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Total number of comments: 9 (since 2013-11-28 16:33:24)

Billy Randell

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  • Is Russia a "Regional Power" or "Geopolitical Threat"? Obama argues with Romney from the Hague
    • That's exactly what he's saying and it's entirely correct. Russia without hydrocarbon resources to sell would be lumped in with the Less Economically Developed countries at this point. Even worse, it's in a steep demographic decline, so it does not have the option of focusing inwards on developing it's own consumer economy. If any significant portion of the world moves away from hydrocarbons and towards renewable or nuclear energy generation (particularly Europe), Russia is toast economically and politically as the oil and gas money is all that's keeping the oligarchs aligned with the nationalists.

      The tragic irony is that all of things that you would need to do to help alleviate these weaknesses (stuff like fixing income/political inequality, encouraging foreign immigration, and state reinvestment in a crumbling infrastructure) are all anathema to the current Russian government, which is basically an alliance between the oligarchs, religious fundamentalists and nationalists. I'm not arguing that this was always the case, (though even at the hight of it's power the USSR seems to have been punching well above it's actual weight in terms of science and technology), but however mighty the Russian state might have been in the past, it has since been hollowed out by the kleptocrats.

  • Minimum Wage: Beggaring Workers does not Help Employment (Infographics)
    • It's a pretty simple concept. It's the belief that, at a very basic minimum, working 40 hours per week should earn an employee enough money to pay for the basic human needs like food clothing and shelter.

  • Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Natural Gas Platform Sinks
    • I enjoyed the article, but I do think there is one typo. In the sentence with the embedded link to the USEIA article, you say "Iran’s total estimated gas reserves are over 1 trillion cubic feet" While this is technically correct, I believe what you meant to say is that Iran's total estimated reserves are approximately 1 quadrillion cubic feet, unless you are feeling particularly british this evening.

  • Iran's Leader Seeks Control of Internet
  • The Dilemma over Syria
    • I agree with just about everything you wrote in your post. I do think , however, that there there may be one sticky point when we are talking about realpolitik interests. I think one of the main motivations for Russia and China to back Assad is that they are both afraid of setting a precedent of allowing the United Nations to authorize action against autocratic governments who use force against their own people. I think China in particular is very worried about this in light of the rapid growth of political awareness and agitation in their lower and middle classes. They probably both feel like they got pretty badly burned by letting action go ahead on Libya, and were also both probably disturbed by just how quickly the Colonel went down. This is a tough interest to manage because both countries depend on at least some military/police oppression of popular dissent for their systems to function properly (although we seem to be heading in that direction as well).

      Maybe we can get some sympathy from them over the way we let our police brutalize the Occupy protestors around the country. "It's cool guys, we like to pepper spray and tase our protestors too"

  • Schmidt: The Freedom and Democracy Struggle in Syria
    • I'm calling BS on this response. I'm about as far from neo-con as you can be (I'm a socialist and damn proud of it), and I can't think of one single thing from the paragraph you quoted that I don't agree with. People like you have it backwards. Just because some people twist the meanings of the words freedom and democracy, doesn't mean that they aren't noble goals worthy of pursuit. I don't care if some neo-con agrees with me in wanting to weaken the syrian regime, If it spreads true representative democracy then I am for it. Good progressives will almost always beat neo-cons when societies are truly politically free.

      I realized the world wasn't black and white before I hit my teens. How long do you think it will take you?

  • Qaddafi's People's Temple
    • He already did that in the body of the post. The term comes from Jim Jone's command that his followers commit mas suicide by drinking poison laden Kool-Aid.

  • Amanda Knox and Troy Davis
    • Do you believe that every single person that the State of Texas has ever executed was completely and totally guilty of the crime they were executed for? If not, does it in any way bother you that you might be complicit in the state killing an innocent man? I'm not being flippant here, I'd really like to know if it's something that people who believe in state executions ever wonder about.

  • Can Bookstores be Saved?
    • I'm a young guy, (27) but I've been in love with books for 25 years. When I was kid, as soon as I was old enough be trusted to walk a few blocks on my own, the local bookstores and the library became my daycare center. I do share quite a few of your sentiments regarding actual books vs. e-readers, but I do respectfully disagree with some you points.

      I think quite a bit of what we book-readers see as advantages of paper books are just nostalgia and people trying to convince themselves that what they do out of habit and necessity are actually done by choice or design. For instance, I love the feel of a good heavy book in my hands, and also that musty smell of old paper. Both of these things could be seen as major inconveniences or even deal breakers for those with physical disabilities or severe allergies to mold.

      As far as note taking is concerned, I think this is actually one of the great advantages of the electronic form. I believe most of the current E-readers allow you to do something similar to writing notes in the margin, and the future possibilities here are very exciting. Imagine if your e-reader (or the home system it is connected to) was able to read your current book in time with you, all the while comparing the new text with your old notes, and then pointing out how the new material confirms or contradicts your theories, or even pointing towards the works or website of someone who has had similar thoughts about any particular book.

      For those who are worried about the total disappearance of bookstores, you still have awhile before armageddon. I think both libraries and certain types of independent bookstores (especially used & rare specialist shops) will still exist as repositories of paper books for quite a ways into the future. The key to longevity here will be that these places will have to position themselves as areas for local cultural exchange, with libraries doubling as community centers and book-stores acting as modern day coffee-houses, where local folks can go to get a cup of joe and some good old intellectual exchange.

      On a side note, you are not the first person to recommend both Midnight in Paris and Nikos Kazantzakis. I think I will have to ceck both of them out.

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