Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Leavin' on a jet plane - I know when I'll be back again
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
11 down - 37 to go
Metrics? Since last month's update both Iraq and the Doha round had major events.
- For Iraq, their 3rd election of the year - after the January election it looked like Iraq had made serious progress towards some internal security (March had the lowest US military death toll of the year), but the months of post-election haggling gave the insurgency new life, and US death increased in April and have averaged over 2 dead/day for the rest of the year. Commentators on the right keep arguing that we've turned the corner. Hard to tell, obviously there must be some learning curve after fighting the insurgency for 2+ years, but the other metrics such as oil & electricity are still below pre-war levels. If US death toll averages <40/month>
- Trade - The Doha Round just concluded in Hong Kong, and I'll have to give the Bush administration a B- for their efforts, and if an agreement is submitted to Congress before Bush's fast-track authority runs out in 2007, then will upgrade to a B+. Of course, an agreement for elimination of (most) farm subsidies 8 years in the future, doesn't give cause for great confidence. Too much time for governments to change and for nations to renege on their promises. Perhaps such a tepid agreement is the best the world could hope for today.
- Deficit reduction - the graphs I've seen (may update later if I find one) pretty much show the deficit rebounded from its post-recession low of 4% of GDP to around 3% and has pretty much stayed there, and is likely to remain around 3% of GDP for the rest of Bush's time in office.
The only wager worth updating is troop strength. The political pressure - both here & in Iraq is strong enough that I expect our troop strength to dip below 100,000 by the end of 2006. At that point, the ability of the Iraqis to maintain security will probably be key. Still can't see troop strength going below 50,000 by the end of Bush's term.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Decent movie to watch to get you in the mood.
Inventions that still need inventing III
- Chiropractic table that flips a patient right-left-over for adjustments without having to actually sit up & roll over.
- Car heater that would turn on using the remote. We can unlock, lock, and open trunks & doors, why not have a heater turn on via remote before you go out & turn on car manually.
- A 3-D map. Would be great to open a map of L.A. and have the Sepulveda pass pop up to get the contours of the city.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Friday Night Wine Blogging (low energy edition)
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Dear Wendy: a remarkable movie
Amazing absurd story, great action and extremely well done. At the titles at the end I found out that Lars von Trier wrote the story after which a lot of things fell into place.
The movie quality is very much US, however the use of all these cliches is very much how a European director looks at the US (see also Wim Wenders etc).
Saturday, December 10, 2005
pre-posting "11 down - 37 to go"
After all, Doha was launched because underdeveloped countries, which had eased market restrictions in the preceding Uruguay round, never got their payback of market access in agriculture. Mr. Portman points out that their position "has a lot of merit."
Mr. Portman has battles on the home front, too. His own office has set bad examples, such as antidumping duties against Canadian lumber. And a protectionist Senate, including a good number of Republicans, is fighting hard to retain the Byrd Amendment--which rewards domestic protectionists with antidumping duties--even though the WTO has ruled against it and the administration says it wants it repealed.
My hopes are minimal, and at this point, it doesn't really matter how little political capital Bush has left, and how narrow the vote was for the relatively minor CAFTA, I just can't see an agreement of any substance during the Hong Kong negotiations.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Friday Night Wine Blogging - return edition
Sanford Pinot Noir - 2001
Have missed Friday Night wine blogging these past few weeks, so happy to have a fine bottle to restart a fine custom.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Obligatory 1 year notification
Thoughts after 1 year? Have enjoyed blogging, and while my passive goal of becoming the next Atrios or janegalt never came to pass, blogging remains enjoyable enough to continue indefinitely even knowing that my standard readership numbers around 5.
I have wondered whether blogs will last. Obviously the blog for a magazine will last, and obviously a blog named for an individual will end when that person truly retires, but what about group blogs? Will they endure once the founders retire? Alas, non-ecumenical ramblings will end with the end of its two current bloggers.