Sean King

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San Juan, Puerto Rico, United States

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Megan McArdle on Capitalism:

Why aren't there hordes of economists studying meaningful alternatives to market capitalism? Because we've been experimenting with various other systems--both localism and extreme centralization--for over a century, and the experiment produces the same damn result every single time: human lives that are nasty, brutish, and short.

McCain Now Tied with Obama Among Registered Voters

I noted the other day that McCain now leads among "likely voters", and the latest Gallup Poll of registered voters now has him tied with Obama.

Obama has benefited from one of the most amazingly biased two weeks of press coverage in history, and yet McCain has closed the gap.


Chronicles of the Nanny State (cont.)

Wall Street Journal: The government could start paying impartial experts to visit doctors to talk about the safety, effectiveness and cost of prescription drugs and other treatments.

The idea would be to give presentations along the lines of those given by company drug reps. But the federally funded presentations would provide a counterweight to the industry messages on specific drugs.

I did not know there was such a thing as an "impartial expert."

Why is this?

Only about 20% of philosophy professors are female.

And only about 25% of K-12 teachers are male.


Exercise in a Bottle (Or Pill) May Finally Be Here

Wall Street Journal: Here's a couch potato's dream: What if a drug could help you gain some of the benefits of exercise without working up a sweat?

Scientists reported Thursday that there is such a drug -- if you happen to be a mouse.

Sedentary mice that took the drug for four weeks burned more calories and had less fat than untreated mice. And when tested on a treadmill, they could run about 44% farther and 23% longer than untreated mice.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New study suggests...

..."climate models have no predictive value."

Futurist Vernor Vinge on the Looming Singularity:

[I]n the relatively near future, we will be able to use technology in order to create, or become, creatures of superhuman intelligence. As technological changes go, this is qualitatively different from the big events in the past. You could explain fire or agriculture to somebody who lived before those technologies were invented. But after the singularity—it would be like trying to explain this interview to a goldfish.

Scientist v. Creationists...

on plate tectonics.

Scientist v. Creationist...

...on the topic of stellar formation.

You don't say.

Socialists not fans of private space.

Isn't it amazing how markets work?

US Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) declined 3.7% in May, taking us back to near 2003 levels.

Approaching Escape Velocity? Advances such as nanotechnology - the emerging ability to manipulate extremely small structures - could ultimately make it possible to regenerate every cell in the body, he says. "At that point, we can throw out every idea we have about longevity and even mortality itself.''

The effects of human life-extension will be far-reaching, Zey says, potentially spawning second or third careers in people's extra decades and a society of lifelong students using the gift of more time to continually reinvent themselves with new education.

Sounds promising.

Another Benefit of Statins In a five-year study, University of Michigan researchers found that statins--drugs used to lower cholesterol--may cut the risk of dementia by half.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Obama Now Trails Among Likely Voters

At least in the latest Gallup poll.

This Could Be Useful:

MailOnline: Maps will be released to the public showing how many violent attacks have taken place on every street, including how close they were to schools, pubs and cash points.

The maps, which will use Google-style images of actual streets and parks, will also detail the precise locations of a raft of other offences - such as car crime and yobbish behaviour.

Yet another interesting and practical use of the Internet.

Does Obama Lie, or is He Just This Ignorant? (cont.)

Real Clear Politics: In a news conference Wednesday in Sderot, an Israeli city subject to frequent rocket attacks by Palestinian terrorists, Sen. Barack Obama addressed the doubts many Israelis have about his commitment to their security.

"In terms of knowing my commitments, you don't have to just look at my words, you can look at my deeds," Mr. Obama said. "Just this past week, we passed out of the Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon."

Sen. Obama is not a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. He had nothing to do with the advancement of the bill he referred to.

Geez. What's with this guy?!

Yah, well, you'd find much of the same on my reading list:

Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity on accused shooter's reading list.

A shameless and irrelevant headline, in my view.

Somebody Tell Steve Jobs...

Good Clean Tech: The UniPhier 4MBB+ [cell phone chip] can reportedly reduce a cell phone's energy consumption by 25 percent, meaning playback time of audio and video clips as well as 1-seg TV viewing has increased by 25 percent more than usual. In effect, the phone's carbon footprint is also reduced by a quite impressive 40 percent.

My only major complaint about the new iPhone 3G is its remarkably short battery life.

Does Race Influence Death Penalty Decisions in CA?

TalkLeft: The statistical data may or may not constitute "evidence of abuse," but the numbers raise serious questions that shouldn't be so easily dismissed. And asking prosecutors to explain their decisions and to adopt uniform policies is simply a way of seeking accountability in a decision-making process that relies on unaccountable discretion. Is that too much to ask when the decisions involve life and death?

I don't think so.

FDR Memorial 2

"They who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual this a New Order. It is not new and it is not order."


FDR Memorial--July 2008

Vietnam Veterans Memorial--July 2008

America is Still Adding to its Strategic Calorie Reserve

Wire Science: “National survey data show that the prevalence of overweight and obese adults in the U.S. has increased steadily over the past three decades,” said Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, lead author of the study and a professor at Hopkins' Center for Human Nutrition. “If these trends continue, more than 86 percent of adults will be overweight or obese by 2030."


The Justice Department, in a bold legal maneuver, on Monday afternoon asked the Supreme Court to rehear a major case on the death penalty, saying the basis of the decision had been “undermined.”
The motion is based primarily upon the fact that the Court, in striking down Louisiana’s law on the death sentence for child rape, did not take account of a federal law authorizing that penalty in the military justice system.
The new motion contended: “The Court’s decision and, in particular, its assessment of the ‘national consensus with respect to the death penalty for child rapists’, was not informed by those recent pronouncements [of Congress and the President].”

This is indeed a rather bold move by the Justice Deparment for reasons that are noted at SCOTUSblog.

Although I now oppose the death penalty in most cases, I do not believe that the Supreme Court should have much say so in the matter, and I was particularly unimpressed by the Court's opinion in the above-referenced child rape case, partially due to the error raised today by the Justice Deparment.

The Truth About Boys, Girls and Math

Marginal Revolution: For the past week or so the newspapers have been trumpeting a new study showing no difference in average math ability between males and females. Few people who have looked at the data thought that there were big differences in average ability but many media reports also said that the study showed no differences in high ability.

All of these reports and many more like them are false.

To find out why, read the whole thing.

The Latest on the Knoxville Church Shooting...

...from the AP.

UPDATE: I just found out this morning that I work with the daughter of one of the two people who were killed in the shooting. Tragic. Truly tragic. Unfortunately I've been out of town for several days and won't be home until Thursday, though I don't know what I could do even if I were there.

I feel so helpless. I can't imagine how the family must feel.

MORE FROM CNN: The suspect in a fatal shooting at a Knoxville church Sunday was motivated by frustration over being unable to obtain a job and hatred for the liberal movement, police said Monday.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Capitalism as Creative Destruction

Joseph Schumpeter: The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation–if I may use that biological term–that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in. . . .. [emphasis added]

And here's a recent example of that Creative Destruction in action.

Christopher Hitchens:


The Problem of Defining Poverty

Slate: Adam Smith put his finger on the problem back in 1776. In The Wealth of Nations, he wrote: "A linen shirt, for example, is, strictly speaking, not a necessity of life. The Greeks and Romans lived, I suppose, very comfortably though they had no linen. But in the present times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day-labourer would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt. ..."

And yet, any definition of poverty should require that those qualifying as such be...well...POOR. But in the US at least, that's often not the case. For instance, as Robert Rector notes:

The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau, taken from a variety of government reports:

46 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.

80 percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, in 1970, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

Only six percent of poor households are overcrowded; two thirds have more than two rooms per person.

The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

Nearly three quarters of poor households own a car; 31 percent own two or more cars.

97 percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.

78 percent have a VCR or DVD player.

62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.

89 percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a more than a third have an automatic dishwasher.

It seems to me that the US's poverty statistics severely overestimate the number of truly poor people among us.

A Brief Course in Rhetoric

Megan McArdle: I've been thinking recently about the tendency of bloggers and commenters to take a post they don't like and say "I don't even need to bother to refute this because it's so self-evidently stupid". No, actually, you do. That technique may have worked on the C String of the high school debate team, but it hasn't since. What that statement screams is "I can't refute it, and it's a really good point, so I'm just going to assert that I don't need to and hope you don't realize that I'm an idiot."


In Praise of Cheap Wine

Freakonomics: The bottom line is that in blind wine tastings, there is a zero or even slightly negative correlation between the ratings of regular people and the price of the wine they are drinking; for experts the relationship between rating and price is positive.

An Interesting Q&A on Agricultural Economics

can be found over at Freakonomics.

Here's a story you're not likely to see in mainstream media:

Anchorage is on track for a record cold summer.

This Seems Like an Interesting Way of Tracking What's Hot on the Web

Polymeme: Polymeme helps you discover intelligent content that lies beyond the usual echo chambers of tech news, celebrity gossip or American politics.

Our site uses a unique buzz-tracking approach to identify what's currently hot in 20 areas, ranging from economics to evolution, and present it to the reader along with all sources that are currently talking about it. Thus, you can track how ideas – or memes – propagate through this new emerging networked public sphere. We would consider our mission a success if we expose you to the maximum number of new ideas on every 100 news items you read!

One of our objective is to push you to discover news from areas that you may not otherwise discover, be that books & poetry or architecture & design. We try to achieve that by combining automated buzz-tracking with some light human editorial control, where it's up to our editors to choose which stories should go to the front page and which stories should appear on sectional/sub-sectional pages of Polymeme.

The Making of a Messiah (cont.)

More messianic images of Obama can be found here and here.

Even Sweden Has Implemented School Choice...

...and it has worked!

Church Shooting in Knoxville

This is pretty scary: A gunman opened fire at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church this morning, shooting at least six people with a shotgun, according to witnesses.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I'd Never Thought of This Before...

...but "green" companies should be careful with their claims:

SEC petitioned to issue guidance on 'potentially false and misleading statements' on global warming.

It's one thing to claim that your "green" product produces less CO2 or other pollutants, or that it contributes to energy independence, but claims that a given product helps protect the earth from global warming could well be deemded "false and misleading" in the future since since scientists themselves can't seem to agree on the extent to which manmade CO2 contributes to global warming, if at all.

Sunset Over the Potomac

I'm attending a conference this week at the brand new Gaylord National resort in National Harbor, Maryland. The above is a view of last night's sunset from our room. Lovely!

The resort is set on a beautiful piece of land overlooking the Potomac river. I guess I didn't realize, or else I had forgotten, just how BIG the Potomac is.

I've stayed at two other Gaylord resorts over the years (the Opryland and the Gaylord Texan), and while I always enjoy them, I'm always mystified at just how COLD they keep all of them. I just don't get it. The entire building must be 62 to 65 degrees. It's so cold that, if you don't wear socks, your feet turn into ice cubes. And, it's been like this at all of the Gaylord resorts I've visited.

The Gaylords are known for their beautiful indoor gardens which are maintained under enormous glass atriums (visible in the picture above). One would think that the hotel would want to make strolling through the gardens in shorts or a sundress a pleasurable experience, but no such luck. If you want to be comfortable, plan on wearing long pants, socks, and maybe even a coat.

In a building this size, the resort could save a fortune on their energy bill by turning the thermostat up a little, and their guests would certainly be more comfortable. But, they seem to have no interest. In the past, we've even complained to management about the temperature, but to no avail.

Oh well. At least we have the view.

NYT Circa 1969: "Expert Says Arctic Ocean Will Soon Be Open Sea"

Hmmm. Seems like I've heard the same claim recently.

Using "White Space" to Bring Faster Wireless Broadband to All?

Engineers from the technology heavyweights, including Motorola and Philips, lugged their laptops, antennas and other equipment to parks, homes and high-rises around the Washington area, hoping to prove to the Federal Communications Commission that the unlicensed airwaves between television stations, known as white spaces, could provide a new form of mobile Internet service.

"Evolving Toward a Compromise" Discussing the fact that many opponents of evolution seem to be far more concerned about the values it implies than denying the historical veracity of its claims, Amy Binder and John H. Evans propose a compromise:

We propose a compromise that would neither violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment nor limit the teaching of evolution in the public schools. Most defenders of evolution do not consider valid the critics' fears that evolution teaches values. Even so, teachers could take these concerns seriously by clarifying what evolutionary theory does not imply about values. To assuage the type of concern articulated by William Jennings Bryan, teachers could tell students that even though evolutionary science talks about the survival of the fittest organism, it is not a model for how humans should treat each other. They could explain that students should not make an "ought" about human behavior from an "is" of nature and that competition in contemporary society will not lead to increased survival rates. Moreover, they could explicitly note that just because mutations in organisms are random, it does not follow that human morality is random.

Seems reasonable to me.

Dems are Anxious to Give Convicted Fellons the Right to Vote...

but they are much less anxious to give our soldiers serving overseas the same courtesy:

Rep. Roy Blunt, the House Republican whip, introduced a resolution on July 8 demanding that the Defense Department better enable U.S. military personnel overseas to vote in the November elections. That act was followed by silence. Democrats normally leap at any opportunity to find fault with the Bush Pentagon. But not a single Democrat joined Blunt as a co-sponsor of the resolution, and an all-Republican proposal cannot pass in the Democratic-controlled House.

Hmmmm. I wonder why?

By the Looks of the Restaurants, Theaters and Stores that I've Been to Recently, This Certainly Seems True:

Americans Still Treating Themselves During Trying Times According to HSBC Direct Survey

I'm not sure that American's really know what hard times are anymore.

Growth in Biometrics

Security Biometrics Spending Will Reach $7.3 Billion in 2013, Says ABI Research

"Would Cindy Crawford Age Already"

Supermodel Cindy Crawford, 42, always looks gorgeous whether she is in an evening gown or sporting a pair of ripped jeans. Frankly we’re sick of it! It’s time for Cindy to leave the house looking like a mess.

Uh...well...I'm not sick of it yet.

Google Looks to Compete with Wikipedia

InformationWeek: The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors (either singularly or in groups) willing to put their names behind their content on a wide of range of topics, "from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions." Google will not edit the content in any way, but, like Wikipedia, readers will have access to community tools that will allow them to submit comments, questions, edits, and additional content -- in addition to being able to rate or write a review of a knol.

Who Owns the Oil Companies?

As giant oil companies like Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips get set to report what will probably be another round of eye-popping quarterly profits, just where is all that money going?

The companies insist they're trying to find new oil that might help bring down gas prices, but the money they spend on exploration is nothing compared with what they spend on stock buybacks and dividends.

It's good news for shareholders, including mutual funds and retirement plans for millions of Americans, but no help to drivers already making drastic cutbacks to offset the high cost of fuel.
[emphasis addes]

Yep, oil stock are among the most widely held, meaning that millions of individual investors, whether they know it or not, benefit significantly from their increased profits. You'd think that this is a good thing, right? I mean, rather than hoarding all these profits, oil companies are actually DISTRIBUTING them to owners--you, me, our mutual funds, our 401(k)'s and our pensions. Sure, we have higher fuel prices, but at least we indirectly recoup some of the higher cost by having profits paid to our retirement plans, right?

Well, not the way the Dems see it. Dems like Chuck Schumer would have us believe that they'd prefer these profits be used to search for more oil (even though they refuse to open up for domestic drilling areas with KNOWN reserves). And, in Schumer's warped mind, the fact that these oil companies are instead LOWERING our net fuel cost by actually DISTRIBUTING their profits means that we should slap them with a windfall profits tax:

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the fervor for stock buybacks is a clear sign Big Oil isn't interested in new production or alternative energy. "When you hear that," he said, "it screams out for a windfall profits tax."

As if "companies" ever actually pay taxes anyway.

As if taxes ever make things cheaper.

As if he wouldn't be calling for a "windfall profits tax" if only these companies were hoarding their profits rather than distributing them to us.

Is Schumer really so stupid as to belive that companies (rather than owners) pay taxes, that taxes make things cheaper, or that we'd all be better off if oil companies hoarded their profits?

No, but he thinks YOU are.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Does Obama Lie, or is He Just This Ignorant?

Fact-checking Barack Obama on climate change.

If the former, does he really expect that he can get away with it in today's internet age?

Is Steve Jobs' Doctor an Insider?

BloggingStocks: Suppose that his doctor had conducted an examination and found Mr. Jobs to be in tip-top shape -- if he goes out and buys call options before the news reaches the media, is that insider trading? I'm not sure. It seems unethical on a multitude of levels, but it isn't related to the company in a direct, material way like news about an upcoming merger would be. Just to be clear: I'm speaking hypothetically and have no reason to believe anything like this happened.

"Outing Offshore Tax Dodgers" While Uncle Sam is looking for tax cheats in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, U.S. lawmakers are frustrated that the use of offshore tax havens is flourishing in places like the Caribbean.

More on the American Physical Society's Position on Global Warming

Canada Free Press: It had to happen. Too much evidence has mounted against CO2 as a cause of the modern warming. Sea ice is expanding globally, not retreating (especially in the Antarctic). The oceans have stopped rising, and actually started to fall; that might be because they “stopped warming 4–5 years ago” according to NASA, based on data from the 3,000 new Argo floats now scattered world-wide. The number and intensity of hurricanes, cyclones, and tornadoes hasn’t increased. Rain has returned to Australia, reminding us again it is naturally the driest continent on earth.

The crowning blow: After nine years of non-warming, the planet actually began to cool in 2007 and 2008 for the first time in 30 years. The net warming from 1940 to 1998 had been a miniscule 0.2 degree C; the UK’s Hadley Centre says earth’s temperature has now dropped back down to about the levels of 100 years ago. There has thus been no net global warming within “living memory”!

"Google Says the Web is Really, Really Big"

Google has announced that its search index, which chronicles the vast majority of the internet, has hit a major milestone: 1 trillion unique URLS. That’s 1,000,000,000,000 pages - more than twice as many as there are stars in the Milky Way.

New Hope for Allergy Sufferers

Universal allergy therapy a step closer.

Lasers Really Do Reduce Facial Wrinkles

At least some do.

Progress in Treatment of Prostate Cancer

Scientists are hailing a new drug to treat aggressive prostate cancer as potentially the most significant advance in the field for 70 years.

Because Going to War without France is Like Going Hunting Without an Accordion...

France reveals defence closures.

French Mourn Loss of 35 Hour Workweek

Bloomberg: Guyot, like other white-collar workers, is bracing for a dimming of their ``joie de vivre'' as President Nicolas Sarkozy pushes to keep a promise to ``restore the value of work.'' With the late night passage of the law on July 23, Sarkozy has rung the death knell of France's 35-hour workweek, undoing labor rules put in place a decade ago by the Socialist Party.

Under that system, blue-collar workers were limited to 35 hours a week on the job. Cadres received days off to compensate for working more than 35 hours a week, giving them total annual paid leave of about seven weeks, including vacation.

Cry me a river.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

If you really think about it, this makes perfect sense.

Dems Slip in Congressional Poll; McCain and Obama Now Tied

After all, THE big media story of that last month has been rising energy prices, and even with the fawning media coverage, it is apparent to even the dimmest among us that Obama and the Dems are against drilling for more oil, against exploiting our huge natural gas reserves, against nuclear power, against coal gasification, against building more refineries, etc. Their sole solution to the energy crisis seems to be to propose a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies (as if taxing something ever makes it cheaper), and wait another 10 years for solar/hydrogen sources to become feasible.

And, what's even more interesting about these polls to me is the fact that they almost certainly OVERSTATE Obama and the Dems' popularity for two reasons. The first is the Bradley effect, which I've noted previously. The second is that many of these polls are known to have oversampled democrat voters.

The Dems should be absolutely slaughtering the Republicans in the polls at this point. The fact that they are not reveals just how much of a mess that party really is.

"Don't Hope for More Energy, Vote For It"

I was wondering when McCain would start hammering Obama on this issue.

The Dangers of Presidential Narcissism

Instapundit: If Barack Obama is elected President, he'll be far more warlike than President Bush, and far more warlike than his pre-election rhetoric suggests. Because before he's elected President, attacks on America are just attacks on America. But after he's elected President, attacks on America will also be attacks on Barack Obama.

Hmm. I hadn't really thought of it that way before.

And here's another cute one...

making its way around via an email chain:

> You have two cows.
> Your neighbor has none.
> You feel guilty for being successful.
> You push for higher taxes so the government can provide cows for
> You have two cows.
> Your neighbor has none.
> So?
> You have two cows.
> The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.
> You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.
> You have two cows.
> The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
> You wait in line for hours to get it.
> It is expensive and sour.
> You have two cows.
> You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.
> You have two cows.
> Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk
> other, and then pours the milk down the drain.
> You have two cows.
> You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.
> You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are
> when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts
> you have downsized and are reducing expenses.
> Your stock goes up.

Longevity in a Pill?

Promising research is summarized over at Instapundit.

Welcome to the Republican Party

The following cute story is making it's way around via an email chain:

I was talking to this little girl Catherine, the daughter of some friends, and she said she wanted to be President some day.

Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there with us - and I asked Catherine - "If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?"

Catherine replied - "I would give houses to all the homeless people."

"Wow - what a worthy goal you have there, Catherine", I told her, "But you don't have to wait until you're President to do that. You can come over to my house and clean up all the dog poop in my back yard and I will pay you $5 dollars. Then I will take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $5 dollars to use for a new house."

Catherine (who was about 4) thought that over for a second, while her mom looked at me seething. Being a very bright girl, Catherine replied, "But why doesn't the homeless guy just come over and clean up the dog poop and then you can pay him the $5dollars for his house?"

And I said, "Welcome to the Republican Party".

I'm more libertarian than Republican at this point, but the story holds true nonetheless.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Why Would NASA Oppose Measuring Temperatures with Satellites?

One of the ironies of climate science is that perhaps the most prominent opponent of satellite measurement of global temperature is James Hansen, head of … wait for it … the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA! As odd as it may seem, while we have updated our technology for measuring atmospheric components like CO2, and have switched from surface measurement to satellites to monitor sea ice, Hansen and his crew at the space agency are fighting a rearguard action to defend surface temperature measurement against the intrusion of space technology.

"A quarter of planet to be online by 2012,...

...and able to understand each other's language":.

Are Women More Likely to Choke Under Pressure?

And does this explain why women earn less than men?

Seems unlikely to me, but the evidence is intriguing.

83 Years Ago Today

The "Scopes Monkey Trial" verdict in Dayton, Tennessee.

Is the iPhone the New Gaming Platform

Looks like it.

Distrusting the Media

Many Americans believe that the media is working to get Obama elected.

Say it ain't so!

"Cells from humans grow blood vessels in mice"

Reuters: Cells taken from human bone marrow, blood and umbilical cords grew into functioning blood vessels in mice with just the right coaxing, U.S. researchers reported on Saturday.

NYT Reject McCain Editorial After Accepting Obama's

Drudge Report: An editorial written by Republican presidential hopeful McCain has been rejected by the NEW YORK TIMES -- less than a week after the paper published an essay written by Obama, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How Likely Are You to Live to 100?

Longevity Science: Our findings also expanded our knowledge about centenarians in three ways:

1.The detrimental effects of obesity may have an exceptionally long time range: obesity as a young adult is still predictive of decreased chances of survival to age 100;

2.The significance of build as a predictor of exceptional longevity is much higher than other variables such as height, immigration status, and marital status;

3.Contrary to expectations based on biological studies (including life extension of dietary-restricted animals), a slender build doesn’t improve chances of survival to 100 years when compared to a medium buildit’s better not to be stout, but there’s no need to starve in order to become slim.

There's much more here, so read the whole thing.

(Via the longevity meme)

Bye Bye Mouse Taking over [for the computer mouse] will be gestural computer mechanisms like Nintendo's Wii, multitouch screens like the iPhone, and facial recognition devices such as products from Sony, Canon and other video and photographic manufacturer.

"In The Cloud, Where Do Borders Fall?"

InformationWeek: Actually the question of where data resides could become more critical, not less, as cloud computing becomes the norm. Just as the Internet revolution sparked a re-thinking of entire fields of law that is still ongoing today, the spread of the cloud will require new ways of thinking about jurisdiction, local laws, and the concept of residency. Think about it: what if a company stores sensitive information in a data center located in, say, the Philippines, which has much laxer laws and regulations about privacy protection than the United States. Whose laws apply?

Or, say a blogger is based in the U.K., which has notoriously stringent libel laws, but her data is stored in a data center in Hong Kong, where libel is exceedingly difficult to prove (and which has its own hybrid system of law due to its unique status within the People’s Republic of China). You get the idea.

Yeah, I do. And, as an attorney, I'm not sure now to analyze the situation. I'm sure that Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds has given this issue some thought and has probably authored some articles on the subject. I'll shoot him an email and see if he can offer any insight.

VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: "It'll never get that far -- right?"

If the government orders an American corporation to turn over private phone records -- or to round up all the Jews or Japanese-Americans and put them in camps -- the correct response in either case is, "That doesn't sound legal to us. Let's go into open court and have you show us how you have the legal authority to order us to do that."

If private firms are not required to do that, under threat of lawsuit from their aggrieved customers -- especially in time of peace, when no war has been declared -- then how is our current system any better than the Third Reich, ordering their arms factories to make use of slave labor?

"You're exaggerating, Vin," some will plead. "It'll never get that far."

Really? Did you ever think it would get this far?

Ouch! Truth hurts.

Are Obama and McCain Tied?

The Real Clear Politics poll of polls currently has Obama leading by just over 4%. But, even before adjusting for the Bradley Effect, Obama's supposed lead is basically within the margin of error, meaning that the candidates are effectively tied. And, if we account for the Bradley Effect by reducing Obama's numbers by two to five percent, and increasing McCain's by the same, McCain would appear to have a slight lead.

By all accounts, and if history is any guide, Obama should be crushing McCain. So, why isn't he?

The Evolution of the Eye

(Via LGF)

Be Careful What You Ask For

Instapundit: A BASIC RULE OF POLITICS has always been that you tax other people's constituents to provide goodies for your people. So Barack Obama deserves credit for breaking from this with a tax plan that will hit well-off blue-staters -- his core constituency -- the hardest.

Read the whole thing.

Last Week's Decline in Oil Prices

Last week Bush announced that he was belaying the executive order banning offshore drilling, and oil prices experienced the largest one-week drop in history.


The Increasing Advantages of Online Shopping...

are chronicled here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"'Time' Publishes Definitive Obama Puff Piece"

The Onion: The 24-page profile, entitled "Boogyin' With Barack," hit newsstands Monday and contains photos of the candidate as a baby, graduating from Columbia University, standing and laughing, holding hands with his wife and best friend, Michelle, greeting a crowd of blue-collar autoworkers, eating breakfast with diner patrons, and staring pensively out of an airplane window while a pen and legal pad rest comfortably on his lowered tray table.

According to political analysts, the Time piece features the most lack-of-depth reporting on Obama ever published, and for the first time reveals a number of inconsequential truths about the candidate, including how he keeps in shape on the campaign trail, and which historical figures the presidential hopeful would choose to have dinner with.


(Via Instapundit)

DARPA Is Looking to Create Bionic Soldiers

Next Big Future: DARPA today has a long-term, $3 billion program to help make such a “Metabolically Dominant Soldier.” In other words, the military is studying how to use technology and biology to meld man and machine and transcend the limits of the human body. Described the project director, “My measure of success is that the International Olympic Committee bans everything we do" The $3 billion program is definitely trying to achieve transhuman performance goals.

Read the whole thing. It's amazing.

Chronicles of the Nanny State (cont.)

New York: Restaurants That Lack Calorie Counts Now Face Fines

All the Latest Stats...

...on America's obesity epedimic can be found here.

Okay, this I just don't get.

I really don't: Meryl Streep criticises Hollywood's obsession with size zero.

With nearly 25% of Americans (and more like 30% where we live) being not just overweight, but clinically obese, and with study after study suggesting that caloric restriction is one of the most effective ways at materially extending one's life expectancy, should we really be lamenting the thin among us?

I don't think so.

"What Dems Can't Say About Drilling"

David Harsanyi: Well, here we are. At $4 a gallon for gas, we already have a flailing economy. Isn't it glorious? And isn't it exactly what many environmentalists desired?

Of course it is. Most eco-pandering Dems were, only a few years ago, quite explicit in their desire for higher fuel prices, and I'm convinced that many of them secretly revel in the current high price. They see the current "energy crisis" as giving them the political cover to comprehensively regulate business and industry in ways that we've not seen since the 1940's--ways that have been completely discredited.

Harsanyi continues: Don't worry, though, congressional Democrats have a bold plan. Hold on for 10 or 15 years and they'll have a bounty of energy options. They promise. But no oil shale. No clean coal. No nuclear power. And definitely no more oil.

They will not enable your revolting, inefficient lifestyle. In the short-term, offshore drilling, especially, is a pie-in-the-sky fairy tale. Unlike, say, pond scum and hydrogen fuel packs.


What everyone, especially the Dems, seems to be ignoring is that the Law of Accelerating Returns ensures that we WILL move toward a solar and hydrogen economy even in the absence of government regulations, and even if carbon-based fuels are NOT inordinately expensive. The Law of Accelerating Returns predicts that, in only another 10 years or so, solar, hydrogen and other clean fuel technologies will be cost-competitive with today's carbon-based fuels (at today's prices), and will become exponentially more competitive each year thereafter until, only three to five years later, they will be competitive with carbon-based fuels even assuming that carbon fuels trade at prices of three to five years ago.

So, my point is that high petrol prices will only hasten the transformation of our economy to green fuel sources by three to five years, and yet they do much damage in the meantime.

So THAT'S Why They Play the Music So Loud

Loud music in the pub 'makes you drink more', say scientists.

Oh, so French!

French golfer causes a stir after taking a pee in bushes off the 6th fairway at the Open.

The Natural Right of Self-Defense

Jim Lindgren: The legal question for an originalist would be: Is this natural right of self defense protected by the US Constitution, or does the Ninth (and/or Tenth) Amendment merely reserve it to the people by making clear that the new Constitution did not abrogate such pre-existing rights?

Billions Long to be Poor in America!

Gateway Pundit on poverty in America: You can't make this stuff up.

Seems that our poverty stricken are are making out okay.

Via Instapundit.

Sunset Beach:

How Bad Off are Banks?

MarketWatch: While the bank industry's problems today loom large, they're relatively small when put in historical context. "We've had five bank failures this year. Historically, that's not a lot," said Sheila Bair, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. "During the S&L days we were closing one a day."

In 1989, 534 banks closed and 1,500 were on the FDIC's "troubled bank" list, compared with 90 on that list in the first quarter this year. While Bair said the number of troubled banks will likely increase this year, "we're still operating at relatively low levels."

Continued Growth in Worldwide PC Sales

The New York Times: Gartner data indicates that worldwide PC sales for the second quarter of 2008 jumped 16 percent, with 71.9 million units sold, compared to 62.0 million sold in the same quarter last year. IDC numbers are similar: the research company calculated a 15.3% increase and 70.6 million units sold.

"If the Party could thrust its hand into the past and say this or that even, it never happened--

--that, surely, was more terrifying than mere torture and death."

I was reminded of this quote from George Orwell's 1984 after reading of Obama's constant rewriting of his campaign website to obscure his previous positions on several issues.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

22,000 Knife Crimes in Britain Last Year

Telegraph: Overall, 60 people a day were stabbed or mugged at knife point, in the year to March 2008.

Tennessee is Tops

USA Today: Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee lead the nation when it comes to obesity, a new government survey reported Thursday.

More than 30% of adults in each of the states tipped the scales enough to ensure the South remains the nation's fattest region.

US Leads World in Cancer Survival

BBC: The study showed the US had the highest five-year survival rates for breast cancer at 83.9% and prostate cancer at 91.9%.

Japan came out best for male colon and rectal cancers, at 63% and 58.2% respectively, while France faired best for women with those cancers at 60.1% and 63.9%.

The UK had 69.7% survival for breast cancer, just above 40% for colon and rectal cancer for both men and women and 51.1% for prostate cancer.

Sun in Deep Slumber

How long before the sun becomes active again?

What Global Warming?

The supposed "consensus" of scientists who believe that human-produced CO2 produces global warming just got smaller. A lot smaller.

Deism and the Founding Fathers

There is a belief abroad in many conservative circles that the U.S. is “a Christian nation”. This belief is found in perhaps its most extreme form in the Mormon doctrine that the Constitution of the United States is a divinely inspired document. Less extreme versions hold that Christian piety was an shaping influence on the thinking and writing of the Founding Fathers, and Christianity therefore has (or ought to have) a privileged position in the political and cultural life of the U.S.

The Mormon doctrine is unfalsifiable. But claims about the beliefs and intentions of the Founding Fathers are not, and the record is clear: they explicitly rejected the establishment of Christianity as the preferred or natural religion of their infant nation.

Atkins Vindicated?

Low-carb and Mediterranean-style diets took off more pounds than a low-fat diet.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

AP's Values in Action

I mentioned earlier that the AP has a values statement which is supposed to govern its work.

Well, here's a recent example of the Associated Press's value statement in action. I quote the article in question in full only because doing so is necessary to give the full flavor of the article, and to avoid allegations of cherry-picking phrases. My editorial comments are bracketed:

Government scientists detailed a rising death toll from heat waves, wildfires, disease and smog caused by global warming in an analysis the White House buried so it could avoid regulating greenhouse gases.

[Well, right here in the opening paragraph, the AP has managed to violate a fair number of their value statements. For example, we have obvious bias via the (so far) unwarranted attribution of impure motives to the White House, as evidenced by words such as "buried" and "avoid". How can the AP presume to know that the White House "buried" the analysis, or that it did so to "avoid regulating greenhouse gases"? Do they have a source for either of these assertions? Well, let's read on and see.]

In a 149-page document released Monday, the experts laid out for the first time the scientific case for the grave risks that global warming poses to people, and to the food, energy and water on which society depends.

[Okay, who exactly are "the experts"? What makes them so? How are they qualified to offer a scientific opinion on the effects of global warming? Well, we don't know because we are not told. This failure to identify the specific source seemingly conflicts with the AP's policy of always striving "to identify all the sources of our information, shielding them with anonymity only when they insist upon it and when they provide vital information – not opinion or speculation; when there is no other way to obtain that information; and when we know the source is knowledgeable and reliable." Instead, we are simply assured by the AP that the anonymous bureaucrats who authored the report are "experts."]

"Risk (to human health, society and the environment) increases with increases in both the rate and magnitude of climate change," scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency said. Global warming, they wrote, is "unequivocal" and humans are to blame.

[Now this is most definitely an opinion, and one that a great many scientist challenge. The AP makes no effort to be fair or unbiased by offering up contradictory evidence or other "experts" who would dispute the findings--experts like Richard Lindzen of MIT; former Colorado State climatologist Roger Pielke, Sr.; the University of Alabama’s Roy Spencer and John Christy; Virginia State Climatologist Patrick Michaels; Colorado State University’s William Gray; atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer; Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Oregon State climatologist George Taylor; and astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas, to name just a few.]

The document suggests that extreme weather events and diseases carried by ticks and other organisms could kill more people as temperatures rise.

[Again, no attempt to be fair here. Many scientist and economists have noted that global warming will provide significant benefits which may more than outweigh its costs--benefits like longer growing seasons, increased crop yields, decreased famine, more efficient shipping lanes, and a dramatic reduction in the number of deaths due to cold (which greatly exceed those due to heat). But the AP doesn't seem to care about any of this despite the fact that a simple Google search produces numerous articles like this one.]

Allergies could worsen because climate change could produce more pollen. Smog, a leading cause of respiratory illness and lung disease, could become more severe in many parts of the country. At the same time, global warming could mean fewer illnesses and deaths due to cold.

[Ah, at last we have a reluctant one sentence admission that global warming would have some benefits, but no attempt to detail them or quantify them or place them in relation to the predicted devastation of global warming].

"This document inescapably, unmistakably shows that global warming pollution not only threatens human health and welfare, but it is adversely impacting human health and welfare today," said Vickie Patton, deputy general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. "What this document demonstrates is that the imperative for action is now."

[Okay, so here we are offered an opinion from an obviously biased source, the deputy general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. To be fair, one would expect that the AP would now offer a quote from a competing expert, right? Maybe someone from Well, no. Instead, they attempt to portray the Bush administration as a lonely global warming denier motivated solely by political considerations.]

While the science pointed to a link between public health and climate change, the Bush administration has worked to discourage such a connection. To acknowledge one would compel the government to regulate greenhouse gases.

The administration on Friday dismissed the scientists' findings when it made clear that the Clean Air Act was the wrong tool to control global warming pollution. Instead, the administration asked for public comment on a range of ways to reduce greenhouse gases from cars, airplanes, trains and smokestacks under the 1970 law.

[How did the administration "dismiss" the findings? Why did it do so? Was it reasonable in doing so? Did it have access to contradictory science that would give it pause? Well, we aren't told.]

A better solution, the EPA said, would have Congress writing a law aimed just at global warming.

Jonathan Shradar, a spokesman for EPA chief Stephen Johnson, said that while the administrator knows that "the science is clear and that climate change is a significant issue", Johnson did not want to make a "rash decision under the wrong law."

"Once there is an endangerment finding, then the Clean Air Act is activated and regulation may begin," Shradar said..

[Why would the EPA be motivated to make such a finding? Is it reasonable to assume that the EPA is motivated purely by the public interest? Could it have political motivations that would taint its "science"? Well, we don't know, and the UP certainly isn't going to ask]

In December, the White House refused to open an e-mail from the EPA that included the finding that climate change endangered public welfare. The determination was based on an earlier, and similar version of the document released Monday. At the time, the White House insisted on removing all references to the science, according to Jason K. Burnett, a former adviser to Johnson on climate issues.

Burnett, a Democrat, has charged that Vice President Dick Cheney's office deleted portions of congressional testimony last October prepared by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that made similar assertions on the health effects of global warming. The White House contends the testimony was changed because of doubts about the science

After the release of the EPA analysis, industry representatives suggested the link between climate change and health was weak.

"The question is not a scientific one. It is a legal and political question, of how much impact justifies the extraordinary use of the Clean Air Act," said Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, a coalition of power companies.

While no one doubts that more people die in a heat wave, the question is whether that death is "related to man made greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

[More people die in a heat wave than in WHAT? If the implication is that more people die from heat than from cold, that implication is clearly false. As noted scientist Bjorn Lomborg has demonstrated, just in the last 10 years about 15 million people in Europe alone died from cold. That's more than 400 times the number of people who died from heat during the much publicized heatwave of 2003. Additionally, he notes that the biggest cross-European temperature study concludes that, with an increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the average European temperatures "any increase in mortality due to increased temperatures would be outweighed by much larger short-term declines in cold-related mortalities."

Does the AP mention any of this? Of course not.]

Finding the (Real) Name Behind a Gmail Address

This could prove useful.

"Bad Faith, Pure and Simple"

Glenn Reynolds calls out the District of Columbia for intentionally subverting the the Supreme Court's gun rights decision (Heller).

Unbelievable. Simply Unbelievable.

Megan McArdle notes: Over 100 Chicago professors proudly sign a letter declaring their ignorance of economics.

My favorite part of Megan's response:

[T]heir assessment of the effects of the "neoliberal global order" is forehead slapping, head shaking, did-they-really-say that? stupid. I haven't heard such transparently wishful claptrap since my fifteen-year-old boyfriend tried to convince me that sex provided unparalleled aerobic exercise. If you put all 100 in a room with unlimited access to Lexis-Nexis and a mountain-sized peyote stash to bring their quasi-communist fantasy life into 3D technicolor, they still couldn't name a country where neoliberalism has undermined a vibrant democracy. Nor where Demon Capital has made things worse. The worst you can say for the neoliberal order is that it doesn't make things better the way we hoped it would. Any place you can name that has been deeply screwed up since global capital arrived was at least as corrupt and otherwise awful before the capital swooped in to plant garment factories in the edenic swamps of rural poverty.

This is another example of taking progress for granted. The benefits of free-market capitalism are stunningly obvious to everyone except those who are so jaded from its benefits that they have nothing better to do than hyperfocus on its apparent flaws. Hundreds of millions have escaped poverty over the last two decades simply because their misguided governments finally gave up on the idea of a leftist command economy. Witness China. Witness India. Witness all of Eastern Europe. Witness most of South America. The last 2o years has seen an economic boom unprecedented in human history, and it was distinctly capitalist in character.

Name a single thriving command economy. Name just one. Well, there are none, and there's a reason for that--a reason that's apparently lost on over 100 supposedly educated Chicago professors.

The Associated Press Statement of News Values and Principles

I find the AP's statement of values to be particularly ironic, for reasons that will become apparent in future posts. For now, here's a few of the more interesting portions of their values statement (I've taken the liberty editing and numbering them for ease of future reference):

[1] [W]e abhor inaccuracies, carelessness, bias or distortions.

[2] [W]e will not knowingly introduce false information into material intended for publication or broadcast; nor will we alter photo or image content. Quotations must be accurate, and precise.

[3] [W]e always strive to identify all the sources of our information, shielding them with anonymity only when they insist upon it and when they provide vital information – not opinion or speculation; when there is no other way to obtain that information; and when we know the source is knowledgeable and reliable.

[4] [W]e don't plagiarize.

[5] [W]e avoid behavior or activities that create a conflict of interest and compromise our ability to report the news fairly and accurately, uninfluenced by any person or action.

[6] [W]e don't misidentify or misrepresent ourselves to get a story. When we seek an interview, we identify ourselves as AP journalists.

[7] [W]e don’t pay newsmakers for interviews, to take their photographs or to film or record them.

[8] [W]e must be fair. Whenever we portray someone in a negative light, we must make a real effort to obtain a response from that person. When mistakes are made, they must be corrected – fully, quickly and ungrudgingly.

Stay tuned for examples of AP's values in action.

Taking Progress for Granted

Glenn Reynolds: When I was a child in the ’60s, polio was history, measles was on the way out, and diphtheria and whooping cough were maladies out of old movies. Now these contagious diseases are making a comeback. Take measles, for instance. The disease used to infect 3 to 4 million Americans per year, hospitalizing nearly 50,000 people and causing 400 to 500 deaths. In 2000 a panel of experts convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed that measles transmission had been eradicated in the United States, except for imported cases. But that caveat is important. An unvaccinated 7-year-old from San Diego became infected with measles while traveling with his family in Switzerland and ended up transmitting the disease back home to two siblings, five schoolmates and four other children at his doctor’s office—all of them unvaccinated. Whooping cough has also seen a resurgence: A school in the East Bay area near San Francisco was closed recently when some 16 students fell ill.

The reason for these incidents—and for recent outbreaks of polio—is that the percentage of parents vaccinating their children has fallen, perhaps because some parents see no point in warding off diseases they’ve never encountered.

It really is so easy to take the benefits of progress for granted. Just a few generations ago, people worried about real life-and-death matters, because just surviving until the morrow was of primary importance. Today, we have the luxury of worrying about whether vaccines that have saved hundreds of millions from deadly and deforming diseases are worth the ever-so-slight risks involved. Unfortunately, those who conclude that they are not gamble with more than just their own life.

Call it Maslow's Hierarchy of Worries. Once the human mind resolves one worry, it will latch onto another, even when it is irrational to do so.

Obama on the Surge

The latest on the Obama website white-washing controversy is available over at Gateway Pundit.

Obama's criticism of the surge is legendary. He repeatedly predicted that it would do nothing to stem sectarian violence, causing the likes of Instapundit to call Obama's Iraq strategy "the audacity of hopelessness."

Seems that Obama was the one who turned out to be "wrong on Iraq."

"Mysterious insect baffles experts"

"It seems strange that so many of these bugs should suddenly appear," said Mr Barclay.

It's because of global warming, I'm sure. Has to be.

It's Global Warming, Don't Cha Know (cont.)

Global warming may increase kidney stones.

Who knew? It seems there's no end to the insidious influence of climate change.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Restore and update your iPhone 3G to squash bugs

iPhone Atlas: If you have an iPhone 3G and haven’t restored it yet, do so. The first batch of iPhone 3G units shipped with iPhone OS 2.0 5A345, but the current build is 2.0 5A347. A handful of bugs were squashed with the new iteration, which brings enhanced stability and other enhancements.

More on MIT's solar concentrator..

... can be found here.

How to delete apps from your iPhone

Well, maybe. If you're lucky.

iPhone App Store Sales Top 10 Million

InfoWeek: The strong showing demonstrated how customers see the iPhone and Touch (which is an iPhone without voice communications) as personal pocket computers, and not just as a phone or portable media player, respectively. If sales continue, then Apple may be ushering in a new era in computing when people leave their PCs at home or in the office and carry mobile Internet devices for connecting to the Web on the go.

Chronicles of the Nanny State (cont.)

Blagojevich alters bill so insurance companies would have to cover autism therapy.

"Touchscreen blackberry not an iPhone killer"

(not even close)

A Host of New and More Effective Vaccines Are on the Way

ETA? About three to five years.

Those Amazing Stem Cells (cont.)

ScienceDaily: Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have demonstrated for the first time that transplanted muscle stem cells can both improve muscle function in animals with a form of muscular dystrophy and replenish the stem cell population for use in the repair of future muscle injuries.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Than Half of British Children Born to Unwed Mothers

I don't know why I find this surprising, but I do:

SEC Cracking Down on Rumors

Reuters: In an unusual weekend statement, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission warned on Sunday that regulators would immediately examine whether broker-dealers and investment advisers have controls in place to prevent market manipulation.

Dang, Safari is FAST!

So, I was updating my iTunes yesterday, and the update delivered a copy of Apple's web browser, Safari. I decided to give it a whirl today, and I all I say is wow! It advertises itself as the fastest browser, and it certainly is the fastest I've come across.

I don't know that it has all the features of some other browsers, but if speed's your thing, Safari has it.

The untold story of gun confiscation after Katrina

Via Instapundit.

A New Mozart?

MailOnline: A blind five-year-old pianist from South Korea has stunned the music world after a video of her performance received more than 27million hits.

Yoo Ye-eun, who was born blind and adopted in 2002, has never had a formal piano lesson but can play any song after just one listen.

"France's Broken Social Model"

RCP: To say that France's social model is far from perfect is an understatement: in spite of the state absorbing more than 50% of GDP, France has suffered, since the 1980s, from rising child poverty rates, persistently high unemployment, a chronic sense of economic malaise, and the continual enrichment of the system's "insiders" at the expense of the system's "outsiders." More importantly, France's social model fails to deliver precisely what it proclaims to: economic justice, inter-generational fairness, economic opportunity and social protection, particularly to young workers entering the labor market, minorities, immigrants, middle-aged women and other vulnerable groups.

Well, as I noted here, the idea that socialism somehow insures more equal opportunity is demonstrably false. Socialism purports to be interested in the "little guy" when in fact it is a system designed to create barriers to entry which, by their very nature, insure that the little guy will almost never become big, and even more despicably, that the big guy will almost never become little. Thus, socialism protects the vested interests of the elite by restricting class mobility. In this sense, socialism is, at least economically speaking, nothing more than a modernized form of feudalism, and, it suffers from feudalism's two central problems--stagnant growth and lack of economic mobility.

Rasmussen: Race for President is Tied

I've been saying for some time that there's no way that Obama will win the White House. In fact, I think he's likely to lose by the largest margin since George McGovern.

There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is that Obama simply cannot live up to the Messianic image that he created for himself. The more time that passes, the more people learn that Obama is just another politician and, as far as politicians go, McCain is clearly superior.

A Messiah's followers are always disappointed. I don't expect things to be any different in Obama's case.

It's Global Warming, Don't Cha Know (cont.)

A top Democrat told high school students gathered at the U.S. Capitol Thursday that climate change caused Hurricane Katrina and the conflict in Darfur, which led to the “black hawk down” battle between U.S. troops and Somali rebels....

Sex and Alcohol

Alcohol's Impact on Heart, Stroke Risk Differs by Gender.

"What is the best way to combat knife crime?"

Not this.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Want faster European growth?

Then learn to love creative destruction, say Nicholas Crafts.

Crafts does a pretty good job of explaining the problems of socialism that I allude to here.

Climate Scientist Hansen "Not Interested" in Debate

Details over at Watt' Up With That.

It's Global Warming, Don't Cha Know

Bigger fish due to climate change.

Yet More Amazing Progress on Solar

BBC: A new way of capturing the energy from the Sun could increase the power generated by solar panels tenfold, a team of American scientists has shown.

The new technique involves coating glass with a specific mixture of transparent dyes which redirect light to photovoltaic cells in the frame.

The technology, outlined in the journal Science, could be used to convert glass buildings into vast energy plants.

ETA? Only three years.

If It Hurts, It's Because It's True

Phil Graham: “We’ve sort of become a nation of whiners.”

Why Gun Control Doesn't Save Lives (cont.)

Mail Online: A man has been stabbed to death in an apparent road rage attack during a bloody 17 hours on London's streets in which four other men were killed in violent stabbings.

Adnan Patel was knifed in the stomach following a dispute with a number of men in a white van.

And as Britain's knife crime epidemic escalated a fifth man is fighting for his life today after he was stabbed last night.

The four killed in separate incidents yesterday included the 20th teenager to die violently in the capital this year.

Chronicles of the Nanny State (cont.)

Boston Herald: Parents hit area children’s stores to buy booster seats after a tough state law went into effect yesterday, setting new rules for securing kids younger than 8 in cars.

“The state has studied this issue and consulted with medical experts and determined that there is a benefit to requiring children of a certain age and size to use a booster seat,” said David Procopio, spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police.

"The state has...determined", huh. Well then, so let it be written, so let it be done.

10 Things the 3G iPhone is still missing...

...are chronicled here. But, it still rocks.

Solar Progress at MIT

Based on the report published in Science, the MIT team claims to have successfully utilised its technology to boost the solar cell efficiency of certain panel types by as much as 20 percent. However, the team sees that figure being pushed closer to 50 percent as they progressively tweak and hone the system.

In terms of widespread adoption of their energy-boosting development, the scientists believe that the technology could find its way into the solar industry by 2011 thanks to the lack of expense connected to necessary materials and also that existing solar panels would not require extensive modification.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Cult of Green (cont.)

Planet Gore: Here are the global warming movement's cultic parallels, many of whose characteristics can be found in Walter Martin and Ravi Zacharias's famous 2003 book, "The Kingdom of the Cults":

[click here for the list]

Solar Powered Wireless Keyboard

Seems like a no brainer to me.

Why Gun Control Doesn't Save Lives

Larry Elder: "When a robbery victim does not defend himself," former assistant district attorney and firearms expert David Kopel writes, "the robber succeeds 88 percent of the time, and the victim is injured 25 percent of the time. When a victim resists with a gun, the robbery success rate falls to 30 percent, and the victim injury rate falls to 17 percent. No other response to a robbery -- from drawing a knife to shouting for help to fleeing -- produces such low rates of victim injury and robbery success."

Quick, somebody tell the Brits who are suffering from a scourge of knife attacks:

The latest murder also comes as more than 1,200 people have been arrested during an unprecedented crackdown on knife crime in London.

A total of 528 knives were recovered as a result of 26,777 searches during Operation Blunt 2.

The blitz was launched by Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair in response to a wave of killings, particularly among teenagers, in the capital.

Most of those 528 knives were probably carried by ordinary law-abiding citizens who, being banned from carrying handguns, had few other alternatives for self defense in the face of spiraling knife crime.

As the trite but true saying goes, when guns [or any weapon, really] are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns [weapons].

Because Airlines Inspire So Much Trust These Days

Aero-News: The idea is something out of Orwell's 1984: requiring all airline passengers to wear identifying bracelets, containing personal information and a GPS tracking chip to monitor their movements. And, oh yeah, one more thing: any flight crew member would be able to immobilize wearers by simply pointing a laser device in their general direction.

Prague 2003

"5 Ways to Never Lose Your Photos"

Seems like overkill, but it should do the trick.

I Had ACL Surgery Last Fall

And I used a cadaver tendon, so I don't find this particularly reassuring: Cadaver Tissue Fails Nearly 25 Percent Of The Time In Young ACL Reconstructions.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

DARPA Technology Autonomously Lands Severely Damaged Aircraft

This is really amazing: DARPA, the Pentagon’s source for R&D (and lovers of acronyms big and small) have released a video illustrating the Damage Tolerance and Autonomous Landing Solution they developed alongside Athena Technologies. Basically, DTALS is designed to take over for a pilot in the event that the aircraft sustains heavy damage. The system automatically detects the damage and adjusts the flight control system to land the aircraft safely.

Be sure to watch the video.

More Major Investments in Solar

This time from Intel.

Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns predicts that solar technology will be capable of providing 100% of the world's energy needs in only 20 years. Seems hard to believe, until you see story after story like this, and until you remember that few had ever surfed the Internet 20 years ago in 1988.

Deja Vu All Over Again

A Brentwood stockbroker has attempted suicide after shutting down his office and filing for bankruptcy, leaving investors wondering where millions of dollars have gone.

The Knee of the Solar Curve

Good Clean Tech: General Motors assembly plant in Figueruelas, Zaragoza, Spain will become the site of the largest rooftop solar power system in the world, as the Michigan-based Energy Conservation Devices (ECD Ovonics) sets out to outfit the facility with a 12-megawatt PV module by the end this year.

At maximum operational capacity the solar system is said to produce as much as 15 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year - enough to power 4,500 homes.

The New Tera Era

Hitachi Announces Power-Efficient Terabyte Hard Drive.

"College-Educated Fare Better When Cancer Strikes"

US News & World Report: Recent U.S. declines in deaths from the four most common cancers -- lung, colorectal, prostate and breast -- are primarily benefiting better educated Americans, new research from the American Cancer Society shows.

While deaths from these malignancies did drop significantly from 1993 to 2001, most of that decline occurred among men and women with college degrees, the team found.

"The iPhone 3G: What you need to know"

Macworld has the details.

National Semiconductor Goes Solar

TG Daily: NSC apparently found some opportunities in solar paneling and is looking to expand its business into the green industry. In May, Halla hinted that a new technology would be introduced to make solar panels more efficient and since last week we know what the executive was talking about. NSC promises that its Solar Magic technology can recoup as much as 50% of lost output in solar systems due to issues such as debris and shade.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"Mulsim Cleric annuls rape victim's marriage" and advises stoning

The Times of India: In a chilling reminder of the Imrana case, yet another young woman from Muzaffarnagar who allegedly fell victim to her father-in-law’s sexual assault faces a bleak future after mullahs called for the annulment of her marriage.
On July 6, Salma (25), an unlettered mother of two kids, returned to her parental home in Islamnagar, Muzaffarnagar, after she was allegedly raped by her father-in-law over a period of six months. Salma’s father, Raisuddin, filed a criminal complaint with the police under section 376-506 IPC in Ghaziabad, and the accused, Salma's father-in-law Akbar, has been jailed.

But in the process her four-year-old marriage to Azad has virtually ended after clerics ruled their reunion as 'haraam'.

"A woman who has had a sexual liaison with her husband's father cannot be his consort anymore. A divorce is a must," Mufti Maulana Imran, senior cleric from Darul Uloom Deoband, said on Monday after his view was sought. The prescribed punishment in the case, he maintained, was 'sangsar' or public stoning of the victim and the culprit until death.

A perfectly sane way to deal with rape victims, no?

More Pictures of St. Obama

Click here for most recent halo photo.

"Cleantech investment hits record"

BBC: Global venture funding for clean technology has hit a record high with $2bn invested in the last quarter.

Funny how supply and demand works.

Oh, I Want One of These

Universal, Energy-Efficient Adapter to Come.

Mercedes to Ditch Gasoline by 2015?

Seems unlikely to me, but....

UPDATE: Gordon Brown wants to see petrol-driven cars off the roads within 12 years as evidence that Britain can break its addiction to oil.


Voter Fraud

Michelle Malkin Chronicles ACORN's continuing troubles with voter fraud: Yesterday, it was Las Vegas. Today, it’s Dauphin County, Pa.

Yes, it seems that Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is back at it.

Imagine the mainstream media outcry if Republican campaigns were being systematically assisted in rather dubious ways by a politically motiviated, non-profit organization previously fined for voter fraud. Next, imagine also that this same organization received significant contributions from a partisan billionaire previously convicted of insider trading. Now imagine that the same billionaire made his fortune as an evil currency speculator. And finally, imagine if McCain had personally associated with that Billionaire.

Well, that's basically what we have here. ACORN has a long history of voter fraud, as any Google search will reveal. George Soros, the famous speculator convicted of insider trading in France, has given ACORN sizable contributions. And Obama has been quite friendly with Soros.

It's good to be a Dem.

UPDATE: More of ACORN's troubles are chronicled over at Instapundit.

Southern Prejudice

Via Instapundit.


Using Google to Track Disease Outbreaks

ScienceDaily: Could Internet discussion forums, listservs, and online news outlets be an informative source of information on disease outbreaks? A team of researchers from Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School thinks so, and it has launched a real-time, automated data-gathering system called HealthMap to gather, organize and disseminate this online intelligence.

Lawyers use Google as evidence of a given commmunity's appetite for porn, so it only makes sense that doctors would use it to track the spread of disease.

Yet More Progress on Cancer. Using Nanoparticles!

Science Daily: By designing a "nanoparticle" drug delivery system, the UC San Diego team, led by Moores UCSD Cancer Center Director of Translational Research David Cheresh, Ph.D., has identified a way to target chemotherapy to achieve a profound impact on metastasis in pancreatic and kidney cancer in mice.

Based on the most recent mortality rates put forth by the US government, we appear to be making great progress in the fight against heart disease and cancer. Announcements like that quoted above appear almost daily now, suggesting that the progress is only accelerating.

Those Amazing Stem Cells (cont.)

Pulling a tooth could lead to tailor-made sperm.

Sir John Templeton Dead at 95

Templeton: The book of the Bible is very helpful, but God also created the Book of Nature," Templeton said in the same interview, "and we should look there, too, for spiritual laws.

"I don't disagree with anything in the Bible, but it needs to be supplemented by what science can tell us about God. But that means being open to new ideas. And in the field of the spirit, anyone who proposes new ideas is considered a heretic.


McCain: My opponent's answer to the Lexington Project is no; no to more drilling; no to more nuclear power; no to research prizes that help solve the problem of affordable electric cars. For a guy whose "official seal" carried the motto, "Yes, we can," Senator Obama's agenda sure has a whole lot of "No, we can't." The Lexington Project will create millions of jobs, help protect our environment, improve our security, and solve the nation's energy problems.

The truth is often painful.

Just Trust Me, Okay?

Why peer review (and blogger review) is important.

Somebody tell James Hansen and NOAA and the IPCC.

You Think, It Talks Boston University researchers are developing brain-reading computer software that is in the early stage of translating thoughts into speech, starting with vowels.


Polaris Computer Defeats Human Poker Champs

Details at Next Big Future.

Chronicles of the Nanny State (cont.)

MailOnline: Restaurants face demands to change their menus and put health warnings on meals in the hope of improving the national diet.

Firms may also have to identify the 'carbon footprint' of their dishes, possibly listing those items that are airfreighted to Britain.

The plans were outlined in the Cabinet Office report yesterday detailing the UK's food strategy for the 21st century.


Reduce Blood Pressure, Stay Sane

BBC News: Controlling blood pressure from middle-age onwards may dramatically reduce the chances of developing dementia, researchers have said.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Leading Economic Indicator?

Luggage sales plummet.


Cure for Cold Sores?

New treatment may finally kill herpes virus.

Spiral Staircase

New Tennessee Law Promotes Electric Cars

Or, at least, it no longer limits them as it once did:

The Tennessean (via SmartEnergyViews): The wait is over. Thanks to a law that kicked in on July 1, medium-speed electric- or gasoline-powered vehicles with four wheels can travel up to 35 mph, and can use roads where the speed limit is 40. Golf carts are excluded.

What a Difference an Education Makes

VOX: Everyone knows that educated people earn more, smoke less, are less likely to be obese and live longer. This column discusses recent research that shows more educated parents also spend more time with their kids – a result ripe with implications for the inter-generational persistence of income and health inequalities.

"How Much Does It Cost You in Wages if You 'Sound Black?'"

Steven Levitt has the answer over at the NYT's Freakonomics blog.

On a related note, I've always felt that parents who give children stereotypical names that allow their child to be type-cast do a great disservice, and that's true whether the name happens to be "Shamiqua" or "Jethro."

"B-17 ‘Liberty Belle’ Makes Historic Trip To England"

Lands On 65th Anniversary Of First 390th Bomb Group B-17 Touchdown In England.

"Trade Your Old Cell Phone For Cash or Charity"

I'm thinking about upgrading to the new iPhone 3G, so this sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Freakonomics on Gun Control

Steven Levitt: Based on those numbers, it is hard for someone to argue with a straight face that the gun ban is doing its job.

Weather Related Deaths Decline Over Last Century

Goklany via Anthony Watts: Despite the recent spate of deadly extreme weather events – such as the 2003 European heat wave and the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons in the USA – aggregate mortality and mortality rates due to extreme weather events are generally lower today than they used to be.

Globally, mortality and mortality rates have declined by 95 percent or more since the 1920s.

Well, that's actually an understatement, as you can find out by reading the whole thing, and checking out the accompanying graphs, here.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

More Major Mistakes at the Supreme Court

In this post, I mentioned that the dissenters in D.C. v. Heller, the gun rights case, made some fairly eggregious factual errors. But the Court's errors last term weren't limited to that one case.

In another controversial decision, it was the majority opinion that got the facts wrong, and now the Washington Post is calling the Court out on it:

WHEN A NEWSPAPER gets its facts wrong, it's supposed to publish a correction, and, if someone's reputation has been harmed, a retraction and apology. It can be embarrassing, but the occasional taste of crow probably does more good than harm to the media's credibility.

But what if the Supreme Court not only blows a key fact but also bases its ruling, in part, on that error?

Read the whole thing.

"Where the Candidates Stand on Energy"

The Free Press has an excellent summary.


234 Miles Per Gallon?!

That's impressive.

"Is There Legitimate Doubt About Obama's Eligibility to be President?"

This sounds far-fetched to me, so I would think that the Obama campaign could easily clear it up.

So, why haven't they?

UPDATE (via Instapundit): This whole things seems like much ado about nothing.

Say Again?


More on Resveratrol

at FuturePundit.

"Victory in Iraq ... Yawn"

Over at The Corner, Andy McCarthy talks about the latest crushing victory in Iraq, and unwillingness of the US press to cover it:

Al Qaeda's being crushed in Mosul, its last holdout in Iraq. You need to go to the British press to learn about it. Here's from the Times of London [h/t TigerHawk]:

American and Iraqi forces are driving Al-Qaeda in Iraq out of its last redoubt in the north of the country in the culmination of one of the most spectacular victories of the war on terror.

After being forced from its strongholds in the west and centre of Iraq in the past two years, Al-Qaeda’s dwindling band of fighters has made a defiant “last stand” in the northern city of Mosul.

A huge operation to crush the 1,200 fighters who remained from a terrorist force once estimated at more than 12,000 began on May 10.

Operation Lion’s Roar, in which the Iraqi army combined forces with the Americans’ 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, has already resulted in the death of Abu Khalaf, the Al-Qaeda leader, and the capture of more than 1,000 suspects.