Notes about the undernews – some big but underreported trends

Updates to posts from the past on the FM site:

  1. Anthropologists go to war
  2. The biofuel boom goes bust
  3. Power shifts from men to women


(1)  Anthropologists go to war

Reality Check: Human Terrain Teams“, Foreign Policy, 8 September 2009 — “It sounded like a good idea: Swarms of social scientists would help U.S. troops better understand local customs and avoid cultural mishaps. But is the program creating more problems than it solves?”

This is an update to an interesting story evolving over the past few years.  For more about this the FM reference page Anthropologists go to war AND Revolt of the Anthropologists.

(2)  The biofuel boom goes bust

U.S. Biofuel Boom Running on Empty“, Wall Street Journal, 27 August 2009 — Excerpt:

The biofuels revolution that promised to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil is fizzling out. Two-thirds of U.S. biodiesel production capacity now sits unused, reports the National Biodiesel Board. Biodiesel, a crucial part of government efforts to develop alternative fuels for trucks and factories, has been hit hard by the recession and falling oil prices.

The global credit crisis, a glut of capacity, lower oil prices and delayed government rules changes on fuel mixes are threatening the viability of two of the three main biofuel sectors — biodiesel and next-generation fuels derived from feedstocks other than food. Ethanol, the largest biofuel sector, is also in financial trouble, although longstanding government support will likely protect it.

Posts on the FM site about biofuels:

For more information see the biofuels section on the FM reference page Peak oil and energy – studies and reports.

(3)  Power shifts from men to women

This might be a more important shift than that from West to East:  “Women gain as men lose jobs“, USA Today, 2 September 2009 — Excerpt:

Women are on the verge of outnumbering men in the workforce for the first time, a historic reversal caused by long-term changes in women’s roles and massive job losses for men during this recession. Women held 49.83% of the nation’s 132 million jobs in June and they’re gaining the vast majority of jobs in the few sectors of the economy that are growing, according to the most recent numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That’s a record high for a measure that’s been growing steadily for decades and accelerating during the recession. At the current pace, women will become a majority of workers in October or November. … “It was a long historical slog to get to this point,” says labor economist Heidi Hartmann, president of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

… This time, the boost came from a severe recession that has been brutal on male-dominated professions such as construction and manufacturing. Through June, men have lost 74% of the 6.4 million jobs erased since the recession began in December 2007. Men have lost more than 3 million jobs in construction and manufacturing alone.

The only parts of the economy still growing — health care, education and government — have traditionally hired mostly women. That dominance has increased in part because federal stimulus funding directed money to education, health care and state and local governments. The Postal Service is cutting tens of thousands of unionized, blue-collar jobs dominated by men while new hires are expanding in teaching and other fields dominated by college-educated women.

The gender transformation is especially remarkable in local government’s 14.6 million-person workforce. Cities, schools, water authorities and other local jurisdictions have cut 86,000 men from payrolls during the recession — while adding 167,000 women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This is just the begining of a long trend.  The consequences will be beyond anything we can imagine.  Other posts about this on the FM site:


Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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10 thoughts on “Notes about the undernews – some big but underreported trends”

  1. Men haven’t exactly been doing a great job running the show lately, maybe this power shift will bring some positive changes to our society. And those who worry that women don’t have the fortitude to fight, remember Margaret Hilda Thatcher. Who do you think has got more steel in their spine Bill or Hillary?
    Fabius Maximus replies: Is this supposed to be humor?

    “Men haven’t exactly been doing a great job running the show lately,”

    This is a common view, one which I have never understood. What is the basis for comparison? It’s esp odd now, 60 years since the last large war among developed nations — after a decade or so of the fastest global economic growth since the invention of agriculture — after 150+ years of amazing technological growth. Plus little things like the near-elimination of slavery and progress of women’s rights.

  2. Forgive me but I still am not sophisticated enough yet to back this with statistics. So this may sound subjective.

    Regarding economic power shifting from men to women, my take is as it always was: I have seldom met women who have anything other than desire for, and desire to help, men. I do not believe that many women are actual misandrists. However a significant number of men seem to me to be misogynistic.

    Therefore, if the economic power is shifting to tend to favor women, then I think the best response from the men is not a hardening of machismo (a belief that men must be the controlling sex [“bros before hos”, as they say]), rather the best response from men is to reach out to the women and admit that we are not necessarily in the best place. It seems to me that, on the average at least, the women are generally willing to help the men, if the men will engage in some give and take.

    It seems to me that, unsexy as this sounds to many men and women, this is now in the best interest of males.

  3. Cycling in Hollywood

    just because women are doing a larger % of work, doesn’t mean that they will hold more power…sounds like the increase of an exploitative trend to me. and Heidi Hartmann thinks this is progress for women?
    Fabius Maximus replies: We are talking about women increasingly dominating the positions require higher education, the jobs that comprise the managerial and leadership classes of the USA.

  4. i’ve actually worked with HTTs in Iraq. from my experience.. some of the setbacks have happened for the exact same reason we hired them. the military in their areas don’t understand the culture, refuse to change their kinetic mentality, and become hostile to a group of academics that tell them they are doing it wrong. in this case, it isn’t the HTT that has the problem but the unit they are assigned to.

  5. Cycling in Hollywood

    i was an anthropology student in grad school, seems like anthropology has come straight back to its roots here — helping the colonial army understand the culture of the people it is occupying so it can dominate them better !

  6. “Men haven’t exactly been doing a great job running the show lately,”

    By what standard? Your statement is little more than standard feminist-sounding boilerplate rhetoric, disparaging of men generally but without specific examples or data in support your claim. The claim is meaningless anyway, because roughly 50% of our population is female, and one cannot separate out male/female actions and their consequences in any rigorous or meaningful way; they are far too interconnected.

    Today’s whipping boy is the male, under attack just about everywhere in the media. Flip on ESPN to watch a ballgame, and soon you’ll see an advertisement in which a smart, hyper-competent (and utterly sexy and chic) woman will outwit, outsmart, humiliate or mock a hapless (usually white, middle aged) male. If it isn’t a woman portrayed as the smart, cool, hip one, it is her children. For a couple of decades now, we’ve been treated to what I call the “Tomb Raider” syndrome, i.e. women action heroes who can whip any man in combat, while looking sexy in a skin tight outfit, and saving the poor of the world to boot. Traditonal males are especially targeted, not so much gay men or feminized metrosexual types who apologize for their flawed guyness at every turn.

    This is cherry-picking the data a bit, but consider the following: Back in the “bad old days” of the 1930s, when men ruled America, the Empire State Building was constructed in less than 400 days. Today, eight years after 9-11, in this – the age of the empowered female – we haven’t even started on constuction at the site of the WTC Towers in NYC. Our space program – a largely male institution – put a man on the moon less than a decade after Kennedy’s challenge to do so.

    Consider reading Diana West’s inportant book “The Death of Adulthood,” which charts the current-day prevailence of perpetual childhood among those who ought to be adults, and the concommitant feminization of American culture over the last several decades. She has much to say on this subject.

    Am I a misogynist? No, not at all – I merely think the pendulum of social mores has swung from favoring men too much, to oppossite extreme of favoring women too much. IMO, an optimally functioning society blends the best of both sexes.

  7. #8 But Pete , do you rate yourself excellent , or very poor ? You can vote more than once , if you log on and off , or for Karzai .

  8. Tea partiers march on U.S. Capitol – Taxpayers revolt against out-of-control spending“, WorldNet Daily, 12 September 2009

    Where are the men? Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers are now storming Washington, D.C., and taking their fight against excessive spending, bailouts, growth of big government and soaring deficits to the front door of the U.S. Capitol. So now Fabius can no longer complain that Americans are passive sheep. The men have no jobs and are killing time with a new “Bonus Expeditionary March.”
    Fabius Maximus replies: This has been discussed many times on this site. It’s not clear what the tea parties want, other than cutting spending that benefits somebody else — and cutting taxes needed to pay for past spending. Until they represent something of substance, its an inchoate movement.

    Also, I’ve seen no estimates of the Washington protest in the “hundreds of thousands>” Most say tens of thousands. The highest is from ABC News.

    Carrying signs depicting President Obama as Adolf Hitler and the Joker, and chanting slogans such as “‘No big government” and “Obamacare makes me sick,” approximately 60,000 to 70,000 people flooded Pennsylvania Ave, according to the Washington DC Fire Department.

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