The Democrats on NAFTA
David Frum is the author of five books, including two New York Times bestsellers: THE RIGHT MAN: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush (2003), and co-author with Richard Perle of AN END TO EVIL: What's Next in the War on Terror (2004).
Frum is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and writes a daily column for National Review Online. He contributes frequently to the editorial pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as the Great Britain's Daily Telegraph and Canada's National Post. He appears regularly on CNN, Fox News, and the BBC. In 2001-2002, David Frum served as a speechwriter and special assistant to President George W. Bush.
Question: Is renegotiating NAFTA just campaign talk?
David Frum: In The Importance of Being Earnest, one of Oscar Wilde's characters says to another, "I hope you are not merely pretending to be wicked while being secretly good. That would be hypocrisy."
And some of the Democrats got themselves into that problem in this campaign season [circa early to mid 2008] where they were telling large audiences of 10,000 people, "We hate trade, we hate NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], we need to destroy it"; while sending out their friends to quietly reassure investors, "I don't mean a word of it."
So we will find out whether their public speech or whether their private speech is a better guide to their action.
When Hillary Clinton talks about tearing up NAFTA, you have to listen with Hillary very carefully to what she's saying and to listen for the exact little words. When she said, "I don't want to add side agreements to NAFTA, but I want to reopen the main body," that sounded like a formula for destroying NAFTA.
In reality, the United States has the clout to impose side agreements on Canada and Mexico, but if you open up the main body of an agreement and start renegotiating it, that's going to take you forever; and book the suite at the Four Seasons at Cancun, you will be there for the next decade. So that was actually a way of avoiding action, not of calling for action.
But we have this pressure, which is we've lived through in the United States a decade of extraordinary increase in national wealth; relatively little of which, an increment of that national wealth, has reached Mr. and Mrs. America, ordinary people, the voters. And that is creating tremendous strains on the political system, that people feel the country's gotten richer and they don't understand why and they're looking for answers. So that does create an audience who offers destructive and irresponsible answers.
One of the things I deeply believe the way politics works is that it's the job of the voters to inform the people who would like to be their leaders what their problems are. And it is then the job of the people who would like to be the leaders to compete, to come up with responsible solutions to those problems.
And I have enough confidence in the way the system works to believe that the better ideas tend over time to win out, and the bad ideas to lose out. But there's always a temptation for people to try to see whether they can win an easy or an immediate victory by offering something that sounds plausible but won't work. So you always have the Ross Perot's and the Lou Dobbs', the snake oil salesmen, who offer a medicine, whether it's trade protection, whether it's some kind of direct government involvement in this or that phase of economic activity, that will do more harm than it will do good.
Recorded on: May 5 2008
Renegotiating NAFTA is just campaign talk.
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Through computationally intensive computer simulations, researchers have discovered that "nuclear pasta," found in the crusts of neutron stars, is the strongest material in the universe.
- The strongest material in the universe may be the whimsically named "nuclear pasta."
- You can find this substance in the crust of neutron stars.
- This amazing material is super-dense, and is 10 billion times harder to break than steel.
Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" for his strength and indestructibility. But the discovery of a new material that's 10 billion times harder to break than steel begs the question—is it time for a new superhero known as "Nuclear Pasta"? That's the name of the substance that a team of researchers thinks is the strongest known material in the universe.
Unlike humans, when stars reach a certain age, they do not just wither and die, but they explode, collapsing into a mass of neurons. The resulting space entity, known as a neutron star, is incredibly dense. So much so that previous research showed that the surface of a such a star would feature amazingly strong material. The new research, which involved the largest-ever computer simulations of a neutron star's crust, proposes that "nuclear pasta," the material just under the surface, is actually stronger.
The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.
Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv
Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.
The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.
While they were able to discover just how strong nuclear pasta seems to be, no one is holding their breath that we'll be sending out missions to mine this substance any time soon. Instead, the discovery has other significant applications.
One of the study's co-authors, Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, said the neutron stars would be "a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth." Understanding what's inside them would be valuable for astronomers because now only the outer layer of such starts can be observed.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models," Caplan added. "With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?"
Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.
The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.
Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.
Scientists think constructing a miles-long wall along an ice shelf in Antarctica could help protect the world's largest glacier from melting.
- Rising ocean levels are a serious threat to coastal regions around the globe.
- Scientists have proposed large-scale geoengineering projects that would prevent ice shelves from melting.
- The most successful solution proposed would be a miles-long, incredibly tall underwater wall at the edge of the ice shelves.
The world's oceans will rise significantly over the next century if the massive ice shelves connected to Antarctica begin to fail as a result of global warming.
To prevent or hold off such a catastrophe, a team of scientists recently proposed a radical plan: build underwater walls that would either support the ice or protect it from warm waters.
In a paper published in The Cryosphere, Michael Wolovick and John Moore from Princeton and the Beijing Normal University, respectively, outlined several "targeted geoengineering" solutions that could help prevent the melting of western Antarctica's Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier, whose melting waters are projected to be the largest source of sea-level rise in the foreseeable future.
An "unthinkable" engineering project
"If [glacial geoengineering] works there then we would expect it to work on less challenging glaciers as well," the authors wrote in the study.
One approach involves using sand or gravel to build artificial mounds on the seafloor that would help support the glacier and hopefully allow it to regrow. In another strategy, an underwater wall would be built to prevent warm waters from eating away at the glacier's base.
The most effective design, according to the team's computer simulations, would be a miles-long and very tall wall, or "artificial sill," that serves as a "continuous barrier" across the length of the glacier, providing it both physical support and protection from warm waters. Although the study authors suggested this option is currently beyond any engineering feat humans have attempted, it was shown to be the most effective solution in preventing the glacier from collapsing.
Source: Wolovick et al.
An example of the proposed geoengineering project. By blocking off the warm water that would otherwise eat away at the glacier's base, further sea level rise might be preventable.
But other, more feasible options could also be effective. For example, building a smaller wall that blocks about 50% of warm water from reaching the glacier would have about a 70% chance of preventing a runaway collapse, while constructing a series of isolated, 1,000-foot-tall columns on the seafloor as supports had about a 30% chance of success.
Still, the authors note that the frigid waters of the Antarctica present unprecedently challenging conditions for such an ambitious geoengineering project. They were also sure to caution that their encouraging results shouldn't be seen as reasons to neglect other measures that would cut global emissions or otherwise combat climate change.
"There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions' reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation," they wrote.
"The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume."
A 2015 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine illustrates the potentially devastating effects of ice-shelf melting in western Antarctica.
"As the oceans and atmosphere warm, melting of ice shelves in key areas around the edges of the Antarctic ice sheet could trigger a runaway collapse process known as Marine Ice Sheet Instability. If this were to occur, the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could potentially contribute 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) of global sea level rise within just a few centuries."
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