Friday, March 26, 2010

Magical thinking -- a scary survey of the present crisis

Allan Gregg talks to Chris Hedges on his book Empire of Illusion. Thanks to for drawing my attention to this TVOntario interview.

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Monday, March 01, 2010

"The crisis we are in"

I thought I did not have an hour to listen to Stephen S. Cohen talk about his recent book with Brad DeLong, The End of Influence: What happens when other countries have the money. But I was wrong.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

A creaky old country

That's what I sometimes think when I read the news out of the USA. The most recent exhibit is a column by Bob Herbert in the New York Times:

Two weeks ago, as I was getting ready to take off for Palo Alto, Calif., to cover a conference on the importance of energy and infrastructure for the next American economy, The Times’s Keith Bradsher was writing from Tianjin, China, about how the Chinese were sprinting past everybody else in the world, including the United States, in the race to develop clean energy.

That we are allowing this to happen is beyond stupid. China is a poor country with nothing comparable to the tremendous research, industrial and economic resources that the U.S. has been blessed with. Yet they’re blowing us away — at least for the moment — in the race to the future.

Our esteemed leaders in Washington can’t figure out how to do anything more difficult than line up for a group photo. Put Americans back to work? You must be kidding. Health care? We’ve been working on it for three-quarters of a century. Infrastructure? Don’t ask.

It really is a disgrace that China with all its resource problems and under the leadership of the Communist Party seems to have a much more forward-thinking attitude about some really basic stuff. It's like Americans have given up on practicality in favor of theological conflict -- about evolution, marriage equality, and "don't ask, don't tell."

Thanks to Brad DeLong for the heads-up.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820

British History Online has webbed a searchable version of this reference work, for serious research or serious fun.

Image: Market Hill in St. Edmundsbury, 1700.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nine nations: A China primer

I will be away from blogging till at least the weekend, so I came to the computer today feeling some obligation to leave you with something good. I was completely uninspired until Brad DeLong -- again -- came to the rescue by providing me with a link to Patrick Chovanec's Atlantic article on the Nine Nations of China. Like Mr. Chovanec, I was influenced by the 1981 book by Joel Garreau's Nine Nations of North America, in which he redivided Canada and the United States into economic and cultural areas that more reflected reality than the international and state/provincial divisions on most maps. It was a fresh approach that has since gone stale, as lazy people keep referring to it like nothing important has changed since the 1970s. But once again it renders yeoman service by inspiring this new article. I do not endorse the authority of the Nine Nations of China, since I'm about two or three steps above simple ignorance, but I found it interesting. Here's an excerpt:
This week, President Obama makes his first state visit to China. What kind of country will he find there? We tend to imagine China as a monolith: 1.3 billion people sharing the same language, history, and culture. The truth is far more interesting. China is a mosaic of several distinct regions, each with its own resources, dynamics, and historical character.

As a traveler, teacher, and professional investor who has been exploring China since 1986, I’ve come to think of these regions as the Nine Nations of China (inspired, in part, by Joel Garreau’s Nine Nations of North America). Taken individually, these “nations” would account for eight of the 20 most populous countries in the world.

As China’s economy becomes more integrated, these regional differences are taking on greater importance than ever before.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

This is your planet -- Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan, India

Pictures of the great annual camel and livestock fair from The Big Picture.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Late for Hallowe'en: Boo!

US figures. From Mark Thoma via Brad DeLong.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

You speak for me, Jon Stewart

Yesterday on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart played an old clip of a CNBC "business reporter" asking one of the biggest crooks on Wall Street whether it was fun being a billionaire. Stewart's response was entirely appropriate: "I don't know which of those guys I'd rather see in jail."

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