Saturday, February 3, 2007
Help me help APSA to help you
The American Political Science Association is putting together an edited volume on how to publish in political science. There will be an an overview of the current state of scholarly publishing, as well as how-to essays on writing university press books, textbooks, review essays, op-eds, converting dissertations into books, etc.
In their infinite wisdom, APSA has asked me to contribute a chapter on writing a political science blog.
So, a request for comments from other political science bloggers out there on the following questions:
1) What do you think are the do's and don'ts of poli sci blogging?[You don't have answers to these questions?--ed. Oh, I have answers, but I'd like to get some different views on this.]
Post a comment, e-mail me directly, or post on your own blog and link back. Remember, this is for APSA....
Friday, February 2, 2007
Worst Super Bowl journamalism yet
Over years, with focus and concentration, I have learned to tune out most of the Super Bowl press coverage. Every once in a while, however, something seeps through, and I must simply stand back and gape at what might be the lowest forms of sports literature known to man.
For exhibit A this week, I give you the following paragraphs from Time's Sean Gregory:
[W]hatever you think of Manning, I would argue that it's best to root against him in the Super Bowl. Yes, even among his fans. It's Manning's quest for that one missing part, that one imperfection, that will sustain our attention. "From a fan's perspective, the joy is in the conversation," says sports sociologist Jay Coakley, professor emeritus at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. "Peyton's longing for a Super Bowl keeps the conversation going, and if he wins, that conversation stops." In an age of sports parity, in which seven teams have won World Series titles this decade and about a dozen NFL teams were fighting for playoff spots during the last weeks of the season, we can use a dramatic story line.To answer his questions: yes, yes, and hell yes.
I'm rooting for a Super Bowl that has a meaningful fourth quarter. But part of me also wants Manning to either win it or lose valiantly in the way John McEnroe lost his first Wimbledon final to Bjorn Borg -- precisely so sports fans do not have to recycle the exact same conversation about Manning that has taken place for the last seven years.
Hat tip: Slate's Tommy Craggs
Is economic protectionism on the rise in China?
That's the topic of Ariana Eunjung Cha's story in today's Washington Post. It starts out with an odd example, however:
"I know you don't know that you don't know.""Gee," I thought, "That's an odd example. There's no government action there -- it's a marketing campaign."
To Cha and her editors' credit, they do make this very point at the end of the story:
Richard Ji of Morgan Stanley Hong Kong said some companies have used China's new rules as an excuse for their own marketing or strategic shortcomings. He said that in the cases of Google and eBay, the companies' challenges have had more to do with failure to tailor the content of their Web sites to Chinese tastes and needs.Read the whole thing. In between this vignette, there's some decent evidence that China is officially wigging out about certain forms of FDI.
UPDATE: Thanks to Mitchell Young for pointing to the Baidu commercial on YouTube:The ad is a good example of the difference between economic nationalism and economic protectionism. The ad is clearly nationalist, and designed to foster a "Buy China" mindset, in part through rational arguments that Baidu is better than Google, and in part through cultural tropes designed to make the Western character in the ad look uncool. However, it's not an example of protectionism -- it's not calling for government intervention or relief, it's just trying to beat Google.
Most bizarre man in the street interview ever?
Is it just me, or does this C.W. Nevius story in the San Francisco Chronicle -- about the public reaction to Mayor Gavin Newsom's admission of cuckolding one of his principal staff people -- contain the wierdest man-in-the-street reaction ever to appear in a major newspaper?
Although almost everyone we spoke to admitted to some disappointment, Newsom's firm and unqualified apology played to raves....
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Oops, je l'ai fait encore
Jacques Chirac has gotten himself into a bit of foreign policy hot water, according to the New York Times' Elaine Sciolino and Katrine Bennhold:
President Jacques Chirac said this week that if Iran had one or two nuclear weapons, it would not pose a big danger, and that if Iran were to launch a nuclear weapon against a country like Israel, it would lead to the immediate destruction of Tehran.Two thoughts. First, what exactly is "a neurological episode"? Is this like "a minor circulatory problem of the head"?
Second, the implication in the Times report is that Chirac made more sense in the second interview than the first. To me that's really disturbing, because in the second interview Chirac actually makes less sense to me.
Chirac is essentially correct in stating that Iran would not nuke Israel because it would invite immediate retaliation, and Tehran would be leveled. Assuming that the political status quo remains in Iran and Ahmadinejad doesn't have his finger on the button, this is true.
However, for this to be true, the threat of retaliation has to be pretty clear. And this is what Chirac appears to amend in his second interview. Consider this part:
He retracted, for example, his comment that Tehran would be destroyed if Iran launched a nuclear weapon. “I retract it, of course, when I said, ‘One is going to raze Tehran,’ ” he said.In the actual text of the interview, Chirac seems more conscious of how deterrence works. However, this is the one thing you do not want to water down.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan has an interesting theory for why Chirac seemed more lucid in the second interview
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
I've gone to the bad place again
Really, I was going to do some work tonight.... but then I kept thinking about this Brad DeLong post about canonical Star Trek episodes. That led to some web surfing, and before I knew it found this at Youtube:This was bad enough, but then it led to this clip, and then that led to this clip, which led to this bit, and, then, well this intrigued me but I just couldn't really enjoy it, and then, finally, oh dear God, there was this extract from my 13-year old id.
I'll post again once I've regained some equilibrium.
UPDATE: Ah, a Youtube video that brings me (sort of) back to the real world.
Are we moving towards apolarity?
Fareed Zakaria frets about this possibility in Newsweek after going to Davos:
We are certainly in a trough for America—with Bush in his last years, with the United States mired in Iraq, with hostility toward Washington still high almost everywhere. But if so, we might also be getting a glimpse of what a world without America would look like. It will be free of American domination, but perhaps also free of leadership—a world in which problems fester and the buck is endlessly passed, until problems explode.A few thoughts:
1) It's fascinating to contrast Zakaria's column with Gideon Rachman's take on Davos. Zakaria is gloomy because of the absence of U.S. policymakers; Rachman is (somewhat) more optimistic because of the optimish of American businessmen.[Er... what about the point on global governance structures?--ed.] I'll have a lot more to say about that in the near future.
Raul Castro... reformer?
Anthony Boadle writes a story for Reuters suggesting that Cuba under Raul Castro is somewhat different than Cuba under Fidel:
Six months after Cuba's sick leader Fidel Castro handed over power provisionally to his brother Raul, signs of an opening in public debate are emerging in the communist-run country.Calling for greater criticism of economic shortcoming might be a sign of greater openness -- or it might be a clue for how Raul plans to consolidate his political position. Much as China's central government highlights the daily demonstrations that take place within China as a motivation for greater government centralization, Raul might be highlighting economic difficulties to lay the groundwork for steps that consolidate his own political position.
Mind you, Raul Castro might actually be going for perestroika rather than abertura. But I'm not holding my breath.
I want more prizes
David Leonhardt has a near-excellent column in the New York Times today on why prizes are 1) A great way to foster innovation, but; 2) far less popular than grants or other compensation schemes:
in the 1700s, prizes were a fairly common way to reward innovation. Most famously, the British Parliament offered the £20,000 longitude prize to anyone who figured out how to pinpoint location on the open sea. Dava Sobel’s best-selling 1995 book “Longitude” told the story of the competition that ensued, and Mr. Hastings mentioned the longitude prize as a model at that meeting back in March.A much smarter approach than Leonhardt's smarter approach would simply be for the government to simply offer large prizes -- we're talking in the billions -- for innovations that would reduce global warming. In return, the innovator would have to relinquish all intellectual property rights for the invention.
Beyond global warming, this approach should be used far more frequently for health care as well. Indeed, this is one of those tasks where government intervention might improve upon the market -- because the government has sufficient resources to withstand the inherent budgetary uncertainty that comes with the prospect of awarding prizes in the billions or tens of billions.
If the federal government can offer $25 million for capturing Osama bin Laden, why can't it offer a $10 billion prize for an AIDS vaccine?
I look forward to readers explain why I'm wrong.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Davos vs. Herzliya
Gideon Rachman attended two conferences last week, and writes about the resulting conceptual whiplash:
I went to two international conferences last week. The Herzliya security conference took place on the Israeli coast and the World Economic Forum was held in the Swiss mountains. It felt as if they were taking place on different planets....Read the whole thing. And then, for fun, check out Rachman's description of his "brainstorm" nightmare at Davos on his blog.
Why doesn't the EU have an OFAC?
Steven Weisman has a story in the New York Times evaluating the transatlantic effort to squeeze Iran. There have been a few bumps in the road:
European governments are resisting Bush administration demands that they curtail support for exports to Iran and that they block transactions and freeze assets of some Iranian companies, officials on both sides say. The resistance threatens to open a new rift between Europe and the United States over Iran.I suspect that most of the rift on this issue is related to the difference in economic interdependence between the US and EU when it comes to Iran. However, the lack of an institutional infrastructure on the EU side is not insignificant. The Europeans have never had the equivalent of OFAC -- the Office of Foreign Assets Control that oversees the nitty-gritty implementation of U.S. sanctions.
The question is.... why? Economic sanctions have been a popular policy tool for the past fifteen years or so. Economic power is the primary means through which the EU tries to exert its influence in world politics. A EuroOFAC would, one hopes, allow the Europeans to implemebnt sanctions more quickly, while at the same time allowing for more precise in their targeting.
So why hasn't it happened yet? Two possible reasons:
1) European countries are less sanctions-happy than the United States. This is true, but there's a chicken-egg problem with this story -- the EU doesn't sanction as often because the tools aren't there;I'm sure there are other reasons -- and I'mm sure my readers will inform me at great length about them.
This is part and parcel of a larger question, however -- to what extent does the EU really want to be seen as a great power? Is it willing to develop the traditional tools of statecraft that befit the moniker?
Monday, January 29, 2007
Remembering Milton Friedman
Only 20 minutes left for Milton Friedman day, so here are a few salient links:
1) At Open U., Richard Stern reports on the memorial service at the University of Chicago:
The euro disconnect
There's something a bit odd about the contrast between a) economists debating the prospect of the euro supplanting the dollar as the world's reserve currency, and b) the fact that Europeans don't like the euro all that much. The Financial Times' Ralph Atkins explains:
An overwhelming majority of citizens in the big eurozone countries believe the euro has damaged their national economies, highlighting the popular scepticism that still surrounds Europe’s eight-year-old monetary union.UPDATE: Henry Farrell provides an explanation for the oddity.