Down with France, part two

The French are now making ebay pay for the sale of fakes on the site. The ruling (in a French court and protecting French companies, which means in all likelihood the case was a total sham), states that eBay was negligent in not policing its massive number of auctions in order to discern which items were fake. What really hurts is that they also stated that the sale on eBay of certain items means that eBay is violating distribution agreements -- in other words claiming that eBay is not a market but a seller of goods, and limiting the ability of individuals to buy and sell items which they legitimately own.

eBay, much as I hate it at times, is one of the purest markets out there, and in many ways has revolutionized modern sense of ownership rights and value, at least as our lives get cluttered with more small and expensive items, and costly luxury goods. There is similar case in the US, with a ruling expected in the near future. Let us hope that markets come out a little better off in this nation.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9d49342e-469b-11dd-876a-0000779fd2ac.html

Iraqi Oil

Though--sadly and stupidly--this will appease all the "No Blood for Oil" bumper sticker crowd, Iraq has opened up to foreign oil companies in what is certainly an important step for the nation. Granted, this is the opposite of what other Gulf Stats, notably Saudi with Aramco, have done, but I think it is the best, fastest and most productive way to develop the fields. Iraq does not have the 5 decades and stable rule most of the other Arabian oil states had to develop their fields. That said, many of them are still well behind the majors in terms of production technology (why invest in technology when you have the worlds largest oil fields sitting under your lawn).

The move will also greatly benefit Iraq as a democratic state (which there are actually strong signs it could survive as, albeit with Kurdistan separate), as it has been repeatedly proven that wealth is the best guarantor of democracy.

Bill Gates Retired

This is mainly sad because Microsoft will now loose the one personal touch that it had - the richest (for most of my adult life, though not currently) man in the world. Without him (and no, Steve Ballmer does not count), Microsoft is in dire need of a frontman of note. And a personality...

Hillary's Campaign Debt

Remember when the Clintons left the White House? Remember how they took things that were not theirs, and then asked the public to help them out with their $7 million dollar debt, at the same time as they took a Manhattan penthouse as their NYC home for Hillary, all on the taxpayer's tab? Well, this time around, Hillary is $22 million in debt. Newly buddy buddy with Obama after their cute little jaunt to Unity NH, he is asking that campaign donors help her "retire her debt." Obviously this is a good thing for the party, but I would be livid if I were in the DNC (unlikely as that is...) as she wasted $22 million on 4 months of campaigning that the whole country knew were completely useless.

Also, where does the debt come from? What was the collateral for the loan? Or did she just max out 152 different credit cards? Because I dont know who would be stupid enough to give her campaign anything for the last few months..

Logitech Mouseman Wheel


My junior year of high school, me an a bunch of friends went in on a deal to buy 'high end' gaming mice. Razer was not really around at that point, and optical mice were just coming in. For $17 each, we got Logitech Mouseman Wheel mice. I still use mine on my desktop, and I have to say, that of any mouse I have ever used, it is by far the most ergonomically comfortable, just a classic design. I will not miss mice once we move on to Minority Report style frantic arm waving, but this really is a classic.

Honorable mention goes to my small and unnamed microsoft laptop mouse. Before it was mine, it was my fathers, and he used it for years. I inherited it with an old laptop he gave me about 4 years ago. Since then I have abused it to the limits of reason, constantly dropping it on the floorwhen I move my laptop and forget it is attached etc. For its small size, it is highly ergonomic, and functions well.

I bring attention to these little guys, because with now (at least for someone like me) so much time spend at a computer, quality components make all the difference between frustration and satisfaction.

albedo

Albedo. What the heck is that right? Well, its is a measurement of the reflectiveness of the earth's surface. Basically, white (snow/ice) reflects more than anything else. Less white = less albedo. This summer, for the first time in recorded human history, we might be looking at a north pole free of ice. Regardless of the crazy Russians and their claim to it, this is a scary idea. Good for shipping, but not good news for the earth overall. A few years ago, saying this could happen in 50 years was pretty radical. Today, its a matter of this year, next year, or maybe a couple years from now..

Couple to this the recent studies of Greenland's ice cores, which show that massive climate change occurred in 4-10yrs, with sometimes very short bursts of intense change, and there is a good chance that the best skiing will be in Morocco in a few years...

Top 100 movies of all time

Some interesting/surprising ones in here, adjusted for inflation. Of course shows Gone with the Wind, but I did not realize that the original Star Wars would be #2, or 101 Dalmatians #11. For your perusal:

DOMESTIC GROSSES
Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation

RankTitle (click to view)StudioAdjusted GrossUnadjusted GrossYear^
1 Gone with the Wind MGM $1,390,067,000 $198,676,459 1939^
2 Star Wars Fox $1,225,462,800 $460,998,007 1977^
3 The Sound of Music Fox $979,817,800 $158,671,368 1965
4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Uni. $975,957,800 $435,110,554 1982^
5 The Ten Commandments Par. $901,280,000 $65,500,000 1956
6 Titanic Par. $883,019,700 $600,788,188 1997
7 Jaws Uni. $881,182,300 $260,000,000 1975
8 Doctor Zhivago MGM $854,051,900 $111,721,910 1965
9 The Exorcist WB $760,712,400 $232,671,011 1973^
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Dis. $749,920,000 $184,925,486 1937^
11 101 Dalmatians Dis. $687,430,700 $144,880,014 1961^
12 The Empire Strikes Back Fox $675,482,800 $290,475,067 1980^
13 Ben-Hur MGM $674,240,000 $74,000,000 1959
14 Return of the Jedi Fox $647,128,700 $309,306,177 1983^
15 The Sting Uni. $613,302,900 $156,000,000 1973
16 Raiders of the Lost Ark Par. $606,416,000 $242,374,454 1981^
17 Jurassic Park Uni. $593,096,200 $357,067,947 1993
18 The Graduate AVCO $588,731,200 $104,901,839 1967^
19 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Fox $583,601,600 $431,088,301 1999
20 Fantasia Dis. $571,339,100 $76,408,097 1941^
21 The Godfather Par. $542,987,300 $134,966,411 1972^
22 Forrest Gump Par. $540,393,800 $329,694,499 1994
23 Mary Poppins Dis. $537,890,900 $102,272,727 1964^
24 The Lion King BV $531,354,700 $328,541,776 1994^
25 Grease Par. $529,221,700 $188,389,888 1978^
26 Thunderball UA $514,624,000 $63,595,658 1965
27 The Jungle Book Dis. $506,917,800 $141,843,612 1967^
28 Sleeping Beauty Dis. $500,011,300 $51,600,000 1959^
29 Shrek 2 DW $488,830,400 $441,226,247 2004
30 Ghostbusters Col. $486,626,600 $238,632,124 1984^
31 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Fox $485,438,000 $102,308,889 1969
32 Love Story Par. $481,587,200 $106,397,186 1970
33 Spider-Man Sony $478,055,100 $403,706,375 2002
34 Independence Day Fox $476,569,900 $306,169,268 1996
35 Home Alone Fox $466,011,300 $285,761,243 1990
36 Pinocchio Dis. $463,734,900 $84,254,167 1940^
37 Cleopatra (1963) Fox $462,222,200 $57,777,778 1963
38 Beverly Hills Cop Par. $461,992,100 $234,760,478 1984
39 Goldfinger UA $456,144,000 $51,081,062 1964
40 Airport Uni. $454,845,600 $100,489,151 1970
41 American Graffiti Uni. $452,114,300 $115,000,000 1973
42 The Robe Fox $450,327,300 $36,000,000 1953
43 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest BV $444,643,200 $423,315,812 2006
44 Around the World in 80 Days UA $444,553,800 $42,000,000 1956
45 Bambi RKO $438,341,600 $102,247,150 1942^
46 Blazing Saddles WB $435,005,300 $119,500,000 1974
47 Batman WB $433,127,800 $251,188,924 1989
48 The Bells of St. Mary's RKO $431,686,300 $21,333,333 1945
49 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King NL $423,382,400 $377,027,325 2003
50 The Towering Inferno Fox $422,264,600 $116,000,000 1974
51 Spider-Man 2 Sony $413,892,200 $373,585,825 2004
52 My Fair Lady WB $412,800,000 $72,000,000 1964
53 The Greatest Show on Earth Par. $412,800,000 $36,000,000 1952
54 National Lampoon's Animal House Uni. $412,045,000 $141,600,000 1978^
55 The Passion of the Christ NM $410,769,300 $370,782,930 2004^
56 Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Fox $408,153,100 $380,270,577 2005
57 Back to the Future Uni. $406,268,500 $210,609,762 1985
58 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers NL $396,497,300 $341,786,758 2002^
59 The Sixth Sense BV $396,144,400 $293,506,292 1999
60 Superman WB $394,623,900 $134,218,018 1978
61 Tootsie Col. $391,499,100 $177,200,000 1982
62 Smokey and the Bandit Uni. $391,010,500 $126,737,428 1977
63 Finding Nemo BV $387,601,800 $339,714,978 2003
64 West Side Story MGM $385,075,600 $43,656,822 1961
65 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone WB $384,681,300 $317,575,550 2001
66 Lady and the Tramp Dis. $383,456,000 $93,602,326 1955^
67 Close Encounters of the Third Kind Col. $382,359,700 $132,088,635 1977^
68 Lawrence of Arabia Col. $381,038,800 $44,824,144 1962^
69 The Rocky Horror Picture Show Fox $378,877,600 $112,892,319 1975
70 Rocky UA $378,675,000 $117,235,147 1976
71 The Best Years of Our Lives RKO $378,400,000 $23,650,000 1946
72 The Poseidon Adventure Fox $377,725,500 $84,563,118 1972
73 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring NL $376,363,000 $314,776,170 2001^
74 Twister WB $376,254,300 $241,721,524 1996
75 Men in Black Sony $375,762,700 $250,690,539 1997
76 The Bridge on the River Kwai Col. $374,272,000 $27,200,000 1957
77 It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World MGM $370,662,900 $46,332,858 1963
78 Swiss Family Robinson Dis. $370,199,000 $40,356,000 1960
79 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest UA $369,355,300 $108,981,275 1975
80 M.A.S.H. Fox $369,347,400 $81,600,000 1970
81 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Par. $368,305,800 $179,870,271 1984
82 Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones Fox $367,863,100 $310,676,740 2002^
83 Mrs. Doubtfire Fox $362,468,600 $219,195,243 1993
84 Aladdin BV $360,803,300 $217,350,219 1992
85 Ghost Par. $354,080,700 $217,631,306 1990
86 Duel in the Sun Selz. $351,020,400 $20,408,163 1946
87 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl BV $348,464,400 $305,413,918 2003
88 House of Wax WB $347,659,600 $23,750,000 1953
89 Rear Window Par. $346,440,600 $36,764,313 1954^
90 The Lost World: Jurassic Park Uni. $343,380,500 $229,086,679 1997
91 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Par. $339,985,500 $197,171,806 1989
92 Spider-Man 3 Sony $336,530,300 $336,530,303 2007
93 Terminator 2: Judgment Day TriS $334,755,900 $204,843,345 1991
94 Sergeant York WB $331,087,600 $16,361,885 1941
95 How the Grinch Stole Christmas Uni. $330,974,900 $260,044,825 2000
96 Toy Story 2 BV $329,115,300 $245,852,179 1999^
97 Top Gun Par. $327,841,700 $176,786,701 1986
98 Shrek DW $325,359,600 $267,665,011 2001
99 Shrek the Third P/DW $322,719,900 $322,719,944 2007
100 The Matrix Reloaded WB $321,268,000 $281,576,461 2003

Classic "treehugging" Idiocy

So, Berkley--nasty environment hating institution that it is--decided to cut down some trees in order to build a new athletic center. These were not threatened Redwoods, or 200yr old patriarchs, they were oaks planted in a 1923 project by the college. The college will plant new trees to replace the old ones, but that was not good enough. A group of students took to the trees, and have been staying up there for the last 18 months.

Originally, they had supply lines running in, but these were cut a couple weeks ago, and most of the would be ewoks left. However, a few remain, and all you need to know about the level of their intelligence can be found in the following sentence:

"Protesters howled, flung excrement and shook tree branches as campus-hired arborists cut supply lines and removed gear."

An individuals ability to discern the truth

From Frankie;

I hate this article in the Nytimes today: “Your Brain Lies to You.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/27/opinion/27aamodt.html?em&ex=1214712000&en=07a0cd373fc51d40&ei=5087%0A

To me, it’s basically saying that people can’t be trusted to accurately remember anything or everything, that their brains control them and their thought. And this ties so clearly into capitalism and they did us a slight favor by even mentioning at the end of the article that we can’t trust the doctrine that the market will guarantee only the best ideas survive. Meaning the market is worthless because peoples’ minds are worthless and can be tricked.

What they failed to consider here, of course, that the examples they gave are of ideas that no one cares enough to challenge. Not to mention that your brain fools you because you tell it to value something differently: you don’t want to recognize that your govt kills people (or remember how many they kill) because you value a perceived national security coming from your govt’s actions.

This is a bunch of crap; I probably sound like Ayn Rand but authoritarian rule/thought really starts from a debasement of the power and glory and ability of mankind. Its ridiculous.

Frank

Its the hat that gets me..

Mars

Mars is all flat an shiny in the north, but hilly and rugged below the equator. Why has long been a question without a good answer. New research proves that the top of Mars is actually a giant impact crater.

Pretty crazy..

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/26/science/space/26mars.html?em&ex=1214625600&en=e948268a678b129a&ei=5087%0A

.Norm

Interesting, the governing body of such things just voted to allow personalized top level domain names. Thus Microsoft could be www.bluescreenofdeath.microsoft, or apple could be overprice.apple etc. Going to cost $150,000 to $500,000 to register, so sadly it will be a while before globaldomination.norm goes live...

The beauty of photoshop


I dont photoshop my pics regularly, though i occasionally use it to correct something I consider an 'error' - like too little lighting, or removing something from the pic like a bystander or powerline. That said, here is the difference it makes, this took me about 30 seconds, and shows the difference in contrast, color, saturation etc. Almost all pro photographers photoshop their images, some quite extensively. I am really not sure how I feel about that..

America's Power

Forwarded from Jim. Good article:
International Herald Tribune
June 17, 2008
Exaggerating America's decline
By Michael Fullilove

A new international relations orthodoxy is coalescing, to the effect that America is slouching towards mediocrity. In newspaper columns articles and on TV talk shows you will hear journalists charting the "relentless relative decline" of the United States. The military is overstretched; the economy is exposed; the political system is broken; the punters are suffering from an Iraq-induced hangover; and when it comes to international legitimacy, the White House has maxed out America's credit card. And all the time, potential competitors such as China, the European Union, Russia, India and Iran are closing in.

The best works in this area, by Richard Haass and Fareed Zakaria, are full of insight. Yet as a non-American living in the United States, I'm struck by the gulf that still remains between America and the rest - in terms of hard power , soft power and what we could call "smart power."

In relation to hard power, the $14 trillion American economy dwarfs all the others. The United States spends roughly as much on its military as the rest of the world combined. Washington has been bloodied and diverted by its foolhardy invasion of Iraq, but it remains the only capital capable of running a truly global foreign policy and projecting military power anywhere on earth.

Almost every country thinks it has a special relationship with the United States, based on shared history or values - or clashing ones. None of the great challenges facing humanity can be solved without the Americans.

America has some worrying weaknesses - but we should not ignore the frailties of others: the cleavages in China, the divisions within Europe, the dark side of Russia, or the poverty of India.

In terms of soft power, too - the ability to get others to want what you want - the case for America 's decline is easily overstated. America retains its hold on the world's imagination. For most non-Americans around the world, America's politics are, at some level, our politics as well.

Why is the world so interested? America's bulk is only part of the answer. Ultimately, it is not really the size of the U.S. economy that draws our attention. It is not even America's blue-water navy or its new bunker-busting munitions.

Rather, it is the idea of America which continues to fascinate: a superpower that is open, democratic, meritocratic and optimistic; a country that is the cockpit of global culture; a polity in which all candidates for public office, whether or not they are a Clinton, seem to come from a place called Hope.

It's worth noting that the declinist canon has emerged at the nadir of the Bush years; America's soft power account will look much healthier the instant the next president is inaugurated.

The final source of U.S. influence is the way in which American ideas continue to inform global narratives - its smart power. If you have an argument to make, or a book to publish, or a doctrine to expound, then the United States is the place where you must do it. It is not just that the market is so big, or that the world's attention means that events that occur in the United States today are fodder for pundits everywhere tomorrow. Just as important is the sheer quality of the creative output from America's great universities, think tanks, newspapers and magazines.

The effect of all this is that the opinions of Americans on the great issues of the day ripple out through the world and are repackaged everywhere.

Smart power flows from human creativity, which is why Americans should be happy about the migration flows that are replenishing their nation's human capital. Both blue-collar workers and gold-collar workers continue to be drawn here like iron filings to a magnet. It is har d to imagine future Fareed Zakarias - or, for that matter, future Barack Obamas - emigrating to China or Russia or Iran instead of the United States.

There is a long tradition of foreign visitors bemoaning that such a strong country as the United States is so stupid. They could not be more wrong: America is powerful because it is smart.

Michael Fullilove is director of the global issues program at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Cryptids

I love cryptozoology. Ties in well with my belief in UFO's, ghosts, etc. I tend to believe that the simplest explanation is the most logical one (Achem's razor), and that usually the simplest explanation is the one ignored because of societal and cultural preconceptions. And the close mindedness of most individuals.

That said, I think I will be adding in some good 'ol fashioned cryptid news in here, along with a smattering of UFO info, crop circles, and other interesting stuff.

To start with, a short article on precisely how little we know about things that may be very very large:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloop

The Bloop is the name given to an ultra-low frequency underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration several times during the summer of 1997. The source of the sound remains unknown. The sound, traced to somewhere around 50° S 100° W (South American southwest coast), was detected repeatedly by the Equatorial Pacific Ocean autonomous hydrophone array, which uses U.S. Navy equipment originally designed to detect Soviet submarines. According to the NOAA description, it "rises rapidly in frequency over about one minute and was of sufficient amplitude to be heard on multiple sensors, at a range of over 5,000 km." Though it matches the audio profile of a living creature, there is no known animal that could have produced the sound. If it is an animal, it would have to be, reportedly, much larger than even a Blue Whale, according to scientists who have studied the phenomenon.[1]

Down with France, part one

Never trust a Frenchman. And a nation of Frenchmen? Well here you go:

France, in 1985, blew up a Greenpeace ship in order to conduct a nuclear test. They killed one man, tried to cover it up, and then threatened NZ if they tried to punish the perpetrators. Mitterrand was actually directly responsible as well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_the_Rainbow_Warrior

Mt. Greylock Waterfall

Independent Contract

Yet again, our state is regulating our ability to make our own contractual decisions. A case surrounding the status of FedEx's 'contractor' drivers (and largely because of a UPS investigation, as UPS uses the teamsters...) will come to court and question the status of outside contractors who essentially work the same jobs as 'employees.' If anyone needs a little refresher, it used to be that this country accepted and understood the rights of citizens to make their own economic decisions as well as social decisions. The two sets of rights actually used to be lumped together, as they should (try and find one that does not overlap). Instead, in a series of idiotic rulings, the Supreme court conjured up a convoluted debacle of jurisprudence which protects certain social rights (disappearing rapidly) and gives the govt. control over just about everything economic. Lets hope that FedEx comes out on top in this one.
 
Bloomberg article:

Just when did Odysseus make it home?

An interesting article on the historical foundation of one of my favorite books: it seems that Odysseus may have timed his arrival home for perfect dramatic effect, a solar eclipse. Actually, it seems that the ancient world may have kept much better records (orally) that previously thought.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/24/science/24home.html?ref=science

Phoenix gets what its looking for

We got water. Actually we had water three days ago.. hopefully no one was counting.. damnit. Well, still we got water on mars. That interstellar slip'n'slide is almost a reality..

Ireland - No Lisbon Treaty

I know I know, way behind on this one. But it is interesting because it is the second time that the people of Europe have struck down the idea of the EU as the US of E. Ireland was the only nation to have to have a popular vote, the rest of the 'democracies' were just going to stick it to their people regardless of their desires. The treaty makes sense to those living in the forest (read: Brussels), but only because it makes the EU more efficient at governing the states of Europe. Turns out that when asked, the European people (and I think most nations would have voted down the treaty) are not all about getting run by a bastion of bureaucracy.

On the other hand..

Looking at the Euro currency movements, it is apparent that traders are betting the content of the treaty of Lisbon or some other workaround will be slipped into Croatia's accession treaty.

So there you have it, bureaucracy finding a way to smother the people in its rawest form, the greatest downfall of the modern state.

Gordon Brown No Longer Recongizes Mugabe

At least a step in the right direction. Sadly, it is really South Africa who actually needs to step in on this one..

Zimbabwe - no Election

“Only God, who appointed me, will remove me" - Mugabe

Mr. Tsvangirai has now officially pulled out of the runoff election. The main issue seems to be that he did not want all of his supporters to get killed and the country fall into a civil war. Mugabe, of course, was completely happy with that course of action, because he has been appointed by God. Seems that even South Africa, which has not wanted to act, will be forced to make some kind of a move now that the elections a total sham. The UN, in its usual way, is looking at creating economic sanctions for a Zimbabwe ruled by Mugabe. Of course, the main issue with placing sanctions on a state ruled by a despotic dictator is that they tend to simply become more introverted and repressive, so I am not even sure that would actually help anyone out in this case. As is often the case, military power (the kind the US or South Africa has, and to an extent the UN) is the only language that a dictator is likely to speak. Let us hope that there is a stable transition to democracy/a new president, unlikely as that seems right now.

Israel vs. Iran, part the 1,941,151th

Israel might just go ahead and strike Iran on its own, if their little show of force is any indication. Of course, China and Russia are against any unilateral action. The US's reaction? "No Comment." It seems that the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate released in December said Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, so the US is none too bothered about blowing anything up this time around. Now why the hell Iran would continue its craptastic (read 50's technology) heavy water fission reactor when the US etc. are offering to help it build light/sweet modern reactors as long as it gives up any weapons ambitions is beyond me if they already dont have a program. To me, that would be they bluffed and won the bet. Instead, they are going to keep bluffing until the crazy Israeli guy across the table shoots them in the face. Its an interesting tactic...

Oh'MyBama 2008 #2

Campaign finance:

Obama has opted out of public financing, the first candidate since the 70's to do so. The golden child claimed that the system was broken and the Republicans were gaming the system using 527 groups, and so on and so forth. That damn McCain and his scheming downright dirty campaign finance, what with the dirty real estate deals and shady past.. oh, that Obama? McCain was a crusader against such abuses? Oh, sorry, got confused. I forget the actual numbers, but in the last election the money flowing into pro-Kerry PAC's and 527s was multiples more than what came into the Bush campaign. For every "Swift Boat Veterans" ad, there were 100 from moveon.org. And, someone I know who owns a number of TV stations said that the democratic groups were blatantly organizing advertising, trading off days and making sure they spread the ads in the best possible way. It is illegal for PAC's to talk to each other an coordinate. Of course, the golden child will likely only get a slap on the wrist for this..

NYT Article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/20/us/politics/20obamacnd.html?hp

Top Gear US Hosts

Top Gear is back on for the US, and hosts have been announced. Needless to say, I am just happy that we will be getting Fios (supposedly) sometime later today, and along with it BBC America and the real top gear...

"Top Gear has just officially announced who will be hosting the U.S. version of the popular car show born in the UK and now officially scheduled to appear on NBC sometime this fall, and the winners are... (drum roll, please): Adam Carolla, Tanner Foust and Eric Stromer. Everyone knows Adam Carolla, of course, having watched him hit the big time hosting The Man Show with Jimmy Kimmel. He now hosts his own nationally-syndicated radio show called "The Adam Carolla Show". Tanner Foust brings some actual professional driving cred to the show with a resume that includes stunt driving in "The Bourne Ultimatum," "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" and "The Dukes of Hazard". He's also a winning rally driver, has medaled in the 2007 X-Games and hosted "Supercars Exposed" on the SPEED Channel. Eric Stomer was the last to be cast and when you see him, you'll probably say "I know that guy." He's hosted an HGTV show called "Over Your Head", was a former soap-opera actor and spent a lot of time in construction (and on construction-related TV shows). Guess we'll pick him to win the amphibious vehicle challenges. We surmise that producers may have picked Stromer because he's a hunk of man meat, but also because he can bring in a big female audience from his time spent on HGTV.

The press release after the jump also reveals what each host drives, and as you would imagine, Carolla (who will now be referred to as Jezza Jr.) sports a garage full of Lamborghinis, Maseratis, two Ferraris and an Audi S4. Foust makes do with a simple, tricked out BMW M3. Stromer... a Camry Hybrid. Something tells us Stromer better come equipped with a thick skin. So what do you think? Does Top Gear USA now appear better suited for success or does the show have Bucket of Fail written all over it?"

10 reasons for the cost of gas

This is, undoubtedly, a slanted piece. That said, it makes some interesting points. Forwarded from James:

Top 10 reasons to blame Democrats for soaring gasoline prices

By William Tate

This started out as an attempt to create a light and humorous, Letterman-esque Top 10 list. But the items on the list, and the drain Americans are seeing in their pocketbooks because of Democrats' actions (sometimes inaction) are just too tragic for that.

10) ANWR If Bill Clinton had signed into law the Republican Congress's 1995 bill to allow drilling of ANWR instead of vetoing it, ANWR could be producing a million barrels of (non-Opec) oil a day--5% of the nation's consumption. Although speaking in another context, even Democrat Senator Charles Schumer, no proponent of ANWR drilling, admits that "one million barrels per day," would cause the price of gasoline to fall "50 cents a gallon almost immediately," according to a recent George Will column.

9) Coastal Drilling (i.e., not in my backyard) Democrats have consistently fought efforts to drill off the U.S. coast, as evidenced by Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's preotestation against a failed 2005 bill: "Not only does this legislation dismantle the bi-partisan ban on offshore drilling, but it provides a financial incentive for states to do so."

A financial incentive? With the Chinese now slant drilling for oil just 50 miles off the Florida coast, wouldn't that have been a good thing?

8) Insistence on alternative fuels One of the first acts of the new Democrat-controlled congress in 2007 was an energy bill that "calls for a huge increase in the use of ethanol as a motor fuel and requires new appliance efficiency standards." By focusing on alternative fuels such as ethanol, and not more drilling, Democrats have added to the cost of food, worsening starvation problems around the word and increasing inflationary pressures in the U.S., including prices at the pump.

7) Nuclear power Even the French, who sometimes seem to lack the backbone to stand up for anything other than soft cheese, faced down their environmentalists over the need for nuclear power. France now generates 79% of its electricity from nuclear plants, mitigating the need for imported oil. The French have so much cheap energy that France has become the world's largest exporter of electric power. They have plans in place to build more reactors, including an experimental fusion reactor.

The last nuclear reactor built in the United States, according to the US Dept of Energy, was the "River Bend" plant in Louisiana. Its construction began in March of 1977.

Need I say more?

6) Coal "The liquid hydrocarbon fuel available from American coal reserves exceeds the crude oil reserves of the entire world," writes Dr. Arthur Robinson in an article on humanevents.com. The U.S. has approximately one-fourth of the world's known, proven coal reserves. Coal would be a proven, and increasingly clean, source of electric power and--at current prices--a liquified fuel that would reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Yet Dems and their enviro friends have fought, and continue to fight, both coal-mining and coal plants.

5) Refinery capacity "High oil prices are still being propped up by a shortage of refinery capacity and there is little sign of the bottleneck easing until 2010," according to Peak Oil News. And, while voters in South Dakota have approved zoning for what could become the first new oil refinery in the United States in 30 years, the Dems' environmentalist constituency vows to oppose it, just like environmentalists opposed the floodgates that could have saved New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina.

4) Reduced competition With consolidation in the oil industry, has come reduced competition. Remember, most of the major oil company mergers -- Shell-Texaco, BP-Amoco, Exxon-Mobil, BP-ARCO, and Chevron-Texaco -- happened on Clinton's watch. The number of oil refiners dropped from 28 to 19 companies during Clinton's two terms.

3) The Global Warming Myth At a Group of 8 meeting this week, host and Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari "described the issues of climate change and energy as two sides of the same coin and proposed united solutions ... to address both issues simultaneously". As a result of Global Warming hysteria, the Al Gore-negotiated Kyoto Protocol created a worldwide market in carbon-emissions trading. Both 2005 --the year that trading was initiated--and this year --when the trading expanded dramatically -- saw substantial and unexpected price spikes in the cost of oil, leading us to reason Number...

2) Speculation "Given the unchanged equilibrium in global oil supply and demand over recent months amid the explosive rise in oil futures prices ... it is more likely that as much as 60% of the today oil price is pure speculation," writes F. William Engdahl, an Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. According to a June 2006 US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report, US energy futures historically "were traded exclusively on regulated exchanges within the United States... The trading of energy commodities by large firms on OTC electronic exchanges was exempted from (federal) oversight by a provision inserted at the behest of Enron and other large energy traders into the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000." The bill was signed into law by Bill Clinton, in one of his last acts in office.

1) Defeat of President Bush's 2001 energy package According to the BBC, "Key points of Bush('s 2001) plan were to:

-Promote new oil and gas drilling

-Build new nuclear plants

-Improve electricity grid and build new pipelines -$10bn in tax breaks to promote energy efficiency and alternative fuels

A New York Times article, dated May 18, 2001, explained:

"President Bush began an intensive effort today to sell his plan for developing new sources of energy to Congress and the American people, arguing that the country had a future of 'energy abundance if it could break free of the traditional antagonism between energy producers and environmental advocates.

Mr. Bush's plea for a new dialogue came as his administration published the report of an energy task force containing scores of specific proposals... for finding new sources of power and encouraging a range of new energy technologies."

[The Bush plan] "mentions about a dozen areas including land-use restrictions in the Rockies, lease stipulations on offshore areas attractive to oil companies, the vetting of locations for nuclear plants, environmental reviews to upgrade power plants and refineries that could be streamlined or eliminated to help industry find more oil and gas and produce more electricity and gasoline."

The article went on to quote some rather prescient words from the President, "this great country could face a darker future, a future that is, unfortunately, being previewed in rising prices at the gas pump and rolling blackouts in the great state of California" if his plan was not adopted in 2001.

The Times account continued:

"Mr. Bush talked not only of blackouts but of blackmail, raising the specter of a future in which the United States is increasingly vulnerable to foreign oil suppliers...Mr. Bush was praised by many groups for laying out a long-term energy policy. His report contained 105 initiatives..."

Just as President Bush's predictions have been born out, the article quoted from that most sage of Democrats, former President Jimmy Carter:

"World supplies are adequate and reasonably stable, price fluctuations are cyclical, reserves are plentiful," he (Carter) argued. Mr. Carter said "exaggerated claims seem designed to promote some long-frustrated ambitions of the oil industry at the expense of environmental quality."

But, as a later Times article notes, "the president's ambitious policy quickly became a casualty of energy politics and, notably, harsh criticism from Democrats enraged by the way the White House had created the plan."

In other words, Democrats refused the President's plea to "break free of the traditional antagonism between energy producers and environmental advocates."

Remember that the next time you pull up to the pump ... or the voter's booth.