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Messages - xasop

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Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: European federalism
« on: Today at 12:10:12 AM »
If you concede that your opinions don't matter, I shall respectfully agree and we can move on.
My opinions matter just as much as those of the other 447 million people in the EU. That's how democracies work.

Scotland never really understood what being a nation was. They are more a collection of tribes whose only real bond is mutual jealousy of their more prosperous and successful neighbours to the South. England is stable. France is Stable. Portugal is stable. Scotland is a basket case.
Your unabashed imperialism does nothing to bring me to your point of view.

If you don't understand how Germany dominates Europe and the EU via its leverage in the EU, its banks, its trade, its corporations etc, then you won't understand everyone else's fear of getting crushed by them. Germany is the biggest most powerful country in the EU and it flexes its muscles all the time. It imposed the troika on Greece, it imposed the migrant crisis on Italy, refused to let the EU help out Spain, it told Hungary they must take refugees after Germany had the reckless open door immigration policy and when Hungary refused, the Germans pushed to block their regional development funds. And now Germany wants to get rid of the power of veto so that "smaller countries cannot get in the way of policy of larger countries". Germans hold all the top jobs in Europe and the Euro is geared for Germany's economy at the expense of everyone else ... keeping low export costs for German manufacturers and burying those with debts. They control everything. You never read the links I provide but you should read the one below and understand the fear of Germany.
I always read your links. You, however, do not.

None of this explains how 19% of the EU population, which currently has 14% of MEPs and 4% of Commissioners due to the deliberate overrepresentation of smaller countries, can dominate a democratic system. Each individual German voter has the least say in the EU at present. Making the EU fairer would involve increasing Germany's influence. None of this points to German domination, and nothing in your post nor your link contains anything but opinions.

You can stick a Ferrari badge on a Citroen. Its still the same piece of shit underneath.
I'm flattered you think of us Europeans as Ferraris. What does that make you, a Mini?

If you are so convinced I can't change my nationality, why do you associate me with Australia, a country I immigrated to?

No. You don't get to annex a part of the UK. How about we get the rest of Ireland back? It used to be ours.
Níl seans faoin spéir.

Ulster has never ever been a part of the EU ever. So there is nothing to give back. Why would we give Ulster to Germany?
You wouldn't. You would give it back to the Republic of Ireland, which is a member of the EU.

We didn't lose a war. We VOTED to leave. We don't have to hand over territory and we won't.
Actually, you do, under certain circumstances. Have you read the Good Friday Agreement? To paraphrase, it says that if a majority of people in Northern Ireland want reunification, you have to give it to them. We just need to wait for the clown you've put in number 10 to make another few of his signature cock-ups and I'm sure they'll be ready to leave.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: European federalism
« on: June 24, 2021, 11:08:01 PM »
So they should be united against their will because you like the notion? Noted.
Why do you think having an opinion is the same thing as believing others' opinions shouldn't matter?

Mmmm. Really nothing changed. We still run everything from Westminster as we have for 1000 years. Adding Scotland to our country isn't really destabilising it. It is more bolting a vassal to it.
Quite a lot has changed for Scotland. Is that what you mean by "stable"?

Yes, I know. Again, we are the country that does that and everyone else copies. and it's a great system. But your thread is about throwing 1000 years of hard won rights in the bin, and federalising the nation into a German superstate.
Do I really need to explain this again? Here, have a recycled reply.
Germany has 19% of the population of the EU. I know you're having trouble counting today, but 19% is significantly less than the 50% needed for them to "rule" a democracy.

I don't even know what you are arguing at this point. You've ceased to be coherent.
I'm not arguing anything. I'm explaining why your misuse of the word "country" caused you to become confused.

I don't give a squirrel's scrotum how you identify. YOU don't get to identify yourself. Other people do the identifying and if you look like Ned Kelly and sound like Ozzy Man, I'm going to identify you as an Aussie.
You can identify me however you like, but I don't have to care. I should have an Irish passport by this time next year, but even if I turn out not to qualify by some technicality, next year will be my fifth year in the Netherlands. That means I'll be eligible to naturalise as a Dutch citizen. Either way, I will be an EU citizen by 2023 and I don't intend to look back.

One would hope having spent many years in Australia, you'd realise how absurd making Australia into part of Federal China is. Every bit as absurd as making the UK into a part of Federal Europe.
I'm not interested in the UK beyond the border in Ireland holding back European integration. Just give us Ulster back, you can have your sOvEreIgNtY, and we'll have our glorious United States of Europe.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: European federalism
« on: June 24, 2021, 10:23:27 PM »
This is not true at all. The Flemish do not want to be unified with the Netherlands at all and opinion polling shows that. You just made that up to suit your narrative.
I didn't say a majority of the Flemish wanted it, I said it was the goal of (some in) the Flemish nationalist movement. That movement is based on a shared culture and language.

What? You said there were no nations and that it was a modern creation. I showed this to be more made up nonsense from you.
I was talking about nation-states, not nations, and I acknowledged that I could have chosen my words better. Why are you pointing out what I said again, after I corrected myself?

Now you are saying I'm implying that it is stable ... well it is. Some of these countries ... mine included, span a thousand years or more. Find me a thousand year old federation and we'll talk.
The state in which you live (whether it is a nation-state is dubious at best) is about 200 years old, as we've established. You are carefully switching between the terms "nation" and "country" to take advantage of the confusion your government has created with the marketing term "country of countries", so let's be precise and avoid the word "country".

There was no self-determination for the English people before England became a constitutional monarchy — they had no vote for whom their unelected kings married.
??? Why would we choose another man's wife for him? This is the British Isles. Not Love Island.
There's no need to choose another man's wife for him. A better solution, the one you ended up with, is not to let one man choose who runs the country by marriage in the first place.

In 1215AD we get the magna carter. From that point on ... English peasants have a say.
This is the second time you've brought up the Magna Carta, and I'm beginning to think you don't actually know what it's about. It was a great step forward for its time, but it didn't bring about democracy overnight. England didn't achieve anything remotely resembling modern democracy until several centuries later.

I never said it was a nation state. You said my COUNTRY has only been around for 200 years. I disputed that. My country ... England, has been around much longer. Now you are arguing against a thing I never said.
We were speaking in the context of nation-states, and internationally, the terms "country" and "state" are generally synonymous. You are capitalising on your government's ludicrous "country of countries" stance to muddy the waters.

Also, I made a suggestion for Australia ... I feel like you ignored it.
Quote from: Thork from ages ago
I propose that New Zealand and Australia become part of the Federation of China. I mean, they are all near each other in the Pacific and it would allow people to travel between them all without passports. Many Chinese already live in Australia so really it just makes sense. Plus think of all the great food. The nation state seems to be dead anyhow. Joining China seems to be the only sensible option available to Australia ... you know, now that we've accepted that the nation state is impossible. Enjoy your fried bat and dog sandwiches.
I don't know why you think repeatedly bringing up Australia makes any difference to me. I was not born in Australia, I do not live in Australia, I have no intention of ever returning to live in Australia, and I don't identify with Australian culture. Australia is not my country.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: European federalism
« on: June 24, 2021, 09:38:49 PM »
So these people aren't looking to be united under one umbrella ... ok, noted.
They, or at least some Flemish nationalists, are looking to be reunited with the Netherlands. They don't want to be part of Belgium. If we put the Netherlands and Belgium into the same European superstate, everyone gets their way.

Look ... a war took place lasting almost 100 years over this. There was much terrorism. Many people died. We sorted it out ... its called the Good Friday agreement. Its done. We aren't going back on that or we'll be back at war.
You have already jeopardised the GFA, while celebrating the achievement. You don't have the moral high ground here.

The nations of ancient Greece, Rome (before it became an empire), Egypt, the borders of Portugal were defined in 1139 almost 1000 years ago, Japan is a couple of thousand years old, even France was founded in about the 5th century. Nations have been around for a very long time.
Ancient Greece went through a variety of different forms of government at different times, Rome was absorbing other nations long before it became an empire, Portugal — though nominally independent — has had many Spanish kings, and Japan has been repeatedly divided and reunified over the centuries. It is true that I should have said that the idea of a democratic nation-state hasn't been commonplace until the last couple of centuries, but even then, it certainly hasn't been as stable as you are implying.

False. We had all those foreign royals not because they were defeating us, but because we arranged marriages to secure further powers and alliances. At no point in history have the Germans defeated us and put a German king on the throne. Nor the French. William the conqueror was a Norman ... descended from Vikings ... not gauls. The Dutch never beat us either nor the Spanish. Marriage is not 'the might of the sword'. Learn2diplomacy.
I am aware that not every monarch came to the throne through might, but these marriages were not arranged with input from the people of England, they were arranged by royal families only interested in keeping power for themselves, and those royal families gained their power through might in the first place. There was no self-determination for the English people before England became a constitutional monarchy — they had no vote for whom their unelected kings married.

What on earth are you talking about?
I'm English. England has been around for ages. The UK is a unitary state. A country of countries ... my country still exists thank you very much.
I don't think you understand what a unitary state is. The internal subdivisions of the UK are irrelevant, and England's existence as such a subdivision does not make it a nation-state — it is a nation, but not a state.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: European federalism
« on: June 24, 2021, 08:28:19 PM »
You've been living in Europe for what ... a year and they've turned you into Adolf Hitler already.
Still haven't got the hang of counting?

No it bloody well isn't. You are so ignorant. The Netherlands is culturally Dutch reformed (protestant) and the Flemings and Walloons ... now Belgians ... were Catholics. The Walloons didn't want to be ruled by a bunch of Protestants. They wanted to join up with their Catholic brethren to the south and so the FOUGHT A WAR for their independence!
The Walloons are the southern half of Belgium, not the northern half. While it may have been true once that religious differences were the most important factor to most people, the Netherlands is now majority irreligious with more Catholics than Protestants. Other than religion, Flanders shares a language and culture with the Dutch but not with the Walloons, which is why there is a strong Flemish nationalist movement today.

Christ on a bike. The Protestant Irish in the North felt they had more in common with the English, than with the Catholics in the south. Are you seeing a pattern yet? They voted by a landslide to remain part of the UK, when the Republic left. Their choice.
They felt they had more in common with the English because the English planted them there to ensure dominance. Even so, they make up barely a majority of the population of Northern Ireland today, and they are easily a minority on the island of Ireland, which should never have been partitioned in the first place.

Catalonia doesn't belong to Spanish culture,
Interesting. All Catholic, all speak Spanish ... all in Spain. Are you trying to offend as many people in one post as is possible?
Spanish is not their first language. If we're counting a second language imposed upon a group as identifying their culture, why did you vote to leave the EU? More Europeans speak English than any other language.

Of course they're all in Spain. If they weren't in Spain, they wouldn't be an example of nation-states not aligning with national identity.

Frisia doesn't belong to Dutch culture,
Besides actually being in the middle of a bunch of Dutch states and all the people speaking Dutch.
Once again, not as their native language.

There are Germans in Italy, Hungarians in Serbia and Russians in Latvia, alongside many more examples, but I think my point is clear.
That because people move around, nation states should be abolished? Better idea ... how about we stop all this immigration. It seems to lead to invasive populations demanding unreasonable changes upon the indigenous inhabitants.
I am not talking about recent migrations, I am talking about established communities that, in many cases, pre-date the formation of the nation-states you so love.

In principle, some of these have straightforward solutions,
I'll concede that the slaughter of all the people who oppose your ideas seems reasonably straightforward.
That doesn't sound straightforward at all, no. Why would you bring it up?

The nation state has functioned just great for thousands of years. It is hardly impossible to achieve. Any map you care to look at has borders and nations. In fact ... almost everyone on earth lives in a nation and not some other kind of organisation. It's a system that works.
The nation-state hasn't even existed for thousands of years. It is a modern invention, accompanying the rise of Western democracy. For most of recorded history, Europeans were ruled by whoever had the mightiest sword, which is why England has had French, Spanish, Dutch and German kings over the centuries.

So doesn't work for the US, doesn't work for australia ...
I didn't say it doesn't work there. Both of those federations have significant problems, but they also provide substantial benefits to everyone involved.

but will be a dead cert for success in Europe where millions of people with around 40 languages will all be part of the same superstate and literally no one will be offended at having fought wars for independence to be lumped in under German rule.
Germany has 19% of the population of the EU. I know you're having trouble counting today, but 19% is significantly less than the 50% needed for them to "rule" a democracy.

We don't accept it is impossible. I live in one. One that has not been invaded for over 1000 years.
Wrong again, even if we ignore the fact that your country has only existed for a little over 200 years.

World champions of war and empire. One with a Queen which we like.
Glad someone does. She's also the queen of Australia and we all think she's a bad joke.

Why do you like the idea of Europeans killing each other so much?
Oh dear. It's not just counting, is it? Is it really this much of a struggle to read?

I thought you said Europe had the best democracy in the world. That doesn't sound very fair.
I guess reading must be difficult for you, then. I never said that.

Think about the current football tournament. Run by UEFA. Or the Eurovision song contest. Do either of these two stop at Europe?

Israel and Azerbaijan will be part of the EU in no time and then deals will be struck for all kinds of shenanigans. If the Aussies can be in the Eurovision, I see no reason why Germany wouldn't want them bending the knee in the EU too.
Indeed, a song contest is entirely comparable to a political union with the power to make fiscal, trade, immigration and foreign policy decisions. Bravo.

My prediction ... Australia will be part of the EU by 2040. The EU is just a trade deal that takes your sovereignty. I can't see Aussie politicians having any backbone to stop that.
Oh dear, we're back to the "trade deal" nonsense. If you're going to come bleating through every thread I make about the EU, can you at least try to learn about what it is?

He is suggesting the UK (my country) gets broken up to achieve his federalist dream.
What happened to not caring about Northern Ireland?

Philosophy, Religion & Society / European federalism
« on: June 24, 2021, 06:00:37 PM »
This is an idea that has been floating around for decades, and still strongly divides opinion. The suggestion is for the EU to federate — each EU member would become a subdivision within one big country of Europe. Until very recently, I was extremely opposed to the idea based on my negative experiences of federation in Australia, and on what I know of the American federal system. But recently, my views have begun to change, and I will try to explain why.

The futility of the nation-state

The main argument I have heard against federation is about the sovereignty of nation-states. The principle behind the nation-state is that each nation, in the sense of a group of people with shared cultural identity, should govern itself based on its own distinct values. But in practice, this is very difficult to achieve, which is why most European states are only approximations to true nation-states. Their boundaries don't actually line up with the borders between nations, which may not be well defined at all.

For instance, the northern half of Belgium is culturally Dutch, while the southern half is culturally French. The Republic of Ireland's border with the UK should be in the Irish Sea, not through the middle of Ireland. Catalonia doesn't belong to Spanish culture, Frisia doesn't belong to Dutch culture, and Åland doesn't belong to Finnish culture. There are Germans in Italy, Hungarians in Serbia and Russians in Latvia, alongside many more examples, but I think my point is clear.

In principle, some of these have straightforward solutions, nevertheless made politically challenging by the dominant culture's reluctance to grant a minority self-determination. Others cannot be reasonably solved regardless of political circumstances — no matter how you draw up the Germany–Poland border, you are going to leave some people on the "wrong" side, unless you create a maze of exclaves. We can therefore conclude that the nation-state is an impossible idea to achieve in practice, outside of isolated (in the literal sense) examples such as Iceland.

Federalism as an alternative to nation-states

Once we accept that the nation-state is impossible, the primary argument against European federation disappears. On the other hand, the European Union's motto is "united in diversity", which speaks to its goal of respecting and valuing the various national identities within it. So, counterintuitively, European unity has greater potential for the recognition of differing cultures than the unachievable nation-state model, in which the values of the dominant culture in an area can suppress those of minority cultures.

Furthermore, the EU already has a better democratic system, in my view, than either the US or Australia. I don't think we should ignore the problems present in other federal systems, but I no longer believe their existence is a reason not to try to do better, either. Any concrete proposal for federation should look at federal systems around the world, adopt their strengths, and learn from their weaknesses.

Practicality: Is this the time and place?

If we assume for a moment that federalism is desired, is this the appropriate juncture for it? Personally, I don't think so. There are still many obstacles the EU must overcome to be ready to federate. For one thing, Serbia and Montenegro are currently in the process of negotiating their accession, with more prospective members hoping to begin negotiations in the coming decade. Such a radical reform of EU politics as federation would disrupt these negotiations by calling into question the stability of the union.

Another reason not to federate just yet is that the EU still has some way to go to in terms of democratisation. Currently, the number of MEPs is allocated based on, but not directly proportionally to, the population of each member. Consequently, a resident of Malta has roughly ten times as much political power as a resident of Germany. Also, the requirement for unanimity in the European Council has no place in a federal system.

Finally, there are practical considerations. Only 19 of the 27 members of the EU presently use the euro. Only 22 participate in the Schengen Area, a situation that depends on Irish unification to satisfactorily resolve. Then there are various microstates that participate in the Eurozone and the Schengen Area, but which are not members of the EU — should they be included in a European federal state?

In summary, I do now support European federation, but I do not see it happening until at least the 2040s — enough time for Ukraine and Georgia to submit their applications to join, and if accepted, for them to be integrated into the union. Enough time to reform the democratic system, and enough time — hopefully — to work through the issues blocking adoption of the euro and Schengen. But only time will tell.


This is also pretty interesting, you can see how different countries differ in how many members they've elected in each group. France and Germany in particular have markedly different levels of support for the different groups. Germany has much greater support for EPP and Greens/EFA, while France has more Renew and ID MEPs. As expected, half of Poland's MEPs are ECR (PiS), but I'm surprised by how many GUE/NGL MEPs Ireland has. Here in the Netherlands, we seem to have a good balance of centrist, centre-left and centre-right parties, with not many extremists on either side.

It's also pretty obvious that Brexit has changed the balance of power a bit — aside from the Non-Inscrits members (all but one of whom were from the Brexit Party), the UK had a lot of Renew (Lib Dems and Alliance Party) and Greens/EFA (Green Party, SNP and Plaid Cymru) MEPs. Somewhat ironically for their propaganda campaign, this means that the Brexiteers have increased von der Leyen's relative power in the EU by leaving, since the UK had no EPP MEPs whatsoever.

As someone who likes both Renew and Greens/EFA, it's sad to see them go, particularly the Plaid Cymru members who have spent the past 20 years campaigning for the recognition of the Welsh language in the EU.

That sounds interesting. Are you familiar with the Citizen’s Assembly in Ireland?
I wasn't, but that seems interesting as well. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

With it becoming increasingly obvious that elected officials are not necessarily more qualified at crafting legislation than many non-elected people, it seems like systems that broadly engage the population in consensus building is a bright possibility for the future of democracy.
I agree, with qualification. Many bills legislatures need to deal with are routine, not very interesting to most people, and would never cross the mind of the average citizen. So, while I do think direct involvement in democracy is important, it cannot replace representative democracy as the primary form of government, only supplement it.

Also, there is the inaugural plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe tomorrow morning at 08:55 CEST

This turns out to be far more interesting than I expected. They are launching a website for the participation all EU citizens, available in all 24 official languages of the EU. This conference will involve direct participation from citizens all over the EU, with particular emphasis on young people, minorities and those who have not previously been involved in EU democracy. The idea is for citizens, not MEPs, to put forward ideas and suggestions, which will then be debated in the EP and concrete proposals formulated.

I think this is a brilliant idea, and another example of the great influence for good that the EU is on democracy in Europe. People from all over the EU will be able to find others with similar ideas across the rest of the EU and discuss and debate them, and at the end of it, see tangible results from the process.

I've been exploring the European Parliament website some more. The MEP search lets you slice the 705 MEPs any which way you want — by country, by constituency (for countries with more than one), by political group or by membership in committees or delegations. Once you've found the MEPs you're interested in, you can see a list of all the speeches they've made in Parliament with a transcript and a video link. Very helpful when trying to decide whom to re-elect.

Also, there is the inaugural plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe tomorrow morning at 08:55 CEST (June 19, 2021, 06:55:00 AM your time, if your offset is correctly configured in the forum settings). I'll try to watch that, since it'll be my first chance to watch a plenary live.

The primary problem with the EU is that its structure heavily mimics the outdated and completely worthless UK parliamentary system (as do many other European nations).
What you're observing is not "mimicry" of the UK, but just how Western democracies work in general. As I pointed out in my OP, the EU is in some ways more similar to the US than to the UK, but that doesn't mean it's "mimicking" the US either.

The irony that the UK can't handle being part of a government that's nearly an exact replica of their own government because it's incompetent is completely lost on them.
As are many other ironies of Brexit, apparently.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / The workings of European democracy
« on: June 17, 2021, 08:14:14 PM »
I've never looked very deeply into the workings of the EU, as someone who is ineligible to vote in European elections. The system of numerous institutions spread across three different cities always seemed a bit daunting. However, I am almost certainly going to be eligible to vote in 2024, so I decided it is time to educate myself so I can decide who to vote for in a few years.

For those of you who are not European, and our British residents who still do not understand what they opted out of, I will provide a brief summary here. The EU is composed of seven institutions; of these, this discussion will be limited to the four that comprise the legislature and executive, as these are the ones voters can most directly influence. The other three — the judiciary, the central bank and the auditing body — are a topic for another time.

Despite much propaganda thrown around regarding the supposedly undemocratic nature of the EU, it strongly resembles most Western democracies in its structure. Where appropriate, comparisons will be drawn between EU institutions and the institutions of other democracies.
  • The European Parliament (EP) is comparable to the lower houses of many bicameral parliaments around the world, such as the House of Commons in the UK, or the House of Representatives in the USA. It is elected directly by eligible voters in each member state, although the exact criteria for voting eligibility vary by state, with an election held every 5 years. As the only institution directly elected by the people, this will be discussed in more detail below.
  • The European Council (EUCO) and the Council of the European Union (Council) are, taken together, somewhat analogous to the upper houses of many parliaments, such as the Senate in the Netherlands or (somewhat more loosely) the USA. (A comparison with the House of Lords in the UK would be too strained, given how undemocratic the British system is.) The purposes of these institutions are to represent member states, rather than representing the people directly. The EUCO is comprised of the heads of government of each member state, and the Council rotates its membership according to the topic under consideration — for example, when the Council is convened on environmental issues, it will be composed of the Ministers for the Environment of each member state.
  • The European Commission (EC) is the executive of the EU. It consists of 27 members, one from each member state, who are appointed through a process involving both the EUCO and the EP. One difference between the EC and the executives of most other democracies is that the EC need not be elected from within the ranks of the EP, but since the EC cannot be formed without the approval of the EP and it relies on the EP's continued support to do its work, it is no less democratic. The current President of the European Commission, analogous to the prime minister in most democracies, is Ursula von der Leyen.
I will now go into some further detail on the EP, as this is the most directly relevant institution to voters. Rather than the familiar party-based approach, the EP is organised into groups, which are groups of members (MEPs) with similar ideologies. This arrangement, as opposed to organising MEPs by the state they represent, facilitates cooperation between the representatives of different member states with similar political views. Generally, each group will be composed of the elected representatives of ideologically related European political parties, although there are exceptions where different members of a party have joined with different groups. European parties, in turn, are formed from cooperation between national parties of member states with similar ideologies.

This idea may be easier to grasp with an example. The largest group in the current EP is the European People's Party Group (EPP Group), made up of the eponymous European People's Party (EPP), along with some representatives from the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM). In turn, the EPP is made up of various national parties, including:
  • Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU) in Germany,
  • Partido Popular (PP) in Spain,
  • Platforma Obywatelska (PO) in Poland,
  • Νέα Δημοκρατία (ND) in Greece,
  • Fine Gael (FG) in Ireland, and
  • Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA) in the Netherlands, among many others.
So, if a German voter were to cast a vote for the CDU in an EP election, that would translate into a vote for the EPP, and their representative would ultimately sit as part of the EPP Group. Groups in the EP will generally have a leader who speaks for them in plenary sessions, as in this session from last year, where each group presents its response to President von der Leyen's proposed funding to recover from the pandemic.

This system results in some odd incongruences. For instance, I would not support either of the major parties (Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael) in Irish national elections (assuming that I were eligible to vote), but so far I like the Renew Europe (Renew) group, in which Fianna Fáil participates. Conversely, I like some of Partij voor de Dieren's positions in the Netherlands, but they have chosen to align themselves with the group The Left in the European Parliament (GUE/NGL), which is too left-wing for my taste, so I would not vote for them in a European election.

In order to facilitate clear communication between people of differing backgrounds, and to minimise the misunderstandings that come with language barriers, MEPs are permitted to speak in any of the EU's 24 official languages. A team of expert interpreters translates all statements into 23 of these in real time (Irish is presently excluded due to the difficulty in finding qualified interpreters), so that all MEPs can understand each other, and all European citizens can understand each session. EP sessions are available to watch, live or recorded, online in any of the 23 EU languages other than Irish.

This is all fairly new to me and I am still getting a handle on how it all fits together, but this is as good a summary as I can give of what I have encountered so far. As for the reason I began looking into this, my own views seem to fit somewhere in between the groups Renew and Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA), and the EP sessions I have watched so far seem to confirm this. I'm going to keep watching EP sessions and try to get to know the system a bit better so I can make an informed choice in a few years.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 15, 2021, 09:59:05 PM »
The Tánaiste has an interesting proposal.

“Our vision should be different. It should be one that has the best chance of carrying the greatest number of people with us, North and South.

“It should appeal in particular to that middle ground I spoke about earlier, to gain the support of people who identify as both British and Irish.

“So, unification must not be the annexation of Northern Ireland.

“It means something more, a new state designed together, a new constitution and one that reflects the diversity of a bi-national or multi-national state in which almost a million people are British.

“Like the New South Africa, a rainbow nation, not just orange and green.”

I have some reservations — the comparison to South Africa seems ill thought out, and the orange in "orange and green" represents the British in Ireland, so that is already a symbol of this kind of unity — but I can get behind the point he's trying to make. Hopefully it's not just hot air like Boris's speeches.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 14, 2021, 11:17:17 AM »
British trade and the G7 I am interested in. Northern Ireland ... don't care. You changed the subject. You made the thread interesting again.

You're the one who is veering off topic, which I would like you to stop doing. I was talking about Boris's comments on Northern Ireland specifically. You can read the thread title if that confuses you.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 14, 2021, 11:13:40 AM »
Stop picking the wrong side.

What happened to not being interested in this thread? I'm not going to let you waste any more of my time until you answer my previous question, otherwise you're just going to vanish again next time the discussion gets too uncomfortable for you.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 13, 2021, 03:42:55 PM »
Boris Johnson continues to be all flash, no photo.

But pushed further by reporters about the French president's alleged remarks, Mr Johnson said he and the rest of the government "make the point continuously that we are all part of one great indivisible United Kingdom".

Considering his government is the one who has divided the United Kingdom, this lip service from Boris is frankly more offensive than anything Macron said.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Coronavirus Vaccine and You
« on: June 11, 2021, 01:50:28 PM »
I received my invitation to book an appointment for vaccination today. Finally, this will all be over.

Update: I have made an appointment to be vaccinated. I'll have my second jab at the end of July.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trans athletes
« on: June 08, 2021, 04:09:39 PM »
Also, we're really over looking team sports here: low risk of injury (outside of American football) and based on team strength rather than individuals. I played on a mixed gender soccer team for a season and it was fine. I mean, our team was shit but that's because we had two guys who show-boated the entire time and never actually played as part of a team. Me and another guy even collided and went down but I didn't break any oh so fragile feminine bones under him or anything.
That may be the case most of the time, but given how biased public perception of gender-based violence is against men, I really wouldn't want to be the man who bumps into a woman and risks an accusation of assault. An accusation of being unreasonably physical from another man is far less damaging than an accusation from a woman. Until we fix that, I wouldn't be surprised if men don't want to be in mixed-gender teams with women they don't know well.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trans athletes
« on: June 08, 2021, 02:18:18 PM »
Rather than argue about whether gender identity is valid, it may be more constructive to take it for granted and instead consider the goal of having separate sporting events for men and women. My understanding of the goal is that it gives women a fair chance to win events without competition from (on average) physically stronger men. That is, gender is not important per se, but rather the fact that half the population is not on a level playing field with the other half. If women were equal to men in physical strength, but brown-haired people were weaker than blonde-haired people, we would instead have sporting events segregated by hair colour.

If we accept, then, that gender is no more than an incidental part of the reason why we have women's sporting events, we can begin to consider what is significant. I can see a few options:
  • Abolish all gender segregation in sport and allow the best athletes, of any sex and gender, to win.
  • Establish some standard by which trans people can be medically certified as having transitioned to the point that they are of typical stature for their target sex, and hence permitted to participate in sport for that gender.
  • Base segregation in sport on sex at birth, and not gender, while acknowledging that these are now mixed-gender sporting events to accommodate trans people.
  • Abolish gender segregation in sport, but establish a tiered system where athletes compete against people of similar physical stature to them, regardless of sex or gender.
The first option would undoubtedly mean that men win most events, which would upset feminists and risk injury to women in contact sports, so it is not ideal. The second is extremely difficult to get right due to the fact that differences between the sexes are only broad averages, so whatever standard is chosen, it will do nothing to settle the controversy.

I therefore posit that the third and fourth options are the only workable ones. That is, we need a reform of gender-segregated sport. The question is whether to base the admission criteria on physical sex, or on some other means of classifying physical strength.

Technology & Information / Re: NFT my posts
« on: June 02, 2021, 08:29:23 AM »
I bid $1.
And it begins. I'd like a Lambo so dig deep guys.

I bid $1.01 CAD

I bid €1.02, on the condition that Thork accepts my payment in euros and doesn't require me to convert to any other currency.

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