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03/09/2004 Archived Entry: "Good Tuesday Morning!"
Interesting link from Steve C...interesting in the reactions it inspires. For more straight-forward fun, however, I recommend the following article on alien linguistics within SF.
Gordon P. offers insight into recent NASA claims. "NASA has been proudly proclaiming that the Mars Rover websites have received 'over 6 billion hits,' leaving one with the impression that everyone on the planet must have visited their website at least once. However, more careful examination shows that NASA's 'hit count' is grossly inflated, since NASA is counting every 'web transaction' (crudely speaking, each line in their webserver's logfile) as a 'hit' --- e.g., if someone accesses a webpage with three images, NASA would count that as "four hits:" one for the webpage itself, and one for each image. Hence, a single viewing of a webpage with a large number of logos and thumbnail images could easily rack up the better part of 100 'hits' all by itself! The web measurement firm Nielsen/NetRatings yields an answer that is probably a bit closer to reality: They report that NASA received 1.9 million 'unique visitors' when Spirit landed on 2004-Jan-04, and 2.6 million 'unique visitors' when Opportunity landed on 2004-Jan-25. Since then, interest has dropped, with only 1.8 million additional 'unique visitors' during the entire month of February..."
Also my thanks to Gordon for forwarding an article from BusinessWeek Online entitled "Prices: How High Is Up?" Although the article takes a "Don't Panic" attitude [shades of Life, the Universe and Everything!], it gives a nod to the idea that we are heading toward "stagflation." That is when economic growth slows while prices continue to rise. A double economic whammy, especially since the inflation tends to lead into protectionism as Stefan Karlsson observes "The American economy is unsound, not because of free trade but because of the inflationist policies of Alan Greenspan and the deficit spending by President Bush. And the current account deficit is similarly not the result of free trade but of the policies of Greenspan and Bush." The economic uncertainty created allows politicians to sell people on the "safety" of protectionism -- more law, more regulation! Regulation, in turn, acts as another barrier, and a strong one, to the single most important force that could break through breakthrough stagflation...a free-wheeling, open marketplace.
The US debt passed a record $7 trillion recently. The $ continues to sink against world currencies despite the fact that many nations are trying to make their money track the greeback. Foreign investment in the States continues to weaken. And a policy of hyper-inflation remains a virtual certainty for the short term. In the short term, the policy is "anything and everything necessary" to prop up the economy until the November elections. The scarey thing is that the "quick-fix" of inflation is no longer working. Giving the economy that equivalent of an adrenaline injection doesn't produce the jolt of energy it did in 2001, 2002, 2003... There is only so much medicine can do for a corpse. And, so, Greenspan falls on the sword and suggests either cutting security benefits or slapping on new taxes. Of course, it is not merely social security that will need to be cut or will require hiked taxation. Medicaid rolls increased by 3.9% during 2003 to reach a record 42.2 million people on government-subsidized health insurance for the poor. My purpose is not doom-and-gloom but to warn you once more to get out of debt, save as much money as you can, get out of US $ if possible (if you can't afford precious metals, then stock your pantry with nonperishable goods that you regularly use), and beware of the multitudinous ways in which local, county, and state bureaucracies are going to try to nickle and dime you into destitution. We concentrate far too much on federal tax policies, the broad picture, when we should keep track of the guy/gal in City Hall. The methods they can devise to part you with from money are almost unlimited. In Indiana, for example, one town is beginning to bill non-residents for police time consumed in traffic accident on highways within 15 miles of the town. Watch out for the money grabs that are coming. Keep your money out of reach.
---Unhappily, Corinne Schillings -- Cato's webmistress -- is presumed dead in the capsizing of a ferry in Baltimore's Inner Harbor last Saturday.
---Jeff Riggenbach has written an obituary for and appreciation of Samuel Edward Konkin, III (1947-2004).
---Diana Hsieh has issued a public statement to explain her disassociation from The Objectivist Center.
---for the many libertarians I know who are interested in cryonics....Ronald Baily analyzes the push to regulate Alcor in Arizona.
Best to all,