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Archive for December 6th, 2008

explaining us to each other, part one

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1. At an American public Christmas festival filled with children’s activites and rides, there will be too few (that is, no) stands selling alcoholic beverages. Why such a problem with drinking?

At a British public Christmas festival filled with children’s activites and rides, there will be too many (today at Hyde Park, one out of three) stands selling alcoholic beverages. Why such a problem with drinking?

2. Americans are baffled and intimidated by these:

Britons are baffled and intimidated by these:

3. On a crowded subway train at rush hour in New York, person B steps on person A’s toe or bumps person B thoughtlessly with his heavy computer bag. But person B keeps his mouth shut about it, because to talk shit would be – by social mandate – to force person A to talk shit back, and thus to invite serious escalation.

On a crowded Underground train at rush hour in London, person B steps on person A’s toe or bumps person B thoughtlessly with his heavy computer bag. Person B feels license to begin grumbling and vaguely talking shit about person A, since – by social mandate – the surrounding passengers will immediately blame person A if he responds in kind in his own defense, even if he is clearly the innocent party from the first.

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December 6, 2008 at 10:29 pm

Posted in america, britain

infrastructure

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From the NYT, one minute ago:

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama committed Saturday to the largest public works construction program since the creation of the interstate highway system a half-century ago as he seeks to put together a plan to resuscitate the reeling economy.

[…]

Although he put no price tag on it, he said he would invest record amounts of money in the vast infrastructure program, which also includes work on schools, sewer systems, mass transit, electric grids, dams and other public utilities. He vowed to upgrade computers in schools, expand broadband Internet access, make government buildings more energy efficient and improve information technology at hospitals and doctors’ offices.

The post-election performance has been mixed tending toward depressing-per-expectations, but this I’ll take. Others are very unhappy and for just the right reasons.

Alan D. Viard, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, told Congress recently that public works spending should not be authorized out of “the illusory hope of job gains or economic stabilization.”

“If more money is spent on infrastructure, more workers will be employed in that sector,” Mr. Viard told the House Ways and Means Committee. “In the long run, however, an increase in infrastructure spending requires a reduction in public or private spending for other goods and services. As a result, fewer workers are employed in other sectors of the economy.”

Yep! We’ll take it!

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December 6, 2008 at 8:39 pm

saturday morning glimmerings

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For half a second after picking up today’s IHT, I misunderstood the relationship between the top headline and the image below it.

Or I wanted to misunderstand it. Of course the image doesn’t have to do with apartment blocks in Detroit doing Che instead of Santa and his reindeer this year but rather is an illustration for just another internally incoherent piece about Cuba and socialism (not up for link for some reason…) Still, still, thrilling when the paper gives you the chance to imagine a different sort of Saturday morning.

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December 6, 2008 at 9:39 am