August 21, 2005
ANDY BOWERS has a podcast roundup at Slate.
ANDY BOWERS has a podcast roundup at Slate.
A RATHER BRUTAL FISKING of the New York Times’ “Peak Oil” article, from Steven Levitt at the Freakonomics weblog:
One might think that doomsday proponents would be chastened by the long history of people of their ilk being wrong: Nostradamus, Malthus, Paul Ehrlich, etc. Clearly they are not. . . . The NY Times article totally flubs the economics time and again.
Oil, of course, is not a unitary commodity. Huge amounts of oil, from shale and tar sands and other reserves, become economically exploitable at prices not much higher than we’re seeing now. At most, we’re facing “peak cheap oil,” and so far I’m not convinced that we’re there yet, even though I’m not quite as optimistic as these guys are.
IS THE THIRD YEAR OF LAW SCHOOL WORTH IT? They’re discussing this, over at The Volokh Conspiracy.
It’s certainly worth it for the law professors!
They’re not children in Iraq; they’re grown-ups who made their own decision to join the military. That seems to be difficult for the left to grasp. Ever since America’s all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterize them as “children.” If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that’s her decision and her parents shouldn’t get a look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the broadloom in Bill Clinton’s Oval Office, she’s a grown woman and free to do what she wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year-old is serving his country overseas, he’s a wee “child” who isn’t really old enough to know what he’s doing.
I get many e-mails from soldiers in Iraq, and they sound a lot more grown-up than most Ivy League professors and certainly than Maureen Dowd, who writes like she’s auditioning for a minor supporting role in ”Sex And The City.”
Ouch. He’s going to make a lot of people regret that whole “the personal is political” thing . . . .
Everybody, of course, ought to feel horrible for Sheehan, and to honor her son’s bravery. But Sheehan’s supporters don’t just want us to sympathize with her. They believe that her loss gives her views on the Iraq war more sway than the views of the rest of us. As Maureen Dowd wrote in the New York Times, “the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute.” . . .
One of the important ideas of a democratic culture is that we all have equal standing in the public square. That doesn’t mean stupid ideas should be taken as seriously as smart ones. It means that the content of an argument should be judged on its own merits.
One doubts that Dowd would grant “absolute” moral authority to, say, the Pope, and her uncharacteristic embrace of the notion here seems a bit opportunistic, as, in fact, does the whole episode.
EGYPTIAN BLOGGER BIG PHARAOH IS VERY UNHAPPY:
U.S. diplomats have conceded ground to Islamists on the role of religion in Iraq, negotiators said on Saturday as they raced to meet a 48-hour deadline to draft a constitution under intense U.S. pressure. . . .
Why not tell the state department and the US diplomats in Iraq “what the American people want”? Why not side with those Iraqi women who demonstrated for equal rights in downtown Baghdad and not let them down? Why not side with those secular and religious Iraqis who do not want a constitution dictated by Iran? I’d rather have the constitution delayed for 10 more years than rushing it through like this!!
Please take a few seconds to call the US state department NOW and raise this issue. The deadline for the constitution is tomorrow (Monday August 22nd).
US State Department:
More numbers here.
As he notes, the Kurds are unhappy with this development, and though I’m certainly no expert that seems like a red-flag to me.
Read this item from Austin Bay, too. There are limits, of course, to how much we can tell the Iraqis to do with regard to their own constitution, but given the evidence (mentioned by Publius earlier) that Iraqi citizens are more liberal on the subject of religion than are their representatives here, there seems no reason to rush this, and, in fact, many reasons to hold back.
This makes me wonder what the diplomats are thinking, and I can’t help but feel that they should probably think again.
UPDATE: More on the Kurds’ unhappiness, here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The Sunnis don’t like it either. That may actually be good news — or evidence that there are wheels within wheels here.
MORE: More here: “The repercussions of this policy are huge. Allowing fundamentalism to take hold in Iraq would be a mistake of epic proportions. Supporting and ecouraging such a move would be, in my mind, an impeachable offense. Be very careful here Mr. President.”
SPACE ELEVATOR UPDATE: IEEE Spectrum has an interesting article on the subject:
It now costs about US $20 000 per kilogram to put objects into orbit. Contrast that rate with the results of a study I recently performed for NASA, which concluded that a single space elevator could reduce the cost of orbiting payloads to a remarkably low $200 a kilogram and that multiple elevators could ultimately push costs down below $10 a kilogram. With space elevators we could eventually make putting people and cargo into space as cheap, kilogram for kilogram, as airlifting them across the Pacific.
The implications of such a dramatic reduction in the cost of getting to Earth orbit are startling. It’s a good bet that new industries would blossom as the resources of the solar system became accessible as never before. Take solar power: the idea of building giant collectors in orbit to soak up some of the sun’s vast power and beam it back to Earth via microwaves has been around for decades. But the huge size of the collectors has made the idea economically unfeasible with launch technologies based on chemical rockets. With a space elevator’s much cheaper launch costs, however, the economics of space-based solar power start looking good. . . . I have found that the schedule for more elevators, after the first, could be compressed to as little as six months. The first country or consortium to finish an elevator would therefore gain an almost unbeatable head start over any competitors.
Bring it on. And, yes, I’ve been doing more tech-blogging lately. That’s because I’m writing a tech-related book, I guess.
UPDATE: Tim Worstall has thoughts.
JIM LINDGREN: “It is quite depressing to read descriptions of how investigations or captures of Osama Bin Laden or other Al Qaeda were hindered by lawyers, rules developed by lawyers, or fears of lawyers.” This has been an issue in other settings, too, with the Pentagon bringing in lawyers to approve air strikes and the like. There’s no question that this is the most heavily-lawyered war in history. But, even as someone who loves lawyers, I doubt that’s a good thing.
THIS IS COOL:
Two climate change sceptics, who believe the dangers of global warming are overstated, have put their money where their mouth is and bet $10,000 that the planet will cool over the next decade.
Or maybe it’s warm. . . .
GOOD NEWS FROM LONDON:
SCOTLAND YARD believes it has thwarted an Al-Qaeda gas attack aimed at ministers and MPs in parliament. The plot, hatched last year, is understood to have been discovered in coded e-mails on computers seized from terror suspects in Britain and Pakistan. Police and MI5 then identified an Al-Qaeda cell that had carried out extensive research and video-recorded reconnaissance missions in preparation for the attack.
The encrypted e-mails are said to have been decoded with the help of an Al-Qaeda “supergrass”. By revealing the terrorists’ code he was also able to help MI5 and GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre at Cheltenham, to crack several more plots.
The discovery of the suspected Commons nerve gas plot was behind the decision to increase security around parliament this summer.
(Via Hugh Hewitt).
PATTERICO has an oped in today’s L.A. Times. He’s not kind.
AN IRAQI FRIEND OF AUSTIN BAY’S weighs in on the Iraqi Constitution.
PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE: “Having a government employee giving money to a litigious environmental group suing the same guy the government scientist is investigating sure looks like a conflict of interest and potential for prejudgment to me.” Indeed.
YES, BIRTH CONTROL IS IMPERFECT: But I think that Jennifer Roback Morse would be even less happy if it worked flawlessly. I’m unpersuaded.
SO MOVIE STUDIOS are going to cut way back on newspaper ads. Part of this is because they don’t think that their customers read newspapers anymore — and part of it is because they don’t have as many customers as they used to. Of course, why they don’t have as many customers is unclear, but I like this theory:
“Here’s what we know about 2005: The movies are not as good,” said John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners.
Indeed. (Via Bill Quick).
THE LATEST CARNIVAL OF CHINESE BLOGS is up.
BACK HOME: Drove to Nashville this morning, did my talk, drove back. About 6 hours of driving for 4 hours there. But the event was put together by a former research assistant, so I couldn’t say no.
I can attest that however much people are complaining about gas prices, it doesn’t seem to be slowing them down. Traffic was flying. I drove the RX-8, which got a so-so 22 miles per gallon. However, they were FKMPG: “Fred Krause Miles Per Gallon,” defined as “the mileage obtained by a vehicle traveling 85 miles per hour with the air conditioner set on ‘MAX.’” It’s a somewhat more demanding standard than the EPA version . . . .
I’M SPEAKING TO THE NASHVILLE WOMEN’S POLITICAL CAUCUS, and this post is here to demonstrate just how easy it is to blog.
WHAT IS ARIEL SHARON THINKING? Gloria Salt considers.
PROXIMITY DELAY: Michael Yon reports from Iraq.
“I AM FREE AND I CAN VOTE:” An Ethiopian in Knoxville becomes a U.S. citizen.
“Obviously, gaining public acceptance is going to be a huge issue, especially when you talk about reintroducing predators,” said lead author Josh Donlan, of Cornell University. “There are going to have to be some major attitude shifts. That includes realising predation is a natural role, and that people are going to have to take precautions.”
Hmm. I’m not that excited about being prey. I believe I’ve written on this attitude before.
CLIVE DAVIS’S “TRANSATLANTIC VOICES” series continues with an interview of Martha Bayles regarding European and American perceptions of Europe and America.
MATOKO KUSANAGI posts a novel critique:
I grow increasingly weary of the Instapundit’s unwavering and unjustified chirpy optimism over the stem cell controversy. Link after link burbles that soon we won’t have to bruise a single solitary feeling among the “culture of life” crowd, because we’ll be able to do it all with adult stem cells, or cord blood cells, or placental cells. feh.
Hmm. This doesn’t seem to me to be a very accurate rendering of what I’ve said on the subject — generally cautioning against too much enthusiasm for adult stem cells and the like — which tends to generate rather a lot of criticism from the “culture of life” folks. I also find the suggestion that I’ve been too kind to Leon Kass and the White House Bioethics Council a bit odd (when I called the Council the Carmen Electra of the Executive Branch, that wasn’t a compliment, notwithstanding Ms. Electra’s undeniable charms). I guess this just demonstrates that you can’t please everybody. Or that not everybody reads the posts carefully.
TAXPROF: “The report reveals that the IRS made 4.6 billion disclosures of tax return information to federal and state agencies.”
MORE WORRIES about Soviet biowar labs, many of which are still around:
The labs today are seeking to fill a critical role in preventing epidemics in regions where medical services and sanitation have deteriorated since Soviet times. But an equally pressing challenge is security: How to prevent the germ collections and biological know-how from being sold or stolen.
“They often have culture collections of pathogens that lack biosecurity, and they employ people who are well-versed in investigating and handling deadly pathogens,” said Raymond A. Zilinskas, a bioweapons expert and coauthor of the draft report on the antiplague system. “Some are located at sites accessible to terrorist groups and criminal groups. The potential is that terrorists and criminals would have little problem acquiring the resources that reside in these facilities.”
Managers of the old antiplague stations are aware of their vulnerabilities but lack the most basic resources for dealing with them, according to the Monterey authors and U.S. officials. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, budgets at the institutes have fallen so steeply that even the simplest security upgrades are out of reach.
Read the whole thing, but only if you don’t scare easily.
JOE GANDELMAN thinks that John Kerry is giving bad advice to the Democrats.
Take the woes Dell Computer has faced. In recent months, big-name blogger Jeff Jarvis, on his Buzzmachine.com blog, has hammered on Dell for its poor customer relations. That, in turn, unleashed a deluge of similar comments from his readers, and spurred other bloggers to whine about Dell, too. On Wednesday, the University of Michigan released a survey confirming a drop in Dell’s customer satisfaction ratings, something that may or may not have been related.
If I ran a company, I’d have somebody search the company name on Technorati several times a day to find out what people are saying, and try to get ahead of the buzz.
UPDATE: Reader Kevin Crosby emails:
Not trying to pile on here, but I read Jeff Jarvis’ rants about Dell and it turned me off, just when my two kids (age 12 and 14) wanted to replace our aging (Win 98) desktop with a Dell. This came just after a small businessman friend had multiple problems with a new Dell system. I opted for a very price competitive system from a local builder who was highly recommended, built to my specs.
Dell’s fears have come true – a blogospherian rant negates all those brochures and ads. Am I the only one under the Jarvis spell?
I should note that my own experiences with Dell have been quite good.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Sandison emails:
About Jeff Jarvis and Dell – for me the turn off has been the other way round. As my experience with Dell’s support has been so good, I found Jarvis’ many complaints irritated me enough that I was reluctant to visit his site.
With Dell, I have twice called them on a Friday and had replacement parts delivered on the Monday (one of them a power converter I’d left out in the rain). I have also had a tech guy come to the house to replace a motherboard. All with no fuss, no hassle.
Yeah, my experiences have been pretty good too. That’s the trouble with anecdotal evidence, of course, but if I were Dell I’d be using blog complaints as an early warning system.
REGINA LYNN LOOKS AT sex, technology, and generational differences.
MORE SPACE NEWS:
Russia and Europe will soon embark on a cooperative effort to build a next-generation manned space shuttle. Speaking at the Paris Air Show, in Le Bourget, France, in June, Russian space officials confirmed earlier reports from Moscow that their partners at the European Space Agency would join the Russian effort to build a new reusable orbiter, dubbed Kliper. After the cautious optimism they expressed at the beginning of 2005, Russians are now confident that their European partners will be on board for the largest, boldest Russian endeavor in spaceflight in more than a decade. . . .
The Russians and Europeans, with few good alternatives, have seen their aspirations and needs converge around the Kliper project. If they are successful, this could open new horizons for manned spaceflight in this century.
I wish them luck.
THIS WEEK’S CARNIVAL OF CORDITE is up!
UPDATE: David Nishimura emails:
The company, according to the website, is based in Istanbul. The name is clearly Turkish, in any event, and the bathing suits shown probably too revealing (especially the short–leg models) for Saudi mores.
I thought they looked a bit racy.
The whole [Cindy Sheehan] kerfuffle was, however, informative in some ways. For one, it reveals that very few people on the antiwar left have any compunction at all about making common cause with someone who espouses virulent anti-American and anti-Semitic views. For another, it showed something we’ve long suspected: that some on the left–and not just the America-hating fringe–want America to lose this war.
I wish this weren’t true, but I think it is.
UPDATE: Blowback: “I actually felt myself become a republican today.”
I wouldn’t go that far.
I’VE SUDDENLY STARTED GETTING A LOT OF EMAILS LIKE THIS ONE:
I am disturbed by your continual smears of honorable Americans like Jamie Gorelick. If you disagree with the opinions of Ms. Gorelick, then please voice that at your discretion, but engaging in personal smears campaigns at the behest of Karl Rove and Grover Norquist really do a disservice to your readers. Jamie Gorelick’s memo did not disallow sharing of information between the military and the FBI. Please issue a correction in your next blog.
The thing is, I haven’t written anything about Jamie Gorelick and Able Danger, so I guess I’m dropping the ball in the “continual smear” department. This post by Ann Althouse from when I was on vacation a week ago quotes an Investor’s Business Daily editorial that mentions her, but that’s the only mention of Gorelick on InstaPundit in over a year. So why the emails now?
None of the emails contains a link or reference to any particular post, which makes me think that this is some sort of mass email campaign. Any idea where they’re coming from?
UPDATE: Ah, here.
MORE: Apparently I’m not the only one who’s getting these.
STILL MORE: In response to an earlier post, reader Holger Uhl emails:
I am disturbed by your continual smears of honorable Americans like Mr. Ed and My Favorite Martian. If you disagree with the opinions of Mr. Ed and My Favorite Martian, then please voice that at your discretion, but engaging in personal smears campaigns at the behest of Karl Rove do a disservice to your readers. Please issue a correction in your next blog.
Sorry, but both of them are pictured on three-dollar bills. I don’t need orders from Rove to notice that!
And, by the way, The Addams Family and The Munsters are about black families in white neighborhoods and the prejudice they face. Meanwhile, reader John Jorsett emails:
I am disturbed by your continual smears of honorable emailers like me. If you disagree with my hallucinations regarding your blog posts, then please voice that at your discretion, but engaging in personal smears campaigns at the behest of Chuckles the Clown and Joe Stalin really do a disservice to your readers. I never said that yo … SNAKES! SNAKES! Please issue a correction in your next blog.
Watch out for the SNAKES!
STILL MORE: A failure to retract.
MORE STILL: Heh. I should have known.
YET MORE: At least no one is calling me a “Jew prick.”
Indeed. And the comments illustrate the lefty blogs’ problems. Somewhere, Karl Rove is chortling over the left’s ongoing self-destruction via self-parody.
IT’S FRIDAY, so it’s time for this week’s Carnival of the Recipes!
JIM DUNNIGAN: “Moderate Moslem voices are now being heard, which is a major victory in the war on terror.”
IS AMAZON TAKING OVER the Adult Toy business?
(Second link may not be safe for work — unless, I suppose, you work for Amazon!)
But this adult toy link should be safe anywhere. . . . I want one!
UPDATE: For those afraid to click through, here’s the caption on the not-safe page: “1 – 24 of 27482 results in: Products > Sex & Sensuality > Adult Toys & Games.” That pretty much gets the point across.
BILL QUICK: “How can you avoid blog triumphalism when you read things like this?”
UPDATE: And things like this? Jeez.
ANOTHER UPDATE: John Podhoretz: “This will be the subject of about a billion blog entries today. Did Krugman really think he could get away with this?”
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.
MORE: Kaus defends Krugman.
(Kaus link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry.) There’s a response to Kaus here.
STEM CELLS AND SPACE: A twofer! Discussed over at GlennReynolds.com.
WAS THERE A SECOND ATTA? On the grassy knoll!
Large, transparent sheets of carbon nanotubes can now be produced at lightning speed. The new technique should allow the nanotubes to be used in commercial devices from heated car windows to flexible television screens.
“Rarely is a processing advance so elegantly simple that rapid commercialization seems possible,” says Ray Baughman, a chemist from the University of Texas at Dallas, whose team unveils the ribbon in this week’s Science.
THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR:
They’re called “synthetic biologists” and they boldly claim the ability to make never-before-seen living things, one genetic molecule at a time. . . .
The idea is to separate cells into their fundamental components and then rebuild new organisms, a much more complex way of genetic engineering.
The burgeoning movement is attracting big money and some of the biggest names in biology, many of whom are attending the “Life Engineering Symposium” that begins Friday in San Francisco.
“Synthetic biology is genetic engineering rethought,” said Harvard Medical Center researcher George Church, a leader in the field. “It challenges the notion of what’s natural and what’s synthetic.”
Dave Price is excited.
AUSTIN BAY IS GUEST-POSTING OVER AT JAY ROSEN’S, on The White House, the Press, and the war on terror.
I FIND EFFORTS TO CONNECT Star Trek with pedophilia unconvincing but amusing.
On the other hand, Mr. Ed, and My Favorite Martian, were clearly all about being gay and in the closet.
(Link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry.)
STEM CELL UPDATE:
By making mice grow furrier coats, researchers have discovered that an enzyme known to serve as a last-ditch defense against cancer also activates adult stem cells, which the body uses to repair its tissues.
The insight could lead to new treatments for certain diseases, possibly even promoting hair growth in animals other than mice.
The research, reported by Steven E. Artandi and colleagues at Stanford University in Nature today, shows that adult stem cells can be activated by an enzyme called telomerase.
The finding is surprising because telomerase is well known in a quite different context, protecting against tumors by limiting the number of times a cell can divide. The new findings put the enzyme astride two major biological pathways, one that promotes the growth of new cells for maintaining tissues and the other that prevents the excessive growth that leads to tumors.
I’d like to know more, but this is interesting. So is this.
NEWSPAPER WEB VIDEO: A while back I observed:
I did some interviews of my own, using the video function of my Sony digital still camera. It’s not television-news quality, but it was done on the fly with a camera that cost $300 and fits easily in a pocket.
Tools like this are the future. If I ran a newspaper, I’d give one to each of my reporters, and encourage them — in the most meaningful way possible, with bonuses — to conduct video interviews and reports that could run on the paper’s website, the better to fend off the kind of challengers I link above.
Now the Knoxville News-Sentinel seems to be following that advice. (They’re even using the same camera. No word about the bonuses part, though . . . .)
Here’s their first video, from a shooting range, and it turned out pretty well, I think. They’re also open to citizen journalism: “Do you ‘vlog’ around Knoxville? Send us your stuff; we’ll add it to our collection here.”
BOMB ARRESTS IN BANGLADESH indicate an Al Qaeda connection. Gateway Pundit has a roundup.
EUGENE VOLOKH uses some speech of George Galloway’s as a jumping-off point for a discussion of treasonous speech and the First Amendment. ” Imagine that Galloway was American and was tried in America, and that a jury concluded that Galloway’s intention wasn’t just to criticize the war, but actually to get Arab listeners to help our enemies in Iraq, and to get some of them to join the insurgents. . . . Under U.S. law, this would constitute treason: Aiding the enemy with the intention of aiding the enemy. Would the First Amendment nonetheless protect such speech?”
UPDATE: I don’t know much about the British law on treason, but this case might fit:
The Government is facing demands to close down a London-based radio station broadcasting calls for attacks on British troops in Iraq.
Al-Tajdeed Radio, which is run by a prominent Saudi dissident, has close links with a website carrying films of terrorist bombings and beheadings. It also carries songs calling on Muslims to join the holy war against coalition forces. . . .
He has lived in London since first seeking asylum there in 1994. He has frequently declared that British troops in Iraq are legitimate targets.
It seems reasonable to me that those seeking asylum should be required to show some loyalty to the country they’re seeking refuge in. And it seems reasonable to me that the civilized world ought to be taking action against those who agitate on behalf of terror, regardless of whether it is done through treason prosecutions or other means.
OF TWO MINDS ABOUT THE ECONOMY: A reader notes this amusing juxtaposition in the New York Times. From the Editorial Page:
But the overarching explanation [for public concern about the economy] is that people are feeling insecure because they understand that today’s economy is built on shaky fundamentals. Average Americans may not sit around fretting about America’s outsized budget and trade deficits, and its unprecedented foreign indebtedness. But many of them — as buyers, borrowers and employees — are concerned about the increasingly bubbly housing sector. The economy’s shortcomings are nowhere more obvious than in the job market… job growth is still substantially slower than in previous recoveries. Wages for 80 percent of the work force are barely keeping pace with inflation… Because Mr. Bush fails to acknowledge the lackluster job and wage growth, he fails to respond appropriately. The administration’s insistence that the economy is getting better all the time… only intensifies the anxiety that people feel.
From a news account, the same day:
Emboldened by rising wages and better job prospects, American consumers headed to car dealers by the thousands last month to take advantage of Detroit’s deep discounts, and helped empty bulging warehouses. A series of economic reports released yesterday showed rising retail sales, lower initial unemployment claims and continuing low inventory levels. Economists say the three reports confirm what many of them have been saying: the economic expansion is picking up its pace… The economy has added 190,000 jobs a month on average so far this year, up from 180,000 jobs a month last year. The unemployment rate was at 5 percent in June and July.
Yeah, when you fail to acknowledge the real state of the economy, it can hurt your credibility . . . .
ISRAELI BLOGGER GLORIA SALT offers two scenarios for the post-Gaza-pullout era.
UNSCAM UPDATE: Claudia Rosett writes: “Since the Oil for Food program came to an end in 2003, it has been described–accurately enough–as oil for palaces, oil for terror and oil for fraud. Now it turns out the U.N. relief program in Iraq was also oil for Enron.”
Maybe that’ll be enough to get Paul Krugman interested! (Via Newsbeat 1).
DR. TONY is surprised to discover that the cat I gave him is a reprobate.
Why, exactly, this surprises him I don’t know . . . .
DONALD CRANKSHAW has a roundup on the coup in Mauritania and its aftermath.
IN THE MAIL: Lindsay Robertson’s Conquest By Law: How The Discovery Of America Dispossessed Indigenous Peoples Of Their Land.
I wonder how things will be different in the next installment of Eric Flint’s alternative history.
JAMES LILEKS has thoughts on the Presbyterian Church (USA).
But they’re not anti-Semites. Heavens, nay. Don’t you dare question their philosemitism! No, they looked at the entire world, including countries that lop off your skull if you convert to Presbyterianism, and what did they choose as the object of their ire? A country the size of a potato chip hanging on the edge of a region noted for despotism and barbarity. By some peculiar coincidence, it happens to be full of Jews.
CENSORSHIP UPDATE: Blog-City is being blocked in China.
HOMELAND SECURITY REMAINS A JOKE:
WHILE most of the Bush administration has been fighting against increased unionization of security-related positions since 9/11, the federal Transportation Security Administration is headed the other way. In a small case with national implications, TSA doesn’t just break with the Bush administration position; it reverses its own stated policy. . . .
What’s going on? Well, some in Congress would like to see those private firms take over from TSA at more airports. The agency seems to be out to hamstring its competition. . . . Unionization could easily chew up the private security companies’ already thin profit margins — thus locking in TSA’s near-monopoly control.
It’s all about pork. My impression of TSA screening at airports is that it’s not any better than things were before, nor is it any faster or better organized. Certainly on this last trip, the security — and the immigration — folks at the Atlanta airport seemed poorly organized and inefficient. I nearly missed my flight because people who were supposed to be organizing the lines were standing around talking instead.
My predictions about the whole Homeland Security enterprise seem to have been borne out, alas.
GAYPATRIOT NOTES A GROWING SCANDAL involving misspent 9/11 funds in New Jersey.
MORE on the bombings in Bangladesh. One of the targets: “The Grameen Bank is a micro-development lender. The attacks on Bangladesh’s legal institutions are the ‘political message.’”
UPDATE: Kjell Hagen emails:
Grameen bank is not only “a micro-development lender”, it is THE micro-development lender. It pioneered the industry, and has been very succesful in especially starting women up with their own small businesses to provide income for their families.
An obvious target for Islamofascists, I guess. God forbid enterprising women have their own income or business success.
Keep ‘em poor and stupid is the approach.
Where are leftists John Pilger, Tariq Ali, Stephen Kenny, and Tony Bunyan gathering to bitch about Western immorality? In an 18th century Florentine palace, natch.
But of course!
WaPo’s Robin Wright, who has been sneering from the sidelines throughout the Iraq war, recently co-wrote a much-noticed article, “U.S. Lowers Sights on What Can Be Achieved in Iraq.” Am I the only person who found it thin and unconvincing?
No, and I meant to post something, but was still in post-vacation semitorpor and let it by. Kaus, however, has taken up the slack admirably.
At most, I think this article boils down to some people realizing that democratization is a process, not an event, which is scarcely news to InstaPundit readers.
Related post on constitutional-convention problems, here.
UPDATE: Reader Ryan Kelley emails:
That article from Wright on 8/14 had the oil production at 2.22 mil bpd. According to this article from 8/15 the total just went up to 2.3 mil bpd just for -southern- Iraq. It’s another 400-550k in Northern Iraq.
That puts it between 2.7 and 2.85 mil bpd which is higher then the pre-war high cited by Wright of 2.67 mil bpd. Significantly higher if it’s at the high end.
DAVEY CROCKETT, KIA AT UT? “Hell, they might as well change the name of the team from the Volunteers to the Oppressed Draftees.” For the record, I have nothing to do with decisions like this.
ALONG THE LINES OF THIS POST, I plan, as soon as Angelina Jolie becomes pregnant, to immediately deny responsibility.
JAMES LILEKS: “Some people think that any time you argue back, you’re Stifling Dissent.”
THE INSTA-WIFE GRADUATED TODAY: From cardiac-rehab class. She’ll still be going, she just won’t have to wear a monitor any more. And, yes, they actually had a little ceremony, complete with cap and gown.
When she got her PhD just after we married, I thought that was the last of her graduations. I guess I wish I’d been right, but still, I’m very happy that she’s progressed to this point. (And she was certainly the most attractive — er, and the youngest by a couple of decades — of the graduates!)
You just never know what’s coming down the pike, do you?
MORE AVIAN FLU WORRIES: “The bottom line is that avian influenza is endemic and probably ineradicable among poultry in Southeast Asia, and now seems to be spreading at pandemic velocity among migratory birds, with the potential to reach most of the earth in the next year. . . . This exponential multiplication of hot spots and silent reservoirs (as among infected but asymptomatic ducks) is why the chorus of warnings from scientists, public-health officials, and finally, governments has become so plangently insistent in recent months.”
UPDATE: Hmm. Just noticed that the author of the quoted piece is also the author of this book on avian flu. I’m not sure which way that cuts.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I cover this stuff, but if you’re really interested you should be reading the Avian Flu Blog, which has a somewhat narrower focus.
MARK TAPSCOTT emails that he really likes this Ford commercial: “It’s not really an ad so much as a statement about America’s past and present. It’s 5 minutes long but worth every second.”
It’s also something that the Web makes a lot easier.
ADVICE to the angry young blogger.
A SOLDIER IN IRAQ, TO MATT LAUER: “Well sir, I’d tell you, if I got my news from the newspapers I’d be pretty depressed as well.”
PODCASTING AND THE NEW MEDIA: I interviewed GarageBand.com’s CEO Ali Partovi on the subject recently, and the results are in today’s TechCentralStation column.
AUSTIN BAY: “It’s time for the President to make a statement about Able Danger.”
UPDATE: Tom Maguire: “Let’s end with an easy question – do people think they have seen enough to merit a Congressional investigation? And do people want the investigation to be in Curt Weldon’s House, or over in the Senate?” Plus, he parses typos from the Times!
Important caveats here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: TigerHawk has much more on this.
Related information here.
MORE THUGGISHNESS IN ZIMBABWE, with little reaction from the world.
AVIAN FLU UPDATE:
One of the biggest brokerage firms in Canada is sounding an alarm over the potential economic disaster that could result from an influenza pandemic. . . .
Some of the repercussions projected in the report, were a pandemic were to break out, include:
A dramatic slowdown in the economy, equal to the Great Depression. A rampant decline in spending would result from people panicking, which would put a sudden stop in spending.
High levels of unemployment, with many people unable to work.
Travel restrictions on the free-flow of goods and people across borders. “In a world that depends so heavily on global trade, this would have a very damaging effect on economic activity,” said Cooper.
Regardless of whether avian flu breaks out, a new flu pandemic is a near-certainty at some point. (Via Newsbeat 1, which also has a link to the PDF of the full report).
A NOBLE CAUSE: Thanks to David Adesnik for the link.
THE TIMES OF LONDON is writing about man-bashing and masculinity:
Outperformed by girls at school, emasculated by women at home and at work, shockingly dislocated from your emotions and the hapless joke figure in endless TV commercials and sitcoms whose message is that females rule and men are fools.
Well wise up, because apparently it’s time to say enough is enough; the ridicule of men must stop. The pendulum of power has swung too far into the female corner and you must stand up and assert your right to masculinity.
Perhaps Doris Lessing’s efforts are bearing fruit.
UPDATE: Trudy Schuett isn’t that impressed.
MICHAEL BARONE has thoughts on multiculturalism.
I MISSED OUT ON THE “ABLE DANGER” STORY while I was on vacation, and I still don’t think I’m up to speed. But doesn’t this advance the story? “A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly. The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the F.B.I.”
UPDATE: John Podhoretz: “If he’s telling the truth, then the entire history of the last five years needs to be rewritten.”
But if you really want to worry, then you should note what InstaPundit reader Joseph Beaulieu did — a report that one of the books President Bush is reading on vacation is John Barry’s The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History. Uh oh.
A go-ahead was given last week by the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) that clears the way for exchanges of technical information between Scaled Composites of Mojave, California and Virgin Galactic of the United Kingdom to build passenger-carrying suborbital spaceliners.
Among its duties, DDTC administers and enforces International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
“Putting it in ITAR terms…this is one small step for ITAR, one big leap for Virgin Galactic,” said Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic—the space tourism endeavor that is a subsidiary of British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
“It allows us to activate all the parts of the project,” Whitehorn told SPACE.com in an exclusive phone interview, such as use of technology—SpaceShipOne’s reentry concept and hybrid rocket motor design, for example—that can be licensed through Paul Allen’s Mojave Aerospace Ventures.
Great news. I think the Virgin Galactic folks should save me a “press” seat!
UPDATE: A reader writes:
So it’s good news when some government bureaucrats “permit” two privately owned companies to voluntarily exchange technical information. Gee, aren’t we lucky to have such clear-sighted bureaucrats controlling our supposedly free economy?
Sometimes it is very difficult to understand how you consider yourself even mildly libertarian.
No, but it’s easy to understand why so many overly literal libertarians are at the margin, politically and socially, when you read stuff like that.
To me, when government officials act intelligently in the exercise of their powers, it’s good news (and I suspect that few libertarians take such intelligence for granted). That’s a distinct question from what powers they ought to have — and in export controls (as I’ve noted in various scholarly writings) their powers are pretty clearly too broad. But that’s a separate discussion, as should be obvious. People who want every discussion of current events to go back to first principles are tiresome and I find discussion with them is seldom profitable. Plus, people avoid them at parties.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Shelby Clark emails:
Ouch! Dissed by a law professor for being tedious and poorly socialized!
I kid – as a lawyer, law profs are some of my favorite people. But still.
Yeah, that’s gotta hurt, I guess.
MUCH TOO KIND. But I’m not complaining.
AUSTIN BAY: Three bucks a gallon may save Iraq. “One man’s irony will be another’s nifty conspiracy theory — a jack in oil prices rescues Baghdad.”
HOMER SIMPSON CHANNELS Pliny the Elder.