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2 March 2000

Sorry for the downtime; it's not going to any better for the next couple of weeks, either.

On March 17-19 I'll be in the Wash U. production of Benjamin Britten's opera Albert Herring (as Superintendent Budd) and things are going to get pretty crazy for me until then.

This is also why I coudn't really consider going to SXSW this time around. Maybe next year...

For today, I just want to catch up on a few important links. If you read other logs, you've seen some of them already, but bear with me as part of this page's mission is for me to keep track of things for me so I don't have to hunt elsewhere...

Donald Kaul provides some follow-up analysis on the Iowa caucuses given what's happened since (but before the Virginia primary):
  • Toxic effect of Iowa caucuses [Des Moines Register]
    Bill Bradley sacrificed any chance he may have had to put a dent into Al Gore"s aura of invincibility by wasting weeks in Iowa, where he had no chance, instead of concentrating on New Hampshire, where he had a real shot. And the reason that Bradley didn't have a chance in Iowa is that caucuses are largely intra-party affairs structured to favor candidates supported by the political establishment of the state or by one-issue zealots.

    ...McCain's loss in Iowa was instantly forgotten and his victory in New Hampshire the following week tied a rocket to his campaign...

Michael Kinsley of Slate is one of the very few who's bothered to dig very far into George W. Bush's claim that John McCain's tax plan would discourage charitable giving. In the most basic, simplistic, brain-dead sense, Bush is correct, but the loophole should not have been there in the first place and should be closed:

  • Simple Gifts - McCain wants to close this loophole, Bush wants to keep it, Clinton wants to enlarge it. Guess who's right? [Slate]
    You shouldn't have to pay income taxes on money you give away. That is the simple idea behind the deduction for donations to charity. ...[but] there's no good reason to let people deduct money they never have to declare as income. Yet that's the rule for "appreciated property."

    Is there any reason the government should care whether you give a charity $10,000 of stock or $10,000 cash -- care enough to reduce your tax bill by two or three thousand dollars for choosing to give the stock? None that I have ever heard.

    Essentially, this loophole allows people to deduct some of their charity twice. That does, I suppose, encourage donations to charity. But how much encouragement does a person need?

BTW, I know I've mentioned it before, but Rafe Colburn's covers important web and tech stories very well. Also, he updates much more often than me. I recommend frequent visits.

(Navel-gazing note: sites like Rafe's are largely why I don't try very hard any more to be an up-to-date summarizer of tech news; too many other sites do a much better job than I could ever hope to. See also Hack the Planet')

metafilter's another site I recommend checking out. It's a collabarative weblog, complete with the ability to respond to the posts right there on the site. If I weren't already posting here, I'd probably be posting there.

Ah, remember the bad old days, when everyone and their pet reporters were declaring Apple dead? David Pogue has dredged up and brought back into the light some of the know-it-all fortune-telling that was going on not so long ago. Gentlemen: your hats.

  • The Desktop Critic: Reality Check 2000 [MacWorld]
    Time: February 5, 1996: "One day Apple was a major technology company with assets to make any self respecting techno-conglomerate salivate. The next day Apple was a chaotic mess without a strategic vision and certainly no future."

    The company with "no future" has since tripled its market share and is raking in $12 billion a year. (Bonus fact: The author, a venture capitalist, assesses companies' prospects for a living. Scary.)

    Wired: June 1997 (from the article "101 Ways to Save Apple"): "1. Admit it. You're out of the hardware game."

    Good thing editors don't run companies–what actually saved Apple was hardware, hardware, and hardware.

I only wish he'd named more names. Surely more of those articles had bylines?

Here's an interesting economics thought problem. I'd be very interested in seeing some real-life trials:

  • How to end traffic congestion by Daniel Kohn [FoRK Archive, seen on Hack the Planet']
    ...yes, cell-phones and NPR make our car time more productive, but this is clearly not our optimal activity, as evidenced by the fact that we don't keep sitting in our cars on arriving home.

    Take a stretch of road that already has an E-Z Pass system installed.... Announce that pricing will be dynamically adjusted to keep the road basically free from congestion. That is, prices could go up from the standard quarter to $10 or $20 or more when the road gets crowded. You would want to do some sort of averaging over the previous 30 minutes to avoid having outrageous instantaneous price spikes.

    The key, though, is that people who use the road off of rush hour would receive a negative toll price: they would get paid for not having driven during rush hour.

    ...note that this scheme is not just a redistribution of wealth from rich people in a hurry to those who can't afford the peak toll rates. Congestion is an externality that makes all of us poorer.

The people at ArsTechnica seem to me to be both unusually clueful and good at explaining things. I think they should get some sort of prize. Here's their in-depth take on the latest developer release of Mac OS X:

The more I hear about the Mac OS X Dock the more I worry. LiteSwitch combined with the old, free Tilery 3.1 both make me a very happy Mac user who can track and switch between open applications easily. It sounds like I won't be able to use either and won't get a replacement that's anywhere near as easy and customizable. Rrrrr.

Don't know when I'll be back...

"Nothing is done entirely for nothing," said the fox of dreams. "Nothing is wasted. You are older, and you have made decisions, and you are not the fox you were yesterday. Take what you have learned, and move on."
-- Sandman: the Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amano

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