22 February 2003

2700 words in the last two days, for a total of 42,810 since January 1.

Posted 07:37 PM

21 February 2003

Copyrights and patents give inventors and creators the opportunity to profit from their work, providing critical support for innovation. Or do they? Economists Michele Boldrin and David Levine aren't so sure. In a report published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, they argue that competitive markets can and do reward innovation without the need for government granted monopolies.

Posted 10:42 PM

Newsday reporter Laurie Garrett went to the Davos World Economic Forum. She wrote a chatty email about the conference to a few friends. Through a complex chain of forwardings, her letter ended up on the public Internet, minus her name or other identifying information. LawMeme has a long and thought-provoking article discussing what her experience means for privacy and democratic debate in the Internet era.

Posted 12:34 PM

20 February 2003

Only 900 words yesterday, but that was enough to push me through the 40K barrier. 40,110 since January 1.

Posted 10:25 PM

The executive summary of my previously discussed organic semiconductor report is now online. You can also find ordering information in the Bookstore, along with a selection of other interesting books.

Posted 10:24 PM

Democracy, for all its advantages, is a messy way to run a government. The people and their representatives have a tendency to vote differently than their leaders say they should. It's hard to control the outcome of a New England town meeting, much less global negotiations involving citizens in dozens of countries.

Case in point. The US government is criticizing France and Germany for their opposition to strong action against Iraq. The leaders of those countries, however, believe they have strong anti-war mandates from their citizens. The government of France, in turn, is chastising Eastern European countries for their acceptance of the US position. Yet countries like Poland and the Czech Republic remember the 1930s and believe that their citizens would rather trust American than French security guarantees. Meanwhile, the Turkish government, also a democracy, is afraid that serving as a northern front in any attack on Iraq will have disastrous consequences for the Turkish economy.

Rhetoric is escalating on all sides. All sides seem to have forgotten that democracies are extremely difficult to bully. A dictator's opinion can be swayed by threats, economic aid, arms sales, or any other incentive which he believes will help maintain his power, whether it is in the best interests of his citizens or not. A dictator can become a client, utterly dependent on outside assistance and certain to support his protector on the world stage as long as doing so appears to be in his interest. A dictator can also be relied on to squelch potentially embarrassing signs of dissent among his people.

A democratically elected leader, on the other hand, answers only to the voters. Every action must appear to the voters to be in their best interests. Threatening or insulting a democracy is likely to rouse national feelings of independence and pride, making agreement even more difficult. Negotiations with a democracy ultimately rely on persuasion, not coercion.

All sides in the current debate seem to view this democratic messiness as a weakness. They warn of dire consequences if "civilized nations" or "European nations" fail to stand together against a common threat. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Democracies are strong, individually and collectively, precisely because all views can be heard. Even dissenters have a stake in the process and are willing to accept the outcome. Coalition building is slow and frustrating, but it leads to more resilient alliances and more effective action than government by fiat.

Most freely elected leaders know this: they depend on negotiated consensus in domestic politics. Few seem to realize that the same tactics are equally necessary in international negotiations among democracies.

Posted 05:18 PM

Just updated both the equipment book-to-bill chart and the DRAM price chart in the reference section. The good news is that DRAM prices are up slightly after a months-long decline. The bad news is that equipment bookings continue to drop.

Posted 12:37 PM

19 February 2003

1350 words yesterday, 39,210 since January 1.

Posted 04:48 PM

18 February 2003

1350 words yesterday, 37,860 since January 1.

I've also had the either brilliant or stupid idea that if I keep this up I should be able to get to 300,000 or so for the year. So I've started the 2003 Writer's Marathon at the Forward Motion community. Come join the fun!

Posted 07:12 PM

17 February 2003

3750 words since my last update, 36,510 since January 1. I'm running in place, but still behind my goal of 59,000 words by February 28. Need to pick up the pace a bit.

Posted 06:11 PM

One of the arguments for regime change in Iraq has been, roughly, that a little disorder in the Arab world might be a good thing, given the mess that current rulers have made of things. Fouad Ajami argues that unaplogetic American unilateralism might be the only way to force a paradigm shift to a secular democratic government for Iraq, and a new way of thinking for the region.

Posted 05:42 PM


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