September 24, 2005

Quote of the Day: On Economics Blogs’ Contributions to Economic Literacy

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:44 pm

From Russ Roberts in the Wall Street Journal’s EconoBlog (free for now, but probably not for long; HT Club for Growth):

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Is Germany becoming ungovernable?

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:50 am

How bizarre is this: Schroeder is pushing his weight around like he’s in control (HT Little Green Footballs; bolds are mine):

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Positivity: A 1994 Peter Jennings Broadcast Changed a Boy’s Life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:05 am

The late World News Tonight broadcaster was in Sarajevo in 1994 at the height of the madness in the former Yugoslavia. He began to interview a 14 year-old boy. What follows is amazing:

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REDIRECTED COMMENTERS: PLEASE READ FIRST PARAGRAPH BELOW

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government,TWUQs — Tom @ 6:55 am

IF YOU HAVE TRIED TO PUT IN A COMMENT AND GOT REDIRECTED HEREHit your browser’s Back button, and you will hopefully see the comment you tried to post. COPY THAT COMMENT into the POPUP COMMENT FORM by clicking the “Comments [Moderated]” link at the bottom right of that post. I apologize for the inconvenience caused while this matter is being resolved.

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This Weekend’s Unanswered Questions (092405)

Another installment in a nearly-regular series of mysteries and pseudo-mysteries (usually 3-4) this inquiring mind would like to have answers for (some links included may require free registration):

QUESTION 1: Why should anyone be impressed with Microsoft’s reorganization?

For more on it, here are some links:

My impression of all this? It reminds me of General Motors’ endless attempts to reorganize itself through the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and what there has been of the 2000s, as its market share and, more importantly, its engineering edge slowly but surely eroded. I hope I’m wrong.

As I noted two weeks ago (“This Weekend’s Unanswered Questions (091005): Special “What’s Up with Microsoft?” Edition”), the US needs an innovative Microsoft to keep productivity increasing.

QUESTION 2: Is it any wonder the US has a hard time developing homegrown engineers?

The last three paragraphs of a read-the-whole thing screed from an engineering washout:

The United States contains a finite number of smart people, most of whom have options in life besides engineering. You will not produce thronging bevies of pocket-protector-wearing number-jockeys simply by handing out spiffy Space Shuttle patches at the local Science Fair. If you want more engineers in the United States, you must find a way for America’s engineering programs to retain students like, well, me: people smart enough to do the math and motivated enough to at least take a bite at the engineering apple, but turned off by the overwhelming coursework, low grades, and abysmal teaching. Find a way to teach engineering to verbally oriented students who can’t learn math by sense of smell. Demand from (and give to) students an actual mastery of the material, rather than relying on bogus on-the-curve pseudo-grades that hinge upon the amount of partial credit that bored T.A.s choose to dole out. Write textbooks that are more than just glorified problem set manuals. Give grades that will make engineering majors competitive in a grade-inflated environment. Don’t let T.A.s teach unless they can actually teach.

None of these things will happen, of course. Engineering professors are perfectly happy weeding out undesirables with absurd boot-camp courses that conceal the inability of said professors to communicate with words. Fewer students will pursue science and engineering majors, and the United States will grow ever more reliant upon foreign brainpower to design its scientific and manufacturing endeavors. I did my part to fight this problem, and for my trouble I got four months of humiliation and a semester’s worth of shabby grades that I had to explain to law schools and employers for years. Thousands of college students will have a similar experience this fall.

So engineering is suffering in this country? It deserves no better.

QUESTION 3: How red are a lot of the faces in auto-industry executive suites these days?

Don’t get me wrong: Major congrats to the winner.

But the others who didn’t win have to be mortified:

Kia snags a No. 1 ranking on survey of car owners

DETROIT — The Kia Amanti was the highest-ranked midsize car in J.D. Power and Associates’ annual customer-satisfaction survey, the first time an entry from South Korean automaker Kia Motor made it to the top of the list.

Porsche, Land Rover, Lexus, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti were the highest-ranked nameplates in the study, which measures owners’ delight at the design, content, layout and performance of their new vehicles.