Unsupported Ideas and Questions

Someone said that my articles, whether you agreed with them or not, were well supported.


In this case, I am just going to note some half-baked thoughts or questions that have been in the back of my mind to prompt (I hope!) debate.


 IT and Science

  • There should be a way to incorporate data analytics into drafting bills and regulations.
  • The new book Shattered makes me wonder why we are using data analytics to run for office . . . but NOT to govern.
  • I think, however, when you start getting anecdotal indications your analytic model is NOT working, you HAVE to examine: 1) what you are measuring; and how you are measuring it.
  • It seems like at one time, Ayn Rand and Justice Douglas would have agreed on the value of privacy.  However, the very concept of privacy appears to  evanesce in a Reality TV/Social Media world.
  • It seems as if progress in most sciences has slowed.  The exceptions are in computer science; data science; telecommunications; molecular biology and genetics; and in certain technologies that have been in the pipeline for a long time ("Fracking").
  • If this is true, is it a function of the fact that we have gone about as far as we can in the natural sciences or is it due to cultural factors (inhibiting laws or regulations or liability risk)?
  • It seems like the next big technological breakthrough that HAS to come is the development of "hot" fusion technology (or a less likely equivalent, like "cold" fusion or Zero-point energy applications).  It strikes me that civilizations not developing this technology and being forced to rely on always declining supplies of fossil fuels might be the proximate cause for the Fermi Paradox.
  • Given the laws of physics as we currently understand them, to facilitate what Stephen Hawking has suggested for the survival of the human species, we should try to send our genome or AIs based on human minds to distant planets, rather than individual humans.  

Health Care

  • We need less regulation and more market forces in Healthcare if we are to improve quality and expand access.
  • The current fight over repealing the almost  completely dysfunctional Affordable Care Act, indicates we may lack the reason and the political will to make the decisions required to do that.
  • India, where Health Care is almost entirely paid for out of pocket, with minimal use of insurance and minimal government intervention, seems like the best existing 21st Century model for what we need to move towards.
  • To get there, I think you need to start with non-employer-based groups, a "Bismarck System for the Gig Economy," if you will.
  • Thus, "the road to India leads through France." 
  • It strikes me that health insurance markets work better as group, rather than individual, ones.
  • The VA furnishes an example of why socialized systems (either ones involving delivery systems or insurance) are not optimal. 
  • In places like upstate NY, where there are enough veterans for there to be sufficient facilities and providers, the system works quite well.  However, it works poorly in places where the population density does not support sufficient facilities or providers.  It also works poorly where there are large numbers of veterans and the system in overwhelmed, infamously in Arizona.
  • Since the VA system is a cost-center, and not a profit center, the increase in census does not create an increase in the number of physicians and institutional providers, as where the providers and facilities are profit centers.
  • There is almost unlimited demands for medical services. We could conceivably spend every dollar in our GDP on Health Care and still have unsatisfied demand.
  • Because of this, being able to legitimately say "no" is a critical component of any functioning system.
  • I don't think, after OIF I and the Katrina response and the ACA and the failure to avoid the rise of the Islamic State ("IS"), that our Federal Government has the legitimacy to say no, but it CAN still acquire enough money to waste a fortune on funding medical nemesis. 
  •  "End of Life" decisions both are and should be economic ones.

Economics and Regulation

  • Until the advent of modern data analytics, most mathematically-based economic theories were not rigorous, but had the unfortunate illusion of rigor. (A point often raised by Nassim Nicholas Taleb . . . and most people trained in Engineering.)
  • It is impossible to accurately predict the future. There are too many variables and it is almost impossible to give some of them an accurate weight prospectively. 
  •  It is, however, possible to predict the future with enough accuracy to be able to hedge with varying degrees of utility.  This is especially true in relatively closed systems, like stock and bond markets and, possibly, legal cases and transactions.
  • The major constraint to economic growth is good ideas or, more accurately, their lack.
  • Part of the problem is a failure to see the second order effects of previous good ideas prospectively.  (Another idea suggested by Taleb.)
  • Most people don't think even a few moves ahead.  For that reason, people who do often confuse people who don't, meaning that their foresight lacks influence (the "Cassandra Effect").
  • That you foresee a problem does not, necessarily, mean you have a viable solution.
  • A good example of this is Brookesley Born, who famously opposed the "deregulation" (more correctly the continued relative lack of regulation) of the OTC Commodities Futures Market.  Born correctly saw that "swaps" and other emerging derivative instruments were expanding in use and could be problematic.
  • However, regulation or lack of regulation was not the issue in 2008.  The issue was (as with the S&L Crisis of the late 1980s)  that sales forces of unrelated entities were selling speculative instruments to financial institutions as being investment grade.
  • At the time, such representations were not categorically known to be false and, hence, fraudulent.
  • More regulations would not have avoided the Crisis of 2008.
  • Taking the Boards of financial institutions out of the ambit of the Business Judgment Rule might have.
  • Because of the fact that there is a lot of information available at the user level that is not available to regulators, detailed regulations may be less useful than legal structures that clearly "pin the rose" on someone when things go wrong.  To do that fairly, you have to analyze prior similar events to figure out who has what tort lawyers call "last clear chance."


  • "It's all about the 'L Word' (not that one, 'Legitimacy')."  (Hat tip to John Robb and Joshua Cooper Ramo.)
  • The USG, after OIF I, Katrina, ACA and the lack of response to the emergence of IS, seems to be hemorrhaging Legitimacy at an alarming rate.
  • The best alternative seems to be a return to the Federalism enshrined in the Constitution, a fractal distribution of power between: the Federal Government (a government of limited ambit but supreme within that ambit);, the states and local governments; and the people.
  • However, that concept is being blocked by the Democratic Party (and the Left generally), who seem to equate this to "States Rights" as part of "Massive Resistance" to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
  • If the US is to continue to exist in its present form, the 21st Century must become the "Century of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments" as much as the 20th was the "Century of the Civil War Amendments."
  • That this is being blocked makes me question if the US CAN or WILL continue in its present form.
  • The problem is less alternative facts and more alternative relative values assigned to these facts.
  • On one hand we have massive, unaccountable bureaucracies, on the other we have citizen legislators who do not have the technical knowledge to govern.  Is the key part of this issue that government, especially the Federal Government, is doing too much?
  • More people need to become involved in the political process.  The French election illustrates this point.  After 1200 years of "Le  Belle France," is the best they can do REALLY a Gallic Tim Geithner versus a modern Madame Defarg?

Foreign Policy and Defense

  • The Obama Administration was not wrong in trying to back down from being a great power.  The Trump Administration is not wrong in trying to improve relations with Putin's Russia.
  • However, managing decline is an art.  The best recent example is Great Britain after 1947 (with some exceptions like Suez).
  • Most nations do not escape the "Thucydides Trap." 
  • South America is very dysfunctional.  It is also a natural sphere of influence for the US as a second tier power, as is the Pacific beyond the Second Island Chain.
  • Working with the US, Brazil might finally become the country of the future.
  • We need to reduce the size of the Army; slightly increase the size of the Marine Corps and reduce the Navy, based on it no longer having a global role and due to AirSea Battle Doctrine.
  • The National Debt is the single biggest national security issue. 
  • The New Silk Road/One Belt One Road means we are being voted off Mackinder's World Island.
  • I think Trump's one virtue as President is that he is more likely to agree with Satan in Paradise Lost, "Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven" or, in this case, "Better to be a great power in the Americas and out to the Second Island Chain, than to be irrelevant in a world system dominated by the PRC and Putin's Russia," than with Achilles in The Odyssey,  “I’d rather be a slave on earth for another man--/some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive--/than rule down here over all the breathless dead.” 


Some Things to Read 

  1.  Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Incerto, https://medium.com/incerto
  2. John Robb, Global Guerrillas,  http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/          

   "Enough or too much."  Willian Blake, Proverbs of Hell


Stone-Eater Added May 10, 2017 - 12:40pm
Do you really think that goes into ONE article ? Start a blog on that one - with n chapters and subjects LOL
John Minehan Added May 10, 2017 - 12:48pm
It's just a lot of thoughts that were top of mind.
Maybe it will prompt other people to write posts vehemently disagreeing on some point or another.
None of these have an answer, so they constitute a way to get people talking.
Stone-Eater Added May 10, 2017 - 12:50pm
We, or, say, the WB - US writers will be busy up to 2018 :-)
John Minehan Added May 10, 2017 - 1:17pm
No lack of grist for that particular mill, that's for sure . . . .
John Minehan Added May 10, 2017 - 1:41pm
Interesting essay from John Robb.
This is someone more people should read.
Stone-Eater Added May 10, 2017 - 1:46pm
Phew. Good one. Already on FB.
Stone-Eater Added May 10, 2017 - 1:47pm
...and on LI.
Ari Silverstein Added May 10, 2017 - 2:43pm
That’s quite a list.  One could probably develop an article for each one.  However, not accompanied by an article leaves much to wonder about and not much to provide comment on.  Focusing on the last item on the list (the only item somewhat developed), Trump has many virtues.  Most notably is the desire to be president despite already being a billionaire.  Only someone truly dedicated to America and his role of president would give up a charmed life to perform the hardest job on earth.  He’s certainly not someone that lusts power to a fault as he already had plenty of it. 
John Minehan Added May 10, 2017 - 6:42pm
I'm not sure, from Pres Trump's public comments that he quite knew what he was going to be in for.  However, I'm not sure anyone ever knows, based on the pubic comments of the last few Presidents. 
John Minehan Added May 11, 2017 - 1:41pm
"What Ayn Rand and Justice Douglas would be concerned is as it relates to losing our privacy against our will or without our knowing it."
Given the importance that each afforded to privacy as a cultural artifact, I think people's willingness to sign away their privacy would be a concern.   
John Minehan Added May 11, 2017 - 1:42pm
"Which of these half-baked thoughts are yours and which are of others?"
Mine, with the noted influences.
Michael B. Added May 11, 2017 - 8:23pm
Interesting collection of thoughts there, John...as usual! Regarding Trump, I more-or-less anticipated a lot of his behavior, considering that he's the only President I know of in recent times that has not been a career politician one way or the other. Even GOTA Eisenhower, while a career military officer, was essentially a skilled politician, as most successful generals usually are.
John Minehan Added May 12, 2017 - 2:22pm
"Even GOTA Eisenhower, while a career military officer, was essentially a skilled politician, as most successful generals usually are."
He was exceptionally good at it!  he essentially kept the Western Alliance together (and kept Patton from killing Monty and vice versa).  
John Minehan Added May 12, 2017 - 2:23pm
"You'd have to be being manipulated by right wing think tanks to entertain such a ridiculous notion."
Yeah, who would want a system of higher quality and vastly lower cost . . . .
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 13, 2017 - 8:16am
Try as I may over the past couple of days reading and rereading the lists again the only reaction I can summon is you seem determined to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. 
One supposes your being an officer of the court and soldier you'd be heavily invested in the system both by fact and by inclination but try as I may I will never understand that predilection. 
The air is full of lead, explosions all around, the system is actively working against you yet you seem to want to not only not recognize it you want to chat up those pulling the trigger. 
What will it take to get you to tell the system to fuck off. Neh, to simply say no?
John Minehan Added May 13, 2017 - 8:27am
"I suggest you have a look at the reality of India's system rather than read fruitcakes writing for right wing think tanks."
Try talking to people, especially health care professionals, from India.
At around the time the Brits implemented NHS, India, on a shoe-string, in a very populated and fairly poor country, tried something different, that has very low costs and very high quality.
They did this with relatively little government intervention and next to no use of insurance, in a country that had a long (and unhappy) flirtation with socialism and central planning.   
John Minehan Added May 13, 2017 - 8:37am
"What will it take to get you to tell the system to fuck off. Neh, to simply say no?"
A lesson learned from my year (2004) in the current, on-going war: the interesting thing about failed states is not that they are failed; it is who will restore order and on what template? 
Dino Manalis Added May 13, 2017 - 9:32am
 Everything's in disarray, somebody like Newt Gingrich should manage the White House to stop the disorder at home.  In the Middle East and North Africa, stability is needed, like Sissi of Egypt, followed by international pressure for democratic reforms without destabilizing their countries again.
John Minehan Added May 13, 2017 - 9:45am
"In the Middle East and North Africa, stability is needed, like Sissi of Egypt, followed by international pressure for democratic reforms without destabilizing their countries again."
Very tough to get that process right.  We did it with the Shah and the result was the Islamic Republic.  Even where it seems to work (the Brits and the Lancaster House Agreement  that ended the Rhodesian Unilateral Declaration of Independence and lead to majority rule in the resulting nation of Zimbabwe) brought Robert Mugabe to power, who became not only a dictator, but a startlingly incompetent and long-serving one.    
John Minehan Added May 13, 2017 - 9:46am
"Everything's in disarray, somebody like Newt Gingrich should manage the White House to stop the disorder at home."
I always thought that would have been a VERY good choice. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 13, 2017 - 10:32am
who will restore order and on what template? 
Restore order. Interesting. Sounds like code for force.
Force is NOT freedom.
Let's get to where force isn't the default before we even begin to discuss template. 
John Minehan Added May 13, 2017 - 11:02am
From what I saw where I was, force was less important than necessity.
If there is no way to resolve disputes in a legitimate way and your kids are dying of something as preventable as measles, the people who have a viable solution win.
The problem is that that may be (or may not be) a Faustian Bargain.  The issue is that it is tough to tell prospectively.
John Minehan Added May 14, 2017 - 9:29am
The problem is that "brutal military dictatorships" like al-Sissi's or (Saddam's) also tend to protect the rights of religious minorities in the Middle East.
Given the difficulties (and inherent lack of legitimacy) of trying to make these decisions for another country, non-interventionism seems the better course.  
Michael B. Added May 14, 2017 - 10:45am
Faustian Bargain - quite often what many compromises wind up being. The original 1967 version of the movie Bedazzled leaps to my mind.
I think it should be obvious at this point that we really shouldn't be trying to install "democracy" by force or even by persuasion in countries that have absolutely no democratic traditions or experience with it. I remember reading a passage from the book Black Hawk Down where an anonymous diplomat said something to the effect of, "We ask these people if they want to live in peace and security and make a better world for themselves and their children, and they say yes yes yes, but when we tell them for that to be possible, you have to get along with the people down the street. Their answer is almost invariably 'NO! We'll die first!!' That's the problem they face."
Another thing which seems to be overlooked about military or other dictatorships is that they rule as much by cronyism and largesse as they do by fear and murder. Think of Pablo Escobar's "Silver or Lead" as a national policy. Even Hitler secured the loyalties of most of the generals who otherwise were not Nazis by giving them large estates and large lump-sum payments of money.
John Minehan Added May 14, 2017 - 1:24pm
"Even Hitler secured the loyalties of most of the generals who otherwise were not Nazis by giving them large estates and large lump-sum payments of money."
Even honorable men like Rommel were willing to overlook a lot (like genocide, for example0 where their Army was being rebuilt and national policies let them "ply their trade."
Sometimes, we must examine our self-interest.  
Michael B. Added May 14, 2017 - 2:23pm
Rommel was seemingly all about self-interest; although obviously very skillful and "honorable", he was in many ways a creature of Hitler and the Nazi propaganda machine. Hitler apparently took a liking to him early on, and he commanded Hitler's field HQ during the Polish campaign. For his next assignment, Rommel requested command of a Panzer division for the upcoming French campaign, but the army personnel office turned him down because he was a light/mountain infantry officer. Only after Hitler intervened was Rommel's request granted, which established a pattern of Rommel using his connection to Hitler as a way of circumventing superiors. During the Battle of France, Rommel had Karl Hanke, one of Goebbel's right-hand men, attached to his staff, which burnished his political credentials even more. Hitler's patronage of Rommel, and Rommel's shameless use of it made him many enemies both in the army and the Nazi party. Hitler himself, not wanting any of his generals to outshine him, nevertheless decided to have two "heroes"; one in the snow (Dietl, in Norway), and one in the sun, which was, of course, Rommel in the desert. The General Staff, preparing for the invasion of the USSR, opposed any unnecessary diversions to other theaters; Rommel was simply to stave off Italian defeat, and when he went on the offensive, the General Staff was pissed. They sent von Paulus to try to talk sense into "this General gone stark raving mad" (Halder's words). Rommel continued to disobey superiors to the end of his life. To Rommel's great credit, that included disobeying things like the Commando order, and his record of fighting "clean" was unblemished. He had his share of detractors; Field Marshal Rundstedt said of him, "A good division commander. Nothing more." Damned by faint praise.
Stephen Hunter Added May 14, 2017 - 2:30pm
You had me at 

There should be a way to incorporate data analytics into drafting bills and regulations. 

Stephen Hunter Added May 14, 2017 - 2:54pm
And yes as some suggest these are just talking points, however that is where it all starts. Creating solutions with rationale thought, is how progress is made. 
John Minehan Added May 14, 2017 - 3:36pm
Given the war he was in, being a good Division Commander was no small thing.  Of course, he showed real operational skill in Africa. 
Maybe if Hitler had seen the potential value of Africa, the Russian Front could have been avoided,
Myabe3 one prima donna is sufficient per way.  Rommel (like Patton might have been the effective one.  
Michael B. Added May 14, 2017 - 3:42pm
John M., what would the benefits be by reducing the size of the Army and Navy while increasing the size of the USMC? That would be a "battle royale" for sure. They are still seemingly too hide-bound and tradition-bound to be changing any time soon. In addition to the usual fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption, I think bad fiscal management of the services in general, and their weapon systems and other procurements in particular, are a HUGE financial drain. They often spend millions, and even billions, only to cancel them for whatever reason. All of the services have spent shiploads of money simply on having different utility uniforms. Someone said the Navy's was excellent camouflage for someone who fell overboard. The Army's ACU made them a higher-profile target. The Air Force went back to the Vietnam-era tiger stripes. WTF? The MICC obviously isn't much help; a couple of years ago, I read something about how the Army said it neither wanted nor needed any more brand-new M1 tanks, but was force-fed them anyway. From what I've read so far, the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship is a disaster. Pork barrel politics also isn't going to change very much any time soon.
John Minehan Added May 14, 2017 - 4:39pm
Here's my thought: the Marine Corps is the more "expeditionary" service and our threats are things that can be dealt with by sending a flexible force: MEU (SOC); MEB; or MEF for a short term deployment.
On the other hand, there may be things (Korea comes to mind) where you need a more robust force that can stiffen the spine of a Coalition in a mature Theater.  For that you need an Army, but you don't need one as larger as we currently have. 
Michael B. Added May 14, 2017 - 5:19pm
Interesting. USMC also has a tradition of making the most of what they have, making them somewhat more cost-effective. Regarding the Navy, large aircraft carriers are also increasingly being seen as becoming obsolete; them, and the other ships necessary to protect them, also cost astronomical amounts of money. Although it takes a lot to sink them, they can be put of out commission (incapable of flight operations) relatively easily, as witnessed by the accidents several of them suffered during the Vietnam War era. I can only imagine what a saturated missile attack would do to them. Speaking of missiles, I'm also skeptical of the whole missile defense thing, and in many ways it's like a Maginot Line in the air and in space. In addition to the sheer quantities our potential adversaries possess, missiles also contain decoys and other so-called penetration aids. Some, even many missiles will be zapped, but others will certainly get through. I still remember that publicity stunt they pulled with the Patriot missiles during the Gulf War; 90-something percent success rate. Really?
John Minehan Added May 14, 2017 - 5:52pm
Here is a thought . . . .
John Minehan Added May 14, 2017 - 6:00pm
Couple of thoughts (kind of random, excuse me):
---that Ohio National Guard Battalion in 1991 could say a bit about how effective the Patriot was in the Gulf;
---IRONDOME appears to be fairly effective, though, and "interception counter fire" against MRLs seems more difficult to get right;
---because our Naval Operations are so stereotypically based on the Carrier Task Force, all someone like the PRC has to do is figure out how to counter that, while we have to work about how to defeat their countermeasures AND execute our own tactics. 
John Minehan Added May 14, 2017 - 6:03pm
I agree with you on the Littoral Combat Ship and I bring up the F-35 Raptor . . . . 
Michael B. Added May 14, 2017 - 6:31pm
Good article, and totally true. I remember reading a passage from Hackworth's About Face, when he was guarding some German POWs being repatriated. Hackworth chided a German officer captured in Italy, telling him something like, "If you guys are supposed to be supermen, why are you the one behind the wire, and I'm the one with the gun." The German replied that he repulsed every attack the Americans made in his position, but he eventually ran out of ammunition; the Americans never ran out of anything. Rommel remarked to a captured British Commando that he would have won in North Africa if his supplies weren't constantly sent to the bottom of the Mediterranean. The saying, "Amateurs study strategy, but professionals study logistics" carries weight. War is definitely an endurance test at many levels, and the side that makes the least mistakes and blunders usually prevails over the long term. Germany in both world wars, and Japan in the second, failed because, among many other things, they grossly underestimated their opponents and weren't prepared for the long wars that transpired; all of their plans depended on quick victories in "decisive battles". The French in Algeria, and the U.S. in Vietnam (and possibly in Iraq and Afghanistan) were outlasted by their opponents. If you can't beat them, wait them out...they'll tire of it eventually.
John Minehan Added May 15, 2017 - 2:40pm
Note Michael's avatar.  Back in the day, he wasn't Playing Soldier.
John, you have a habit of making comments on things you know nothing about. That does not enhance your credibility.
Michael B. Added May 15, 2017 - 4:51pm
Some people in this world are truly worthy of a multi-battery MRSI TOT - A combination of HE, HD, GB, VX, WP, and DPICM would do nicely...maybe even a SW, but that would be kind of overkill. lol
wsucram15 Added May 15, 2017 - 9:21pm
John G..before you take on Minehan, MichaelB, SEF, and Jeffry, you will need to brush up a bit on your knowledge of these things.  They are all relatively intelligent and dont talk (or write in this case) just to talk.
J Minehan...Great article. You are a thinker and this is enough material for a book, not a few articles.
There are some extremely intelligent and well thought out "thoughts" in that list.  I do not think the US can exist in its present form, not as things are now.  More people in the political process is a necessity, people have for far too long allowed the current situation to worsen and "hope it will fix itself. "
"physics as we currently understand them, to facilitate what Stephen Hawking has suggested for the survival of the human species, we should try to send our genome or AIs based on human minds to distant planets, rather than individual humans. "  Dont know enough about this..but this could be debated on here for some time.
wsucram15 Added May 16, 2017 - 4:34pm
Ok John G..talk to me then.  JM is a smart guy, let me get George and we can all discuss economics.  These are his thoughts...discuss yours and get the stick out of your ass.
John Minehan Added May 17, 2017 - 12:22pm
Interesting take on recent events . . . .
John Minehan Added May 17, 2017 - 12:32pm
John G., the man who doesn't believe there is a fractional reserve banking system and mouths socialist platitudes most socialists now reject.  He's not worth the TOT Michael B suggests.  
John Minehan Added May 17, 2017 - 1:45pm
I'm of mixed mind on this
Societies with more young people (as with England or Rome at the time of their Civil Wars) are more in the mind set of Richard Lovelace in  To Lucasta, Going To The Wars.
However, societies with more older people (like ours) are more in the mindset of Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff, "Honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honor prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honor set to a leg? no. Or an arm? no. Or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honor hath no skill in surgery, then?"
My guess is that our increasing polarization will lead to a state of assumed nullification, where states and regions will pay lip service to the Federal Government, but functionally ignore it.
However, what I see in the media and on the streets puts me in mind of this from the film Gettysburg (1993):
"And the same for your adversaries: Meade, Hooker, Hancock, and - shall I say - Lincoln! The same God, same language, same culture and history, same songs, stories, legends, myths - different dreams. Different dreams. So very sad."
Michael B. Added May 17, 2017 - 7:16pm
A lot of what's going on in the U.S. these days reminds me of the leadup to the Spanish Civil War, except in reverse. Instead of the Right revolting against the Left, as what happened in Spain, it is the Left revolting against the Right. Whether that eventually erupts into a full-blown armed conflict remains to be seen, but so far it has resulted in a internal "Cold War" in many ways. I lost someone who I thought was a good friend because I didn't vote for HRC, and got into a fight with another one for the same reason; the fact that I did NOT vote for Trump made no difference to them. That's where many people on the Left lose me; they claim to be against hatred and intolerance, but often are themselves slopping over with hatred and intolerance.
John Minehan Added May 18, 2017 - 5:37pm
Michael, very true and very unfortunate. 
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added May 18, 2017 - 9:22pm
Interesting article, I'm a bit late to the party. But regarding science, what are your thoughts on faster than light speed travel John Minehan? 
John Minehan Added May 18, 2017 - 9:56pm
I'm not a physicist.  Seems very hard to accomplish with what we know about physics. 
The reports of a subatomic particle seeming to move faster than light a few years ago at CERN appear to be a function of measurement error. 
My guess (and it is only that) is that if it is possible, it might be due to quantum entanglement.
I think that if there are other technological civilizations, most never became capable of trans-luminal speed.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added May 18, 2017 - 10:26pm
I very much believe it's possible, and perhaps sooner than you might think. We humans are close to developing faster than light speed travel, within a lifetime. See for yourself: Watch "An explanation of the Alcubierre-White Warp Drive | AsteronX" on YouTube - target="_blank">https://youtu.be/Xlmdtf3UbmQ
John Minehan Added May 18, 2017 - 10:48pm
I think that might be one of the gates that technological civilizations usually miss (not developing fusion power; fighting a nuclear war) that may account for the Fermi Paradox.
I hope you are right.  
Michael B. Added May 19, 2017 - 12:36pm
As much as I like astronomy and working in the aerospace industry, I remain critical of many aspects of the space program. Personally, I think we have much higher priorities right here on Earth. How would a manned mission to Mars benefit us? The Space Race was at least as much of a political program as a scientific one. At one job I had, there was small firm I did some business with ran by a very colorful character that specialized in buying obsolete equipment and junk from military bases and government installations for pennies on the ton, then his crew would go to work stripping off valuable components like gauges, valves, pumps, and anything else that could be re-used and/or re-purposed. It was a good deal for me, because I got high-pressure 3-way solenoid valves for $300 when they sold brand-new for almost $5000, but every time I went to that place, I thought of the billions and billions all of that stuff costed, only to be discarded. At least some of it was recovered to be used by people like me; additionally, Hollywood special effects people were also good customers of his. Kind of ironic actually...science fact being recycled in order to make science fiction.
John Minehan Added May 19, 2017 - 3:21pm
The space race was also military to a degree that only the really paranoid suspected in the 1960s.
Stone-Eater Added May 19, 2017 - 3:22pm
 the interesting thing about failed states is not that they are failed
They are not failed......they might be considered "failed" by "Western" standards (THE standard ?), and IF they can be considered failed states by our standards who made them fail and for which purpose ?
Stone-Eater Added May 19, 2017 - 3:25pm
The fact that we speculate about faster-than-light speed and colonizing other planets (even Mars) only show what a paltry species we are. We're not even able to maintain our own planet for the future, no, we fuck it up only to look for other places we can fuck up after ?
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added May 19, 2017 - 3:29pm
Stone-Eater it has been speculated that the human species only has about 100 years or less to colonize another planet because this one will likely be uninhibitable by then. Those who had no part in the greed that has poisoned the Earth should not have to pay the same price as those who did IMO so I'm all for going forth to find new worlds. 
John Minehan Added May 19, 2017 - 3:30pm
"They are not failed......they might be considered "failed" by "Western" standards (THE standard ?), and IF they can be considered failed states by our standards who made them fail and for which purpose ?"
Well, they are "failed" to the extent that they no longer function as states and have either ceded control to successor entities (Sudan for the most part, Somalia in the case of Somaliland and Puntland) or to no one in particular (Somalia in the south).
Part of why they failed is that the Westphalian nation-state model may not work very well in places (and may not work well anywhere in the 21st Century). 
John Minehan Added May 19, 2017 - 3:34pm
The AU, even today,  seems to want to keep the old Colonial Boundaries where it can. 
These nations seemed to aspire to be (and the world seemed to expect) that these new nations would be like other 20th Century polities, overlooking the fact that places like Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan had very long, very rich and very different histories than, say, the Netherlands. 
Stone-Eater Added May 19, 2017 - 4:05pm
Part of why they failed is that the Westphalian nation-state model may not work very well in places
It never did in some parts of the world and never will. Certainly not in Africa, where tribalism and clans are ruling. They have completely different cultures, histories, beliefs and cultures since Millenia, and then a Mr. McDonald shows up and thinks that everybody will hail and fall on their knees ?
In Cameroon the "Chefferies" are still very much alive. This means the ethnic group will never accept an artificial state as its "master". They have their region, their "king", and they get along very well with other "Kingdoms". Of course these kingdoms are not "legal" in a WESTERN sense, but, hey, this is NOT the West. The colons tried but never really succeeded. They created artificial borders between peoples, enslaved them and now they talk of "failed states" ?
What arrogance is this ? Are the US or we Europeans with billions of (virtual) debts a good example ? We exploit the rest of the world and STILL have debts ? To WHOM ?
I could puke about all that shit. WE have failed, not them. Miserably.
John Minehan Added May 19, 2017 - 4:32pm
It is very hard to argue that Somalia, between say 1991 and 2006, was NOT a failed state, especially in the South around Mogadishu.  The institutions of government had failed.
Now, they had not failed all over Somalia.  Somaliland, in the North, the former British Somaliland, was a highly functional political entity, by any standard.  
Throughout all of the former-Somalia, al-Itihaad al-Islamiya ("AIAI") kept the banks running (on Islamic lending principals, AIAI started out as a sort of a cross-clan, Islamic Knights of Columbus) and kept government pensioners paid.
But, back in 1960, when Somali intellectuals had stolen a march on de-colonialization by uniting Italian and British Somaliland into a new state (against general AU dogma of respecting colonial boundaries), those Somali intellectuals ALSO wanted to form a Westphalian Nation State.  Various factions within AIAI fighting an insurgency against the Ethiopian government in the SNRS STILL want to form the Westphalian nation -state of "Greater Somalia."
It is not JUST the Europeans or the US who don't get it.  The good thing about IS and AQis that they at least propose a new model that might have real legitimacy for some people and MIGHT work.
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 7:07am
"Any study of a bank's balance sheet will confirm that every new loan is  100% new money and that reserves are not lent outside of the payments system."
BUT those loans are made as a function of the bank's reserves, since not all loans perform.  Thus you have denied the existence of a legal relationship by (partially ) defining it.
Michael B. Added May 20, 2017 - 2:00pm
Yes, the definition can be somewhat subjective, but I think a failed state is defined as one that has a failed government that has no control over large areas of its territory, is unable to provide basic services for its citizens, suffers from widespread corruption, institutions like banks and schools are non-existent or barely functioning, is unable to keep things like airports maintained to international norms, has large segments of its population being oppressed, has many thousands of its citizens becoming refugees and asylum seekers, and requires large-scale interventions from foreign governments and/or the U.N. for things like famine relief and the protection of certain people in certain areas who are subject to violence on a large scale. The list goes on and on.
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 2:06pm
Wow, sound like the US!
Michael B. Added May 20, 2017 - 2:17pm
We're seemingly well on the way...certain parts of LA fully fit the description. lol
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 2:26pm
Last time I went through there, I was coming back from NTC in '93 . . . .
Michael B. Added May 20, 2017 - 2:38pm
Really? I went to NTC only once, in May '89. We went there and back in buses, with the return trip being memorable; we stopped at a steak house somewhere in Arizona, and the NCOIC of the bus, who was the battery MAINT chief, told us we could have a couple of beers or other drinks, as long as we paid for them with our own money. It was good for morale, as a bunch of tipsy but well-humored soldiers reboarded the bus, where we proceeded to have a "mimic the 1SG" contest. We actually didn't have anything to celebrate; 3rd ACR blew it, because they had to go back on October. I totally lucked out, because I was ETSing and too short to go.
John Minehan Added May 20, 2017 - 2:50pm
I actually like the place.
It was not as challenging in the early 1990s as it might be now or may have been in the past, during its early days in the 1980s.
Sort of like Graf and HTA combined . . . .
Michael B. Added May 20, 2017 - 3:04pm
It was an experience for sure, and I think I lost ten pounds in the first few days. I was "killed" once, and taken to a holding area for 24 hours. Luckily for me, I had The Cardinal of the Kremlin in one of my cargo pockets. About a week later, I got a "sucking chest wound", but somehow managed to weasel my way out of it.