Friday, January 7, 2005
There really is a blog about everything
I would now blog more about this kind of rumor mill -- except there is already a blog devoted solely to this topic. So I'm outsourcing speculation to that site.
This leads me to this Leonard Witt post about the structure of the blogosphere. It's really an exchange between Jeff Jarvis and Lewis Friedland over whether the blogosphere amounts to anything new. Friedland is skeptical:
Click on the link to see Jarvis' response, which I agree with. Basically, it boils down to the notion that there are mass audiences and there are niche audiences -- and different blogs feed different types of audiences. For each audience, a skewed distribution of traffic and links exists -- but just because a blogger doesn't generate Glenn Reynolds' kind of traffic does not automatically render them unimportant.
The fact that David Stevens and Alex Wilks decided to set up a blog devoted exclusively to the search for a new World Bank President -- which, let's face it, is not on most people's radar screen -- is a point for Jarvis.
Anyway, click over there to get and give the best dirt on possible candidates and their odds.
Here's what I hear about Zoellick
Robert Zoellick will be moving from from U.S. trade representative to Deputy Secretary of State. Here's the Bloomberg report by Glenn Hall:
Schmitt's approving comments suggest that Matthew Yglesias might be jumping the gun in claiming that the neocons lost this round -- though it's equally possible that Schmitt is just spinning.
Matt points out the difficulty in deciphering Zoellick's own political preferences:
To which Brad DeLong replies:
I assume Brad is hearing that after reading the Ron Susskind book.
For the record, what I've heard about Zoellick at USTR is that he did the best he could with a weak hand -- i.e., Bush was never willing to commit significant amounts of politial capital in favor of more vigorous trade policies. Perhaps you could blame Zoellick for being unable to persuade Bush otherwise, but I suspect henever got the chance. Given this constraint, Zoellick worked hard to keep the Doha round on track while simultaneously attempting "competitive liberalization" as a policy. Given the policy environment he was operating in, I'd give Zoellick a B+.
As for Zoellick's deep thoughts on foreign policy, I would recommend his article "A Republican Foreign Policy" in the January/February 2000 issue of Foreign Affairs. It was the less-noticed companion piece to Condoleezza Rice's essay in the same issue.
Here's one section from Zoellick's article:
Thursday, January 6, 2005
So you want to influence public opinion....
If you had an idea and wanted to insert it into the national debate, where would you publish it? In other words, what are the most influential media outlets in the United States?
Almost a decade ago, I had a conversation about this topic with someone who had served in the government at a pretty high level and was clearly on his way up the media ladder. His response was that on foreign policy questions, there were only four outlets that mattered: Foreign Affairs, the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. Which I've used as a rule of thumb.
Turns out that Erdos & Morgan conduct an annual survey on this kind of question -- although it deals with influence writ large rather than specifically influencing foreign policy. Last month the 2004-5 results were released -- and the Council on Foreign Relations is very excited about it:
Here's the top 10:
A few things worth noting:
1) I'm surprised that no broadcast media cracked the top 10.
2) One wonders how individual blogs would do if they were added to the survey (I'm assuming they weren't, since this is targeted at large-scale advertisers. If Henry Copeland is smart, though, he'd pay to see that some blogs were added to the list). I doubt they would crack the top 10 -- but I could see one or two of them cracking the top 25.
UPDATE: Someone has e-mailed me this press release in which the New York Times makes similar claims to Foreign Affairs. However, read this comment -- which suggests that basically the NYT and Foreign Affairs are using slightly different interpretations of "influence" -- and both publications have some substantive claim to this mantle.
My kind of big aims
The signature aspect of the current president is his belief that incrementalism is bunk. George W. Bush clearly believes that great achievements come from grand, uncompromising visions. If some of them fall by the wayside (mission to Mars, anyone?), so be it. But if even a few of these visions comes to fruition, then Bush can be viewed as both a successful politician and a world historical figure.
I'd be more excited about this if it wasn't for the concern I had about both the rank ordering and actual implementaion of these visions. Like Andrew Sullivan, I'm leery of the fact that tax fairness and Medicare reform were shunted aside in favor of Social Security reform -- one reason why I haven't blogged at all about the latter.
Still, if a politician adopts this style and seems to have is priorities in order, it can be damn inspiring.
Side note: is it just me or when the New York Times uses the word "controversial," it's always code for, "a person or idea that we here in the newsroom believe is wrong"?
I don't know enough about the pension proposal to comment on its worthiness. [UPDATE: Dan Weintraub has some thoughts.] But the other two priorities sound great to me.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum depresses me by not supporting Arnie's proposal.
Wednesday, January 5, 2005
Imagine the following help wanted ad....
Christopher Swann reports in the Financial Times that James Wolfensohn is out:
The FT is being kind -- the BBC reports more accurately that, "Privately, [Wolfensohn] had let it be known that he would like to serve another five year term, but his lobbying efforts in Washington have failed."
I blogged last month about some of these candidates to replace Wolfensohn. The two I did not mention then were Taylor and Zoellick. Based on this Washington Post story by Mike Allen and John F. Harris on Whitman's forthcoming memoirs, I think it's a safe bet that Bush won't be too eager to appoint her to any position anytime soon (link via NRO's Ramesh Ponnuru. As for Taylor, my sources suggest that his lackluster performance in the G-7 process might prove to be a stumbling block (and there is the small matter of Taylor having advocated for some interesting IFI reforms in the past).
UPDATE: Paul Blustein's story in the Washington Post has other candidates, including, "Randall L. Tobias, the administration's global AIDS coordinator" and "Carla A. Hills, a former U.S. trade representative."
Tuesday, January 4, 2005
Today's tempting trailer
I've blogged before about the seductive temptations of good movie trailers. Every once in a while they pan out in the form of a great film -- The Triplets of Belleville, for example -- but all too often their promise doesn't translate into a great film.
Still trailers should be appreciated on their own terms, and the one that I confess to clicking on a fair number of times in recent days is Sin City. Click here to see the trailer. Based on the great Frank Miller's comic books and directed by Robert Rodriguez, the entire aesthetic of the trailer looks way cool -- in a way that Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow did not.
The movie comes out in April -- so we'll see.
January's Books of the Month
The general interest book for January comes from the pen of my colleague Charles Lipson: Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success. This is really two books in one. The second part of the book is a quick guide to citation ctyles across the myriad disciplines. This section is more accessible than the Chicago Manual of Style, which makes it great for undergraduates.
[Yes, but this is the general interest book, not the "specifically for undegraduates" book!!-ed] Ah, yes, but the first part of the book is devoted to the Three Principles of Academic Honesty, which are laid out on the first page of the book:
Lipson's book is intended for undergraduates, but in light of the rash of plagiarism that exists among professors -- particularly at the Harvard Law School for some reason -- these maxims should not only be imbibed by undergraduates [What about outside academia?--ed. An excellent question for the commenters -- are these rules appropriate for non-academic forms of employment that require research and writing? My gut says yes, but I'm curious to hear counterarguments.]
The international relations book for January is Franklin Foer's How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization. While I started this book last October, I only finished it over the break.
Foer doesn't really provide a theory of globalization -- God knows there are enough of those already. Foer does something better -- he uses soccer as a lens to discuss the ways in which nationalism coexists, conflicts, and occasionally compliments the economic interdependence underlying globalization. The book consists of a series of national vignettes, some of which are fascinating (why Brazilian soccer retained its corrupt practices despite the best efforts of foreign direct investors) and some of which are counterintuitive (Berlusconi's soccer club mirrors his presidential style -- and this is a good thing for both Italian soccer and Italian democracy). Given recent developments, the chapters on Ukraine and Iran are also worth checking out.
Oh, and if by any chance you happen to be a Catalan nationalist, buy the book -- the effusive praise Foer heaps upon his favorite team FC Barcelona, is a veritable paean to the wonders of the Catalan people's ability to express their identity without any of the uglier downsides of nationalism (see the chapter on Bosnia for that outcome).
Sunday, January 2, 2005
Other sourcing trends
If 2004 was the Year of Offshoring, 2005 might be the Year of Homeshoring. CNET's indefatigable Ed Frauenheim reports that, "a number of companies are turning to a new method to meet call center challenges: getting workers to handle calls from their homes." That story was based on an IDC report, An Alternative to Offshore Outsourcing: The Emergence of the Home-Based Agent -- a bargain at $3500.00 for just seven pages!! Or, you could look at the summary in this press release. Key paragraph:
Similarly, Kamil Z. Skawinski reports for CCN Magazine that "several companies have recently sprung up in rural areas of the U.S. offering a variety of onshore outsourcing services." Click here for one example, Rural Sourcing.
Finally, Adam Kolawa offers advice to IT professionals about whether their jobs could be outsourced offshore in Information Week. Apparently, "although outsourcing may seem widespread, the jobs of many IT professionals are difficult to outsource and essentially immune to it."
Sexing up offshore outsourcing
Great, just great. Bruce Bartlett says in the Washington Times that yours truly is "an indispensable blogger" on matters of international trade, "especially outstanding on the so-called outsourcing issue and excels in staying on top of the research in this area."
So now I've got expectations to meet. How do I satisfy my expectant readership? [Sex up the topic!!--ed.]
With that suggestion, it's worth highlighting a McKinsey Quarterly analysis which concludes that even in a world where offshore outsourcing is possible, location still matters a great deal. This is especially true when trendy undergarments are involved:
Read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Gary Rivlin penned a less-sexy but similar-themed piece on Dell's decision not to engage in much offshoring in a New York Times piece behind their archive wall. Fortunately, the Charlotte News Observer republished it. Key paragraph:
I have a small, deeply disturbed following
So I was checking out my Amazon Associates report on what was purchased at Amazon.com via danieldrezner.com. And now I'm haunted.
Unfortunately, most of the time I fret about what I posted to trigger this purchase.
The horror, the horror.