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Monday, May 16, 2005

SCOTUS vs. Protectionism 

Wine lovers, free traders, and Federal Express rejoice: the Supreme Court has finally done away with one of the last vestiges of interstate protectionism, bans on direct-to-consumer wine shipments. I've been meaning to blog about this for some time, and somehow never manage to get anything posted. So if you're interested, read Stone Court and the Volokh Conspiracy's superior coverage.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Panda Bear or Trojan Horse? 

The curious series of symbolic, detente-ish gestures between the government of the People's Republic of China and the opposition Nationalist Party (yes, that Nationalist Party) of Taiwan bears watching. The process has culminated in the recent offer of a gift of Pandas from the Mainland to the breakaway province. The result? As the BBC reports, common cause between pro-Taiwanese sovereignty hardliners and animal rights groups:
A Chinese offer to give Taiwan two giant pandas has caused as much controversy as excitement on the island. The offer was made as opposition leader Lien Chan of Taiwan's Nationalist party ended a historic visit to China.

But politicians from Taiwan's ruling party, as well as pro-independence groups, have criticised the gesture. They placed newspaper adverts calling the gift a Trojan Horse to trick people and undermine Taiwan's sovereignty. Others have pointed out the high cost of caring for the pandas, saying the money would be better spent on protecting endangered species of birds that migrate to Taiwan every year.

Animal welfare groups have called on the government to reject the political gift. They said Beijing's offer to send the pandas to Taiwan was an act of animal abuse on an endangered species. There are only about 1,000 pandas living in the wild, all of which are in China. While the controversy rages, rival zoos in Taiwan are competing with each other to house the cuddly pandas, which would undeniably attract huge crowds of visitors.

The government says it will decide whether or not to accept the offer based on international law and a professional, not political, assessment as to whether Taiwan would be able to properly care for the animals.

The Devil Went Down to... Michigan? 

Sorry, wrong number: apparently, the number of the beast is actually 616.

New biblical scholarship renders an Iron Maiden song (and associated lunchboxes) meaningless and paints the residents of Grand Rapids, Michigan in an unflattering light. Is this a Canadian plot to discredit the good people of the Wolverine State? Or should we be casting a careful eye on the history of President Gerald Ford, who hails from the epicenter of the debatably-accursed area code? And was Damien's scalp birthmark in "The Omen" a typo?

Stay tuned to the Bonassus, where updates are unlikely, but less unlikely than at other sites!

Monday, May 02, 2005

When H.G. Wells Met Thomas Schelling 

Why haven't you ever met a time traveler? There are a number of possible explanations, but one you may not have considered before is that you've just never been in the right place at the right time. Oh, sure, you may have been at a historical event which one would expect to draw time travelers by the time-machine-version-of-a-tour-busful, but you were presumably too transfixed by the event in question to notice the visitors' strange and delightful fashions and hairstyles.

Thankfully, though, the good folks (or a good folk) at MIT have developed a solution for this problem: a widely-publicized Time Travelers' Convention to be held on May 7. Drawing (implicitly, and probably unconsciously) on the work of Thomas Schelling, the organizers of the conference are trying to create a "focal point" for time travelers and their would-be groupies by heavily publicizing the location (in four dimensions) of the conference.

Bloggers, newshounds, and printing press owners, you know what to do: get publicizin'! I'm going to be too busy to make it to the conference myself, but if it turns out to have been a good time, I'll just travel back in time at some later date.

[Via Slashdot]

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