FM newswire for 7 February, articles for your morning reading

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis.  If you find this useful, pass it to a friend or colleague. 

  1. Conservatives and Economic Mobility“, Mark Zeitlin, 10 January 2010
  2. Some people never learn:  “Three Strikes You’re Out? Ten? More?“, Josh Marshall, TPM, 12 January 2010 — Conservatives call for a 3rd “team b” to make yet another false foreign intelligence estimate.
  3. Food for thought:  military spending ruined the USSR:  “The Russians (Were) Coming“, Brad DeLong (Prof Economics Berkeley), 13 January 2010 — Interesting that Delong does not mention this obvious aspect of this analysis, that the USSR funded the military instead of civilian consumption.
  4. Budget cuts cancel America’s future, chapter xx:  “Budget Will Eliminate Yucca Nuclear Waste Repository, Says Sen. Reid“, New York Times, 1 February 2010
  5. “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”, Benjamin Franklin, February 1775 (source)
  6. Some people disagree with Franklin:  “Richard Cohen Begs For Fascism“, Adam Serwer, blog of The American Prospect, 2 February 2010 — “Cohen doesn’t care about the law; he just wants to feel safe!”
  7. Nevada Governor Says Hundreds of Layoffs Possible“, AP, 2 February 2010
  8. State of the global warming debate:  “Credibility is what’s really melting“, Mark Steyn, Maclean’s, 3 February 2010 — His opening paragraph exactly matches my experience.
  9. Today’s must-read, more effects of a long war:  “The lynch-mob mentality“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 5 February 2010 — “That authoritarian mentality is stronger than ever now.”
  10. Budget cuts cancel America’s future, chapter XXI:  “Nevada lawmakers ponder shorter school year, teacher pay cuts“, RGJ, 5 February 2010
  11. All too true:  “Down With the People“, Jacob Weisberg, Slate, 6 February 20010 — “Blame the childish, ignorant American public — not politicians — for our political and economic crisis.”

Another IPCC error

 “Top British scientist says UN panel is losing credibility“, The Times, 7 February 7 — Excerpt:

Robert Watson, chief scientist at Defra, the environment ministry, who chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 1997 to 2002, was speaking after more potential inaccuracies emerged in the IPCC’s 2007 benchmark report on global warming.

The most important is a claim that global warming could cut rain-fed north African crop production by up to 50% by 2020, a remarkably short time for such a dramatic change. The claim has been quoted in speeches by Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, and by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general. This weekend Professor Chris Field, the new lead author of the IPCC’s climate impacts team, told The Sunday Times that he could find nothing in the report to support the claim.

Update:  Some things about this are typical, but sad.

  • The groundwork research was done by sceptics (e.g., here).
  • The Guardian does not acknowledge their work.
  • People relying on the US press for information remain totally ignorant of this news.

Today’s recommended website:  New World Economics, by Nathan Lewis

One limiting factor for America is our lack of imagination about alternative ways to live.  American exceptionalism acts as blinders, so that we don’t learn from other nations.  Lewis helps cut them off in posts like “What A Real Train System Looks Like”.

10 thoughts on “FM newswire for 7 February, articles for your morning reading”

  1. Burke G Sheppard

    I always thought Yucca mountain was a dubious idea. Nuclear waste is a valuable resource. I believe it can be reprocessed for radioactive isotopes for cancer treatment, which we must currently import, as the reprocessing is not done here. And breeder reactors can generate more fuel than they use, assuming the spent fuel can be reprocessed.

    Of course I understand that cancelling the program isn’t meant as a prelude to any of that.

    It will be interesting to see what happens as old nuclear plants are decommissioned and not replaced. And I say that in the sense of the old Chinese curse. may you live in interesting times.

  2. Grrrrr. Woke up — 1954. Fallout dripping EVERYwhere! Someone had carpeted the entire island with tiny origami houses. And crunchy little skyscrapers. No place to put my feet. Or …. my …. TAIL?? GRRRRR!

  3. Burke G Sheppard


    “Lewis’s article is fascinating. The aerial photo comparisons speak volumes about both systems.”

    Indeed. It answers a question I have long had. We are often told that money spent on rail is wasted, because no one ever uses the trains. Now I know why other countries get better use of their trains than we do. There is, it turns out, a reason.

  4. The problem with all the train proposals that come up here in the US is that the proposers seem to think that there is no reason for our lack of trains, other than nobody has gotten around to laying the tracks. As the above post shows, and as previous commenters mention, trains are useless for most of this country because of how cities are laid out. I have yet to hear a mass transit proposal that includes what would be needed to make public transit useful, rather than merely usable.

  5. From #8: “As the above post shows, and as previous commenters mention, trains are useless for most of this country because of how cities are laid out. I have yet to hear a mass transit proposal that includes what would be needed to make public transit useful, rather than merely usable.”

    This is like Xeno’s paradox * applied to urban planning. You can’t build the trains because the cities aren’t laid out right. You can’t fix the cities because we lack trains. Therefore nothing can ever happen. QED.

    * “Mathematical mysteries: Zeno’s Paradoxes
    ‘The slower when running will never be overtaken by the quicker; for that which is pursuing must first reach the point from which that which is fleeing started, so that the slower must necessarily always be some distance ahead.’

  6. I don’t like the condescention. Why is it that Americans have a lack of imagination about alternative ways to live? Why can’t it be that they are aware of the alternatives but have made the choice to live how they live? Isn’t there a hidden assumption that the way Americans are choosing to live is so obviously wrong that nobody could freely choose it?
    FM reply: While that is theoretically possible, anyone living in this nation can take 5 minutes and show it to be false. Ask around on the street to see how much Americans know about other developed nations. This was painfully clear in the health care debate, when both sides ignored the lessons learned by other nations running far more successful and efficient systems.

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