Sunday, March 28, 2004

It's that Outsourcing thing

Brad Delong quotes Jared Bernstein on "Outsourcing".

Everything I've heard about this has yet to give any kind of hint of the appropriate solution. Protectionism just pushes the problem into the future and exacerbates it. And despite the good press education gets, it does not seem to be a good answer in practice.

Ruben Navarrett of Dallas Morning News suggests that maybe it's time that American get serious about competing outside our borders as those outside seek to compete here.

It seems to me that few American manufacturers make products for markets that are exclusively foreign. They tend to want to make markets in foreign countries for the good they already produce in the States. Surely we could make appropriate technology products for even developing countries. Mechanisms for safe water supplies, affordable, easily repairable, hand tractors that run on locally available fuels. We can use our smarts to build the standards of living in other places to the point where all our other darling products have an even wider market.

Hope

When I was growing up in the 60s we used to dream about the day when nuclear warheads would actually be dismantled instead of manufactured in the thousands. But the idea of turning those swords into plowshares seemed such an impossibility.then.

Yet today I watch out my window at work as a new wing is being constructed on our plant. Its purpose is to transform uranium from nuclear weapons into fuel for reactors for our nation's electric utilities. To have come so far makes one hopeful for the future.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

NASA has subvocal conrol but Duke uses its brain power

New research shows the feasibility of brain-machine interfaces.

All are afflicted

Genetic studies seem to show that the branch of human primates began when a mutated gene resulted in weaker muscles rather like a genetic disease. This allowed for the brain case as an attachment point for jaw muscles to have thinner walls and be able to grow larger. The timing of the mutation and the fossil record seems to have a nice coincidence.

Update: Essentially what this means is that a key genetic mutation that gave rise to hominids would have been expressed as a muscle-atrophying disease. Clearly the social structure of the pre-hominids in which this emerged must have been able to provide nourishment and protection for these weaker individuals sufficient for them to pass on the defect to subsequent generations. Here we have a case where culture was the adaptation that insured survival rather than genetics. This triggers a couple of questions. In today's world, has culture now become the primary player in the progress of man? And if culture can provide cover for the propagation of mutations that are culturally advantageous rather than physically advantageous perhaps we should be paying more attention to other mutations that appear today as diseases. They may be the harbingers of what changes the species may undergo in the future.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Dick Clarke Is Telling the Truth

Fred Kaplan puts it all together. The picture that emerges is completely consistent and pathetic.

And Saletan:

"It's funny, in retrospect, that Bush ran for president as a uniter. To unite a country, you have to acknowledge and reconcile differences. Bush doesn't work toward unity; he assumes it. He doesn't reconcile differences; he denies them. It's his tax cut or nothing. It's his homeland security bill or nothing. It's his terrorism policy or nothing. If you're playing politics, this is smart strategy. But if you're trying to help the country, it's foolish. The odds are that 50 percent of the other party's ideas are right. By ruling them out, you start your presidency 50 percent wrong."

UPDATE: I was watching Clarke on C-Span tonight. So much more a straight-shooter on answering questions than anyone form the White House. No cheap shots, just the straight-up facts. And the apology was spot-on as the right thing to do.

Coercive Medicine

There are people who seem to be dedicated to eroding your human rights.

"Today both the law and medicine agree that coerced medical interventions on pregnant women are an abuse of medical and state authority and that while pregnant women do not always make the right decision, in America, it is the person on whom the surgery is to be performed who gets to decide. In spite of this, Utah prosecutors apparently think that a pregnant woman who exercises her constitutional and common-law right to refuse medical advice can be arrested for murder. This is not only a clear misuse of the law, it is dangerous to children and fundamentally dehumanizing to pregnant women and their families."

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I guess that makes me a wonk wannabe

Bruce Reed has some great stuff.

"After two decades in Washington as a wonk working among hacks, I have come to the conclusion that the gap between Republicans and Democrats is as nothing compared to the one between these two tribes. We wonks think we're smarter than hacks. Hacks think that if being smart makes someone a wonk, they'd rather be stupid. Wonks think all hacks are creatures from another planet, like James Carville. Hacks share Paul Begala's view that wonks are all 'propeller heads,' like Elroy on 'The Jetsons.' Wonks think the differences between hacks and wonks are as irreconcilable as the Hutus and the Tutsis. Hacks think it's just like wonks to bring up the Hutus and the Tutsis."

and

"With a record $521 billion deficit, Bush has just presented what might be called the Justin Timberlake budget, ripping off the taxpayers and pretending it wasn't on purpose."

Take your choice

Which is it?

"When you look at it, Beers' and Clarke's stories sound quite similar.

And the pattern suggests two possible theories.

The first is that President Bush has the odd misfortune of repeatedly hiring Democratic party stooges for key counter-terrorism assignments who stab him in the back as soon as they leave his employ.

The second is that anyone the president hires in a key counter-terrorism role who is not either a hidebound ideologue or a Bush loyalist gets so disgusted with the mismanagement and/or dishonesty that they eventually quit and then devote themselves to driving the president from office.

Which sounds more likely?"

WMD...at home

Nothing spells irony like the Bush administration.

"'One of the ultimate ironies is that for all of the U.S. government's finger-pointing at Iraq and other countries -- nations we're challenging to account for every one of their weapons of mass destruction -- our country is riddled with similar weapons that our government itself can't even find,' says Elizabeth Crowe, an organizer for the Chemical Weapons Working Group, a coalition of citizens living near chemical-weapons sites."

Fair Taxation

There's the Bush rhetoric and there's the truth.:

"In the presidential race's war of words over the economy, President Bush makes it sound as if small-business owners are in the cross hairs of Democrat John Kerry's plan to roll back tax cuts for wealthy Americans.

But data from the Internal Revenue Service and the Census Bureau suggest the vast majority of small businesses provide their owners with incomes far below the $200,000-a-year mark where Kerry says he would begin eliminating tax cuts."


You get to decide.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Orson Scott Card

A comprehensive list of the anti-gay talking points concerning same-sex marriage. Ripe for a rebuttal.

Administration lies....again

When they say they had no way of knowing bin Laden was an iminent threat, DOJ documents clearly show that Ashcroft turned his back on the pursuit of bin Laden that the Clinton administration had made a high priority task. When they say they could not have done more about terror before 9/11 they are trying to cover a major misstep on their part.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

DFA lives on

As reported by Open Source Politics.

More unravelling in the White House.

Joshua Micah Marshall:

"Their focus, as we've noted before, was on the centrality of states rather than shadowy transnational terrorist groups -- thus their preoccuption with issues like national missile defense.

In any case, as I say, we've basically known this.

But it's another thing to have the person who was there at the center of the action as NSC counter-terrorism czar -- both under Clinton and Bush -- saying on camera that the president ignored terrorism and al Qaida right up until the day of the attacks. Clarke was there. In fact, to the extent that Bush and Rice and Cheney and the rest of the team were ignoring the issue, it would have been Clarke's urgent warnings they were ignoring -- since he was the head of counter-terrorism on the NSC staff."

Patriot Fall-out

My employer is an international company headquartered in Europe. By edict we are dropping our contract with an American virus protection software and replacing it with a European product. They are concerned that American products may have backdoors for the benefit of the government. Can't hardly blame them for switching. It's not like Ashcroft has demonstrated great concern for things like privacy, due process, and equal protection.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

A Real War on Terror

I hope James Burke gets a chance to explain it to the nation from a position in the new administration next year.

Reading Thoughts

NASA scientists have developed a system to read unspoken words:

"For the first test of the sensors, scientists trained the software program to recognise six words - including 'go', 'left' and 'right' - and 10 numbers. Participants hooked up to the sensors thought the words to themselves and the software correctly picked up the signals 92 per cent of the time."

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Iraq on the Record

Waxman's compilation of White House mendacity.

This database identifies 237 specific misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq made by these five officials in 125 public appearances in the time leading up to and after the commencement of hostilities in Iraq.

Debunking

A new book on para-science.

"Littlewood's Law of Miracles states that in the course of any normal person's life, miracles happen at a rate of roughly one per month. The proof of the law is simple. During the time that we are awake and actively engaged in living our lives, roughly for eight hours each day, we see and hear things happening at a rate of about one per second. So the total number of events that happen to us is about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month. With few exceptions, these events are not miracles because they are insignificant. The chance of a miracle is about one per million events. Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month. "

Friday, March 12, 2004

USC Study Finds Faulty Wiring In Psychopaths

Studies have found consistent brain abnormalities in psychopaths. This may call into question the usefulness of incarceration and/or treatments for many that fall afoul of the law. No amount of consequences or therapy will remove the fundamental abnormalities in these structures. As a society we may have to decide what to do with people who are not necessarily bad in a moral sense but who will always be destructive and dangerous.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Real Deal

This is a nice point by point hit list for the regime change.

Marriage Facts

Among all the hype about the merits and difficulties of marriage, its nice to know that there are some people doing some productive research. Gottman has made a good name for himself by doing excellent work.

The new Pentagon papers

Yet another window into the workings of the Bush administration. Why are our worst suspicions alway borne out?

Democrats' most powerful weapon

Cagey guy. Uses his fortune to give hope to the Democrats and enables them to overcome their paralysis. On the side I'm sure he is making investments in those sectors of the market that will do well as the Dems come to power and the Repubs decline.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Another reason

for regime change.
"Scientific panels and committees have proven especially susceptible to political manipulation by the White House. In one revealing case, Bush & Co. intervened at the precise moment that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention was set to consider once again lowering acceptable blood-lead levels in response to new scientific evidence. The Administration rejected nominee Bruce Lanphear and dumped panel member Michael Weitzman, both of whom previously advocated lowering the legal limit. Instead, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson appointed William Banner--who had testified on behalf of lead companies in poison-related litigation--and Joyce Tsuji, who had worked for a consulting firm whose clients include a lead smelter. (She later withdrew.) Banner and another appointee, Sergio Piomelli, were first contacted about serving on the committee not by a member of the Administration but by lead-industry representatives who appeared to be recruiting favorable committee members with the blessing of HHS officials."

Monday, March 08, 2004

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Back on the land, back in control

A new paradigm for the family farm. If I were a struggling farmer I would take notice of this. Interestingly enough that farm is just a few miles away from where I live.

It's location also makes it a Hanford down-winder. Fortunately that cold war radiation thing has been pretty soundly debunked.

Radio days ahead

A fair-and-balanced radio offering is in the wings.

The Green Revolution fights back

Conventional wisdom is that the Green Revolution has been a bad thing. And once again CW is wrong.

"The presumed costs of the Green Revolution are that the HYV (high yielding varieties) of seeds 'require' more fertilizer, water and pesticides (when in fact they outperform the traditional varieties at nearly any level of inputs) and that they have given rise to a dangerous monoculture leading also to a decline in non-grain products with a resulting worsening of the nutrition of poor people. Part of the anti-globalization mythology is that the Green Revolution gave rise to greater inequality of income and possibly even left the poor worse off. The data on the Green Revolution and the growth in global food production generally has accumulated and been frequently analyzed and it is clear that each of these beliefs is egregiously wrong."

The Hybrid Highway

Getting to hydrogen can be done with ethanol.

The Italian Connection

Berlusconi and the Nigerian Uranium Document forgeries.

The Big Promise of the Small

The solution to water problems isn't large-scale projects. It's just a few little things.

Black Holes

Got Fuzz

Dilute the Special Interests

Every dollar the candidate gets from ordinary citizens cancels the influence of a special interest dollar.

Bush Campaign Theme: It's not my fault

Joshua Micah Marshall distills the theme from latest BC04 ads.

Another seat opens for Democratic contenders

Sen. Nighthorse Campbell Not Seeking Re-Election.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004