TCS Daily


Beam Me Up, Osama

By Glenn Harlan Reynolds - October 11, 2006 12:00 AM

Last week I looked at a potential technological revolution in jet travel. I still hope that happens, but I was struck by a news item this week that promises even faster transportation via teleportation. That's been done with individual atoms before, but now things are looking up:

"Until now scientists have teleported similar objects such as light or single atoms over short distances from one spot to another in a split second.

"But Professor Eugene Polzik and his team at the Niels Bohr Institute at Copenhagen University in Denmark have made a breakthrough by using both light and matter.

"'It is one step further because for the first time it involves teleportation between light and matter, two different objects. One is the carrier of information and the other one is the storage medium,' Polzik explained in an interview on Wednesday.

"The experiment involved for the first time a macroscopic atomic object containing thousands of billions of atoms. They also teleported the information a distance of half a meter but believe it can be extended further."

Okay, it's a long way from here to Star Trek-style transporter beams -- at this point, quantum teleportation has more to do with computing than with beaming down -- but this story got me thinking: If air travel has shrunk the globe to an uncomfortably small size already, what would more-or-less instantaneous transportation to and from any point on Earth bring by way of change?

Assuming the costs were reasonable, say in the realm of coach airfare, would it mean the end of the nation-state? Nations are already having serious difficulties maintaining the security of their borders, but what happens when you don't have borders? You could maintain immigration and customs stations at every matter-receiver platform, of course, but what's to stop the same people who are now smuggling immigrants via tunnels and desert pathways from simply setting one up in a deserted warehouse somewhere? What do borders mean when any point in your territory could be made effectively contiguous with any point outside your territory?

And if metaphorical invasions by illegal aliens are possible, what about non-metaphorical invasions by actual enemies? If battalions of North Korean troops could suddenly emerge somewhere in South Chicago, the international situation would look quite different. (Okay, make that North Chicago -- there are some sections of Chicago that even North Korean troops would fear.). For that matter, while we worry about terrorists smuggling nuclear weapons, or about rogue states acquiring ICBMs, the prospect of either one acquiring the means to make an atomic bomb materialize in Manhattan seems far more disturbing.

What I realized in thinking about this is the extent to which modern nation-states are all about geometry: They have an inside, and an outside, and the presumption is that if most of the dangers are kept outside everything will be fine. If some sort of practical matter transportation came about, we'd have to think about a different way of looking at things: The "virtual geography" of transport connections would mean more than the real geography of rivers, mountains, oceans, and other formerly important natural barriers. That seems pretty revolutionary.

But as with many technological prognostications, this extreme example is really just a more exaggerated version of what's already happening. Virtual communities in some ways already mean more than real ones, and physical borders are increasingly overmatched by the porosity brought about by changes in technology and culture, well short of any matter transportation devices. Immigrants travel with enormous freedom compared to just a few decades ago; the threat of smuggled nuclear weapons is real and growing; people model epidemics based on airline connections more than geography. In short, even without spooky technology, natural borders are less and less important.

The future is here already, in a way. Welcome to it!

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a TCS Daily contributing editor.

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32 Comments

The Post Sovereign Society...
The sovereign has three jobs: Establish and maintain a geographic, defensible space. Engage its productive resources to create wealth (a surplus of food, clothing and shelter at the start). Sustain itself by taxing that wealth.

The sovereign is rapidly going out of business. The opportunities for imperialism regarding physical real estate taken by force of arms are already practically moot.

Financial economics is engaging productive resources to create wealth in such a manner and with such success that the State cannot keep up with corporate entities.

Global economics include capturing profit margins in low tax venues and thereby depriving certain high tax nations of the expanding tax bases they would need to continue competing among themselves, going forward. There will soon, therefore, be need of global tax mechanisms with revenue sharing in a manner similar as the relationship between our own Federal government and State (or Local) governments.

The sovereign state will be very much like the Queen of England and national borders will be pretty much meaningless long before your teleportation services are ready for prime time.

(By the way. North Chicago is near Waukegan. Some pretty tough boys up there, too!)

"depriving certain high tax nations " " global tax mechanisms"
High tax states will have to compete for revenue generating citizens by LOWERING TAXES.

Is it any wonder MA and DA are losing population. And how is France doing these days compared to Ireland?

Re: The Post Sovereign Society...
Interesting post. What, therefore, would you say are the implications for states that engage in expensive wars and what about the implications for immigration if national borders become meaningless? Or will we all be living in a state of blissful, liberal enlightenment by then?

Roddenberry's "vision"
Keep in mind that a working, practical transporter beam is only a part of the overall vision of a stateless, moneyless utopia Gene Roddenberry envisioned--and all of it is based on one simple technological advance: the ability to reform matter into something else. This is the technological change that has transformed Earth in "Star Trek." Humanity has found a way to take any collection of molecules, recombine them and make it some thing else. Think of the consequences. Ask yourself: What would happen to the world's monetary system if you could, with the flip of a switch, turn a pile of dirt into a pile of gold dust? What would happen if you could take all the solid waste in the world and convert it, instantly, into delicious, nourishing food? Or into liveable, free housing? The result, Roddenberry believed, would be a place where people would no longer have to work unless they wanted to, where limitless resources could be provided to everyone effortlessly. Scarcity becomes obsolete. How would humanity respond then? Roddenberry believed in a such a world wars would also be obsolete. What would be the point of North Korea seding troops to Chicago? Conquering territory would seem silly when all your needs and wants are being instantly met.
I'm not saying I agree with Roddenberry's view, I just wanted to note that teleportation was just a part of a larger technological leap he envisioned.

The technical aspects of transporter technology on the Trek series were always a bit hazy, however. In some cases it seemed necessary to transport people between transporter stations. In other cases it seemed possible to just transport someone anywhere, no "pad" necessary. If the latter became a reality, it's pretty easy to imagine the chaos that would result (from incorrectly programmed transporters placing people into solid matter to rapists materializing in bedrooms). Hardly utopia.

Cheap Energy
What made Star Trek possible was apparently cheap energy.

Just imagine a black box with a power jack that you could put your garbage in an convert it to energy as envisioned on Back to the Future.

Or the sonic fusion or cold fusion.

What would happen to world markets?



While you and I might appreciate this cheap energy, the current corporate-nation-state would find it threatening and do all it could to prevent its rapid introduction.

Real Food
Star Trek did appreciate that natural food and natural products would be valued and markets would be created for these products. Like organic foods today.

No Subject
"...rapists materializing in bedrooms"
Not a problem...simply install a teleport security shield (like a firewall)...authentication required for entry.


"the ability to reform matter into something else."
Sub-atomic design and engineering will be required to "reform" matter. This implies a controlled and energy efficient disassembly, storage and reconfiguration of protons, neutrons and electrons (like a child building multiple structures with blocks). Such a technology makes even the "Singularity" appear trivial. And like Mr. Roddenberry, I believe this type of technology could well be a feature of the 22nd century.

Man is not a chunk of meat
The needs and wants of human beings are practically infinite and are all not related to his body alone.

He has a mind/soul which craves for recognition, respect, love and power (over others), none of which is technological, except for power.

It was possible even during the glorious 19th century to meet all the basic needs (food, shelter and clothing) of most, if not all the people of the globe. All that was (and is required) is for the powers that be to understand (or at least ape) capitalism.

Technology does not change specific humans' nature. It is specific humanns' nature that changes technology.

Yep
Advancing technology would, mostly, change the nature of conflict, not eliminate it. Especially since tech advancement is not uniform across the world, and really oughtn't be.

After all, the afforementioned "garbage in, energy out" perfect power source could just as easily be used to build a continent busting bomb. And no technology would eliminate the idealogical impulse to control people. Hence the conflict between the middle east and the west wouldn't be resolved by free energy and unlimited materials, since its not about how much you have, its about dominance of ideology.

Teleportation...
The teleportation performed in these recent experiments is not like that in Star trek. It is the instantaneous transfer of the quantum properties from one set of atoms to another. The atoms themselves are not being "moved" anywhere. Yes, this is being done with larger quantities of material (several million atoms), but the material being "teleported" is homogeneous. It will be far different story to do this with a complex system such as manufactured item, let alone a human being.

Where this technology is extremely useful is in the development of quantum computers, which require the use of "teleportation" to get the information in and out without disturbing the quantum states of the rest of the computation system.

For those who like to speculate about instantenous transportion, Star Trek like teleportation is the quantum mechanics based form of instantaneous transportation. Transversible wormholes are the general relativity based form of instantaneous transportation. I consider both to be fantasy. However, if either is possible, I think transversable wormholes are more likely than Star Trek like teleportation.

In any case, this essay mirrors my thoughts about the social/political impact of the development of man-made wormholes.

What??
I agree with your first paragraph, but you digress from there.

"The sovereign is rapidly going out of business. The opportunities for imperialism regarding physical real estate taken by force of arms are already practically moot."

What is this garbage? Any country with the mechanisms and military might still has this option in spades. What stops them? The U.N.? Get real!! The only think that stops this is the possibility of facing superior firepower from countries that might get involved (China, Russia, England, the U.S.). This is still a very real possibility and problem in most of the world and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Then there is this - "Financial economics is engaging productive resources to create wealth in such a manner and with such success that the State cannot keep up with corporate entities.
Global economics include capturing profit margins in low tax venues and thereby depriving certain high tax nations of the expanding tax bases they would need to continue competing among themselves, going forward. There will soon, therefore, be need of global tax mechanisms with revenue sharing in a manner similar as the relationship between our own Federal government and State (or Local) governments."

Perhaps I am just not getting it. I agree that nation-states are having trouble keeping up with international corporations and that taxes are an issue (as are employee costs) that drive companies to move. But I simply don't see your conclusion coming to fruition; not in my lifetime and probably not ever in this framework.

Then your utopian ga-ga time statement - "The sovereign state will be very much like the Queen of England and national borders will be pretty much meaningless long before your teleportation services are ready for prime time."

Ask your tough boys in North Chicago how much they want this kind of communist/socialist ideology. If anything, national borders issues have gotten even tighter. Canadians don't want you inside their borders if you've ever had a DUI, let alone comitted a felony. Way too many things have to change for your vision to come true. Maybe in 100-years or more; certainly not in the near future.

Actually. . .
. . .Star Trek style teleportation is even worse than that. It involves perfectly measuring the state of every particle in the object, disassembling the object, transmitting the resulting particles/energy ( its alot ambiguous ), and then reassembling them at the arrival site according to the pattern involved.

IOW, its not even quantum mechanical teleport, its brute force matter disassembly/assembly teleport, which to begin with outright violates the uncertainty principle.

IMHO, the Transporter is arguably the pinnacle of "Solving the problem in the most horribly ludicrously complicated way possible."

Not clear...
Actually, it has never been clear just how the transporter beams are supposed to work in Star Trek. I believe Gene Roddenberry created the transporter simply to avoid having to show the use of landing craft in every single episode. I don't think that the transporter "technology" was really thought out. I may be wrong about this.

I'm Going off the Tech Manuals they published
Which, while not technically canon, were written by the same people who wrote the episodes starting from TNG on. Thats where my explanation came from.

You've got the one thing right, though: they didn't think it out. Star Trek is the worst offender I know of for massively underexploiting their technology. Given the sheer degree of matter manipulation tech you'd need to get this type of transporter to work, you'd expect a veritably godlike tech range in other ways. Between that and the force fields, and they should be verging on reality manipulation.

Which, in fact, they do: in the holodeck. But *only* in the holodeck. No injury repair by body reformatting; virtually no transporter-based weapons and defenses ( the first thing anybody who actually developed teleportation IRL is going to work on is how to use it to deliver something nasty near, on, or in somebody you don't like ); no remote matter manipulation.

why would anyone want to invade another's bedroom. . .
When anyone will be able to make himself a duplicate of anybody who interests him and then feed the duplicate into the disassembler and convert it/her into a sofa before the cops are any the wiser.

Reynolds Wrap
The author deserves a tinfoil trekkie hat for failing to read what he presumes to write about- transfering the name of a dream-'teleportation' to a real phenomenon may succeed as an act of semantic agression , but swapping entangled quantum states no more moves mass than transfering title deeds moves buildings.

That Nick seems to suffer the confusion of fantasy and technology even more gladly in Jim Glassman's absence does not bode well for TCS

Ethics
Maybe they decided that in order to benefit from the technology they would not abuse it.

Everything must make money and grow or it's not sustainable...
Pauled

Look. Any biological entity or system needs to grow and generate an excess or it will cease to be. The mathematics of all this assigns a very low probability that any living system (including an organization composed of living organisms) could stay precisely the same size and maintain itself without excess capacity by generating a surplus to carry it through environmental cycles. Shrinking and operating at a loss for very long means death.

The business of the Sovereign must obey these same rules. He must grow or shrink and he must make money or lose money. The problem is that the Sovereign operates on the basis of military economics while corporations operate on the basis of financial economics. The Sovereign creates no wealth through the process of converting raw materials into finished goods across productive resources. The Sovereign "owns" those resources and the materials that are harvested or mined out of his real estate but he extracts property tax, sales tax, income tax, import duties for goods originating elsewhere, and sometimes a value-added tax (in some countries) on the assumption that he may not be able to collect the income tax when someone creates wealth so he takes his share up front when raw materials are purchased. The Sovereign depends on the productivity and the growth of his economy.

In the good old days a powerful Sovereign could simply enslave a weaker nation (colonize) or annex and incorporate a weaker neighbor to extract wealth and to grow. This dynamic with countries continually waging wars of conquest, dominating their theatres of influence and enslaving their enemies continued until recently. The last time this might have made economic sense we would not let Iraq keep Kuwait. Such adventures are probably moot. You are right. The US, the UK, China, Russia, etc. will simply not let this sort of thing go on any more. (The UN is a debating club.)

The Soviets and the Chinese Communists demonstrated that their State-owned capitalism cannot compete with private ownership and financial economics. Therefore, the Sovereign must have a robust GDP that constitutes his tax base. If we are free to operate inside some choice of such states and still have access to global markets, then we will at least "capture our profit margin" in a venue (from among those where we maintain an operating entity) with lower taxes. In the extreme case we will leave a country altogether. Nations will need to compete for our presence within their markets rather than to hold us captive inside their borders. This is happening now and with globalization of the Post Industrial Society we will thereafter move into the Post Sovereign Society.

If we allow the Sovereign states to continue struggling with each other pointlessly then they will continue to take our working capital and try to grow their operations. But their usefullness to global society is in decline. And, what is worse, they refuse to behave. All of us everywhere in the World are unhappy with our own governments, the way they treat us and the taxes they simply waste.

If you all think that a world without borders would be Utopia...then this is something to think about and work toward. But there will always be more hard work to do and more hard problems to solve in human society. There is never going to be any Utopia.

Now that is fantasy!
Not only would the humans abuse this technology but the other races (Cardassians, Klingons, Borg, the Dominion, Romulans) would not hesitate to use it in such a manner.

Yes, but it won't work for a thousand years
1. I agree

2. exactly right

3. We start to get to the meat of the arguement. Wars for gain always make economic sense and always will in a world with borders. There will always be a poor or poorly run economy looking for access to a richer society. The only thing that keeps the peace in these situation are the "Big Boys with the Big Sticks". If you don't think NK is eyeing SK for just this purpose you don't understand what makes for the type of land grab situation you described as per Iraq taking Kuwait. What keeps Kim at bay is China and the U.S. Neither are interested in seeing this happen unless it is a bloodless coup of some sort. I believe Both the U.S. and China would back a South Korea take over of North Korea before they would back the reverse. And this is only the most well known of 100 such situations worldwide. We are far from seeing the end of this reason for war.

But few wars have been fought for that reason ever. It may be a secondary benefit for the conqueror, but it is seldom the overriding reason for conquest. Meglomania by tyrants is the biggest. The desire to "rule the world" was the reason for a vast majority of the wars since before the days of the Roman Empire. Most of the maniacs had no clue what they would do with it if they ever did conquer it all, they just wanted it. The "spoils of war" were not some future income but whatever of value could be taken from the citizenry and most of that went to paying the military of the conquerors. This was true of the Greeks, Romans, Frederick the Great, Napolean, the British Empire (Until 1945), etc.

The other main reasons for war are idological and religious. None of these are likely to disappear in the next 200 years or more, so wars are still going to be a looming threat in the world for the foreseeable future.

4. There is a lot of truth to what you say here but I think you over reach the importance and capabilities of the corporate world. Right now, any sovereign nation can easily squash one of the corporations out of existance. (the big reason many nations do not want to see Seoul damaged or destroyed) Many companies are far more fragile than you imagine. Only those based in relativly stable, free-market (freer market?) countries do the kind of international business and moving you note. And the vast majority of them only move to somewhat stable emerging democracies (like India).

"Nations will need to compete for our presence within their markets rather than to hold us captive inside their borders. This is happening now and with globalization of the Post Industrial Society we will thereafter move into the Post Sovereign Society."

This is an assumption based on the reality only in countries like the U.S. and the E.U. and a few emerging nations like India, and various Asian countries.

5. I don't get how you come to this. It is agreed this would be a better world all around if it did, but those that won't behave are a big reason borders are becoming more closed down and countries are becoming even more nationalistic, instead of the reverse. And this is a trend in the developed nations who would be most inclined to open up and share the wealth.

6. Utopia is a relative thing. An American lifestyle, for example, would be Utopia for someone living in poverty in Darfur. No, there will never be a world without work and things to be done and problems to solve.

Look, people want to feel safe and free. As long as lunatics like those leading North Korea, Iran and a host of other countries continue to pose a threat, nationalism will continue; so will wars. My whole post is vry simplistic as there isn't space here to go into enormous detail. There are shinning examples of cooperation that show the way (like the EU) but they are much fewer than the constant strife splitting countries and populations, creating bloodshed and causing major problems. Iran is a perfect example of a country with an opportunity to come together and become a regional economic and political power. Instead they are engaging in secular battles over neighborhoods like juvenile street gangs. There are similar problems in Afghanistan, the Balkens, and all over the South American and African contenents.

I see a lot more new nations, nationalization and strife before there is ever a chance for the "one world economy (and possibly government) you envision.

Yep
Astropolitics in Star Trek is the real fantasy, as realistically speaking, the policies of the Federation should have resulted in them getting eaten long ago.

The thing is, alot of the ways you could exploit transporter tech aren't even military, so I can't imagine why you would not want to do so.

and even if there is "one world" will that necessarily guarantee peace
China was one world after it was unified, but that definitely did not guarantee peace, even if you allow the many periods of bad emperors as being better than disunity.

Europe and the Mediterranean were substantially one world after the time of Caesar, but there were some troubles nonetheless.

When our descendants have one world that world will face individual, local, regional and continental challenges to whoever is ruling.

Peace is an unnatural temporary state between wars for dominance.

Thank you
This is certainly historically true.

Meat...
Pauled,

Great. Let's party.

Wars of conquest are probably at an end precisely because global society has matured to the point that the major powers could never tolerate such hegemony at the point of a sword.

However, you said: "If you don't think NK is eyeing SK for just this purpose you don't understand what makes for the type of land grab situation you described as per Iraq taking Kuwait. What keeps Kim at bay is China and the U.S. Neither are interested in seeing this happen unless it is a bloodless coup of some sort." Here at the end of this statement you speculate that China and the US might tolerate a bloodless takeover of South Korea by North Korea. Reunification is one thing but a coup d'etat initiated by the North? Never could that be allowed. Never.

The only way any war of conquest might make economic sense and, therefore, be undertaken would be some reasonable expectation that it might succeed, that the aggressor would not destroy more material and resources (due to the mechanics of modern warfare) than it stood to gain and that the rest of the world would let the outcome stand. Such an event is improbable because everyone already knows this cannot come out well in the end. Will someone try it again? Maybe. Will that aggressor be North Korea? Nope.

You are completely wrong about the successful leader's motivation for war. The pure-hearted intention to "rule the world" always gives way to the profit motive. You cannot make money unless you try to and you cannot sustain any such adventure as an expression of your artistic urges. You might run out of money before you got to your own border. Everyone wants to rule the world, Pauled. But you will not get very far if you cannot turn a profit during the process.

Ideology and religion are tools employed by governments to motivate their citizens to tolerate the agony of being enslaved by the State. The guys who come to power believe in their own urges more than any ideology. The sincere pastors are annointed monsignor. The priests who make bishop are players.

Yes. Companies are fragile and reliant on the rule of law and vulnerable to the misbehavior of the government. Even such powerful firms as Arthur Andersen can be unfairly crushed by an out of control agency such as the SEC. When governments do his sort of thing they encourage firms to operate elsewhere if they have a choice. Increasingly, they do have that option.

Actually, small companies are the engines of any growing economy. Large companies tend to exploit cheap labor and perpetuate corruption when they make a global move. Governments need to foster a business environment supportive of start-ups. Small entities are very able to move their operations offshore. My own manufacturing workshop is in the Philippines and my retail stores are in the States.

We all are citizens of one country or the other and we all work for one company or the other. These companies create wealth and they give us our livelihood. The nations create nothing but infrastructure and they tax away our working capital. As workers we have the freedom to leave one company, join another or start our own. Companies have the freedom to open up shop elsewhere and withdraw from a sovereign state that is treating them poorly. (Countries with a shrinking tax base suffer at the hands of those with growing economies. Ideologies and all megalomaniacical desires to "rule the world" aside. Power costs money.)

Sovereign nations no longer have the opportunity to derive much benefit trying to push each other around. We might be able to make money if our companies operate offshore somewhere, lower their costs and then pay taxes here on their (thereby) greater profits. If we can influence a trading partner to open up to such businesses our domestic firms should do the rest.

But all this nationalism you are talking about does not help the companies and it is not particularly good for us as individuals when some of us must fight wars, others of us suffer collateral damage and all of this converts our working capital (as tax dollars) into weapon systems. Nationalism is a load if it is only in the interest of the diplomats, the politicians and the generals. It won't take us 1000 years to figure that out. Global financial economics is not a matter of sharing the wealth. The Post Industrial Society is about creating wealth. Everywhere and for everyone.

Of course, there will not be one big homogenous world. Indeed, we might all fall back into downsized social units (tribal cultures) that are also economic units (corporations). We might all contribute to central governments that perform services better, faster and cheaper than we could do for ourselves. But to continue enabling the sovereign states of the world to struggle among themselves? Once human society is past that? Nations that do so will be marginalized by those countries who figure out how not to.

Sullivan...
You magnificent Irish...(fill in the blanks)

You are talking about a time in history when military economics trumped financial economics. Today, that relationship is reversed. War is just a waste if your winning is Pyrrhic (281 BC).

I wish I could be so optimistic
You wrote - "Wars of conquest are probably at an end precisely because global society has matured to the point that the major powers could never tolerate such hegemony at the point of a sword."

This assumes, of course, that the major powers themselves don't indulge in wars of conquest. I don't agree with them but many leftists would allege with some justification that the US has engaged in a de facto conquest which lets its small population consume such a high percentage of the world's output of energy and raw materials. I can easily imagine a set of events that end in one of the great powers setting out to rule the entire world. Just because you and I wouldn't launch a first disarming strike doesn't mean that there cannot arise a ruler of a great power who would launch one if he sees the reasonable possibility of global domination or if he feels that the trend of things during a peace may cause him to lose power.

I think it was Ghenghis Khan who purposely depopulated vast swaths of territory because he believed it should be set aside as pastureland for his nomads.

Rulers, and even the polity of democracies, do not always behave under the rules of logic as we would like them to understand them.

There are in this very day Muslim leaders with large followings who would shut down or severely disable the economy of the world in pursuit of implementing strict Sharia law - no matter than tens or hundreds of millions would starve in the resulting dislocation. And there are environmentalist true believers who would see a major reduction of the population of the earth as a good thing.

Corporations war on one another but the conflicts are held within bounds by the overriding power of governments. Absent governments I have little doubt that corporations would arm themselves and the term hostile takeover would take on a whole new meaning. Visualize the city states of Italy at the time of the Renaissance.

Every weapon ever invented has eventually been used, and every manner of motive has led men to seek dominance over other men. Men even fight for the sheer enjoyment and challenge of it despite great risk to themselves - rent an ultimate fighting video.

Finally there are psychopaths who actually enjoy the thrill of killing, and once in a while such a one is clever enough to inspire other men to follow him. Read about Joe Stalin sometime. Many people found him charming, just as many people found the fellow with the mustache charming, and found Napoleon charming. Alexander the Great was charming and mesmerizing enough to lead men on a march more than a decade long, charismatic enough to lead them toward ever more battles and away from more booty than any of his Greeks ever imagined existed in the world.

Eventually another such who wants it all will arise, and someone else who doesn't want to give it to him will fight. And the last one standing will savor his victory even if he has no followers left to savor it with him.

actually I'm not Irish
My ancestry is Italian.

Note that Pyrrhus fought the war - the fact that he didn't gain by his victory didn't erase the fact that the war occurred. And the North and South fought the Civil War. And the Europeans fought World War One. And Saddam fought against impossible odds rather than lose face in 2003.

Economics is not all. Sometimes when men feel like playing they don't give a damn what it costs.

High School kids play football and the game is nothing but pain.

Modern Warfare...
Just as rifled barrels, machine guns and field artillery put an end to edged weapons and the infantry intense, parade ground battlefield, modern warfare and weapons that seek to destroy the enemy's ability to fight by attacking his industrial base and his population have taken all the self-serving motivation out of the game.

We do need to limit the capacity of small players to bully their way into this arena. But the major powers seem to be past the point of trading blows. We are sincerely trying to put full-scale military engagements behind us and into the history books. In that this puts some part of the sovereign out of business we should be able to work on more interesting problems.

We can theorize that some leaders might still lust for war. But this must be too expensive for them and it would be too costly for us. Let such men buy professional football teams...

Good post
No, I was talking of a bloodless coup in NK. Sorry I twisted things up a little, my fault.

As to the rest, no real arguement. I especially agree with your idea that small business as the engines of growth and company or corporate based states.

Back East...
Where I come from the only legitimate way you get to call yourself Sully is if you are Irish our your real name is Sally and someone in your family could not spell. Italian's cool.

Until recently you might hope to keep an annexed neighbor that has arguably been part of your nation (on and off, all along) historically. Iraq being driven back out of Kuwait should have put an end to that notion. I agree that others might try such a thing in the future and they need to get slapped down immediately if they do. If a sovereign does not care what it costs him then it should cost him plenty.

I cannot speak to the motivation for other kids to play Football. In my case it was pure love of the sport (as a game rather than as a profession). I did not want to hurt anyone but I needed the full contact as a healthy arena to express my violent urges. In fact I never learned much about the offense. I was a Linebacker/Safety and all I wanted to do was hit! By the time I was 22 Football was over for me, but I still miss it after 36 years...Pain doesn't hurt. Pain is weakness leaving the body.

Coup d'etat...
South Korea could not do it. But the Chinese might. They certainly have well placed friends (General Officers) inside the North Korean military. Otherwise, Japan guns up and South Korea becomes their buffer zone regarding China (primarily) with North Korea as a proxy for China.

Really, the Koreans need to get themselves out of this nutcracker. Or North Korea should simply become an occupied protectorate of China...until its reunification with South Korea.

East Germany. West Germany. We already know how to do this.

Best we can figure. . .
My grandfather did a very smart thing. Faced with being drafted into the Italian army in WWI he made his way to a U.S. consulate and volunteered for the American army. He knew horses so they put him in an artillery unit. He used to say it was a great decision because he ended up a U.S. citizen after his discharge, and during the war in France, unlike other units, they always had plenty of meat. When there wasn't shelling to kill enough horses someone would forget to put the gas mask on one that was plump. . . He said a shell killed horse was more tender.

We figure an Irish recruiting sargeant heard him say Sylvano like Suylivano when he was filling out his enlistment form, so when he made his X he became the first Sullivan in our family.

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