Assorted links

1. The Milky Way is a suburb (no wonder it has good ethnic food).

2. Marginal revolution.  Really.

3. Emmanuel Todd on the new German empire and those who do not like Russia (in French).  The map is here large-scale.

4. Baidu’s “smart chopsticks” can (partially) test the safety of your food.

5. Michael Heise in the FT with the case against QE for Europe (not my view but a good piece).  And background on the European ABS market.


2. Marginal revolution. Really.

Yes. I loved this. For Asking Anna I picked margins similar to the NYRB editions.

Unfortunately I don't have the suck necessary to pick the paper. Yet.

I understand why decisions about such details matter, but I cannot fathom why people have to spend time making them over and over.

I'm not saying that all books should have the same type and the same paper and the same margins, but there should, by now, be some pretty excellent templates for every possible type of work.

Carmakers don't begin each new design by debating whether the wheels will be round or the seats will face forward.

"Carmakers don’t begin each new design by debating whether the wheels will be round or the seats will face forward."

They don't reinvent the wheel, per se, but I see a lot of known issues persist model year after model year. And there are lots of things I think would be easy to fix that never are. Then problems go away and mysteriously return. Then simple switches in critical components catch on fire. I suspect that the new guys have to learn stuff if there isn't good knowledge transfer.

Aesthetic decisions by car makers constantly alter the shape and colour and internal design of cars. The proper analogy for changing wheels etc would be if designers were constantly attempting to re-invent printing presses or inks.

1. Agree suburbs usually have the better (and cheaper) food compared to cities. The problem is it is often pretty specialized by area. Live in Rockville, MD? Hope you like Chinese food. Just bought a house in Annandale, VA? Korean's for dinner. Work for Ford in Dearborn? You're in for a lot of hummus.

For those of you looking to read #5 and not interested in paying for a FT subscription:

Funny I read the article of Emmanuel Todd a few days ago and thought it would be good on Marginal Revolution. I even thought about translating it, but didn't find the time.
Black: Germany
Dark grey: direct Germanic zone of influence (countries that are so heavily dependent on Germany economically that they cannot afford to disagree with it)
Grey: France, that obeys Germany even if it doesn't have to, because Europhile ideology is strong amount the ruling elite, and any dissent with Germany is seen as the beginning of the end of the EU.
Red: countries that hate Russia so much they prefer to obey Germany.
Yellow: other members of the EU that are tied by European treaties to what Germany decides.
Blue: countries that try to escape Germany domination (UK and Hungary)
Orange: countries that will soon be under Germanic domination.
Green: failed state (Kosovo)

What is status of Norway?

l'état de la liberté!

Pretty much! Lots of extra money from the North Sea oil fields plus their own currency.

So. let's see - the Swedes are Russophobes, while the Finns are tied by treaties to German decisions. And Switzerland is directly dependent on Germany. As are the Dutch - which just might surprise them, actually. (See who owns a major company that sells energy to Germany - 'Royal Dutch Shell plc (LSE: RDSA, RDSB), commonly known as Shell, is an Anglo–Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in the Netherlands and incorporated in the United Kingdom.[2] Created by the merger of Royal Dutch Petroleum and UK-based Shell Transport & Trading, it is the second largest company in the world, in terms of revenue,[1] and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors".

Shell is also one of the world's most valuable companies.[3] As of January, 2013 the largest shareholder is Capital Research Global Investors with 9.85% ahead of BlackRock in second with 6.89%.[4] Shell topped the 2013 Fortune Global 500 list of the world's largest companies.[5] Royal Dutch Shell revenue was equal to 84% of the Netherlands's $555.8 billion GDP at the time'

Yep, sounds pretty much like a French view of the world, where only the French have the independence to decide to do what they want voluntarily, while the British are doing what the British always do when it comes to the continent. (Oh, and what about Total - 'Total S.A. ... is a French multinational integrated oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world. Its businesses cover the entire oil and gas chain, from crude oil and natural gas exploration and production to power generation, transportation, refining, petroleum product marketing, and international crude oil and product trading. Total is also a large-scale chemicals manufacturer. The company has its head office in the Tour Total in the La Défense district in Courbevoie, West of Paris.'

Finland had a very strong relationship with the USSR throughout the Cold War, going so far as to letting the Soviets have veto rights over their presidential candidates. There's bad blood from the Winter War, but a few decades as the only Soviet satellite to actually be treated well probably erased that. The populist may have lingering anti-Russia feelings, but the Finnish elites have always tried to stay on their good side. From the other side Russia holds the least hostility to Finland of any EU state, to a large degree because of historical credibility as being not part of the North Atlantic bloc. Also a not insignificant part of the Finnish economy is supported by being a nearby destination for rich Russians.

Sweden on the other hand has a lot more to lose from an expanded Russosphere. Its modern-day global position is largely as the economic, political and cultural hegemon of the Baltic sea. To a certain extent the power Germany wields over greater Europe, Sweden wields over the Nordic-zone, and increasingly the Baltic states. A resurgent St. Petersburg would certainly challenge that. Sweden and Russia have a centuries long history of fighting each other for dominance of the region. Also, unlike Finland, Sweden is very clearly a US and British ally, the latter to a degree more so than anyone else on the continent. Sweden has recognized this reality for a long time, which is why they've had a "screwdriver's turn" nuclear weapons program as far back as the early 1960s. After Germany and France, Sweden poses the biggest military threat to Russia on the continent.

"Sweden has recognized this reality for a long time, which is why they’ve had a “screwdriver’s turn” nuclear weapons program as far back as the early 1960s."

I was told this by a Swedish exchange student during the late 1980's and I've wondered how much truth there is to it. From the Swedish point of view, it's a positive foreign policy move to spread this rumor whether it's true or not.

It is true.

Also true for: Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Argentina.

The Holy Roman Empire is dead, long live the Holy Roman Empire (minus East Prussia)

Are there actually people out there who see the world as this Emmanuel Todd? Weird. But it explains a lot about french politics.

You mean out there in France ? No, Todd holds a lot of minority point of view on many things, and the intersection of these points of view is very small -- I would have said empty if by definition Todd was not in that intersection. For example, Todd says he would "without hesitation choose the American hegemony rather than the German hegemony". It is clearly not the dominant view currently in France. Then Todd says that the Europe is bullying Russia, not the other way around. Again that is a minority point of view in France, and moreover quite negatively correlated to the first position: those who tend to like America tend to be anti-Russian. So there should already be very few people holding simultaneity those two positions. Add now his point of view on Hungary for instance, another idiosyncratic point of view, and you can be sure that Todd is alone in his view of Europe.

On the other hand, reading this interview is a great fun !

It's almost a joke, but when French complain about Germany hegemony........they tend to forget completely about the DOM/TOM.

Actually Prussia was never part of the Holy Roman Empire which is why the Emperor allowed the Elector of Brandenburg to be styled King in Prussia.

Not according to Europa Universalis III, which is the only historical source I recognize as accurate.

Well, yes and no.

The Hohenzollerns were subjects of the Empire, as their traditional family holdings were situated in Brandenburg (hence the opening line of Christopher Clark's excellent "Iron Kingdom": "In the beginning, there was only Brandenburg"); Prussia was a separate territory located in Poland that the family acquired (forget how) some time later. The Hohenzollerns used the Prussia fig leave as the chivalric justification for why they should be able to style themselves as Kings, which led to the Kingdom that eventually constituted theirs to be called "Prussia," even though it was based it Brandenburg and consequently subject to the Emperor.

In actuality, they got to call themselves Kings because they were a militarized state that punched so far above its weight class they could have gone toe-to-toe with the Emperor himself.

On 4, just like those "food scanners" that keep getting Kickstarted, I'll believe it when it ships and someone else verifies the claims.

5 - found the Todd piece unconvincing, to say the least. Switzerland is "dependent" on Germany because Germany is a huge trade partner. Well, Germany is ultimately dependent on its neighbors in a nearly commensurate fashion. France is a huge country, according to Todd's criterion we could almost as easily view Europe as a French empire.

5. This reads like old Parti Communiste Français agitprop with some of the names changed.

Google Translate does a French po-mo author's article. (There is no Great Stagnation...)

I wish it helps to be aware of the fact that Europe has changed in nature and it evokes not only the present but also a potential very near future. The cards generally offer the European Community are cards to claim equal and who no longer speak of reality. Here is a kind of first attempt at visual organization of the new reality of Europe. It helps to be aware of the centrality of Germany and the way it holds the European continent. The first thing is trying to say this card is that it is more than Germany itself informal space, "German direct space", which contains countries whose economies have a level of dependence Germany almost absolute.

Some will perhaps "mistakes," as, for example, the integration of Switzerland, which is not even in the European institutions. But whatever the feelings of the Swiss, the objective reality is that once we are dealing with major Swiss companies, one feels the German presence. The level of interpenetration is such that economically we can not speak of Swiss independence.

The Netherlands, meanwhile, as predicted by Friedrich List, are no more than the mouth of Germany on the Rhine. Czechoslovakia, the day she decided to sell Skoda Volkswagen, sealed his fate. With this densely populated central area, Germany has a much higher than that of its only 82 million influence.

1: But I thought the Local Cluster was part of the Virgo Supercluster, which in turn is part of the Pisces-Cetus Supercluster Complex, which according to Wikipedia has been identified as a distinct feature of the larger universe since 1987. Based on reading this paper's abstract, it appears that they measured the relative velocities of galaxies, and used this to construct a map of "flows" of galaxies, the enclosed volume of which constitutes this "Laniakea" structure. But it's not clear how, why, or even whether this is any different than identifying galactic filaments by just using the current observed positions of galaxies, which I assume is how the current cosmic structures were identified.

Is Laniakea a much different volume than the Pisces-Cetus Complex? If it isn't, why would they rename it? If it is, why would observing the gravitationally-induced velocity perturbations of the galaxies produce a much different result than just looking at where they are now, given that the gravitational effects of other nearby galaxies would have the most influence on their velocities?

"But I thought the Local Cluster was part of the Virgo Supercluster"

That's what I thought also.

After a little research it appears as if the Virgo Supercluster has moved or been redefined as being part of the Laniakea and not part of the Perseus-Pisces Supercluster.

"A 2014 announcement says that the Virgo Supercluster is just a lobe in a greater supercluster, Laniakea, that is centered on the Great Attractor. The Laniakea Supercluster would then be the Local Supercluster."

OLD: US->N.America->Terra->Sol->Orion Arm->Milkyway->Local group->Virgo Cluster->Virgo Supercluster->Pisces–Cetus Supercluster Complex
NEW: US->N.America->Terra->Sol->Orion Arm->Milkyway->Local group->Virgo Cluster->Laniakea Supercluster

In the video that was linked in the article (I found the video much better than the article, but maybe that just suggests I'm dumb), the narrator claims that the paper has created a new technique for determining the boundaries between superclusters, and using this new technique, we're now on the other side of the boundary because we're flowing in one direction while other nearby galaxies are flowing in the other direction

Mencken like headlines. Milky Way is the exurbs bro.

#5 Both Germany and France are losing the language wars to the UK. English is rapidly becoming the de facto second language of everyone who matters in Europe and around the world.

Germany might be a regional economic hegemony, but students outside of its sphere of influence are not learning the language. Chinese students want to learn English, not French or German.

"English is rapidly becoming the de facto second language of everyone who matters in Europe and around the world. "

Probably a more accurate statement is that German is and always has been a regional language and is not important outside of that region and that French has been losing the battle against English for 200 years. The US Dollar and English will continue to dominate world communication and trade for the foreseeable future.

There are several other important points for English :
It's easy, especially grammatically for most European countries (they still make up a big economically power house). The Chinese have started learning English and Chinese is too difficult for most old West countries to learn. German is too difficult for most people to learn, also Germany was for many decades landlocked and not a United country. There are dozens of versions of German spoken in Europe. Austrian, Suisse and high German are only the tip of the Iceberg (Berg = mountain in German fe)
So yes while English is the language of choice, German remains an important language for Central Europe and all countries next to Germany (or the states of Germany).

A lot of French are excited for the UK to leave the EU, on the expectation that French would then "naturally" become more or less the official language of the EU with no native English speakers left inside (well, other than Ireland). I think they're dreaming, the Germanic and Slavic countries have invested far too much in English at this point to change.

#3: Pure paranoia.

3. Todd is a raging Germanophobe, and he's become increasingly irrational and uninteresting in his dislike. If Germany is a hegemon, it's the most benign hegemon we've ever seen. Also, in the multinational intertwined hodgepodge of Europe, it's not surprising that the countries most culturally similar to Germany, such as Austria and the Netherlands, are simpatico with it and see their interests as often usefully aligned with Germany's.

The French see it as their birthright to manage Europe, but unfortunately for the French the sheer competency of a united Germany has always been too much for them.

#3 - As a lot of the French commenters point out, the idea that Germany has any real independence from the US is ridiculous. Todd's theories about German hegemony flow naturally out of Todd's other theory that the US is collapsing/already collapsed and can no longer exert influence in the world.

#3. Todd's views are generally quite nuanced when it comes to describing this bizarre German dominance : he wrote intersting things (in French, obviously) about how what would appear to most outsiders as calculated power politics is largely a result of a quasi-religious commitment to ordoliberal economic doctrines ( currency fetishism among other things) combined with abject spinelessness (not to mention muddled thinking) on the part of their hapless partners. The worsening of the eurodisaster is driving him to rather outrageous comparisons. Still, as a Frenchman, I think he is quite correct, both in his indictment of Germany's economic elites and in his contempt towards the germanophile policy establishment in Paris. If the euro's architecture serves to drain industrial activity (and thus prosperity generally speaking) from the periphery to Germany, the euro must go. Certainly, such outcomes were not what the peddlers of the Treaty of Maastricht sold us ( and no, it was not in the fine print either...)

So Ukraine is "in the process of being annexed" by ... Germany? Seems a tad *weltfremd*, as they say in Geman.

Heise did not explain why higher inflation in Germany and lower inflation in the periphery would not be a better way to adjust relative real exchange rates.

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