Peter_deT t1_je4aw29 wrote

Law enforcement agencies keep investigative information close - often down to the investigative team, doling it out in small packets on a strict 'need to know' basis (with the team judging who needs to know). This is a major block to effective intelligence work, but they are all paranoid about leaks, and well aware that higher-ups will leak for publicity, fellow officers jump on their turf and others are connected to the targets. The FBI follows this pattern. The CIA, as part of the intelligence community, does not trust law enforcement, for all these reasons, and shares on a selective need to know. It does cooperate with the rest of the intelligence community, at least on the gathering side (less so on operations).

They do run joint clearing centres, with wide access, but these again have issues with dissemination. Basically, there's no single standard for clearance, little coordination and a lot of mutual mistrust.


Peter_deT t1_jdzvq32 wrote

The outer perimeter alert gave a soft buzz. I tapped my ear-piece and the control room reported that a known hostile, tentatively identified as Galax, had triggered the system. I relaxed: Galax was probably just passing by, and my lair was well-concealed. I picked up the thread of conversation with Duella.

"Sorry for the interruption. Just a random hero. If you think this internship is not working out, do you have any ideas about what else you might do?"

She was uncharacteristically nervous. "I do, but I'm not sure if I should tell you now. Umm, I haven't seen the Command Room in a while, and I'm sure you've made some changes. Could we take a quick tour?"

"Sure. Just let me finish my tea. I have done a few things to the place. It's not finished yet, but .." I was about to tel her of the latest improvements when an alarm went off and the control room reported again. It definitely was Galax, and he was coming directly for the main door.

"Uh, honey, we have a situation. That hero has somehow located this place. He'll be at the door in minutes. I'll have to deal with this."

Duella nodded vigorously. "If you like I can leave and come back later."

I considered. "No, the Control Room is the safest place, and you wanted to see it anyway. Come on."

On a Control Room screen I watched Galax march directly up to my hidden front door and start smashing it in. It was designed to yield fairly quickly - just tough enough to let the hero work up a sweat, just weak enough that they got over-confident. The small maze beyond would baffle him while I considered my choice of weapons. There it went, and the crimson-clad oaf was through. He hesitated, mumbled, counted on his fingers, and took the correct passage, and then again, and again. I frowned. Duella drew a breath, and I glanced sideways to see her leaning forward, lips parted. She picked up my glance and smoothed her face over. What was my daughter playing at?

Galax by-passed the honey-badger pit and somehow figured out how to disable the air-shark trap. He was calling something out. I activated the mikes.

"Suella, I'm coming for you! I'll save you! Never fear! Galax is here to rescue you, Suella dearest!"

"Suella?" I queried. Duella blushed. "He thinks he's rescuing you? From me? Why?"

"I , er, I may have given him the idea that I'm attracted to him."

"To Galax? I had thought better of you."

"He's very stubborn."

"I can see that," I said, gesturing to where he was working doggedly on the adamantium door puzzle-trap. He had lost six fingers already, which must be painful even if they did grow back.

"Oh, well. I did say that I had made a few changes. Watch." I tapped in Program Number 42, the door sprang open, Galax sprang forward, to see myself holding a pistol to Duella's head. He shot a ray which would certainly have held me, and probably snap-frozen Duella, the hologram vanished as did the floor, and acid-squids did the rest.

"Now, daughter, just why did you give him the location of my hide-out, and a guide to the traps?"

Duella looked down, then spoke rapidly. "He is very stubborn, wouldn't take no for an answer, and you have always said he was a major pain in the arse. Then, it's your birthday coming up, and I knew you wanted to test the new gear. So I gave him a few clues. Well, actually, I practically coached him. He isn't - wasn't - very bright.

Which brings me to what I want to do instead of the internship. Dad, I want to join you and rid the world of obnoxious entitled super-heroes."

"That's my girl."


Peter_deT t1_jduykza wrote

There are other factors involved. The dinosauria had very efficient lungs and light bones, and seems to have dominated over most types of terrain. Kangaroos have evolved connective tissues between the diaphragm and the legs, so use their leaps to power their breathing, and are very efficient over long distances. They do fine against wild dogs (dingos).


Peter_deT t1_jdt9uld wrote

This is pretty much nonsense. We have a lot of knowledge of forager societies (there are none now that live in a 'pre-contact' way), and none were run like dictatorships. A very common pattern is that any male who tried that path was killed - usually by the entire band so that no one person was responsible. There were people - mostly male - who were acknowledged as the best warrior or shaman or hunter, but they had to be careful not to push the boundaries. Not that societies were equal - arrangements varied, but males were ahead of females, and elders over the younger, and adults over children.


Peter_deT t1_jb92b78 wrote

Stirrups originated on the steppe quite late - 4th-5th century CE and spread both east and west. Before that, cavalry was still effective - as the Persians, Hannibal, Alexander and others showed. You could, with training, use spears and swords without falling off. The Sassanid Persians developed heavy cavalry, with high-cantled saddles, extensive armour and lances, before stirrups.


Peter_deT t1_j9o9rl5 wrote

Brennu-Njal (The Story of Burnt Njal) is a near-perfect novel - balanced twisted, winds to an end and an epilogue that are complete and satisfying. I read it to my younger sister, to my son, and to my mother, and my copy is worn, and I still tear up at a few moments.

Grettir and Egil are excellent adventure stories, and Egil is a wonderfully complex character - a violent psycho, a great poet and occasional hero.


Peter_deT t1_j531nzf wrote

We are in a cooling phase radiatively. But that is a slow process - some thousands of years before we go into an ice age. Global warming is not only counter-acting that, it's going well past to temperatures not seen for a million years or so.


Peter_deT t1_j45ug6t wrote

Western Germany and Austria had a lot of small farms. When the men went to war, the women (and the old and the very young) replaced them. They were critical to the supply of food and other materials. From early in the war Germany drafted labour from Occupied Europe for farm work (and much else - they ended with over 11 million slave labourers).


Peter_deT t1_j3jwj25 wrote

Departments and state finance have been around a long time. Budgets much less so. Medieval governments did not have budgets - they had expenses and revenue and tried to keep the two in line with borrowings and irregular taxes (there were also regular taxes). Probably only England had a high degree of central accounting from around 1000 CE. Others had royal personal revenues, dues from subordinate units, a crown domain, revenues raised by administrative units directly (the director of the mint takes a cut as his pay or similar - very common up to the 18th century), often spread across multiple jurisdictions with different tax structures. So a ruler struggled to get a consolidated picture of revenue and expenses, and most did not bother. It was only from the late many European C18 states started to copy Britain and Prussia and have annual budgets.


Peter_deT t1_j1oico6 wrote

They overwhelmingly wanted the shah gone. What came after was not agreed.

I lived in Iran (teaching ) in 78, had Iranian friends and have tried to follow things since. Iran as a whole has several splits - it's basically all Shi'a, which is a fairly flexible branch of Islam (you choose your ayatollah and follow his teachings, but can switch - and it acknowledges the need to interpret the Koran and hadith in the light of modernity). But the urban middle and upper classes are all closely connected and look back to the pre-Islamic Persian past as much as to Shi'ism (if you are named Darioush or Kyroush then you're 'Persian', Hassan and Ali and Reza are Shi'a names).

The urban poor and rural people were offended by the Shah's corruption and over-riding traditional norms, and disturbed by his Westernisation. The middle and upper classes were outraged by the corruption and the abuses of the secret police, and also offended by the vulgar side of westernisation. They united against the shah after a couple of incidents. The established opposition politicians (people like Bazargan) were rejected when it became clear they were fence-sitters.

After the shah fled, it became a struggle between Khomeini (whose political theories were and are controversial), as the leader of the poor and the committed Shi'a - who wanted a Shi'a republic - and the middle classes who wanted something more like the Mossadegh period. Khomeini won. The new constitution was approved by referendum, with a high turn-out, despite calls from some opposition for a boycott (the margin is exaggerated, but it was widely endorsed). The Iraqi attack consolidated the regime.

Since then Iran has evolved from a petro-state to a mid-sized industrial power. Sanctions have spurred this - and also cemented a sense of grievance. Middle class protests break out every few years, and the politics continue to swing within a limited range.


Peter_deT t1_j1dasgx wrote

It took the Nazi a decade to build the institutions and the mind-set to carry out their program. It was deliberate and structured - even if it started on existing foundations. And while brutality is common (although not as common as the news would have us think), this form and scale are very rare. It can be avoided.


Peter_deT t1_j17wtst wrote

Mostly raids against the civilian population (the English called these chevauchees in the Hundred Years War). The aim was both to damage the other side's resources and pressure the local nobility into defecting to your side. Each noble or town that came over expanded your zone of control and diminished that of the enemy. This involved lots of minor skirmishes, perhaps some attacks on fortified positions if these looked vulnerable, and possibly a siege against some key position. In western Europe 1100-1300 it involved lots of negotiation, intercession by third parties (the Pope, maybe the Emperor in the German lands, or the French King before 1200), assertions of right and so on.


Peter_deT t1_iyf88nd wrote

Infant mortality was high (one estimate is that the average Roman woman had to have 5 children just to keep the population constant), and higher still in urban areas. A large urban area like Rome would have been particularly unhealthy. Throw in a very competitive political environment, the tendency of younger emperors to be killed before they could marry and that emperor remained always an office (open to anyone who had enough support among the military 'electorate'), rather than a hereditary position, and 'dynasties' rarely lasted more than 2-3 generations.


Peter_deT t1_ixfhfoi wrote

Mummification went back into Egyptian pre-history. Started with burying bodies in hot dry desert sands, which preserves them. Then elaborated progressively from there (something similar happened in other places, like Peru). They did not believe in reincarnation, but certainly saw the afterlife as involving a material body (later burials included a shabti - a ritual doll - with the inscription 'when in the afterlife I am called to work in the fields, you, my shabti, will go and work for me'). They don't seem to have taken this to a literal extreme - after all mummification involves removing the brain and internal organs, which would make it hard to function as one does in this life.


Peter_deT t1_ivwgq79 wrote

First - the Mediterranean religions were very different from each other, although all were polytheistic. Some had dedicated priests, some did not (Rome had both dedicated priests and a role for male heads of families, who led worship of the household gods). Some had a focus on individual devotion (most notably in Syria), some were more communal. Socially, worship was an occasion for an expression of civic virtues and often a celebration of significant events (foundings, victories), plus benefaction and display of status.

The gods ranged from local powers of a spring or grove through (in Greece) personifications of emotion or capability (Love, Memory) to supernatural aspects of society (the Avengers) or cults devoted to particular activities (War, Agriculture) to sources of law and justice (Zeus the Law-Giver). How you conceived of them and what you did were highly contextual. Priests knew the right way to conduct the rituals and the appropriate prayers, so were experts on the care and feeding of the gods. They often had authority at certain times and occasions, and sometimes their persons were sacred (as in Vestal Virgins). The rites could be arcane - one High Priest in Rome had to sleep on a bed in contact with the earth and could not see a man in chains (if he did the man was immediately freed).

In short - the world was numinous, everyone acknowledged this and did their best to placate the invisible powers, and some people were professionals at this.


Peter_deT t1_iv5ekn6 wrote

I wonder what species? There are a lot of wallabies, from ones that live near the snow to rock-wallabies to brush ones and so on. The latter ones would do well in a Hawaiian forest.


Peter_deT t1_iur2qbx wrote

Part of the CIAs calculation was that the Castro regime was unpopular, and the landing would be greeted with enthusiasm. The marines were a backstop against pockets of die-hard resistance after the invasion had succeeded. As it happened, the local militia gave the invaders such a hard fight that it was obvious that any invasion would be prolonged and bloody. Hence Kennedy's call. Maybe Bush II should have read the memo?