TCS Daily : November 2003 Archives

The Next Litigation Battleground

As blogging has grown, so has its capacity to attract negative attention to the activity, and to those who participate in it. From the earliest nasty exchanges in USENET discussion forums to current flame wars between blogs on various issues,... Read More

Green Civil War

Wind power may well be the least environmentally-friendly idea ever proposed by environmentalists. That certainly seems to be the verdict of those who live near proposed and actual wind farm developments in both the US and UK.   Conservationists as... Read More

Give Thanks for Small Victories

Last week Congress passed nanotechnology legislation that President Bush is expected to sign shortly (you can see a copy of the bill here). It's a victory for people who favor the responsible development of molecular nanotechnology. But it's a small... Read More

A Brave Soldier Fades Away

It was 1942 and America was in some of the darkest days of World War II. More than 5000 American soldiers died on the Bataan "Death March." Gasoline rationing was in full effect. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave major... Read More

Addiction Inflation

Every year more American and European children are classified as obese or overweight. While the classifications may be misleading -- not least because some overweight people are actually healthier than their skinny friends -- there is little doubt that... Read More

Beyond the FASB

Editor's note: What follows is testimony given this month before a hearing entitled, "The Financial Accounting Standards Board and Small Business Growth"; Subcommittee on Securities and Investment Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate   Read More

Another Environmentalist Bromide

Environmentalism has never been more predictable than it is today. Left-leaning activists and environmental journalists reflexively turn every green issue into a formulaic "Bush administration rollback" story, often with little regard for the facts and history of t Read More

Doing Well By Taking Revenge

Ever wanted to punish telemarketers? Would you pay for the privilege of making them suffer? My revenge plan might just solve our telemarketing plague while raising a fortune for charities.   The Telemarketing Revenge Plan   Under the plan,... Read More

Giving Thanks for Turkey

As the ruins of the British Consulate and HSBC Bank in Istanbul were still smoldering, and the victims of an earlier bombing of two synagogues were buried, Turkey braced for more homicide bombings.   The November 20 attacks, which killed... Read More

Beyond Cell Phone Etiquette

Was a time I used to enjoy a nice train journey. I'd settle by a window, open a book or newspaper, or simply gaze at the scenery rushing by -- the projects, or the Hudson, the rolling hills dotted with... Read More

Who's Right?

My recent City Journal cover story, "We're Not Losing the Culture Wars Anymore," has generated a lot of attention: it has been excerpted in the Los Angeles Times, written about by John Leo in U.S. News & World Report, re-posted... Read More

Ahead of the Curve

A certain compound curve -- blending a fender into the hood and front air intake, or bringing a roof line down a sail panel into the rear end of a car -- can make or break it in the eye... Read More

Deafened by the Right of Free Screech

Much ink, both digital and literal, has been spilt reporting on the protests that greeted President Bush, who indeed got a most colourful reception when he bravely dared to invade the nationwide personal space of the UK's chocolate box assortment... Read More

The Price Is Right

Convincing people to conserve water can be a challenge for government planners. The Department of Energy's mandate for water-efficient low-flow toilets has not proven very popular with users, who obstinately insist on flushing multiple times -- defeating the planne Read More

Learning From the Past

Can we find a way to fight AIDS without defeating ourselves in the process? Well-meaning people around the world have united around the wonderful idea of spending billions to help millions. And since what's been done so far hasn't worked... Read More

Marines' Machines

All modern societies are critically dependant upon bureaucracies. These organizations, be they for-profit, nonprofit, or governmental, are central to our well-being. Hospitals, schools, courts, and supermarket chains are all bureaucracies. They constitute our insti Read More

Wrong Idea, Wrong Time

A few years ago, I sat on a panel with six faculty and students at UCLA who for two hours debated the question: "Is There An American Identity?" I was the only person on the panel who thought there was.... Read More

Fat and Frightened

The Blair government is about to get tough on obesity in children. An emergency salt summit is being held. The hounds of hysteria are baying loudly. The Observer grimly observed "Official: fat epidemic will cut life expectancy." This catchy... Read More

Closed Encounters of the Good Kind

Unscrupulous mutual funds, as investors have learned to their chagrin, have found plenty of ways to cheat. There are, however, sound alternatives with many of the benefits of mutual funds but without the drawbacks. I discussed one such investment --... Read More

The Air Up There - Is It Hotter?

If human activities are having a dramatic effect on globally-averaged temperature, then the temperature in the low atmosphere would be rising at a rate faster than at the Earth's surface. A flurry of recent studies continues to round out... Read More

London Calling

When Air Force One landed in Britain, London's mayor, "Red Ken" Livingstone hastened to roll up the carpet at City Hall. Only protestors dancing in the streets were welcomed to the reception he gave in dishonor of America's President.  ... Read More

Howard's Ends

Libertarians thinking about voting for Howard Dean should be taking a long, hard look at their prospective candidate. In an interview with the Washington Post on November 18th, Mr. Dean indicated that one of his major priorities is going... Read More

From Here to the Great Society

Let's stipulate that fighting AIDS -- which has killed 28 million people and infected 42 million more worldwide -- is a noble goal. And let's note that poor countries are most at risk and most in need. And so let's... Read More

Burn, Baby, Burn?

Forest fires in California this year have burned more than 700,000 acres, destroyed more than 2,500 homes, caused $2 billion in costs and damages and killed 22 people.   Last year's wild fires in the West burned about 7 million... Read More

Milton Friedman and Many Others on the Consequences of Price Controls

Editor's note: What follows is an open letter to the United States Congress.   We are deeply concerned about proposed legislation to remove pharmaceutical companies' ability to control the importation of their products. The goal of this legislation will be... Read More

A Hardliner's Life

Richard Pipes is an historian who made, as well as studied, history. An expert on Soviet and Russian history, Pipes helped change the direction of U.S. foreign policy. In the 1970s, he headed a government panel of outside experts brought... Read More

Man vs. Machine

"I was surprised to see Kasparov favored. Once he lost to Deep Blue, the last big match (Kramnik vs. Deep Fritz) was a draw. I know it is not as simple as Moore's Law, but hey, don't these machines improve... Read More

Kafka in Kiev

At a time when the legal environment in Ukraine is more favorable for democratizing society and protecting human rights, there is still a significant gap between standards which exist on paper and the reality for millions of defenseless people, particularly... Read More

Libertarians and Gay Marriage

Libertarians love to duck fights, but on gay marriage they must take a stand.   Some Americans genuinely believe that homosexuality is an immoral act that goes against God. Others either celebrate their own homosexuality or feel that those who... Read More

Exit Strategy for the Mean Streets

Even hard-bitten tax collectors have been overtaken by epiphany in the Middle East. On the eve of the war in Iraq, the last act of Saddam Hussein's sons was to strip the national treasury of several billion dollars in ready... Read More

Death of a Friend

I'm losing a friend, and it's time to say goodbye. The friend is, the online music distribution site. Although it had a market capitalization of a billion dollars when it went public just four years ago, it will be... Read More

Constitutional Crisis

The European Union needs to focus more on creating a free market than on creating additional bureaucracy. The current European Constitution project is a relic of socialism, in the guise of the so-called "social market economy". A better solution would... Read More

Post-Reductio America

In the world of debate, philosophy and law, there's a method of attacking your opponent's argument known as reductio ad absurdum. In this line of attack, you take your opponent's argument to its most extreme conclusion, you reveal the... Read More

The Missing Link?

This past weekend, writer Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard came out with a blockbuster article that was based on a leaked memorandum directed to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Jay Rockefeller from Undersecretary of Defense Read More

Same Old Story

The conventional wisdom has been that temperatures during the early years of the last millennium (~A.D. 800 to 1300) were relatively warmer -- in what was known as the Medieval Warm Period -- while temperatures decreased during the middle years... Read More

Iraq Is Not Vietnam

It has become fashionable among the anti-war crowd to say Iraq is the new Vietnam. "Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam," is a popular bumper sticker.   Former Senator Max Cleland recently went on record as well: "Welcome to Vietnam, Mr.... Read More

The Golden Years

In his 28 October TCS article Dominic Standish dismisses the coming pension crisis as a myth (see: "Old and In the Way?"). Cuts in pensions and welfare are unnecessary. Although he makes some valid points, his remedies are inadequate and... Read More

"I Planned to Attend, But I Now Cannot..."

Editor's note: This week the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank where TCS host James K. Glassman is a fellow, is holding a symposium on climate change issues called "Return to Rio: Reexamining Climate Change Science, Economics and Policy." Read More

Combating AIDS on the Ground in Africa

GABORONE, Botswana -- By the time Dr. Andrew Mujugira gets to work early in the morning the waiting room is packed full of patients. From as early as 6 in the morning, patients begin to queue up to seen by... Read More

Latin America's Russian Dolls

Despite the recent collapse of World Trade Organization talks in Cancun, and despite the fact that the war on terrorism has restricted the flow of people, capital and goods into the United States more than it already was, the ministers... Read More

The Balance of Saving

"Isn't it just a little twisted that the United States, the world's richest country, is on track to borrow more than $500 billion from abroad this year? Isn't it even stranger that this borrowing includes sizable chunks from countries such... Read More

The Five Great Lies About Internet Taxation

Of all of the issues generating headlines in the Congress today -- judicial appointments, health care and appropriations bills included -- the one that will most affect consumers is the fight over taxing the Internet.   Specifically, it is the... Read More

Ticking Firebombs

Having swathed ourselves in moral guilt for the impact human activity is having on the environment, we seem to be overlooking the fact that our efforts to fix problems can be misplaced. The psychology of this is interesting. It may... Read More

Trials in Error

Last month an appeals court in New York re-opened a case brought by several Nigerian families against the drug company Pfizer. They allege that the company violated their human rights by administering Trovan, an experimental drug, without adequately informing them. Read More

Antagonizing Traditional Friends

Many Latin Americans, from virtually every country in our hemisphere, were killed by the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. None of the 19 al Qaeda assassins came from Latin America, and all of them entered the country with... Read More

Artists Without Pier: A Dissent

In a recent article for TCS (see: "Artists Without Pier"), Sidney Goldberg makes a number of highly disparaging remarks about the decaying piers in New York City along the Hudson River in the 60s, calling them "eyesores" and "junk." He... Read More

Birthdays and Funerals for Automotive Icons

The tiny but intense claque of historians who devote themselves to the automobile and other related transportation issues have found Nirvana in 2003. Thanks to an odd confluence of birthdays, anniversaries and other coincidences, this year prompts the celebration a Read More

Dean's Distortions

In one of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories the solution to the crime hinges on subtle inconsistencies in the criminal's public persona. The perpetrator, presumably an Anglican pastor, goes unnoticed among his neighbors until he's unmasked by another cler Read More

Dr. Mahathir, Jews and Asian Terror

Dr. Mahathir Mohamed has just stepped down after 22 years as Prime Minister of Malaysia. He was one of Asia's longest rulers and most controversial rulers. His last public speech had one of his trademarks -- an attack on the... Read More

A New Stockholm Syndrome

By the time you read this, the Swedish police may have charged 24-year-old Mijailo Mijailovic with the murder of Sweden's Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.   Or then again, maybe not. The investigation proceeds with a curious, dreamlike quality. When the... Read More

Shocking and Sickening

As the scandal in the mutual fund industry spreads, the case for hanging on to funds that engaged in unfair or illegal practices diminishes -- and, in some instances, vanishes into thin air.   At Putnam Investments, Lawrence J. Lasser,... Read More

Food Phobic Nation

"Good nutrition is getting a bad name -- one that smacks of rigidity, guilt-making and extremism... Worse still, some eight out of ten (Americans) think foods are inherently good or bad... every single bite they take represents an all-or-nothing choice... Read More

Banning "Terrorist Specials"?

Who could possibly oppose continuing a ban on "plastic" guns? Referencing threats of terrorist sneaking plastic guns onto airplanes, last week Senator Ted Kennedy called renewing the legislation "clearly necessary in today's America." Yet, despite broad support in Read More

Nature's Affirmative Action

Biodiversity, represented by the 10 million or so animals, plants and microbes living on this planet, is threatened by many human activities. Amongst the numerous quasi-natural environments, the widest diversity is in the tropical humid forests, of which about half Read More

"If It Moves, Tax It"

Ronald Reagan's famous remark about the government's view of the economy at the White House Conference on Small Business in 1986 -- "If it moves, tax it..." -- still applies to many governments. In recent years, the government in the... Read More

Un-Free Enterprise

Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series on science, technology, politics and health care.   Among the things that the Republican Party has stood for throughout the years have been free enterprise and the profit motive. So,... Read More

The Technology Edge

"General LeMay -- did you hear about this? -- said he wants to take a supersonic plane around the globe, to shake up the Russians. [audience laughter] Ahhh, skepticism, eh? You don't think it will? Well, I do. I think... Read More

First, Do No Harm to Basic Research

Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part series on technology and the nation's health care system.   President Bush and the Republican Congress are on the verge of wreaking havoc upon on America's preeminent medical research system, at... Read More

Too Hot to Handle

The Sun is the origin of deadly hazards in near space, which begins approximately 60 miles above earth's surface. An extreme flare that erupted from the sun on November 4 showed that the Sun's ferocity knows few limits. This extraordinarily... Read More

How Lonely is Our Planet?

Where are they?   Physicist Enrico Fermi famously posed this question when asked about intelligent extraterrestrials. If such beings exist, why have we (presumably) not been contacted or visited? Fermi's Paradox, as it is now known, is more profound than... Read More

Kent Brockman on Unemployment

A while back, I wrote a column here arguing that outsourcing was likely to become an issue in the 2004 Presidential elections. And it looks as if I was right. Senator and Presidential candidate John Edwards, fresh from the rock-the-vote... Read More

The Only Thing Worse Than No Government

You probably didn't read it here first: the U.S. Senate declared war on spam. The bill, which passed by a close vote of 97 to nothing, throws everything but cruise missiles at spammers who clutter email in-boxes with offers to... Read More

The Rt. Honorable Blogger

On Wednesday, November 5th, blogger and American Rhodes Scholar, Josh Chafetz posted the following statement on his blog:   WHAT ON EARTH HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO??? So, tomorrow night is the Oxford Union's debate on Iraq, with the resolution... Read More

The Political Economy of Terror

Al Qaeda's second massive attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia since May, and the closure of the U.S. Embassy have boosted the ultimate goal of Usama bin Laden to drive the "infidels" from the Land of Two Mosques and topple the... Read More

The Sect of Austrian Economics

"[Sociologist Ernst] Troeltsch distinguished between church, sect, and mysticism as primary types of religious life. The church is more peremptorily inclusive and achieves greater accommodation to worldly institutions. The sect demands voluntary commitment from its Read More

The "Real Reason" for the War

Suppose I adopt the (classical) liberal view that paternalistic legislation is unjustified. I believe, let us assume, that it is always a good reason to prohibit and punish actions that they threaten harm to others -- in other words, I... Read More

Media Bias Comes From Viewers Like You

Both left-wing and right-wing commentators lament media bias. The right wing cites the predominant Democratic orientations - often 80 to 90 percent - of major journalists. The left wing cites the right wing pundits, such as Rush Limbaugh, or the... Read More

AIDS and Authoritarianism

It is common knowledge that the AIDS virus is decimating Africa and is taking hold in parts of Russia, South East Asia and Latin America. But perhaps even more worrisome, the most populous country in the world is developing a... Read More

We're From the Government and We're Here to Help

Dan Peruchi, father of four, enjoyed fixing up old cars and reselling them. Because the dealers he worked with dealt mainly in cash, he usually had lots on hand. Peruchi was driving home to Ft. Worth, Texas when he noticed... Read More

Technology Is Ruining Movies

Why don't we just admit it: the last two "Matrix" movies, like the last two "Star Wars" movies, have been stinkers. These observations are more than just movie criticism -- although there will be some of that in the piece... Read More

Margaret Von Thatcher?

The US economy may be surging ahead with growth in the third quarter recorded at an impressive 7.2 percent, its best performance for nearly 20 years, but Europe's biggest economy is stagnating. In fact, 2003 will go on record as... Read More

Who Should Have Air Supremacy?

The Clean Air Act (CAA), perhaps the federal government's most powerful environmental tool, concedes in its very first section that "air pollution control at its source is the primary responsibility of states and local governments." Notwithstanding these sentiments Read More

Bush Boom, Euro Bust

The package of measures presented at last month's EU summit in Brussels helped to confirm an impression that most outsiders seem to have of Europe's policy makers. When faced with a crisis, the instinctive European response seems to be to... Read More

Bound to Misfire

This week President Bush's program, Project Childsafe, begins distributing 20 million gun locks. Over 712,000 locks will be given out just in New York. It seems like such a reasonable program, who could oppose it? After all, if a gun... Read More

White-Hat Terrorism

The terrorists threatening air travel rely on stealth, creativity, and individual initiative. They face security systems that operate in the open, by the book, and under bureaucratic control. That mismatch puts our safety at risk. The volunteer efforts of Nathaniel Read More

The Politics of Rage

Some time ago, TCS contributor Megan McArdle, writing as the pseudonymous "Jane Galt" on her blog, came up with "Jane's Law." The law states the following: "The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of... Read More

The Road to Milan

At the beginning of October, Russian President Vladimir Putin played a "knight's move" on global warming alarmists. Russians -- chess players all -- know the value of the knight, the chess piece that can jump over the opponent's defenses to... Read More

The Attention Economy Meets Spam

Few things unite people in ire as much as spam. Maybe because they feel like victims of a crime: attention theft.   There are practical reasons to loathe indiscriminate posting: it clogs up mail systems, it frequently uses illegal or... Read More

The Prodigal Sun

The Northern Lights have seen strange sights, few weirder than a Canadian statistician being hailed for the Senate defeat of Kyoto Lite. While his footnote was being added to political history, the heavens themselves blazed forth the sun's displeasure at... Read More

Privacy Parts

Add telemarketing and spam to the dark side of the information technology revolution.  If you doubt that people are concerned, consider the rush to sign up for the FTC's do-not-call registry, which, if held to be constitutional, will force telemarketers... Read More

It's Not the Late '90s

The cover of the latest Business 2.0, one of the few surviving techie-financial magazines of the go-go 1990s, issues a dire warning: "Why This Tech Bubble Is About to Blow," screams the headline. And the subhead: "Wall Street Is Doing... Read More

Resistance Isn't Futile

Given the global proportion of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the attention brought to this growing calamity by the president's $15 billion commitment to tackle the disease in Africa, one would think drug firms are pumping more money into finding a... Read More

The Story of This War

Editor's note: This article is the second of a two-part series.   All wars have stories. Moreover a war's story is not necessarily the same as a war's strategy. The story tells how a war is broadly understood and remembered.... Read More

Reality Frights

Are the major media telling us the truth -- the whole truth, the real truth? Or are journalists merely hinting, instead of reporting?   We might consider, as a case in point, The New York Times. It declares "All the... Read More

Loving Monsters

NPR science reporter David Baron has a new book out, called The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature. Baron's book is about the return of cougars to the Boulder, Colorado area after decades of hunting-induced... Read More

Thank Goodness for Frank Advice

Maybe the U.S. should think twice about considering France an adversary in the war against Saddam Hussein and the remnants of his regime. Paris may be helping more than it hurts.   Among the beans that Baathist mouthpiece Tariq Aziz... Read More

Lessons From the Recall

High levels of a cancer-causing natural toxin have been found in every single organic cornmeal product tested by the UK's food safety watchdog, the Food Standards Agency.   That's a 100 percent failure rate, folks! The FSA instituted a UK-wide... Read More

Russia's Watershed

The attack on the major Russian oil company, YUKOS, which led to the arrest of its chairman and CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and his shares, and subsequently to his resignation, is a watershed event in post-communist Russian history. This development has... Read More

Assaulting the Ban

With the first sniper trial of John Muhammad getting started, the one-year anniversary recalls the horrors and fear. There are also legislative attempts underway to ensure that it never happens again. Two Democratic presidential candidates Congressmen Richard Gepha Read More

Can Conservatives Be Optimists?

"Can conservatives be optimists?" Not long ago this question attracted the considered reflection of several distinguished bloggers. Most answered, as good Reaganites would, with some qualifications, Yes.   I am a conservative, and an admirer of Ronald Reagan; Read More

Courting International Law

Lost in the hoopla over the Supreme Court's decisions last term on affirmative action and gay rights is the development of a disturbing new legal trend, one hinted at by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a speech last week.  ... Read More

Trade and Terrorism

Trade is supposed to promote peace, and in an unexpected way it may be helping to fight terrorism. APEC, a grouping of economies in the Asian Pacific rim, was established in 1989 to promote trade. The leaders of its 21... Read More

Eastern Europe's Invisible Fists

How is the free market doing in post-communist Romania?   Consider that medical and bureaucratic services are bought and sold, as are Parliamentary positions. It would be safe to say that market forces do operate, though weak overall competition combined... Read More

Foreign Aid's Surprise Parties

Lately, the debate over foreign aid in Washington seems to have flipped upside down. Democrats are supposed to care about foreign aid and Republicans are supposed think aid is a waste of taxpayers' money, right? Maybe, but these days the... Read More

Getting Medieval

It all seemed like a done deal. After half a year of tough negotiations an agreement on the enlargement of the European Economic Area, a free-trade zone that includes all EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, had finally been... Read More

As California Goes...

Residents of Southern California have been inconvenienced for the past several days by two separate labor union strikes. A strike by the mechanics of Los Angeles' Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) have left half a million commuters scrambling to find alternate.. Read More

It's a Spammer's World, After All

For only $19.95 a month, one can join an online club populated by individuals who, as many believe, make up the seedy underbelly of the Internet. No, it's not a club for pornographers or hackers but a support group for... Read More

Small Is the New Big

The myth of the Next Big Thing has a special place in the hearts and minds of Silicon Valley insiders. It is almost impossible to attend a technology conference or read an article on the future of the Valley without... Read More

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