Monthly Archives: May 2009

Plimer’s Heaven + Earth


I have finally finished reading and skimming Ian Plimer’s thick book Heaven + Earth. I found it admirable for being a comprehensive and intelligent account of relevant evidence on climate change. I did not like it so much for the writing, or for the organization of ideas in some places, but that’s a quibble in light of the book’s strengths.

Prof. Plimer’s book looks like a text book (and weighs about as much), but in reality it is a piece of rhetoric. He has collated a very strong argument, based on the record of scientific enquiry, for rejecting the case—already flimsy on the grounds of common sense—for climate alarm.

Two strikes from recession, not three

Australia's terms of trade have soared

Lindsay Tanner’s claim reads like part of a narrative that has been prepared by the Rudd government.

“The challenge for the government now is that whereas Hawke and Keating had ’86 terms of trade, ’87 stock market crash, ’90 recession, we’ve had all three, in effect, within the space of about a year and all feeding off each other in various kind of negative synergy ways.” Extract from Business Spectator interview with Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner

But the three-strikes story isn’t true.

Into the debt abyss

Engaging tale from one of the economic writers of the NY Times on his own part in the credit crisis.

But it’s troubling that the story begins by him borrowing what he can’t afford and barely moves on from there. Instead, he implicates the banks, his credit card and his mephistophelian mortgage broker, not really taking responsibility for his own actions. He squeezes whatever he can from an unsustainable (and finally, broken) system, right up to the last when he waits out a 90-day default so Chase Bank will accept a negotiated settlement.

Forking MYSQL?

This still looks like trouble to me.

“The MySQL relational database system is arguably one of the most important pieces of open source server software in existence” Extract from Ars Technica

The ‘free’ database, that Oracle now owns, competes with its most important commercial product. If Ellison forces users to buy a license or switch to a ‘fork’ of the code, the disruption would be enormous.

China’s FTA strategy

University of Singapore law professor Henry Gao reproduces a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce that explains the benefits of the ‘free trade areas’ from China’s viewpoint and promises to ‘speed up’ the negotiations of FTA agreements.

Google’s translation of the statement is a bit garbled. But the general idea is clear:

India against ‘green protectionism’

No to binding targets, no to ‘carbon tariffs’.

“India on Thursday urged other emerging countries to oppose developed countries’ efforts to force developing nations to make binding commitments on reducing their carbon emissions or pay tariffs, Press Trust of India reporte” Link via Kyodo News

India’s opposition will have a big impact on the prospect for any decision in Copenhagen in December.

Shadow U.S. Trade Committee

This is pretty interesting. See the discussion forum for some good debate on U.S. trade policy by very smart people.

Dani Rodrik argues plausibly that agriculture and the movement of skilled labor should be two priorities for trade liberalization in the USA.