Archive for December, 2008

Million cities in China

December 30, 2008

I read Thomas L. Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded, and in trying to illustrate the explosive population growth we have to deal with, he mentions the number of cities in China with more than a million inhabitants. The number is a staggering 53 (according to this list as of today). Friedman retorically asks the reader how many he can name. I knew 3; Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong.  I was amazed and decided to plot them all into a map and put it up here for you to browse around in (click the link below). By the way, I have another question for you: How many U.S. cities do you think have a population of more than 1 000 000? The answer is 9.

Cities in China

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In his book, Friedman is concerned with the challenges climate change (hot), economic development (flat), and population growth (crowded) poses for the human race in general and the American nation (the what?) in particular. The outlook is not good, I must admit. (Seen Al Gore’s movie? I haven’t, but now I think I need to, inconvenient or not.) I’m only half-way through Friedman’s book yet, though, and Friedman has promised, maybe not the solution, but at least some hope in the second half of the book; I can’t wait!

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Holidays

December 30, 2008

The holidays try to strangle me with food, family, towering Christmas trees (my father probably has the tallest Christmas tree in the neighboorhood; certainly taller than 3 meters/10 feet), more food, presents, sweets, beer, and even more food. It’s been nice though. For Christmas I got an iPod(!), a Sun Ra record (Space is the Place), a comic book, beer glasses, and Neil Young’s Re-ac-tor on LP among other things. I was up early today (alright, that was four days ago; something happened and there you go) and listened to the Neil Young LP on my father’s old turntable, and, well, it is not his best effort. But it is unmistakable Neil Young/Crazy Horse stuff with their unsteady beat and guitar work-outs. The most enjoyable songs are ‘Surf-er Joe and Moe the Sleaze’ and ‘Shots’. ‘Re-ac-tor’ also contains some of the least inspired lyrics Neil Young have ever written; here is a representative selection from the song T-bone.

Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain’t got no T-Bone
Ain’t got no T-Bone

Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain’t got no T-Bone

Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Got mashed potatoes
Ain’t got no T-Bone
Ain’t got no T-Bone

It goes on like that forever. It is said that Neil Young spent most of his time in the ‘Re-ac-tor’ period to care for his disabled son and that much of his output from the early eighties and onward was, well, less than fantastic. It sounds reasonable, I guess, but Neil Young has always made the records he felt like making, and I have no doubt that while his record company at the time tried to push him in one direction he deliberatly moved in any other direction. That’s Neil Young for you, moving in any other direction.

The shortest day

December 21, 2008

Today, December 21, is the shortest day on the calendar in the northern hemisphere. Daylight lasts 13 hours shorter than at mid-summer! The activity here on the blog is still reduced while Christmas and other end-of-the-year activities take their tolls. But I have a few posts up my sleve that will show up in the near future. In the mean time I wish my few readers a merry christmas and a happy new year.

Wow

December 12, 2008

Life suddenly became busy, and I haven’t been able to post for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, the U.S. recession is official (and Jim is not surprised, of course), I’ve organized the department Christmas Party (which took a lot more time than I’d hoped and planned for), I’ve presented some of my work at the Third Joint PhD Workshop in Economics (joint workshop between the economics departments at the University of Bergen and the Norwegian School of Economics & BA), I wasn’t able to avoid disaster, unfortunately (I was not prepared well enough), I’ve seen Lord Kelvin live at Landmark (which was really great, by the way), and Tim Haab at the Environmental Economics blog has dug up some very strange research (I wonder if this guy has heard of spurious regressions; I hope so).

Other than that, I’ve finished the first volume on a biography of the Norwegian hero Thor Heyerdal and started reading Hot, Flat, and Crowded, a book by Thomas L. Friedman. It’s an interesting book, I plan to post some of my thoughts on it later.

I also hope I’ll be able to sustain a more steady posting rate in the future compared to the last weeks. The Christmas season is just around the corner, however, so it might be quiet around here for a while still. I’ve also realized that I need to seriously speed up my work with my doctoral thesis if I want to submit it before my funds run out; I might have to spend less time blogging (I think I’ve cut it to the bone when it comes to sleep, social activities, and physical excercise already).