Saturday, December 15, 2018

Interesting Things 12/15/2018




1. Taiwan Can Win a War With China

No doubt a very provocatively titled piece, the author goes into many of the fascinating details about the specifics that PRC invasion of Taiwan would entail. For instance, did you know that weather conditions in the strait limit the invasion window to only two months a year? I didn't. Just like I didn't know there are only thirteen suitable landing zones and that due to intelligence penetration and also just the enormous logistical undertaking preparing the invasion would be that everyone would know what was coming 30 to 45 days beforehand, giving Taiwan plenty of time to batten down the hatches and call up their two million reserves. All in all, this is fascinating and a much deeper dive into the "small" details that often get overlooked in things like this.

2. How Asia Fell Out of Love With China's Belt and Road Initiative

An interesting look at problems China is having with its large infrastructure initiative, one of the largest being that everyone else is catching on that it entails becoming a debt slave to China via huge loans. Some interesting details and the authors try to give the impression that electoral results in several places are the result of rising anti-China sentiment. I'm not familiar enough with the details to know how true that is, but it certainly seems to be plausible that it is a factor to some degree. Just another potential roadblock China will have to deal with as it attempts to "rise".

3. China and Russia: A Strategic Alliance in the Making

Graham Allison makes the case that China and Russia are becoming fast friends, as Putin and Xi bro it up over how the mean old US wants to undermine both of their regimes. Very interesting read that raises a bunch of good points. This take is controversial, as China and Russia are usually considered to be natural enemies, just based on a bunch of geopolitical factors, but I think it is a good demonstration of how far the US has bungled things in Europe. My take is to hand Europe off to the Europeans and say Ukraine, Georgia and everything else is your problem and then try and butter Putin up and break up the blooming bro-mance with Xi. Its absurd to consider Russia a threat in any meaningful way. As John Mearsheimer is fond of pointing out, Russia's economy is a giant gas station. Their population is shrinking. If there is a potential external threat to the US way of life it comes from China, specifically their growing economic power and the influence that comes with it. What exactly should be done about that is another question, but driving Russia into the arms of China is definitely exactly what should not be done.

4. US Internet Speeds Rose 40 Percent This Year

Contrary to the doomsday freak out about the end of net-neutrality, US broadband speeds are up 40 percent this year. 

5. Lund Professor Freed Student From Islamic State Warzone

This happened a few years ago, but is apparently just making the news now. A PhD student in Sweden went back to his family in Iraq when ISIS was invading and ended up telling his advisor that he might not be finishing his thesis, what with the beheading crazies bearing down on him and all. In what surely must be a case of record higher education efficiency, the school quickly arranged a team of mercenaries to swoop into town and whisk him and his wife and two children to safety. The moral of the story is that you should probably be writing right now and even being attacked by psycho-terrorists is not an excuse for not having your paper in on time.

6. Medieval Digital Resources

The Medieval Academy of America runs an online list of free to access medieval resources. So if you were looking for a place to access ancient Welsh law texts or a place to help you learn Old English be sure to check them out.

7. Big Government Isn't The Way to Beat Big Tech

I was recently in TAC arguing that even if concerns about the amount of power Big Tech is accumulating are valid, regulations will just help them stay more entrenched. We know from regulatory capture etc. that big firms have lots of influence over regs and they write them to entrench themselves and squash competition. In the end, Big Tech is big because people use their products and services. Consumers made them powerful and can take away that power if they choose. If the industry get mired in a bureacratic regulatory swamp Big Tech will be less concerned with pleasing us consumers and more concerned with lobbying in DC. (Gee, I wonder why Amazon is locating HQ1.5 in DC? Such a mystery.)

Song/Video of the Week: The Lament of Eustace Scrubb

A catchy tune with meaningful lyrics referencing Eustace Scrubb from CS Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Enjoy.

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