Donnerstag, September 29, 2005

And you think I'm being harsh on France?

Sorry that this post isn't properly formatted, but for some typically unexplainable reason I can't access blogspot, google or gmail properly. Probably have to reset my router once again... :-(

I don't want to get too much into France-bashing, but ran across this at No Pasaran, a blog always worth reading, that is too important to pass up.

Here's the money quote:

He now accuses his former company of having installed a vast corruption system in France and abroad. He talks about a Thalès lawyer who validated a vast bribery system in a lot of countries. "There are 2 kind of countries: those where bribery is unavoidable (Africa, Korea, Greece, Italy) and those where you can do business without tampering (several European countries, North America, Australia, NZ). And France? It depends on local and national political interests."

In foreign countries, he relates Operation Miksa, a bribery system in order to deliver security devices to Saudi Arabia. But this system was diverted in order to deliver chemical weapons to Saddam as Iraq suffered the UN the embargo of Oil-for-food program.

This doesn't surprise me at all, not should it you: the French sold a chemical weapons company to Iraq in clear contravention of the embargo and hid it as a plant to make milk powder for Iraqi kids.

Sound familiar? Does this sound familiar? Or this?

Maybe US intelligence is better than you think...


Logistics and Idiots...

I've been a long-term reader of Countercolumn, one of the better MilBlogs, because the writer is straightforward, a straight arrow and tells it like it is.

He's posted this as a critique of a comment on another blog, a dearly deserved fisking that everyone who thinks that everything took wayyyyyyy to long in New Orleans is because the President screwed up. It's too long to comment on here, and it would be superfilious, since Countercolumn has done the perfect job.

To paraphrase Countercolumn: if you don't know tiddly about logistics, then shut up, because you're worse than making noise. You're opening up your mouth and proving that you're an idiot. Not any sort of normal idiot, but a special kind of idiot: you're an  ass, blockhead, boob, booby, cretin, dimwit, donkey, dork, dumb ox, dumbbell, dunce, dunderhead, fool, halfwit, ignoramus, imbecile, jackass, jerk, kook, meathead, mental defective, moron, nincompoop, ninny, nitwit, pinhead, pointy head, simpleton, stupid, tomfool, twit and a yo-yo.

This is not ad hominem here: we're just reporting the facts. The fool claiming to know anything about the military there is the very opposite of what he apparently considers himself to be.

Logistics are the core of American military power. Companies like Dell and WalMart - don't care of you don't like them - have become enormously successful through the application of logistics, and you ignore logistics nowadays at your peril. The defeat of Germany and Japan were not merely the result of superior logistics, but also due to a significant extent to the fact - the fact - that their logistics were completely inadequate to wage the kind of war that they did. The Soviets during the Cold War desperately tried to improve their logistics, but found that they couldn't manage the way the US did, and redid their entire military planning, strategy and tactics as a result: logistics shape the way the military fights, and you ignore logistics at your peril.

But logistics is hard. It is, for many, borrrrrrrrrrinnnnnng. Who cares if there are enough trucks in the military, as long as you can pontificate about MIRVs and MARVs and counter-strike forces and whether carriers are doomed. But that sort of discussion fundamentally points out that the speaker doesn't really have a clue as to what is really, really important.

Logistics. Ignore them at your peril. This has been a public service announcement.


Dienstag, September 27, 2005

Thanks, France and Germany!

Great. The Chinese Navy is starting to field its first modern domestic frigate. It's undertaking a massive expansion of its navy. It's not the only new design.

And where did they get the anti-air missiles? France: an advanced version of the Crotale. The command and control systems? Gee, could it be France? And the anti-shipping missile? Based on a French design...

And where did they get the engines? France, the same engines that France uses in its frigates.

But wait, there's a second source for the engines: it's MTU, the German engine specialist for marine engines and relatively small turbines for the aerospace industry.

And it's a stealth design, based on... what could it be... a French design? Of their Lafayette class?

Just brilliant. Thanks, France and Germany!

I guess for France it's an answer for all those weapon the US sold to Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Just desserts, eh?


Waddya mean the US didn't sell Germany weapons in the 1920s and 1930s? Well why then are the French selling the Chinese these weapons?

Because France and Germany are countries that give capitalism a bad name.

Thanks fellas. We'll remember this when the next time comes around to ask you to give us a hand solving some sticky problem that your incompetence brought around in the first place. And remember, if China starts a war, maybe over Taiwan or maybe over some gas fields in the China Sea, you've got our buddies in Paris and Berlin to thank for increasing Chinese abilities to wage war well above and beyond their domestic abilities.

Idiots. I'm really starting to think that Marx was right about European capitalists. The Europeans probably have plans to sell to any thuggish regime with lots of cash.

Oh, they already have? Gee, what a surprise.

Like you couldn't guess...

Let's see if this works:

You are a

Social Liberal
(60% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(85% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Well, I guess no real surprises there... :-)

Montag, September 26, 2005

Something Positive in "Der Spiegel"?

Amazingly enough, there is something NOT anti-American in this week's Der Spiegel, the major German newsweekly. It's on page 216ff in Spiegel 39/2005

If you know David's Medienkritik, you know that Spiegel is invariably anti-American: it's part of who they always have been (I've been a regular Spiegel reader since sometime in 1976, when I started learning German, and some things rarely change: they write very, very good German and it is the big seller, so I continue to read it...) and probably always will be.

But in today's issue there was a surprise. I haven't been able to find an on-line link, as the interview is too new for Spiegel to provide it for free on-line (they like lagging their articles).

It's an interview with Andre Glucksmann, probably the only French intellectual that actually deserves the title. Here's a link that gives you an inkling of what he's about, as is this.

I've been reading Glucksmann since the mid-1980s as he was the premier French thinker on dissuance in French strategic thinking on nuclear weapon in the 1980s (had to do with my master's thesis...)

I'm not going to translate the article, since I've got a forecast and rating to get finished (and I don't want to run afoul of copyright nonsense: hence only this "fair use") and it's not my job.

But these are the key points that Glucksmann brings that I really wish I could have said as well.

It's about evil: through the major restructuring of the world after WW2, a moral vacuum arose affecting 3/4 of the world's population. Old ways were broken and discarded and new ways haven't made much sense. Rules, norms, institutions and the like have been thrown into turmoil, resulting in armies of "new warriors" (Heerscharen neue Krieger) which explicitly includes the anarchistic child-soldiers of Africa and Asia. These "new warriors" know no limits and no borders for their behavior: their motto is "anything goes". This is the logical result of modern nihilistic philosophies, the negation of any moral strictures within massive societal changes.

The difference between this sort of militarized chaos and anarchy and the chaos and anarchy of the Thirty Year's War is that there is no longer any sense of evil. Everyone argues about what is "good", this is standard political dialogue (we should do x because it results in y, which is a good thing, with others having competing ideas of what needs to be done in order to achieve something that they consider "good") in the modern body politic. This is the core of modern political pluralism, which doesn't really do in and of itself any damage.

What is new is that the existence of evil is not something that anyone is willing to admit to. If there is no evil, than anything goes: it's all relative, right? This is the basic principle of current nihilistic politics in the West, especially Europe and is the core of "political correctness" in the US (this last is my take on this). Civilization is not necessarily based only on common conceptions of a common good, but also on limitations, on setting of taboos and of codifying, via laws, what is considered to be evil. Thus we define evil.

The Spiegel reporer then asks (and I can just hear his tone of incredibility here...): Then President Bush was right, like Reagan before him, and in stark contrast to "old Europe" in speaking of the Axis of Evil or The Evil Empire?

Glucksmann answers him thus: we are defrauding ourselves (Wir betrugen nur uns selbst...) if we think that in the run of history all that is needed is scientific and technological advances, prosperity, tolerance, respect and diplomacy in order to work everything out. This kind of naive "waiting for things to work out", that time is on your side, is deadly. The peaceful end of history, ala Fukuyama, isn't going to happen peacefully because we want it to: western democracies need to realize that there are forces out there that are evil, that will try to acquire absolute power if not challenged.

The Spiegel reporter (Roman Leick, by the way), is appalling here: he says "the Pope couldn't have said it better."

Glucksmann isn't talking about the devil and supports the idea of a secular morality defended by a union of democracies. We need to be closer to Bush than to Putin: Putin is anything but a pure democrat, which is the way the German chancellor, Schroeder, refers to him in a fit either of naivete or cynicism (if you know German politics, it's the latter - JFO).

Now Leick trots out the "objective causes for hate": he insists that hate, manifested by terrorism, has usually a factual, external reason: poverty, repression, slavery, etc.

And Glucksmann says: This may shock you, but yes: I deny that there is such a basis for terrorist hate. He doesn't deny people a right to revolt against tyranny and occupation, but he does deny that there is any objective basis for terrorism, which is the deliberate indiscriminate killing of civilians, human bombs and the use of children as hostages, as was the case in Breslan.

Spiegel: Sure, but how do you prevent such breaking of taboos? (Grenzüberschreitung)

Glucksmann: Throughout history people have been repressed, tyrannized, occupied, have experienced deliberate famines and exploitation without resorting to the kind of hateful terrorism that you see today. For Glucksmann, true heros are those who under such circumstances do not resort to mass murder and terror. Terror has poisoned all modern liberation movements, from Algeria to Vietnam; when the means become horrible, they destroy the ends, regardless of how noble they might be.

And modern terrorism based on hate isn't a function of poverty, but is also at home in the palaces of the rich.

This hate is centered on three objects: Jews, Americans and Women.

The reporter: How did Antisemitism survive Auschwitz (either the reporter is leadng the question or he's incredibly naive. I hope the former...JFO)

Glucksmann: The Jew is the eternal disrupter, a witness of the chaos of the world, the "other" as such. Jewish presence in the middle ages placed into question the christian identity of Europe, since he knew, in contrast to heathens, the bible. In more modern times he was never German enough, never Rusian enough, never French enough, but rather had his own cultural identity, and today the presence of the Jew in Israel means that the dream of a harmonic, peaceful, comprehensive and encompassing vision of the world (Sideline: it was a French diplomat, after all, who complained about that "shitty little country" that was making such a ruin of what could be a wonderful business relationship with the Arab world - JFO)

Further, the survival of Jews after Auschwitz is, for the antisemite,  an unexcusable blot on the record of a world that for the most part was more than willing to stand aside and simply watch it happen.

Now, this is fundamentally the same as anti-americanism: America is accused of disrupting the world order by simply existing, one of the long-term basic arguments of anti-Americanism going back to the founding of the country. The mythology of American superiority is used to make the US responsible for everything and to make it guilty for everything.

(Seldom have more accurate words been spoken on the subject of anti-Americanism. - JFO)

The world has been multipolar for quite a while, the US cannot dictate everything. Putin is more imperial than the US, and modern China resembles ancient Egypt of the Pharoahs, with the modern technology married with the modern equivalent of mass slave labor.

And women are targeted because they challenge the traditional role of men in society and family.

And that's basicaly the end of the article.

I'm slightly amazed: rarely has such an article appeared in Spiegel which puts lie to so much nonsense that Spiegel normally propagates.

Could this be a turn for the better?


Finally Guilty...

The Spanish court handling the mammoth terrorist case there has rendered a verdict : Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah, has been convicted of supporting terrorism and put into jail for 27 years instead of the 74,000 years that the prosecutor was asking for.

What is more critical is that
Tayssir Alluni has also been convicted. He's an Aljazeera journalist.

This is important. This isn't just any journalist, but rather one that's been in the enemy camp from day one: even Aljazeera describes what he's done and where's he been. He's even been awarded a peace prize by a Spanish peace group: now imagine that, a Spanish peace group awarding a prize to a convicted terrorist. He's been sentenced to 7 years for aiding and abetting a terrorist organization (guess which one), but he was acquitted of actually being a member.

He's basically a fellow-traveller: the "peace group" that he ostentiously works for tried to engineer cease-fires on their own in Afghanistan between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban when the Taliban were losing.

It's indicative that this man is even called a journalist. Instead of being neutral and just being a reporter, covering the facts and writing the story, he got involved. Some may call that courageous and admirable: I call it being being fundamentally dishonest about who you are and what you do.

You can't have it both ways: either you work as a journalist and maintain objectivity, or you become partisan. I guess that when he got this interview he made that decision for himself and now must live with the consequences.

This man decided to go the partisan route: he's been convicted of materially helping a terrorist group. Of course, he just says that he was doing his job as a journalist .

And did I mention that he's actually a Syrian?

Seven years is just fine by me. Damn good start.

Kudos to the Spanish justice system.

Sonntag, September 25, 2005

Back into the future...

Geez, this is starting to become a meme here.

Another great blog - Done With Mirrors - caught the Boston Globe being, shall we say, a tad loose with reality, prefering instead is own construct that there were large anti-war protests.

But the real story here is that this isn't unusual: according to the story, it's standard operating procedure to write not about what happens, but rather to write about what the press thinks is going to happen.

Another case of how fundamentally clueless the press is: prefering to get something wrong instead of taking the trouble to get it right. And there are people who wonder why the MSM are heading for financial problems???


Stuck on Stupid..

Well, I can currently think of no better expose on the culpability and incompetence of the media than this.

The media is presenting the fizzled anti-war protest as grass-roots, as organic and spontaneous, when it is anything but that.

Their goal was at least 100,000: only a portion showed up, according to Reuters. And taking a further look you can see that even "thousands" is misleading in the Reuters piece: go to ABC and the number is down to 2,000. Two thousand, most of whom probably showed up for the free concert.

Where are the press reports covering the abject and total failure of the US peace movement and its reduction to a hard core of ANSWER dominated fools?

I googled and yahooed, but ignored the left's own sites, sticking to the mainstream media: I found this, which isn't exactly mainstream (sorry, OC Weekly); there is this from Boston, but that just underscores how useful idiots are exploited by dedicated wackos; and finally this from 2003, on how the peace movement blew it.

Come on, media: this is pathetic. You've got a grrrreat story out there: how millions of people were misled and lied to by a pack of authoritarian opportunists whose only goal is political control. Media, can't you understand that this is what you're supposed to be able to do: dig out the truth.

Stuck on Stupid: give that General a dollar for everytime that phrase is used and Katrina is paid for.

Samstag, September 24, 2005

Predictions for 2008...

Hi -

The US elections in 2008 are going to be interesting.

On the Democratic side, the picture is unclear: will Kerry re-try? There are plenty of wannabes that will throw their collective hats into the ring in the middle of 2006 to see what sort of funding they can get together.

But there is no grass-roots campaign that isn't fundamentally centered around getting rid of Bush. Haven't they understood that what they need to do is not sit around in their mastubatory fantasies of defeating Bush, but rather offer an alternative that actually means something? More big government spending plans, more of failed policies dating back to the 60s and 70s that have been nothing more than massive sinkholes of corruption and waste? Or is there a real Democratic party lurking out there, hiding in caves and waiting for the time to strike?

On the other side of the aisle, you've got an open field. Bush can't run.

But what you do have is an emerging revolt of small-government conservatives against the spending policies of the current Republican congress. Will this be the beginning of a neo-neo-con revolution?

Can't call it for sure at this point, this is too far in advance. But I think the election of 2008 will come down to one party desperately trying to turn back the clock to its glory days and the other trying to move the country forward.

The hard part is trying to figure out who is which and why...


Yet another take on the German election...

I've been busy with work: quarterly deadlines coming up and my data, as usual, sucks.

I've been reading the Daily Demarche for a while, and he's got a good take on the German elections that y'all should read.

There are a lot of Germans who think that because the US interest in Germany isn't as great as the German interest in the US, Americans are therefore ignorant of what is going on in the world.

Helllllloooo: it's incredibly annoying for the Germans to be ignored. But you know what?

Germany has made itself irrelevant. It's complete and total inability to help preventing the spread of radical Islamists is apparent in the fact that Germany is a safe haven for terrorists, something hotly denied and yet transparently obvious. Since the WTC cell left Hamburg to complete its mission, the German courts haven't even been able to convict their helpers, sending a devastating message to fellow travellers; no Islamicists have been expelled (Kaplan doesn't count, his absurd situation existed well before then...) for conspiracy or collusion with terrorist groups. The German polity isn't willing to admit that they are keeping vipers in the same room as their children, and that means when such vipers are discovered, they are "placed under observation" and left alone. Political correctness runs amok.

If Germany were to make itself relevant, than a waitress in Cleveland might make sure that when German tourists come in, they'd get an extra portion of apple pie for desert as a thanks for putting their sons and daughters at risk. But as long as Germany sits on the wayside, perched on top of a stalled car that is the German economy, yelling epithets at the troops driving by, why, until that changes, Germany will continue to be irrelevant.

Because they have made themselves so.

Freitag, September 23, 2005

So who's the Loon now...


The loons are at it again.

This article is once again typical of how journalism fails it readers: presenting beliefs as facts.

It's even in the first sentence: it's all about the beliefs of someone, not the facts.

Who cares if he's the chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (which, of course, means that he's got an agenda the size of a storm front (duh)). This is argumentum ad verecundium, a logical fallacy that appeals to authority. That doesn't make him an authority on frequency of hurricanes: he's a zoologist. His speciality is population dynamics and biodiversity of birds and insects.

But that's not what the problem is: the article delivers not a single bit of fact, but rather it's ALL belief and speculation, coupled with opinion.

And there's a fundamental confusion with causality and correlation: because one thing happens at the same time as another, it doesn't mean that the one causes the other.

Then again, it's from the Independent.


Donnerstag, September 22, 2005

Now here's a fisking...

Hi -

Now this is a fisking. The Skeptical Optimist, always worth reading, takes on Roger Simon and delivers his head on a plate.

Way back when I worked at a library, we called US News & World Report "Useless News and Won't Report."

Some things apparently never change.

This fits in, of course, with sophistry in the media: they aren't reporting reality, but rather their perception of reality in an alternativ universe.

And their assumption of ignorance on the part of the reader is backfiring when readers can publish on their own (like this one here).



Schizoid World...

A recurring theme of this blog when I have the time is sophistry and its current incarnations.

One of the few blogs that actually refer to this one is Squander Two. He's now got a post up wondering why the BBC is so incredibly incompetent that they mix up fact and opinion.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Journalists, I think, have abjectly failed in what should have been a collective effort to find out facts. Instead you have them "speaking truth to power" - a phrase absurd in its hubris as it is laughable in its content ("power" isn't interested in the truth and tends to liquidate anyone in disagreement) - meaning that they posit speculation as "fact" and disagreement as "lies".

Put simply, there is no market for truth out there in journalism as we know it. Newspapers don't get sold reporting the facts when their competition prefers to show spilled blood and ruined lives; TV news is the worship of the sound bite, massive egos and severe simplicity; radio news is the filler between inanity and stupidity.

Sex sells; violence sells; good news doesn't sell.

Last weekend in Ahlen the SchizoidWife and I were with SchizoidDaughter #2 at the birthday party of a friend, an artist struggling to make ends meet.

That's the Saturday night before the Sunday of the German election fiasco..

Although the weather was rather cool, we has the last grill party of the season. Among the guests were three journalists from the local bird cage liner, an editor and 2 reporters. My wife asked them what they had to study to become journalists.

Nothing, they said; you need an abitur (German equivalent of an Associated Bachelor's degree, or high school in the US plus 2 years of college: that's what Germans get accredited for at most universities when they've gone through the system) and having studied something can be useful. You gotta be able to write a few words that actually make sense.

Nothing more?

Nope, that's it.

My wife wanted to know if they had to write what their bosses wanted them to write or could they write what they wanted to write.

What the bosses wanted, but within reason they could place their own "touch" on the subject.

And why did they write so much anti-american stuff?

The first journalist immediately launched into a tirade about violation of international laws and stuff and how Bush was a war criminal. The second journalist sort of shrugged and said that that wasn't the case, but that Iraq etc was a special case and that we shouldn't get into that because it was too incendiary.

The SchizoidWife then pointed me out at the party - I was sitting not far away, listening to this  - and said "Be careful, there's an American at the table: why do you guys write such anti-American nonsense?"

"We don't." "We just report the facts."

I could see my wife revving up for the attack: "But you don't report the facts: you only report on murders and death and the bad side of everything in this universe" (In the German it's better: Mord- und Totschlag und das Schlechte und Böse im Universum).

"And why don't you write about the good things happening in Iraq, the schools opening and people getting on with their lives?"

"Because that's not happening: it's a civil war there"

"How absurd: you don't write about it because you're anti-american and you can't let it go: you can't stand it that the Americans are responsible for the fact that you can sit here and criticize them no end and you don't get fed into a wood chopper as a result"

"That didn't happen" "The people there aren't that happy about the Americans being there"

"Yes it did and you know it. People there have been liberated and you don't give the Americans any credit whatsoever for having done that. The German soldiers in the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan aren't there because they want to help people there: they are there because they're getting basically triple pay (TRUE: no German soldier in Afghanistan is a draftee, but are all volunteers with significant pay increases) and not because they want to free these people."

"You're oversimplifying things"

"No I'm not: you journalists just want to write stories trashing the US and Americans: look at what you write about Kyoto. Kyoto is a farce and a massive waste of money, it's costing jobs in Germany, and all you write is how bad the Americans are because they refuse to waste their money."

"That's not true: everyone knows that global warming is caused by CO2 and the Americans are the cause. Besides, there jobs lost aren't that many and it's good for the environment".

"Tell that to the people who have lost their jobs."

"They lost their jobs because of neoliberalism"

"What the hell is that?"

"It's what the Americans do: they fire everyone"

It was at that point that the host intervened and asked if anyone wanted some more sausages, he was gonna put some more on the grill.

I complimented the SchizoidWife on her tenacity and asked what she learned from the experience: she said that she learned that journalists don't know diddly.

Moral of the story?

It's not a BBC thing; it's not a Dan Rather faking memos; it's what journalists are and do in order for them to survive.

But it's not about truth, facts, reality.

It's about fundamentally not being able to understand the difference between facts, opinions and speculation. It's about journalists who think that they are God's gift to the world and are there for one purpose: "Speaking Truth To Power"

They wouldn't know Truth if it came up to them, introduced itself and invited them to dinner nicely. They wouldn't know the facts if they were delivered by God himself on a silver tablet and included URLs and references.

But they know what they think they know: speaking opinion to pander. Speaking speculation to cover up the facts to feed power, the power of ignorance and "The Big Lie" of Goebbels. It's indicative of fundamental arrogance, that the "people" are too stupid to understand the complexities of the situation and need to be force-fed pablum disguised as a three-course meal.

Welcome to the 21st Century Schizoid World.

Sonntag, September 18, 2005

German Election Results

Hi -

Just got back from visiting friends in Ahlen and on the way back heard the election results for Germany.

There's the old saying of countries getting the governments that they deserve. Certainly the case here.

Germany is in terrible straits right now: there are severe structural economic problems that aren't even being admitted to, let alone adressed; the polity is terribly, terribly passive in the face of outright corruption and incompetence; the nation itself is, in many ways, adrift without any sense of direction.

So the election results reflect this: nobody won. The classic left, the SPD, lost voter share; the classic conservatives, the CDU, lost voter share. Neither can simply go with favored smaller parties to form a coalition, since they've both lost too much share.

The shares lost went to splinter parties who are represented in parliament (ie made the 5% hurdle), meaning that the old bogeyman of German democratic experience, endless bickering over coalitions, will return. German parliamentary democracy has been pretty stable because it's largely bipolar, with junior splinter parties acting as deal-makers.

The problem now is that neither of the two big parties can enter a winning coaliton without taking on not a second, but also a third partner, making that very junior party a real deal maker.

Right now, the only coalition that makes sense to me is Red-Green-Red, of the SPD with 34.2%, the Greens with 8.2% and the Linke.PDS with 8.7%, giving such a government 318 seats in the Bundestag, i.e. a 18-seat majority.

Why does this coalition make sense? Because both the CDU/CSU and the FDP have clearly and categorically rejected any cooperation with Schroeder, meaning that a CDU/CSU coalition with the SPD (430 seats) is about as likely as a coalition in the US between Republicans and Democrats; a SPD/Greens/FDP government (327 seats) is equally unlikely, since, unlike his predecessors, the current head of the FDP isn't an opportunist.

Sceptics will quite correctly point out that Oscar Lafontaine, the head of the Linke.PDS, and Schroeder hate each other: but will that keep them so far apart that they won't agree to disagree in order to keep and get power?

Germans know about Oscar: he's a "luxury leftist" who broke with the SPD because they wouldn't listen to him when Schroeder took over (Schroeder being nothing more than an populistic opportunist). The personal animosities between the two won't prevent them from getting back into bed in order to keep things the way they are.

And "Keeping Things The Way They Are" is nothing less than a recipe for political and economics catastrophe for Germany.

But that's what the electorate fundamentally wants: politicians who lie to them about how great things are while plundering their pockets.

Sad day for Germany. An ideal result would've been a clear CDU/CSU victory and a government with the minority FDP with the resulting unpopular structural reforms and revisions to tax codes and the like finally adressing Germany's severe structural problems. The worst case is more of the same with a movement in the opposite direction.

And I just caught Munterfering on TV (he's the titular party head of the SPD). As far as the SPD is concerned, the election was nothing more than a plebescite on the continuation of Schroeder as chancellor: since Merkel et al failed to dislodge him, he remains chancellor.

Good lord. This line of thinking fits in with the dissolution of the government: that's all that Schroeder was looking at.

Of course, the German political system doesn't allow the results to be interpreted the way that Schroeder and the SPD are doing: they are turning the German political process into a farce.

A sad, sad day for Germany. The last thing that is needed is "more of the same": yet that is exactly what they are getting.


Donnerstag, September 15, 2005

Why the UN is heading for a meltdown...

According to this the Iranians are willing to "share" their nuclear technology with other "Islamic" nations. Great. Syria with the bomb?

And even when the US and Europe realized that there really isn't any point in talking with the Iranians, since the Iranians aren't serious about not developing nuclear weapons, there is apparently serious opposition (from whom, pray tell? Chinese and Russians? The perfidious French? The soon-to-be-voted-out Germans?) to bringing the problem to the Security Council.

In other words, the UN will fail once again, fail due to corruption, incompetence, appeasement and abject fear. The UN is simply not able to actually do anything and the parallels to the League of Nations are starting to not look good.

Not good, not good at all.

The future? The world will repeat the 1930s, with appeasers on giving ground to military-political threats from fundamentally violent and crypto-fascistic regimes whose only claim to fame is the bomb and a perverted ideology.

Folks, been there, done that. Next time it's really gonna hurt. It's an abject failure of reason and intelligence versus naked power, greed and fanatacism. When this is all over, there's gonna be great clamor for a world government, because you don't want to know what a modern war can do to a population even without the use of nuclear weapons. The actual campaign in Iraq to topple that bunch of thieves and murderers was nothing in comparison. There were more than 60 mn dead in WW2, a WW3 even without nuclear weapons will be vastly larger.

And the failure of the UN to even get its house into order gives you an idea of how bad things really are. The shortsightedness, corruption and sheer stupidity that you can see there today will cost millions and millions of lives.

And if someone uses a nuclear weapon against the US, all bets are off. Want to shut down the Iranian nuclear program? I can guess that no more than 40 small-yield weapons would suffice. North Korea? 20. Pakistan if it goes Islamofascist? 10.

Sheer stupidity. The world has become a vastly more dangerous place since the end of the Cold War, and yet many think we're at peace. Idiots all.


Why I don't want to live in San Francisco...

I don't want to live in San Francisco. LA I could imagine, but not SF.

Why? I've been there 5 or 6 times in my life, and each and every time I come away with the feeling that the city just isn't right.

Now there's an article in

that explains what I've been feeling: it's the smell of entrenched, intellectual hypocricy in the air that has always left me feeling that San Francisco is a place I just don't want to spend a lot of time in.

This is also a test to see if I can update my blog via email...


Sonntag, September 11, 2005

Just about the only sensible thing to do...

Hi -

In the wake of Katrina and over last several days I've had to do some modeling work on US energy dependence and how to replace oil dependency.

I can't go into details (duh: I get paid for giving the details), but it's possible. It'll just take three decades to complete (from the time point of signing a national energy bill to the conversion of the last gasoline station to hydrogen). The Skeptical Optimist, who I read regularly, has by far the most sensible post regarding what it will take to make such a conversion: the willingness of consumers to foot the bill, coupled with the political will to reduce US dependence on foreign sources of energy.

Suffice to say: it can and should be done. Not only would it reduce US energy dependence and improve the terms of trade, it would also be an enormous technological advantage that can be translated into significant exports to further reduce the US trade deficit.

But: three decades, 30 years, 120 quarters, 360 months, 1560 weeks. That convers probably two or even three political generations (of actual politicians in office), and I can't think of any US program that has kept its erstwhile eye on the ball for that long a period of time.

The thirty years is the economically optimum model with the least disruption of energy supply and economic dislocation: it can be done in five years, but only with significant disruption and would cost like significantly more than what the US spends on defense right now each year for those five years (damn, I'm going into detail...).

So what do we do: fiddle around for 10 years and then toss money at the problem, or plan it out sensibly and get the job done? Knowing how Washington DC operates, the former is probably the most likely scenario.


Dienstag, September 06, 2005

Katrina and donations...

Hi -

Busy with work etc, but that didn't stop me from donating to the Red Cross in the US. Will continue to do so at regular intervals now, it's been added to the budget.

I can't do much more than that, given where I am and the responsibilities I carry both at work and at home.

Why the Red Cross?

Because from what I've seen and heard, they are genuinely one of the least corrupt and mismanaged NGOs out there. Not the International Red Cross, but the US Red Cross.

Donate and do it again and again. Do it till it hurts: I'm sending the money I would otherwise spend on a hobby. I've given it up until I see that the recovery is under way and that people are back up on their feet: I think it'll probably take at least one year.