… that Joseph Schumpeter once challenged a librarian to a duel (over his students’ access to books).  He won (after taking a chunk of the librarian’s shoulder out with his sword).  This book looks interesting.



I’ll admit to being a bit of a weather junkie, but this should be of interest to anyone with a political sensibility generally to the left of, say, those who would advocate privatizing roads and sewers and such.

Apparently Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) — yes, Savage Love readers, that Rick Santorum — has introduced a bill that would prohibit the National Weather Service from providing “a product or service…that is or could be provided by the private sector”, with the exception of severe weather alerts. In other words, services like the Weather Underground would no longer be possible, since they ‘compete’ with commercial interests including what has to be one of the most boring cable TV channels around (and that’s saying a lot!).

In the course of his great analysis of the proposed bill, Dr. Jeff Masters of the WUnderground points out that, in order to fulfill its purported core mission of providing severe weather alerts and information to the public, the National Weather Service has to monitor and forecast continually. In other words, their costs are going to be pretty much the same whether the public has access to the day-to-day weather information or not.

This bill is described as a way to use the more efficient private sector to provide a service that the public sector doesn’t need to provide. If the public sector costs are more or less fixed, however, that argument doesn’t work, and the result is simply to force us to pay for the same thing twice — once to the government, and again to Santorum’s campaign donors.

The bill is still in committee — please take a moment to sign this petition, and if you live in a state with a Senator on the Commerce Committee (and I know at least some of you do, Floridians…), give them a call to urge them to oppose this shameless ploy.


Everybody who’s anybody in the mobile phone business has announced plans to build a new high-speed transmission technology, dubbed Super 3G.

This is a lot of bandwidth, by today’s terms:

Super 3G can boost mobile transmission speeds to a range of 30 to 100 megabits per second to match existing land line fiber optic telecom technology, allowing movies, games or home videos to be played on handsets with a much higher resolution, it said.

(If “30 to 100 megabits” isn’t meaningful to you, think of this as somewhere between 15 and 400 times as fast as residential DSL or cable modem access in the states today.)

At least on this hemisphere, we really don’t seem close to hitting bandwidth limits of the not-yet-really-deployed 3G standards. Regardless, this degree of bandwidth delivered wirelessly to individuals has a potential cool-ness that is really difficult to comprehend.

Along with the $500 Mac rumors, makes for a good start to the tech new year.


Paul Krugman was interviewed by Reuters yesterday, and provided a pretty gloomy assessment:

A deeper plunge in the already battered U.S. dollar is another possible route to crisis, the professor said.

The absence of any mention of currencies in a communique from the Group of 20 rich and emerging market countries this past weekend only reinforced investors’ perception that the United States, while saying it promotes a strong dollar, is willing to let its currency slide further.

“The break can come either from the Reserve Bank of China deciding it has enough dollars, thank you, or from private investors saying ‘I’m going to take a speculative bet on a dollar plunge,’ which then ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Krugman opined. “Both scenarios are pretty unnerving.”

In the longer-term, Bush’s version of social security reform, which Krugman says would relegate pensions for the elderly to the whims of volatile financial markets, could have wide-ranging implications for future generations.

But at least there’s an upside:

“I do believe at some point there is going to be a popular tidal wave against what has happened,” concluded Krugman. “In the meantime, you keep banging on the drum, you keep telling the truth.

“And then eventually we have the great demonstrations, which I think are important to let the government know that many Americans are not happy with what is happening,” he said.

This, the same week that the administration’s ideas for its second-term tax plan come out. The highlights: eliminate investment income taxes by removing the deduction for state and local taxes, and “scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance”. Unbelievable.

As MaxSpeak points out, the former amounts — coincidentally, I’m sure — to a tax on the blue states:

The income tax deduction chiefly benefits blue states. Texas and Florida, just to take two wildly random examples, have no state income tax. In the most recent tax legislation, a new tax cut was added for state sales taxes, ostensibly to put states with no income tax on the same footing as the others. Now that they are equalized in this way, the stage is set to remove both deductions simultaneously. What could be more fair?

The health insurance one leaves me somewhat speechless. Where was that during the domestic policy part of the debates? Salon [truthout has full text for non-subscribers] opines persuasively on the likely impact (hint: in 2008 Kerry or whomever will have an even bigger number of recently uninsured for the stump).

© 2011 Joshua Heling Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha