Saturday, May 30, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Since we've been on the subject of cats, the above is one of the high points of our recent trip to Nepal: seeing a Royal Bengal tiger in Chitwan National Park. We were very lucky to get such a close-up sighting (the pics were taken from atop elephants); tigers are both endangered and elusive.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Leaving aside the one-dimensional view of humanity and the nastiness of wanting our species to be enslaved, isn't there a problem of logic here? If humans are so venal, gullible, mendacious, and self-deceiving, how can we trust ourselves not to build robots that are just as bad (or worse)?
...if all you mean is are the robots going to take over, it's more or less inevitable, and not a moment too soon. Humans are really too stupid, venal, gullible, mendacious, and self-deceiving to be put in charge of important things like the Earth (much less the rest of the Solar System). I strongly support putting AIs in charge because I'm dead certain we can build ones that are not only smarter than human but more moral as well.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
On December 29, 1989, Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index closed out a triumphant decade at 38,916. The Nikkei had begun the 1980s below 7,000 and had pushed above 10,000 in August 1984. It had nearly quadrupled in just five years.
But the Nikkei slid back below 30,000 barely seven months later, and would spend most of the 1990s below the 20,000 line. In the first few years of the 21st century, it often traded below 10,000. A rebound from 2003 to 2007 brought hopes that Japan had moved beyond its “lost decade.” But by late 2008, the Nikkei was back in the four-digit range, and in March 2009 it hit its lowest point since October 1982.
The Nikkei’s rise and fall exemplifies the building and bursting of an asset bubble. It also indicates that cleaning up the mess in the aftermath of a busted “bubble economy” can be a lengthy process indeed. The story takes on particular resonance amid the current U.S. economic crisis, with Japan’s 1990s economic policymaking often cited, albeit with varying interpretations, as a case study in what not to do.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Meanwhile, the right's supposed leader, Rush Limbaugh, has just weighed in on biology: "We now officially came from a monkey, 47 million years ago. Well, that’s how it’s being presented here. It’s settled science. You know, this is all BS, as far as I’m concerned. Cross species evolution, I don’t think anybody’s ever proven that." Start here, Rush.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
UPDATE 5-20: And note how The Corner and the Weekly Standard blog have found nothing much to say about the article, other than to rehearse Rumsfeld's rebuttal.
Monday, May 18, 2009
There are alternatives, however, including the man who just said this: "I've been accused of being a libertarian and I wear it as a badge of honor."
UPDATE 5-19: And now I've learned something new about Mark Sanford: he's a supporter of "intelligent design," who offered incredibly fatuous comments about evolution ("The idea of there being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being") in a TV interview.
Among other things, the book gives a strong sense of just how multifarious Islam is, with multiple and often mutually antagonistic strands that are now playing out, with consequences for the entire world. There's no trace in the book of anything like an apologia for the Taliban, Al Qaeda or Ayatollah Khomeini. But one does get a much better sense of where they and their premodern antecedents came from, which is something we in the West need to know more about.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Note: The rendition we saw at Randall's Island was slightly different from this.
Note 2: If you want to do this for a living, they're taking applications.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Before long, we may be seeing a political confrontation between legislators who want to reduce carbon emissions as efficiently as possible with a carbon tax, and those who want to reward their political contributors as efficiently as possible with a cap-and-trade system.
And then things changed. I made some similar points in my has-the-right-hit-bottom debate with Ryan Sager last February (though admittedly, I'd now have to say the right had not quite hit bottom as of then).
In very short order after my arrival in Washington in January 1973, the Nixon administration came apart at the seams with a daily soap opera of criminal charges, congressional hearings, federal indictments and the resignation of Vice President Spiro Agnew for bribe taking, followed 10 months later by the resignation of Richard Nixon who was about to be impeached by the Congress....
In the aftermath of all this, Republicans got slaughtered in the midterm elections of 1974, losing 48 House seats and five Senate seats. Republicans had only 144 House members in the 94th Congress.
Two years later, Jimmy Carter was elected president and I was convinced Republicans would be in the wilderness the rest of my political life. After the first 100 days, President Carter's approval rating was 69 percent -- higher than President Obama's.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
It can be done, but it's about as hard as this makes it sound.
The man must ... learn to lead. He must learn his steps, think about what steps he is going to do next when dancing, and learn how to communicate his intent through movements in his upper body. The woman, on the other hand, has to learn to follow. She must learn her steps, and also learn not to lead and not to anticipate. Instead she must try to enter into a Zen-like “mind of no mind” so that she can respond instantly to changes in her partner’s shoulder, arm, and hand movements. (The arms of trained ballroom dancers form a “frame,” and maintaining muscular firmness in this frame allows the woman to sense which direction the man is moving. This won’t work if either partner lets their arms go limp: the dreaded “spaghetti arms.”)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
UPDATE 5-18: More here.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Fast forward to Obama's Chrysler haircut and watch that foundation start to disintegrate.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
UPDATE: I also recommend Rick Brookhiser's take.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
UPDATE: Audio is currently available here.
UPDATE 5-18: It's now also available, along with other Research magazine podcasts, here.
Sir Fred Hoyle is one of the leading cosmologists in human history. No scientist today can claim greater intellectual stature than Hoyle, particularly about our planet in the universe. In 1981, Hoyle published a book, Ice: How the New Ice Age will Come and How We Can Prevent It, in which this brilliant giant of natural sciences warned of the next ice age. The consequences, Hoyle warned, would be disastrous.The trouble is, there was never nearly as much scientific consensus about global cooling as there now is about global warming. And Hoyle, moreover, was known for his controversial and unorthodox ideas, on a wide range of subjects including climate, so to present him as an an exemplar of the scientific mainstream reflects ignorance, at best, on the writer's part. As does the vague and obscurantist description of Hoyle as a leading expert on "our planet in the universe," when his prestigious work was focused on the universe overall, not on our planet.