Today’s Links: October 3, 2011


NEAL STEPHENSON: “Innovation Starvation
“Believing we have all the technology we’ll ever need, we seek to draw attention to its destructive side effects. This seems foolish now that we find ourselves saddled with technologies like Japan’s ramshackle 1960’s-vintage reactors at Fukushima when we have the possibility of clean nuclear fusion on the horizon. The imperative to develop new technologies and implement them on a heroic scale no longer seems like the childish preoccupation of a few nerds with slide rules. It’s the only way for the human race to escape from its current predicaments. Too bad we’ve forgotten how to do it.”

GARRETT EPPS: “A Constitutional Law-Nerd’s Take on Upcoming Supreme Court Cases
“Between now and the Affordable Care Act case, court watchers must keep themselves amused. Much of the Court’s docket as announced thus far consists of workmanlike statutory cases concerned with topics like insider trading and consumer arbitration; cases that have huge practical impact but are devoid of drama. There are some important criminal-procedure cases as well. Better court-watchers than I will offer comprehensive term previews over the weekend. I offer here a con-law nerd’s highly quirky list of a few cases that I will be watching over the next few months, sorted by oral argument date.”

THE ECONOMIST EDITORIAL: “In Praise of Chaos: Governments’ Attempts to Control the Internet Should be Resisted
“The internet’s openness fosters two of its great virtues. First, it has encouraged innovation. In rich countries the internet has generated as much as 10% of GDP growth over the past 15 years, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, a think-tank. Second, because nobody controls the internet, it has proved hard to censor. And despite (or perhaps because of) this lack of governance, the network has proved surprisingly resilient. More than two billion people are now connected to the internet. The many predictions of collapse have not yet proved correct.”


TRANSPORTATION – Scanners Embedded in Road to Result in Fines for Those Driving on Worn Tires
“According to AutoExpress, police in the UK are looking into scanners embedded into roadways that can detect the depth of a vehicle’s tire tread. If your rubber doesn’t meet a set of pre-determined parameters, you could eventually expect to see a fine show up in the mail. Currently, law enforcement says that the technology will only be used in checkpoint scenarios to alert drivers of a potentially dangerous situation, but given that the system costs somewhere around €50,000, or $67,500 at current conversion rates, critics are concerned that the depth-measuring device will be used as a cudgel to drum up revenue.”

CIRCUMCISION – California Governor Signs Bill to Prevent Circumcision Bans
“California’s governor has signed a bill that that will prevent local governments from banning male circumcision.Gov. Jerry Brown’s office announced Sunday that the Democrat signed AB768, a bill written in response to a ballot measure proposed in San Francisco.”

FOUR LOKO – Four Loko to Relabel Cans to Show Alcohol Content After Pressure From FTC
“The maker of a sweet alcoholic drink that appeals to teenagers will start disclosing on its labels that its super-size cans contain as much alcohol as four to five cans of beer, federal regulators announced Monday.”