Renewable energy pioneer Dr Hermann Scheer has passed away on October 14 in Berlin. Scheer was President of the European Association for Renewable Energy (Eurosolar), Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE), winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize and Member of the German Bundestag. He was 66 years old.
Scheer entered the German parliament as a Social Democrat member in 1980 and was instrumental in introducing Germany’s solar roof programmes and the Renewable Energy Law. The Renewable Energy Law included the now widely replicated feed-in tariff. As a result a substantial percentage of the world’s wind farms and its solar panels are located in the country.
They predicted the “electronic frontier” of the Internet, Prozac, YouTube, cloning, home-schooling, the self-induced paralysis of too many choices, instant celebrities, and the end of blue-collar manufacturing. Not bad for 1970.
In the opening minutes of Future Shock, a 1972 documentary based on the book of the same name, a bearded, cigar-puffing, world-weary Orson Welles staggers down an airport’s moving walkway, treating the camera like a confidante. “In the course of my work, which has taken me to just about every corner of the globe, I see many aspects of a phenomenon which I’m just beginning to understand,” he says. “Our modern technologies have changed the degree of sophistication beyond our wildest dreams. But this technology has exacted a pretty heavy price. We live in an age of anxiety and time of stress. And with all our sophistication, we are in fact the victims of our own technological strengths –- we are the victims of shock… a future shock.”
The US is going to win this war, one way or the other: it will either inflate the rest of the world or force their nominal exchange rates up against the dollar. Unfortunately, the impact will also be higgledy piggledy, with the less protected economies (such as Brazil or South Africa) forced to adjust and others, protected by exchange controls (such as China), able to manage the adjustment better.
It would be far better for everybody to seek a co-operative outcome. Maybe the leaders of the group of 20 will even be able to use their “mutual assessment process” to achieve just that. Their November summit in Seoul is the opportunity. Of the need there can be no doubt. Of the will, the doubts are many. In the worst of the crisis, leaders hung together. Now, the Fed is about to hang them all separately.
Google is using its vast database of web shopping data to construct the ‘Google Price Index’ – a daily measure of inflation that could one day provide an alternative to official statistics.
The work by Google’s chief economist, Hal Varian, highlights how economic data can be gathered far more rapidly using online sources. The official Consumer Price Index data are collected by hand from shops, and only published monthly with a time lag of several weeks.
At the National Association of Business Economists conference in Denver, Colorado, Mr Varian said that the GPI was a work in progress and Google had not yet decided whether to publish it.
This is a great idea.
Phoebe Philo, the 37-year-old creative director of Céline, is surprisingly frail for someone who a year ago accomplished the Herculean feat of turning the river of trend and washing fashion’s Augean stables clean of decorative bling. A 2010 nominee as British Designer of the Year, she was also behind one of the most heralded collections at last week’s women’s wear shows in Paris.
Medium height, with wispy brown hair and prominent cheekbones, her thin frame swamped by a black leather jacket and a long, man’s shirt over slouchy black trousers, she can seem almost fragile. On the other hand, she has chosen St John, a restaurant in Clerkenwell, London, known for its “nose to tail” menu of offal and other meaty innards, so clearly she has a carnivorous, protein-packing side.
“Well, it’s run by a friend,” she says when she arrives in the stripped-down white space and sits at the paper-covered table. “And it has a straightforwardness that I quite like. It’s very to-the-point.”
To wit: there are “peas in the pod” on the menu. Literally. Undressed, unshelled, peas in the pod, like the kind you get in the market. Or, as Philo says, like the kind that might have “come right from the garden”. She orders some of those with fresh lemonade – the kind they make in America, with just lemon juice, water, and sugar – plus a green salad, some cured mackerel and a roast beef sandwich, because she “rather fancies some white bread”. I opt for lemonade, some cauliflower and lentils, a green salad and a cheese plate. Philo looks at me appraisingly.
Staffing within the Madison Police and Fire departments has boomed under mayor Dave Cieslewicz while some agencies like streets and parks have declined, a State Journal analysis of city data shows.
Cieslewicz said more police and firefighters have helped cut crime and response times in a growing city and that technology and management have let streets and parks employees plow snow, collect garbage and mow grass with fewer workers.
The rate of increase in earnings by Police and Fire department staff also outstrips most other agencies, the analysis shows
Staffing is about “responding to the needs of the city,” especially in a recession economy, Cieslewicz said. “It’s good management.”
But others say more personnel is needed for other basic services.
A useful investigative article. Perhaps the State Journal will have a look at the schools as well.
The last seven years have had much in common with the period of 1893 to 1900. But the turmoil this country experienced during the first few years of the 20th century also seems to be mirrored in the events of today.
Certainly the nation once witnessed the rise of the more radical elements, whether they were far-left anarchist movements or center-left progressives. Those movements attested to a very real battle being waged for the heart and soul of what the American Century would become. Its apex was marked by one president’s assassination and by the dreams of an inventor who wanted to revolutionize our mobility.
Given what has transpired over the last two years, it is haunting to read Teddy Roosevelt’s letter to Congress and his personal thoughts on companies whose sole reason for existence is to make their owners wealthy without regard to the damage they were doing to society. One wonders what would have happened if today’s Wall Street Masters of the Universe had been confronted in a White House with the same resolve that Roosevelt showed to J.P. Morgan.
If the world is on the brink of an out-and-out currency war, a variety of battalions has been out on manoeuvres in the past few weeks. The Bank of Japan, after six years off the battlefield, has launched a fusillade of intervention to hold down the yen in foreign exchange markets. Brazil used the guerrilla tactic of doubling taxes on capital inflows to stop the real surging. India and Thailand warned that they too might bring heavy ordnance into play.
The main combatants, the US and China, continued to exchange rhetorical salvos. Washington (and Brussels) identified undervalued currencies such as the renminbi as a prime cause of global macroeconomic imbalances. Beijing retorted that such aggression risked bringing mutual destruction upon the great economic powers.
On Monday Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, voiced his concern. “There is clearly the idea beginning to circulate that currencies can be used as a policy weapon,” he said. “Translated into action, such an idea would represent a very serious risk to the global recovery.”