Orange Hangover

by Maria on September 25, 2006

(Cross-posted to Ukraine Study Tour Blog)
It’s amazing how little coverage of Ukraine there has been in the international media in the past few months (with the exception of the ever-dependable Financial Times). After the telegenic euphoria of the December 2004 Orange Revolution had passed, attention focused elsewhere. In TV-land, Ukraine was a simple story with a happy ending; democracy won and the ex-communists were sent packing. Since then, anyone who’s been paying a little attention knows the ‘morning after’ brought a long hangover. President Viktor Yuschenko’s government internally combusted as his Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko walked out. Economic growth stagnated and corruption ran rampant. And in the depths of last winter, a piqued Russia switched off the gas. This spring, a parliamentary election created a three-way stalemate that lasted for months. The pro-Russian Party of the Regions of Ukraine made a convincing comeback (for eastern Ukrainians, it never went away). It was a thumb of the nose to Westerners, including myself, who’d simply assumed that a successful democratic outcome meant victory for the pro-Western parties. For a time early this summer, Ukraine teetered on the edge of a profound split, perhaps even civil war. Sensibly, if belatedly, Yuschenko put US pressure to the side and entered a coalition with his arch enemy, the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich.
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Ukraine blogging

by Maria on September 25, 2006

I’m on a bit of a busman’s holiday. I’m part of a study tour to the Ukraine that involves meeting policy makers, NGOs and media people in Kiev and the Crimea, and deepening international links both ways. So I’ve set up a group-blog for people on the tour and also fellows of the 21st Century Trust to share and discuss what we learn about this amazing country. I’ll be here for the next 10 days and hope to be blogging about it, or helping my fellow study-tourers blog about it pretty much every day. So I’d really appreciate it if you could take a moment to hope over to Ukraine Study Tour Blog and check in on us, leave a comment, or just have a nose around. While I’m here, I’m also going to cross-post here at CT the occasional piece about Ukraine to spread the love around and also entice CT-readers to look a little closer.

Also, while I’m at it, I may as well add that I’ve now been in Kiev for 24 hours and have pretty much fallen in love with it. Salo and black bread washed down with neat vodka may have brought on the most dramatic migraine I’ve had in a while. But now that it’s passed, I can’t help thinking it was worth it. Who’d have thought garlicky lard could taste so damn good?

Blogs and the Boston Review

by Henry on September 25, 2006

My piece on the netroots and the Democratic party has just come out in the _Boston Review_ (free webby version “here”:http://www.bostonreview.net/BR31.5/farrell.html, but I heartily encourage people to “subscribe”:http://bostonreview.net/subscribe.html to the real magazine; it’s smart and filled with wonderful things). People who want to comment on or respond to the piece (it’s a broadly positive take on the netroots, but argues that they need to become more self-consciously ideological) can do so here.

Review: Good and Plenty

by Henry on September 25, 2006

Tyler Cowen – _Good & Plenty: The Creative Successes of American Arts Funding_

Available from “Powells”:http://www.powells.com/partner/29956/s?kw=tyler%20cowen%20good%20and%20plenty, from “Amazon”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FGood-Plenty-Creative-Successes-American%2Fdp%2F0691120420%2Fsr%3D8-1%2Fqid%3D1159196244%2Fref%3Dpd%5Fbbs%5F1%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dbooks&tag=henryfarrell-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325.

There are two, quite different libertarian styles of writing about culture that I enjoy. One is the pop-culture variety, which uses libertarian precepts as the framework for a certain kind of flip, contrarian analysis. This can be quite entertaining, but it usually doesn’t bear up well to close examination. Libertarian nostrums all too frequently substitute for actual thought (granted, much leftist opinionating on culture has similar problems). The second style is that of Tyler Cowen. Cowen writes in an entertaining and straightforward manner. He’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable about both high and low culture. But the fun of his arguments is that they’re serious, interesting, and properly thought through. If they’re hard to fit into conventional frameworks of debate, they aren’t self-consciously contrarian either. Instead, they lead in their own directions, and Cowen isn’t afraid to follow them, even if they lead to unexpected destinations.
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Limiting Fast Food

by Belle Waring on September 25, 2006

New York City Councilman Joel Rivera (representing the Bronx) wants to change the zoning laws to restrict the number of fast food restaurants. The Times notes that Calistoga, CA has a similar law on the books banning chain restaurants from its historic downtown, for aesthetic reasons. Mr. Rivera’s reasoning may be aesthetic as well, though he would surely defend it as hygenic: he thinks New Yorkers are too fat. He’s probably right about that, but his proposed solution seems of dubious utility, in addition to being a gratuitous restriction of his constituents’ right to do what they please. And now let’s hear one of the least compelling defenses of the nanny state ever offered by a well-intentioned politician: [click to continue…]

Looking For A Fight

by John Holbo on September 25, 2006

I am proud to announce our CT book event on Chris Mooney’s The Republican War On Science has become a book! (You’d rather buy from Amazon? Here you go.) I declare it an event! There is a certain danger of regress, admittedly. But I think it is quite sound publishing procedure. I’m now an editor for Parlor Press. We’re calling the line Glassbead. I like connotations of transparency and combinatoric possibility. All our books will be available as inexpensive paperbacks and freely downloadable PDF’s; all released under a Creative Commons license. We’re starting with book events – some ones that have happened here at CT and at the Valve. I also want to make anthologies of good blog material. Dig things out of archives that are worthy of editing and preservation. And some nice critical editions of public domain works. More generally, the idea is to figure out a low-cost, fast, efficient model for peer-reviewing and publishing. Mostly the idea – I’ve said it before – is that academic publishing can only truly distinguish itself in this day and age by becoming an exemplary gift culture. (Chris Mooney seems pleased with the treatment.)