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  • Small Government Hate Speech?

    October 19, 2006
    Craig Bannister of CNSNews just passed on a story out of Marquette University in which graduate student Stuart Distler was banned from displaying the following Dave Barry quote on his office door: "As Americans, we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." Lots to agree with there if you're a fan of smaller government. The chairman of his department disagreed, however, and removed the quote from Distler's office door, saying that the quote was "patently offensive," and that "hallways and office doors are not 'free-speech zones.'" One wonders where on Marquette's campus one can express one's ideas freely. Perhaps, like some modern airports do with smoking, there will be...
  • Frank Luntz, Save Us!

    October 19, 2006
    The Powell's Books website has an interesting review (via The New Republic) of George Lakoff's latest book about politics and language, Whose Freedom? Lakoff argues, as many others have, that framing political issues with the proper metaphors goes a long way toward winning the debate: Political debates, according to Lakoff, are contests between metaphors. Citizens are not rational and pay no attention to facts, except as they fit into frames that are “fixed in the neural structures of their brains” by sheer repetition. In George W. Bush's first term, for example, the president promised tax “relief,” which frames taxes as an affliction, the reliever as a hero, and anyone obstructing him as a villain. The Democrats were foolish to offer their own version of tax relief, which accepted the Republicans' framing; it was...
  • And Now for a Word from the Critics

    October 19, 2006
    We've just heard that our friend Marc Morano will be one of the panelists at the upcoming Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Burlington, Vermont. Marc will be debating with the AP's Seth Borenstein and The New York Times' Andy Revkin on whether or not reporters are "playing up the fear factor and skirting inconvenient uncertainties" when it comes to global warming stories. Open Market will also be there in Burlington, blogging, meeting and greeting the attendees. Keep an eye out for posts October 27th-29th.
  • They're Coming to Audit Your Avatar

    October 19, 2006
    Fox 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.
  • Vote for Alternative Energy with Your Feet

    October 19, 2006
    Tokyo 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.
  • Decoy Files on P2P Sites Become Ad Vehicles

    October 18, 2006
    From 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...
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Revisited

    October 18, 2006
    Marc 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.
  • Do Something for Africa: Stop Foreign Aid Now

    October 18, 2006
    This 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...
  • Hugo Nowhere

    October 18, 2006
    The deadlocked fight between Guatemala and Venezuela over the United Nations Security Council's rotating Latin America seat is being reported as the latest setback for Venezuela's far-left strongman, Hugo Chavez. In several rounds of voting, Guatemala, which has a stable government and good relations with the United States, has come out ahead by a good margin, but has yet to get the two-thirds vote required to join the Security Council. Yet Chavez's bigger problem is brewing not at Turtle Bay, but in the world's oil markets. Oil prices have fallen in recent weeks, and continue to do so, down to $58.73 a barrel for crude this morning. Lower commodity prices are...
  • The Newest/Oldest Lesson: Why Energy Is Bad

    October 17, 2006
    In 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...

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