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OpenMarket: June 2007

  • Derby Winners

    June 6, 2007
    Eli, Interesting points, but I don't think that winning times are a particularly useful metric in horse racing. The Epsom Derby has seen its winning times stay basically steady since the 1900s. There are plenty of reasons for this, most obvious being that the horses don't stay in lanes and there is plenty of jockeying for position. Indeed, the winner often comes from the back or middle of the field at around the half-way mark. In short, you need a good jockey and a horse with an impressive burst of speed, not an incredibly fast horse with staying power - an equine equivalent of Michael Johnson. Those qualities don't show up in winning times. What would be interesting, however, is to know the last winner of the Epsom or Kentucky Derby that wasn't a thoroughbred. When thoroughbreds...
  • A Two-Pronged Triumph for Science

    June 6, 2007
    Iain - Thanks for noting the triumph of unreason in the EU, where they're banning barometers because of the presence of that ole devil, mercury. Mercury, like its unfortunate metallic brother lead, has been transformed from an element with certain known properties and potential risks into an anthropomorphically evil monster that must be banished from anywhere "progressive"-thinking people congregate. Think of the children! Which leads us into an interesting conflict. Environmentalists are clamoring for U.S. consumers to buy more compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) because they last longer and use less electricity. They're so in love with CFL technology, they've actually proposed (in...
  • Improvement of the Breed?

    June 6, 2007
    Of course, Greg, it's worth noting that the organizations you refer to appear to be largely falling down in their efforts to improve their breeds. I'd predict that, particularly in horse racing, we'll ultimately see a lot of cloned animals competing. At least in horse racing, horses clearly have stopped getting better. The times for Kentucky Derby winners have been more-or-less stable since the 1950s. The all-time derby record still dates back to 1974 and, of course, we haven't had a Triple Crown winner since 1978. Race horses may be getting too inbred: all thoroughbreds, of course, trace their bloodlines to one of three stallions brought to England in the 17th and 18th centuries. Dogs may be getting "better" by the largely physical standards of...
  • Another Triumph for Science!

    June 6, 2007
    The EU has now banned the barometer. Why?
    British Labour MEP, Linda McAvan, welcomed the ban: "Research has shown that even at low doses mercury is extremely harmful to human health."
    Erm, no. I examined this question a while back and found the evidence lacking. But wait, there's more:
    She added: "If even US states, the latest being New Hampshire, are passing laws banning mercury devices in a country where environmental issues are not usually a priority, I cannot see why the European Union should carry on allowing their production."
    Environmental issues aren't a priority here. Really?
  • How Green is Flying?

    June 6, 2007
    One of Europe's leading budget airlines, EasyJet, has claimed that people who really care about the environment should use it. This attracted the attention of the UK's Channel Four Factcheck team. Their verdict?
    EasyJet's business model keeps costs as low as possible, which means that the consumption of environment-hurting, carbon-emitting fuel is also kept as low, per passenger, as possible. It also invests heavily in new planes, which are more energy-efficient than older stock. But the success of this business model means that flying becomes more affordable and more planes go into the air, which doesn't help the environment. The short-haul and domestic flights in which low-cost airlines specialise are also those journeys...
  • Should Illegal Aliens Receive Welfare and Racial Preferences?

    June 6, 2007
    The Senate is currently weighing an immigration deal supported by Ted Kennedy and George Bush that would provide amnesty for 12 million illegal aliens.   (Supporters of the bill argue that the deal is not amnesty because it requires illegal aliens to pay a modest "fine."  For a "fine" of $1,000 per head of household, plus $500 per additional household member, illegal aliens can stay in the U.S.  The modest nature of these "fines" becomes apparent when you realize that starting this summer, legal immigrants will be charged $1,010 just for getting their green card, which is just one of the many stages they pass through to become citizens).  A sensible immigration deal would liberalize restrictions on immigration, but not allow those who were once illegal aliens to receive more in government benefits, such as food stamps, federal disability payments, and social security, than...
  • Rahall's Energy Bill: Join the 'Growing Clamor'

    June 6, 2007
    Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) of the House Natural Resources Committee is holding a markup on his energy bill today, and surprise - it's terrible. We'll have a press statement out soon, but in the meantime, here's a Dow Jones story on what the U.S. Chamber and API think of it:
    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tuesday joined the growing clamor against Rep. Nick Rahall's, D-W.Va., energy bill which critics say would not only stunt future oil and gas production in the U.S., but also suppress a growing wind energy market. The chamber, along with a...
  • Can You Clone that Thoroughbred?

    June 6, 2007
    USA Today has an interesting article this morning about the position of various purebred animal promotion associations (think American Kennel Club) on animal cloning. While most such organizations (including the AKC) have not yet taken a position, a few of them (including those governing greyhound, harness horse, and quarter horse racing) don't allow cloned animals to participate. The good news is that only one of the groups mentioned in the article (the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) identified animal safety as its ostensible reason for banning such animals. Friends of CEI will likely know from our prior writings on the matter (see here and...
  • The Fed focuses on subprime mortgages

    June 6, 2007

    I just learned that the Federal Reserve will hold a public hearing on subprime mortgages so the Fed can assess whether it should revise its regulations to address some of the terms and conditions of these loans that “consumer advocates” have called misleading or abusive.

    The hearing, scheduled for June 14 at the Federal Reserve offices in Washington, DC, will first have invited panel discussions and then an “open mike” period for short comments from attendees. Written comments are also invited — the comment period is open until August 14, 2007.

    Problems in the subprime mortgage market have affected home sales and, hence, the economy. But the underlying causes of the problems remain somewhat elusive. Some blame lenders for providing mortgages to people they know can't make the payments; others fault the...

  • The Hidden Persuader?

    June 6, 2007
    Tony Blair on Bush and global warming, on the occasion of this week's G-8 Summit: "I can persuade George Bush on climate change." As I remember, he's had similar ambitions before. Let's take a trip back to the aftermath of G-8 2005:
    “The G8 communiqué on climate change is a victory by President Bush on behalf of all the people of the world, especially the poor in developing countries,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming & International Environmental Policy. “The Kyoto Protocol's dead-end approach of mandatory reductions in energy consumption was hardly mentioned. Instead, the leaders at the G8 summit have recognized that global warming must be put in the context of other, more serious challenges.” While some...

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