Posts Tagged ‘the New York Times’

US Atlantic Cod Fisheries Collapse

February 12, 2013

Over on the REConHub, I link to a New York Times story on the US Atlantic cod fisheries. I contrast the story to the situation on the other side of the Atlantic, where the Barents Sea cod is at historic high levels.

An aspect of the NYT-story I did not mention earlier is how large a say the fishermen seem to have in the management council decision, and the amount of tensions in the council meeting.

“Right now what we’ve got is a plan that guarantees the fishermen’s extinction and does nothing to ameliorate it,” David Goethel, a New Hampshire-based fisherman and biologist, said as he cast his vote against the plan.

There seems to be large differences between the US and Europe in how fishermen participate in the management process. Unfortunately, I know next to nothing about it.


Will Americans Pay More Taxes?

January 16, 2013

Thomas Friedman thinks so. From his op-ed column in the New York Times:

I still believe that America’s rich and the middle classes would pay more taxes and trim entitlements if they thought it was for a plan that was fair, would truly address our long-term fiscal imbalances and set America on a journey of renewal that would ensure our kids have a crack at the American dream. Then again, I may be wrong. Maybe my baby-boomer generation really does intend to eat it all and leave our kids a ticking debt bomb. If only we had a second-term president, unencumbered by ever having to run again, who was ready to test what really bold leadership might produce.

Americans allergy to taxes, I will never understand. But I do think that they need to come over it to get out of the place they are in. It would be fun to see a bold Obama, but the temporary solution to avoid the fiscal cliff did not hold much promise, I think.

A Dictionary of the Near Future

September 13, 2010

I am supposed to be working, but I then I an op-ed, by Doublas Coupland in The New York Times, caught my attention: A Dictionary of the Near Future:

The thing about the future is that it never feels the way we thought it would. New sensations require new terms; below are a few such terms to encapsulate our present moment.

I regcognize myself in a lot of the terms, Airport-Induced Identity Dysphoria, for example:

AIRPORT-INDUCED IDENTITY DYSPHORIA Describes the extent to which modern travel strips the traveler of just enough sense of identity so as to create a need to purchase stickers and gift knick-knacks that bolster their sense of slightly eroded personhood: flags of the world, family crests, school and university merchandise.

It goes deep, wonder what economists have to say about this:

CRYSTALLOGRAPHIC MONEY THEORY The hypothesis that money is a crystallization or condensation of time and free will, the two characteristics that separate humans from other species.

I am dimanchophobic every now and then, approximately once a week:

DIMANCHOPHOBIA Fear of Sundays, a condition that reflects fear of unstructured time. Also known as acalendrical anxiety. Not to be confused with didominicaphobia or kyriakephobia, fear of the Lord’s Day.

So not true:

INTRAVINCULAR FAMILIAL SILENCE We need to be around our families not because we have so many shared experiences to talk about, but because they know precisely which subjects to avoid.

Fair enough, true, but is it a real problem, or just the manifestation of deeper problems regarding attention spans or commitments, or both?

KARAOKEAL AMNESIA Most people don’t know the complete lyrics to almost any song, particularly the ones they hold most dear. (See also Lyrical Putty)


PROCELERATION The acceleration of acceleration.

Mere word play:

PSEUDOALIENATION The inability of humans to create genuinely alienating situations. Anything made by humans is a de facto expression of humanity. Technology cannot be alienating because humans created it. Genuinely alien technologies can be created only by aliens. Technically, a situation one might describe as alienating is, in fact, “humanating.”

So that’s what standard deviation means, I hear it all the time:

STANDARD DEVIATION Feeling unique is no indication of uniqueness, and yet it is the feeling of uniqueness that convinces us we have souls.

Dancing with Professors: An Essay on Academic Prose & Rhetoric by Patricia Nelson Limerick

September 7, 2010

Robert Kozinetz gave a really interesting talk in Bodø last week; he talked about how to develop ideas and how to make them matter. During the talk, he brought up Dancing with Professors; an article from the New York Times (I think it was) discussing troublesome academic prose. The article is written by Patricia Nelson Limerick and is from way back (2001, perhaps), but is still relevant, of course (old habits die hard, I guess).

While we waste our time fighting over ideological conformity in the scholarly world, horrible writing remains a far more important problem. For all their differences, most right-wing scholars and most left-wing scholars share a common allegiance to a cult of obscurity. Left, right and center all hide behind the idea that unintelligible prose indicates a sophisticated mind. The politically correct and the politically incorrect come together in the violence they commit against the English language.

The dancing comes in when Limerick claims (perhaps rightfully so) that those who become professors are those nobody wanted to dance with in high school; you know, the shy, fearful, and lonely guy in the corner:

Professors are often shy, timid and fearful people, and under those circumstances, dull, difficult prose can function as a kind of protective camouflage. When you write typical academic prose, it is nearly impossible to make a strong, clear statement. The benefit here is that no one can attack your position, say you are wrong or even raise questions about the accuracy of what you have said, if they cannot tell what you have said. In those terms, awful, indecipherable prose is its own form of armor, protecting the fragile, sensitive thoughts of timid souls.

After a couple of (dreary) parables and sidetracks, Limerick returns to how academic prose is hindered from improvement: Professors think they are supposed to teach bad writing in grad school:

This is a very well-established pattern, and it is the ruination of scholarly activity in the modern world. Many professors who teach graduate students think that one of their principal duties is to train students in the conventions of academic writing.I do not believe that professors enforce a standard of dull writing on graduate students in order to be cruel. They demand dreariness because they think that dreariness is in the students’ best interests. Professors believe that a dull writing style is an academic survival skill because they think that is what editors want, both editors of academic journals and editors of university presses. What we have here is a chain of misinformation and misunderstanding, where everyone thinks that the other guy is the one who demands, dull, impersonal prose.

The lesson? Think more like a carpenter than, say, an artist:

Ego is, of course, the key obstacle here. As badly as most of them write, professors are nonetheless proud and sensitive writers, resistant in criticism. But even the most desperate cases can be redeemed and persuaded to think of writing as a challenging craft, not as existential trauma. A few years ago, I began to look at carpenters and other artisans as the emotional model for writers. A carpenter, let us say, makes a door for a cabinet. If the door does not hang straight, the carpenter does not say, “I will not change that door; it is an expression of my individuality; who cares if it will not close?” Instead, the carpenter removes the door and works on it until it fits. That attitude, applied to writing, could be our salvation. If we thought more like carpenters, academic writers could find a route out of the trap of ego and vanity. Escaped from that trap, we could simply work on successive drafts until what we have to say is clear.

A positive take on the (US) economy

October 16, 2008

I don’t know why I even bother, but I still keep an eye on the unfolding crisis. Casey B. Mulligan has written a rather optimistic op-ed in The New York Times where he claims that it is not necessary to rescue the economy because it is stronger than what it might seem. And it would not suffice to bail out the banks if necessary anyway; he dismisses the bailout plan. And by arguing that the economy is strong and not that dependent on banks, he calls of the announced depression at the same time. Given the gloom reported in most newspapers, this must be said to be rather optimistic. I gather that we live in the short term and are all dead in the long run, Mulligan argues that a short term banking crisis does not necessarily matter much:

And if it takes a while for banks and lenders to get up and running again, what’s the big deal? Saving and investment are themselves not essential to the economy in the short term. Businesses could postpone their investments for a few quarters with a fairly small effect on Americans’ living standards. How harmful would it be to wait nine more months for a new car or an addition to your house?

Also, this post on the Environemental Economics blog points out that the stock market has given a handsome return over the last 60 years even after the recent turmoil. So, cheer up, folks!