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Links of the Day

[ 77 ] January 7, 2015 |

Some stuff for your reading pleasure:

And most importantly, this happened. Screenshot 2015-01-07 10.53.05
Unfortunately the F-35 unfollowed me seconds later, which is either a victory for stealth, or an indication that the software is still fucked.

2014 Predictions Review

[ 42 ] January 5, 2015 |

This is the last of my “trends to watch in 2015″ pieces, I promise. But more to the point, it’s time for the compliance report required by the Pundit-Blogger Accountability Act:

World Series Champion: Cincinnati Reds
Number of countries playing host to Edward Snowden: 1 (Russia)
Academy Award, Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave
Senkaku/Diaoyou related incidents resulting in shots fired: 1
Afghanistan Coalition fatalities (+/-10): 80 (75)
North Korean nuclear tests: 1
Sunsets on the Syria under President of Bashar al-Assad: 365
College Basketball National Champion: University of Kentucky Wildcats
Heisman Trophy: Marcus Mariota
Israeli strikes on Iran: 0
Number of successful Scottish independence referendums: 0

Supreme Court vacancies: 1
2014 3rd Quarter GDP growth (as per revisions by 12/31/14, +/-.2): 3.0% (5%)
F-22 crashes: 1 (0)
Barack Obama approval rate, 12/31/14 (+/- .3%): 44.5% (43.6%)
Number of Republican seats won, US Senate (as of 12/31/14): 48
Number of Republican seats won, US House: (as of 12/31/14, +/-2): 235 (247)

Some glaring misses, but nevertheless a record I’ll stand by. Here’s looking at your 2015:

World Series Champion: Washington Nationals
NCAA Football FBS Champion: Oregon Ducks
Number of living Castro brothers, 12/31/15: 1
Academy Award, Best Picture: Boyhood
Number of Mistral class amphibious assault ships delivered to Russia: 1
Number of fatal incidents involving collision between Russian and NATO aircraft: 1
Afghanistan Coalition fatalities: 35
North Korean nuclear tests: 1
Sunsets on Syria under President of Bashar al-Assad: 365
Number of defeats suffered by Kentucky Wildcats Men’s Basketball, 2014-5 season: 0
Heisman Trophy: Dalvin Cook, FSU
Israeli strikes on Iran: 0
Number of formal agreements between Iran and the United States on the future of Iran’s nuclear program: 1
Number of Coalition aircraft shot down by ISIS: 1
Supreme Court vacancies: 1
2014 3rd Quarter GDP growth (as per revisions by 12/31/15, +/-.2): 2.8%
F-35 crashes: 1
Barack Obama approval rate, 12/31/15 (+/- .3%): 45.1%
European benchmark Brent oil, 12/31/15 (+/- $2.00): $61


[ 1 ] January 5, 2015 |

Note that nominations are open for the 2015 Duckies, which honor the best blogging on international relations.  Categories include:

  1. Best Blog (Group) in IR
  2. Best Blog (Individual) in IR
  3. Best Blog Post in IR
  4. Best New Blogger (Individual) in IR — this can be anyone new blogging in an individual or group blog.

See Duck of Minerva for details. 

India Nukes

[ 6 ] January 5, 2015 |

My latest at the National Interest takes a look at India’s nuclear program:

This article examines the development of the nuclear program over history, the current state of the program and its associated delivery system projects, the strategic rationale of India’s nuclear efforts, and the likely future contours of the program. The current balance of nuclear power in South and East Asia is unstable, and likely to result in a nuclear arms race involving Pakistan, India, and China.

On Cranky Old Men…

[ 79 ] January 1, 2015 |

Let us quote liberally from the esteemed Mr. Charles Pierce:

 However, because the Heisman Trophy is as weighted toward quarterbacks as a papal conclave is weighted toward cardinals, Marcus Mariota of Oregon won. Cooper finished a ridiculous third. I mention all of this because, in the opening round of the inaugural Cash Drop in college football this year, Mariota will go up against last year’s winner, the curiously unindicted Jameis Winston, who (I suspect) will lead the Tallahassee Conspiracy To Obstruct Justice to a whopping win that will make the Heisman voting this year look even worse. The CTOJ will then move on to the first national championship game of the playoff era. Win or lose, this will make the entire enterprise look worse than the Heisman Trophy does.


Top Ten LGM Posts of 2014

[ 28 ] December 31, 2014 |

2014 was an interesting year for LGM, with the celebration of our tenth anniversary, and the (at this point wildly popular) introduction of comment registration. Here are our ten top posts of the last year, in terms of traffic:

  1. Christ, I Hate Blackboard (Noon)
  2. Brian Leiter’s Slow Motion Car Crash Accelerates (Campos)
  3. Conservative White Male Resentment of the Day (Loomis)
  4. The Ladder of Law Has No Top And No Bottom (Lemieux)
  5. Will American University’s law school sue students who drop out or transfer? (Campos)
  6. Noncompete Clauses for Fast Food Workers? (Loomis)
  7. Today In the New Gilded Age (Lemieux)
  8. And You Thought Hiring Jim Zorn Was Dumb! (Lemieux)
  9. Should Liberals Be Applauding Hobby Lobby? (SPOILER: No.) (Lemieux)
  10. If something cannot go on forever, it will stop (Campos)

 Thank you from everyone at LGM for making this the best possible 2014. In addition to patronizing the site, you have, as a group, demonstrated a remarkable degree of generosity. Have a good, safe New Year’s Eve!  Drink to a better 2015!


[ 8 ] December 30, 2014 |

My latest at the National Interest takes a look at the development of hyper-sonic weapons:

The United States is building hypersonics for two reasons. First, we want to kill people fast, without the messy danger of a global thermonuclear war. Second, we want to be able to punch through the defensive systems of peer competitors.

Unfortunately, these two justifications contradict one another. Given that China, Russia and even India appear on their way to similar systems, we should take care before letting the technology outpace the politics.

Non-Pedestrian Concerns

[ 114 ] December 29, 2014 |

This is an odd little explainer:

We’ve all heard the idea: In winter, your car needs a little time to warm up before you can drive it. And that’s why across the United States, people who live in cold and snowy places — and especially those whose cars have remote starters — often fire up their engines long before they start driving. Heck, they might even start the car from the kitchen in the morning, and only then start the coffee brewing.

But it turns out that this idea of idling your car during the winter is just wrong. And so are the many, many Americans who believe it — one 2009 study found that on average, Americans thought they should idle for over 5 minutes before driving when temperatures were below 32 degrees…

Idling in winter thus has no benefit to your (presumably modern) car. Auto experts today say that you should warm up the car no more than 30 seconds before you start driving in winter. “The engine will warm up faster being driven,” the EPA and DOE explain. Indeed, it is better to turn your engine off and start it again than to leave it idling.

I’ll confess; I start the car a good five minutes early, while I’m still in the process of convincing the twins to put on their damn shoes. Like every single person under the age of seventy, however, my decision to idle the car has nothing to do with prepping the carburetor. It turns out that cars, when left in a cold garage overnight, are fucking cold; starting them early makes their insides less cold. If you’re not fortunate enough to have a garage, starting them early gets you a good headstart on defrosting the windows, and I’ve been told that driving while sheets of ice still cover the windshield is both dangerous and irresponsible.

Now, I’ll grant that running the engine for five minutes to solve these two problems can be wasteful, selfish, etc.  Nevertheless, an article of this sort should probably concentrate on the reasons that people actually idle their cars, rather than presume that the problem lies in ignorance of the engineering of the modern automobile. Indeed, I’d guess that the historical interest in idling a car on a cold morning has far less to do with engine health than it does with the aforementioned two factors.


Slice that Salami!

[ 19 ] December 26, 2014 |

At the Diplomat, I provide a handy guide to salami slicing:

Salami slicing works best against a coalition of states with uncertain levels of commitment. It identifies extended deterrence commitments as the vulnerable ligaments that hold a coalition together, and tries to place stress on those connections. Salami “slices” have greater strategic than intrinsic value, although the “slicer” can take advantage of differences in how the opposing coalition values particular objects.

Salami slicing requires long range planning, careful assessment of the commitment of an opponent. If an opponent is more interested in an excuse for aggression than in deterrence, then slicing can result in catastrophe.  If the slices are too large, the effort can produce counter-balancing.


[ 8 ] December 26, 2014 |

The Indian Ocean tsunami started ten years ago today, resulting in ~230000 dead. I barely remember the first day, although I suspect that I was traveling. I also don’t remember much about US news coverage at the beginning; seems that we didn’t start sharing the videos of the tides until a bit later (and this was before the sharing economy of the internet really ramped up, in any case).

For anyone interested in the small-but-important role that the USN played in relief efforts, I can still recommend Bruce Elleman’s Waves of Hope.

Merry Christmas!

[ 9 ] December 25, 2014 |

Best of luck with efforts to survive any encounters with family.

Screenshot 2014-12-24 09.26.27

Winning the War on Christmas

[ 4 ] December 23, 2014 |

In these trying times, I feel compelled to re-up the Foreign Entanglements discussion of our prospects in the War on Christmas:

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