Only $129.99 at CompUSA, it's small enough to fit in a coat pocket (but not a pants pocket), and it doesn't even need any electricity, it runs off the tiny current supplied by the USB port. Technology is wonderful.
In a recent NY Times column (read for free), Thomas Friedman advocates a "Manhattan Project to develop energy independence."
The Manhattan Project was a project to develop a devastating new weapon. History has shown that government has a pretty good track record when it comes to military research. This may simply be because there's no genuine free market to compare it to. But there is no doubt that government has created a lot of pretty cool weapons, such as aircraft cariers, nuclear powered submarines, and of course nuclear bombs. And in a sense there is a competition between nations to develop the best weapons, so military research is akin to a few huge corporations competing against each other.
On the other hand, government has a really bad track record when it comes to economic investments. A huge government program to develop new sources of energy is guaranteed to become a huge political boondogle and a much bigger source of courruption than of energy. If 50% of military research is wasted money, closer to 90% of energy research would be wasted money.
The free market is especially capable of delivering the most economically efficient forms of energy to consumers. The reason why it's delivering us $3 per gallon gasoline is because at that price there is no better alternative.
When it comes to energy, government is more often the problem than the solution. Our government has been very stupidly encouraging the use of natural gas to generate electricity. This has been the absolute worst energy policy in the history of the United States. Natural gas is too valuable and scarce of a resource to waste on electricity generation when there are more plentiful sources of electricity such as coal and nuclear power. I have been writing about this in my blog for a long time, and if we have a natural gas shortage this winter (which looks to be a strong possiblity if it's a cold winter) I will be able to loudly proclaim "I told you so."
The most emailed article in the New York Times at the moment is this one about how women at elite colleges expect to give up their careers to be mothers.
A 2000 survey of Yale graduates in their forties showed that 90% of men worked but only 56% of women, and the article says there are similar numbers for the 2005 survey.
Young women in college are, therefore, just being realistic about how they expect their life to proceed. I'm a big fan of realism.
There are more than enough resources in the United States for a substantial portion of the population not to work, and the fact that less women work than men reflects the different inclinations of the sexes. But women's organizations should not be complaining that women earn less than men if women with the greatest potential to earn a lot of money are voluntarily abandoning the workforce to raise children.
The issue that's only alluded to in the article is whether education at an elite school is being wasted on students who don't intend to "use" it in their careers. My answer is no, it's not being wasted, because I don't believe that the real purpose of an elite education is to give students skills to use in their careers that they couldn't have obtained at a second tier school. Elite education is all about status, and it's mathematically impossible for more than 1% of the people to be in the top 1% of the status bell curve.
Businesses might be wasting resources if they hire a woman in her early thirties with the intention of grooming her for a higher level role, because there is a high chance that she'll abandon her career in a few years. But as far as I know, most hiring decisions are made to fill an immediate need without much regard for what the person being hired will be doing in three years. The days when hiring decisions were made with a long term view are pretty much over.
Through some sort of amazing coincidence, it looks like New Orleans is in the possible path of hurricane Rita, which is predicted to become a major hurricane of at least category 4 before it makes landfall.
I'm hoping it scores a direct hit on New Orleans. Am I sadistic? Not at all. First of all, most of New Orleans is already destroyed, so what more damage can another hurricane do? At least everyone is already evacuated.
I am mad that Bush wants to throw $200 billion into rebuilding New Orleans when it's still below sea level in the middle of an active hurricane region. It's only a matter of time before New Orleans takes another hit and then we need to spend yet another $200 billion.
How many times does New Orleans need to be destroyed before we figure out that it's built in a dumb spot? Apparently more than once, but maybe its second destruction in a few days will do the trick. Rita could wind up being the only hurricane to ever actually save the taxpayer money.
$200 billion for Katrina, and now NASA unveils its $104 billion program to land men on the moon in 2018, one year shy of the fiftieth anniversy of the 1969 moon landing, which is even more expensive than the $40 billion it cost the first time around.
This demonstrates that just because an activity is technologically possible doesn't mean it's possible to do it cheap. People like to say "if we can put a man on the moon, we can do (fill in the blank)," but in fact learning how to do something affordably is a much more difficult task than merely doing something if there's a near infinite amount of money to spend.
Pharoah built a huge pyramid, but it took another 4,500 years before it was actually economically practical to build tall buildilngs.
One of the biggest dangers Americans face after a catastrophe, whether natural or mandmade, is that a breakdown of the infrastructure prevents people from getting the basic necessities they need to live, such as food and water. We saw this problem in New Orleans.
With all of the billions of dollars wasted on homeland security since 9/11, you'd think that we'd be able to at least fix this problem. But no, we haven't. Every American ought to be encouraged to have a two week stockpile of basic necessities needed for survival, such as bottled water, food (maybe in the form of those MREs they keep talking about), and a radio with a decent supply of batteries. People in cold climates also need to be prepared to live for two weeks in the winter without infrastructure dependent heat.
Why isn't FEMA or DHS or whatever federal department is in charge doing something about America's unreadiness for catastrophe? Probably because the central government actually fears independent Americans who can take care of themselves.
Also, during the cold war, liberals disliked disaster readiness because they bought into the notion "mutual assured destruction." Any policy that implied we were preparing to actually "win" a nuclear exchange was discredited. This cold war liberal dislike of disaster readiness still carries over to our current day policies.
Palestinian mobs have burnt four synagogues in the Gaza strip (link) to celebrate the withdrawal of the Israelis.
I am damn sick of the double standard in which the West has to treat every single thing about Islam as holy, yet they are free to burn down any synagogues they find. There was a huge uproar because it was reported that a Koran was possibly flushed down a toilet. Imagine the uproar if Israel destroyed a mosque for every synagogue destroyed by the Palestinians.
I don't understand the urge to donate to Katrina related charities. With the government already earmarking tens of billions of tax dollars towards Katrina related activities, I feel like I've already contributed too much.
And I ask, where were all the do-gooders prior to Katrina? Maybe if they had donated some money for better levees in the first place, they wouldn't need to donate money now.
The disaster in New Orleans "is not an act of God," said Benigno Aguirre, a professor at the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. "This is an act of man. The federal government refused to spend the money to improve the levees."
I'm sick and tired of people blaming the federal government for this. If the people in the city of New Orleans and the state of Lousiana were stupid enough to live there without taking adequate precautions, that's not the federal government's fault. New Orleans should have raised taxes by a few percent to pay for better levees. And if the higher taxes caused everyone to move out of the city, that would have just demonstrated that it wasn't an economically viable place to live there in the first place.
There has been talk in the news about gas stations "price gouging." At the same time there has been talk about gasoline shortages. This is talk from people who are economically illiterate.
When an item is in short supply, prices rise until enough people decide they no longer want to buy it at that price. If the government prohibits sellers from raising prices, then we wind up with shortages, preventing people who really need the gasoline from buying it, and forcing people to waste huge amounts of time waiting in lines at gas stations.
At this time we need to let gas stations charge as much as they want. Maybe $7/gallon gas over Labor Day weekend will discourage some people from driving to the beach, allowing time for the supply situation to be rectified.
I personally am disgusted that people are so concerned that it costs more money drive to the beach this weekend while thousands of people are trapped in New Orleans without food and water.
Iris Lindberg of New Orleans told a WSJ reporter in Baton Rouge, "A lot of people are telling me they never want to go back, and that's a thought."
What we need is a plan to move a lot of the refugees out of the region entirely. Baton Rouge and other nearby cities are obviously going to be inundated. Why not move them to places like Boston or Seattle?