Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So I know that it's very dangerous to predict things that will happen many many years in the future, especially without the appropriate analysis. I also know that my predictions hold little water and, even if they are right, so what? But I still felt like predicting a couple of things that I think that I will (unfortunately) live to see:

1) Global energy shortage on a massive scale

2) The melting of the polar ice caps

3) WWIII (or IV, depending on how you number them)

Will any of these things mean the complete annihilation of the human race? I doubt it. But they are the kinds of things that one would rather sit out. ("No guys, I'm pooped. I'd rather not come in on this one.") The reasons for my believing the first two are obvious, the third not so obvious. I'm simply of the opinion that the global policing that has produced an ersatz military d├ętente will not last another fifty years. There's my two cents, although they're probably worth a lot less than that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fukuyama was wrong (no kidding!)

BBC News discusses the new book, by neoconservative policy hawk, Robert Kagan, entitled The Return of History and the End of Dreams. Correctly, Kagan says that the "end of history" that Fukuyama saw in the fall of the Berlin Wall was pure delusion. Not surprisingly, Kagan's remedy for this striking return of history: more aggressive American foreign policy. Whether history has ended or not, it appears that the cure for all our ills is the same. Violence: the thinking man's penicillin.

Here's how you spell b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t

“At the heart of my approach is a simple belief,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Middle-class families are paying too much and oil companies aren’t paying their fair share to help us solve the problems at the pump.”
Hillary Clinton wants to to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, in lock-step with John McCain, a clear attempt to attract the voters who eat that kind of thing up and believe that issues like gas prices are more important than the environment. Obama's response is apt:
At a meeting with voters in North Carolina on Monday, Mr. Obama said lifting the gas tax for three months would save the average consumer no more than $30, a figure confirmed by Congressional analysts. Mr. Obama has previously dismissed Mr. McCain’s proposal as a “scheme.”

“Half a tank of gas,” Mr. Obama told his audience. “That’s his big solution.”
These are the kind of things that make you really hate American exceptionalism. We seem to believe that we have some fundamental right to cheap gas and home ownership (I've been told I'm in lock-step with McCain on this latter issue; so be it). Voters care more about tax rebates and gas price cuts than CO2 and suburban sprawl. Here's the NYTimes story.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A friend of my parents, Fleet Maull, has started a blog to raise money for his son's medical funds. His son was assaulted in Cusco, Peru in February, and is now undergoing brain damage rehabilitation. You can find the blog here. There is information for those who wish to donate.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

From RealClearPolitics:
Hundreds of angry Americans took to pouring their Absolut vodka down the drain after the company published an advertisement showing several Southwestern states as part of Mexico. Sensing an opening akin to a major gaffe on the campaign trail, SKYY Vodka has issued a press release slamming their Swedish rivals. As it turns our, SKYY supports the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
This is from the press release, quoting a SKYY Vodka rep:
"Like SKYY Vodka, the residents of states like California, Texas and Arizona are exceptionally proud of the fact that they are from the United States of America," said Dave Karraker, SKYY Vodka. "To imply that they might be interested in changing their mailing addresses, as our competitor seems to be suggesting in their advertising, is a bit presumptuous."

Here's a link to the ad: http://www.stuff.co.nz/images/714571.jpg
Elizabeth Edwards has an editorial in the NY Times on the shoddy state of the U.S. press:
Who is responsible for the veil of silence over Senator Biden? Or Senator Dodd? Or Gov. Tom Vilsack? Or Senator Sam Brownback on the Republican side?

The decision was probably made by the same people who decided that Fred Thompson was a serious candidate. Articles purporting to be news spent thousands upon thousands of words contemplating whether he would enter the race, to the point that before he even entered, he was running second in the national polls for the Republican nomination. Second place! And he had not done or said anything that would allow anyone to conclude he was a serious candidate. A major weekly news magazine put Mr. Thompson on its cover, asking — honestly! — whether the absence of a serious campaign and commitment to raising money or getting his policies out was itself a strategy.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

On Bloggingheads.tv, John Horgan, of the Stevens Center for Science Writings, interviews Michael Shellenberger, author of Break Through. Shellenberger advocates government involvement in climate control, and although he is a little bit too moderate on the issue for my taste, I think that he raises a good point about the inability of many environmentalists to enter the political process. For better or worse, the anti-global warming right needs to be brought around, and they hate anti-market arguments. Here's Shellenberger's website.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I just discovered bloggingheads.tv. It's a massive collection of discussions between prominent bloggers, from Eric Posner to James Pinkerton, etc. It's far more interesting than the media-driven pseudo-intellectual debates on the news channels.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

UCTV's Conversations With History has an interview with Amartya Sen. Sen is very helpful in thinking about trajectories of thought, overlaps between philosophy and economics, and how to do good work.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

New York times has Bjork's new music video, Wanderlust. You've never seen anything like it.
So the slate.com has the John Yoo torture memo, the one that tells Bush administration officials how torture is kind of, sort of illegal, but not if you close your eyes and pray and pretend like nothing is going on. I haven't read it yet, but I'm somewhat familiar with the legal argument: basically, because terrorists are not officially enemy combatants, the Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War doesn't apply to them. Okay, even if that's true (it's not), the Convention on Torture and Other Cruel and Unusual Punishment does. Moreover, every Geneva convention makes explicit that the "state of exception"/"executive order" argument DOES NOT ALLOW FOR THE VIOLATION OF THE CONVENTION. But, if you write enough memos, make enough statements to the press, and backpeddle enough times, no one knows what's going on, and you can do whatever you want. I'll dub it the "excessive deliberation defense."