Saturday, January 29, 2005
Fred Kaplan exaggerates just a wee bit
A few minor corrections to Kaplan's essay:
Thursday, January 27, 2005
What a long, strange, trip for Lula
When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ran for president in Brazil, he took great delight in railing against the Washington Consensus, the IMF, and the United States more generally. Since he's won, however, he's pursued a somewhat different course.
How different? Raymond Colitt has a story in the Financial Times that highlights the gulf between Lula then and Lula now:
Parents, be sure to add this to your cross-country trip!!
The Economist reports on a proposed new museum in the state of Nevada:
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Does the genius grant work as advertised?
Marc Scheffler has an interesting story in Crain's Chicago Business arguing that the MacArthur Fellows Program -- a.k.a., the genius grant -- hasn't worked as advertised in the case of writers:
One could argue that recognizing past achievement is hardly a bad thing -- except that as Scheffler observes and MacArthur's web site announces, that isn't really the goal of the genius grant:
Of course, this begs the question -- beyond great past performances, what are the available metrics that can be used to measure genius and/or creativity?
Oh, and I look forward to the free-for-all in the comments section regarding the "Crain's determined that 88% of the MacArthur recipients wrote their greatest works before being recognized by the Chicago-based foundation" assertion.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
The battle over airline regulation
Two stories have come out this past week on the costs and benefits of deregulation in air travel. In the Sunday New York Times, Micheline Maynard examines the debate in the United States over airline deregulation. Some groups don't like it:
So what are the results of that free marketplace? Read on:
Read the whole thing -- the major airlines are facing a serious financial squeeze, to be sure -- but the 2001 post-9/11 government bailout worsened rather than aided their situation.
Meanwhile, Matt Welch has a great piece in Reason that looks at the travel revolution that low-cost airlines have brought to Europe. The effect has transcended the airline industry:
One common theme in both of these pieces is that deregulation is not without its costs -- there's more uncertainty about the financial viability of some airlines, greater stress on airline employees as these firms are pressured to improve their productivity, and as the case of RyanAir demonstrates, a few airlines that appear to delight in irritiating their customers.
The other common theme is that these costs are dwarfed by the massive benefits that consumers have accrued in the form of lower air fares and a greater variety of travel options.
Be sure to read the Welch piece on how deregulation could go further.
Who got screwed by the Oscars?
The staff here at danieldrezner.com will be hard at work with our annual Oscar predictions. This year, however, we introduce a new interactive feature -- who did work that merited a nomination at the very least but got completely shut out. [You need a catchy name for them, like the Oscars or the Razzies--ed. Hmm.... how about the Rogers?]
Looking over the nominations, the most glaring omission was the absence of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind from most of the major categories. Kate Winslet got nominated, and so did the screenplay, but Jim Carrey, director Michel Gondry, and the movie itself deserved way better treatment.
I'd have added Natalie Portman for Garden State, but she got nominated anyway for Closer, so it's no big whoop. I toyed with the idea of adding Zach Braff for Best Original Screenplay, but the guy is getting thousands of comments on his blog and gets to act with Portman, Sarah Chalke and Heather Graham -- so f*** him.
The staff at danieldrezner.com welcomes other glaring omissions!!
UPDATE: Do be sure to check out the Golden Raspberry nominations as well. As an added bonus, they have the a special “Worst of Our First 25 Years” list of nominations if you scroll down.
Monday, January 24, 2005
About those official purchases of the dollar...
If this report by Chris Giles in the Financial Times is any indication, the official central bank purchases of the dollar -- the primary means through which the United States has financed its current account deficit in recent years -- is going to be tapering off:
Thanks to Andrew for the link.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
More equilibrating mechanisms at work
One of the mantras of critics of offshore outsourcing is that countries like China and India have such large pools of low-cost, high-skilled labor that their wages will never rise enough to stop the flow of outsourced activity to those locales.
Siddharth Srivastava files a story that suggests otherwise: