Friday, 14 January 2005

The begining of the A380 and the end of the DC-9

This week’s Economist looks at the public introduction of Airbus’ new A380 super-jumbo and the efforts of rival Boeing to come up with a different strategy based on its 7E7 Dreamliner. My gut feeling is that Airbus is banking on the continued success of legacy-style long-haul “hub-and-spoke” travel, which makes sense in developing markets, while Boeing is expecting the 7E7 to succeed in the transatlantic market between smaller destinations.

Meanwhile, the European Union and United States have agreed to keep the subsidies dispute outside the WTO process, at least for the time being. And, in other Boeing news, the airline is ending production of the Boeing 717, the latest (and last) incarnation of the DC-9/MD-80 series of aircraft; Stephen Karlson has some brief thoughts on the matter.

Update (from RKP):A quick expansion on Chris's point: if you want to read about the emergence of air taxis and point-to-point air travel, I highly recommend Free Flight by James Fallows. I'm not an aviation enthusiast, but just a guy that spent WAY too many hours on airplanes for a few years. The possibility of being able to fly out of an airport near the house with minimal fuss, and in an Eclipse 500 jet, has a lot of appeal.

Reports of Clapton's death have been greatly exaggerated

Clapton has been a favorite of mine for well over twenty years now. The article below seems a little odd to me, since I take the opposite view of Clapton’s work in recent years. From 1974 to 1994 he was largely marking time, rather than using his talent to good effect. Don’t get me wrong. He had numerous good songs (“Motherless Children”, “Crosscut Saw”) during the time, and the best of them, like the two I listed, were covers of old blues standards.

In 1994 he released ”From The Cradle”, a fabulous album and the best he had done since the early 1970s. With the exception of Pilgrim, he’s done pretty well in recent years. Me & Mr. Johnson is a particularly good addition to his recent work.

Clapton’s now working on a Cream reunion and if I lived in London I would probably attend. The critic below is way too, er, critical, in my view:

I don’t think there’s an artist of Eric Clapton’s stature (and we’re talking about someone who’s jostling around at the Jimmy Page, Stevie Wonder level of things) who has urinated so ruinously over his own legacy. Why is it that David Bowie can spend decades releasing tosh, with seemingly no effect on our estimation of his ‘great works’, and yet Eric Clapton seemingly has the power to do things which make us despise the whole creature.

We could easily have forgiven him for getting tangled up with Phil Collins in the mid-1980s (that whole the August / Behind the Mask no-jacket-requiredy era) but it was when he started “doing the blues” again that it all started to stink. I remember hearing one of his Royal Albert Hall blues get-togethers on Radio 2 (I think). It was the 1990 one, which had Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Jimmy Vaughn on guitar (how many cooks do you need to spoil the blues?) and Phil Collins on tambourine.


There’s an interesting article in The Economist (should be a free link) about neuroeconomics. They don’t mention it explicitly, but much of what they discuss is considered part of experimental economics as well. Here’s an excerpt:

ALTHOUGH Plato compared the human soul to a chariot pulled by the two horses of reason and emotion, modern economics has mostly been a one-horse show. It has been obsessed with reason. In decisions from how much to produce to whether to save and invest, humans have been assumed to be coolly rational calculators of their own self-interest. Over the past few years, however, evidence from psychology has persuaded many economists that reason does not always have its way. Now, judging from a series of presentations at the American Economic Association meetings in Philadelphia last weekend, a burgeoning new field dubbed “neuroeconomics” seems poised to provide fresh insights on how the two horses together produce economic behaviour.

The current bout of research is made possible by the arrival of new technologies such as functional magnetic-resonance imaging, which allows second-by-second observation of brain activity. At several American universities, economists and their collaborators in the neurosciences have been placing human subjects in such brain scanners and asking them to perform a variety of economic tasks and games.

(þ: OTB)

A gay old time for Abe

The Lincoln’s wing-wang debate has captured the blogosphere’s attention; Tim Sandefur says the evidence isn’t there, while Jon Rowe has at least an argument-from-authority that he was (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I really don’t care either way.

Political scientists have credentials?

Well, yeah, especially if they have PhD’s, like Chris. However, excommunication seems like an astonishingly authoritarian move and inappropriate to a field such as political science. The same goes for economics. That’s why I tend to refer to economics and political science as disciplines, or fields, rather than professions, like law, medicine and accounting where you are afforded state-supported credentials that bar others from entry. Removing a person from an association for an ethical breech—plagiarism comes to mind—is one thing; preventing them from working is another.

Alexandra Samuel seems to be proposing exactly that. It appears that receiving her degree has gone to her head.

Eugene Volokh and Jim Lindgren have more.

Update (from CNL): Dr. Samuel has a response to the conspirators.

Hydrogen again

Steven Taylor has a link to a story from Iceland about the use of hydrogen fuel cells, similar to what I mentioned earlier. If my earlier post is correct, though it is very optimistic, the US could be well ahead of other countries in adopting hydrogen, at least in cars.

Of course, “Reuters” couldn’t avoid a gratuitous swipe at President Bush, though they did mention the emmission of water and the problems it might cause in Iceland:

Washington says new technologies like hydrogen are a better long-term way to cut pollution and combat global warming than the U.N.‘s 128-nation Kyoto protocol.

Bush dismayed even U.S. allies by pulling out of Kyoto in 2001. Kyoto seeks to rein in emissions of heat-trapping gases, mainly released by burning oil and gas in factories, cars and power plants.


Among other problems, some scientists say the atmosphere might simply become too cloudy in a hydrogen economy, emitting vast amounts of water vapor, perhaps reflecting sunlight back to space or trapping it and warming the globe.