Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Meet Washington’s IT guy.

B.P. to do “onshore”, risky drilling on an artificial island in Alaska:
…about three miles off the coast of Alaska, BP is moving ahead with a controversial and potentially record-setting project to drill two miles under the sea and then six to eight miles horizontally to reach what is believed to be a 100-million-barrel reservoir of oil under federal waters.

Rather than conducting their own independent analysis, federal regulators, in a break from usual practice, allowed BP in 2007 to write its own environmental review for the project as well as its own consultation documents relating to the Endangered Species Act, according to two scientists from the Alaska office of the federal Mineral Management Service that oversees drilling.

Why the Gulf of Mexico gusher invalidates nuclear power: accidents happen.

Private equity funds have billions sitting around and they can’t invest it! Here’s a hope: don’t.

More action to cut down on medical residents’ hours.

Tyler Cowen reveals why pay-what-you-want won’t work in restauranting.

Apparently the bank taxes in the U.K. budget were, ah, overstated.

Resolution fund to be dropped from the conference bill. Ugh. Also, forget about regulation of car dealerships. Why, exactly, do they have such clout?

An excellent Sports Illustrated article on Phil Jackson.

A good scouting report on Evan Turner raising the question whether he’ll be an NBA All-Star. A note: the same blogger predicted big things for Brandon Jennings before last year’s draft, so he knows whereof he speaks. Still, I just can’t see Turner being a successful player. Too much savvy, too much skill. And it’s not as if he’s Adam Morrison here—his rebounding numbers are too good to be the product of poor athleticism. The scouting report features this great aside:
[Aside: if the no. 1 reason that college coaches fail in the NBA is that they invariably get stuck with crappy rosters, not far behind at no. 2 is the fact that they woefully fail Matchups 101, the bread-and-butter of an NBA coach's nightly duties. This one was elementary, Tubby. Geez.]
And remember that Tubby is a national championship winning coach. Don’t let anyone fawn over college coaches ever again: most of them aren’t that good; the ones that are that good are like putting Andre Iguodala at the Pee-Wee game: sure, Iguodala’s good, but he looks a hell of a lot better because of the comp.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fighting evildoers…by going after strategic defaulters? Great job guys! Who thinks of this stuff?
POSSIBLY HYPOTHETICAL BUREAUCRAT: “OK, first we’re going to make an utter mockery of a program that doesn’t help struggling homeowners reduce the size of their debt. Then, when those homeowners act rationally and strategically and not pay it, we’ll fuck em. Great plan, right? Right?”

Ryan Lizza on Pete Orszag.

How does the U.S. distort the trading field?

Producers and parasites.

The 2010 Green Room draftees in suits. Very few sharp looks in the class—I see what you did there Wes Johnson, well done—and a lot of goofy ones. We could have the high comedy we’ve all wanted and deserved tomorrow.

More on the soldiers in Afghanistan not buying the strategy:
“I wish we had generals who remembered what it was like when they were down in a platoon,” he said to a reporter in the back. “Either they never have been in real fighting, or they forgot what it’s like.”

Young officers and enlisted soldiers and Marines, typically speaking on the condition of anonymity to protect their jobs, speak of “being handcuffed,” of not being trusted by their bosses and of being asked to battle a canny and vicious insurgency “in a fair fight.”
Some rules meant to enshrine counterinsurgency principles into daily practices, they say, do not merely transfer risks away from civilians. They transfer risks away from the Taliban.

Before the rules were tightened, one Army major who had commanded an infantry company said, “firefights in Afghanistan had a half-life.” By this he meant that skirmishes often were brief, lasting roughly a half-hour. The Taliban would ambush patrols and typically break contact and slip away as patrol leaders organized and escalated Western firepower in response.

Now, with fire support often restricted, or even idled, Taliban fighters seem noticeably less worried about an American response, many soldiers and Marines say. Firefights often drag on, sometimes lasting hours, and costing lives. The United States’ material advantages are not robustly applied; troops are engaged in rifle-on-rifle fights on their enemy’s turf.
The strategy isn’t working because it can’t work, not because we’re doing it wrong.

Reforming the refugee system in the U.S.

Stimulating question (good article):
For centuries, cities have been killing fields – places where proximity led to death and disease. In the 17th century, life expectancy at birth was 20 years lower in London than in the English countryside. Yet now, the average life expectancy in New York City is one and a half years higher than in the nation as a whole. How did city living get so healthy?


  1. I think Afghanistan is hopeless as things currently stand, but the COIN strategy does seem better that the shoot-em-up approach. The reason that COIN/Nation Building is failing is because there is no proper bureaucracy/governance.

    The troops join the military to be troops, not policemen/social workers. I understand why they dislike the current approach.

    In any case, any approach will fail. I don't know of any example of successful nation building where the required investment in human capital is so high (please offer any examples). Such investments, which really take a generation, are only conducted by home grown governments which have the patience.

  2. I certainly can't think of any either. It's unprecedented, as far as I can tell. It combines development, which is a hard thing we haven't gotten the hang of, with war, which is also a hard thing we haven't gotten the hang of. The sum of these difficulties is daunting, which is why it's probably better not to try.