A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘germany

[DM] “Some thoughts on the origins of low fertility in Germany in reactions to totalitarianism”

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I write at Demography Matters about the origins of Germany’s unusually low level of completed fertility, suggesting that it represents a reaction to totalitarian meddling in family formation that needs to be overcome.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 9, 2016 at 11:59 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO depicts a new Toronto condo tower that will also be a vertical forest.
  • D-Brief notes the latest German success with nuclear fusion.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the discovery of Jupiter analog HD 32963b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales provides updates about the Russian wars in Syria and Ukraine.
  • Geocurrents examines the demographic history of the Philippines.
  • Language Log notes odd sound borrowings into Taiwanese.
  • Une heure de peine’s Denis Colombi notes that sociology by its nature is political but not normative.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russian fears that Belarus is drifting westwards and argues Kaliningraders are shifting towards a Europe-oriented identity.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • As noted by The Dragon’s Gaze, Centauri Dreams hosts an essay hotly defending the argument that KIC 8462852 has dimmed sharply.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the links between classical liberalism and the refusal to aid the victims of the Irish famine.
  • D-Brief notes that ancient Babylonian astronomers were close to developing calculus.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that a large majority of Germans and a majority of Australian MPs back marriage equality.
  • Marginal Revolution speculates that much of China’s growth slowdown is a consequence of declining construction.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares photos from Chang’e 3.
  • Peter Rukavina describes his work creating an online Schedule for Charlottetown transit.
  • Savage Minds considers authenticity in relationship to digital models of artifacts.
  • Science Sushi, at Discover, notes the complex social lives of at least some octopi.
  • Transit Toronto notes rising GO Transit prices.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the decline of the Russian Orthodox Church’s presence in Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes underground constructions, from subways to roads, which never took off.
  • Centauri Dreams suggests that an analysis of KIC 8462852 which claimed the star had dimmed sharply over the previous century is incorrect.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at the greenhouse effect of water vapour in exoplanets and wonders if carbon monoxide detection precludes life.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the economic radicalism of early Marvel.
  • Marginal Revolution argues China’s financial system should remain disconnected from the wider world’s so as to avoid capital flight.
  • The Numerati reacts to the recent snowstorm.
  • Personal Reflections examines Australia Day.
  • The Planetary Society Blog depicts an astronomer tracking a comet.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes that Ukraine now hosts one million refugees.
  • Towleroad notes that gay refugees are now getting separate housing in Germany.
  • Window on Eurasia talks about the worrying popularity of Chechnya’s Kadyrov and suggests that when the money runs out Russia’s regions will go their separate ways.

[LINK] “Strong Franc Chokes Swiss Manufacturers Fighting for Life”

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Bloomberg’s Alice Baghdjian writes about how the strength of the Swiuss franc, especially relative to the Euro, has been hurting the Swiss economy.

Nestled on the banks of Lake Zurich, humidifier-maker Condair AG’s factory provided a good living for its 41 workers. Then in November 2014, beset by high manufacturing costs, the company decided to transfer production to Germany. In seven months, Condair’s only Swiss plant will wind down for good.

When the Swiss National Bank a year ago Friday lifted the cap on the franc, allowing the currency to strengthen, it confirmed the company’s decision — and its view that the Alpine nation can’t compete in manufacturing. In 2012, the most recent year available, Switzerland had the highest labor costs in Europe, at 51.25 euros ($56) per hour, government figures show. In neighbors Austria, Germany and France, the comparable cost was 29.75 euros, 30.50 euros and 34.25 euros respectively.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 18, 2016 at 3:26 pm

[LINK] “Istanbul Bomb Targets Tourism Already Reeling on Putin Snub”

Bloomberg’s Isobel Finkel, Selcan Hacaoglu and Tugce Ozsoy describe how the recent suicide bombing in Istanbul will hurt Turkey’s tourist industry.

A suicide bomb in the heart of Europe’s largest city didn’t just target innocent tourists, it also hit a $32 billion industry already caught up in the conflict next door.

No one made a greater contribution to Turkey’s tourism receipts last year than Russians and Germans, who have helped make the country the world’s sixth most-popular holiday destination. Russians are staying away from Mediterranean resorts because of a political row over the war in Syria. Now Germans have been affected in the most-visited square in Istanbul, accounting for all of the 10 people left dead on Tuesday morning.

“The tourism sector will suffer even greater losses in 2016, particularly given that Germans constitute Turkey’s largest group of tourists,” said Naz Masraff, director for Europe at political risk consultants Eurasia Group. “The deteriorating security environment and its impact on tourism will weigh on economic sentiment.”

Turkey plans to increase the importance of tourism to help underpin a pickup in the economy following the collapse in emerging markets and a political quagmire that led to two elections in six months. Last year, though, was on course to be the first since 2006 when the number of tourists failed to rise.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 13, 2016 at 3:57 pm

[AH] On John Quiggin’s imagining a different First World War

Last week, John Quiggin engaged in a bit of alternate history writing at Crooked Timber. There, he imagined a war equivalent to the First World War starting in 1911, one that ended in a v victory of the Central Powers and could even conceivably be blamed on the Entente powers.

Looking back at the Great War raises lots of questions. Was it, as most observers concluded in the aftermath of the war, the inevitable product of a clash of rival imperialisms, or of rising class tensions. Or should we prefer the views of the revisionists who stress the war guilt of the Entente powers, and particularly of France? Or was it, perhaps, a tragic and avoidable accident?

Starting with the now-dominant revisionist case, there’s no doubt that French aggression against Morocco, going back to the first Moroccan crisis of 1905-06, was the proximate cause of the war. Not content with the effective control over Moroccan affairs gained in that episode, France used the rebellion against the Sultan to establish a formal “protectorate”. The contemptuous dismissal of the Algeciras conference agreement as a “scrap of paper” presaged the entire French war strategy. Most notable was Joffre’s invasion of Belgium (doubtfully accepted as necessary by Poincare, who had just displaced Joseph Caillaux as Prime Minister). The postwar emergence of an anti-Semitic dictatorship, headed by Marshal Petain, is seen as representing an inherent French tendency to authoritarianism and aggression, reflected in everything from the Bonapartes to l’affaire Dreyfus

The other Entente powers come off little better on this account. Lloyd George was already the dominant figure in the British government and signalled his aggressive intent with the Mansion House speech. The fall of Herbert Asquith as a result of a sex scandal propelled Lloyd George into the Prime Ministership at a crucial moment. His ascension ensured that there would be no negotiated peace. The Entente with the Czarist empire adds weight to the indictment. The aim of encircling and crushing the nascent democracies of the German-speaking world could scarcely be more obvious.

But it is the documents unearthed from wartime archives that are seen by revisionists as sealing the case. The Sykes-Picot agreement, carving up the Middle East, the Constantinople Agreement handing the centre of the Islamic world to Russia, and the offers to Italy under the Treaty of London make the case for Entente war guilt seem unarguable.

I’m not necessarily convinced by the exercise. As commenters note, you may need deeper reasons for Britain and France to adopt more aggressive policies towards Germany, particularly (on Britain’s part) to justify invading Belgium. The explanation as to why the war starts in the first place does not ring true to me. Likewise, it does not make intuitive sense to make that a war waged by Britain and France in 1911, three years before 1914, against a relatively weaker Germany, would end worse for the two powers in any case.

What say you?

Written by Randy McDonald

January 12, 2016 at 7:46 pm

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