It's been a while since I did one of these. Let's get to it.
- My predictions for the Iowa caucuses: Clinton, Cruz. Sanders and Trump look good on paper but they suffer from the same fundamental problem, that is, a comparative lack of organization and less experienced supporters. The period between Iowa and New Hampshire (Feb 9th) will be the first big test of whether Trump is really as unstoppable as the paleocons say he's become, or whether, on the contrary, he's the new Howard Dean.
- Why has housing, particularly in Oregon, gotten so fucking expensive? Progressives like to blame gentrification, but in fact, it might be simple good old fashioned anti-competitive behavior by home builders. This is why having a government that "knows the difference between antitrust and antifreeze" (M. Dukakis) matters, kids.
- We won't know for sure until the Fed releases their 2015 Q4 GDP numbers later today, but the evidence is that we're not entering a recession. More here.
- Five years later, post-mortems of the Arab Spring abound. Check here and here and here and here for good ones. For an opposing point of view, one analyst notes that the Arab Spring was probably just the beginning of a period of Arab world revolutionary fervor, driven as much by ideology as by socioeconomic factors.
- Iraqi Kurds are about to hold a referendum on sucession from Iraq. The Iraqi government is already warning that such a referendum is likely illegal. If it passes, which I think it will, then IMO war between Iraq and Turkey on one side, and the Kurds on another, is inevitable. I would count on the Kurds getting crushed unless they manage to get help from Iran or Russia.
- An analysis of the radio communications of the Malheur occupiers here. The gist of it is that they relied on "secret frequencies" to keep their communications secure. The problem is that these provide no protection whatsoever against an FBI agent or State Police officer with a HAM radio that has a Seek button. I would go as far as to say that their de-facto open communications probably led directly to their arrests. I suppose they could have fixed this by encrypting messages with PGP or GnuPG and sending via packet radio, but they didn't have the gear for it, and probably didn't have the expertise, either. I'm also not sure that's legal on the frequencies they used. (It's a violation of FCC part 97 to send encrypted transmissions as part of amateur radio operations, but I'm not certain that applies to all the frequencies they used.)