the authority of auditors and credit ratings agencies. So is it third-party assessors, floating as objective ethereal gods over the squabbling in the pit? But no: any assessor would have to work so closely with the company that it cannot do so at arms-length, so it is senior management who decide which assessors to work with... management bilking foolish investors in a zero-sum way is one thing, but damaging a public interest in an effective economy in a negative-sum way is another.

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    Elvenshae
  • tyrannustyrannus Registered User regular
    The Securities and Exchange Commission's answer, as a result of Enron, was to hold management responsible. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, section 302, “Corporate Responsibility for Financial Reports,” requires the CEO and CFO of publicly traded companies to certify the appropriateness of their financial statements and disclosures and to certify that they fairly present, in all material respects, the operations and financial condition of the company.

    Now the CEO and CFO can face huge penalties if they say the books are good when they're not. Five-year prison sentences, fines, etc. Usually, shareholder lawsuits accusing companies of fraud could be settled using money from an insurance policy. Executives rarely had to pay out of their own pockets. Now they do.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    that deters enronesque conduct of paper-traily manipulation and such overwhelming contempt for regulators that they would say things their lawyers would rather they not say, but a lot of legit economic activity is pretty ambiguous over what accounting principles would be appropriate

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  • tyrannustyrannus Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    The rule of thumb for FASB is that it takes five years to draft a standard, and about 4 hours for someone to find a loophole. I'll have another fun accounting related fraud in here soon, though!

    tyrannus on
    electricitylikesmeElvenshae
  • ElldrenElldren Is a woman dammit I'm a good person yes it's trueRegistered User regular
    Kana wrote: »
    One of the things about the purple heart is that while it's true a whole heap of them were manufactured, WW2 was the first major war where purple hearts were a thing, they came after WW1. So of course we made a ton of them, up until then we hardly had any. Far easier to fill a couple of warehouses with them and be done with it than like, making them to order.

    We had talked about this in the Middle East thread and I keep meaning to do an in-depth post on it, but there were heaps of reasons why the US decided to drop the bomb, the foremost being "because we had it." Indeed it's kind of a misnomer to even phrase it "decided to drop the bomb", as it suggests there was one single moment where the US leaders actually sat down and officially decided to use the weapon, when the goal from the beginning was to deliver a weapon that could and would be used.

    Preventing casualties from an invasion were never one of those reasons though - after all, the Americans had complete air superiority and a tight naval blockade of Japan, why did they even need to invade when they could destroy Japan at their leisure? Invasion plans were already well off the table even before the first Atomic bomb was tested - much to the frustration of General MacArthur, who would have been in command of the operation.

    Preventing an invasion was, however, still cited in propaganda supporting the use of atomic weapons

    fuck gendered marketing
  • ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    I think there's a large qualitative difference between an atomic bomb as a clumsy weapon that costs a non-negligible fraction of GDP to make and then has to be literally dropped out of the back of a lumbering bomber that itself requires essentially total air superiority to reach its target, versus their use via railway or even submarine-launched ballistic missiles

    the first situation does not really invite reflective questions over humanity or the lack thereof, simply because the prospect of its widespread use doesn't even seem like a imaginable scenario

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  • GooeyGooey (\/)┌¶─¶┐(\/) pinch pinchRegistered User regular
    edited March 2015
    As long as we're talking about Enron, let's talk about Lou Pai.

    kwlg0x3ifd7s.jpg

    Lou Pai was the enigmatic teflon-clad CEO of Enron Energy Services, a subsidiary of Enron. A Chinese-American immigrant, Lou Pai was born in Nanjing, China, and brought to the United States when he was 2. Pai went to the University of Maryland, and worked for the SEC until he joined Enron in 1986. In the documentary "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room", former Enron employees referred to him as "the invisible CEO" for his tendency to be, well, absent from his duties.

    "What was Lou Pai doing when he should have been doing his job?" you may ask. Good question!

    Lou Pai was well-known to spend an inordinate amount of time (and Enron's money, thereby shareholder's money) at Houston-area strip clubs during working hours. He reportedly submitted so many large expense reports for strip clubs that Ken Lay actually put out a company-wide memo saying that Enron would no longer reimburse expenses at strip clubs. He used the corporate jet "like a taxi" and would regularly expense lavish lunches for himself and his direct reports at local Houston fine restaurants.

    Pai's love for strip clubs eventually led to an affair with stripper Melanie Fewell (who was also married), and resulted in a pregnancy. When Pai's wife found out, she filed for divorce and demanded her share of Pai's 338,897 shares of Enron stock and 572,818 Enron options. Pai liquidated his shares and options, and walked away with approximately $280,000,000. Shortly thereafter he resigned as EES CEO (can you really resign when you are never around to begin with?), married Fewell, and bought a ranch in Colorado large enough to make him the state's 2nd largest landholder. Pai's Colorado ranch was 77,500 acres (121 square miles, 314 square kilometers) and had a 14,000 foot mountain on it; and it only cost him $16 million!

    A few months later the Enron accounting scandal was exposed (in part because Lou Pai's exit helped to hasten the exposure that his divisions had been, in fact, hemorrhaging cash - along with the rest of Enron), and everything went pear-shaped. Most Enron executives and upper management were brought up on charges of insider trading, but not Lou Pai. His stock sales were part of a court-mandated divorce settlement, which are exempt from insider trading laws. Lou Pai has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing in regards to the Enron scandal, and has exercised his Fifth Amendment rights in the resulting lawsuit.

    There you have it; the teflon CEO. Has an affair with a stripper, divorces his wife, walks away with nearly $300 million right before the largest corporate fraud scandal in history, and will never go to jail.

    Oh, and that Colorado ranch he bought for $16 million? He sold it 5 years later for $60 million. The teflon CEO indeed.
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    Gooey on
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  • DoodmannDoodmann Registered User regular
    cckerberos wrote: »
    If you want to read a really great back and forth on the A-Bomb issue, I recommend this roundtable about Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's book Racing the Enemy (scroll down). I haven't followed the literature for the last couple years, but as far as I know Hasegawa's is still the most recent "big" book on the issue and the first (in English, at least) to draw heavily upon Russian sources. Hasegawa contributes to the roundtable, as does Alperovitz (essentially the father of A-Bomb revisionism), Frank (whose book Downfall was the first to make extensive use of the MAGIC intercepts), and Bernstein (perhaps the most widely published and respected scholar on the subject).

    Reading scholarly discussions like this have made me very wary about anyone who feels there is a simple answer to this. I'm personally inclined towards the view that both the Soviet declaration and the Hiroshima bombing were needed to cause Japanese capitulation. It's been a few years since I've really studied the question, though.

    I actually took Hasegawa's class while at UCSB! It was one of the most interesting teachers/topics I experienced through all of college.

    Kana
  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    I disagree with the Mongols -> Messed up Middle East. I'd attribute that more to how France and Britain handled the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire.

    If it hadn't been for the Mongols its likely neither France, Britain, nor the ottomans would have controlled those areas in the first place. Its no accident that the most technologically advanced and prosperous part of the world for the next few hundred years was the one major part of Eurasia Mongols didn't manage to conquer.

    GethRchanenRhan9Elvenshae
  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    Let's not forget the part that the Mongols played in ruining Russia and the rising nations there.

  • EncEnc A Fool with Compassion The Land of Flowers (and Dragons)Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    ~snip~

    Enc on
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Enc that's above the 500KB image limit. Have the video instead!



    As my dig at Julius Ceaser for starting World War I implies, attributing credit/blame for historical things can disappear down a rabbit hole. The Mongols unquestionably shaped the world they were part of for good and bad, but attributing an unstable Middle East to them centuries after the fact is stretching things, methinks. I could only see that if there was no stability from then to now, and that's not the case.

    Enc
  • Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    I don't think its that much of a stretch. Babylon/baghdad was a center of power for thousands of years, as was northern Iraq/syria. The mongols were directly responsible for turning those areas from one of the richest and most powerful in the world into a backwater. The population in iraq didn't recover until the twentieth century and the agriculture and irrigation systems arguably still haven't recovered. The mongols were directly responsible for the center of power in the middle east moving out of iraq and persia and into anatolia. Had an arabic power centered in Baghdad or even a turkic state centered in Iraq remained strong rather than the ottomans it's difficult to imagine the area being remotely similar to the present.

    Geth
  • JepheryJephery Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    I don't think its that much of a stretch. Babylon/baghdad was a center of power for thousands of years, as was northern Iraq/syria. The mongols were directly responsible for turning those areas from one of the richest and most powerful in the world into a backwater. The population in iraq didn't recover until the twentieth century and the agriculture and irrigation systems arguably still haven't recovered. The mongols were directly responsible for the center of power in the middle east moving out of iraq and persia and into anatolia. Had an arabic power centered in Baghdad or even a turkic state centered in Iraq remained strong rather than the ottomans it's difficult to imagine the area being remotely similar to the present.

    The Age of Discovery shifted the center of economic activity in Europe to the Atlantic instead of the Mediterranean and made the overland Silk Road irrelevant, so you can argue that the Portuguese did more to turn Baghdad into a backwater than the Mongols.

    Jephery on
    }
    "Orkses never lose a battle. If we win we win, if we die we die fightin so it don't count. If we runs for it we don't die neither, cos we can come back for annuver go, see!".
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  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    I don't really want to awesome the post about Lou Pai since he's kinda not awesome, but I do want to Hail Hydra it.

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  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    OK, so the dropping of the atomic bombs is a really interesting and also super depressing topic which has a lot of things that have to be considered.
    1. Why did Japan surrender / what effect did the bombs have on Japanese decision-making?
    2. Why did America drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? And what did they know about Japanese decision-making?
    3. Did dropping the bombs prevent an invasion / prevent a greater loss of life?
    4. Were dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki justifiable given the answer to the previous question?

    Each of these questions have been debated for decades, with revisionism and then more revisionism as more data becomes available and new interpretations arise. I'm gonna try to give at least a rudimentary coverage of each question, and then save my own arguments for afterwards. Though I'll start out by pointing out that the answer to one of these questions doesn't necessarily invalidate the others - Nagasaki could have been after the decision to surrender was made by the Japanese, but meant to save lives by American leadership that didn't know that yet. Or if we suppose that Japan surrendered because of the atomic bombs, it still doesn't inherently mean that therefore the bombings were A-OK morally. And so on.

    Of any of the questions, "why did Japan surrender?" has seen some of the biggest drift in opinion. After the war the narrative seemed pretty obvious: We raced to develop the bomb, we dropped the bomb on August the 6th, we dropped another one on the ninth, the next morning the Japanese signalled their intention to surrender. Ergo, the bomb made the Japanese surrender. Headlines in August of 1945 like "Peace in the Pacific: Our Bomb Did It!" demonstrate that the conclusion was drawn before there were even American boots in japan.

    The problem is that this approaches Japanese decision-making from an American timeline.
    Historically, the use of the Bomb may seem like the most important discrete event of the war. From the contemporary Japanese perspective, however, it might not have been so easy to distinguish the Bomb from other events. It is, after all, difficult to distinguish a single drop of rain in the midst of a hurricane.

    In the summer of 1945, the U.S. Army Air Force carried out one of the most intense campaigns of city destruction in the history of the world. Sixty-eight cities in Japan were attacked and all of them were either partially or completely destroyed. An estimated 1.7 million people were made homeless, 300,000 were killed, and 750,000 were wounded. Sixty-six of these raids were carried out with conventional bombs, two with atomic bombs.

    From our perspective, Hiroshima seems singular, extraordinary. But if you put yourself in the shoes of Japan’s leaders in the three weeks leading up to the attack on Hiroshima, the picture is considerably different. If you were one of the key members of Japan’s government in late July and early August, your experience of city bombing would have been something like this: On the morning of July 17, you would have been greeted by reports that during the night four cities had been attacked: Oita, Hiratsuka, Numazu, and Kuwana. Of these, Oita and Hiratsuka were more than 50 percent destroyed. Kuwana was more than 75 percent destroyed and Numazu was hit even more severely, with something like 90 percent of the city burned to the ground.

    Three days later you have woken to find that three more cities had been attacked. Fukui was more than 80 percent destroyed. A week later and three more cities have been attacked during the night. Two days later and six more cities were attacked in one night, including Ichinomiya, which was 75 percent destroyed. On August 2, you would have arrived at the office to reports that four more cities have been attacked. And the reports would have included the information that Toyama (roughly the size of Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1945), had been 99.5 percent destroyed. Virtually the entire city had been leveled. Four days later and four more cities have been attacked. On August 6, only one city, Hiroshima, was attacked but reports say that the damage was great and a new type bomb was used. [...]

    In the three weeks prior to Hiroshima, 26 cities were attacked by the U.S. Army Air Force. Of these, eight — or almost a third — were as completely or more completely destroyed than Hiroshima (in terms of the percentage of the city destroyed). The fact that Japan had 68 cities destroyed in the summer of 1945 poses a serious challenge for people who want to make the bombing of Hiroshima the cause of Japan’s surrender. The question is: If they surrendered because a city was destroyed, why didn’t they surrender when those other 66 cities were destroyed?

    Even before the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, urban Japan was nearly wiped out. Of all towns and cities in Japan of more than 30,000 people, only 17 had not yet been bombed. 5 of those large cities - Hiroshima, Yokohama, Kokura, Nagasaki, and Niigata - were only spared because of their selection by the atomic target committee as suitable atomic bomb experiment targets. Kyoto was spared from the target list only due to the intervention of secretary of war Stimson, and then spared from the firebombing list because General LeMay and Leslie Groves were still hoping to restore it to the list. 4 other cities were spared because they were on northern Hokkaido, too distant for mass bombing raids or strategic importance. Point being, even before the dropping of the atomic bombs Japan's leadership had already sat on their hands as the most destructive bombing campaign in the history of war had been waged on their people, and Japan's leaders simply didn't care.

    bth4jumo22se.jpg


    So, why didn't the supreme council care? Well, first the obvious one: they were a military dictatorship who had been ruling at the expense of their citizens for years now. They didn't give a crap about civilian casualties, it's rarely even mentioned in the notes from their meetings. There was no democratic or even aristocratic sense of obligation to protect their citizens.

    The other reason is twofold - The supreme council knew that the war was already lost, but two different camps had competing ideas about how to reach a peace.

    The military were pinning their hopes on an invasion of the Japanese mainland. Destruction of cities was mostly pointless to this plan, as the military had their own hardened stockpiles of fuel, food, and ammunition which were fireproof and usually kept away from cities, as the military had no interest in losing supplies to useless starving civilians. The military were hardening the east coast of Japan, accurately predicting America's planned landing sites, and hoping that Okinawa-like extreme losses on both sides would eventually force the Americans to accept a peace settlement. Swiss diplomatic cables from Japan intercepted by allied code breakers explained as much, "Many [Japanese] eagerly desire the landing of the Americans in Japan proper, since they think it would be the last chance to inflict upon the Americans a defeat serious enough to make them come to terms."

    Meanwhile the so-called "Peace Party", mostly made up of civilian members of the Supreme Council, wanted to use Russia as a diplomatic go-between, brokering a peace that maintained a few of their imperial possessions, protected Japan from war crimes trials (already started by now in Nuremberg), and above all else to preserve the Emperor as the head of the Japanese state. Not that the Emperor held power in the same way as a European monarch did, but he was an innate religious and cultural symbol of Japan, and the idea of the Emperor tried in a war crimes court seemed even worse than the idea of the destruction of Japan.

    The peace party plan was actually pretty logical - Japan really didn't want to fall under the control of communist Russia, but if they could play the Russians and Americans off against each other, Japan might be able to get a better deal in defeat. The emperor, with private reservations about the suicidal last stand that the military was planning, dispatched Prince Konoe, a member of the imperial family, to Russia in mid-July of 1945. Konoe had been out of favor since 1941, when he resigned in opposition to the planned attack on Pearl Harbor, but as the war worsened his stock again rose, and as early as February of 1945 he had told the Emperor that the war was already lost. The hardline militarists, Konoe said, were "the greatest obstacle to a termination of the conflict [...] they are likely to continue fighting to the very end merely to save face."

    Togo cabled the Japanese ambassador to the Soviet Union, telling him of the message Konoe would deliver on the 12th of July, another message intercepted by allied codebreakers:
    His Majesty the Emperor, mindful of the fact that the present war daily brings greater evil and sacrifice upon the peoples of all belligerent powers, desires from his heart that it may be quickly terminated. But so long as England and the United States insist upon unconditional surrender the Japanese Empire has no alternative but to fight on with all its strength for the honor and the existence of the motherland.

    But Stalin ignored his attempts to meet, and then left for the Potsdam conference on the 13th of July. For the next month the Japanese were left sending out vague peace feelers as more and more Japanese died from firebombs and mounting starvation. On July 26th the Potsdam Declaration was announced, signed by China, Britain, and the US, and slightly backtracking from the idea of unconditional surrender, "We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction." The supreme council was deadlocked, unsure of what "unconditional surrender" meant. Instead of leading, they sat paralyzed, refusing to make any decisions at all and apparently just hoping that things would magically get better, even as their ambassador to the Soviet Union continuing berating his superiors over diplomatic cables, pointing out how impossible their hope for Soviet rescue was. Nevertheless, Japan held out hope. The Soviet Union wasn't a signatory to the Potsdam conference, could this be a sign of a political split between the Allies?

    Hiroshima was bombed on the 6th of August, to mostly little immediate concern . The military and Japanese scientists were not ignorant of the theory of atomic bombs, but in notes and eyewitness testimony, the supreme council barely discusses the bombings. It just really didn't change anything about their circumstances. Privately however Togo and cabinet secretary Hisatsune Sakomizu viewed the atomic bomb - if atomic bomb it really was - as an opportunity. Their internal economic reports showed that Japan would be unable to fight for anything more than 2 more months, the atomic bomb would be a perfect excuse to give the military a face-saving way of losing to new technology, rather than overwhelming military realities. Sakomizu tried to have all known information about the horrible power of atomic bombs released to the public to pave the way for a political surrender, only to be stymied by the Chief of Military Information. In the end the Japanese received only contradictory reports, that it was indeed a new type of bomb, but that you could protect yourself by ducking and covering yourself with a white sheet (technically sorta true, in that the white sheet will protect you from much of the initial deadly burst of thermal radiation).

    Then the Soviet Union declared war on the 8th, and the Supreme council was finally knocked out of their deadlock. Both camps' plans were now wrecked - the diplomats naive hopes for a Soviet brokered peace were now impossible, while the military last stand was intended to repel an invasion from the east, not a combined attack from both sides. The old militarists - many of whom had come of age in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05 - were out of touch with the suffering of their own people, but they knew first-hand the potential devastation of a war with the Soviets. The prospect of the council resigning as apology was raised, but they thought it would waste too much time. Stalin, unlike Truman, had little concern with how many of his soldiers would have to die in an invasion. The imperial line might be destroyed by America, but there was zero doubt that Stalin would.

    Nagasaki was then bombed on the 9th, as the full cabinet was already meeting discussing potential peace terms. A messenger arrived to announce the bombing of Nagasaki, which the council acknowledged and then continued their previous conversation. Debate continued late into the night, when Togo maaaassively broke protocol and asked directly for the Emperor's opinion. The emperor backed the idea of surrender, with the one stipulation of the preservation of the imperial line, which America privately agreed to, as long as it was understood that even the Emperor would be under American authority in the occupation. By 7am the Japanese foreign news service, secretly avoiding the Imperial army censors, forwarded on a message to Washington that the Japanese government was ready to accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, on the understanding that it would not "prejudice the prerogatives of his Majesty as a sovereign ruler". Washington privately accepted the terms, while publicly declaring Japan's unconditional surrender.

    Military rebels later tried and failed to block the broadcast of the Emperor's speech announcing surrender, but it was broadcast both across Japan and translated into English by the 15th. The speech, intended to sway the military, blames defeat on the horror of the atomic bombs, a weapon that could not be fought against.

    That is only a reaaaaally skimpy coverage of the Japanese side of things, but clearly it's getting unwieldily long as it is. Next time, before we talk about the American decision to bomb, I'd like to talk about the phrase "unconditional surrender" and what it meant, and why it became such a major hanging point at the end of the war.

    For more reading on the japanese side of things:
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/the-bomb-didnt-beat-japan-stalin-did/ is a good introduction to a lot of the arguments, although I don't agree with all his conclusions.
    Racing the Enemy, by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, one of the most influential books on Japanese decision-making regarding the bomb.
    Hiroshima, Nagasaki by Paul Ham. Combines the works of heaps of previous historians to provide one of the most complete histories about the atomic bombings that I've seen so far.

    EDIT: referred to Togo as Tojo a few times there

    Kana on
    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
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  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    Things I couldn't post because of all that crap in my drafts:

    Korean fletcher making arrows with bamboo! Interesting how different the technique is.


    Cutting planks for a viking-style longship

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
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  • TraceTrace GNU Terry Pratchett; GNU Gus; GNU Carrie Fisher; GNU Adam We Registered User regular
    You really want to blame someone for the state the ME is in today?

    Venice and the 4th Crusade.

    RMS OceanicBlackDragon480SkeithCrimson KingV1m
  • NocrenNocren Lt Futz, Back in Action North CarolinaRegistered User regular
    That talk about the bomb reminded me of something I heard once in response to Akira.

    You know why there are so many post-apocalyptic manga/anime stories? Because Japan is technically a post-apocalyptic society. And not just nuclear either, because damn, look at those numbers.

    newSig.jpg
    RchanenKrieghundElvenshaeEchoHefflingNSDFRand
  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    Nocren wrote: »
    You know why there are so many post-apocalyptic manga/anime stories? Because Japan is technically a post-apocalyptic society. And not just nuclear either, because damn, look at those numbers.
    Damn, I never thought of it that way, but yeah, they are.

    sig.gif
    GethRchanenL Ron HowardHefflingNightDragon
  • RichyRichy Registered User regular
    Trace wrote: »
    You really want to blame someone for the state the ME is in today?

    Venice and the 4th Crusade.

    You want to blame someone for the shitty state of the ME, or Africa, or any other non-first-world country? You can blame the rapacious nature of human beings and our habit to use any advantage and position of superiority to extract whatever we want from those in a weaker state and leave them even worse off, rather than want to help them get better.

    sig.gif
    RchanenRMS OceanicElvenshaeL Ron HowardgjaustinHeffling
  • RchanenRchanen Registered User regular
    Richy wrote: »
    Trace wrote: »
    You really want to blame someone for the state the ME is in today?

    Venice and the 4th Crusade.

    You want to blame someone for the shitty state of the ME, or Africa, or any other non-first-world country? You can blame the rapacious nature of human beings and our habit to use any advantage and position of superiority to extract whatever we want from those in a weaker state and leave them even worse off, rather than want to help them get better.

    True. People are dicks.

    4th Crusade was a massive sausage fest. Dicks just everywhere.

    shryke wrote: »
    The Democrats aren't crazy but they are still, you know, running the US and it's foreign policy. Which is in the "you don't have a global hegemony without bombing a few eggs" wheelhouse.
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Richy wrote: »
    Trace wrote: »
    You really want to blame someone for the state the ME is in today?

    Venice and the 4th Crusade.

    You want to blame someone for the shitty state of the ME, or Africa, or any other non-first-world country? You can blame the rapacious nature of human beings and our habit to use any advantage and position of superiority to extract whatever we want from those in a weaker state and leave them even worse off, rather than want to help them get better.

    The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must.

    Also Homo Homini Lupus

    RichyKipling217hawkbox
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    And just because I love it, Crash Course's summary of how wut the Fourth Crusade was.

  • TraceTrace GNU Terry Pratchett; GNU Gus; GNU Carrie Fisher; GNU Adam We Registered User regular
    Richy wrote: »
    Trace wrote: »
    You really want to blame someone for the state the ME is in today?

    Venice and the 4th Crusade.

    You want to blame someone for the shitty state of the ME, or Africa, or any other non-first-world country? You can blame the rapacious nature of human beings and our habit to use any advantage and position of superiority to extract whatever we want from those in a weaker state and leave them even worse off, rather than want to help them get better.

    That is basically the 4th Crusade yes.

    RMS Oceanic
  • EchoEcho Moderator mod
    Kana wrote: »
    That is only a reaaaaally skimpy coverage of the Japanese side of things, but clearly it's getting unwieldily long as it is. Next time, before we talk about the American decision to bomb, I'd like to talk about the phrase "unconditional surrender" and what it meant, and why it became such a major hanging point at the end of the war.

    This was a great read.

    I once found an old book in my grandfather's bookshelf that had a bunch of stories written by WW2 veterans. One of them talked about how Japan was already ready to surrender by the time the a-bombs dropped. I have some vague memory of that story stating that Japan had already communicated their surrender but things got lost in translation. Might be me misremembering the "unconditional surrender" thing.

    Echo wrote: »
    Let they who have not posted about their balls in the wrong thread cast the first stone.
  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    Kana wrote: »
    For more reading on the japanese side of things:
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/the-bomb-didnt-beat-japan-stalin-did/ is a good introduction to a lot of the arguments, although I don't agree with all his conclusions.
    Racing the Enemy, by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, one of the most influential books on Japanese decision-making regarding the bomb.
    Hiroshima, Nagasaki by Paul Ham. Combines the works of heaps of previous historians to provide one of the most complete histories about the atomic bombings that I've seen so far.

    Coincidentally, I've just started reading Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by Herbert Bix, which an interesting look at Hirohito's life, and considers a different angle for his wartime actions, and being just a puppet, than what I usually hear people forward.

    Elldren
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Kana wrote: »
    For more reading on the japanese side of things:
    http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/30/the-bomb-didnt-beat-japan-stalin-did/ is a good introduction to a lot of the arguments, although I don't agree with all his conclusions.
    Racing the Enemy, by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, one of the most influential books on Japanese decision-making regarding the bomb.
    Hiroshima, Nagasaki by Paul Ham. Combines the works of heaps of previous historians to provide one of the most complete histories about the atomic bombings that I've seen so far.

    Coincidentally, I've just started reading Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan by Herbert Bix, which an interesting look at Hirohito's life, and considers a different angle for his wartime actions, and being just a puppet, than what I usually hear people forward.

    That's mainly because the US pushed the idea of him being a puppet/Babylonian captive because of how we were basically holding the government together. From what I've seen, we've backed away some from that, and acknowledge that he was actively involved with policy in that Era, though the degree is an open question.

    XBL: Nox Aeternum / PSN: NoxAeternum / NN:NoxAeternum / Steam: noxaeternum
    KanaElldren
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    Echo wrote: »
    Kana wrote: »
    That is only a reaaaaally skimpy coverage of the Japanese side of things, but clearly it's getting unwieldily long as it is. Next time, before we talk about the American decision to bomb, I'd like to talk about the phrase "unconditional surrender" and what it meant, and why it became such a major hanging point at the end of the war.

    This was a great read.

    I once found an old book in my grandfather's bookshelf that had a bunch of stories written by WW2 veterans. One of them talked about how Japan was already ready to surrender by the time the a-bombs dropped. I have some vague memory of that story stating that Japan had already communicated their surrender but things got lost in translation. Might be me misremembering the "unconditional surrender" thing.

    If I recall correctly, a Japanese Minister was asked for his stance on the Potsdam Declaration. The response he used would be accurately translated as "No Comment" or "Withholding statement at this time", but was widely reported as "Ignoring it", which may have played into fears that they're going to fight to the death.

  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    edited March 2015
    I've seen a fair amount of criticism for Bix, who tries to pin Hirohito for basically everything. I haven't read his book myself though.

    Not that Hirohito was some innocent or only a puppet, he's certainly complicit in the aggressive military expansion of imperial Japan and the attack on Pearl Harbor. On the other hand, prosecuting national leaders for colonial adventuring would have been pretty rich coming from the allies, and there's little reason to think Hirohito would've had any ability to stop the military from committing more specific atrocities. He couldn't even stop the military from assassinating his advisors that they didn't like, and had to surrender in secret to protect himself from the armed wackos who claimed loyalty to him.

    Which kind of goes to the big cultural difference with a Japanese emperor. The Japanese obviously had immense religious respect for the emperor, but at the same time it was not the emperor's traditional role to make decisions. His advisors would make decisions, and then after the fact the emperor would quietly and subtly express his pleasure or displeasure with the actions taken in his name. And it wasn't at all unlikely that if he wasn't appropriately Imperial, the military leadership would replace him with an emperor who would act appropriately.

    After the war though those considerations were pretty much immaterial though. America knew that keeping the emperor was necessary to maintaining a peaceful Japan, and even during the war were already pretty set on the idea they'd keep him in power. Instead the war crimes trials attempted to pin almost everything on Tojo, who was prime minister during the attack on Pearl Harbor, which was as much a political choice for domestic American consumption as anything else. Tojo was hardly a saint, but he was far from the worst of the Japanese leadership.

    Kana on
    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
    DarkPrimusElldren
  • TransporterTransporter Registered User regular
    Extra History: The Sengoku Jidai (Part 1 of 6)


    Honestly?

    I was hoping this video was Samurai Warriors 4 in it's entierty.

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