Technology

Europe, Economics, And Historians
March 27, 2007

by Darrin McMahon Earlier this month, Eurochambres, the pro-market lobbying group representing European chambers of commerce to the EU at Brussels, published a follow-up to its 2005 "Time Distances" study comparing the U.S. and European economies. Some of its findings are particularly startling: · The current EU productivity level was achieved by the U.S. in 1985 · Both the current levels for EU employment and R&D investment per capita were reached by the U.S. in 1978 · The current level of EU income was reached by the U.S. in 1985 Think about that first stat again.

The Consultant Racket
March 27, 2007

When I die, I'm hoping I can come back as a Democratic consultant. Tim Dickinson describes the nifty little racket they have going in a long Rolling Stone article: The party's campaign strategists operate under contracts that would make Halliburton blush. While their GOP counterparts work for a flat fee on presidential campaigns, Democratic media consultants profit on commission, pocketing as much as ten percent of every dollar spent on TV ads. It's a business model that creates "an inherent conflict of interest," concedes Anita Dunn, who served as a strategist for Bill Bradley in 2000.

Building Codes
March 26, 2007

In a spacious Hilton ballroom yesterday, surrounded by middle-aged construction workers with their arms folded and collars unbuttoned, Joe Biden is barking into his microphone. "With or without your endorsement," he declares, "I'm going to be the best friend labor has ever had in the White House!" It's an outlandish claim--FDR? Harry Truman?--but not out of place.

The Culturalization Of Vietnam And Iraq
March 25, 2007

by Robert Brustein Vietnam and Iraq have a lot in common besides the expenditure of so many innocent young lives. Both are proper names used to denote not just a country but also a seemingly endless armed conflict. Both wars were initiated by means of trumped-up evidence--Vietnam through a manufactured provocation in the Tonkin Gulf; Iraq through the pretense of weapons of mass destruction and an imaginary link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

The Fertile Breakfast Burrito
March 23, 2007

A new foreign affairs and counterterrorism newsletter has arrived in D.C. Nothing surprising there: a media outlet that features translations and summaries of the Middle East's most read newspapers seems like a perfectly reasonable, if belated, post-9/11 idea. So I was a little surprised at the newsletter's title: The Croissant. At first, I assumed it was The Crescent.

Wikipedia Indeed
March 22, 2007

by John McWhorterAs the French say, for me Eric Rauchway's post tombe juste; just the other day I was remarking to my wife how if I were still teaching, I would have to be grappling with what to tell students about using Wikipedia for research. When I last taught at Berkeley in spring, 2002, I had just learned the word "blog" and barely anybody knew from Wikipedia.

If You Say So...
March 21, 2007

From the Times' website: Star in New Role, Gore Revisits Old Stage By MARK LEIBOVICH and PATRICK HEALY For Al Gore, returning to Capitol Hill is akin to a recovering alcoholic returning to a neighborhood bar. --Isaac Chotiner

Youtube: The New Pollsters
March 21, 2007

If this was November and YouTube was the voting system, we would probably have a new president by a landslide. Since announcing their candidacies, almost all of the 2008 Democratic presidential hopefuls have established YouTube channels, and, based on the number of views of each channel, the primary race is going to be an easy one: Obama is in the lead with over 600,000 views, while Hillary is a distant second with 51,000. Edwards, who has been on YouTube the longest (11 months), has 40,000, and the numbers just get smaller from there (poor Chris Dodd has only 3,800 views).

What War On Science?
March 20, 2007

Via Dave Roberts, here's the rousing tale of how John Boehner decided which House Republicans would get to serve on the new select committee on climate change: House Republican Leader John Boehner would have appointed Rep. Wayne Gilchrest to the bipartisan Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming -- but only if the Maryland Republican would say humans are not causing climate change, Gilchrest said."I said, 'John, I can't do that,'" Gilchrest, R-1st-Md., said in an interview."He said, 'Come on. Do me a favor. I want to help you here.'Gilchrest didn't make the committee. ...

The Survival Of The Fattest
March 19, 2007

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think By Brian Wansink (Bantam, 276 pp., $25) The idea of "the survival of the fittest" is one of the most powerful organizing principles in all of science. That simple idea, stated by Herbert Spencer on the basis of Charles Darwin's work and later endorsed by Darwin himself, captures the theory of evolution, the process of natural selection, and a host of associated notions. And yet the phrase can produce confusion.

Pages