Saturday, December 22, 2018

Interesting Things 12/22/18

1. Report: Kenya Risks Losing Port of Mombasa to China

There is worry that Kenya will have to hand over the port of Mombasa to Chinese authorities due to an inability to pay off large Chinese loans that included clauses in which Kenya waived sovereign immunity on the port to use it as collateral. Nothing has happened yet, but China already took over a port in Sri Lanka under similar circumstances. Just another example of China using its newfound economic might in order to expand its geopolitical power. Makes you wonder what kind of yahoos are running these places that they are willing to effectively auction off their sovereignty over a railroad.

2. Japan Approves Defense Plan Including 2 Aircraft Carriers

Japan will be modifying its two helicopter carriers to be able to launch certain types of fighters. These aren't going to be anything like a regular carrier in terms of power projection capability, but still is probably a step in the right direction. There is, of course, some mumbling about this not fitting under the unfamous article 9 of the Japanese constitution (foisted on them by the US) that forbids armed forces, but that is seriously such a joke by this point that it verges on Orwellian doublespeak to say otherwise. Still, quite an issue in Japan. Anyway, I view this as a good thing in terms of long-term checking of China.

3. Desmond & The Killer

Rod Dreher, among others, has been covering an especially disturbing story recently. There is apparently an 11-year-old little boy named Desmond who is a drag-queen star, because what else do you expect these days. Well, someone realized that this kids mother has been taking him to gay clubs where he has been dancing on stage and having people throw money at him. In Dreher's words "sexualizing an 11-year-old, and having him prance around stage performing a sexually suggestive dance in a bar, for grown men to throw money at him, as if he were a stripper — well, look, if that’s not pedophilic grooming, what the hell is?" Well, as if that isn't bad enough, Dreher found that this little kid has been on a YouTube channel run by some freak who served 17 years in prison for killing someone and chopping him up. The guy has a banner on his wall with the name of a date-rape drug. This whole situation is highly disturbing and aside from the usual crowd, no one seems to give a damn, no doubt because we live in an age of individual hedonism where one of the worst things you can do is criticize someone just "living their best life" or whatever abject nonsense. Hopefully, Desmond's parent's come to their senses, or more likely, he is rescued. A very upsetting, but also telling story of the times.

4. The Will to Fight and the Fate of Nations

A very interesting essay on the will to fight and its role in military conflict. The article is specifically looking at how the concept isn't adequately treated in US military doctrine, which is worth considering. However, it is just an interesting concept in general. ISIS was able to route whole divisions of Iraqi troops outfitted with modern US equipment because the Iraqi's just didn't have the will to fight. There is a similar situation in Afghanistan, where there are huge problems with desertion. If a population has a will to fight, then its going to be a long drawn out mess. Hence, we have been fighting the Taliban for 17 years with defeat looking more and more likely by the day. Or think of our experience in Vietnam. This is especially important when thinking of something like a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. A recent survey found that 68 percent of the population is willing to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion that didn't stem from a Taiwanese declaration of independence. Obviously then, China has a large incentive to try and break the Taiwanese will to fight before they hit the beaches, or better yet to so fully destroy their will to fight that an invasion is rendered unnecessary.

5. The Unlikely New Generation of Unibomber Acolytes

This is a very long and interesting piece that people should read. There are apparently a bunch of anti-social (meaning they are opposed to the social order itself) whackos running around who are very intelligent and as a result have turned into nihilists who want to destroy society, usually with some kind of nutzo environmental bent. It is a very long piece but has a lot of useful insights into these people who are quite frankly the enemies of humanity. Notice how a lot of them seem to be exceptionally intellegent.

6. Donald Trump is a Man of Peace--His Enemies are a War Machine

Dan McCarthy lays into all the usual nutjobs who have been running US foreign policy for decades and have continued to just royally screw everything up and waste lives and money. In McCarthy's words: "This elite views other people’s lives in terms of problems, for which the elite’s calling is to provide knowledgeable solutions. But knowledge only comes from the top, and it can never be absorbed by those further down or on the outside: in theory, the technocratic ideology may be egalitarian, but the failure of egalitarianism is what serves to keep the technocrats in existence as a class. They are needed. They will save you from eating the wrong food or smoking the wrong plants (tobacco bad, marijuana good, or vice versa), or having the wrong attitudes toward people of different colors or habits from yourself. Just as society must become ever more regulated at home – if not always regulated by government, then regulated by enlightened authority in the private sphere, even the enlightened Twitter mob – so the world must benefit from our enlightened regulation as well."

7. PewDiePie’s Battle for the Soul of the Internet

I must say, I don't really like PewDiePie, but I subscribed to him anyway in this battle. For me the PDP vs T Series subscriber battle is reflective of a much larger change. A shift in the cultural center of gravity away from the West to the East. Much like how the economic center of gravity is moving and is projected to continue to move east

This is worrisome for several reasons. On the economic front, I can't help but fear a global banking regime run by China the way it is dominanted by the US now. I don't like the US trying to run the world, but China doing it is a lot worse of a nightmare for everyone involved.

That has not happened yet, and may never happen, and if it starts to happen I suspect there will be a great deal of resistance. However, it is already happening with our culture. There are a lot more people in China, and therefore a much larger market for movies, which means Hollywood is incentivized to import Chinese movie standards in hopes that their movies being let into the country. The result is bland and sterile movies that meet Chinese censorship requirements. A nightmare.

Will giant internet companies be able to resist the same pull? What deals will Google cut to have more access to the Chinese market? The chinese government has already succeeded in getting an American employee fired over a Twitter mistake involving Tibet. 

If you think the problems in this article are bad, just wait until China gets more leverage. A terrifying thought, which is why, frankly, Western-centric (construed broadly to include a lot of places like India and Japan etc.) alternatives are needed that make it very clear that they won't even think about dancing with China.

Song/Video of the Week: Good King Wencelas by The Irish Rovers

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