Geopolitical Motivations (Victor Davis Hanson)

Victor Davis Hanson has a tragic view of the universe. It comes naturally. As a former professor of classics, decades of working with Homer, Sophocles, Virgil and Horace, Greek history and studying ancient warfare, he says, have taught him that there are certain “immutable laws.” We all age and die. Humans are selfish. Power is might.

He believes the President and his ilk think that if Obama meets with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez or Vladimir Putin, “they’re going to be charmed, they’re going to be impressed, they’re going to see the logic of his enlightened mind, and his way of thinking–that wars don’t start the way the Greeks said they did, because of honour, or pride or fear.”

After Jimmy Carter failed not only to rescue the U.S. economy, but set in motion a deleterious series of foreign policy fiascos, voters turned to Ronald Reagan’s promise to fight Communism again, and free the hostages. The seriousness and credibility of Reagan’s threat of power was enough: Tehran released its remaining captives minutes after his inauguration. The tragic view of the world, he says, insists that keeping tyrants in check means raising the price of their mischief to an intolerable point.

“You have to be resigned to the fact that at some point, what makes Iran not shoot a missile at Israel, or North Korea cross the 38th parallel, is their fear of repercussions,” he says.

After Obama, Mr. Hanson predicts, Americans will surely remember the importance of a leader who intimidates the United States’ rivals. It may not feel as therapeutic, but, he believes, a world ruled by an unrepentantly hegemonic America is a lot less tragic a result than the alternatives.

Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/couch/3962199/story.html#ixzz17w5Cc4Jq

Nassim Taleb Imitates Kanye West


The often angry-looking Nassim Taleb just published a book of unlinked tweets: The Bed of Procrustes. It is short and has a Kindle version that costs 72 cents less than the hardcopy.As to its flaws, it reminded me of one of my favorite aphorisms: “the man who early on regards himself as genius is lost.” He inverts the observation that geniuses are often misunderstood to the insight that misunderstood people are geniuses, and critics of such people are imbeciles who don’t even have the taste to appreciate genius. My criticisms are therefore consistent with him being right or wrong, but falsification is not symptomatic of punditry in general or Taleb in particular.

via Falkenblog: Nassim Taleb Imitates Kanye West.

Succinct Summation of Week’s Events

Positives:

1) Tax deal compromise in DC

2) Lower than expected Trade Deficit will lift Q4 GDP estimates

3) Initial Jobless Claims 4 week average falls to lowest since Aug ’08

4) UoM consumer confidence rises to best since June

5) China bank loans and import/export figures above forecasts and hikes RR to cool lending growth

6) Australian jobs # much better than expected

7) Stocks continue to move higher

Negatives:

1) Interest rates around the world continue higher, reach 6 and 7 month highs in major developed countries

2) Mortgage rates follow higher

3) Bernanke says $600b may not be enough and says with a straight face that he’s NOT printing money

4) Fitch downgrades credit of Ireland and Moody’s lowers Hungary but just playing catch up

5) China data above estimates, RR hike, will interest rates imminently follow?

via Succinct Summation of Week’s Events (12/10/10) | The Big Picture.

MakerBot Thing-O-Matic … 3D Object Printer

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What do you call a 12 inch by 12 inch by 16 inch box that can print 3D objects of your design,continuously for hours at a time, for just over a thousand dollars? That’s the new MakerBot Thing-O-Matic, the latest and greatest in automated home 3D object printing. MakerBot has just begunsending the first shipment out its doors.

MakerBot says the Thing-O-Matic prints higher-quality items than its other 3D printers but the real differentiator here is the automation: give this thing enough plastic to chew on and it will print the same or different objects one after the other after the other, clearing itself out each time before beginning anew. Can the Thing-O-Matic self-replicate – be used to make more Thing-O-Matics? That line was crossed by the old school MakerBot last June, so perhaps it’s just a matter of time.

Combine this with the MakerBot 3D scanner, which scans 3D objects around itself and turns them into designs the MakerBots can replicate and then you’re really cooking with…plastic.

If you find yourself in New York City, you can presumably see all these things in the flesh at the newMakerBot Botcave retail store that opened on Black Friday.

via MakerBot Ships the Thing-O-Matic: An Automated 3D Object Printer.