Thursday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Cancer of the industry’: Beirut’s blast proves lethal risk of abandoning ships

    The problems began the moment Captain Boris Prokoshev set sail aboard the MV Rhosus in 2013.

    He discovered that the ageing Russian-owned cargo ship, bound for Mozambique, was in “terrible” condition, including having a defunct generator. Then he learned that the previous crew had mutinied over unpaid wages. So it was no surprise when the owner told Prokoshev there was no money to pay for fees for the Suez canal, either.

    But all of this paled in comparison with what happened when Prokoshev, 70, agreed against his better judgment to make an unscheduled stop in Beirut, Lebanon. The plan was to pick up extra freight to help pay for the Suez canal fees. When they got there, however, the Lebanese authorities arrested the ship for non-payment of port dues.

    Prokoshev turned to the owner for help – and according to Prokoshev, owner Igor Grechushkin simply stopped communicating. Prokoshev, his two engineers and a bosun were trapped on the ship. They stayed there, unpaid, for almost a year: caught between the Lebanese authorities and an owner who had seemingly abandoned them.

    Supplies dwindled. They had to rely on the port agent to bring food and water. “If he hadn’t brought us water, then we would have died there,” says Prokoshev. Grechushkin did not respond to requests for comment.

    The abandonment of Prokoshev and his crew in 2013 would have even worse consequences, of course, after its unclaimed cargo – 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, eventually unloaded by Lebanese authorities and stored as collateral in place of their port dues – exploded two weeks ago, killing almost 180 people, injuring thousands and ruining a vast swathe of the city.

    The tragedy exposed the dark underbelly of the shipping industry. Every year, hundreds of seafarers are abandoned by their ship owners, left unpaid and stranded at sea. Unscrupulous owners, keen to cut their losses when debts mount, can easily walk away, leaving their crew as hostages, sometimes with dangerous freight aboard.

    4
  2. Bill says:
  3. Bill says:
  4. sam says:

    Hunter Thompson where are you now that we really, really need you?

    1
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    An interesting read: The origin of mud

    Or not.

    1
  6. Jen says:

    Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny is in the hospital on a ventilator in serious condition due to a suspected poisoning. Putin strikes again.

    Sure would be nice to have leadership that wasn’t indebted to a murderous thug.

    9
  7. CSK says:

    I’ll repeat something I mentioned late yesterday: At his new conference, Trump lauded QAnon as made up of “people who love our country.” He claims to know little about them, but is aware that they love him, which he claims to appreciate very much.

    The FBI has designated QAnon as a domestic terrorism threat.

    QAnon is thrilled by this presidential praise, which stops just short of an official endorsement.

    12
  8. Joe says:

    @CSK:
    Good people on both sides [of Qanon]. It never stops with this guy.

    1
  9. csk says:

    @Joe:
    As someone pointed out, Trump is incapable of disavowing anyone who claims to like or love him, or who compliments him, no matter how dreadful that group or individual is.

    Putin had his number early on. Knowing how desperately insecure Trump is about his intelligence, Putin described him as “smart.” Boom. Putin, in Trump’s eyes, could do no wrong.

    7
  10. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    I assume Trump will say that Putin assured him “very strongly” that he had nothing to do with whatever befell Navalny, and Trump will proclaim Putin’s innocence to the skies.

    5
  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    Surfing around Reason yesterday, I saw this picture of Laura Loomer, darn if it doesn’t make her appear to be a badly made up, amateur talent show cross-dresser.

    But the Former Reality Show Host loves her.

  12. DrDaveT says:

    @sam:

    Hunter Thompson where are you now that we really, really need you?

    “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

    2
  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: She looks more like a mannequin than a human.

    1
  14. Bill says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Surfing around Reason yesterday, I saw this picture of Laura Loomer, darn if it doesn’t make her appear to be a badly made up, amateur talent show cross-dresser.

    But the Former Reality Show Host loves her.

    Loomer is the GOP nominee for the US House of Representatives seat that I reside in. Lois Frankel is the incumbent democrat.

    Even though I met Frankel and spent approximately five hours in close proximity to her at a sports event 15 years ago, I’m not a big fan of hers. I know nothing about Loomer. My mind isn’t made up on who I will vote for yet. Prediction- Frankel wins.

  15. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I assume it’s some unfortunate trick of the lighting, but her face is pink and her neck is green.

    1
  16. Mu Yixiao says:

    Al Jazeera says this is the end of American dominance.

    America as an experiment is failing. Perhaps it was destined to fail from its very beginning. An idea that began with the genocide of Native Americans, thrived on the sustained course of African slavery, extended its genocidal and racist foregrounding to generations of immigrants who came to its shores to toil and suffer so that the white supremacist settler colonists prosper and enrich generations after generations, had to pay for its continued sins at some point.

    6
  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Bill:

    Bill, Loomer is a crack pot, Islamaphobe, Q-Anon supporter and an Info Wars insider. The pic was found on a Reason opinion piece editorializing against R support for her.

    From Reason:

    This is embarrassing because Loomer is a lunatic. She previously said that someone should create a “non Islamic” version of Uber so that she could avoid giving money to immigrant drivers. She celebrated the deaths of 2,000 migrants and expressed hope that more would die. She went to Parkland, Florida, on behalf of InfoWars to spread misinformation about the 2018 mass shooting, and also teamed up with far-right grifter Jacob Wohl.

    Whole article.
    https://reason.com/2020/08/19/laura-loomer-gop-shun-conspiracy-racism-house/

    4
  18. Jen says:

    @Bill: Loomer is absolutely nuts. She’s CRAZY. In a just world, she wouldn’t get a single vote other than her own.

    1
  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: @Jen: I always say they misspelled her name, it should be Laura Looney.

    3
  20. CSK says:

    Steve Bannon, along with three others, was arrested in New York today on fraud charges. He’s accused of using the “We Build the Wall” campaign to enrich himself.

    8
  21. Scott says:

    Front page, above the fold.

    Postal worker: San Antonio post office hid backlogged mail from congressman

    The postmaster general ordered the removal of six mail sorting machines in San Antonio, two more than previously known to postal union leaders, who say cuts to the U.S. Postal Service are causing long delays in mail delivery.

    U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, confirmed the removal of the machines Wednesday after touring the main San Antonio post office

    When asked whether the processing hub showed signs of disarray, such as backed-up mail, Castro said it was not a busy time of day and the operation “looked orderly.” But Carlos Barrios, clerk craft director at the plant, later said mail handlers were directed to remove large piles of mail before Castro’s visit in an effort to deceive the congressman.

    Barrios added, “They played (Castro) for a fool.”

    That will not go over well. Think this story may have legs.

    6
  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: trump hires only the best people.

    1
  23. ptfe says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: But what does this mean for his monastery?

    1
  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @CSK:

    Steve Bannon, along with three others, was arrested in New York today on fraud charges.

    My Freude is over-Shadened.

    12
  25. Kathy says:

    I’m just about done with Malcolm Gladwell.

    On the latest season of his podcast, Revisionist History, he has an episode on hiring. Aside the fact he goes on and on on stories about himself hiring an assistant and an accountant (not that interesting), and about his father (interesting, or at least entertaining), he goes on to his Big Idea du jour about types of people who hire.

    He calls himself a nihilist in this respect, meaning he believes there’s no way to tell whether a candidate will do a good job or not, so he hires people he likes. And then he runs an ad for a job candidate search firm called ZipRecruiter.

    He has advertised ZipRecruiter numerous times before, along with other ads. But given the topic here, has he been advertising them ironically?

    I’m also a Big Idea type of person, perhaps due to my early interest in science, which is a succession of Big Ideas in a way (it doesn’t get much bigger than universal laws of nature, does it?). That’s what attracted me to Gladwell to begin with. But he seems to jump from one Idea to the next, rarely integrating them together.

    He also like to pigeonhole people into neat categories. He had a four-episode about Curtis LeMay, quite interesting, but he must have called LeMay a “problem-solver” like dozens of times.

    Me, I find it more interesting that LeMay proved himself wrong again and again over the course of WWII, and never really admitted it. Strategic bombing played a real part in the war, but one cannot win a war entirely by bombing.

    3
  26. Kingdaddy says:

    @Sleeping Dog: My god, the comments section in that Reason article…

    4
  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Al Jazeera leans rather too heavily on riots in the nation’s 26th largest city. The 26th largest city in China is Shijiazhuang. Ever heard of it? We had riots in the 60’s that were supposed to be the death knell of US dominance. 50 years later we’re hearing the same predictions, despite much smaller riots.

    Our global position is relative, as all things are. We’ve long since lost our post-WW2 economic dominance. But we remain the world’s largest economy and whatever our economic problems are going forward I’d rather have our hand of cards than China’s. Is China the dominant power? No. Even with a quarter of the world’s population, even with the US at this humiliating low point. China can’t make a deal in its own currency. China can’t sail a ship into the Pacific without tacit US permission. China’s soft power is non-existent, Japan is more culturally potent. In fact it’s likely that China has passed its own peak, leaving who, exactly, to claim pre-eminence in the world? A squalid, corrupt, paranoid Russia with its catatonic economy and falling population? Germany? France? India? Is it time for another round of Brazil is on its way to superpower status?

    We have advantages that have nothing to do with government. We are the only two-ocean nation of consequence, and we are endowed with a multitude of excellent ports, many fed by large, navigable rivers. We have fantastically productive agriculture. We have the world’s greatest tech companies, bolstered by a disproportionate share of the world’s greatest universities. We have the English language, an international lingua franca that has no competitors. We have Hollywood.

    So, yes, Trump has brought us low. But we are still the only global military superpower, the only cultural superpower, the breadbasket of humanity, the most creative and productive nation on earth. Our problem is not that we are no longer #1, it’s that we remain #1 against such weak opposition that even with a baboon in the White House we can remain #1 while doing very little to improve the lives of American citizens. We are holding on to an easy #1.

    9
  28. An Interested Party says:

    My mind isn’t made up on who I will vote for yet.

    With all due respect, this is a prime example of why this country is so screwed up…that any reasonable person would even think about voting for a loon like Loomer illustrates how Trump came to power in the first place…there are certain people who should never, ever gain political power, and when we see indifference like this, we see why our country is in such trouble…at the same time, things probably aren’t as dire as they seem, as Michael notes…

    @Michael Reynolds: These articles about America’s decline and fall do seem a tad premature…

    5
  29. dmichael says:

    Paul Waldman agrees with my statement that if Biden wins, he needs to have in place a team that will document the Trump damage and begin to repair things: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/17/trumps-appointees-are-working-hard-maximize-damage-time-they-have-left/#click=https://t.co/WWls6ro99p

    2
  30. Bill says:

    @An Interested Party:

    With all due respect, this is a prime example of why this country is so screwed up…that any reasonable person would even think about voting for a loon like Loomer illustrates how Trump came to power in the first place…there are certain people who should never, ever gain political power, and when we see indifference like this, we see why our country is in such decline…

    Fuck mouth bozo douche bag can’t do some other moronic shit but take aim at me again.

    I’ll say it again- What a useless piece of moronic crap and scum bag you are. Where is your apology, Shithead? Your use of sweetie towards me shows you to be nothing but a worthless low life with less brain matter than my cat. Any opinions coming out of your mouth should be weighed against your behavior. Your behavior is inexcusable, scumbag.

    1
  31. An Interested Party says:

    @Bill: Bless your heart…

    6
  32. Sleeping Dog says:

    Even though I don’t have school age kids, I’m glad I’m living where the school district is smallish and every kid in a geographic area goes to the same school. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/08/meta-arguments-about-anti-racism/615424/

    Broshi stated, “Proximity to color does not mean you’re not racist,” adding, “Did you read Ibram Kendi? Did you read How to Be an Antiracist? All people are capable of racist behavior. We apologize when we offend people of color and they get upset and log out of a meeting immediately because they see white people exhibiting their power over people of color. How can I convince you if you won’t even read a book about white fragility or Ibram Kendi?” Shortly after, Broshi delivered her soon-to-be-viral monologue:

    It hurts people when they see a white man bouncing a brown baby on their lap and they don’t know the context! That is harmful! That makes people cry. It makes people log out of our meetings. They don’t come here. They don’t come to our meetings. And they give me a hard time. Because I’m not vocal enough. And I’m not trying to be a martyr. I am trying to illustrate to you that you think I’m a social-justice warrior. And you think I’m being patronizing. And I’m getting pressure for not being enough of an advocate. I take that to heart. That hurts me. And I have to learn how to be a better white person. Read a book. Read Ibram Kendi. Read How to Talk to White People. It is not my job to educate you. You’re an educated white male. You can read a book. And you can learn about yourself.

    If a member of a civic body expressed frustration that a colleague refused to read the Bible, the Quran, The Wealth of Nations, The Communist Manifesto, Atlas Shrugged, or Dianetics, and couldn’t understand an accusation until they did, most observers would see the problem. Drawing on outside concepts is fine. But if you can’t explain your position unless everyone reads your source material, then the fault lies with you. No one in a public meeting should have to read the books you consider important, much less accept that the ideas in those books are sacrosanct.

    4
  33. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    We have advantages that have nothing to do with government.

    One might have said something similar about the Roman Empire right before it entered the Crisis of the Third Century, and once the Western part of it was well into decline.

    There’s inertia to political systems as there is to moving objects. If a plane loses all its engines in flight, it doesn’t fall out of the sky. It can glide for a rather long distance. A passenger on such a plane wouldn’t even feel they are falling. And if they ignored the view out the window, they wouldn’t think anything was amiss right to the split second before the plane hits the ground.

    Take the Roman Empire again. It didn’t fall in 475 CE, only the Western part of it did. The Eastern half kept on going, even expanding on a couple of occasions, for centuries of long, sustained decay, until it was reduced to a few square kilometers around Constantinople, which then fell to Mehmed the Conqueror in 1453.

    America is in decline, internally and externally. Internally social mobility has become more difficult and inequality has grown more extreme and widespread. Externally it has overreached and enmeshed itself into poorly planned wars that go on and on and on with no end in sight, plus all the diplomatic idiocies and misfires undertaken so successfully by Trump.

    And that was before the pandemic, also successfully managed to the greatest benefit of the COVID-19 virus by Trump.

    To quote Andy in The Shawshank Redemption: get busy living, or get busy dying.

    5
  34. EddieInCA says:

    @Bill:

    My mind isn’t made up on who I will vote for yet. Prediction- Frankel wins.

    Bill. Bill. Bill. No. No. No.

    What the hell? Laura Loomer is insane. You’re too smart to write a sentence like that. C’mon, man. I say again, what the hell???

    2
  35. EddieInCA says:

    Crap. Should have read to the end before posting.

    1
  36. Sleeping Dog says:

    Charley Sykes this morning on Loomer and sundry.

    https://thebulwark.com/newsletter-issue/our-qanon-president/

  37. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    In fact it’s likely that China has passed its own peak, leaving who, exactly, to claim pre-eminence in the world?

    Who could be the preeminent empire in the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and central Asia if Alexander’s Macedonian empire broke up? No one, but that didn’t keep his generals from breaking up the empire and setting up smaller ones with less power and less ability to project force.

    So far America’s not breaking up, but it’s headed in that direction. In any case, the lack of replacement doesn’t mean it won’t fall or retire from global affairs. The US did just that after WWI.

    4
  38. Gustopher says:

    @Bill:

    Interim Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake says three officers were decommissioned after police raided the wrong Edgehill apartment.

    Jeff Brown, Harrison Dooley and Michael Richardson were decommissioned while the officer of professional accountability conducts an investigation to find out why the officers used force considering the warrant did not involve a violent criminal.

    I suspect the interim police chief is not making friends in the department, but he’s absolutely in the right.

    7
  39. Gustopher says:

    @Bill:

    I know nothing about Loomer. My mind isn’t made up on who I will vote for yet. Prediction- Frankel wins.

    Prediction- as you learn more about Loomer, you will get a little sad and vote for Franken, despite really not liking her.

    I miss the wrong-but-not-certifiably-insane Republican Party. I miss Bob Dole and Jack Kemp and people like that.

    5
  40. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    All true. But people were predicting Rome’s destruction for centuries before it could be said to have fallen, even the western empire.

    A lot of our ’empire’ cannot be abandoned unless someone else takes up the job. We manage air travel and navigation, for example. Will we fall eventually? Sure, everything dies in the end. We are on the glide path but we aren’t there just yet.

    2
  41. Joe says:

    Michael Reynolds‘ keynote address at tonight’s DNC!

    1
  42. Bill says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Crap. Should have read to the end before posting.

    No you missed the beginning.

    I’m not a big fan of hers. I know nothing about Loomer.

    That was true till this morning. I hadn’t been following the Republican candidates at all.

    I know Frankel and very well. 10-15 years ago there was a major political scandal in Palm Beach County that brought down two West Palm Beach City Commissioners and two County Commissioners. It was known around here as ‘Pay to Play’. Frankel was Mayor of West Palm Beach at the time. WPB has the strong mayor form of government. A Grand Jury investigated but was unable to find sufficient evidence to implicate Frankel but their report ‘found an appearance of “pay-to-play” governance in the city‘. Here’s some more reading on Frankel and PTP.

    If you believe Strong Mayor Frankel wasn’t involved in these shenanigans, then I got a bridge to sell you. You’ll say- Nothing was proved. Senator and Former Governor Rick Scott has had nothing proved in court against him either, but at these forums nobody has publicly said they think he is innocent. How many up votes have I gotten for my joke- “Florida- Steal $100 from 7 11 and you get 10 years in jail. Steal a billion dollars from the federal government, get elected Governor.”? OJ Simpson was found not guilty of murder but what’s the opinion of his innocence?

    I dislike corrupt politicians, whomever the party, and I won’t ever vote for him or her.

  43. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    If a plane loses all its engines in flight, it doesn’t fall out of the sky. It can glide for a rather long distance.

    All the way to Gimli.

    2
  44. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think it’s likely you’ve read Asimov’s Foundation saga, or part of it. If so, you know decline is neither linear nor prompt. It may take decades or even the better part of this century, but in the current trajectory, that’s where it’s headed.

    We manage air travel and navigation, for example.

    Oh, no. Not even close. air travel and navigation is managed regionally and nationally by just about every state in the world. The US manages it’s portion, and is overflown by various flights from the Americas to Europe. But both Canada and Mexico manage their own airspace, a European agency manages most of Europe, and so on.

    Rules for air travel are part of the International Air transport Association, IATA, and are based on several international treaties, to which the US is a signatory. In particular the Chicago Convention. So , yes, America had a great dela to do to set up the current system. But just as Canada, Japan, and various other countries managed to put together the TPP, not to mention Europe set up the EU, America’s participation may be desirable and very useful, but it’s not essential.

    4
  45. ImProPer says:

    @Bill:

    “To keep a similar incident from happening again, Drake said the department is implementing the following changes:

    Immediate suspension of all search warrants unless they’re approved by a deputy chief – a move that’s never been done before.
    Training for all crime suppression units to review the issuing of search warrants, surveillance tactics, etc.”

    A shining example of the problem of the police policing the police. No knock warrants are a powerful tool in the projecting of, and maintaining of police power. Personally I have never heard of, or witnessed power leading to sound judgment, and would like to see this addressed by the courts, rather than higher ranking, apologetic police officials.
    In light of our refreshing pursuit of social justice, I would be curious as to how they are found to be reasonable in responding to nonviolent and victimless crime.

  46. Teve says:

    He also like to pigeonhole people into neat categories. He had a four-episode about Curtis LeMay, quite interesting, but he must have called LeMay a “problem-solver” like dozens of times.

    Me, I find it more interesting that LeMay proved himself wrong again and again over the course of WWII, and never really admitted it. Strategic bombing played a real part in the war, but one cannot win a war entirely by bombing.

    I never found out if this was true, but a friend of a friend 20 years ago told me that LeMay was smoking a cigar while a bomber was refueling, and some low rank soldier said “General LeMay don’t smoke here the plane will blow up!” And LeMay looked at the kid and said “it better not.”

    3
  47. Teve says:

    For several weeks now I’ve been trying to figure out why I can attach some names to personalities here, like Michael Reynolds, or Kathy, or Gustopher, but when an interested party and Bill get into a fight I can’t tell one from the other. Finally it dawned on me. If you have an avatar I can register you as a unique personality, but if you don’t, I can’t.

    3
  48. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I didn’t post the link because I think it’s accurate. I posted it as an example of how the US is viewed from outside (and not the typical UK/EU viewpoints). Al Jazeera is rather editorially-neutral when it comes to the US. That they’re publishing op-eds like this one is quite interesting.

    That aside, a substantial bit of your assertions about China are incorrect. You might do well to get up-to-date on China’s relations with Asia, Africa, and South America.

    Is China the dominant power? No. Even with a quarter of the world’s population, even with the US at this humiliating low point. China can’t make a deal in its own currency.

    The RMB is an international reserve currency which has taken over from the Dollar in areas of both South America and Africa.

    The “Belt & Road” initiative is where China’s soft power comes in. They’re giving money and support to poor nations–with no strings attached*. Whereas the US ties their foreign aid to strict–usually puritanical–conditions. China is building ports, roads, and airports in Africa and making multi-billion dollar trade deals with South America. That infrastructure and those deals mean that China will have first access to both the resources they need, and the markets in which to sell their products.

    They won’t dominate in Europe, but they’re slowly building their power in the rest of the world. They are definitely a power to watch–and that’s something we should be afraid of.

    * They’ll use it to gain favors later on.

    7
  49. Monala says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I’m curious about the asterisk – what footnote were you going to write about China and no strings attached?

  50. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Monala:

    I added the footnote. I forgot it the first time around.

    2
  51. Teve says:

    Of course Steve Bannon was scamming gullible Trumpites and not even hiding it. The entire right wing movement is basically a scam to separate marks from their cash.

    -charles johnson (the LGF one)

    I started out a conservative, but then when I questioned trickle down economics and a relative told me that “rich people have to have more money to make more jobs because when’s the last time a poor person gave you a job?” I realized oh this is a scam on idiots by rich people.

    7
  52. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: The writer has a point. On the other hand, the story of America’s growth as a nation is not all that unique. I expect that one could make the same case for virtually any “great” nation/people/dynasty in history.

    1
  53. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    The GDP of the entire continent of Africa is roughly equal to the GDP of California. The GDP of all of South America equals that of Japan. These are good places to expand into – California and Japan are very significant – and the Chinese are definitely making inroads, but they remain economic sideshows. The extent to which the Chinese succeed is very much in question because no one trusts them. Hong Kong sent a message. And lets face it, I’m not sure what our outpourings of non-military aid have accomplished for us in practical terms.

    China has fundamental problems that we don’t have. Outside of the big coastal cities China is still a donkey cart nation with hundreds of millions of poor, uneducated people. They have advanced by leaps and bounds, but lately the leaps and bounds are shorter than they were. Then there’s the geography – borders with the ‘Stans, India(ish) and Russia. And as a sea power China is in a box. It’s trying to worm its way out of that box, but it’s a loooong way from being capable of facing the US Navy.

    Not to say that China is not a major economic power, obviously it is, but it’s not a military, diplomatic or cultural superpower. And I’m old enough to have lived through half a dozen rounds of ‘America falling.’ If we get rid of Trump we have a decent if not probable chance of recovering our national poise.

    3
  54. inhumans99 says:

    It would be nice if Bill and An Interested Party were to Hug It Out but that is all I have to say on that. I do not have a dog in that fight nor do I want to insert one at this late a date.

    One last thing, I apologized to Bill that time when I basically accused him of being a troll and it did not make me feel like any less of a man, just saying.

    And with that I am done with trying to mediate a dispute between two regulars on this site.
    Once again, this site provided something interesting to read up on as I hit the article to read up on the plight of ships abandoned by their owners and how that led to the blast in Lebanon (also sad but nice to get an update on the true number of dead…nearly double from when the estimate was first set at around 100 deceased).

    Of course, the question remains to this day as to why such potentially explosive materials are often not stored properly…something that is not just a problem in countries like China and Lebanon but the good ole U.S. of A. After all, TX has had a fertilizer plant blast or two happen in my lifetime from plants near populated areas.

    4
  55. DeD says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    My god, the comments section in that Reason article…

    It’s like slowing down traffic just to see the terrible accident on the opposite lanes. You know it’s wrong, but you just can’t help looking.

    And, of course, I went RIGHT over there to see just what you were talking about. Mm . . .

    4
  56. wr says:

    @Bill: “I dislike corrupt politicians, whomever the party, and I won’t ever vote for him or her.”

    As the most famous bumper sticker in Louisiana read: Vote for the crook. It’s important.

    5
  57. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    A lot of our ’empire’ cannot be abandoned unless someone else takes up the job. We manage air travel and navigation, for example.

    We are rotting from within (this could stop, if we wanted it to, but we don’t seem to). Just because there is no one to replace us doesn’t mean we won’t collapse, or stop taking care of things that we were taking care of.

    The US Navy pretty much enforces right of navigation for everyone. I can see us pulling back from that role and no one stepping up to fill in, and global trade being affected. Trump has been weakening out commitments to NATO, so why not here too?

    We control GPS. I can see us deciding that GPS should be privatized, and everything going wrong there.

    Due to our size, we would remain #1 for quite some time, well into a leaderless world, but would #1 mean anything then?

    —-

    ETA: “Too big to fail” just means the failures are bigger and more exciting to watch.

    5
  58. DeD says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Our problem is not that we are no longer #1, it’s that we remain #1 against such weak opposition that even with a baboon in the White House we can remain #1 while doing very little to improve the lives of American citizens.

    Sorry, MR; I outed you on Twitter. That little ditty was BEGGING to be shared.

    1
  59. Mu Yixiao says:

    @DeD:

    Oh… don’t read the comments. That’s a dog pit.

    Read the articles, then use that perspective to look at other sources; build a more complete context for the story.

    1
  60. Teve says:

    @IChotiner

    This can only end with Trump supporters cheering on a pardon for the guy who took their money and thinks they are complete idiots

    1
  61. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: GLONASS has been global for 9 years.

  62. KM says:

    @Bill:
    I know you don’t know much about Loomer and don’t like corrupt politicians, of whom you’ve identified Frankel as one. That’s fine.

    However, Loomer is the nut who handcuffed herself to the wrong door in protest and whined when people just walked in the other side, then decided to hang out with Jacob Wohl trolling people about their “Ashkenazi IQ”. She runs scams NOW – what makes you think she won’t be corrupt AF when given access to public money and power? She’s greedy and crazy and definitely in it for the grift without anybody caring who knows so at this point you’re choice is Corrupt but Competent or Just Here to Steal As Much As Possible Before the Nuthouse Nabs Me.

    It’s up to you but if corruption’s your concern, stick with Frankel. Loomer’s aspiring to Trump levels of blatant theft of public money.

    7
  63. Teve says:

    Dr. Taylor will yell at me that many of them are just habitual partisans, but goddamn so many of them are complete fools.

    4
  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @ImProPer: If you knock, won’t the thieves be able to flush the stolen auto parts in the house down the toilet?

    No, you’re right; that doesn’t make any sense.

    1
  65. Gustopher says:

    @Teve:

    If you have an avatar I can register you as a unique personality, but if you don’t, I can’t.

    A few of the Avatarless make an impression on me — Bill and EddieInCA, definitely, probably others that I’m not thinking of at the moment — but a lot of them are kind of a blur.

    And now I kind of wish that novels had little avatars for the characters when they speak. It would help my poor reading comprehension.

    Possibly related: when reading foreign works with foreign names that sound foreign to me, I mentally swap out their names with something American that starts with the same letter. It just helps me, because I am a little dumb. If two characters have names that start with the same letter… that gets bad.

    I’m also a little face blind. Particularly for the distinctions between Hollywood-chosen faces where the “ugly” one looks almost identical to the “pretty one” etc and there are maybe four distinct faces per gender that ever get cast. I end up depending on hair color and style, and far too often I discover that one character was actually several characters. I support diverse casting because “the black guy” is a lot easier to recognize than “the white guy with brown hair and blue eyes and broad shoulders… no the other white guy with brown hair and blue eyes and broad shoulders… no not that one either, the slighly lighter brown hair?”

    3
  66. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: That’s what happens when you get all your news from comment sections… you miss things like GLONASS existing.

    I’m well on my way to being the crazy man at the end of the bar ranting about things that are 30 years out of date. Except the bars are covid-parties and I won’t go near them.

    2
  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I’m inclined to think that it’s important to read the comment thread because it give a reasonable insight into the readership that, intentionally or not, shapes at least some of the content of the site.

    You’re right about the dog pit, though. And, again my take, that’s probably important to know.

    2
  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Sorry, I confused auto theft with vehicle burglaries earlier. Still doesn’t make sense, though.

    1
  69. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    A few of the Avatarless make an impression on me — Bill and EddieInCA, definitely, probably others that I’m not thinking of at the moment — but a lot of them are kind of a blur.

    Wow. I’ve been avoiding the gravatar thing out of a forlorn desire to keep this persona distinct from my other online presences. I had no idea I was fading into the background noise as a result…

  70. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I feel your pain on the foreign names. It must be especially difficult reading Russian authors like Dostoevsky and such with characters going by different names with different people.

    I’m finding that as I get older it’s becoming harder for me to keep track of which character is which in most reading I do because I read so slowly. I suspect that’s why book series are so long these days. Easier to keep track of half a dozen characters over 20 books than 60 characters over half a dozen books.

    1
  71. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: I avoid the avatar/gravatar thing out of a pronounced lack of the skill set necessary to set one up. The anonymity/fading into the background noise is simply a lucky happenstance.

    1
  72. @Teve:

    Dr. Taylor will yell at me that many of them are just habitual partisans, but goddamn so many of them are complete fools.

    No one ever said those categories are mutually exclusive.

    9
  73. @Bill: I acknowledge that you are still angry at An Interested Party fpr the “sweetie” comment some weeks ago. But good grief, you had already paid him back a dozen-fold and with far greater intensity already and now have done so again.

    Could you please refrain?

    I am not going to ask you to explain why this has you so upset, but to an outward audience it comes acorss as unnecessarily dsiproportionate.

    Thanks.

    13
  74. Scott says:

    @Scott: Another Postal story.

    I get my eggs from a co-worker who lives on acreage out of town. Has about 50 chickens. Knew that chicks come through the mail.

    Thousands of chicks arrive dead to farmers amid USPS turmoil

    Pauline Henderson, who owns Pine Tree Poultry in New Sharon, Maine, told the newspaper she was shocked last week when all of the 800 chicks sent to her from a hatchery in Pennsylvania were dead.

    “Usually they arrive every three weeks like clockwork,” she said. “And out of 100 birds you may have one or two that die in shipping.”

    Thousands of birds that moved through the Postal Service’s processing center in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, were also dead, impacting several farms in Maine and New Hampshire, Henderson said.

    I wonder if this will influence the affection rural America has for the current President.

    3
  75. sam says:
  76. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    You’re stuck in a WWII mindset. China doesn’t care about navy fleets. They aren’t looking to be the “world’s policeman”–they’re working on becoming the “worlds kingpin”.

    40 years ago, China was “donkey carts” and starvation. I had students who remember it. In that 40 years they went from nothing to the 2nd largest economy in the world, and the fastest growing. And they’re doing that *despite* the fact that half the country is still in poverty. Imagine what they’ll be like when that industrial base reaches further into the west of the country.

    It’s already moving. The east coast is now finance and high-tech, with the industrial base moving continually to the west. Shanghai, Shenzhen, Suzhou, and Guangzhou are pricing themselves out of factory work, but Shaanxi, Hunan, and Sichuan are picking up the slack. They have 32,000 km of coastline and several major rivers to take goods further inland via a massive fleet of barges. The shipyards in Qingdao rival those of Norfolk and Sturgeon Bay (but they’re building for commerce, not war).

    Africa and S. America have small economies NOW–but China looks at those markets and sees themself just a couple decades ago. With China’s help, those regions will see prosperity by becoming what China is: Mine and factory to the world. America is handing out little bits of money (and often expecting it to be repaid). China is investing. You claim that China has no soft power. You’re wrong. They’re 95% soft power. And they know how to use it.

    They’re taking on Boeing and Airbus with the Comac C919. They’re at-pace with the west in AI. They’re selling HST technology to Europe (and offered it to the US, but we don’t use trains). They’re arguably in the lead on 5G technology. They have a GPS system that competes with the US (and is ahead of the EU). And they’re building their own space station.

    They have all of that to offer to countries that are growing tired of the US. And they’re selling it at low prices–with the understanding of “further and greater economic partnerships”.

    The other thing you don’t understand is Xi. Xi Jinping is smart. He’s crafty. He came to power on a platform of “eliminating corruption”. That’s something that plays well to the people, but has always been a “wink & nod” from the Party.

    He didn’t “wink & nod”. He started pointing fingers–starting at the top.* Those he pointed at were put on trial–and not sham trials, real ones. Because every politician in China is corrupt. It’s built into the system. Bribes are handed out in pretty red envelopes put in boxes of fancy moon cakes every autumn. Every opponent that he pointed at was found guilty (because they were!). Very quickly, the lower downs started pointing fingers at anyone that wasn’t fully in line with Xi. And those officials were found guilty.

    The last time I saw a count (about 5 years ago), over one million officials had been removed from power due to “corruption”. A bloodless purge of all his enemies (real or potential), done by the book and to the cheers of the people.

    Chairman Xi has the mind of Moriarty, the charisma of Kennedy, and the Morals of Hitler.

    Don’t underestimate China.

    * I’ve never seen any evidence of it, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that he was behind the “leak” that got Bo Xilai put on trial and sentenced to life.

    6
  77. Bill says:

    @Gustopher:

    And now I kind of wish that novels had little avatars for the characters when they speak. It would help my poor reading comprehension.

    When writing my ebooks, I put faces to characters.

    Take for instance my soon to be published Yakuza story

    The main female character- The Japanese model Yuka but without the super large breasts
    The Female FBI agent- Kristi Yamaguchi. The FBI agent and Kristi are related
    The main female character’s Grandfather- Teru Shimada
    The Yakuza’s enforcer- Harold Sakata
    A cousin of the main character- Seth Sakai (But when he still had hair)
    An FBI Deputy Director- Lester Holt
    FBI Director Robert Mueller- Of course Robert Mueller

    For other characters- Sean Bean, Jon Cypher, and a whole assortment of people you wouldn’t know.

    1
  78. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Gustopher:

    There’s also Galileo (EU) and BeiDuo (CN). Galileo isn’t fully operational (last I saw they had 8 more satellites to launch), but BeiDuo has full coverage.

    1
  79. inhumans99 says:

    Kind-of curious how people are able to add an Avatar. I might be too lazy to follow through but now that it has been brought up it is funny how noticeable some of the regular commentators Avatars on OTB are.

  80. Kurtz says:

    @Kathy:

    Me, I find it more interesting that LeMay proved himself wrong again and again over the course of WWII, and never really admitted it. Strategic bombing played a real part in the war, but one cannot win a war entirely by bombing.

    <a href=" “>LeMay’s solution to a dog.

    @Teve:

    I read that somewhere.

  81. Mu Yixiao says:

    @inhumans99:

    Go to Gravatar.com and sign up with your e-mail address (you can add others later if you want).

    Upload a photo/image and associate it with that e-mail.

    After that, on any site that uses Gravatar, the associated avatar will appear.

  82. Teve says:

    Africa and S. America have small economies NOW–but China looks at those markets and sees themself just a couple decades ago. With China’s help, those regions will see prosperity by becoming what China is: Mine and factory to the world. America is handing out little bits of money (and often expecting it to be repaid). China is investing. You claim that China has no soft power. You’re wrong. They’re 95% soft power. And they know how to use it.

    This is what makes me especially angry about nihilists like Mitch McConnell. They’re sabotaging this country for profit when making the right moves would be easy.

    4
  83. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I just started the new Jack Reacher book. I’m 100 pages in and I have no idea which ones are the Ukrainians and which ones are the Albanians.

  84. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Teve:

    This is what makes me especially angry about nihilists like Mitch McConnell. They’re sabotaging this country for profit when making the right moves would be easy.

    Even worse–we could be making the right moves AND make a profit.

    3
  85. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Teve:

    I’m 100 pages in and I have no idea which ones are the Ukrainians and which ones are the Albanians.

    The Albanians are the ones running the family restaurants.

    …. Or is that only in Wisconsin?

  86. sam says:
  87. Teve says:

    @brianbeutler

    This almost certainly ends with some dumbfuck (or group of dumbfucks) going to jail.
    (We the people will fund the wall link)

    12/20/18

    Also, Brian Beutler would you mind changing your last name to something that my mouth doesn’t go weird pronouncing.

  88. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Oh… and while the US may have more naval vessels, China has and army of state-sponsored hackers going up against an old and vulnerable American infrastructure.

    1
  89. Kathy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    FWIW, I just filled in my email address, and the blog software grabbed the picture out of my Google account, I assume.

  90. sam says:

    I once sat on a grand jury. Once a week for three months, the DAs would come in and present their evidence. Only once in that whole time did we fail to true bill an alleged perp. I came away from that experience convinced that whatever jail time they got should really be understood as a form of protective custody. These were some seriously stupid people. People like these three.

  91. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I don’t think I’m underestimating China, but neither do I think Xi is a genius. Hong Kong was a stupid move. In one fell swoop he reminded the world that China’s promises mean nothing, and he drove Taiwan closer to the US.

    You should not underestimate the problem of naval power and geography more generally. We have the power to keep oil tankers moving, China does not, and this fact is a major motivator for their belt and road. Every ship out of every Chinese port reaches its destination courtesy of the US Navy. Xi obviously doesn’t underestimate the problem, that’s why he’s building phony islands and buying aircraft carriers. He understands that the US can shut down all of China’s exports tomorrow, just as we can stop the flow of oil. And Xi’s military ambitions will continue to be hampered by lack of access to the Pacific and a 22,000 KM border with a bunch of potential problems. We don’t have a North Korea or a Vietnam or a Kazakhstan next door.

    They may do very well in Africa and South America, but frankly I doubt it will be much of an advantage. China has no cross-cultural experience and a language and system of writing that do not travel well. So, sure, they may do well, but it’s a long way from being a lock.

    2
  92. Scott says:

    @Teve: Speaking of Mitch McConnell:

    US Senate report says Russian investor in Braidy Industries’ mill is a proxy for the Kremlin

    A Russian company that has invested in Braidy Industries’ planned aluminum rolling mill in Eastern Kentucky was identified as a proxy of the Kremlin in a new report the Senate Intelligence Committee released this week.

    The Russian firm, United Co. Rusal, agreed last year to invest $200 million in the mill

    The U.S. government previously imposed sanctions on Rusal and its parent company, EN+ Group.

    Rusal’s decision to invest in Braidy’s mill was announced in April 2019, a few months after the federal government lifted the sanctions against the Russian firm. Several Democrats in Congress quickly expressed concern about the planned investment.

    The U.S. Senate voted down a measure opposing the plan to end the sanctions against Rusal and EN+ Group in January 2019. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Sen. Rand Paul, both Kentucky Republicans, voted against that attempt to keep the sanctions in place.

  93. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    If China hacked a US power company, for example, we could close down the Pacific and stop the flow of oil to them. That’s not a fight they’ll want to pick.

  94. Gustopher says:

    @Scott:

    Thousands of birds that moved through the Postal Service’s processing center in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, were also dead, impacting several farms in Maine and New Hampshire, Henderson said.

    I wonder if this will influence the affection rural America has for the current President

    I expect receiving a box of rotting dead baby chicks is something that sticks with you for a while.

    I am just bad enough of a person that I immediately start thinking of people who I would like to receive a box of horror in the mail.

    I am a good enough person that I don’t want baby chicks to suffer that way, and that I don’t want to send boxes of horror. But oh lord am I tempted. Don’t you think Louie Gohmert (to pick a random example) would enjoy some baby chicks? Or a box of horror that turns up instead.

    3
  95. Jen says:

    Senator Bill Cassidy has tested positive for Covid-19.

  96. Teve says:

    A couple of years ago I graphed the percent of the vote Republican presidential nominees got-Reagan got less than Nixon, Bush got fewer than Reagan, Trump got fewer than Bush. It’s a hopeful trend.

    1
  97. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    He’s self-quarantining for 14 days and notifying everyone with whom he’s been in contact, which I can’t imagine Trump doing.

  98. Monala says:

    Saw a great Tweet yesterday that said something like, “Trump’s all-caps Tweets become much more fun to read if you mentally insert, ‘MOMMY!’ at the beginning.”

    Like this one: @realDonaldTrump
    MOMMY! HE SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN, AND GOT CAUGHT!

    4
  99. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    They’re taking on Boeing and Airbus with the Comac C919.

    And you can even say they are smart for starting with narrow bodies, rather as airbus did with wide bodies.

    But all I’ve read about it indicate it won’t be very successful, possibly sold only to Chinese airlines and any foreign airlines they can pressure to order it. It seems to be structurally overweight, thus having a higher rate of fuel burn per passenger mile. That’s usually deadly.

    For that matter, Russia is also developing a narrow body passenger aircraft, the MC-21, which has flown test flights with imported engines, and is expected to try out Russian-made ones soon.

    This is not to write them off. They will get better in time. But it’s too early to think of them as a threat.

    1
  100. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Trump the Dotard would hold a rally to show everyone he’s fine!

  101. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Local school district reopening plan (or lack thereof) document

    Q: with stricter cleaning, masks, and social distancing, I would send my kids to school in the fall
    No–17% (fair enough)

    Q: If no, why not?
    Required masks–38%

    FWK!

    ETA: I’ve been wondering why I hadn’t heard from my other school district regarding reopening. Turns out they decided not to for the time being. Good news, good choice!

    1
  102. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    For all the things that went wrong on that flight, the one that stands out to me is that fuel gauges weren’t part of the minimal equipment list.

    If they’d had working ones, odds are they’d have noticed they were running through their fuel faster than expected. even if they didn’t diagnose the problem correctly, they’d have had ample time to find a working airport where to land.

  103. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: My sons were, they had Willie Maybe, the Say Hey dog.

    2
  104. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    I wonder if he remembers that he told us all he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative, a claim to which Barbara Res, his head of construction during the 1980s, replied, “Bullshit.”

  105. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Jack Reacher books are too complicated for me. (Don’t care for thrillers to begin with.) And now there’s the whole “don’t know Jack” series from another author looking for Reacher.

    Too much confusion. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHGGGHHHHHHH!

  106. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: But it’s not just the profit.
    Who makes the profit
    is also important.

  107. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    But all I’ve read about it indicate it won’t be very successful, possibly sold only to Chinese airlines and any foreign airlines they can pressure to order it. It seems to be structurally overweight, thus having a higher rate of fuel burn per passenger mile. That’s usually deadly.

    The maiden flight happened while I was still in China (our company provided some support for the event). It’s my understanding that, even at that point, the C919 was/is intended for short-haul domestic flights. It’s part of a longer plan. The first step is to get away from reliance on Boeing and Airbus, while testing the planes and looking at how to improve. I don’t think the c919 itself will every have many (if any) foreign sales. The next step would be to take what they learn and build the next generation for international flights–and international sales. That’s where the direct competition comes in. China flies *a lot*–most of it short jumps domestically or to nearby areas of SE Asia, so using home-grown planes for that is both a cost savings and a point of pride.

    This is just guessing, but I wouldn’t be surprised one or more of the Chinese airlines started flying intra-African flights based out of airports that the Chinese are building. These would mostly be cargo–getting products from the ports inland. But with a slow build-up of passenger flights, it could help build up business travel–which would build up the economy. When the economy gets a little stronger, tourist flights start to become a thing. And by the time the big airlines see Africa as being profitable, China’s got it all tied up.

    1
  108. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott:

    US Senate report says Russian investor in Braidy Industries’ mill is a proxy for the Kremlin

    That may be the least surprising headline I’ve seen this year.

    2
  109. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I really don’t get the stubborn refusal to wear masks.

    In Mexico they haven’t been politicized, but still lots of people won’t wear them. The places where I move around, all close to home, I’d say about 10-15% wear no mask at all (this includes people with masks around their neck, as though they breathe osmotically through their trachea). Another 10-20% wear them wrong, mostly not covering their nose (some don’t cover their chin). I hear elsewhere it’s much worse.

    For all that, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker, it seems we’v finally passed the peak and are headed down.

    Here, let me move this ton of salt out of the way.

    But consider the paucity of testing. it’s possible cases are still building up past the peak, but are not classified as COVID-19.

    1
  110. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    If they’d had working ones, odds are they’d have noticed they were running through their fuel faster than expected. even if they didn’t diagnose the problem correctly, they’d have had ample time to find a working airport where to land.

    But then we wouldn’t have the “Amazing True Life Story of the Gimli Glider” (this Sunday at 7 on CBS feel good Movies)

  111. JohnSF says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Thanks for this.
    I’ve just finished reading Richard Fortey’s The Earth: An Intimate History and this makes an interesting footnote.
    One of those “so obvious you miss it” concepts; just how difficult it is to grasp all the ramifications of the change from barren to vegetated land.

  112. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Well, yes. I expect them to improve in time. The Soviets never really did, partly for lack of incentives and partly for being cut off from the rest of the world’s developments. Neither condition holds now.

    It’s my understanding that, even at that point, the C919 was/is intended for short-haul domestic flights.

    No offense, but that’s what twin engine narrow bodies are mainly for, regardless of manufacturer. Lately the newer variants have been increasing in range. I find it easier to think in terms of hours than kilometers, so a modern 737 Next Generation or a MAX, as well as the A321, neo and the A321LR/XLR, are capable of what until recently was considered the short end of long-haul travel, say around 7-8 hours.

    Even the A220 (formerly the Bombardier C-Series), which has a lower passenger capacity, could conceivably do those kind of flights. But that’s a new plane using the most efficient engines available when it was developed.

    Still, that’s new, and not many airlines are interested in small jet long haul. We might get there with thin routes (routes with little demand), if and when the next generation of narrow bodies move on to composite structures (they are lighter) and still more efficient engines.

    1
  113. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    I find it easier to think in terms of hours than kilometers, so a modern 737 Next Generation or a MAX, as well as the A321, neo and the A321LR/XLR, are capable of what until recently was considered the short end of long-haul travel, say around 7-8 hours.

    Sorry. When talking about Chinese domestic flights, “short haul” is really “short”. Here’s the domestic flights for China Southern. Very few flights get out of the eastern half of the country.

    Most of those flights are around 3 hours. PVG to HKG is under 3 hours.

    ETA: Let me put it this way… the *subway* ride from PVG to my city was longer than my flight to Inchon. 😀

    1
  114. inhumans99 says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Thanks Mu…gave it a try.
    ETA: It seems to have worked. For the curious, that is Lockjaw, the pet teleporting dog for the team of Marvel Superheroes called Inhumans.

    2
  115. Michael Cain says:

    @Gustopher:
    I’ve been the discrete transistor with parts of a few carbon resistors on a green circuit board — from an old home-improvement project — for most of a decade. I am occasionally tempted to change it, but then think, “There are some people out there that recognize it’s me on the basis of that transistor.”

    Back in Usenet days, I was “mcain6925” in most places just so people would know it was me.

  116. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    I’d argue strongly against any comparisons with Rome.
    Rome was remarkably static in culture, economy and technology.
    Apart from the shift from oligarchic “Republic” to sole-ruler Empire, a citizen who went to sleep in 300 BC and woke in 300 AD would have found most things pretty familiar.

    In addition Rome was crippled by it’s problems of power transition and military insubordination, and resulting civil war. That, perhaps even more than growing external attacks, led to a military-financial burden a basically bronze age slave economy could not bear.

    By contrast the US, and for that matter the EU and Japan, are in relative decline simply because trees don’t grow to the sky, and because other regions have plenty of room to play catch-up.

    Arguably a key part of the relative lack of dynamism in the “west” of late are the problem of reaching a new balance between welfare, environmental sustainability, free markets, innovation, preventing the engrossing of wealth by an emergent semi-hereditary managerial/ownership, and the problems of monopolies, regulatory capture, and corporate/state corruption. Plus the related entrenchment of “warring camp” politics.

    I suspect a measure of wealth redistribution and addressing the problems of the “precariat” could generate a marked resurgence in economic vitality.
    But even so, it will be different; there are limits to how many cars/TVs’/phones/washing machines/fridges etc any economic system will demand.

  117. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    40 years ago, China was “donkey carts” and starvation. I had students who remember it. In that 40 years they went from nothing to the 2nd largest economy in the world, and the fastest growing. And they’re doing that *despite* the fact that half the country is still in poverty.

    Despite their human rights abuses, I am incredibly impressed with China. Most people in China are dramatically better off than people there were two generations ago.

    And when they get that other half of the country out of poverty, they are going to be having problems controlling them — once their basic necessities are met, people start worrying about things like freedom.

  118. Mister Bluster says:

    My last 50 or so 33 1/3 LP record albums have been sitting on the floor in the extra room for many years. I haven’t had a turntable since CD’s came out.
    My hair trimmer, Whitney Beaver, has relocated from her Salon downtown to a stall inside the used record store and today was my first cut at her new digs. On the way out I asked the guys if they were buying old albums. They said they would look at them.
    Went home and gathered them up thinking that if I sold them all and got 50cents each and I might get 1/2 a tank of gas out of the deal. Gas just went up 10cents/gal overnight here.
    The store took all of them and paid me $100!
    Cheap Thrills!

    1
  119. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    I’d argue strongly against any comparisons with Rome.

    The comparison was that a strong superpower might be on the brink of collapse and still look strong.

    Rome was remarkably static in culture, economy and technology.
    Apart from the shift from oligarchic “Republic” to sole-ruler Empire, a citizen who went to sleep in 300 BC and woke in 300 AD would have found most things pretty familiar.

    Au contraire. Our hypothetical Lucius would have gone to sleep in a world of citizen farmers of moderate wealth who owned their land, and who served in the legions, using weapons they also owned, from time to time and usually only part of a year at most.

    He’d have awakened to a world of rich land owners with very large extensions of land, a few tenant farmers, city poor who owed their allegiance to a patron, permanent legions, equipped by the state, which made a standing army. Not to mention the little things like the grain dole, or non-Romans, non-Italians enjoying Roman citizenship and even positions in the Senate. Or the abundance of exotic goods like African pottery, oriental silks, etc. Or the large numbers of Germanic tribesmen in the Legions.

    The technology wouldn’t have changed much, but our Lucius would be amazed at the scale of monumental works like aqueducts, the extension of paved roads*, architectural wonders like the Pantheon, or the sheer amount of marble making up Rome.

    * Paved with cobblestones, not asphalt. But the design of Roman roads, and for that matter of roads in other contemporary cultures, is remarkably similar to today’s roads.

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  120. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    When talking about Chinese domestic flights, “short haul” is really “short”.

    I know short 🙂

    The longest domestic flights with any appreciable demand are from Mex City to Tijuana, and clock around 3.5 hours. The most common flights, to Guadalajara and Monterrey, come in at 40-50 minutes and 60-70 minutes respectively.

    The flight from Mexico City to El Bajio airport (halfway between Guanajuato and Leon), takes under 30 minutes. But when you add the time to drive to and from the airports, time to pass security, a safety margin in case of traffic, it takes about as long to drive there (around 3.5-4 hours), as it takes to fly.

    BTW, shortest flight I ever took was Tampa to Orlando, I think with Pan Am, and I think we departed from Houston, I forget the exact circumstances. But I recall we took off, climbed, leveled off for a second or two, and started to descend.

  121. JohnSF says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    To put it mildly, I am not impressed by the coherence of Hasan Dabashi’s arguments.

    I would summaries it as tendentious, and substituting emotive phraseology for analysis and evidence.
    “Woe, woe, unto the mighty and wicked!” is an old tune, calculated to produce a sage nodding of heads, and murmurs of agreement. But motes and beams spring to mind.

    America as an experiment is failing.”
    That an assertion; others may assert otherwise.
    The US has problems.
    What society does not?
    It is relatively less dominant than in the 1950’s (or 1990’s for that matter).
    Short of repeated world wars that was inevitable.
    Imperialistic? Certainly expansionist from the Colonial period to the settlement frontier of the late 19th century.

    But then, most expanding states/cultures have been bad neighbours.
    See e.g. Roman Empire, expansion of Han China, the Germanic and Slavic migrations, etc etc etc.

    Pehaps given that Mr Dabashi is writing for al Jazeera, we might have a special section on the problematic aspects of Islamic and “Arab” expansion and its impact on the Hellenistic, Coptic, Aramaic, Latin and Visgothic Christian cultures of the Classical Middle East, North Africa, and Spain. (Basically: lethal).

    As for slavery, while acknowledging the horrible nature of American racist slavery and its legacies, we might also mention the less than spotless records of other societies.
    For instance, again, the Arabic/Islamic “slaver states”: at various times in the Sahel, Sudan, Zanzibar etc. Or the predations of slavers of the Barbary states etc in the Med from c.1000 to c.1800.

    As for the “generations of immigrants” they were mostly as “white” as the “settlers”, most of whom themselves “toiled and suffered”, and who came because they would “toil and suffer” as much, if not more. as peasants or industrial workers in Europe.

    Regarding the record of America as a superpower, it certainly has its blemishes.
    But also has considerable beneficial influences to its credit.

    As for it being “imperialist” post-1945, I would paraphrase that genuine imperialist Warren Hastings:
    ” By God, sir, at this moment I stand astonished at their moderation.”

    There are plenty of bases for criticism in American history, society and polity.
    But to decry it as uniquely iniquitous is as silly as as the American nationalists hailing it as uniquely virtuous.

    Reading this article, I can’t help but think that what stands behind Hasan Dadashi’s animus and argument is grounded in his response to the “pathological colonial interests of Israel”,
    That he views America is the enabler of Israeli ascendancy in the Middle East.
    While this has some reality to it, taken to an extreme it avoids the consideration of more basic factors: the politics and policies of Israel, interacting with the repeated failures of Arab polities internal coherence and external strategies.

  122. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    Good point, the social changes were massive.
    But I was thinking more about the techno-economy.
    Roman agriculture was essentially not far on from Bronze/Iron Age throughout it’s history.
    The only major change was, as you point out, the move in Italy from small landowners to commercial specialist slave estates serving the markets of Rome and the other cities.
    But the basic techniques were the same.
    More extensive rather than more intensive.

    And away from central Italy a lot of areas remained largely independent peasants (and barely Romanised/Hellenised ones at that).

    My argument would probably work better if I’d picked say 100 BC as the dozing-off date. Or even just the Imperial period from Caesar to Constantine.
    There were changes, yes.
    “Oriental” religions and the rise of Christianity; the ceremonialisation of the Imperium; universal citizenship, as you say.

    But continuity is remarkable compared to the “west” post, say 1000 AD?

    Atop a fairly static techno-economic basis, the empire generated town and cities based on flourishing regional and empire-wide trade networks.
    But without an increase in basic underlying productivity.

    So when the financial demands of the military rose, it was initially better able to tap resources, due to concentrations of urban monetary centres, but at the long term expense of those tax bases being ground down, slowly at first, then declining faster and faster. Unlike the rising tax base of western states from c. 1400 onward.

    More specialist social roles left it with a less broad military base than the barabarians, so their groups were disproportionately powerful relative to population numbers vs “Romans”

    OTOH even the later semi-barbarized Roman armies, had advantages in training, discipline and logistics.
    And were generally able to kick barbarian ass when they were able to concentrate their forces and stop fighting each other.

    There is an argument that one of the crucial factors in the final eclipse of the East Roman Empire, and it’s revived position in the West Med. was not barbarians, despite the problems they caused, but the regular, recurring wars with it’s one “Great Power” peer, the Sassanian Empire.

    And plagues.

  123. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Gustopher:

    Despite their human rights abuses, I am incredibly impressed with China. Most people in China are dramatically better off than people there were two generations ago.

    Yeah. On the one hand, they’ve raised up so many of their people in so short a time (two generations). On the other hand, there is no question that they’re a totalitarian regime doing terrible things to other parts of their population. On the gripping hand, in my last year there (part of the reason I left), I saw so much of the vibrant merchant culture (food cart mega-courts, pop-up restaurants, expansive flea markets) being wiped out in the name of “being more modern”.

    And when they get that other half of the country out of poverty, they are going to be having problems controlling them — once their basic necessities are met, people start worrying about things like freedom.

    Nope.

    You can’t judge Chinese based on western expectations. It’s not uncommon to see a Mercedes with a picture of Chairman Mao hanging from the mirror. The “rich” (at all levels) see their wealth as a result of the strong leadership of the government and their tight control of the economy.

    My first day in China, the man from the agency who hired me (a Canadian) said “I know you won’t believe me, but on a day-to-day basis, the Chinese are more free than Americans.”

    I scoffed exactly the way that you just did. But he was right–if you look at it from the right perspective.

    In China, if you want to open a restaurant, you just do it. You don’t need a license (other than a general business license), you don’t need to have “a three-basin stainless steel sink of N-gallon capacity” or use “Acme-certified disinfectant”, or any of the bazillion other nit-picky requirements we have in the US.

    You’ll get inspected by the government on a semi-regular basis and given a rank (red sad face, yellow neutral face, green happy face). Customers decide if they want to eat at your restaurant or not. They’re free to make that choice. If they get sick, it’s their own fault for not paying attention to the sign.

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  124. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    I know short

    Sorry. I’m used to people who think a “short flight” is 5 or 6 hours.

    And… yeah… I’ve had a few flights where they didn’t bother with the safety lecture because we’d be landing before they finished. 🙂

  125. Mu Yixiao says:

    @JohnSF:

    To put it mildly, I am not impressed by the coherence of Hasan Dabashi’s arguments.

    Neither am I–though I think the heart of what he’s saying holds merit.

    As I said earlier, my point of posting the link was to show how the US is seen by outsiders–especially non-European outsiders.

    I read Al Jazeera every day (they’re on my RSS feed) because I feel that it’s important to see things from every perspective I can. I have “Campus Reform” on my RSS list. It’s childish Trump sycophants happily toeing the party line. I don’t agree with most of it (there are a few nuggets) but it helps me to understand what “the other side” is saying and why they’re saying it.

    I’m even more interested in what (arguably) neutral outsiders are saying about the US.

    Al Jazeera is a respected news outlet (except when it comes to stories about Israel). If they felt that Dabashi’s op-ed was worth printing, it means it’s probably not an extreme view.

    1
  126. Mu Yixiao says:

    @JohnSF:

    In arguing your point, you’re essentially promoting Kathy’s.

    Progress and change in Rome was slow–so the fall was slow. Progress and change in America is way faster–which suggests that the fall could be equally as quick. What took them months takes us milliseconds.

    3
  127. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    There are no longer–as far as I know–flights from Edinburgh to Glasgow, but when there were, they took ten minutes. Funny to cross an entire country in that amount of time.

  128. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: I once rode a 727 from Champaign IL to O’Hare. Don’t recall how long it took, but it felt like riding an elevator.

  129. Mikey says:

    OK, Biden’s speech is…really good. Wow.

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  130. Gustopher says:

    Mitch McConnell just said that Trump inherited the first generation where the children will not be as well off as the parents, and that he’s been working tirelessly to fix that (paraphrase).

    It might be nice if Trump had approached this problem by attempting to lift the fortunes of the young, rather than let a disease spread that disproportionately affects the elderly, but if you are using a relative metric, that’s what you get.

    People always try to game the metrics.