May 31, 2008
WORKING AGAIN ON ocean thermal power systems.
WORKING AGAIN ON ocean thermal power systems.
DUDE, WHERE’S MY RECESSION? (CONT’D): “Given that the economy is flagging, this would seem an inauspicious time to be graduating from college and looking for full-time employment. Job prospects this year, however, have been better than career counselors and recent graduates had expected. . . . Preliminary surveys conducted by university and college career counselors indicate that the percentage of students who had found jobs by graduation was about the same as last year.” Okay, it’s not all rosy, but it’s not exactly the economic wasteland we’ve been hearing about.
DALE AMON sends this picture from my panel. The lighting wasn’t as dramatic as last year, but the backdrop was more impressive.
OUCH: “What Obama did today may have been politically necessary. It was certainly politically expedient. And it is yet one more blow to Obamaâ€™s image as a different kind of politician. In fact, as weâ€™ve learned over the last few months, Obama appears to be a Chicago politician through and through.”
ALCEE HASTINGS will boycott the Democratic Convention over Florida.
POLITICO: Bill Clinton’s enemies list.
LISTENING IN on a McCain press conference call. “What was striking about the call was how eager the conventional reporters were to lend the Obama campaign a hand.” Somebody should put the audio of these calls online.
AN ARMY OF CHANGS: China’s Cyber Militias.
MORE ON OBAMA QUITTING Trinity, here.
UPDATE: Liveblogging the Obama press conference: “I will not denounce the church. It is not a church worthy of denouncing.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: I just remembered — this afternoon I saw some idiot on CNN talking about how Obama had weathered the “dstractions” relating to the Trinity Church with consummate skill. Not so much.
BOY, JUST POST A picture of Matthew Yglesias and the robophobia appears. (“Though perhaps we’ll all be thinking whatever our robot overlords tell us by then.”) The Yglesias reference is like a dog-whistle for the robophobes, I guess . . . .
The Association of European Chambers of Commerce in Brussels warned that the transatlantic gap had widened yet further in the past five years by all key measures, despite the pledge by EU leaders at the 2000 Lisbon summit to transform Europe into the world’s “most dynamic knowledge-based economy” by the end of the decade.
The EU-wide umbrella group, known asEurochambres said the EU’s overall employment rate was still stuck at levels attained by the United States in 1978, chiefly due to an incentive structure that discourages women from working and prompts early retirement by those in their fifties.
It found that the European Union’s research and development levels were achieved by America as long ago as 1979, while the lag time on per capita income is 18 years.
“It will take the EU until 2072 to reach US levels of income per capita, and then only if the EU income growth exceeds that of the US by 0.5pc,” the study said.
I don’t think that regulating country line dancing is moving them forward any. . . . They’re way ahead of us on perks for bureaucrats already, though. And that’s saying something!
A LITTLE LATE: CNN is reporting that Obama has resigned his membership in the Trinity Church.
RICHARD FERNANDEZ REVIEWS Austin Bay’s Arena Academy.
A CLINTON HURRICANE strikes the DNC.
Much more here.
UPDATE: Uh oh: “Koryne Horbal says she and other feminists are promising action that could hurt Obama’s candidacy if the disputed Florida and Michigan delegations are not fully seated at the Democratic National Convention. If Obama becomes the nominee under those circumstances, Horbal says she and others will write-in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s name on the ballot in November instead of voting for Obama.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Much more here, including video.
I’M SITTING IN on the Google Lunar X-Prize session, where several of the contestants are talking about their efforts. Interestingly, everybody so far has said they’re planning to establish a long-term lunar business, rather than just undertaking a one-shot effort to win the prize. That’s quite cool, since it holds out the prospect of many competitors continuing their efforts even if someone else wins the prize, thus — as prizes are wont to do — generating a lot of leverage out of the prize money.
There are now 14 competitors registered, from the United States, Romania, Italy, the Isle of Man, and Malaysia. It sounds like they expect more. Of course, they’ve lost Cringely.
UPDATE: Best line from one of the contestants: “Space is hard.”
THEY JUST SHOWED A PICTURE from the Mars Phoenix lander, showing ice.
UPDATE: Here’s the image, and a release. Call it possible ice.
THE TOP TEN solutions to the world’s problems, courtesy of Ron Bailey.
IT’S NOT REALLY A SPACE CONFERENCE, unless they’ve got Astronaut Ice Cream in the bar.
AT TAXPROF: Biggest Losers Under Obama’s Plan to Remove the Current $102k Wage Ceiling for Social Security Taxes. Interestingly, they’re mostly Democratic states. States that would do best, on the other hand, are mostly Republican.
DO LIBERTARIANS undermine liberty? Nobody’s perfect.
IN THE MAIL: Peter Schweizer’s Makers and Takers, which argues for the inherent superiority, and greater happiness and worthiness of, conservatism and conservatives. I predict that conservatives will like it.
Sullivan’s Fine Food, Maryville, Tennessee.
THOUGHTS ON FREELOADING AND FAIRNESS, from Eric Scheie.
SO I’M SITTING IN THE PLANETARY PROTECTION / Asteroid impact discussion, and it’s quite good. I also recommend this article by Gregg Easterbrook in the latest Atlantic and there’s a video too. I do think that Easterbrook is perhaps a bit hard on NASA for not paying enough attention to this issue. There’s not a huge political sentiment in favor of it, there’s not a lot of money. The panel certainly is making clear that NASA is paying attention to the topic.
One risk that’s worth more attention, though, is that a relatively small asteroid impact would look enough like a nuclear explosion that if it happened in the wrong place or time it might trigger a nuclear war. Imagine such an event in India or Pakistan at a time of tension, with no warning. And there might well be no warning.
UPDATE: Comments on Easterbrook, from Rand Simberg.
A homeless woman who sneaked into a man’s house and lived undetected in his closet for a year was arrested in Japan after he became suspicious when food mysteriously began disappearing. . . . The woman told police she had no place to live and first sneaked into the man’s house about a year ago when he left it unlocked.
She had moved a mattress into the small closet space and even took showers, Itakura said, calling the woman “neat and clean.”
I’m trying to put a housing crisis spin on this, but . . . .
ROBERT X. CRINGELY IS down on the Google Lunar X Prize. “It is hard enough to land on the Moon and drive around without someone setting additional administrative obstacles in the way. The X Prize Foundation should WANT a winner for this prize, but they don’t act that way.” He’s still planning to go to the Moon, though.
MICKEY KAUS on “Obamagoguery.” Ouch. The suggestion earlier about Obama’s staff needing to factcheck his statements seems to be a good one.
DIGITAL NOMADS: High gas prices promote telecommuting. “One thing leads to another. High gas prices prompt employers (including the federal government) to allow employees to work from home once a week. Once that’s accepted culturally, an elephant appears in the boardroom: If it’s OK once a week, why isn’t it OK five times a week? (This is what happened with ‘casual Friday’ — its once-a-week acceptance lead to the current trend of casual wear every day.) Once telecommuting is accepted, ‘extreme telecommuting’ — working from the Bahamas or Paris or an internet-connected shack on the Australian Outback — becomes acceptable, too. After all, once you’re out of the office and connecting to the company over the Internet, it doesn’t really matter where you are, does it?”
CAN WE PANDER? Yes we can!
ANN ALTHOUSE: Real men don’t use semicolons.
WELL, DUH: Consumers pick home over flying: “Consumers chose not to take 41 million trips over the last 12 months because flying is too much of a hassle, according to a new Travel Industry Association study.” Make something miserable, and people will be less inclined to do it. Go figure. But they were warned.
I MISSED THE “GALA DINNER” but Hugh Downs — who was in on the founding of the National Space Institute, one of the National Space Society’s predecessor organizations, back in 1973, got a lifetime achievement award.
“TEAM UTOPIA,” the winners of NASA’s space settlement design competition. They’re from a boys’ high school in India.
A LOOK AT TODAY’S New York crane collapse.
THE TELEGRAPH ON AMERICAN ACTIONS and European anti-Americanism. Europeans have been anti-American pretty consistently since America began, except for brief intervals where they needed us enough to (mostly) pretend otherwise. While politics and state-controlled media certainly play a role, it’s mostly about moral preening and justification for low defense spending. Ultimately, this kind of thinking hurts Europe far more than America — and will hurt Europe even more if America responds with isolationism.
OKAY, THE RECIPE SOUNDS YUMMY, but how many times do I have to explain that “barbecue” is not a synonym for “cooking out.”
HERE’S A REPORT from my space media panel yesterday.
IT’S NOT A SPACE CONFERENCE, unless there’s somebody walking around in a spacesuit.
CHINA’S SPACE PROGRAM: I’ve got a report from the ISDC up over at Popular Mechanics.
JOHNATHAN PEARCE: “Boris Johnson, the new London mayor, has already decided it is time for some R&R and has gone on a yachting holiday in Turkey. Good for him. . . . In an ideal world, politicians would be on holiday 12 months a year.”
THIS IS WHAT WE WANTED TO HAPPEN, RIGHT: People moving out of high-risk hurricane areas. It’s not much of a change, though.
BAD TIMING? “America’s presidential hopefuls are pushing government-heavy approaches to climate change â€” just as the rest of the world is rebelling against them.”
HOW TO MAKE grilled pizza.
THE GENDER RATIO at these things is far more even than it was a decade or two ago.
I’M SITTING AT A PANEL ON SPACE AND THE CANDIDATES, AND MILES O’BRIEN OF CNN is doing an absolutely terrific job of moderating a session with representatives of the Clinton (Lori Garver) McCain (Floyd Deschamps) and Obama (Steve Robinson) campaigns. (L-R). Details later, but O’Brien’s been great, really drilling down on the questions.
THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ANNOUNCES AN “L PRIZE” for high-efficiency lighting.
MCCLELLAN AND BUSH, SUMMED UP BY MARK TWAIN: If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
IN THE NEW YORK POST: John Hinderaker on the war on terror.
POLITICO: “Barack Obamaâ€™s favorability ratings among white women has declined significantly in recent months, particularly among Democrats and independents, presenting an immediate obstacle for the likely Democratic nominee as he moves to shore up his partyâ€™s base.”
DUDE, WHERE’S MY RECESSION? (CONT’D): Jon Henke looks at economics and politics.
HILLARY, OBAMA AND IDENTITY POLITICS: All discussed in the latest PJM Political, with Ed Driscoll, Tammy Bruce, Ed Morrissey, Bill Bradley and Jennifer Rubin.
ABU MUQAWAMA takes off the mask.
IN THE MAIL: Jeffrey Kluger’s Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex, and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple.
The Mellow Mushroom, Knoxville, Tennessee. Keen observers will note that she’s appeared on InstaPundit before.
STEYN CANADIAN KANGAROO COURT UPDATE: “The Canadian Association of Journalists has formally applied for standing as an intervenor at the upcoming British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal hearings on a complaint of religious and racial discrimination against Maclean’s magazine.”
GAY MARRIAGE by executive decision in New York.
CONTINUING THE SPELLING-BEE BLOGGING, over at Throwing Things.
UPDATE: Bitterly clinging to “an outdated storyline about the war.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile, here’s a not so outdated storyline on the war. Coming to a newspaper near you, though probably not until after the election. . . .
OUR FRIENDS THE CHINESE: “U.S. authorities are investigating whether Chinese officials secretly copied the contents of a government laptop computer during a visit to China by Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez and used the information to try to hack into Commerce computers, officials and industry experts told The Associated Press. Surreptitious copying is believed to have occurred when a laptop was left unattended during Gutierrez’s trip to Beijing for trade talks in December, people familiar with the incident told the AP. These people spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident was under investigation.”
SO FAR I’M ENJOYING the International Space Development Conference. I did a panel on space and media yesterday afternoon, and saw interesting presentations on China in space and private spaceports. Last night I hung out in the bar with a bunch of folks, including Dale Amon (better known to most as a Samizdata blogger, but a space entrepreneur with a startup, too), Keith Henson, who looked quite hale despite his time in durance vile, Lori Garver, Greg Allison, Loretta Whitesides (founder of “Yuri’s Night”) and a host of others. Rand Simberg, alas, wasn’t able to make it this year.
ALTHOUSE ON MCCLELLAN: “‘I Knew It Was a Terrible Mistake, but I Didnâ€™t Mention It Until I Got a Book Contract.’ . . . It seems to me that Bush didn’t do enough to boost support for the war. He let criticism go unanswered and seemed to trust that the American people would understand why he was doing the right things, so I completely don’t get the “permanent campaign culture” charge. As for the decision to concentrate on the WMD rationale over the democracy argument: It’s been well known for a long time.”
SOME POSSIBLE FUTURE PRIUS OPTIONS.
Exxon Mobil’s CEO says his energy company’s “corporate social responsibility” is to produce more energy. While Congress wants to tax oil profits, he wants to spend them to find more oil. What a concept.
More oil seems good to me. And somebody needs to pin down the critics on just what sources of energy are acceptable, given that they don’t like oil, don’t want nuclear, oppose gas drilling, are limiting oil shale, and even get in the way of wind power.
HE WEARS THE CHAINS HE FORGED IN LIFE: “The ghost of Jimmy Carter is haunting the 2008 campaign.” Plus this: “Of the two likely nominees this year, Obama is closest to Carter in background and policy leanings. The parallels between his campaign so far and the one Carter ran in 1976 are striking.”
WHY THE MILITARY needs the gaming industry.
By now, the dual analog thumbsticks on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 controllers have turned the standard logic of the first-person shooter (FPS) into muscle memory for most red-blooded young American men (and I’m sure a few women, but I’m willing to call a gender bias on this one). Die-hard PC gamers will argue that a player with a mouse and keyboard can outgun a console player while eating a ham sandwich, but the portability, durability and easy ergonomics of the gamepad make it ideal for military use. “It’s interesting that all of the game paddles have evolved toward a similar thumb-based design,” says Bigham. “And when we’ve talked to our human factors experts, what they’ve told us is that the thumb is the most precise pointing instrument and requires the least energy.” While that low-energy, high-efficiency control may lead to less sunlight and exercise for hardcore gamers, it also allows soldiers to remotely fly UAVs effectively for long periods of time.
Read the whole thing.
OBAMA MULLS IRAQ TRIP: But there’s also this: “Obama also declined McCain’s invitation for a joint trip, saying he didn’t want ‘to be involved in a political stunt.'” Apparently, McCain’s suggestion stung a bit.
ANOTHER ULTRAPORTABLE COMPUTER: Hands-on with the MSI Wind.
GOOD IDEA: “The United States will propose biotechnology as a strategy to boost agricultural production at a UN global food crisis summit in Rome next week, the top US farm official said Thursday. . . . With the United States contributing more than one-half of all the world’s food aid, he said, ‘the world’s other developed nations have an obligation to provide food efficiently without obstructing access to it or limiting safe technologies to produce it.'”
And read this report from Ron Bailey on the Copenhagen Consensus conference and free trade. “Anderson looked at a number of econometric modeling scenarios and calculated the cost and benefits that would obtain from full trade liberalization under realistic assumptions derived from the current World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Agenda negotiations. Anderson estimated that liberalization of global merchandise trade would mean an annual increase of $287 billion per year in global GDP, of which $86 billion would go to developing countries. This compares very nicely with the $104 billion in development assistance that the governments of industrialized countries gave to developing countries in 2006.”
MEANWHILE, BACK AT TRINITY UNITED. People in the press have been pretending this story is over. I don’t think it is.
NEW DRUG NEWS: “Appeals courts in New Jersey and Texas on Thursday scrapped verdicts against the drugmaker Merck & Co. Inc. stemming from some of the earliest trials involving its once popular painkiller Vioxx.”
GOOD NEWS: “NASA’s Phoenix Mars lander flexed its robotic arm Thursday in a successful test of the key element in the probe’s mission to investigate the Red Planet’s soil for conditions conducive to life, NASA said.”
THOUGHTS ON FREEMAN DYSON AND GLOBAL WARMING, from Derek Lowe. “I know how he feels: I consider myself an advocate of the environment, but I think the best way to preserve it is to do more genetic engineering rather than less. Better crops will mean that we donâ€™t have to plow up more land to feed everyone, and we wonâ€™t have to dump as many insecticides and herbicides on that land weâ€™re using. That means that I also think the best way to preserve unspoiled spaces is to do less organic farming, and not more: organic farming, particularly the hard-core varieties, uses too much land to generate too little food, and it does so mainly to give people in wealthy countries a chance to feel good about themselves.”
SKIPPING science class.
DUDE, WHERE’S MY RECESSION (CONT’D): James Pethokoukis — who actually coined the “Dude, where’s my recession?” line — observes:
What do you call a recession where the economy keeps going up and up, even if a bit sluggishly? Well, my friends, you call that an expansion. And that is what we seem to have right now, despite all the economic doomsaying about a recession or even a Great Depression 2.0. Today, the Commerce Department revised its first-quarter estimate of gross domestic product upward to 0.9 percent from 0.6 percent. That follows 0.6 percent GDP growth in the final quarter of 2007. The revision also makes it more likely that the second quarter will be positive, maybe 1.5 percent, maybe even higher.
Now I went back and checked the numbers for the past 50 years and didn’t find a single case of a recessionâ€”as calculated by the National Bureau of Economic Researchâ€”that started with or contained two straight quarters of positive GDP growth, much less three quarters.
It may not be the best economy in living memory, but it’s not all that bad, either.
SOME COOL Knoxville photoblogging.
DOES KEITH OLBERMANN HAVE AN Al Franken problem?
STOP HAROLD ICKES: When life imitates Photoshop.
SOLVING THE WORLD’S PROBLEMS: Does fashionable beat rational?
IMAGINING A WORLD WITHOUT THE FDA: I wonder if you can?
THE ULTIMATE Home Office setup?
SO I’M AT THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE, where I’ll be speaking in about an hour. Looks like a good turnout.
PROGRESS ON CONCEALED CARRY IN NATIONAL PARKS:
The change, promoted by the U.S. Department of the Interior and some U.S. senators, would cause national parks and refuges to adopt the same concealed gun laws as those governing similar public lands in the states where they are located. . . . Park service officials are waiting until the close of the public comment period on June 30 before taking a stance on the proposal. However, they can foresee complications in changing the rules, especially in places like the Parkway or the Smokies that encompass multiple states with differing gun laws. . . .
The proposed change in national park gun regulations is open for public comment until June 30. Comments can be made online at www.regulations.gov â€” type â€œguns national parksâ€ in comment search field â€” or by mail at:
Public Comments Processing, Attn: 1024-AD70
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222
Arlington, VA 22203.
JEFFREY TRUCKSESS: Not all biofuels are the same. “Corn-based ethanol has been giving biofuels a bad name. The real solution is biodiesel â€” a green, efficient energy source that won’t starve the planet.”
BARRY GOLDWATER, unfiltered.
IF YOU COULD REJUVENATE THREE PARTS OF YOUR BODY, which parts would you pick?
VIDEOGAME GUNS OF TOMORROW, from Erik Sofge.
BEN BARTON: Judges, Lawyers, and a Predictive Theory of Legal Complexity. Legal complexity benefits lawyers and judges, and shockingly they tend to produce more of it!
DUDE, WHERE’S MY RECESSION? (CONT’D): “The new reading on gross domestic product, released by the Commerce Department on Thursday, was an improvement from the government’s initial growth estimate for the January-to-March quarter as well as the economy’s performance in the final quarter of last year. . . . The first-quarter performance matched analysts’ forecasts and offered a somewhat encouraging sign because it showed the economy was still growing at that time. The figure didn’t meet a definition of recession, which under a rough rule is two straight quarters of shrinking GDP.”
REAL-TIME MONITORING OF EPIDEMIC DISEASE, using nanotechnology.
THEY’RE BLOGGING THE SPELLING BEE, at Throwing Things.
IN THE MAIL: John McWhorter’s All about the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Can’t Save Black America. But don’t rule out Detroit techno — give Juan Atkins a shot!