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I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.

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Friday
Sep122014

WE'RE GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME! REALLY!!

Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist, explains and, in so doing, shatters the myths of the "glass half fullers" and the naysayers who are driven by grants rather than truth. We're doing very, very well!

Tuesday
Sep092014

APPLE'S LATEST!

Apple made a number of significant announcements and product launches today, including a "phatblet" iPhone and its own version of the smartwatch. For the most part, we'll need to wait a little while to actually see and experience these new additions. Until then, the Wall Street Journal's technology staff provides some short videos that give us an idea of why waiting in those ridiculous lines may be worth it.

Monday
Sep082014

HERE THEY COME!!!

It's been slowly inching its way towards us. It is the inexorable push of technology, another small leap ahead, and it's the beginning of some very big changes in the way we live. (I'd posted a TED presentation on this last year, that's worth another look: Driverless Cars Are Coming.)

Cadillac has just announced that it will introduce what it calls "Super Cruise Technology" on one of its models for the 2016 year. It's not a full-blown self-driving vehicle but it will be situational:

With Super Cruise, when there’s a congestion alert on roads like California’s Santa Monica Freeway, you can let the car take over and drive hands free and feet free through the worst stop-and-go traffic around,” Barra said in the speech at Cobo Center in Detroit. “If the mood strikes you on the high-speed road from Barstow, California, to Las Vegas, you can take a break from the wheel and pedals and let the car do the work. Having it done for you -- that’s true luxury.

Mercedes Benz already has a model with technology that brings it very close to the full "driverless" experience. Hyundai has introduced an array of features that monitor road dangers, including full-stop cruise control. Driverless technology will substantially remove the human component in driving, making our roads safer and more efficient. It will take some getting used to and an embrace of technology on an almost-emotional level. In fact, in the extensive road tests over the last few years the only accidents arose because the human behind the wheel reacted in an inappropriate way. Technology reacts faster, smarter, more reliably. Certainly, technology can break down. So, too, can a driver's attention, reaction time and ability behind the wheel.

So, what's in the way of rolling out "real" driverless technology. Basically, the federal government. It is taking a slow, plodding approach to allowing introduction of life-saving vehicles. The National Highway Safety Administration has refused to give a green light to driverless cars, except for limited test purposes. It wants to study it. Never mind that it has been extensively studied by Google and auto makers. And, in true bureaucratic fashion, that study will take until at least 2017! (Gordon Crovitz in the August 24, 2014 Wall Street Journal: "The Feds Stall Self-Driving Cars".)

In the meantime, accidents that could have been avoided will happen. There is something almost demonic in a system that places control of an accident-reduction technology under the control of a bureaucracy that survives--and even thrives--on our fear of highway accidents. If driverless technology expands as it should, accidents will decline, hopefully precipitously. And it will be entirely attributable to our free enterprise system. Government will have proven, yet again, to be little more than an unneccessary speed bump on the road to progress and benefit.


Thursday
Sep042014

GOOD JOB MR. PRESIDENT

When the President and his supporters pat themselves on the back for "getting us out of recession" let's remember that (1) the recession ended in 2009, and (2) the "stimulus" did not achieve what promised. In fact, President Obama oversaw the slowest, most plodding post-recession recovery in 70 years, when unemployment and labor force participation are taken into account. 

For more on this and related, James Sherk of The Heritage Foundation has prepared an excellent report, "Not Looking for Work: Why Labor Force Participation Has Fallen During the Recovery".


Saturday
Aug302014

GEE, AL, DO YOU EVER GET IT RIGHT?

Al Gore is a blowhard and a phony. He's made millions on his self-serving global warming campaign. Unfortunately, his words are noted and he is constantly hoisted upon his own petard.

In the latest example, a recent article in The Mail, presents an array of data, including videos and charts, showing just how wrong a Gore-wrong can be. The article's opening paragraph reads:

The speech by former US Vice-President Al Gore was apocalyptic. ‘The North Polar ice cap is falling off a cliff,’ he said. ‘It could be completely gone in summer in as little as seven years. Seven years from now.’

Those comments came in 2007 as Mr Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigning on climate change.

But seven years after his warning, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that, far from vanishing, the Arctic ice cap has expanded for the second year in succession – with a surge, depending on how you measure it, of between 43 and 63 per cent since 2012.

If there's a mechanism for retracting a Nobel Prize, the Committee really needs to get on that for the absurd awards to Gore and, equally ridiculous, President Obama.