Friday, May 28, 2004
1. ENERGY: GAS PRICES ARE SHOOTING UP, AND THAT’S THE GOOD NEWS!
Just a few years ago, the sound of China was incessant honking as an occasional car tried to push its way through a sea of bicycles and pedestrians. The car won. Beijing traffic now looks like LA or DC, adding enormously to world demand for oil, most of which is beneath countries that don’t like us very much. Bush’s short-term solution is to drill in the arctic wildlife refuge (caribou don’t vote). Long-term, Bush has the hydrogen-initiative (See POPA study), but it can’t be made competitive. Kerry’s short-term solution is to use the strategic reserve. Sigh! WN liked him better when he wanted a 50 cent tax hike on gasoline. We need conservation. High gas prices are already pushing SUV sales down, but it was OPEC that pushed the price up. If we plan to declare war on every country led by a bad guy, we’ll need tax revenue. We could also think about making CAFE standards apply to all passenger cars, even if they’re SUVs and weigh as much as cement trucks. As the price of gas goes up, the air gets cleaner, people return to the inner cities, traffic is reduced, less time is wasted commuting.
2. DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE ELECTION IS OVER?
The Washington Post yesterday disclosed that a May 19 White House budget memorandum directs agencies preparing their 2006 budgets to assume spending levels that are sharply reduced for virtually every domestic program. This includes programs of the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency.
3. PLACEBO EFFECT: USE OF ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES CONTINUES TO GROW.
A new government survey of adult Americans found that 36 percent of us use some kind of "complementary or alternative" therapy. The number jumps to 62 percent when prayer is included. I find it surprising that the percentages are not higher; you make the list if you take vitamins, or meditate, or get a massage, or go on some fad diet. Echinacea turns out to be the most popular herbal supplement, although studies stubbornly refuse to uncover any benefit. Wisdom has it that echinacea wards off colds, but when adults taking echinacea three times a day inhaled a strain of common cold virus, ninety percent came down with a cold.
4. HOMEOPATHY: CAN YOU DO PLACEBO-CONTROLLED STUDIES OF PLACEBOS?
Four years ago, a guest on "Superquark," an Italian television science program, observed that relying on homeopathy could be dangerous for someone who actually has a serious illness. The Italian Association of Medical Homeopathy sued the host of the program. But last month, according to Nature, the court in Catania ruled that the opinions of the guest were "justified" and "could not be considered offensive or defamatory."