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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Techie Tuesday: Q-Bike

Futuristic retro-ride Posted by Hello

Update (May 10, 2005): This was originally a Techie Tuesday piece before I lost my iternet connection last month. Well here goes - The Q-Bike TimeRider

While looking for more information on the Q-bike I came across this amusing description in chinglish
Q-Bike Light Bicycle Company is proudly introducing the most remarkable and innovative product ever since the 1870. Q-Bike is a product of two centuries of version. With years of research, design and unlimited test, the product is finally put into market on the 1st. of March, 2003.

The bike is classically built to break through the movement and power structures of 1870`s and provide a cruise-fomfort riding experience with a statement on the elegant of the 1870`s Italian classical 〝HiBike〞 Look. (it goes on)

Gadget Universe list this for $249.95

(Via Red Ferret)

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Dope in Rome

Tom Burka reports that, In Diplomatic Snafu, Bush Gives Social Security Speech To Throngs of Papal Devotees
The President told millions of the Pope's followers and admirers waiting for a glimpse of the Holy Father, "There's really nothing in there," as he gestured toward the Vatican. "All that's in there is really just a bunch of I.O.U.'s."

In what the White House has called "a miracle," most of the crowd was unable to make sense of the President's statements.

A comedy classic!

Here Comes the Sun or A Hard Daylight Saving Time

Big Picnic has laid a great spread of posts lately. It's there I learnt that Congress to Expand Time:
It looks like Congress is contemplating extending daylight savings by two months. It appears to be a bi-partisan measure and I have to say, I'm on board too. I mean, who's against daylight?

I know it's a bit weird that Congress is worried about time when they seem waste so much of it. I hope they know what they're doing because most people are clueless about Daylight Saving Time, and I'm curious if those in Washington are any different.
Following the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, Congress put most of the nation on extended Daylight Saving Time for two years in hopes of saving additional energy. This experiment worked, but Congress did not continue the experiment in 1975 because of opposition -- mostly from the farming states.

In 1974, Daylight Saving Time lasted ten months and lasted for eight months in 1975, rather than the normal six months (then, May to October). The U.S. Department of Transportation -- which has jurisdiction over Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. -- studied the results of the experiment. It concluded:

Daylight Saving Time saves energy. Based on consumption figures for 1974 and 1975, The Department of Transportation says observing Daylight Saving Time in March and April saved the equivalent in energy of 10,000 barrels of oil each day -- a total of 600,000 barrels in each of those two years.

Daylight Saving Time saves lives and prevents traffic injuries. The earlier Daylight Saving Time allowed more people to travel home from work and school in daylight, which is much safer than darkness. And while there is an increase in the morning hazard for those going to school and work, it is more than compensated by the evening decrease. Even so, there was significant opposition to the very dark mornings and the increase morning accidents under DST in the months of November through February.

Daylight Saving Time prevents crime. Because people get home from work and school and complete more errands and chores in daylight, Daylight Saving Time also seems to reduce people's exposure to various crimes, which are more common in darkness than in light.

The Department of Transportation estimated that 50 lives were saved and about 2,000 injuries were prevented in March and April of the study years. The department also estimated that $28 million was saved in traffic accident costs.

There you have it. Energy conservation is considereed necessary until prices go down or some powerful lobby suggests otherwise....

School's Out Forever

Tht right has been complaining the the liberal media is always highlighting negative news stories in Iraq. Well, sometimes No News Is Good News:
The Army's Stryker Brigade -- equipped with vehicles that have been criticized for bad design and components that don't work -- organized an event of the type the Pentagon says it wants the media to cover more often.

Seems the unit transported an embedded reporter to a site "where school supplies were to be handed out to needy students," according to the Dec. 21 restricted "Official Use Only" report for the Center for Army Lessons Learned.

An excellent idea, but when they arrived at the school, the unit was "surprised to find that no schoolchildren were present and that an Iraqi family was homesteading in the building," the report said. What's more, "the Iraqi police were unwilling to remove the family and no school supplies" could be issued because the children were now here to be found.

Could there be a silver lining to this dark cloud? Yes. The media come to the rescue!

"Fortunately," the Army folks said in their report, "the reporter elected not to cover the event, which could have made us look bad, since we didn't know what was going on with the school after we funded its construction." The reporter, who was not named, "understood what had happened and had other good coverage to use . . . rather than airing any of this event.

You know, embedding reporters was such a good idea. It is so much better than a free independant press poking its nose around where it's not welcome.

(Via Sploid)

MBAs: Master Bullshit Artists

Lately with all the hubbub over the ascendancy of liberals in academia, have you ever wondered what a Conservative Arts degree prepares you for?
Professor Tsurumi, who taught Bush at Harvard Business School 30 years ago, gives us an insight:
Bush is the first president of the United States with a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA). Yet, he epitomizes the worst aspects of America’s business education. To privatize Social Security, he is peddling a colossal lie about its solvency. Furthermore, Bush, along with today’s business aristocrats, shows no compassion for working Americans, robbing them to benefit big business and the very rich. Last year, due to Bush’s tax cuts, over 80 of America’s most profitable 200 corporations did not pay even a penny of their federal and state income taxes. Meanwhile, to pay for his additional tax cuts for the very rich, Bush is drastically cutting back several social services, such as federal lunch programs for poor children.

Business education has also produced former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling and other MBAs behind the malfeasances of Tyco, HealthSouth, Haliburton, AIG, and WorldCom. Many executives of corporate America who hold MBAs have also been engaged in the unethical acts of raiding their corporate treasuries at the expense of employees and stockholders. Emulating President Bush’s hubris, a multitude of CEOs in corporate America give themselves obscenely large bonuses that have little to do with their performance. In 1980, the CEOs of Fortune 500 large corporations received, on average, 70 times larger annual compensations than their average employees. Under the Bush Administration, comparable CEOs have come to give themselves 600 to 1,000 times larger annual compensations than their rank-and-file employees whose pay has stagnated. To pay for such self-dealt compensations, corporate aristocrats layoff their workers, cut ordinary employees’ health benefits, and outsource jobs abroad. Under the Bush Administration, over five million Americans have lost their health benefits, and the U.S. has lost over 2.7 million quality manufacturing jobs. President Bush and his rapacious “captains of piracy” of corporate America are destroying America’s democracy built up since Roosevelt’s New Deal era.

Meanwhile, American economics study has increasingly become a pseudoscience of mathematical formula manipulation that is devoid of humanity. This economics has conquered America’s business education and become fused with the robber baron culture of greed supremacy. American MBAs are taught to treat ordinary employees as disposable costs and to swallow uncritically the gospel that corporations exist only to reward abstract stockholders. MBAs are taught the pretend-science of manipulating accounting, finance, employees, customers, and stock prices. Financial games and hostile takeovers of competitors are taught to accomplish corporations’ sole objective—to make money and manipulate stock prices. Such a mistaken view of corporations has caused the dismal decline of American auto manufacturers while Toyota and Honda widen their market shares and profits in America, pursuing their goals of expanding employment and technological innovations.

To justify the robber baron culture, America’s business educators and economists falsely cite their demigod of laissez-faire market economics, Adam Smith. Little do they know that Adam Smith in fact scathingly castigated Bush’s type of government: business collusion and unfair taxes, Wal-Mart’s exploitations of labor and communities, and robber barons’ hubris. Nowhere in his 900-page book, The Wealth of Nations, does Smith even imply that those who knowingly harm others and society in their pursuit of personal greed also benefit their society. He rejects the notion that a corporation exists to make money without ethical constraints.

When you hear about “taking the country back’ they mean at least a hundred years when there were no protections for workers. Sometimes, I think they mean to go further back to a time of aristocracy and serfs who exsisted for the benefit of the nobility. So, when companies like Wal-Mart start entering the housing market so their employees can live in tenements, then you'll know they've accomplished their goal of turning back the clock.

(Via Smirking Chimp)

Grrrrrrr, You Get What You Pay For...

Which is crap. I thought my blogger'slicense had been revoked these last few days. I couldn't even say, "Blogger ate it," because I couldn't even connect to Blogger.

In the last year I've never seen the service so bad. Maybe I'll make the jump like so many others, but then I'll have to pass the hat or put out a tip jar.

Maybe if I was convinced fame and fortune awaited me I'd sink some cash into this. Until then I'll just give my time and energy...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Techie Tuesday: Hoverwing

Pelican Taxis or Yellow Water Cab? Posted by Hello

With the daily commute getting ever more gridlocked, I am curious why we don't see any water taxis here in the Bay Area. Before the Bridges were built you could take the ferry or hire a private boat to cross the bay. Think of how much traffic could be avoided if you could commute by hovercraft; no bridge tolls too.

But it be cooler if you could fly half-way there. That's whay makes this kit for the hoverwing super cool. Now you can:Hovercraft in style:
Universal Hovercraft's 2002 Hoverwing can be built with 4 removable box seats and one full-length stationary seat that also serves as the belt system lift guard. For flying in ground effect, the four box seats are removed and the pilot and passenger sit on the center seat. The pilot sits in front of the forward wing spar and passengers just behind.

Flight controls consist of two movable rudders and a large elevator. A joystick gives precise control through a simple cable steering system that is designed for easy pre-flight inspections.

Calm winds are ideal for the most enjoyable flying. Open the throttle and hold a slight backpressure on the stick. When the air speed indicator shows 55 mph pull back a little more. The nose begins to rise and the water starts to fall away. It feels like you are 10 feet high when the bottom of the craft is only 1 - 4 feet above the surface. Reduce power to maintain the minimum flying speed (55 - 60 mph) and try some gentle turns. A small force on the stick left, or right results in a bank angle and gentle turn. Pull back on the joystick and the HoverwingTM climbs a little higher to clear large boat wakes or debris. Fly over waves and across land without noticing any change in the smooth ride. Landing is very easy because your runway is always underneath you. You don't have to line up on the centerline, just reduce power, level the wings and you are down. Pull right out of the water and park on land. No tying up is needed.

Check out the video of it in action.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Free Trade Kills

One of my very first posts was Neanderthals Down by the Gene Pool(you might want to click through, if only to see a great picture of Raquel Welch skimpily clad in animal skins). This next article adds to mystery of how modern man climbed to the top of heap - Free trade may have finished off Neanderthals
Modern humans may have driven Neanderthals to extinction 30,000 years ago because Homo sapiens unlocked the secrets of free trade, say a group of US and Dutch economists. The theory could shed new light on the mysterious and sudden demise of the Neanderthals after over 260,000 years of healthy survival.

Anthropologists have considered a wide range of factors which may explain Neanderthal extinction, including biological, environmental and cultural causes. For example, one major study concluded that Neanderthals were less able to deal with plunging temperatures during the last glacial period.

Another possibility is that they were less able hunters as a result of poorer mental abilities, says Eric Delson, an anthropologist at Lehman College, City University of New York, US. But he adds that most theories are reliant on guesswork. Exactly how humans ousted Neanderthals remains a puzzle. “They were successful for such a long time,” he points out.

Jason Shogren, an economist at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, US, says part of the answer may lie in humans’ superior trading habits. Trading would have allowed the division of labour, freeing up skilled individuals, such as hunters, to focus on the tasks they are best at. Others, perhaps making tools or clothes or gathering food, would give the hunters resources in return for meat.
Largely unorganised

The idea that specialisation leads to greater success was first used in the 18th century to explain why some nations were wealthier than others. But this is the first time it has been applied to the Neanderthal extinction puzzle, says Shogren.

He cites archaeological evidence that suggests that humans, who joined Neanderthals in Europe about 40,000 years ago, specialised and traded both within and between regions. The evidence includes complex living quarters with different sections partitioned for different functions. Neanderthals, in contrast, lived in “largely unorganised” living spaces.

There is also evidence that the early humans, mainly one population called the Gravettians, imported materials. Ivory, stones, fossils, seashells and crafted tools were found dispersed through many regions. This greater pool of resources led to increased innovation, says Shogren.
Simulated circumstances

Shogren tested his theory with simulations of population growth. He even gave the Neanderthals, who were larger than Homo sapiens, a head start by assuming they were better hunters and individually brought home more meat - which may or may not be true.

But because humans were allowed to trade, in two of three similar simulations, they overcame this initial handicap and ousted the Neanderthals within 7000 years. In the third simulation, the two ended up co-existing.

I'm still partial to the idea they were screwed out of existence...

(Via Kottke)

How 'Bout a U Turn?

I enjoyed this letter to the Editor at The New York Times The G.O.P. Takes a Hard-Right Turn:
I'll be voting for Democrats from now on. The Democrats now stand for fiscal responsibility, limited government interference in our private lives, separation of church and state, and business policies that help all Americans.

I share John C. Danforth's concerns. As a Christian, I'm fed up with the hard-right Christian conservative agenda that is taking this country away from its tremendous past.

In the past, America was the moral leader of the world.

Now we look for ways around the Geneva Conventions so we can torture prisoners legally. It is disgusting.

Kyle Cole
Atlanta, March 30, 2005

Kyle, I hope you keep that promise.

Nice job if you can get it

How come I can never find a job like this guy? He is the director of the Department of Labor. The state pays him $108,000 a year.:
It was another short day for Buonopane, the highly paid, highly connected appointee of Governor Mitt Romney. Buonopane's work days average two hours and 51 minutes, according to Globe reporters who observed him over a series of days during February and March. On many days he does not come in at all.

Romney appointed Buonopane to the newly created job after Buonopane campaigned vigorously for him in 2002, donating generously to his campaign and helping to orchestrate an election-eve rally for Romney in the North End featuring former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

But the $108,000-a-year post has no obvious duties. Buonopane seldom comes to work for more than a few hours, and takes frequent vacations -- seven-and-a-half weeks last year, and three-and-a-half weeks in the first three months of this year.

Last week, a spokesman for Secretary of Economic Development Ranch C. Kimball, to whom Buonopane reports, could not provide a description of Buonopane's duties.

In an interview this week, Buonopane defended his work habits.

''Everything is on the up and up, and everything is accounted for,' he said. ''Any hour I get paid for, I worked for it. I don't steal from the state. Ask the governor if I'm doing my job.'

I guess if you work for an anti-labor Governor you would not be expected to do much on the Labor front. So why did he get the job? Maybe this had something to do with it:
He and his wife have been generous contributors to political campaigns, donating $14,900 to candidates for state office since 2002, including $7,000 to Romney and Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, and $1,000 to former acting governor Jane Swift. The Buonopanes have also donated $5,950 to candidates for federal office, including $1,000 to Giuliani and $2,000 to President Bush.

That is not a bad investment. During the same period, he also gave $2,700 to Democratic candidates. In gambling terms that's called hedging your bets.

(via Fark)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Iraq Culture Smart Cards

Do you work well with Cliff Notes? If so, you too can Learn What Every US Soldier Knows About Iraq

The US military's "Iraq Culture Smart Cards" tell 19 year-old soldiers everything they need to know about Iraq, from common gestures to popular foods, all in a handy, fold-up format.
See what they're learning for yourself.

As part of an effort to better educate its troops, the US military has been handing out the handy, laminated Iraq Culture Smart Cards to US troops for the last two years. The 16 page card folds up like a map and has information ranging from religious holidays to to cultural customs ("Admitting 'I don't know' is shameful for an Iraqi," reads one). "They are meant for the 19- or 20-year-old soldier, moving door to door in a hostile environment," said Marine Col. Keith Lawless to the New York Times about the cards. "This will help him stay out of trouble."

The best way for these guys to stay out of trouble is to stay out of Iraq.

I don't do Friday Cat Blogging

I'd rather Stack the Cats.

Blogger Ate It!

So many people are complaining about Blogger this week. In my case something weird happened. I thought the post below was eaten by Blogger and I just got so frustrated I stopped writing for the day.

But this morning it shows up in my drafts. And I was so ready to tell about the wonderful post that disappeared - like everyone else has been doing. That's when I realized that "Blogger ate it" is the perfect alibi and can be used in so many situations.

-Teacher, "Where is your homework?
-Student, "Blogger ate it."

-Wife, "You should've called, don't you have a phone?
-Husband, "Blogger ate it."

-Manager, "Where is the TPS report?"
-Employee, "Blogger ate it."

-Al Gore, "Where ever happened to Social Security Lock Box?"
-George Bush, "Blogger ate it."

With such a great excuse, think how you can use it to solve everyday problems.