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John F. Opie
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Hi - Don't supply maintenance parts and take your time in picking the place to do battle. The weapons listed are all maintenance-intensive and a lack of spare parts infrastructure and competent maintenance crews means these turn into very expensive paperweights. Iran bought 80 F-14s back under the Shah. There are still several flying, kept in the air by cannibalizing all the others and by buying/stealing/making replacement parts at enormous expense. The last verified number actually seen flying was 25 in 1986 (flyover with that many...). Further, any military observer worth their salt will tell you that it is training that makes or breaks armies. The Egyptians have a miserable track record here, as do virtually all of the Arab countries.
An EMP attack wouldn't leave us a third-world country: it would damage the US, but the know-how and the productive workers don't go away. It would unify the country as never before and wake the sleeping giant. Don't underestimate what a modern-day Pearl Harbor would do, even with a defeatist mainstream press and a President who would tuck his tail in. There might be a delay to the reckoning, but the reckoning would come: the Jacksonian element of the American psyche would come into play. Further, military installations and hardware are EMP-resistant and would continue to function. Life would change, radically, for many, and the costs would be great. There is no doubt of that, but given that the military remains largely unaffected - and that not everything is quite as vulnerable as you might think - using EMP to cripple the US productive capacity is a temporary setback, rather than a war-winning scheme. Or do you think that the US would simply absorb and go on? That ICBMs would not be used in anger? That the plutonium and/or uranium signatures of the weapons would not lead us to their makers? There is no such thing as an anonymous weapon anymore: samples would lead us to the makers, and that is all she wrote. I would more fear an Iranian "test" when they have weaponized a bomb, detonated over the Med in space. Violates all space treaties and the test ban, but Iran wouldn't care: it would also find itself completely cut-off and doomed. Iran simply doesn't have the legs to do this more than once (after all, Iran imports virtually all of its gasoline, lacking refining capacity: cut that off, and Iran starts to starve because food cannot make it to market). It's also not much of a scenario: where are you going to get the weaponized warheads and launch vehicles, do you think that you can simply mount them on a cargo ship and shoot them off without anyone noticing? Besides, if someone who wished us massive harm had three war shots, they'd do vastly more damage with a direct attack. The real threat is what the Iranians clearly threaten: that they would nuke Tel Aviv. The further threat is what is already starting up: that the Iranian efforts to develop nuclear warheads starts up a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. That makes everything vastly worse... And Muslims, even fanatical ones, are always rational, just not in the ways we think are rational. But that is the job of intentions analysis of intelligence services to know and understand and get inside of their decisions cycles. All of this, though, is speculative. The real fact of the matter is that any of these scenarios means death to thousands, if not millions, and that is the ugly, ugly truth. There may come a time to decide if those are Americans or not, and that is where I have my doubts about the ability of politicians to make the right decision, the hard decision, the unpleasant decision, the painful decision that will destroy their political legacy of trying to do good. There I really have my doubts. But if such a President were to order the military to stand down, for the US to be defenseless or to run away, that President would have a more lasting and damaging legacy. The US military, it must be remembered, swears to defend the Constitution of the US, not the President's orders, if duly appointed General officers determine that these are in violation of the US Constitution and the Presidential Oath of Office. That was determined when Nixon was losing control of the Presidency. A Constitutional crisis might result, but the defense of the US would not be compromised (unless, of course, the Generals capitulate as well). But that last is a real stretch of the imagination best left to second-rate thriller novels...
Toggle Commented Feb 1, 2011 on Fool Me Once ... at ShrinkWrapped
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The Brotherhood is the fountainhead of modern Islamic terror, nothing more and nothing less. There is no such thing as a "moderate" Brotherhood: at best, someone is lying to an idiot desperate to avoid having to recognize reality for what it is. Egypt and other countries are crumbling because they have been crumbling for decades: economics trumps every other consideration at one point or another. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows that the economic state of the Arab world is, without any exception, dismal at average and only those countries with natural resources that the West is willing to pay for have a modicum of positive outlook as long as the oil flows. Arab economies are a mess and getting worse, incapable of growing meaningfully and adding jobs to provide a modicum of a decent life for anyone outside of the elite. This is the core of the problem. We've believed that the apparent stability - now unraveling - meant that we had time to deal with the problems: in reality, nothing has been done. Nothing. As for the correlation of forces: get real. The Arabs haven't mounted an effective fighting force since the expansionist era and haven't a chance in a modern conflict. All show and no depth, especially logistically. Thousands of rockets arrayed against Israel can be fired but once and represents, effectively, a single throw of the dice to see if they can actually do damage to Israel. Hamas has these weapons not because they will be effective and have a strategy to go with them, but rather because they are what they get from their Iranian masters, who believe in the trappings of a modern military without any substance and have a long history of frittering their resources away on fantasy weapons that simply don't work in the real world. The Soviets in their heyday were huge fans of rocket artillery, but it was part of combined arms and designed to be used once before NATO counter-battery destroyed the launchers (i.e. one-time use): rockets used by themselves are nuisance weapons for the military and deliberate anti-civilian weapons otherwise. Yet this is what Hamas is threatening to use: light infantry and massed rocket weapons are a sure recipe for failure. Any large-scale war in the Middle East ends badly for the Arabs: that is the lesson of history that they know very well. As for the acquisition of chemical weapons and WMD: how long will any country using either last? It is the tripwire for pariahdom and martyrdom. The sheer evil of using chemical weapons against civilian populations will lead to the destruction of anyone initiating their use; the only real effective hope of the Islamicists is nuclear weapons to destroy Israel once and for all (and don't think that isn't the first and foremost reason for acquiring them). That Israel has a deterrent force is, fundamentally, irrelevant. On the upside, this is all unraveling now, rather than when Iran actually has the bomb. Only Pakistan can provide an Islamic bomb to destroy Israel, but also knows what happens if they do this (they cease to exist). The only reality is that if it comes to war, many will die. It will be lopsided and very, very ugly. Civilians will bear the brunt of the suffering and dying, and this is deliberate and planned by those who control the populations. It is very, very ugly. And if anything, I am being an optimist.
Toggle Commented Feb 1, 2011 on Fool Me Once ... at ShrinkWrapped
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Hi - The critics really don't understand the simplicity that the 4/3 system offers: while standard Zuiko digital lenses are great, especially the 12-60, there are times when you want specialized lenses or simply already have these. I use the following on my E510 and E30: Zuiko 50mm f1.4 (100mm f1.4 equivalent); Zuiko 180mm f2.8 (360mm f2.8 equivalent); Nikon 85mm f2 (170mm f2 equivalent); Leica Telyt-R APO 180mm f3.4 (360mm f3.4 equivalent); Leica Macro Elmar 100mm f4 lens on bellows for macro work (200mm f4 equivalent). You simply can't get modern glass that comes anywhere near those equivalents. Sure, there are limitations and disadvantages, but if you are on a budget (i.e. it's a hobby and you don't have a client subsidizing your hardware fetishes) then the 4/3 system is very, very hard to beat. I use the 85mm f2 and the 50mm f1.4 as portrait lens and for available light work; the 180mm f2.8 is a great theater lens (my daughter is a member of a theater group, I got the lens for that reason and it has given me great results: other than that, it's not the greatest lens!); the 100m f4 is obviously for macro work; the APO lens is dedicated for panorama work with the Gigapan Epic 100 robotic panorama tripod head and the E510. All those lenses together were less than what I paid for the 12-60 that resides on my E30. And I didn't pay list for that lens. That is what makes this system so hard to beat: I'd have to spend probably 20 times more money to give me the same tools that would get the job done only marginally better. If that.
Hi - One other feature that simply hasn't been addressed by anyone. A B&W mode that dump a gray scale image using each and every single cell on the sensor, getting rid of the bayer interpolation. Just straight gray scale. We can then have the full resolution of the sensor for B&W, rather than the interpolated RGB needed for color. Might lead to a rebirth of B&W: ca 24MP from that 8MP sensor! Other than that: a universal mount that will allow you to use virtually any lens every made, with inexpensive adapters (there is no reason that these should cost more than $15) for all lens forms. Okay, add a manual focus confirmation and you can charge $20. On the last: this is already a feature of the 4/3 system. I do macro work with a 30-year old 100mm f4 lens on bellows, a Leica Macro-Elmar, that handily out-resolves the 4/3 sensor. This rocks.
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2009 on The Digimat at The Online Photographer
Hi - Fundamentally, the Geithner plan is to get us back to where we were on the bubble curve, up at top, and then everything will be just fine and dandy. If the collapse of housing prices were the problem, let's get them back up there! If the default rate on subprimes is the problem, then let's make subsidize those who got them in order for the default rate to drop. This is all nothing more than treating the symptoms, rather than the cause. The real problem is that both Geithner and President Obama, at the end of the day, have to have this plan work in order to get the greatest destruction of value off their watch: this is wishful thinking at best. Imagine it this way: your parents own a company, profitable and doing nicely. They decide to take a nice long vacation in Europe and leave you in charge. You decide that you'd rather have a vacation in Mexico and disappear for the summer as well, using the profits to finance a really good time. When you return, you find that your parents have died, you've inherited the company, and it is on the borderline of bankruptcy because all the profits were spent and there's nothing left to pay the bills with, with a large one-off payment coming up in the next several months. The honest way out of this is to put the company into Chapter 11 and fight your way back to financial health. The way that Geithner wants to do it is to inflate the value of the company as if it weren't bankrupt and choose the alternative of inflating the value of the company's books so it doesn't look like the company is insolvent in order to avoid Chapter 13, which is where the company is liquidated. Add to that the fact that the bankers and financial advisers who encouraged you to take off and spend the company's profits for that vacation are scared to death that you won't be able to make that one-off payment and will take the company into Chapter 13, so they are willing to go along with your fiction that everything is worth more than it was. It is a disaster, a manufactured disaster. Do people realize at this point that it will take five years for the US, even based on fairly moderate growth, to return to 2008 GDP levels? Or five years for the EMU and six years for Japan? The folly of interfering in markets, manipulating them for political purposes (subprimes), should be the lesson learned from this. Every single Senator who voted for the stimulus bill should be targeted for non-reelection. Doesn't matter who they are: vote the bastards OUT. The House? Dodd, Frank, and the others need to learn the perp walk. Things will never get better as long as those nominally in charge are those who also got us into this situation: until the MSM and classic journalists uncover the cesspool that is Washington, nothing will happen. Which, right now, means that nothing will happen. Now President Obama and the Democrats in both the House and the Senate will ensure that the next generation will truly be the first American generation which will see living standards fall, not rise.
Toggle Commented Mar 24, 2009 on Crony Capitalism in America at ShrinkWrapped
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Nowhere did I say that the government created the banking crisis. What it did do was to meddle with the markets. This is the greater sin. The core of the problem is that the CRA required a set amount of mortgages to be made in order to avoid onerous and ruinous penalties to people who couldn't afford them, requiring the banks to charge their other customers higher rates in order to cover the risk costs. To compensate, the banks could resell these in bundles to investors. Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac threw money into this, and the players in the market followed the money. No, the government didn't "cause" the banking crisis. They just made it inevitable. If there were no subprimes, the banking crisis wouldn't have evolved.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2009 on This is How S**t Happens at ShrinkWrapped
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Hi - Well, I *am* an economist. :-) Unfortunately, that's the only smiley you'll get in regard to this topic. You're right: the economy is one hell of a complicated place. It boils down to this: the Obama Administration is bluntly demanding that the American public give it absolute trust that the US government will, at the end of the day, Do The Right Thing. Literally, blind trust. Not the blind trust we have in pilots, but the blind trust that scam artists create in their targets. Of course, given that the politicians will spin whatever the government actually does as being The Right Thing, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. While I agree that TARP is a failure, the Stimulus Bill - in whatever version considered - is an abomination. There really is no other word for it. The belief that Government stimulus spending programs have a multiplier effect > 1 is just that: a belief. There is no serious empirical evidence to support this that also takes into account the costs of consumers not having that money. The economy is not someplace where you can experiment, rewind when it goes belly up, and try something new. This isn't a crisis of capitalism; it's not a crisis of banking, of "Banks Gone Wild" or a crisis of Housing. It's a crisis brought around by the government meddling with the markets in the name of "good things" and steadfastly refusing to consider that there even can be unanticipated effects. Unfortunately, the people who got us into the problem are the same people who now claim to know what to do to get us out of the problem, but they don't want to tell us 'cause it's way to complicated for us to understand. Chris Dodd, Barney Frank and the others who got us here are, to quote Cleaver, part of the problem and not part of the solution. Now, my profession has failed in its duty to the public: we once were the dismal science, the science that told politicians why their plans didn't work, couldn't work, wouldn't work. Instead the academic economists abandoned empiricism for high-level math to create lovely models that were impressive in the academic community and were rarely tested empirically to actually see if they corresponded to reality. Business economists were slowly driven out of companies in the triumph of the lawyers and accountants, who either could tell a good story or had their own models, ones that made no sense in terms of economics, but which made it appear that money was made. This stimulus plan really simply short-cuts the legislative process for many things that the American public isn't really willing to accept, such as the approval of medical procedures based not on the medical efficiency, but rather on their financial efficiency (aka rationing); the effective introduction of the framework for a national health care system (based on the standardization requirements); massive spending for dubious ideas (especially renewable energy sources); massive support for organizations that are fiercely partisan at best and criminal at worst (yes, ACORN, I mean you); and worst of all, pork - earmarks in the new political speak - galore for all the constituencies of the Democratic Party. This bill has nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Tax cuts would. Nothing works better than tax cuts, which drives Democrats into rage because they can't control the spending. Who cares if tax cuts are saved? That flows as capital into the system and works as designed. What people voted for was hope and change in the blind hope that things would be better, that the things that the newspapers and TV/radio news said were so horrible (Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, etc) could be erased. It's going to be a bitter awakening.
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2009 on This is How S**t Happens at ShrinkWrapped
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Hi - Flash is correct, but there's more going on here than meets the eye. First of all, a disequalibrium was deliberately set up (aka subprimes) that removed risk as a criteria for granting loans. Second, negative feedback mechanisms - self correcting ones - have been replaced with positive feedback mechanisms - procyclical ones - that result in broken systems. Always. Shameless plug: read me here: http://21stcenturyschizoidman.blogspot.com/2008/09/you-read-it-here-first.html
Toggle Commented Sep 19, 2008 on A "Permanent Panic Regulator" at ShrinkWrapped
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Morton - 1) Enclaves are not political entities and no power can be exercised from them. Do not confuse their goals with reality. The mullahs can claim power, but they are dependent on the largesse called social welfare: cut that off, and the mullahs lose. If they try to force the issue, they lose. 2) You seem to believe that people do not change. That an ignorant peasant from Anatolia will always remain such, and his children will never assimilate. While this can happen, it does not match with the reality of assimilation and rejection of radicalism. The radicals are the ones generating smoke and fire, but they are in the minority. There is nothing so seductive as improving living standards. 3) This population doesn't vote: that is the key weakness. If they can't vote, they can't achieve political power. They can try to subvert the system - and they are trying to do that - but the cards are massively stacked against them. They believe, naively and ignorantly, that sheer numbers will lead to political power, thinking that that is what Democracy is all about. They are wrong, and I cannot, bluntly, see constitutional changes occurring that would give them a vote. 4) Your view of people from the Third World who are of the Muslim faith is appalling: your rhetoric borders on racist hatred - Islamic sewers? - and you all but reduce them to non-humans. This falls directly into the trap that the Islamicists set for you: of helping them to create the borders that do not exist. Your rhetoric makes the problem worse, not better. Or what would you do? Force them all out? Set up re-education camps? Arbeit macht Frei? Good lord indeed. And if you do not think that the Technocrats of Europe will react when their thieving is threatened, then you don't know what you are talking about. Europe is nothing but a political organization dedicated to maintaining control over the population: it provides from cradle to grave, and redistribution is king. They do not suffer anyone not under their control: the ghettos that you so fear, while apparently outside of the realm, are firmly within it and the mullahs are, at best, tolerated as useful tools. Or do you think that these groups are not infiltrated and not under observation? Expenditures on defense are meaningless if you are worried about Islam overtaking Europe: or do you imagine hordes of outraged Turks, Algerians and Egyptians swarming over the borders? Good lord indeed.
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Hi - Some of the comments are mind-boggingly uninformed. First of all, Europeans may well be lax in their immigration policies, but many countries, especially Germany, are significantly more restrictive as to who may become a citizen: living in the country doesn't mean that they get a vote. Big difference, and a critical one. The mullahs and their political lackeys may, at one point, start clamoring for their "rights" to make political decisions: at this point, the government will gently point out that they are guests in that country, to pipe down and behave, and if they want a say in the political process, then by all means, as long as they play by the rules. Which of course none of the Islamicists has any intention of doing so. Second: the idea that European women will accomodate "brown studs" and become subservient to them shows that an appalling ignorance of European feminism and the reality of women in Europe. Truly laughable. Third: the goal of the massive increase in the muslim population is not to seize political power, but rather to create enclaves where the government dare not show its face and where the caliphate of Europe may be put together. This is, to a small extent, already the case in some suburban areas in many European cities, but this is a police problem, and immigrants are more eager to leave those ghettos than they are to stay there. There is no question that if the police want to shut down the ghettos, they can: it's a question of political will, and right now no one wants to create problems. There's a lot of rather silly rhetoric here. Khaled and his ilk are prone to that, given that they need to appeal to emotions amongst their rather ignorant followers. The reality of the situation is that when there is a first serious challenge to the power of the Technocrats of the EU, they, the Technocrats, will smite their enemies with glee. Never, ever threaten the power of an EU technocrat: that way lies folly. Viewing the muslim population of Europe as some sort of advance party for the Islamicization of Europe means assimilating the rhetoric of the Islamicists. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Oh, and for the record: I live in Germany.
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Hi - Excellent, excellent choice of analogy. Col. Weyland was indeed considered by the best of the best to be dangerous, paranoid and completely and totally useless. After the initial attack by the first Grendel, he was badly wounded and in the infirmary, when the Grendel returned to snack on the first child of the settlement it was preparing to feast on him as well: the settlers hadn't even bothered to post a guard and left him there unguarded. And while he was recovering, they set about to kill all the Grendels they could find, without understanding what Grendels were. You see, the rivers were full of a fish that the settlers called Samlon, which were the first stage of the Grendel. By killing off the few Grendels who had kept their ecosystem in balance, literally thousands of samlons started changing into grendels. In other words, not understanding what they were messing with led almost to the complete destruction of the colony. The best of the best almost destroyed themselves by lacking the understanding of what was really going on, reacting instead to appearances and making simplistic decisions that weren't thought out, but which appealed to short attention spans. There was a follow-on book that was almost as chilling: in the second book, one of the children many years later basically starts a religion based on the use of pyschotropics. The colony expands from an island to the main continent, and their lack of understanding about local weather patterns and how life adapts to them - and to solar flares of the more variable star - leads them to establish a new colony right when such a flare triggers one of the more ... disturbing attacks. Suffice to say that the child who started the religion ends up killing Weyland and bonds with a Grendel, who is not merely psychic, but understands that humans are vastly more efficient at killing when they want to be. Both books are great reads, especially as vacation literature. The analogy to our times is apt: the best of the best, the technocratic elite, invariably brings the seed of their own destruction when they ignore the fact that the world doesn't necessarily operate according to their precepts, but rather is more complex and stranger than any of us can understand. Try to change the world, deliberately, to create an effect, and the planet will react in ways stranger than anyone might think...
Toggle Commented Jun 28, 2008 on The Legacy of Heorot at ShrinkWrapped
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Hi - It's up at Google, and you can download it there as well... http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3369102968312745410
Toggle Commented Mar 29, 2008 on The Psychotic Core at ShrinkWrapped
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Hi - While I got out of psychology when I realized that I didn't have the patience to listen to people droning on with their problems (I was contemplating grad school at the time and went for philosophy instead), there were more than a few lessons that I was able to glean that really have helped me ever since. Appeasing aggression or aggressive behavior really, really, really doesn't work unless you are doing it while looking for the exit or getting time to find a way to slam-dunk the bastards. Period. Like you say, you don't have to be a psychologist to know this. But you do have to think things through and be willing to abandon the comfortable shibboleths of much of modern day liberal society. In other words, you need to grow up. I've known plenty of people of legal age who acted like children, and some children who were more adult than anyone else I knew. Like you say, rewarding sociopathic behavior leads to more of it: just as the child throwing a tantrum, it's negative behavior in a positive behavior conditioning loop: the worst possible path, leading at the end of the day to sociopaths who really, really believe that their acts of evil are perfectly ok. Heinlein in his essential novel "Starship Troopers" had the discussion between a teacher and one of his students, who didn't understand why liberal societies collapsed (I'm quoting from memory, not having the book around right now): the teacher asked if she raised puppies, to which she said, yes, you know that I do; he asked how she toilet-trained them, and she explained; he asked if there was any merit to the idea of letting the puppies do whatever they want, scolding them gently when they had their "mistakes" in the house, and when they turned into full-sized dogs, shooting them at the first "mistake". She of course replied that that was the craziest notion of how to toilet train a dog, and the teacher replied that this was the method of how liberal societies treated underage offenders, pretending that they couldn't do anything until they were of legal age, and then treating them like adults when they reached a certain age. So it is here: what the Germans call "Gutmenschen" (aka do-gooders who do whatever foolishness with the best of intentions, as if that excused them...) find excuses and reasons for doing nothing, ignoring the problem, until it blows up in their faces and people die and property is destroyed. They then ask why it is their fault, and that their intentions were good, and that the problem must lie elswhere, and then they repeat. That's the same thing, and that goes a long way to explaining why there are terrorists: there are terrorists because in many ways it works. Once the terrorists start to find that they are being hunted down and killed, that they are shunned and not rewarded, that they have nowhere to hide, then terrorism will decline. Of course, that's a messy solution and means that you have to, metaphorically, get your hands dirty. I'd like to know where the idea came from that international politics is nice and clean: probabably a legacy of McNamara and his whiz kids.
Toggle Commented Jul 3, 2007 on Acquired Sociopathy at ShrinkWrapped
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Hi - Good analysis, with one caveat: the major error that the anti-war people and the Democrats - there is a difference, sometimes miniscule, but there is one - make is to assume that peace is the absence of war, that conflicts are to be avoided and if there is a conflict and the shooting starts, that the fastest way to end any war is the best. That is naive at best. Conflict avoidance and conflict resolution are two completely different things: conflict termination is neither. It is the latter without the former that ensures that the conflicts continue to fester and remain a problem. If the anti-war people had their way, Japan should have sued the US for peace after Midway, and the war in Europe should have had a negotiated surrender after Stalingrad. In either case, such an ending of hostilities would've been merely a conflict ending, rather than a conflict resolution. Conflicts that are ended, i.e. the shooting stops, aren't resolved, and the next war is pre-programmed. That is also the problem with Iran. The fundamental problem of the Iranian Revolution is that it rejects all forms of normal civilized behavior, as exemplified by the seizing of diplomats and the open support of terrorism and the subversion of state structures throughout the Middle East. This is a conflict that has been postponed, but not resolved.
Toggle Commented Jun 5, 2007 on Forests and Trees at ShrinkWrapped
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Hi - Long-time lurker here... I think the point made that the Senators in question here aren't being patriotic is fine, but it doesn't go far enough. The question really should be asked: are they being treasonous? Giving aid and comfort to the enemy? I don't think so: see my blog http://21stcenturyschizoidman.blogspot.com/2007/01/treason.html for my reasons. Put simply: they're not being treasonous, but what they are being is deeply, deeply irresponsible. Oh, and Webb's Korea analogy was flawed at best and ignorant at worst: the war in Korea was never ended (just the combat), and Eisenhower did it in part by making it clear that if the Red Chinese were **really** interested in total war, they'd better understand what it really meant (meaning getting to understand that nukes will trump ideology, especially at the end of the day, no American will be really bothered by lots of dead Chinese as long as it means that "the boys are coming home".) Or did Webb really mean to be threatening to inflict nuclear war on Iran in order to "bring the boys home?"
Toggle Commented Jan 26, 2007 on Further Digressions at ShrinkWrapped
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Hi - Two points: 1) the US doesn't have 2400 nuclear devices, we have vastly more: try 5736 operationally deployed warheads, eight different types (with a very large number of these the so-called dial-a-yield variable warheads), with 9,962 in the total inventory. Just to get the numbers right. The total yield (using the average yield of the variable weapons) is around 2330 MT equivalent, ca 23 kt per device. This is vastly down from the ca 20 000 MT yields that were held in the 1960s. No new nukes have been built since 1989 (!), and our number of warheads and yield totals is down to levels of the 1950s. Little known, but true: the nuclear threat has been made much, much smaller, as it doesn't need the old levels as were reached at the height of the Cold War. 2) Iran pricing its oil in Euros is going to be a major, major, major headache for the Europeans: it means that there will be increasing numbers of PetroEuros out there that the ECB can't control. In case you don't know, the ECB (European Central Bank) is a monetary fetishist. Their job, in stark contrast to the US Fed, is limited to controlling inflation. Allowing PetroEuros to flourish outside of the control of the ECB is, for the ECB, a nightmare for their policies, since they believe that in order to control inflation, you need not only control interest rates, but also control the money supply itself. The Fed stopped publishing some of their time series because they have ceased to be meaningful. The ECB would have to go through a major switch in policy - one that would require a re-writing of their operating guidelines! - to allow this to happen, and there is absolutely no interested party in Europe that has any desire to fiddle with the ECB. Except, maybe, the French, who would try to jury-rig everything to be in their favor and then be amazed that nothing works... The second point is the critical one: Iran isn't asking the ECB to play along, they are just declaring that they will start to use the Euro. The ECB is going to get really pissed off at anyone trying to play with their game, and those trying to use the Euro as a true alternative to the dollar are going to discover that they have made a really, really big mistake. This is the sort of thing that made people like Soros very, very rich: government stupidity complicated by a total lack of understanding of how exchange rates are actually worked out in the real world. And no, I'm not going to tell you. :-)
Toggle Commented Dec 19, 2006 on Primitive Rage and War at ShrinkWrapped
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