Tuesday, January 31, 2006

SOTU highlight

"There is a difference between responsible criticism that aims for success and defeatism that refuses to see anything but failure. Hindsight is not wisdom and second-guessing is not a strategy."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Do environmentalists believe in stunting innovation?

This letter to the Undercover Economist betrays a total lack of economic literacy. But what do you expect from a mindset that believes everything including human imagination is limited.

Dear Economist,

Governments like to promote innovation. But ever greater innovation means ever greater use of resources, disposability of goods, consumer spending and (one surmises) social envy. Is there a case for suppressing innovation?

Marion Hancock,
by e-mail

Dear Marion,

There are two ways to raise purchasing power: investment or innovation. Investment means buying big machines so that each worker operates more equipment. It is hard to see how this is more environmentally friendly than innovation. It is also self-limiting: all the investment budget goes on replacing worn-out machines.

By contrast, innovative ideas consume no resources at all. They are particularly useful when there are many people on the planet, because everyone can benefit from a piece of software, a better design for the mousetrap or the theory of germs. Not everyone can benefit from my electric hand drill.

Nor do innovative products use more resources. Today?s expensive consumer products are tiny, or do not physically exist at all - for example, the 4,000 issues of The New Yorker that my wife gave me for Christmas are stored digitally.

It is true that if I was poor enough then I would have received no magazines, digital or otherwise. So perhaps you are not really in favour of suppressing innovation but of ending economic growth entirely. This has proved possible - for example, in Mao?s China or the dying days of the Soviet Union. Environmental Eden did not result.

At least an end to innovation might (you surmise) return us to the envy-free days when my great grandmother might have been your great grandfather?s scullery maid.

But I don?t wish to find out.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Gordie Howe v. Wayne Gretsky

Who really has a better claim to Mr. Hockey? Liberty Corner weighs in.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

In this life

My horoscope for the day!

Whether or
not you believe in reincarnation doesn't matter. We've all had the experience of feeling like we've known someone forever, even though it's only been a few months. Or weeks. Or even moments. You, of course, have learned to pay careful attention to that sort of thing, so when you cross paths now with someone who seems familiar, you won't hesitate to mention that, and to ask them where they've been all your life. This lifetime, that is.

Fripp goes elephantine! Audio Shills for the Dark Side

Robert Fripp, musician and theorist, once railed against large-scale enterprises. He once believed in small, independently mobile music ensembles such that he once toured as a soloist with two analog tape recorders. Thus "Frippertronics" was born. How this fits in with the paradigm that is intergalatically big Microsoft is beyond me. I thought he'd pretty much be a Linux guy. Anyway here's the video from the Redmont campus. His music is being considered for the next version of Microsoft's big OS, Vista.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

File under "Live by regulation, die or injure by regulation"

Hey this guy is just trying to make formaggio his own way.

In just a few minutes, [Micahel Miller, a retired newspaper editor and farmer] siphoned off 200 gallons of raw milk, the key ingredient he says makes his Berkshire Blue cheese so remarkable.

"You taste the cow in there," he says. "I want you to taste the barnyard."

Berkshire Blue has won medals from the World Cheese Awards and the American Cheese Society. It has been featured at feasts showcasing the culinary arts, like the International Slow Foods Festival in Italy, the James Beard Dinner in New York City and Boston's Spinazzola Dinner.

But those honors are tainted by controversy. In March, testers from the federal Food and Drug Administration found traces of listeria in Berkshire Blue, prompting Miller to recall 13 wheels of his cheese and discard more that he had in stock.

He says the amount of bacteria was so minute it wouldn't do any harm, and believes he was the target of an agency intent on banning all food made with unpasteurized milk -- an assault, he says, on Americans' taste buds.

"If this were Paris," he says, "I'd have a line of French chefs out the door. Here, I have the FDA."

Read the whole article. Then ask, "Where does he go to get his reputation back?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006