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28 February 2009

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Babak Makkinejad

curious:

Thank you for your response.

I will attempt to reply to some of your points.

I had not considered the effect of monetary policy and dollar as world currency. It is, as you say, was an enabler for the vision to become the world’s banker. But, by extension, as the world’s banker you could make more money by lending money that by investing in dirty, real manufacturing. It was in the 1960 that US began de-industrialization – Studebaker board decided to leave automobile manufacturing, John Deere, which never fired workers, started firing them, etc.

I agree that the immediate cause of UK’s financial collapse was WWII and later the decolonization. However, this does not detract from my thesis that they started deindustrialization 60 years earlier. As an example, consider chemical dies – first invented in England in late 19-th century but due to lack of interest by the ruling circles in England in anything industrial (capitalization) their further wealth-creating development took place in Germany – a hungry country.

Again, there are reasons that people cannot make money in manufacturing – one of them is lack of cheap capital. Free market does not entirely decide the price of capital – states have a lot of influence on it. And you would have cared about manufacturing if your livelihood were dependent on it.

But since you do not care about agriculture or manufacturing, pray tell me, how are you going to make money? What service are you going to provide, what goods are you going to supply, to a market that could sustain your standard of living? For all the gadgets that you have enumerated – smart-phones, Plasma TVs, computers are produced outside of the United States.

You stated “You were very annoyed…”. Not at all. I just thought you live in a fantasy world. I suggest you walk into a manufacturing plant and see for yourself how things are built.

American agriculture, with 2% of labor force, is feeding the United States and consistently produces extra food. It does so by being the highest consumer of high-technology in the world [yes, even more that DoD boys and their toys] This is what manufacturing has to be to survive in the United States. However, in order for that to occur capital must be directed to it at reasonable rates – rates that were not available until the implosion of US financial sector.

You wrote: “National resource should be focused on maintaining high quality education, research centers, sensible policy, and well being of citizen”. This statement is so pregnant with utopianism that I do not know where to start to rebut it. But, for the start, Americans are not poorly educated. There are more highly educated people that there is commensurate work for them. And not everyone can do research – they lack aptitude, interest, patience, and disposition. And what is sensible policy? A policy that condemns manufacturing and industrial activity to death will need to be able to create the sort of employment for people of average cognitive skills.

Yes, I do believe that the hydrocarbon culture is sustainable for foreseeable future. I would like to point out that there is a lot of natural gas in the world that has not been tapped. In fact, there are multiple gas fields in the Mobile Bay each of which could power the United States for 300 years.

And please spare me your hybrid car tripe – all people are doing with hybrids is to push the energy consumption to the more inefficient upstream systems that use mostly coal.

Eric Dönges

Babak,

In 2006, 40% of US corporate profits came from the financial sector.

Which is completely insane. After all, the financial sector does not produce any wealth itself; it is an enabler for others that produce things of real value.

Alternatively, US can declare a default and let the rest of the world go screw itself.

Actually, if what you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt it), the U.S. would screw itself if it decided to default. After all, most of the real stuff is created overseas.

There are more highly educated people that there is commensurate work for them.

This is wrong, at least in engineering. There are simply not enough good engineers to go around. The growing problem we are facing is that the cognitive skills of the average human is not keeping pace with the demands of technology. Since I don't see us slowing down technological advancement for a number of reasons, this leaves us with an increasing number of superfluous people. What do we do with them ? Put them on welfare, give them make-work jobs, or kill them off ? Attempt to breed more intelligence into ourselves ? Human nature being what it is, I'm afraid this is going to end very badly.

And please spare me your hybrid car tripe – all people are doing with hybrids is to push the energy consumption to the more inefficient upstream systems that use mostly coal.

Actually, large-scale power plants are a lot more efficient than internal combustion engines, even when you factor in transmission losses incurred when transporting the generated electricity, so I don't think this is a valid argument against hybrids or fully electric vehicles. Where they currently fail is in battery technology, which is still far behind what it would need to be to be able to compete with hydrocarbons in energy density. Unlike curious, I'm skeptical we'll be able to develop and widely deploy an alternative to the combustion engine in the next decade, so I hope you're right that the hydrocarbon society is sustainable into the medium-term future.

Babak Makkinejad

Eric Dönges:

This study purports to show that US colleges are producing more graduates in sciences and mathematics than there are jobs for them.

http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/411562_Salzman_Science.pdf

In regards to large power plants - how are you going to power them except by burning fossil fuel?

William R. Cumming

I would argue that Iraq ending has yet to be written. Oddly enough I would say the same for Viet Nam. Let's see how both look another 100 years down the road. Sometimes enemies of the US are changed depending on the performance of our soldiers, sailors and airmen/women and their basic integrity as armed forces and as human beings. Just finished two histories of the Korean War an certainly China and S. Korea were changed forever by US participation and force of arms. Perhaps even N.Korea eventually. Of course the real problem with the organized violence that is warfare is that those fighting and others (collateral damage) get killed very dead and injured in the short run. I think East Asia is not likely to see war this century. The same cannot be said for S.Asia and Southwest Asia or Sub-Saharan Africa. In those areans the seers that suggest resource wars will govern the future may be right. My guess is that the class of civilizations is even now evolving towards an unknown less violent future, but could be wrong. Personally, I believe the critical countries of Iran and China are the least likely to take on the Western Powers this century. Only smart and determined people in those countries survive to the top in essentially court politics, designed centuries ago.

Eric Dönges

Babak,

This study purports to show that US colleges are producing more graduates in sciences and mathematics than there are jobs for them.

My point was that we don't have enough good engineers, not that we don't have enough people calling themselves engineers. Just because somebody graduated does not mean that they are any good. My current job was open for over a year because the company couldn't find anyone qualified to do it (granted, this was at the end of 2007, when times where good). Note that I'm merely competent, not exceptional, so it's not like there are only 10 people on earth who would have fit the bill.

In regards to large power plants - how are you going to power them except by burning fossil fuel?

In the medium term, I think nuclear fission is the way to go, augmented with wind, water, tidal and solar power (where applicable). Long term, I think we should be able to get nuclear fusion working. The point here is that just because there is no short-term replacement for fossil fuels does not mean we shouldn't be developing alternatives now.

Babak Makkinejad

Eric Dönges:

Now your are qualifying your claim by the adjective "good". That your company has not find any one "qualified" means only that your company is looking for someone with a very narrow set of skills and an acceptable (to the management) salary requirements. And then there is the general unwillingness - specially in the IT-realted fields - to train people.

There is no shortage in my opinion - if there were salaries for engineers would have surpassed those of MBAs long time ago.

In regards to Wind enegry - evey turbine creates 3 jobs abroad and 1 in US. And then the energy cost is just not there compared to coal. But if you want to subsidize job creation outside of US - be my guest.

Nuclear fusion is another white elephant of physics - just like the Unified Field Theory. There is a powerful fusion lobby and they get funded playing with their toys.

Even if these (mostly ) Plasma physicist can create a sustaible fusion reaction - say hours - a nuclear fusion plant can never ever be built. The reason is that the radiation damage from fast particles will damage the containment vessel so rapdily that evey few months you have to shutdown the power plant to replace the walls of the containment vessel. No utility can operate on that type of maintenance schedule.

Warp drive is more probable than Fusion power stations.

Eric Dönges

Babak,

Now your are qualifying your claim by the adjective "good".

Actually, that was my initial claim.

That your company has not find any one "qualified" means only that your company is looking for someone with a very narrow set of skills and an acceptable (to the management) salary requirements.

You may consider programming embedded computer systems a "very narrow set of skills", but it's a very important set of skills for a growing number of industries, and there are not enough people who are good at it.

In regards to Wind enegry - evey turbine creates 3 jobs abroad and 1 in US. And then the energy cost is just not there compared to coal.

Why would a turbine erected in the U.S. create three jobs abroad ? Are Americans too stupid to build their own wind turbines ? And why should I care, not being an American ? And why do you assume that just because wind energy is not really competitive right now, this will always be the case in the future ?

Even if these (mostly ) Plasma physicist can create a sustaible fusion reaction - say hours - a nuclear fusion plant can never ever be built.

How would you know what will be technically possible in 50 or 100 years ?

So, what is your suggestion ? Go on our merry way and hope that some deus ex machina will save us once fossil fuels run out ?

Babak Makkinejad

Eric Dönges:

I stand by what I said in regards to engineering - who makes more money in a technical company, the embedded programmer who knows several assembly languages, knows how to do FPGA programming, is proficient with Simulink or the MBA type who only knows how to use MS Excel in the most primitive way?

In US, at any rate, it is the marketing guys who set the agenda and make the most money.

In regards to the wind turbines creating more jobs outside of US, I do not know the specific mechanism in this case.

Since you are not living in US, it would not make any difference to you if jobs are created in US. But for many people in US that does matter. If you live in EU and the jobs are created in India perhaps you would find my observations more sympathetic.

Turbines are not cost competitive right now. Nor are solar cells. Solar cells, for example, will become competitive once they become as cheap as concrete.

I do not have a religious faith in the creative powers of humankind like you and many others. I know the physical characteristics of a durable containment vessel and it requires materials with several orders of magnitude better than we currently can even dream of making.

For 50 years the fusion racket has been telling gullible politicians and the public that a sustainable fusion reaction is only a matter of another decade of work. It is always 10 years out. At some point you have to evaluate the evidence dispassionately and conclude that you have been lied to.

I think the most promising approach to indefinite energy production on this planet is the breeder reactor technology since it can consume U238 (easily available for millions of years from the oceans) and create nuclear fuel.

Eric Dönges

Babak,

In US, at any rate, it is the marketing guys who set the agenda and make the most money.

I agree, and it's not only in the U.S. However, this has nothing to do with wether there is a shortage of engineers or not - despite what free market true believers would have us believe, the labor market (like most other markets) is not solely based on supply and demand.

If you live in EU and the jobs are created in India perhaps you would find my observations more sympathetic.

Well, in my view one job created in the EU and three in India is preferable to no jobs created anywhere, or even just one job created in the EU.


Turbines are not cost competitive right now. Nor are solar cells. Solar cells, for example, will become competitive once they become as cheap as concrete.

Again, my point is that they will be competitive in the not-so far future, if for no other reason than that burning fossil fuels will be to expensive (either because of supply issues or environmental concerns). As an example, just a decade or so ago solar cells required more energy to produce than they generated in their entire lifetime. This is no longer the case.

I do not have a religious faith in the creative powers of humankind like you and many others. I know the physical characteristics of a durable containment vessel and it requires materials with several orders of magnitude better than we currently can even dream of making.

Fair enough. It's an occupational hazard - you can't be an engineer if you don't believe in technological progress. When you consider that many of the technologies we take for granted today where not dreamed of 100 years ago, I think my faith is not entirely misplaced.

I think the most promising approach to indefinite energy production on this planet is the breeder reactor technology since it can consume U238 (easily available for millions of years from the oceans) and create nuclear fuel.

I agree (at least for the short and medium term future). However, I think there will have to be serious world-wide power shortages before this is possible politically.

DE Teodoru

Barisj, Nixon seized victory from the jaws of defeat. He had to both prove to China that we were not interested in a permanent base under China's soft underbelly (you will recall that Khrushchev desperately wanted US draw into SE Asia to frighten Chinese into removing Mao, replacing him with Liu Shaochi, and run back to USSR for protection against Americans. In the meantime he gave a green light to Ho to move South then West right up to border of ally India for full encirclement of China. Soviets had asked pres-elect Nixon if they could do a "tonsillectomy" on China's nuclear sites and he declared any attack on China as an attack on US. Then as Pres, he went to China and offered US protection of its North against Soviet attack in return for China stopping DRV march west. To prove he didn't want permanent bases, Kissinger carried the message that Cambodia is for you to handle and pulled out of SVN. He thus got Chinese boys to do what Congress would no longer allow American boys to do. Considering that in 1958 NSA meetings Ike said that protecting Thailand is ONLY reason for our presence in Indochina, one might say that Nixon did just that: saved Thailand from DRV invasion. JFK totally plopped at that and capitulated in 1962, thinking he could cut off Hanoi at Saigon. By the time LBJ sent in US troops, the issue was not VC but PAVN regulars trying to decimate ARVN before US had a chance to come in. Old Westy, per Hanoi, achieved the elusive "cross-over point" by causing PAVN to lose more men and supplies in Central Highlands that it could replenish. Hanoi then realized its only hope was Paris. But since SVN went from 85% rural in 1963 to 75% urban by 1967, Hanoi had to attack the cities. It got creamed and VC never reappeared as South Vietnamese PHOENIX wiped out rural VCI so well that in April 1975 ARVN Command proposed moving to Mekong Delta where it could hold out permanently. Duong Van Minh replaced Thieu and Chinese asked him to hold off surrender for 48 hrs while they stop PAVN advance at Dalat. He chickened out and the war was lost. But Chinese in 1979 were as good as their word to Nixon and stopped westward ho of Ho's replacement Soviet-citizen Le Duan. All in all, all the leftie stuff about "we lost and nothing bad happened" is testament to Nixon9 Not Kissinger who was duplicitous freak and had to be threatened with replacement). All this is now available in Hanoi archives. Here's a taste of stuff to come (besides the book I hope to write when I can bring my fascination with molecular medicine under control and abandon my obsessive studies of Islamic Jihad):

COLD WAR INTERNATIONAL HISTORY PROJECT

Work in Progress: "The Vietnam-Soviet Union-China Triangle Relations during the Vietnam War (1964-1973) from Vietnamese Sources" with Pham Quang Minh
February 20, 2009 : 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Event Summary
On February 20, 2009 Dr. Pham Quang Minh, the dean of the Department of International Studies at Vietnam National University in Hanoi, discussed the evolution of the triangular relationships between Vietnam, the USSR, and China from the Geneva Accords in 1954 through the end of the Vietnam War in 1973. Following his presentation, Bernd Schaefer, senior scholar at the Cold War International History Project and former research fellow at the German Historical Institute, commented on the triangular relationship and its meaning for Vietnam.

Making use of secondary literature as well as access to Vietnamese archival sources, Minh discussed how the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China used the Vietnam War as a strategic tool to maintain and expand their power and influence. The Soviets believed involvement in Vietnam would assert their position of leadership in the communist movement, project their power as mightier than that of China, and help Vietnam in its communist experiment. Yet the Soviets did not want actions towards Vietnam to come at the expense of the process of détente. Chinese relations with Vietnam were motivated by a desire to weaken the USSR and the United States, prevent the expansion of Soviet-American rapprochement, and avoid a larger war.

From 1954-1956, Minh argued, the Soviets and the Chinese shared objectives in Vietnam. They played an important role in reaching a settlement in the First Indochina War and they aided in the construction of Vietnamese socialism. After Khrushchev denounced Stalin in 1956, Chinese priorities diverged from those of the Soviets. Vietnam continued to receive aid from both countries, but felt increasingly pressured to choose a side. In 1963, under pressure from the Chinese leadership, Vietnam criticized the Soviet Union and Soviet “modern revisionism.” In response, the USSR threatened to change the Vietnamese leadership and to cut off assistance, Minh suggested citing Vietnamese sources. When Brezhnev replaced Khrushchev in 1964, relations between North Vietnam and the USSR became friendly again and assistance continued—this time with less involvement in the internal affairs of Vietnam.

Yet even as Soviet-DRV relations improved, China-Soviet relations continued to influence the level of aid in Vietnam. Minh suggested that animosity between the two communist superpowers affected their cooperation on Vietnamese matters throughout the 1960s. Beijing strongly disproved of the Soviet suggestion that Hanoi reach a negotiated settlement with the US on the war. For its part, Moscow distrusted the close relationship between the DRV and the PRC leaderships. Ultimately, however, both countries knew it was in their interest for the DRV to come out victorious, and continued to provide assistance to Hanoi.

Nixon’s 1972 visits to Beijing and Moscow were viewed in Hanoi as a betrayal, Minh argued. The Vietnamese leadership had pushed hard to make sure that both its allies would snub the Americans until a settlement was reached, Vietnamese archival sources show, but to no avail.

Bernd Schaefer commented on the frequency of Vietnamese challenges to Moscow and Beijing. He argued that post-Khrushchev, Vietnam was able to take advantage of the disharmony between the USSR and China to obtain more assistance as each superpower wanted to increase its influence with the other communist countries. The Sino-Soviet split Schaefer argued, allowed Vietnam to not only receive higher levels of assistance, but have more freedom in determining how it was used.


Drafted by Melissa Smith and Mircea Munteanu
Christian Ostermann, Director, HAPP/WES

DE Teodoru

The Dems had an obsession, the old saying about Ike and Korea: DEMS START WARS AND REPS FINISH THEM. In 1967 Nixon made clear that Vietnam made action on Mideast in 1967 impossible and never again would he as president allow Vietnam to cripple the US elsewhere. So his plan-- HE *DID* HAVE A PLAN-- was to protect China's NORTH in return for China blocking North Vietnam's march West to India as a Soviet proxy. To prove that the US had no intent to put permanent bases under China's soft underbelly, he pulled out of Vietnam. When Hanoi did attack, the Dems were so worried that after the 1972 Offensive Saigon might survive and reinforce that old saying that they cut off Saigon from bullets to gas to medical supplies. But when Saigon collapsed, the Chinese stuck to the deal and asked Thieu's replacement as President, Big Minh, to hold out surrender for 48 hrs while Chinese stop Hanoi's march at Dalat. Minh had this Diemist thing about "entre nous vietnameins" and refused. But when Hanoi moved West after consolidating the South, China attacked, again keeping its word and saving Thailand. To understand what this meant we must read NSA transcripts from 1958 when Ike insisted that we take a forced stance in Laos because if Laos goes Thailand is gone; so while Ike didn't see intrinsic value in Indochina, he wanted to hold it as the "cork in the bottle" that stop's Hanoi's march West over SE Asia. Weeeeell, it looks like the then VP, in 1970s president, Tricky-Dick Nixon snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as he worked out a deal with China and crevassed a massive irreparable cut between Soviets and Chicoms that made Reagan's Cold War victory possible. Responding to the Soviet offer of a "tonsillectomy" on the Chinese, attacking their nuclear facilities, Nixon as pre-elect warned that any attack on China is an attack on US. He thus snatched Vietnam victory (saving Thailand) from jaws of defeat. But Obama is a bit of an ass and doesn't read history. Petraeus (reading his PhD thesis) and McChrystal must be cognitively illiterate out of careerist ambition and know no history. West Point class of 76 is made up of generals that should have been limited to sergeant because West Point was hard-up for students. We are paying now for the inability of the Pentagon to learn from Vietnam. I recall a general on loan to the Bush White house warning me in 2003 that if I want meaningful dialogue with him on Iraq I better never bring up that "looooser's war, Vietnam." The dumb always get the stars because they are so good at fetching the ball for their masters. But what do you do when the stars got their heads?

Please read below and contemplate the analogy:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/81358.html

turcopolier

1975?
Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.

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