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  • Archive for July, 2005

    Monetary policy as a scam

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 19th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Last month I had written some posts about the European Union and the Euro, in response to some Eurosceptic triumphalism over the outcomes over the French and Dutch referendums, for both electorates decided against ratifying the proposed European constitution. I took a break from blogging since then , but in the meantime I left two comments at Kim du Toit’s blog when he blogged about this article at the Washington Times. The comments are no longer available at Kim’s archived posts, but I had saved both of them on my hard disk. After the quote from the Washington Times is my first one in a somewhat edited form, the second one isn’t relevant as far as the article is concerned.

    Italians, once among the most enthusiastic supporters of a united Europe, are becoming increasingly disillusioned, so much so that some are suggesting that Italy dump the euro and bring back the lira.
    Roberto Castelli, the silver-haired Italian justice minister from the Northern League, a major coalition partner in the government of Silvio Berlusconi, said his party will present concrete proposals this week for calling a referendum on ditching the euro.
    “Does [the British pound] sterling have no economic foundation because it is outside the euro?” he asked. “Is Denmark living in absolute poverty because it is outside the euro? Are Swedes poor because they are outside the euro?”

    Nevertheless, government economists say privately Italy could gain short-term economic benefits from leaving the euro.
    By devaluing its currency, Italy could immediately boost exports, jobs and manufacturing investment. The real value of Italy’s massive public debt, equivalent to some 105 percent of gross domestic product, could be slashed by devaluation.

    Kim thought that this would be a good thing, but I respectfully disagreed:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Back down to earth

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 19th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Jonathan is acting mighty smug, but this should put him back in his proper place.

    While you are looking at that site, also don’t miss this and this.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    I Told You So

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th July 2005 (All posts by )

    WRT this, all I can say is that you heard it here first.

    Posted in Humor | 5 Comments »

    Kooser’s Pick

    Posted by Ginny on 18th July 2005 (All posts by )

    This week, Kooser chooses “Love Like Salt” by Lisel Mueller.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Cat Food & Money

    Posted by Ginny on 17th July 2005 (All posts by )

    As we contemplate turning our garage into an apartment/study, we think about money & life. How long will we use it, how many offspring of offspring will fill this house in the years & holidays between now & the nursing home–or death; well, let’s move on. How many marriages in that backyard? Should we borrow? Should we wait?

    And so we make decisions and live with them. We “buy into” them, taking responsibility, recognizing in these choices we impose order (meaning? disorder?) on our lives. This prompts self-consciousness and opposes fatalism. It has similarities with the “break it; own it” mantra cited so often as Powell’s “Pottery Barn strategy.” But it makes the concept personal and even profound. (Not that we fool ourselves; life remains tragic and unpredictable – except for the inevitable death. But if we concentrate on these, we may miss how much we can do.)

    Money is a means to an end. A home, a place for our children, a place where we can happily set up our bookcases & computers & live out our lives – that’s the end. I suspect most of us see it as the British saw reason – a means to the end of a good life. Franklin & Thoreau, so different in so many ways, want us to recognize in this exchange our time (life) is one good, money is the means; therefore, we should think a bit about what is worth our life. Of course, for some money is symbol – like Lance Armstrong’s yellow shirt. In the rough and tumble of some exchanges money certifies right decisions, risks taken – the self isn’t certified by the money but by the wisdom of choices which produced it.

    Status & our desire for approval are great. While a rich area to contemplate this hot summer, first let’s talk about the simplest marker: money.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blogging | 3 Comments »

    More German troops in Afghanistan

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 17th July 2005 (All posts by )

    From Reuters

    BERLIN, July 9 (Reuters) – Germany wants to increase the number of its soldiers in Afghanistan by around a third, a Defence Ministry spokesman said on Saturday.

    The Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, would be asked to approve a government request to extend the soldiers’ mandate beyond Oct. 13 and make as many as 3,000 soldiers available, up from the current 2,200, the spokesman said.

    The spokesman said the troops would continue to provide logistical support to the Afghan government in disrupting the drugs industry but would not be taking an active role in destroying stocks of narcotics.

    The current 2200 troops already make Germany the largest contributor to ISAF, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    China’s lack of energy effiency

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 16th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Via Marginal Revolution

    University of Alberta political economist Wenran Jiang calculates China spends three times the world average on energy — and seven times what Japan spends — to produce $1 of gross domestic product. It also is far more inefficient than nations like Brazil and Indonesia…Chinese steelmakers on average use about twice as much energy as Japanese or Korean rivals per ton of output. Only 5% of the country’s office and residential towers meet China’s own minimal energy-conservation standards.

    That is from the 11 April Business Week, pp.50-51.

    The price of oil has more than quadrupled since 1999, but the world economy has been affected a lot less than it was by the oil price shocks of the 70s and 80s, for the simple reason that industry around the world, with some exceptions, has become much more energy effcient. Unfortunately the rapidly growing Chinese one is one of these exceptions. We can only hope that Western technology transfers will help to bring them up to speed, to prevent the huge waste, and so that oil prices won’t rise to such heights that they would damage the world economy after all.

    Looking at the bright side, the Chinese dependency on Western technology, and their general lack of efficiency, make them a lot less dangerous than they otherwise would be.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

    His American fans should help the Danish Pizza man

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 16th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Not good:

    COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – A Danish pizzeria owner was jailed Tuesday for refusing to serve French and German tourists in protesting their countries’ opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

    A Danish court found Aage Bjerre guilty of discrimination and fined him $900. Bjerre refused to pay, and will now serve an eight-day sentence.

    In February 2003, before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Bjerre posted two signs barring Germans and French from his pizzeria on Denmark’s western island of Fanoe. His refusal to serve them drew criticism in this Scandinavian country, where the government supported the war while its citizens were split.

    The 46-year-old received hundreds of fan letters from the United States, but had to sell the pizzeria after repeated vandalism and a large drop in sales.

    I think it was a misguided gesture, for Pizza-embargoes haven’t ever worked before in all of human history – thwarted customers simply take their business elsewhere. I don’t personally mind, for as far as I am concerned he has the right to serve or refuse to serve whomever he wants to. I also don’t think that anybody else was angry, my fellow citizens will line up to have themselves photographed next to a sign that says ‘Germans keep out!’. Good for a laugh or two.

    As to his punishment: The futility of the gesture was obvious, and the ‘discrimination’ was just a pretext to fine him. What this really is all about is the fact that his community depends on German tourists for its livelyhood, and his fellow citizens were afraid the tourists might stay away. I also strongly suspect that the vandalism was perpetrated by neighbors afarid to lose their businesses or jobs.

    Anyway, he’s obviously one of these oddballs who obsess one thing or another, for him it was the war on Iraq. This wouldn’t have gone anywhere, if he hadn’t gotten all those fan-letters to stiffen his resistance, so that he refused to give in to his fellow citizens’ pressure and to pay the fine, leading to his stint in prison and the loss of his business. The people who sent him those letters should now damn well feel obliged to make amends. They should send him money, or even lobby to get him a greencards.

    PS: Think about it for a second: *Danish* Pizza?

    Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 15th July 2005 (All posts by )

    C-Span 1. Book TV. Book TV Schedule. After Words and Q&A.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Schedules | Comments Off on C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Max Boot: Why We Fight

    Posted by demimasque on 15th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Max Boot ponders the parallels between the Blitz and the Bombing:

    The London bombings have occasioned many comparisons with the 1940 Blitz. This is usually cited as evidence of British fortitude — the attitude exemplified by cockneys in the heavily bombed East End who told Winston Churchill, “We can take it, but give it ’em back.” That is indeed the dominant British (and American) attitude, then and now, but it is important not to ignore a streak of timidity there (and here) that may get stronger in the years ahead and that was present even when civilization faced an existential threat from Nazism.

    The last sentence segues into a litany of appeasement stances. I imagine that in their day these appeals against involvement in the war were far louder than history has allowed their echoes to be. Take one delicious morsel of an example:

    Even in January 1942, when German armies were at the gates of Moscow, George Orwell wrote in Partisan Review that “the greater part of the very young intelligentsia are anti-war … don’t believe in any ‘defense of democracy,’ are inclined to prefer Germany to Britain, and don’t feel the horror of Fascism that we who are somewhat older feel.”

    As if to illustrate Orwell’s point, a pacifist poet named D.S. Savage wrote a reply in which he explained why he “would never fight and kill for such a phantasm” as “Britain’s ‘democracy.’ ” Savage saw no difference between Britain and its enemies because under the demands of war both were imposing totalitarianism: “Germans call it National Socialism. We call it democracy. The result is the same.”

    Savage naively wondered, “Who is to say that a British victory will be less disastrous than a German one?” Savage thought the real problem was that Britain had lost “her meaning, her soul,” but “the unloading of a billion tons of bombs on Germany won’t help this forward an inch.” “Personally,” he added, with hilarious understatement, “I do not care for Hitler.” But he thought the way to resist Hitler was by not resisting him: “Whereas the rest of the nation is content with calling down obloquy on Hitler’s head, we regard this as superficial. Hitler requires, not condemnation, but understanding.”

    Remind you of anything? No wonder they’ve been in such a frenzy to portray Rove as some sort of criminal mastermind — with the usual lack of success.

    (Hat-tip: Instapundit)

    [Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

    Posted in Terrorism | 1 Comment »

    Foreigners barred from drinking in Californian bars?

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 15th July 2005 (All posts by )

    This is from Heidi McDonald who is right now attending the Comic-Con in San Diego:

    The oddest incident of the night was a Hyatt bartender telling two English guests that their passports weren’t adequate ID to get a drink. “You’re going to need to fix those,” said the vigilant barkeep. “In California you need to have ID that gives a description. You need a driver’s license.” He took pity on them and gave them one drink “this time.”

    The English drinkers were understandably daunted by the prospect of having to get Californian driver’s licenses before the end of the show, and quite sensibly went back to their room to drink.

    Is this a Californian speciality, or even just one of the Hyatt in San Diego, or do I have to apply to drivers’s licences in all 50 states now, just in case I want to drink in a bar? That wasn’s the case in the last decade, but times might have changed.

    Posted in Humor | 13 Comments »

    Bridge Out

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 14th July 2005 (All posts by )

    I just came across this news story. It seems that the United Nations is going to undertake efforts to build new bridges between the West and Islam. The program is going to be called “Alliance of Civilizations”. An excerpt…

    The campaign’s aim was to “bridge divides and overcome prejudice, misconceptions, misperceptions, and polarization which potentially threaten world peace,” U.N. chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

    Recent events had “heightened the sense of a widening gap and lack of mutual understanding between Islamic and Western societies — an environment that has been exploited and exacerbated by extremists in all societies,” he said.

    They readily admit that the bombings in London one week ago prompted this move. Taking seven days to call a press conference and announce their resolve to take action is moving at warp speed so far as the UN is concerned. But how long is it going to be before they actually do something? Read the last paragraph of the article and you’ll learn that they’re going to form a committee to study the problem and make suggestions. Don’t expect anything resembling a plan of action until late in 2006.

    So nothing concrete is going to be done for at least the next 16 months or so. And this is just for what is, essentially, a public relations campaign. Instead of any internal committee, the UN should hire one of the ad agencies from Madison Avenue. They probably would save some money. They certainly would save a great deal of time.

    I haven’t tried to avoid sounding too harsh because, let’s face it, that’s impossible so far as the UN is concerned. Instead I’ll make the prediction that this as yet unformed committee will be very careful to try and assign blame for acts of terrorism equally between Western culture and Islamic society. This is entirely unfair because there is a decided difference between the types of extremists the two environments produce.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in United Nations | 11 Comments »

    War of the Worlds webcomic

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 14th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Via The Comics Reporter:

    While the movie by Steven Spielberg is still playing in cinemas, Dark Horse Comics is publishing a webcomic version that is much more faithful to H. G. Wells’ book. They are adding several pages each week. Since the project is only in its fourth week, the story is so far still at its beginning, but it looks very promising.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Ed McBain dies

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 14th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Sad news:

    Ed McBain, the US writer whose gritty crime novels sold over 100m copies worldwide, has died of cancer, aged 78.

    In a writing career that also produced plays and screenplays, he was best known for the 87th Precinct series, which paved the way for TV cop dramas.

    Born Salvatore Lombino in New York, he first changed his name to Evan Hunter, but found fame as Ed McBain, starting with Cop Hater in 1956.

    He also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, The Birds.

    In all, McBain wrote over 100 novels, plays and filmscripts in a career spanning half a century.

    He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2002 and underwent radical surgery to remove his voice-box.

    But the cancer returned, and he died peacefully on Wednesday at his home in Connecticut.

    I read a number of his 87th Precinct novels, and I also liked the Mathew Hope series, the eponymous Hope being a defense attorney. You can find a bibliography here.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    A Small Irritation

    Posted by Ginny on 13th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Exactly why was my tax money spent funding a junket suggested by the spouse (a government employee)? Transparency and some objectivity might, indeed, see “Karl Rove, Whistleblower.” I suspect that many in Washington do not see it that way not just because of political leanings or blood-in-the-water triumphalism, but because such arrangements are so common (& interwoven) in the media, the bureaucracy, and politics.

    Posted in Crime and Punishment | 13 Comments »

    Selected Quotes

    Posted by Shannon Love on 11th July 2005 (All posts by )

    While cleaning out my hard drive I found a folder of text clippings containing various quotes that at one time I found funny, profound or both. I thought I would share them. They are presented here in no particular order and for most I didn’t capture the attribution.

    Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Resentment & the Marketplace

    Posted by Ginny on 11th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Responses to the attack on London, after sympathetic murmurs, swiftly turned to support for previously held positions. Some were heartening. We admire the Brits’ stiff uppper lip. Their history bucks them up; they demonstrate a point we’ve made before on this blog: history gives us spine and self-respect, narratives with which we interpret experience. Their constant references to World War II and the Blitz seemed old; when one host drew out his World War II propaganda collection after inviting two Germans (one my son-in-law) to dinner, I was appalled. Perhaps on 7/7, smugness became a virtue and such history gave strength. Reliving so often their courage during the blitz, last week they reached back to Mrs. Miniver. Andrew Roberts notes:

    If the elderly lady I overheard in a small crowd watching the events on TV through the windows of an electrical goods store in the King’s Road, Chelsea, is anything to go by, the general attitude is: “It’s ridiculous not being able to take trains home. If we didn’t kowtow to Hitler, why should we to this lot?”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Iraq | 8 Comments »

    This time it’s different!

    Posted by Jonathan on 11th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Incognito forwards an interesting article about the Florida real-estate market. The article mentions this site, which, coincidentally, another Chicago boy recently told me about.

    Hmm. . .

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 5 Comments »


    Posted by Ginny on 10th July 2005 (All posts by )

    The remarkable & wise Wretchard has revealed his identity.

    Posted in Blogging | 2 Comments »

    Kooser’s Weekly Poem

    Posted by Ginny on 10th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Kooser chooses for the 15th week a poem by a poet from the largest campus in the world, Janet McCann, who writes of “The Woman Who Collected Noah’s Arks.”

    Posted in Diversions | 1 Comment »

    Note: PBS as Pro-market

    Posted by Ginny on 10th July 2005 (All posts by )

    My son-in-law sent an e-mail link to Fareed Zakaria’s interview with de Soto, a show with a moment’s open window at PBS. I suspect the argument will seem less like “a novel way to address global poverty” to most of the readers of this blog than the only way that has worked. Nonetheless, it is pleasant to see such an argument on PBS. The series, Foreign Exchange: Where America Meets the World was developed by Azimuth Media and Oregon Public Broadcasting. (We don’t get it locally but some of the largest markets in the state do.)

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 4 Comments »

    People’s Song

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 10th July 2005 (All posts by )

    Lileks has a new entry in his Screedblog. He talks about the recent London bombings, and muses on the music that best defines a culture. (This might sound odd, but trust me. James handles it with verve and class.) Later in the essay, he savagely punctures some of the talking points of the anti-war crowd. An excerpt…

    “They did not bomb London because there is insufficient transparency in Congress about the Gitmo detainees; they bombed London because it is part of the Zionist-Crusader Conspiracy run by the sons of monkeys and pigs, who must submit or die.

    “Any questions?

    “Ummm, how does it end? I don’t know. Not well for quite a few, I fear. And not well for quite a few, I hope.”

    It’s worth your time to read the whole thing.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Terrorism | 3 Comments »

    True Colors

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 7th July 2005 (All posts by )

    The guards at Buckingham Palace, to show support for America after the 9/11 attacks, played the Star Spangled Banner instead of the usual God Save the Queen. I get a lump in my throat every time I see it.

    The Guards played the Spanish national anthem, Marcha Real, after the Madrid bombings last year. They wanted to put aside one of the most beloved of British traditions for one day to show respect.

    Publius Pundit reports that we hoisted the Union Jack over the State Department today, the first time in history that a foreign flag has flown there.


    (Hat tip to Glenn.)

    Posted in Terrorism | 2 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 7th July 2005 (All posts by )

    C-Span 1. Book TV. Book TV Schedule. After Words and Q&A.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Schedules | Comments Off on C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)


    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 7th July 2005 (All posts by )

    This is going to be a long war. Decades. The enemy will inflict some defeats. Today was one of them. Some of the people who will die in the war will be people in uniform. Some of them will be ordinary citizens of countries targeted by the terrorists, possibly some of this blog’s readers or writers. The shock of this attack in London will pass quickly, then all the usual parties will maneuver to gain political advantage from it. All parties will argue that it validates their existing positions. Whatever spin eventually emerges from these events, the ultimate outcome of the war is not in doubt. Neither America nor Britain are going to be defeated by these means. The terrorists lack the means to destroy the core of our power. And any attempt to appease the terrorists or placate them will be taken, correctly, as weakness and will only lead to further demands and further violence. They cannot be negotiated with, since their goals are effectively infinite — the establishment of a regime like the Taliban, imposed on the entire world. So, by whatever twisted course, ongoing violent confrontation, and the ultimate defeat of Islamic terrorism, is going to be the long-term outcome. A lot of people are going to die first. Even so, fear nothing. How we live is what matters, and when we die is, by and large, out of our hands. What we make of this country and this time we live in and what we hand on to those who come after are what matters. Our generation has had the task imposed on it of fighting and destroying these terrorists. It will be hard, and it will be ugly, but we will do what needs to be done.

    For now, pray for the dead, the injured, their families, the people caring for the wounded.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 30 Comments »