Archive for August, 2007


August 17, 2007

Out for a couple of days. Back soon. Meanwhile, take a look at these posts from around the web:


Industrial Policy

August 14, 2007

Marginal Revolution is sparring with Dani Rodrik over Dr. Rodrik’s post “Should industrial policy be fit for polite company?” in which he said that since we tolerate massive state intervention in the spheres of education, health care, and so on, we shouldn’t rule it out so dogmatically in the sphere of industrial development.

This drew a sharp response from Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution, who commented:

“politicians… are prone to corruption and rent-seeking by powerful groups and lobbies.”

Absolutely correct. The obvious conclusion? Industrial policy is a good idea. I kid you not.

I should have thought Dr. Rodrik’s post was relatively pedestrian. I think I’m a pretty doctrinaire free-markets advocate, but there’s no question that state policy has sometimes played a positive role in industrialization – hard as it was for me to swallow as an undergraduate. From Governing the Market (1990) by Robert Wade:


Quick Links

August 14, 2007

Here are a couple of interesting economic links:

Inside the Trek Factory

August 11, 2007

For any of you who may be cyclists or manufacturing fans, here is a fun post from Guy Kawasaki: a visit to the Trek bicycle R&D and frame manufacturing facility in Waterloo, Wisconsin.

Maybe not the leanest shop I’ve ever seen, but there is not a ton of inventory in those pictures.  There are hints of build-to-order, at least in the paint line (“Project One”).  This facility makes frames which are assembled elsewhere, and there are some shots of finished goods.  If they fill that truck up in a day, we see maybe just a few hours worth of FGI.

The Lexiary

August 9, 2007

To ridicule an idea with rustic flair, you can call it “bunkum.” On the printed page, thanks to commenter Anthony at Marginal Revolution, you can use this whimsical alternative spelling:

Lastly, the paper is buncombe. Psychological Neoteny is not so much a function of increasing higher education, as college students of an earlier generation were expected to show a fairly great amount of responsibility (in a limited domain), and many (most?) would marry shortly after graduation.

What Have We Learned? The Saga of Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp

August 7, 2007

Over the weekend, a report surfaced that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp had recanted his controversial essay. According to a military source quoted by The Weekly Standard,

Beauchamp — author of the much-disputed “Shock Troops” article in the New Republic’s July 23 issue as well as two previous “Baghdad Diarist” columns — signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods — fabrications containing only “a smidgen of truth,” in the words of our source.

The Weekly Standard also published the following statement from Major Steven F. Lamb, the deputy Public Affairs Officer for Multi National Division-Baghdad:

An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims.


Fighting Perceptions

August 4, 2007

At The Belmont Club, Wretchard writes:

Kinetic operations are now routinely shadowed by their political and information war counterparts. Death and mayhem are now props to achieve a political and media effect. Although men may shoot and kill each other in Iraq, in reality the effects both of the planned insurgent attack and the current spoiling operations are aimed squarely at Washington DC.

Regular readers will recognize this as a hallmark of War Amongst the People, as formulated by Gen. Rupert Smith in his The Utility of Force. In our review of the book last month, we quoted the General:

The essence of war amongst the people is the destruction of the enemy’s will to resist by employing strength only at the tactical level,

to constantly and expensively undermine the stronger army and to thereby break the will of the government and the people to make war.

The battlefield as a film set. Read the whole thing.

Journeys in Literature: The Places In Between

August 3, 2007

Inspired by this glowing National Geographic profile (via Instapundit) I’ve been reading Rory Stewart’s smashing account of his journey from Herat to Kabul, almost the whole of Afghanistan, on foot, in the snow and mountains of January 2002. The Places In Between defies description. I have rarely read anything so erudite, mournful, wry, and immediate. (Added later: It is as if Seven Pillars of Wisdom was written by Adam Nicolson, the author of Sea Room.)

* * *

The Places In Between put me in mind of other treks in literature: Colin Fletcher’s The Man Who Walked Through Time (which, however, I’ve never read) and the fascinating but probably fabricated The Long Walk, by Slamovir Rawicz. What are others in this category? Lewis and Clark, perhaps, and Shackleton.

Twitter Second Thoughts

August 1, 2007

I have been skeptical of the whole Twitter thing. I have been following it via Fred Wilson and Rands. It seems emblematic of the over-personalization of Web 2.0.

But Skype has a “Twitter lite” feature: you can plug in a short message that displays next to your name in people’s friends lists. Many of my friends use it to give an update every week or so: they are traveling, starting work, missing vacation. (You can see what I mean on the Skype website.)

I rather like it. Which makes me think there’s more to Twitter than meets the eye.