Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Some items of interest from today's skim of the internet:

Jerry Pournelle has an interesting article on his mail page from a European observer of our response to Katrina. The above link doesn't go directly to that excerpt; you will have to scroll down a bit (to the phrase "And a more serious view follows") Some of the important points from the interview with Emmanual Todd:

What really resonates with my representation of the United States... is the fact that the United States was disabled and ineffectual. The myth of the efficiency and super-dynamism of the American economy is in danger.

The great weakness of this economic system is that it does not rest on a foundation of real domestic industrial capacity.

[T]o manage a natural catastrophe, you don't need sophisticated financial techniques, call options that fall due on such and such a date, tax consultants, or lawyers specialized in funds extortion at a global level, but you do need materiel, engineers, and technicians, as well as a feeling of collective solidarity.

The Americans knew how to dominate the Nazi storm with a mastery they show themselves incapable of today in just a single one of their regions.

This social system no longer rests on the 'Founding Fathers' Calvinist work ethic and taste for saving - but, on the contrary, on a new ideal (I don't dare speak of ethics or morals): the quest for the biggest payoff for the least effort..... The gang of black unemployed who loot a supermarket and the group of oligarchs who try to organize the "heist" of the century of Iraq's hydrocarbon reserves have a common principle of action: predation.

What seems to me more striking is the way this America that incarnates the absolute opposite of the Soviet Union is on the point of producing the same catastrophe by the opposite route.
Many in America (and I am sure we are hardly the only ones to have fallen victim to this particular logic error) assume that the way things are is the way things will always be. America is here today, so it must always exist. I'm pretty sure the average Roman citizen thought much the same right up to the day Rome fell. A more modern example is the Soviet Union, which Mr. Todd points to in the interview. We are not the end of history. We will not usher in the Millenial Kingdom, no matter what nutter Christian Reconstructionists claim. The United States will, at some point, cease to exist in its present form. We seem to be following the path laid out by history, which we, of course, no longer teach in our schools.

While working in the automobile industry, I learned that all domestic car manufacturers (and most manufacturers in any industry) don't really build things any more. They are essentially banks that finance the sale of products produced, in whole or in part, in some other country. GM looses money every time they sell a passenger car. But that's OK; they make it up by providing the financing through GMAC. That wouldn't be so bad except odds are the car you bought landed in the US either fully assembled, or as parts made overseas, then assembled here in the US. I worked for Volkswagen which lost money on every product line, but made up for it playing various financial games with currencies, and buying and selling other brands. From what I know of every major industry, it is much the same: product takes a back seat to financial games. I'm sure I just lack the imagination to see why this is good thing.

A series of closely related blog entries:

Maybe there is hope
Women, fear and embottled genies
The Death of Feminism

I've said it before and I will say it again and I will continue to say it as long as there are those still advocating the failure called feminism: it is a bad deal for families; it is a bad deal for children; it is a bad deal for men; it is a bad deal for women. The only beneficiaries seem to be high school and college guys who now have access to unlimited, commitment-free sex. How being a spitoon for a string of random males' sperm empowers women is beyond me, but then again, I'm just "book smart" and "not intelligent" according to some members of my family.

Many, including yours truly, predicted this day would come: Michael Schiavo is writing a book. Somehow I don't think he will attempt to explain his peculiar way of showing affection: killing his wife by dehydration. Would someone explain to me again how all this wasn't just about the money?

It seems my co-worker's fear is coming to pass. A Catagory 4 storm that could push up to Catagory 5 is working across the Gulf of Mexico. If you look at the predicted storm tracks over the last 48 hours, you will notice they keep shifting to a more northerly path. Sort of like Katrina did. Some models are still showing a hook right into Louisiana. Pray that doesn't happen. Of course, no matter where Rita hits, it won't be pretty.

And that's all I have time for today.

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