Archive

  • Coupling Questions

    Speaking of Coupling, which I did in the post below, I'm a bit confused. Now that I've watched most of the second season, what the hell happened to the cliffhanger from the first? You know, the one where Susan breaks up with Steve and then appears in his room demanding he propose? The second season acts like it never happened. Or am I missing something?
  • The Folly of Alphabetizing...

    I'll never understand folks who alphabetize their books. It's not that I don't appreciate the idea of imposing some order on the ever-encroaching floor-monster that is my library, but the method seems so very off. I acquire books at an enormously alarming rate. You think I'm joking, I'm not -- the government has retained a team of highly trained specialists to monitor, study, and reach conclusions based solely on my rate of literary acquisition. One of them had a nervous breakdown, the other two got divorces. It's really quite scary. Because of my Amazon addiction and my dorm room's lack of bookshelves, my storage system is a bit off. My dorm overflows with tomes. I've taken over all the bookshelves in the main room, filled a closet, littered the floor, stacked my dresser, and generally replaced my roommates with paperbacks. The trunk of my car -- a hatchback, no less -- is layered three deep with books, a bit of unfinished business left over from when I moved out of Santa Cruz last...
  • Sorry Rummy

    Spencer Ackerman, in an article laying out Rumsfeld's renewed focus on military transformation, writes: But what the arrival of the new senior leadership at the Pentagon indicates is that the Pentagon's first-term focus on winning ideological and bureaucratic battles about control over foreign policy is largely over. This time around, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is turning his attention to the priority that brought him back to the Pentagon in 2001--military transformation--and the new team at DOD is designed to help him do it. Or was it turned for him? Rumsfeld's catastrophic first term didn't result in dismissal, but it seems to have ended in a sort of castration. Even though he easily overtook Powell's State Department, it looks like the Pentagon's time as the primary force behind Bush's vision has ended, and Rice's State Department is now where the action's at. That's reflected in the personnel changes in both departments. The 2004 staff shuffle has not only ripped some of...
  • Wow

    The new issue of Foreign Policy has a blurb on the increasing anti-Americanism of South Korea's textbooks. To demonstrate, they offered up this question from a teacher's packet on the 1991 Gulf War: "Which of the following descriptions of Iraq after the Gulf War is incorrect? 1) Infant mortality increased by 150%, and in some areas, 70% of newborns had leukemia due to sanctions. 2) The United States and Britain conducted a bombing campaign against Iraq for 11 years after the war, causing terror among the Iraqi people. 3) Cancer among Iraqi children increased by 700% because of depleted uranium left from the bombing. 4) The infant mortality rate of Iraqi children in 1999 was 300% higher than it was a decade earlier. 5) Not one Iraqi starved to death after the war because of the extensive food relief program." In case you were wondering, the correct choice -- meaning it's false and the others are true -- is 5. This is what's making it into the textbooks of our allies . I really can't...
  • We Need Some Captions

  • China and Us

    The Oil Drum gets it right : Simplistically there are two approaches a government can take to a crisis. They can do something about it, or they can do nothing. Back in the days of President Carter the nation tried the first approach when faced with an energy crisis, this time we are trying the second. For a detailed analysis of why that is, check Michael O'Hare's analysis of Bush's energy proposals. The basic problem is that Bush is abandoning energy reform to the free market, which really isn't going to do the trick. The idea that we can simply drill our way to safety is flat insane, and here's why: No expert believes ANWR, or anywhere else in America, will provide the sort of superwell capacity that'd free us from foreign oil. It just won't happen. That means we've got to discover more foreign oil, even though discoveries are falling, the size of the discovered wells are falling, and many of the sites we currently rely on are slowing their production. But let's bracket all that for...
  • Safety Nets, Not Welfare Programs

    I think Jon Henke misses a little something amidst his total confusion over Democratic distaste for Bush's attempts to turn Social Security into a welfare program. Democrats don't want everything to be a welfare program. In fact, we don't want anything save welfare to be a welfare program. We like safety nets. That's why we don't just want Medicaid, we want guaranteed health insurance for everyone. That's why we don't want Social Security for the poor, we want it for the population. There's no great appeal in separating the poor from the rich through government programs -- it both demeans the poor and implicitly argues that government's only use is to care for those unable to do it themselves. So if Democrats are dismissing ideas to turn a general safety net into an entitlement for the old and impoverished, don't act so surprised. Social Security, to us, is exactly what a government program should look like: a floor provided to and paid for by every American. Making it a welfare...
  • Bad WSJ! No Cookie!

    Go read Jon Chait's brutal takedown of the Wall Street Journal. Nice to see him using his LA Times op-ed to land some blows.
  • Stagflation

    This Times article on the economy's lower-than-expected growth raises the specter of stagflation. Since the S word has been popping up in a variety of places lately, I think it might be worth a quick definition, as I sure as hell didn't know what it meant a year ago. Stagflation occurs when the economy has high inflation combined with economic stagnation, unemployment, or recession. So the basic force at work is that prices, through inflation, are rising, but buying power isn't, either because folks don't have jobs, we're in a recession, or the economy's standing still. It's thought to occur when the economy suffers a nasty shock (i.e, a jump in the price of oil) that the central bank is unable to effectively counter. Often times, there really isn't an effective counter, as hiking interest rates (as the Fed is scheduled to do next week) in order to calm inflation slows down an already too-slow economy, while doing the opposite speeds economic growth but also accelerates inflation...
  • Iran and the Bomb

    Looks like the EU's talks with Iran are failing in a big way, with the Islamic Republic threatening to stalk off and restart uranium enrichment a bit later this week. The article's a bit vague on what's killing them -- likely as not, that information simply isn't known -- but my guess is that there's simply not a lot the EU can offer Iran that they're not already giving them. It's really a tough spot for those trying to stall Iran's weapon programs. Europe, theoretically, could apply serious sanctions and really pressure Iran into sitting at the table and hammering out a deal. But they won't. Worse, Iran's long-term trade prospects are brighter than their short-term ones, as their huge stores of natural gas (Iran and Russia have the most natural gas in the world, more than half the known total) are going to be in demand no matter how much of a pariah we judge them. China and India, frankly, don't much care how we feel towards Iran. As far as the options go, this may mean that, pace...

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