Some links for you

by on December 18, 2012 at 6:35 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

I will spend big chunks of Tuesday and Wednesday driving with my family across the highways of Appalachia and the Great Lakes. So here are some quick links (some of which belong in the category, “in case you missed it”).

1. How can one be British without speaking English?

2. CQ Weekly sizes up the CBO in this even-handed, conventional review.

3. Reducing transactions costs in New York’s taxi market.

4. Keeping transactions costs high in San Francisco’s taxi market.

5. Bruce Schneier reviews Harvey Molotch’s new bookAgainst Security: How We Go Wrong at Airports, Subways, and Other Sites of Ambiguous Danger.

1 dearieme December 18, 2012 at 7:25 am

#1: My daughter once used a London GP’s surgery where every notice was in Bengali. Tough luck if you spoke English, or indeed Urdu.

2 prior_approval December 18, 2012 at 7:47 am

#1 –

a. Be a speaker of Gaelic? (Scottish version – Gàidhlig)

b. Be a resident of Jersey, and prefer one official language over the other? (Or use Jèrriais)

3 prior_approval December 18, 2012 at 7:56 am

Or speak Welsh, as the skipped introduction of the article points out. And the article further makes the point that such ‘foreign’ language speakers also understand English, unlike the seeming (or teeming) hordes of people who don’t.

But the framing is wrong – it isn’t about how to be British and not speak English, it is about how some people live in the UK without speaking English. Which to an American sounds sort of like wondering how do so many (older) former Cubans in the Miami area manage to get along without learning English, or how do so many (older) former southern Vietnamese in NoVa manage this.

With pretty much the same answer as the way a number of generally (older) immigrants do this in Germany – by relying on their relatives.

American history, not just contemporary events, is full of how this process works.

But part of this almost reads like a Daily Mail screed – for example, Romanians have just as much right to translation as EU members as British residents in Germany do – for example, it was possible to take the German driver’s license test in 1994 in English, English being just one of the ca. 20 languages (Germany having translated such tests into more than just then current EU languages) available.

4 mike December 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

Just because Gemans offered a driving test in English doesn’t mean I have a “right to translation.” I certainly wouldn’t feel that any “right” of mine was violated if I went to another country and they didn’t offer a driving test in English.

5 mike December 18, 2012 at 9:34 am

Unless you are speaking of a “right to translation” enshrined in EU law, which just muddles the language.

6 Rahul December 18, 2012 at 9:36 am

In a more pragmatic sense there’s a difference between a “right to English” and a “right to Welsh / Bengali / etc.”

German’s offering the test in English is not equivalent to asking that UK offer it in Romanian.

7 JWatts December 18, 2012 at 10:12 am

“1. How can one be British without speaking English?”

Not speaking English is a handicap that can be overcome. The better question is do those who can’t speak English view themselves as British. If they do, it’s only a problem for a generation. Their kids/grandkids will undoubtedly speak the common language. If they don’t view themselves as British, then there is a fundamental problem far greater than the ability to speak English.

8 mike December 18, 2012 at 11:02 am

If it’s anything like America they (or their benefactors on their behalf) will adopt a formulation like “Romanian-British” which means roughly that they’re as British as anyone else (and how dare you for suggesting otherwise), except when they don’t want to be.

9 JWatts December 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

“If it’s anything like America”

Yes, if it is.

10 JWatts December 18, 2012 at 10:15 am

“2. CQ Weekly sizes up the CBO in this even-handed, conventional review.”

“They’re not just the gold standard, they’re the platinum standard,” he says. “They’re like a baseball umpire. They just call the balls and strikes as they see them.”

The CBO does seem to do a pretty good job. Clearly their numbers can be gamed. Particularly with legislation that has large (hidden) costs that kick in beyond the 10 year window. But none-the-less they are one of the best US agencies.

11 Enrique December 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm

#3 & #4 — fascinating — but as I have noted before, why must taxis be regulated at all? — why can’t anyone with a valid driver’s license offer his services to any willing buyer ? — in point of fact, the US is not really a free country at all in the day-to-day things that really matter

12 Dan Weber December 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm

#5: I don’t see Bruce’s review at that URL.

13 Dan Weber December 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm

My bad, I didn’t see that #5 was two URLs.

14 Peter December 18, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Most people in Britain would gladly take a thousand Romanians who don’t speak English over a single Pakistani who speaks perfect English.

15 So Much for Subtlety December 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Romanian is often code for Gypsy. So I am not so sure.

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