Tuesday, November 30

Other stuff

I'm about to the point where I think the 'Title' field isn't really helping me.

kottke, the Ken Jennings weblogger, got a cease-and-desist from Sony. Anil went off. Sony TV is stupid. If anything, kottke added to their Cult of Ken. Heck, he almost created it.

I just finally read 'Moneyball' and LOVED IT! I wish I could be Billy Bean, or Bill James, or Michael Lewis. I LOVE idea-revolutionaries, Tom Barnett, for example.

Free trade?

Macon posted a quote from David Brooks that I agreed with.
I hate to be the bearer of good news, because only pessimists are regarded as intellectually serious, but we're in the 11th month of the most prosperous year in human history. Last week, the World Bank released a report showing that global growth "accelerated sharply" this year to a rate of about 4 percent. Best of all, the poorer nations are leading the way.

What explains all this good news? The short answer is this thing we call globalization. Over the past decades, many nations have undertaken structural reforms to lower trade barriers, shore up property rights and free economic activity. International trade is surging. The poor nations that opened themselves up to trade, investment and those evil multinational corporations saw the sharpest poverty declines. Write this on your forehead: Free trade reduces world suffering.
Then Eric posted on his weblog about his comment on Macon's post:
Free trade is good, but it still has a long way to go. The most important factor in making free trade work is keeping the playing field even in terms of regulations. The U.S., with a federal minimum wage, cannot morally have its workers sit idle while jobs go to a third world country without a minimum wage. Either the minimum wage needs to be abolished (not something I would condone), or trade barriers need to be in place to disallow certain trade with countries that don't have a minium wage. This is one example. Another is child labor. Let me reiterate that I support free trade, but it must be conducted in a manner of fairness.
I respectfully disagree with Eric. My comment:
Eric, i used to think this way about free trade, but i have begun to question my assumptions. Barnett would say that every industrializing country goes through these kinds of stresses: too-low wages, child labor, environmental damage. the examples can be multiplied.

is it possible for this stage to be skipped? i don't know. it can certainly be ameliorated. but i think we need to be careful about being paternalistic and saying 'you can't exploit your environment/resources/labor/people the way we did ours to pull ourselves up to this position.' this is the thing that makes me open to drilling in ANWR: the people who live there want to make money off of it.

free trade cannot be kept even. i don't even think this is a desirable goal anymore. tax breaks for companies who keep (some) jobs here might be a good fix. transitioning our industries, services, and workforce to something less outsourceable is another one. what do you think?

Right: What do you think?

Monday, November 29


Signs over on Kith and Kin that Macon has accepted Barnett into his heart. As I said in the comments, I am so happy.

Question for Tom: What do you think of tax cuts as an economic growth engine?

Gnarly economics in the Journal
  • The Bush Administration is supply-side rather than fiscally conservative.
  • The dollar as de facto global reserve currency and America's independent monetary policy.
As long as cooler heads prevail, the Chinese economic miracle will continue peacefully, no matter how many subs they have.

Energy drives every(developed)one's foreign policy, especially the US and China.

Ahh, the lovely anachronism of it all: Castro's socialist economic policies. Fidel may want to serve the little people, but he sure doesn't.

Energy drives redux: India and Pakistan look at a pipeline to Iran.

It's nice that the Association of Southeast Asia Nations, aka ASEAN, had eponymized my name. But seriously, the post's about an Asian EU.

Re: Sudan
To me, it's situations like this that speak to the compelling need for the Core as a whole to be able to put forth a SysAdmin force that would enable a regional entity like the AU to do more than just run around snapping photos and taking notes while the killing continues unabated. Everyone in the Core wants this situation to settle, but we don't have a transparent, non-zero-sum process for making it happen, and that process can't come into being until the military resources are pooled and coherently arranged in a larger whole, and that international military capability won't come about until the Pentagon shows it's serious of fielding its own version of a Sys Admin force.

Then Tom gets into some interesting number crunching about the size of a global force and what the US's active and reserve component would be and how we're already heading toward that in some ways.

The world votes on our elections in buying our debt.
American can afford its current Leviathan force, but it cannot afford to self-finance the bulk of the follow-on SysAdmin work that will ensue from efforts like our recent takedown in Iraq. The coming renegotiation of that security burden is inevitable, otherwise you’ll see American withdraw dramatically from the world militarily.

Admitting that strategic reality is the first step toward making the deals we’ll need to make if we’re going to get truly serious about waging a Global War on Terrorism that will clearly last decades.

There is no alternative.
Powell can’t leave fast enough, as far as I’m concerned. At least Rice will know Moscow from her elbow.
Europe, like the US, is facing some tough decisions on 'social security'. They already missed the baby boat. Their choices now are change their policy or let in more immigrants.

Asia's developing economy is facing really bad pollution.

Another assertion of the role of values in the election (though a little broader than you might think). What do you say, Macon?

Special Ops
Frustrated with the Global War on Terrorism and our inability to track down and kill certain terrorist leaders hiding away in certain ungoverned territories or states, the Pentagon is rewriting the rule set on clandestine ops by Special Forces. Frankly, this is a very good thing. We want these guys to have the loosest possible rule sets, with the world as their playground. That sort of direct action belongs with the Pentagon in a GWOT, not the CIA. We’re not hunting spies in this war, but actual combatants.

Kerry was right: this is a police action . . . inside the Core. But Bush was also right: this is a war inside the Gap.
The way forward in Palestine

A word of thanks to our military personnel.

An article Tom contributed to about the future of naval procurement, including unmanned vehicles.

Random thought: I wonder what Tom thinks of the Osprey...

From the break

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. We did. We spent a couple of days in Hendersonville with Christine's folks: good food, lots of football on tv, laying low, had the fire on some. Wil and I came back early friday night because I had a (low-key) meeting and then we had basketball practice saturday morning and the girls didn't want to come back early.

I've seen a number of 'thankful' threads in the past couple days. It's harder for me to be thankful this Thanksgiving as I've had to take a >75% pay cut in my job and am looking for something to make up the difference. I know this is lack of perspective. When asked on thursday what I was thankful for, I said 'my family', for which I am very thankful. I'm glad the twins are doing well in kindergarten.

I'm glad, of course, that we have a home and we have clothes and food and two cars that (mostly) work. My extended family is great and I have some good friends (though too few here in Columbia).

I've been (finally) ripping my CD collection to our hard drive. I'm having fun with that. I'm thankful for music: REM and the Smiths and the Flaming Lips (most recently ripped).

Christine deserves special mention as incredibly patient with me. I keep telling her she should trade up. Remember the joke about getting a second wife? What we really need in our marriage is a second husband, one with a little more earning power.

Here's a conversation Wil and I had friday night. We were playing the Lord of the Roings Board Game and it was really late. I said 'Are you getting sleepy?' Wil said, 'Yeah, and i'm tired of getting beaten by Sauron!' This was the second time we'd lost the game (which is played cooperatively) in about a week.

I got to go to the Panthers game on sunday and the tickets we had were for the Club Level, which was pretty swanky. The Panthers scored the winning touchdown with 20 seconds left. That was exciting. And I got to spend the day with my little brother, Cory. It was great. I'm thankful for it.

I know I've mentioned this site before, but I went back and added a bunch of the recommendations from The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities page including Spybot, NaviScope, and Star Downloader (Amazing!). Lupas Rename 2000 could be used to sort your unruly mp3s or pix (though I don't happen to need it right now).

Wednesday, November 24


I was listening to 'The World' the other day and they had a piece on Salvadoran hip hop group Pescozada. I really liked the clips they played, so I looked them up.

Here's the original 'World' piece from last year. There are 3 mp3s to download and clips of every track on the new album to stream. I like them all so far. If you're intrugued at all, you should check them out.

(Warning: In case you're not too savvy about most of this new-fangled hip hop music, there's some bad language.)

Barnett at Langley

(I write 'Langley' cuz I'm all down with Intel lingo! ;-)

And in this post he talks about something I've been waiting to read from him recently: his take on Intelligence reform. Quick version: it's not that bad.
If we would only dial down the classification requirements, this network would work just fine. But because we stovepipe the information in this manner, the networks aren't allowed to function anywhere near peak capacity.

But instead of just dialing down the secrecy, we propose centralization, which by and large negates most of the best attributes of having that distributed network of agencies who all collect, process, and analyze a bit differently from one another. In short, we're more likely to get group think with a National Intelligence Director than without one. But until we rethink the ultra-secrecy of most of these information flows, no amount of deck-chair rearranging will do the trick.

The Pentagon isn't going to give up its control over the overhead assets (where the real money is) to a NID, and frankly, it should logically seek to pull CIA's covert stuff over into its bailiwick, because the overhead stuff defines the information superiority for the Leviathan warfighter, and the CIA muscle logically belongs there as well. This fight over the intell reform bill stems fundamentally from the lack of understanding regarding the natural bifurcation of the intelligence community in response to the natural post-cold-war bifurcation of the US military. In short, certain assets logically migrate to the Leviathan, whereas most of what Congress really wants to see centralized (if they thought about it for a minute) under a NID is far more logically associated with the SysAdmin force...

It was interesting to talk with my hosts after the brief, because the same reform-minded elements who invited me today invite me everywhere else I go in the national security community. As with all cannibalizing agents, they tend to think horizontally and plan adaptively. Never ones to wait on the perfect plan, they more interested in moving ahead and letting the chips fall where they may. But alas, that is always the problem for such reformers: the heavies on top want to see everything clearly before committing, less they lose budgetary control of the process. So again, the enemies of performance tend to be centralization and greed, whereas the proponents of reform tend to favor networking and sharing without reference to cost capture.

Guess which side is better suited to fighting a transnational insurgency of terrorists?
Growing rubber in China
In our tradition, we rely on our land to feed us," said Li [Ziqie, 25], who was a boy when the first meeting about the rubber project was held here. "We were really suspicious at first. My father wanted us to use just a small portion of our land for a pilot project. Some people said, 'Why plant rubber? You cannot eat the trees.' But eventually, he agreed to devote 30 mu. We were really nervous. If we couldn't grow enough food, then what?"

The Li family reached into meager savings and sank nearly $80 into the project. They planted 800 trees.

By 1996 the Li family was generating income in the range of $800 per year, and some families now earn upwards of $4,000/yr, which is a huge income in China.

Here's the real change: now Li's father no longer plants rice, instead buying that in the village. That's connectivity. That's mutually-assured dependence. That's the creation of real wealth where none previously could be generated...

The downside of all that consumer demand, however, is the requirement for far more energy than the country can generate on its own, which is why China, like India, is scouring the planet for oil, often going where Old Core companies fear to tread (like shaky Ecuador) or simply cannot because of political restrictions (Iran).

The other downside to this process of expansive growth is that—traditionally—what goes up must eventually come down somewhat, which is why you're seeing Wall Street beginning to discount, largely through derivatives at this point, the inevitably recession that must someday afflict China.

Here's hoping that, when that fall inevitably occurs, our security relationship with China is one helluva lot more secure than it is today. To me, that would be the U.S. government discounting that danger politically, reflecting what I hope would be our leadership's ability to start seeing China within the context of everything else so that it understands why any military conflict with China would invariably affect that everything else.

More on immigrants running for President

One of the reasons why I support letting non-native born Americans run for president is that this country is essentially mongrel in character and will only grow more so in coming decades. We've never had a higher percentage of foreign-born citizens than we do right now, and that's primarily a result of the huge influx of immigrants (unprecedented in sheer numbers) across the 1990s, the first decade of nearly-global globalization (with the Core expanding to include two-thirds of humanity).

For the U.S. to remain open to this historic process, I favor the quickest and simplest routes for immigrants to become citizens, and for foreign-born citizens, after living in the U.S. for a quarter-century or more, to be granted the right to run for national office (we have only two—president and vice-president)...

I don't doubt a Tony Blair would clean up here in any presidential run...

One of the great efficiencies of our system is that, if you're secretly Bill Gates, or Steven Spielberg, or Michael Jordan, this is the place to come and find full outlet for that talent. There is no economic system in the world that rewards talent like ours, which is why the U.S. has so long been such an incredible magnet for talents professionals from all over the world.

That magnetic attraction will naturally diminish as other rising poles of the Functioning Core (like China, India, etc.) grow their own forms of magnetism, but it can also be artificially depressed by our own policies toward guest workers, student visas, and immigration in general.

I am scared, as is my former fellow grad student Fareed Zakaria, by the heavy drop in foreign students studying in the U.S. since 9/11, because this is the first downward movement in that trend in more than three decades. Undergrads from China have dropped 20 percent in 2004 (45 percent in grad students), and the similar numbers for India are 9 percent (undergrads) and 28 percent (grads).

This is a great post on these issues. Instead of excerpting the whole thing, just go read it if you're interested.

Why Puerto Rico is more disconnected than connected
What has pushed this up-tick since 9/11 is the U.S.'s crackdown on traditional smuggling routes through Mexico and Central America, which means Puerto Rico has become more Gap-like as a result of America's attempt to firewall itself off from bad things vectoring into the continental U.S. So thanks to the System Perturbation of 9/11, Puerto Rico is more negatively connected to the United States.
Yes, but where would Tom like to see this one go? On the one hand, he argues for keeping drugs, terrorism, and disease from coming in from the Gap. On the other hand, he wants more connectivity. How does that work in the case of PR?


Deficit Hasn't Tamed Appetite for Pork. No surprise, and all the Congess-members seem guilty. We have representatives so they'll make responsible decisions, not pander to constituents. Aack!

Deadly Tomatoes Strike Texas, La., Miss. (That's how I read the headline at first, anyway. Is it ok to laugh about that misreading when the article reports that someone died? I think so...)

Archaeology Filter: Archaeologists Discover Bronze Age Site [in Northern Scotland].

Typography Filter: kottke on Futura. Maybe I'll use it more.

That reminds me to comment on the big trend toward bending lower-case 'l's. Not sure if I like it yet, though I think it is more readable.

Froogle has added wish lists. Mine. This is cool because you can put anything in it that Froogle can find. Much broader than Amazon.

A thread on downloading broadcast shows via BitTorrent (instead of recording them yourself). So far it's not stealing because their broadcast for free anyway. Ok. So I downloaded everything, set everything up, went to TVTorrents, and...

couldn't find anything on the first page I wanted to watch. How's that for funny? Well, it's all set-up now in case I see something advertised while I'm watching football that I'd like to see later. *shakes head*

Note: I've been a lot happier since I've started closing Bloglines during the day. I don't constantly have new posts I feel I have to read. They wait pretty patiently until I get to them.


This is no news flash. Just a brief post to say I've been listening to 'The Essentail Bob Dylan' last night and today and I'm really enjoying it. Everybody knows he's really talented, right? Some people have a problem with his voice (like Getty Lee, et al.). It works for me. I probably come to Dylan mostly through Bill Mallonee, which is weird, but, again, it works. Cool stuff.

Tuesday, November 23

Go Hawks!

Man it's a good week for Hawkeye fans! The football team won and is headed to the Capitol One Bowl, jumped 5 spots in the AP poll to 12th (highest in the Big Ten) and locked up their coach's contract through 2012. The unranked basketball team has defeated two ranked opponents and plays tomorrow for the Maui Classic title. Go to this page and scroll to the bottom to download the mp3 of the Iowa Fight Song to celebrate!

On the Gamecock side, Spurrier is coming. As much as I don't like him, I wish him well. Heck, I hope he even brings a national championship to SC (after Ferentz gets one for Iowa! :-)

A few links

From the Economist, via kottke:
In America, self-styled progressives look ever more the party of the past, and confessed conservatives are the ones focusing on the future...Most of Mr Kerry's base was in stagnant America. Democratic strongholds such as Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Mr Kerry's Boston have been losing people and jobs. Mr Bush's America, for the most part, is booming.
From Jason (Streed), via kottke: the Telegraph's list of best covers and Jason's commentary. I commented over there.

From Defective Yeti: Fun with pictures: Cheesasaurus Rex is a reknowned deficit hawk.

From Wartburg:
We had a decent basketball team when I was there twelve years ago (though not a tournament team), and that was it. Very impressive.

Hail to the...who exactly?

William Safire recommends (via Barnett)that we should change our laws so that foreign-born citizens can run for President.

It'd be crazy if we saw someone immigrate to the US to run for President, someone recognizable like Desmond Tutu or Kofi Annan (not that they would be electable. It's just an example, people.) How about Ricky Martin? ;-)

Unleash the xenophobes.

NEVER volunteer to coach 5 and 6 year old basketball! Here's a picture of me coaching (read: taking a beating). I'll be the first to admit I'm not a great coach. After a fun soccer season I volunteered to coach basketball. SUCKER! It's so technical and the kids don't have much attention span. Then I've got their parents telling me what to do. I'm about at the point of offering some of them the job. Have they tried to teach 5s and 6s to play basketball lately! Anyway, Wil's on the left in this picture and, happily, by happenstance, Wil is 2 and I am 22. At least I got a shirt out of it. Posted by Hello

Monday, November 22


Two links I really liked from over there this morning:

Atlantis has been found. (the Yahoo link)

Space elevator simulation picture

Humble request for a Google bomb

I'm not even on the radar for the Google search Thomas Barnett weblog. You know this is unjust. If you're not opposed to such things and if you're not annoyed by all my Barnett posts, would you please link me with 'Thomas Barnett' or 'Thomas Barnett weblog'? Thank you.

Barnett today

Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, and...Giambastiani?

Everybody's a Colin Powell fan, right. Well, here's an idea: Maybe he's not all that great. He hasn't had a great turn as Secretary of State. The Powell Doctrine, which Barnett maligns all the time, has shown itself to be bankrupt. What do you think?

Rice is a Bush loyalist, but hasn't done a good job as National Security adviser.

Rumsfeld: 'one of our greatest Secretaries of War ever' (just not good at Peace/Occupation)

Giambastiani: Barnett hopes he'll be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Korea and Iran
Instead of asking which one is easier to stop, shouldn't we simple deal with the situation that's far worse? There is no deal to be made with North Korea, because that regime has nothing to offer. With Iran, there are clear things that country could offer in terms of better regional behavior that would be worth a lot to us right now, trapped as we are in Iraq. With Kim, it's just a nutcase with nukes, so disconnected from the global economy that the only way he makes money to prop up his regime is through criminal activity.
China is working with investments to secure energy

Hmm. Is Brazil close enough to Pacific to make it into the Pacific NATO?

Genocide in the Gap

Genocide in Sudan. We haven't done enough. China is culpable, too.

Sarcastic reponse re: France and Cote d'Ivoire

Barnett recounts his take on Iraq and the Global War On Terrorism
• To start that process after all our years of diddling on the margin, perturbing that system as a whole makes sense.

• The best target for such an effort following 9/11 was Iraq, because Saddam had checked so many boxes and everyone in the system wanted him gone, even if we didn't have a transparent, A-to-Z Core rule set for dispatching such rogues and rehabbing their systems.

• Once you decide to go in, make if fast and furious with the transformed Leviathan force (check!) but then overwhelm the country with a committed, massive peacekeeping Sys Admin force that segues quickly into round-the-dial reconstruction efforts that emphasizes small-and-beautiful efforts that keep hands busy, put money in pockets, put food in bellies, and give people back their dignity (completely unchecked that box)

• Understanding nation-building is hard, the larger reason for going into Iraq (once Saddam is removed) is not Iraq, but the rest of the region. Expect a strong anti-American reaction as the force for change, but then watch for that change and take advantage of it as it emerges in Syria, Israel-Palestine, Iran, etc. Make the deals, create the local ownership, be generous with the quid pro quos, etc.

• To the extent that you can't resolve Iraq as a whole, I advocate resolving what you can. The Kurdish north isn't the problem, and the Shiite south can be dealt with, leaving the Sunni center triangle as the odd man out.

• There is no reason for the Kurds and Shiites to be held back by the Sunnis, given all the nasty history between them. Iraq is an unreal country with no real basis in history. It was created by the Brits to cover their tracks. We are no more held to that past in Iraq than we were in Yugoslavia, so we need to make do with those who want to get things done, growing the Core and transforming the region where possible, instead of waiting for perfect answers.

• If it seems like we're making this up as we go along, guess what? That's how it always has been in foreign policy and national security: exploiting victories as they present themselves, likewise adapting to failures as they present themselves.
The EU and Turkey

But here's the rule-set reset demanded by Europe: stop treating your state as an ethnic identity marker and start treating it as a geographic administrative concept—meaning the definition of being a Turk needs to expand to basically anyone who lives in Turkey, speaks Turkish, and wants the same rights as anyone of Turkish ethnic descent. In short, the EU is demanding Turkey genericize the concept of being Turkish if it wants to join the EU, because the EU lets in modern states, not immature ethnic nations. If the EU approached it any other way, the dream of a United States of Europe (gee, what a familiar ring) never really takes off, because the USE can only be the USE if its united around the concept of states united, not ethnic ghettos stitched together.

When you get a mature USE, it will most definitely look like a USA, all "profound" economic lifestyle differences aside. You'll see ethnic blending and appropriation that's not seen as stealing, but the highest form of flattery.

Sunday, November 21

Notes from sunday

1. I don't really feel like commenting on this, but I will post it. It will be ammo for some of you. You can draw your own conclusions (which you would have done anyhow, right? :-)

Third of Americans Say Evidence Has Supported Darwin's Evolution Theory

2. Doesn't look like it makes a big difference whether you shut your computer off or not.

3. The app I've been looking for all my life, and it's just a website (ie, it's easy - it's not as complicated as an app): paper cd case

Saturday, November 20

Barnett digest

More on the Pentagon's next Internet

Fallujah and Its Aftermath Are No Tipping Point and Don't Break the Insurgent's Back

The primacy of energy

Barnett writes about The World Energy Outlook for 2004.
If you read only one government report every year, this is the one to read. It's that good and that important. Read it and the world's events will become a whole lot clearer to you. Plus, you'll never swallow Michael Moore's comically myopic bullshit ever again.
Must be a midwestern thing. Tom mispronounces 'nuclear', as do I (sometimes), along with The Chief Mispronouncer.

The road ahead for the CIA: Into the Gap

Europe's own SysAdmin force: A Proposal


Matt had the linky goodness the other day, complete with downloads.
  1. Is the guitar riff from 'Smells like teen spirit' really a tweaked version of 'More than a feeling'? I find it hard to believe. Pop is a pretty simple medium. Riffs get repeated inadvertantly, subconciously or totally unconciously. The post contains an mp3 of the riffs juztaposed. What do you think? (I'd especially like to hear from my readers who are musicians...)
  2. Matt got sound-bit on Marketplace.
  3. The Top 40 Bands In America Today survey. This post has numerous downloads, too. Top one I can claim some familiarity with: Springsteen at number 11. I've heard of Wilco at number 2, and that I should check 'em out, but I haven't yet.

It looks like Steve Spurrier really is coming to SC. I have mixed emotions. I want SC to win, and he can probably get that done. But I don't like Spurrier.

John Hardy has two posts referring to the work at Topper that I posted on recently.

Bush twins try to get a table at a NYC restaurant, maitre 'd tells them the restaurant is full for the next four years Bush twins try to get a table at a NYC restaurant, maitre 'd tells them the restaurant is full for the next four years. (on Gawker via kottke)

Also via kottke: Bill Gates gets 4 million emails a day, most of which are spam.
Ballmer said Microsoft has special technology that just filters spam intended for Gates. In addition, several Microsoft employees are dedicated to ensuring that nothing unwanted gets into his inbox.

Friday, November 19

Typical Barnett

If you haven't taken the plunge yet on Barnett, he describes the article contained in this post as 'a better job than anybody to date capturing the sense of what it's like to be briefed by me.'

The author of the article writes:

"The problems with Barnett's view are both political and technical. Rebuilding countries expends the patience of democracies, particularly when the commitment is long and the friendly casualties accrue."

This is also the problem with our current operation in Iraq. It's a major reason why the way the Bush Administration led us into Iraq is a problem. When you go in based on an arguable mistake, democracies lose their will to fight even faster. I'm worried about whether or not we can muster the ongoing political will to stay the course in Iraq. I often argue for multinational peacekeepers in Iraq, and one of the things I think that would do is bolster domestic morale (others are shouldering the burden, too), as well as shore up the international opinion which, when negative, can suck political will at home (especially from those with affinities in the international community).

Would the political willpower to invade Iraq have materialized with an explanation like Barnett might offer? Off the top of my head: That Saddam's a bad guy and the region's unstable. We need to make it more secure. So we're going to take him down and rebuild Iraq. I don't know. Can't tell. What do you think?

Thursday, November 18

Barnett Today

Changes in Washington?
Bush knows what he wants on his watch: a transformed Middle East. My question is (and it’s the basic query that animates my upcoming Esquire piece): what is he willing to pay for that goal? Cause just putting forth a clear and consistent message front to all the allies who distrust us and dislike us probably won't be enough of a stylistic change, and we won't be moving off that dime in Iraq fast enough over the next four years without some allied help to do anything more than flap our gums on Iran and North Korea. So if Bush is serious about transforming the Middle East, he'll need to start considering which deals he can stomach and which ones he cannot, cause he sure as hell isn't going to be able to unilateral his way through the entire cast of the Axis of Evil by the end of his second term...

Oh, and who does virtually all of Washington blame for the botched occupation? That would be the National Security Council for its gross inability to manage the interagency planning process. Good thing we swapped out that job.
Tom continues to advocate partitioning of Iraq
I was asked by Alex Steffens of WorldChanging about the future of Iraq. I replied that it was probably as bright as Yugoslavia's future. He got my point. There isn't any Yugoslavia any more, and there probably shouldn't be an Iraq anymore.

To me, that's not lowering our goals in Iraq, but rewarding those portions of Iraq that are ready to embrace the future. Noah Feldman may disagree, but I think the whole point of the elections should be to benefit those parts of Iraq that have embraced the notion of federalism, while punishing those that do not. Remember our Civil War. Well, that's how it worked then too, until the South gave up...

That's not betraying the Iraqi people, because there are no Iraqi people—just three tribes living in the Yugoslavia of the Middle East.
Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Tehran
Iran's a big player in both (see the U.S. News cover-story this week on Iran's "connections" to the insurgency in Iraq), plus there's a decent case to be made that Iran is the country behind much of Hezbollah's and Hamas' struggle against Israel.

I'm with Brent Scowcroft on this one: we need dialogue with Tehran that's about more than enriched uranium.
Is Iran playing games? (I'm excerpting this whole short post.)
How good is this deal between the EU and Iran? Probably as solid as the paper it's printed on. Iran has played word games before, and will do so as long as it can, because the more it delays, the more time it has to develop the bomb. Plus the deal seems to have pissed off plenty of Iran's political hard-liners in its parliament.

But the worse reality is that Iran is probably pulling the old Saddam trick: agree to suspension on facility A, only to proceed with facility B ("Oh, you didn't say anything about facility B!"). This is going to go on and on until Iran announces suddenly one day that it has the bomb.

And you know what? There wont' be much we can do about it, especially as Tehran cleverly draws China more and more to its side. China needs Iranian oil and gas, and we need China economically. It's that simple and that complex.

Washington needs to get real ASAP on Iran. Calling them names is one thing, dealing with the reality of their power in the region that we now find ourselves deeply embedded within militarily is another.

Get used to Iran having the bomb.
Here's hoping Kim Jung Il has left the building

I find that 'Dear Leader' stuff unbelievably cloying.

What are the dividends of the oil boom?

Not very much. E.g:
Russia, at least, is credited with stashing away some of its windfall and paying down its external debt, to the delight of the IMF. By while Putin's balancing the books nicely, he's not pushing ahead on structural reforms in the banking sector, liberalizing the energy sector (where monopolies persist) or cutting back on state meddling in the private sector.
As China goes...
Maybe now people will stop describing globalization as an American-led multinational corporation plot to rule the world and start understanding the process as being so much bigger than just the U.S. economy. Increasingly, the purveyor of both pain and delight will be China.
Learning lessons
[T]here needs to be a new nexus between the military and relief organizations if we're really going to secure lasting victories in this global war on terrorism. Also makes you realize that, in the end, the military only starts the show and cannot possibly end it on its own.

Another lesson we need to take away from Iraq is to keep our initial goals simple and direct. You want to win "hearts and minds?" Well, focus on "stomachs and pockets" first, according to Peter Khalil, an Australian who spent 9 months at Paul Bremer's side in the Green Zone...

So we're all learning some new/old lessons on how to rehab a political bankrupt state (I say "old," because we learned most of these same lessons in Somalia and Haiti in the early/mid 1990s and then chose to forget them immediately—at least inside the Pentagon).

Probably the strangest news I've come across regarding charity work since 9/11 is that Muslims in America, wary of giving to overseas groups for fear of supporting terrorism, are now redirecting much of that money to Muslim charities that deal with issues right in their own neighborhoods and cities. They feel the same old religious obligation; they just chose now to do it closer to home.

That is a very good trend in terms of Muslims in America connecting to the country in which they now live, and yet, we need to make sure that good Islamic charities around the world don't go starving as a result. That outcome would do nothing positive for us in this Global War on Terrorism.
The role of RIF in privacy
This whole smart dust thing is going to be the technology that allows America to remain an open society while remaining a safe society. You want to track visitors to the U.S.? Here is your method that's at once somewhat annoying and a bit frightening. But you know what, it'll be a good thing. We need ways to allow maximum connectivity with the outside world while not feeling totally vulnerable to all sorts of things we can't track, trace, follow, or prevent.

As with all technologies that enable freedom and convenience, a loss of privacy seems inevitable. But that's not necessarily true. It just means we need new rule sets to deal with this additional form of connectivity/transparency.
Maybe it won't be as bad as I fear. I still think we need to keep an eye on it re: consumer and civil rights.

The Pentagon's working on a Global Information Grid. Sounds like a hardened, proprietary, intra-Internet.

Russia's progress
Putin is preaching a new sort of quid pro quo. In the last decades of socialism in the Soviet Union, it was said among the masses that "we pretend to work and the state pretends to pay us." I like to describe late Brezhnevism as "the state pretends to rule over us and we pretend to obey."

Well, Putin's proposing something better, something along the lines of "you pay taxes and the state will respect your property rights." Sounds pretty good, huh? Not exactly the return of authoritarianism.

This is my notion on Russia's "progress": so long as Putin doesn't reinstitute vertical control over the economy, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will improve over time. His recent reinstitution of vertical control over the political system tells us little of Russia's potential future evolutions, other than Moscow believes in a Go Slow approach on politics, much like Beijing does.

This is not a bad thing. In fact, it's probably a very good thing. As Putin declares, "Fear in unproductive." To which I add, business likes transparency and certainty.
In China and Russia (and even in the old USSR), it looks to me like you don't have to open up your political system at first. In fact, that can even be harmful. If you open up your ecomonic system (e.g. glasnost and perestroika, Foreign Direct Investment will follow. A closed (read: stable) political system can actually look good to investors, as long as you're open on the economics. If you turn out not to be, they'll take their investment back out. We saw this in the 90s in Russia: FDI fluctuated depending on the local security. It was too insecure for a while. That's why businesses and economic determinists like Barnett like Putin.

Globalization is not Americanization, and in ten years you won't be able to make that mistake any longer. This post focuses on how we see this in movies.
Our cultural content dominated Globalization II (1945-1980) because we were number 1 without a doubt in the scrawny West that existed through that time period. Our cultural content still seems dominant through Globalization III (1980-2001), because the biggest players were still getting their acts together in terms of internal integration (Europe) and joining the global economy (e.g., China, India).

But in Globalization IV (2001 and counting), we will witness the rise of numerous key cultural content pillars, such as the European lifestyle (or dream, as Jeremy Rifkin calls it), Japanese cool (check out what your kids all seem naturally drawn to, and you'll find it's overwhelmingly Japanese in origin), and Chinese hipness (isn't China becoming the center of damn near everything on the go-go?).
Barnett helps me think about other factors relative to the military, especially economics. Case in point:
Is there a growing threat? I think there is a Japan and a China that are both committed to having a bigger military role in both the region and the world at large—ones befitting their mature (Japan) and emerging (China) economic clout. I think both militaries, having nothing better to do, tend to get overly excited about one another out of boredom. Other than the threat which is Taiwan's bid for independence, these two states basically have nothing to fight over, unless you're stupid enough to believe one side's navy is going to be able to enforce some claim over undersea oil reserves believed to lie between the two states. Why the two countries would bother fighting over these reserves instead of simply exploiting them jointly, is apparently beyond the military strategists on both sides (clear proof that military strategists the world over tend to plan for war solely in the context of war instead of taking into account the context of everything else—here, the growing economic integration of the two states)...

Where is this going? Absolutely nowhere, but it does warm the hearts of national insecurity experts within the naval community, who delight in recounting each and every tail, reminding us all unceasingly, that if we'd just give them the chance, we could find ourselves involved in some really cool wars in Asia.

Google and Dungy

Google has a new tool: Scholar. Their tag line is: Stand on the shoulders of giants. I can't resist the appropriate REM quote: Standing on the shoulders of giants leaves me cold.

Tony Dungy found the MNF lead-in offensive
I think it's stereotypical in looking at the players, and on the heels of the Kobe Bryant incident I think it's very insensitive. I don't think that they would have had Bill Parcells or Andy Reid or one of the owners involved in that.

Makes me think of the NFL pressuring Disney to stop 'Playmakers'.

How early were humans in North America?

I've been meaning to post about this for a month. Last month I went to the meeting of the Christian Faculty Forum at USC. Al Goodyear spole about his findings at the Savannah River Topper site. He said he thought the radio carbon dating was going to place the site earlier than 30,000 years ago.

Well, they had a press conference yesterday to say the dating was 50,000 years plus.

Goodyear is now in trouble for challenging the prevailing orthodoxy. You can read some representative comments in the article.

I have a lot of thoughts about this:

1. Not all of us Christians are 'unscientific, 7-literal-day, young-earthers'. Many of us contribute in the field of science.

2. I'll be watching this debate with great interest. So far it's shaping up to be a showcase for how science does have biases that can result in people getting locked out of the debate.

3. Yes, both of these comments demonstrate my defensiveness over the creation/evolution debate.

Here's an article from the USC website.

It's important to note that other sites have indicated human inhabitation in North America:

"Topper is the oldest radiocarbon dated site in North America," Goodyear says. "However, other early sites in Brazil and Chile, as well as a site in Oklahoma also suggest that humans were in the Western Hemisphere as early as 30,000 years ago to perhaps 60,000."

Two other pre-Clovis sites include Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Pa., and Cactus Hill, Va.

Wednesday, November 17

Today's links

NASA's scramjet made it to almost 7000 mph today.

Bobby Stoops launches preemptive strike on ESPN, SEC, BCS, and other acronyms.

Matthew's Proposed Constitutional Amendment: Limit one winner per family or household.

Geek joke of the day

"There are 10 types of people in the world:
Those who understand binary and those who don't."

- From an add on The Register web site

Support Alert, Issue 115 - 17th November, 2004

Elizabeth, ballerina

I promised a Bethy ballerina picture, and here it is. 'Bethy' seems a little too frivolous for this serious ballerina, so I'll title this one: Elizabeth, ballerina. Posted by Hello

Wil's map of Middle Earth

Wil's map of Middle Earth
Originally uploaded by Sean Meade.

Wil is a Tolkien prodigy. Click through to check out the details he put in. The descriptions are mine, but he did the drawing all by himself, unprompted, when I wasn't around. I'll probably do a higher quality version later, with his own descriptions.

Tuesday, November 16

Today's links

Latest Palm upgrade/mp3 player plan: Palm Zire 31 (maybe from the factory outler) + memory expansion card (us to 526M). Not that I can afford it, but, you know, maybe I will be able to someday. I still wish I could have the phone and voice recorder built in, but those are luxuries that push it way outside of my price point.

Have you noticed the negative-space arrow in the FedEx logo? I feel daft for not having noticed it sooner. An interview with the designer (via kottke).

'No tunes for you!' NBA plays Tune Nazi. Not that I mind.

Three for today

The NASA Scramjet had to scrub yesterday, but hopefully will fly today.

Another rave for The Incredibles (this one from defective yeti).

How D&D changed the world. I was one of those kids. I never enjoyed playing as much as I enjoyed just working on it. It was a way of being creative that was similar to telling a story, which is what I really wanted to do. It's what I still want to do...

Friday, November 12

Three things from today

kottke's already seen The Incredibles twice and Tom Barnett's taking his kids again tonight.

I still need a Comment Browser that would automagically make a note when I post something, then monitor that page to see if anything gets added. I would want to open it in a sidebar in Firefox, or just have it be a webpage with two simple frames, like Bloglines. A Firefox plug-in? Something else? Too bad I don't have the webchops to create this...

Want to freak out your mind? Try this color wheel. Too...many...choices...

Thursday, November 11

audiopost: Radio thoughts

this is an audio post - click to play

Barnett deluge

Tom had 15 posts yesterday. Just getting through them...

Look like the guy who wrote 'Imperial Hubris' (which I posted on) anonymously was Michael Scheuer. I'd missed that revelation, but Tom noted it here in passing. Turns out he was forced to write anonymously. Apparently Scheuer headed the CIA's bin Laden unit from 96 to 99. You might note I have been moving in my Global War on Terror position since I wrote about IH. You could argue part of the vibe with Clarke and Scheuer is writing punitive books when policy hasn't gone their way.

The trifurcation of Iraq is coming, and deals are to be made.
I don't think he can get very far in the Middle East without internationalizing that effort and creating local ownership of the solution set, which means America would need to find a way to work with Iran and make the Palestinian-Israeli situation calm down dramatically. Otherwise, expect his second term to be consumed with the Middle East.
But America is unlikely to get anywhere in Asia without showing a different face in the Middle East, so the two are intimately linked—not just in terms of Asia's rising strategic interests there but in terms of how the rest of the Core views the goals and strategies of the Bush administration.
Why do we let Pyongyang and Taipei run America's relationship with China?
North Korea will be a focus of the second Bush administration—bet on it. But the neocons need to get far more imaginative in their approach—not with North Korea but with China. Rather than having Beijing talk to us about what we need to do to placate that nutcase Kim Jong Il, we need to be talking to Beijing about what they need to okay his takedown—either by an "offer he can't refuse" or a coup engineered by those around him through the promise of golden parachutes or a quick-strike invasion designed to get the man himself, along with his WMD...

The relationship that needs to be built over Kim's grave is between America and China, with the end result being an East Asia NATO-like entity that locks-in a strategic relationship between us and China at today's relatively low prices...

We do the same thing with Taiwan: we cede control of the situation to that island and whatever leader it happens to elect. Because of our "defense guarantee" offered decades ago in an entirely different strategic environment, Taipei gets to drive U.S. national security policy toward China on this issue, which is just plain nuts...

In short, China wants only to prevent the sense that reunification is impossible, and if that's the price for locking the Chinese into a strategic relationship at today's prices, I say we pay it.

The reality is, when push comes to shove on Taiwan, the U.S. won't be willing to come through on that defense guarantee. We decide when we go to war with other countries. We don't leave that decision to some politician in Taiwan whose dream of national self-actualization could easily end up costing America a huge number of casualties. It just ain't going to happen, and when you slap that operational reality up against the long-term strategic background of our emerging partnership with China on a host of global issues, even entertaining that notion seems rather incredible.
Shrinking the Gap: Turkey and Pakistan
Though American troops are fighting and dying in Iraq, ultimately the Europeans, because of geography and their own demographic patterns, have more at stake in the stabilization of the region. And the surest way to advance that stabilization is to make Turkey part of Europe...

If I were Bush, I would twist some Europeans arms until they fell off on this issue. But I would make clear to Turkey the quid pro quo: we need them to accept some serious ownership for the Kurdish portion of Iraq. Turkey needs to be the protector and mentor for that territory and its people...

Over in Pakistan, all that special attention paid by the U.S. (bilateral free trade agreement, tons of military aid and cooperation, rescheduling of debt, quick flows of substantial economic aid) is paying off, as the economy there is booming at more than double the growth rate prior to 9/11. Its exports have doubled over the past six years and its reserves are up four-fold from before 9/11. With U.S. blessing, Pakistan is getting access to international credit in exchange for cracking down hard on the terrorist funding networks and the black markets they leached off of prior to 9/11...

If not for the strong military-to-military ties between Pakistan and the U.S., built over many years, there would have been an overwhelming argument to invade that country more than Iraq. After all, Pakistan is a major exporter of WMD, narcotics and terrorists, effectively checking all the major boxes of a rogue regime. But if the U.S. can continue to do it, we'd rather outsource the military intervention role to the Pakistani military itself, because it's easier and cheaper right now.
Why does little old embattled Georgia decide to up its military contingent in Iraq from 159 to 850, making it one of the biggest per capita players in the U.S.-led coalition?...

The reason why Eastern Europe has taken off economically while the former Eastern Germany—pulled into the loving embrace of its rich sister state—has clearly not, is because those states were incentivized in a way the former GDR was not. Eastern Europe had to swim or sink. It had to change rule sets like crazy because it needed foreign investment like crazy. Meanwhile, Eastern Germany was sucked into the labor regulations of Western Germany and had high expectations of a intra-country bailout.
Questions for Tom:
  • When did you become an economic determinist and why? Was it while working with Cantor Fitzgerald?
  • What is your reposnse to all of the protectionists here in America? Given your passion for wide open globalism, what should the US labor market look like as it struggles with offshoring?

Yesterday's links

James Surowiecki (kottke's favorite economist) addresses privatization.
The ownership society promises freedom, but at the price of a huge shift in risk, away from government and society and onto individual citizens. Social Security, Medicare, insurance—these are basically collective risk-sharing mechanisms. Rather than let each person run the risk of ending up destitute or sick, these programs pool the risk. Because the risk is shared, it can be managed, and people can be guaranteed a minimally acceptable outcome.

That's what scares me: the individual risks. Could it be better to face the risks together, with lower potential returns, but also lower risk? Many people have already met with pension disaster. We'll be picking up the tab for at least some of that anyway.
But Social Security and Medicare are designed to protect people from things they have little control over—risk of illness, risk of macroeconomic change, risk of industrial obsolescence. To manage that kind of risk, you have to do it collectively. What’s more, as the political scientist Jacob Hacker has pointed out, Americans’ everyday lives are considerably riskier than they used to be. Jobs are less secure. Health-care costs are increasingly difficult to plan for. And the pace of technological change—which can lay waste to entire industries almost overnight—is faster than ever. So now may not be the best time to undermine the few programs that provide people with some protection against bad decisions and bad luck.

The ownership society’s greatest flaw, however, is that it won’t solve the problems it purports to address. A real solution would require facing up to some thorny issues—raising the retirement age, slowing the growth of benefits, means-testing. By advocating greater freedom and independence, while failing to explain or account for the greater risk, Bush is setting Americans up for an unpleasant surprise. If his plans are implemented, a lot of people are going to end up a lot poorer in their old age than they otherwise would have been. (A lot of people will end up a lot richer, too.)

Have you downloaded the first real Firefox release? Google and Bloglines have their own pages.

USC residence hall billed as world's largest "green" dormitory

I thought Douglas Rushkoff's 'Merchants of Cool' on Frontline was harrowing. He recently covered advertisers: The Persuaders. Not sure I can bring myself to read more, since I know it'll drive me crazy. I did read Matt's review and Paul's (which interprets through McLuhan).

Then, to close with something more cheerful, Matthew's head got attacked like the Death Star. Fortunately, the shot that went in didn't start a chain reaction.

Wednesday, November 10

audiopost: Maroon 5 and Vertical Horizon

this is an audio post - click to play

Barnett in Raeson

Tom posted an interview in a Danish magazine. The intro:
 “The tumult created by globalization’s creeping in on the Middle East was going to create anger and violence and terrorism. When 9/11 comes along, and the connections are clear to us – at least for an instant – the United States (frankly, nobody else has the firepower to do it) decides it has got to change the Middle East in a big, big way, looks around and says: “who can I start with?” It decides on Iraq, and I say “that’s as good as anybody”. So are we going to kick his ass militarily in the war? Yes, absolutely: supreme confidence there. Are we going to screw up the occupation? Absolutely! Why would you advocate going even if that is going to happen? Because this military is not going to change unless it experiences failure on that far side.”
He gets pretty quickly into his vision of the role of the New Core, including Russia, India, and China. I've been pushing Macon on this, and he's pushing me back, so maybe this will provide some content (and then I'll go on to other content. And my formatting will be a little funky because I'm copying from pdf and I'm not going to reformat the whle thing.).
You cannot bring Russia sort of into NATO
without changing NATO, and not as a result
make that a different Rule Set. Look at China
buying up our US Treasury Bonds and becoming
the biggest source of the US trade deficit; or India
supplying all the IT-workers and doctors to the
United States plus remitting such sums of money
back to India in terms of non-residential Indians
who work and live in the United States. That kind
of integration processes cannot help but create
new Rule Sets. They always tend to come in the
economic realm first.

So there are a
lot of things that we are going to learn and adjust
to as, for example, India becomes a much bigger
part of not just the U.S.'s but the whole world’s
economy. To understand what it is to have Russia
actively involved in world affairs, when for
several decades it was always on the other side of
the fence. To have China develop this
tremendous integration with the outside world.

it seems like such a jumping-the-gun phenomenon
for us to always be looking for slippage, always
be putting the worst sort of perspective on the
motivations behind anything that Russia, India or
China do as they deal with some significant
changes. They have in recent years changed from
economic policies that were very state-heavy for
many decades and moved towards the embrace of
markets in a very profound way. You would think
we would be happier but it is almost like we look
for every opportunity to say: “you are not going
fast enough and far enough, and – aha! – that
means you, secretly, deep down, inside, must be a

We have wished for this to happen for so many
years and when it does happen we cannot believe
it: we have such great suspicion towards these
three big countries. I think about them a lot
because they hold such a big chunk of the world’s
population and if you can remove that kind fear
factor within the Core a lot of things will work
out pretty dramatically.

But India and China do not feel like they have
been invited into the corridors of power. They are
part of G20, but they are not part of G8. They
kind of wonder how the G8 gets to figure out
what happens in Iraq. The G8 had this meeting in
Sea Island [G8 Summit, June 8-10, 2004] and
there decided what they were going to do about
the future of the Middle East – and there was no
China there.

If you do not want it to be a West versus Islam
thing, then do not alienate the biggest players in
the East. Either they live closer to the problem,
like Russia; or they see themselves as natural
regional powers, like India; or they are going to
have their energy requirements from the Persian
Gulf doubling over the next 20 years like China.
Compared to their interdependencies with that
region, ours and even the Europeans’ are small.
I really agree with this picture of the Palestine/Israel situation:
That is the lawyer with three kids who straps a
belt on with dynamite in the West Bank because
that looks like the best option for him after going
to law school: that is the best future he can come
up with. But if you can give him a job a law firm
somewhere I guarantee you, he does not get on that bus.
Back to the Big 3:
The trajectory that Russia has been on
for the last 15 years; China for the last 25; and
India just for the last 10 is just stunning. Because
their societies are exposed to these strong,
external influences this is the perfect time to
shower them with security.
Tom's analysis of the UN:
The problem was that the UN was not the vessel
for that: it is such a Congress-like entity, a
legislative branch, without a real executive
function. The best you have is a group that can
cite bad activity around the world, but does not
have any means to deal with it. The hope is, if the
UN condemns somebody that they change their
ways and somehow get beyond the violence and
then we can send the peacekeepers in.
On multilateralism in Iraq:
We said in effect: “If you’re not tough enough to show up
for the war, don’t show up for the peace: don’t
expect to be cut in on anything!” That was a
huge, colossal blunder on our part, a very macho
view of security as if the only thing that matters
is the “blowing up” part. We have learned since
the occupation in May 2003 that our people get
killed just as quickly in the peace keeping as in
the war part. Actually, more quickly because we
do it so badly.
More on the UN:
And what can the UN do? They can
indict you. It is actually a grand jury, even the
UN Security Council: they cannot actually issue
any warrants for your arrest. They can say: “you
should stop, and if you do not stop, we will not
let you sell sugar for the next ten years”, and slap
some really meaningless economic sanction on
you – which historically has almost never done
anything of value, unless it was universal like
with South Africa under Apartheid.

This where the G20 comes in: the G20
is the star chamber of everyone who matters in
the global economy. When you take the 20
biggest economies, you really get the whole
package, about 90% of the wealth. The G20 is
where you will find all the money and the
authority, where you can locate the entirety of the
Core. If just that body could evolve over time, as
you see it struggling with ever since 9/11, where
security issues have been dominating the G8
meetings. The Sea Island meeting was an Iraq
meeting! They barely talked about the global
economy. They are already aspiring to that role
without saying it. If you made that G20 a package
that could have an executive function, where it
could say: “the UN has said these guys are bad,
we all agree that they are: could we come to some
understanding that the Leviathan [the US military] should be

Then you could have the Leviathan be put into
service with the knowledge that a System
Administration force on the far side – where the
US has a much smaller role, and the allies around
the world a much larger – will come in once the
take-down (or “the correction” or “the security
element”) has been dealt with. If you employ the
Leviathan force inside the Gap in this manner,
then there would be an upfront agreement that the
SysAdmin force will come in the Leviathan
force’s wake. That force, a very manpower
intensive function, takes the occupation through
its phases effectively.

Then you have another gap being filled on the far
side of that: an international organization like the
IMF but one that specializes in exactly what we
are talking about – that weird mix of security and
development. This is what Sebastian Mallaby of
the Washington Post calls the IRF – the
International Reconstruction Fund – like a
perpetual Marshall Plan for politically bankrupt
states designated for rehab. Who would fund that
IRF? The same G20 that would make the
decision upstream in the process. They would
vote according to how much money they would
put into it. And then you have the International
Criminal Court on the far end. It is that kind of A
to Z function: then you would have a real system.
On the role of Iraq in the war on terrorism:
Either you fix the system as a
whole – or you accept that you will have to shoot
at anything that moves in certain parts of the
world for the next 50 years, and I find that
morally bankrupt. That would be condemning a
big chunk of humanity to a horrible existence.
But is it harder to go in and make that change
happening? Absolutely.

Globalization is coming to the Middle
East, and we have to integrate it. That energy has
to come out of there, because developing Asia
needs it, and we need developing Asia. If we do
not go there security-wise, the Russians and the
Chinese and the Indians would be coming, and
eventually the Japanese too. We can get there
first, and try to make it a good thing, make it
cooperative and a benefit to the region as a
whole. Or we can wait until it gets really bad, and
poor China gets so desperate that it starts doing
something crazy or scary or intimidating. And we
would go: “Hey, you shouldn’t be doing that”,
and then we would have ourselves a nice cold
war brewing in the Core again.

The Europeans are the
leaders in rule making; the Americans are the
leaders in profound new technology and the
ability to wage war; the Chinese have this
amazing new power in making [manufacturing]
everything; the Indians have this bizarrely tilted
power in Information Technology; and the
Japanese are sort of this new center of cool and
design and fashion.

If you make a
logical argument about the exertion of security,
then people will say: “Who will die for your war?
You must be doing this for empire; you must be
doing this so multinational corporations can go
around the world and exploit labor!”

And I say: “Your point? Yes, I am: it is called
development! Talk to somebody who has no
multinational corporations exploiting their cheap
labor: it sucks, it’s called Central Africa!” But
show me a place where they do have them do it,
and yes the first generation’s life looks like
England in the 1890s: they work in factories and
the conditions are rotten. But their kids go to
school and become something better, and then
their kids' kids become something even better.
That is how we did it. How do we expect
everyone else to magically jump ahead?

in many ways, we are moving away from paradigms
of war to paradigms of police work. Across the
Core we do have cops, and it is robust system. In
the Gap there are no cops: you can kill 100.000
people before anyone cares. Hack them up with
machetes, and throw their bodies down the river,
and maybe five months later the UN will say:
“that’s really bad, you should stop!” So we are
talking about extending police work.
On the Bush Administration:
That is why I, as a
Democrat, actually find myself supporting Bush
more than Kerry, because he speaks in terms of
right and wrong, good versus evil. You need a
certain amount of that to get people up to do it,
because these are not easy things. You need Putin
to be Putin sometimes. If you say: “Well, why
don’t you negotiate with them?”, then he will say:
“They just killed 300 of my kids! Why don’t you
go negotiate with Osama bin Laden?!” At some
point you have to say: “That doesn’t work!”

This administration is doing much
of what I argue for, but I do not claim that they
are following my logic – I claim it to be the logic
of the world. They are employing almost a
Nixonian sort of secrecy on it, as though the
world would not trust them on it. In that secrecy,
which is almost pathological, many people are
rushing in to fill the gap – with conspiracies,
charges, accusations and labels.

Americans are somewhat schizophrenic on this, since we accept
30,000 deaths a year with gun violence – but bin
Laden can go commit 3,000 murders on
television one day, and we will be so mad about
that that we will go invade countries.

But thank God we still react violently to
terrorism: that it still lights a fire under us, and it
is finally lighting one under Putin. We can either
deal with it or we can choose not to, but it is not
going away, and this globalization process will
not stop just because we stop supporting the
Israelis or get off oil or something like that. The
older I get the more convinced I get that life is
accomplished by those rushing to embrace the
bad things, because you may as well get it over as
soon as possible. I learned that when my daughter
got cancer at age two, which I write about in the
book. It really taught me something about
strategic planning: dealing with difficult things in
the right fashion, not dragging them out.

Paul on presidents

I really liked Paul's comment (from this thread):
At least since 1992 in every Presidential election I have held my nose and voted. This one was no exception. Mary mentioned some time ago that it would be refreshing to hear President Bush or someone else in the administration say something like, "We made a mistake on that one; we learned from that mistake; it won't happen again; but, yes, we made a mistake". Or say to the Christian right, "We will try to keep the playing field level for you and any other religion whose purpose is not to subvert the US government. On the other hand, don't ask us to tend to your business. As to homosexuality, come back and talk to us when you get the divorce rate down in your churches to something significantly less than the general population."

Barnett to Congress

Tom Barnett briefed the Overseas Basing Commission of Congress yesterday. Here's his opening statement. I'm glad they're asking for his input. I'm a little hopeful that we'll get our basing right.

Not sure why Tom found it necessary to give them all of his jargon.

Saturday, November 6

Macon's reasons

How did I miss Macon's reasons for voting for President Bush? My comments:

War: not eye-to-eye, but I generally agree. I still can't believe how anti-nationbuilding Bush was in his first campaign, and now...

Supreme Court: yes. Strict Constructionism is best.

Culture of Life: the classic liberal tweak here is: what about war and the death penalty? Not saying I buy that, but do you care to address it?

Economy: I think President's have a bigger impact than you think they do. I think they're leadership in tax policy and in spending (eg, budgets, deficits, debt) is huge.

Unilateralism: you keep saying this means France, Germany, and Russia and I keep saying no it doesn't (of course, I may not be who you're dismissing when you write 'the critics' ;-). Maybe it does for everyone else, but not for me. A more diplomatic run-up may have led to a more multi-lateral rebuilding, which would have been a major advantage. France and Russia were on the take. Who cares about France anyway? But Russia's more important in that region, and a potentially emerging ally. Why alienate people we don't have to. As I've said before, what I really would like is Chinese, Indian, and Russian peacekeepers. Then it's an Asian deal instead of a Western deal (public perception wise). The UN isn't much good. The Security Council is particularly oudated.

WMDs: Kerry thought they had them because the Bush Administration's intel told us they did. I don't think this was a case of lying, but a case of ultimately interpreting scanty evidence to a desired outcome.

Quagmire: It's hard, true. But 'Deal with it' is too curt for those who didn't support the war in the first place or who feel we were mis-led there or who fear the ghosts of Vietnam (and Afghanistan). And committing to indefinite unilateral rebuilding is a really tricky thing. Bush gets four more years to work on it.

General links

kottke liked 'The Incredibles'. We hope it's ok for kids. Wil would love to see it. He's been playing Dash a lot just from surfing the website.

10x10: an interesting Flash of the news.

Love this kottke quote from David Brooks:
If you want to understand why Democrats keep losing elections, just listen to some coastal and university town liberals talk about how conformist and intolerant people in Red America are. It makes you wonder: why is it that people who are completely closed-minded talk endlessly about how open-minded they are?

Philosophical break-up lines (via BoingBoing). And, therefrom, Causes of deaths of philosophers eg: Augustine: Hippo. What's your favorite?

And three from AskMeFi and then I'm really done:
Who are the Most Overrated Stars in ShowBiz?
A good counseling advice thread (some nice things going on in here)
Best MeFi thread for conservatives EVER: Why did you vote for Bush?

The Decline of Brands

I really liked The Decline of Brands by James Surowiecki when I read it in Wired. Now it's getting some linkage around the web, including kottke and this post by Cory Doctorow (who links back to kottke in the a-list pyramid scheme ;-).

More election stuff

More red-blue-purple maps, this time adjusted for size of county. (via kottke)

Another (joking?) proposal to split the US into Red and Blue nations (I saw - and linked - it first from Eric (at the bottom)). To remind you, here's a map of how they turned out. If it came down to a vote like this, I wonder how the states would vote... I wonder where I would choose to live. Of course, you can argue that we're already like this a little, if we're a federal republic of states. I think Barnett would argue that, to some degree.

And Brad posts the United States of Canada (I hadn't seen it yet):

Here's a purported correlation of state IQs and votes. Guess what it looks like? He's worried about bandwidth, so I'll post it as well:

You'll think I'm crazy, but part of what I take from this is IQ isn't everything. Maybe that's another way to think about the divide in this country:

Red: values over intellect
Blue: intellect over values

Want to help me sharpen this up? Interact!

More: Jeez, will this thread never end (not sure what it's doing to your feed-readers. I don't read my own feed)? Anyway, Jaq links an article that says it was security and not values. Maybe.


Big post with lots of riffs.
Then again, hard scientists (surprisingly enough) are often better than soft ones (like political scientists) in horizontal vision. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it's true. There's actually far more pinheads in my field than, say, chemistry.
I wonder if this has anything to do with postmodernism. I see a lot of scientists who are more modernist in their thinking, and this lends itself to certain strengths.
In short, horizontal thinkers like myself tend to be late bloomers, because it takes so much longer for everything to come into focus.
May this be true of me.
I've long believed that having Iran on the "rogue" side of the ledger will continue to deny us the stabilizing outcome we seek for the region as a whole (and if no one's gonna say it, then I will: Die Yassir! Die!). I want that outcome, but I want a cemented strategic relationship with China as much or more over the next four years, because I'm convinced we need to lock in that embryonic security bond as well as similar bonds with both India and Russia, and I see a strategy for Bush over the next four years that points in this direction.
So it did all come down to the question of gay marriages!

Islam's moderate middle path is found in southeast Asia
What's interesting to me about the article is how basically all the examples of where the government has gone out of its way to favor Muslim Malays over other ethnic-religious groups has to do with the definitions of family, marriage, and sex. So you get the feeling that the moderation has to do more with economic and politics, whereas the "gives" to the majority Malays tend to register in the social values sphere.

Interesting no? Makes you think about this election? The conservative majority okays the Bush team on their economics and national security in return for their efforts on upholding social values. Looking on it that way, you get a sense of what it means to be more Core-like than Gap-like: you push the connectivity of free trade, free markets, collective security and transparency, but you do let yourself engage in some content control and some behavioral modification when it comes to the truly touchy stuff like family, marriage, and sex.

Friday, November 5

Yesterday, the links

Given that he lost, I'm glad Kerry conceded and that thiselection didn't go to court, as I feared. He seemed pretty classy. On the other hand, I saw President Bush on CNN yesterday being unneccessarily confrontational over a question of Supreme Court nominations. More conciliatory, please...

The election maps you've likely already seen: degrees of purple by state and blue, purple, and red by county.

kottke on the election and how 'we're all stupid' (except Karl Rove). I agree with a lot of this (though not the 'learn science from the Bible' crack).

Eric's got some thoughful reflections on the election.

Barnett on the election: 'shared social values trumped mistakes in the steering of the global war on terror', 'people on the coasts are often people on the fringes of everything I readily hold dear, and their arrogance about the "little minds" living in the middle is just too galling for words'.

Follow-up to yesterday's post: Moral Values Propel Bush to Re-Election

From cells to bells, 10 things the Chinese do far better than we do. The we in this article is technically Canada, but it still applies. I've got my eye on China's economy more as I've been reading Barnett.

Matt's got a post on the new prefabricated homes. In the article they focus on the Glidehouse (too-much-Flash warning). Pretty swanky.

One group estimates that BitTorrents account for 35% of Internet traffic. Whoa. My first torrent was the Jon Stewart Crossfire.

Thursday, November 4

Election aftermath

I'm somewhat liberal when it comes to social policy. I'm conservative on religion and morality. A lot of the weblogs I read regularly are much to the left of me. Here's the thing: we're not making any progress in this country while we continue this culture war. As long as we think everybody on the other side is crazy or stupid, we won't make any progress. We need to expand civil discourse, the issues covered thereby and the number of people involved therein.

You can make a good case that the biggest divide in this country is between religionists and secularists (and I hope those are fair terms). As long as the religionists view certain voting issues as moral issues (eg, abortion and gay marriage), they'll have a massive advantage in getting out the vote. They voted down every gay marriage referendum in this election, and voted for Bush while they were at it.

Obviously, another big factor was the security vote, which went to Bush in the common thinking. But I don't think it was as much of a factor as the secular/religious dichotomy.

I don't think this divide is good or bad (ie, the religious and secular camps). I do think there's lots of stupidity involved. There must be since the negative campaigning and Michael Moores/Ann Coulters of the world have an audience. But writing our opponents off as dumb, or demonizing them, can only hurt all of us.

Greg Knauss has a guest essay saying some of the same things. My answer (expanding rational, civil discourse) is different from most of those in the ensuing comments over there.

You know, if you read here regularly, that this post does not mean I'm crazy about the reelection. But it's not the end of the world, either.

One more time: more rational civil discourse.

Tuesday, November 2

Barnett Today

Judging the Global War on Terrorism.
Synopsis: It's been successful because there haven't been any attacks in America since 9/11. We've made this into an away game contested by our professionals instead of a home game with casualties to our home crowd (to torture the metaphor). The Department of Homeland Security is 'vast overkill' and we haven't done very well at the nation-building part. Our civil liberties have been cut back, but not aggregiously so.

I agree with most everything he's saying, as least to some degree. He's pushing me on the War in Iraq. I do think the DHS is an overreaction and that the money could be better spent (with some similar jobs by pre-existing agencies, of course).

Everybody take a deep breath and relax on election day. Some historical reflection from George Will on similar situations and a positive view of early voting. An interesting quote:
At the dinner I attended last night to discuss PNM, a lot of angst was raised about the red state/blue state polarization of American politics. My answer was that this was not that unusual if you look back over the length of American political history. Plus, when you look at what we are so jacked up about concerning the Supreme Court, that cluster of issues is awfully narrow and removed from much of daily life (the nexus of abortion, stem cells, etc.). This is not so much a hugely divided electorate but one that squabbles incessantly over relatively small issues (historically speaking) on the margin.
Barnett's an economic determinist, so he views these divisive issues as marginal. I accept that from an ecnomic and security standpoint, but I feel I

9/11's most pervasive new rule set is classified.
On a superficial level, the hush-hush treatment of this issue on the fall campaign trail might seem perversely fitting. But Mr. Bush's unilateral rollback of laws and practices designed to promote government accountability surely rates further scrutiny by voters. We've learned over the last four years that what we don't know can hurt us.
New Core economies: where is the action is....
Isn't it amazing—as well as counter-intuitive—to remember back to the time when our policy towards the old Soviet bloc was: "For God's sake, don't let them get their hands on information technology!" When—in the end—that was the very thing (that Information Revolution) that served as the downfall of the socialist, centrally-planned economic system?