Friday, December 3, 2010

New and Noteworthy (The Unemployment Rate, John Hickman in Space Review, The New Security Beat)

In today's edition:

* The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released the latest unemployment figures. The U-3 rate is 9.8 percent (the worst in nine months, and making for a post-World War II record of 19 straight months above the 9 percent level), while the U-6 rate held steady at 17 percent. Once again, construction and manufacturing shed jobs, and so did government, while the service sector was the source of the (disappointing) job increases offsetting them, with all that implies in the long and short term for the American job market, the broader economic recovery and the country's longer-term economic structure. Once again, despite smug talk of recovery (and high profits), things are simply not getting better.

* John Hickman, whose excellent 1999 article, "The Political Economy of Very Large Space Projects," should be required reading for all those buying into the facile schemes for financing ambitious space development plans, penned quite an interesting piece in the Space Review this week, offering a critique of the treatment of space colonization in future histories (namely James Lovelock and Michael Allaby's The Greening of Mars, Robert Zubrin and Richard Wagner's The Case for Mars and How to Live on Mars, and Haym Benaroya's Turning Dust to Gold).

* The New Security Beat has featured a number of noteworthy articles in the last two months. These include two pieces on the role of water resources in China's relationships with its neighbors, one on the management of the Mekong between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors, and the other on the Brahmaputra as a factor in Sino-Indian relations; a two-parter on the developmental issues confronting Nigeria, a country that, as the article reminds us, is home to a fifth of the people of sub-Saharan Africa, the world's fourth-largest earner from oil in 2009, and thus a significant factor in regional and world security; Jennifer Sciubba's response to demographers focusing on the graying of the world, and overlooking the reality that population pressure remains an issue, one that resource scarcity and climate change may make more severe; and for those following the situation on the Korean peninsula, a piece examining the possible role of environment and food security (and especially last summer's floods) in North Korea's shelling of South Korea.

New and Noteworthy (A Progressive National Security Policy, Ireland, New Supercomputer)
New and Noteworthy (Solar Wind Power, Rare Earth Mineral Politics, Ireland, Bad Science Journalism)
The Real Unemployment Rate
Review: The Organization Man, by William H. Whyte

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