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OpenMarket: December 2007

  • Rise of the Uber-Wikipedians

    December 4, 2007
    I don't know the ins and outs of Wikipedian politics, but according to The Register, trouble is brewing at Jimmy Wales's social knowledge project. The controversy surrounds the recently exposed mailing list of high-level wikipedians--the uber-editors of the encyclopedia--who have supposedly exercised their powers for the dark side.

  • Greenpeace's Fun with Graphs

    December 4, 2007
    Greenpeace has released the latest edition of its quarterly Guide to Greener Electronics. While I haven't read the study in full and I don't know exactly what goes in to determining the one through ten ranking that Greenpeace assigns to various famous tech companies, I did find their graph (see below) a little odd. Look how close together one to three are! Then look at the space between seven and ten--it's half the graph! By making three numbers take up half the graph, a greening tech company can move quite a way across the "dial o' green" if it moves from a seven to an eight, but a move from three to our doesn't result in such a pronounced leap. Adopting cleaner technology standards and practices is important, don't get me wrong. But such a blatantly misleading graph makes me question...
  • Honey, Let's Stay Together. . .For the Planet

    December 4, 2007
    Two scientists have found that divorce. . .wait...wait. . .wait. . .HURTS THE ENVIRONMENT. (In fact, they really didn't find that directly, only that in home water and electricity bills go up.) Although I suppose there was some use in documenting the facts, it seems pretty darn obvious that two people living apart will use more water and electricity than the same two people living together. Given the numerous, documented negative consequences of divorce (particularly on women and children) it seems hard to imagine what possible public policy consequences this finding could have.
  • Exporting Racism to Canada

    December 3, 2007
    Earlier, we described the antics of Glenn Singleton, the San Francisco "diversity" trainer who is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote racial stereotyping and scapegoating in the schools, under the guise of remedying the so-called "minority achievement gap." He claims that "white talk" is "verbal, impersonal, intellectual" and "task-oriented," while minority talk is "emotional." He also blames white...
  • The Herald's Oppenheimer on Chavez, free trade, and human capital

    December 3, 2007
    Andres Oppenheimer, The Miami Herald's Latin America columnist, offered some interesting insights into the Venezuelan referendum and other regional matters, in an online forum prior to the vote.  Two of the most insightful exchanges were in Spanish, so following are translations. One questioner asks about the rise of Chavez as part of a greater trend.
    Q: Good morning, Mr. Oppenheimer. I would like to know your opinion about the reach of the explosion of populism in Latin America led by Venezuela's President Chavez, its potential limits, and what countries threatened by this tendency, including the United States, can do. -- Fidel Diaz, Key Biscayne, 11/29/07 A: Fidel from Key Biscayne: The...
  • Whither Hugo?

    December 3, 2007
    Eli, I agree with you wholeheartedly on Hugo Chavez's open contempt for democracy, and that his taking a Putin-style power-behind-the-throne route is likely -- much as Noriega did in Panama. However, since he's chosen to maintain some thin veneer of democratic practice, this does hobble him and constrain his room for maneuver, however imperfectly. He's never been constrained in any way since coming to power, before today, so Venezuela is facing an entirely new situation.
  • Since When Has Hugo Liked Democracy?

    December 3, 2007
    Ivan, Like you I was happy to see that Hugo Chavez lost the referendum that would have, more or less, made him a "president for life." But I can't see anything about his record -- his suppression of the free press, his coup attempts against democratically elected leaders, his attacks on the opposition at every turn -- that makes me think he will ever step down peacefully. At most, I could see him taking the "Putin route" and giving the presidency to some loyal crony while continuing to control everything from behind the scenes.
  • In Search of a Subprime Free Lunch

    December 3, 2007
    The subprime market is a mess. Some of your constituents are losing their homes. There are more of them in the state which you represent in Congress than there are mortgage company executives. So the answer is obvious: propose a freeze on foreclosures and interest hikes through adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). That is what Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) wants to do. According to USA Today:
    New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton Monday will call for a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures on homes with subprime mortgages and a five-year freeze on the interest rates those borrowers must pay. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who is poised to announce the Bush administration's response to the housing troubles today, Clinton warns that foreclosures threaten to cause...
  • Energy Prices are Up -- Where's my Congressman?

    December 3, 2007
    The title of this New York Times article today says it all: "Truckers in Maine, Feeling High Costs of Diesel Fuel, Urge State to Intervene." Rising diesel fuel prices are hurting truckers, no doubt, just like rising jet fuel prices have hindered airlines seeking to regain profitability after the 9/11 shock. And rising gasoline prices have put a dent into the budgets of most Americans. But it's not the government's fault -- directly, at least. The U.S. should explore the Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. It should adjust the inefficient environmental regulations that segment the gasoline market. It should trim regulatory barriers to refinery construction. It should stop wasting money on ethanol and similar special interest fuels, etc., etc. But the government should...
  • NO to Chavez "reforms"

    December 3, 2007
    Venezuelan voters narrowly defeated Hugo Chavez's effort to expand his presidential powers and abolish presidential term limits, the country's electoral council announced just about an hour ago. Considering the way Chavez has bullied his opponents, including shutting down a TV station, it's heartening to see democratically-minded Venezuelans prevail. Of course, Chavez is not one to take "No" for an answer and just go away quietly, so it'll be interesting to see what he does next.

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