Saturday, May 31, 2008
"Look around. The world's tallest building is in Taipei, and will soon be in Dubai. Its largest publicly traded company is in Beijing. Its biggest refinery is being constructed in India. Its largest passenger airplane is built in Europe. The largest investment fund on the planet is in Abu Dhabi; the biggest movie industry is Bollywood, not Hollywood. Once quintessentially American icons have been usurped by the natives. The largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore. The largest casino is in Macao, which overtook Las Vegas in gambling revenues last year. America no longer dominates even its favorite sport, shopping. The Mall of America in Minnesota once boasted that it was the largest shopping mall in the world. Today it wouldn't make the top ten. In the most recent rankings, only two of the world's ten richest people are American. These lists are arbitrary and a bit silly, but consider that only ten years ago, the United States would have serenely topped almost every one of these categories.
We are living through the third great power shift in modern history. The first was the rise of the Western world, around the 15th century. It produced the world as we know it now—science and technology, commerce and capitalism, the industrial and agricultural revolutions. It also led to the prolonged political dominance of the nations of the Western world. The second shift, which took place in the closing years of the 19th century, was the rise of the United States. Once it industrialized, it soon became the most powerful nation in the world, stronger than any likely combination of other nations. For the last 20 years, America's superpower status in every realm has been largely unchallenged—something that's never happened before in history, at least since the Roman Empire dominated the known world 2,000 years ago. During this Pax Americana, the global economy has accelerated dramatically. And that expansion is the driver behind the third great power shift of the modern age—the rise of the rest.
Americans—particularly the American government—have not really understood the rise of the rest. This is one of the most thrilling stories in history. Billions of people are escaping from abject poverty. The world will be enriched and ennobled as they become consumers, producers, inventors, thinkers, dreamers, and doers. This is all happening because of American ideas and actions. For 60 years, the United States has pushed countries to open their markets, free up their politics, and embrace trade and technology. American diplomats, businessmen, and intellectuals have urged people in distant lands to be unafraid of change, to join the advanced world, to learn the secrets of our success. Yet just as they are beginning to do so, we are losing faith in such ideas. We have become suspicious of trade, openness, immigration, and investment because now it's not Americans going abroad but foreigners coming to America. Just as the world is opening up, we are closing down.
Generations from now, when historians write about these times, they might note that by the turn of the 21st century, the United States had succeeded in its great, historical mission—globalizing the world. We don't want them to write that along the way, we forgot to globalize ourselves."-Fareed Zakira, Newsweek
One of the most intelligent reads in a long long time. I'm picking up the book later this year, it's just something you hardly ever read: An objective look at how well off the world is, and how bright the prospects for growth are world wide.
Friday, May 30, 2008
AP: "Chief negotiators of a landmark treaty banning cluster bombs predicted Friday that the United States will never again use the weapons, a critical component of American air and artillery power.
The treaty formally adopted Friday by 111 nations, including many of America's major NATO partners, would outlaw all current designs of cluster munitions and require destruction of stockpiles within eight years. It also opens the possibility that European allies could order U.S. bases located in their countries to remove cluster bombs from their stocks.
The treaty specifies — in what backers immediately dubbed "the American clause" — that members "may engage in military cooperation and operations" with a nation that rejects the treaty and "engages in activities prohibited" by the treaty.
It suggests that a treaty member could call in support from U.S. air power or artillery using cluster munitions, so long as the caller does not "expressly request the use of cluster munitions."Toothless global initiatives worth nothing. Wonderful stuff.
So whats the reaction of the US & Russia, and likely China, India, Israel, Pakistan and others who abstained from these talks?
"Ivan Oelrich, vice president for strategic security programs at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, said he expected U.S. forces to keep using shells, rockets and bombs that break apart into smaller explosive objects because they have 10 times or more killing power than traditional munitions, particularly against troops in exposed terrain or in foxholes.
Government and military spokesmen in other cluster bomb-defending nations were similarly dismissive of the treaty.
"Russia will not ban cluster bombs and land mines," Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky said earlier this week in Moscow. "We stand for evolutionary development of these weapons. Russia's Defense Ministry objects to radical and prohibitive measures of this kind.""Just keep on truckin.
What, would they rather we used tactical nukes?
Or perhaps go the old days, when men fought like men and shot each other 20 feet away in a line with their neighbors? The days where wars took years, and there was no real decisive application of force?
No. The world is a far better place when nations such as the US, or even sinister empires such as China or Russia have decidedly potent weapons to swiftly eradicate an enemy from the floor of battle. The US fights for good, and things are much more stable when the powers that be have the ability to stay the powers that be.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
So I keep having to do these more and more often... I really need to keep up with this better.
So, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out midnight wednesday, and I was there with a bunch of friends. Pretty good sized crowd too, as evidencd by the colossal box office over the weekend.
From the opening second, I was in love with this film. Wonderful, beautifully crafted camera work pervaded the film with a few glaring exceptions, and this only because the rest was so good.
The sound track was dencent, but no where the class of John Williams prior efforts.
Harrison Ford made Indy work again, and Shia worked the lil' Jones knock off very well. Top this all off with a plot I loved and had some pretty good vilians, and it boils down to one thing: This feels like Indiana Jones, and while not the finest of the series, it can hold it's head high amongst the classics of the series, and stride as a god amongst mortals among most films. I loved this.
So what else besides early morning movie watching? Your humble blogger-man has graduated from High School, and tossed the tassels on saturday. Some other friends have graduated, so it's been busy with grad parties and ceremonies.
Unfortunately, the weekend was dampened by some pet issues. A dog staying at our house attacked my toy poddle, Sandy. The stitches and repairs were cost prohibitive, and Sandy was put down. I loved that dog, the perky lovable one-eyed rescue project from my 11th birthday...
Brother and Mom picked up a Cocker Spaniel at a rescue, so we'll see how this functions.
In the vast world around us, what on earth is going on in Boston and Chitown with the trains?
Friday, May 16, 2008
Let me preface this review with a bit about my position on Narnia. I've been a raving fan of the books since I was 6 years old and mom read the first half of the Magician's Nephew, and I've since read the rest of the series at least 7 times. I capped Prince Caspian off again for the 9th time Wednesday night, and it is certainly my favorite book.
I realize The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe has some very strong allegorical elements to Christ, but I think the rest of the series steers pretty clear of that, so I'm not into using this as a witnessing tool or anything, it's just wonderful fantasy for children.
I went to a midnight showing for Prince Caspian last night, with a pretty large contingent of night owls.
First, after being scared out of my mind by a trailer for Chiauaua (how the west has fallen...), the movie began.
It begins well enough, but quickly diverts from the book for no real reason, in several key places that alters the story.
King Peter is an arrogant jerk obsessed with power. Caspian is a whiny kid at times, yet manages to hold his own on the screen. Trumpkin the Dwarf is spot on, and Reepicheep is just as annoying as he was in the books.
Aslan though... could they make the Lion of Narnia any more of a wimp???
I am bitter about this movie, and disappointed. In the LWW, the book was followed about 90% of the time. I'd say this was about 60%, and it was stuff that didn't need changing.
Especially the final 3 minutes...
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Quick hit from a brilliant but tired mind:
It'll be a Obama/Edwards Ticket for the dems. (And how weaselly IS J. Edwards? He waits until the primary is decided to pick who to endorse? Cripes man, show at least a little respect for yourself!)
For the GOP, we've got a McCain/Giuliani Ticket.
Nobody hates Rudy, they are both equally solid on the war, similar on almost all other issues except abortion, which may not matter much at all.
So there's my predictions. If they're wrong, you get all your money back.
Monday, May 12, 2008
I do like it myself. :D
So if you're a regular visitor, you probably noticed the new white box with the book covers over on the right side bar, twirly action and all.
There at 10 books in the carousel, 9 of which I have read and 1 I plan to read this summer. Here they are, and with a short summary/review of the book.
I'll put the other 5 up later.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
AP: Myanmar held a referendum Saturday that likely will solidify the ruling junta's hold on power, even as it appeared overwhelmed by a devastating cyclone that killed tens of thousands of people.
In a country where the last election was held 18 years ago, many people had no idea how to vote. Some asked each other or officials, "Where do I go?" or "What do I do?" as they walked into curtained booths to cast their ballots.
The referendum seeks public approval of a new constitution, which the generals say will be followed in 2010 by a general election. Both votes are elements of what the junta calls its "roadmap to democracy."
But the proposed constitution guarantees 25 percent of parliamentary seats to the military and allows the president to hand over all power to the military in a state of emergency.
Some 27 million of the country's 57 million people were eligible to vote, although balloting was delayed for two weeks in the areas hardest hit by the May 3 cyclone. Final official results of the referendum will not be announced until after late voting on May 24 in areas badly hit by recent Cyclone Nargis."
"This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead."
Such mindless grasping of petty power is barbaric & savage in the extreme. More then 20,000 lie dead upon the ground, many more lie injured and starving on top of them, and famine is rapidly spreading.
So the logical response? Hold and election.
In case you've missed the connection, this is the same nation where the Buddhist monks lead a 'revolt' that was subsequently squashed into a bloody pulp on the stones of Rangoon.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
AP: "McCain was awarded a Silver Star Medal for resisting "extreme mental and physical cruelties" inflicted upon him by his captors from late October to early December 1967, the early months of his captivity, according to the citation. The North Vietnamese, according to the Navy, ignored international agreements and tortured McCain "in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes."
McCain, now the Republican Party's likely presidential nominee, was taken prisoner in October 1967 after he was shot down while on a mission over Hanoi. He wasn't freed until March 1973, after the United States signed peace agreements with the North Vietnamese. His captors tortured him and held him in solitary confinement. Still, he declined an offer of early release until those who had been at the prison longer than him were let go.
That decision earned McCain a Navy Commendation Medal. Although McCain was "crippled from serious and ill-treated injuries," he steadfastly refused offers of freedom from those holding him prisoner. "His selfless action served as an example to others and his forthright refusal, by giving emphasis to the insidious nature of such releases, may have prevented a possibly chaotic deterioration in prisoner discipline," the citation says.
Besides the Silver Star Medal, McCain also received the Legion of Merit with a combat "V" and one gold star, a Distinguished Flying Cross and a Bronze Star Medal with a combat "V" and two gold stars.Several citations mention his achievements either as a prisoner or as a lieutenant commander flying bombing runs off the deck of the USS Oriskany. "
As much as I disagree with his politics on almost every level, this John McCain has fought, bleed, and watched his brothers die for my country.
Obama, you've got nothing.
Monday, May 05, 2008
Politico: " "We’re going to go right at OPEC," she said. "They can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world, they decide how much oil they’re going to produce and what price they’re going to put it at," she told a crowd at a firehouse in Merrillville, IN.
"That’s not a market. That’s a monopoly," she said, saying she'd use anti-trust law and the World Trade Organization to take on OPEC..."
This is how we win friends.
This is how we spurn the world.
This is how we win influence across the globe.
This is how we engage the middle east diplomatically.
This is how we win the oil supply battle??
Statistically, OPEC has little direct impact upon the US. Oil is a global commodity, its origin and processing matter little.
Quite simply, a barrel is a barrel is a barrel.
So OPEC does not dictate prices. The price of an item is dictated by the quantity of supply in relation to demand, and the supply worldwide has risen steadily over the past 2 decades.
While more supply is available, the refining bottleneck still exists, and thus the price has risen.
It's not greedy oil companies, who make less then 5% profit on a gallon of gas.
It's not greedy Mexican oil tycoons, jacking with the little guy.
It's not a cartel of minor nations regulating their supply.
In the US, it's a government that has not allowed a new refinery in 15 years, compounding a problem of rising demand.
I suppose I shouldn't be too worried. Heck, even the crazy lady herself has not proposed or joined any legislation to the effect of her current campaigning.
Friday, May 02, 2008
I liked it. Watched it at 11pm last night, and surrounded by friends and fellow geeks, so my opinion may be somewhat inaccurate.
Basically, it's a comic book movie. But its a good one, well acted and with a semi-plausible hero powers. Pretty funny with great action, it's a good summer movie. I'll buy the DVD when it comes out.