PRC between a rock and a dry place

If they don’t cut back on farming, the northern half of the country may undergo slow desertification.  If they do cut back on farming, millions of farmers will lose their livelihoods, and there’s a decent chance the PRC will find itself on the receiving end of popular protests that they can’t contain, threatening domestic stability.

Not that Communists don’t already have the worst environmental records ever tallied up by humanity, but I wouldn’t want to be a minor PRC functionary on this issue in Northern China right now.  Likelihood of getting tossed to the wolves as a scapegoat, increasing…

Assassination in Moscow

Big anti-corruption guy whacked.  Shot pattern suggests former special forces guy as the trigger man, which in Russia could mean a faction assassination, could mean a mob figure.

Jump, dumbass, jump!

I knew it wasn’t going to be my day.

Woke up with a nasty sinus headache from the chalkboard dust, that I couldn’t manage to shake last night.  (I can’t believe we’re actually still using chalkboards, like this is the 20th century or something…)

And then this stupid son of a bitch decided to camp out on the bridge for 360 and Mayfield, and then threaten to jump.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want to be the poor s.o.b. to pull off on Mayfield, cross under the highway, and have some 240-pound dude land on my car, either.  And maybe — no, definitely — it’s because I’m just not as wonderful a human being as some of the other folks I’ve met in this terrestrial existence…

but I’ve done the math, and between the disruption this stupid s.o.b. caused while ass-cheek-standing half-on and half-off that overpass arguing with the cops, he has to have messed with about five thousand peoples’ commutes directly.  Both 360 and I-20 were hopelessly snarled.  I-20 backed up for miles (and at 8:30 in the morning, you know how many people that is), and 360 completely shut down.

So he could argue with the cops while standing on an overpass.

If he were serious, he’d have walked out on the I-20 overpass.  Not some rinky-dink, eighteen-foot-six-inch, “I’m bouncing over a two-lane-road” overpass.  What’s he going to do if he does jump, break his ankles?

He’s probably still there now.  Jump, dumbass.  Break those ankles.  Get the hell out of everybody’s way, so the cops can bust you, the paramedics fix you up, and life can go on.

(I’m sure I’ll have a calmer and more reasonable position sometime around 8 this evening when I’m sitting around with a beer, and, yes, I’m unfortunately intimately familiar with the tragedy fatal depression/suicide.  I just can’t help shaking the feeling, having seen the guy, that this is some dude pulling an 8-year-old’s attention stunt.)

When you’ve “Got Game”

You’ve got game.

I’m no fan of bullfighting — don’t see the point in doing that to animals.  But still… you can’t deny the prowess involved here, most of it non-human.

EU Skeptics Put Paid to Ag Policy…

It starts to seriously look like the technocrats have just managed to artificially engineer a food shortage… or at least a serious price spike.

What People (Like Me) Are Thinking About on Wednesdays

How about… attacking a castle with your bare hands?

Anecdotal evidence on immigration?

And a good point on why anecdotals remain important…

Russian Oil Weapon?

Two pieces from the Jamestown Foundation provide food for thought.

First, Russia is not keeping its contractual obligations in supplying oil to Germany.

Second, Russia is blatantly trying to use the Austrian government to take over the largest Hungarian oil company against its will (read the fine print on this one, it’s subtle).  Austria is happily complying, because their own state-owned enterprise is hopelessly moribund at the same time as MOV, a completely private firm, threatens to make Hungary an energy power in Central Europe — bad for OMV, really bad for Russian geopolitics.

The writing on the wall is that it is in Germany’s geopolitical interest to make certain that MOV survives, and that there are as many alternatives to Kremlin oil (you can’t really call it Russian oil, since the industry is an explicit arm of the siloviki in Moscow) as possible.

The Kleptocrat and the Mouthpiece

The Kleptocrat has just returned to power in Iran.

Rafsanjani is not a nice guy.  He runs the same sort of neo-feudal, nepotist-kleptocracy that has long characterized mid-east tyrannies for years.

But at the same time, Rafsanjani is more than willing to discuss basic reforms, and moderate the more hard-line positions, because it’s become overwhelmingly obvious that Iranian anger at the hardliners makes this a safe position.

Vetted figures are obviously no more available than they are in Russia, but relatively recent data suggests double-digit inflation and unemployment at least that bad, not to mention gas shortages (humiliating for a major exporter of oil).

Any progress in Iran is welcome.  Even an Iran more-or-less operating according to the Chinese model would be a giant leap forward to world peace.  We don’t have to, in the words of Senator McCain, “bomb-bomb Iran,” in order to see progress happening…  but we do need to be realistic about how to empower the kleptocrats at the expense of the uber-conservatives without telling ourselves fairy-tales about the former’s trustworthiness.

There are plenty of moderate, cosmopolitan Iranians who will gradually force their regime into an open society… if they are only provided the breathing space to do so.

This video should come with an estrogen warning.

Ready the Anti-Machismo Ray!

Hungarian Justice

…needs an overhaul.

For instance, if I were to be convicted of doing what these men were doing, my lifespan in Texas would be measured in heartbeats.

And rightly so.  Sad to say, it’s not even a particularly unknown crime in Hungary — the gypsy community is infamous for it.

Who says we shouldn’t have a death penalty?

Carry on, Red-Shirted Security Dude

After reading through this morning’s “News and Comment,”  my first reaction was “lord, would the world please get over itself and calm down today?  Lighten up, o ye billions!”

But then I read this:  ultrasound surgical equipment healing lung wounds.

Normally, a sucking chest wound is nature’s way of telling you to slow down.  But with ultrasound, you can keep on dancin’!

Oh, yeah, and before I forget, go DARPA and DoD technology spending!

But it’s just folk dance!

You couldn’t actually hurt anybody with this…

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