Playing Zeus
Talk about authoritarian:
On orders from President Vladimir Putin, 10 planes equipped with chemical charges will try to keep Russia's second city dry as tourists and world leaders attend the jubilee celebration.

"Our aim is to empty all clouds of rain before they hit the city borders," Vladimir Stepanenko of St. Petersburg's Geophysics Observatory told The Times of London. Since the Soviet era, Russians have sought to control the weather, developing techniques to halt or induce rain as well as stop hail from damaging crops.

The friend who put me onto this story found it quite amusing, and at first blush it does seem a little over the top. But from a public goods standpoint, this is a perfectly reasonable policy decision to be making. I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often, actually.


If this isn't apparent already, posting will be quite light for the next week or two, since my finals are coming up and I'm in real hot water this quarter (spending a week out of town for the opera didn't help, nor did all this blogging). At the moment I'm trying to wheedle some edits out of some of my classmates for a group project due in an hour. And after that, it's on to another group project in which I'll probably be the target of similar wheedling. How do you like that?

I did want to draw attention to the most important news of the hour... it turns out indoor swimming pools increase one's risk of developing asthma. This is a seriously disturbing revelation for poor asthmatic me, half my childhood spent at the YMCA's indoor pool with that vicious (but loving) instructor Jane. I wonder what's happened to her... maybe she has asthma too?


A unionless utopia
PG has the skinny on the union problems over at Whole Foods.

This is what I get for defending the Bush administration:

The American occupation authority in Iraq, apparently preserving the prewar distinction between Kurdish-controlled northern areas and the rest of the country, will allow Kurdish fighters to keep their assault rifles and heavy weapons, but require Shiite Muslim and other militias to surrender theirs, according to a draft directive.
The problem with drawing this distinction is that a lot of these Kurdish fighters have been using their heavy equipment to bully their way into new home ownership. Once again we see that loyalty is more important to our president than consistency.

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