Friday Roundup - 1/20/23
The Microchip Cold War Turns Hot & The Unexpected Death of George Neumayr
Since I just put up a new video & transcript about the AI Revolution last night, I don’t want to inundate you with more information.
But I do have a couple of things I’d like to focus your attention on in this week’s roundup. They’re relevant and timely.
The first is a video I’ve watched twice in the past few days. It’s a look at the history of the silicon microchip, and how it affects geopolitics in a number of ways, but most specifically the relationship between the US, China, and Taiwan. If you’ve been worried about China invading Taiwan - and who hasn’t - this will help to put one of Taiwan’s most critical defenses against such an invasion into perspective. If you’ve been worried about American manufacturing, this will also speak to a government-subsidized renaissance of not just any American manufacturing, but some of the most important manufacturing in the world: advanced microchip production.
I know, I’m not making it sound interesting enough. But this video, by Youtube filmmaker Johnny Harris, is fascinating.
For me, this also has a local angle. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd. (TSMC) is the single largest chip manufacturer in the world (for reasons the video will explain), producing 92% of all microchips worldwide. Chips that show up in literally everything with electronic components. Chips that make modern society actually work. And due to the Biden Administration’s swift (and in my compromised libertarian opinion, correct) action taken when they realized China was buying up American-designed microchips to build advanced weapons systems that could be used against us, these chips will no longer be made exclusively in Taiwan. Many will be made right here in Phoenix, just a few miles away from where I’m writing this.
TSMC is investing 40 billion dollars (US government subsidies from the recently-passed CHIPS and Science Act are paying a lot of that tab) in building two massive, highly advanced fabrication plants right here in the Valley of the Sun. Plants so advanced that they’ll be making transistors roughly the width of a strand of DNA. It will create tens of thousands of jobs here, and because of the water-intensive nature of chip manufacturing, almost certainly increase investment in finding solutions for Phoenix’s growing water crisis, which has already seen some area communities have their water shut off.
But enough from me. Harris explains it better, and his visuals are excellent:
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The second piece of information I would like to relate to you today is news of the sudden and unexpected death of the journalist George Neumayr, who was investigating Catholic corruption on location in Africa. The cause of death is said to be an unnamed illness of some kind, but the lack of details are concerning.
I didn’t know George well, but we collaborated a bit during my time running 1P5, where we published an interview with him about his book, The Political Pope, and a piece of his on the Marxist head of the Jesuit order, Arturo Sosa. We communicated occasionally, and in fact were just discussing/debating something Church-related a few weeks ago on Twitter.
George was a fearless investigative reporter and faithful Catholic who was relentless in his exposition of corruption of the likes of Ted McCarrick and his affiliates. He famously tracked down McCarrick’s “secret” residence and confronted an archdiocesan spokesman there. He reported that McCarrick somehow managed to leave the monastery in Kansas where he was supposed to be sequestered after laicization for his crimes, only to move to a location in Florida “near a school and on a property that doubles as a summer camp.” He went to Argentina to interview people about Bergoglio, their native-son-turned-celebrity-pope, only to find that many there were ashamed of him - which might explain why he never goes home.
His last five articles for The American Spectator, his work’s primary outlet, were published from Africa’s Ivory Coast, where he was writing about things like the nearly empty but colossal Notre Dame Basilica in Yamoussoukro, Africa’s largest Catholic Church, and a gift from billionaire and former Ivory Coast president Felix Boigny, in “gratitude to his pre-Vatican II mentors” and given “gratis to the Vatican.”
George was pugnacious and fearless, and over the years had made a list of powerful enemies. Just three days before arriving in Africa to begin his work, he seemed to be aware that he was in danger. He ended a string of tweets about McCarrick’s bizarre continuing power over the same Church that had so recently made a show of punishing him for his crimes on an ominous note:
I hate to be that guy, but I would very much like to see more detail about George’s cause of death. His last article was published on January 14th - less than a week ago today. His last tweet was January 16th, with no mention of feeling unwell. For an illness to overtake him so quickly is possible, but seems unlikely. Africa is the perfect place for someone to die under mysterious circumstances that look like disease.
He was a man I respected. May he rest in peace, and his family find consolation.
I’ll see you next week.