Request for help

by John Quiggin on March 11, 2005

Although I read quite a bit, one thing I always have difficulty with is suggesting good readings on topics, or knowing who originally proposed some idea. I think this has something to do with the fact that I tend to flit from one topic to another, picking up ideas but rarely doing a proper review of the literature. In any case, I’ve been asked to suggest some readings and so I thought I’d pass this request on to any readers who can help me[1]. What I’d like is either an original/early source for various concepts or a more recent summary discussion, ideally one accessible to an intelligent general reader. Anyone with useful suggestions gets an acknowledgement in my forthcoming Oxford Handbook chapter which is, literally, priceless.

Here’s my list of terms

* Crowding out
* Twin deficits hypothesis
* Shadow price
* Golden rule (for budgeting in UK and elsewhere)
* Globalisation
* Crony capitalism

Thanks in advance for any help

fn1. There is a piece of blog jargon for what I’m doing here, but I refuse to even mention it. As Belle said on this point a while back, if we keep going this way, we might as well just change the word “post” to “smegma” and have done with it.

The front page

by John Quiggin on March 11, 2005

In my first-ever blog post (apart from a Hello World! announcement), I commented on the fact that, whereas trade and current account deficits were big news in Australia, US papers buried them in the back pages. At least in the online edition of the New York Times, this is no longer the case. The latest US Trade deficit ($58.3 billion in January) is front-page news.

Despite this catch-up, it’s still true that anyone wanting coverage of economic issues in the US would do far better to read blogs than to follow either the NY Times or the WSJ, and no other mainstream media even come close. It isn’t even true, as it is in other cases, that bloggers need the established media to get the facts on which they can then comment. The NY Times story linked above is basically a rewrite of the Bureau of Economic Analysis press release which you can get by automatic email if you want.

The competition is much tougher in Australia. Media coverage of economic issues is better, the number of economist-bloggers is smaller and quite a few of us play both sides of the street anyway.

In Good Faith

by Harry on March 11, 2005

My review of In Good Faith in the TES is now on-line (or, at least, it seems to be when I look at it). Its a book by 3 British academics about state-funded faith schools in the UK, and might be of some interest to non-Brits. who want to know how the British system works. My review doesn’t seem to have done much for its amazon sales. Here is a taster:

the authors have researched a large number of Muslim, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Sikh, Church of England and Roman Catholic schools, and their findings make a vital contribution to the debate about faith schooling. They highlight the rise, since 1998, of non-Christian state-funded faith schools, and lay out the controversies, as well as providing a good deal of pertinent data. The authors rightly place Muslim schools at the centre of the debate about faith schooling. Islam is the largest non-Christian faith in Britain, and has the worst press. It is the only religion about which it is permissible to publicly express uninformed hostile opinions. The sagacious Lord Hattersley is quoted as pointing out that “fundamentalism is less acceptable when it is not white”. Islam has been a focal point for the new racism, and remains on the edge of mainstream British life.

Lecturing is Dead?

by Harry on March 11, 2005

If you haven’t yet followed any of our numerous links to Scott McLemee’s columns in Inside Higher Education you might want to start by checking out this brilliant little essay about the lost art of the lecture (and no, he doesn’t pay us a cent for the links). Apparently the lecture is not only dead, but is widely regarded as

“another form of child abuse, aimed at nominal adults, of course, but still young people presumably subjugated and entrapped in an environment controlled by an authoritarian leader” — leaving them no self-defense except “to fall asleep to escape the painful environment they have paid so dearly to join.”

Worse, my former colleague Ron Barnett is quoted as saying that the lecture:

“keeps channels of communication closed, freezes hierarchy between lecturers and students and removes any responsibility on the student to respond.”

[click to continue…]

Academic Blogs

by Chris Bertram on March 11, 2005

This list is being maintained for archival purposes only. It is no longer being updated. If you wish to consult an up-to-date list, or add an academic blog, go to to the academic blogs wiki, maintained by Henry Farrell at “”:

Teething Report

by Kieran Healy on March 11, 2005

So I’ve been experimenting with various “Textile”: plugins for WordPress. The best one so far seems to be “Text Control”:, which allows for a lot of flexibility. In particular, it’s supposed to support per-post choices about which markup to use. But although I can set global options, no options menu appears when I’m editing a new post. Is this a known bug?

I’ve also been looking at various spam filters. “Spam Karma”: looks comprehensive, but so far has proved a little enthusiastic with the false positives. Sorry to those affected. I’ve turned down the volume on it a bit, so hopefully that will stop being a problem. Any advice on fine-tuning Spam Karma’s options?

Also, if you notice any severe slowdowns or other performance issues, please let me know.

15 days to go

by Harry on March 11, 2005

I suppose that every Brit who reads this site already knows about this, but the rest may not. The die-hard fans seem pleased, but it is very hard to tell whether that is just a function of the relief they feel.

When I first heard about the return I had a conversation with my favourite pop star (no, I won’t tell you who that is) who expressed skepticism: on the grounds that the only way the series can sell is by Americanising it. My skepticism is more based on the fact that the post-war social-democratic consensus is so long dead that a show that self-consciously embodied it would now seem weird; but if the doctor were not a social democrat he would not be the doctor. However, at least the Americanisation thesis seems false, given the star’s disavowal of both sexism (ha!) and RP.