Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bits and Pieces - March 21, 2010

We have all day until the vote on health care reform, so here is some reading.

Stewart L. Udall, 90, Conservationist in Kennedy and Johnson Cabinets, Dies.

Wasn't this problem faced once before, with phone service?

Just wondering: was the ease with which Wall Street fell into casino-like practices correlated with the rise of state lotteries and other forms of legalized gambling, making it that much easier to see gambling as something, well, everyone does?

Can the US still tackle big problems? I think that passing HCR will give us a real boost in self-confidence. Fargo, North Dakota, is already doing that, dealing with its yearly spring floods. (The rivers flow north, and as Fargo melts, Canada remains frozen, so the water has no place to go in the river channel.)

Iceland is dealing with a volcanic eruption and is wondering if it's a portent of worse to come.

Anti-government protests in Russia. Russia is having a very hard time with the global recession, having failed to use its oil revenue to build a real economy. This unrest at home could be part of Vladimir Putin's negative comments to Hillary Clinton the other day. Got to look strong in order to put that START agreement in place. The WaPo reports that it's technical issues, not the big picture, that are the holdup. That makes sense; the technical part of START, supporting the reductions in numbers, is immensely detailed. Both sides have wanted to eliminate some of that detail, but just going through the technical annex is going to take time, along with decisions on each detail. For an example, the equipment to be provided to crews inspecting missile silow is specified down to the power of flashlights. That was a response to some Cold War game-playing, might not be needed any more.

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