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  • Archive for August, 2010

    2010 Chicago Air & Water Show

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 20th August 2010 (All posts by )

    The Chicago Air & Water Show gives me a great chance to watch jets in our skies over the city. I have a good view from my balcony and friends of ours have an awesome view from atop their building near the lake. On Saturday (day one) I took a few photos from my balcony and on Sunday I got some from my friends’ deck.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Chicagoania, Photos | 7 Comments »

    Back to the Future: Afghanistan in 2050

    Posted by Karaka Pend on 19th August 2010 (All posts by )

    A nurse instructs a group of young mothers on post-natal care.

    Two women flip through records in the local shop, asking questions of the gentleman who works there.

    Young girls laugh in the sunshine as their Girl Scout leader teaches them a song.

    This is Afghanistan in 2050; it looks remarkably like Afghanistan in 1950. Men and women walk the streets without fear of death by stoning; women choose to shop with uncovered heads; education is widespread and equally available for all Afghans.


    The differences between Afghanistan pre-Taliban and Afghanistan post-Taliban are challenging to conceive. From 1996 until the invasion of the United States in 2001, the world as Afghanistan knew it changed dramatically, and undeniably for the worse. The lot of women under the Taliban’s harsh regime was devastating. But perhaps the greatest hope for Afghanistan in 2050 is to look into its past.


    From the ’50’s to the ’70’s, Afghanistan was a largely stable country under the rule of Mohammed Zahir Shah. The King steered his country slowly into modernization, opening it to the West and allowing his subjects greater political freedom. The culture of the time also liberalized, providing social freedoms for both men and women. Notably, women were allowed into the work force, chose whether to cover or uncover their hair and bodies, and had more substantial agency over their own lives.


    This, then, is the challenge Afghanistan should undertake: undo the last sixty years of repression and throw as much weight as possible behind the cause of Afghan women. As Afghanistan pushes, and is pushed, towards control of its own destiny over the next four decades, perhaps the best hope for the country’s future lies with its female citizens.

    Social freedoms. By endeavoring to return to the mid-twentieth century’s quality of life, Afghanistan sees a greater level of equality between men and women. Women’s lives are not consolidated in the private sphere but are expanded outward into the public sphere. Women take part in public works and enterprises, seek employment and enrichment outside the realm of the family culture, and express their own agency through their fashion, creative efforts, and social choices. Girls have the same access to education as boys, and a majority of young Afghans can expect a secondary education.

    Economic reforms. The use of microloans and other economic projects directs capital to Afghan women, encouraging them to engage in private enterprise that dovetails with the social freedoms allowing women more access to the public sphere. Independent economic vitality pushes against political restrictions, building up the political voice and goals of Afghan women in their national and local governments. Political action affects government economic policy, loosening restrictions on female entrepreneurship and providing mechanisms for further investment in local business, including female-run entities. More local business helps to bolster Afghan’s struggling economy, pushing back against revenue from poppy farming and black market timber sales. Afghanistan invests in itself, spurred by its investment in women.

    Religious tolerance. Afghanistan is, and will always be, an Islamic state. But as the combination of social and economic reforms changes the relationship of citizens to state, so too does it change the relationship of state to religion. Not unlike Syria or Jordan, Afghanistan gradually reduces the state-based restrictions on its population, particularly its female citizens, moving religious doctrine from the governmental realm to the private realm. Previously imposed restraints on public and private behaviour are eased and individuals gain more self-selection when it comes to how they choose to express their religion.

    What I describe here is not a panacea; these changes, should they come, are gradual and slow-moving in nature. Alleviating the quality of life of women in Afghanistan will not solve the country’s many ills in every sector of its society. But these changes are most assuredly a necessity, to answer in part for twenty years of repression, poverty, and hardship.

    From the vantage point of 2010, these changes seem very far away. But rather than view these three aspects of Afghan society–social, economic, religious–as unknown progressive leaps forward, I argue instead that Afghanistan should look into its past for frameworks with which to build upon. At one time, Afghanistan grasped each of these aspect of society, and were headed down a path of greater individual freedoms and reforms for its citizens. To meet its future in 2050, Afghanistan and its people must reclaim its 1950 past. Perhaps in four decades we will again see women walking uncovered past women in niqab and know it to be the result of individual choice and freedom.



    Karaka Pend is a philosopher by training and a FP junkie by passion. She blogs at Permissible Arms and has an abiding love for the Misfits. Images respectfully pulled from Foreign Policy and the NYT Lens Blog. Many thanks to Chicago Boyz for allowing me to contribute.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 7 Comments »

    Complexity or Culture?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 19th August 2010 (All posts by )

    In reading this story about Blagojevich getting a hung jury on all but one charge, this bit leapt out at me:

    But one juror, a woman whom other jurors declined to identify, saying they wanted to respect her privacy, never budged in her opposition to convicting on the counts. She was unmoved by recorded calls in which Mr. Blagojevich and his aides spoke of possible jobs, donations, even a White House cabinet appointment he might get after making his Senate choice.
    Mr. Wlodek described her stance as “very noble,” adding: “She did not see it as a violation of any laws. It was politics. It was more of conversations of what-ifs.”[emp added]

    This makes me wonder if Blagojevich got off owing to the political culture of Illinois which assumes that a high level of corruption is simply how politics and government get done. With such a culture, it might seem unjust for a juror to convict Blagojevich for actions which are expected of all politicians. I mean, who expects that elected officials will have long conversations about “what-ifs” that at least sound a lot like discussions about corruption?

    The arcane complexity of the legal charges is definitely a problem. It’s very much like the trouble that lay juries have in evaluating cases concerning complex and technical financial, technological or scientific evidence. We expect people to get an advanced specialized education and then get years of experience before making major decisions in technical fields, and yet we expect lay juries to choose between two dueling experts based on just a few days of exposure to the issues at hand.

    However, corruption would seem to be fairly straightforward in most cases and wouldn’t require a lot of legal hair-splitting. Was the complexity of this case really the challenge here, or was it really a matter of a culture so broadly tolerant of corruption that only the most extreme and explicit acts of corruptions will draw legal censure? Was the complexity of the judge’s instructions itself a result of this culture?

    Perhaps some readers from Illinois can pitch in with insight.

    Posted in Law, Politics | 10 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Walking and Chewing Gum at the Same Time

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 18th August 2010 (All posts by )

    In fiscal 2010, the U.S. government will spend between $880 billion and $1.03 trillion dollars on defense (depending upon how you finagle the numbers). This is, in a much ballyhooed percentage, around half of the world’s known defense spending. It is also between 6% and 7% of the $14,597.7 trillion U.S. GDP (as of the second quarter of 2010).

    The United States of America has a population ~301,237,703 (give or take a few million). The U.S. Department of Defense directly employs ~700,000 civilians, ~1,418,542 active duty military personnel, ~1,458,500 reserve duty personnel, and who knows how many contractors. The U.S. has ~72,715,332 men and ~71,638,785 women of military age (between the ages of 18-49). Of these, an estimated ~59,413,358 men and ~59,187,183 women are actually fit for military service. An estimated ~2,186,440 men and ~2,079,688 women reach the usual minimum military age of 18 every year. The Selective Service has information on ~15 million men between 18 and 25 years of age, the first cohort that would eligible for conscription if a draft was reinstated.

    The percentage of U.S. military personnel classifiable as combat personnel was about 25% of all forces engaged in Iraq in 2005. Very very very crudely applying the same percentage to the above manpower numbers, this means that the U.S. has about ~354,635 active and ~364,625 reserve combat personnel for a grand total of ~719,260 combat personnel. If we figure that only ~12.15 million (81%) of the 15 million men in the Selective Service database are fit for military service and that 100% were drafted (!), that would add another ~3.03 million combat personnel (25%). If we further strain credulity and expand that to the full ~59,413,358 males fit for military service and conscripted 100% of them (!!!), it would produce an additional ~14,853,339 combat personnel. There would be about ~546,610 replacements available yearly assuming 100% of young men eligible for military service were drafted, about a ~3% possible replacement rate annually.

    Given even a conservative reading of such information and ignoring such small obstacles as resource constraints, political reality, or public opinion, why is it that so many defense commentators suggest that the United States military, especially the U.S. Army, can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 2 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Other Voices on AfPak

    Posted by Zenpundit on 18th August 2010 (All posts by )

    In addition to the futurist Afghanistan 2050 Roundtable going on here at Chicago Boyz, I’d like to point out some bloggers and academics dealing with the region’s present:

    Chris AlbonUS Military And Pakistan Flood Relief

    Since July, monsoon rains have caused heavy flooding in many areas of Pakistan. The United Nations estimates more than 20 million people are affected. In response the disaster, the United States has launched a civilian and military relief effort in the country. As part of that effort, US military fixed and rotary wing aircraft are ferrying people and supplies to and from the flood zone. Below are thirteen photos from that military response.

    Please consider donating to the NGO flood relief effort here or elsewhere

    Spencer Ackerman – Petraeus: Here’s My Afghan Redeployment Strategy

    …. Some units pulled out of stable districts might find themselves heading for more volatile ones. “You maybe take one company and send it somewhere else. Maybe send it home,” Petraeus explains. “We want to reinvest some of the transition.” It won’t necessarily be the case that a unit that “thins out” from a district heads directly home. “Some will, certainly,” Petraeus qualifies. “And this is all premature.”In keeping with Petraeus’ admitted addiction to PowerPoint, the general passes on a briefing slide, titled “Transition,” to explain his thinking. The assessment for drawing down will be built around “Districts, Provinces, Functions [and] Institutions,” looking for what can be handed to Afghans with minimal disruptions in security. In our interview, he elaborates that “institutions” means U.S. functions like training the Afghan security forces – jobs that don’t have to remain American duties indefinitely. According to the slide, it’s a process that will draw on what security gains the U.S. command in charge of training Afghan security forces believes the Afghans can maintain; and the Afghan government itself.

    Pundita – On the matter of indicting Oxfam and International Red Cross for war crimes, and a grim warning for U.S. military, Former PM Nawaz Sharif says Pakistan doesn’t need Western flood aid, and other tales of flood aid to Pakistan and Taliban blitzkrieg in North Afghanistan. NATO blindsided. I do not want to hear they didn’t get help from Pakistan military

    ….Same basic message to United Nations, IMF, World Bank, and the rest of the so-called international community. Stop helping Pakistan’s regime rape their country’s poor. Every time they get away with stealing from you, you’re just reinforcing the idea that they do nothing wrong — else why do you keep giving to them? Just stop it, you goddamn fools. Just stop.The Taliban said they would donate USD 20 million to flood relief effort if the regime wouldn’t take money from Western governments. Hold to them their offer. Then shake the country’s rich until they collectively cough up a billion USD for flood relief. That’s how it’s done. That’s how civilized humans act when extorted by fiends.

    Walter Russell Mead –The Roots of Pakistan’s Rage and Pakistan’s Crisis: It’s More Than The Militants

    Things were tough enough during my stay. On my way in from the airport in Karachi, traffic was unusually light. Roving gangs of armed thugs were roaming through the city, pillaging gas stations. The police force was laughably overwhelmed; the only gas stations that stayed open had battalions of private security. Meanwhile, up to 100 people died there in violence between the organized gangs of criminals known in that unhappy city as political parties, schools and businesses are closed in fear, and tens of thousands of families already living at the margins of existence are losing their daily wages until peace returns. One night during my visit a vicious goon threw a hand grenade into a group of worshipers performing their evening prayers in a Karachi mosque; nothing in this city is sacred anymore.

    In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province, and currently on the front line of the COFKATGWOT (the currently nameless Conflict Formerly Known As The Global War On Terror) assassins killed the son of a prominent official and Safwat Ghayyur, the Commandant of the Frontier Constabulary. Three million people became homeless in the early stages of the flood; since then monsoon rains continue to inundate the highlands, and successive flood crests is move inexorably down river, spreading devastation through the Punjab and overspreading the country’s most valuable and productive agricultural land across both Punjab and Sindh.

    Hat tip to Eddie!

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, International Affairs, War and Peace | Comments Off on Afghanistan 2050: Other Voices on AfPak

    Regulation for Fun and Profit

    Posted by David Foster on 18th August 2010 (All posts by )

    The National Association of Broadcasters and the Recording Industry Association of America are lobbying Congress to have the government require that FM receivers be built into cell phones and other portable electronics devices.

    The squandering of resources that would required by this proposal, should it become law, would not be as visually striking as 20 miles of railroad track filled with unused lumber cars, but would be real nonetheless.

    How much of America’s economic output and growth potential is being wasted on politically-driven but economically-irrational subsidies of one kind or another? The number would be hard to calculate, but it is surely large, and certainly growing very rapidly.

    Related: Apparently, more than half of Britain’s wind-power farms have been built in places where there is not enough wind. Anyone want to bet that there is nothing similar happening here?

    FM-receiver link via Code Monkey, lumber-car link via Instapundit, wind-farm link via Maggie’s Farm.

    Posted in Britain, Business, Economics & Finance, Politics, USA | 7 Comments »

    2050: Newly Published History of the American Army’s Disaster in 2016

    Posted by gian p gentile on 17th August 2010 (All posts by )

    “Irregular warfare is more intellectual than a bayonet charge”
    TE Lawrence

    In 2050 historians analyzing the reasons for the disastrous defeat of the United States Army at the hands of the Turkish and Iranian militaries in 2016 over the fate of Kurdistan seem to have reached a consensus that it was due to nearly 15 years of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan that had so depleted the Army’s material, moral, and organizational capacities that it simply lost the ability to fight against a sophisticated enemy.

    In 2011 senior American Army Generals were able to show enough relative progress on the ground in Afghanistan that they persuaded lawmakers and the American President that the United States needed to maintain a significant ground presence for at least five more years in Afghanistan. Meanwhile the situation in Iraq began to deteriorate significantly to the point where the Shia government after a string of high-casualty producing bombings declared war on AlQueda in Iraq and its Sunni insurgent allies. As the civil war in Iraq thawed and reached the levels of 2007 again certain neo-conservative pundits combined with a bevy of senior American Army officers and counterinsurgency experts made a concerted argument to reinsert five American combat brigades to quell the violence. It didn’t work, they couldn’t stop it, and the civil war had to run its course. Sadly these brigades over the next two years took combined casualties of upwards to 70 a month. By the end of 2015 the Iraqi Shia Government had finally crushed, albeit brutally, their sunni resistance. It was at that point when the US presence in Iraq ended. The reinjection of combat brigades into Iraq combined with the ongoing operations in Afghanistan meant that over the course of three years close to two thirds of the American Army’s combat brigades were deployed, meaning that they spent a year deployed with only 6 months back at home station. Afghanistan, by 2015 and the American Army’s departure was really no different than it was in 2011 when senior Army Generals made their pitch to congress; the corrupt Afghan government controlled parts of the country like Kabul and other areas while the Taliban controlled much of the rest. In 2015 Afghanistan resembled the Balkans, a rough but still stable peace followed until the present day.

    Then in early 2016 the war started between the United States and Turkey and Iran over the fate of Kurdistan. Both Turkey and Iran had become fed up with the constant attacks and concomitant separatist movements of their Kurdish populations and decided to ally together and act once and for all to crush Kurdish desires for independence. The Iraqi government requested American assistance and only a short while after pulling its remaining brigades out of Iraq sent in Brigades from the 101st and 82nd Airborne, 1st Cavalry and 4th Infantry Divisions; many of these Brigades had just returned from deployments to either Iraq or Afghanistan. The outcome was not pretty. American commanders, so long accustomed to training and operational deployments that involved stability and counterinsurgency operations were unable to perform the most basic tasks of combined arms synchronization. The Army’s soldiers too lacked essential individual skills of fire and movement; artillery battalions were unable to mass fires, and even though the Navy and Air Force had substantial amounts of airpower in the region the Army on the ground was unable to coordinate it against an enemy who stood and fought. Operational level logistics quickly collapsed due to the fact that a majority of it had been conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan by contractors, and those contractors refused to deploy again to Iraq to fight the Turks and Iranians. The Army under the zeitgeist of counterinsurgency had bought into Lawrence’s quip and had come to place priority for its senior commanders to be able to build trusting relationships with local populations instead of how to conduct combined arms maneuver.

    The American Army was beaten and bloodied badly. It lost nearly as many soldiers in this short three month war against the Turks and Iranians than it did in almost 15 years of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It took it another twenty years to recover from this disaster but by 2050 China and Russia had established dominance in Asia, Europe, and Africa to the detriment of vital American interests.

    Such is the fate, historians concluded in 2050, of Armies that become seduced by the promise of nation building at the barrel of a gun. There are such things as savage small wars of peace, but there are also savage wars of war, and the latter tends to be much bloodier if armies are unprepared.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 23 Comments »


    Posted by historyguy99 on 17th August 2010 (All posts by )


    August 15, 2050 marked the 35th Anniversary of the fall of Kandahar when the fundamentalist Taliban reclaimed the city and began imposing Sharia Law across the southern half of what had been pre-2015 Afghanistan. The fall of Kandahar marked the end of a fourteen year effort by the United States and a coalition made up of NATO countries to prevent the return of the Taliban regime after the September 11, 2001 attack in New York. The war, by far the longest in U.S. history had claimed 3,149 American wars dead, and had cost over $900 billion in an attempt to keep the frayed and fractured country together while it tried to stop incursions by the Taliban, supported by militants and the Pakistani Intelligence Service with monetary support from wealthy oil rich Middle East families bent on spreading their brand of religion.
    The separation, led to a buffer zone extending southwesterly from the Hindu Kush to the Iranian border. Pakistan saw their western tribal region begin to seethe in an attempt to break-away to join in a greater Pashtunistan. After fighting a short war to save face, Pakistan eventually saw this as a positive move, as Pashtunistan became a buffer state on its western border and a source for allies in the event of war with India.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Afghanistan:2050

    Begin with the end in mind

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on 17th August 2010 (All posts by )

    I’m a bit of Covey Fan, at least some great stuff from his first book. Beginning with the end in mind, and keeping it in mind, is central to strategic thinking on policy and politics.

    With that out of the way, I’ll tell you that one of the “ends” I’m working toward is the transformation (as opposed to the reform) of America’s education system.

    I can easily defend the statement that America’s education system can’t be reformed in its present context. Taking that one step further, i would argue that even if it could be reformed, we shouldn’t want to.

    I write all this because I just posted a comment to one of my favorite blogs, Brothers Judd. The post on that blog touted an article describing Obama’s “break” with the Teacher’s Unions. This is an interesting development, and there is much more, and much less, than meets the eye.

    The comment I posted is below.

    This is my take, and I think I’ll be proven right. Obama & Co. know that the existing system is unsustainable, particularly for the urban schools. They are creatures of the Union, but know that Unionism is the problem. Hence their attempt to “fix” the system using half-measures like “turnaround models” and charters.

    This is akin to “glasnost” and “perestroika.” Obama thinks he can loosen the leash, maintain control, and then re-unionize charters when results improve. This brings to mind 2 important things for true reformers to remember.

    1. Reforms need to lead to the permanent removal of unionization from education, so we need to work toward the collapse of the union system (USSR), and not its “reform.”

    2. All this talk of Obama truly understanding the problem should be ignored. Whatever his personal motivation to succeed, in his heart of hearts, he is an unreconstructed leftist who believes everything William Ayers believes about schooling.

    He’s Gramsci to the core.

    Just remember, like Katrina, if every government school in the US fell to rubble tomorrow, we would see a flourishing of education that would surprise the most Pollyanna optimist. To that end, all half measures should be designed to destroy the current system, not to save it.

    US Government Education Complex = USSR
    Obama = Gorbachev

    In my view, , the Union-dominated education system will appear strong, like the USSR, right up to the moment they collapse. Once they collapse, Unions must be driven from education.

    The most important policy needed to bring that about is the rapid charterizaton of existing schools, combined with the majority of the education dollar following children to those schools.

    If you don’t put a stake through their heart, salt and garlic the coffin, and scatter the ashes, they will come back and fix on your neck yet again.

    Posted in Academia, Education | 9 Comments »

    Lauding Paul Ryan

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on 17th August 2010 (All posts by )

    There is a great piece in the American Spectator about Paul Ryan and his “Road Map.” Ryan lacks Gingrich’s Machiavellian talents, and therefore isn’t in the running for taking over the party. Of course, Ryan doesn’t seem to have any of Newt’s devastating character flaws either.

    The fact is that Ryan is a talent that is being wasted in the slow-witted and slow moving Republican Party. He’s a policy guy trying to save the nation while the party is run by idiots running the stupid “Pelosi Fright Wig” strategy. We all understand the trade off in winning elections. The GOP is once again choosing the wrong path, using the supposedly easier path of winning power by vacuity over running on ideas and then actually having a mandate to govern.

    In this cycle, we could actually win an honest mandate for change by following Ryan. Instead, we are wasting the opportunity to put in a gaggle of intellectually flaccid graymeat who will do what Boehner tells them to do. This is a strategy for disaster.

    Paul Ryan’s Friends

    The amount of flack being directed at Ryan and his “Roadmap” has been rapidly increasing. Former White House budget director Peter Orszag, who should know better, trashed the Ryan plan in his farewell lecture at Brookings. This from the man who, as noted by the Wall Street Journal, “presided over record deficits of $1.4 trillion in 2009-or 9.9% of GDP-and an expected $1.5 trillion in 2010.” Cheeky fellow.

    Jon Ward of the Daily Caller observed that this high-profile critique of Ryan “shows the seriousness with which Obama and his top advisers take Ryan’s alternative vision for the country’s future, as well as the vehemence with which they disagree.” Ward mentioned that the Orszag attack was the same day the Democratic National Committee attacked the “Roadmap.”

    Note that the left takes Ryan more seriously than the leaders in his own party.

    You can live with enemies in politics, but you can’t survive without friends. Ryan needs more than intellectual or moral support from conservative intellectuals, commentators, and even honest liberals, as important as they are. He and his “Roadmap” need the heartfelt support of his party, its leaders and its candidates across the country who must take the argument to the people in this watershed election year.

    The stakes are too high for the Republicans to simply stand by, quietly, hoping the Democrats will self-immolate. The GOP needs to embrace a big, visionary idea, something like Ryan’s “Roadmap,” which addresses the most important political challenge of the age: the runaway costs of entitlements which were irresponsibly put on autopilot under both Democratic and Republican governments.

    As many readers here might know, I put forth a much bigger, better, and more visionary idea here a few days ago. While I laud Ryan as true thinker, leader, and one of the few hopes for a brain dead party, my idea is a better roadmap.

    Posted in Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Elections | 1 Comment »

    Afghanistan 2050: “A Muslim Yugoslavia”

    Posted by Zenpundit on 17th August 2010 (All posts by )


    “We snatched anarchy from the jaws of defeat”
    – Henry Kissinger

    Historians tracing the origins of the short but terrible Indo-Punjabistani nuclear exchange of 2024 over the issue of Kashmiri independence generally look to the rapid disintegration of Pakistan into secession, civil war and democide a decade earlier during the conclusion of the “American war” in Afghanistan.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Military Affairs, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    Anti-Vaccination Hysterics Kill Seven Babies

    Posted by Shannon Love on 16th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Great, anti-vaccination hysteria has killed seven infants in California. Whooping cough, once thought to be virtually wiped-out in the developed world, is making a comeback thanks to illegal immigration and greedy anti-vaccination activists.

    As I noted in my previous post on the subject, too many people make emotional decisions based on graphic images. They see pictures of kids with autism or whatever the anti-vaccination hysteria du jour is but they don’t see countervailing images of the diseases that vaccinations prevent.

    Just to provide some real education, here is a video of a 12-week-old infant with whooping cough. You can hear the distinctive strangling intake of breath at the end of a coughing fit which gives the disease its name.

    As you listen to this, recall that in the normal course of the disease, this horrific coughing last for a month with two more months of less-harsh coughing. The disease kills by sheer exhaustion.

    There is an adult whooping cough booster available. If you have contact with infants and/or a large illegal population (legal immigrants have to get vaccinations), I strongly recommend you get the booster.

    And, if you know some anti-vaccination idiot, strap them down and make them listen to the video in a loop.

    Posted in Health Care, Science | 15 Comments »


    Posted by Dan from Madison on 16th August 2010 (All posts by )

    summer2010 062

    Although Jonathan is very much in shape and we are all proud of his awesome figure, I think it is time for perhaps something new at the top of the blog, like four St. Charles spaniels being taken for a walk in a buggy with a fan attached (note the rear of the vehicle) to keep them cool and comfortable.

    Posted in Photos | 5 Comments »

    The Higher-Ed Bubble, Continued

    Posted by David Foster on 16th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Much concern has recently been raised, and appropriately so, about the sleazy practices engaged in by many for-profit colleges…practices that often leave students with large student-loan balances that will never be paid, and training whose value is highly questionable. A study cited in this post indicates that only 36% of the for-profit graduates actually repay their loans. (What does “repay” mean in this context? Repay in full, or does some level of partial repayment count?) But the repayment rates at conventional colleges are nothing to brag about, either–54% for public colleges and 56% for private nonprofits…and many conventional colleges graduate an alarmingly low percentage of their students in four, five, or even six years.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Education, USA | 2 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th August 2010 (All posts by )


    Chicagoboyz sit on the cutting edge of societal evolution.

    Afghanistan 2050

    The govt canceled your colonoscopy but you get 3 free coupons for the tanning & waxing spa.

    Sprechen sie Deutsch?


    Posted in Humor, Photos | 5 Comments »

    All I Want Is For Them To Get Off My Lawn

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 15th August 2010 (All posts by )

    San Francisco is considering banning the sales of Happy Meals inside the city limits. Near as I can tell, the justification is that toys included with meals intended for children cause them to eat like pigs.

    What about parents, the people who actually earn the money that is used to pay for fast food?

    They must be mindless drones to keep their children from constantly gulping down fattening grub. Once their larva starts to nag and whine, they have no choice but to mindlessly shell out the hard earned for a heart attack on a plate.

    That means all of you jokers who spawned are sheep! Zombies ripe for the picking by the endlessly evil people at McDonald’s! Their vast intellects have wiped out any chance you have of resisting, since any sort of ability to form rational thought has obviously squirted out of the womb along with your get. All your corporate masters have to do is include a cheap plastic toy with food, and you fall into line like the dull-witted proletariat you are!

    Thank goodness the Democrat-infested governments in California are there to keep you from destroying yourselves. Freedom of choice? You obviously can’t handle it, since a simple toy has defeated you! They must step in and pass arbitrary legislation which removes any chance you might have of making your own decisions, because you will just screw it up! I mean, think of the children!

    And if you disagree with me, then you must be a racist. Or a parent.

    Posted in Business, Civil Liberties, Leftism | 8 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: A Political Watershed

    Posted by seydlitz89 on 15th August 2010 (All posts by )

    . . . Thus ends our discussion of the military aspects of the Afghan campaign. The political roots of the campaign and how they developed – everyone obviously has their own individual story as to how their own family was affected by the momentous events this war helped to set in motion – are not so easily discernible today. President Bush’s decision to invade the country and overthrow the Taliban government in 2001 seemed a logical response to the events of 11 September, but was in reality predetermined by decades of ideological and political confusion which only came to its inevitable end with the withdrawal of Successor States forces in 2018. In effect American policy makers fancied themselves metaphysicians capable of driving human historical events/the development of political cultures through the use of military power. While the tendency among Bush Studies academics is to argue that Bush represents a unique model followed by his three successors, this puts too much influence on the man and not the times, nor the history which made those times what they were. It is difficult to imagine today, but in the waning years of the US Empire three great tendencies came together and imploded pretty much simultaneously. The first was the notion that the US, alone among the political communities of the world, possessed a special mission from God to influence and change the world; we can refer to this as the “shining city on the hill” delusion. The second was the “liberal”/Enlightenment view of the US as a new start, the perfect humanist society which would reform the corruption of the past; refer to this as the Founding Fathers’ assumption. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | Comments Off on Afghanistan 2050: A Political Watershed

    Afghanistan 2050: A distributed solution to the distributed problem

    Posted by selil on 15th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Afghanistan history over the last 50 years is a study in the contexts of land locked populations struggling between radical theocracy and criminal ambition. Over the last 50 years we have seen a remarkable set of changes in the political influence and the social impacts of a world changing from petro economy to lithium and thorium as primary energy trade goods. Introducing these topics the following essay describes in detail the radical changes in the world economy and the effects on Afghanistan leading to today in the year 2050. Read the rest of this entry »

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    The Turks Just Gassed the Kurds?!?

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 14th August 2010 (All posts by )

    The world just changed.

    Der Spiegel just reported the following:

    German experts have confirmed the authenticity of photographs that purport to show PKK fighters killed by chemical weapons. The evidence puts increasing pressure on the Turkish government, which has long been suspected of using such weapons against Kurdish rebels. German politicians are demanding an investigation.

    American built M-60A3 Tanks in Turkish Service

    American built M60A3 Tanks in Turkish Army Service

    If this pans out as true, and not a Leftist German-PKK disinformation exercise, expect two things —

    1) The NATO Alliance as we know it to dissolve.
    2) Turkey will go nuclear within a couple of years.

    The age of Catalytic Nuclear Proliferation will be upon us, with lethal gas as an accompaniment.

    Update: Gatewaypundit is on the case

    Posted in Europe, Germany, History, International Affairs, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, War and Peace | 14 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050 — Two Sucessful Campaigns in a Wider War

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 14th August 2010 (All posts by )

    What was determinative in America’s victorious 2001 and 2008 – 2013 Afghanistan military campaigns was the will of the American people to keep the Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist base again. Unlike Vietnam, but like the Second World War, this war was started by a surprise attack on the American people at home. Thus the America people’s definition of “victory” was security at home, whatever games America’s ruling elite of the time were doing to either make the goal more or less than that definition.

    This American determination was aided by two things. The will of the Afghans not to be ruled by foreign Islamist backed drug warlords and the terrain of Southern Afghanistan.

    The much missed at the time fact was that America’s military was not “colonizing” Afghanistan for the West. It was _re-establishing_ the old cultural order of Afghan tribal elders against the drug trade and the students of the foreign Saudi-Wahabi Islamist schools in Pakistan and the wider Muslim world.

    American Special Forces Soldier on Horseback

    American Special Forces Hunting Taliban on Horseback

    The Pashtun Drug Warlords, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda were the “power challengers” with guns and cash who were atomizing local Afghan tribal culture and cutting that culture off from both welcome modern medicine and wireless telecommunications, not the Americans.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Americas, History, International Affairs, Islam, Middle East, Military Affairs, Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Kaleidoscope of History

    Posted by Shane on 14th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Chotor asty, in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This letter is from Akram Khan, a slave of Allah. Peace be upon him who follows the right path. As we approach the 131st celebration of Afghan Independence Day, in this year 1472 AH, we must pause to celebrate the resilience of the Pashtunwali.

    Blessings to Allah for this year’s bountiful poppy harvest – the richest Orūzgān has ever seen, rivaling Helmand’s harvest this year. With Chinese demand for opium ever increasing due to their new-found opulence, we are thankful that Allah has smiled upon our fields and our labors.

    While chaos and economic collapse continues to engulf the Indian subcontinent (moreso from the Chinese damming of the headwaters of the Indus, Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers in their insatiable thirst for energy than from any direct external conflict), our lives west of the Hindu Kush remain stoic and tranquil.

    It is ironic that the colonial powers of the west thought they could tame Afghanistan. The first memories of my youth were of my brave brothers and uncles taking arms against the Soviet tanks that sought to prop up the urban elites of Babrak Karmal and his fellow kleptocrats. And as a young man, I watched the ignorant Taliban Kandaharis try to impose their misguided interpretation of Shari’a on our peoples – only to be quickly ousted by the Americans and their corrupt puppet Hamid Karzai. And in my middle age I witnessed the ebb and flow of various outsiders – from Europeans to Pakistanis to Chinese – try to impose their centralized governances on us. At least until the development of sub-Saharan Africa gave them all a new sandbox to attempt to shape in their own image, leaving us to our own “archaic” ways….

    Where they all were wrong is their failure to grasp the most basic tenets of tribalism. The western politicians universally declare their fealty to “family values”, yet they have no true conception of what that means. Despite the hardships of Afghanistan, we are free from want and have a simple, secure lifestyle. Our open, egalitarian and classless society is inherently cooperative – something we see far too little of in so-called “progressive” societies around the globe that depend upon (and unduly reward) the individual above the collective.

    Though fatigued by decades of conflict, we welcome the recent tranquility afforded our peoples by the Great Powers’ distractions in Africa. Our celebration of Afghan independence is a celebration of our own modest freedoms – freedom to till the harsh rocky soil, freedom to support our clan with our own labors, freedom to remain apart from a world gone mad. And we humbly return to what we have always done: pray, eat, sleep and love.

    In the name of Allah the most Sincere, may peace be upon you and your family.

    [Cross-posted to Wizards of Oz]


    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 3 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Futures That Will Not Be

    Posted by T. Greer on 14th August 2010 (All posts by )

    The great challenge with interpreting the future is that it hasn’t happened yet.

    Our existence is a funny thing, filled to the brim with labyrinthine contingencies and hidden variables, kingdoms lost for want of nails and hurricanes raging by way of butterfly beats. The landscape of history is defined by its brilliant complexity. Understandably, the study of this complexity is a fractious discipline, divided by multiple schools and hostage to many a divisive reading. A conservative lot, historians seldom make their case without first stressing uncertainty and contingency. Their restraint is the fruit of experience. They know too well that interpreting the past is a difficult endeavor.

    Those who claim to know the pattern of the future betray their unfamiliarity with the pattern of the past. Our understanding of the past remains sketchy and uncertain, subject to constant revision and review. If our vision of what has been is hidden by this haze, how much harder is it to see what will be! Our understanding of the world is imperfect; our understanding of the future is even more so. Futuristics is a blind man’s game, and I have little sympathy for those who ply the art without admitting that the intricate complexities of our Earth may throw even the steadiest trend off of its given course.

    How then are we to analyze and interpret the future? One could begin with colorful depictions of our world to be. However, my preference is to keep as much fiction out of this analysis as humanly possible. I suggest an easier alternative: instead of trying to sketch what will be, we should try to sketch that what will not.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 4 Comments »

    Afghanistan: 40 years is a long time

    Posted by Lexington Green on 13th August 2010 (All posts by )

    This poster is meant to be funny, but it is tragic.

    These pictures tell a thousand word tale of utter destruction.

    I hope the next 40 years go better than the last 40 for the people of Afghanistan.

    (Hat tip to Michael Antoniewicz II.)

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 4 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Tribes vs. Networks

    Posted by David Ronfeldt on 13th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Here’s my one-paragraph contribution to your roundtable speculations about the view from 2050, as requested.

    “Because of the way U.S. forces pulled back in the Teens and wars ensued in the 20s and 30s, debates continue as to whether we won or lost over there. Yet, what matters more for this quadriform theory of social evolution is the following: The persistent grip of the tribal form of organization — and thus local resistance to allowing the institutional (statist) and market forms to take hold properly — explains what unfolded in the region and why so little could be changed. At least we finally stemmed the jihadis efforts to spread their monoform religious tribalism elsewhere. But we’ve done less well at our deeper challenge here at home and abroad: adapting to the wrenching rise of the newest of the four forms — the information-age network form. Though we are decades into it, our leaders are still so prone to emphasizing established state and market factors — a legacy of our society’s triformist phases — that they still haven’t allowed the new form to express its key strength: letting a commons-based “social sector” emerge, so that we develop a truly quadriform society. Yes, it’s happening in fits and starts, and we got past the debasing of our polity by revanchist retro-tribal movements on our Right and Left. Yet, it’s disheartening that America’s efforts to use the network form in combination with the other three forms has led not so much to a revitalization of our democratic and entrepreneurial potentials, as to the consolidation of a hyper-surveilling cybercratic security state. This has kept our homeland guardedly open and safe since our pull-backs decades ago — a valid strategic trade-off, since neither Mahdista Momentum nor Xyber-Op LiberTAZ infiltrated to damage more in the 30s and 40s than Al Qaeda used to. But this twist in America’s evolution has knotted-up our ability to compete and cooperate with partners near and far. Indeed, China’s hybrid triform system is now in a stronger strategic position than any of the world’s few national efforts to create quadriform systems that function powerfully. Even so, time is on evolution’s side; it’s normal for the rise of a major new form of organization to take several generations to mature.”

    [Purportedly based on “Tribes, Institutions, Markets, and Networks: A Theory of Social Evolution — Past, Present, and Future” (rev. ed., 2050).]

    Many thanks for including me. My paragraph is too long, congested, and tendentious, and reflects present fears more than future hopes. But it contains a singular theoretical thread that may prove to have high tensile strength over the long run.

    For clarification, visit Visions from Two Theories and see past posts about TIMN.


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    Liberals See Corporate Donors To Obama As Saintliness, Donations To Republicans As Evil

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 13th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Read all about it here.

    The US retail chain of Target made a donation to a business friendly group that endorses Tom Emmer, the Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota. This has gotten Liberal groups in a tizzy, particularly groups that supposedly support equal rights for people who lead alternative lifestyles.

    Why would LGBT advocates get upset about this? Mainly because they claim that Mr. Emmer has made some disparaging remarks about gays in the past. (Since I have not heard of Mr. Emmer before today, I cannot say if their claims are accurate or not.)

    So a group which supports pro-business candidates receives a donation from Target, and then Target is pilloried by the Left because one of the people endorsed by that group doesn’t support their agenda?
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Leftism | 3 Comments »