Monday, August 23, 2010

Linky links

Older Brother Borepatch is in town, and so we're getting together with them. While I hate to put up an "All Linky, No Thinky" sort of post, err, that's exactly what I'm doing.

Things that make you go "hmmmm":

The Obama administration is bullish on High Speed Rail, and is planning hundreds of billions in subsidies to create a partial nation-wide network. The Antiplanner looks at this, and runs the numbers:

By comparison, Obama’s 12,500-mile rail network won’t directly connect the Midwest with the East Coast or anywhere in the West with anywhere else. A report published by the ardently pro-rail Center for Clean Air Policy estimates that Obama’s network will carry about 20 billion passenger miles per year (not counting the Northeast Corridor, which is already in place and not a part of Obama’s plan), which (accounting for population growth) will average to less than 60 miles per person. Even accounting for the 3,000 or so route miles added to Obama’s plan since that report was written, even boosting speeds up to 200 or more mph, per-capita ridership is never going to amount to more than 400 miles, which is about what it is in France and Japan.

Let’s say 12,500 miles of 220-mph trains will move 140 billion passenger miles per year. We still have one system that paid for itself and moves well over a trillion passenger miles per year vs. another system that requires 100 percent capital subsidies and moves less than one-eighth that many passenger miles per year (and virtually no freight). In what universe could anyone think high-speed rail makes sense? Only one that has an extra $500 billion lying around collecting dust, which means not here.

So even using hopelessly unrealistic projections (Americans will travel by rail as much as French or Japanese), the HSR system will be six times as expensive as flying, and at least twice as expensive as driving. But it will, Big Dig style, give ample opportunity to dish out favorable contracts on a government Vanity project. RTWT.

The legal exposure of the Wikileaks gang may be much worse than you think, and much, much worse than is being reported:
Whatever notions you have absorbed by virtue of spending your formative years watching LA Law or The Practice, be rid of them. Not only do courts have no patience for cute, technically correct but highly disruptive legal theories involving technologies they barely understand, but the ultimate arbiter of whether the facts suggest that the defendant violated Title X Section Y of this or that statute is probably going to be a group of twelve people who lack the wherewithal to get out of jury duty.
This is a long post, by someone who sounds to me at least like he's a lawyer, who carefully goes through the law step by step - from the statutes protecting classified documents, to the Espionage Act, to Press Immunity, to how Prosecutors are likely to view this case, to how Wikileaks' MSM "partners" are distancing themselves from it, to the Classified Information Protection Act of 1980 (and the "Valerie Plame" case) - all leading to the conclusion that Wikileaks has screwed themselves:
Given the literal riot of theories of liability that seem to attach to the conduct of Wikileaks (not to mention the fact that Wikileaks appears to be under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement along with the U.S. Army investigators have begun to make it a habit of detaining at the border certain associates of Mr. Assange, searching their laptops and asking if such associates happen to know where Mr. Assanage is just now)40 future leakers might well want to consider not just the demonstrated ineptitude of the Wikileaks crowd in protecting its sources, but the fact that, should Wikileaks or Assange find themselves indicted or searched at the border, any material, logs, chat sessions, IP records or testimony from cooperating witnesses as they bend to prosecutorial pressure one by one, are all likely to make Wikileak sources a bit more popular than they expected to be.
This is the most interesting thing I've read about the whole situation. Long, but worth it.

A Primer on the IPCC Global Warming Claims. Too much to excerpt, but if you want to know the weakness of the "consensus" argument (and very weak it is indeed), then this is a great starting point. I'm thinking about updating my "Should you be a Global Warming Skeptic" post, and if I do, I'll be stealing incorporating much from this. And don't neglect the comments, which contain a wealth of Smart.

UPDATE 23 August 2010 15:41: Dang, even my linky posts are long. I also forgot this one, Global Warming Skepticism For Dummies, from Dr. Roy Spencer. Q&A format, very accessible.

1 comment:

bluesun said...

Rail makes sense for densely populated areas with lots of places that people want to get off at. The United States, for those federal-type politicians who don't know any better (probably because they are all in densely populated areas...), isn't.