Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (9/9/2008)

George Friedman offers a coherent and compelling account of why the Russians struck in Georgia.
...the central reality of this situation: the Russians had changed dramatically, along with the balance of power in the region. They welcomed the opportunity to drive home the new reality, which was that they could invade Georgia, and the United States and Europe could not meaningfully respond. They did not view the invasion as risky. Militarily, there was no force to counter them. Economically, Russia is an energy exporter doing quite well—indeed, the Europeans need Russian energy even more than the Russians need to sell it to them. Politically, as we shall see, the Americans need the Russians more than the Russians need the Americans. Moscow's calculus was that this was the moment to strike. The Russians had been building up to it for months, and they struck.

Sarah Palin doesn't know what Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do.
Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers." The companies, as McClatchy reported, "aren't taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization."
...
"You would like to think that someone who is going to be vice president and conceivable [sic] president would know what Fannie and Freddie do," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "These are huge institutions and they are absolutely central to our country's mortgage debt. To not have a clue what they do doesn't speak well for her, I'd say."

Bad Astronomy has 10 Things you don't know about the Earth. Bonus: This very cool Map Tunneling Tool enables you find out where you'd end up if you could tunnel to the other side of the planet.

Why don't people write songs about cars anymore? J. Freedom du Lac investigates.

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