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[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • The Big Picture looks at the uses of oil barrels around the world.
  • blogTO wonders if the Annex is ready for a condo boom.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest post from Andrew Lepage noting how odd spectra on Mars were misidentified as proof of life.
  • Crooked Timber notes a student occupation of the University of Amsterdam’s headquarters.
  • Discover‘s The Crux makes a poor argument that space probe visits to Pluto and Ceres will lead to the redefinition of these worlds as planets.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at an odd pulsating hot subdwarf B star with a brown dwarf.
  • The Dragon’s Tales suggests chemical mechanisms for life on Titan, and explains the differences in water plumes between Europa and Enceladus.
  • A Fistful of Euros notes political conflict in Germany.
  • Discover‘s Inkfist notes that birds from harsher climates are smarters.
  • Joe. My. God. shares Madonna’s critique of ageism.
  • Languages of the World examines the genesis of the English language.
  • Marginal Revolution notes Japanese funerals for robots, suggests Facebook usage makes people less happy, and notes family formation in Europe.
  • John Moyer examines punctuation.
  • Steve Munro maps out routes for a Scarborough subway.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at science on Pluto.
  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of ethnically mixed households in Ukraine.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at how Panama successfully made use of price controls, and why.
  • Progressive Download’s John Farrell wonders what is the rush for three-parent IVF therapy.
  • Transit Toronto explains how old TTC tickets can be exchanged.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the importance of Belarus for the Baltic States, notes the newly-debatable borders of the former Soviet Union, suggests Tatarstan is unhappy with Russian federalism, and looks at the small grounds for Russian-Ukrainian hostilities.

[LINK] The Economist on the assimilated German-Americans

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The Economist‘s article “The silent minority” explores how German-Americans, despite their numbers and former influence, are very highly assimilated, and how they became this way.

German-Americans are America’s largest single ethnic group (if you divide Hispanics into Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, etc). In 2013, according to the Census bureau, 46m Americans claimed German ancestry: more than the number who traced their roots to Ireland (33m) or England (25m). In whole swathes of the northern United States, German-Americans outnumber any other group (see map). Some 41% of the people in Wisconsin are of Teutonic stock.

Yet despite their numbers, they are barely visible. Everyone knows that Michael Dukakis is Greek-American, the Kennedy clan hail from Ireland and Mario Cuomo was an Italian-American. Fewer notice that John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky with presidential ambitions, are of German origin.

Companies founded by German-Americans tend to play down their roots, too: think of Pfizer, Boeing, Steinway, Levi Strauss or Heinz. Buried somewhere on their websites may be a brief note that “Steinway & Sons was founded in 1853 by German immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinway in a Manhattan loft on Varick Street”. But firms that play up their Germanic history—as Kohler does, in a short film shown at the Waelderhaus—are rare.

German immigrants have flavoured American culture like cinnamon in an Apfelkuchen. They imported Christmas trees and Easter bunnies and gave America a taste for pretzels, hot dogs, bratwursts and sauerkraut. They built big Lutheran churches wherever they went. Germans in Wisconsin launched America’s first kindergarten and set up Turnvereine, or gymnastics clubs, in Milwaukee, Cincinnati and other cities.

After a failed revolution in Germany in 1848, disillusioned revolutionaries decamped to America and spread progressive ideas. “Germanism, socialism and beer makes Milwaukee different,” says John Gurda, a historian. Milwaukee is the only big American city that had Socialist mayors for several decades, of whom two, Emil Seidel and Frank Zeidler, were of German stock. As in so many other countries where Germans have settled, they have dominated the brewing trade. Beer barons such as Jacob Best, Joseph Schlitz, Frederick Pabst and Frederick Miller made Milwaukee the kind of city that more or less had to call its baseball team the Brewers.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 12, 2015 at 11:22 pm

[LINK] “Germany Deserved Debt Relief, Greece Doesn’t”

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Bloomberg View’s Leonid Bershidsky makes a controversial case.

It might still be argued that if Germany deserved a second chance after all it did to Europe, then surely Greece should also be granted one.

There’s a technical answer to that. As [Yale’s Timothy Guinnane] wrote, “The people of some countries today are working to repay international debts incurred by earlier governments that they did not elect or want. Often the debt was used either to provide luxurious lifestyles for a corrupt few, or to pay for the repression of the mass of the population. Yet under the rules of the international financial system, the people of the country are still responsible for the debt or risk loss of access to international credit markets.”

[. . .]

The West German governments that benefited from the debt relief were resolutely anti-Communist and anti-Marxist. CDU, now the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, ran West Germany for the first two decades of its existence. It was less economically liberal than it is now, and it built a sizable welfare state over the years, but it was still a center-right, capitalist force that believed that only private initiative could lead to more or less universal prosperity.

The far-left political forces were outside the London process in 1953; they were in the GDR. Now, far-left Syriza wants to be on the inside, with its plans to nationalize banks and utilities and its costly promises to voters. It will use the debt relief to provide free electricity to households, subsidize rents, restore Christmas bonuses to pensioners, raise minimum salaries — that is, to return to the practices that led to the accumulation of Greece’s debt. It is an extreme case of moral hazard, which the post-war German governments conscientiously avoided.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 11, 2015 at 10:53 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait does explain the question of whether or not the Moon is a planet.
  • blogTO notes that the old Kodak lands on Eglinton will be repurposed for mass transit and observes that Stollery’s at Yonge and Bloor is already being demolished.
  • Crooked Timber notes, looking back in American history, that people who have accused others of playing the “race card” are actually overlooking serious grievances.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes Kepler’s detection of more than twenty thousand exoplanet signals and notes a new method for estimating the mass and age of stars with transiting planets.
  • Geocurrents notes that the site is being suspended, hopefully temporarily.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Minneapolis’ Roman Catholic archdiocese has declared bankruptcy, putting compensation to victims of clerical sexual abuse in jeopardy.
  • Marginal Revolution argues that a majority of American public school students are not in poverty, at least not if we go by the barometer of free lunches.
  • The Numerati’s Stephen Baker argues in favour of the virtues of unregulated hate speech.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that the Nicaragua canal is already seeing a course adjustment.
  • Registan notes that Putin’s Russia is loved by proponents of the men’s rights movement.
  • Towleroad profiles out star Alan Cumming.
  • Transit Toronto notes that consultations for the Scaroborough subway extension are imminent.
  • Window on Eurasia notes China’s interest in supplying nuclear fuel to central and eastern Europe and observes the disintegration of the old German churches of Kaliningrad.

[NEWS] Some Sunday links

  • Al Jazeera notes that Tunisia is still on the brink, looks at the good relations between Indians and Pakistanis outside of South Asia, suspects that a largely Armenian-populated area in Georgia might erupt, and reports on satellite imagery of Boko Haram’s devastation in Nigeria.
  • Bloomberg notes that a North Korean camp survivor caught in lies might stop his campaign, reports on Arab cartoonists’ fears in the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo, notes the consequences on Portugal of a slowdown in Angola’s economy, and notes that the shift in the franc’s value has brought shoppers from Switzerland to Germany while devastating some mutual funds.
  • Bloomberg View warns about anti-immigrant movements in Europe and notes that Turkey’s leadership can’t claim a commitment to freedom of the press.
  • The Inter Press Service notes Pakistani hostility to Afghan migrants, notes disappearances of Sri Lankan cartoonists, and looks at HIV among Zimbabwe’s children.
  • Open Democracy is critical of the myth of Irish slavery, notes the uses of incivility, and observes that more French Muslims work for French security than for Al-Qaeda.
  • Wired looks at life in the coldest town in the world, and notes another setback in the fight for primate rights.

[LINK] “Ukraine May Leave Crimea’s Fate to Next Generation, Premier Says”

Bloomberg’s lodymyr Verbyany and Kateryna Choursina report that the Ukrainian prime minister has said that, given Ukraine’s position, it will have to wait to get Crimea back. I agree, this is sensible advice, but I also wonder if this will be settled. Shades of Alsace-Moselle?

Ukraine may have to leave the fate of Crimea to future generations, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said, a day after the president said the country can’t afford to take back its rebel-held areas by force.

The government in Kiev and its allies have condemned the March annexation of the Black Sea peninsula by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government. The U.S. and the European Union have imposed economic sanctions on Russian companies, individuals and industries that have compounded an almost 50 percent drop in oil prices to tip Russia’s economy toward recession.

“There’s no quick and simple answer to how to bring Crimea back to Ukraine,” Yatsenyuk said today at a year-end news conference in Kiev. “Crimea was, is, and always will be Ukrainian territory. If God helps us while we are alive, we will be able to reinstate control over Crimea. If not, our children or grandchildren will do this.”

Ukrainian officials are focusing on diplomacy to secure an enduring truce in what has grown into the worst dispute between Russia and its Cold War foes since the fall of the Iron Curtain. The government has paused a military offensive started in April aimed at driving the pro-Russian separatists from the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where fighting has killed more than 4,700 people, according to UN estimates.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 31, 2014 at 8:29 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • 3 Quarks Daily writes about the ways in which Cuba, and Havana, have been seen in the American imagination.
  • Antipope Charlie Stross solicits suggestions as to what he should print with a 3-D printer.
  • Crooked Timber is alarmist about the United States, making comparisons to Pakistan and to Weimar Germany.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the simulated atmospheres of warm Neptunes.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Russians are leaving France without their Mistral carriers and that Russia is talking about building its own space station.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that an Argentine court has given an orangutan limited rights.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that transgendered workers now have legal protection in the United States.
  • Marginal Revolution reflects on the new Nicaragua Canal and is skeptical about Cuba’s economic potential.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw links to an essay examining how New Zealand set the global 2% inflation target.
  • The Search looks at one effort in digitizing and making searchable centuries of book images.
  • Towleroad looks at Taiwan’s progress towards marriage equality and notes the refusal of the archbishop of Canterbury to explain the reasons for his opposition to equal marriage.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the different effects of the collapse in oil prices on Russia’s different reasons, looks at language conflicts in the Russian republics, and observes the revival of Belarusian nationalism.
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