January 26, 2011

QotD: The elephant in the living world

Filed under: Economics, Japan, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:56

Here in peaceful and progressive Canada, it is so easy to feel smug towards larger countries that get their hands dirty in the world arena. Especially that one country built on the conquest and near eradication of its peaceful natives who have received hardly any compensation or even an apology. You know, the one founded on belligerent exceptionalism and manifest superiority over other cultures that was turned into a national religion that has historically led to imperialist conquest and mass slaughter. This country still has an actual federal law that requires all foreigners to carry their papers with them at all times, or risk being deported by any policeman who can, simply on a whim, question and detain them. The country so primitive and barbaric that it actively uses the death penalty, shrugging off international protests about it just as coldly as it does in important environmental issues. Its provincial masses bitterly cling to their traditional values while their media feeds them a constant diet of mindless pap and actively hushes up embarrassing facts. They rarely travel abroad, being not just obsessed with ethnic purity and deeply suspicious, even afraid, of anything foreign, but also unapologetically sexist and classist, especially towards this one minority they consider dirty, criminal and less evolved. We can only sigh in relief that sun is finally setting on the once so unstoppable economic juggernaut… of Japan.

Ilkka, “The elephant in the living world”, The Fourth Checkraise, 2011-01-20

Is Julian Assange a modern Senator Joe McCarthy?

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:42

Jim Goad asks if the actions of WikiLeaks are the modern-day equivalent of Senator Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade:

Upon superficial inspection, still-living superstar hacker Julian Assange and long-dead commie-stalker Joseph McCarthy seem like natural-born enemies and political polar opposites. Technically, the Arctic and Antarctica are polar opposites, too, but are they really that different?

Comparing anyone to infamous anti-communist zealot Joseph McCarthy, as he is popularly understood in pop culture, is to accuse them of being a torch-carrying megalomaniac with a sociopathic disregard for the damage wrought by their ruthless, Spanish Inquisition-style paranoid purges, persecutions, pogroms, and perennial pickin’ on people. “McCarthyism” is considered a smear because we all must admit it was a shameful moment in American history when some upstart cheesehead Senator dared to suggest the American government was being infiltrated with communist sympathizers. Blot from your minds forever the fact that certain Soviet “cables” decrypted after McCarthy’s death seem to have at least partially vindicated him, and let us never teach in our public schools that communist governments murdered at least a hundred million human beings.

H/T to Ilkka for the link.

Kids, don’t do this at home. In fact, just don’t do this

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 12:32

This would be a pretty good safety video, to show just how not to handle firearms. H/T to Robert Farago for the link.

Be careful with your old, tired URLs

Filed under: Britain, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:22

The very first domain name I registered ended up getting hijacked: the ISP I was using got taken over by someone else, and they arbitrarily changed all the contact info for my domain to point to them instead. The domain expired (no notice to me), the grace period for renewal expired (again, no word to me), and suddenly the historical society’s domain name is now a porn site (slightly longer original story here).

That’s why I have some sympathy for this British MP who linked to a site promoting a local concern, which then became a German porn site:

Red-faced Tory MP Francis Maude last night denied all responsibility for the content of a German SmutSite — and then quietly removed a link to it from his own personal front page.

The embarrassment seems to have arisen after Francis Maude, the member for Horsham, and Henry Smith, MP for neighbouring Crawley, got together to sponsor a campaign for an acute hospital to be built in the Pease Pottage area of Sussex. The campaign registered and made use of a domain — c4pph.org (NSFW) — which certainly appears at one time to have been a perfectly respectable site campaigning on this issue.

However, as an official spokeswoman for Francis Maude told us last night: “The campaign … no longer owns or operates the c4pph.org web address and hasn’t done so since last year. We understand the domain name is now under new ownership with no connection to the campaign.”

Nostalgia for the Dreadnought era?

Filed under: China, Economics, Germany, History, WW1 — Tags: — Nicholas @ 09:03

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard finds the parallels between the rise of Imperial Germany in the years leading up to the first world war and attitudes toward China today:

And we all learned how the Kaiser overplayed his hand. That much was obvious.

Yet it is difficult to pin-point exactly when the normal pattern of great power jostling began to metamorphose into something more dangerous, leading to two rival, entrenched, and heavily armed alliance structures unable or unwilling to avert the drift towards conflict. The Long Peace died by a thousand cuts, a snub here, a Dreadnought there, the race for oil.

[. . .]

Is China now where Germany was in 1900? Possibly. There are certainly hints of menace from some quarters in Beijing. Defence minister Liang Guanglie said over New Year that China’s armed forces are “pushing forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction”.

Professor Huang Jing from Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew School and a former adviser to China’s Army, said Beijing is losing its grip on the colonels.

“The young officers are taking control of strategy and it is like young officers in Japan in the 1930s. This is very dangerous. They are on a collision course with a US-dominated system,” he said.

The problem with drawing parallels from history is that it’s never as neat and clean-cut as you’d expect. First, China is supposed to be like Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany, then more like Japan after WW1. I have to say I’m not totally following this line of thought. But, getting back to today’s situation:

There is a new edge to Chinese naval policy in the South China Sea, causing Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines to cleave closer to the US alliance. Has Beijing studied how German naval ambitions upset the careful diplomatic legacy of Bismarck and pushed an ambivalent Britain towards the Entente, even to the point of accepting alliance with Tsarist autocracy?

Factions in Beijing appear to think that China will win a trade war if Washington ever imposes sanctions to counter Chinese mercantilism. That is a fatal misjudgement. The lesson of Smoot-Hawley and the 1930s is that surplus states suffer crippling depressions when the guillotine comes down on free trade; while deficit states can muddle through, reviving their industries behind barriers. Demand is the most precious commodity of all in a world of excess supply.

H/T to Jon, my former virtual landlord, for the link.

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