TCS Daily : June 2002 Archives

Create, Destroy, Repeat

The past few weeks have seen puzzling pairings of economic releases and market responses. The latest June data have suggested that consumers are happily spending away again in the early summer, and even the lowly manufacturing sector has begun to... Read More

Coloring Climate Change

To get a sense of how compromised and politicized climate science has become, you don't have to look far. Just examine the lengths to which key documents were doctored to distort public perceptions. The most recent example to come to... Read More

Experimenting with Freedom

In the 17th century, the Puritan John Winthrop declared that the Massachusetts Bay Colony would be "a city on a hill," the New Jerusalem. In the 18th century, the "shot heard 'round the world," fired at Concord Bridge on April... Read More

Eye of God vs. Hand of God

BRUSSELS -- Instant replay in World Cup football? "Never!" The traditionalists proclaim. The arguments against instant replay usually point out that it would slow the play too much, take too much influence away from the referees on the field, or... Read More

Backdoor Kyoto

With little fanfare, a Senate committee is swiftly moving ahead on a bill that would bring back the treaty that won't die - the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, an agreement signed in 1997 by Vice President Al Gore that... Read More

Cooking The Books

What does Independent Vermont Sen. James Jeffords have in common with former WorldCom chief Bernie Ebbers? How about a penchant for cooking the books and engaging in a little nefarious accounting practice. WorldCom's $4 billion accounting "mistake" - pencils count. Read More

Mars Needs Liberals

"And yet some of us here can accept transforming the entire physical reality of this planet, without doing a single thing to change our selves, or the way we live. To be twenty first century scientists on Mars, in fact,... Read More

The Future of Fisheries

BRUSSELS --The European Union wants an increase in aquaculture production to meet the decline in its fisheries. Hopes are that this will bring new jobs to unemployed fishermen, but there will be no fresh money to boost developments in a... Read More

A Shield, Not a Sword

It's been several days since the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty expired. Despite the shrill cries of doom we've been hearing for the last year from the Perennially Worried, the earth is still calmly spinning on its axis. We were warned... Read More

Backdoor Kyoto

With little fanfare, a Senate committee is swiftly moving ahead on a bill that would bring back the treaty that won't die - the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, an agreement signed in 1997 by Vice President Al Gore... Read More

Pied Piper of Anti-Americanism

LONDON -- Anti-Americanism is currently enjoying a mini-vogue in Europe. The Bush administration hasn't exactly curried favour in Europe by hiking tariffs on steel imports and announcing a new raft of farm subsidies. Now Will Hutton, a British economics journalist, Read More

Tech in a Dangerous World

The Internet is becoming a more dangerous place. Pro-Islamic hackers are targeting Western assets. Russian cybercriminals are playing cat-and-mouse with the FBI. And viruses and worms keep spreading. That's a problem for us, and an opportunity for some unsavory cha Read More

Noam Alone

Now that the United States is involved in a new and wide-ranging war on terrorism, the traditional opponents of any kind of American military action have come out in force. They denounce the war, and other aspects of American foreign... Read More

Preempting 'Preemption'

The counterattack has come. Months ago, some of us advocated "preemption" as the best U.S. security policy to replace "containment" and "deterrence." We predicted that, if adopted, it would eventually become far more controversial than those two Cold War strategies Read More

No 'Digital Ditente'

If President George W. Bush were to declare that broadband is to the new millennium what a) the telephone b) the television c.) the Internet d) the automobile or e) sliced bread were to the last century, well, you'd get... Read More

Brave New Brains, Revisited

A few weeks ago, the Economist magazine, in an article titled "The Future of Mind Control," suggested that rapid developments in neuroscience might prove more worrisome than cloning and genetic manipulation. Glenn Harlan Reynolds discussed the concerns raised by th Read More

Rebalancing Act

The worst disasters for small investors can almost always be traced to the same source: a lack of diversification. If you own a portfolio of stocks that looks like the U.S. economy -- or the world economy, for that matter... Read More

Blessed Are the
Poor with Spirit

This year's UN-sponsored World Food Summit just concluded with a grim reminder that the goal of cutting world hunger in half by 2015 set six years ago at the first Food Summit still seems far out of reach. This... Read More

Whither NATO?

For half a century, NATO existed for the sole purpose of defending Europe against the Soviet bloc nations of the Warsaw Pact. But, the Soviet Empire is long gone, and with it, the original reason for NATO's existence. Indeed, many... Read More

The Programming Soviet

I had an aunt and uncle who were Communists until the end. They saw any flaw in the capitalist sytem as fatal, and they saw hope in the most tired and discredited leaders and systems (my uncle wrote an exultant... Read More

Vanishing Valedictorians

My daughter gave the commencement speech at her high school graduation in 1999. She wasn't Palo Alto High's valedictorian. There isn't one. Valedictorians are vanishing; class rank is déclassé. Sixty percent of high schools don't rank students by grades, according. Read More

The Problem with Prison

There's a big problem with our prisons. After prisoners are released, more than two-thirds are arrested again within three years, and a quarter has gone back to jail. That, at least, is the conclusion of a new study released by... Read More

The Bad News Industry

THE HAGUE -- In December of last year, Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn gave an interview to an environmental magazine that may very well have sealed his fate. Though his murderer, Volkert van der Graaf, remains silent about his motives, there... Read More

Offense Wins Ballgames

Last week... the Bush administration finally admitted it has a climate change problem. In a new EPA report to the United Nations, the Administration said: 'There is general agreement that the observed warming is real and has been particularly strong... Read More

Hot and Bothered

In Alaska, "the average temperature has risen about seven degrees over the last 30 years," according to the June 16th New York Times. Discussing the seemingly severe effects of climate change in Alaska, the newspaper of record observed that "rising... Read More

Cowboy Capitalism, Animal Spirits

Editor's note: This article is adapted from a speech given by James K. Glassman in Berlin earlier this month. He was asked to comment on the question: "Does Cowboy Capitalism Need More Regulation?" BERLIN -- It seems I have been... Read More

A Cloning Moratorium? No

The National Academy of Sciences estimates that as many as 100 million Americans could one day benefit from stem cell medical therapies. Stem cells are the primordial cells from which all the types of other cells in the body develop.... Read More

A Cloning Compromise

Until recently, human cloning has looked like an issue not amenable to compromise. Various attempts to craft a compromise have foundered. One suggestion-taken up by Senators Feinstein, Hatch, Specter, and others-is to ban cloning for the purpose of creating babies. Read More

The Sky Is Not Falling

OSLO -- European air traffic was in chaos on Wednesday, as the air traffic controllers went on strike to protest a proposal from the European Commission to create a unified EU air traffic control (ATC) system. The project, known as... Read More

Troublesome Facts

"Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story." That used to be a joke among newspaper reporters, especially when "their terrific story" - be it about corruption in City Hall or UFOs from outer space -... Read More

Socialism as the Solution

The French have a cliche that goes, "The more things change, the more they remain the same." That saying may be particularly apt for a country where the economy is dominated by a large public sector. Where there is competition,... Read More

Subsidies and Starvation

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN recently met to discuss world hunger amidst reports that 8 million people may die of starvation in southern Africa this year. What is so interesting is that some of the very... Read More

Presidential Weeble Wobble

Margaret Thatcher isn't usually so tepid as when she gingerly wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "I have detected a certain amount of wobbling about the need to remove Saddam Hussein." The onetime Iron Lady quickly adds " - though... Read More

Technology Back on Track

Today, at long last, the new judge in the Microsoft antitrust case will hear closing arguments. The stage is set to end a miserable interlude in high-tech history, in which misguided government industrial policy helped destroy hundreds of billions of... Read More

'Version Fatigue'

I'm tired of learning how to do new things. Well, not really. But I've noticed that my tolerance for reading the manual and familiarizing myself with all the aspects of a new product or piece of software is much, much... Read More

Peril in the Ports

Recently U.S. customs agents were dispatched to the Port of Singapore to screen cargo containers before they left that port bound for the United States. More than 5.7 million cargo containers arrive in the U.S. each year, only about 2... Read More

Bulls, Bears, and Blogs

A lot of talk has surfaced recently that blogs ("Web logs") represent a revolution in online journalism. After all, with their ability to report news on a 24/7 basis with little or no editorial oversight and an abundance of hyperlinks,... Read More

Snoop, There It Is

As if it needed another headache after the dot-com and telecom crashes, the technology industry is facing a renewed push by Washington politicians who want to regulate privacy. This crusade will hurt businesses and consumers. Web sites, as is well... Read More

Hitting 'Em Where It Hurts

LONDON -- Have you 'tested your testicles' lately? Apparently, if you're a man aged between 15 and 34 you should self-examine your private parts at least once a month. You stand naked in front of a full-length mirror after a... Read More

Star Power?

Crawford Perspectives, a 25-year-old newsletter edited by a former Wall Street star, combines technical stock analysis with astrology. Yes, astrology. The main story in the June issue carries a one-word headline: "Armageddon." It begins, "Some of the Most Powerful Read More

A Fishy Business

BRUSSELS -- The distance from words to deeds can indeed be very far. This was again proven when the ministers responsible for fisheries from the 15 member countries of the European Union met in Luxemburg last Tuesday. They gathered to... Read More

Fighting Smallpox. Or Not.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have organized public forums to discuss what to do about smallpox. There are some big questions that must be answered: Should the vaccine against smallpox be reserved only for critical emergency service... Read More

Enron's Electric Shock

Like a bad relative, Enron keeps popping up in the worst places at the worst times. Even as reform efforts spawned by Enron in accounting and corporate governance languish, reform of the nation's energy markets falters as well. Brash energy... Read More

After Enron

After any breakdown of a public institution, politicians feel the urge to "fix" things so it doesn't happen again. Often, however, the cure is worse than the disease. That's the case with the proposed remedies following the collapse of Enron.... Read More

How Pre-Emption Will Work

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have been making the rounds to push for the new security policy they envision for the United States. Based on the comments of the president and vice president, it seems that a central point... Read More

Lomborg Muzzled at Last?

OSLO -- In this week's cover story, Business Week lists the 50 most interesting "leaders at the forefront of change" in Europe. Among them are the Dane Bjørn Lomborg, who became world famous last year with the publication of The... Read More

Of Devils and Details

The reports that the FBI and CIA thwarted a planned detonation of a radiological weapon by capturing a suspected al-Qaeda member at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, speaks well to the government's efforts to preserve homeland security. If the capture of... Read More

The Greatest Story Never Told

What is the biggest story of the last generation? The question is not a simple one to answer. After all, the last two decades have seen significant and in some ways entirely unprecedented global changes: The fall of the Berlin... Read More

FCC, Let It Be

Despite a new U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming the rules responsible for the growing success of telephone and broadband competition in the states, the Federal Communications Commission could push through new broadband policy that would strip state public utili Read More

Let's Hope This 'Clicks'

Nobel laureate Barry Sharpless has just published some very interesting chemistry, with implications for pharmaceuticals and several other fields. It could lead to faster and cheaper ways to find drug candidates, which the industry could certainly use, given its cu Read More

Doctors Without Principles

AIDS activists have a new and very curious choice for their new poster boy - President Mugabe of Zimbabwe. The President has become their darling because of his decision to break drug patents and import generic anti-retrovirals for his country's... Read More

The Democratic Politburo

Like frustrated environmentalists straining in defense of the red-cockaded woodpecker, 31 Democratic members of Congress on Tuesday sued President Bush over his decision to pull the U.S. out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty - a withdrawal that takes effect Read More

Microsoft's Nose, Technology's Face

When future policymakers want to understand the law and economics surrounding one of the most watched antitrust cases in history, they will look to "Microsoft, Antitrust and the New Economy," a recent compilation of essays published by the Milken Institute.... Read More

Privacy In Part

BRUSSELS -- How would you describe a country that allows the police to access your telephone records, to monitor the websites you visit and to track your movements by tracing your mobile telephone signal? How would you define a political... Read More

Bye Bye, Belgians

BRUSSELS -- Nearly 60 years after the Second World War came to a close, and twelve years after the end of the Cold War, Belgium has decided it is time to end its occupation of German soil. "One important page... Read More

Real Life, Reel Art

I have a hard time keeping that saying straight-is it "art imitates life," or "life imitates art"? The new Steven Spielberg movie, "Minority Report," opening June 21, argues for both statements, because its notion of "precrime" both reflects and anticipates... Read More

Staying The Course

After "six years of litigation, frustration and confrontation," telecommunications competition is finally taking off, AT&T Chairman C. Michael Armstrong said on Tuesday in an upbeat message about the future of telecommunications competition. His key concern: th Read More

Telecom Template

BRUSSELS -- A proposed merger between two former national telecommunications monopolies - Sweden's Telia and Finland's Sonera -- is set to become a template for EU competition policy as the European Commission uses the leverage it has in vetting the... Read More

The Delta Force Paradigm

In order to understand how 9/11 could have happened, we have to understand how entirely unexpected the method of attack was. Even taking into consideration the recent uproar about the tidbits of information about suicide hijackers that were "missed", it... Read More

Fuel Cell Follies

The national news media recently became all warm and fuzzy over the news that a DaimlerChrysler fuel-cell vehicle completed a cross-country trip from San Francisco to Washington, DC. The 3262 mile journey took a leisurely 15 days (contrasting with the... Read More

We the People of Mars...

In response to a column of mine on Mars a few weeks back, reader Philip Shropshire posted a comment asking: "I'm curious as to what you think. Would you prefer to live under the American constitution on Mars or a... Read More

Patagonia's Poor Posture

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- PBS recently ran a reality show called "Frontier House." Here's the storyline: Three families re-create the life of homesteaders in Montana in 1883. Russ Roberts describes it on his new web site: "There's not much time for... Read More

Why We Fight

It has been just nine months since the horror of September 11th, but it's almost as if America has returned to the naïve comforts of peacefulness we enjoyed up until that terrible morning. The all-Chandra news coverage, the resumption of... Read More

Paper Tigers

"The atom bomb is a paper tiger which the United States reactionaries use to scare people. It looks terrible, but in fact it isn't." Mao Tze-Dong's 1946 statement could be applied with far more validity to today's paper tiger, the... Read More

Collaboration or Conflict?

ROME -- In many areas involving energy, Europe and the United States share common cause. We are both struggling with the difficult challenge of moving monopoly power companies into the arena of free-market competition. I take note of both the... Read More

The Beautiful Line

When you own a stock, you become a partner in a business. And the most important characteristic of a business -- a good one, anyway -- is that it grows. Over time its revenue and profits rise, and your stock... Read More

Mythical Madness

LONDON -- The other day, a somewhat irascible environmental correspondent who writes for one of the UK's more liberal bien pensant broadsheet newspapers demanded to know why I was so against the idea of 'global warming' and the Kyoto Protocol.... Read More

Play It Again, Samovar

Play it again, Samovar. Recently, Russia for the third time since the fall of the Soviet Union began a "new level" of relations with the West, symbolized by its partnership with NATO in a NATO-Russia Council, by President Vladimir Putin's... Read More

When Right Is Wrong

OSLO -- Although environmentalism has been associated with the political left the past several decades, this has not always been the case. In the first half of the 20th century, environmentalism was mostly pragmatic and focused on nature conservation. It... Read More

Swede and Sour

STOCKHOLM -- If Sweden left the European Union and joined the United States we would be the poorest state of America. Using fixed prices and purchasing power parity adjusted data, the median household income in Sweden in the late 1990s... Read More

Our Mind, Electric?

GUILDFORD, Surrey -- Are thoughts made of electricity? I don't mean here the familiar kind of electrical signals that travel up and down wires in your computer or nerves in your brain, but the distributed kind of electromagnetic field that... Read More

Return to Sender

Rarely can the framers of the Constitution be charged with naïveté. Robert Kaplan argues that, pre 9/11 at least, modern Americans could afford to be relatively optimistic because their institutions were forged by men who thought tragically. In his wonderfully... Read More

Fallacy of More Renewables

Renewable sources of energy are greatly misunderstood in public debate. One misunderstanding is the idea that having more renewables supply our energy needs in the next decade or two is necessarily a public good. A second mistaken notion is that... Read More

Wheat From Chaff

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- It's been called 'Farm Folly' by the Financial Times. The Wall Street Journal Europe hailed it as 'The Great Pig-Out.' The 17-member Cairns group condemned it and the Australian trade minister Mark Vaile said it was 'immoral.'... Read More

Demonizing Drink

If every night is party night on college campuses, a new study suggests more than just a hangover awaits students who drink. Over 1,400 students are killed annually because of their alcohol use, charge researchers at the Boston University School... Read More

Undermining California

SACRAMENTO -- Under the terms of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro -- a treaty signed by President George H.W. Bush -- the United States is required to report to the UN on the subject of climate change every... Read More

A Proactive War

The FBI has significantly revamped its guidelines to adapt to the war on terrorism. The new guidelines allow the Bureau additional latitude to monitor religious sites, informational institutions, and the Internet without having to gain evidence of potential crimina Read More

Mutiny Is Her Bounty

Scenario 1: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, unveiling his Department's "Quadrennial Defense Review" in Brussels at a meeting of the NATO alliance, told America's European allies that the threat the United States faces from Russian ballistic missiles is enormo Read More

The Offshore Defense

The vulnerability of America's port cities to terrorism via cargo ship is getting growing attention from policymakers and the press. It's increasingly understood that the thousands of shipping containers arriving in the United States each day could be carrying weap Read More

White House Brains

At a recent panel on Dr. Tevi Troy's book held at the American Enterprise Institute (the panel taking note of Troy's book consisted of such public intellectuals as David Frum, William Galston, Robert Goldwin, William Kristol, and Ben Wattenberg), Troy... Read More

Where Obscenity Meets Speech

Last Friday, a three-judge district court (in American Library Association v. United States) held that the federal Child Internet Protection Act violates the First Amendment. CIPA required public libraries to filter Internet access as a condition of getting federal Read More

Squashing Broadband

Small business depends more and more on super-fast Internet connections, but as the regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs) use their monopoly position as leverage, prices are rising, and small business -- the lifeblood of the U.S. economy -- could soon... Read More

Keeping Up With the Cloneses

When competition breaks out, it is hard to stop. It is in the interest of each individual to compete, regardless of whether the aggregate outcome is desirable. Economists tend to look at the positive results of competition. It leads to... Read More

A Doctrine Is Born

I knew something big was coming up when Presidential Counselor Karl Rove's office called last Friday with a "heads up." The President's commencement speech at West Point would be of interest, the White House knew, since some of my previous... Read More

Brains: Good, Bad, and Modified

This week's edition of The Economist asks an important question: Why are we spending so much time worrying about cloning and genetics, and so little time worrying about neuroscience, when the latter poses at least as much of a threat?... Read More

Frank Investing Advice

Al Frank, who died of cancer April 25 at age 72 in Carmel, Calif., was one of the very best stock pickers in America. He never sought the spotlight and few investors recognize his name, but he deserves a place... Read More

Get Out the Ouija Boards

The president a year ago correctly rejected the Kyoto Protocol that demands intense reductions in U.S. energy use as a way to avert hypothetical human-made global warming that is forecast by computer simulations. Bush's sound statement called for intensive research Read More

Into Iraq? Not So Fast

Most observers, knowledgeable and otherwise, have opined that an attack on Iraq is the next major step in America's war against terror. Certainly, ending the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein and replacing it with one that is more to our... Read More

Into Iraq? Yes

The possibility that President Bush will push for international action against Saddam Hussein and his regime is welcome news to anyone who wants to see the Middle East made more stable and peaceful. It is also welcome news in the... Read More

The NIABY Movement

You've heard of NIMBY-Not In My Back Yard? Well, here's another anti-growth acronym: NIABY-Not In Anybody's Back Yard. Environmentalists, wracked with guilt over the progression of industrial civilization here on earth, have discovered a new cause, the prevention o Read More

Pesky Pesticide Tests

ne of the main reasons some consumers choose "organic" produce over conventionally-grown produce is to avoid the pesticides used in conventional farming. A study published last month in the Food Additives and Contaminants Journal (Vol. 19, No. 5), seemed to... Read More

Digital Swarms

When Aristotle tried to account for human action and decision, he did it in terms of what is called "the practical syllogism." A desire and a judgment lead to an action. For example: you're hungry (desire); you think a Whopper... Read More

Say It Ain't So, George

Say it isn't so, George. Today, Americans learned from a front page story in The New York Times that, "in a stark shift,...the administration for the first time mostly blames human actions for recent global warming. It says the... Read More

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