The Threat Of Greece

Megan McArdle is very pessimistic about the fate of Greece (and the other PIIGS countries).  Her concern is that Greece’s sovereign debt crisis will not be handled well enough to prevent the country from running into problems big enough to foment a second global depression.

I’m not quite sure what to think.  I’ve been pessimistic about the long-term prospects of the Euro, as well as the European welfare states (and, in a generation, the American welfare state), so I can agree with her analysis.  I also want to see the Euro go as an economic zone—I greatly prefer a free trade zone with separate monetary and fiscal policies, sort of like the EFTA.  But this would be a high cost for such an outcome.

UPDATE:  Angus, meanwhile, thinks outside the box.

Interesting idea for football draft

The Wall Street Journal has an article on setting up the draft as a silent auction. presumably to keep people for not drafting top notch talent for signability reasons (a much bigger problem in baseball than in football). I can’t honestly say I like the idea — there’s very little on the proposed solution and without that, it’s difficult to evaluate — but it is at least an alternative to the current system.

For the record, I think the NFL Draft is fine the way it is. Sure, some high picks flame out, but most of the time, it’s fairly clear why the decision failed in hindsight. Whether it’s the Browns drafting a QB without an offensive line or the Raiders drafting players in the first round because they’re fast, bad draft picks are usually bad decision making, not random luck. The MLB Draft needs fixing much more than the NFL Draft.

We Need More Weapons

Stephen Hawking is right:  if aliens are out there and visiting, they’re probably going to try to conquer us.  As a result, we have to build better, stronger, more powerful weapons which will destroy them.  The problem is that we won’t have any idea exactly what will destroy their ships, so we’ll have to branch out in a number of directions.

Update:  Eric Crampton is probably working for them.  I don’t know who they are yet (if I did, that would give a better indication of which weapons we could use to destroy them), but even though he does make sense regarding minerals, there are other reasons to colonize and/or conquer, from habitability (supposing that they thrive in a similar atmosphere, climate, and gravity) to sheer domination.  They may also be space pirates, or worse:  space bureaucrats.

How do you stop Vogons again?

Interesting, But Probably Unworkable

Stewart Baker notes that certain malware sites differentiate between spiders and non-spiders, serving up harmless content to spiders (to prevent them from noticing problems) and malware to regular users.  Baker wonders, then, if it would be possible to cloak regular browsing by hiding it under the guise of a spider.

The problem (as one of the commenters points out) is that spiders customarily observe a robots.txt file, which regular browsers ignore.  This robots.txt file has historically been used to prevent spiders from creating links to pages that webmasters would prefer not show up in searches.  The major search engines abide by this regulation, so if you start sending users out to a site, you can quickly differentiate regular browsers from spiders:  put up a robots.txt file and watch the regular browsers burn right past the forbidden pages.

But it is possible to spoof spider behavior through browser settings (as noted in the comments as well).  This provides a bit of a mixed blessing:  on the one hand, you might prevent some malware problems and may get access to certain sites which allow spiders to index sites behind a paywall; on the other hand, however, many sites block pages from spiders.  Your browser might ignore that block, but if the end site has someone doing their job, you might just be blocked next time you try to visit.