Monday, January 29, 2007

Kimberley Strassel coins the term "Big CarbonCap" for the large corporations that are now lobbying for cap-and-trade controls of CO2 emissions that will just happen to financially benefit them. (Hat tip: Eric.) Consider how American corn farmers are making money from government mandates for ethanol in gasoline combined with tariffs against cheaper ethanol made from cane sugar grown in countries like Brazil. Bush and Congress want to appear to be doing something to address global warming. I predict they will continue to do such somethings in ways that are lucrative for a few yet inefficient for the nation, no matter how the environmental externalities are calculated.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Randall Parker on geothermal energy, present and future. Here's a direct link [14M PDF] to the study.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The case for free trade of oil. If you're really worried about the risk of supply disruption hurting us militarily, then support something like Bush's proposed doubling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Update: Consider some relevant data from the DOE's website. In 2004, Canada and Mexico nearly tied for first place among exporters of crude oil to the U.S., each at 16% of total imports. Saudi Arabia was close behind at 15%. Overall, 25% of the imports were from states bordering the Persian Gulf.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

An interesting interview with Chief Justice Roberts in which he explains at length why he wants more unamimous decisions.
Political violence in a metaverse.

By the way, any bets on how long before we have something sufficiently popular to be called "the metaverse"?

Monday, January 22, 2007

I think Arnold Kling has correctly summarized the proper long-term ambition of economic conservatives.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bush upcoming proposal for changing health insurance tax policy appears to be less ambitious and less spendthrift than what he did to Medicare in 2003. In fact, I think it's a very good idea. My schedule is such that I won't be able to watch this year's SOTU address live, but I'm not in the mood anyway. I'd rather just read the applause-free transcript this time around.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Excited to read the words "megajoule" and "rail gun" in a Slashdot headline, I googled for more. The current issue of SIGNAL magazine has an article all about the Navy's progress on rail guns.
A general theory of procrastination: U=E*V/(Gamma*D):
Steel combined hyperbolic discounting with a theory of motivation called expectancy theory, and came up with something he calls temporal motivational theory (TMT). It boils down to this:

Utility = E x V / Gamma D

Utility is the desirability of getting something done. E is expectancy, or confidence. V is the value of the job, and includes not only its importance but also its unpleasantness. Gamma stands for how prone a person is to delay doing things. And D means delay, or how far away the consequences of doing, or not doing, the task are.

The bigger the top number compared to the bottom, the less likely a task will be put off. So if you expect to do well at a job (E), and it's a pleasant thing to do (V), and you're not prone to being delayed by distractions (Gamma), and it has to be done right away (D), you're not likely to procrastinate.

If you expect to fail at a difficult task and you're easily distracted and it doesn't have to be done for quite awhile, you're going to procrastinate.

Upon retrospective introspection, the equation seems obvious (though I wonder if the linear and inverse linear proportionalities are less accurate than some other power law.)
A politically feasible step in the right direction away from poppy eradication in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My latest break from blogging was long, even for me. This can only be explained partially by the usual pleasant distractions of a Christmas vacation with my family. I've also been spending time catching up on 24 (in preparation for the start of the sixth season) and reading Orson Scott Card's Shadow series of novels. It's just this past week that I've resumed spending significant time on blogs. A few good links:

A bottleneck in the network of blood vessels in the brain.

A cute correlation between stock performance and when Congress is in session.

Insulation vs. Insurance, the start of a most promising Cato Unbound series on health care.

The case against Chinese exceptionalism.

On the proper estimation of uncertain discount rates.

Tyler Cowen on cooking Indian food.

The diminishing role of energy prices.

Prominent among my Christmas gifts received is an Acme Klein Bottle.