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OpenMarket: Sam Kazman

  • 1998's Lowered Status, and the Supreme Court's Global Warming Decision

    August 15, 2007
    NASA's recent downgrading of 1998 as the warmest recorded year in the US should automatically overturn the Supreme Court's global warming decision, no?  After all, the majority opinion in that bitter 5-4 split expressly noted the view that “1998 was the ‘warmest year on record.'”  So since 1998 now turns out to have been a tiny bit cooler than 1934, that voids the Court's ruling, right?

    Wrong. At...
  • The Year's Worst Use of a Figure of Speech by a Bureaucrat?

    April 20, 2007
    Earlier this week Nicole Nason, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said the following in describing the allegedly new interest of consumers in vehicle safety:
    "Consumers used to take tepid sips of the safety Kool-Aid and are now gulping it down."

    Ms. Nason was addressing the Society of Automotive Engineers 2007 World Congress.

    Ms. Nason needs to get a better grip on her metaphors. Ever since the 1978 Jonestown mass suicide, the primary meaning of the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” has been to blindly take poison at the urging of some leader.

    Now it's true...
  • An Idea So Good, It Must Be Mandated

    March 29, 2007
    Is there a special award for someone who lays out a lengthy argument in support of some law, and then yanks the rug out from under himself at the very end?

    Consider this letter in today's Wall St. Journal from Edgar Dworsky, head of Consumer World. Mr. Dworsky, a former Mass. assistant attorney general, defends a state law that requires groceries to mark prices on every individual item they sell. He devotes over 10 column-inches to explaining how convenient individually price-marked items are for shoppers, and how little it costs storekeepers.

    Perhaps that's true, perhaps not.

    But then Mr. Dworsky concludes with this zinger: "Does it cost money to mark prices on goods? Certainly. The real question is whether consumers are willing to pay that...
  • Toronto Ice Sheet Decimated by Global Warming

    March 5, 2007
    Global warming deniers could perhaps dismiss the breakup of the polar ice caps as a far away phenomenon irrelevant to their daily lives. But now climate change is striking closer and closer to home, causing premature calving of the much-beloved Toronto ice sheet: "Police closed several major Toronto streets Monday after huge slabs of ice started skidding off skyscrapers in the city's downtown core."
  • The Duke of Wellington, Climatologist

    February 8, 2007
    The growth in air travel is one of the culprits behind the alleged global warming crisis. (See, for example, Cheap Air Travel Adding to Global Warming Woes). Yet while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is in the forefront of the congressional push to deal with global warming, she's also been pushing for an upgrade in the special military airplane service available exclusively to her.

    This sort of resembles the Duke of Wellington's view of railroads when they were introduced in Britain in the 1800s: they would, he sniffed, "only encourage the common people to move about needlessly". The Duke, of course, never had much problem moving about, nor much need to justify it to anyone else.

    Whether technologies upset the aristocracy or...
  • Let Them Use Solar

    December 7, 2006
    It's a heart-warming ad, literally. A poverty-striken mother and daughter sit freezing in their unheated home in the dead of winter, trying to warm themselves with a small cooking stove. But then a fuel truck pulls up and a band of smiling deliverymen pile out and fill up the family's oil tank. Now they'll be warm.

    The tagline, if I remember it correctly from when I saw the tv spot earlier this week, is “low-cost oil for those in need, brought to you by the good people of Venezuela and Citizens Energy.”

    Now there's been quite a bit of controversy over Hugo Chavez's program to distribute discount-priced oil to the needy in this country. But I've got a question about...
  • The Global Warming Case--the cataclysm question

    November 30, 2006
    One comment from yesterday's Supreme Court hearing that's getting a lot of press is Justice Scalia's question to the attorney for the petitioning states about the imminence of harm to the states: "I mean, when is the predicted cataclysm?"

    The attorney answered: "The harm does not suddenly spring up in the year 2100; it plays out continuously over time."

    I suspect that this exchange will be portrayed, by some, as illustrating the gap between the scientifically uneducated and the scientifically erudite. After all, Justice Scalia himself later noted that he's "not a scientist", whereas counsel for the petitioning states was probably quite familiar with the underlying science.

    But later in the argument that attorney said: "... our harm is imminent in the sense that lighting a fuse on a bomb is imminent harm ...."

    That sounds pretty cataclysmic to me. If you're delving...
  • Global Warming Hearings & Hurricanes

    November 30, 2006
    Yesterday the Supreme Court heard argument in the global warming case. Today is the last day of the 2006 hurricane season, the quietest in the a decade. Personally, I hope the Supreme Court's ruling in the case ends up being as disappointing to global warming alarmists as this year's hurricane season has been.

    Of course, one quiet hurricane season doesn't disprove the alarmist forecasts. On the other hand, Katrina didn't support those apocalyptic forecasts either, but you didn't see much in the way of forecasting restraint on the part of alarmists last year.

    I'd like to correct a few points that were garbled when I first phoned them in soon after yesterday's court hearing. The post below states that EPA was hammered by some justices "talking about issues that weren't...
  • How Milton Friedman Made Me Buy A New TV

    November 17, 2006
    PBS first aired Milton Friedman's 10-part "Free to Choose" series in 1980. At that time we only had an old TV set that didn't receive UHF, and so we couldn't watch the show at home. But National Airport had recently installed some new chairs in one part of its lobby, each of which had a small TV mounted next to it. If you put a few coins in the pay box, you could watch what you wanted.

    So my wife and I drove down to National Airport, figuring we'd catch the first episode there. Well, the TV did receive UHF, but the reception was terrible! (The ambiance wasn't very good either.)

    And that's why we bought a new, UHF-capable TV set, in time to watch the next episode of "Free to Choose" at home.

    As for "Capitalism and Freedom", my favorite Friedman book, I always think of it as "Capitalism and Friedman".


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