TCS Daily : December 2005 Archives

English Patients: Literature in the Digital Age

Editor's note: This is the forth and final installment of Nick Gillespie's coverage of the Modern Language Association's annual meeting. Read part 1, Who's Afraid of the MLA? here, part 2, The Kids Are Alright, Dammit here, and part 3... Read More

Pop the Corks!

"The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges," says Jimmy Stewart, playing Macaulay Connor, the young magazine writer in The Philadelphia Story, the 1940 movie about an upper-crust wedding in the Depression years... Read More

When Darwin Meets Dickens

Editor's note: This is the third installment of Nick Gillespie's coverage of the Modern Language Association's annual meeting. Read part 1, Who's Afraid of the MLA?, here and part 2, The Kids Are Alright, Dammit, here. One of the subtexts... Read More

The Big Story of 2005?

In December 2004, I wrote a column that led with this line: "Mark it on your calendar: Next month, the Arab Middle East will revolt." The column placed the January 2005 Palestinian and Iraqi elections in historical context. These were... Read More

Grape Expectations

As the years ends, top 10 wine lists -- and even top 100 lists -- abound. Most focus on current releases, which is what most newspaper and magazine columnists almost exclusively cover. In contrast, over at my wine blog, I... Read More

The Riots in Retrospect

French insurance companies have announced they will file claims against the government for partial reimbursement of settlements of €200 million payable for damage incurred during the November riots. The media are too busy gushing with new-found multicultural Read More

The Most Important Economic News of the Year

"[P]roductivity is the best single measure of what leads to differences in economic performance. Even though GDP per capita is the all-encompassing measure, GDP per capita is determined primarily, almost entirely, by productivity. People basically work in order to Read More

The Kids Are All Right, Dammit

WASHINGTON -- As the 2005 Modern Language Association annual convention officially got underway last night, attendees could choose from panels on "Travel Writing and Empire" (a growth field over the past decade or so, as "postcolonial studies" looking at the... Read More

Movie Magic: Metapolitics vs. Message Politics

"If you want to send a message, call Western Union." That's an old joke in Hollywood, dating back to the days when Western Union was a big deal. The idea is that the movies should be about making money, not... Read More

2005: A Space Odyssey

Okay, we don't have the moon bases that we were supposed to have by 1999. On the other hand, we don't have hostile aliens and lame 1970s haircuts either, so perhaps we can call it even. At any rate, 2005... Read More

Who's Afraid of the MLA?

No academic conference draws more smirks and bitch-slaps than the annual Modern Language Association convention. Held every December 27-30, the MLA convention pulls together upwards of 10,000 literary scholars ranging in status from rock-star professors feeling the Read More

My Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

Yes, I know what you're thinking. You are thinking that Lee Harris has not actually won the Nobel Prize for Literature, in which case: why are you being invited to read his acceptance speech? Well, I like to plan ahead.... Read More

An Olympian Effort

You don't need a doctorate in Middle Eastern Studies to realize that the war on terror wasn't made from whole cloth on September 11, 2001. Osama bin Laden and his ilk didn't suddenly decide that they had had enough of Western... Read More

No, Virginia, There Isn't a Santa Claus

Don't misunderstand -- I like Santa Claus. He's a charming myth for small children, a pleasant device for revering a great saint, an amusing source of inspiration for holiday TV specials, and a prod to healthy capitalism. I am... Read More

The Ugliest Christmas Tree

Author's note: This article is dedicated to Stacey Parr It was two days before Christmas, and Sam had sold most of the trees off his lot up in Rabun County, Georgia. "How many we got left?" he asked his grandson,... Read More

Drifting Into a White Christmas

I will never forget that cold Saturday afternoon in early December 1954 when my older brother Richard walked into our house holding a 45 rpm record in its paper sleeve. He held it waist-high in both hands, like it was... Read More

"What's Merry About All This, You Ask?"

Snow storms trapped and drained wearied American troops, desperately short of ammunition and supplies as German forces surrounded thinly-held Bastogne. The 101st Airborne Division and their comrades would be seeing Christmas 1944 not in peace and warmth but in the. Read More

Fear the "Reapers"

In a judgment with potentially far-reaching consequences that has been mostly ignored by the English-language media, a French court earlier this month acquitted 49 anti-GMO activists of charges of having destroyed fields of genetically-modified corn. The crops were Read More

The Scribe's Problem

I found Robert McHenry's recent piece on the superiority of Britannica over Wikipedia to be fascinating, for I think he's allowed himself an error of logic that we more usually encounter in economics. It was also a little unkind of... Read More

Why American Muslims Stay Silent

Four years after September 11, 2001, numerous non-Muslim Americans repeatedly ask, "Why do American Muslims stay silent in the face of extremism and terrorism? Why do they not act to cleanse their religion of the reputation it has acquired?" Paradoxically,... Read More

An Atheist's Dream

Those battling to include the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) along with Darwinian evolution in biology classes are shooting themselves in the foot, and not just because a Pennsylvania judge this week tossed out an effort to teach ID in... Read More

An Unexpected Gift

The hymn demanded verve. And with Beethoven providing the melody line, power and harmonic glory, should have been easy to achieve. But the pianist-in-rumpled-uniform had no verve. The sweat-soaked fellow on the piano stool seemed distracted. His knee hit the... Read More

Evoking a Splendid Legend

When I first saw a photograph of Volkswagen's million dollar-plus sports car, the Bugatti-Veyron, the horseshoe grille at the front of the swooping bodywork caught my eye. It was the one design signature of this compelling new car that evoked... Read More

Cracks In the 'Knowledge Monopoly'

This past July the UK House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs issued its report on "The Economics of Climate Change". The members of the committee included five former Cabinet ministers, a former Financial Secretary to the Treasury, a... Read More

The Earle of Criminalizing Politics

Sometimes, one is reminded that when it comes to the power of the state, the key distinction isn't left vs. right; instead, it's up vs. down, or to put it more bluntly, top vs. bottom. V.I. Lenin knew whereof... Read More

The End of Corporate Darwinism...

The debate over the constitutionality of teaching intelligent design in public school classrooms has sparked a vigorous public exchange about evolution and creationism, the split between church and state, and the difference between religion and science. Seemingly e Read More

Hearing Beethoven in Tehran

The President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has decided to ban all Western music from his nation's state radio and TV stations. The website of the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council, of which Ahmadinejad is the head, explained that "blocking indecent and... Read More

Who's Watching the Watchers?

Last Friday, the New York Times unleashed a bombshell with a front page story reporting that the Bush administration had repeatedly ordered the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance within the United States without a warrant. Congressmen, incl Read More

Density Is Destiny: On Politics and the Paperboy

Why are things the way they are, politically speaking? Why are the Republicans' most effective ads straightforward clips of Democrats contradicting themselves? Why are conservative pundits so frequently flanking their liberal counterparts? Why is the left-of-center Read More

Base Motives

Anti-Americanism in Italy has prompted the regional administration of Sardinia, an Italian island located just below Corsica, to pressure for the removal U.S. Naval Base in La Maddalena, an archipelago in the north of Sardinia. The debate that preceded this... Read More

Throwing the Book At Video Games

I've written here before about how efforts to ban violent videogames are probably a bad idea. But there's no idea so bad that politicians in Washington won't get behind it, especially if doing so can be characterized as being "for... Read More

Here Come the Bio-Vikings!

A new Swedish scientific expedition will invite accusations of biopiracy -- using and patenting genetic or biological resources without the consent of the country of origin -- from some environmentalists. But this group of would-be biovikings could prove as benefic Read More

Japan's Recovery Is Fragile

Were the consequences not so dire, the spectacle might be amusing. Over much of the past 15 years, Japanese officials and market analysts have heralded the emergence of economic data indicating the end to a persistent period of slow growth.... Read More

Intergalactic Space Virgins

On December 14, a group of intergalactic space Virgins officially landed in the New Mexico desert, less than 150 miles away from the site of the famous Roswell UFO incident. In case you haven't heard by now, a 27-square-mile plot... Read More

Socialism Reborn

One of the things that Francis Fukuyama's End of History argument was supposed to have ended was the epoch in which people took socialism seriously. According to Fukuyama's scenario, with the stunning collapse of the Soviet Union the human race... Read More

South Africa's Good News on AIDS

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Bad policy contributing to rampant AIDS has become the master narrative of much western reporting on South Africa. But the tide has turned and there is progress to report. Science Breakthroughs South African researchers have developed. Read More

Hong Kong Phooey

Doha is dead, long live Doha. The last-minute agreement reached by negotiators on Sunday in Hong Kong to cut wealthy nations' export subsidies is being portrayed as a modest step forward and may help temporarily save the World Trade Organization's... Read More

We Need Domestic Spying...

"The NSA's activities under this authorization are thoroughly reviewed by the Justice Department and NSA's top legal officials, including NSA's general counsel and inspector general. Leaders in Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this authorizatio Read More

The Undercover Economist

Nick Schulz: Tim Harford is a columnist for the Financial Times magazine and the author of a new book, The Undercover Economist: Exposing why the rich are rich, the poor are poor, and why you can never buy a decent... Read More

Energy in the UK

With prices for oil and natural gas reaching record highs, the British government and Prime Minister Tony Blair have suddenly woken up to the fact that, for all its day-dreaming about climate change, it has no real energy policy. Now... Read More

Justice Breyer's Active Liberty

In his book Active Liberty, Justice Stephen Breyer attempts to develop an alternative to the originalist theory of interpretation that has received so much attention in recent years. Rather than interpret the Constitution based on its original meaning, as originali Read More

An Innovation Roadmap

On the surface, a national innovation strategy based on allocating more government funding to R&D while, at the same time, spending additional money on education in order to produce more math, science and engineering students might sound like a good... Read More

The Original Green Beret

America lost a good one this month. Retired US Army Lieutenant General William Yarborough, 93, passed away. Bill Yarborough was a veteran of three wars: WW II, Korea, and Vietnam. He was a highly decorated paratrooper and is considered by... Read More

Kingdom of Fear

There is a popular view that life is cyclical. History repeats itself. Frames change over time, but the content remains the same. Who would predict that in the 21st century, in the heart of Europe, totalitarian repression might again rear... Read More

India's Promise

NEW DELHI, INDIA -- At the beginning of the great European explorations of the world, India was home to a fabulous amount of wealth. Indeed, all the invading empires from the Mughals to the British became vastly rich. And the... Read More

The Hong Kong Debacle

HONG KONG -- The Hong Kong meeting of the WTO achieved only one thing -- a further dumbing down of the WTO's fee market mission. If that's not bad enough, the Hong Kong meeting warns us that Governments are set... Read More

Bolivia: Democracy Under Siege

Bolivia's democratic gains are in danger. During the last four years, divisive regional, ethnic, and economic antagonisms have challenged the country's democratic institutions almost daily. Increasingly, demands from various groups -- ranging from the secessionists Read More

Defeat the Defeatists!

The successful completion of the parliamentary election in Iraq represents a multiple victory for the faith of Islam, the people of the Middle East, and global democracy, and an obvious defeat for the enemies of responsible religious and civic values... Read More

Blood Alcohol Blues

No one wants to see a family of four killed by a drunk driver. But the United States has veered way out of the lines in its DUI laws, and it's time to rethink them from bumper to bumper. Whether... Read More

Beware of the Fogh

Recently, when a Danish author complained that he couldn't find anyone to illustrate his book on the Muslim prophet, Mohammed, the cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten invited cartoonists to submit artwork for publication. Twelve responded, and, true to his word, edi Read More

Future Flu Fight

When new influenza strains develop in Southeast Asia it is thanks in part to the combination of high population density and too many people living too close to animals. When chickens are kept in the home to provide eggs or... Read More

Unsustainable Climate Research

The environmental debate in recent years has centered on the concept of 'sustainability'. The basic idea is that our use of natural resources (or the production of greenhouse gases that are infamously blamed for global warming) should be at a... Read More

100 Years of Fill 'Er Up

This Holiday season most of you who will be traveling will go by car, and all who do so will inevitably visit that most ubiquitous fixture of the American commercial landscape, the gas station. In most cases it won't be... Read More

Who Wants Health Insurance?

"Insurance really only works well when it is somehow mandated. There's no homeowners' insurance crisis or auto insurance crisis (well maybe just a little). That's because nearly all homeowners and drivers are required to carry it. You can't get a... Read More

The REACH Trap

The EU's Council of Ministers has just rubber-stamped a landmark piece of legislation affecting chemical products. REACH, approved last month in the European Parliament, will have a considerable impact. Around 30,000 substances present in things we use every day, s Read More

Newspeak in Montreal

"I am proud of the outcome of the Montreal Conference. Montreal is a watershed in the fight against climate change. More than 180 countries accepted sometimes difficult compromises to launch a stronger and forward-looking global effort to fight climate change.... Read More

What To Do About Iraq

The election in Iraq marks another milestone, but as we pass more and more of these milestones, the question inevitably arises: Are they really leading us somewhere, or are we going around in circles? It matters little who gets elected... Read More

Space Jam

Not long after the Russians launched Sputnik, a gargantuan steel mushroom sprouted in the coal fields of West Virginia, well out of sight of Moscow's Washington embassy. Soon the acre-sized parabolic dish atop the tower began to pivot and scan... Read More

WTO Delegates, Just Look Around You

HONG KONG -- The World Trade Organization meeting here this week is more than a technical negotiation on tariffs and subsidies. It's a showdown between two distinct moral visions -- a conflict barely less important than the old clash between... Read More

A New Bill of Rights

University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein is famous for his work in trying to popularize Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights. While libertarians and conservatives may not agree with Sunstein's/FDR's proposals, we would do well not to ignore... Read More

The Great Revolt Continues

With Iraq's latest trip to the polls, the great revolt continues. It's not a revolt led by generals with tanks or by millenarian terrorists, but a democratic revolution led by Iraqi men and women braving terrorist threats and bombs to... Read More

The Bonfire That Wouldn't Burn Out

NEW YORK - They "tell us stories about ourselves in ways that we couldn't." So writes Marc Weingarten in The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight, an excellent new literary biography of Tom Wolfe and other "New Journalists." Of few novels... Read More

Why Are Workers Earning Less Than They Used To?

For the past 30 years, environmental regulations have been largely well received by the American public, a reflection of the fact that many now consider themselves strongly pro-environment. Other manifestations of the "greening" of American attitudes surround us: s Read More

Shopping as a Lifestyle

Okay, I've written about shopping here before -- in some ways, as recently as last week, and, if you compare this recent story with this column from 2003, maybe even presciently. I've also written about the way things like eBay... Read More

The Faith-Based Encyclopedia Blinks

"First, get the mule's attention." That piece of folksy wisdom -- on the necessary initial step in getting useful work out of a mule -- came to mind as I read about the latest events in the evolution of Wikipedia.... Read More

Secular Education Loses the Faith

Secular education produces kids who take drugs, get pregnant, and have no respect, physician and social affairs writer Dr. A Wahid recently told an audience of Muslim students in an east London lecture hall. The debate was organized by the... Read More

Third Time's a Charm!

Liberated Iraq has begun its third round of elections, with media reporting Tuesday that Iraqi émigrés living in 15 Western and Muslim countries have flocked to out-of-country polling places established to fulfill their democratic desires. The third Iraqi ballot wi Read More

Good Drugs, Bad Rap

These are turbulent times for the pharmaceutical industry and for its regulator, the FDA. Lately, both have focused increasingly on issues of safety. First there were claims that the labeling of certain antidepressants failed to warn doctors that the drugs... Read More

Is Islamic Democracy The Answer?

"The United States and our friends and allies can help build a Middle East where hope triumphs over bitterness ... where greater political and economic freedom, and better, more modern education encourage people to reject the path of terror, and... Read More

Down on the Farm

Five years after the European Union held a summit in Lisbon and promised to develop a competitive, high knowledge market economy, the continent is falling behind. First, while capital flows in increasing quantities into countries such as China, India and... Read More

Death and Taxes in the EU

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain," Benjamin Franklin famously said, "except death and taxes." But when applied to corporations today, even that isn't necessarily true. On one hand, a skillful use of complex tax systems decreases... Read More

Obesity Hum-Bug

Looking for a source for childhood obesity? How about Kenneth Clarke Moore for putting "visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads" in The Night Before Christmas? Or the author of We Wish You A Merry Christmas, who had carolers... Read More

Winning Iraq's Future Is Worth Losing in '06

Right after the 9-11 attacks, as the Bush administration was readying us for war in Afghanistan, the hard left remarked that the Taliban's al Qaeda haven was all America's fault anyway. Opposition to the Afghan war at that time was... Read More

The Trade Traps in Hong Kong

HONG KONG -- In this wildly dynamic free-market city, an anomalously lethargic trade negotiation began today in a conference center guarded by more cops, sailors and soldiers than protect the U.S. Capitol on State of the Union night. This is... Read More

Fear the Turtle

HONG KONG -- As 11,000 delegates, journalists and NGOs arrive in Hong Kong for the WTO conference, there are some eerie parallels with the mood in Seattle on the eve of the disastrous WTO meeting in 1999. Hong Kong is... Read More

Car Bombs Return to Beirut

BEIRUT -- Yesterday, after a quiet spell that lasted almost three months, the terrifying wave of car bomb assassinations against anti-Syrian journalists and political figures started up again in Lebanon. This time the target was Gebran Tueni, the editor-in-chief of Read More

The Bonfire than Wouldn't Burn Out

NEW YORK - They "tell us stories about ourselves in ways that we couldn't." So writes Marc Weingarten in The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight, an excellent new literary biography of Tom Wolfe and other "New Journalists." Of few novels... Read More

The Market Makers

LONDON -- An acquaintance of mine, a civil servant (what you, in the ineffably cute version of the language you use, would refer to as a Federal bureaucrat), has just been part of a long campaign to get rich world... Read More

Welcome to!

In 1999, a weekly PBS television show that I had hosted for four years -- "TechnoPolitics" -- was cancelled. My longtime pal Charles Francis noticed my absence on the tube and called me. Why not adapt some of the subject... Read More

The Turn of the Screw

A friend recently gave me a bottle of Chapoutier's 1999 La Bernardine Chateauneuf-du-Pape. I was very much looking forward to trying this wine, which had received high 80s scores from both Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator. I rarely drink... Read More

Giving the Gift of Flexibility

Sure there are plenty of whip-cracking bosses, but most would probably rather be loved than feared. And during the holiday season, many employers dance a rather delicate dance: They want to be more Santa than Scrooge, but they can't help... Read More

The East Asia Summit

International relations in East Asia have been a bit chilly at times over recent months. A newly formed grouping of 16 regional nations, known as the 'East Asian Summit', will meet for the first time on December 14. If successful,... Read More

A Tale of Two Moms

Mariam Farhat, a 56 year old mother, will be running alongside her male colleagues in the upcoming January elections for the Palestinian parliament, and, by all accounts, she will easily win a seat, due to her enormous popularity among the... Read More

An Engineer's Dreams

Editor's note: Henry Petroski is professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University and the author of Pushing the Limits: New Adventures in Engineering. He recently spoke with TCS editor Nick Schulz. Nick Schulz: In your recent book Pushing... Read More

Something Old, Some Things New

Welcome to, formerly The name has changed, but the essence of TCS will remain as we continue to provide the news, commentary and analysis on a range of issues you enjoy, including science and technology; business, finance and... Read More

Innovation Time: For TCS and the EU

BRUSSELS -- Since TCS Europe was launched in the summer of 2002, the European Union has weathered a lot of ups and downs, from its historic enlargement to include former communist bloc nations to its bitter internal split over whether... Read More

Does Criticism of the War Undermine Troop Morale?

One of the lessons of Vietnam taught to American officer cadets is that successful prosecution of a long-term war requires support from the people, the government, and the military. It is considered axiomatic that, if any leg of Clausewitz' Remarkable... Read More

Denying the Soviet Holocaust

On Monday, December 5, The Wall Street Journal published a major commentary by Robert Conquest, the dean of historians on Soviet tyranny and, for some of us, one of the greatest living moral exemplars in the world. Few authors have... Read More

Poor Countries, Tear Down This Wall!

The big World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong next week is widely expected to be a flop, just like its predecessor in Cancun two years ago. But it doesn't have to be. Ministers from 148 countries, gathering for the... Read More

Jack Murtha and the Lessons of Vietnam

Three years ago, the Iraqi people suffered under one of the most brutal dictatorships on the planet. Within the past year, the Iraqi people have voted for an interim government, written a constitution, and approved that constitution in a popular... Read More

Nuclear Explosion at Montreal

MONTREAL -- "This is a dirty filthy industry," screeched Elizabeth May, head of the Sierra Club of Canada. Her outburst occurred during a panel discussion devoted to nuclear energy and climate change at the United Nations Climate Change Conference at... Read More

Tortured Logic

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had no scheduled stop in Italy on this week's European itinerary, but that hasn't stopped the Italian press from unleashing a typical torrent of bias, blame and accusations against her and against US policy.... Read More

The Strongest Economy You've Never Heard Of

Did you know that the American economy is in recession? Well, if you saw this poll (results released on November 23rd), you might be forgiven for thinking that it was, so widespread is the belief that the economy is performing... Read More

The White Moor As Willing Executioner

On November 9, Muriel Degauque, a Caucasian Belgium-born woman, blew herself up in a failed attempt to kill American troops in Iraq. She is said to be the first European-born woman to die on a jihadic suicide mission. Degauque was... Read More

How Do You Spur American Competitiveness?

Years ago, Jim Palmer was a mainstay of the Baltimore Orioles' pitching staff. Earl Weaver was his notoriously abrasive yet highly successful manager. One night, Weaver was expounding his theories of pitching with reporters -- how to pitch to which... Read More

No repetir los mismos errores

Rudi Dornbusch, renombrado economista del MIT, solía decir que podía justificar los errores de los miembros de la mesa directiva del Banco de México. Después de todo, eran de carne y hueso. Sin embargo, lo que no pudo entender fue... Read More

Checking the Obesity Math

Sometimes when you arrive late to a party, you don't have a clue what's happening. That was the case for Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro who recently turned up 15 minutes late for a National Press Club Newsmaker session, "Food Fight:... Read More

No More of the Same Mistakes

Editor's note: This essay is the winner of the recent TCS writing contest that asked writers and scholars to answer the question: "How Can Free Trade Boost Latin American Economies?" Rudi Dornbusch, the renowned MIT economist, used to say of... Read More

TCS COP 11 Coverage: Culture Shock in Montreal

MONTREAL -- As one of the very few scientists at the UN's eleventh Conference of the Parties climate meeting (COP-11), I feel like an outsider. That's because I am. The army of thousands in attendance (international delegates, NGOs, and all... Read More

Jakarta's Engine is Still Sputtering

Questions loom over the cause of the ongoing economic instability of the Indonesian economy. Jakarta was expecting the full-year rise in consumer prices to be 8 percent for this year and 8.6 percent for 2006. But an unexpectedly high rate... Read More

Learning to Love Sprawl

Everybody knows some things about sprawl: It's a recent, and largely American phenomenon; it encourages wasteful use of resources; it's aesthetically unpleasant; and it benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. We also know that it could be... Read More

Jakarta's Engine is Still Sputtering

Questions loom over the cause of the ongoing economic instability of the Indonesian economy. Jakarta was expecting the full-year rise in consumer prices to be 8 percent for this year and 8.6 percent for 2006. But an unexpectedly high rate... Read More

Ten Years After the Shutdowns

The anniversary of the Gingrich Revolution last year brought on a spate of misty-eyed remembrances among conservatives, reflections on what was and what could have been when the Republican Party took over Congress 10 years ago. A year later, however,... Read More

TCS COP 11 Coverage: More Than One Best Way

MONTREAL -- A new consensus is emerging at the United Nations' Climate Change Conference in Montreal. Some participants are beginning to recognize that the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate Change (AP6) is at least part of the way... Read More

Iraq and the Corruption Trap

"...political competitors who are unable to make credible promises to most voters will, upon taking office, underprovide public goods, overspend on transfers to narrow groups, and engage in significant rent-seeking. That is, the behavior of such politicians can be Read More

It Ain't That Easy, Folks

Everybody's talking about it, but few seem to realize how exquisite a maneuver reducing US forces in Iraq is -- unless you just want to cut and run as does Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). It isn't a simple math formula... Read More

Shedding Light on SOX

Behind the Times Select firewall, a New York Times business columnist recently offered a forceful defense of the Sarbanes-Oxley (or "SOX") legislation. Unfortunately, Joseph Nocera's passionate support for SOX led him to disregard Woodrow Wilson's dictum: "The thin Read More

Save the Slaves

Not many Americans know it, but December 2nd was International Abolition of Slavery Day. Not many know this either: the institution of slavery -- abolished 150 years ago in most of the Western world -- is still alive and well... Read More

TCS COP 11 Coverage: An Unethical Environment?

MONTREAL -- I've been thinking a lot lately about people who - -despite living in industrialized countries -- find affluence and the associated consumption of natural resources troubling. By their lights, wealthy countries like the US are the world's principle... Read More

Booze Without Borders

Dear President Barroso, You might have noticed in a recent issue of the Financial Times that Systembolaget (the Swedish Alcohol Retail Monopoly) ran an advertisement imploring you to not break up their monopoly on the selling of alcohol. Now, there's... Read More

Life At the Generational Crossroads...

The internet exploded in the fall of 1995, with the acceptance of email as a mainstream form of communication and the rise of Netscape as a user-friendly "browser" of the "world wide web." It was a time before Silicon Valley... Read More

'F No Es Fabuloso?' Beating the Scholastic Odds

U.S. high school seniors don't have the skills to match their ambitions, according to a new U.S. Education Department study. A third of 12th graders surveyed in 2004 expected to complete a bachelor's degree and another third expected a bachelors... Read More

TCS COP11 Coverage: This Market Is Sending a Signal

MONTREAL -- "Environmental effectiveness and minimum cost are two core building blocks for any long term modern climate policy," declared Olivia Hartridge, a representative from the Environmental Directorate of the European Commission. She was speaking on a panel o Read More

TCS COP11 Coverage: Home of Le Whopper

MONTREAL -- In "Animal House", Dean Wormer pleaded, "Who delivered the medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner? Every Halloween the trees are filled with underwear. Every Spring the toilets explode." The alpha Omega, Greg Marmalard, replied, "You're talking ab Read More

TCS COP11 Coverage: Media Fish Fry

The week before Thanksgiving, the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental NGO got what it wanted in the lead up to the United Nations' latest meeting to discuss climate change, taking place in Montreal -- scary stories about dire effects from... Read More

The Greater of Two Evils

One of the main problems rightwing nutjobs like myself face is that we've never quite managed to get across a fundamental point about our mistrust of government action. People assume we just have a naïve faith that markets left untouched... Read More

Hollywood Ending?

In case you haven't noticed, Hollywood has a bit of a revenue problem. There have been numerous headlines that film attendance declined an amazing 12 percent from last year. But as Chris Anderson recently mentioned on his Long Tail Weblog,... Read More

A Windfall of Bad Ideas

In the third-quarter of 2005, the major U.S. oil companies -- ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP America, and Shell Oil Company -- collectively earned almost $26 billion in profits, an all-time record.[1] In September and October, gasoline prices also hit hist Read More

This Is What Textbooks Should Be Like

"The favored game at the moment has to be price-gouging the natural way, riding the bandwagon of organic food...For example, in the UK, organic milk commands a premium of around 50 cents per quart, but the farmer sees less than... Read More

Cold Britannia

As well as having their double-decker red buses and a Queen, we all know that the British enjoy nothing more than complaining about the weather, and moaning about how the forecasters never come close to being right. Environmentalists have now... Read More

New Vaccine Technology Takes Jab at Avian Flu

There is no commercially available vaccine for avian influenza type H5N1, but we're getting close. And if it's true that the more time H5N1 has to mutate the more time it will have to become transmissible between humans and thus... Read More

TCS COP11 Coverage: Climate Change and 'Overriding Goals'

There's a joke going around Montreal, site of this year's annual United Nations conclave on global warming. With all the smoke from those thousands of burning cars in the rioting suburbs, the French have now completely blown their targets for... Read More

Counterinsurgency and the American Way of War

Some Iraq war critics have lately argued that the American military is not very adept at counterinsurgency. But the reality is a little more complicated than they suggest. Reacting to an article in The New Republic about President Bush's strategy... Read More

Thinking Like Grandmasters

Vladimir Putin has never been the great embracer of democracy and free markets that many in the West at one time hoped would characterize Russia's future leadership. For those who held any lingering doubts about his deeper beliefs, Putin's comments... Read More

The Senator From Windfall

Of all the politicians complaining about the profits and practices of America's wicked oil companies, few can top Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). Among her latest ventures is a demand that the oil company executives who testified Nov. 9 be brought... Read More

The Senator From Windfall

Of all the politicians complaining about the profits and practices of America's wicked oil companies, few can top Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). Among her latest ventures is a demand that the oil company executives who testified Nov. 9 be brought... Read More

The Senator From Windfall

Of all the politicians complaining about the profits and practices of America's wicked oil companies, few can top Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). Among her latest ventures is a demand that the oil company executives who testified Nov. 9 be brought... Read More

Thinking Like Grandmasters

Vladimir Putin has never been the great embracer of democracy and free markets that many in the West at one time hoped would characterize Russia's future leadership. For those who held any lingering doubts about his deeper beliefs, Putin's comments... Read More

A Current Affair

In the December 1st issue of Nature magazine, Harry Bryden and colleagues at Britain's National Oceanography Centre report that the Atlantic meridional circulation (also known as the thermohaline circulation (THC) -- the density driven current that carries warm sur Read More

Proxy Fright

In the Wall Street Journal, Robert Pozen recently proposed that the Securities and Exchange Commission should adopt two new rules to empower shareholders: "First, the SEC should allow shareholders of a public company to propose in its proxy statement a... Read More

Don't Mess with Jordan

Following the terrorist bombing of a wedding party and two other hotels in Aman in early November, columnist Mark Steyn opined that al-Zarqawi appears to be losing his sense of direction, adding that his days as a terrorist godfather may... Read More

Vain in Spain

Last week the European Union organized a high secular mass in Barcelona, Spain, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Euro-Med partnership between EU countries and their counterparts from the southern and eastern Mediterranean. The event was to have been... Read More

The Riot Act

PARIS -- Add one more casualty to the victims of the November incidents in France: Alain Finkielkraut, 56-year-old professor, philosopher, author, and subtle commentator on current events. This humane intellectual has been dragged into something like a cross betwee Read More

'We Have to Formulate Our Own Bioethics'

Researchers who want to clone human embryos and create stem cells are facing the biggest public relations disaster in the history of their fledgling science. Their most acclaimed colleague, Hwang Woo-suk, of Seoul National University, has admitted that he lied... Read More

Peak Curiosity

Predicting the end of oil era has been a venerable (albeit fruitless) pseudo-intellectual pursuit for most of the 20th century. This Nostradamian pastime regained new vigor during the late 1990s when (mostly retired geologists) Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrère, L.F. Read More

The Networked Creators

Is the U.S. really losing its competitive edge when it comes to innovation? That was the premise of a recent New York Times piece[1] which painted a bleak picture of the state of innovation in America. The article by Timothy... Read More

Game Off?

Ever since Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) weighed in on video games in late summer -- alleging them responsible for "a silent epidemic of media desensitization" and for "stealing the innocence of our children" -- there has been a chorus of... Read More

The Great Escape

Editor's note: Robert Fogel was awarded, along with Douglass North, the Nobel Prize in economics in 1993 for their pioneering work using statistical analysis to study economic history. Professor Fogel recently published a book based on years of his research:... Read More

Dubai The Model?

Westerners who travel to the Middle East often pass through Dubai and sigh deeply. "If only the rest of the Muslim Middle East were as free as Dubai," they say before flying back to Amsterdam, London, New York or wherever... Read More

Russian Rule-Out

As Russia's power declines, influence wanes and reach recedes, its misbehavior rises. At the December Ministerial Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a valuable instrument to advance human rights and democracy standards, Russi Read More

Why the Top-Down Approach Has Failed

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Another World AIDS Day has arrived (Dec. 1) and with it more HIV cases than ever before -- over 40 million. The World Health Organization's target of treating three million people by the end of this... Read More

A Permanent Deathstyle

Here's the formula for the AIDS epidemic: First, start with a deadly contagious virus. Second, take no serious measures as dangerous behavior patterns multiply. Third, ignore the obvious lessons of epidemiological and medical history -- try demagoguery instead. Fou Read More

Germany's Wake-Up Call?

BERLIN -- Not an easy start for Angela Merkel. Only a few days after her swearing-in as the new German chancellor, a German citizen was kidnapped in Iraq. A videotape of the abducted woman was delivered to public television broadcaster... Read More

Defeat From the Jaws of Victory?

President Bush has come out and forcefully defended his Administration's Iraq policy in a speech at the Naval Academy. It's a defense that should perhaps bring cheer to the hearts of those who believe that the United States should commit... Read More

String Theory Versus Intelligent Design

In 1970, a young physicist named Leonard Susskind got stuck in an elevator with Murray Gell-Mann, one of physics' top theoreticians, who asked him what he was working on. Susskind said he was working on a theory that represented particles... Read More

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