Qoutes for July 18-19th 2006 on Climate, Liberalism, Walmart, and others

July 20, 2006 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

“The US was right to object to quotas in the Kyoto Protocol that were unfair to the US; but an appropriate response would have been to negotiate revised quotas, since US political and technology leadership are eseential for dealing with climate change.”

Jim Hansen, New York Review of Books

All in all Hansen’s article seems recaps most of the things you already know about climate change, as the saying goes, little has changed since global warming was first announced over 20 years ago. The continuing problem is government involvement, but little of Hansen’s article deals with the intense politics or lobbying that’s keeping climate change policy from moving forward. Likes many global warming articles, you feel like I’ve heard all of this before, he also makes a rather good point about hydro-flouricarons, the stuff in hairspray and other aerseols, public sentiment managed to move industries faster than policy could, but it will take more than just trying to cram everything into a document for congress to deal with global warming. Massive NGOs with some weight in helping to encourage energy conservation would help too.

“The repression of liberty that took place in countries in which Communist regimes were established can not be adequately explained as a product of backwardsness or of errors in the application of Marxian theory. It was the result of a resolute attempt to realize an Elightment utopia-a condition of society in which no serious form of conflict any longer exists.” John Gray, The Case for Deceny New York Review of Books.

Gray’s article is interesting in that it’s a small primer on the history of liberalism and the rise of ethical or moral pluralism through Isaiah Berlin. It’s interesting that we’re still fighting for pluralism and trying to come to grips with it today. An adequate common sensical arguement has never been proposed to make the grips of politically correct thinking seem less strenous than at their origins. As Gary says, “fundemental in the Western intellectual tradition – that all genuine huamn values must be combinable in a harmonius whole. In this view conflicts of values are symptoms of error that in principle can always be resolved… In opposition to this view Berlin maintained that conflicts of values are and inescapabale, with some of them having no satisfactory solution. He advanced this view not as a form of skepticism but as a universal truth.”

++++ education+++ from The Economist July 15th 2006 Page 68 

“In the past few years trails have shown that simply spending more on textbooks, flipcharts, or extra teachers does not necessarily raise test scores for the average pupil” The Economist Page 68 “Is Our Children learning?”

But there are also examples were more teachers have raised test scores. Anyway, the article on India’s education continues:

“One of it’s more successful ventures was to hire unqualified high-school graduates to provide remedial education for students falling behind… In Mumbai it raised the chances of fourth-year pupils grasping first year maths by 11.9 percentage points.”

Hence, the extra teachers did work, but why untrained teachers? With the former case were the extra teachers focusing only on already well performing students?


“The case of Wal-Mart makes us realise just how badly we lack a way of talking about the public good that is not framed purely in terms of economics.” John Lanchester, The Price of Pickles, London Review of Books Vol. 28 22 June 2006.

I won’t bother to summarize Mr. Lanchester’s case against Wal-Mart which is built from “The Walmart Effect” and “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.” Much of his arguement merely summarizes the points in those films, but his last comment on framing the public good outside of economics is worth mentioning. While Lanchester’s tone through out the piece has a certian laxidixical attitude and shows a high level of innumeracy (and he uses “reification” a few times) the economic arguement for Wal-Mart’s existence is hardly the only arguement worth mentioning, unfortunately Mr. Lanchester hasn’t managed to specify what that arguement is, merely that it it’s against Wal-Mart. I also found this qoute interesting: “our own retail sector is dominated by companies who put lots of effort into small but signifier-rish distinctions based on class.” That might be a start for a more naunced anaylsis of what large scale chains like Wal-Mart take away or perhaps deduct from the pyschological or cultural productions that underpin worlds of thought we can’t seem to quantify.

also worth reading. The Economist on the history of big models (i.e. macroeconomic models) and why you shouldn’t trust them. 

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Entry filed under: media.

links for 2006-07-20 links for 2006-07-21

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