October 19, 2006Fox News this morning raises the alarming prospect of the IRS taxing financial transactions taking places in online virtual communities like Second Life and World of Warcraft. So far people like Rep. Jim Saxton of the Joint Economic Committee are giving the proposal the thumbs down, but I guarantee we haven't heard the last of it.
October 19, 2006Tokyo rail users will now be expected to not only pay for their own tickets, but also to power the machines that sell them. "A Tokyo rail company has put footstep-powered generators under its
ticket-vending machines; the tread of passengers generates electricity
to power the machines."
Another wonderful thing from Boing Boing.
October 18, 2006From The Wall Street Journal, via \.
The unusual alliance demonstrates a new tack being taken by the music industry to deal with the challenge posed by widespread music piracy. For years, the industry has been suing individual downloaders and file-sharing services, hoping to discourage the practice. In a tactic little known outside the music industry, record labels have also started to hire outside companies to plant "decoy," or fake, files on the sites. (One such company, ArtistDirect Inc.'s MediaDefender, says it has deployed decoys for as many as 30 of the top 100 Billboard songs at any given time.) The decoy files frustrate users because they fail to download even though, thanks to the...
October 18, 2006Marc Morano over at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is drawing our attention today to an op-ed in L'Express last month by distinguished French geophysicist Claude Allegre making the scandalous claim that "the cause of climate change remains unknown." I guess Mr. Allegre didn't get the memo that every scientist in the world has already agreed otherwise, as we are constantly reminded. One wonders how many dozens of prominent climate skeptics will have to crowd onto the public stage before the alarmists acknowledge that they exist.
October 18, 2006This afternoon Marian Tupy of Cato hosted a fascinating discussion on foreign aid and what is has and has not done for developing nations in Africa (podcast/video available here). The star of the day was Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda, who gave a devastating critique of the entire global system of foreign aid.
In Mwenda's view, international aid loans and grants have been exactly the problem standing in the way of economic development on the continent. As he pointed out, aid programs allow corrupt and despotic politicians to cement their power and, perhaps even worse, create a fundamental disconnect between rulers and the citizenry. Even a corrupt dictator wants to see economic growth if only because he wants to get his...
October 17, 2006In reference to my previous post about morally righteous (anti-) global warming celebrities, I suggested that those who are horrified by CO2 emissions should curtail al energy-intensive activities until some technology such as cold fusion is perfected. A dedicated reader reminded me, however, that the global warming alarmists aren't so much energy future optimists as they are anti-energy Malthusians. Good call.
One of the best examples of this truth is a quote from one of our old sparring partners, Paul Ehrlich. Prof. Ehrlich, a man, by the way, with a worse public gambling record than Bill Bennett, when confronted...
October 17, 2006Tired of loosely-informed celebrities nagging you about global warming? It's beginning to look like the most hard core among them could end up taking themselves out of the fame game of their own accord. The lead singer of Radiohead, Thom Yorke, has suggested that taking a band on tour is immoral because of all the atmosphere-killing CO2 that is emitted in the process - even when the hip kids on the bus have purchased carbon credits to offset their emissions.
Clearly, he's on to something here. Anything that uses any energy is evil - taking a rock band on a world tour and flipping on a lightswitch is merely a difference of scale. Thus, performing and making music (or movies, or whatever) is itself essentially immoral. Until the alternative energy crowd brings us the magic technologies that are perenially "just around...
October 17, 2006Sometimes, a regulatory idea comes along that is so stupid and offensive, one assumes it couldn't actually be real. "Who could possibly think this is a good idea?" one asks. This morning it's deja vu all over again with news that the EU wants to force anyone posting video online to be licensed as if they were a television broadcast network. That means that CNN International and your favorite video blogger are now looking at the same regulatory compliance burden. Taking video clips with your cell phone and putting them on YouTube or MySpace, by this defintion, makes you an "online broadcaster."
Fortunately, for the moment, only Slovakia has stepped forward to officially embrace this proposal. On that note, Slovakian video bloggers beware. Let's just make sure no one tells the FCC about this. They may not go this far...
October 17, 2006
The CEI email server is abuzz this morning with news of an upcoming briefing on global warming and hurricanes being put on by the American Meteorological Society. Will the assembled panel give us real data and empirical observations, or a lot of emotionally-fueled nonsense? Only attendees will know for sure. If you plan on being in the vicinity of the Russell House Office Building this Friday between noon and 2pm, stop in for an unpriced buffet lunch and lots of climate talk.
For our take on the global warming, hurricanes and the (public policy) aftermath of Katrina, see this, by Marlo and Iain.
October 16, 2006
Thanks to Fred for passing along (by way of Don Boudreaux) the link to the EconTalk podcast for this week. Host Russ Roberts interviews Walter Williams about his influences, his intellectual journey and his choice of grocery stores.