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OpenMarket: Eli Lehrer

  • Cyber Cold War? Probably Not

    November 30, 2007
    McAffee, a company that makes cyber security software, has released a report warning of a new "cyber cold war."

    I'm skeptical of how big a deal this is from a national security standpoint. Many businesses that have neglected security may face real problems. But I think most have done a decent job. On the whole, however, things that are really important (say, the electric grid, nuclear missile launches) are probably less vulnerable to outside attack than they were before computer systems. Although traditional espionage could always do in these systems (infiltrate the agency, steal codes, bribe employees), nearly everything really critical simply can't be accessed from outside of certain secure facilities. Particularly post-9/11, even systems that probably aren't truly mission critical have been physically firewalled in just...
  • Who cares about "bad" foods?

    November 26, 2007
    Men's Health magazine has released its latest list of what it's editors believe are the "worst" items on chain restaurant menus. Yawn!

    Unlike, say, the very misleadingly named Center for Science in the Public Interest, I don't think that Men's Health favors any government regulation to prohibit these items or dictate what people should eat. Insofar as it may make some people more aware of their choices, I suppose a list like this can serve a valid function. But, to me, the entire exercise seems a bit pointless. Without exception, nobody would ever confuse these dishes with health food. All involve large portions, many are fried, and just as many are slathered with...
  • Trent Lott Knows Your Name

    November 26, 2007
    Nearly everyone has an opinion about Sen. Trent Lott (who, the Associated Press reports, plans to resign from the Senate today.) My off-the-cuff judgment is that he was and is a skilled political operative with a flexible ideology.

    Whatever one thinks of his policies, there's no doubt that he was a great player at the game of politics. A fair amount of his success, however, may have to do with his amazing facility (best I've ever witnessed) for remembering names. I met him twice while working as a reporter and then did see him in person again for over six years. When I went to work for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist he greeted me by name on my third day at the office, remembered that I had been a reporter, and asked me what I had been up to. Since Frist happened to be on vacation...

    November 8, 2007
    If you're interested in the debate over Optional Federal Chartering for insurance companies, you may want to check out CEI's new website OFC FAQ.ORG. It's still a work in progress but, at the very least, it might be worth a quick glance. While it's a far-from-ideal solution, an optional federal charter would do more to free insurance markets than any other option currently under serious consideration.
  • It Looks Evil

    November 7, 2007
    That's really all I have to say about Robopanda.
  • The Cult of Historical Preservation

    November 5, 2007
    The D.C. Preservation League recently announced its 2007 list of "most endangered" properties. While there's nothing wrong with historical preservation per se, the recent list shows why and how the preservationists have transformed themselves from a sensible, aesthetically concerned citizen's movement into a quasi-religious calling. Because of D.C.'s status as a master-planned national capital, every major element of the city's architectural heritage is well-cared for: nobody could, would, or (probably) should suggest anything other than continued, indefinite care and preservation of the U.S. Capitol, the Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt memorials. For equally good reasons, nobody is ever going to make a serious suggestion that we do away with tiny neighborhood gems like...
  • In Defense of the Zone System

    November 2, 2007

    As I've written before, I disagree with your post on the end of D.C.'s zone system. Washington cabdrivers are overwhelmingly independent entrepreneurs and, earlier this week, they engaged in a legitimate Atlas Shrugged style withdrawal of their labor in protest of government regulations that threaten their livelihood. The zone system tends to raise the prices for short rides--which well off lawyers and lobbyists take--while providing a modest subsidy for poorer residents of the city's outer neighborhoods. It does tend to let some cab drivers cheat tourists but, in my time in D.C., I think I've been cheated only once. On dozens of occasions, actually, drivers have knowingly undercharged me for short rides that happen to cross a zone line.

    The system has also given D.C. the most...
  • I Want One

    October 29, 2007
    Meet Robosaurus

    If you have an extra $2.5 million to spare, you can become the proud owner of The Robosaurus. Some specs from the web page:
    Stands 40 feet tall (twice as tall as Tyrannosaurus Rex)
    Weighs 60,000 pounds (over 3 times heavier than Tyrannosaurus Rex)
    Lifts 4,000 pound cars up higher than a 5 story building
    Breathes 20 feet fingers of flame that incinerate paint and plastic

    Somehow, I think that very few people would mess with me if I were to own it.
  • Worst. Show. Ever. (With a Tiny Redeeming Quality.)

    October 23, 2007
    To the surprise of nobody, CBS canceled the bizarre murder mystery/musical/comedy Viva Laughlin after dismal ratings this past Sunday. Yes, the show was terrible. Yes, I watched both episodes. Yes, I'll never get those 2 hours back.

    But I do want to observe one thing: the show is the only network show I can remember--ever--that features a wealthy businessman as a hero. Plenty of shows, for sure, have involved well-off doctors and lawyers. But heroic, successful entrepreneurs are, best as I know, altogether absent from network television. It's interesting to me that Tony Soprano, a psychotic gangster, actually received a more sympathetic portrayal than the typical CEO of a large company in a network drama.

    So, even though...
  • Private Criminal Law Doesn't Work

    October 18, 2007

    I mostly agree with your post but, well, I think that private enforcement of law in Medieval Iceland is an example of exactly why we need the state to enforce criminal laws. Have you ever taken a look at Njáll's Saga? (Which the paper you link to cites.) It's a great read but it tells the (probably largely true) story of an out-of-control feud that results in the murder of something like five percent of Iceland's male population over a 30 year period. One of the major characters (the Nijal of the common title) is actually a lawyer within the largely private system. And, for his trouble and enormous skill at law he gets burnt alive in a revenge killing. I actually first read it myself in a class on Medieval law.


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