TCS Daily : August 2002 Archives

Repealing E-Prohibition

Elliot Ness may have missed out on the web, but alcohol prohibition is alive and well over the Internet. More than half the states forbid residents from buying wine online and having it shipped to them from outside the state.... Read More

Kyoto's Mr. Inside, Mr. Outside

It should come as no surprise that the European Union is leading the effort to harmonize global energy policy in Johannesburg this week. But behind the scenes, 11 states are mobilizing to enact their own Kyoto Protocols despite unanimous congressional... Read More

Crisis of a House Divided

JOHANNESBURG - Sharp division has emerged on views expressed by the NGO sector at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Reporting in the Earth Times, Rahul Singh States, "By and large, the NGOs are united in their views on sustainable... Read More

'Actions Are Better'

JOHANNESBURG -- The top U.S. State Department official here at the giant United Nations Earth Summit came out swinging today, sending a strong message that the American delegation, which seemed timid and obscure at the last few environmental meetings, has... Read More

Careful What You Wish For

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa. As over 100 judges from around the world at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) call for more lawyers to file more environmental lawsuits, Greenpeace files a lawsuit that truly puts the mental in environmental... Read More

Everyone, Outta the Pool

Carpooling is a flop. Despite the expenditure of billions of tax dollars to add carpool lanes to congested freeways over the past two decades, carpooling declined from 13.4% of work trips in 1990 to 11.2% in 2000, according to the... Read More

Just a Climate Cowboy

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, responding to a question from Washington Post columnist William Raspberry, listed President Bush's breaking with the Kyoto Protocol and its reductions of greenhouse gas emissions as first among three specific ways where Read More

'A Fairer World'

JOHANNESBURG - The biggest rally I've seen here at the World Summit on Sustainable Development was a protest in favor of free markets. No, it wasn't the Fortune 500; it was several hundred "hawkers" - street peddlers struggling for the... Read More

Water Wars

JOHANNESBURG - The campaign against water privatisation, already substantial, reached its height yesterday at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD). 'I like privatisation of water if it's the kind of privatisation where the private sector consult with Read More

Corporate Malfeasance

JOHANNESBURG - Arrive at the airport here, get on the highway to the city, and the first sign that smacks you in the face comes courtesy of BMW - yes, the Bavarian manufacturer of expensive automobiles. It informs travelers, "Cape... Read More

The Future of E-commerce

Many are gloomy about the economy these days, especially concerning the prospects of e-commerce. After the dot com bust, reports of executives cooking the books, and insider trading scandals, it's hard to be upbeat. But a recent technology summit in... Read More

A Needless Tradeoff

The World Summit on Sustainable Development kicked off in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Aug. 26. More than 100 presidents and prime ministers are scheduled to attend the week-long conference, but not President George W. Bush - no doubt to the... Read More

Free Will Hunting

Science has long had an uneasy relationship with free will. Many scientists and science-minded philosophers regard the human sense of autonomy and choice as an illusion. Rather, in this view, mind and behavior are fully determined by neurophysiological, genetic and Read More

Poor Choices

JOHANNESBURG - The World Summit on Sustainable Development has focused on the issue of poverty. In his opening remarks South African president Thabo Mbeki, lamenting the current inequalities between the wealthy and poor, called for "wealth sharing" as a way... Read More

Bush Was Right

JOHANNESBURG-To the chagrin of tens of thousands of Green activists here in South Africa, the latest United Nations environmental conference is turning out not to be a typical environmental conference at all. Instead, it is focusing on the real-life concerns... Read More

The Legalities of War

Yale University Law professor Bruce Ackerman's argument against a preemptive military action in Iraq is a triumph of faulty legal reasoning and inaccurate historical analysis. A recent article by Ackerman makes the case that there is no legal basis for... Read More

Sustainability with Style

Just like the congregants at the Johannesburg summit, I'm all for sustainability and also for bioregionalism, the notion that we should draw most of our sustenance from the region in which we live. Of course, what I want to sustain... Read More

Grower comments to EPA Scientific Advisory Panel

Good morning, I'm Gary Queen. I'm from Burlington, Colorado and during this year I've worked directly with Monsanto in evaluating YieldGuard Rootworm on my farm. Corn rootworm is the single most significant insect that growers like me contend with. Every... Read More

A Summit Hard To Stomach

It's hard to commiserate about dire poverty when lodging at a $500-a-night, five-star hotel in Aspen, Colo. At least it was hard for me. But apparently not for many others attending the Fortune magazine conference in Aspen last month. Over... Read More

Those Imperfect Storms

In 1999 at Las Vegas' Mandalay, Felix Trinidad trounced Oscar De La Hoya before an inebriated and nattily attired sporting crowd in what was billed as The Fight of the Century. It was the last of many. The first "Fight... Read More

Bush's Kyoto Secret

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The "World Summit on Sustainable Development" got underway today amid several key questions. How would anti-globalization - and, possibly, worse -- forces attempt to disrupt the world leaders' proceedings? What form would latent anti-Am Read More

I Hallucinate, Therefore I Am

Creating a computer that "thinks" is one goal of artificial intelligence research. In 1950, the great British mathematician Alan Turing guessed that "thinking computers" would arrive by 2000. But computers capable of simulating human thought processes are no closer Read More

Europe's Forgotten Promise

Delegates to this week's World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, will have to confront several stark ironies. Their lavish, $50 million soiree will be held in the shadow of 13 million hungry drought victims in the continent's... Read More

U.S. Says No To WEO

A top U.S. State Department official has all but rejected a proposal to establish a World Environmental Organization, similar to the World Trade Organization. The official went further, stating, "Since the 1992 Rio Summit, experience shows that the international co Read More

California Scheming

The American way is progress through competition. The California way, however, seems to be something else entirely. Gov. Gray Davis recently proposed unilateral statewide cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, despite the uncertain fate of the Kyoto Protocol, a shaky ec Read More

Combating Fratricide

Imagine if you will, a scene of battle. The American horse cavalry is performing its traditional mission, scouting for enemy encampments on the dusty plains. When the enemy is sighted, the horse soldiers send messages out, identifying the location of... Read More

Environmentalist SLOP

Public opinion research is a scientific enterprise. But in the service of activism, its scientific precision and accuracy can go awry. For example, with the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development throttling into gear, the company Politics Online has launche Read More

Can Greenspan Steer?

At the beach where we vacation every summer, my daughters like to ride the bumper cars at an amusement park called Funland. One thing I notice is how weak is the link between the steering wheel and the direction of... Read More

Chilling News

While recent studies have shown that on the whole Arctic sea ice has decreased since the late 1970s, satellite records of sea ice around Antarctica reveal an overall increase in the southern hemisphere ice over the same period. Continued decreases... Read More

Big Things, Big Thinkers

ALBUQUERQUE - What's the NBT - Next Big Thing - in homeland security? In 1945, scientists in these parts built the atomic bomb. Talk about Big Things: "Fat Man" and "Little Boy" ended World War Two. For decades thereafter, Sandia... Read More

The Adaptable Animal

CAMBRIDGE - The heat wave of the past week-and-a-half has finally ended here in the Northeast, giving city health officials the chance to tally up the heat-related deaths. As Slate and The New Yorker recently pointed out, excessive heat kills... Read More

Gettin' Jiggy in Jo'burg

The World Summit on Sustainable Development begins the last week in August in Johannesburg, South Africa. TechCentralStation and TCS Europe will be there on the scene reporting back to you with updates of what's going on. Up to this point,... Read More

Let Hollywood Hack

Hollywood wants to invade private computer networks so it can unleash viruses against copyright thieves. In a recent Tech Central Station article, Sonia Arrison argues against Congressional efforts to grant Hollywood hacking rights. Alas, without such rights, peer- Read More

The Cruel Calculus

It is not a question of if, but when. That is the general consensus of opinion among those thinking about a war with Iraq. By all accounts, the Bush Administration is committed to removing Saddam Hussein from power. What, then,... Read More

Aid and Comfort

At the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg next week, the U.S. will again be pilloried for being stingy on foreign aid. U.S. government aid as a percentage of GNP does indeed rank last. Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands,... Read More

Global Warming, Global Scepticism

In the 1970s and 1980s climate experts started to worry about the measured increase in the carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the atmosphere. On the basis of the known principle of the greenhouse effect, it could be expected that the... Read More

Super Confidence Builder

The test of a good system is not whether failures occur but whether they are remedied with speed and certainty. Despite the hysteria generated by media and politicians, the U.S. securities-trading system has clearly met that test. Since a series... Read More

Policy Abhors a Vacuum

Policy, like nature, abhors a vacuum. That's an adage I just concocted to fathom the debate engulfing Washington on what's gingerly-dubbed "regime change" in Iraq. Why now - nearly a year after the most vicious attack on America ever -... Read More

The King of Anti-Fascism

The 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death has passed, and news reports have stressed his continuing influence on music, culture, and race relations. But those reports have missed Elvis's greatest achievement: as a cultural immune response to totalitarianism. El Read More

'A More Orderly Process'

Editor's note: The following is an interview with Dr. Harlan Watson, the U. S. State Department's Senior Climate Change Negotiator and Special Representative. TCS Host James K. Glassman conducted the interview. Watson is leaving today for Johannesburg, South Africa Read More

Power Hungry, Power Mad

After last summer's energy crisis in California, residents are understandably more at ease this summer. But while some people are concerned about a lack of power, demanding more generators and power lines, others are worried about the consequences of too... Read More

Talking E-Trash

Haste maketh waste and in the fast-pace world of technology, there's a lot of it. Americans trash 220 million pounds of old computers and other forms of electronic waste each year, according to the EPA. And while that's still just... Read More

Stop the Dumb Bond Jokes

In what may be the best signal yet that the stock market has hit bottom and is on its way back up, this week I am going to write about bonds. Regular readers know that I am not fond of... Read More

Development Sustained

The UN's upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa at the end of August, begs an obvious question: what exactly is meant by "sustainable development"? An important new book sheds light on that question... Read More

Too High a Price?

As talk of an Iraq invasion turns from "if" to "when," the administration needs to prepare the U.S. public not only for a war, but also for a lengthy commitment of U.S. personnel to Iraq after the war has ended.... Read More

Moving On From 'Sustainablity'

The aims of the World Summit on Sustainable Development are laudable. Cleaner air and water, better stewardship of global resources, the eradication of poverty and disease no one can argue with such objectives. The question is how to get there... Read More

Biotech Bullets

West Nile Virus has now spread to at least 36 states and is about to officially qualify as an epidemic. It actually kills very few of its victims, but it's scary because Americans have long since have for decades now... Read More

How Now, Brown Cloud?

The United Nations will throw its biggest environmental party in 10 years later this month in Johannesburg. In preparation, the U.N. has rushed to publication a preliminary report about a new environmental pestilence, the so-called Asian Brown Cloud (ABC). The... Read More

British History Lessons

The trouble with lessons from history is that they often involve little actual history. Sometimes, as with discredited Emory University historian Michael Bellesiles, whose book Arming America turns out to rest in no small part on documents that don't exist,... Read More

Slaughtering the Fatted Calf

The current obsession in the public health arena is obesity. Ever since Surgeon-General David Hatcher announced in December last year that obesity was a major public health hazard, killing 300,000 people every year, the fat has been sizzling in the... Read More

Wake of the Floods

"A specter is haunting Europe." When Karl Marx famously penned those words he was referring to totalitarian communism. Today, a specter of a different kind - a different '-ism' - is haunting Europe and captivating the imaginations of its governing... Read More

An Aging Epidemic

As if skin cancer and wildfires weren't enough to worry about, the past few years have given Americans a new summertime fear, one whose name conjures up the very dangers of the dark continent. In its characteristically cautious style, New... Read More

Outta Time

The second guessing about 9/11 has been going on for some time now, so new variations on old themes should not be a big surprise. Already we have seen the old standards of blaming the CIA and FBI trotted out,... Read More

Closing the Door on Choices

Using symbols of democracy, capitalism and freedom as a backdrop, Linux software vendor Red Hat put its muscle behind a demonstration in San Francisco on Thursday in support of legislation that would mandate California's state government to use only open... Read More

Silly Season

BRUSSELS -- At the European Commission's regular midday press briefing in Brussels, reporters from all over the world -- and even the United States -- gather to get the daily word from the EU. Usually this involves a few hundred... Read More

The Broken Windows Fallacy

Consumers spent $4.6 billion on Digital Video Discs (DVDs) last year - more than twice as much as they did in 2000 - beating out VHS cassette sales for the first time. DVDs sold spectacularly even though VCRs are in... Read More

'Watching the Detectives'

In the new movie Triple X, the National Security Agency hands Xander Cage, a punk turned government agent, x-ray binoculars that let him see through objects, including the clothes of a nearby woman. While humorous in the movies, actual government... Read More

Human Rights and Trade

Editor's note: The following are James K. Glassman's remarks at the President's Economic Summit, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, Aug. 13, 2002 Thank you Ambassador Zoellick and Secretary Veneman. It is an honor to have been invited to this important conference.... Read More

The Perils of Recycling

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, the Democratic party's nominee for Vice President in 2000, recently took on his former patron, Al Gore, by saying that Gore's populist tone helped sink the Democrats' electoral chances during the 2000 election. In front of... Read More

Gray's Dream, My Nightmare

I am haunted by this recurring nightmare about California Governor Green (oops, Gray) Davis. There he is, in the middle of the San Diego Freeway, wearing Carry Nation's black dress and steel-rimmed glasses, flailing a fire-ax at the passing traffic.... Read More

Privatizing the Cyberwar

It is no secret that Al Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups make extensive use of the web. Some websites provide coded messages, in the same fashion that radio stations used to broadcast coded messages for spies in enemy territory.... Read More

Reason, Not Faith

In the debate over cloning, one frequently runs across the claim that opposition to the deliberate destruction of embryonic human life is a (necessarily) "theological position." The assertion is usually made as a way of dismissing the pro-life view on... Read More

Buy Europe or Bye Europe?

Should you be investing in European stocks? My answer: an emphatic "maybe." I have put off this column for months, ever since I returned in February from the first of three trips to Europe this year. Although I thought I... Read More

Democracy: No Panacea

"Democracies don't go to war against each other." We've all heard this bromide so often that we uncritically accept it as true. Upon thinking about it a second time, however, perhaps the real conclusion on this adage should be the... Read More

Doves In Wonderland

Recently, a fellow blogger emailed me to argue against a war with Iraq. With the media campaign heating up, and the New York Times' campaign against it in full swing, perhaps it's time to take a different perspective on the... Read More

Green Market

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's price cap for the wholesale electricity market in the western U.S. has been renewed (it had been due to expire September 30). FERC is pursuing this strategy even though we have decades of experience in... Read More

Your Presence Is Requested

Given the total, absolute, and final disappearance of Homo sapiens, then not only would the Earth's community of Life continue to exist, but in all probability, its well-being would be enhanced. Our presence, in short, is not needed. --Paul Taylor,... Read More

Oil Only? Nyet!

The Bush administration has been a willing accomplice in Russia's current push to ramp up oil production, claiming that Russia will provide a viable alternative to OPEC exports of oil to Western markets. While the notion of an alternative to... Read More

Lactose Intolerant

"Miss, please take a sip of that beverage." Only halfway through my cardboard cup of Fresh Fields coffee and therefore a bit slow, I furrowed my brow in response to the request. My hesitation annoyed the uniformed men at Reagan... Read More

Census and Sensibility

This spring, the U.S. Census Bureau announced plans to effectively replace the "long form" of the Census with the annual (and relatively new) American Communities Survey (ACS). Despite the potentially serious ramifications, the debate about this policy has not exac Read More

Preemptory Strike

The regional Bell telephone monopolies smell the opportunity in current scandals to kill competition, and they are quickly trying to do so. Citing the bankruptcies of WorldCom, Global Crossing and Qwest, they have began pressing the Federal Communications Commissio Read More

Ten Thousand Commandments

In the new 2003 federal budget, President George W. Bush proposed $2.01 trillion in spending. While these costs encompass the on-budget scope of the federal government, there is more going on - much more. Federal environmental, safety and health, and... Read More

Inside Out, Upside Down

Last week, the New York Times reported on the existence of a novel plan to invade Iraq and defeat the forces of Saddam Hussein. Called the "inside-out" plan, this scheme proposes to have American forces take Baghdad, along with a... Read More

Comedy and Climate

Several years before he became a late night talk show funnyman in New York, David Letterman was merely a mid-day funny weatherman in Indianapolis. He once famously tickled some heartland funnybones when he predicted hail stones "the size of canned... Read More

Let It Grow

One of the most interesting ideas to appear in recent years is that of the New Investor Majority (NIM). The analysts who have promoted this idea base it on the observation that over the past several decades the proportion of... Read More

EU-topian Fantasy

The European Union is nothing less than a miracle. The polities of Europe have a long and bloody history of internecine warfare. But, since the end of World War II, Europe has completely broken with its past. European nations have... Read More

Rationally Exuberant

The ultimate irony of the stock market decline of the past two years is that it occurred at a time when long-skeptical economists have come around to the view that the "new economy" story that fueled much of the rise... Read More

Mail Me the Money!

My email contains much of interest. It also contains READY FOR A SMOOTH WAY OUT OF DEBT?, A Personal Invitation from make_real_money@BIGFOOT.COM, You've Been Selected..... from, and a variety of similar messages, of which my favorite offers "th Read More

Liar, Liar

For many years, there has been considerable concern about cost escalation in government infrastructure projects. Washington's Metro, for example, cost much more than projected, even after accounting for inflation. Portland's new light rail line cost nearly three ti Read More

Tipping Their Hand

For years now, I've been saying that the record industry's long-term legislative strategy had less to do with preventing copying than with sewing up the market to ensure that Big Entertainment companies won't have to worry about competition from independent... Read More

What's the Forecast?

Global climate models attempt to describe the Earth's climate and are used in variety of applications. These include the investigation of the possible causes of climate change and the simulation of past and future climates. World leaders are making critical... Read More

He Can't Handle the Truth

Spinning a story works well, but not for long. Watching spinmeister Bill Clinton last week reminded me of its short-term power and long-term futility. Clinton -- sporting a bright yellow open shirt and blue sports jacket, and holding up a... Read More

Red Dragon Rising

Washington cocktail-party conversations about China typically go something like this: A person from the China-as-a-peer-competitor school of thought says "I think China, with its growing economy, growing military, and young, nationalistic population, will only natu Read More

North Can Help South

BRUSSELS -- The situation in much of Africa is dire. Half the population lives on less than $1 per day, illiteracy is climbing and school enrollment declining, AIDS/HIV is rampant in many areas of Sub Saharan and Southern Africa. War,... Read More

True Love Waits

If you are having a tough time deciding whether to dump a stock you own, don't despair. You aren't alone. In investing, nothing is harder. Nothing. Some people offer a simple formula -- such as, always sell a stock if... Read More

Discrimination Is Good

Modern-day anesthetics are a miracle for most of us. But for about 1 in every 20,000 patients given routine gas anesthetics, their muscles quickly become rigid, they develop a high fever, hyperventilation and an irregular heartbeat. Unless the anesthesia is... Read More

Copy Fighting

When we were kids, my brother and I quarreled at length about the color of the world. Our intractable dispute arose because my brother, David, favored blue, whereas I favored green. As proof that he had chosen the superior of... Read More

Put Dow Doubts to Rest

When our book, "Dow 36,000," was published in September 1999, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 10318. The Dow closed in the middle of last week at 8736. What went wrong? Actually, nothing. Despite its flamboyant title, "Dow 36,000"... Read More

Timber Tom the Hypocrite

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle brings many skills to his job, including one few of us knew he possessed-that of professional land manager. Last week, he quietly attached an amendment allowing timber sales and fire-prevention treatment in his home state... Read More

The Big Chill

Every researcher has to evaluate several factors before entering a field of study. The work should be challenging, it should be helpful to humanity -- and it should pay enough to make a living. Today, stem-cell research - supporters of... Read More

New Scientist, Old Problem

I grew up with New Scientist. It was to British households what Scientific American was in the United States - an authoritative magazine that demystified science by writing about it in terms the educated layman could understand. I would scratch... Read More

Captains of Cowardice

The old law of the sea was that it was women and children first when a ship started to sink. The proverbial captain would stand at the helm and bravely go down with the ship. Not so in modern corporate... Read More

Make War, Not Love

I just recently finished reading Carl von Clausewitz's On War (Vom Kriege)-the first time I had read the book since college. It occurred to me just how much the planners of the war on terrorism can learn from Clausewitz as... Read More

The Dow Congress

Even after its 489-point rally last Wednesday, the stock market's recent performance remains dismal. What's wrong? The economic news is good, if not great. Earnings have been better than expected, with positive surprises outnumbering negative by four to one. Intere Read More

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Goodbye

LONDON -- James Grover Thurber, quondam humorist of The New Yorker magazine, loathed neologisms. 'Automation' signified the end of civilization, as he knew it. It is therefore distinctly gratifying that he died in 1961, a good quarter-century before a group... Read More

Hollywood Hacks Consumers

Hollywood wants Congress to pass laws protecting intellectual property against theft on the Internet. But Hollywood lobbying has gone too far with the introduction of a new bill that authorizes copyright holders to hack into peer-to-peer networks. The Peer to... Read More

Not In the Driver's Seat

Faced with a state budget deficit that exceeds the GNP of most UN members and widespread voter perception that he exacerbated last year's energy crisis, California Gov. Gray Davis last month did what any astute politician would do. He punted... Read More

Draft Greenspan

There has been rampant speculation inside Washington that Chairman Greenspan might decide not to seek reappointment at the end of his current term. Having seen Greenspan in action recently, I can attest to the fact the speculation is unrelated to... Read More

Honor In The Sky

The recent crop of designs for the redevelopment of Ground Zero have rightly been widely condemned as miserably unimaginative. They not only fail to satisfy either the spiritual or the economic mandate implied by the site-perhaps the most important piece... Read More

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