Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Spanish Ulcer.

Looking back over his life from St. Helena, it wasn’t the failed invasion of Russia that loomed large in Napoleon’s mind, but rather the Siege of Cádiz.

Monkey Business in a World of Evil.

In early September 1939, just after World War II began, the Reys — a husband-and-wife team of German Jews living in Paris — sought refuge at Château Feuga, an old castle owned by some friends in southern France.

At such a time, Hans A. Rey wrote in a letter, “it feels ridiculous to be thinking about children’s books.” But that is what they were doing, prolifically, including a book about a monkey named Fifi, who later became known as Curious George.

When suspicious villagers reported the strange couple in the old castle to the authorities, gendarmes searched the place for expected bomb-making material, but the studio with pictures of the mischievous monkey convinced them of the Reys’ innocence.

Apparently, Fifi/George served much the same function when, in more serious straits in June 1940, his creators fled Paris on bicycles Hans Rey built from parts. As Louise Borden described in her 2005 picture book, “The Journey That Saved Curious George,” they left two days before the Nazis entered Paris and rode 75 miles in three days. Their four-month journey on bicycle, train and boat led them to Lisbon, then to Rio de Janeiro and New York, the drawings offering proof of their occupations when they sought American visas.


The Party's Over: China's Endgame.

The dominant narrative about China today is that it will, within a few short decades, become the preeminent power in the international system. Its economy, according to the conventional wisdom, was the first to recover from the global downturn and will eventually go on to become the world’s largest. Geopolitical dominance will inevitably follow.

How did this notion of Chinese supremacy gain hold? The answer is nothing more profound than statistical extrapolation. China was destitute when Deng Xiaoping grabbed power in December 1978. Since then, the country has averaged, according to official statistics, a spectacular annual growth of 9.9 percent. This rate, if carried forward, gives China the world’s largest economy in a few decades—2027, to be exact, according to a now-famous Goldman Sachs estimate.

So will ours be the Chinese century? Probably not.


5 reasons why the Tea Partiers are right on taxes.

When I started studying economics the US was much richer than Western Europe and Japan, but was also growing more slowly than other developed countries. They were still in the catch-up growth phase from the ravages of WWII. But since Reagan took office the US has been growing faster than most other big developed economies, and at least as fast in per capita terms. They’ve plateaued at about 25% below US levels, when you adjust for PPP. This is the steady state. … ]

Why is per capita GDP in Western Europe so much lower than in the US? Mankiw seems to imply that high tax rates may be one of the reasons. … So I think Mankiw is saying that if we adopt the European model, there really isn’t a lot of evidence that we’d end up with any more revenue than we have right now. … Of course the progressives’ great hope is that we’ll end up like France. But Brazil also has high tax rates, how do they know we won’t end up like Brazil?

Der Spiegel on Climate Change.

One of the conclusions of his famous statistical analysis of the world's climate is that the average temperature on Earth rose by 0.166 degrees Celsius per decade between 1975 and 1998. This, according to Jones, was the clear result of his research and that of many other scientists.

"I am 100 percent confident that the climate has warmed," Jones says imploringly. "I did not manipulate or fabricate any data."

His problem is that the public doesn't trust him anymore. Since unknown hackers secretly copied 1,073 private emails between members of his research team and published them on the Internet, his credibility has been destroyed -- and so has that of an entire profession that had based much of its work on his research until now.

Those who have always viewed global warming as a global conspiracy now feel a sense of satisfaction. The so-called climate skeptics feel vindicated, because Jones, in his written correspondence with colleagues, all of them leading members of the climate research community, does not come across as an objective scientist, but rather as an activist or missionary who views "his" data as his personal shrine and is intent on protecting it from the critical eyes of his detractors.

The article is here.