Where have I heard this before…

by Ted on May 7, 2004

Shorter :

I really believe that the feminists, and the media, and the gays and the lesbians, academics, the Clintons–all of them who have tried to liberalize America–I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”

There’ll be more where this came from, I’m sure.

Are high oil prices here to stay ?

by John Q on May 7, 2004

Paul Krugman has a piece on oil. This is as good a time as any to put up a long post I’ve been working on about oil and whether it’s finally going to run short, points on which I broadly agree with Krugman.

[click to continue…]

17-year cicadas

by Chris Bertram on May 7, 2004

There’s “a fascinating piece in the Economist”:http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=2647052 about the 17-year cicadas that are about to emerge — in “a plague of biblical proportions” — all over the eastern United States, why they (and their 13-year cousins) have prime-numbered life-cycles, how parasites evolve strategies to match, and other cool stuff. Enjoy!

Staying the course.. or not

by Eszter Hargittai on May 7, 2004

The debate I went to last weekend (Resolved: That John Kerry should replace George Bush in the White House) was quite interesting and had some especially good tid-bits. Here is one: The Negative suggested that at other times when the country was at war during the presidential elections the country stayed the course and it should do so this time around as well. The Affirmative responded that had people realized in 1864 that there was no slavery or had people noted in 1944 that there were no concentration camps then perhaps the results of the elections would have been different.

Philosophical Quarterly has announced an essay competition with a prize of £1000. Here is the announcement:

This is to let you know that the Philosophical Quarterly has an essay competition on the topic of Severe Poverty and Human Rights. The essay prize is £1000, and we’ll produce a special issue of the best essays if there are enough good submissions. The deadline is November 1st 2004, and the maximum length is 8000 words. Electronic submissions are especially welcome, to: pq@st-andrews.ac.uk, or they can be sent to: The Executive Editor, The Philosophical Quarterly, The University of St Andrews, KY16 9AL, Scotland. Please email Dr Elizabeth Ashford at ea10@st-andrews.ac.uk if you’d like any further information.

The cost of legislation

by Chris Bertram on May 7, 2004

The UK’s new Sexual Offences Act (2003) came into force this week. This is the law which criminalizes whole swathes of normal behaviour (such as “teenagers kissing”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/3672591.stm ). But we’re not supposed to worry about that because the Home Office will issue guidance to the Crown Prosecution Service not to proceed in such cases (and to block any private prosecutions). There’s something disturbing about legislators legislating with the prior intention of issuing guidance not to apply the law, and there’s a lot disturbing about the content. But that isn’t the only remarkable fact. I read the following in “a rather good piece in the Independent”:http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/story.jsp?story=517661 by John Spencer, Professor of Law at Cambridge:

bq. despite conducting “extensive consultations” and a formal review that consumed £17,500 of public money on research and £31,025 on conferences, the Home Office devised the new law without troubling to obtain or consider any solid information about what is normal in the sex lives of children and young persons.

bq. The review document also contains the following disarming statement: “We also tried to test the opinion of some young people and, at a fairly late stage in the review, had discussions with some Year 10 and Year 11 pupils (aged between 14 and 16) at one school (sadly lack of time meant we could not undertake a wider consultation).”

Despite Spencer’s “despite”, the figure of £48,525 means the Home Office spent _nothing_ on research into this important area. And they only had time to interview a few kids in one school! Unbelievable.

FDA rejects Plan B

by Eszter Hargittai on May 7, 2004

The Food and Drug Administration has rejected over-the-counter availability of the morning-after pill. As I have mentioned here before, easier access to such emergency contraception could reduce significantly the millions of unwanted pregnancies in the US. In case anyone is wondering whether the decision was political, consider the following:

The decision was an unusual repudiation of the lopsided recommendation of the agency’s own expert advisory panel, which voted 23 to 4 late last year that the drug should be sold over the counter and then, that same day, 27 to 0 that the drug could be safely sold as an over-the-counter medication.
The “not approvable” letter was signed by acting director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Steven K. Galson, not by members of the FDA review team, as is usual. Former officials of the FDA said that generally means that the review team had made a different recommendation.