The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Get your day started right.

Malcolm Gladwell is my favorite writer in The New Yorker. He has a new book out called Blink, which discusses intuition and the science behind it. I think it sounds very interesting (and Gladwell has a way of making almost everything interesting) and I'm looking forward to adding it to my mile long book list.

At the Slate, Gladwell and James Surowiecki (author of The Wisdom of Crowds) are discussing and debating the two books. Check it out. (Link is to Wednesday's entry. Don't miss Monday and Tuesday.)

Then, read this NYT column by Nick Kristof. Alarmed and enraged? Well, before you get too wound up, check out Captain Ed's rebuttal:

(Quoting Kristof)
'"America's children are at greater risk than they've been in for at least a decade," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and president of the Children's Health Fund."

Neither Kristof nor Redlener are apparently capable of performing any research on the subject before commenting. In just a few quick keystrokes, I located the
applicable table at the CDC and found out that perinatal death rates in the US have declined quickly over the past decade, going from 7.6 in 1995 to 7.0 in 2002 -- which, as Kristof reports, represented an increase from 6.9 (not 6.8) the previous year. In fact, the perinatal death rate was 9.1 in 1990, and 10.7 in 1985, showing tremendous progress over the past generation.

Read the whole thing. (Hat tip, Instapundit)

Finally, Virginia Postrel discusses the night of December 31, 2004, when numerous textile quotas came to an end. The following is from the trade publication Furniture Today:

In years past, fabric that was over quota near the end of a year was counted against the next year’s quota. But since the quota is now gone, the committee felt that some importers might deliberately ship goods in excess of quotas limits, expecting that the goods would be released on Jan. 1.

This decision has created trouble and expense for some upholstery fabric importers. Their goods, ordered in good faith in October from mills that held valid quotas, were declared to exceed quota limits when they arrived in December. Obeying the directive from CITA, Customs put the goods into bonded warehouses where they will stay until Feb. 1. At that time, they will be released in 5% per month increments of the amount over the base quota.
Textile lobby groups such as the American Manufacturing Trade Action Council applauded the decision. “It was the very least the government could do,” said a spokesman, adding that the embargo “should be a lesson to people about the risks of doing business with overseas companies.”

That's right! If you do business with overseas companies watch out! Your own government might get you!

And the message we're supposed to take away is that the overseas companies are harming us? Huh?

I'll be out of the office most of the day, so blogging will be light, but this should be a good start.

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