Category Archives: Geopolitical News

Posts about interesting news, with links and brief excerpts.

Recommendations for your weekend reading pleasure – and an open comment thread.

Summary:   Today we have a potpourri of articles — insights, information, and folly — for your weekend reading pleasure (with the two best below the fold).  Yes, this went up a day early. The comment box is open.  Ask questions and express your views.  Please be polite and brief.

(1)  Everybody loves real estate!  See the fascinating tables and graphs in the 2012 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.  Australia looks like a bubble ready to pop.  Out-migration has produced very inexpensive housing in some US cities.  Too bad they have little (or no) job growth.  An Florida urban housing affordability still has not returned to levels of 2000.

(2)  Propaganda deconstructed:  “Tax Foundation – up to its usual nonsense“, Linda Beale, Angry Bear, 6 May 2012 — Marketing the bogus “tax freedom day”

(3)  An important insight from research, to remember every day:  “Don’t Like the Message? Maybe It’s the Messenger“, Justin Fox, Harvard Business Review, 4 May 2012

(4)  This is what the approach of peak oil look like:  “Marginal oil production costs are heading towards $100/barrel“, Financial Times, 2 May 2012 — A steady rise in exploration and development costs.

(5)  This deserves to be at the top of your reading list: a revised edition of John Boyd’s Patterns of Conflict. An introduction is here. Download the PDF here.

(6)  An interesting report about an important subject “A Dozen Economic Facts About Innovation“, Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney, Brookings Institute, August 2011

(7)  The ominous opening sentences to Limits to Growth – the thirty-year update by Donella Meadows, Jorgen, and Dennis Meadows:

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Some important articles. Mirrors in which we can see America.

Summary:  Every society has rationality tokens.  Some have many; some few.  In some they are held by people who become leaders of their society; in some they’re held by outcasts.  As a nation evolves, its rationality tokens pass into new hands.  Here we look at America, seeking to find their new holders.

A model American

The disk was made of an undistinguished alloy of common metals, a gray monotone. It looked like a Boston subway token, save for two words inlaid in silver. The words “Rationality Token” flashed against the dull metal background.

{Nathan explained …} “Years ago, a friend of mine noticed an odd thing about meetings with groups of bureaucrats.  Only one bureaucrat in the room would have something rational and intelligent to say about the question under discussion; the rest would answer either with a magician’s verbal handwaving, with statements that were internally inconsistent, or with statements that had no apparent connection to the topic.

“Oddly, for each question, a different bureaucrat gave the rational response. It seemed as though a law of nature prevented more than one bureaucrat from being rational at a time. And you could never predict which bureaucrat could answer a particular question rationally.  My friend developed a theory:  a roomful of bureaucrats shares a single rationality token. Only the one holding the token can act intelligently. The bureaucrats pass the token around secretly during the meeting.”

— from Marc Stiegler’s David’s Sling (1988) — free e-book  here

The bad news

We can easily ignore the rapid decay of the American polity, as it will affect most people only when too late for reform.  The media make this easier by distracting us with accounts of political class’ gibbering and capering, while in the shadows our leaders erase away our civil liberties.  The news media do this because we prefer not to know.  We cover our eyes to avoid seeing what we have become.

The good news

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Question time on the FM website

Summary:  We have entered a period of radical change, the results of which we can only guess at.  To help us understand, brought back by popular demand, is Question Time on the FM website.  Ask any question about geopolitics, broadly defined. We — and those reading the FM website — will attempt to answer it in the comments.   All answers welcomed!

Questions received so far

Click on the link to go directly to that thread.  Please use the REPLY button when replying to a previous comment, to keep threads together.

  1. If you were in charge of US grand strategy what would be the ends that you would try to achieve?
  2. Should we call a new Constitutional Convention?
  3. How would reducing our overseas footprint (permanent foreign bases) affect our geopolitical strategy?
  4. {Reply to #2}
  5. Why is gun ownership skyrocketing in America?

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Some political wisdom for your enlightenment:

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Ask the mineshaft! Questions for you to answer.

Summary:  After a long series of “ask a question” posts, today we turn the tables.  Today we “ask the mineshaft.  Aka “ask the community”, from the German “Gemeinschaft” (see Wikpedia).  Share your answers to these questions.  This idea copied from Brad DeLong.

Contents

  1. Lies by warmistas
  2. Lies by Republicans
  3. One possible explanation for all these lies
  4. Update:  suggestions for the Smackdown page?
  5. For more information

(1)  Why do warmistas (aka, fanatic believers in anthropogenic global warming leading to climate disruption) lie so often?

Kant said that when judging the morality of an act, we must weigh the intentions of the actor. Was he acting selfishly, to benefit himself, or selflessly, to help others? By this criterion, Gleick’s lie was clearly moral, because he was defending a cause that he passionately views as righteous. Gleick, you might say, is a hero comparable to Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who in 1971 stole and released documents that revealed that U.S. officials lied to justify the war in Vietnam.

… I’ll give the last word to one of my students. The Gleick incident, he said, shows that the “debate” over global warming is not really a debate any more. It’s a war, and when people are waging war, they always lie for their cause.

— “Should Global-Warming Activists Lie to Defend Their Cause?“, John Horgan, Scientific American, 24 February 2012 — Note the author’s obliviousness of the difference between releasing true documents and faking documents.

Much of the propaganda compaign about AGW consists of lies (unlike the debate among climate scientists).  We see this with the news media coverage of the climategate documents from the UK Climate Research Unit (we don’t know they were stolen, as the news media say; they probably came from an insider).

We see this with the forged Heartland Institute strategy memo.  It’s a pitifully obvious fake (by the evidence, probably written by Pacific Institute President Peter Glick) but its lies have been eagerly embraced and disseminated by dozens of warmistas.  (If you have not followed this fascinating story, see Climate Audit, Judith Curry’s and Anthony Watt’s websites.

We see this on the FM website.  What’s the most-common response to posts quoting prominent climate scientists and research from prominent peer-reviewed journals?  “You don’t believe the world has warmed.”  Rather than debate the issues raised, they manufacture a smear.  No matter if the post says the exact opposite.  No matter if the data in the post shows  the exact opposite.  They will repeat the lie, and run away when challenged. For an example see the responses to January’s series about climate science.

For more about this see:

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Question time on the FM website

Brought back by popular request!  Ask any question about geopolitics, broadly defined. We — and others reading the FM website — will attempt to answer it in the comments.   All answers welcomed!

(1)  Some quotes to start the debate

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
Warren Buffett quoted by Stein in the New York Times of 26 November 2006

“Action comes first, and it is only when they have already suffered that they begin to think.”
― Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War

(2)  So far 2,000,000 visitors served

This month the FM website had visitor number 2 million since opening in November 2007.   We’ve had 3.2 million page views and 19,195 comments on our 1,995 posts.  Our thanks to all who have read our material, and even more to those who have passed it on to a friend or colleague.

(3)  Questions received so far

Click on the link to go directly to that thread.  Please use the REPLY button when replying to a previous comment, to keep threads together.

  1. What can the US learn from the Switzerland’s economic, cultural, and poitical successes?
  2. Which of the Republican candidates do you see as best fit to lead the nation, from a geopolitical perspective?
  3. What of their pro-Israel policies of the Republican candidates?
  4. Will Iran use the oil weapon to disuade further attacks on them?
  5. The Arabs are moving to a better governement. What might this mean for Israel?
  6. Some right-wing propaganda seriously offered up, providing amusement.
  7. How and when did fear become the most powerful tool in American politics?
  8. Are all of our economic issues due to inflation?