Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Kyoto Rejection

Captain Ed (via Instapundit) highlights another instance of the AP falsely reporting that the Bush administration rejected the Kyoto Treaty. He has the text of the actual Senate resolution that passed 95-0 in 1997 which scuttled the treaty. Signatories included Byrd, Kennedy, Hagel, Rockefeller, and Specter.

Hitchcock's Rebecca on DVD

What does it say about the motion picture industry that, in order to get Hitchcock's Rebecca on DVD, I have to buy a Korean copy from eBay? IMDB seems to say that the film was last released by some company named "The Criterion Collection". When you go to their web site, they say the title is "out of print."

How in the world can a classic like Rebecca be out of print? Fortunately most of Hitchcock's other classics seem to be available.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Thompson and McCain

More than once I've seen it written that Fred Thompson and John McCain are close friends. This has led me to wonder whether Thompson would really run for President. His politics aren't that different from McCain's after all, so why should Thompson try to steal McCain's thunder?

There's one issue at least where Thompson seems to be staking out a different position: immigration.

Note the second and third paras:
Thompson, speaking at the National Restaurant Association annual show, said the bill will not win the support of the American people because they don't trust senators' promises to block illegal immigrants from crossing the Mexican border into the U.S.

"Nobody believes them. It goes to the bigger issue of the lack of credibility our government has these days," said Thompson.
When he says "Nobody believes them," who is "them"? Wouldn't that be the people pushing comprehensive reform, e.g. John McCain?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NBA Playoffs

Michael Dorf has an interesting post on the Spurs-Suns suspensions just handed down by the NBA.
I would note how the Suns' response to the Spurs' a-rule-is-a-rule argument follows the familiar path of legal realism. Yes, the Suns say, the rule itself provides the league no discretion if there is an altercation, but the triggering term "altercation" is itself ambiguous.
(Hat tip Jonathan Adler.)

My own take here is that there was in fact an altercation, since Horry threw an elbow at Bell.

But IMO that doesn't clear the league of error. While they were right to suspend Stoudemire and Diaw, they were dead wrong for not suspending Bowen. By not punishing the Spurs for Bowen's antics, they sent the message that Nash was on his own. I gotta think that in the same situation, I'd be coming off the bench myself, suspension or not.

The same applies to the Jazz-Warriors series. By not suspending Davis and Richardson after game 4, the league tacitly pre-approved Jackson's idiotic attack on Dee Brown in game 5. (On the other hand Barnes' technical was a horrible call.)

And yes: Jackson should be suspended for next season's first game. If you're going to punish Stoudemire and Diaw for foolishly endangering themselves and others, how can you not punish Jackson who recklessly endangered another player?

I'd even go so far as to suggest the league should adopt a true zero-fighting rule: any flagrant foul of any severity automatically triggers a suspension of at least one game, possibly more depending on severity and/or frequency.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

World Bank

It's pretty clear to me that Wolfowitz needs to go. Has he been rail-roaded? Yes. Does a statement need to be made about corruption in developing nations? Sure. Does this mean Wolfowitz and Bush should fight to the death? No way.

The World Bank is a good thing. If it didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. It has many problems that can and should be fixed. Wolfowitz is clearly not the guy to do it. He has the values, but neither the skills nor the style.

Is there no one Bush can tap to fill the role? Is there no one that shares Bush's concern about third world corruption, but who also has the skills and personal style to successfully promote those values?

I had an idea for a replacement, then decided to check around to see if anyone else had the same idea. Turns out that Larry Elliott at the Guardian had a similar idea, only his is more developed:

The Europeans should make it clear they would veto an unsuitable Bush nomination for the Bank, and to make things easier they should give up the right to nominate the next managing director of the IMF. That would give Bush the chance to nominate someone to the job who was non-American but who had a commitment to development and was liked by the White House. Tony Blair, perhaps?

He was suggesting Blair as IMF director. I was actually thinking of Blair for the World Bank. But if you read the entire article, Elliott's idea makes more sense. Still leaves an opening at the Bank, though.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Things Change

The Minnesota Star-Tribune has canceled James Lileks' column and will reassign him to beat reporting. In the immortal words of Mr. Bugs Bunny: what a pack of maroons.

Today's Bleat has this invaluable gem on the subject of change:
Things change. I still remember the first day I saw a web browser; it was in the offices of the Washington Post. I swear the fellow who showed me how it worked said “Wait a minute, wait a minute. You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Spiderman 3

Cyndi and I saw Spiderman 3 last night. Reaction: meh.

I jumped over to Rotten Tomatoes this morning to have a look at the reviews. As you can see the critics found plenty to criticize, most commonly the length. But look at the number of critics that didn't like this movie but liked Spiderman 2. I don't get that. Spiderman 2 was a long, stretched out, largely boring exposition punctuated with some highly entertaining special-effect laden action scenes. Pretty much just like Spiderman 3.

Of course the biggest problem with Spiderman is, in my opinion, Tobey Maguire. He's a good actor, he portrays an excellent Peter Parker. But his character has stayed pretty flat throughout the trilogy. He still plays the wide-eyed innocent, barely touched by experience. It just doesn't work. I think Kirstin Dunst has done a much better job giving her character a story arc.

Alfred Molina was good in Spiderman 2. He helped enliven an otherwise monotone plot. But I don't think he was quite as good as Thomas Haden Church in Spiderman 3. I've always thought of Church as a caricaturist, best suited for TV. But I thought he brought some real subtlety and even a bit of tragedy to the Marko character. He really hit this character out of the park. I also thought Topher Grace was solid in what could easily have been a complete throwaway role. So all in all I'd say the third movie was a bit better than the second. But then I didn't think much of the second movie at all.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

"Turn of the century"

Found the following in a flyer for a local community theater:
The epic Tony Award-winning new musical, Ragtime paints a powerful portrait of the melting pot of humanity in turn of century America. (SCERA Summer Season 2007 flyer)
It's now 2007. Time to stop using "turn of the century" to refer to the 1900's.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Wally Schirra and Engineering

Time's Jeffrey Kluger (what a name) has an excellent appreciation of Wally Schirra.

The takeaway:
Astronauts were pilots first and showmen second. And while the silver flight suits and the smiling press events and the ticker-tape parades belied that, they were hired for their unique understanding of the machines they flew and their hardheaded ability to coax the most from them. That was Schirra's gift. And if flipping off his boss was necessary to get his work done, well, he was happy to do that too. Kraft, 83, wound up respecting Schirra for that act of defiance. Schirra was happy to get that nod. But the fact was, the pilot in him really didn't need it.

Hans Rosling, Global Health, and Public Statistics

Brink Lindsey links a video presentation by Hans Rosling discussing global health and public statistics. Amazing.

(Hat tip to Daniel Drezner for pointing out Lindsey's blog.)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Carbon Sequestering

Instapundit links to an article in the New York Times on carbon sequestering. Not much actual detail, it feels more like a rewritten press release. But there's some interesting stuff.

Engineers are working on methods for capturing the carbon emitted when coal is burned. They have considered options as diverse as freezing the gases as they come out of smokestacks, and binding them to a liquid chemical after combustion. Two other possibilities are to modify the coal before it is burned, or to change the air it is burned with.

Capturing the gas, though, is just one part of the equation. Finding a way to store it is likely to prove equally challenging. The leading possibility is old oil fields, where the carbon dioxide could be injected to force more oil to existing wells. But the total capacity of all the old oil fields in the world is much too small for this purpose. In addition, the oil fields are punctured by wells that could provide escape routes for the carbon dioxide to leak into.

Unfortunately the article doesn't offer any other suggestions for storage. Given that the U.S. alone emitted 5.8 billion tons of CO2 in 2003, storing the gas will likely prove far more challenging than capturing it.

(As a comparison, the U.S. generated approximately 240 million tons of garbage in 2005. Much of that waste will decompose or can be recycled, meaning the total mass stored will reduce over time. CO2, on the other hand, is completely stable. The entire mass must be stored in perpetuity.)

(Hat tip Instapundit.)