Monday, May 12, 2008

May 1968: 40 Years Later.

Six City Journal authors recall a spring that shook the world.

Google Moon.

Cool views of all six Apollo landing sites.

Standardized Hand Signals For Close Range Engagement (C.R.E.) Operations.

For those of you who want to add some authenticity to your online shooter games.

Your Age on Other Worlds.

Want to melt those years away? Travel to an outer planet!

A year is simply the amount of time the Earth takes for a trip around the Sun. As one might imagine, the planets in our solar system do their circuits of the Sun at their own pace. On Mercury your humble author would already be 157. On Jupiter I'm only 3 (though some say I don't look a day over two).

The calculator is here.

The Ultimate Rejection Letter.

Herbert A. Millington
Chair - Search Committee
412A Clarkson Hall, Whitson University
College Hill, MA 34109

Dear Professor Millington,

Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me an assistant professor position in your department.

This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

Despite Whitson's outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the position of assistant professor in your department this August. I look forward to seeing you then.

Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.

Chris L. Jensen

Rethinking the Oil Curse.

I’ve been skeptical of some of the alleged evils of petroleum, but I bought into the recently popular idea among development experts that reserves of oil and other natural resources are a curse to many countries. What I saw while reporting in Iraq jibed with academic studies concluding that a wealth of natural resources did a country more harm than good. It was an appealing and clever counterintuitive idea — but perhaps too clever by half.

A report in Science argues that the “resource curse” theory is dubious because scholars (like Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner) have been looking at the wrong data in studies showing that countries heavily dependent on exports of natural resources are exceptionally prone to slow economic growth, high rates of poverty, authoritarian rule, corruption and violent conflict. The easy money from natural resources, the curse theory went, helped finance civil wars and also weakened civil institutions by enabling repressive governments to buy off opponents and stay in power despite policies that stifled the rest of the economy.

But the new report in Science argues that the causation goes in the opposite direction: The conflicts and bad policies created the heavy dependence on exports of natural resources. When a country’s chaos and economic policies scare off foreign investors and send local entrepreneurs abroad to look for better opportunities, the economy becomes skewed. Factories may close and businesses may flee, but petroleum and precious metals remain for the taking. Resource extraction becomes “the default sector” that still functions after other industries have come to a halt, according to the authors, C. N. Brunnschweiler of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and E.H. Bulte of the Oxford Center for the Study of Resource-Rich Economies.

Representations of Children’s Nursery Rhymes.

Should Prosecutors Who Withhold Exculpatory Evidence Face Criminal Charges?

Actually I think this is an easy call: Yes.

I'm a law and order type guy. I'm utterly indifferent to the cries of civil libertarians about the state treading "rights" of criminals. That said, this is supposed to be about justice. Convicting the wrong man only serves the interests of careerist prosecutors. To do so knowingly ought to be more than enough to send you to prison.