I have been out on vacation for the last couple of weeks and to my surprise was able to just about disconnect from the news stream. Today I am reconnecting through one of my favorite activities -- reading the Sunday NY Times. This has sparked a string of maybe a dozen blog post ideas, some of which I will just rip out here and then come back and dig into deeper in the days ahead.
What is China Going to do in Afghanistan?
China is not even in Afghanistan! Well, the British were there a hundred years ago, and it contributed to their fall from world leadership, the Russians were there in the '80s and it drained their coffers, and we are getting humbled there now as detailed in the Wikileaks story of last week. So could it be that China's rising star will land there next?
Waste and Corruption are the Same Thing
Following this thought, if we were to assess corruption by a the single measurement of money wasted, the US would be the most corrupt country on the planet. The big numbers of course are: $1T on military spending and unneeded wars, $1T on the half of healthcare that makes our system cost twice as much as the next one on the list and without any incremental benefit, $1T of bail outs of banks and other institutions that don't reform, and $500B in trade deficits created by buying more from others than we can convince them to buy from us. I am not sure how to parse the interest we pay on past debts, and undoubtedly there are many smaller numbers to add up. So let's just call it $5 trillion wasted every year -- no one can top that!
The Internet as Border Town
From the NY Times piece on Mexico today: "In 1958, Orson Welles used the border as backdrop for his classic noir film “Touch of Evil.” (“This isn’t the real Mexico,” says the character Mike Vargas. “You know that. All border towns bring out the worst in a country."
The story goes on to list all of the bad stuff you can do in Tijuana -- all of which you can get on the Internet quite easily: porn, sex, gambling, danger... maybe not drugs so much but I am sure if you looked hard enough you could.
Apple and Facebook are underway building the new AOLs to protect us from our attraction to a quick trip across the border for a little fun.
Alarming the Alarmists
The BP oil spill may have been avoided had the crew not disabled the alarm. When was the last time you got up to see if the neighbors home or car alarm actually meant there was a robbery underway? Not a day goes by without someone trying to tell us that we should pay more attention to the global temperature alarm. Our economic indicators for GDP and unemployment are at a constant full volume. Now that we are so overloaded with alarm inputs -- how are we possibly going to focus our attention on the important things?
Often vacation is referred to as slowing down. This high temperature re-entry into the news atmosphere leads me to believe that my vacation somehow released me from the usual confines and now I am returning to earth.