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Science and Progress

The reports are in, and they are good. Here's some fun Friday reading from Science Daily, whose rss feed told me all this (and much more).

First, researchers at Rutgers have found a viable way to synthesize things like diesel fuel from coal. This can help the U.S. (and other places with large coal reserves) reduce their dependence on foreign oil. I'm all for that, as long as it can be done without costing an arm and a leg. Read more »

AT&T, arm of the state

Jump ship, AT&T customers. From Wired News:

AT&T is seeking the return of technical documents presented in a lawsuit that allegedly detail how the telecom giant helped the government set up a massive internet wiretap operation in its San Francisco facilities.

In papers filed late Monday, AT&T argued that confidential technical documents provided by an ex-AT&T technician to the Electronic Frontier Foundation shouldn't be used as evidence in the case and should be returned.

Sticking it to the Guardians

Wired News brings us another interesting story today: "Centralized media is losing its power to dictate public perception" in India. "[T]echnology-empowered individuals" have brought down officials from the ruling party and an opposition party. Moreover,

Tactical Iraqi

Finally, the military comes out with a video game I can support.* The new game, called "Tactical Iraqi," does not feature any violence but does put soldiers into realistic situations in order to train them about Iraqi customs. The goal is to reduce unintended offenses caused by misunderstandings and cultural differences.

\"If this is Homeland Security, I think we ought to be a little afraid.\" says Gail Brinson, elementary school principal and witness to the rough-handling of a teacher's assistant by officers of the Department of Homeland Security. Read more »

Why We Fight

We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle [WWII] our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand ... and of overwhelming power on the other.

Henry L. Stimson
Secretary of War

Friday Afternoon Quote

If you are not Aristotelian all the way down, it is no moral crime; but it will cause problems, so train yourself to be one.

-- Ayn Rand

We\'re here, we steer (with bars)

If any of you rides a bike to work/school (or drives past people who do), you might check out a post of mine on the website of Faster Mustache, Atlanta bicycle club extraordinaire.

¡No más!

Great news in The Nation: Argentina and Uruguay are ending their participation in the School of the Americas. They join Venezuela in saying no to U.S.-based terror training. For those of you who aren't familiar:

America\'s Finest Opinion Source

You can find a picture (and a caption) worth a thousand words in The Onion's What do you think? section.

Amidst mounting accusations and criminal charges of ethics violations, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay announced yesterday that he is resigning from his post. What do you think?

Moulitsas Zíniga,
Produce Vendor
"I don't know how Democrats will fail to capitalize on this GOP debacle, but I'm sure they'll find a way."

Contrat Première Embauche Folie

Does anyone else find the recent French employment law protests completely stupefying? Millions of French have been protesting the CPE (contrat première embauche = first employment contract). Millions. All over the country. And what's so heinous about it is that the law would allow employers to fire young employees more easily?

This sounds basically like what we have in the U.S., and I don't see that job security here is incredibly fragile. But in a country where intervention is a national pastime, this has people worried. Perhaps they'd rather keep their high unemployment rate? Read more »

The Libertarian Shit List

Recently I wrote a few posts from the Austrian Scholar's Conference. There was really too much going on for me to share more than a little of it with you, but I encourage you to check it out at the Mises Institute's media page. My particular favorite was Roderick Long's lecture Rothbard's 'Left and Right': 40 Years Later. Read more »

There\'s always more absurdity with the TSA

If you're not already convinced of the lunacy of the TSA, maybe this will add some fuel to your fire. Gerry Adams is the leader of Sinn Fein, nobody denies it, but to have his name on the terrorist watch list is ridiculous. Giving him and his luggage a "very thorough" search does what for national security? Is he believed to be a risk for suicide bombing? Read more »

An Austrian Analysis of the Fourth Estate

Yesterday I saw William Anderson give a speech on the Austrian analysis of the press. A former practicing journalist and current Austrian economics professor, his comments were very informative in a way that I doubt I could really have learned about on my own. His main thesis was that the (mainstream) press as we have it today is a Progressive Era institution and that like all Progressive Era institutions it fails at its mission. What that mission is, we'll get to shortly.

The classic press was the "party press." Everybody knew that paper X supported these ideas, and paper Y supported those ideas, and that if you read their news articles you had to keep this in mind. Somehow the news filtered out to the unwashed masses through all the explicit bias.

In the Progressive Era the fervor for scientific management took over the press. They started to try consciously to be objective on the front page, keeping the opinions to the opinion page. The idea was that, looking at the stories they presented as news, you wouldn't be able to guess their political affiliations. Not only that, but the fervor for viewing capitalism as inherently screwy and in need of guidance from the disinterested government took hold in the majority of pressmen too. Read more »

East African development, better than expected

This morning I had the pleasure of hearing Yuri Maltsev talk about his visit to East Africa to study developlement in several countries there. It's widely known that bad governance in Africa is the primary factor in Africa's lack of economic success. It's less widely known that at least a handful of countries there are making progress. Maltsev was uniquely qualified for this trip because he is Russian and has had experience with economies in transition, and because one of his former students is now the chief economic advisor to the president of Kenya. Read more »