Reason Express

Vol. 8 No. 48


In this issue:

1. Europe Gets a Head-Pat
2. Google Uber Alles
3. Global Nuclear Standoff Update
4. Quick Hits
5. New at Reason Online – How Much Torture Is OK?
6. News and Events

1. Europe Gets a Head-Pat

Secretary of State Condi Rice gave European critics of the Bush administration's rendition policy a collective "it's for your own good" head-pat this week. Rice asserted U.S. anti-terror operations saved lives, including European ones. This is not likely to calm European upset over secret U.S. snatch-and-grab operations, but does play to the anti-Europe wing of the GOP at home, which is to say, to most of the party.

Rice is quite clearly advancing an ends-justify-the-means argument, which is not at all the question European officials had asked the State Department. The unanswered question involved the extent to which the U.S. had used secret detention centers in Eastern Europe, if at all, and what kinds of things went on at those locations. Any zap-zap or glow stick? That kinda thing.

Rice answered without confirming or denying specifics, asserted than no international laws were violated in any event, and insisted that whatever the U.S. did do made the world safer. The likelihood of this answer satisfying leaders in several European capitals is extremely small, but perhaps a very public spat with the Euros is exactly what the Bush administration craves right now.

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2. Google Uber Alles

Google is the mega-corporation currently being charged with having "endless ambitions" to dominate all lines of business, especially advertising in all it forms. Yeah, join Microsoft and AOL, Googs. Funny thing is, Madison Avenue is right to fear for its future, but not because of anything Google, per se, has done.

Traditional advertising remains wedded to the mass media model of several decades ago, where the theory was that you reached x-number of eyeballs by piggybacking on a popular bit of culture. By reaching those eyeballs you were "marketing" a product or service to them. All you did has sit back and wait for the wallets attached to those eyeballs to open up.

But with interactive advertising the goal is not just to reach those eyeballs; you need your audience to react, and keep reacting, as you measure that reaction. Advertisers have deduced that the old static reach-the-eyeballs model simply does not predict actual sales very well. Google is just very well positioned to deliver one-stop shopping for advertisers who want more visibility into just how effective their ads really are. Google may be a good or bad job of this, and will face market reaction accordingly, but what once was a specialized marketing analysis service is becoming a commodity regardless.

3. Global Nuclear Standoff Update

Iran plans a second nuclear power plant and has purchased new anti-aircraft missiles from Russia. This concludes the hair-raising portion of the news.

The leadership in Tehran is certainly showing every sign that it intends to double-down on its nuclear confrontation with the West, up to and including U.N.-imposed sanctions. There are simply few other options left on the diplomacy front, and it had been assumed that Iran would do everything possible to avoid a Security Council showdown.

Now the Iranian regime may have concluded that sanctions might be blocked, or very much weakened, by Russia or China. It is a dangerous gambit-not least for the Iranian public, which would feel the brunt of the sanctions. But if you are wondering why the Japanese are bidding the price of gold over $500 an ounce, this little matter is it.

4. Quick Hits

Quote of the Week

"Give me time, give me room. I am defending not myself, but you all" -Saddam Hussein to the judge presiding over his trial in Iraq.

Autism Explained?

Researchers using an MRI machine think they have detected significant differences in the way brains of autistic children react to stimuli, specifically blood flows to certain parts of the brain when different images of human faces are presented.

Read and Drink Coffee

Next up in the list of lists, America's Most Literate Cities. As measured by newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, libraries etc. Seattle tops the list.

Math Problems at Home

A 16-year-old California boy is the latest home-schooled wonder-kid. Michael Viscardi, a senior from San Diego won the top individual prize in the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science, and Technology.

5. New at Reason Online

How Much Torture Is OK?
Tickin' time bombs and slippery slopes. Cathy Young

The Pullout Has Begun
Every way but militarily, withdrawal from Iraq is underway. Jonathan Rauch

Hooded Progressivism
The secret reformist history of the Ku Klux Klan. Jesse Walker

And much more!

6. News and Events

Get liberated with Ronald Bailey's brave new book for a brave new world!

In his new book, Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution, Reason's Ronald Bailey examines the scientific and ethical controversies surrounding everything from stem cell research to therapeutic cloning to longer life spans to genetically modified food.

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