Applications to the military increase in a bad economy in a disturbingly similar way that applications to graduate school do. For the most part, both alternatives are bad. They limit your future in ways you can’t even imagine, and they are not likely to open the kind of doors you really want. Military is the terrible escape hatch for poor kids, and grad school is the terrible escape hatch for rich kids.Another gem in that piece: "PhD programs are pyramid schemes". Awesome :-)
Friday, February 20, 2009
I blogged about the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka, where neither side in the 26-year old civil war seemed to be concerned about civilians and, are instead, gladly bombing away. CNN reports that:
Both sides "appear to be engaged in a perverse competition to demonstrate the greatest disregard for the civilian population," according to the Human Rights Watch, in a 45-page report dated Thursday about warfare in the Vanni region of northern Sri Lanka.
"This 'war' against civilians must stop," said James Ross, legal and policy director at Human Rights Watch.
The group said that both sides are "responsible for the dramatic increase in civilian
casualties during the past month." Independent monitors say around 2,000 have been killed and another 5,000 have been wounded.
"In the last two months alone, both sides have committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law, the laws of war. While not all loss of civilian life is a
laws-of-war violation, the failure of the government forces and the LTTE to meet their international legal obligations has undoubtedly accounted for the high death tolls."
An investigation by The Times yesterday revealed that the CIA was secretly using Shamsi to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants around Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.
US special forces used the airbase during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, but the Pakistani Government said in 2006 that the Americans had left. Both sides have since denied repeatedly that Washington has used, or is using, Pakistani bases to launch drones. Pakistan has also demanded that the US cease drone attacks on its tribal area, which have increased over the last year, allegedly killing several “high-value” targets as well as many civilians.
The Google Earth image now suggests that the US began launching Predators from Shamsi — built by Arab sheiks for falconry trips — at least three years ago. The advantage of Shamsi is that it provides a discreet launchpad within minutes of Quetta — a known Taleban staging post — as well as Taleban infiltration routes into Afghanistan and potential militant targets farther afield.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Spiked has this comment before the link to a photo-essay:
Along with the double decker bus, Big Ben and red phone booths, London ‘Bobbies’ have long been a popular motif for tourist snaps in the British capital. But from this week, under Section 76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, photographing a cop can land you a fine or a 10-year prison sentence. spiked’s Nathalie Rothschild took to the streets in defiance of this latest assault on our liberties.
No, I am not talking about university professors; wait, am I? :-) I am not convinced about the wisdom of the crowds either.
David Rothkpof, take it away:
Watching the House interrogation of Wall Street leaders demonstrated conclusively to me that one of the greatest causes of the problems we face is that members of the House (and the Senate) simply do not have a clue about how finance works. Ask any group of 10 of these honorable yabos how a credit default swap works and one might know the answer, if that.
This is a broader problem. In a recent conversation with a retired Senator, a very prominent, respected former committee chair, he said that he guessed on a critical issue, like energy, there are only perhaps 3 or 4 legislators who actually understand our energy choice options well enough to write sensible legislation or understand what is said in a hearing. The problem is getting worse as technology, finance, even international affairs are getting more and more complicated, our legislators are falling farther and farther behind in their understanding of the fields for which they have oversight or other responsibilities.
This is not a snipe at Congress...okay, it is, but that almost seems too easy, like joking about Bush's intellect or Simon Cowell's man-boobs, but this is a serious problem, one of many with what is by far the most dysfunctional branch of the United States government.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Recently, the former prime minister of
It is an interesting irony that a Pakistani president highlighted the urgency of Israeli-Palestinian peace, given that
As World War II ended, it was clear that it was only a matter of time before the British Raj also came to an end. The British government, and the leaders in
While historians continue to debate on the true intentions of the various entities involved, the result was a two-state solution—
The creation of
And then, of course, the unresolved tensions over Kashmir, with both India and Pakistan claiming the territory as their own. This territorial turf war continues on to this day, which almost triggered a nuclear-war in 1998.
The parallels with the Israeli-Palestinian tensions are not that dissimilar. A two-state solution is being proposed, but even now the Palestinian territories are in two separate geographic areas that are not contiguous—West Bank and the Gaza Strip—with Israel’s political boundaries in between the two. And, there are serious differences of opinions regarding Jerusalem—very similar to the Kashmir question.
Tensions between East and West Pakistan escalated after the two-state solution was implemented. However, in the Palestinian case, over the last couple of years Gaza and West Bank have been operating pretty much independent of each other, controlled and administered by political rivals—Hamas and Fatah.
A two-state solution did work, for instance, when the two countries of Slovakia and the Czech Republic were created out of Czechoslovakia. But, the geopolitics there did not have the kinds of political and personal intensity that characterizes the Indo-Pak situation, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Similarly, the collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to the birthing of new countries, like Estonia, was to a large extent nothing but a reversal to roots—after all, Estonia was gobbled up by the Soviet Union that was intent on expanding its sphere of influence and, therefore, Estonia’s independence was not really a “two-state solution.”
A two-state solution has not delivered peace and prosperity for India and Pakistan, with disagreements and violence continuing on even after almost 62 years. I, therefore, worry that a two-state solution bringing about everlasting Israel-Palestinian peace might be wishful thinking. But, in the absence of any other option, here is to hoping that it will pave the path for stability and peace sooner than later.
The debate about the bank bailout, and the stimulus package, has all revolved around issues that are entirely at the level of Econ 1. What is the multiplier from government spending? Does government spending crowd out private spending? How quickly can you increase government spending? If you got a A in college in Econ 1 you are an expert in this debate: fully an equal of Summers and Geithner.
The bailout debate has also been conducted in terms that would be quite familiar to economists in the 1920s and 1930s. There has essentially been no advance in our knowledge in 80 years.
It has seen people like Brad De Long accuse distinguished macro-economists like Eugene Fama and John Cochrane of the University of Chicago of at least one "elementary, freshman mistake."
It has seen Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, guided by Larry Summers, one of the most respected economists of our time, produce a bailout plan for the US financial system stunning in its faltering vagueness.
Bizarrely, suddenly everyone is interested in economics, but most academic economists are ill-equipped to address these issues.
Recently a group of economists affiliated with the Cato Institute ran an ad in the New York Times opposing the Obama's stimulus plan. As chair of my department I tried to arrange a public debate between one of the signatories and a proponent of fiscal stimulus -- thinking that would be a timely and lively session. But the signatory, a fully accredited university macroeconomist, declined the opportunity for public defense of his position on the grounds that "all I know on this issue I got from Greg Mankiw's blog -- I really am not equipped to debate this with anyone."
By the 1960s they comprised just under a third of the world's population. Nowadays the chance that you are a memeber yourself is high—57% of the globe count as middle class, according to Surjit Bhalla, an Indian economist.