Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Future zombie v. humans war outcome doubtful

The Beeb has the lowdown on the seminal study:
If zombies actually existed, an attack by them would lead to the collapse of civilisation unless dealt with quickly and aggressively.That is the conclusion of a mathematical exercise carried out by researchers in Canada.They say only frequent counter-attacks with increasing force would eradicate the fictional creatures.The scientific paper is published in a book - Infectious Diseases Modelling Research Progress.
Not just the best use of research dolloars, also the most necessary.

The Ignoble prize for science or math (perhaps both given the groundbreaking work involved) is locked up.

I sure hope there's some money for this contingency in Obama's defense budget.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Hands off Swiss banking system, says NYT op-ed

And I agree. This op-ed piece, written by a Swiss, explains why the Swiss like their banking to be private and away from the prying eyes and grasping hands of governments.
Until recently, the Swiss government had steadfastly insisted on Swiss sovereignty and refused to provide assistance to other governments in cases of tax evasion — that is, cases in which a taxpayer failed to declare income, either intentionally or unintentionally. While tax fraud is considered a crime here, tax evasion is not (though it can be subject to fines).

This Swiss peculiarity of considering tax evasion as a mere administrative offense has a long history. We think government exists to serve us, not the other way around. We understand that we have to pay taxes — and we do, with numerous studies showing that the Swiss are extraordinarily honest about paying what we owe — but we do not think it is the government’s role to intrude on our privacy and wrench them from us.

This attitude goes back to Switzerland’s founding in the 13th century. The original Swiss communities’ resentment of what they saw as the Hapsburgs’ oppressive taxes helped push them to claim their independence in 1291.

Today, Swiss citizens continue to vote on any tax increases in referendums (and sometimes even accept them). These healthy curbs on government contrast with the Orwellian concept of the “transparent citizen” whose every act is known to government. We see our system as a social pact between citizens and the state.

Swiss privacy laws help preserve basic property rights. Bank secrecy was introduced in 1934, most notably to protect the identities and assets of Jews in Nazi Germany. (Unfortunately, those same rules made it difficult for some heirs to gain access to these accounts without proper documentation, leading to an out-of-court agreement in 1998 by Swiss banks to pay $1.25 billion to settle Holocaust-related lawsuits.) Corruption, expropriation, crime and the persecution of various minorities remain risks in most of the world. For people threatened by such risks, financial privacy can protect their legitimate property.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Defending opposition to GM crops becoming more difficult

Many Greens in the West are dead set against GM food, often labeling it Frankenfood, and generally using fear tactics to keep it from catching on. Notwithstanding their best efforts, more and more of today's crops (not always used for food, though) being planted have been bioengineered.

The latest to show promise comes from Switzerland's top university. They've manged to create a new strain of super rice with up to six times the normal level of iron. This breakthrough, if capitalized on, can help lower rates of anemia in the developing world.
According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency anaemia is one of the most important contributing factors to the global burden of disease. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable.
The Left will howl, but this is serious progress to improving survial rates and quality of life for a major portion of the planet.

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