Why is Quora Moderation removing any question relating to the banning of Jeffrey Kearns?

Why are Greek cities so ugly?

As usual, there is a better answer than this answer. Vote #1 Yiannis Papadopoulos: Yiannis Papadopoulos’ answer to Why are Greek cities so ugly?

Two factors that have to be added though:

  • The deluge of refugees coming to Greece in 1924. Athens was a beautiful city in the 19th century, as you can tell if you look around the backstreets of Plaka long enough. Greece simply didn’t cope with the sudden increase of its population by a third, whether the refugees were in shanty towns, or when they eventually got apartments of their own.
  • Lack of maintenance (which correlates with Yiannis’ mention of poverty). I spent an evening in the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek suburb in Brussels, a few years before it became famous as jihadist HQ. It was cheap and near the railway station. And it reminded me intensely of Greek country towns. The same crap faded paint, the same blocky buildings, the same vague feeling of staleness.

And Yiannis, of course the Salonica waterfront is prettier than Athens. Hardly a fair comparison. 🙂 (And it’s still not as pretty as it could have been; on my last visit it did look a little run down.)

Who is Michael Koeberg?

Michael is one of my extended circle of fellow language aficionados. I will admit that I do not know him as well as I do others. I have not noticed him posting anything acerbic, but I will note that at times he seems somewhat detached. However, I have also noticed him posting with great empathy about South African politics.

One of these days, I will be asking the same question about myself…

What were the long-range effects of Nixon’s foreign policy?

The world was blessed, that a US president should take so much interest in foreign policy, and stake his posterity on it. The world was cursed, that Nixon was that president, and he squandered so much of his foreign policy on political point-scoring.

From my reading:

  • His biggest legacy was opening up China, and he knew it. The rest of his legacy… mpf.
  • He was stuck with Vietnam, and it was a quagmire: the more frantically he tried to pull himself out (including by invading several other countries, threatening to drop the big one, and dropping all sorts of ordnance anyway), the more stuck he got. Long-range effect: the US deterrent floundered, and Cambodia succumbed with nary a word. But it’s not clear how that outcome could have been averted anyway.
  • The Detente with the Soviet Union was more a gesture than a real breakthrough, and the SALT treaties achieved little—especially because Nixon kept undermining Gerard Smith, the chief negotiator who was trying to do his job. But at least things didn’t escalate when they could have. Some have argued that Detente artificially extended the lifetime of the Soviet Union by a decade; but the Soviet Union’s demise would have been much messier a decade earlier.
  • Allende may or may not have been overthrown anyway without the US’ connivance, and the massacres in Bangladesh weren’t incited by Nixon personally. But the insensitivity with which Nixon & Kissinger handled Chile, Bangladesh, and any number of other crises squandered the moral authority the US had (and it did have it back then).
  • Nixon was out to lunch by the time of the Yom Kippur War, because of Watergate: Kissinger had to handle it on his own. Kissinger, it has not be said, did as best as he could in the circumstances, and whatever mess there has been in Israel before and since can’t be laid at Kissinger’s feet: it long predates him.

What do you value more on Quora, views, upvotes, or followers? Why?

The Magister Michael Masiello has done what Quora is best for—even if it is expressly against the intent of the Founders. He has taken a humdrum question, and turned into a hymn to sodality: Michael Masiello’s answer to What do you value more on Quora, views, upvotes, or followers? Why?

And I’m not saying that because he namechecked me. After all, I NEVER GOT NOTIFICATION OF THE NAME CHECK! AGAIN!

I concur with him (and Habib le toubib before him): the comments show true engagement; the comments are what give me both delight and instruction; the comments matter most of all. If D’Angelo had had his way and done away with comments, as is rumoured (God knows where I read that, because Quora Search)—then I would not have stayed here.

Of the rest, almost noone cares about views, clearly—and I found Mani Duraisamy’s answer, with its preference for views as an objective criterion, puzzling.

As Joachim Pense has said somewhere (and I’m sure many others have), upvotes are a kind of currency among friends, an acknowledgement of reading; if anything, it’s my withholding of upvotes from my cabal that communicates something, not my upvote. (And likewise, when I notice a friend doesn’t upvote something I thought they’d read, I get somewhat antsy.) The more valued upvotes are from people I don’t follow. Although if they keep upvoting, I end up following them anyway.

But highly upvoted answers seem just as subject to fads and randomness as highly viewed answers, so I don’t particularly pay it that much attention. I know what my best work is, and it’s usually not my most popular.

I do like the notion of having an impact, but for me the easiest way of gauging that is still follower count.

What are the broader sociolinguistic implications in an era of “Trumpian” rhetoric and policy?

Trump is, of course, only a symptom of a worldwide populist revolt, on both the right and the left, against elites and bien-pensant liberalism. Expect to find a lot of both political and linguistic propriety jetissoned. Expect much more coarseness and braggadocio in public discourse. But the speech now being “uncovered” was always there.

Was the Ottoman empire the ISIS of the 14th century?

Matthew Franklin, Jakub Handlíř and Tomas Rocha Martins are completely correct.

If you’re looking for an equivalent to ISIS in the 13th or 14th century, you’re looking for an agent that is not abiding by the then extant international rules of conduct, and that is reviled universally, by coreligionists and outsiders alike, as being beyond the pale.

The Ottomans started as ghazis, so they were more aggressive about their expansion than Muslims had been recently. But they were not aliens from a different planet, the way ISIS is to everyone else.

ISIS is also small, but I don’t think that’s a useful differentiator. Osman’s emirate of Bithynia started out pretty small too.

The closest equivalent, I’ll suggest, is Genghis Khan.

EDIT: Dimitris Almyrantis is right in comments: it’s the Assassins. And Dimitris, post more about the Kharijy?

The phrase “everyone’s entitled to their opinion” annoys me. What can I do?

There are people on this thread who are calling you a snob, too.

Screw ’em.

You have an aesthetic. You have a grounding for that aesthetic, that you can (I hope) articulate and defend. Hopefully, it’s an aesthetic that’s also aware of its own contingency and situatedness, and has no pretensions of immutable truth.

People like films for their own reasons, and that’s fine. Someone’s got to buy tickets for Transformers and Finding Dory and the ten gajillion different comic book films out there, after all. People are entitled to their own preferences, and their own aesthetics, even.

And you’re still entitled to say you know stuff about how film works, that they don’t. That you can see things going on that they don’t, and that you catch innovations and derivativeness that they can’t. You can still judge art without succumbing to some levelling miasma of “everything is valid, screw your training”.

Seriously. As I’ve posted elsewhere: I had no idea what the local metal music radio show was talking about, when they were saying that group A was brutal and amazing, and group B was derivative and ridiculous. They both sounded like noise to me. But the fact that they could make that discernment reassured me. It confirmed to me that they had an aesthetics, and that its subject matter was art.

“You can’t judge other people’s works of art, man” is not an aesthetics.

And if you’re annoyed by “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion”?

Say what the great wrestler Jerry Lawler once said.

Well, you’re entitled to your opinion.


Should I take that some Cypriot Greek speakers do call Pounds sterling as “λίρες εγγλέζικες” (English pounds) because the notes…?

Cypriots refer to English pounds, for the simple reason that colloquial Greek refers to English rather than British exclusively. Note that your phrase uses the colloquial εγγλέζικη, rather than the formal αγγλική for “English”.

The formation of the United Kingdom never made much of a popular impression on Greeks. In fact even in more formal Greek, the British rule of Cyprus is referred to as the Anglocracy, Αγγλοκρατία, not the Brettanocracy.

How much of a text by Aristotle or Procopius would speakers of modern Greek get?

Nick, what are you doing responding to this question?! You’re a PhD in Greek linguistics, with 18 years of working at the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae!

Yes, but I never did formally study Ancient Greek. And I know enough linguistics that I can filter out stuff about Ancient Greek that I’m not supposed to know.


About that poetics and its kinds, whatever power each kind has, and how myths should be put together if poetry is to have (?) well, and moreover how many particles and of what sort it is made of, and similarly about everything else this is of that method: let us speak of these, starting as is natural with first things first.

[I deliberately missed “poetry per se” in ποιητικῆς αὐτῆς, left “myth” as a faux ami, and ignored “have well” = “turn out well” (and you’d need high school Ancient Greek to know the future tense of “have” at all).]

There’ll be a couple of words to trip over, but an educated Modern Greek speaker will understand the essence of it unaided. I’m deliberately not polishing it further.

Procopius: Justinian was greedy for money, and was so inappropriately (?) a lover of other people’s things (wives?), that all of the gold that was subject to him he would sell to the administrators of the authorities, to those who elect (?) taxes, and to those who wish to stitch together evil designs towards people for no good reason.

[ἐραστής is begging to be misconstrued as “sexual lover”. ἐκλέγουσι is actually obscure to me in this context, and I’m not heading to a dictionary. The “gold subject to him”, the Latin tells me, really is “the gold of his subjects”.]

Slightly more obscure, but again, an educated Modern Greek speaker will understand the essence of it.

Now. Ask me what a peasant would have made of this 200 years ago, and you’d have a very different answer.