Read Brent Simmons’ reasoning on why he doesn’t want ubiquitous computing. Brent truly is a gifted, poetic writer. “Okay, picture the toaster that is really good at sensing the done-ness of the toast, and pops when the toast is perfect, every time. What happens to the poetry of real life?“
President Bush’s announcement of his plan to deal with the US energy “crisis” has understandably occasioned voluminous comment. What puzzles me, however, is how many normally sober news sources have mindlessly adopted Bush’s use of the word crisis to describe something that, to my mind, isn’t remotely a crisis.
Both the BBC and the Financial Times, normally paragons of sobriety, use the term crisis. Fortunately, on BBC Radio 4 this morning, Bob May, president of the Royal Society, had the good sense to put matters right. May pointed out that with 5% of the world’s population, the US accounted for about 40% of carbon dioxide emissions. The Bush plan, he said, seems designed to up that to around 50% at a time when the rest of the world wants to go the other way.
May was speaking on the occasion of 17 national science academies backing the Kyoto protocal on climate change. The US National Academy of Science was the only major academy not to sign the statement. The NAS will be making its own statement in June, after it has filed a report on the subject for the Bush administration. The BBC story linked above, incidentally, is a model of balanced reporting — for those readers of Davos Newbies who have objected in the past to my stance on climate change.
The New York Times makes the point about the so-called crisis in an unusually forthright editorial.
Truth and lies
Tom Friedman. “Mr. Clinton may have lied about his sex life, but he, Bob Rubin and Larry Summers told the truth about numbers. The Bushies are all good boys who go home to their wives at 6 p.m., but that’s after a day of fudging all sorts of numbers to get their mammoth tax cut passed. Personally, if I have to choose, I prefer people who cheat on their wives to people who cheat on our kids.”
There will always be an England
A minor example of the civilised eccentricity that makes Britain such a good place to live, despite the weather. BBC2 is currently running a series of 10-minute programmes in prime time about individual trees. It sounds crazy, but it’s wonderful. Can you imagine someone trying to pitch that to a Hollywood producer?