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China's government thinks it can control the weather at the Olympics. And they've handed over anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers to tens of thousands of people to help with the effort. Doesn't it seem a little odd to be handing out weapons in a country where the government already has a tenuous grip on power?
Minneapolis is having a bout of I-235 envy. The state of the nation's infrastructure is pretty scary, in some places: The power grid, for instance, is reported to be in pretty awful shape.
Interstate 80 really is the closest thing we have to a national Main Street, and it's a little frightening to consider how dependent we are upon it. Imagine what damage could be done to the American economy if terrorists found a way to shut down I-80, for instance, on the south side of Chicago. It's a major choke point. As we scan the horizon for terrorist threats, we certainly ought to keep I-80's susceptibility in mind.
Microsoft says it's giving up on its campaign to buy Yahoo. What Microsoft really needs to figure out is how to make money with its expertise and capital without chasing Google. Eventually, Microsoft needs to think of itself as something other than a computer company, because creative destruction will catch up with Microsoft, just like it caught up with Sears, AT&T, and Montgomery Ward.
This brings up an important issue for Iowa: We're pouring lots of time, energy, and resources into the development of biofuels. But eventually, the bonanza will run its course -- just like the oil boom ran out for Oklahoma. So the question for us is: Are we going to be smart enough to reinvest the benefits of the biofuels bonanza into something that will last beyond the end of our boom? We might face a double-whammy when the day of reckoning arrives, since we're being forced to spend a lot on infrastructure and environmental issues now in order to sustain the biofuels boom, but even after the profits start to erode, we'll still have to pay for their maintenance and upkeep. And it's not like this is a boom that will last for decades: Research by the University of Nebraska suggests that many ethanol plants will be utterly at the mercy of government mandates. If the mandates go away, so will the profits. We're already using about a third of our corn for ethanol.
The huge death toll in Burma is both tragic and largely unnecessary. Natural disasters don't have to be deadly; they're almost always deadly in direct proportion to the severity of the poverty in a place. Poverty kills.
The lowly text message is being turned into a great tool for human development in India, where text messages are being used to distribute farm market data, making it possible for poor farmers to find better prices and break out of poverty.
Keywords in this show: agriculture • biofuels • boom and bust • Burma • Chicago • China • corn • creative destruction • disasters • electrical grid • ethanol • Google • India • infrastructure • Interstate 80 • I-235 • mergers • Microsoft • oil • poverty • terrorism • text messages • weather modification • Yahoo