by Chris Bertram on January 3, 2004

Following up a link from “Iain Murray”: on mad cow disease and the threat it does or doesn’t pose to humans I came across “a column on the subject”:,1,1799702.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions by Steven Milloy “an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute” and proprietor of “JunkScience.Com”: in the LA Times. Molloy is sceptical of the prion theory and reports of the British experience that:

bq. Though laboratory testing seemed to indicate that BSE and variant CJD were similar, no one could determine with certainty whether and how the BSE epidemic was related to the “human mad cow” cases. There were no geographic areas in Britain with a significantly higher incidence of variant CJD cases, and there were no cases of variant CJD among apparently high-risk groups such as farmers, slaughterhouse workers and butchers.

Two minutes of googling found the report of the British government’s report into BSE and vCJD.

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Mob Rule at the BBC

by Kieran Healy on January 3, 2004

The results are in from the “Listeners’ Law” feature on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, where the show’s audience chose between five bills, with Labour MP Stephen Pound agreeing to propose the winner in Parliament. More than 25,000 people voted. The winner was a “proposal to authorise homeowners to use any means to defend their home from intruders.” It won with 37% of the vote.

Pound clearly had been bargaining for something a bit more enlightened. Press commentators have been smirking at his subsequent discomfort, but his immediate response assures him a place in future anthologies of political quotations. “The People have spoken,” he said, “the bastards.”

The runner-up proposal was of interest to me professionally. It was a “presumed consent” law for organ procurement, i.e., “A Bill to allow the use of all organs for transplant after death unless the individual has ‘opted out’ and recorded that opt out on an organ transplant register.” The synergistic benefits of combining this proposal and the winning candidate into an omnibus package don’t seem to have been discussed. Nevertheless, the presumed consent idea beat out three proposals, namely, “A Bill to ban smoking in all workplaces, to include bars and restaurants,” Prime-Ministerial term limits and compulsory voting, and “Ban all Christmas advertising and the erection of municipal street decorations before 1st December.”

Paradox in College Football?

by Brian on January 3, 2004

I have an inexplicable fondness for college ‘football’, but I’m worried about what will happen to the economy Sunday if this NY Times report is correct.

If the [LSU] Tigers win and claim the Bowl Championship Series title, Saban will be paid one dollar more than the highest-paid college coach in the nation, according to an incentive clause in his contract.

Since Saban is a college coach, it seems he must be paid a dollar more than he is paid. Which can only happen if a dollar is worthless, which I imagine would be rather disasterous for well-established economic relations.

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