FM newswire for 20 January, articles for your morning reading

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis…

  1. At last some Americans get smart:  “Walk Away From Your Mortgage!“, Roger Lowenstein, NY Times Magazine, 10 January 2010
  2. Important not just for China, but for us as well:  “Is Inflation Stalking China? — or Crouching Stimulus, Hidden Inflation’“, Patrick Chovanec (Assoc Prof at Tsinghua U in Beijing), at his website, 17 January 2010
  3. Dystopian nightmares which should motivate us to be careful:  “A Very American Coup – Coming Soon to a Hometown Near You“, William J. Astore, TomDispatch, 19 January 2010 — But the opening consists of cold hard facts.
  4. A complex but important trial:  “The Trial of Geert Wilders: A Symposium“, International Free Press, 19 January 2010
  5. Poorly written, but makes many good points:  “The COIN Myth, Part III“, Jeff Huber, AntiWar, 18 January 2010
  6. Good news!  “Why Hasn’t Earth Warmed as Much as Expected?“, Brookhaven National Laboratory, 19 January 2010 — “New report on climate change explores the reasons.”
  7. Here is the article discussed above:  “Why Hasn’t Earth Warmed as Much as Expected?“, Stephen E. Schwartz et al, Journal of Climate, in press.

Important and timely article: “Global Health Threats: Global Warming in Perspective“, Indur M. Goklany, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Fall 2009 — A topic frequently discussed on the FM website.   See here for the posts about shockwaves — we cannot defend against them all.

Update, my comment on the Mass senate election:  In Obama’s first 11 months, America lost 5 million jobs.  And he did almost nothing desired by his liberal supporters, while expanding our wars and striking deals with the banks, medical insurance, and drug companies.  Why does this loss surprise anyone?  For more on this see Thoughts about President Obama (17 December 2009).  This is not the first step toward change; just more evidence of our inability to make significant reforms — and that the American people are unhappy but undecided about the trade-offs necessary for any change.

Quotes of the day

(a)  Wonderful news!  After all, we exist to support them (not, as some naifs believe, the other way around):

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, also quoted Gates as telling the companies he would like to see “steady, consistent growth in defense budgets. … “That’s the best for us. It’s best for them, so that there’s predictability and one can plan going forward,” Morrell said.
— “Gates meets U.S. arms makers, calls partnership critical“, Reuters, 13 January 2010

(b)  A fake but good quote!  It gives good advice.  The Romans failed to follow this common sense advice, paying for this failure with their Republic.  Let’s hope we do better.

The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt, the mobs should be forced to work and not depend on government for subsistence.
— falsely attributed to Cicero (106bc – 43bc; Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, and political theorist), source

3 thoughts on “FM newswire for 20 January, articles for your morning reading

  1. Fabius, Cato the Censor here… I thought you’d appreciate this quote from Polybius as related to a number of your topics:

    “In things that regard the acquisition of wealth, the manners also, and the customs of the Romans, are greatly preferable to those of the Carthaginians. Among the latter, nothing is reputed infamous, that is joined with gain. But among the former, nothing is held more base than to be corrupted by gifts, or to covet an increase of wealth by means that are unjust. For as much as they esteem the possession of honest riches to be fair and honorable, so much, on the other hand, all those that are amassed by unlawful arts, are viewed by them with horror and reproach. The truth of this fact is clearly seen in the following instance. Among the Carthaginians, money is openly employed to obtain the dignities of the state: but all such proceeding is a capital crime in Rome.

    As the rewards, therefore, that are proposed to virtue in the two republics are so different, it cannot but happen, that the attention of the citizens to form their minds to virtuous actions must be also different.”

    Also Fabius, I suspect that the “fake” Cicero quotation is actually taken from a stripped down translation of Plutarch’s Life of Marcus Cato (ironically, including ‘direct’ quotes that Plutarch attributes in origin to Themistocles, borrowed when apt by Cato). These crazy philosophy selections tend to be way too long to post, but I’ll email you some if you’d like….
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    FM reply: I don’t see it in Plutarch’s life of Cato the Elder or Cato the Younger, in any form.

  2. Re: China — “China’s GDP Growth Accelerates to Fastest Since 2007“, Bloomberg, 21 January 2010

    “Liu, the banking regulator, said yesterday in Hong Kong that banks will extend 7.5 trillion yuan of loans this year, about 22 percent less than last year’s unprecedented 9.59 trillion yuan. The central bank this month ordered lenders to set aside a larger proportion of deposits as reserves and has guided bill yields higher after 2010 began with a surge in lending.”

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    FM reply: This results from the largest stimulus program ever done in a major nation in peacetime. Nobody knows what the results will be.

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