TCS Daily : September 2002 Archives

Smarty Pants in Robes

"Who is the smartest Supreme Court Justice?" This was the pressing question that arose when I had dinner with a few well-connected lawyer friends not too long ago. It was a question that I have often heard, and one that... Read More

Drinking Problems

The demon drink has come under sustained attack recently for its corruption of youth. Newly released studies have alleged that drinking is a major social problem among young people and that alcohol manufacturers deliberately target magazines that they know young... Read More

Rain or Shine?

The Solar Decathlon is underway, and teams of students from 14 colleges and universities are building solar-powered homes on the National Mall in Washington DC in an effort to promote this alternative energy source. This week judges in this Department... Read More

Baby Steps

The Cartagena biosafety protocol may not give the Europe's biotechnology and genetically modified crop industries the gargantuan boost they need. But it might not be all bad news either. On Sept. 24, the European Parliament gave the thumbs-up to rules... Read More

Progress and Displacement

Nostalgia can take remarkable forms. Naomi Klein, author of the anti-globalization manifesto No Logo, decries the loss of blue-collar factory jobs in her neighborhood. Who would have thought that someone would mourn the demise of Dickensian drudgery? Every step for Read More

Canadian Hot Spots

Canada's Inuit have joined forces with their circumpolar brothers and sisters - the Inuit of Greenland, Alaska and Siberia - to lobby their national governments for ratification of the Kyoto accord. At a Pan-Arctic conference last month, representatives of these,.. Read More

Standing Pat

A new opinion magazine, called The American Conservative (TAC), was born this week. Politics and political debate, given their nature, can be confusing. And TAC, through its very existence, demonstrates why political discourse can be as mind-bendingly confusing as Read More

Slouching Toward Prosperity

Russia is finally on its way to becoming a normal economy. After a decade of failed reforms and false starts, it seems as if Russia has turned the economic corner. Rejecting seventy-four years of communist, command-and-control, prescriptions, Russia has recognized. Read More

War and Your Wallet

In the bars, the malls, and baseball stadium bleachers, every investor asks the same question: When the United States invades - liberates? - Iraq, what will be the consequence, and the price? Note the "when," not the "if." President Bush... Read More

Daschle's Distortions

If you're a political aficionado, if you enjoy the twists, turns and 'strategery' of policy, then you probably got a kick out of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's antics Wednesday. The usually reserved but always "concerned" Daschle was a different... Read More

Crazy Like a Fox

Saddam Hussein's "unconditional" agreement to allow inspectors back into Iraq has, for the moment, blunted the momentum of the Bush Administration's efforts to encourage the UN Security Council to authorize force against Iraq in the immediate future. It also allows Read More

...'Mighty' Misdemeanors

Were it up to Keith Bradsher, the U.S. Armed Forces would be diverted from the Middle East and massed along the city limits of Detroit - undoubtedly, transported in sensible, mid-sized sedans. For you see, Bradsher, author of the new... Read More

'High' Crimes...

I am truly worried about Keith Bradsher. Unless he can get this sport utility vehicle curse off his back, he is headed for serious trouble. A nervous breakdown? Fits of depression? The window ledge of a tall building? These are... Read More

Upon Closer Inspection

President Bush's September 12th speech to the United Nations General Assembly was even more consequential than the immediate reviews of the speech gave it credit for. Not only did it put the world on notice of the seriousness with which... Read More

Gotta Secret?

Right after September 11th last year, Americans held hands so that no-one pointed fingers. Now, one year later, Washington resumes the politics of blamesmanship. The Congress' probe of September 11th peeked out from behind closed doors last week and triggered... Read More

Gone With the Wind

So-called renewable sources of electricity are being considered in this fall's energy legislation negotiations. One proposal, in Senate bill S. 517, mandates that renewable sources - for example, wind and solar but excluding new hydro - supply 10% of the... Read More

Bye Bye Donor Card

It could have been part of a Jay Leno monologue. Perhaps it was. The latest miracle in biotechnology is a fully functional penis grown from an animal's own cells. But this isn't just good news for Lorena Bobbitt's next husband.... Read More


In folklore, the moon has long had a reputation for bringing on craziness. And in a way, it does. At least, space and the moon seem to have agitated the loonier parts of the political left into, well, raving lunacy.... Read More

The Debt Bet

If you're thinking of bailing out of the stock market, you're not alone. Frantic investors are moving their money out of stocks and into bonds and money-market funds - that is, out of equity and into debt. Investing demands choosing,... Read More

Law and Orderlies

We're in the midst of a healthcare crisis again. Nearly ten years after the Clinton Administration tried to fix the system, and managed care was hailed as its savior, we are, in many respects, even worse off than before. Health... Read More

Welcome to Bizarro-World

Thanks to British Prime Minister Tony Blair for stating in a recent press conference a peculiar but profound truth. One of the things I have found most bizarre about the last few weeks is the sight of very decent, liberal-minded... Read More

Containment Won't Work

  It is clear that the main element of any United States policy... must be that of a long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment... - George F. Kennan, Foreign AffairsOpponents of an attack on Iraq claim that a policy... Read More

The Genuine Article

When journalist David Wallis launched his Web-based syndication service two years ago, it seemed a pretty humble enterprise compared to the online syndicates of the day. His wasn't a slick multi-million-dollar content marketplace portal like iSyndic Read More

The Blind Bookmaker

Religion has been in retreat since Galileo's day. Copernicus cast the Earth from the centre of the universe; Newton captured the heavens in his laws of motion. The devout pinned their hopes on a special place for man but Darwin... Read More

Davis' Failed Test

California's ambitious and costly school testing system, the Academic Performance Index (API), appears severely flawed. The regime under which improving schools and their teachers receive cash awards fails to include the test scores of one out of every 5 students.. Read More

The Warrior Diplomat

What are we to make of Saddam's sudden offer to allow unconditional inspections of his weapons program? There are two points we should note, one practical and the other more theoretical. The practical point is that the West's reception of... Read More

Deviant Standard

Of all the anti-energy provisions in the misnamed Senate "energy bill," the most economically, ethically, and constitutionally challenged is the proposed "renewable portfolio standard." If enacted, this provision will fleece consumers, establish a new corporate wel Read More

Era of Big Government Has Just Begun

Conservatives who support "regime change" in Iraq might reflect that the forthcoming war for Baghdad is likely to change the government here in the U.S. as well. Indeed, a close look at a new document published on Friday by the... Read More

Caution, Competition Ahead

Just when nearly everyone had given up hope of breaking the monopoly in local telephone service, competition has suddenly blossomed, and consumers and small businesses around the country are beneficiaries. The plan set by Congress in a law enacted six... Read More

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Give a person a fish, and he has food for a day. Teach a person to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime. So goes the old saying about teaching self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, while such self-sufficiency is a good... Read More

Powell for the Poor

The U.S. State Department is often the bane of conservatives' existence, mostly for its institutional embrace of the multilateral, let's-not-offend-anyone (particularly the Europeans), kumbaya-ism. Even in the Bush Administration, Secretary of State Colin Powell pr Read More

Baseball, Hotdogs and Apple p

How do you determine the best batting order for a baseball team? How much difference does it make? Lots of statistics are collected in baseball. These statistics have been used mostly to rank individual players. Who has the most home... Read More

'The Duty of the Living'

The commemoration of the September 11th terrorist attacks was a time for Americans to look back on all they had gone through on that terrible day when terrorism struck the United States, and all we have been through since then.... Read More

Harvest Time

In Europe, Monsanto is a four-letter word. The St. Louis, Missouri-based agricultural-sciences company has become a corporate synonym in the EU for genetically modified (GM) crops and, by extension, foods and biotechnology in general. In other words, in the current Read More

Indian Summary

In many places around the world, the gains in environmental quality in the last few decades have been astounding. People are living longer, the air is cleaner, and agriculture is more productive, freeing up land for wildlife and forest growth.... Read More

Hit the Road, Jack

Let me see now, wasn't this about the time that everybody in urban America would have shucked their filthy automobiles and embarked for work on light rail cars, subways, environmentally pristine buses, bicycles, Segways and shank's mare? As I recall,... Read More

Who Needs It?

"We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate." So said Henry David Thoreau in Walden in 1854. As usual, the clever and... Read More

Scientific Values

Genetics and biotechnology have already emerged as two of the great issues of the 21st century, issues that blur many of the political lines of today. Biotechnology is often embedded in other methods and products. And it requires expertise to... Read More

The Moor of Crawford

Members of Congress and the UN Security Council seek to base their votes to liberate Iraq strictly on the facts. Senators and key Representatives now gripe they're not getting all the facts or new facts or enough facts or the... Read More

Amateur Night

Amateur astronomy may be the oldest hobby, in that people have been observing the night sky for many thousands of years. Amateurs played a central role in astronomy's development as a science from the 16th through 19th centuries. In much... Read More

The New Space Race?

Last week, I wrote about Orion, the nuclear-pulse-powered spacecraft (well, really, a nuclear-explosion-powered spacecraft) and suggested that it might be the favored tool of junior powers looking to leapfrog the United States' position in outer space. This week I' Read More

Great Scott! How He Lies

These days, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter discusses his views on Iraq with any willing journalist - and there are a lot of them. According to Ritter, "the truth is, Iraq is not a threat to its neighbors and... Read More

Good Hope Abounds

JOHANNESBURG - The World Summit on Sustainable Development was held here in Johannesburg from August 26th through September 4th. This conference was the United Nations' get-together where global players convened to address important economic and environmental issue Read More

Kyoto and Kellogg-Briand

Seventy five years ago, a Frenchman sent a letter to an American. Of the trillions of letters sent in the three-quarters of a century since, none shed as much light on the proposed Kyoto Treaty. The letter was from Aristide... Read More

Bundles of Joy?

"It is the wave of the future," according to Sam Simon of the nonprofit Telecommunications Research and Action Center. And what's that? Why, bundled telecommunications services, of course. Verizon Communications has launched new packages of bundled long distance, w Read More

Shopping for Opportunities

If the current bear market hurts, it should. It's the fourth-worst in modern market history. But here's balm for aching portfolios: The smart folks at Sanford Bernstein & Co., a value-oriented investment-management firm, tell us that "the key thing to... Read More

Rating Approvals

It is, as some wags are fond of observing, better to ask for forgiveness than permission. That seems to be the logic that some advocates of an attack on Iraq are applying to question of whether the president needs to... Read More

Go with the Flow

Against all odds, the Earth Summit at Johannesburg focused, not on the parochial interest of the radical greens like climate change, but on broader matters of economic development, like pulling down trade barriers so poorer nations can prosper by exporting... Read More

Invisible Hand vs. Visible Handout

"Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse or omission . . . Innumerable speculative thinkers, inventors and organizers, have contributed to the comfort, health and happiness of their fellow men... Read More

The Free Software Lunch

Socialism is dead and buried, right? Well, not quite. Utopian communes are actually thriving in cyberspace, designing software that is sometimes as good as the best from Silicon Valley. And market economists like me are scrambling to understand how unpaid... Read More

Year of the Rat

LOS ANGELES - The rat strutted on the velvet covering of the chain supporting the grand crystal chandelier that once resided in a cathedral in France but now illuminates the circular stairwell of my dear friends' home in Holmby Hills,... Read More

Life or Death Decision?

Abortion is possibly the most contentious issue in American domestic politics. The battle lines are sharply drawn, and both sides are always looking for more ammunition to expend in their cause. Scientific studies are the heavy artillery in this battle,... Read More

Gaining Friends

KRYNICA, Poland - On 9/11 last year I was in Warsaw, in the Polish ministry of foreign affairs. As we were preparing a visit to the U.S. and were in constant touch with our Consul General in New York, we... Read More

Green with Greed

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - "Green" groups do quite well for themselves courtesy of business and foundations derived from corporate wealth (Pew, Ford, Rockefeller, Heinz, MacArthur). Still, the green machine is not free from financial challenge. History has proven Read More

Beauty in Simplicity

The latest Congressional Budget Office figures on the budget paint a none-to-rosy picture of federal finances and the economy. The report issued Aug. 27 showed the biggest drop in federal tax revenue in more than half century happened in the... Read More

From Here to Eternity?

In part one, I explained a vision for a new telecommunications architecture, consisting of "Packet Express" to deliver information signals and "Thingies" to convert those packets into sound, text, or video as desired. In this essay, I talk about the... Read More

Snakehead in the Bathtub

A few years ago everybody's favorite technophobe, Jeremy Rifkin, coined the term "genetic pollution." He believed it was "going to gain currency very quickly." It didn't. But it may get a boost from a recent study by a National Academy... Read More

Loud Enough For You?

The European Union has decided that its citizens need better protection for their hearing. The subject has been under discussion for many years, as early as 1994 in fact. Ever vigilant, the EU has decided that a maximum of 87decibels... Read More

Egad, It's eGray!

Last week, California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon stirred things up when his campaign posted a satire of Governor Gray Davis auctioning public policies at web site While not as outrageous as the vote swapping sites from the 2000 election,... Read More

'We Don't Know Anything'

This week, the Justice Department launched an ambitious new fingerprint system for foreign visitors that will supposedly check visitors' fingerprints against the federal government's various terrorist databases. Will the new procedures save lives? If the Immigratio Read More

Criminals Are Watching

...the Underground Empire today has more power, wealth, and status than many nations. It flies no flag on the terrace of the United Nations, but it has larger armies, more capable intelligence agencies, more influential diplomatic services than many countries... Read More

The Colorful Candidate

Does anyone want to be governor of California? Or, with the Democratic incumbent suffering high disapproval ratings and choking on his poor approval numbers and his Republican challenger running as the Unknown Candidate, maybe the better question is: Does anyone... Read More

Going It Alone

The smoking gun may be a mushroom cloud. By the time we have "convincing evidence" - most critics, truth be told, won't find any amount of evidence ever convincing - it may well be too late. That's why President... Read More

Why It Was Different

As we mark the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, people everywhere will try to place the attacks into an historical context. The most natural analogy, and the one that has pervaded our culture, is that 9/11 is... Read More

The Road Not Taken (Yet)

In the old science-fiction movies, spaceships looked like, well, ships. They had massive steel girders, thick bulkheads, and rivets everywhere. And big crews, with bunks, staterooms, and mess halls. Now we know better of course: spaceships aren't big, massive const Read More

'Marvelous, Mischievous Monument'

The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages... Read More

Technology to the Rescue

Telecommuting became an unexpected resource to many American businesses in the fall of 2001, as a result of the terrorist attack upon the World Trade Center. The story of Moody's Investor Services is a good example of how a traditional... Read More

If You Build It, They Will Come

Which climate-related initiative poses the biggest threat to America's economic future? Is it (a) the Kyoto Protocol, with its growth-chilling restrictions on carbon-based energy use, (b) Senator Jim Jeffords' (VT-I) "Clean Power Act," which would impose Kyoto-like Read More

Being There

Editor's note: This article articulates a vision for the architecture of electronic communications. A follow-up article will discuss the economic challenges in reaching that vision. It is easier to describe there - a relatively simple vision for the future of... Read More

Truly Special

Now that newspapers are reporting frustration among the Special Operations troops who've been hunting Osama bin Laden for almost 12 months straight, it seems like common sense, doesn't it, to conclude the U.S. should equip itself with more such elite... Read More

In Search of 'Community'

KRYNICA, Poland - In the final day of meetings in Krynica, delegates met to discuss a broad range of topics, but the majority of meetings, and the lion's share of the lunch conversation focused on the likely impact of EU... Read More

One to Grow On

A month ago, the Web site, the best venue for finding out about mutual funds, alarmed thousands of investors when it reported that Fidelity Contrafund had changed managers. A few days later, Morningstar apologized for the error, an in-house... Read More

The Celtic Tiger

Unlike most international summits involving Ireland, growth, not guns, was the topic of last week's meeting of US and Irish representatives. A reliance on market forces and rebuffing of restrictive EU policies has, in ten years, catapulted Ireland from Europe's... Read More

Freedom and Responsibility

Editor's note: The first installment of this series can be found here. KRYNICA, Poland - Our first day in Krynica presented us with a number of odd experiences that one would be hard pressed to reproduce in the U.S. Throughout... Read More

Thank God It's Monday

Do you ever wonder about how American workers are doing? You could ask them. But these days, it is much easier to turn on TV. CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, CNNFN, FOX, Headline News, Bloomberg TV, PBS, and the networks regularly provide... Read More

Fuel Hell

Being the hopeless optimist that I am, I was convinced that an automotive Nirvana lay ahead. The fuming internal combustion engine would be history, displaced by silent, clean and friendly efficient fuel cells that would (1) excise the environment of... Read More

Islamic Poll Daze

According to a recent poll, 57 percent of American Muslims claim to have experienced bias or discrimination themselves since 9-11, and 87 percent say they know of another Muslim who has experienced discrimination. The poll, conducted by the Council on... Read More

Teach the Children Well

It takes a heap of lessons to make a house a homeschool. Some parent-teachers use prepackaged courses and curricula, and increasingly they're looking to the Internet for their lessons. Former Education Secretary William Bennett has jumped into this rapidly growing. Read More

Down to the Crossroads

KRYNICA, Poland - Once a year, the leading politicians of central Europe meet in Krynica in southern Poland to discuss current events in a Davos-like atmosphere. This year's meeting, the twelfth, is likely to be more contentious than usual. Prime... Read More

Liberal, Not Democratic

In the West, the concept of democracy is fetishized to an unreasonable extent. We have a tendency to elevate democracy into the sine qua non of political respectability; assuming that holding relatively free and fair elections not only assures the... Read More

Recycling Bad Ideas

Washington has a nasty habit of recycling bad ideas. Now it's recycling bad ideas about ... recycling. This latest policy retread comes from Jim Jeffords, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. If the Vermont independent's National Beverage. Read More

The Return of Scientism

When Shahana and Raj Hashmi discovered that their two year-old son, Zain, had the fatal genetic disorder thalassaemia, they applied to the United Kingdom's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for permission to create a "designer baby." They would fe Read More

Military Action and Malaise

The economic statistics have turned fairly sour this summer, with initial claims for unemployment insurance inching back up, and most other indicators about flat since the second quarter. The deceleration of activity has been striking in its suddenness, and marks.. Read More

Ptolemy Redux

The transnational blatherfest otherwise known as the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg has drawn to a close, and it's striking that, for all of their posturing as "progressive," there was something medieval in the thinking of many of... Read More

Read Our Lips

At a time when more than 8 million Americans are unemployed, business investment has stalled and the recovery is still tentative, Congress is considering a tax hike. Even more surprising, the misguided proposal is sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Thomas... Read More

Seedy Politics

JOHANNESBURG - A raging debate over the use of agricultural biotechnology for producing food dominated the final days of the World Summit for Sustainable Development. The debate reached a low point when Zambian President, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa discussed food aid.. Read More

Foreign Policy Fetishes

Recently, two figures who have loomed large in the creation of recent American foreign policy, and who have close connections to former President George H.W. Bush, have spoken up to urge caution, and even reversal of any warplans concerning Iraq.... Read More

Healing the Two-Cultures Split

Over forty years ago, C.P. Snow warned of an increasing gap between two cultures: the cultures of science, and of the arts. In the intervening years, Snow's observation has become a commonplace, not least because it struck a chord of... Read More

Zelig in Africa

JOHANNESBURG - The headline in the September 2 edition of Business Day, the most serious-minded newspaper here in Jo'burg, was blunt: "Spectre of failure puts pressure on summit." As the last two days of the summit counted down, the paper... Read More

Small Nukes, Good Nukes

JOHANNESBURG - The much-beleaguered US delegation managed to indirectly include nuclear power into text promoting renewable energy at the Sustainable Development Conference. Remi Permentier, head of Greenpeace, called the move, 'absolutely outrageous', saying the l Read More

Destined to Fail

Though last-minute compromises may paper over fundamental disagreements regarding central environmental goals at the Johannesburg Summit, there is already a theme of failure emanating from this vast and disparate assemblage of government officials, public interest Read More

Crunch Time

It's crunch time in Washington. Last week, Vice President Cheney made a compelling case for the liberation of Iraq. This week, President George W. Bush must give compulsory orders to liberate Iraq. Why the nation's first M.B.A. president - one... Read More

A Proper Accounting

JOHANNESBURG - One of the key themes being pushed by NGOs here at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg is 'corporate accountability'. Whilst there is much to be said in favour of corporations being held accountable for their... Read More

'A Totalitarian Effort'

JOHANNESBURG - Stanley Kubrick may be gone, but his portrayal of a hellish future corrupted by the abuses of corporatist government are alive and well. Nowhere are such dark prospects more in evidence than at today's "Sustainable Mobility" presentation by... Read More

High Hurdles

The world record for the 400-meter dash is a lot faster than the world record for the 400-meter high hurdles. There is a very simple reason for that: Hurdles slow people down. It has nothing to do with fairness, and... Read More

Food Fight

JOHANNESBURG -Up to14 million people are at risk from starvation in Southern Africa, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation. Food aid has flooded in from Europe and America and for some the risk is diminishing, but for the... Read More

An Energetic Victory

JOHANNESBURG - On a day when European leaders like France's Jacques Chirac and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder parachuted into this giant Earth Summit to blast the lack of American leadership on the environment, the United States scored a stunning victory on... Read More

Starving for Technology

JOHANNESBURG - At this surprisingly sensible Earth Summit, staunch advocates of reducing poverty in developing nations have put radical environmentalists, who typically dominate these affairs, squarely on the defensive. A major battlefield has been agricultural use Read More

Giving Tolerance a Bad Name

JOHANNESBURG - This week President Mugabe of Zimbabwe came to Johannesburg and addressed the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). That one of Africa's worst tyrants has been accepted by the UN to the meeting shows how absurdly inclusive the... Read More

Heat Not Light

"Walkout averted!" trumpeted a headline last week from Johannesburg. Apparently 12,000 activists and lobbyists from environmental and anti-globalization NGOs had threatened to abandon the UN's World Summit on Sustainable Development if they weren't given more acces Read More

Russian Roulette

JOHANNESBURG - Russia played the first Kyoto card at this "World Summit on Sustainable Development," and it just might be an Ace. A member of the Russian delegation alarmed the greens and our economic competitors in the European Union (EU)... Read More

The First Priority

JOHANNESBURG - Trade and globalisation were major themes of the conference last week. As we move into the second week the official delegates are still split on the issue, which is reflected in different bracketed text under discussion. Paragraph 45... Read More

Behind Books, Not Bars

Last week, the Justice Policy Institute released a study that examined how states' spending on corrections and higher education respectively had diverged over the last twenty years. The report particularly highlighted the effect of the relative changes on the male. Read More

Springtime for the Poor

JOHANNESBURG - The second week of the giant United Nations Earth Summit begins today in this booming city, balmy and blooming on the second day of South African spring. More than 100 world leaders are scheduled to address the 60,000... Read More

Blair's Blunder

British PM Tony Blair, speaking at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, pushed aggressively for ratification of the Kyoto Treaty. 'The whole world must face up to the challenge of climate change,' he said. 'Kyoto is right and... Read More

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