Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The United States

Here is an interesting graphic depicting countries whose GDP rival those of individual states in The Union. This sure is some country.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a convenient way of measuring and comparing the size of national economies. Annual GDP represents the market value of all goods and services produced within a country in a year. Put differently:

GDP = consumption + investment + government spending + (exports – imports)

Although the economies of countries like China and India are growing at an incredible rate, the US remains the nation with the highest GDP in the world – and by far: US GDP is projected to be $13,22 trillion (or $13.220 billion) in 2007, according to this source. That’s almost as much as the economies of the next four (Japan, Germany, China, UK) combined.

The creator of this map has had the interesting idea to break down that gigantic US GDP into the GDPs of individual states, and compare those to other countries’ GDP. What follows, is this slightly misleading map – misleading, because the economies both of the US states and of the countries they are compared with are not weighted for their respective populations.

Pakistan, for example, has a GDP that’s slightly higher than Israel’s – but Pakistan has a population of about 170 million, while Israel is only 7 million people strong. The US states those economies are compared with (Arkansas and Oregon, respectively) are much closer to each other in population: 2,7 million and 3,4 million.

And yet, wile a per capita GDP might give a good indication of the average wealth of citizens, a ranking of the economies on this map does serve two interesting purposes: it shows the size of US states’ economies relative to each other (California is the biggest, Wyoming the smallest), and it links those sizes with foreign economies (which are therefore also ranked: Mexico’s and Russia’s economies are about equal size, Ireland’s is twice as big as New Zealand’s). Here’s a run-down of the 50 states, plus DC:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Giuliani's Foreign Policy Statement

Ripped from LGF. Thanks, Charles.

Rudy Giuliani’s pre-election foreign policy statement has been published at Foreign Affairs: Foreign Affairs - Toward a Realistic Peace - Rudolph Giuliani. Big LGF kudos to Rudy for being first out of the gate with a serious, reasoned examination of the important foreign policy issues facing the US.

Here’s the refreshingly realistic section the media are focusing on.

America has a clear interest in helping to establish good governance throughout the world. Democracy is a noble ideal, and promoting it abroad is the right long-term goal of U.S. policy. But democracy cannot be achieved rapidly or sustained unless it is built on sound legal, institutional, and cultural foundations. It can only work if people have a reasonable degree of safety and security. Elections are necessary but not sufficient to establish genuine democracy. Aspiring dictators sometimes win elections, and elected leaders sometimes govern badly and threaten their neighbors. History demonstrates that democracy usually follows good governance, not the reverse. U.S. assistance can do much to set nations on the road to democracy, but we must be realistic about how much we can accomplish alone and how long it will take to achieve lasting progress.

The election of Hamas in the Palestinian-controlled territories is a case in point. The problem there is not the lack of statehood but corrupt and unaccountable governance. The Palestinian people need decent governance first, as a prerequisite for statehood. Too much emphasis has been placed on brokering negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians — negotiations that bring up the same issues again and again. It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism. Palestinian statehood will have to be earned through sustained good governance, a clear commitment to fighting terrorism, and a willingness to live in peace with Israel. America’s commitment to Israel’s security is a permanent feature of our foreign policy.

“Sustained good governance.” What a concept.

There’s a lot more to Giuliani’s essay; read the whole thing.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Master Your Information Manifesto: 21 Tips

The problem with being constantly bombarded by information, as we web workers are, is not so much that we can’t deal with it, or that it distracts us from our work, or that it shortens our attention spans or stresses us out.

It’s that we have allowed that information to control our lives.

We’ve discussed this at length in the past. We can argue endlessly about whether a high amount of information and connectivity is good for you or not, or whether it increases or decreases productivity. The point is whether we really want to have all of this information, and whether we are in control of it, and whether consuming massive amounts of information is really how we want to spend all of our waking hours.

Who is the Master here: the information, or us?
What follows are a number of tips, to be used together or separately, depending on your needs, that will help you become the Master of your information, and stop the onslaught of information overload, so that you can reconnect with what’s truly important in your life.

Read it all. I haven't, yet. I'm too busy.