Thursday, December 30, 2004
Regarding the "stinginess" of American aid
Every time I think I'm out on sabbatical, the blogosphere pulls me back in.
Virginia Postrel has kindly requested a comment from me on the kerfuffle* -- fueled today by the New York Times editorial page, no less -- over "whether the U.S. is 'stingy' with disaster aid." Similarly, Eugene Volokh posts the following:
I've blogged on the topic, and written elsewhere about it. More importantly, I'm on the Board of Advisors for the Center for Global Development's Ranking the Rich exercise, which means I've seen a lot of these debates in the past. So I guess I have a duty to fill the information gap here. So here goes:
*A final note: Matthew Yglesias correctly points out that the comment triggering the whole debate was not aimed specifically at the United States:
Here's the actual quote from Bill Sammon's Washington Times piece with the disingenuous headline, "U.N. official slams U.S. as 'stingy' over aid.":
It's clear that Egeland was indicting most of the OECD countries -- i.e., those not from Scandinavia. Egeland reiterated this point a day later:
Again the Washington Times goes with a U.S.-centric headline: "U.N. official backtracks after calling U.S. 'stingy'" -- but in this case there's a better justification, since Colin Powell was quoted as interpreting the remark in a manner similar to the right half of the blogosphere.
As to whether the rich countries are collectively stingy -- or wish he could pay more in taxes for development aid -- I'll leave that debate to the commenters.
UPDATE: This Heritage Foundation WebMemo by Brett Schaefer says that "the transcript of his [Egelend's] comments clearly identifies the U.S. as the primary target." If that was indeed true, it would explain the Washington Times headlines. However, none of these clear identifications show up in the attributed quotes in the Times piece, which made me want to check out the actual transcript.
Click here for the video of Egelend's press conference on Monday and draw your own conclusions. I've listened to the relevant portions of the transcript (go to 30:57 and 40:39) and my anti-American radar most certainly did not go off. Schaefer's radar might be overly... sensitive.
Monday, December 27, 2004
Unfortunately, this qualifies as a "mind-blowing" event
When I decided earlier this month to go on a brief blogging sabbatical, I said it was "barring some mind-blowing event." Regretfully, I think the earthquake and subsequent tidal waves in Southeat Asia qualify.
Just let that figure sink in for a minute.
A 9/11 attack --
For those who would like to help those affected by the earthquake and tidal waves, the Associated Press has a list of aid agencies that are directing funds towards that end. Here are the aid agencies listed in that report who have already posted about their activities on their web sites:
UPDATE: Here's InstaPundit's blog summary -- and Tim Blair is performing the thankless task of updating the death toll. It's still too early to estimate the aggregate economic damage, but it has to run into the tens of billions.
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Some light reading for your holiday week
I'm still resolutely on sabbatical -- but as I'm typing this in my favorite bar in North Carolina, I do have a few minutes to kill. So here are two articles worth checking out:
That's all -- enjoy the break!
Thursday, December 16, 2004
A short blogging sabbatical
In recent days I've been feeling disoriented. It's not just that an increasing number of Republicans are calling for Rumsfeld's head, or Ariel Sharon talking about "historic breakthoughs" with the Palestinians. There's even a chance Turkey might join the European Union (though I won't be holding my breath on those negotiations).
There's also the fact that David Wells now plays for the Red Sox, while Pedro Martinez is now a Met. Time magazine has short-listed "the blogger" as its Person of the Year. And, finally, Eszter Hargittai is contemplating spraying herself with chocolate perfume.
It's too much -- I need a break.
Given that I started this year by both guest-blogging and meta-blogging, it seems appropriate to end the year with a small sabbatical.
Barring some mind-blowing event, blogging will resume January 1, 2005.
Michael Kinsley on the limits of conservatism
Post-election there was a lot of screeching that social conservatives wanted to roll back the "social progress" pushed largely by Northern Democrats over the past fifty years. Michael Kinsley's essay today in the Los Angeles Times points out the obvious -- at best, conservatives want to slow the accelerating change in social mores:
Hat tip: Mickey Kaus.
Apparently my forefathers could kick some ass
The Economist has a story about why anyone (such as myself) is still left-handed. From an evolutionary perspective this is a puzzle, since "on average, left-handers are smaller and lighter than right-handers. That should put them at an evolutionary disadvantage." However, left-handers ostensibly have a distinct advantage in fighting: "most right-handed people have little experience of fighting left-handers, but not vice versa."
These stylized facts led Charlotte Faurie and Michel Raymond, of the University of Montpellier II (it's in France), to propose the following conjecture: "the advantage of being left-handed should be greater in a more violent context, which should result in a higher frequency of left-handers."
The Economist summarizes their findings:
Here's a link to the academic paper.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
The heat is on Rumsfeld -- but it's not too hot
In all likelihood, this media kerfuffle will die down. Bush has no incentive to get rid of his Defense Secretary now, and I'm sure he doesn't want to waste any of that political capital on a confirmation hearing for the next SecDef -- which, incidentally, is why there is probably going to be very little DoD turnover, period.
I'm sure President Bush wishes there was some way he could make things better for Rumsfeld. Too bad he's already received the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- cause the value of any award shoots WAY up after it's awarded it to Paul Bremer. (In fairness, here's David Frum's explanation for that decision -- though it's actually not fair, because I do believe most people recognize the difference between not "seeking a scapegoat" and awarding a Presidential Medal of Freedom).
Blegging for PDA advice
Five years ago I bought a Palm Pilot and discovered that I didn't have enough appointments to make it worthwhile -- so I wound up not using it all that much.
Five years later, I'm finding that my schedule is filling up more rapidly and further in advance. In other words, now I need a PDA.
What's the best one in the marketplace right now?
This is most definitely a job for my readers.
West Africa and Islamic fundamentalism
As part of the Chicago Tribune's continuing series on the internal struggle among Islamic societies between the forces of moderation and the forces of radicalism, Lisa Anderson has a fascinating front-pager on the country of Mali.
Mali appears at first glance to be one of the most improbable democracies in existence -- life expectancy is at 45 years, infant mortality is higher than 100 deaths per 1,000 live births, it's literacy rate is 46%, and according to the CIA World Factbook, "is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert and with a highly unequal distribution of income."
However, as Anderson chronicles:
The bulk of her story is on efforts by Islamic radicals from Algeria and Pakistan to attract supporters in the arid northern part of the country, and American efforts to combat this push. Some highlights:
Read the whole thing. Anderson's implicit thesis -- and it's not a bad one, is that Mali's history of tolerant Islam is resilient enough to resist outside efforts at fundamentalism. Philip Smucker had a story in November's International Herald Tribune chronicling the efforts of African scholars -- with an assist from Harvard's Henry Louis Gates -- to exploit Mali's written history to reinforce this moderate brand of Islam:
[Oh, c'mon, this is French West Africa -- does this stuff really matter to Americans?--ed. Check out Nick Tattersall's report for Reuters on the significance of West African oil to the U.S. economy. This part stands out in particular:
Click here for an African perspective on why the continent matters to the Bush administration. And, finally, check out John Donnelly's report in the Boston Globe on the military side of U.S. efforts to prevent Islamic terrorist groups from making further gains in the West African region.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Scott McConnell could use some evidence
Scott McConnell has an article in The American Conservative rebutting the Lawrence Kaplan thesis of a few months back that the realists have triumphed over the neocons within the Bush administration's foreign policy apparatus. Well, it's an attempt at a rebuttal. Well, actually, it's little more than an assertion. Here's McConnell's key evidentiary paragraph:
Objectively, the problem is that this paragraph says pretty much nothing about the realist/neocon debate. Rice -- a realist -- is replacing Powell -- who was the administration's only liberal internationalist. I've never heard Porter Goss described as a neocon. Rumsfeld is a neocon only in the sense that he believes in the revolution in military affairs. Hadley is generally described as a neocon, so that's a point in McConnell's favor.
Now, I had my problems with Kaplan's original thesis, but McConnell's rebuttal doesn't convince me that the neocons have remerged like a Phoenix to control foreign policy. Actually, that paragraph convinces me of only one thing -- Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay were right. Their primary thesis in America Unbound is that, despite what people say about neocons or realists, the person who's clearly in charge of American foreign policy is George W. Bush. The common denominator in all of Bush's foreign policy moves has been to expand the power of White House loyalists at the expense of everyone else -- regardles of ideology.
So what's going on in Iran?
Patrick Belton links to this Economist story on the state of Iran's domestic polity. The highlights of their analysis:
As I've said before, I'm very gloomy about the prospects of the theocratic regime toppling from "people power." [On the other hand, I was similarly skeptical about Ukraine, and events have progressed there in a far more peaceful and positive direction that I anticipated. Point is, I could easily be wrong.]
One question is whether expanding Iran's trade with the rest of the world would nudge them in a more positive direction. Based on this report, the Bush administration doesn't think so -- or, to be fair, they think it wouldn't lead to regime change prior to the mullahs developing nuclear weapons.
Commenters are heartily encouraged to devise a policy that would ensure peaceful regime change in Iran. I don't think it can be done -- but that could just be because I'm still jet-lagged.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Notes from Paris
So, what dirt was able to be gleamed from my trip to Paris? Here's the tidbits about the people, the place, and the ideas that are worth divilging:
Thursday, December 9, 2004
Name the book you're most embarrassed not to have read
In Paris, safe and sound. Panels have been lively and informative.
This Virginia Postrel post reminds me of an old parlor game among academics -- confessing the most important book in your field that you have never read.
I'll confess mine when I return to America.
UPDATE: Je suis revenu à l'Amérique! I'll post about Paris in a bit.
I know at least one New Year's resolution....
Wednesday, December 8, 2004
Au revoir pendant une courte période
One of the quadrennial rituals following presidential elections is a whole series of conferences about "What Does This Election Mean?" For those who attend, it's an opportunity to acquire some semi-useful cognitive frames that sound good at cocktail parties and are even occasionally correct.
For those who are asked to present, this is an opportunity to go somewhere nice on someone else's dime and decompress from the exhaustion created by paying close attention to the election. There's a clear hierarchy of these types of conferences -- the more remote and enticing the locale, the better.
I'm not sure how I lucked into this one, but I'll be in Paris for the next few days to talk about "The United States After the 2004 Election," courtesy of the French Center on the United States. Here's a link to the provisional program.
Informed readers will be well aware that I'm punching above my pundit class compared to the other invitees. I plan on treating this the same way my wife and I did when we went on our honeymoon and stayed at resorts we never could have afforded under normal circumstances -- a mixture of bemused detachment and nervous awe.
Talk amongst yourselves -- or:
The tragedy of the dollar commons?
Brad Setser has the best blogging about the possibility of a drastic decline in the dollar's value/the possibility of the dollar losing its reserve currency status. This Sunday stpry by James Brooke and Keith Bradsher in the New York Times contains a tidbit that worries me in particular:
What bothers me is the concern by Japan that others might be tempted to dump their dollars while they still hold so many of them. The Japanese and Chinese central banks own an enormous part of these dollar reserves, and if they don't move, a precipitous fall seems unlikely. However, both the Russians and the OPEC countries have started to diversify their holdings in favor of the Euro. If non-major Asian countries make the same move, the question for Japan and China is whether there is more to gain from moving first and getting a mediocre return on their dollar holdings or holding on and hoping the dollar slide won't last longer. The temptation to unilaterally defect here is quite powerful.
The beginning of the end of the Bretton Woods system was when the French announced in 1968 that they were going to convert their dollar holdings into gold. One wonders if OPEC and Russia represent a similar harbinger.
Rumsfeld admits that maybe, just maybe, the RMA isn't all it's cracked up to be
As was much commented before the election, this administration has a thing about admitting error -- any kind of error. No politician ever wants to do this, of course, because it means taking a political hit. Sometimes, however, candor is good politics and can even lead to policy learning -- i.e., if you're willing to admit that your current course of action is wrong, it requires a search for a better policy.
So when President Bush announced that Don Rumsfeld would stay on as Secretary of Defense for the next term, my reaction was not completely dissimilar from Josh Marshall's -- on defense-related matters, we're getting four more years of bungled policy implementation. Rumsfeld's belief that the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) requires a transformation of warfighting strategy and tactics is not completely off-base -- however, Iraq certainly suggests that the notion of the RMA really transforming anything related to post-war occupation activities is bogus.
Today's Wall Street Journal front-pager by Greg Jaffe (that link should be good for non-subscribers as well) suggests, however, that even Rummy and the rest of the civilian leadership is willing to admit that mistakes were made. The highlights:
That's not much of a concession by Rumsfeld there, but it does suggest some adaptation.
Read the whole thing -- I particularly liked the observation that, "Commanders in Iraq have found that 70-ton tanks, which literally shake the ground as they move, can help ward off guerrilla attacks simply through intimidation."
And, lest one put all of the blame at Rumsfeld's doorstep, what I found particularly interesting was the motivation behind the Army's partial embrace of the RMA as well:
As for Rumsfeld, he's definitely getting feedback from what James Q. Wilson would call "operators" in the system. Robert Burns has the goods on this for the Associated Press:
I don't envy her job
What do you do if you're the counselor for commercial affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia on the day after Jeddah? The same thing you do every day -- try to drum up interest among U.S. firms in foing business with the Saudis. Jerry Miller of the Manchester Union-Leader reports:
Readers are invited to pick the country where the counselor for commercial affairs would have the most difficult job. This obviously implies that the country is stable enough to have a counselor for commercial affairs.
Tuesday, December 7, 2004
The question that haunts me about Iraq
Six months later, I still believe I'm right about the poor implementation -- but there's no way to know for sure.
Regarding liberal bias in academia...
David Adesnik has a link-filled summary regarding the spate of recent articles discussing ideological homogeneity in the halls of academe. This has prompted a panoply of blog responses, including Timothy Burke (click here as well), Brad DeLong, Juan Cole, and David Vellemen at a new blog, Left2Right, which is a new group blog of left academics musing about "how to speak more effectively to ears attuned to the Right."
Kieran Healy, though not addressing the ideology question, does have a link-rich post on the tribal patterns of academic hiring that suggests how difficult it is for non-mainstream people to get hired at elite institutions -- even if they are more innovative.
[Um, so what does this meme mean to you?--ed] I've blogged about this before here, here, here, and here. I'm not sure if there's anything new to add now, but if I do, it will take some careful crafting -- for reasons that Jacob Levy outlined more than a year ago.]
For the record...
I have not now nor ever have been a member of the Mandinka tribe of Gambia -- but I do have great respect for their theological beliefs.
[Hat tip to M.M. for the pointer]
Monday, December 6, 2004
So does this count as "good" outsourcing?
Whenever I talk to critics about offshore outsourcing, they tell me that the claim by proponents that offshoring addresses the problem of a skills shortage in the U.S. is bogus, that there are more than enough tech workers here to perform the necessary tasks. I don't think that holds for the late 1990's, when offshoring and the H1-B visa craze started, but that's neither here nor there. The point is, they argue that firms have no compelling need to to outsource offshore since the set of necessary skills resides in the United States.
Beyond the IT sector, however, there do appear to be instances where offshoring is a necessary and effective means of accessing a labor supply of specialty skills for which there is a shortage in the United States. Lindsey Tanner reports in the Associated Press of one example in radiology. The highlights:
Two questions on this:
UPDATE: This might be the most bizarre twist on outsourcing I've seen yet -- Europeans emigrating to India to work in offshored call centers (thanks to N.D. for the link)
Equilibrating mechanisms at work
In theory, a declining dollar should help the U.S. balance of trade by making imports relatively more expensive to Americans and exports relatively inexpensive to foreigners. However, the current macroeconomic imbalances cause this equilibrating mechanism to carriy some risks. Among the many fears about the current dollar depreciation are:
Given all of this, it is nice to read about these equilibrating effects at work. Which leads me to today's front-pager in the Wall Street Journal by Emily Nelson and Brooks Barnes:
One can question whether the magnitude of these kind of flows will put a larger dent in the current account deficit. However, there is an intriguing question that this kind of story raises. As previously discussed, American productivity in nontradable sectors such as retail is considerably higher than other parts of the globe, which is one source of lower prices. If transport costs continue to decline, it would be interesting to speculate whether these sectors become an important comparative advantage for the United States on trade matters.
Just a thought.
Open Jiddah thread
Feel free to comment on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Jeddah here. Reuters and CNN seem to have the most comprehensive reports. Also, the Associated Press has this interesting quote from the president:
Given the obvious, deep links between Al Qaeda and Saudi society, doesn't this mean that the terrorists prefer a home court advantage?
CLARIFICATION: In other words, given that a fair share of Al Qaeda are Saudi, wouldn't this attack signal that they're not on the move so much as staying local? I don't think this is what Bush meant by "on the move," obviously, but it's just an odd phrasing choice.
The next Krispy Kreme
As someone who's married to a cereal addict, my view on this might be skewed, but I predict that a year from now Cereality will be talked about the same way Krispy Kreme was a few years ago. It's a restaurant that serves only breakfast cereal and cereal-related products. Here's one story by Howard Shapiro of the Philadelphia Inquirer on the opening of their new eatery near Penn:
According to the company's web site: "If there's not already a Cereality near you, there will be soon. In 2004, we will be opening several new units in a variety of settings." And here's the menu. If they expand to university neighborhoods, this will be huge. Huge.
[Isn't the Krispy Kreme metaphor problematic, given their recent financial troubles?--ed. Nope, it's dead on -- I see a few years of awesome growth, followed by the passing of the fad.]
UPDATE: Several commenters have argued that the Krispy Kreme logic doesn't apply, because cereal can be procured and eaten (more cheaply) at home compared to Krispy Kremes. This may be true -- but I doubt that any home has the variety of cereal choices available at Cereality, or the variety of toppings. Consider a different example -- Coldstone Creamery ice cream parlors. Ice cream can be bought and consumed at home, but that does not prevent ice cream stores from thriving.
One last thought -- these stores would be like gold in airport terminals.
More non-barking dogs in international relations
Last month I pointed out the tendency to focus on the parts of the globe in turmoil, occasionally neglecting non-events in places where everyone predicted turmoil.
Christopher Condon reports in the Financial Times about one of these non-barking dogs:
For fifteen years, a latent worry of East and Central Europe watchers was that Hungarian nationalism would rile its neighbors and trigger sectarian violence. The failure of this referendum is the fitting coda to easing that concern.
Sunday, December 5, 2004
Good dirt on the World Bank
Back in October, I recommended Sebastian Mallaby's The World's Banker -- an intertwined history of the evolution of development policy and a biography of the Bank's current president, James Wolfensohn -- as an excellent read.
Today, I make the case at greater length in the New York Times Book Review. The closing paragraph sums it up:
For the last time -- I really liked this book. I liked it so much it made it an extremely difficult book to review. Reviewing books one finds fault with is easy -- writing an interesting review that contains only praise is a much more difficult task.
The World's Banker comes out at an interesting time -- Wolfensohn has served as president of the Bank for two terms, and the word on the street is that he's angling for a third term. Will he get it? My sources say no -- this is a plum patronage apointment for Bush (the Bank President is by custom an American, just as the IMF president is by custom a European). I've heard three names bandied about for Wolfensohn's replacement, in decreasing order of likelihood:
Here's a link to McPherson's vita, which suggests two things: a) McPherson has the substantive background to do the job; and, b) He's part of the Ford White House mafia -- i.e., Rumsfeld/Cheney.
Saturday, December 4, 2004
Back to offshore outsourcing
Keen readers of danieldrezner.com may have noticed that I haven't blogged much about offshore outsourcing since my NYT op-ed in late September. This has been for several reasons:
Well, the election is over, the book manuscript is off my desk, and a few months have passed since I've blogged about the topic. So... I'm back, baby!!
So what's been written that's worth reading on the topic since I've been away?
A couple of selections:
Friday, December 3, 2004
It's the 2004 Weblog Awards!!
I urge any and all readers to click over to the 2004 Weblog Awards and vote among the myriad categories. Unbeknownst to me -- thanks to R.H. for the link -- I see that I'm nominated for "Best of the Top 100 Blogs".
So... vote for me, dammit!! I've never won one of these awards, and if at all possible I'd like to avoid becoming the Harold Stassen of the blogosphere. And, looking at the voting to date, I appear to be getting my ass kicked. UPDATE: Ah, now I see why I'm getting my ass kicked -- Megan McArdle is playing dirty -- really, really dirty.
Logicians among the readership are invited to reconcile the conundrum of how the Best of the Top 100 Blogs would not therefore better than the Best Overall Blog -- since all of them are Top 100 blogs.
It's up to Putin now
The Ukrainian Supreme Court has now declared the presidential runoff election results invalid -- and has ordered that a repeat of the runoff be re-staged throughout the entire country on December 26. The Ukrainian parliament speaker has already urged the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling.
All of this comes less than 24 hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the idea of holding a runoff election. (click on this San Jose Mercury News timeline for the backstory.] After President Bush made a rhetorical push-back, Putin responded today by muttering dark warnings about the unipolar world:
What's becoming clear is that the correlation of forces within Ukraine are tilting in favor of a runoff election that would presumably lift Viktor Yushchenko to power. The emerging question is whether the correlation of forces outside Ukraine will permit this to happen. Will Putin tolerate the blow to his reputation that would come with a Yushchenko victory (remember, he and his administration campaigned hard for Yanukovich)?
It looks like the Bush administration has reached the same conclusions as danieldrezner.com about the cost of taking the Boeing/Airbus dispute to the World Trade Organization. Edward Alden reports on the U.S. decision in the Financial Times:
As the story suggests, this could heat up again early next year. But it's good to see the administration attempt another bilateral accomodation.
December's books of the month
I initially feared that the general interest book for December may not necessarily of general interest, since it's Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King. However, then I remembered that this would be the pefect stocking stuffer for anyone who hates the Yankees, which accesses a broad spectrum of Americans. Publisher's Weekly says that, "Of all the books that will examine the Boston Red Sox's stunning come-from-behind 2004 ALCS win over the Yankees and subsequent World Series victory, none will have this book's warmth, personality or depth." That's good enough for me! Well, that plus the awesome cover photo.
The international relations book this time around is an oldie but a goodie -- Kenneth Waltz's Man, The State, and War. In my Classics of International Relations Theory class this year, this book easily sparked the most animated discussion. The reason is that this text -- in combination with Thomas Schelling's The Strategy of Conflict -- transformed the way people (or at least Americans) studied international relations.
Prior to Waltz, the great books in international relations either had a strong teleology embedded in their theory (Kant, Lenin) or came at the problem of international relations from a normative cast that colored their positive analysis (Hobbes, Angell, even Morgenthau).
After Man, The State, and War, the discipline underwent two changes -- first, it took on a much more positivist cast. The question of how to stop war was supplanted by the analysis of determining the causes of war. Although there is a normative explanation for this -- it is foolhardy to try and prevent war without understanding the causes of the phenomenon -- it has led to the discipline as a whole to shrink away from making policy prescriptions. Second, the field of study slowly shifted its explanations away from individual or even domestic-level approaches. Instead, the "system of states" -- i.e., the implications of anarchy at the global level -- became the overriding concern.
[Why not recommend Waltz's even-more-influential Theory of International Politics?--ed. As Henry Farrell points out, the price gouging on that book is pretty appalling.]
Another reason for recommending Waltz is this October address by Mitchell Reiss, the Director of Policy Planning for the State Department. The speech tries to place the Bush administration's foreign policy within the context of Waltz's Man, The State and War. It's certainly an interesting intellectual exercise -- though Reiss diplomatically elides Waltz's attack on assertive Wilsonianism -- the neoconservatism of its day.
Eleven years ago in Ukraine....
Amanda Butler has an amusing post at Crescat Sententia about what it's like to celebrate Thanksiving in an ex-Soviet republic. That, plus the high stakes in Ukraine, caused me to open up the electronic diary I kept of the year I spent in Ukraine as a Civic Education Project lecturer to see how we celebrated Thanksgiving circa 1993.
Long diary entry after the jump...
11/27/93: I'm typing this in the Palace Hotel in Yalta. The trip here was interesting. Yalta is in the Crimea, which is supposed to be the garden spot of Ukraine. After a pleasant overnight trip, we got of at Simferapol and were greeted by a biting wind, snow blowing everywhere, and a temperature colder than in Donetsk. We were met by a guy from the local Renaissance foundation, who proved useless. We asked him where we could get tickets back to Donetsk; he answered that it was in the city centre. We then asked him repeatedly if there was an Intourist office at the train station; he said that you could only buy tickets there for the next day. It turned out later that he was of course wrong. It's real pathetic when I know more about how the system operates than the locals.
1) Macaroni and Meat
11/27/93: Whew, Lord, where to begin. Yesterday we went back to the Hotel Yalta to use the sauna. It was about ten of us. We get to the service desk, and they tell us it's not possible, the saunas are reserved now. I got very angry in Russian at him, and we started arguing. Finally, in a fit of pique, he said, "What is it with you Americans?! Why do you think that if you come you can do something immediately?"
Thursday, December 2, 2004
More than just a trend?
Link via Tom Sullivan. From an international relations perspective, I'm intrigued to see that "sovereignty" came in ninth by their metric of popularity.
UPDATE: If Microsoft has its way, you will become one with the blog.
Musings on blogging and scholarship
I believe I am officially the last scholar-blogger in America to point out that Gary Becker and Richard Posner have decided to start a blog together. It's a testimony to their intellectual heft that their "test" post already has sixteen trackbacks. Having participated in workshops with both of them, all I can say is that the rest of the blogosphere is in for a treat.
Henry Farrell makes a keen observation about the legitimation effects of senior scholars taking up blogging:
Hmmm.... this leads to a small problem for Henry and myself. As one of the commenters to Henry's post points out, "I’ve noticed this lack of blogging from big names in my own field of political science." Indeed, perusing Crooked Timber's list of poli sci bloggers, I certainly do not see anyone approaching the stature that Becker or Posner have in their fields. To go further,
[Insert sound of lonely wind blowing here--ed.]
To which I say.... shame on my tenured brethren!! To be sure, a lot of blogging (and some of my blogging) is entirely unrelated to matters of scholarship -- but that doesn't mean it has to be this way. Tyler Cowen has an excellent post in response to Eszter Hargittai on how blogging and scholarship are compliments rather than substitutes. Surely these reasons must be persuasive to
Readers both in an out of political science are hereby invited to suggest which senior political scientist they would like to see start a blog. Must be someone who holds a Ph.D. in political science and holds a full-time tenured position at a Ph.D.-granting institution [Doesn't that impose some ideological constraints?--ed. Feh -- as Jonah Goldberg put it, "wrong and liberal are not synonymous terms."]
UPDATE: Hey, it turns out there is a tenured political scientist at a top twenty institution who's a blogger. Michael Munger -- chair of the department of political science at Duke, former president of the Public Choice Society, a prolific scholar who lists his occupation as "professional wrestler" in his Blogger Profile -- has had a blog since June of this year.
[He also appears to be threatening you with bodily harm--ed. Oh, yeah??!! Like I'm really scared of some newbie, candy-assed, penny-ante North Carolina blogger who calls himself "KGrease"? Bring it on, Duke boy!!! I'm not sure this kind of discourse is going to encourage other tenured faculty to start blogging--ed.]
Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Whatever shall global civil society do?
It's dangerous to ascribe a common set of preferences to the heterogeneous collection of NGOs, social movements, activist networks, charities, churches, and even some individual philanthropists that comprise "global civil society." But most people who study these entities would acknowledge a rough consensus among these groups that a) genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) should be regulated to within an inch of their existence; and b) land mines are evil and should be banned.
So I wonder which side of the fence these groups will fall on when they read about this tidbit blogged by Warren Ginn:
Link via Virginia Postrel.
Aresa's web site has this to say on how these GM products would accelerate land mine removal:
Please, anything but cheap shrimp!!
Thank God the Bush administration is protecting me and other consumers from.... cheap seafood. Jeffrey Sparshott explains the Bush administration's heroic act of protectionism in the Washington Times:
One wonders... if consumer prices won't be affected, why would the Southern Shrimp Alliance seek protection in the first place?