Black and white and red all over
By TheophileEscargot (Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 05:49:05 AM EST) (all tags)
What I'm Watching: "Sin City", "House". European constitution fallout. Reading: Asterix. What happened to the stats page?

Multipoll.

What I'm Watching: Sin City
Went to see Sin City. Good film: I finally feel cleansed after Revenge of the Sith now. Look George that's how you make a blue-screen action melodrama. Tightly interweave the action and the drama: don't have huge, separate stretches of each. Don't waste time on fancy backdrops that are irrelevant to the foreground events. If you're showing off CGI, style and innovation are more important than photorealism. Use the set as part of the action: if you show us a staircase or a dinosaur have someone jump down it or climb up it. And let the actors act, not just intone off an autocue.

Note on media. As I've said before, I'm not very visually-oriented; so I don't tend to find comics a very emotionally involving medium. So, after trying one or two I was never very keen on the Sin City comics: seemed pretty cheesy to me.

Film, though, I think are the most visceral medium there is. Again as I've said before, I don't like the way some critics try to make the cinema a 2D version of the stage: a film is never going to have the emotional subtlety of a play where you've got the actors in the same room as you. Movies, I've always thought, should be about spectacle. They should be larger than life, showing you stuff you couldn't see in real life.

So, as a melodrama I found the Sin City movie better than the comic: watching it in a cinema is a much more intense experience.

I liked the colourization gimmick: it's mainly black and white, but with colours superposed in some cases. The white splashes of blood I thought were very effective. If you weren't grossed out by Kill Bill, this is definitely worth seeing.

Won't be to everyone's taste though: it's very violent, gory and over the top. Some of the critics seem to be confused: they were expecting a languid film noir tribute rather than a splatterpunk epic.

What I'm Watching: House
Watched the first four episodes of House M.D. Strangely compulsive so far: I suppose I can probably identify more with Dr House than your average caring superdoc. The formula is beginning to show a bit though now, so might ease off on the next unless they start to vary it.

I liked the dilemma in ep 4 about giving different treatments to the two babies in the epidemic to find out which would die.

Not sure how realistic it all is: I generally try to avoid real and fictional hospitals. I get the impression the diagnostic stuff is a bit archaic: they always seem to have a brief but self-conscious explanation of why they can't just run a full battery of tests (no time, not enough blood) to identify the pathogen. I get the impression that in real life things are more automated and more brute-force: if it's really baffling the doctors they just run it through enough machines.

European constitution fallout
It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.

The basic fact is: nobody knows why the French and the Dutch voted no. The no campaigners were a disparate bunch from all across every spectrum. The vox pop interviews with no voters show diverse, contradictory and often self-contradictory opinions. Nobody knows anything.

And so, the obvious response from every commentator and politician is: to solve the problem we have to do exactly what I already wanted.

If you're a trad socialist, The Answer is to have more protectionism, more regulation of companies, more restrictions on the flow of people and capital.

If you're a free marketer, The Problem is that Europe's economic stagnation has left the people suspicious and mistrustful. The Answer is freer markets and deregulation: this will give as a more prosperous Europe with less unemployment.

If you're an anti-Federalist, The Problem is over-centralization: people don't want their local differences (whether socialist or free-market) ironed out. The Solution: no more centralized power.

If you're against EU expansion, The Problem was not the constitution, but fear of expansion: The Answer is to call a halt to further expansion.

If you're in favour of expansion, you just need to fix something else and go right ahead.

Ultimately, it's not that there is no Plan B. The difficulty is that there are plans B,C,D,E, F right through to Z, and most of them are completely incompatible with each other.

Read those Asterix books now. Found the Asterix annotation site interesting.

Site question
Noticed the stats page isn't where it was. Has it gone for good, gone temporarily or just changed location?

Black and white and red all over | 25 comments (25 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Doctor House would be disbarred in the real world by cam (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 06:26:17 AM EST
He gets it wrong at least four times in a show, and puts every patient on their deathbed before doing a Matlock "pull the answer out of your arse" and saves the patient. He is lauded as a genius, when in reality he has a batting average worse than a B-string Baseball hitter.

Sin City was too gory for me, and I am a fan of the comic-to-film genre.

Less gory than Kill Bill though by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 07:15:52 AM EST
House: despite being on their deathbed they're alway perfectly fine apart from a slightly faint voice by the end....
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #3 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 08:58:58 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

various points by martingale (2.00 / 0) #8 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 06:05:41 PM EST
I agree with you that the main issue is technical. In fact, many people are quite keen on more unification rather than less, but in such a way as to turn Europe into a system where freedom and self determination can flourish, unhindered by external globalist predation.

This is why the UK's conception is fundamentally flawed. The UK wants the EU as an economic system which exists in the same plane as the international anarchical market. This is of course flawed because while it sounds like it will force Europe to compete on par with America, China, Africa, India, etc., in actual fact it means that individual European nations must compete against all the world at once. This is a lot harder than competing in a properly defined European sandbox, and using the combined strength of the sandbox to compete with other big players.

The West-East battle is an interesting one. There's a political aspect and an economic one. The true reason for bringing the East into the EU is political in my opinion, not economic as you seem to think. There really was no choice after the end of the Soviet Union, the very real danger was that Poland, Chekoslovakia, Hungary would balkanize and drag the EU into a ground war. Bringing these countries into the EU means they can be monitored and guided in an official manner.

However, the economic issue is a shambles. The problem is that in the 90s, before the US descended into imperialism and became a menace, it was fully trusted and allowed to evangelize its economic conceptions on the emerging eastern block (as well as Russia and assorted republics). This has given those countries a lopsided capitalist system.

The Russians got robber barons and mafiosi, until Putin stepped in to curb the excesses and restore a balanced system. It's no surprise that he is being reviled by the Americans behind his back. The Eastern Europeans, except for Eastern Germany, are still stuck with American models until they get better leaders or enough EU money to shut up. Meanwhile, the EU has a serious political problem on its hands because it grew too quickly.

I think you're confusing Italy's outlook however, it's closer to the continental socialist ideals than the UK's ideals, except for the anomaly that is Berlusconi.

The UK is in a political quandary, because its real ideological allies at the moment are in Eastern Europe, which has no intention of playing second fiddle in the long run. So unless the UK changes its ways and actively attempts to be a driving force of Europe, it can only be politically marginalized in the long run. The founding block however has a more common outlook and must consolidate to drive the union before the project is completely railroaded.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

[ Parent ]
I think you're being inconsistent here by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #10 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 09:18:50 PM EST
Protectionism doesn't make you strong, it makes you weak. That's not just because your companies are shielded from competition, but because companies are interdependent. If you're making cars, you need to make them out of raw materials and components: if your protectionism puts import tariffs on those, then your cars will be more expensive than your competitors. Free markets and competition make you strong.

Now, you're trying to have it both ways. On the one hand you're talking about the "combined strength" of the European single market; which implies you think that the free market is a good thing. On the other hand, you're arguing that the EU needs protectionism as a whole, which implies the opposite.

Now the usual modern socialist argument is that even if free markets are a good thing economically, they are bad socially. So, we need to accept a certain degree of economic handicap in exchange for social benefits. You're not making that argument though.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I don't think I'm inconsistent by martingale (2.00 / 0) #11 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 10:33:40 PM EST
Protectionism doesn't make you strong, it makes you weak. That's not just because your companies are shielded from competition, but because companies are interdependent. If you're making cars, you need to make them out of raw materials and components: if your protectionism puts import tariffs on those, then your cars will be more expensive than your competitors. Free markets and competition make you strong.
I think you're ignoring the role of the state in making this case. The state acts to foster a kind of economy of scale and of opportunities.

First, free competition makes small players strong or kills them. What remains are well adapted players who can survive independently but have no self determination beyond their immediate market strengths.

But a state can balance the local economy and foster long term growth as well as force economies of scale according to the national interest. It doesn't matter if some parts of the local economy are weak provided that they can be sustained via funds extracted from the stronger parts of the same local economy. The result is not unlike a diversified portfolio, which doesn't in itself perform as well as individual stocks, but overall achieves growth with reduced risk and more dependable returns.

Now, you're trying to have it both ways. On the one hand you're talking about the "combined strength" of the European single market; which implies you think that the free market is a good thing. On the other hand, you're arguing that the EU needs protectionism as a whole, which implies the opposite.
No, I don't think the free market is a good thing by itself. What I mean by "combined strength" is that a larger diverse population has raw strength in numbers which allows more diversified competition with the outside. Whereas a single country has its relative strenghts and weaknesses compared to non EU competitors, the EU's strength is the sum of those relative strengths, while the individual countries' weaknesses are only an EU weakness if all members share the same weakness.

Now the usual modern socialist argument is that even if free markets are a good thing economically, they are bad socially. So, we need to accept a certain degree of economic handicap in exchange for social benefits. You're not making that argument though.
That's right, I'm not making that argument. The problem with that argument is that it doesn't address the economic criticisms but merely dismisses them as irrelevant. Instead, I believe that at the state level, economies must be organized as a team. In this way, economies which exist in a laissez-faire unorganized bunch of companies can be outplayed more reliably.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
[ Parent ]
Hmmm by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #12 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 11:01:57 PM EST
No, I don't think the free market is a good thing by itself. What I mean by "combined strength" is that a larger diverse population has raw strength in numbers which allows more diversified competition with the outside. Whereas a single country has its relative strenghts and weaknesses compared to non EU competitors, the EU's strength is the sum of those relative strengths, while the individual countries' weaknesses are only an EU weakness if all members share the same weakness.
Europe is larger than a single country, so a single European economy is stronger than a national market.

Similarly, the world is larger than Europe, so a single world market is stronger than a European market.

The logic is the same.

You seem (as far as I can tell) to be trying to argue that there is an optimum size of free market, and Europe is that size. But the EU already has an internal free market and external protectionism. If that idea were correct, Europe would already be an economic tiger. In fact, it suffers low growth, high unemployment and high deficits and has for a while. You don't seem to have either a theoretical or empirical case to support that that I can see.

The rest of your statement just seems to be the old theory that a command and control economy allocates resources more efficiently than a free market.

[ Parent ]
heh by martingale (2.00 / 0) #14 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 12:05:05 AM EST
Europe is larger than a single country, [...] Similarly, the world is larger than Europe, [...] The logic is the same.
That's a meaningless juxtaposition. A big difference is that there is no exonomy outside of the world to be trading with.

The rest of your statement just seems to be the old theory that a command and control economy allocates resources more efficiently than a free market.
Which of course is true in the same way that America is a communist country. You seem to like extremes: free market capitalism, command and control economies...

You seem (as far as I can tell) to be trying to argue that there is an optimum size of free market, and Europe is that size. But the EU already has an internal free market and external protectionism. If that idea were correct, Europe would already be an economic tiger. In fact, it suffers low growth, high unemployment and high deficits and has for a while. You don't seem to have either a theoretical or empirical case to support that that I can see.
Nonsense. By your logic, America being the free market standard bearer would never suffer recessions or even just slow growth. There are historical cycles in all economies, and even the best systems can be managed suboptimally. I'll remind you that America is the one with record deficits, while France actually has higher productivity than America according to the OECD. Frankly, from where I'm standing I don't see that the free market you vaunt so much is that efficient. As they say, in theory there's no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
[ Parent ]
Free market standard bearer by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 01:03:48 AM EST
The issue is not individual recessions but growth over the entire economic cycle.

The American state is too large, regulated and debt burdened for it to be the ideal free market.  Estonia or Ireland might be closer.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
I mention the US by martingale (2.00 / 0) #21 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 03:02:02 AM EST
because I like to yank TE's chain. Woof :-)
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
[ Parent ]
In that case, keep on :) --nt-- by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #25 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 02:05:08 PM EST

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
Stuff by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 01:19:51 AM EST
That's a meaningless juxtaposition. A big difference is that there is no exonomy outside of the world to be trading with.
On the contrary: the principles are the same.

You're still making an unsubstantiated assertion: that free markets are good within Europe, but would be bad if the free trade zone was expanded.

If you think that smoking 20 cigarettes a day is bad for your health, but smoking 5 cigarettes a day is good for your health, you need to support that somehow.

If you think that a free market of 12 countries is good, but 50 countries bad: you need to support that theory.

Regarding productivity figures, they're notoriously unreliable since they depend on workers accurately completing their timesheets. If you work 40 hours but put 45 on your timesheet, your productivity goes down: you've achieved less per hour. If you work 40 hours but put 35 on your timesheet (for instance, if the government forbids you to put more) then your productivity soars.

The advange of free-market economies regarding recessions isn't that they never have them, but they are much more resilient to them: they can bounce back relatively quickly.

[ Parent ]
assumption by martingale (2.00 / 0) #19 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 02:09:06 AM EST
You're still making an unsubstantiated assertion: that free markets are good within Europe, but would be bad if the free trade zone was expanded.
What part don't you understand? I'm neither for unfettered free trade outside of Europe nor inside of it. Free trade needs to be tempered by rules and regulations, which is possible inside Europe so long as there is an acceptable strong pan-European government and structure of laws. Free trade inside Europe without oversight is not something I am arguing for in this thread. As regards outside Europe, I am not interested in a level playing field for its own sake, it needs to be negotiated on a case by case basis keeping all relevant interests in mind, ie horse trading on a grand scale.

If you think that a free market of 12 countries is good, but 50 countries bad: you need to support that theory.
I've repeatedly explained the issue: regulation and control is necessary IMHO. It's easier to control 12 countries than regulate 50, but if you can describe and implement a binding system which ensures that a Europe with 50 members is reasonably managed then yes, 50 members is acceptable. Right now, we can't manage 25.

The advange of free-market economies regarding recessions isn't that they never have them, but they are much more resilient to them: they can bounce back relatively quickly.
Please, definitions of recession are notoriously unreliable, they are political dynamite. If you're going to argue that econometrics is an unreliable basis for comparison, then don't claim out of thin air that free-market economies are this or that. Admit you're arguing your side because you believe in a few simplified theoretical models with little basis in reality, and I won't bore you with talk of diversified economic portfolios.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$
[ Parent ]
Recessions by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #22 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 03:18:32 AM EST
Um, you're the one who brought up recessions by making the statement:
"By your logic, America being the free market standard bearer would never suffer recessions"
I simply corrected the view you misattributed to me.

Now, consider two Europes. Europe A is Europe as it exists: a free internal market, but external protectionism. Europe B is Europe without an internal free market: with trade barriers between the member states.

Now, in the past you have made statements about the advantages of trade barriers, since you believe they allow industries to be nurtured through bad patches and delicate stages.

This would lead me to believe that you find Europe B to be economically superior to A. Europe B would have allowed the British goverment to bail out Rover, for instance.

However your statements in this diary about scale lead me to believe you actually find Europe A to be economically superior.

Which do you prefer?

[ Parent ]
ah by martingale (2.00 / 0) #24 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 04:13:03 AM EST
Europe C: A Europe where separate nations are regions of one large secular country with a single democratically elected government and common standards of education, freedom of expression, unified rights and laws etc., able by its sheer size to hold its own in a world comprising several economic blocks, all of which acting in their own narrow self interest.

Now, in the past you have made statements about the advantages of trade barriers, since you believe they allow industries to be nurtured through bad patches and delicate stages.
Yes, I've made those statements and they do apply in this case (Europe C) as well. It is a job of the State to nurture a mix of vital industries which ensure its long term viability and independence. Such industries include food production, heavy industry, manufacturing, etc. It is not a good idea to let such industries decay and vanish, and to depend on other states providing them more cheaply. As long as these industries stay alive, it's perfectly reasonable to supplement them with cheap imports, and if the final aim is to merge with another state, then it is also reasonable to allow such industries to be moved into that other state. Moreover, industries which are identified as important and don't yet exist must be nurtured.

Having said that, with certain targets in place it doesn't matter how the industries are managed, I don't believe in State micro management. What matters is that the State is self-sufficient if it needs to be, and can protect its citizens.

Your Europe B is preferable to a Europe A only in case the free internal market cannot be regulated and controlled by an institution with the muscle to enforce its decisions.

For example, on the world scale, we have some institutions such as the WTO, UN which have no muscle, and therefore are not sufficient for a true world wide free market, attractive as it may seem in the abstract. So a prudent Europe must keep its protections up to prevent becoming dependent on other countries. Beyond that requirement, anything goes.

Inside Europe, the same situation applies in microcosm. The institutions exist, but are currently unsuitable for 25 members. Eventually, this problem must be solved in a way acceptable to all members concerned. If this can be done, we will probably have a european government which can safeguard and protect the free internal market by defusing peacefully and decisively any issues that arise. But right now, we aren't there yet.

I simply corrected the view you misattributed to me.

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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

[ Parent ]
Stats page by hulver (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 09:46:31 AM EST
I've not set it up on here yet.

You can find the pre-move stats at http://old.hulver.com/stats/

(No link, because it'll be going away soon anyway)

I'll put up a note when I've managed to merge the log files from the two sites and get the new stats up.
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Cheese is not a hat. - clock

Thanks! by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 10:03:07 AM EST

Keep thinking we must be about to overtake K5 on hits-per-day, but never actually happens. Sciscoop's stats have vanished as well.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Now we're on a faster server by hulver (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 12:09:54 PM EST
I'll start letting search engines index us again.

That'll push the hits up.
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Cheese is not a hat. - clock

[ Parent ]
EuroCon referendums by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #6 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 10:37:27 AM EST
Of course both the French and Dutch govts were unpopular and the previous phase of European integration, the Euro, has not been perceived to be a huge sucess in both countries with a lot of people blaming it for higher prices and slower economic growth.

If there was a booming economy as a result of the Euro in both countries then I think it would have been different.

economics by martingale (2.00 / 0) #9 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 06:29:19 PM EST
The EU has always been driven economically by Germany. This is in fact not surprising since the founding principle was to pool the heavy industries in EU members, and of the France/Germany pair, France has a more rural outlook. Over time, the poorer southern members were infused with EU funds to bring them up to speed, which naturally drained the German output. Even the Euro doesn't change the underlying economic facts. However, Germany has paid heavily for reunification too, and altogether this is reflected in poor economic performance for nearly a generation.

What's new now is that the Eastern block members have infused a new source of economic drive through cheap and plentiful labour, which means that the EU's economy no longer depends mostly on Germany. Simultaneously, with reduced pressure we can expect Germany to pull ahead again.

The UK is in a funny position, because of its fence sitting. It doesn't help out as much with the EU, so doesn't feel the drain that much, but won't benefit as much in the long term because it isn't at the center of Europe's economic activity. The only major European concession is London's attempt at being the finance capital of Europe, but it's not clear to me if that will be successful. I also don't believe that in the long term London can be Europe's clearing house for American and world wide interactions.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

[ Parent ]
It is sucessful by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #13 Sun Jun 05, 2005 at 11:02:12 PM EST
London is already the European capital for finance. Frankfurt, if anything, has lost business since the Euro has come on board and Paris was never really in the runnning.

Help out? Well the UK net contribution of £3 bn certasinly helps I would have thought.

[ Parent ]
long term trends by martingale (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 12:19:12 AM EST
My point is that this is unlikely to last without some effort on the part of Britain. London is not at the heart of the bulk of European industry and trade routes, whereas Germany is. Arguing that the Euro has failed to deliver at this point is like arguing that right after a big takeover, shareholders are poorer and therefore management is incompetent. The full effects of the Euro take time to discover.

Regarding the contribution, I'd say you're missing the famous rebate, but then I don't expect you'll agree with me that its existence is unfair.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

[ Parent ]
Erm by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 01:23:02 AM EST
you don't need to be on the trade routes or nar industry if you're doing it all electonically. The reason why London is sucessful is low tax rates, has a workforce with the right skills and has the clustering effect of many large banks.

It's in the right timezone too.

[ Parent ]
I agree to some extent by martingale (2.00 / 0) #20 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 02:30:13 AM EST
you don't need to be on the trade routes or nar industry if you're doing it all electonically. The reason why London is sucessful is low tax rates, has a workforce with the right skills and has the clustering effect of many large banks.
That's true in many ways. Electronic transactions do negate the problems of geography, but note also that this applies to the clustering effect, which is a remnant of the previous era. When banks have restructured enough to be capable of fully operating anywhere, then there will be no benefit of staying close to a skilled workforce, just train locals (making sure what you pay them plus the training is competitive) and send skilled workers out into the wild.

Then there are taxes and regulations. That's a political matter which singles out the UK, but being political, it can change if deemed important, which would render the UK's advantage moot.

There's really no reason why Germany say couldn't gather a lot of Britain's business by doing what it takes to undercut the UK. Of course, the prize question is whether another country is actually willing to do what it takes.
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$E(X_t|F_s) = X_s,\quad t > s$

[ Parent ]
For someone who says by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 2) #23 Mon Jun 06, 2005 at 03:33:19 AM EST
they don't find comics involving, you sure do read a lot of them.

Black and white and red all over | 25 comments (25 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback