Sunday, September 19, 2010

New and Noteworthy (Eamonn Fingleton, Lind on College, Frank for the WSJ, Peak Oil, Farmland Purchases)

Today's edition consists mainly of old but quite worthwhile pieces, namely:

* Eamonn Fingleton in The American Prospect, offering an update of his arguments in favor of "hard" industries (e.g. manufacturing) with regard to Germany's situation.

* Michael Lind at on the "fantasy of a vast upper middle class" implicit in the advocacy of widened access to college as the panacea for America's economic inequities, just part of the broader questioning of our attitudes toward college seen in these last few years.

* Thomas Frank's last column for the Wall Street Journal, in which he reviews the all-too predictable "unlearning" of the lessons of the recent economic crisis. (The piece is behind the paywall now, but well worth a look if you can access it, both because it is Frank's last, and because of what he says about how little the conventional wisdom on economics has changed after the disaster that struck so hard in 2008--and from which we are all still reeling.)

* Der Spiegel's (English-language edition) story on the leak of a secret study performed inside the German military's Bundeswehr Transformation Center think tank on the security implications of peak oil. According to this story, peak oil may already be here, or practically here, but the real security effects would be felt some time down the road, circa 2030. Going over the list of central points, I find that I described quite a few of these in my earlier articles for Parameters and Survival. (The principal point I did not take on was the prospect of a movement from the market toward central planning in energy, and perhaps more generally.)

Incidentally, this comes on top of an earlier report in the Guardian (which Der Spiegel notes) of low-key alarm among senior British policymakers about the same issue (which the British government is officially, publically dismissing).

* Finally, Michael Kugelman at the New Security Beat blog offers a critique of the World Bank's report on the "race for the world's farmland" as we look ahead to decades of population growth and rising food prices-which, alas, appears to be more interesting than the actual report itself (a "resounding dud" in Kugelman's words, both where its revelations of data and its analysis are concerned).

New and Noteworthy: Items From the Hiatus #4 (Post Peak-Oil Flight, Wind Energy)
New and Noteworthy: Items From the Hiatus #3 (Wired Danger Room, Desktop Manufacturing, Charles Stross, Wired for War)
New and Noteworthy: Items From the Hiatus #2 (Demand Side Blog, Space Policy, New Security Beat, "The Boring Age")
A Brief History of the Future: A Brave and Controversial Look at the Twenty-First Century, by Jacques Attali

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