Assuming that one is looking for them, it is fairly easy to find internet arguments that stem from comparisons among and between science fiction universes, and a great many of these arguments center on comparing governments within those universes. Which government is more democratic: Star Wars’ Galactic Republic or Star Trek’s United Federation? Who is more repressive: Firefly’s Alliance or Star Wars’ Galactic Empire? How do the military assets of the Stargate universe stack up against those found in all of the other sci-fi universes? Indeed, given that nerd culture is now nearly synonymous with pop culture, these conversations seem to be quite common, Continue reading Sci-Fi Poli Sci, Episode I: Regime Types Across Sci-Fi Universes
Via Steve Clemmons at The Washington Note, The New York Times has a story on who will be tapped to be the next Secretary of Defense. And the winner is? Mr. Leon Panetta! Panetta is currently the director of the CIA, and according to the Times article, it is expected that Obama will soon announce Panetta's move to the Pentagon upon the exit of Bob Gates. Of course this move opens up Panetta's post at the CIA, and apparently some low-level no-name general named David Petraeus is expected to move on in to that post with Panetta's move to Continue reading Obama’s Next Cabinet
The title is slightly inappropriate, as Italy had previously decided to send military advisors to Libya. Maybe we should say welcome more aboad, or welcome aboard again. Well…whatever. The point is Britain and France had previously been pleading with their NATO allies for more support in the air campaign to remove Ghadaffi from power and replace his autocracy with a "democratic government" protect civilians. But now the Italians have decided to contribute some planes to the campaign to help out their British and French pals. I don't know what the recent media climate has been like in Italy, but with Berlusconi's Continue reading Welcome Aboard!
I've apparently been sitting on this post for a while, so this might be (is quite literally) old news for many out there. It's an op-ed piece from The New York Times from a few months back on the healthcare legislation (No, this it not about IR). What caught my eye was at the end of the article when he starts talking about the incentives created by mandating that people obtain health insurance. The gist of it is that in spite of all of the cries about this legislation representing the onslaught of the communist hoards, this kind of legislation might Continue reading Healthcare Incentives
The entire country of Liechtenstein is now up for rent. Yes, you read correctly, the entire country! It costs $70,000 a night, with a two night minimum, and there are accommodations for 900 guests. Some of the perks include being presented with the symbolic key to the state by parliament, renaming the streets and the town square, and printing your own currency with your picture on it. Even though renting the country of Liechtenstein sounds like fun, there are limits to what you can do. Unsurprisingly, you do not get to determine what type of government it has, get involved Continue reading Let’s Rent Liechtenstein
A friend posted a link to a list of 20 words that were not directly translatable into the English language. Most of the words appear to come from Altalang.com, a website that focuses on linguistics and understanding. A few highlights include: Ilunga: Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.” Tingo: Pascuense (Easter Island) – Hopefully this isn’t a word you’d need Continue reading Does language change the way we play games?
Via Andrew Gelman at the Monkey Cage, an article on this recent Gallup poll regarding people's income and their perceptions of income distributions, tax burdens, etc. The thrust of the article is that there are some disparities between where people fall in the overall income distribution and their perceptions of how the tax burden should be distributed—Not my normal thing, but interesting nevertheless. More below…
This isn't terribly surprising, but it seems that some NATO states have finally made their preferences publicly known. The UK is sending a small group of military advisors to Libya to…well, advise, and train Libyan rebels. This is apparently part of a joint British and French operation. I don't think it was a secret that most of the states involved in the intervention in Libya wanted Ghadaffi gone—They have said as much. However, I think most of these states expected that their objective could be achieved under the guise of acting on a UN mandate, whereas the prolonged fighting Continue reading Finally Choosing Sides, Huh?
I've been meaning to say something about this for a while now, but happen to be a little late to the show. A couple of weeks ago two Marine Corps officers, whom I presume are members of the joint staff, released an article under the pseudonym "Mr. Y.," harkening back to George Kennan's "X" article in Foreign Affairs. In a nutshell, their article attempts to provide a broad conceptual framework through which America's role in global affairs can be viewed through the next century. John Norris at FP has some comments on the piece for those who are interested. I Continue reading Mr. Y. is no Mr. X.
Interesting article from Defense News on US-Chinese relations. The US CINC of Pacific Command has noted that Chinese naval forces have seemed less aggressive this year than they were last year, and offers a couple of explanations for why. I have some thoughts on these explanations, but there is one other point that I also find particularly interesting: