aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, October 31, 2005
The Analog Hole
Hollywood has fielded a shockingly ambitious piece of “Analog Hole” legislation while everyone was out partying in costume. Under a new proposed Analog Hole bill, it will be illegal to make anything capable of digitizing video unless it either has all its outputs approved by the Hollywood studios, or is closed-source, proprietary and tamper-resistant. The idea is to make it impossible to create an MPEG from a video signal unless Hollywood approves it.
Here are a couple ideas he’s heard from lobbyists:
1. You can “accept a contract” by changing the channel. If you change the channel from 3 to 4, and the show on channel 4 has a signal that says it can’t be recorded, then by watching channel 4, you’re “making an agreement” to waive your time-shifting right in exchange for the show. This is like a shopkeeper hiding a “I reserve the right to punch you in the nose” sign somewhere in his shop and then randomly clobbering his customers, answering any complaints by saying that you agreed to it when you came through the door.
2. Everything with value has a price-tag. Today you can rewind TV, fast-forward it, skip the ads, move it to another device in your house, or stream it to your web-browser on the road. Tomorrow all of these features will only exist if they are permitted, on a case by case basis. The studios will “enable the business-model” of charging you money for the stuff that you get for free today. Here’s a quote: “Doing this stuff has value, and if it has value, we should be able to charge money for it.” They do indeed have value: you currently enjoy that value. Under this proposal, the value will be stolen from you and sold back to you piecemeal.
As I urge students to become aware of cpyright issues, and maybe even start their own FreeCulture chapter on our campus, I’m struck by how accepting they are of the imposed restrictions. They appear to buy right into Hollywood’s arguments.
I can only hope that Cory is right:
Americans will forgive a lot of sins from their elected representatives, but there’s one thing they won’t stand for and that’s breaking their TVs.
“It gives me hope,” said Ed Smith, 53, of Glen Burnie, MD:
With a message of humility, faith in times of suffering and God’s unconditional love, a bishop with the Archdiocese Of Baltimore celebrated Mass yesterday at a service devoted to gay and lesbian Catholics.
“As bishop, being here this afternoon in this community, I do so with genuine affection and gentleness to you,” Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, the eastern vicar, told those gathered at St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church in Severn, a parish that has had a thriving gay and lesbian ministry since 1997.
Via Andrew Sullivan.
I thought defrocking the lesbian minister was bad enough, but it turns out the Methodists think it’s fine to refuse gay people, who are allowed to worship, membership in the church. How Christian is that?
In the best-known of the cases decided yesterday, the Judicial Council removed from the ministry Irene Elizabeth Stroud, who told her Philadelphia congregation in 2003 that she was a lesbian in a long-term relationship with another woman.
But church experts said the most significant decision could prove to be the little-known case of the Rev. Edward Johnson, pastor of South Hill United Methodist Church in South Hill, Va. Mr. Johnson’s decision to keep an openly gay man from joining his congregation was upheld by the Judicial Council as the rightful exercise of his pastoral discretion. He had been suspended for a year without pay by fellow ministers in Virginia, but the Judicial Council ordered his regional leaders to find a new appointment for him.
We’re talking rural Virginia here. In rural Virginia “fellow ministers” suspended him.
I heard this story on the radio before the Rosa Parks story. It struck me that Rosa was expected to ride in the back of the bus. She could ride, just not equal with whites.
The Methodists now says gays can worship, just not equally with heterosexuals.
Rosa Parks, prop
In that context the decision to let Rosa Parks lie in state in the US Capitol building looks “more GOP publicity stunt than a truly heart-felt gesture to honor one of the heroes of the civil rights movement.”
Of Judge Alito’s visit to pay respects he wonders, “I’d like to know if Judge Alito was coming to Washington anyway to pay homage to Rosa Parks, whether or not he was going to be the Supreme Court nominee.”
Billmon and Atrios both make the point that one Alito dissent “would immunize an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer’s belief that it had selected the ‘best’ candidate, was the result of conscious racial bias.”
Billmon calls Frist’s tag along “gilding the lilly of hypocrisy.”
Newspapers are not dying
But they must change:
“A newspaper’s core product isn’t news or information. It’s community influence,” said Philip Meyer, a professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and author of The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism in the Information Age. “That’s created with high-quality editorial product ... (In cutting staffers), newspapers aren’t just eating their seed corn, they’re burning down the barn.”
Some experts have suggested newspapers develop story ideas thinking of the Internet first, with expansive, multilayered content online that is truncated for the print paper. Meyer expects newspapers eventually will publish less frequently, with breaking news handled by well-read Web sites.
“The newspaper business needs a lot of crazy ideas,” he added, citing the success of USA Today, which journalists once derided as “McPaper” for its short stories and colorful layout.
Ink on dead trees just doesn’t cut it:
Ball State University professor Bob Papper, who has co-authored a study analyzing 5,000 hours of media use among 400 subjects, said his numbers show newspapers should work harder to develop online environments.
In his survey, just 27 percent of those ages 25 to 34 looked at a newspaper daily, compared to 71 percent ages 65 and up. Those same 25- to 34-year-olds spent an average 3.6 minutes with a newspaper each day; from age 35 to 44, the figure jumped to 8.2 minutes, with both groups spending more than 10 times that duration online.
“(Newspapers) must stop defining (their) business as ink on dead trees,” Papper said. “You need to define your business as providing information to people. Ink on dead trees is just one way of delivering that information to people.”
My, how times have changed. Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, Scalia and now Alito. My mom will be thrilled. We’re the darlings of the Religious Right.
I’m reminded of this from Ed Kilgore on how evangelical Protestant leaders once demanded Catholics’ leave their religion at the door:
The evangelical Protestant inquisition of John F. Kennedy in Houston in 1960 is the most famous example of conservative demands that a Catholic leader swear absolute fealty to the principle of separation of church and state. But there was an earlier and much more savage inquisition back in 1928, when Al Smith, the first Catholic to be nominated for the presidency, was bitterly opposed by conservative Protestant ministers, especially in the South, for the possibility that his faith might somehow affect his policies in office.
As it happens, I’m currently reading an interesting book (Happy Days Are Here Again, by Steve Neal) about the 1932 presidential campaign that has a short but fascinating section about Smith’s persecution for his faith, and his brave but futile response. And here’s what the preeminent American Catholic political martyr of the 20th century had to say:
“I recognize no power in the institutions of my church to interfere with the operations of the Constitution of the United States or the enforcement of the law of the land. I believe in absolute freedom of conscience for all men and in equality of all churches, all sects, and all beliefs before the law as a matter of right and not as a matter of favor. I believe in the absolute separation of church and state.”
Today, peculiarly enough, such views are considered by the likes of the Justice Sunday crowd as “secular humanist,” “anti-Catholic,” and “anti-Christian.” It’s clear that poor Al Smith, were he resurrected today and lifted to public office, would again suffer persecution from the same people, but for the opposite reasons.
UPDATE: And 2 from Trenton.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I want my iTV
[A]ll the elements are falling into place to deliver high-quality video from the Net directly to viewers in their living rooms. Software has been developed to ensure the quality of video distributed over the Net. And companies such as Microsoft and Cisco Systems’ Linksys home division are developing products that enable Internet video to be viewed on TV sets instead of only on PC screens.
But so far, content providers are treading lightly as they open new Net-based distribution channels. For example, Comedy Central’s new MotherLoad Web site, which launches next week, will offer only select clips of content rather than the full range of programming available on Comedy Central’s cable channel.
Meanwhile, next month The Food Network will debut its first web-only show.
A better conversation
Ben Vershbow at The Institute for the Future of the Book blog points to a discussion about how an open source model might be made to work for creating authoritative knowledge, and nicely answers Nicholas Carr’s Wikipedia critique from a couple weeks back:
Clearly, the wide-open model of Wikipedia presents some problems, but considering the advantages it presents (at least in potential)—never out of date, interconnected, universally accessible, bringing in voices from the margins—critics are wrong to dismiss the enterprise out of hand. Moreover, holding up specific passages for critique is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. Even Wikipedia’s directors admit that most of the content right now is of middling quality, some of it downright awful. It doesn’t then follow to say that the whole project is bunk. That’s a bit like expelling an entire kindergarten for poor spelling. Wikipedia is at an early stage of development. Things take time.
If enough academics and librarians started knocking on the door saying, hey, we’d like to participate, then perhaps Wikipedia (and Wikibooks) would kick up to the next level. Inevitably, these newcomers would insist on setting up some new vetting mechanisms and a few useful hierarchies that would help ensure quality. What would these be? That’s exactly the kind of thing we should be discussing.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Gone for the weekend
It’s a beautiful weekend in Georgia, the perfect weekend, the “peak weekend” in fact, for leaf peeping in the North Georgia Mountains. So that’s where I’ll be, in a cabin with a fireplace and Doug and our dogs and some friends.
There’s no phone there, so I’ll be on forced leave from posting. I’m sure it will be good for me. If you’d like something fresh to read in the meantime, check out The Blog Interviews. Mine will be posted Saturday.
I’ll get around to Miers and Scooter and all the rest when I get back…
Praise for Microsoft
From Larry Lessig:
Last week, Microsoft made a major announcement that will benefit the ecology of free and open source software licenses significantly. As described here, Microsoft has abandoned a ton of licenses, focusing its efforts on just three core licenses. Two of these three licenses - the MS-Community License (MS-CL), and the MS-Permissive License (MS-PL) are technically “free” licenses under the FSF’s definition of free. The third MS-Reference License (MS-RL) is a view-only license, not quite free, but valuable nonetheless.
This is fantastic news, reinforcing an ecology of free licenses.
George Takei, Star Trek’s Sulu, on coming out:
“It’s not really coming out, which suggests opening a door and stepping through. It’s more like a long, long walk through what began as a narrow corridor that starts to widen.” In the interview, the 68-year-old actor also discusses his childhood in a Japanese-American internment camp, his 18-year relationship, his siblings’ inability to accept his homosexuality, and the upcoming Los Angeles production of Equus in which he stars.
On childhood in the camp:
I used to begin school every morning pledging allegiance to the flag, and I could see the barbed-wire fence out there, and the guard towers, saying, “With liberty and justice for all,” without being aware of the irony of those words. But when we came out of camp, that’s when I first realized that being in camp, that being Japanese-American, was something shameful.
Read the Frontiers interview.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Will Brady reports that Marijuana Arrests Reached a Shameful New Record:
The War Against Marijuana is at all-time high. Police arrested an estimated 771,608 persons for marijuana violations in 2004, according to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report, released October 17. That total is the highest ever recorded—a shameful new record. And a closer look at this figure reveals some startling facts about the Drug War. Read on...
Which reminded me that I hadn’t replied to a note from Mike Smithson, speakers bureau coordinator for LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). He was writing in response to * my * three * posts * on former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper’s OpEd in the LATimes a couple weeks ago.
I’ll go write him now…
More stupid ineffective caving to paranoia
It’s also immoral and unjust.
Everyone agrees that this Halloween initiative does not come in response to a spike in molestations or abductions on the holiday. “We have never had an incident on Halloween night,” says one official. Still:
[T]here’s a growing concern that children could unwittingly be seeking treats from sex offenders living in the neighborhood. In communities across the country, local officials are taking steps to keep sex offenders away from kids on Halloween night.
Communities in several states are requiring offenders to report to county offices for educational or counseling programs, while others are going so far as to bar registered sex offenders on probation from answering their door to trick-or-treaters or putting so much as a pumpkin on their porch.
At the end of the report, John Berman reminds us that kids face “a greater danger of getting hit by a car.” So shall we keep all cars off the road that night?
Forgiveness and rehabilitation have been completely abandoned in our culture.
While on the topic, this guy is not particularly sympathetic. But he’s paid his debt to society for a crime committed 22 years ago.
Again, there’s is absolutely no evidence of any abuse since then and those experts in the area (remember, parole officers are not the liberal elite) say this is ineffective and unreasonable:
County officials here in Eastern Pennsylvania left notes on Melissa WolfHawk’s door, she said, warning her that they were monitoring her pregnancy. They told her they would try to take her child as soon as she gave birth.
She had the Caesarean section on Tuesday. Against her doctors’ wishes, she left the hospital two days later to appear in court, but on Friday she lost her fight when a judge gave the boy to Schuylkill County.
At issue, officials say, is not so much Ms. WolfHawk’s fitness as a mother as her choice of mates. The newborn’s father, her husband, served a decade in prison as a sex offender in New York 22 years ago, convicted in the rape and sodomy of two teenage girls. The boy is the third child Ms. WolfHawk has lost for just that reason. The baby - lawyers are not disclosing his name - will be in temporary custody pending a hearing on longer term arrangements on Oct. 31, as well as an ongoing challenge that Ms. WolfHawk has filed in federal court.
I spent a good part of yesterday trying to make people’s iPods work. Doug’s about had it with me yelling at mine in the morning. Most recently I bought a book, my first, from the iMusic store. I paid for it, downloaded it, then couldn’t transfer it to my iPod.
I hadn’t authorized it. Grr.
UPDATE yet more iAggrivation. Fine print in the upgrade to iTunes 6.0.1:
After purchasing music from the iTunes Music Store with iTunes 6 or later, you will also need to upgrade your other computers that purchase music from the iTunes Music Store to iTunes 6.0.1.
Driving laws and the presumption of innocence
A Virginia judge is ruling that the state’s DUI statutes violate the 5th Amendment:
A Fairfax County judge who believes Virginia’s drunken driving laws are unconstitutional has begun dismissing cases, including five DWI cases in a week, and has threatened to throw a veteran prosecutor in jail for arguing with him.
Judge Ian M. O’Flaherty made it known in July that he felt Virginia’s DWI law unfairly deprived defendants of the presumption of innocence if breath tests showed that they had a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, levels at which people are presumed to be intoxicated.
James makes exactly the right point:
O’Flaherty makes an interesting argument. All traffic laws essentially operate this way, though. If one gets a speeding ticket, for example, it is merely a case of a government employee, operating under pressure of meeting revenue quotas, charging that the defendant did it. The burden of proof is on the defendant to demonstrate that he is not guilty.
This should be fought but the rich don’t care and the poor can’t do anything about it.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Out in the WNBA
I was at a lecture about Southern women in the 19th century last night. One story told was of a man who took his black mistress north to marry her. Those left behind tried to have the man ruled insane and his property confiscated.
A women at the time noted in her diary how odd it was that those pious people were fine with it when he had her as his mistress, but morally outraged by his marriage.
I didn’t even know who Sheryl Swopes was before this, but I’m glad she came out. James Joyner suspects that “her revelation that she wasn’t ‘born gay’ but rather ‘discovered’ it will not sit well with some in the gay activist community.”
I have no problem with it. Both can be true; you can be born gay and discover it late. But to answer James in kind, I suspect some on the Right—like those nineteenth century Southerners—were happier with Sheryl in the closet.
Don’t count on the press
They won’t be poking the corporate giants:
I don’t hate Apple. I don’t even hate Apple-lovers. I do, however, possess deep odium for the legions of Apple polishers in the press corps who salute every shiny gadget the company parades through downtown Cupertino as if they were members of the Supreme Soviet viewing the latest ICBMs at the May Day parade.
At least the techie readers of Engadget, free of the Apple mind-meld, recognize the V-iPod as a deliberately crippled by copy protection, low-res, underpowered video appliance that is merely Apple’s first try in the emerging market of video players.
The inordinate amount of attention paid to Apple’s launches must be, in part, a function of the company’s skill at throwing media events, stoking the rumor mills, and seducing the consuming masses. All this, plus the chatter-inducing creativity of Apple’s ad campaigns, and its practice of putting its machines in pretty boxes make writing about Apple products more interesting than assessing the latest iterations of the ThinkPad or Microsoft Office.
Podcasters are just as susceptible; maybe moreso. I listened to this schlock conversation with Eddy Cue, VP of Apple iTunes. A lesson in brochure-ware pablum. Don’t waste your time.
We’ve got to prod the press to poke.
Corporate giants play nice
Wired has a depressing long feature on how the Motorola ROKR iTunes phone ended up flopping so hard. It comes down to this: Apple didn’t want to cannibalize iPod sales, the carriers don’t want to cannibalize mobile music sales, and the labels want to control everything.
It’s so weird to watch the Stalinist maneuvers among these ostensible giants of the capitalist economy. Since when do innovators give a veto over their products to incumbents? This is like holding back the railroads because the blacksmiths threaten to boycott any steel mill that supplies rails.
My big hope is that a company with some real intestinal fortitude will launch a genuinely competitive device that responds to market demand. Maybe Song, the Chinese mobile phone titan, will take over the global mobile market by just shipping something that out-competes iTunes, the iPod and the stupid carriers, instead of kowtowing to them.
We’ve got to poke those corporations to make them fight.
It won’t last forever
In a free-market economy, bankruptcy laws are written and rewritten as new economic problems bubble to the surface. Today, consumers and small businesses that have been swamped by debt are in the crosshairs. Tomorrow, insurance company failures, a collapse of the mortgage-lending market, or another outrageous story of a Wall Street executive who hung onto a fortune while seeking shelter in bankruptcy may excite Congressional attention.
Even as the new law goes into effect, there are six new bankruptcy bills pending in Congress, three of them responding to the recent hurricanes. Others are sure to follow: Several members of Congress have railed against the airlines’ use of bankruptcy to write off their pension obligations, for example.
The first draft of the new bankruptcy law was written in the mid-1990’s by lobbyists for the credit industry. As they explain, they then “shopped” the bill to friends in Congress who advanced it. “It is rare to find such clear evidence of the effects of money” in Washington politics, Howard Rosenthal, a Princeton economist, and co-author Stephen Nunez wrote in 2002 of the progress of the bankruptcy amendments.
The new bankruptcy laws will surely squeeze some people harder, and they may well improve short-term corporate profits. But those laws won’t solve the underlying problems of unemployment, inadequate health insurance or failing small businesses. They won’t stop hurricanes or floods. And because those problems aren’t going away any time soon, the need to restore common sense to the bankruptcy system will not go away either.
The industry should enjoy its cake and Champagne today. It won’t last forever.
I’m disappointed at how quiet the area of the blogosphere that I read has been on this topic. But then, it took me a week to get around to it. Maybe they’ll come around too.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Eamonn Kelly & the future of the nation-state
Moira Gunn’s conversation with Eamonn Kelly is the most intellectually exciting thing I’ve heard in ages. I will likely be quoting more in the weeks ahead, but for now, he weighs in on my recent topic of inquiry, the past and future of the nation-state:
[my rough transcription of this clip] In the 17th century we saw the coming of the nation state… at that point in history the idea of the nation state as being the supreme level of governance really took hold. Up until then in history there were many ways of thinking about where government ought to reside and where power ought to reside, be it the church, be it the clan, be it the tribe etc. At that moment in history the idea of the nation state being the supreme level of government got locked into place.
I would argue that when you think about the challenges we face today—the economy is truly global and doesn’t conform to national boundaries, the environment and the climate clearly doesn’t conform, hurricanes don’t stop at national borders, lawlessness and crime don’t conform to national boundaries, viruses...national borders are not going to do anything to resist that, and of course terrorism which is a profoundly important topic for all of us today, again no respect for national borders—so I think that we have an idea of the nation state as being the supreme level of governance and the organizing principle for how we think about who we are in the world, but in fact the important things in the world just now, and of course the internet has been a huge factor in that in terms of communication and connectivity as well, the world is much more truly global and the nation state’s genuine importance is in my opinion declining. And yet we haven’t reconciled that with other ways of thinking about the governance challenges that then presents for us.
So far so good. So what of the future?
[my rough transcription of this clip] When I look ahead and look at the three big possible ways in which these geopolitical and technological and societal trends might converge and settle out, I see a possibility of three different worlds and I think we’ll see a combination of them but in different proportions.
Two of them are worlds in which the idea of the top down model, the more centralized organization, the more hierarchical ways of organizing to succeed really kind of hold and the bottom up emergent open source collaborative models don’t really get traction.
One of those scenarios I call the New American Century. I think we can see the United States really coming through what has been a difficult few years for it in terms of its role in the world, to really be the driving force and the dynamo economically—but also in terms of political systems and technologies—that it has been for several decades now. That’s a world that most of us are well-prepared for and perhaps many of us assume will happen.
I think it’s a very realistic scenario, but I actually think another top-down scenario is equally plausible and I call that the Patchwork Powers scenario, and that’s a scenario where we go from a very uni-polar scenario of the US really driving the agenda for the world to some extent and acting as the world’s policeman… to a much more distributed worrld where there is a kind of patchwork of authority and alliances are struck and new institutions, multi-lateral institutions, where things are negotiated more. Where different actors and different voices set the rules differently.
To put either of those in context, I recommend yet another Moira Gunn interview, this one with Robert Kaplan, who discusses his new book, Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground. That totally put my pre-conceived notions of the meaning of our imperialist global presence in a different context. I’ll be reading his book.
But my favorite of Eamonn’s three is this:
[my rough transcription of this clip] The final scenario that I think is an interesting one for us to contemplate is one where actually neither of those things [above] hold true. The top down model doesn’t really crack it in this extraordinarily difficult complex world. It is actually more about what happens when you start to connect 6 billion citizens and give at least now a couple billion of them the opportunity to interact with each other in new ways.
That really we start to see the world being shaped more by people and by passion than by the institutions and the markets that have shaped the world today. There are little clues of that just now… The idea of an emergent “global we.” A global citizenry that really makes its voice heard and has a point of view on how we share this fragile home that’s the only one we have. I think it’s another scenario which I’m intrigued to see how it will play out.
I note that this third is the least articulated, and it’s the one I’d like most to see explored. He starts his interview with a 500 year old quote and moves forward through the centuries. That’s the context I’d like to place my notions of emergent democracy facilitated by the nation-state’s successor: the corporate state.
The the next Google may not harken that corporate-state. But it could well be the company after that.
Golly. They’re surprised by the bubble:
For more than eight years, big banks lobbied aggressively to make it harder for consumers to file for bankruptcy.
Now that the new bankruptcy law has taken effect, was the investment worth it? The early data suggest that sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for.
Bankruptcy filings were supposed to snowball in the months before the tough new law went into effect on Oct. 17. But the avalanche of petitions, and the lines of debtors streaming out the courthouse doors caught even the credit card issuers who supported the new law by surprise.
Poor banks. Now “the bottom-line benefits of the new law will now take longer to materialize.” Boo-hoo.
THESE NUMBERS MEAN SOMETHING REAL!!!
I don’t buy for a minute the chief financial officer of bank of America’s comment, “ For the long term, it is neutral to positive.”
This rings more true to me:
“The banks are saying that we expect bankruptcy-law-related losses will subside because of the rush to file,” said David A. Hendler, an analyst with CreditSights, an independent research firm based in New York. “But the undertone of credit quality is worsening.”
Even before bankruptcy filings began rising this spring, an American Bankers Association survey of 350 member institutions found that credit card delinquencies had been increasing when measured by the number of accounts past due. (When measured by dollars lost, it has declined). In September, it reported that the rate rose to a record of 4.81 percent during the second quarter, driven in large part by the higher price of gasoline. And it is not expected go down anytime soon.
A friend is involved in developing the financial education curriculum that is now required by the government of all who file for bankruptcy. I immediately pointed him to Christopher Hayes’ How to Turn Your Red State Blue.
I was particularly impressed with Hayes’ notion of building a movement around credit reform. The idea hasn’t really gone anywhere. It should!
I’ll be badgering my pal.
Disclose the code!
We should fight for this in every way we can:
Lawyers for 150 Floridians accused of drunk driving have asked a court to order the disclosure of the source code for software running in the breathalyzer machines used by police to analyze their blood alcohol level, according to a Tom Sanders story on vunet.
The defendants say they have the right to examine the machines that accused them, and that a meaningful examination requires access to the machines’ software. Prosecutors say the code is a trade secret.
Felton makes clear that disclosure is only to plaintiff’s attorneys, so the issue is “not about open source, but about ensuring fairness for the accused.”
He answers those who say the manuals have enough of that information by observing that “knowing how the maker says a machine works is a poor substitute for knowing how it actually works.”
I’m with him.
Zogby on Bush
President Bush, his job approval rating beleaguered by poor marks in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, rebounded from historic lows this summer to 45% in Zogby International’s latest poll, with job approval numbers bumping back up into the range where they have hovered for most of his second term.
Monday, October 24, 2005
A flu pandemic is the most dangerous threat the United States faces today,” says Richard Falkenrath, who until recently served in the Bush administration as deputy Homeland Security adviser. “It’s a bigger threat than terrorism. In fact it’s bigger than anything I dealt with when I was in government.” One makes a threat assessment on the basis of two factors: the probability of the event, and the loss of life if it happened. On both counts, a pandemic ranks higher than a major terror attack, even one involving weapons of mass destruction. A crude nuclear device would probably kill hundreds of thousands. A flu pandemic could easily kill millions.
The best response would be a general vaccine that would work against all strains of the flu. That’s a tall order, but it could be achieved. The model of the Manhattan Project is often bandied about loosely, but this is a case in which it makes sense. We need a massive biomedical project aimed at tackling these kinds of diseases, whether they’re natural or engineered by terrorists.
The total funding request for influenza-related research this year is about $119 million. To put this in perspective, we are spending well over $10 billion to research and develop ballistic-missile defenses, which protect us against an unlikely threat (even if they worked). We are spending $4.5 billion a year on R&D-drawings!-for the Pentagon’s new joint strike fighter. Do we have our priorities right?
Is this, today, what MTV was for me in the early 80s? Or what Current should be? Make the cable channel a big ad for the website.
I’m guessing this one is a hit.
Via Andrew Sullivan.
Update… The Chinese duo’s video is on Good Morning America right now… I’m sooo yesterday…