2012年11月27日

そしてオックスフォード辞典で「今年の言葉」に選ばれたのは・・・


And Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year Is …
( TIME )

A telling part of our modern recapping tradition is choosing “words
of the year.” In 1789, lexicographers probably would have gone with
guillotine. In 1912, iceberg surely would have been a contender. And
for 2012, Oxford Dictionaries settled on GIF.

That’s GIF the verb, derived from GIF the file extension. These
days, people often GIF snippets of movies or speeches to create funny
little moving pictures on Tumblrs like this one. “The GIF, a
compressed file format for images that can be used to create simple,
looping animations, turned 25 this year,” notes Oxford University
Press’ Katherine Martin, “but like so many other relics of the 80s,
it has never been trendier.” (You know, like Betty White.)

Last year, Oxford Dictionaries chose squeezed middle, a reference to
people between the super-rich and super-poor who are supposed to be
particularly vulnerable to financial shifts. It was, as one observer
put it, a “sober list for sober times.” The phrase told us that the
economy, and the struggles it caused, were the number-one story in
2011, at least so far as one band of wordsmiths was concerned.

So what does GIF tell us about 2012? Given that dictionary additions
and buzzword lists have been dominated by technology-related terms in
recent years, it may just be a sign that things are getting back to
normal. Of course, the runners-up bring a certain amount of sobriety
to the field. But the selection still seems to herald a post-
recession era -- a world where instead of counting pennies, we’re
free to goof off on Reddit all day.

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2012年11月17日

バラク・オバマを支持する根拠


The Case for Barack Obama
( TIME )

Waiting in line for two-and-a-half hours is rarely an exciting
experience. But when my son and I voted early -- he for the first
time -- at a community center in Rockville, Md., both of us were
inspired by the hundreds of other people intent on exercising
democracy’s most basic right.

The sweep of the Obama coalition represented in that snaking line led
my son and me to conclude something else: The President Obama of 2012
may no longer stir the jubilation called forth by the Barack Obama of
2008. But the hope and resolve he spoke of then have not vanished.

Most relevant to this year’s choice is the fact that the economy is
in far better shape than it would have been if we had followed the
counsel of Obama’s foes. They would have allowed the auto industry
to collapse. They would have ignored history’s lesson that
government must step in to stimulate economic activity when private
demand plummets. We know from the experience of Europe that austerity
leads to stagnation. Obama made the better choice.

Obama’s decision to ignore cautious political advisers and see
through the health care reform fight came at great political cost.
Even some of his allies think the electoral price was too high. But
this is a measure of Obama’s fortitude. By bringing the promise of
health insurance to tens of millions of our citizens, Obama ended a
national scandal. No other wealthy nation allows so many to live
without basic coverage for illness or to rely on emergency rooms as a
last resort. They either arrive there long after the opportunity to
get well has passed, or they survive only to face years, sometimes a
lifetime, of debt. The Affordable Care Act is an achievement worthy
of our great reforming Presidents.

All are part of the case for Obama. But the best reason for his
re-election goes back to what motivated so many middle-of-the-road
voters four years ago. Americans who want to replace polarization
with balance, extremism with moderation, obstruction with problem
solving and blind partisanship with compromise need Obama to win
again. An Obama defeat would empower those whose go-for-broke
approach to politics is largely responsible for the distemper of our
public life and the dysfunction in Washington.

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2012年11月13日

ミット・ロムニーを支持する根拠


The Case for Mitt Romney
( TIME )

Mitt Romney does not naturally inspire adulation. In school, he
should have been voted least likely to engender a cult of
personality. It is almost surprising to hear crowds at his rallies
chant his name.

A President Romney would be utterly unburdened by messianic
expectations. If he’s elected, the American public will have hired
him to do a job, not to save the planet or redeem our politics.
Thankfully. We’ve had enough self-styled heroic government to last
us a good long time.

President Romney’s task would be simple, if not easy: to reform
government for the 21st century and put it on a basis more conducive
to private-sector growth and long-term national solvency.

He and running mate Paul Ryan are the candidates of change at a time
when our future depends on it. The welfare state is in crisis around
the Western world, especially in Europe but also here at home --
acutely in such states as California and Illinois. It is creaking
under dated assumptions, aging populations and the unavoidable truth
of the age-old axiom that you can’t spend money that you don’t have.

What have been drags on Romney’s appeal as a candidate might suit
him in doing this job. He really does care about the data. He is
bloodlessly efficient and highly rational. An important player in the
transformation of the private sector at Bain Capital, he now might
get a leading role in the modernization of American government.

The President’s case for re-election has been weak, in keeping with
the weakness of his record. Let’s stipulate that he inherited a
punishing recession. But the argument that Bush’s policies “got us
into this mess” (and by extension, that Romney’s would do the same)
is better partisanship than history. In 2007, years after the Bush
tax cuts, the budget deficit was all of $161 billion. There is no
plausible economic theory by which tax cuts caused the housing bubble
and subsequent financial crisis.

The mantra that Obama saved us from another Great Depression rings
hollow since the recession officially ended in June 2009, before any
of his policies had a chance to take effect. He shot $800 billion on
the stimulus and got nothing for it except some pleased spendthrift
allies in Congress. His faith was in a simplistic Keynesianism that
said willy-nilly government spending could cure the downturn. Alas,
the economy is more complicated than that.

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2012年09月28日

サイコパスの素質 成功した大統領の共通点は何か


Psychopathic Traits: What Successful Presidents Have in Common
( TIME )

Political partisans delight in labeling opposition leaders as malign
or even psychopathic -- but it turns out that U.S. presidents with
high levels of certain psychopathic traits may actually do better on
the job, no matter what their party affiliation, according to new
research.

The study, which was based on presidential performance ratings and
personality assessments by hundreds of historians and biographers in
several different surveys, found that one psychopathic characteristic
in particular was linked to success in presidency: fearless dominance.

It’s not to say that American presidents are full-blown psychopaths
-- they didn’t rate high in all categories of psychopathic traits.
Overall, the study found, presidents tended to be more like
psychopaths than the general population in their level of fearless
dominance, but they didn’t show a psychopathic excess of impulsive
antisocial behavior. Although “some might think presidents are
extremely psychopathic,” Lilienfeld says, the combination of traits
that make them successful can’t all be characterized as such. “They
need to be bold and self confident to be willing to run, but they
also have to have an amazing capacity to delay gratification and a
lot of impulse control, at least in some domains.”

Topping the chart in fearless dominance were Teddy Roosevelt and John
F. Kennedy, with FDR, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton not far behind.
George W. Bush came in 10th on this measure -- Rutherford Hayes,
Zachary Taylor, Martin Van Buren and Andrew Jackson were also in the
top 10 -- illustrating that fearless dominance isn’t always
associated with positive decision-making, or success.

Indeed, it’s a double-edged sword: if your boldness allows you to
ignore both your own fears and the concerns of others, it can be easy
to veer off into recklessness, dismissing important problems that
should rightly grab your attention. A recent New York Times op-ed on
George W. Bush’s refusal to heed early warnings from the CIA about
Osama bin Laden’s planned attacks on America suggests as much.

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2012年09月25日

クリントン元大統領が楽観主義を弁護する


The Case for Optimism
( TIME )

Our world is more interdependent than ever. Borders have become more
like nets than walls, and while this means that wealth, ideas,
information and talent can move freely around the globe, so can the
negative forces shaping our shared fates. The financial crisis that
started in the U.S. and swept the globe was further proof that--for
better and for worse--we can't escape one another.

There are three big challenges with our interdependent world:
inequality, instability and unsustainability. The fact that half the
world's people live on less than $2 a day and a billion people on
less than $1 a day is stark evidence of inequality, which is
increasing in many places. We're feeling the effects of instability
not only in the global economic slowdown but also in the violence,
popular disruptions and political conflicts in the Middle East and
elsewhere. And the way we produce and use energy is unsustainable,
changing our climate in ways that cast a shadow over our children's
future.

But I firmly believe that progress changes consciousness, and when
you change people's consciousness, then their awareness of what is
possible changes as well--a virtuous circle. So it's important that
the word gets out, that people realize what's working. That where
there's been creative cooperation coupled with a communitarian view
of our future, we're seeing real success. That's the reason I try to
bring people together every year for the Clinton Global Initiative
(CGI). Here are five areas in which there has been concrete,
measurable and reproducible progress.

1 TECHNOLOGY

PHONES MEAN FREEDOM

Forget what you may have heard about a digital divide or worries that
the world is splintering into "info haves" and "info have-nots." The
fact is, technology fosters equality, and it's often the relatively
cheap and mundane devices that do the most good. A 2010 U.N. study,
for example, found that cell phones are one of the most effective
advancements in history to lift people out of poverty.

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