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Friday, March 02, 2018

Interesting Readings 01March2018

First on the list is George Friedman's super wise comment
 I have written in several places about a paradox. On the one hand, if you take a snapshot of the world every 20 years or so, the reality of how the world works and what matters will have shifted dramatically compared with the previous snapshot. On the other hand, at any point in time there is a general belief that the world as it is at this moment will remain in place for a long time. It is not just the public but also experts and those who govern who tend to fail to see how transitory the present reality is. As a result – and this is what makes it important – as the geopolitical system shifts, there is a tendency to see the shifts as transitory, a temporary disruption caused by unfortunate events, until they are well entrenched, and so we tend to align ourselves with the shift far too late.

In 1900, Europe was peaceful and prosperous, and it dominated the world. It was assumed that this was a permanent reality. By 1920, Europe had torn itself apart, impoverished itself, in a bloody war. It was assumed that Germany, having been defeated, was finished. By 1940, Germany had re-emerged and was astride Europe. It was assumed that the German tide could not be resisted. By 1960, Germany was an occupied and divided country. It was assumed that war between the strongest of the occupiers, the United States and the Soviet Union, was inevitable. By 1980, there had been a war, but in Vietnam rather than Europe, and the United States had been defeated. The U.S. was now aligned with China against the Soviet Union. It was assumed that the Soviets were a permanent and dangerous enemy to both countries. By 2000, the Soviet Union no longer existed. It was assumed that the key interest of all countries was economic growth, and that traditional conflict among nations had become a marginal matter.

Twenty years is an arbitrary time period, but historically it’s about the length of a human generation. The world changes radically in each generation, but the dates can vary. The last era began in 1991 and ended in 2008. Yet even now there are many who are waiting for the world of 1991 to return. More important, only now is the full power of what started in 2008 being felt.
Scam reports
CBI arrests Karti Chidambaram in INX Media bribery case. There is no question the Chidambaram family is steeped in corruption. The question is how to get them properly. CBI has not shown dramatic or even proper application in such cases. The 2G Telecom scam findings are case in point. The accused A Raja and Kanimozhi were released for lack of any proper investigated reliable charge.

Other issues
Can good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns? Must read
Battlefields are places where one is expected to shoot down the enemy. But 1947 book Men Against Fire by Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall, changed the existing beliefs about battlefield behaviour. The study found that in World War II only 15-20% of soldiers fired their weapons at enemy soldiers in view, even if their own lives were endangered. This was the first significant study that showed that it is not easy for a normal human being to kill another human, even in war.o

Ignored For the Nobel Prize, This Unsung Scientist Is The Father Of Fibre Optics! This is the story of Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany who first demonstrated fibre optic transmission of light in 1950s. Remarkable story.

Reinventing Journalism
Journalism has suffered from broken business model and there seem to be no solutions, at least as of now.Today I bumped into a story about billionaires messing with Journalism.

Billionaires gone wild is the story by Alex Pareene who is ex-Gawker a online media site shut down by Peter Thiel for its anti-Trump views by allegedly financing the legal lawsuit by Hulk Hogan. Gawker was notorious too.

World War Watch
Xi Jinping is unmaking Deng Xiaoping’s China
Mint has a great piece on Chinese constitution amendment allowing Xi Jinping to continue as President.
The effects of Xi’s longer term in office will be felt across the world. But those effects are also a function of what transpires in China in the first place. In terms of leadership style and choice of policies, Xi is more Mao Zedong than Deng Xiaoping. While Mao believed in helping revolutionary movements around the world, Deng’s approach was informed by his mantra of “hide your strength, bide your time”. Xi’s China is moving back, closer to Mao, by interfering in the domestic politics of other countries. Deng introduced political reforms so as to prevent the kind of concentration of power possible under Mao. The two-term limit on presidency was part of those reforms. Xi is now reversing Deng’s legacy on this front too.

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