Technology


No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a Corolla. So there are not enough idiots who will buy it.

— Audi of America president Johan de Nysschen speculating on the success potential of GM’s Volt hybrid-electric car, as quoted in Car & Driver (Jan. 2010).

I don’t know what de Nysschen is on about. It’s only a 19 year return on investment. I could probably break even by the time the crown prince finishes college.

[Most Western environmentalists] have never experienced the physical sensation of hunger.  They do their lobbying from comfortable office suites in Washington or Brussels.  If they lived just one month amid the misery of the developing world, as I have for 50 years, they’d be crying out for tractors and fertilizer and irrigation canals and be outraged that fashionable elitists in wealthy nations were trying to deny them these things.

Norman Borlaug (1914 – 2009)

Norman Borlaug, a true unsung hero, passed away this week.  In 1999, the Atlantic Monthly estimated that Borlaug’s efforts combined with those of the many developing-world agriculture-extension agents he trained and the crop-research facilities he founded in poor nations saved the lives of one billion human beings.

See Gregg Easterbrook’s eulogy in the WSJ and Reason’s excellent interview from 2000.

George Newman has a good review of the often inconsistent arguments being put forward in favor of health care “reform.”

I was glad to see him address the “health care represents a rising proportion of our income” issue. 

That’s not only true but perfectly natural.  Quality health care is a discretionary, income-elastic expense — i.e. the richer a society, the larger proportion of income that is spent on it.  (Poor societies have to spend income gains on food and other necessities.)  Consider the alternatives.  Would we feel better about ourselves if we skimped on our family’s health care and spend the money on liquor, gambling, night clubs or a third television set?

When discussing this issue, I regularly ask people if they would rather have today’s healthcare at today’s prices or 1950’s healthcare at 1950’s prices.  No one has ever chosen the 1950s option.  (People would prefer to have today’s healthcare at 1950’s prices, and I too wish that Santa Claus was real.)

Newman, Parsing the Health Reform Arguments

(HT Andrew B.)

Brilliant stuff from Louis CK.  (Click through and watch it.  It’s worth 5 minutes of your time.)

I’m a Mac user, and I love Apple’s new “I’m a Mac . . .” advertising campaign.  I especially like the home movie ad.  Bill Gates made me smile when he said about the ads, “I don’t even get it. What are they trying to say?”

That, after all, is the whole point, is it not?

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