Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I would really like to grow one of these.
It seems the European grids suffers from the same problems as the American grid, ie., privatization has resulted is less attention being paid to spare capacity. There has to be a way to have the kind of efficiencies in the utilities that privatization fosters without sacrificing the reliability strong regulation fosters. As long as power can not be stored like a hard commodity it can not be properly governed by those kind of market rules.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Hat tip to The Talent Show.
It turns out that the conservative position that pollution laws cost too much is a busted myth.

"The bottom line is that the benefits from major environmental rules over the past 10 years were [five to seven] times greater than the costs," said Kevin Curtis of the National Environmental Trust. "And that's a number that can't be ignored, even by an administration that has blamed 'excessive' environmental regulations for everything from the California energy crisis to last month's blackout to job losses to the failing economy."

Slap dat puppy down, Bubba!
When thinking about Hurricane Alley, I never considered Nova Scotia.

Friday, September 26, 2003

The NDOL has some good ideas on trade policy. The no-brainer is that the Bush administration has been abysmal. The more interesting part is that there has to be more of an open market with protections for dislocated workers and incentives for trading nations to improve the lot of their workers and the environment.
A clear statement of truth. Bush Lies:

"But Bush's truth-defying crusade for war did not mark a shift for him. Throughout his campaign for the presidency and his years in the White House, Bush has mugged the truth in many other areas to advance his agenda. Lying has been one of the essential tools of his presidency. To call the forty-third President of the United States a prevaricator is not an exercise of opinion, not an inflammatory talk-radio device. Rather, it is backed up by an all-too-extensive record of self-serving falsifications. While politicians are often derided as liars, this charge should be particularly stinging for Bush. During the campaign of 2000, he pitched himself as a candidate who could 'restore' honor and integrity to an Oval Office stained by the misdeeds and falsehoods of his predecessor. To brand Bush a liar is to negate what he and his supporters declared was his most basic and most important qualification for the job."
CalPundit: The Rich Really Are Different From You and Me
The effects of the an economic boom followed by the Bush tax cut have been documented. The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. Is this the kind of country you want to live in?
There's a potentially disastrous threat of global warming that is just beginning to receive attention. Is it too late?

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Friedman connects the dots.
More and more Israelis are questioning Sharon's tactics on the Palestinians. Israelis refuse to carry out airstrikes
The side of Islamism that powerful people want to keep hidden.

"Everything we know about al-Qaida's operations, as of those of Saddam Hussein, suggests that they combine the culture of a crime family or cartel with the worst habits of a bent multinational corporation. Yet the purist critics of 'globalization' tend to assume that the spiritual or nationalistic claims of such forces still deserve to be taken at their own valuation, lest Western 'insensitivity' be allowed to triumph."

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

He can't even be truthful about golf!

Update: But in all fairness this is just another case where a politician fibs a little to preserve a desired image. Unfortunately our rather unsophisticated electorate seems to prefer simpler images to realistic ones.
This an interesting method for determining public policy,
do what works. Daniel Gross tells about research that has shown how best to keep capitalist wolves in their pens.

"Their conclusion is surprising--and surprisingly practical. What works best, it turns out, is a combination of mandated disclosure (thus allowing the markets to work their efficient magic) and the ability of plaintiffs' lawyers to sue the hell out of corrupt CEOs and underwriters. In short, a more private system."
This must be a presidency in complete disarray. How many more of our young children's mothers and fathers are going to die because of Bush administration incompetence?

Or as Josh Marshall says, stuck in an infinite loop.
Kazaa fires back.

" SHARMAN NETWORKS LTD., the company behind the Kazaa file-sharing software, filed a federal lawsuit Monday accusing the entertainment companies of using unauthorized versions of its software in their efforts to root out users. Entertainment companies have offered bogus versions of copyright works and sent online messages to users.
Sharman said the companies used Kazaa Lite, an ad-less replica of its software, to get onto the network. The lawsuit also claims efforts to combat piracy on Kazaa violated terms for using the network."
Easterbrook makes an independent analysis of air pollution trends. Over all the Clean Air Act has been more effective at reducing pollutants than expected. The Bush administration's back-peddling has reduced the rate of decline but the decline remains in place. Except for greenhouse gases.

"If voters incorrectly believe that smog and acid rain are running wild, they will want attention focused on those short-term priorities. If voters understand that all regular forms of air pollution are in decline anyway, they may support shifting the spotlight to greenhouse gases, where the danger is. And voters "

In the political rhetoric both sides are misstating the facts. The Bush administration needs to be honest about the troubling greenhouse gases. And the opposition needs to be honest about how the air quality continues to improve.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

With the Bush administration, science has become just another tool for lying:

"Emails and internal government documents obtained by The Observer show that officials have sought to edit or remove research warning that the problem is serious. They have enlisted the help of conservative lobby groups funded by the oil industry to attack US government scientists if they produce work seen as accepting too readily that pollution is an issue."
"'This email indicates a secret initiative by the administration to invite and orchestrate a lawsuit against itself seeking to discredit an official US government report on global warming dangers,' said Richard Blumenthal, attorney general of Connecticut, who has written to the White House asking for an inquiry."

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

It seems that the sense of fair play is deeply rooted in our primate psyche.
Globalization is not a new thing. We live in a world that was globalized thousands of year ago.
This is a new interesting material. A ceramic that is 5 times harder, conducts electricity and (get this) conducts heat in one direction but insulates in other directions.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

The current national budget practices have a strong precidence in the business world. Remember Enron?
This is an interesting point. War is much more a product of relatives fighting over the inheritance than it is conflict with strangers.

"The critical factor for the origins of war was the splitting of communities into clans which acted against each other, Marcus believes. But importantly, this happened also while living in an environment rich enough that, Kelly says, they 'can afford to have enemies for neighbours'."

Monday, September 15, 2003

Josh Marshall exposes a Cheney-lie.

"Why do 69% of Americans continue to believe that Iraq may have been involved in 9/11? Many reasons. But one of the most important is that their leaders keep lying to them."
Kaplan on the Military's Bloated Budget:

"When your kid's in the hospital, your roof is leaking, and your salary's just been cut, you should probably put off plans to build a pool or buy a plasma-screen television. The military budget is in a similar state, and it only makes sense to reopen the books, set priorities, and slash those programs that can safely be deferred."

The easy cuts include new types of stealth fighters. But current fighters only need to be used in opening hostilities. Afterwards standard fighters and B-52s do just fine. The only people we might need a stealth air superiority fighter for would be the Israelis or the French.

Attack helicopters need to be rethought. In Iraq, small-arms fire ate them up. And for reconnaissance unmanned drones are coming on. And cheap.

Really don't need to spend money on nukes.

Missile defense. Need I say more?

And that's 20-billion without breaking a sweat.
Interesting. Smallpox vaccine may fight AIDS

Thursday, September 11, 2003

ooooo! Kennewick man pops up on MSNBC.
The long-held belief that boys treble voices were qualitatively different than girls has been proven to be erroneous:

"The recordings were randomised and played to listeners who were asked to say whether the top line was being sung by a male or a female group.

The listeners were able to identify the gender of the choristers correctly only 53% of the time."
And yet another use for titanium dioxide. I've blogged a number of other uses in the past including self-cleaning windows and air pollution reduction.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Good stuff over in Policy Review.
War and Aftermath by Frederick W. Kagan - Policy Review, No. 120:
"If the U.S. is to undertake wars that aim at regime change and maintain its current critical role in controlling and directing world affairs, then it must fundamentally change its views of war. It is not enough to consider simply how to pound the enemy into submission with stand-off forces. War plans must also consider how to make the transition from that defeated government to a new one. A doctrine based on the notion that superpowers don’t do windows will fail in this task. Regime change is inextricably intertwined with nation-building and peacekeeping. Those elements must be factored into any such plan from the outset."
Fred Kaplan:
"Most significant, the European leaders of NATO, for the first time in the organization's history, invoked Article 5 of its charter, calling on its 19 member-nations to treat the attack on America as an attack on them all--a particularly moving gesture, as Article 5 had been intended to guarantee American retaliation against an attack on Europe.

But the Bush administration brushed aside these supportive gestures--and that may loom as the greatest tragedy of Sept. 11, apart from the tolls taken by the attack itself."
Farewell Doctor Teller.
Oil companies can be good citizens when they want to. The biodiversity in a Gabon oil field is actually greater than in nearby national parks. The key is to go in with the intent of minimizing impact instead of trying to clean up a big
mess afterwards.

Shell and the Smithsonian are now working on an international code of practice for sensitive areas with other energy majors including BP, Statoil and Chevron Texaco.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Josh Marshall said it and it sure rings true.
"It's everyone's fault but theirs. 'The terrorists', domestic enemies, cultural declension, the French, perhaps tomorrow the decline of reading, the end of corporal punishment in the schools, permissive parenting, bad posture, rock 'n roll, space aliens. The administration is choking on its own lies and evasions. And we have to bail them out because the ship of state is our ship."
Saletan on Bush's War or terra. He's not buying the Bush revisionism. But he does think the war was justified in response to disregard of UN resolutions. In light of that he thinks we should have turned Iraq over to the UN as soon as Saddam was toppled.
The administration was warned. But in their arrogance they ignored the warning.
"Although general in nature, the sources said, the intelligence agencies’ concerns about the degree of resistance U.S. forces would encounter have proved broadly accurate in the months since the ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his inner circle."
It's tragic enough that people ruin their own lives with drug abuse. But the tragedy is compounded when these same people produce children. As a society we are barely keeping up with the numbers of foster children that come into the system from parents that are incapable of caring for them. There is one organization that offers voluntary sterilization to drug addicts. While similar sterilization programs in the past have targeted various "undesirables" based upon some wrong-headed ideas, this program actually seem to make some sense.

As currently set up the sterilizations are permanent and that is the source of most of the controversy. But wouldn't it be helpful if a long-term but reversible sterilization was used? Like this? It's a new method that injects a sperm-destroying material into the vas that has a 10-year effectiveness and is easily reversible.
Another article on the Baja skulls that may be evidence that the first Americans were from South Asia and were eventually supplanted by the North Asians known as Amerindians.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Hopefully this is the beginning of the end for a blight on civilized society.
Josh Marshall's take on the president's speech.

The president has turned 9/11 into a sort of foreign policy perpetual motion machine in which the problems ginned up by policy failures become the rationale for intensifying those policies.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Ya gotta love this: "In short, Rummy and his crew placed their bets not just on the wrong man but--worse still, in an administration that claims to value hard-headed power politics above all--on a wispy dream. So now, it seems, the chiefs are coming to collect on those bets. And Colin Powell, the retired-general-turned-top-statesman, is corralling the collectors."

Thursday, September 04, 2003

This is what is really wrong in this world of ours.
All the work has finally paid off. Estrada Drops Out of Judicial Race
My old friend from down the street, Kennewick man, is in the news again. It looks like the Americas were populated by two migrations, one around 14,000 years ago and one around 11,000 years ago. The older migration came from south-east Asia and they had longer, narrower skulls. The more recent migration was from northeast Asia and had short skulls as do modern native Americans.

By the way these modern native Americans have laid claim to the remains of Kennewick Man on the ground that he his one of theirs. Evidence has become more certain that he is much more likely to have been one of the people that were here when the current native Americans arrived.
Science marches on and provides more solutions to seemingly intractable problems. And now something that may have a significant impact on Superfund sites, nanoscale iron particles.
"Laboratory and field tests have confirmed that treatment with nanoscale iron particles can drastically lower contaminant levels around the injection well within a day or two, and will all but eliminate them within a few weeks--reducing them so far that the formerly polluted site will now meet federal groundwater quality standards. The tests also show that the nanoscale iron will remain active in the soil for 6 to 8 weeks, says Zhang, or until what's left of it dissolves in the groundwater. And after that, of course, it will be essentially undetectable against the much higher background of naturally occurring iron."

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Some new thinking about the war on drugs by the people who have been waging it.

Prohibition has been a disaster. By making the drug business risky it has enriched criminals and made more of them. It's time to look at alternate models for dealing with the problem.
The unPATRIOT act:
"The PATRIOT apologists will have none of this. The default, as they see it, is to grant new powers unless there's proof that they'll lead overnight to tyranny. The presumption of liberty is replaced by a presumption of power. The sad reality, though, is that even a police state can't guarantee total safety: Whatever we do, the coming years will see more terror, more attacks. If we conclude, each time, that the culprit must be an excess of domestic freedom, a lack of government power, we are traveling a road with no end."

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Another Friday Outrage noted by Paul Krugman:
"When the E.P.A. makes our air dirtier, or the Interior Department opens a wilderness to mining companies, or the Labor Department strips workers of some more rights, the announcement always comes late on Friday— when the news is most likely to be ignored on TV and nearly ignored by major newspapers.

Last Friday the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, known as FERC, announced settlements with energy companies accused of manipulating markets during the California energy crisis. Why on Friday? Because the settlements were a joke: the companies got away with only token payments. It was yet another demonstration of how electricity deregulation has gone wrong. "
TAPPED on what the GAO says about the malpractice crises:

"There is no crisis, folks. Doctors just don't like being sued -- and seem unwilling to take steps to discipline the handful of butchers actually responsible for most malpractice payouts."

It's just another conservative smokescreen so big corporations get more of a break with the torts.
As a Johnny-come-lately Buffy fan, I have to agree with Virginia about the things one can learn from Buffy.
There they go, over playing their hand once again.:
"The Rice-Rumsfeld depiction of the Allied occupation of Germany is a farrago of fiction and a few meager facts."
Talk about an incredible journey! A bunch of floating plastic toys that were lost overboard on their way from China to Seattle may soon make their appearance on the Eastern seaboard. It seems that the currents head north up the Bering Strait and the polar ice slowly moves east in the Arctic Ocean. In 11 years the rubber ducks are nearing the completion of that journey and may begin popping up along Greenland and points south.