Saturday, July 16, 2005
Talk about your fun accession negotiations!
In The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman argued that globalization forced states into the Golden Straitjacket, choosing between "free market vanilla and North Korea." This is one of those classic Friedmanisms that is simultaneously overexaggerated and yet tugs at some gut sense that there's a truth embedded in somewhere in that statement.
Anyway, I bring this up because apparently North Korea has called and apparently wants vanilla. Anna Fifield explains for the Financial Times:
I really do not know how much credence to put into this report. But if there's any truth to it, I'd love to be a fly on the wall when the accession negotiations start.
My contribution to the greatest sports moments meme
Earlier this month, Steven Taylor of PoliBlog provided his anwer to the "Ten Unforgetable Sports Moments that You Actually Saw (not ones you saw later on tape)" meme. Kevin Drum offered his as well. More specifically, it's events you saw live, be it in person or on television.
Taylor puts together a pretty good list, but he betrays his youth -- most of his examples are in the last ten years.
Here are my answers -- and remember, the key adjective is "unforgettable," not "greatest":
That's it -- feel free to add yours. [Where the hell is the Miracle on Ice? You saw that, right?--ed. Oh, I saw it, but no one outside of the ice rink saw it live. ABC showed the game tape-delayed. And thank God there was no World Wide Web back then, because it would have been too tempting to find out who had won beforehand. As it was, my parents turned off all the radios and TVs in the house to ensure ignorance.]
Friday, July 15, 2005
Is the war against Al Qaeda generating results?
Bruce Jentleson kicks off his first post for America Abroad with a valid question:
Just about everyone is questioning the policy on Iraq. However, one of the key criticisms of the Iraq war is that it incubated a new generation of adherents to Al Qaeda. Is that really true? Are the Bush administration's anti-terrorim policies "sound enough and solid enough to win in our arenas"?
Via Orin Kerr, I see the latest Pew Global Attitudes survey is up, and there are some numbers that suggest the answer is (mostly) yes. It turns out that Osama bin Laden is losing the hearts and minds of Muslims. Susan Page summarizes in USA Today:
Click here for more poll results. As Nick Gillespie put it in Hit & Run, "Bin Laden: Hopes for Re-Election as World's Most Popular Asshole Dim."
Here are the key charts:
The numbers offer support to both supporters and critics of the way the Bush administration has prosecuted the war of terror.
On the one hand, the numbers are trending in the right direction, and the comparison between the July 2002 numbers and July 2005 numbers in most countries suggests that Iraq hasn't generated
On the other hand, the numbers for Jordan are not trending in the desired direction at all. This could be due to Iraq, although if that was the case one would have expected a similar trend in Turkey and that hasn't happened. Still, it should disturb policy analysts across the policy spectrum that the one Arab country simultaneously possessing a free trade agreement with the United States and a peace treaty with Israel has a population that is growing more comfortable with radical Islam.
In honor of Justice Rehnquist....
Anyone attempting to earn a Ph.D. is familiar with Matt Groening's Life is Hell strip about graduate school. Patricularly this part:
In honor of Chief Justice William Rehnquist's contrarian announcement that he's staying on for a while, I thought it worth reprinting this fact from Charles Lane's profile of Rehnquist in the July/August 2005 issue of Stanford magazine:
Readers should feel free to speculate on how history would have changed had the Harvard Government department not been as hostile an environment to Rehnquist.
The media in the year 2014....
I, for one, welcome our new GoogleZon overlords.... I think.
This is supposed to cheer me up?
In the middle of an essay on the Weekly Standard's web site that is generally upbeat on the economy, Irwin Stezler comes to the paragraph that depresses the hell out of me:
Well, that makes me feel much better.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
A new outsourcing business model
There are a lot of things that don't make sense to me about this business model:
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Progress for the Doha round?
Richard McGregor reports in the Financial Times about a potential breakthrough in the agricultural negotiations for the Doha round of world trade talks.
Sounds great, until you get to the nitty-gritty of the proposal:
The scary thing is that what's proposed represents liberalization of a sort -- agriculture is so heavily protected and subsidized that it will take decades for complete liberalization.... if it ever happens.
Supachai is more pessimistic about the overall progress of the Doha round. Click here for his statement from last week. Key paragraphs:
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Are times changing in France?
Christian Noyer, governor of the Bank of France, recently gave an interview to the Financial Times in which he said some very un-French things:
Read more of the interview here -- in which he gives faint praise to new French PM Dominique de Villepin while dismissing Villepin's suggestion for closer political consultations with the European Central Bank.
Open Karl Rove thread
I'm on quasi-vacation in Aspen at the moment (more about that later), but feel free to comment here on the whole Karl Rove mess. In particular:
An immigrant's take on offshoring
Suketu Mehta has an op-ed in the New York Times on the rise of offshoring to India. Mehtu comes at this from an interesting angle, as he and his family "came to America in 1977 not for its political freedoms or its way of life, but for the hope of a better economic future." While acknowledging the anxiety caused in the tech sector by offshoring, Mehta's conclusions are straightforward:
Monday, July 11, 2005
Prospect theory and homeland security
In the wake of the London transport attacks and calls in the United States for protecting our infrastructure,, it is worth remembering one of the most important results from the work on prospect theory in economics is that human beings overestimate the likelihood of rare events actually occurring. One political implication of this fact is that governments will be asked to overinvest in measures designed to regulate and curb low-risk events.
In the wake of the London transport bombings, there has been a lot of chatter on television about what must be done to boost homeland security. However, prospect theory offers an important corrective to this natural response -- we exaggerate the cost of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.
Keep this in mind when reading Benjamin Friedman's article in Foreign Policy on the myths and realities of homeland security. Here's how it opens:
Read the whole thing -- and then check out this 2003 primer on "Prospect Theory and its Applications for Disaster and Emergency Management."
You can feel the Euromentum!!
Never mind that France and the Netherlands rejected the EU constitution last month -- it's back on track now!!. Sarah Laitner explains in the Financial Times:
Given that neither the French nor the Dutch seem to be suffering from voter's remorse, I'd say the EU constitution has as much mojo right now as..... Joementum.
Indeed, this definition of Joementum perfectly captures Juncker's plight.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
The real digital divide
A common lament among development activists is that regions like Africa are held back by the digital divide -- these places have less access to the Internet.
However, the Economist runs a good story on the information technology that would benefit poor African countries the most:
The good news is that firms like Motorola have a huge incentive to expand to this market, and are in the process of creating low-cost handsets.
The bad news is that developing countries themselves might block further expansion of cell phone usage:
One reason left unmentioned in the Economist piece why some governments might impose high barriers to cell phone usage -- cell phones increase the costs of repression. A newtork of opposition activists armed with cell phones and text messaging capability can more easily coordinate political action against a repressive government.