Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Chait & Krugman Manchurian Candidates Meet the Primorsky Krai, Sea of Okhotsk, & Coastal Hokkaido Photo Essay Connection

The rugged rocks at Cape Erimo on one of the frequent gray and wet days at a corner point of Hokkaido Island, Japan. These rocks actually mark the southern seaside terminus of the Hidaka Mountains of Hokkaido Island.

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I've been trying and trying to get this frickin' entry posted but I keep failing. It because it started out as a series of links with excerpts of recent wonderful pieces by my favorite economic and political writers, Paul Krugman and Jonathan Chait, respectively.

However, the entry spiraled out of control and is beyond repair over several days. I give up. So instead I'm just posting the pictures that I intended to post with the entry interspersed with links to the various pieces.

Google aerial map of the region of the world of photographic interest in this blog entry. For wont of a better term, this is simply a portion of far east Asia where it meets edge of the extension of the North Pacific Oceana, specifically, as hemmed in by islands of Japan, the Sea of Japan and, farther northeast, as hemmed in by the Kamchatka Peninsula and Kuril Islands, the Sea of Okhotsk.

Note the mighty subduction trench off the Kuril Islands visible in this Google topographic relief map. The upper portion of this trench -- which sort of blends into the Aleutian Trench -- is the VERY FINAL end point of the Hawaiian Islands, long after they have eroded down to seamounts that no longer break the Pacific surface.

Some of the world's biggest earthquakes happen in this region of the Kuril-Kamchatka Trench as the above USGS map of earthquakes from 1900 - 2012 shows. (I'm a bit confused why this map shows the Sea of Okhotsk seafloor as being part of the North America Plate, but this image comes directly from this USGS site.)

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A more standard looking map of the Sea of Okhotsk and surrounding regions (yes, taken from a Wikipedia page).

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By way of explanation, the pictures are all from the same general region of the world -- within 500 miles or so of each other -- and all in a very remote / far away part of the world. The region in question is in far eastern Eurasia and includes the following:

*The border region of China and Russia, specifically along the shores of Lake Khanka that straddles the boundary between China's Manchuria region and a part of Russia sometimes called "Outer Manchuria" that is more formally known as the Russian Federal Subject (the equivalent of a province) of Primorsky Krai, which is said to translate loosely as Maritime Province or Maritime Territory. administrative center (capital)is Vladivostok.

One of the Kuril Islands (not identified) in an undated photograph from the NOAA library.

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Other regions include:

*Parts of the coastline of Primorsky Krai on the western shores of the Sea of Japan.

*The western coast of Sakhalin Island on the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk.

*The Kuril Islands (or at least one of them -- see above).

*The rugged coastline of Japan's often wet and stormy Hokkaido Island including its northernmost point.

This is a part of the world has always deeply intrigued me. In the case of Hokkaido Island, I've always been intrigued by it since the movie Contact.

A map of the traditional region of Manchuria (shaded in red) and what is sometimes called Outer Manchuria (shaded in light red) but that is more properly known as Primorsky Krai, a Russian Federal Subject (a sort of provincial equivalent).

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These pictures some from the new-and-improved Google maps and the associated ground-level views that are featured on Panoramio or from Wikipedia. Unfortunately, I do not have the specific links to credit each Panoramio photo (and I simply don't have time to find them).

The wetlands on the western (Russia) side of Khanka Lake in Primorsky Krai, Russia. These wetlands,  happily, look quite healthy.

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Pieces by Jonathan Chait (with links embedded):


The suddenly not-apocalyptic coverage of Obamacare was triggered by the symbolic achievement of 7 million signups on the health exchanges. The midterm elections later this year are likely to be awful due to the fact that so many older, rightwing, angry white people in rural and/or Southern parts of the country vote.

Google aerial map in satellite view of Lake Khania. The lake is approximately 1,620 square miles but averages only 15 feet deep. It's basically a giant swimming pool.

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Sub-headline: A free country would treat its extractive-industry oligarchs with proper respect.

The north shore of Lake Khanka -- known to the Chinese as Lake Xingkai.

I'm not really sure what that place is in the above photograph. It's in China, and it's by a lake, so  it could be anything.

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April 4, 2014: The Good Bush

This piece by Jonathan Chait is about why, upon reflection, the presidency of George H.W. Bush was actually decent (not great), especially given the formidable array of rightwing forces amassed even back then, as well as why he was not appreciated back then.

Best lines:

"The more interesting question is why so few Americans appreciated Bush in his time. For liberals, the answer is clear. They never forgave his brutal, low campaign for president in 1988 ... The whole 1988 campaign was an extended exercise in dunking the nerd's head in the boys' room toilet."

Ha ha. And so true.

The coastline along the Sea of Japan in the Olginsky Rayon (District), one of the administrative / municipal districts within Primorsky Krai.

The water quality looks very clear there. It's such an isolated part of the world.

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I'm not sure exactly where this picture is but it is somewhere along the Sea of Japan coastline of far eastern Russia in the Primorsky Krai region.

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The rugged yet verdant shoreline along the Sea of Okhotsk on the eastern edge of Sakhalin Island, Russia.

Quite lovely although very, very isolated.

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Morning along the Russian side of Lake Khanka.

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Paul Krugman most recent New York Times regular op-ed columns (the dates are from when the print editions appeared, which is typically one day later than the web publication):

April 7, 2014: Oligarchs and Money (No excerpts -- just read it, though).

April 4, 2014: Rube Goldberg Survives

The latter is about the sudden political reversal of fortunes of the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a., Obamacare (or "ObamaCare" for the GOP). Excerpt:

[T]he complexity [of the Affordable Care Act] shouldn't be exaggerated: The basics of reform only take a few minutes to explain. And it has to be as complicated as it is. There's a reason Republicans keep defaulting on their promise to propose an alternative to the Affordable Care Act: All the main elements of Obamacare, including the subsidies and the much-attacked individual mandate, are essential if you want to cover the uninsured.

Gallup poll survey of the uninsured between first quarter 2008 and first quarter 2014 that shows what should be the START of the dramatic decline in the rate of people without health care insurance.

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"Nonetheless, the Obama administration created a system in which people don't simply receive a letter from the federal government saying "Congratulations, you are now covered." Instead, people must go online or make a phone call and choose from a number of options, in which the cost of insurance depends on a calculation that includes varying subsidies, and so on. It's a system in which many things can go wrong; the nightmare scenario has always been that conservatives would seize on technical problems to discredit health reform as a whole. And last fall that nightmare seemed to be coming true.

"But the nightmare is over. It has long been clear, to anyone willing to study the issue, that the overall structure of Obamacare made sense given the political constraints. Now we know that the technical details can be managed, too. This thing is going to work."

Screen shot of Charles Gaba's ACA Signups.net webpage this morning (April 9, 2014). His website is becoming must read.

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Two related pieces:

(From Gaba's website): The RAND Survey is out! Conclusion: NET insurance gain of 9.3M! The direct link to the RAND study is here.

Paul Krugman - April 8, 2014: Three Legs Good, One Leg Bad

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The pyramidal Brat and Sestra (Brother and Sister) Hills in Nakhodka, a port city in Primorsky Krai on the Sea of Japan.

To reiterate what I have said in other blog entries about the coast of Uruguay and what applies here: Such a strange part of the world -- so alien and "other" and yet so familiar coastal plain and hills, somewhere in the middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere right here on Planet Earth.

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The Arzamasovka River in Olginsky Rayon, Primorsky Krai, Russia, September 2010.

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A few more Paul Krugman blog entries (posted without excerpts -- I just encourage you to read them):

April 7, 2014: Asymmetric Stupidity

April 6, 2014: Oligarchy and Monetary Policy (The images in the above excerpt are taken from this blog entry.)

April 4, 2014: Equivalences

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The Monument of the Northernmost Point (of Japan) at Cape Soya on Hokkaido. This looks out onto La Pérouse Strait, also called Sōya Strait that connects the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk. At its closest, Sakhalin is only about 45 miles away.

This is the northernmost point of "mainland" Japan (there is a nearby tiny island that's a bit farther north). This is the geographic marker at Cape Soya. There are a series of other monuments at Cape Soya including the Tower of Prayer to Korean Airlines Flight 007 and the offshore Monument of Peace where the USS Wahoo was sunk in World War II by the Japanese.

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Sunset over the Sōya Strait and toward the Sea of Japan as seen from the Monument of the Northernmost Point at Cape Soya, Hokkaido, Japan. (This spot is between 500 and 600 miles away from Tokyo as the crow flies Godzilla rampages.)

Very peaceful looking.

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OK, that's all for now.  I ended up taking off two hours this morning to finish this blog entry. I will more than make up those hours this evening. I'm probably going to have to work a number of hours from home -- possibly into the wee hours -- to put the finishing "document production" touches on one of the big chapters of the ginormous Hawaii project. It is in its final stages and should go public in two to four weeks.

My next planned update won't be until late Thursday or Friday.

--Regulus

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