How to get the gold - the Italian Job solved

if you have not seen the Italian Job (the original Italian Job) then stop reading now, and go watch it (I have a copy if one is needed). For those that are still with me.. this is a classic british article =)



Spoiler Alert: If you want to be surprised by the ending of The Italian Job, stop reading now.

We had a theory that humanity was officially bored when the carpet rake was invented. Once people didn't have to subdue woolly mammoths for dinner, they could focus on how to subdue the shag. That theory has been bolstered by news that the cliffhanger ending of The Italian Job has been attacked – and solved – by a host of amateur minds responding to a contest held by the Royal Society of Chemists (RSC).

The end of The Italian Job sees the gang in the front of a bus teetering over a cliff, looking at all the gold at the back end of the bus and knowing they can't get to it without plunging to gold-plated deaths. The question posed by the RSC was simple: How could the gang get the gold out of the bus and remain alive to spend it? Ironically, the answer was all about physics, not chemistry.

The winning entry, submitted by John Godwin, describes the following sequence: Break the windows at the back to reduce weight; break two windows at the front, hold one gang member upside-down out of the window to deflate the front tires and stabilize the vehicle; drain the rear fuel tank through an access panel at the bottom of the bus; gang members leave one by one from the front, collecting stones to replace their weight; keep adding stones until someone can safely go to the rear to retrieve the gold.

And for that, Godwin won a trip to Turin. If you happen to be bored, you can always read Godwin's 6-page, scientifically thorough treatment, or check out the some of the other 2,000 entries and diagrams at the RSC site. So now that we've got that taken care of, what's next... what really happened to Thelma and Louise?

Recycling not all its cracked up to be

Good article forwarded from my Mom on how recycling (in the UK) is not exactly the green pasture many it has long been touted as.

However, possibly the best line is this:
"Some town halls have admitted using anti-terrorism legislation to snoop on householders who fail to recycle properly," ... only in the UK ...

On a heavier note, the recommendation of burning trash for electricity is a good one, and specifically the plasma systems now coming on line (which dont generate the toxic/heavy wastes that traditional incinerators do) I think would be a very good option.

Recycling 'could be adding to global warming'

Recycling could be adding to global warming rather than reducing it, a key government adviser on waste management has said.

By Louise Gray and Gordon Rayner
Last Updated: 10:39AM GMT 28 Jan 2009

Recycle bins: Recycling 'could be adding to global warming'
Peter Jones suggested that much of the country's waste should simply be burnt to generate electricity Photo: PA

Peter Jones suggested that an "urgent" review of Labour's policy on recycling was needed to make sure the collection, transportation and processing of recyclable material was not causing a net increase in greenhouse gases.

Mr Jones, a former director of the waste firm Biffa and now an adviser to environment ministers and the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, also dismissed kerbside recycling collections in many areas as "stupid" because they mixed together different materials, rendering them useless for recycling.

He suggested that much of the country's waste should simply be burnt to generate electricity.

"It might be that the global warming impact of putting material through an incinerator five miles down the road is actually less than recycling it 3,000 miles away," he said.

"We've got to urgently get a grip on how this material is flowing through the system; whether we're actually adding to or reducing the overall impact in terms of global warming potential in this process."

Mr Jones's outspoken comments come amid increasing controversy over household recycling.

Last month, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that councils in England and Wales were dumping more than 200,000 tons of recyclable waste every year – up to 10 per cent of all the glass, paper, plastic and other materials separated out by householders. Thousands of tons of recyclables are shipped to China because of insufficient capacity and demand in Britain.

In some parts of the country, residents have to sort their waste into as many as seven containers, including food waste bins, which has helped councils to justify the scrapping of weekly bin collections.

Some town halls have admitted using anti-terrorism legislation to snoop on householders who fail to recycle properly, but councils have so far refused to test the Government's bin taxes, under which people would be fined for throwing out too much rubbish.

But a collapse in the market value of recyclable waste as a result of the global recession means many waste disposal firms are having to stockpile paper, metals and plastics in vast warehouses because they are unable to sell it on.

Mr Jones's comments will add to the suspicion of many householders that the Government's recycling strategy is in chaos.

He said: "In overall terms we are reducing our carbon footprint by diverting material from landfill, but we are in danger of losing those reductions through the wrong policy decisions."

Mr Jones suggested generating electricity by burning waste instead. Alternatively, organic rubbish could be pulverised and stored in vats so that it releases methane, which could be captured and used to generate electricity.

China vs. Obama

Obama and his administration's first steps have been to close Guantanamo (a dubious decision), and antagonize China. The antagonizing China is what I think matters more.

They have stated that China is manipulating its currency. Well no shit. Of course it is. The Bush administration (with their idiotic cheap dollar policy) never accused China of manipulation, and with good reason. The implicit agreement was that China bought US debt, and we bought cheap Chinese products.

Antagonizing China is not the way to go right now, as US debt is already looking a little dubious--Trillion dollar debt, each year for the next few years?--I personally think it is a dumb decision.

&!%@!$&!@ Traffic Tickets

I hate speeding tickets on open safe stretches of road, when you are from out of state. The only reason behind such things is revenue for the state cops. And that drives me crazy. Jackassery.

A new study proves that my suspicions are correct (at least in North Carolina). The study found that the number of tickets issued in the state was primarily influenced by..... the state/county coffers. The less money they were pulling in from taxing you to death, the more they got you by claiming 74 in a 65 is really unsafe, especially when cops cruise around in their POS 70's tech Crown Vics at 80, just because they are jackasses.

Yeah... at least we dont have speed cameras?...

Russia cancels space tourism

No more $20 million fligts to ISS. Russia, possibly due to international pressure, is getting rid of its tourism program.

Still NewSpace is alive and well, and I am hoping t o make it into space in not too long.

Toyota is now the worlds largest car co.

Officially passing GM this year, ToMoCo is now the largest car company in the world.

Too bad for GM, but it is not as dead as many think. Tough times are ahead, but I think it has rounded a corner.

Obama Nation

So, the big speech was not quite the seminal experience many were hoping for, harping on a lot of things in the past as it did.

However, the Obama = Lincoln symbolism is alive and well, thanks largely to Obama and his team.

Also, who the hell cares what Michelle Obama wears? Does that matter, at all? No, it does not. The press is working to turn them into the next JFK and JK, and they ignore the fact that other than everyone thinking he was a golden god, JFK was not actually a very good president. Neither, realistically, was Lincoln (in a sense of freedoms.)

So, color me unimpressed, but I hope I am proven wrong.

AT&T Spams its own customers

yeah... its that bad.. they spammed out text ads for American Idol... TO THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS.

Sinking.. sinking....glug..glug......

Israel's Untargeted Attacks

Hitting the UN Aid station in Gaza with white phosphorus rounds? Thats pretty low, even for Israel. Combined with all the other reports of civilian casualties, it is clear military targets far from the only ones hit. Sure, could be collateral damage and all that, but that still leaves only three solutions:
1) The Israeli army is incompetent (unlikely)
2) The Israeli army is shooting at whatever the hell it wants, if there is a slight excuse to shoot at it (highly likely)
3) The Israeli army is intentionally targeting civilians in order to put pressure on Hamas.

Personally, I think it is explicitly and officially 2, but no one is really against 3 if it happens on a granular level -- the problem for Israel is that even in this very pro-Jewish country, the negative press and reaction is pretty strong.

Oh'MyBama 2009 #1

Obama has commented on the trillion dollar deficit. His comment? It could go on for the next few years. Run for the hills. (I make no bones about the fact that where we currently are is due to the Bushster's lack of Presidentitudability when it comes to spending.)

Graphical representation:

2007 Deficit
http://www.gapingvoid.com/BlueMonster350px.jpg
2008 Deficit
http://flashyourstache.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/stalin.jpg


2010 National Debt
http://www.i-mockery.com/halloween/bag/pics/monster-survival6.jpg

Personal Submarines - from PopMech

Ocean Pearl

Ocean Pearl
company: SEAmagine Hydrospace | passengers: 2 | displacement: 7000 lb
max depth: 500 ft | max speed: 2.5 knots
endurance: Up to 8 hours, with 72 hours of life support

1. Sonar: A forward-looking sonar sensor is mounted near the front of the vessel. A screen in the cabin displays obstacles obscured by murky water or low light. 2. Flotation Bladders: On the surface, inflatable sacs provide the vessel with more than 30 in. of freeboard. When diving, the operator deflates the bladders.
3. Vertical Thruster: Located at the center of gravity of the vessel to maintain stability, this fan produces a jet of water that is used to control the depth of the submarine. 4. External Diver Station: A scuba-equipped operator can pilot the craft from a master control panel located outside the sub. This allows a pair of untrained occupants to ride in the cabin.
5. Buoyant Tail: The rear of the vessel is filled with foam to keep the craft in a horizontal pitch on the surface and underwater. 6. Aft Thrusters: Joystick-controlled thrusters push or pull the craft forward or backward, and can be used to rotate Ocean Pearl in place.


C-Quester 3

C-Quester 3
company: U-Boat Worx | passengers: 3 | displacement: 9259 lb
max depth: 328 ft | max speed: 3 knots
endurance: Up to 6 hours, with 96 hours of life support

U-Boat Worx makes comparatively cheap subs by reducing the size of pressurized compartments, which leads to compact designs. Instead of sharing a large dry space, the batteries, electronics and an air-conditioning unit each have their own small sealed compartment. The company’s C-Quester 3 prototype is as adept above the waves as it is below: A second outer hull makes the craft a sub-within-a-boat. Executives say they will introduce a three-passenger model this year that will cost about $500,000.

OrcaSub

OrcaSub
company: Sub AviatorSystems | passengers: 2 | displacement: 9000 lb
max depth: 2000 ft | max speed: At least 6 knots
endurance: Up to 12 hours, with 96 hours of life support

The OrcaSub is a submersible with wings. Sub Aviator’s craft zips underwater much as an airplane flies—relying on forward motion to generate downward lift on two sets of winglike fins. A pair of thrusters mounted on the stern, each generating about 500 pounds of thrust, propels the sub at 6 knots. For close-in maneuvering, bow and stern thrusters allow the OrcaSub to rotate or move side to side. Sub Aviator plans to start building the first production model of the $2.2 million OrcaSub this year with a construction time of up to 18 months.

10 Things Bush Got Right... With Norm's Comments

An interesting article entitled 10 Things Bush Got Right. My comments will be in italics. I do believe Bush has been overly criticized, but dont agree with a number of these points:


Bush's Achievements
Ten things the president got right.
by Fred Barnes
01/19/2009, Volume 014, Issue 17


The postmortems on the presidency of George W. Bush are all wrong. The liberal line is that Bush dangerously weakened America's position in the world and rushed to the aid of the rich and powerful as income inequality worsened. That is twaddle. Conservatives--okay, not all of them--have only been a little bit kinder. They give Bush credit for the surge that saved Iraq, but not for much else.

He deserves better. His presidency was far more successful than not. And there's an aspect of his decision-making that merits special recognition: his courage. Time and time again, Bush did what other presidents, even Ronald Reagan, would not have done and for which he was vilified and abused. That--defiantly doing the right thing--is what distinguished his presidency.

I do like politicians who don't operate on a day by day polling basis (Obama/Clinton/Clinton), though I would amend this to say "defiantly doing what he thought was right."

Bush had ten great achievements (and maybe more) in his eight years in the White House, starting with his decision in 2001 to jettison the Kyoto global warming treaty so loved by Al Gore, the environmental lobby, elite opinion, and Europeans. The treaty was a disaster, with India and China exempted and economic decline the certain result. Everyone knew it. But only Bush said so and acted accordingly.

I am in on this one.

He stood athwart mounting global warming hysteria and yelled, "Stop!" He slowed the movement toward a policy blunder of worldwide impact, providing time for facts to catch up with the dubious claims of alarmists. Thanks in part to Bush, the supposed consensus of scientists on global warming has now collapsed. The skeptics, who point to global cooling over the past decade, are now heard loud and clear. And a rational approach to the theory of manmade global warming is possible.

Errr.. well, actually, it is a topic of great scientific debate, there never was a "consensus" and there has not been a "collapse." It is likely that humans are aiding global warming. Whether we are the cause, and why it all happens exactly the way it does (like the current possible cooling trend) has not yet been figured out.

Second, enhanced interrogation of terrorists. Along with use of secret prisons and wireless eavesdropping, this saved American lives. How many thousands of lives? We'll never know. But, as Charles Krauthammer said recently, "Those are precisely the elements which kept us safe and which have prevented a second attack."

Crucial intelligence was obtained from captured al Qaeda leaders, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, with the help of waterboarding. Whether this tactic--it creates a drowning sensation--is torture is a matter of debate. John McCain and many Democrats say it is. Bush and Vice President Cheney insist it isn't. In any case, it was necessary. Lincoln once made a similar point in defending his suspension of habeas corpus in direct defiance of Chief Justice Roger Taney. "Are all the laws but one to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?" Lincoln asked. Bush understood the answer in wartime had to be no.

Yeah.. really not on board with this one. I dont actually have a problem with the torture of a legitimate "enemy combattant" as long a there is a legitimate greatest common good basis. All rights are forfeit in war. That said, the rights of citizens are not forfeit because the nation is at war: the Patriot Act is a disaster.

Bush's third achievement was the rebuilding of presidential authority, badly degraded in the era of Vietnam, Watergate, and Bill Clinton. He didn't hesitate to conduct wireless surveillance of terrorists without getting a federal judge's okay. He decided on his own how to treat terrorists and where they should be imprisoned. Those were legitimate decisions for which the president, as commander in chief, should feel no need to apologize.

Exectutive authority needs to have a check on it. Bush pushed it too far, using "emergency" measures and other tactics to go behind the back of the constitution too often.

Defending, all the way to the Supreme Court, Cheney's refusal to disclose to Congress the names of people he'd consulted on energy policy was also enormously important. Democratic congressman Henry Waxman demanded the names, but the Court upheld Cheney, 7-2. Last week, Cheney defended his refusal, waspishly noting that Waxman "doesn't call me up and tell me who he's meeting with."

I agree with this, but it was Cheney, not Bush.

Achievement number four was Bush's unswerving support for Israel. Reagan was once deemed Israel's best friend in the White House. Now Bush can claim the title. He ostracized Yasser Arafat as an impediment to peace in the Middle East. This infuriated the anti-Israel forces in Europe, the Third World, and the United Nations, and was criticized by champions of the "peace process" here at home. Bush was right.

He was clever in his support. Bush announced that Ariel Sharon should withdraw the tanks he'd sent into the West Bank in 2002, then exerted zero pressure on Sharon to do so. And he backed the wall along Israel's eastern border without endorsing it as an official boundary, while knowing full well that it might eventually become exactly that. He was a loyal friend.

I have a lot to say about this one, but it is best left for another post. Israel and our support for it has caused many of the major issues we have today, including the war on terror.

His fifth success was No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the education reform bill cosponsored by America's most prominent liberal Democratic senator Edward Kennedy. The teachers' unions, school boards, the education establishment, conservatives adamant about local control of schools--they all loathed the measure and still do. It requires two things they ardently oppose, mandatory testing and accountability.

Kennedy later turned against NCLB, saying Bush is shortchanging the program. In truth, federal education spending is at record levels. Another complaint is that it forces teachers to "teach to the test." The tests are on math and reading. They are tests worth teaching to.

Meh.. there needs to be some accountablilty nationally, and I favor moving away from the "local taxes, local spending" model of our current school system, but NCLB was at best a middling sucsess.

Sixth, Bush declared in his second inaugural address in 2005 that American foreign policy (at least his) would henceforth focus on promoting democracy around the world. This put him squarely in the Reagan camp, but he was lambasted as unrealistic, impractical, and a tool of wily neoconservatives. The new policy gave Bush credibility in pressing for democracy in the former Soviet republics and Middle East and in zinging various dictators and kleptocrats. It will do the same for President Obama, if he's wise enough to hang onto it.

Yes.

The seventh achievement is the Medicare prescription drug benefit, enacted in 2003. It's not only wildly popular; it has cost less than expected by triggering competition among drug companies. Conservatives have deep reservations about the program. But they shouldn't have been surprised. Bush advocated the drug benefit in the 2000 campaign. And if he hadn't acted, Democrats would have, with a much less attractive result.

A bandaid on a broken system, but one that has been beneficial given the premises it worked with.

Then there were John Roberts and Sam Alito. In putting them on the Supreme Court and naming Roberts chief justice, Bush achieved what had eluded Richard Nixon, Reagan, and his own father. Roberts and Alito made the Court indisputably more conservative. And the good news is Roberts, 53, and Alito, 58, should be justices for decades to come.

So far, so good. More or less.

Bush's ninth achievement has been widely ignored. He strengthened relations with east Asian democracies (Japan, South Korea, Australia) without causing a rift with China. On top of that, he forged strong ties with India. An important factor was their common enemy, Islamic jihadists. After 9/11, Bush made the most of this, and Indian leaders were receptive. His state dinner for Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2006 was a lovefest.

Yes, he did well with India. But Pakistan has been something of a failure. Not to mention distancing the US from the EU, and in particular, from the UK, its oldest ally (not counting France, which can hardly be called an ally over the last 100 years).

Actually, and interestingly, what the writer ignores and many people dont know about is Bush's huge legacy in Africa, where he has been incredibly popular, and good at maintaining peace. Though Sudan has been a sore spot over the last 5 years, many African nations have been brought much further down the road of developmet and democracy due to Bush policies and support.

Finally, a no-brainer: the surge. Bush prompted nearly unanimous disapproval in January 2007 when he announced he was sending more troops to Iraq and adopting a new counterinsurgency strategy. His opponents initially included the State Department, the Pentagon, most of Congress, the media, the foreign policy establishment, indeed the whole world. This makes his decision a profile in courage. Best of all, the surge worked. Iraq is now a fragile but functioning democracy.

Errr... yes... but the surge was only to fix what his administration had broken, or failed to do in the first place. So, yeah, it was a good thing. But it also only needed to happen because we screwed up so badly in liberating the country. So... cant really call that a feather in the cap.

How does Bush rank as a president? We won't know until he's judged from the perspective of two or three decades. Hindsight forced a sharp upgrading of the presidencies of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Given his achievements, it may have the same effect for Bush.

He has been unfairly targeted, hit by a media that did not like him from the start because they thought him a dumb hick. In truth, he was a strong willed and highly intelligent president, far more intelligent than the slick lawyer hick who came before him. At the same time, his strong beliefs lead him to move away from libertarian principles once the nation was under threat, and move towards authoritarian exectutive power and violation of rights. He did lead the nation through a very difficult time, and frankly, we would have been screwed with Gore/Kerry as Presidents. Personally, I am a fan of Bush tax cuts, but his Keynsian economics and overspending have been a problem, and troubling legacy as a man who wishes to spend his way to everlasting glory comes to power. Personally, I have found Bush a principled man of action and courage, its just that I dont often agree with him on a lot of those actions.

Last Year's Model, a downturn phenom

When I was a kid, I wondered whether it would be better to keep selling one car and get the production as cheap as possible than keep developing a car. My thought was to take something simple and reliable - appliance transportation - and just keep selling it, never updating anything. Then in high school I learned the economics behind this thought, and fundamentally, they made sense. But I also learned about customer demand, and the idea pretty much failed here.

To date, there are a few real-world examples. Most notably is the Ford Taurus of the 90's-2006, which became such a standard for fleet cars that Ford kept making them even after it stopped selling them to the public. Another was the Yugo, which was amazingly in production until this year. Another is the 80's BMW 3 series, which is still under production in South Africa and China (South Africa legitimately, China not so much). The VW beetle (the real one) was made in Mexico until 2006 - mostly as Taxi cabs. It cost only about $3,000 in 2006, if my memory is correct, and that is even without a lot of scale.

On the other hand, there is the Reliant Robin, the three-wheeled car from the UK which grew more expensive with time... yeah... British manufacturing....

But, for some reason, I have always loved the idea of building these previous generation vehicles as new - there are very low sunk costs, they are often great cars, and if it were not for ever changing regulations in Europe and the US, I think it makes sense.

And it looks like we (well not exactly we, more of a global we) will see a lot more of this. Globally, auto companies are strapped for cash, and last model's tooling is worthless to them, but worth a good deal to a Chinese or Brazilian car company. Chrysler has already sold the tooling for its last-gen Sebring to a Russian company, which has started churning the out. And there is a good chance it will do so with many more of its models, as it is trying to stay alive. GM might do some of the same: last gen pickups for cheap anyone?

The upshot is that there might be a lot more decent, cheap, new cars driving around, made by companies you have never heard of, but with quality engineering (well... certain Chryslers....) and good (errr... some of the time... if you like hard plastic dashboards..) components. Audi has given the last gen A4 to Seat (they own Seat, or actually VW does), and I think there is much more of this to come.

I would love to see these for cheap:
Last-gen Impreza/WRX... yeah... I've talked about this before
Last-gen Corvette
Last-gen Wrangler
Last-gen BMW 3-series (a all time classic)
Last-gen Saab 9-3 (this might actually happen)
Last-gen Ford Explorer
Last-gen Toyota Tacoma (this one would make $$$ for anyone who got it, a beloved truck globally... but it wont happen, Toyota is doing ok)
Last-gen VW Passat (before it got fat and "luxury")


The only thing is, you will need to live in the 3rd world to buy one, most likely.

magnet cooled...

"Magnetic Refrigeration

Currently, refrigeration cycles typically use a fluid as the working substance undergoing a compression and expansion cycle. Efficiencies are limited due to irreversibilities in the compression and heat transfer process. A cycle that has the potential to be an efficient means of producing refrigeration at cryogenic temperatures is the Active Magnetic Regenerative (AMR) cycle. This cycle makes use of solid magnetic refrigerants typically composed of rare earth elements and alloys ordering ferromagnetically. The magnetic materials display a characteristic temperature rise when the magnetic flux density is increased known as the magnetocaloric effect (MCE). Near the ordering temperature, this temperature change can be highly reversible. When used in an AMR cycle the magnetic refrigerant acts as a thermal storage medium (a regenerator) as well as the means of work input"


not super exciting, but still pretty sweet.

Schools calling for federal bailout

Public schools are calling for bailout funds...

slippery slope anyone?

Quotes, from James

Forwarded from my brother:

A page from History:

Norman Mattoon Thomas (November 20, 1884 December 19, 1968) was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

The Socialist Party candidate for President of the US, Norman Thomas, said this in a 1944 speech:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of "liberalism," they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened." He went on to say:

"I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democratic Party has adopted our platform."

"The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."
Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister, United Kingdom

Subaru Legacy

The new Subaru legacy is here and... its weird. Ok, its only the concept vehicle for the next gen. So.. it will probably look a lot like this.. which is too bad:

Ares alternative

Good reads - though my brother gave me the heads up on this a while ago, looks like the rouge team trying to get past the Ares disaster is going direct to the soon to be POTUS. STBPOTUS had no comment.


Rogue NASA Science Team Pitches New Spacecraft Designs to Obama

NASA, when it isn't finding rogue space lights or mysterious BOOMs of the non-Steve Jobsian variety, is apparently sending rogue science teams to brief President-elect Obama on the future of the space program.

These teams weren't sanctioned by NASA top brass, so in a way they are effectively going rogue, not unlike an Alaskan governor in a Saks Fifth Avenue. They were also not towing the company line about the future of the space program. In fact, they argued that NASA should scrap the upcoming Ares rocket program in lieu of a new program called Jupiter Direct, which relies heavily on proven current-gen space shuttle program technologies and rocket parts.

On paper at least, the Jupiter Direct program appears cheaper. Using a smaller and less cool-sounding rocket than the Ares 1, called the Jupiter 120, the program would require the modified external tank from the space shuttle, which would be shot into space by two RS-68 liquid-fuel engines. Liftoff would occur thanks to the two four-segment solid rocket boosters engineers would bring over directly from the existing shuttle program (which is obvious once you see that image).

And better yet, the Jupiter Direct program has longevity built right in. Because its engine configuration is theoretically more powerful than Ares, the 120 rocket would have the extra oompf necessary for a lunar flyby. A larger Jupiter 232 rocket would allow man (and woman) to land on the moon after a hookup with NASA's Orion lander capsule, which the program leaves unchanged.

Ultimately, the plan is about saving money and keeping space flight missions ongoing after the shuttle program is retired, not usurping NASA. The Obama transition team provided no comment on the rogue meeting, or on the Ares program, for that matter. [Popular Mechanics]

BYD

BYD - a Chinese car company, is trying to become the largest car maker in the world. It has a long way to go, because it is barely in the top 100 right now. With $230 million from Warren Buffet though, it has a chance. Of course, it is trying to do it through building electric and hybrid cars.

Considering I just filled up my audi for $30, I dont think that the time is ripe yet to pay an extra 50% for your car.

Buffet is rarely wrong, but I would say I am not so sure about this one.

Norman Shopping

http://www.ereader.com/servlet/mw?t=free_randomhouse&si=59

8 free highish quality PDF books for your perusal, all for free. Put them on your ebook reader, PDA, or tablet computer, or just print them out at work. What you do with them is up to you, I am just here to show you the door.

Welcome to the American Peso

The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the US Gov will run a $1.2 TRILLION deficit this year.

I was guessing it would be around $1 Trillion, but to know that is what we are going to see, to think about the enormity of that debt.. It's staggering.

Amazingly, everyone seems to think that the way to get out of a problem caused by over leverage, cheap credit, and irresponsible lending is overspending and irresponsible lending. Do people assume that the US govt. is immune to the same problems that Lehman, Bear, AIG, Freddie, and Fannie have faced.

We're all screwed.

Only in the UK...

Only on the emerald isle could this happen.. and its a classic..

The Lewes District Council in East Sussex, England, has just banned whores in their district, although they don't seem to mind seeing jugs every now and then. Actually they decided to ban Hoare Road because of the potential homonymic mixup with ladies of the night, but felt that Juggs Road was okay. In an effort to clean up the smut all around them, the Council has just enacted a measure to ban suggestive, rude or just unpleasant road names from the map. Among the banned names are Gasworks Road, Tip House and Coalpit Lane, all of which were deemed 'aesthetically unsuitable,' as well as 'names capable of deliberate misinterpretation,' like the aforementioned Hoare Road and Typple Avenue, Quare Street and Corfe Close. Juggs Road and Cockshut Road will inexplicably remain.

"success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan"

The Milky Way is 50% heavier than we thought

In the continued evolution of our (highly limited) knowledge about our own solar system, we just figured out it was 50% larger than we previously thought. Which means we are no longer the little brother to Andromeda, but of a roughly similar size.

The reason behind all of this is that it is much easier to look out of our galaxy than to see it, and thus we know much less about the Milky Way than we do about galaxies around us. Just recently, it lost 50% of its spiral arms (dropping from 4 to 2), now it gains 50% more mass. And, at the same time, scientists think that there are many more planets out there that would sustain human life than previously thought -- one big step towards the Star Trek fantasy of stepping out of the shuttle and taking a big healthy breath (most likely after a good bit of terraforming, but so be it.)

Stealing the Senate

The Republicans, with good reason, had been planning to block the seating of Al Franken, who "won" in Minnesota through some seriously unconstitutional means. The democrats realizing that they had better hold off on this one, especially after all the stink they made with Al Gore in 2004. So, there are going to be a couple legal challenges, and since the nomination already rests on a unconstitutional (according to the state constitution) recount, who knows what the hell will happen.

At the same time, the Democratic party is so friggin screwed up, they have been planning to block the seating of a Democrat: Roland Burris. There is a good reason behind this one too, its because Burris was appointed to Barack-I-Will-Serve-Out-My-Term-Obama's seat by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who basically auctioned off the seat.

How the hell we managed to get to the point that we elected an inexperienced and dangerous President with illusions of grandeur (he -- according to many sources -- has been trying to channel Lincoln, not to mention his love of the best thing in the world, himself) while in the middle of one of the most difficult international times in decades, I dont know. All I can hope is that in four years, we have a vaguely still moderately capitalist system, my health insurance is not BO Inc., and Obama has not stimulus packaged our way to a "lost decade."

By the way, how the hell are people buying into all the "new" and "fresh" Obama "miracle" when every damn person he appoints is either just taking up from 8 years ago, or actually a Bush appointee? (Oh, and not to mention that now the CIA and NSA will both be run by political appointees with no intelligence community experience.)

Military Polls

The next four years could be a very busy time for our military. But right now, the majority of that force is against the incoming president. It is not an ideal situation, but hopefully one Obama will be able to rectify by clear and decisive action: though that has not been the norm for his cabinet appointments.



Other results from the same poll are also interesting to me, specifically that 23% of the military say they would retire from service if Obama goes through with his plan to allow gay men and women to serve openly in the military -- repealing the "dont ask dont tell" policy set by his spiritual father Clinton. Of course, this is a highly prejudiced viewpoint, and not to diminish the fight for gay rights, but at this point in time it is probably one of the last things I would be focused on when it comes to the military.

Big Brother Fail

The UK Police Force has admitted that about half of all speed cameras in the country are inactive. They no longer meet the requirements for deployment (thus no tickets would be enforceable). But, because of their 'value' in slowing down drivers, the police refuse to remove the cameras. It has been proven that the cameras cause accidents due to irrational driving.

So not only does the big brother state wish to record and monitor all aspects of your life, they are seriously inefficient at doing so. Double fail.

(in the end though, it is good news half are off - because there is nothing scarier in my mind than an automated populace control system.)