69. There has been a lot of momentum in the move to re-legalize the unlocking of cell phones, from a generally supportive White House petition response to calls for reform from industry groups to legislation introduced in Congress. (If you’re interested in progress on this front, follow leading activists @sinak and @DerekKhanna)
70. The Obama Administration has set rules for greater public access to publicly-funded research following a White House petition and open advocate Aaron Swartz’s suicide. There are still limitations, but it is an improvement to the status quo, and should enhance the public goodness that justifies its funding.
71. While federal drone policy is finally in the headlines, about 30 state legislatures have been moving to limit drone surveillance within their borders. Various legislation has been introduced in Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, and has begun completing steps to passage in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Washington. (For progress on this front, follow @drones)
72. Salt Lake City recently overhauled dozens of outdated, restrictive business regulations. The Institute For Justice seems to be behind a lot of good policy victories in both the courts and the legislatures these days.
73. Minnesota’s Senate defeated an attempt by rent-seeking auto dealers to illegalize Tesla’s direct sales. While I philosophically oppose the federal subsidies to Tesla and other electric carmakers, I applaud Elon Musk’s genuine innovation in the auto industry and am glad that things finally seem to be paying off – somewhat literally. Musk’s “secret” long-term plan to make electric cars reliable and affordable is still going strong.
74. There is a global surplus of rice, which is expected to set a production record for the fourth consecutive season. The climate change food crisis has been delayed again.
75. Speaking of hope for global food supplies, scientists have apparently figured out how to turn deserts back into grasslands with better land care through planned grazing of livestock. (If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, skip about 2/3 through and look for before/after screenshots.) Even accounting for the Standard TED Talk Hype Anomaly, it sounds PRETTY AMAZING.
Expected Optimism has several more reasons for optimism, including these gems:
3. The FDA has finally approved an early version of Geordi’s visor, although the manufacturer’s have opted for the name “artificial retina” instead.
5 …Global oil production for the first three quarters of 2012 was 1% higher than all of 2011. Once the numbers are in for the fourth quarter, 2012 is expected to set an all-time record. For those worried that increased oil production means we’ll just run out sooner, consider that ExxonMobil discovered more new recoverable oil last year than they took out of the ground–for the 19th year in a row.