A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘supranationalism

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Charlie Stross at Antipope shares an essay he recently presented on artificial intelligence and its challenges for us.
  • P. Kerim Friedman writes at {anthro}dendum about the birth of the tea ceremony in the Taiwan of the 1970s.
  • Anthropology net reports on a cave painting nearly 44 thousand years old in Indonesia depicting a hunting story.
  • Architectuul looks at some temporary community gardens in London.
  • Bad Astronomy reports on the weird history of asteroid Ryugu.
  • The Buzz talks about the most popular titles borrowed from the Toronto Public Library in 2019.
  • Caitlin Kelly talks at the Broadside Blog about her particular love of radio.
  • Centauri Dreams talks about the role of amateur astronomers in searching for exoplanets, starting with LHS 1140 b.
  • John Quiggin at Crooked Timber looks at what is behind the rhetoric of “virtue signalling”.
  • Dangerous Minds shares concert performance from Nirvana filmed the night before the release of Nevermind.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes new evidence that, even before the Chixculub impact, the late Cretaceous Earth was staggering under environmental pressures.
  • Myron Strong at the Everyday Sociology Blog writes about how people of African descent in the US deal with the legacies of slavery in higher education.
  • Far Outliers reports on the plans in 1945 for an invasion of Japan by the US.
  • L.M. Sacasas at The Frailest Thing gathers together a collection of the author’s best writings there.
  • Gizmodo notes the immensity of the supermassive black hole, some 40 billion solar masses, at the heart of galaxy Holm 15A 700 million light-years away.
  • Russell Arben Fox at In Media Res writes about the issue of how Wichita is to organize its civic politics.
  • io9 argues that the 2010s were a decade where the culture of the spoiler became key.
  • The Island Review points readers to the podcast Mother’s Blood, Sister’s Songs, an exploration of the links between Ireland and Iceland.
  • Joe. My. God. reports on the claim of the lawyer of the killer of a mob boss that the QAnon conspiracy inspired his actions. This strikes me as terribly dangerous.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at a study examining scholarly retractions.
  • Language Hat shares an amusing cartoon illustrating the relationships of the dialects of Arabic.
  • Language Log lists ten top new words in the Japanese language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the dissipation of American diplomacy by Trump.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the many problems in Sparta, Greece, with accommodating refugees, for everyone concerned.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper suggesting the decline of the one-child policy in China has diminished child trafficking, among other crimes.
  • Sean Marshall, looking at transit in Brampton, argues that transit users need more protection from road traffic.
  • Russell Darnley shares excerpts from essays he wrote about the involvement of Australia in the Vietnam War.
  • Peter Watts talks about his recent visit to a con in Sofia, Bulgaria, and about the apocalypse, here.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the corporatization of the funeral industry, here.
  • Diane Duane writes, from her own personal history with Star Trek, about how one can be a writer who ends up writing for a media franchise.
  • Jim Belshaw at Personal Reflections considers the job of tasting, and rating, different cuts of lamb.
  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at a nondescript observatory in the Mojave desert of California that maps the asteroids of the solar system.
  • Roads and Kingdoms interviews Eduardo Chavarin about, among other things, Tijuana.
  • Drew Rowsome loves the SpongeBob musical.
  • Peter Rukavina announces that Charlottetown has its first public fast charger for electric vehicles.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog considers the impact of space medicine, here.
  • The Signal reports on how the Library of Congress is making its internet archives more readily available, here.
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers how the incredibly isolated galaxy MCG+01-02-015 will decay almost to nothing over almost uncountable eons.
  • Strange Company reports on the trial and execution of Christopher Slaughterford for murder. Was there even a crime?
  • Strange Maps shares a Coudenhove-Kalergi map imagining the division of the world into five superstates.
  • Understanding Society considers entertainment as a valuable thing, here.
  • Denis Colombi at Une heure de peine announces his new book, Où va l’argent des pauvres?
  • John Scalzi at Whatever looks at how some mailed bread triggered a security alert, here.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on the massive amount of remittances sent to Tajikistan by migrant workers, here.
  • Arnold Zwicky notes a bizarre no-penguins sign for sale on Amazon.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Crooked Timber has two posts on David Cameron’s announcement of a referendum, hopefully, on British membership in the European Union, to be held in a few years.
  • Eastern Approaches had two posts on the recent Czech election, noting that the defeated candidate, Prince Schwarzenberg, was hobbled as much by his German associations as by his links to the previous government.
  • Far Outliers notes the Americanization of Buddhism, and of the Japanese-Americans who practiced it, in post-Second World War Hawai’i.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money’s Dave Brockington also comments on Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
  • Norman Geras notes the hatred of Mali’s insurgents for music.
  • Registan’s Nathan Hamm warns that a post-Karimov Uzbekistan might intervene on behalf of Uzbek minorities in neighbouring states.
  • Torontoist posted an excerpt from Edward Keenan’s new book about Toronto, Some Great Idea.
  • Might Iran buy water from Tajikistan? Windows on Eurasia notes the statement of interest.

[BRIEF NOTE] On the risks of British departure from the European Union

British Prime Minister David Cameron has done it.

Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday he will offer British citizens a vote on whether to leave the European Union if his party wins the next election, a move which could trigger alarm among fellow member states.

He acknowledged that public disillusionment with the EU is “at an all-time high,” using a long-awaited speech in central London to say that the terms of Britain’s membership in the bloc should be revised and the country’s citizens should have a say.

Cameron proposed Wednesday that his Conservative Party renegotiate the U.K.’s relationship with the European Union if it wins the next general election, expected in 2015.

“Once that new settlement has been negotiated, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the EU on these new terms. Or come out altogether,” Cameron said. “It will be an in-out referendum.”

[. . .] Cameron stressed that his first priority is renegotiating the EU treaty — not leaving the bloc.

“I say to our European partners, frustrated as some of them no doubt are by Britain’s attitude: work with us on this,” he said.

Much of the criticism directed at Cameron has accused him of trying an “a la carte” approach to membership in the bloc and seeking to play by some but not all of its rules.

Speaking as a Canadian familiar with Québec’s intermittent flirtation with the idea of separatism, I’ve a few things to point out.

  • Much of British history towards political Europe is ill-informed. One thing that frequently comes up in Euroskeptic discourse is a hostility towards the European Court of Human Rights, a supranational legal institution associated not with the European Union but with the entirely separate Council of Europe. Too much critical detail goes unnoticed, or unknown.
  • Much like Québec separatists who confidently assume that after a “Oui” majority in a referendum the province could negotiate whatever arrangement it would like with a rump Canada, even a nominally pro-European Union politician like David Cameron seems to be making the mistake of assuming that a threat of separation will lead Britain’s European partners to make whatever changes the British government might want. I’m very skeptical of this. Perhaps more likely is a complete breakdown of the federation–in their own ways, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia came apart when this brinkmanship occurred.
  • Many British Euroskeptics also seem to believe that, if the United Kingdom left the European Union, not only the United States but the entire Commonwealth would welcome the erstwhile founder of the Anglo-Saxon world. I can speak only for Canada, but there is no body of radically pro-Commonwealth sentiment in Canada. Canadian identity is no longer bound up with the Commonwealth in the way it was a half-century ago. If anything, British departure from the European Union would make the United Kingdom a less desirable partner relative to other European countries of a similar size.
  • British departure from the European Union would be a catastrophe for the country. Unless a non-EU United Kingdom follows the lead of Switzerland and Norway in accepting European Union regulations while lacking any voice in formulating them, the United Kingdom will be outside of the various markets. What will happen to, among other things, Britain’s financial sector? (Frankfurt and Dublin will do nicely.)
  • I can’t help but wonder what the consequences for Scotland might be if Britain departed. Could we get a Scottish separatism invigorated by the desire to remain in, or return to, the European Union?


[LINK] “Tories accidentally sell the EU to Britain”

A Fistful of Euros’ Alex Harrowell writes about the problems facing the Conservative Party and UKIP in the United Kingdom, as the prospect of Britain’s exiting the European Union rise. It turns out that growing support for the UKIP doesn’t necessary reflect anti-European sentiment.

One of the most surprising discoveries of this latest go-round of the Tories’ conflicts on Europe is that UKIP has stopped being a party that is primarily about the EU, in the sense that its voters don’t care about it. In general, British electors rank Europe relatively low among their priorities. For normal people, it tends to be a strong opinion but weakly held. Astonishingly, it turns out that UKIP voters are no different – their polling profile is basically identical to that of Tories.

This is important and interesting. It shows up that both the Tories and UKIP have a problem. The Tories’ problems are as follows – they’re competing for votes on both flanks, to the centre and to the extreme right (the polling is clear that UKIP wins votes from Tories), and they’re forced by their internal politics to spend time and effort making speeches about Europe and the nature of Britishness, which isn’t a productive activity. UKIP’s problem is more subtle; its leaders are fascinated by the EU. It’s why they do it. But their voters aren’t – only 27% of them rate the EU among their top three issues.

Over time, UKIP has evolved in a libertarian direction. Its leadership basically believe two things: we should get out of the EU, in order to be more neoliberal. The problem here is that libertarianism is very much a minority opinion. Most British people don’t want it or anything like it. Polling of UKIP voters shows they are no different. Instead, they seem to be Tories, but more so. They vote UKIP to register protest against the Tory leadership for compromising with the electorate and the Lib Dems.

For their part, the Tory Eurosceptics are trying to compete with UKIP in Euroscepticism and libertarianism. Therefore, the “Fresh Start” group wants David Cameron to demand three policies: an opt-out from the working time directive, and another from financial services policy. This is apparently meant to be popular. The Fresh Starters say some remarkable things – apparently the EU wants to “shut down financial services” – but it seems unlikely that the British people are desperate to avoid regulating the banks, and it is actually the declared policy of the government that the economy should be rebalanced to rely less on the City. (And they want to stop sending the European Parliament to Strasbourg, but then everybody wants that bar the mayor of Strasbourg.)

But this speaks to an important point. It’s meant to be about sovereignty, no less, and this is all they can think of to do with it?

Written by Randy McDonald

January 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm

[DM] “On the United Kingdom, the European Union, the Commonwealth, and migration issues”

I’ve a post up at Demography Matters that takes a look at the contradictions of Britons who strongly favour restrictions on migration from the European Union but do want to try to make the Commonwealth into a British-influenced bloc (again). Do they really think that mature countries whose citizens are going to be kept from even entering British territory to degrees unheard of years ago are going to be especially interested in getting close to the United Kingdom?

[DM] “On the United Kingdom, the European Union, the Commonwealth, and migration issues”

I’ve a post up at Demography Matters that takes a look at the contradictions of Britons who strongly favour restrictions on migration from the European Union but do want to try to make the Commonwealth into a British-influenced bloc (again). Do they really think that mature countries whose citizens are going to be kept from even entering British territory to degrees unheard of years ago are going to be especially interested in getting close to the United Kingdom?

Written by Randy McDonald

July 7, 2012 at 12:00 am

[BRIEF NOTE] On the possible adoption of the Canadian dollar by Iceland

Barrie McKenna’s Globe and Mail article discussing what seems to be growing discussion in Iceland about replacing the Icelandic króna with the Canadian dollar has gone viral across my Facebook feed.

For many Canadians who read this, learning that any country–even one as small as Iceland–wants to unite in some fashion with Canada on grounds of our economic strength is a massive ego boost. McKenna does highlight the importance that the extension of Canadian money elsewhere in the Arctic might have on Canadian heft, at least the perceived importance. As far as I can tell, the Icelanders are still debating the question (to put it mildly), while very few people in Canada have been thinking about Iceland at all since the stabilization of the economy.

One note: Adoption of the Canadian dollar would also Iceland’s emergent relationship with the European Union. How would it work for a European Union member-state that adopted the currency of a non-member, indeed, the currency of a non-European country? (I’ve joked in the past that maybe Canada should join the European Union since someone has to pay for Romania, but seeing what’s going on with Greece takes the fun out of that joke.) ?

[T]iny Iceland, still reeling from the aftershocks of the devastating collapse of its banks in 2008, is looking longingly to the loonie as the salvation from wild economic gyrations and suffocating capital controls.

And for the first time, the Canadian government says it’s open to discussing the idea.

In brief remarks to be delivered Saturday in Reykjavik, Canadian ambassador Alan Bones will tell Icelanders that if they truly want the Canadian dollar, Canada is ready to talk.

But he will warn Icelanders that unilaterally adopting the loonie comes with significant risk, including complete loss of control over their monetary policy because the Bank of Canada makes decisions only for Canadians and the Canadian economy. He’ll caution, for example, that giving up the krona in favour of the Canadian dollar (CAD/USD-I1.01-0.004-0.36%) will leave the country with few levers, short of layoffs, to counter financial shocks and fluctuations in the loonie.

[. . .]

There’s a compelling economic case why Iceland would want to adopt the Canadian dollar. It offers the tantalizing prospect of a stable, liquid currency that roughly tracks global commodity prices, nicely matching Iceland’s own economy, which is dependent on fish and aluminum exports.

There’s also a more sentimental reason.

“The average person looks at it this way: Canada is a younger version of the U.S. Canada has more natural resources than the U.S., it’s less developed, has more land, lots of water,” explained Heidar Gudjonsson, an economist and chairman of the Research Center for Social and Economic Studies, Iceland’s largest think tank.

“And Canada thinks about the Arctic.”

In a recent Gallup poll, seven out of 10 Icelanders said they would happily dump their volatile and fragile krona for another currency. And their favoured alternative is the Canadian dollar, easily outscoring the U.S. dollar, the euro and the Norwegian krona.

Iceland is also in a bind. The country imposed strict currency controls after its spectacular banking collapse in 2008. Foreign-exchange transactions are capped 350,000 kronas (about $3,000). A major downside of those controls is that foreign investors can’t repatriate their profits, making Iceland an unattractive place to do business.

Those capital controls are slated to come off next year. And many experts fear a return to the wild swings of the past — in inflation, lending rates and the currency itself. Iceland is the smallest country in the world still clinging to its own currency and monetary policy. The krona soared nearly 90 per cent between 2001 and 2007, only to crash 92 per cent after the financial crisis in 2008.

The official government plan is to go to the euro. Iceland has applied to join the European Union and eventually the euro zone. But that’s not looking like a very attractive option these days. And formal entry could take a decade, experts said.

The other options are to peg the krona to another currency, such as the yen, greenback or euro.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 2, 2012 at 9:49 pm