Notes From All Over (13/12/2010) and Assorted Miscellany

 I normally devote Notes From All Over posts to off-site material worth reading. This post shall be slightly different. As my computer access is is at the moment limited I shall use this post  to relate a few short thoughts on the issues of the day that would have otherwise have been published in separate posts, and shall place a few of the more notable ‘Notes’ at the end. 

1. Wikileaks is the flavor of the day; it seems that every expert and layman on the internet has proclaimed his or her view of the leak and its contents. The curious explosion of interest in Wikileaks and the documents it has released has been amusing to behold. Wikileaks is something of a Rorschach test for America’s punditry and IR literati. Examples are easy to spot.  When Glenn Greenwald declares that the media’s reaction to Wikileaks proves “there are few countries in the world with citizenries and especially media outlets more devoted to serving, protecting and venerating government authorities than the U.S.” you can be sure that this is not a new conclusion formed after a reasoned examination of evidence newly available because of the leak, but an affirmation of a long held and much cherished belief in the servility of the American media. Those who distrust Prime Minister Putin’s intentions thought the characterization of Mr. Putin as “Batman” to President Medvedev’s “Robin” as brilliant; on the other handthose who have long decried Western perceptions of Russia as ill-informed and biased  sniveled at thetiresome tropes and character assessments… lacking in sophistication “ found within the cables. Latin American hand Boz (of Blogging by Boz fame) provides one of the more telling examples of this sort: in a post published last week he looks at the principle cable dealing with the 2009 Honduran coup. He highlights four radically different interpretations of the cable’s meaning – interpretations which exactly match the view each analyst had before the cable was leaked!

 In the end this is what the brouhaha over Wikileaks amounts to. Precious little was revealed by the documents’ release; a sharp observer of international politics will tell you that all of the ‘revelations’ trumpeted by the newspapers had already been reported by these same newspapers months ago. Containing no new information, the leaks are (by and large) a way for talking heads to validate previous predictions and existing presuppositions. A Wikileaks dump teaches us little about the world but much about those who pontificate about it.


2. An interesting response to my post on the EU debt crises, “A Dark Cloud Over Europe was posted on facebook. A friend took issue with my claim that “if the Eurozone manages to survive then Europeans can look forward to nothing more but the loss of yet more freedoms to faceless EU bureaucrats and bankers“, asserting that the many benefits the EU brought much to the European community could not be so easily discounted. My reply is worth repeating here:

The Euro gives many things. It lets a whole bunch of small countries act as a unitary entity on the world stage, making Europe as a whole a major player on that stage. It provides a sense of stability. It gives politicians the tools to kick doomsday down the road a bit more.  

But doomsday still must come. 

International standing, influence, and power are over rated. I have come to the conclusion that America would be much better off if we had less of all three; while it is not mine to decide, I imagine the same holds true for most of Europe. There is no room in Rome for both a Caesar and a Cato.

Stability and integration serve the interests of the great at the expense of the small. Ireland is the great example here – had they more control over their own markets, had they been able to use a currency as they wished, then this particular crisis would not have happened (or at least, it would not have been half as bad).The EU sets its Euro policies to help Germany and France; smaller economies get dragged along beside them

Of course, Germany and France make amends by bailing out these small countries once they have been ground into the mud. But see how it is done! German taxpayers end up paying for the toxic investments made on the part of bankster and financiers across the continent, whilst the power Irishmen take the brunt of the cost, their entire safety net cut from under them. Germans pay, the Irish pray, and the bankers get to play.

That is the real problem with the EU. It doesn’t represent the interests of its member states, or the citizens thereof. Its officials consist of a globalized pan-European elite , richer than most and with a vital stake in Euro integration. No wonder the bankers like the EU so much – they *are* the EU! Not too different from America, actually. Conservatives like to talk about how bad it is if America were like Europe – they have it all wrong. The real problem is that Europe is becoming like America! A great plutocratic machine dominated by multinational monopolies and utterly unaccountable bureaucrats.

The difference between the two is that America’s plutarchy is much harder to get rid of. Texas cannot pull the plug on the entire Union. But in Europe – well, just how many more countries do you think the Germans are willing to bail out? The German people only need to say “no” once and the entire house of cards comes toppling down. Armageddon can only be put off for so long.

3. Sylvia Longmire, the security analyst and Mexico hand who writes Mexico’s Drug War: Border Violence Analysis, has published her first op-ed. As with most of her work, it is excellent and well worth reading. You can find it here:

Sylvia Longmire. CNN Online. 9 December 2010.

Ms. Longmire’s op-ed is similar in both form and content to a piece I wrote earlier this summer. Given the current state of affairs in Northern Mexico it may be worth reading a second time.

T. Greer. The Scholar’s Stage. 24 June 2010.

 4. Two of my favorite bloggers, Razib Khan of Gene Expression and Nick Nielson of Grand Strategy: The View From Oregon, have been producing solid content since my last Notes From All Over. The two bloggers share many similarities: both have rather eccentric tastes, sometimes blogging about economics and history, sometimes philosophy and epistemology, and other times genetics or geometry. They both also manage to write at least one new post a day – a great achievement in my eyes, given the quality of what they produce. Here are some of the more interesting posts each has written over the last few weeks.

First Mr. Khan:

Taking the End of the Age Seriously
Razib Khan. Gene Expression. 27 November 2010.

Men at Work: Hoes, Ploughs, and Steel
Razib Khan. Gene Expression. 2 December 2010.

Was the Medieval European Peasant Wealthier Than an African?
Razib Khan. Gene Expression. 6 December 2010.

Admissions of Illiberalism
Razib Khan. Gene Expression. 8 December 2010.

The Unbearable “Whiteness” of Science
Razib Khan. Gene Expression. 9 December 2010.

Verbal vs. Mathematical Aptitude in Academics
Razib Khan. Gene Expression. 10 December 2010.

Now Mr. Nielson:

 Tit For Tat
Nick Nielson (“Geopoliticratus”). Grand Strategy: The View From Oregon. 6 November 2010

Cronyism With Chinese Characteristics
Nick Nielson (“Geopoliticratus”). Grand Strategy: The View From Oregon. 30 November 2010

The Aftermath of War
Nick Nielson (“Geopoliticratus”). Grand Strategy: The View From Oregon. 6 December 2010.

On a Definition of Grand Strategy
Nick Nielson (“Geopoliticratus”). Grand Strategy: The View From Oregon. 7 December 2010.

The Poverty Affect
Nick Nielson (“Geopoliticratus”). Grand Strategy: The View From Oregon. 10 December 2010.

5.  For singularity theorists:

The AI Box Experiment

That is all folks!

Leave a Comment


Coming from your recent comment at GNXP I thought at first glance that your postings might be worthwhile, alas your support of Sylvia Longmire and Eliezer Yudkowsky (delusional and/or manipulative people…) makes me seriously doubt my first impression.


Mate, if you've come here to criticize, use a real handle.

I I stand firm behind the endorsement of Ms. Longmire’s words – both the op ed here, and those written at Border Violence Analysis, which can be found on my blog roll. I will concede that confirmation bias may have clouded my judgment in this case, but as you have provided no substantive argument against her (or my own) material, I have little reason to reevaluate the endorsement.

I am unfamiliar with Mr. Yudkowsky's work and by no means lend 'support' to anything else he has written. I thought his AI box experiment was intriguing and worth further discussion. Have you anything to say about the substance of the experiment itself?