January 06, 2004
The Return of the Sixth International

The Sixth International has returned! All comrades are urged to master and command the latest twist and turn of the party line: The Sixth International: Tory porn: ...The [Aubrey/Maturin] books are far more interesting and important. At present I am midway through a third reading of the cycle, and have come to a pretty firm understanding, I think, of their appeal. And that appeal makes the books, for me at least, rather a guilty pleasure. For the Aubrey/Maturin novels are, at bottom, pornography for tories. Perhaps I'd better explain myself. I don't refer to the floggings at the grate, nor to the bare bottoms of 'young gentlemen' getting six of the best from the burly captain. (Though there's certainly enough of that; O'Brian was, after all, an Englishman.) No, the books are not sexual but social pornography. They allow the reader to indulge a shameful fantasy of social stratification, where people have their place, know it, and look happy about it. O'Brian's navy does have a small, a very small avenue of meritocratic advancement for the truly exceptional; but for all that, position is overwhelmingly a matter of having the right connections. For those from the right families and with...

Posted by DeLong at 10:06 PM

December 28, 2003
A Little Light Is Gone

Let me just say that a little light went out of the world when The Antic Muse ceased being antic. We are all a little greyer as a result....

Posted by DeLong at 07:35 AM

September 12, 2002
Who Benefits Most from the High-Tech Revolution?

David Wessel writes about one of the secrets of the new economy: the principal productivity gains and cost reductions are found not in IT-making but IT-using industries. Indeed, given the fierceness of competition in (most) IT-making industries, not just the productivity gains but the profits are likely to be found in IT-using industries, both here and abroad. WSJ.com - Capital: ...Ireland is proudly turning itself into the Silicon Isle. The Philippines and Thailand boast of their electronics exports. But one of the biggest beneficiaries from information technology is Australia, which hasn't any high-tech industry at all. Yet it is one of the few economies to have enjoyed a 1990s surge in productivity (or output for each hour of work) as impressive as the one the U.S. has seen. Its secret: import high-tech gear that others make. As in the U.S., the spread of bar-coding, scanning and inventory-management systems is making Australian wholesalers much more efficient, and that is paying economywide dividends. Compared to its population, Australia has more secure servers, the sort used in e-commerce, than anyone else besides the U.S. and Iceland (that is another story). "Australia is far better off being an importer of information- and communications-technology equipment...

Posted by DeLong at 01:48 AM

September 03, 2002
Fareed Zakaria Thinks the Islamic Fundamentalist Moment Has Passed

Fareed Zakaria argues that the Islamic Fundamentalists' moment has passed--that people recognize that "Islamic fundamentalism has no real answers to the problems of the modern world; it has only fantasies." But he also thinks that "the new generation is just as angry, rebellious and bitter" as "he youth of the 1970s and 1980s, who came from villages into cities and took up Islam as a security blanket." This, however, does not necessarily seem to me to be good news. If they are "angry, rebellious, and bitter," what do they think that they should do? washingtonpost.com: The Extremists Are Losing: ...Compare the landscape a decade ago. In Algeria, Islamic fundamentalists, having won an election, were poised to take control of the country. In Turkey, an Islamist political party was soon to come to power. In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak's regime was terrorized by groups that had effectively shut down the country to foreign tourists. In Pakistan, the mullahs had scared Parliament into enacting blasphemy laws. Only a few years earlier, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini had issued his fatwa against the novelist Salman Rushdie, who was still living under armed guard in a secret location. Throughout the Arab world, much of the talk was...

Posted by DeLong at 11:57 AM

July 24, 2002
Paul Krugman Separates the Weblogging Sheep From the Rhinoceroses

Paul Krugman separates the weblogging sheep (me, J. Micah Marshall) from the weblogging... rhinoceroses (a la Eugene Ionesco and Zero Mostel). The core of the judgment is that Mickey Kaus has ceased to be a port-side kind of guy, and has forgotten that he is a Democratic neoliberal and not a Republican neoconservative. THE RHINOCEROS EFFECT THE RHINOCEROS EFFECT (7/21/02) I don't know how many people have read or seen Eugene Ionesco's   Rhinoceros, a parable about conformity and the authoritarian impluse. It tells of a town in which people begin turning, one by one, into rhinoceri - yet few are willing to acknowledge what's happening. The most memorable scene is one in which the hero's friend (famously played by Zero Mostel) begins making excuses for his neighbors -- maybe it's not so bad to be a rhinoceros, after all -- and, as we watch, turns into a rhinoceros himself. What reminded me of the play was a visit to my old publication  Slate .  I've pretty much restricted my blog reading to  Brad DeLong  and  Josh Marshall  - but I couldn't help noticing that Zero Mostel had nothing on Mickey Kaus. Meanwhile, some of us refuse to ignore the rhinoceri...

Posted by DeLong at 01:06 PM

July 05, 2002
Teresa Nielsen Hayden Reminds Us of Some of the Classic Websites

Teresa Nielsen Hayden performs an act of collective memory and reminds us of some of the classic hilarious websites. My favorite is the incandescent pickle... Making Light: July 2002 Archives | A while back, I referred to quicktime movies of water balloons being popped in freefall as "The greatest footage since the LOX barbecue and the exploding whale." I promptly got mail asking what LOX barbecue? And what exploding whale? Well, okay. Feels weird, but I can do that. Won't take but a minute. I'll throw in some other golden oldies while I'm at it......

Posted by DeLong at 08:46 AM

July 03, 2002
I Wish I Could Write Like This

Why Michael Kinsley gets paid the big bucks: the best sentence I have read this summer: It's Good Enough - Freedom, Justice, and Martha Stewart. By Michael Kinsley | ...It dawned on the accountants in recent years that being the designated driver during a carnival of financial drunkenness isn't cool, but they could become quite popular by lowering their precious standards just a hair......

Posted by DeLong at 03:18 PM

June 18, 2002
Andrew Northrup Offers Insight Into Chomsky (Which Insight He Then Repudiates)

Andrew Northrup ("The Poor Man") offers some--I think accurate--insight into Noam Chomsky, particularly his bizarre apparent habit of attributing moral agency and moral responsibility (always exercised badly) to the governments of the U.S. and of Israel alone. The Poor Man [Chomsky writes:] "For intellectuals in Russia in the Communist days, condemnation of US crimes had little if any moral value; in fact, it might have had negative value, in serving to buttress the oppressive and brutal Soviet system. In contrast, when Eastern European dissidents condemned the crimes of their own states and society, it had great moral value. That much everyone takes for granted: everyone, that is, outside the Soviet commissar class. Much the same holds in the West, point by point, except with much more force, because the costs of honest dissidence are so immeasurably less. And exactly as we would expect, these utterly trivial points are almost incomprehensible to Western intellectuals, when applied to them, though readily understood when applied to official enemies." Well, yeah, that's about right, actually. And I think that offers a bit of insight into his style of criticism. And it is his strength, and it is his weakness. The concern with the "moral...

Posted by DeLong at 12:54 PM

November 23, 1999
How Computers Really Work

Review of Charles Petzold, Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software Have you ever wondered just how your computers really work? I mean, really, really work. Not as in "an electrical signal from memory tells the processor the number to be added," but what the electrical signal is, and how it accomplishes the magic of switching on the circuits that add while switching off the other circuits that would do other things with the number. I have. I have wondered this a lot over the past decades. Yet somehow over the past several decades my hunger for an explanation has never been properly met. I have listened to people explain how two switches wired in series are an "AND"--only if both switches are closed will the lightbulb light. I have listened to people explain how IP is a packet-based communications protocol and TCP is a connection-based protocol yet the connection-based protocal can ride on top of the packet-based protocol. Somehow these explanations did not satisfy. One seemed like answering "how does a car work?" by telling how in the presence of oxygen carbon-hydrogen bonds are broken and carbon dioxide and water are created. The other seemed like anwering...

Posted by DeLong at 04:06 PM