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Late Wednesday Open Thread

by dvx Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 01:48:01 PM EST

Let's see if I do this right.


Display:
Damn. It worked.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 01:48:23 PM EST
Austerity opera to be performed in Estonian capital - Telegraph
A Twitter feud in June between the Estonian president and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman who questioned the impact of Estonia's austerity measures, is being turned into an opera.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 01:53:08 PM EST
Hopefully this is true:

EU hints at banning insecticides over threat to bees | The Raw Story

The European Commission hinted on Wednesday that it could ban several insecticides, some made by German chemicals giant Bayer, after scientists found disturbing evidence of harm to bees.

The EU's food safety agency had reported "disturbing conclusions on three types of insecticides," a spokesman for EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said.

Following the findings, the Commission would be writing to manufacturers Bayer, Syngenta and Cruiser OSR to seek their response by January 25, the spokesman said, adding that the topic would be taken up again on January 31.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 02:05:44 PM EST
no doubt one of those evil European rules that Cameron wants to withdraw the UK from being exposed to.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 02:09:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We can hope, but I expect it is a long shot.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 02:59:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if this correlates to the new EU policy of publishing all the data submitted concerning approvals of chemicals, GMOs etc?

i.e. they knew the data will not stand up to scrutiny, so they can no longer remain in the pockets of Bayer?

Or am I just an unrealidealistic transparency-worshipper?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 05:17:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is this going to far? This was a wide spread childrensbook when I was a kid. Though I do remember the story somewhat, I do not remember the language.

Publisher Criticized for Removing Racist Terms from Children's Book - SPIEGEL ONLINE

A German publisher is being accused of excessive political correctness for removing controversial language from a classic children's book, sparking debate about how to handle outdated and offensive words in the genre.

Last month German Family Minister Kristina Schröder incited the ire of her fellow conservative politicians when she took aim at politically incorrect content in classic children's literature. In addition to suggesting that God should be gender neutral, she criticized sexist and racist messages in some of these tales too. If she were to read aloud to her daughter from one of Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking books, called "Pippi in Taka Tuka Land" in German, she would leave out the word "negro" in order "to protect my child from taking on such expressions," Schröder told the daily newspaper Die Zeit.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 02:09:08 PM EST
I don't want literature altered, and that includes children's literature, if you take it seriously. The idea to alter it reveals an attitude that treats literature for children as if it was textbooks. When I read these stories to my children, I talked to them about the words, and why blacks are offended if people say "Neger". Quite easy, and a good opportunity to talk about it.
by Katrin on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:15:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with you - and think it is important that children also learn worldviews evolve, which they can not if the original is altered.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:31:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There have been similar 'problems' in the USA with Mark Twain's novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which used the common vernacular of the day while highlighting the problems with slavery and the common attitudes surrounding it.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 04:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember being puzzled, on my first reading of Huck, by the hero's moral dilemma over "stealing" Jim. The irony was too subtle for me, but I got the implied racism.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 05:24:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
yes but that only works when there is already a consensus (among parents who read to their children) that the terms and attitudes are offensive and need to be explained to their children.

This may be true, but it's probably an elitist situation : Those parents who don't read to their children are the more likely prospects for passing on racist and offensive stereotypes to their children. And you probably wouldn't agree to the screening of children's TV shows which contain such terms and attitudes (where, typically, children are all alone in interpreting the content).

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 05:22:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Children's TV shows always transport the stereotypes of the era when they were produced. Older ones are full of subtle racism and less subtle sexism, but they are shown over and over again. If there is a problem at all, it's there, but I don't see anyone caring.
by Katrin on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 04:20:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps it is just that TV ages faster. While Tintin in Congo still might be read today while films from 1930 rarely are seen.

But as TV is more centralised, I also think there is an element of concious choice to eliminate that would offend to much. Really old and rather violent Donald Ducks are not shown that much any more and the same might be true for works that are so racist and sexist that even the parents nostalgia would not be enough to paint it over. I don't know, I have no good examples of what is not shown today.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 06:03:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, offending material is removed. Material that stereotypes is not removed. Shows where the boys are courageous and the girls are caring and black children follow the lead of whites and never the other way round. I argue that the latter is more likely to influence the attitudes of children than the appearance of a word that we now consider offensive.
by Katrin on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 09:21:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
About the worst that can be said about the word 'negro' is that it went out of style as a general descriptor and a self descriptor in the African-American community. It was never a term of denigration to my knowledge. There remains the problem of a single descriptor for a diverse population.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:04:01 PM EST
The debate is about the German word "Neger", which is not well translated by "negro". It is not as strongly taboo as "nigger" either. It connotes colonialism, primitive peoples, and the like, and it is clearly racist.
by Katrin on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:08:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This used to be a Negerkuss (negro's kiss) when I learned to speak. Not pc.
by Katrin on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:23:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OMG, I completely forgot about them. Used to love them, more for the consistency than the taste. :-D
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:28:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My daughter just saw the picture and said "Mmmh, Negerküsse". And then she added, thoughtfully "Actually one shouldn't say Negerküsse, because ... Neger." Well, what better thing can happen than that she is aware of what she can do with language? If I had always censored the word away, she wouldn't know that.
by Katrin on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:51:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's also the Austrian dessert Mohr im Hemd (the Moor in the shirt), which has a chocolate cake inside and a white icing outside.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:42:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there any African food named for melanin deficient people?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:51:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
piss-coloured.
by Katrin on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:54:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unlikely that someone uses that for food, isn't it?
by Katrin on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:56:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Missionary.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:58:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The isiXhosa/isiZulu word mlungu (plural: abelungu) can be interpreted as derogatory. It is commonly used as 'white person' but Zulu friends have always snickered it also means 'white scum from the sea'. I've never attempted an etymology of the word - but I've personally experienced the word can be offensively used.

Possibly even more interesting is the etymology of the word 'lekgoa' (both used in Setswana and Sotho languauges):

In Southern Africa, Lekgoa is often considered a contemporary racial slur for people of European descent. However, usage of the term actually derives from historical racial power relationships and is not a stereotype, but rather a description of disrespectful behaviour patterns associated with whites.

See here and here for more.

Although I heard them less frequently, also 'ibhulu' (Boer), a reference to the Boer Republics, and 'Dutch' are used in South Africa as an insult. In fact, I must often have made an ass of myself by introducing myself as 'Dutch'. :)

But I don't know of any food named after 'abelungu'.

by Nomad on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 05:16:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dame blanche



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 05:28:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oh yes, I'll bet they're real popular over your way.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 05:40:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder if he is being re-named too?
by Katrin on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:53:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've had it in Vienna with chocolate sauce on the outside.
by gk (g k quattro due due sette "at" gmail.com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 05:21:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Slightly off the topic but England has a folk dance tradition of Morris dancing, the word coming from Moor-ish.

Within it there is always a bit of a bone of contention about a minority of dancers who continue to dance in "black face". This is a tradition which represents a darker side of nature, their dances are always wilder and rougher (and involve more cider) and most now adopt a "punk" aesthetic.

It is respect not pastiche

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 05:47:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 05:28:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Atlantic: Here's What Happened the Last Time the U.S. Defaulted on Its Debt (Matthew O'Brien, January 16 2013)
... The past few decades, there's been a shift in the financial system towards things that, economically-speaking, look like a bank, act like a bank, but technically aren't banks. Institutions like hedge funds, structured investment vehicles, and money-market funds all borrow short and lend long, just like a bank, but do so outside the web of regulations that control, and safeguard, regular, old banks. In other words, they trade FDIC insurance and access to the Fed window for complete financial freedom.
Minsky's disciples call this Money Manager Capitalism to distinguish it from the preceding paternalistic capitalism (which is described both in Minsky's Stabilizing an unstable economy and Galbraith's The New Industrial State)
They are the shadow banking system, and they didn't really exist back in 1979. At least not anywhere near today's scale. And they, along with conventional banks that have gotten into the game, use Treasury bonds as a kind of money. They use Treasuries as collateral for cash in repurchase agreements (repos) to fund their daily trading, with those same Treasuries often getting "rehypothetecated" -- that is, reposted as collateral by whoever first got it as collateral -- in a dizzying chain of financial connections. It's almost impossible to predict what would happen to these collateral chains if there was any kind of default on Treasuries, but it would almost certainly be 1) bad, and 2) very bad. Think about it this way. Treasuries are supposed to be the safest of safe assets, and as such are the lifeblood of the financial system, which has been running low on safe assets since mortgage bonds turned out not to be so. Removing the system's blood is not something we want to try. The last time something like that happened was, of course, back in 2007-08 with subprime bonds, and it set off and old-fashioned bank run on the uninsured assets of the shadow banking system that nearly brought down the world economy.


I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 03:32:25 PM EST
A friend sent me an article which seems quite relevant to discussions on ET. I won't comment yet as i've just got it, but...

Kevin Kelly, The Post-Productive Economy


Take a look at these farm houses which I saw under construction in remote areas of Yunnan province China. They were not unusual; farmsteads this size were everywhere in rural China. Note the scale of these massive buildings. Each support post is cut from a single huge tree. The massive earth walls are three stories high and taper toward the top. They are homes for a single extended family built in the traditional Tibetan farmhouse style. They are larger than most middle-class American homes. The extensive wood carvings inside and outside will be painted in garish colors, like this family room shown in a finished home. This area of Yunnan is consider one of the poorer areas in China, and the standard of living of the inhabitants here would be classified as "poor."

Part of the reason is that these homes have no running water, no grid electricity, and no toilets. They don't even have outhouses.

But the farmers and their children who live in these homes all have cell phones, and they have accounts on the Chinese versions of Twitter and Facebook, and recharge via solar panels.

This is important because a recent thought-provoking article by a renowned economist argues that the US economy has not been growing during the internet boom and probably will not grow any more than it has already because computers and the internet are not as productive as the last two industrial revolutions.


Technology will continue to increase productivity for the commodities of life, even if it takes another 80 years. But the next phase we are rushing into -- the 3rd Industrial Revolution, the world of networks -- the non-commodities of life will play a greater role in economic terms. When science fiction author Neal Stephenson laments: "I saw the best minds of my generation... writing spam filters" he should not give up. It's not that different that the best minds of a former generation designing oil filters. These are the unglamorous but essential tasks in constructing a whole new infrastructure.

Is Kevin Kelly's thesis worth a discussion?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 05:50:36 PM EST
Crazy Horse:
This is important because a recent thought-provoking article by a renowned economist argues that the US economy has not been growing during the internet boom and probably will not grow any more than it has already because computers and the internet are not as productive as the last two industrial revolutions.

Krugman recently did a drive-by on this thesis. His take was that the big productivity boosts are really just now starting to kick in, but the economy isn't growing because the technology is eliminating jobs without creating new employment opportunities.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 02:56:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...the technology is eliminating jobs without creating new employment opportunities.

Following the pattern of previous industrial revolutions.

Despite what the Neo-Classicists believe, jobs don't rain down from on high.  It takes years, or decades, for a technology to fully work out as people try different things, trying to find what works.  Sixty-five years ago there was less than 1,000 people employed in the computer industry.  Now there are over 6,000,000 (US) with ~150,000 over the next three to five years (in Big Data.)

At the moment people don't know how to make money off the the Internet.  There's no reliable Business Model as in, say, the automotive industry.  Google is the big success story of the Internet but they make their bucks by advertising ... another mature industry with a reliable Business Model.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 01:06:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is Kevin Kelly's thesis worth a discussion?

Yes.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 01:08:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No.

Kelly is the Friedman of tech - ponderously serious and yet staggeringly inept at the same time.

The reality:

  1. Tech has been pretty much keeping the US jobs numbers afloat for the last few years. The Great Recession would have been far, far worse without it.

  2. The fact that poverty-line Tibetans in a funky house have Twitter proves - what about economics, exactly?

  3. What do 'productivity' and 'growth' mean in this, or any, context?

  4. Politics is the dead horse head on the table, as usual. Tech can create jobs or destroy them. It's a directed process, not a self-organising one. Politics, especially class politics, is far more influential as an historical process that tech is on its own.

  5. In capitalist cultures value comes from exploitation. What would non-exploitative tech look like? Would it be better or worse for 'growth'?

And so on.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 04:51:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To kick some stuff off ...

Gordon's 1st Industrial revolution was steam and railroads.

Which is evidence of the limited education economists receive.  

The first industrial revolution was the widespread distribution of water powered mills and, then, wind powered mills.  

The treadmill and spinning wheel were also important.  I do not include them, as important as they were, because they required human energy for them to work.

To keep this short, I'll only observe the spread of these medieval machines had almost the exact same affects on the economy of the steam powered plants introduced circa 1800.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 01:41:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apple's New Wind Tech Design Generates and Stores Heat : TreeHugger

Wind on the grid doesn't need storage as it just gets used when made. It just a strawman argument by those who don't want wind or other alternative energy.

Facts are demand is far more variable than wind ever could be and the grid has handled it easily for 100+ yrs now.

And as more wind is put in over wider areas they like demand averages out making reliable power. Utilities don't have a problem with wind, just talking heads mostly from the coal, battery, etc industry that are the losers as they should be.

And I don't see anyone mentioning nuke power which when a plant scrams, which is far more often than most people think, all of a sudden they have to make up a whole Gw vs a few Mw for wind. Which is barely a rounding number on the grid for either supply or demand.



"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 08:04:59 PM EST
If you mean do nuclear reactors go offline for maintenance or unexpected technical problems, and the system therefore needs (and has) backup for such large units, yes, it's true (and has often been said here, by Jerome in particular).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 01:53:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've got a feeling that our in-house experts are sceptical that there's anything interesting in converting wind to heat to electricity, in terms of overall inefficiency. But who knows, perhaps it's the Philosopher's Stone of the modern age.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 05:33:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just popped over to check in...and WOW, I really like the new skin. Great job to those of you doing this behind the scenes. A very fresh new face, Cheers...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 16th, 2013 at 10:53:19 PM EST
'Lo there, Bob!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Jan 17th, 2013 at 01:47:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi there a few!


"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Fri Jan 18th, 2013 at 02:33:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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