Thursday, May 31, 2007

As a member of the Calvin Coolidge wing of the Republican party, I hope Fred Thompson hurries up and formally gets into the 2008 primary.
On federalism, there may be no better candidate. His [Thompson's] Senate record is replete with examples of his being the lone opponent of legislation that he thought undercut federalist principles. He took this position even on legislation that was otherwise supported by conservatives. He opposes federal action to prohibit gay marriage on federalist grounds, although he supports state bans. One blight on this record is his vote in favor of No Child Left Behind.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It was just painful to read this whole article and not see the obvious solution even mentioned. Most dentists won't accept new Medicaid patients because Medicaid doesn't pay even close to the market rate. States could simply give needy families dental vouchers. The recipient would still have to make up the difference between the market rate and the voucher amount, but it would help a lot more than nothing. Or am I missing something? If it were that easy, then why don't Medicaid patients already try to "bribe" dentists into helping them? Or do many already do so? Is there a rule against this?

Oh, and does this really work?

A two-day visit to the BSG set (with photos!). (HT: Erica.) If you've completed the third season, then there are no spoilers for you. Otherwise, read at your own risk.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The next time one of my hard drives dies, I think I shall put it in the freezer and pray.
A few months ago I was visiting another computer-forensics specialist when I learned about the freezer trick. This fellow gets a few broken disk drives now and then, and, by putting the drives in a freezer overnight, he's frequently able to recover data that would otherwise be "lost." Well, when I got back to Harvard, where I work, I took a few of my "broken" drives down from the shelf and put them in the freezer overnight with a note: "These hard drives are being used for a research project; please don't eat them."

The next day I took two of the drives back to my desk and plugged them into my computer. How about that: two of the drives that had been "broken" were now giving me their data.

This is a big deal for me. For starters, it means that I can now get data off many of those "broken" drives I've been keeping on my shelf. But it also means that many of the drives being sold on eBay as broken can nevertheless be scavenged for data. This is particularly troublesome because it's unlikely that the previous owners of the drives were able to properly clear them before they were sold.

(HT: GeekPress.)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

First I saw this, and now this. I hope Thompson stays in the race for a good while, if only for my entertainment. (In terms of policy, I have yet to latch on to a favorite Presidental candidate. In time...)

Friday, May 11, 2007

I like this little insight.
The difference between government laws and private agreements is not that only the former are ultimately backed by force. The difference is that the cost of finding an alternative government jurisdiction is typically much higher than the cost of finding another private party to a contract.
Ice cores show that CO2 increases follow rather than precede the warming at the end of ice ages. What should we make of this?
The contribution of CO2 to the glacial-interglacial coolings and warmings amounts to about one-third of the full amplitude, about one-half if you include methane and nitrous oxide.

So one should not claim that greenhouse gases are the major cause of the ice ages. No credible scientist has argued that position (even though Al Gore implied as much in his movie). The fundamental driver has long been thought, and continues to be thought, to be the distribution of sunshine over the Earth's surface as it is modified by orbital variations. This hypothesis was proposed by James Croll in the 19th century, mathematically refined by Milankovitch in the 1940s, and continues to pass numerous critical tests even today.

The greenhouse gases are best regarded as a biogeochemical feedback, initiated by the orbital variations, but then feeding back to amplify the warming once it is already underway. By the way, the lag of CO2 of about 1000 years corresponds rather closely to the expected time it takes to flush excess respiration-derived CO2 out of the deep ocean via natural ocean currents. So the lag is quite close to what would be expected, if CO2 were acting as a feedback.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

There's an interesting series of post over at Volokh about better understanding criminology by aggregating the historical populations of prisons and mental hospitals. It was this graph that sucked me into reading the posts.
Andrew Samwick has asked "How bad must the environment for business and investment be in Mexico for the capital to stay here and the labor to cross the border?" Perhaps it's worse than that: labor and capital are both flowing north.
The very limited utility of medicine in aggregate and in particular.