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.