TCS Daily : May 2003 Archives

A More Positive Approach

"You'll think I'm off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical - in a positive sense - in its approach to Africa since Kennedy..."- Musician/activist Bob Geldof, to the Guardian newspaper. President Bush's... Read More

Natural History

History, Herodotus wrote, is recorded "in the hope of preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done." Fortunately, nature also writes its history. Coupled with that written by men, nature's records can ameliorate the tendency to sensationalize current Read More

Friends in France?

Every year the heads of state of the world's wealthiest nations meet to debate issues of global import. It's ironic that this year's meeting is in France, since the French have done the most to undermine global agreements and growth,... Read More

Warriors and Peacekeepers

The war in Iraq is over yet the Department of Defense is adding more troops there, taking heat in the Senate, and shuffling Iraq leadership posts. Is winning the peace really harder than winning the war? No, it's just different,... Read More

The Real Fat Cats

I don't know about you, but obesity is starting to frighten me. It's not because researchers at the Journal of Health recently estimated $93 million is spent annually dealing with ailments such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure,... Read More

The Hindsight Effect

George W. Bush gave up. The search for Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction is over. We hardly found a thing. Polls show most Americans don't mind, but some accuse Bush of lying, including some in the Congress. Representative Jane... Read More

Addictive Politics

One need not be the Devil's Advocate to see increasing apathy toward official politics in Central and Eastern Europe. A look at the percentages of populations taking part in the recent referendums on joining the European Union, seen as... Read More

The Back Office of Terror

Global economic stability and the U.S. energy security are at risk after recent Al Qaeda attacks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. If the Saudi regime falters, if the Kingdom's vast oil infrastructure is damaged, or if a prolonged civil war erupts,... Read More

Mr. Deeds Goes to Wall Street

Hollywood just does not understand Wall Street. If some movie stars have their way, neither will anybody else. Consider Adam Sandler's tirade against corporate wealth, "Mr. Deeds." The film rehashed one of the oldest themes in Hollywood. When a... Read More

Dissecting Taboos

Spring is the season of birth and new life. So it's fitting that the debut issue of the quarterly The New Atlantis: A Journal of Science and Technology arrived with the May flowers. It is a welcome addition to... Read More

'No Matter What the Data Say'

There's no escaping the assault against obesity that's being waged by American public health advocates. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson has threatened unspecified punishment for fast food companies who fail to offer healthy alternatives to the Read More

A Recipe for Growth

President Bush just signed another tax cut, but cutting taxes isn't enough. Here are seven ways President Bush could stimulate the economy in time for the 2004 elections. 1. Temporarily Relax Zoning and Environmental Regulations for New Construction. Builders conti Read More

Mad for 'Motor Cars'

Think about your day - where you go, what you do, what you eat. Now try to think about your day without the automobile. Not just without your car, but without cars. Think about it. Except for electricity, nothing else... Read More

The Statism Trap

"...being a modern country, Japan has not allowed its banks to fail." --Paul Krugman, Sept. 30, 2001"The Japanese Government agreed at the weekend to use taxpayers' money to shore up the nation's fifth-biggest bank after executives said its capital had... Read More

How Long Can an Emergency Last?

On 19 May, the European Commission renewed for an astounding 14th time a 'temporary' ban on the use of certain softening agents, known as phthalates, in toys intended for use by children under the age of three. This 'emergency'... Read More

The Transformational Leader

George W. Bush is a transformational leader. He's willing to take big risks to make big changes. Unlike most modern presidents - Ronald Reagan the notable exception - Bush is in high office not so much to be something as... Read More

Gvdel, Einstein, Bomb

The year is 1946, more or less. The place is Princeton, New Jersey. At the Institute for Advanced Studies, top scientists and mathematicians - Albert Einstein, Kurt Gödel, John von Neumann, Robert Oppenheimer, among others - are contemplating the nature... Read More

The Stronger Horse

The weather in Knoxville wasn't very good on Memorial Day weekend, which means that I spent part of it cleaning house. Most of what we threw away was just junk (unless you're a big fan of Barbie paraphernalia that's seen... Read More

Thinking Philosophically About Technology

How should we think about technology, if our aim is to approach it in a philosophic manner? How are we to regard this pervasive and often intrusive force that constantly shapes and reshapes modern life? It is best to... Read More

In Your Face Space Race

"One small step for a European citizen, one giant leap for the United States of Europe," is the message that the European Commission would presumably like Euronews to broadcast if its vision of an enhanced European space program comes to... Read More

Beware Big Spenders

Last week was a very good one for the White House. Congress approved both a second tax cut and the centerpiece of the president's compassionate conservative agenda, $15 billion to fight AIDS. Israel agreed to the "roadmap" for peace in... Read More

Millions of Terroristes

Sick people carried from one hospital to another because of strikes in hospitals. Students blocked at the entry of their testing center by examiners on strike. Parents trapped at home, unable to work because teachers decided the same morning that... Read More

Consensus Cons

It is a regrettable fact that most of the public is ignorant about science. Not just about current scientific theories and experiments, but about the scientific method in general. Yet science affects virtually every aspect of our lives. Nevertheless, we... Read More

Reality Economics

While the passage of a tax plan that at least temporarily ends the double-taxation of dividends is a victory of sorts, the final package could have been stronger and the uncertainty of changing dividends tax policy could have been eliminated.... Read More

Regulating the Ether

For years, homeowners have been selling their brick-and-mortar homes through brick-and-mortar real-estate firms. Some ambitious owners have chosen to forgo the firms and their exorbitant commission altogether and sell their home themselves. But besides a few yard s Read More

The Frog of War

Nations begin when diplomats write new words on old maps. Talleyrand would not be, profondement choque', to find Babylon's borders in flux and armies marching on Saladin's doorstep, for he observed that treaties, like maps, are made of words,... Read More

Express Lane to Lisbon?

I recently experienced my first indication that Europe's so-called Lisbon Process may be working, and several days later I'm still in a state of euphoric disbelief. Lisbon is not just the capital of Portugal, it is also the effort launched... Read More

Gaia and Greenbacks

Under the auspices of concern for the health of the planet and its inhabitants, environmental groups have for years lobbied governments to adopt environmentally friendly regulations and pressured businesses to change their practices. They've advocated limiting gree Read More

Moral and Economic Clarity

The big news a month ago - cover of Fortune, great hoopla in the business mags, the whole bit - was Apple's iTunes, an on-line music service that satisfies the fantasies of the user community. It allows downloads, CD... Read More

Failing the Test

Many conservative education reformers, including President Bush, advocate the use of standardized testing as a tool for evaluating school performance. My knee-jerk liberal friends oppose it. The teachers' unions oppose it. Ordinarily, this line-up of supporters an Read More

Deeper Impact

In his excellent 1999 book "Deep Time: How Humanity Communicates Across Millennia," Gregory Benford, a physicist, author and TCS contributor, wrote about two ways of transmitting information to the future. One is what Benford called "High Church"; it involved effor Read More

Remember the A La Mode!

The fat cops are on the prowl again. Not content with the current spate of obesity-inspired lawsuits, "nutrition" interests have taken to the state legislatures, looking to pass "menu labeling" laws that will pave the way for, yes, even more... Read More

Knucklehead Nation

When I was a kid living in Rector, Pa., I slept on hot summer nights with my head next to the screen in my bedroom window, listening to the gentle ripple of the creek, the sigh of the wind in... Read More

Drug Development Dilemma

As I have pointed out in previous TCS columns, there has been a 33 percent reduction in development of AIDS drugs in the past five years. The causes may be varied, and no doubt include activist pressure on patents and... Read More

Who Should It Be?

Christie Whitman has announced that she will retire at the end of the month after two largely ignominious years as head of the EPA. Getting this errant regulatory agency back on track should be a high priority for the... Read More

Partners, Patents and Problems

Roche, the Swiss research-based pharmaceutical firm, recently announced an unlikely partnership with Ranbaxy, a leading Indian generic drug producer. This partnership could be good news for many malaria patients who need new effective drugs and provides an interest Read More

Therapy for Gaia?

For those who believe in the concept of Gaia - the planet as a living organism - the latest European Environment Agency (EEA) report reads like a sick note. Whereas some environmentalists have diagnosed the planet as terminally ill, the... Read More

Disciplined Pluralism

In the most extraordinary controlled experiment in the history of social sciences, a country was divided into two zones. The economic organization of one was based on planning and coordination, while in the other economic power was decentralized and no... Read More

Problems Enlarged

Human embryonic stem cells are the next thing to magic. They can grow into any kind of human tissue, including neural tissue. Moreover, in the last five years it has turned out to be technically possible to cultivate immortal lines... Read More

State of Denial

Denial brings big costs. Long after 9/11, when it became unmistakable that we had entered an era of serial terrorism, France and Saudi Arabia clung to denial. Last week showed France perpetuating, while Saudi Arabia perhaps easing its denial.... Read More

Our Special Responsibility

Globalization is the buzz word of our time. But what exactly does globalization mean? How is it likely to affect our lives? Is it a curse or a blessing? Should we fear globalization or should we acclaim it? Will... Read More

Don't Coddle Criminals

"WorldCom's fined a record $500M," proclaims the New York Daily News. "MCI agrees with SEC to pay record $500m fine," says the Financial Times. What does TCS say? Big (expletive deleted) deal. Sorry, WorldCom shouldn't be fined; it should... Read More


In early April, Russia and Turkmenistan signed a 25-year natural gas agreement which, if successful, is projected to sell two trillion cubic meters of gas, bringing the two partners half a trillion dollars in sales over its lifetime. Turkmenistan, with... Read More

Friends and Family

Spam has become a household name and even Hormel Foods will admit it's not their doing. The problem of spam is just about as old as the internet itself, which this month turned 25. It has become a problem... Read More

From Parody to Reality

Six years ago, after tobacco companies agreed to settle lawsuits filed by the states, the Wall Street Journal published what seemed at the time to be a hilarious parody by Mark Bernstein. It was titled "A Big Fat Target."... Read More

Urban Elephants

What the heck is a Republican, anyway? Many would answer that it is the party that represents half of the mainstream voters, ranging from conservative to centrist in their ideology. Of course that begs the question, what the heck does... Read More

Where Change is Bad

Some people just don't like to change. You know the ones - they talk about how new things are destroying old values and how things were better in the good old days. For the most part, they fear change because... Read More

'Tort Knox'

While a number of the Democratic candidates for President have already outlined their ideas for big new government programs, perhaps the most expensive agenda for taxpayers lies hidden amidst the candidates' recently filed campaign contribution reports. John Edward Read More

Who Killed Kyoto?

We've heard it now for so long that it's drummed into our heads. President George W. Bush soured relations with the E.U. by refusing to accept the Kyoto Protocol. In doing so, he took the U.S. into unilateralism and... Read More

Is the Penguin Contaminated?

If there's one thing the open-source community is known for, it's chutzpah. In a recent online petition, more than 1500 Linux users told the SCO Group, which owns intellectual property rights to key components of the Unix operating system,... Read More

Open and Shut

Federal Communications Commission chair Michael Powell isn't worried about media concentration. He thinks that growing competition from satellite broadcasters, the Internet, and other New Media will serve as a check on the power of concentrated Old Media. There's Read More

Mankind Version 2.0?

A recent University of Michigan survey brings dismaying news: despite abundant press coverage, the public knows so little about genetics that, as blogger Kevin Drum observes, untrained chimps would have done better at answering five simple true-false questions on. Read More

Doomsday Trippers

Martin Rees is a cosmologist at Cambridge University and holder of the honorary position of England's Astronomer Royal. He has written several books that focus on the universe at the largest known scales of space and time. His latest book... Read More

The Eyes Have It

It was a black day for opticians when Zeus dispatched Hermes to clobber Argus of the Thousand Eyes, but the best spies in the sky still have more than two. Modern climatology benefits from the constant vigilance of an orbiting... Read More


"[T]he global ocean has lost more than 90% of large predatory fish," according to a new study published in Nature. The more than decimated species include tuna, swordfish, marlin, cod, halibut and flounder among others. The world's major fisheries... Read More

Celebrate Diversity

Every so often, someone on the left will fulminate, "Do you realize that the United States is the only major industrial country without national health care?" And I think to myself, "Ahh, diversity! Isn't it something to treasure?" In fact,... Read More

No Region Left Behind

In his play Lady Windemere's Fan, Oscar Wilde wrote of life's two tragedies - "not getting what you want, and getting what you want". This quip, although written in a very different context, perfectly describes the unsatisfactory outcome of... Read More

Coring the Apple

New York City and New York State seem to have something against the financial industry. Of course, we all do. One look at our stock portfolio, and there's a strong urge to round a up a posse and take care... Read More

Tax Cut Victory

The Senate passed a bill last night that did not include a lengthy phase-in of dividend tax reductions. In the Senate bill, dividend taxes will be cut in half this year, eliminated next year, and reborn in 2007. Given the... Read More

Communistan, Inc.

It was two years ago that the totalitarian president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, canceled his scheduled lecture at the London School of Economics at the last moment. Nazarbaev had learned that a group of students and faculty were planning to... Read More

Europe's SARS 'Capital'?

As I boarded a plane from Treviso, Italy, to London on 8 May 2003, I spotted an official notice warning about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). It brought back memories of the "foot-and-mouth" disease crisis in Europe two years ago... Read More

Petty Politics and Pettiness

A lot of people have weighed in on the president's landing on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. They should have paused and weighed the evidence. First, West Virginia's 85-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd thundered from the Senate floor, "War is not... Read More

Conspiracies of Life

Seeking wisdom about the popularity of "The Matrix," I went to the obvious source for the inside skinny: the clerk at my local Hollywood Video store. "Easy," the dude said. "It's all about conspiracies. People love conspiracy theories." He was... Read More

Dying to Get There?

Here we go again with the annual media hysteria about death and carnage on the American highways. The eye-rolling and hard breathing is based on news from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that in 2002 a total of 42,850... Read More

Missing Manners

In a recent column, Judith Martin, otherwise known as "Miss Manners," pondered "why a society composed of people angling to get on television to confess their disappointments or, now that we have reality television, demonstrate their shortcomings, would defend... Read More

No More Norwegian Salmon

EU membership can spoil markets. Consider the conflict between the European Commission and Poland over tariffs on products from non-EU European countries - a spat that has resulted in threats from Brussels. During the preparation of last Saturday's dinner I... Read More

War on Profit

Nothing could benefit more from the economic adage that profits are the price we pay today for the products we need tomorrow than the AIDS fight in Africa and the developing world. At a packed forum in the Speaker's room... Read More

When Molecules Fly

Should the federal government fund scientific research with taxpayer dollars? Boondoggles like the Superconducting Supercollider, the space station, energy research programs, the Supersonic Transport plane, and numerous other examples of corporate and scientific po Read More

Money Where the Mouth Is

An epidemic is sweeping the world. It is not the nasty Chinese pneumonia, the Ebola virus or even AIDS, but obesity. According to Professor Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), an organization backed by the World... Read More

Growth in the Balance

Bob Zoellick, the US Special Trade Representative, has launched a challenge under WTO rules against the EU ban on imports of GMOs. The ban is a blatant breach of international trade rules. There is concern that a challenge might widen... Read More

Planet Earth 3000

Every society faces the important challenge of meeting its desires without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Since we care about the well being of future generations, the question is, how do we best allocate scarce resources... Read More

Warren 1 (hundred billion), Kessler 0

A short while ago, I came across Andy Kessler's article titled "Warren Buffet Hates Your Guts". I have always been very proud of my guts, and I had no idea why Buffet could hate them. So, I read the... Read More

Coalition of the Tilling

European debates on the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and their use in agriculture tend to become rather predictable, considering that most of the pro and con arguments are fairly well known and the opposing sides are firmly entrenched.... Read More

Fighting AIDS in Africa: What Works

It has been several months since President Bush announced his decision to offer $15 billion to African and Caribbean countries to fight AIDS, yet it isn't quite clear how best to spend the money. Recent experience in some African countries... Read More

A 'Cheaper Way'?

"There are much cheaper ways to tear down a statue", said Nancy Pelosi the day after the Iraqi people tore down the image of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad. Of course, the true cost is not in pulling the statues... Read More

Survey Says!?

When I teach high school statistics, I try to warn my students to be skeptical of survey results. The example that I use is what I call the omniscient voyeur. Newspapers and magazines love to report sex surveys. With a... Read More

A Religious Experience

Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry Jr. is working on a documentary about the effect of Star Trek on popular culture. (I've written about that here and here.) It looks as if he's got more grist for his mill, with this story:... Read More

Tanks for the Memory

One of the enduring images of the recent war in Iraq is a column of M-1A1 Abrams tanks barreling down the streets of Baghdad on a "thunder run," deep into the city. This spring, American tanks in Iraq gave a... Read More

The Road to Howell...

When I first read of the Jayson Blair fiasco now unfolding at the New York Times, I didn't pay much attention. "Dumb reporter, ruined his career," I thought, and went on to other reading. What's unfortunate - and what... Read More

Germany in the Doldrums

The way things are going, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder would probably like to swap his fortunes with those of his country's stock exchanges. Since re-election last autumn Schröder's popularity ratings have been in a tailspin while the leading German exchanges Read More

Spectre of Fear

Editor's note: The following is a speech delivered to the "Panic Attack" conference sponsored in conjunction with TCS at the Royal Institution in London. What an honor it is to be here today in the Royal Institution, where, among... Read More

More Equal Than Others

It is difficult to pick up a magazine or check out a website dealing with energy or electricity without finding an uncritical article extolling the merits of renewable energy. But, as George Orwell would have put it if he had... Read More

The Oyster Wars

The love affair Americans have with raw oysters may soon be a thing of the past, if special interest groups get their way. As sensationalized "death on the half shell" stories - such as this cover story from D magazine... Read More

Confused States

Many states want to do their bit to combat climate change. Over two dozen, from Maine to New York to California, are planning to make their residents pay more for energy, subsidise energy conservation practices, and even push nuclear... Read More

Absolutely Fabulist

Stephen Glass was the young New Republic writer who was fired in 1998 when he was discovered to have fabricated all or parts of dozens of his articles. If you read his new novel, The Fabulist you'll become familiar... Read More

Bell Bundle Blues

There is something that doesn't quite ring right with the Baby Bells' new bundling strategy for its broadband connections. On its face, the news that Verizon may slash the price of its high-speed Internet service - called digital subscriber line,... Read More

Chirac's Folly

In her book The March of Folly, historian Barbara Tuchman defined "folly" as the knowing pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests, despite the availability of feasible alternatives. By that definition, it is difficult to describe... Read More

Starship Trooperization

This is not your father's infantry. This is the Mobile Infantry. Having dropped from the sky in a vertical insertion, Rasczak's Roughnecks are ready for some serious action. And none more so than Juan Rico, who recalls: I ordered... Advance!... Read More

Warren Buffett Hates Your Guts

The Oracle of Omaha is a great investor, no doubt, and has earned the right to speak his mind. And speak he does. So much so that it is increasingly clear that behind that homespun, good old boy, Cherry Coke... Read More

Humanists vs. Naturalists

The tide is starting to turn in the debate over global warming. Challenges to the extremist Kyoto orthodoxy are coming from unlikely places. Consider a remarkable piece by renowned physicist Freeman Dyson in a surprising venue: the New York Review... Read More

The Dividend Fiasco

Washington insiders are currently being treated to one of the oddest spectacles in recent memory. The White House is campaigning actively against a large tax reduction favored by House Republicans, deriding it as aggressively as they might a marginal tax... Read More

French Arithmetic

In 2002, at the annual meeting of Vivendi Universal's stockholders, then Chairman Jean-Marie Messier tried to calm anxiety about the future of the company by saying that "in fact, the situation of Vivendi is very good." A few days later,... Read More

Weapons of Mass Distortion

Revelations concerning Saddam's network of influence are coming thick and fast in the wake of his regime's collapse. Politicians like George Galloway. Diplomats and business people. Even journalists. Especially journalists. Saddam's war of influence was actually ba Read More

SARS, Schmars

Sixty one percent of Americans would opt for smallpox immunization if the vaccine were available, according to a nationwide survey late last year by the Harvard School of Public Health. However, the vaccine has long been known to be dangerous,... Read More

Marx's Nightmare

Frequent TCS contributor and fellow economist James Miller has written an unfortunate screed on the topic of file-sharing. He takes the view that a recent court ruling has made it more difficult to stop consumers from trading music files.... Read More

Mercury Matters

Our American ways of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" don't just happen magically. They require certain material foundations and supports. Among those, perhaps the most easily taken for granted is our efficient delivery of cheap, abundant energy. For... Read More

Reluctant Free-Trader

According to the European Union's own mythology, the bloc stands as a testament to the power of trade to bring people together, end wars, and spread prosperity. But for all that, the EU remains remarkably reluctant to share these benefits... Read More

Azerbaijan After Aliev

President Heydar Aliev's very public collapse during a recent televised speech, which was broadcast on Azerbaijani TV and around the world, has forced Bush administration officials to face the eventual mortality of the Azeri leader - and to focus on... Read More

Four-Wheeled Freedom

In case you haven't noticed, this year marks three major birthdays in the world of motor vehicles. The beloved Corvette, "America's Sports Car" will celebrate its 50th while two for the nation's most venerable firms, Harley-Davidson and Ford, will each... Read More

Has Science Found God?

What does science tell us (or not tell us) about God? This question has received stepped-up attention in recent years. There have been numerous articles reporting growing connections between science and religion. ("Science Finds God," Newsweek announced on its... Read More

Apollo Creed

Two paradigms that have become central features of the way NASA works are being challenged. The end result of those challenges will dictate the form, and possibly even the future existence, of the American human space flight program. Once... Read More

Germs of Truth

The favorite subject of those who opposed the war in Iraq is the coalition's failure to find the 4,000 barrels of chemical and biological warfare agents that President Bush invoked in justifying it. However, they tend to ignore the less... Read More

Order Plus Liberty

Newsweek International editor Fareed Zakaria writes in his new book The Future of Freedom: "First, a government must be able to control the governed, then it must be able to control itself. Order plus liberty. These two forces will,... Read More

North Korean Extremes

An atomically armed Al Qaeda might replicate the Holocaust. While they lack the capacity to refine weapons-grade plutonium, Al Qaeda has the cash to buy atomic arms from North Korea, a morbidly poor, emotionally unstable power better at building bombs... Read More

Women, Lepers, and Jews!

Who needs science when you've got basic human intuition? To lots of people, that sounds about right. An employee of a popular organic restaurant recently told me she doesn't need to sort through lots of studies about whether man-made... Read More

Split Administration?

The press calls constantly these days to ask me about the rift within the Bush national security team. What had been deemed the jewel in the crown jewel of this Bush Administration - what the press once dubbed the finest... Read More

Visions of the Nanofuture

As I promised last week, I attended the Foresight Institute's "vision weekend" relating to nanotechnology, and I have a report. (If you don't know much about nanotechnology, read this for some general background.) The good news is that interest... Read More

Would Keynes Change His Mind?

"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a... Read More

Talking Headaches

Americans are very risk-conscious. We buy muscular SUVs and spend billions on all manner of alternative medical therapies. Often, we learn about risks and remedies by relying on the media to interpret medical research and other data that purport to... Read More

Great Responsibility

Americans like to think of themselves as generous to the less fortunate. It's therefore disheartening to read in the Financial Times that, "Japan and the US are the least helpful of the rich countries towards the developing world, according to... Read More

Not Wild or Crazy

The war is over, the hummingbirds are back, the dogwood's blooming white and pink. It's spring, and, after a long, hard winter, it's a refreshing and comforting change. So it's time to give your investment portfolio a thorough spring cleaning.... Read More

Blogging for Revolution

In working to reform and change their oppressive and totalitarian political environment, the Iranian people have come to rely on certain instruments of the media to assist them. Those who can afford to, subscribe to the satellite television service that... Read More

ACORN's Living Wages

A recent issue of the magazine City Journal featured a lengthy article on the "living wage" campaign - efforts underway in cities across the country to mandate wages far above the national minimum wage. Some of these campaigns aim... Read More

On Bill Bennett,
Gambling, and Virtue

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here."- Capt. Louis Renault, "Casablanca" (1942) I have known for years that Bill Bennett gambles. I found out by reading a column four years ago, written by my own daughter,... Read More

Discriminate Deaths

Last week, USA Today ran an editorial approving of an Amnesty International USA report that concluded that the death penalty is being applied in a racially discriminatory fashion because more murderers of whites are executed than murderers of blacks.... Read More

Where're the WMDs?

In Argentina, there are loads of stories involving a naïve character named Manolo. In one story, a huge, angry man bursts into a bar and shouts: "Pepe, you cur, where are you? You assaulted my girlfriend." Furtively, Manolo raised... Read More

Bridging Two Cultures

The divisions in Europe so obvious in the run-up to the Iraqi war may be starting to close, if the more placatory mood at the EU summit in Athens recently was any indication. But when it comes to deciding... Read More

The Kyoto Cup

In the fourth overtime period of a recent Stanley Cup playoff game, I found my mind wandering to a different kind of hockey stick - the kind that UN scientists claim is sketched out by temperature records going back 1000... Read More

Moore vs. Plato

"The intellectual is no longer a man without a country. But he may be a man without a future. And if he is not in league with the future, can he be right?"--Merle Kling Almost 50 years ago, in the... Read More

'Just Talkin' Crazy'

The question of whether the national media is ideologically biased has received a new lease on life with the publication of What Liberal Media?, the new book by Nation media columnist Eric Alterman. The book was heralded as the definitive... Read More

'X' Marks the Spot

Like all science fiction, "X-2: X-Men United," the new movie opening Friday, is as much about the present as it is about the future. But the present is changing rapidly. Forty years ago, Stan Lee's concern for civil rights and... Read More

Politics of Progress

America has long defined itself not in terms of present conditions, but in terms of future possibilities. Progress has been part and parcel of the American ethos from colonial days forward, and some of our best thinkers and politicians have... Read More

'Uniformity and Regimentation'

"Everybody senses," wrote Richard Weaver in 1961, "that in the modern world there exists a massive trend toward uniformity and regimentation. Individualism had never before been under such pressure, not even from the most repressive forms of government." Now that's Read More

Science Steals a Base

"Experimental models incorporating both anthropogenic and natural factors are consistent with the new analysis showing tropospheric warming," claims the press release heralding a new paper being published today in Science. This paper is supposed to be a knockout b Read More

State of the Scare

On May 1, the American Lung Association (ALA) releases its annual "State of the Air" report on air pollution levels in American cities. Like previous "State of the Air" reports, the news is alarming. The ALA claims "nearly half of... Read More

Poland's Free-Market Dilemma

The prospect of a united Europe divides Poles. In June, they will vote for or against their country's accession to the European Union. The attitudes of liberals, conservatives and free-market enthusiasts have proven unpredictable. Everyone on the right side of... Read More

Cultivating Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is the key to economic growth, as new companies grow 20 times faster than old ones. Many cities try to foster such growth, most fail. Why? Virginia provides two models of ways to promote entrepreneurship - a successful one... Read More

Liberation Technology

Technology is improving our lives so quickly that we barely notice how profound the change has been. In 1997, I decided to leave my job in a corporation and begin working for myself, in my home. That decision has made... Read More

Black Hydrogen?

Coal is carbon, like charcoal or diamonds, right? Wrong - try to grill a steak over it and you'll notice there's more to it than meets the eye. Coal is not a mineral, with a fixed chemical formula. It is... Read More

Worse Than Useless?

From a military perspective, the case for American withdrawal from NATO seems to have already been made. A number of commentators, including the British historian Paul Johnson, have argued that NATO is an anachronism rendered helpless by distrust and infighting.... Read More

Defeating the Gods of War

What can the recent war with Iraq teach us? Commentators everywhere are telling us we're the greatest, almost like Gods of War. Of course some aspects of the war are undeniably remarkable. Planning and execution were faultless - cost, time,... Read More

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