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  • Liveblogging an Environment Debate

    October 2, 2006
    The Conservative Party Conference in the UK are discussing the environment this afternoon. The Conservatives have rebranded themselves as a green party, fully in favor of restrictions on carbon emissions. The spokesman in favor of these policies is terribly posh. Questions from the floor have been very hostile to new taxes, and have pointed out the economic costs of higher fuel prices and air travel. One lady pointed out that she went to the Alps by train. The "opposition" spokesman pointed out those trains are powered by nuclear power, which the Tories are also against.
  • Needed: Broad-based Coalition to Fight for Ag Reform

    September 29, 2006
    A Financial Times article today points out how difficult U.S. reform of its agricultural programs will be with the collapse of the WTO's Doha Round. The 2002 Farm Bill expires in 2007, and bringing farm subsidy programs in line with WTO obligations has been a major impetus for reform. Now, without that pressure, prospects are dimming for substantive changes. In fact, farm supporters are calling for an extension of the 2002 legislation instead of a new bill. Some reformers, like Cal Dooley, president Food Products Association (and soon to be head of the Grocery Manufacturers Association under a merger plan) has said that “a coalition including environmentalists...
  • New study shows promise, but not cure

    September 28, 2006
    A new study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows mixed results in dealing with Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes — the most severe type of diabetes that requires close monitoring of blood sugar, multiple insulin injections during the day, and a careful balancing of food. In the study islets, which are cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, were transplanted into 36 patients with Type 1 diabetes. Results showed that the transplanted cells provided insulin independence for up to two years for some patients, but a majority needed insulin again at two years. The islets also helped in controlling blood sugar levels. The cells are taken from the pancreas of dead donors, and in 2001 only 400 were available, while there are...
  • Ring fingers and sports potential

    September 28, 2006
    All that stuff written about early admission college programs being discriminatory, here's a new wrinkle on possible “early admission” to sports programs. It seem that girls or women whose ring fingers are longer than their index fingers are much more likely to be good in sports. The new report said that measuring early on the ratio of those fingers "could help identify talented individuals at a pre-competitive stage." Just think — new tests for junior high sports teams. It's not how well you play the game; it's whether your finger ratios fill the bill. As a shortie, I know I hung...
  • Is Mozart anti-Muslim?

    September 27, 2006
    The Deutsche Oper in Berlin on Monday cancelled a production of Mozart's “Idomeneo” because of fears of inciting Muslim protesters to violence. There was a lot of Sturm und Drang as a result. Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germans shouldn't “bow to fears of Islamic violence.” If you're puzzled—no, it's not the opera itself that's a perceived problem (whew!). The avant-garde production of the opera includes Idomeneo—the lead character—pulling the bloody heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha from a sack. That's not a scene in the libretto, but was the...
  • Of Mice and Men

    September 27, 2006

    A new study shows that mice that drink moderate amounts of wine everyday suffer from less memory loss and brain cell death. A huge body of evidence has shown that moderate alcohol consumption helps keep people heart-healthy, and CEI had sued for that positive information to appear on alcoholic beverage labels. Now moderate drinking seems to “slow Alzheimer's-like diseases.”

    The happy mice were given Cabernet Sauvignon wine (really!), ethanol, or plain water— their equivalent of two glasses a day. The ones who did best on mazes were the red wine drinkers. Maybe they thought some Zinfandel was at the end of it.

  • Haymarket Laugh Riot

    September 27, 2006
    I don't know how on in the world I end up on some loony email lists, but they're at least good for the occasional chuckle. For instance, today I got a sales pitch from the far-left book outfit Haymarket Books, proudly hawking the Noam Chomsky book a copy of which Venezuela's anti-American strongman Hugo Chavez waved at the United Nations last week.
    "SPECIAL OFFER: Get Hegemony or Survival before Amazon can ship it and our exclusive Arundhati Roy DVD (not on Amazon)...Buy Hegemony or Survival with the DVD and receive both the book and DVD for just $25 ($6 off) -- use coupon code CHOMSKY at checkout."
    A decidedly un-capitalistic sale!
  • No “Grounds” for Antitrust Charges against Starbucks

    September 27, 2006
    As often happens to successful ventures, Starbucks now faces critics who challenge the company's leasing contracts, which specify competitors may not occupy the same building. But that's a sensible business practice for any expanding firm, and there's always the building next door available to those rivals, anyway. The company is also being attacked for buying out rivals or building nearby stores, as if competition itself were objectionable. These critics allege that a firm employs “predatory” tactics to drive rivals out of business, snatch their customer base, and amass a larger market share—and charge monopoly prices after achieving all this. As aspiring rivals surface, the now-monopolist merely cuts price again. Yet when has anyone ever...
  • Incorrect correction of a correction

    September 26, 2006
    Wouldn't you think that a reader's letter correcting factual errors in a newspaper article wouldn't be edited to delete the principal correction? Well, that's not necessarily the case, as my letter today in the Washington Post's Health Section shows. Seems the Post last week ran Q's and A's on the E. coli 0157:H7 outbreaks related to spinach. Unfortunately for consumers, it gave some incorrect information, namely: “Since 1995, there have been 19 outbreaks of food-borne illness caused by E. coli 0157: H7. All have involved lettuce or leafy greens.” In correcting that, my original letter said: “According to the Centers for Disease Control a major source of...
  • "Until some of these scientists are dead."

    September 25, 2006
    Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York City, became a darling of the left by claiming that the Bush Administration tried to censor or suppress his personal opinions on global warming public policy questions. (If they did, they did a poor job.) But Dr. Hansen has quite a record of trying to suppress the expression of opposing views. This summer he refused to testify before a House committee hearing on the grounds that the committee had invited a scientist (Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville) who made the mistake of not conforming his views to Dr. Hansen's. On a television debate broadcast on October 24th, Dr. Hansen complained that one of the five panelists held views that he considers objectionable. He also told the Associated Press in a story published Sept. 24th that "Some of this noise won't stop until some of...

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