mm238: Bloomberg’s candidacy — closer to real?

December 31, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has been following the tease of a possible third-party candidacy for president by Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City for almost its entire existence:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of NYC for U.S. President 2008

mm024: Bloomberg?
mm038.1: Jews Sorta Like Bloomberg Even Though…
mm051: Bloomberg.com: Bloomberg’s Money, Visibility…
mm054: Chicago Tribune news: An Idea for Bloomberg
mm058: What Kind of President would Michael Bloomberg?
mm064: How to take down plutocrat Michael Bloomberg…
mm066: Michael Bloomberg’s Knightly Ambitions
mm069: The Votes Are In for New York’s Mayor Mike
mm086: Bloomberg Takes School Plan… to Midwest
mm110: Grading Mayoral Control
mm117: The cure for the Electoral College is worse…
mm208: Overdue a Bloomberg post
mm238: Bloomberg’s candidacy — closer to real?

Last summer the Bloomberg stories were thick on the ground, but had faded to the background as the skirmishing among the mainstream candidates heated up in Iowa and New Hampshire (and how do you feel about the reality of those tiny states with their tiny populations of single-issue largely rural [or in N.H.’s case, refugees from urban life] overwhelmingly homogenous Caucasians usurping your opportunity to influence the election process?), and Bloomberg himself publicly resisted overt movement.

Now, finally, on the cusp of 2008 itself, the third-party initiative opened itself for public view, and as far as NYTimes is concerned (and in this particular case, all politics are local, indeed), it’s all about Mayor Bloomberg.

nytimes

Bloomberg Moves Closer to Running for President

By SAM ROBERTS | Published: December 31, 2007

Buoyed by the still unsettled field, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is growing increasingly enchanted with the idea of an independent presidential bid, and his aides are aggressively laying the groundwork for him to run.

On Sunday, the mayor will join Democratic and Republican elder statesmen at the University of Oklahoma in what the conveners are billing as an effort to pressure the major party candidates to renounce partisan gridlock.

Former Senator David L. Boren of Oklahoma, who organized the session with former Senator Sam Nunn, a Democrat of Georgia, suggested in an interview that if the prospective major party nominees failed within two months to formally embrace bipartisanship and address the fundamental challenges facing the nation, “I would be among those who would urge Mr. Bloomberg to very seriously consider running for president as an independent.”

Finally, Bloomberg has been showing some signs of interest…

And Mr. Bloomberg himself has become more candid in conversations with friends and associates about his interest in running, according to participants in those talks. Despite public denials, the mayor has privately suggested scenarios in which he might be a viable candidate: for instance, if the opposing major party candidates are poles apart, like Mike Huckabee, a Republican, versus Barack Obama or John Edwards as the Democratic nominee.

This is getting serious, indeed: tickets are being explored.

Mr. Boren declined to say which candidate would be strongest, but suggested “some kind of combination of those three: Bloomberg-Hagel, Bloomberg-Nunn.” He said Mr. Bloomberg would “not have to spend a lot of time raising money and he would not have to make deals with special interest groups to raise money.”

“Normally I don’t think an independent candidacy would have a chance” said Mr. Boren, who is the University of Oklahoma’s president. “I don’t think these are normal times.”

Certainly not normal times, indeed.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Bloomberg Moves Closer to Running for President – New York Times

It increasingly sounds like Michael Bloomberg could be talked into a run. And, yr (justifiably) humble svt believes that he’s got the chops to run a strong campaign (are we not all crying out for a change for the better?).

Most importantly, I believe that he would be ready to get immediately to work to fix the dysfunction he would inherit.

Bloomberg’s record of accomplishment as mayor of our biggest, toughest to govern metropolis is outstanding, and, we hasten to add, unlike a former mayor of NYC with troubling friends and private life, is not solely built on the manufactured post-perceptions of one horrible day.

Speaking of the times, we musn’t lose sight of the dire state of our vaunted democratic nation.

Thus, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this video, not our usual style here at Left-Handed Complement.

Business as usual doesn’t cut it any longer.

Run, Michael Bloomberg, run!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm237: Has global warming stopped?

December 30, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

From the UK’s New Statesman, this eye-opening observation.

We’ve heard the hype, but what are the statistics of global warming? Could it be that despite all of the apocalyptic alarm, the planet has actually not warmed significantly over the past several years?

Yes.

newstatesman

Has global warming stopped?

David Whitehouse | Published 19 December 2007

‘The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 and every year since 2001’

Global warming stopped? Surely not. What heresy is this? Haven’t we been told that the science of global warming is settled beyond doubt and that all that’s left to the so-called sceptics is the odd errant glacier that refuses to melt?

Aren’t we told that if we don’t act now rising temperatures will render most of the surface of the Earth uninhabitable within our lifetimes? But as we digest these apocalyptic comments, read the recent IPCC’s Synthesis report that says climate change could become irreversible. Witness the drama at Bali as news emerges that something is not quite right in the global warming camp.

With only few days remaining in 2007, the indications are the global temperature for this year is the same as that for 2006 – there has been no warming over the 12 months.

But is this just a blip in the ever upward trend you may ask? No.

Sounds like a very inconvenient truth…

For the past decade the world has not warmed. Global warming has stopped. It’s not a viewpoint or a sceptic’s inaccuracy. It’s an observational fact. Clearly the world of the past 30 years is warmer than the previous decades and there is abundant evidence (in the northern hemisphere at least) that the world is responding to those elevated temperatures. But the evidence shows that global warming as such has ceased.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

New Statesman – Has global warming stopped?

Turns out that the relationship between increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (not in doubt it has increased) and global warming is only a theory, and an unproven one at that, as carbon in the atmosphere has continued to increase while actual warming has plateaued.

The science is fascinating, the ramifications profound, but we are fools if we think we have a sufficient understanding of such a complicated system as the Earth’s atmosphere’s interaction with sunlight to decide. We know far less than many think we do or would like you to think we do. We must explain why global warming has stopped.

Never have been particularly fond of the carbon market. Seems much more like a particularly cynical form of derivative financial tool rather than a truly effective means of controlling carbon based pollution.

And, it provides a green cloak to polluters, provides a money making opportunity to the cap and trade market, and yet has not diminished the increase of carbon in the atmosphere; indeed, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased during the entire lifetime of that market.

And yet, the planet has not become warmer in that timeframe. Go figure…

I mean it, scientists and politicians: go figure out what’s really going on up there!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm236: If Bt corn is controversial, genetically modified wine is sure to be cataclysmic

December 29, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” — Benjamin Franklin

Europe’s concerns with genetically modified corn hit the news, and this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©, earlier this week.

The best magazine on the planet, The Economist weighs in with a GM story that, in the same way a short piece in the same year-end issue highlighted a troubled future for beer, explores science’s impingement on that nectar of the gods, wine.

A research team in Italy has just published the complete genetic sequence for the pinot noir grape.

So what, one might ask…

Dr Velasco’s efforts have discovered a treasure trove of information for technologically oriented winemakers. His group has found hundreds of genes that encode enzymes which produce flavourings and aromatic compounds. That will help both those who want to make flavours more consistent and those who want to add novelty.

Further, those seeking genetic solutions for bacterial and viral infections that have limited the ability to grow wine grapes in certain locations, now have the genetic ammunition required to design precise solutions.

economist[3]

Grape genetics | Vine times

Dec 19th 2007 | From The Economist print edition

The pinot noir genome is sequenced. GM wine, anyone?

THE battle between those who think character comes from nature and those who think nurture is the key is not confined to students of humanity. It lies at the heart of winemaking, too. For European growers, the variety of grape is important, of course. No one would mistake cabernet sauvignon for sangiovese or riesling for chardonnay. But grape varieties are normally propagated as cuttings; in other words, clones. What creates a wine’s character, they argue, is the terroir—that mysterious combination of soil and microclimate that gives appellations contrôlées their cachet. In other words, the essence of a wine lies in its nurture.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Grape genetics | Vine times | Economist.com

In an opinion piece in the same issue, the editors of Economist are quite amusing while exploring the implications of highly precise genetic manipulation on wine.

Genetically modified wine

Unleash the war on terroir

Dec 19th 2007 | From The Economist print edition

An oenological wish-list for the drinking season

… Why should sauvignon blanc be stuck with boring old gooseberry and cabernet sauvignon with cassis? Genomics could beget some novel wine flavours and combinations to ensure the wine really does go with the food: pinot noir with cranberries, pork, and sage and onion stuffing, perhaps….

A gene for producing acetylsalicylic acid, better known as aspirin, would help to prevent heart attacks and blood clots. You could get your doctor to supply your daily half-bottle by prescription. The aspirin’s analgesic effect would head off hangovers before they even started. Caffeine could be added to keep drinkers awake during boring dinner parties. And it may even be possible to insert a gene to produce sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in Viagra. For many men that would help to prevent the ultimate wine-induced humiliation.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Genetically modified wine | Unleash the war on terroir | Economist.com

War on terroir.” WIWICWLT! These guys at the Big E” have a sense of humor that we always appreciate.

Wine as nutraceutical. What a concept! This season of the year, a sparkling beverage fortified with an analgesic to counteract Champagne’s notorious hangovers would fly off the shelves of one’s local beverage emporium.

And now, within reach. Don’t you just love science?

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm235: 6,000! Thanks!

December 28, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

5000-alt

1000

20 days ago, we were inordinately pleased and proud that we’d achieved a milestone: during the previous day, WordPress.com had recorded the 5,000th hit (i.e., distinct visit) to this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

Our conceit was to share an image symbolic of the number. What is there to do but repeat the observance for hit No. 6,000.

Google Images was unable to locate any currency with a 6,000 bill, so we were forced to be incremental.

Of course, as we noted then, and note again now, some more accomplished blogs will get 5,000 hits in a day, or an hour, or a minute, and for some I’m certain that 6,000 is a blip on a busy news day. But we don’t take the number 6,000 for granted whatsoever.

Our sincere appreciation goes out to those discerning denizens of the ‘Sphere who stop here on any kind of regular basis, as well as those who subscribe to Left-Handed Complement via RSS (if one can believe Google Reader, that number is over 300, but I doubt that I’m interpreting the results correctly).

We call your attention to a recently added feature over in our sidebar. Courtesy of Feedblitz.com, one may now have L-HC delivered via email. As yr (justifiably) humble svt endeavors mightily to post daily, this would mean that you’d be adding 6.3 emails per week to your inbox (again, according to Google Reader, and this number I’m endorsing!). If that convenience interests you, and the bacn doesn’t frighten you, check out the sidebar and click accordingly.

However you choose to take us in, we are flattered by the attention. Such encouragement will only result in more of the skewed commentary you’ve tolerated for the past eight months. As we said at the last milestone…

It’s been a kick, and I plan to keep on kicking. I am grateful for your discernment (or patience).

The goal is to keep telling stories, keep providing a left-handed context to the weird universe out there, and, like my doctors and my lawyers, keep practicing until I get it right.

You’ve been warned. 😉

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm234: Poker — International Pastime

December 27, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Among the long-form year-end articles in this week’s edition of the best magazine on the planet, The Economist was a truly unexpected one.

Not the one by the intrepid reporter (an old-school publication, authors of Economist stories are anonymous) who spent a week in a squalid slum in Mumbai squalid is far too tame a description.

Not the short, but compelling in its implications, observation of the looming shortages and price increases for that major food group for so many Americans, beer, as highlighted in our previous post.

No, the eye-opener was a lengthy view of tournament poker, pegged to the recent £1million win in the first World Series of Poker (WSOP) competition held outside of the U.S., in London, Economist’s home town, by a 19-year-old Norwegian woman, Annette Obrestad.

The contrast is with the ultimate symbol of poker’s old guard, the giant Doyle Texas Dolly” Brunson, still playing and occasionally winning tournaments in his 70s, and the man whose books have taught two generations of players.

Poker is a very big deal these days, and the emergence of youngsters such as Annette Obrestad is startling (19 years old! a woman!) only if you haven’t been following the trend, as you can see:

pokerdollyannette

economist

A big deal

Dec 19th 2007 | Poker is getting younger, cleverer, duller and much, much richer

DOYLE BRUNSON (above, left) is a poker legend. Twice winner of the game’s most prestigious annual tournament, the World Series of Poker (WSOP), held in Las Vegas, the cowboy-hat-clad southerner affectionately known as Texas Dolly also wrote what many consider to be the bible of poker theory, “Super System: A Course in Power Poker”. His reputation among card-shufflers borders on the superhuman. Indeed, after fighting off supposedly terminal cancer in the 1960s, he celebrated his return to the cardrooms with 53 straight wins. Adding to the mystique, both of his World Series titles were won with exactly the same cards: a full house of tens over twos.

Now in his mid-70s, Mr Brunson is still going strong. But not strong enough for Annette Obrestad (above, right), who beat the old master and 361 other entrants in September to win the first ever WSOP event held outside America. Miss Obrestad’s victory, which netted her £1m ($2m), shows how much poker has changed since the days when Texas Dolly, Amarillo Slim Preston and Jack “Treetops” Straus held sway. She is only 19 (making her the youngest ever winner of a World Series bracelet) and she is, of course, a woman. She hails from Norway, not Nevada. And though she had previously won over $800,000 in internet tournaments, the event at London’s Empire Casino was the first time she had encountered serious opposition in the flesh. The poker press refers to her by her online moniker, annette_15.

Two factors have produced the wave of amateur players and winners such as annette_15: on-line poker gaming sites such as Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars; and television, through its broadcasts of such programming as the WSOP on ESPN, and the made for television World Poker Tour on the Travel channel, which The Economist says have made poker

… the third most watched sport on cable television in the United States, after car racing and American football, trumping even NBA basketball. In America, it is regularly aired on ESPN and the Travel Channel, while Britain has its own poker channel. ESPN’s World Series shows regularly get more than 1m viewers, and numbers hold up well even during the busiest sports periods, such as during the major-league baseball play-offs and the NASCAR motorsports season.

So, now we can understand why the poker phenomenon has left the back alley and penetrated the main stream: it’s the money. And the kids, learning on-line, have followed the money.

Poker professionals are fond of describing Texas Hold ’Em, the tournament game of choice, as taking five minutes to learn to play, and a lifetime to master. Television, and especially the on-line sites, have compressed that equation.

The story is pursued into academia (which also has a talent for following the money) and spends time illuminating the debate: luck, or skill?

This of course leads to the hot discussion in the U.S. regarding on-line gambling sites, chased off-shore and still under attack by anti-gambling forces, who somehow have managed to grandfather in horse racing, fantasy sports and lotteries.

This last is right-wing hypocrisy at its typical best. Your pastime is a vice which we will endeavor to prohibit unto the last righteous breath in our body; mine is good, clean, re-election campaign contributing fun.

Altogether a fascinating story.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Poker | A big deal | Economist.com

MUDGE has played the game with family and friends for over 40 years, mainly poorly. I’ve read some books; have a primitive Texas Hold ’Em PC game where I waste some time; even for a while dared to venture on line, but always for play money, not real.

The one and only time I found myself in Las Vegas I was attending a computer conference on my employer’s dime, thank you very much.

It was more than seven years ago, before the game’s recent explosive glamorization, and while I had no difficulty avoiding Venetian’s slot machines, the dice and blackjack tables, but its and Bellagio’s poker rooms were a magnet I couldn’t resist.

Should have. Gambling with strangers, even at the $3/$6 table, is dangerous for this particular player, and figuring odds and especially the whole psychology thing (especially trying to read the craggy locals who I’m guessing make nice unreported supplements to social security off of fish like me) is apparently way over my head.

All told, it was about a $300 lesson, that included one winning session that somehow has remained clear while the other stuff has faded into obscurity in my memory.

So I’ve never been tempted to return to Vegas, even in this age of big money and cheap entries to tournaments for amateurs via the on-line qualifiers.

But, like so many of life’s experiences, I like to watch.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm233: Corn in the news — and not just in Iowa!

December 26, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

We’ve frequently commented (most recently here) on how often connections can be drawn from disparate news sources. It happened to us again today.

Read over breakfast this depressing story in the best magazine on the planet, The Economist:

economist

The beer crisis | Trouble brewing

Dec 19th 2007 | ST LOUIS | From The Economist print edition

A shortage of hops threatens Christmas

JUST as the festive season gets going, drinkers in America are finding their favourite beer suddenly more expensive or even—horrors!—not available at all. Hit by price increases and shortages, many breweries, particularly the small “craft brewers” and the even smaller microbreweries, are being forced to raise prices, make do with modified recipes or shut off the spigots altogether.

The humble hop, the plant that gives beer its distinctive flavour, is the main problem. Many farmers in the Pacific north-west, where America’s hop production is concentrated, have turned to more profitable lines—especially corn, which can be made into ethanol. The decrease in hop production, put at some 50% over the past decade, has sent prices through the roof. Brian Owens, the brewmaster of the O’Fallon Brewery near St Louis, Missouri, says that the variety he once bought for $3 a pound (0.45kg) now costs five times that. Many smaller breweries cannot find what they need at any price. Industry giants like Anheuser-Busch and Miller are better off, thanks to long-term contracts. But even Anheuser-Busch has been forced to raise prices for its six-packs.

A crisis of tragically epic proportions: beer unavailable, especially the increasingly popular craft or microbrews, or priced higher due to the newly high price of hops and barley.

Yr (justifiably) humble svt is somewhat cavalier about beer, as he doesn’t drink it very often (the carbs, don’t you know), but in tough times (and they seem to be inching toward tough in these parts) one takes solace where one can, and beer is the solace of choice for many. A shortage, or a significantly higher price, could wreak havoc with the social order.

And, what’s the cause of this potential unrest? Corn.

Corn is supplanting hops and barley for many farmers, since the government has made it increasingly attractive to grow corn for ethanol, totally wrongheaded though that is wrongheaded government! Go figure!

See some previous posts on the use of ethanol as fuel: starting here in the earliest days of this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©, and here, here, here, here.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The beer crisis | Trouble brewing | Economist.com

Ethanol, inefficient as it is as fuel, causing shortages and price increases of one of the major food groups (for many): beer. Talk about the law of unintended consequences…

Thus corn was on my mind when we encountered this article in the NYTimes today. The European Union is once again (still?) grappling with the high intensity issue of the advisability of growing genetically modified corn.

GM foods is a topic we’ve handled quite eloquently (MUDGE’s humility gene must have gotten in the way of an X-ray machine, sorry) in a previous post. But, news is news.

And the Times is quite thorough covering both points of view. Interestingly, there’s actual science supporting both, as opposed to the recent cases where science is called into question on this side of the water and those callers into question can hardly spell the word science (guess the word doesn’t appear in the King James edition) much less accept its findings.

nytimes

Both Sides Cite Science to Address Altered Corn

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL | Published: December 26, 2007

BRUSSELS — A proposal that Europe’s top environment official made last month, to ban the planting of a genetically modified corn strain, sets up a bitter war within the European Union, where politicians have done their best to dance around the issue.

The environmental commissioner, Stavros Dimas, said he had based his decision squarely on scientific studies suggesting that long-term uncertainties and risks remain in planting the so-called Bt corn. But when the full European Commission takes up the matter in the next couple of months, commissioners will have to decide what mix of science, politics and trade to apply. And they will face the ambiguous limits of science when it is applied to public policy.

Europe has embargoed seed and food products grown from genetically engineered plants for a decade; very convenient excuse for protectionist trade barriers. Now the World Trade Organization is pushing the EU for a change in policy. But the EU is pushing back, citing scientific studies counter to those presented in favor of GM food:

Ms. Hilbeck says that company-financed studies do not devote adequate attention to broad ripple effects that modified plants might cause, like changes to bird species or the effect of all farmers planting a single biotechnology crop. She said producers of modified organisms, like Syngenta and Monsanto, have rejected repeated requests to release seeds to researchers like herself to conduct independent studies on their effect on the environment.

The give and take on this is interesting.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Both Sides Cite Science to Address Altered Corn – New York Times

So it’s your scientists vs. my scientists, and because it’s science, there’s room for opposing theories. But the EU’s science has that slightly moldy odor of politics.

As mentioned in the post cited at the top, because of our employment at the time we were close to this debate 10 years ago in the U.S. That battle was hard fought, biotechnology vs. the Monarch butterfly (talk about a public relations nightmare for the suits!), and ultimately won in the U.S. by Big Ag, although as the Times makes clear, the Monarch’s well-being is still closely studied.

In the United States, where almost all crops are now genetically modified, the debate is largely closed.

“I’m not saying there are no more questions to pursue, but whether it’s good or bad to plant Bt corn — I think we’re beyond that,” said Richard L. Hellmich, a plant scientist with the Agriculture Department who is based at Iowa State University. He noted that hundreds of studies had been done and that Bt corn could help “feed the world.”

But the scientific equation may look different in Europe, with its increasing green consciousness and strong agricultural traditions.

And, if you let your farmers start to grow GM foods, it will be more difficult to rationalize the artificial protectionist barriers against other modified crops.

The hungry of the world (and there are so many!) can’t eat paper; unfortunately paper seems to be the chief crop of most of the world’s governments.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm232: Little green laptop computers a hit in remote Peruvian village

December 25, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Faithful reader will recall that One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) has been a consistent theme here at Left-Handed Complement. Here’s a handy reminder:

mm088: Meet the XO
mm089: Amateur mapmaking…
mm099: A $99 Desktop…
mm149: India’s take…
mm153: By a Laptop, Get one…
mm162: Laptop with a Mission
mm170: Technology and Ed …
mm179: OLPC for India after all?
mm189: OLPC cranks up!
mm203: OLPC: News; discouraging word
mm212: Cheap computing…
mm219: OLPC — Harvard speaks

Courtesy of reddit.com (still preferred in this space to its competition, here’s a feature out of the International Herald Tribune showing OLPC in use in Peru, one of the first nations to commit to the program.

olpcperu7c25

MIT spinoff’s little green laptop computers a hit in remote Peruvian village

The Associated Press | Published: December 24, 2007

ARAHUAY, Peru: Doubts about whether poor, rural children really can benefit from quirky little computers evaporate as quickly as the morning dew in this hilltop Andean village, where 50 primary school children got machines from the One Laptop Per Child project six months ago.

These offspring of peasant families whose monthly earnings rarely exceed the cost of one of the US$188 (€130) laptops — people who can ill afford pencil and paper much less books — can’t get enough of their “XO” laptops.

At breakfast, they’re already powering up the combination library/videocam/audio recorder/music maker/drawing kits. At night, they’re dozing off in front of them — if they’ve managed to keep older siblings from waylaying the coveted machines.

“It’s really the kind of conditions that we designed for,” Walter Bender, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff program One Laptop Per Child, said of this agrarian backwater up a precarious dirt road.

Founded in 2005 by former MIT Media Lab director Nicholas Negroponte, One Laptop has retreated from early boasts that developing-world governments would snap up millions of the pint-sized laptops at US$100 (€70) each.

Idealism, as is usual, has been clobbered by reality, and Negroponte’s hoped for millions of orders have not materialized. As in any manufactured product, it’s the classic chicken and egg issue: low price = high volume (assuming an attractive and viable product); high volume = low price (economies of scale).

And as we’ve theorized (but read nowhere else) the falling value of the dollar, plummeting since the program was first announced several years ago, has made unrealistic the ambitious $100 target, further impairing success on the imagined scale.

And, competition has rushed in now that OLPC has proved the concept, further impairing the ability to meet the original stretch goal.

But, the Give One, Get One program has meant that 150,000 machines will be delivered in early 2008:

Peru made the single biggest order to date — more than 272,000 machines — in its quest to turn around a primary education system that the World Economic Forum recently ranked last among 131 countries surveyed. Uruguay was the No. 2 buyer of the laptops, inking a contract for 100,000.

Negroponte said 150,000 more laptops will get shipped to countries including Rwanda, Mongolia, Haiti, and Afghanistan in early 2008 through “Give One, Get One,” a U.S.-based promotion ending Dec. 31 in which you buy a pair of laptops for US$399 (€277.50) and donate one or both.

Peru is where the rubber hits the road for OLPC, and the IHT story highlights many of the challenges: teacher training, support, internet access in a nation whose remote regions seem to operate much as they must have when first encountered by Spanish exploiters five hundred years ago.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

MIT spinoff’s little green laptop computers a hit in remote Peruvian village – International Herald Tribune

But for all of the challenges, it’s a hopeful story.

There’s still time before 31-December (program, and tax year deadlines) to participate in Give One, Get One. And, if you follow advice first expressed in this space some time ago, and even noted in the IHT story, you might want to make it Give One, Give One. In fact, as we said three months ago

This is a wonderful cause, and I would think that people who would find a $399 purchase with a 50% charitable component affordable might also wish, as the story suggests, to donate the PC they’re entitled to a (not third world, but certainly third rate) school in this country.

God knows that there are pockets of the third world within these preciously regarded borders of ours, many within our biggest cities. Then it becomes a $399 charitable contribution, serving to further education among the deserving needy in our own country as well as beyond.

If Peru’s example is typical, then OLPC’s little green machine certainly appears to be the transformative tool that Nicholas Negroponte envisioned.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE