TCS Daily : December 2002 Archives

Belief, Not Medicine

A new study in the December issue of Contemporary Pediatrics recommends the use of acupuncture to treat children with chronic pain or nausea, claiming to have evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture for children by examining its use in adults. However,... Read More

The Missile Shield Gap?

Somewhat surprisingly, President Bushs announcement that the U.S. was planning to begin deployment of a limited missile defense system in 2004 has drawn only muted criticism from Russia. In large part, the Russian government already understood that the construction Read More

Time Tripps Up

Over a week has passed since Time's cover eulogized three whistle blowers as Persons of the Year. To date, there has been no press commentary to the effect that there are whistle blowers and then there are whistle blowers. Some... Read More

Looking Ahead

As we pass from 2002 into 2003, the new millennium doesn't look especially bright. With smallpox once thought eradicated, we're now talking about mass smallpox vaccinations. Terrorists are clearly anxious to acquire weapons of mass destruction of pretty much any... Read More

Establishing Religion

Have you heard about the latest controversy swirling around PBS? Even before "Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet," aired on December 18, the camel dung had been hitting the fan. But once the mess is cleaned up, the source of the... Read More

Bloodshot Eyes in the Sky

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that develops and operates America's spy satellites, faces a crucial challenge in the showdown with Iraq. The challenge, of course, is to monitor Iraq's military movements and weapons of mass destruction. But it. Read More

Clone Rangers

"Bush administration supporters are preparing a fresh effort to pass legislation that would outlaw all forms of human cloning," the Washington Post reported last week. This news follows a move last month by the United States to block an initiative... Read More

SUV: Our Savior

Ravaged by guilt, I was about to cancel my order for a new, three-ton, fly yellow, 300-jillion horsepower, gas-swilling Hummer H2 and spec out a Chinese-built, 20-speed Mountain Bike. But Whoa! Wait a minute! Hold on I'm keeping the Hummer... Read More

Dealing With Kim

Quick, name a world figure who within the last few decades has successfully plotted the blowing up of passenger aircraft, the killing of another country's cabinet officials, the murder of his own people, and the acquisition of nuclear-weapons materials to... Read More

Year of the Blog

2001 was the year that weblogs burst into the national consciousness in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. But 2002 was the year in which weblogs became part of the mainstream, even while remaining outside it. And 2003 -... Read More

Driven to Drink

Last week, the American Medical Association took new evidence that alcohol affects young brains worse than it does adult brains and used it to call for further restrictions on alcohol advertising. "We've known for years that alcohol makes kids dead,"... Read More

Betting Against Convergence

For the past decade, pundits have been predicting media convergence. As Nicholas Negroponte wrote in Being Digital, we can represent audio, video, and text as bits. Therefore, the convergence hypothesis goes, we do not need devices that specialize in one... Read More


On a recent "Leave It to Beaver" rerun, the Beav was excused from school to appear on a TV show called "Teen Age Forum." The principal wheeled a TV set into the classroom so students could watch, but Beaver wasn't... Read More

Wall Street Thug

Tony Soprano is an unsavory character. He breaks the law. He lies. He intimidates. He makes his own rules, and he gets what he wants. And yet he remains a very popular guy. Eliot Spitzer is also a popular guy,... Read More

Law and Horror

By coincidence on December 14, I received two documents addressing the famine in southern and eastern Africa - the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) statement on hunger in Africa and the Report of Zambian scientists to His Excellence the President... Read More

Celebrate Bad Times, C'mon!

One year has passed since Argentina spiraled into an economic meltdown and there doesn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates Argentina's GDP has contracted by 13% over the past year,... Read More

A 'Doofus' Position

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page is the best in the world. But even the best make embarrassing mistakes - which is the nicest thing I can say for the Journal editorial that appeared Tuesday under the headline, "Telecom Meltdown,... Read More

Yes, Virginia, There Is Missile Defense

At long last. It's been nearly 20 years since President Ronald Reagan unhinged the chattering class by observing that Mutually Assured Destruction - MAD, for short - wasn't so smart. That protection was better than obliteration. That developing SDI... Read More

Big Idea, Bad Idea

Is it possible to catalogue every human idea? Japan-based researcher Darryl Macer thinks so, and last month he proposed in the journal Nature to count the number of human ideas and map them. This plan, while a clever attention grabber,... Read More

Dizzying Diet News

Almost every day brings a new study on the human diet. Most of them contradict each other ("for the last time, does fiber prevent colon cancer or not?!"), leaving readers perplexed about what and how much they should be eating.... Read More

New Media, New Power

I was out of the country, and in a place where Internet connections cost a couple bucks a minute to use. That's my excuse for only learning through the Miami Herald's Caribbean edition on Tuesday Dec. 11 of Senate Majority... Read More

Diplomatic Delusions

One of the many surprises attendant to the ongoing sociopolitical turmoil in Iran is the relatively little comment it has garnered from the United States government. Many observers believe that this is attributable to the State Department's desire to achieve... Read More

Economic Jump-Start Won't Do

Now that President Bush has named his new economic team, he's expected to turn his attention to a stimulus package. I hope not. Growth, yes. Stimulus, no. "Stimulus" implies a goose to the economy - or, more politely, the quick... Read More

The UN's Bizarre War on Biotech

The United Nations' abject failure to get Iraq to adhere to the Security Council's post-Gulf War resolutions might lead to a war that is costly to the United States and its allies and devastating to Iraq. But for a large... Read More

Smallpox Martyrs, American Style

The Bush Administration is going ahead with a massive smallpox vaccination campaign - a radical step, given that smallpox was officially eradicated decades ago. President Bush will even receive the vaccine, a step probably meant as much as a response... Read More

10 Stock-ing Stuffers

In January 1995, I started offering readers a list of 10 stocks to consider for the year ahead, making my selections from the choices of market pros whose opinions I value. In five years of this exercise, my lists returned... Read More

Brick by Brick

Recent newspaper headlines underscore the need for an effective missile defense. The shipment of North Korean missiles bound for Yemen confirms the proliferation of missile technology. Nations like Iran, Iraq and North Korea are acquiring such technologies, may alr Read More

Brains vs. Asphalt

Seventy-four members of the Estonian parliament introduced a bill this week that would set September 14, 2003 as the date for referendum on joining the European Union. Having a referendum in a tiny, post-socialist country may seem like a mere... Read More

Perils of Gridlock

Thomas Friedman, the highly-respected, award-winning foreign policy wonk for New York Times is, like the rest of his fellow liberal staff members, fretting about our dependence on Middle-Eastern oil. It is a concern, one might be reminded, that has drifted... Read More

The Greediest Generation

Social Security is falling off a cliff, taking baby boomers down with it. There are two ways to avoid a hard landing: We can deploy a financial parachute, or we can soften the impact by landing on our children. Social... Read More

Spread the Wealth

At a time when the press and politicians are fretting about investors losing confidence in stock markets, new information provided to the SEC offers reassuring evidence about the speed and fairness of transactions. But, by shedding new light on the... Read More

Tricky Al

The congressman-turned-senator-turned-two-term vice president had just lost a presidential election, but he was still a young and vigorous man. And because he was defeated by the narrowest of margins - many in his party thought he had been robbed of... Read More

A Bridge to the Next Tech Boom

The venture capital industry, which bankrolled the dot-com euphoria of the most recent technology boom, shows relatively few signs of returning to its former prominence anytime soon. Total VC investment has now declined for nine consecutive quarters, and threatens Read More

Phase Out Medicare

With the recent shake-up in the Bush Administration's economic team, some pundits are clamoring for a bolder economic policy. That got me to start thinking about how I would respond if someone were to ask me for a bold, specific... Read More

Putting People Before Profits

Recently my family and I awoke to four inches of sewage in our basement. While we have many close fiends, we didn't call them for help. No doubt some would have interrupted their plans and come over. But we didn't... Read More

Economists Against Israel

Israel has cost the U.S. around $1.6 trillion since 1973, or more than $5,700 per person (twice the cost of the Vietnam war), according to economist and consultant Thomas Stauffer. Israel is currently pursuing $4 billion in new aid and... Read More

The Innovator's Decision

Tom Daschle tried to turn the election into a referendum on the economy, blasting the Bush administration for "the worst performance in terms of real economic growth that we have seen in the last 50 years." However hyperbolic, he... Read More

Transformation and Risk

In November, TCS published an article by Melana Zyla Vickers that misses both the forest and the trees. In "Dominance Lite" Ms. Vickers wrote: Those who thought the "arms are for hugging" school of foreign policy went out of fashion... Read More

Voice of the Future?

What might spur the next tidal wave of growth and use of the Internet and broadband? Well, how about something old fashioned - like a long distance phone call. As The Wall Street Journal reported Dec. 5, broadband connections are... Read More

Labels and Trade Wars

This week the Environment Committee of the European Parliament met to discuss the traceability of genetically modified (GM) food and its labeling. With some luck Parliament will base its decisions on sound science. But it got no help or guidance... Read More

Blogs 1, Reinhardt 0

This past week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals-which enjoys the dubious reputation of having had more of its decisions reversed by the United States Supreme Court than any other circuit-unburdened itself of a 69-page magnum opus written by Circuit... Read More

Who Is In Denial?

The Bush Administration last week finished a three-day conference on the science and potential risks posed by climate change. The Administration's critics wasted no time. They pounced Monday and called for the U.S. to push ahead with the Kyoto Protocol... Read More

Edge Power

The Internet lowers the cost of the tools of communication and creativity, making them affordable to individuals and small businesses. This phenomenon might be called Edge Power, because it increases power around the "edges" of the network, in contrast with... Read More

Hi-Tech vs. Low-Tech Threats

The Bush Administration has repeatedly raised the specter of evildoers armed with exotic weapons - from Al-Qaeda's "dirty bombs" to Saddam's biotoxin-spraying unmanned planes. But the recent attacks in Kenya underscore a simple truth, defense experts say: terrorist Read More

Gateway to Heaven?

Nevada's state ballot this year included Question 9, which called for the legalization of marijuana for both sale and use. Drug Czar John Walters visited the state twice to argue against the initiative. He was quoted in the Boston Globe... Read More

Remember With
Us or Against Us?

You're either with us or against us, has been President Bush's clear mantra. Well, I'm with the President in the war against terrorism on everything - except his stance towards Saudi Arabia. That's because the Saudis aren't with him on... Read More

For Richer, Not for Poorer

A recent TCS column discussed the dark side of double taxation. In a nutshell, it demonstrated how this quirk of our tax code makes the stock markets more volatile, increases the number of bankruptcies, and chokes off dividend payments to... Read More

The Energy of Stars

There he goes again. Robert Redford, the famed movie star, has criticized what he believes is excessive American energy use. Writing earlier this month in the Los Angeles Times, he says our present policies cause too much dependence on foreign... Read More

Media Feudalism Under Siege

One of the reasons that feudalism thrived during the Middle Ages is that it was expensive to be a knight. The cost of a horse and armor exceeded what most peasants made in several years. Add to that the extensive... Read More

Sad For Us Humans, But True

My favorite curmudgeon, the Scrooge of Stocks, is a former National Geographic photographer named Charles Allmon. He lives in Potomac, manages about $100 million for clients, and is the founder and editor of Growth Stock Outlook, now in its 38th... Read More

Judicious Generosity

It's easy this time of year to get carried away with the spirit of giving, to exceed the bounds of our generosity, to give more than we have to give. And not just for our lesser brethren, but every friend,... Read More

The Myth of the Man

The disclosure of the illnesses and medications relating to John F. Kennedy set off a great gasp in the press - front page stories everywhere. Of course, much, if not most, of this information was available to the press at... Read More

Open Agnosticism

Julian Sanchez characterizes me as an "enemy" of Open Source (OS). "Open source agnostic" would be a better term than "enemy." Opposition to proposals for government preferences are not necessarily based on enmity for the Open Source movement, which has... Read More

Note From Brussels: Free to Choose?

For many people, the car is a symbol of freedom. Arthur Seldon recalls in Capitalism how at age 11 he made a silent promise that when he grew up and had acquired a car, he would return to the East... Read More

Open Source and Its Enemies

It should surprise nobody to learn that Bill Gates is not a fan of Linux or open source software [OSS], for roughly the same reason that light bulb manufacturers might resent sunny days. What ought to be surprising is that... Read More

The Alternative Universe

It is time for Congress to defund the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM.) After ten years of existence and over $200 million in expenditures, it has not proved effectiveness for any "alternative" method. It has added to... Read More

Greenspan for
Treasury Secretary

A source at the White House this morning said that John Snow, the chairman of CSX, is the likely choice to be the next Secretary of the Treasury. Snow is an unusual businessman. He has a Ph.D. in economics as... Read More

It Ain't Beanbag

OK, politics is a rough game. But sometimes it's rougher than it has to be. Larry Lindsey just learned that the hard way. The White House insisted, not too insistently, that Lindsey and Paul O'Neill "resigned." That was Ari Fleischer's... Read More

Cosmic Pro-Lifers

Questions about extraterrestrial life - whether it exists, what it would be like, how to look for it - generate very little scientific consensus. Some scientists enthuse over the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which listens for radio signals from alien.. Read More

Outlaws and Databases

A folk song that was popular in my childhood describes a utopia of ineffective jails and crippled policemen. "In the Big Rock Candy Mountain the cops have wooden legs" --"The Big Rock Candy Mountain" (attributed to Harry McClintock, popularized by... Read More

Splice of Life

It made page one of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. Yet it had nothing to do with terrorism, Iraq, nor even "American Idol." Instead it was a vaccine made by splicing a protein into... Read More

Faith No More

Back in April, Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) gave a speech on the Senate floor expressing her views on U.S. energy policies. She opposed development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to boost domestic oil production. After a sympathetic nod... Read More

Raining on the Parade

The November/December issue of Harvard Magazine features a cover article entitled "The Great Global Experiment." The article claims that climate models predicting increased concentrations of greenhouse gases (CO2) suggest there will be a warming and drying of the e Read More

Justice as Warfare

The deaths this year of the philosophers John Rawls and Robert Nozick closed one of the more significant chapters in the history of American political philosophy. Imagining American philosophy and political theory today without Rawls and Nozick is like imagining... Read More

Demolition Men

What is the meaning of life? It's a tough question. While there may not be a broad consensus about the specifics, there is definitely more to life than just breathing. Lives are not simply measured in years. Neither John F.... Read More

When Activists Win

Today data are released from PhRMA, the pharmaceutical lobby group, which show that AIDS drugs in development are in shocking decline, down by 33% over the past 5 years. What the industry is unwilling to admit is that drug activists... Read More

A Call for ELP

Back in the 1960s, claim processors at Ford had strict time guidelines for repairs done by dealers for warranty work. Strict times, that is, except for one thing - wiring problems. For them, dealers could take as long as they... Read More

Money for Nothing,
Chits for Free

Today and tomorrow, in Chicago, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will hold its second public meeting on President Bush's plan to award "transferable credits" to companies that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. If this workshop is anything like the... Read More

Burn These Flags

Earlier this year, Silicon Valley was outraged at a proposal to prohibit the sale of almost any technology unless it contains copy protection standards endorsed by the federal government. While that proposal is unlikely to become law, there's a similar... Read More

The Future of Internet Speech

Some states have laws that give special protection to some forms of media - in particular, by protecting them from libel liability if they promptly publish a retraction (or if the plaintiff fails to demand such a retraction). Should Internet... Read More

All Aboard

I was delighted to learn that the Dick Tracys who man our airport security checkpoints confiscated 16,000 knives over the Thanksgiving weekend. Of course a vast majority of those weapons were not Bowie knives, machetes, stilettos or switch-blades, but rather... Read More

Time to Kill, Not Coddle

With phony profits now expected to top $9 billion, WorldCom, Inc, the Mississippi-based telecommunications company, has earned the distinction of committing the worst accounting fraud in American history. As a result, investors have marked down WorldCom's stock to Read More

Payback Time for Schroeder

The perennial favourite German children's story Emile and the Detectives begins with our eponymous hero falling asleep on the train while travelling across Berlin and having the money his mother had given him stolen. Much of the rest of the... Read More

Pleading the Fifth Column

Maybe Al Gore ate some bad tofu. The Earth-in-the-Balancer has taken time out from his two-book media tour-which has given him fawning face time with Barbara Walters, Katie Couric, and just about every other major-media maven-to go "off message" and... Read More

Regime Protection

The Bush Administration wanted UN inspections of Iraq the worst way possible. Well, that's how it's gotten them so far. All the lovey-dovey cooperation in Iraq last week masks D-Day "Decision Day" this week - when President George W. Bush... Read More

Gore Gets OutFOXed

Al Gore got a lot of grief for his comments about the media in a recent New York Observer interview. But while it may be hard for most people to believe that the media are tools of a Vast Right-Wing... Read More

Altitude Sickness

If Saddam Hussein has the bomb, plus the ability and desire to use it, what will he do? He might target a concentration of U.S. forces in the Gulf region, or perhaps Tel Aviv. Either would have the potential to... Read More

Vacillating Between Neglect and Derision

Although you might not know if you follow the American medias coverage of the War on Terrorism, the fact is that in addition to the Europeans in carnival gear populating the streets of affluent capitals to fight for peace, there... Read More

Facts Are in Fashion in Milan

World delegates are assembling at the city of Milan from December 1 through 12 for the ninth session of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP-9) meeting. The official agenda of COP-9 ranges from the... Read More

'Tis the Silly Season

So, we are now fully in the throes of the holiday eating season, during which time, in this era of obesity obsession, we will receive 18,332 warnings, admonishments and friendly pieces of advice to watch what we eat and drink.... Read More

Looking for a Fight

My buddy Bill doesn't follow politics and international affairs that closely. He owns a small business here in my hometown in rural Pennsylvania and, like most Americans, he tends to focus more on local issues. But the other day he... Read More

Embracing 'Imperialism'

Many observers of the continuing demonstrations by the Iranian people against the Islamic regime argue that the United States should stay out of Iran's domestic politics. Citing the commonly expressed Iranian belief that the United States is a "Great Satan"... Read More

Trading Places

President George W Bush has just scored a significant public relations victory against the European Union as Washington jostles to reclaim the moral high ground of world trade liberalization from Brussels. The timing of a US proposal for a major... Read More

Are You High? Def

For many years, High Definition TV (HDTV) appeared to be a problem in search of a solution. Consumers were never consulted on whether or not they wanted HDTV, and the gestation period seemed endless. And yet, surprisingly, the near term... Read More

'What Causes Prosperity?'

I had a friend once and he was asked to chair a commission, an international committee, and the title of it was What Causes Poverty. He declined. He said I will do it but on one condition. The condition is... Read More

Mutual Failure

Despite the miserable performance of the stock market in recent years, the number of Americans owning mutual funds continues to rise. At last report, 48 million families owned stock funds. That's roughly half of all U.S. households - up from... Read More

Are We There Yet?

Nanotechnology deals with the creation of valuable commodities fabricated one atom at a time. The ultimate dream of nanotechnology is to create legions of inexpensive self-replicating microscopic machines that can be directed to fabricate or modify virtually anythi Read More

Prepackaged Coasters

Before you purchase your next CD, be sure to read the fine print. You may be buying an overpriced drink coaster. In an effort to curb music piracy, the recording industry is releasing compact discs with manufacturing flaws. These flaws... Read More

Nuclear, Free!

At 4 A.M. on March 28, 1979, the Three Mile Island (TMI) Unit 2 nuclear power plant malfunctioned. The reactor suffered a partial meltdown, but it could not compare to the one suffered by news media, anti-nuclear activists and public... Read More

Race From the Cure

How many times does an average child burn himself on the stove? For most kids, once is enough to learn the lesson: Be careful near the stove to avoid getting burned. The recent stock market decline burned many investors. Long... Read More

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