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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


"Don’t use bug spray, don’t smoke and don’t drink alcohol."

That's the advice offered by scientists at Duke University who have confirmed that soldiers suffering from "Gulf War syndrome" were exposed to sarin gas in the 1991 war with Iraq. The Army Times has the details.
Research released in early May showed that 13 soldiers exposed to small amounts of sarin gas in the 1991 Gulf War had 5 percent less white brain matter — connective tissue — than soldiers who had not been exposed. A complementary report showed that 140 soldiers who were exposed had the fine motor skills of someone 20 years older — what researchers called a “direct correlation” to exposure.
Note that this sarin gas was not used in anger by Saddam Hussein against American troops. Rather, US forces "destroyed an Iraqi chemical weapons dump in Khamisiyah in March 1991."

Sometimes, those American bombers aren't bringing freedom.

As many as 300,000 US troops were exposed to sarin and 100,000 are at heightened risk of brain cancer.

If you are a vet of the Gulf War, the Pentagon has posted a list of units exposed to sarin gas.

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Beer me?

I'm giving serious thought to stealing this tag (and the accompanying icon):
If you like this post, buy the authors a refreshing beer.
Apparently, eleven readers clicked the paypal link and the author drank higher quality beer at that night's ballgame.

Hmmm. I'm likely to see another minor league game in the next couple of days...

I've never asked my readers for cash, but this is purpose-driven, right?

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day!

It's a holiday weekend, expect light blogging.

Instead of checking in here, do something fun.

I started the weekend out early. Thursday evening, I attended my second game this season for AAA Louisville. In both, Reds prospect Joey Votto hit homers to lead his team to victory. Given the way the Reds are going, expect to see Votto up for the big club in the next 60 days. His OPS is currently over 900.

In contrast to the extra inning AAA game, the Indy 500 was not so exciting. Well, OK, some people probably enjoyed it.

Anyone catch a good movie? I'm looking for recommendations.

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My last post at LGM was "Richardson," about New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blogging update

I continue to guest blog over at LGM.

Saturday, May 19, I posted "MSF's Foreign Policy" at both LGM and the Duck of Minerva. The post concerns the foreign policy of the new French government.

Tuesday, May 22, I posted "Security threats and what to do about them" at LGM. It is about US nuclear strategy and the threats referenced to justify policy choices.

Today, I posted "Condi's dream and 'the second surge'" -- at both LGM and the Duck of Minerva. It is a followup to Saturday's piece, with an emphasis on new US plans to "internationalize" Iraq.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Get more blog

As I previously mentioned, my blogging this week has been as a guest at Lawyers, Gun$ and Money. That gig will run through May 27, a bit longer than I originally mentioned.

Today, I posted "Loving the Yankee hating," which is a baseball post about the NY Yankees.

Wednesday, May 16, I posted "Nation-building, 2007." It is about the public relations image of "evil" states.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'm the guest

Readers: I am guest blogging this week at Lawyers, Gun$, and Money, which has a sizable readership -- something like 5000 visitors per day.

Or more.

Today, I posted The costs of militarism about Professor Andrew Bacevich and his critique of US military policy.

Monday, I posted Japan PM wants to "cowboy up," which is about the proposed changes in the Japanese constitution pertaining to its military forces.

Sunday, I posted Mr. Mom, about the growing skepticism among parents about their child's potential US military service.

Saturday, at the Duck of Minerva, I posted A crisis in American generalship? about the latest turn in the "revolt of the generals."

Happy reading.

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Friday, May 11, 2007


Thirty-five years ago, musician Dale Watson would have been a country artist. These days, however, he rejects that label because he doesn't sound much like the "country" artists working in mainstream Nashville. "To me, it automatically means crap."

Watson prefers the term "Ameripolitan" to describe his music, which may mean that he's not happy with Americana either.

Today, I was in the studio audience for a one hour "Live Lunch" featuring Watson, broadcast live on WFPK-91.9, Radio Louisville. Once they put in on-line, the entire show can be downloaded and burned.

Watson's voice is great -- classic, gulp, country -- and his songs have a reliable Honky Tonk groove. Of course, I felt like I needed a beer throughout the show. Maybe two.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Iranian energy

Could Iran be telling the truth about the nature of its nuclear program? Could it really be for energy?

U.S. policymakers tend to discuss that program as if it must be a weapons program. Some time ago, I talked to a former intelligence official who was VERY skeptical about Iraq WMD back in 2002 but dismissed Iran's energy claim when I asked him about it.

However, Roger Stern, of the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University recently investigated Iran's claims about energy and found they have some real credibility: "the oil export decline we project implies that Iran's claim to need nuclear power to preserve exports is genuine."

This is from his abstract:
Because Iran's government relies on monopoly proceeds from oil exports for most revenue, it could become politically vulnerable if exports decline. Here, we survey the political economy of Irani petroleum for evidence of this decline. We define Iran's export decline rate (edr) as its summed rates of depletion and domestic demand growth, which we find equals 10-12%. We estimate marginal cost per barrel for additions to Irani production capacity, from which we derive the "standstill" investment required to offset edr. We then compare the standstill investment to actual investment, which has been inadequate to offset edr. Even if a relatively optimistic schedule of future capacity addition is met, the ratio of 2011 to 2006 exports will be only 0.40-0.52. A more probable scenario is that, absent some change in Irani policy, this ratio will be 0.33-0.46 with exports declining to zero by 2014-2015.
Think seriously about that last line: "exports declining to zero by 2014-2015."

There's another important zero mentioned in the piece:
"Iran's petroleum investment climate therefore appears to have greatly deteriorated since 1998–2004, a period when investment was insufficient to offset the recent production decline (Fig. 2). Zero future foreign investment thus appears plausible."
The national Iranian Oil Company currently imports gasoline at the market price!

The political implications are interesting too:
The regime's dependence on export revenue suggests that it could need nuclear power as badly as it claims. Recent analyses by former National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) officials project that oil exports could go to zero within 12–19 years (5, 6). It therefore seems possible that Iran's claim to need nuclear power might be genuine, an indicator of distress from anticipated export revenue shortfalls. If so, the Irani regime may be more vulnerable than is presently understood.

...We believe scenario 2 is most probable. In this case, export extinction in 2014–2015 is preceded by a decline to 33–46% of 2006 exports by 2011. Notice, however, that export declines are substantial, even in the least likely, most optimistic scenario. Because government revenue could be sustained only by rising price in all scenarios, absent such a price rise political challenges might overwhelm the regime long before exports go to zero.
The full piece is available as html or pdf.

Hat tip: The April 2007 Atlantic Monthly.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Blog news

OK, from Monday, April 30, to Saturday, May 5, I graded 43 essay exams, 12 graduate student final papers and a 35+ page independent study manuscript.

It was a week mostly lost to grading, but I'm finished now until fall.

That should mean more regular blogging, though everyone should be warned that I'm supposed to do a guest blogging gig at Lawyers, Gun$ and Money from May 14 to 24. I'll be filling in for my friend Rob "Guns" Farley.

Other notes: my Derby horses lost and my fantasy baseball team fell to last place (12th in a 12 team American League). Kudos to Rich Harden, B.J. Ryan and the entire Toronto Blue Jay front office for helping to make the latter possible.

On the bright side, the Billy Butler era has started in Kansas City.

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Damn Yankees

Don't you love it when the best show on TV, "Baseball Tonight," spends long stretches discussing "what's wrong with the Yankees"?

Variants tonight: What's wrong with Johnny Damon? What's wrong with Mariano Rivera?

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

May Day, again

Today, on the fourth anniversary of "mission accomplished," President Bush vetoed the congressional bill that linked Iraq war funding to a troop withdrawal timetable.

The President used strong words to explain his opposition to the bill:
I believe setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East, and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments. Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure
Just like last week, the President claimed that "the surge" is working well. I recently blogged about that over on the Duck of Minerva.

Incidentally, this was Bush's second veto during his 6+ years in the White House.

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