September 14, 2003
A Year Ago Today: Orientalism

A year ago today I took exception to Edward Said's childlike, naive, alien, mysterious, and magical insistence that Palestinian suicide bombers committed their atrocities because Ariel Sharon had consciously set out to and succeeded in programming their minds to do so: Orientalism: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: Edward Said's views of the root causes of Palestinian suicide bombings: it's all an Israeli plot. Mossad has deliberately and consciously "programmed" Palestinians to be suicide bombers: Edward Said: Punishment By Detail: ...Suicide bombing is reprehensible but it is a direct and, in my opinion, a consciously programmed result of years of abuse, powerlessness and despair. It has as little to do with the Arab or Muslim supposed propensity for violence as the man in the moon... Is it just me, or is there something strange, alien, mysterious, and childlike about this mode of thinking--that because something bad (in this case, the suicide bombings) has happened, it must have been the result of a sophisticated plot by those extremely clever and malevolent people in Jerusalem (and Washington)?...

Posted by DeLong at 12:18 AM

September 13, 2003
A Year Ago Today: The Economic Rationale for War Against Iraq

A year ago today I wrote: The "Economic Rationale" for War Against Iraq: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: Perhaps the stupidest things written about what action should be taken in response to Iraq's flouting of U.N. resolutions on its armaments are Larry Kudlow's cry to invade Iraq to raise the Dow and John Podhoretz's cry to invade Iraq to elect more Republicans to Congress in November.... Needless to say, policy should rest on whether Saddam Hussein is the successful object of containment policies--a cautious tyrannical madman--or is likely to develop and use weapons that will turn New York or Tel Aviv into abattoirs, not on its effect on the year-over-year growth rate of real GDP. Well. That's settled now....

Posted by DeLong at 12:01 AM

September 11, 2003
A Year Ago Today: Tom Maguire's Personal 9/11 Observance

From the Minute Man: Acts of Remembrance: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: Tom Maguire's Personal 9/11 Observance: Severe windstorms are buffetting the New York City area, knocking down trees and power lines in the outlying suburbs. Although Utility crews are doing their best to keep the streets clear, driving on suburban streets in these conditions can be treacherous. A tree had fallen just down the street from our house and was blocking a well traveled intersection. Only yesterday I had been clearing some branches around our yard with my eight year old son. Seeing the downed tree, his first words were, "Hey, Dad, we can clear that tree". Hmmm. Cars squeezing by, high winds that could knock more branches onto our heads - don't they have people who do this for a living? On the other hand, could there be a better day to celebrate the power of individuals rallying to help the community? "Sure, kid, let's go for it". So, we donned some brightly colored clothing, gathered our saws and clippers, and set off down the street. Now, for those of you who have not tackled this sort of project with an enthusiastic eight year old, there are...

Posted by DeLong at 01:21 AM

September 10, 2003
A Year Ago Today: Hallowed Ground

Dave Barry writes about Gettysburg, hallowed ground, and Flight 93: Eleven-Score and Six: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: ...But they did not give up. As they were saying goodbye, they were gathering information. They learned about the World Trade Center towers. They understood that Flight 93 was on a suicide mission. They figured out what their options were. Then they organized. Then they fought back. In "Among the Heroes," a riveting book about Flight 93, New York Times reporter Jere Longman reports many of the last words spoken to loved ones on the ground by people on the plane. They're not the words of people in shock, people resigned to whatever fate awaits them. They're the words of people planning an attack. Fighters. Here, for example, are the last words of passenger Honor Elizabeth Wainio to her stepmother: "They're getting ready to break into the cockpit. I have to go. I love you. Goodbye." Here are flight attendant Sandy Bradshaw's last words to her husband: "We're going to throw water on them and try to take the airplane back over. Phil, everyone's running to first class. I've got to go. Bye." And of course there are the now-famous words...

Posted by DeLong at 12:01 AM

September 09, 2003
A Year Ago Today: Stephen Roach on the Great Failure of Central Banking

From the archives. I still disagree, but I think Roach puts the case very strongly: Stephen Roach on "The Great Failure of Central Banking": Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: I don't agree with Stephen Roach that the Federal Reserve should have made interest rates higher and tried to make unemployment higher in the late 1990s in order to diminish investment spending and collapse the stock market bubble. In my view, the time to deal with any problems created by the bubble's collapse is when the bubble collapses--not before. Relative to a lower-stock prices, lower-investment, one-percentage-point-of-unemployment-higher bubble-popping path for the U.S. economy in the late 1990s, the actual path that we took gave us an extra $1 trillion of real production. You can complain about how that $1 trillion was distributed. You can regret that a large chunk of it--$200 billion?--was spent on investments that have much lower social value looking forward than their social cost. You can fear the damaging consequences of banruptcy and fraud on the economy. But you have to argue that these drawbacks from the fallout are quantitatively very large for the cost-benefit analysis to go Stephen Roach's way. Nevertheless, he makes his case more strongly...

Posted by DeLong at 12:01 AM

September 08, 2003
A Year Ago Today: Cory Doctorow on DRM-in-Practice

Cory Doctorow on DRM-in-Practice: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal The principal serious objection to tight control over content by IP rights holders is made by those who argue that by so doing they destroy most of the utility--and most of the consumer surplus--of the technology. Here Cory Doctorow makes this argument, with details, as applied to Toshiba's new clone of Apple's iPod: Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things: ...Toshiba's new digital music player shows us more evidence that (consumer electronics) (digital rights management) = a**. The DRM vendor's mantra is, "DRM needs to be invisible, it needs to get out of the way of legitimate activity and only crop up when the user tries to infringe on copyright." A good sentiment, but it's more wishful thinking than design specification, as the new Tosh Mobilphone demonstrates. The Mobilphone is an iPod clone with a 5GB drive and a USB 2.0 interface. The iPod, of course, rules for a number of reasons, but one of the biggies is that by using FireWire to synch MP3s with your computer, the iPod is capable of filling itself up with music in a matter of minutes. USB 2.0 leapfrogs FireWire and delivers even...

Posted by DeLong at 12:01 AM

September 07, 2003
A Year Ago Today: Death Knights

Death Knights!: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal "Oooh!" the twelve-year-old whispered, clearly excited. "Death Knights!" We were watching the movie The Fellowship of the Ring. The Nazgul, the Ringwraiths, the Dark Riders, the terrible servants of the Dark Lord Sauron had just appeared on the screen for the first time. I am transported to Tolkien's Middle-Earth. But the twelve-year-old saw The Lord of the Rings as a knock-off copy of the computer game Warcraft, itself a descendant of Dungeons and Dragons, itself a descendant of Tolkien's universe. I looked over at the twelve-year-old. He was clearly loving it--but the "it" wasas much what he sees as a renaming and a translation to the screen of the battles between the Horde and the remnants of Azeroth and Loredan that he has fought on the computer, as much as the raw power of the vision of Tolkien's fevered brain. He sees the Ringwraiths as the anti-paladins of the Horde from Warcraft. Afterwards there was much discussion of whether a ranger like Strider could "really"--with the canons of reality set by the "rangers" in Warcraft--be as competent and as powerful as he is in the movie. I wondered: is he being cheated?...

Posted by DeLong at 12:01 AM

September 06, 2003
A Year Ago Today: Figures of Speech

Figures of Speech: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal "It's amazing how many dead figures of speech become alive and fresh again when you get a dog," said Ann Marie. The dog was lying on the floor, as if it were (a) completely boneless, and (b) lacking the energy to move a single muscle. "Like?" I said. "Well, the obvious--dog-tired," said Ann Marie, pointing at the dog. The dog eyed her, got up, walked over and began licking her feet. "Bootlicking," she said. "'Wolfing' your food"; "all bark and no bite"; "showing your belly." The dog rolled over, and showed her belly to be scratched. She has a good rule for her life: if you don't understand what's going on, be sure to show that you are submissive. Today during the conference Bill Nordhaus began talking about how Gross Domestic Income is a "mongrel statistic."...

Posted by DeLong at 12:01 AM