• "The old complex—the aerospace and shipbuilding corporations that emerged or thrived after World War II—was probably necessary, too. But, as students of that complex know, it has a downside—and the downside in this new intelligence-IT complex could be fatal.
    Arkin put it this way in a phone conversation Thursday afternoon: Let's say Company A is selling some kind of IT gizmo for the National Reconnaissance Office, and let's say Company B is selling another kind of gizmo for the National Security Agency. Neither company has the slightest incentive to tell the other what its gizmo is. And it's quite possible that the NRO doesn't know what the NSA has—and vice-versa. The solution to the problem might be something that A and B could do together—but they will never join forces."
  • The rise of the professional futurist is important. Although humans are capable of thinking through the implications of our actions, we are still notoriously bad at acting in our own long-term best interests, let alone the long-term best interests of society at large. Evidence to this effect continues to mount in fields such as psychology and economics: We value immediate payoffs over larger future benefits; we don't account for the full scope of impact that our actions will have on the lives of others; and we can only think about the future by using the reference frames of the past and the present.
  • A "new Center for Global Development essay by Andrew Natsios, former USAID Administrator and current Georgetown Prof" argues that US aid programs "are suffering from a disfiguring imbalance. The compliance side of aid, which he calls the “counter-bureaucracy,” has grown grotesquely out of proportion to the programmatic, technical side, and threatens to undermine aid’s goals."
  • "Is it possible that history as old as 1500 AD or older also matters significantly for today’s national economic development? A small body of previous growth literature also considers very long run factors in economic development…. This paper explores these questions both empirically and theoretically. To this end, we assemble a new dataset on the history of technology over 2,500 years of history prior to the era of colonization and extensive European contacts…. We detect signs of technological differences between the predecessors to today’s modern nations as long ago as 1000 BC, and we find that these differences persisted and/or widened to 0 AD and to 1500 AD…. Our principal finding is that the 1500 AD measure is a statistically significant predictor of the pattern of per capita incomes and technology adoption across nations that we observe today."
  • On the jockeying for Helen Thomas' seat (or, cognitive regulatory capture distilled into fights over a seating chart). "That the White House press corps cares so desperately about their perches reveals their psychological frailty. All the jockeying for the still-warm seat speaks to the status anxiety of the applicants. It's not the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, or the New York Times that are pleading for the top spot in the room. They seem to be OK with their second-row seats. It's the arriviste and insecure bosses who run Fox, Bloomberg, and NPR who strive against reason to move up a row or two in the cramped hell that is the briefing room. If only they could repurpose their narcissism toward producing better journalism."