Wednesday, February 27, 2019

India And Pakistan Must De-escalate

For Prime Minister Modi to give the Indian army a "free hand" is to abdicate responsibility. Do what you have to do is not an order. That is more like saying, I don't really know what needs to be done.

That Prime Minister Imran Khan has no real control over his army is an open secret. The Pakistani army has been a state inside a state for as long as Pakistan has existed. The Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, is even less answerable to the elected government.

The same terrorist group that is accused of having blown up 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir is also on record having made attempts on the life of Pervez Musharraf, who was then dictator king of Pakistan. How do they do that? Who supports them?

Traditional diagrams that explain how a state works seem to fail in explaining how power works inside Pakistan. The Islamist ideology also has major sway over a section of the ISI. And elected leaders have a hard time confronting that ideology. It is not dissimilar to the Hindu extremism of some BJP types in India.

India sees that 40 soldiers were blown up. But India doe not see how many Kashmiri youths have been killed and captured by the Indian army over years of military subjugation of Kashmir.

In short, this is a difficult problem. It has been for almost 75 years. But now there is a nuclear dimension to it. And so de-escalation is the only sane option.

Pakistan and India might not be able to do it themselves. And so all external players have to proactively engage. Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, the US, France, Japan.

This is about Kashmir. But then this is not really about Kashmir. Political and military leaders in both countries have used Kashmir for too long for their internal reasons. An external enemy is a great way to distract your people from their genuine problems. Take away Kashmir and the Pakistani people might no longer tolerate why the Pakistani army does not really answer to its elected parliament. Take away Kashmir and India might have to confront its reality of abject poverty. There are more poor people in India than in any other country in the world.

An unthinkable outcome would be a war, even if not nuclear. But since the military hardware is so asymmetrical between the two powers with India having a distinct advantage, Pakistan might be tempted to go nuclear if pushed into a corner.

A good outcome would be that the two powers are forced to face the Kashmir issue and solve it once and for all.

Kashmir is the top hot spot on the planet. It beats Palestine. Pakistan is no Palestine. And India is not Israel either. Its anti-terrorism capabilities are not a match.

The long term solution is to help Pakistan along the path to full democracy and a proper state. But that is not a short term luxury. The immediate need is to de-escalate.

When Modi gives the Indian army a "free hand," he is taking himself out of the picture. When Imran Khan fears the situation might escalate to the nuclear level, he is not threatening nuclear war. He is saying the Pakistani army might get there on its own, and he might learn about it on the news.

Modi and Khan make it sound like this is a hardware problem between the two armies. The conflict has to be promptly dragged back into the political space. External players need to jump in fast as they can.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Amazon Walking Away Was A Loss For AOC

I was not even following the developments closely. I thought it was a done deal. Past tense. And then Amazon announced its exit. I was surprised. I still have not had the time to dig into the details. I did read the NYC Mayor's op-ed on the topic. And the AOC celebratory tweet. And there is this Wharton podcast, that I read. (I did not listen)

If it was a botched deal, maybe the NY Governor, and the NYC Mayor did not sell it to the people hard enough. Or maybe Amazon made the mistake of not engaging. Or the protestors did not see the full picture. It comes across as a political victory, but an economic loss.

When I think of the Green New Deal, I see a lot of high tech entrepreneurship. Otherwise, under the current economic paradigm, the Green New Deal can look really, really hard. Pricing out dirty energy is much smoother than trying to shut down an industry. There is no shutdown valve.

Just like the original New Deal created a new middle class and a new age of prosperity, I see the Green New Deal as ushering in an Age of Abundance.

You probably don't want to come across as anti-entrepreneurship. On the other hand, maybe Amazon should not be so stand-offish when it comes to ordinary people and their elected representatives. The local community matters. The city might have gotten 25,000 jobs. But what was Long Island City going to get specifically?

I see no evidence AOC was the central figure in the protests. (Some New Yorkers will protest a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g) But she obviously was supportive, and she obviously was celebratory after the fact. If it was a political victory, it was a grand one. Hey, not everything is business.

But I do think AOC should work harder to come across as pro-entrepreneurship.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Next Recession Might Force The US To Do Universal Basic Income

The next recession, which likely will hit before the next presidential election, might force the US to do a Universal Basic Income. The idea will be, every taxpayer gets a basic income (yes, the richest also do) directly from the government, no questions asked. It would likely be a direct deposit that shows up once a month.

Quantitative easing was a gift to the banks post 2008 recession. The Fed was basically printing money, lots of it, and handing it out to the banks at zero interest rates. That meets the definition of free money. Absent a real stimulus, which might have been closer to three trillion dollars, the system resorted to quantitative easing. The Fed did not need congressional approval to do that. It was Fed action. Like raising or lowering interest rates.

The interest rates are already near zero. The Fed does not have much wiggle room. And there is no Big Crisis to justify giving free money to the banks. We The People are an afterthought.

If it happens it will be interesting, because the Fed will introduce UBI (Universal Basic Income) without any presidential initiative or congressional approval. It will change the political paradigm in the country.

What do you think Paul Krugman? Will the next US recession gift us the Universal Basic Income? Is it an idea whose time has come?

Friday, February 08, 2019

AOC From The Bronx Channels Al Pacino From The Bronx

Mars Talk, Zero Gravity, And The Human Body

The Dangers Of Zero Gravity
Astronauts on space missions suffer from balance problems, visual disturbances, ‎damage to the heart muscle and bone loss. ...... At the beginning of March 2016 astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth after breaking the American record for a continuous stay in space – 340 days. ...... Studies on people who were on space stations for long periods have shown some of the effects are temporary while others are more long-term. ..... Brief exposure to weightlessness causes space adaptation syndrome (SAS) or “space sickness”, which is the most common problem in space travel. Weightlessness affects our orientation in space and requires us to adapt many of our physiological processes to the new conditions - mainly processes related to our balance system. When the adjustment is not complete it results in nausea, dizziness, vomiting, headaches, fatigue, general malaise, visual hallucinations and disorientation in space. ........ about 45 percent of space travelers suffer from space sickness. ...... Long-term exposure to the zero gravity causes multiple health problems including redistribution of fluids and loss of bone and muscle mass. ...... Fluids, which make up about 60 percent of the human body weight, tend to accumulate in the lower part of the body when under the influence of gravity, and through the course of evolution we have developed systems that balance the blood flow to the heart and brain while we stand. These systems continue to work even in the absence of gravity, therefore causing fluid to accumulate at the top of the body. This is why astronauts have swollen faces. ........ The change in fluid distribution is also reflected in problems in balance, as well as a loss of sense of taste and smell. More importantly, it drives a series of systemic effects designed to adapt the body to the new environment, but they have dangerous consequences upon the return to Earth. One of them is “orthostatic intolerance”, which is the inability to stand without assistance for more than ten minutes at a time without passing out. ............ The heart also gradually degenerates as a result of it having to pump less blood. A weaker heart muscle causes a decrease in blood pressure and may hamper the flow of oxygen to the brain. ...... In the absence of gravity there is no weight load on the back and leg muscles, so they begin to weaken and shrink. In some muscles degeneration is rapid, and without regular exercise astronauts may lose up to 20 percent of their muscle mass within 5-11 days. ....... Due to lack of mechanical pressure on the bone, bone mass is lost at a rate of one and a half percent in just one month in a zero-gravity environment, compared to about three percent a decade in a healthy person in a normal environment. ........ Due to the rapid change in density, bones may become brittle and exhibit symptoms similar to those of osteoporosis. ...... The increase in calcium levels in the blood from the disintegrating bone causes a dangerous calcification of soft tissue and increases the potential of kidney stone formation. ........... unlike patients with osteoporosis, astronauts who remained in space for three to four months, regain their normal bone density after a period of two to three years back on Earth. ....... The best way to avoid the effects of zero gravity is to create artificial gravity. To date, scientists have managed to create gravity only under laboratory conditions, using strong magnetic fields above permitted safety levels, which of course is not practical in space travel. ........ Every astronaut is required to perform at least two hours of physical activity a day, including jogging on a treadmill (they attach themselves to it with elastic bands so as not to float away), riding a stationary bicycle and lifting weights, against springs of course.
Gravity Hurts (So Good)
Gravity hurts: you can feel it hoisting a loaded backpack or pushing a bike up a hill. But lack of gravity hurts, too: when astronauts return from long-term stints in space, they sometimes need to be carried away in stretchers. ....... In zero-G, muscles atrophy quickly, because the body perceives it does not need them. ...... Muscle mass can vanish at a rate as high as 5% a week. ...... For bones, the loss can be even more extreme. Bones in space atrophy at a rate of about 1% a month, and models suggest that the total loss could reach 40 to 60 per cent. ...... Blood pressure equalizes and becomes about 100 mmHg throughout the body. That's why astronauts can look odd: their faces, filled with fluid, puff up, and their legs, which can lose about a liter of fluid each, thin out. ..... Within two to three days of weightlessness, astronauts can lose as much as 22 percent of their blood volume as a result of that errant message. This change affects the heart, too. "If you have less blood," explains Dr. Victor Schneider, research medical officer for NASA headquarters, "then your heart doesn't need to pump as hard. It's going to atrophy." ...... Blood volume, for example, is typically restored within a few days. "Astronauts get thirsty when they come back," Schneider explains, "because their body says, you don't have enough blood in your blood vessels, and that causes the messengers to say, drink more. [Also, the body doesn't] urinate as much." ....... "We normally say that it takes a day [of recovery on Earth] for each day that somebody's in space," says Schneider. ...... For a three to six month space flight, says Schneider, it might require two to three years to regain lost bone -- if it's going to come back, and some studies have suggested that it doesn't. "You really have to exercise a lot,” says Schneider. "You really have to work at it." ..... One day humans will journey to Mars -- a six-month trip in zero-G before they disembark on a planet with 38% of Earth's gravity. ........ Zero-G living mimics closely the effects of old age. Like astronauts, the elderly fight gravity less. They're more sedentary, which triggers the loop of muscle atrophy, bone atrophy, and lower blood volume.
Our bodies in space: Zero gravity weighs heavy on your health
"As soon as you arrive in weightlessness, the fluids start shifting in your body from the lower part of your body into the upper part of your body," said Dr. John Charles, Human Research Program associate manager for international science. "Your organs of balance and your inner ear immediately sense there's no gravity pulling down on them anymore." ...... Bird Leg Syndrome ..... causes them to have puffy faces and thin legs. It also makes them less thirsty, dulls their sense of taste and causes a "stuffy nose" feeling similar to allergies. ........ a loss of appetite, dizziness and vomiting. ...... In space, without gravity, bones lose more than 1% of minerals and density per month. ...... The three exercise machines mimic a treadmill, a stationary bike and a multipurpose weight machine. They're meant to stimulate the lower body, from running to squats and dead lifts, as the largest percent of bone loss occurs in the pelvis and femurs. Astronauts use the machines for two hours a day to compensate for the other 22 hours in which they aren't experiencing physical activity. ....... one of the more recent effects of spaceflight noticed over the past five to seven years centers on eye health. Kelly and other astronauts in their late 40s and 50s have complained about their vision being slightly altered. Some of them have required glasses in flight. ...... "They're not able to see things up close. It's like advanced aging. That sort of thing happens at a sort of an accelerated rate." ...... Even though the ISS sits within Earth's protective magnetic field, astronauts are still exposed to 10 times the radiation that they would be on the ground. ...... a mission to Mars would expose astronauts to harmful galactic cosmic rays. Without proper shielding, this can increase cancer risk, cause radiation sickness, alter cognitive and motor function, and even lead to cataracts and cardiac and circulatory diseases. ......... Mars mission crew members would need to be able to get to work almost immediately after landing. Even though Mars has only a third of the gravity experienced on Earth, it would still be an adjustment for astronauts after floating for six months.
Asteroid Belt And Earth On The Way To Mars
Elon Musk: To Mars Or Not To Mars
Not Mars

Thursday, February 07, 2019

The 2020 Season Is Warren, Harris And AOC

It is good so many people are running. It is good that both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, one a socialist, another not a socialist, are running. It is extremely good that it has become normal for a woman to run for president. Two of them are showing really good numbers so far: Warren and Harris.

But the big deal is the Green New Deal. First AOC said a 70% tax on incomes over 10 million. Makes sense to me. It is not that you pay 70% on your entire income when you make 10 million. You only pay 70% for income past 10 million. I don't know about you, but I think that would be a nice problem to have. Why is anyone complaining? Then Warren proposed a wealth tax. Is it 2%? That is minuscule. Long past due. Bernie proposed yet another.

It is capitalism, not socialism, that asks that the gap between the rich and the poor not get too wide. Too wide and the wheels don't grind like they need to.

Trump is looking suspect. Will Mueller merely be background noise for the next two years? Or will Trump be toppled and Pence be beaten in 2020? He almost lost the Senate on the Wall and shutdown issue. It happened fast. If enough Senate Republicans nod, he is gone.

His handling of the shutdown reflects upon the trade war with China. If you were going to take the December deal anyways, why engage in the shutdown? If you were going to take the Chinese offer to get them to buy more soybeans (and a few other things), why create the drama?

Will Trump be impeached? If not, will he be beaten? Which Democrat will win? Will it be a Warren-Harris ticket with Sanders helping hone the basic message? AOC will loom large without even running. If she can get the young people to vote, the Democrats win easy.

Too young to run in 2020, AOC is going to be the most exciting figure in 2020. I can see her crisscrossing the country on behalf of the ticket once the primaries are over. If it is a Warren-Harris in 2020, AOC gets 2028 for Green New Deal 2.0.

AOC represents a generation that did not contribute to the global warming crisis but is set to suffer all its consequences. Howard Dean did not become president. But Deaniac Obama did. Bernie is not going to win, but AOC will carry his torch. It is not capitalism, it is not socialism, it is not this or that. It is a new label. It is a bartender millennial rising up to the challenge. It is a new political outlook (not even ideology) that is to herald the new Age of Abundance.

Harris is Left Coast.

Women have been kept away from the White House for so long, it feels like one woman getting in for one time is not going to be enough. Warren, Harris, and AOC are three generations of women.