Cows kill 20 a year

Recent research shows that cows are trying to take over the earth.

Actually, it shows that on average 20 Americans are killed every year by cows. Which basically means that the cows are providing a valuable service by culling the gene pool and creating Darwin award winners.

Lesson to all: cow tipping may be entertaining, but one tip too far and the heifers will turn on you..

That was fast

Cash for clunkers ran through $1 billion in a few days. Now, congress is authorizing another $2 billion to keep it going...

get your trades in now folks, because it wont take long..

However, if you are attached to your car, be aware that they replace the oil with silica and fun the engine until it is dead. Then they shred your car. So say goodby to Eleanor.

Two Ferrari posts in one: F458 and Schumi's Return

First, the breaking news: Michael Schumacher will return to F1 for the remainder of the series. Apparently not satisfied with developing cars, winning Moto GP races, and other such 'retired' activities, the robot will return to a very very different F1 to the one that he left.

This is all sadly because of a piece of debris which struck Massa in the head and damaged his eye. Hopefully, he will make a recovery for next year as he is a very strong driver, but in the meantime a legend will fill his boots.

It is a tricky thing though coming out of retirement. Schumacher faces in many ways much more of a challenge than Lance Armstrong did: it would be as if they added 10lbs to the bike on top of 3 years retirement. Ferrari has yet to win a race and though it just secured its first 2nd place finish, it has a long way to go to catch up with Brawn GP or even Red Bull. What that means is Schumacher is coming into a F1 Ferrari team which is not the dominant powerhouse, but a struggling also-ran. A few poor races wont do much for Schumi's reputation. In the end though, I dont expect to see him struggling.

As for the other Ferrari news, it is the F458, the awkwardly named successor to the incredible F430. Basically, it is sexier, lighter, faster, more power, and now gets 17mpg supposedly (like that matters).

Virgin Galactic gets $280 Million injection from Mid East

An Abu Dhabi investment firm has just bought a third of Virgin Galactic for $280 million, thus valuing the venture at $840 million. Which isn't bad, considering there are no profits.




The Abu Dhabi firm will build their own spaceport in the UAE, so this is really more of an expansion than a simple investment. I hope all of this rapidly gets regulatory approval, because I am a big fan of anything which speeds up private space flight.

iPhone 3Gi - Available to the most loyal

Hilarious article from the Onion.. the new iPhone 3Gi, which you can only see if you truly believe...
http://www.theonion.com/content/news/apple_claims_new_iphone_only?utm_source=a-section

SAN FRANCISCO—In a move expected to revolutionize the mobile device industry, Apple launched its fastest and most powerful iPhone to date Tuesday, an innovative new model that can only be seen by the company's hippest and most dedicated customers.

"I am proud today to introduce to those who really, truly deserve it, our most incredible iPhone yet," announced Apple CEO Steve Jobs, extending his seemingly empty left palm toward the eagerly awaiting crowd. "Not only is this our lightest and slimmest model ever, but as any truly savvy Apple customer can clearly see, it's also the most handsome product we've ever designed."

The packed auditorium, which had been listening to Jobs in hushed reverence for several minutes, then erupted into applause, with hundreds of men and women suddenly jumping to their feet and shouting, "I can see it!" "Look, there it is!" and "God, it's so beautiful!"

Enlarge Image Apple Claims Jump - Keynote

Steve Jobs unveils the updated iPhone exclusively to those who really, really want to see it.

Screams of "Of course, yes, I too can see the phone," were also heard at this time.

According to Apple, the new iPhone 3GI boasts significant hardware and software upgrades, superior processing speeds, and a multi-touch interface that provides those who are "cool enough" with a rich user experience. The wide-screen display reportedly also features the most brilliant colors and finest resolution ever imagined.

"The new 3GI is as light as air," said Apple senior vice president Philip Schiller, reaching inside an empty display case, apparently to remove the mobile device. "See how thin that is? It's like it's not even there."

"Those who really understand what we do here at Apple are going to love this new product," Schiller continued. "Unless, you know, they happen to be totally lame."

Retailing for $599, the iPhone 3GI offers only the most special Apple consumers—the ones who believe in the company more than anything else in the world, and who would never, ever dream of questioning it—the ability to open dozens of powerful applications at once. In addition, the new multimedia device will provide true Apple fans with a high-definition video camera, one-tap editing with Final Cut Pro, and cut and paste.

Like thousands of others, New York resident Kelly Delaney called in sick to work so that she could join the line outside the Apple Store's trendy SoHo location days before the 3GI went on sale.

Enlarge Image Apple Claims Jump - In Store

"Oh my God, I can't believe how much faster you can get online with this," said Delaney, who exited the store holding a cupped hand up to her ear and yelling into her wrist about how wonderful the new phone was. "The reception is so clear, and you can pretty much get a signal no matter where you go."

"Hold on a sec," continued Delaney, suddenly shaking her hand up and down. "I think my battery is dying."

According to Apple, the new iPhone launched in 22 countries and sold a record-breaking 8 million units on its first day.

"The selection of colors is amazing," said Paul Conrad, a Fairfield, VA native who purchased phones in black, white, and silver. "Not only does it look awesome, but it can do pretty much anything you want as long as you believe in it."

"The AppleCare Plan doesn't cover dropping your phone, though, so I'd recommend buying one of these designer protective cases," Conrad added.

While the new iPhone has been greatly admired and widely touted for its impressive voice and data communication capabilities, some Americans remain skeptical.

"Daddy isn't talking into anything at all," said 4-year-old Ella Conrad, pointing at her father, Paul, who has been obsessively staring at, playing with, and customizing the invisible phone since purchasing it Monday. "Daddy's pretending to be on hold with an operator."

NJ Corruption

I hate the fact that NJ is corrupt to its core. I hate the fact that there are all kinds of crappy housing developments near where I grew up in NJ and it really pisses me off that a lot of those were built using loopholes in zoning which were probably created by bribery.

NJ could be a great state, if it was not run by a bunch of corrupt mob influenced lowlifes. The FBI probe was interesting more than shocking, and a confirmation of what I already believed about NJ local and state politics.

NJ politicians will be getting a hard rap, but it is also interesting to think about the racial implications for Jews, and Rabbi's in particular. A number of rabbi's getting arrested for money laundering using religious organizations does not exactly help the stereotype.

Microhoo

So after rejecting Microsoft a few times (dumb), and with Jerry Wang now gone (good), Yahoo finally agreed on a deal with Microsoft. In the meantime the big M has gone and built a search engine which is equivalent to google, and so has a decent shot at actually growing market share.

The deal means yahoo search will be powered by Bing, and yahoo will do the marketing for yahoo and bing combined, leading to better economies of scale.

A good deal all around, and a credible alternative to google for users and advertisers - I will likely be signing my company up for the new service in the near future.

Palm Pre Commercials

Got back last night after getting my Palm Pre and watched a little television while I added contacts and played with the OS and all that.

Then, I saw something that almost made me want to return my phone in case people started to think I was an LSD taking alien with translucent skin.

I speak of course of the Palm Pre commercials. This one in particular was some incoherent mumbling about previous lives. It was, in one word, freaky.

Please Palm, I want more that 45 apps in the app store - I want people to actually buy this thing so I can get the benefit of developers wanting to write stuff for webOS. Please stop the scary weird glowing freaky lady from appearing on the TV anymore.

Palm pre

Writing this from my palm pre. Initial impressions a very good. Browser is solid and the OS is friggen sweet. More updates to come.

Fight Carbon Cost Effectively

This graph - from the UN - shows where and how it is possible to fight carbon emissions cost effectively. The latest bill focuses on the far right of the scale.

Health Care Costs

Obama actually said "I will not sign a bill that will add to the national deficit." Can someone please hold him to that?

The amazing thing about his incredibly annoying, obfuscating, and frustrating speech last night was that he was trying to sell the socialist healthcare bill as something with 0 cost. No cost in terms of freedom, no cost in terms of care, no cost in terms of this nations debt. Instead he tried to claim that it would give more choice, better care, and at lower cost.

Of course, that goes against every reasonable estimate of the plan produced, including by his own budget office, but he's part of the pantheon of gods and rules by divine right, so what does it matter, he said it so it is true.

Oh, how they have fallen: the Russian Navy

A year ago, with oil at $150/bl the Russians started bragging how they were going to built a modern aircraft carrier equipped navy. Today, they are admitting they cant even keep up with retirements of old ships from the fleet.

In a statement that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago:
"In a recent conversation with reporters, Admiral Vysotsky said Russia is considering joint ventures with the French (to build aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships), and the possible purchase of submarines from Germany."

The purchase of submarines from Germany is especially interesting. Germany makes one of the most popular export subs: the Type 212, which is an advanced and well respected diesel attack sub with an optional AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) based on a fuel cell. The thing is, Russia had already built a successor to its popular and cheap Kilo class diesel sub - the Lada, which started sea trials in 2004. Why then would they be buying German (especially when a version of the Lada is designed for export?).

Because their shipyards are crap.

The interesting twist here is that Russia is keen to keep itself balanced against the US. It is likely to use its 'reduction' in its Navy as a bargaining chip for similar US 'reductions' of strategic forces. Specifically, it is pressing for the US to further cut back on or eliminate its boomber (SSBN) sub fleet and nuclear capable bombers. In the hands of I-understand-Russia-as-much-as-I-understand-healthcare Obama, it looks like there might actually be some movement in that direction.

Public Healthcare

Obama will talk tonight on his healthcare plan. He will either demand the legislature pass the bill before the recess (ram it down the throat of America) or he will actually wait rather than risk losing support in congress. I hope for the latter.

I think there needs to be universal coverage. But not in this way, not through this bill. The industry has had solutions on the table for some time, but they have been ignored. Instead we are facing a plan that will break the financial back of this nation - or at the very least contribute to its slow economic weakening.

From a NYT Op-Ed:
"The House bill adds $239 billion to the federal deficit during the first 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It would pummel small businesses with an 8 percent payroll penalty. It would jack America’s top tax rate above those in Italy and France. Top earners in New York and California would be giving more than 55 percent of earnings to one government entity or another."

From a NYT article:
"Providing health insurance to the roughly 50 million people without it will cost something like $120 billion a year. President Obama has proposed $60 billion or so in new revenue for this purpose — a “down payment,” his advisers say. But Congress seems set to reject about half of the down payment (a plan to limit high-income families’ tax deductions for charitable giving and other such things). That makes for the $90 billion health care hole."

Americans are not even in favor of the bill - from the Cato Institute:

"A poll by the Washington Post and ABC News conducted June 18-21 showed that 84 percent of respondents were "very" or "somewhat" concerned that "current efforts to reform the health care system" would increase their health care costs. The survey also showed that 79 percent of respondents were concerned that current efforts would limit their choices of doctors or medical treatments.

"The president has made it clear over the last two weeks that he wants Congress to pass health care reform legislation that will result in families only having one place to turn for health care coverage: Uncle Sam," said Cato Senior Fellow Michael Tanner. "What the American people will get is less health care for more money, and deficits will skyrocket.""

As I pointed out in a post back in March, the US has the best health care in the world. Europeans may make jokes about how many in the US are not covered, but then we could make jokes about how most of their hospitals seem like Cold War relics, or how many people die every year because advanced drugs and treatments are not 'cost effective' under govt. controlled health care systems. The thing is, we are usually taught to buy into the European model.

I think most Americans have some vision of a bunch of Swedish nurses and highly efficient German doctors administering care in a hospital designed by a Danish architecture collective or Norman Foster. Bright white walls, stainless steel exposed support structure, interestingly angled windows, monitoring machines by Frog Design blending artfully into the background. The reality is far different.

America needs healthcare reform. What it does not need is a huge, poorly planned, hastily authorized and wildly expensive healthcare system.

If you dont believe that a superpower can fall, if you think that the power of the US will continue whatever the political situation, if you believe that this is the right course for America: look at England in the 1960's. That is the risk the US faces: the gradual onset of economic malaise brought on by excessive regulation and over taxation. On top of that, add the risk of hyperinflation and the picture turns very grim.

Personally, I hope the US economy is strong enough to withstand the abuse, at least until it can be fixed. I fear that will not be the case.

Ultimate Makes SportCenter's Top 10!!!!!!!!

w00t off

head on over to woot.com - its a wootoff (though I think woot is not what it was, a wootoff is still a big deal..)

40 years on - how space lost its romance

Happy 40th anniversary of walking on the moon, mankind.

Of course, we have not made it back to the Moon since before cable TV, let alone PC's, the Internet, and cellphones.

Right now the public is being asked to pony up the cash to head back to the rock in orbit around us, and they are asking why. In 1969 NASA was over 5% of the federal budget (a budget that was a lower % of GDP). Today it is well less than 1%.

In terms of costs, getting back to the moon would be less than 5% of the Iraq war so far, less than the bailout of GM, less than 1% of the total cost of the US bailout. Yet, I understand why it does not capture hearts and minds.

Today, on the 4oth anniversary of "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" the big news out of the ISS? They managed to fix a toilet. Seriously. There are 13 people up there right now - the record for the most humans in space at the same time - but the news was that one of three toilets broke. They did a spacewalk, mostly to install some new machinery. Inspiring? No. Interesting? Not really. It feels like astronauts are up there to take care of chores.

It does not surprise me then that the real wonder and joy of space is captured not by NASA (with the exceptions of Spirit/Opportunity and Hubble) but rather by the private companies. If it were possible I would have wished that Richard Branson launched SpaceShipTwo today - but it was not to be. Soon I hope space will be back - but it will be on the backs of capitalists.

The next RAZR

Moto's RAZR amazed the world with its ridiculous thinness and overall sleek design. You could slip it into the pocket of your ultra-low-rise jeans or even the shirt pocket of your popped-collar polo and no-one would notice. And yet it had all the features you really wanted.

We've done ultra-thin for years now and it is wearing t... you get it. Instead, the hot new thing is to have a large rounded touchscreen computer in your pocket, which also happens to be a cellphone. Unless you are one of the many people who still like thin, light, and unobtrusive.

And for you is the watchphone. Though it will be initially targeted at the larger-wristed half of the population, the watchphone is the ultimate evolution in small, light, unobtrusive, etc etc.

http://www.ohgizmo.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/lg_watchphone_1.jpg

Of course, the downside is really that you have to pair it with a bluetooth headset to talk, which could become a pain in the ass if you dont like wandering around looking like you talk to spirits, or your friends get really tired of never knowing whether you are talking to them or talking on the phone.

We'll have to see how this one plays out in the marketplace - specifically there is no real way to send a text (so, no, I will not be getting one), so it might be a device which is behind its times, but I still like the idea of smaller and more integrated/less obtrusive electronics.

The Pirate Bay: Napster 2.0, 2.0

A little backstory:

The Pirate Bay was the biggest and the baddest of all torrent and file sharing sites. It was ostensibly a torrent site, but also had an insane amount of content on its own servers. They rules the interwebs and all cowered before them (well, except the guys who ran it were pretty easy going and Swedish). They started a political party and were doing quite well in Swedish elections (a few % of the vote). Then they got sued by the RIAA of Sweden (basically) and they lost.

To pay the bills and to get out of the game, they sold the company (while I was vacationing in the UK - thus no BoN announcement) to a Swedish game developer/internet cafe operator for $7.8 million. The owners of the Pirate Bay get some cash, and the internet looses the strongest supporter of file sharing, ever (TPB was far larger than Napster).

Now, they, like napster before them, say they are going legit. Of course "they" is really meaningless in this case, because it is a new team of devs with the old logo. Basically, it is going to be a pay-for-your-music-and-files site where you can trade in computer power (server power) instead of $.

In other words, the second and rather lame coming of Napster 2.0.

RIP The Pirate Bay

Long Live Torrents

The Logic of the Mob, Part 2: Nuclear Energy

http://gizmodo.com/5316455/1979-the-year-we-wussed-out-on-nuclear-power

First Step down a Dark Road

The Ontario Govt. has announced a plan that will give a $10,000 rebate on the purchase of plug-in hybrids. Seems in line with other such plans over the last ten years... except:

The plan was announced at a Toronto Chevy dealer in front of a Chevy Volt, and the plan really only targets the Chevy Volt. Thus it is in reality a $10,000 rebate from the Canadian Govt. on the Volt.

And the Canadian Govt. owns 10% of New GM.

Toyota in particular is crying foul, as they should. No one really expected the US/Canadian governments would keep the playing ground even when they are both the refs and the owners of a team, but the abuse of power has started quickly it seems.

The Logic of the Mob, Part 1: Cap and Trade

"Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system."
-Cicero

When, whether due to clever marketing, collective desire to believe, thruthiness (the highly useful Steven Colbert word for something that just feels true, regardless of whether it is true), or other influences, the mob of public opinion decides something is true it is nearly impossible to change the course of the herd.

One of those has been climate change. In modern middle/upper class sensibilities the underlying belief is that each and everyone of us carries the guilt of success wealth and a good life, and we must do something to repay that debt. We must try and make the world a better place, outside of our jobs (and thus outside of the real productivity of our lives, which really does make the world a better place). So we seek out ways in which we can save the world.

Climate change has been one of the biggest and most vocal of these. I believe in climate change. I just dont believe in what we are doing. Specifically, I think the Waxman-Markey Bill, aka. the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), is a steaming pile of crap.

First, to go over the issue in general: according to one estimate, for 2% of what the World is going to spend on overpriced energy sources, reductions in productivity through regulations, cap and trade and other such likely shenanigans over the course of this century, you could deal with the symptoms of global warming. For a little more than that you could make the world a much better place.

When we think about the terrors of global warming we rarely stop to think about what is actually so terrible about it. Really, it comes down to a few things: water levels rising and wiping out poverty-stricken areas of the globe, less rain for crops leading to famine, and more tropical diseases and such like. If we actually treated these issues rather than carbon emissions, we would solve many of the World's biggest problems for far less money. We could end world hunger, save the rainforest, rebuild Bangladesh, vaccinate, educate and irrigate Africa, and save the whales all at the same time. But somehow that does not fit in with the modern aesthetic of guilt, and so it is never discussed.

Second is the tenuous link between humans and climate change. Not going to get into this one now, but the jury is still out. Climate change is certainly happening, but we dont really know why yet (personally, I think humans are playing a role, but are likely part rather than all of the cause).

So what are we going to do about it? In the US, we have the Waxman-Markey Bill, a cap and trade system which takes the worthlessness of the EU system and brings it over here, while still imposing a secondary set of top-down measures for good measure.

I have been looking at this thing because of work, and it is best described as Crap and Trade. The effects of the bill, from CRA International (a well respected consulting firm):

• Transportation Fuel Costs - After an estimated 12 cents per gallon increase in 2015,
costs of using motor fuels are estimated to increase by 5% (23 cents per gallon) in
2030 and increase by 11% (59 cents per gallon) in 2050, relative to baseline levels.
These cost impacts consider the combined effect of changes in the market prices of
the fundamental energy commodities, the added cost of limiting carbon emissions,
and projected shifts towards a lower-carbon mix of energy sources used to fuel the
average vehicle.
• Employment – A net reduction in U.S. employment of 2.3 million to 2.7 million jobs in each year of the policy through 2030. These reductions are net of substantial gains in “green jobs.” While all regions of the country would be adversely impacted, the West, Oklahoma/Texas and the Mississippi Valley regions would be disproportionately affected.
• Wages – Declines in workers’ wages will become more severe with time. The
earnings of an average worker who remains employed would be approximately $170
less by 2015, $390 less by 2030, and $960 less by 2050, relative to baseline levels.
• Household Purchasing Power - The average American household’s annual
purchasing power is estimated to decline relative to the no carbon policy case by
$730 in 2015, by $830 in 2030, and by $940 in 2050. These changes are calculated
against 2010 income levels (the median U.S. household income in 2007 is
approximately $50,000). They would be larger if stated against projected future
baseline income levels.
• Overall Economic Activity - In 2015, gross domestic product (GDP), a commonly used
measure of total economic activity, is estimated to be 1.0% ($170 billon) below
the baseline level driven principally by declining consumption. In 2030, GDP is
estimated to be roughly 1.3% ($350 billon) below the baseline level. In 2050, GDP is
estimated to be roughly 1.5% ($730 billon) below the baseline level.
• Costs of a duplicate regulatory system – ACESA establishes both a GHG cap-andtrade
and a series of command-and-control mandates. In some cases, the
regulations may not appear to be binding; i.e., the cap might, by itself, motivate all of the actions needed to meet the standard. In these instances, the standards would waste resources on needless monitoring, measuring, enforcement, and compliance,
but they would not affect the pattern of GHG reductions. In other cases, the
standards would change the allocation of abatement resources by mandating
different choices. However, the cap sets the total GHG cutback. If the regulations
mandate more change in one area, less will take place somewhere else. Standards,
therefore, will force the economy to substitute more expensive GHG emission
decreases for decreases of the same amount that could have been made elsewhere
at lower cost.
• Wealth transfers abroad - ACESA contains provisions that will transfer wealth from
the U.S. to other nations. These include allocations of allowances to overseas
entities for international adaptation and purchases of offsets from foreign projects.
We estimate that these provisions of ACESA would result in a transfer of U.S wealth
to other countries varying from $40 billion to $60 billion per year in the years 2012
through 2030. Some possible circumstances can cause these amounts to be even
larger. The largest wealth transfers from the U.S. to other countries will be associated with purchases of international offsets. In effect, avoided deforestation becomes another U.S. import in an economy that has been struggling with a chronic structural trade deficit.

The only reason this bill is popular, and this bill will pass, is because it appeases the unjustified guilt of Americans. Are there sensible ways to cutting emissions? Yes. Are there things we should be doing to try and live lower impact lives? Yes. But this is the wrong bill, at the wrong time.

You want to really save the world and make it a better place? Than improve the global GDP per capita as fast as possible. It is the best measure of development, and the faster that we grow the global economy the better off we will be in the long run.


Quote of the Day

C.S. Lewis:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Place name of the day: Smackover, Arkansas

Smackover, Arkansas...

seems to fit, don't it?

10 things you didn't know about the Apollo Landings

This is from PopSci, in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of landing on the Moon (hopefully by the 50th, we have gotten back there...)

1. The Apollo’s Saturn rockets were packed with enough fuel to throw 100-pound shrapnel three miles, and NASA couldn’t rule out the possibility that they might explode on takeoff. NASA seated its VIP spectators three and a half miles from the launchpad.

2. The Apollo computers had less processing power than a cellphone.

3. Drinking water was a fuel-cell by-product, but Apollo 11’s hydrogen-gas filters didn’t work, making every drink bubbly. Urinating and defecating in zero gravity, meanwhile, had not been figured out; the latter was so troublesome that at least one astronaut spent his entire mission on an anti-diarrhea drug to avoid it.

4. When Apollo 11’s lunar lander, the Eagle, separated from the orbiter, the cabin wasn’t fully depressurized, resulting in a burst of gas equivalent to popping a champagne cork. It threw the module’s landing four miles off-target.

5. Pilot Neil Armstrong nearly ran out of fuel landing the Eagle, and many at mission control worried he might crash. Apollo engineer Milton Silveira, however, was relieved: His tests had shown that there was a small chance the exhaust could shoot back into the rocket as it landed and ignite the remaining propellant.

6. The "one small step for man" wasn’t actually that small. Armstrong set the ship down so gently that its shock absorbers didn’t compress. He had to hop 3.5 feet from the Eagle’s ladder to the surface.

7. When Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface, he had to make sure not to lock the Eagle's door because there was no outer handle.

8. The toughest moonwalk task? Planting the flag. NASA’s studies suggested that the lunar soil was soft, but Armstrong and Aldrin found the surface to be a thin wisp of dust over hard rock. They managed to drive the flagpole a few inches into the ground and film it for broadcast, and then took care not to accidentally knock it over.

9. The flag was made by Sears, but NASA refused to acknowledge this because they didn’t want "another Tang."

10. The inner bladder of the space suits—the airtight liner that keeps the astronaut’s body under Earth-like pressure—and the ship’s computer’s ROM chips were handmade by teams of “little old ladies.”

Need a Laugh?

This is one of the best sites out there. It is up in the pantheon of laughs with icanhazcheesburger (even though I dont like cats that much, I love that site), and Fail Blog.

http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/all/

Yeah, its the best of Craigslist. And it is hilarious. For example:

Cow poop


Date: 2009-05-25, 8:30PM EDT


We have cows that keep pooping and it's more than we can handle. Every day there is more cow shit piling up and my husband is starting to panic. He works at Jiffy Mart and doesn't have the time to figure out what to do with all of it. I work too, and I dread coming home each night only to see the cows have pooped another mountain. Please, if you know what can be done about this situation, please let us know as we are at wits end. The stench is becoming unbearable here and I can hardly eat my salad right now as I type this.

Pet Ad Translations


Date: 2009-05-23, 9:47PM PDT


Puppy's = PUPPIES
puppie = PUPPY
Applys = APPLIES
rare = degenerate
photo of dogs in a chicken-wire cage = I'm a BYB who's too cheap to buy a kennel
AKC/CKC registered = I paid a bit more so that you will pay a helluva lot more and think that it means the dog is quality (if you went to the AKC website you'd realize that any dog listed ask AKC registered that is up for sale is supposed to come with a specific disclaimer attached... but you already knew that didn't you?)
Chiwawa, Chichuachua, Chiuaua, and the best one, Chichuaga = CHIHUAHUA
Doxon = You don't know anything about the breed you're trying to sell
part Datsun= Perhaps it's a Japanese mixed breed. Hopefully it has low mileage.

Free, Free, Free!!!!


Date: 2009-05-21, 8:44PM MDT


Ever want a good quality stump you can rest your feet on, relax on, or even eat on? Then we have the best item FOR FREE just for you. Today only come and get your free, newly removed stump. You even get the dirt attached for NO CHARGE. Just cant get any better than this. Please let everyone have a chance for this, serious inquries only. Have a great day, have fun and keep shopping on Craigslist!

  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests




1986 toyota camry custom


Date: 2009-05-20, 8:04PM MST


1986 toyota camry

custom made with heavy duty cardboard body kit

runs good fast and fun

custom cardboard hoodscoop and rear spoiler for

super aerodynamic

15 inch chrome rims

comes with pink sandle air freshner for odor control

flame and dragon decals



Free - International Ketchup Packet Collection


Date: 2009-05-12, 12:16PM EDT


This is a collection of ketchup packets from around the world. approximately 25 countries are represented here, including japan, finland, estonia, greenland, brazil, and portugal. none of the packets have been opened and they are labeled with their home country.

Collection comes in decorative box with ducks on it.



And so on and so on.... good times.

Why I will never buy a Mac

From Gizmodo's deals of the day:

15.4" Lenovo G530-444635U Dual Core Laptop with 2GB DDR2 160GB HDD for $399.99 plus free shipping (normally $427 - use coupon code PAYPALBTS88).
13.3" Aluminum MacBook MB466LL/A with 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2GB RAM 160GB HD SuperDrive (Refurbished) for $949 plus free shipping (normally $1,049).

So a new Lenovo (they bought IBM's Thinkpad line) for $400 or a similar refurb apple for $950... yeah..

Worst Sales Pitch of all Time

This is a real email I just got..

ETD
to me

show details 1:38 PM (3 minutes ago)


Reply

Follow up message
Ander-

As I was trying to say if I were to trade your car in at a dealer
if I bought it I would prob. only be offered 5000 > 5600 for it.
Which I would need to do if there ended up being any unforeseen
problem with the car and I choose not to deal with it...

Yeah... I will sell it to you for less than I would get for going to a dealer for trade-in. Makes a whole lot o sense....

idiotic.

NASA Getting the point of the ISS?

NASA is set to install Tranquility - the latest section of the ISS, and with it one of the most important sections of the space station: the cupola.

Until now the largest window on the ISS was 20 inches (probably a little larger than the monitor you are looking at now). The cupola will have a 31 inch window with a lot of little windows around it.

And to me, it is possibly a sign that NASA is getting the point of the ISS. Space is amazing, it is what humanity has to explore, and it will be the most important and longest-lasting of all our explorations. Getting to space, living in space, and being able to see and enjoy the beauty of our planet from space and of the stars beyond is the real reason behind man's quest for leaving this planet.

Now, I am a pragmatist, and so I firmly believe that the only way space will work is if we make money. And there too, the cupola makes sense. If I was a prospective space tourist (ok, well, I am, but I am about $19.99 million too short) the cupola would greatly increase my interest in spending said huge sum of $ on floating in a tin can for a week.

Man charged $23 quadrillion at gas station...

Found by Randy, this one is a classic - and I love that BoA tried to charge overdraft charges...

NH man charged 23 quadrillion dollars for smokes

July 15, 2009


MANCHESTER, N.H.—A New Hampshire man says he swiped his debit card at a gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes and was charged over 23 quadrillion dollars.

Josh Muszynski (Moo-SIN'-ski) checked his account online a few hours later and saw the 17-digit number -- a stunning $23,148,855,308,184,500 (twenty-three quadrillion, one hundred forty-eight trillion, eight hundred fifty-five billion, three hundred eight million, one hundred eighty-four thousand, five hundred dollars).

Muszynski says he spent two hours on the phone with Bank of America trying to sort out the string of numbers and the $15 overdraft fee.

The bank corrected the error the next day.

Bank of America tells WMUR-TV only the card issuer, Visa, could answer questions. Visa, in turn, referred questions to the bank.

Bidding war for rights to "Asteroids" Movie!

This is not a joke. At least I dont think it is. But it should be...

'Asteroids' lands at Universal

Lorenzo di Bonaventura producing game adaptation

By Borys Kit

July 2, 2009, 02:12 AM ET

Universal has won a four-studio bidding war to pick up the film rights to the classic Atari video game "Asteroids." Matthew Lopez will write the script for the feature adaptation, which will be produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura.

In "Asteroids," initially released as an arcade game in 1979, a player controlled a triangular space ship in an asteroid field. The object was to shoot and destroy the hulking masses of rock and the occasional flying saucer while avoiding smashing into both.

As opposed to today's games, there is no story line or fancy world-building mythology, so the studio would be creating a plot from scratch. Universal, however, is used to that development process, as it's in the middle of doing just that for several of the Hasbro board game properties it is translating to the big screen, such as "Battleship" and "Candyland."

Senior vp of production Jeff Kirschenbaum will oversee the project for Universal.

Di Bonaventura's next outing is "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," which Paramount is set to open Aug. 7.

Lopez came out of Disney's writing program and worked on that studio's recent movies "Bedtime Stories" and "Race to Witch Mountain." He also wrote the most recent draft of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," currently in production with Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel starring.
..........................................

If you just want to play the game, for old times sake, or because it is amazing, click here:
http://www.play.vg/games/4-Asteroids.html

It might also remind you how totally ridiculous the idea of turning this into a movie is. Sure, it was the first game to employ "physics" and so totally revolutionized gaming (though, Space Invaders was actually more popular), but the fact that it lacks
1) A plot/storyline/backstory/anything in the way of a story at all
2) Characters other than the spaceship, big alien spaceship, and small alien spaceship
3) Color
should probably have dissuaded universal.

Then again, if Transformers 2 is any indication, a movie can be completely terrible and have no plot and still do well. Though of course the real point of Asteroids is to blow up more and more asteroids until you die. Which is really not much of a cinematic arc...

cyberwar

A little while ago N. Korea launched a cyber-attack against S. Korea and the us. It was a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, and coming from such pathetically backwards nation as N. Korea, which hardly has the internet at all, it was a complete failure.

Actually, thats the way it should read. But it doesn't. North Korea was actually startlingly effective, shutting down a large number of S. Korean and US Govt. sites. It was characterized as a mid-level DDoS attack, certainly only a sliver of the kind of power Russia or especially China could marshal up. And it worked, very well. Amazon.com and the NASDAQ servers were strong enough to stand up to the onslaught, but a lot of US Govt. sites were not - and on top of that their security systems failed to block the attack.

A DDoS attack is basically taking a bunch of zombie (virus infected) computers, which are under the control of a central authority, and using them to direct a whole ton of traffic to certain servers in order to overload them. It is pretty simple and very effective. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the US defenses.

Much as this is overall a story--sadly--of US incompetence (we god pwned by N. Korea for Gods sake), there is an intersting twist. The US Airforce Cybercommand came out a little while ago and stated that they see a role for traditional "kinetic" warfare alongside cyberwarfare. In other words, if you hack us, we are going to drop a JDAM on your head.

Somewhere in N. Korea:
"Ohhhh, pwned the Sec. Def!!!! w00t w00t!! LOLZ!!!!"

3,500 miles away:
"Sir, we just got pwnded"
"Respond using kinetic countermeasures"

The GOP

The GOP has not yet reached the stage of figuring out how to return to power. It has not yet reached the stage of assembling a cohesive new platform which rings well with voters. It has not yet reached the stage where it finds ways to effectively assault the popular socialist policies of Obama. It has not yet reached the stage of quietly licking its wounds and planning. It is currently in the process of tearing itself apart.

And this might be a good thing.

Palin, whatever you think of her, is a polarizing figure. Huckabee is another - but Palin is really the one to look to. Both are likely to run for President in 2012. Neither will win, but one might get the Republican nomination.

It is intersting that in the wake of her idiotic decision to retire from the Governorship of Alaska, it is not just the liberal pundits and Democratic attack dogs going after her. It is the Republicans. Seeking to distance themselves from the religious, right-wing, gun-toting, un-intellectual (un-intelligent), Republicanism enshrined by Palin, 1/2 of the party is seeking the middle road. The other 1/2 supports her.

The problem is that the best way to come back to power is figure out how to compromise so that you win over the center while retaining enough of your power-base. Right now, the Republican party seems to be fragmenting.

And the thing is, I really hope it does. I would love to see legitimate multi-party politics in the US. I think it would make US citizens more engaged, it would give rise to a greater variety of political opinion and it would lead to legitimiate political discourse.

In the current US political system, there is a lot which is simply not spoken of because neither party wants to bring it up. A multi-party system would solve that, and solve a lot of other stuff I am too tired tonight to get into.

But the basic issue is that it is much more likely that the Republican party splits ideologically than in practice - meaning there will still be only one party, but within that party will be two warring factions. That would be a disaster for the Republican party and with come with none of the benefits of the creation of a multi-party system.

So, heres to either the collapse and split of the GOP or to its ability to get its shit together. Because to be perfectly honest, at this point, I would take some social right-wing crap in order to countermand some of the vast damage being done to this country through the dismantling of its capitalist foundations.

The new Auto Czar

The new auto czar is Ron Bloom, a former advisor to the United Steel Workers union. Which makes sense, as Obama already abused his power to put the UAW ahead of all other creditors, and bought GM so that the unions dont fail, why not put a union guy in charge of the whole thing. It is only a member of the prolitariat who can truly understand what is best for his comrades.

Mid East Sov. Wealth Fund Buys 4% of Tesla to Develop Electic Cars

Her is a great tidbit for all you "big oil killed the electric car" fans (which is probably 0 who read this..)

The Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund has bought 4% of the electric car company Tesla. Technically, they bought it from Daimler, who had owned 9%. Aabar investments already owned a chunck of Daimler, so this probably gives Daimler some extra (and friendly) financing while still allowing them to go ahead with plans to use Tesla's electric drive and battery pack tech.

The kicker is this:
"the fund indicated an intention to pursue joint projects in low emissions transportation"

The intresting part is of course that the SWF's of the middle east have all been created using oil money, but are all independent (or mostly so) from that oil money. Their goal is to ensure the long term wealth of the region from the money generated now. It is a wild idea to anyone in the US - but the basic strategy is to save up now and invest it so that the weath grows. Of course, one could say that in the US we would use it to make more money, right now, but most SWF's are there for the long-haul, to ensure stability and such like. It is certainly a better option than the African model of natural resources weath use.

So, oil money is now funding the Silicone Valley golden child car company. Interesting to see how this one plays out - my expectation is still that Tesla has a hard time reaching general acceptance.

The Strange Case of Einstein’s Brain

This is an interesting one - and something I had never read about before. Really, it is the story of a crazy and then obsessive doctor - and of something that should be considered a national treasure? Or a benchmark for future genetic engineering? However you look at it, an interesting story.

The Strange Case of Einstein’s Brain

Albert Einstein PhotoAlbert Einstein led an interesting life to say the least. In one year alone, in 1905, what scientists have called his ‘Miracle year’ he revolutionized physics and electromagnetism. His equation, E=mc2, is the most well-known equation in the world. Every new pronouncement from Einstein was front page news. He made headlines all his life. But the headlines did not stop with his death in 1955. And his interesting story continued on as well.
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The story of Einstein’s Brain only starts with his death on April 18th, 1955. Up until that point, the story of his brain is inextricably part of the story of Einstein himself. After his death, Einstein’s Brain begins its own journey, and its own story.

The Journey of Einstein’s Brain

Einstein’s brain was removed and weighed during the course of his autopsy by Dr. Thomas Harvey of Princeton Hospital. Dr. Harvey cut Einstein’s brain into 240 sections and placed the pieces in jars of formaldehyde. The rest of Einstein went to the crematorium to be cremated in accordance with Einstein’s wishes.

The question of whether Dr. Harvey had permission to do this at the time has caused debate to this day. Dr. Harvey claimed that he did have. Einstein’s family did not. The latest biography about Einstein, written by Walter Isaacson, explores the various claims and evidence in a chapter toward the end. Apparently Dr. Harvey called up Einstein’s son, Hans Albert, after the fact and got him to give grudging permission, claiming that Dr. Einstein would have wanted his brain to be used in research and to enhance knowledge. Hans Albert agreed under the condition that Professor Einstein’s brain be used only for scientific research, the results of which be published in qualified scientific journals.

Despite these promises, and despite holding onto Einstein’s brain for years, Dr. Harvey never published any findings. Any time someone of the press would find him and ask, he would always remark that he was just a year away from publishing his findings. Eventually Dr. Harvey lost his job from the controversy, got divorced, and began moving around the country, taking Einstein’s brain with him wherever he went. Occasionally he would send off pieces of the brain to researchers, but mostly he guarded the treasure closely.

In 1978, Steven Levy, a reporter then of New Jersey Monthly, tracked down Dr. Harvey in Wichita, Kansas. There Levy wrote about Dr. Harvey taking out the mason jars holding the sections of Einstein’s brain to show him, from where they were being stored in a box in the corner of his office labeled ‘Costa Cider’. The publication caused a flurry of excitement in the media, and again aroused interest in the sacred cerebrum.

In the 1980s, after Dr. Harvey gave her some sections of the brain, Professor Marion Diamond of the University of California, Berkeley performed some tests and found the first possible differences between Einstein’s brain and ‘normal’ people. Einstein’s brain had a higher ratio of glial cells to neurons than the other test brains in some regions. The findings, published in 1985, again caused a swirl of speculation and interest. However, this test has come under criticisms for some of its methods, including the differences in age between most of the other brains and Einstein’s, as well as the fact that only one test out of 22 were chosen as significant.

One of the stranger twists of this story took place when Dr. Harvey and a writer by the name of Michael Paterniti, took a cross country road trip with Einstein’s brain in the trunk of a Buick Skylark to visit Einstein’s granddaughter Evelyn. Paterniti wrote a book entitled Driving Mr. Albert, recounting the tale.

The Return of Einstein’s Brain

Einstein’s brain was returned to Princeton in 1996 when Dr. Harvey handed it over to Dr. Elliot Krauss, his successor at Princeton Hospital. Finally the brain was given serious scientific study.

It wasn’t long until another team of scientists, working from the samples of Einstein’s brain, published results indicating another anomaly of Einstein’s brain. The study, published in 1999, found that Einstein’s brain was wider in the area concerned with mathematics and spacial thinking. Also, the Sylvian fissure was almost absent in Einstein’s brain in this area. Scientists speculate this may have allowed parts of his brain to communicate a little better. So, finally it was proven that there were some structure differences in Einstein’s brain. Though whether his constant mental exercise caused some differences, or whether differences in brain structure made a difference in his thinking is unknown. Kind of a mental chicken and egg.

Einstein himself dismissed ideas of a physiological, mental difference between himself and others, preferring to lay the credit for his successes on an insatiable curiosity and drive to unravel the mysteries of the universe. One thing is certain, with the strange journey that Einstein’s brain has taken so far, it’s mysteries are far from over

Cell Phones

So, my contract is almost up on my cell phone, and my little brother needs to displace me on the family plan. All this means that it is time for norm to get a new phone.

The options out there are many.

I went into each of the carriers and look primarily at plans. For $60-$70 a month you can get 450 mins, unlimited internet and about 200 texts from each of the major carriers.

I think about phone contracts as a cost per year - it is the easiest way to really see the differences and include the phone prices. (Phone price/24 + monthly contract)*12 = yearly cost

So next comes the question of phones. There are the halo phones: the Pre, the iPhone, the MyTouch, the Blackberry Storm. There are the messaging phones - pretty much like what I have now (Samsung Alias), but some with features such as full HTML web browsers which set them apart. And in the middle are the legions of pretty-good high-end smartphones like Blackberry curves and pearls, LG Vu's and a host of others.

In the end though, I have wittled it down to these main offerings:

• SPRINT: A Pre would be $940/year, while a $50 texting phone would be $864/year
• T-MOBILE: Would come out at $864 a year with a $50 Blackberry Pearl
• ATT: Would cost $744/year with a LG VU,
A 3g iPhone $70 refurb = $935/year
• VERIZON: Krave = $73/month = $875/year
• BOOST: $130 for a i465 – a pretty decent but not spectacular texting phone, = $665/year

Boost is obviously a wildcard thrown in because it is so damn cheap, but it does run on the Nextel iDEN network - which is less than spectacular.

I am leaning towards the ATT/LG Vu combo - I think it would offer most of the goodies of the iPhone/Pre, for $200 less a year. What I would really be missing out on are the app stores for each, and Wi-Fi (which the Vu does not have) - but I have my much loved Nokia 770 for that, and the integration with iTunes (which the Pre actually has as well as the iPhone).

What would you pick? (Voting to the right).

New Market Segment for Cars

Once upon a time there were cars, which came in s,m,l, and xl, and trucks, which usually came in m,l, and xl. Then, Sir Alec Issigonis invented the front-wheel drive hatchback Mini, and it was good (though that category never really got attention over here). A little later, someone came up with a wagon, and it was good. Then there were SUV's, which also came in s,m,l, and xl, and they were good. Then Chrysler came up with the minivan, and it was also good, if you had lots of kids.

Cars were sedans, hatchbacks, wagons, sports cars, or convertibles, SUVs were trucks with shells reattached (or attached, depending on the way you look at it), and Minivans were a highly distinct seperate category.

And then the last 10 years happened. And stuff got all screwed up. We are now living in an age when most "SUV's" are based on cars, some cars are getting bigger and taller to be more like SUVs, Mercedes builds a $60,000 minivan, BMW just released a M X6 crossover/wagon/SUV/thingie (see below), the next Ford Explorer will be based on the Taurus (not kidding), Mini is making a crossover (still not kidding), minivans are made to look like SUV's, and SUV's are made to look like sports cars.

In other words, all the traditional boundaries have been shot to hell. I think nothing says this more than the X6 M:
http://static.blogo.it/autoblog/BMWX6M.jpg

What is it? I have no idea. You would want one presumably if you want a really high powered sports car that can also take your kids and your dog to work and then do a lap of Laguna Seca on the ride home, and you happen to live on a dirt path in the woods. Seems like a legitimate market segment to me...

And you see, the thing is, I like all the new models coming out. I like the blurring of the lines. I like getting my car the way that I want, and more choice = a higher chance that I can get what I want. To quote from that fountain of knowledge, Demolition Man:

"You see, according to Cocteau's plan I'm the enemy, 'cause I like to think; I like to read. I'm into freedom of speech and freedom of choice. I'm the kind of guy likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder - "Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with the side order of gravy fries?" I WANT high cholesterol. I wanna eat bacon and butter and BUCKETS of cheese, okay? I want to smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section. I want to run through the streets naked with green Jell-o all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly might feel the need to, okay, pal? I've SEEN the future. Do you know what it is? It's a 47-year-old virgin sitting around in his beige pajamas, drinking a banana-broccoli shake, singing "I'm an Oscar Meyer Wiener".

A long time ago flexible new manufacturing out of Japan promised that we would soon be seeing more niche vehicles produced in low volumes. Then computer design came along and promised, well, pretty much exactly the same thing. As with most developments, it has taken a while to actually happen, but we are finally there. Car companies can now afford to make smaller volume vehicles, and I really am a fan of this. Smaller volume vehicles tend to be quirky, and I like quirky. They tend to be sporty, and I like sporty.

And so I announce to you the latest category to come to US shores: the wagon/hatchback/4-door coupe thing. Born of America's hatred of wagons (other than the Subaru Legacy, which somehow has escaped the scorn - it is seriously the only well-selling wagon in the US), this new category seeks to give us not-quite-a-wagon utility while looking sort of like a sedan and keeping the flowing lines of the 4-door coupe aesthetic. Yeah. So, its a little confused to start with.

The first of these will be a new 5-series GT, which looks, well, ugly.
http://www.bmwdrives.com/gallery/BMWconcept/BMW_5series_GT/bmw_5series_gt_concept_1.jpg

Soon after that we will be getting the Porsche Panamera, which is... ugly:
http://www.highsnobiety.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/porsche-panamera-2.jpg


The car for the masses will be the new Honda Accord Crosstour... and you guessed it... the damn thing is ugly.


So, I dont think this is a market niche that really needed to be filled. I liked the idea of the old Saabs where a sedan was a hatchback because the rear glass was attached to the hinge above it - and thus you could get large and ungainly stuff in and out. But unless some Saabophile was going on about how his quirky Sweedish car was so much better than your Bavarian car for people without imagination, you never would have know that said Saab was actually a hatchback.

Which leads me to a car I really like, though many dont, which is now sadly out of production because the US does not really like wagons.. (and yes, I know there are certain people reading this who think it is a really ugly car, but I disagree..)

The Dodge Magnum.
http://upload.moldova.org/auto/Dodge/2008_Dodge_Magnum_SRT.jpg

So long live niche cars, but I hope, long live super-wagons as well.

Breaking News: Austria has a Sense of Humor

Bruno has just come out, and based on the popularity of Borat, it is doing pretty well.

It, of course, largely makes fun of the US, just as Borat did. But juts as in Borat, it also makes fun of Sasha's "home country" - in this case Austria.

The difference is this time around, Austria thinks it is pretty funny, with most newspapers giving it decent reviews and public reaction being pretty good. In other words, Austria can take a joke.

Russia is Crazy

This is a true story. Look it up. To me, it is simply one more piece of evidence how Russia is a dictatorship (not that any more was needed), and more than that, interesting for just how crazy it is.

Alina Kabaeva was a rhythmic gymnast. If you are like me, and have never really paid attention to gymnastics, you probably dont know who she is. Turns out she is 25, and already retired (more on that later), but in her short career she amassed a vast number of medals including an Olympic gold.

She became very popular in Russia, and when she retired in 2005 she went straight into politics and was elected to the lower consultative legislative body (the Public Chamber of Russia).

From about that time on she was linked to Putin, as a mistress. Alina had been selected as the 'most beautiful woman in Russia' according to a Maxim like magazine.

In 2007, at the age of 23 (if my math is right) she was elected to the Duma, the legislature of Russia. This time the rumors of her and Putin got stronger, and a Moscow rag ran with them. Both parties strongly denied the truth of the rumors.

Shortly afterwards the owner of the newspaper decided to shut it down, due to "editorial differences."

Let me put it another way. It would be like Michelle Kwan retiring from ice skating in 2000, being elected to the House of Representitives, shortly thereafter being linked to G.W. Bush. Getting then elected to the Senate in 2003, and Bush closing down the New York Post because it ran a story on the two of them. It would be the scandal of the century.

Except in Russia, no one talks about it. Because if they did, they would either be shut down, or killed.

Crazy.

The Strangest Show on Earth

Seems like North Korea is getting ready for another Arirang, which has to qualify as one of the strangest and most interesting spectacles of the modern world.

It has a cast of 100,000. It has a giant backdrop of colored cards which are rapidly changed by 30,000 children in order to display patriotic phrases, scenery and portraits. It has thousands of dancers, riots of color, and a stadium of 150,000 in a country which can barely afford to keep the lights on.

It is all at once a spectacle of societal control, a throwback to the days of Stalin (though it is unlikely even Stalin could have pulled this off) and the way the hermit kingdom fights back against the 'unfair' descriptions of poverty and despair common in western, and for that matter eastern, news and media.

It is also one of the only times that a nation with less than 300 full time foreign residents opens its doors to the outside world, because it is one of the very few ways in which N. Korea is able to get its hands on hard currency.

The last Arirang was in 2007, and the pictures from it - which you can see here - are dramatic. The next one should be later this year, so if you want to visit a Stalinist state, this might be one of your last chances.

Google Chrome OS = Cloudy time

Basically, as far as I can tell, the point of Google's Chrome OS is that you will be doing everything in the "cloud." Which of course begs the question: what if the weather's bad?

Well, it might not be for you then.

What I mean by all this babbling is basically that Chrome OS will rely heavily (almost entirely) on web-based application. Gmail for email. Google Docs for word processing. Some souped up version of Picassa for online photo editing and storage. And yes, probably also the long rumored Gstorage for storage in the "cloud."

Which again is all good, until the weather is bad (you dont have internet access). In such disastrous times you would still be able to use the offline versions of Google Office and Gmail, but you would otherwise be pretty much screwed. Of course, Google sees the whole point of this as being online, so using it offline is somewhat not the point.

In the end, I think it will basically be a small linux distro which will gain traction on little computers to start with - netbooks - any may eventually be used as a dual-boot option on larger laptops. For the timebeing though, I think it will likely succeed where Linux has so far failed, but hardly put a dent in Windows.

Does anyone else get the feeling that Microsoft is the underdog these days?

Anyway, another negative for me is that Chrome OS will be ad based, just like everything else Google. Which is fine, to a point, but I dont really like the idea of everything I do being tracked and sold for a profit (the reason I am yet to install or try the Chrome browser, and the reason I have opted out of every tracking service, including Googles, which it is possible to opt out of). I know Google's moto is "don't be evil" but apparent that allows "do track the complete actions of every individual on the planet and use that data to sell advertising." I am more comfortable with paying in $ rather than privacy.

Longevity

Turns out that a compound found under the statues of Easter Island will lead to a longer life (no, I am not kidding).

Rapamycin was first found in the 70's on Easter Island (ok, not just under the statues), and has since been found to be beneficial in all kinds of ways, such as anti-fungal, anti-cancer, and a bunch of other good stuff.

The latest findings are that it could make you live 30-40% longer. Or at least, it would if you were a mouse. Using the drug on old mice showed that it greatly increases life expectancy. Of course, it actually lowers your immune system, which is not ideal, but that is what antibiotics are for. Basically it does the same thing that a drastically reduced caloric intake does, without the terrible life you would lead on said drastically reduced caloric intake.

Personally, I find this very good news, and hope that it is a step towards what will truly revolutionize human society in the next century: moving beyond the natural constraints of the human body.

On a related note, there was a recent drug study which has the potential to increase memory capacity so that "photographic memory" is extended from a matter of hours to a matter of months. Ostensibly, as with many such drugs currently under development, it is to help those with memory impairment, but the pathway is not fixing the impairment but rather improving the underlying system.

Wicked Cool

The coldest object in space.. is a European spacecraft.

The Planck spacecraft is designed to study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). This was the first radiation/light put out after the big bang (only 380,000 years after or so), and thus is very important in understanding the origin and nature of the universe (little questions like that).

The most interesting part of the spacecraft itself is that it sensors work best at minus 459.49 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 273.05 Celsius, for those Europeans/scientists among us). And if you were thinking that looked a lot like absolute zero, you were right: it is just 0.1 degrees Celsius above that deep freeze.

Impressively, passive cooling actually gets the craft down to -230C, just by radiating heat out into the near vacuum of space. After that point, three active coolers bring it down below the magic number of -270C, which is when it is first possible to detect CMB.

Proud to Live in Boston

From Wired... this is classic:

Boston Brings ’70s-Style Crash Avoidance To WWII-Era Trolleys

mattapanpcccardannyman

Following a series of high-profile collisions on public transit systems in Boston, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, Boston’s mass-transit system is finally testing a crash avoidance system on some of the world’s oldest continually-operating trolleys.

The crash avoidance system uses radio waves to detect upcoming obstacles such as other trains and is hardly high tech. Then again, neither is the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s 1940s-era trolleys on the Mattapan Line that will be used for the tests. “The [anti-crash] technology has been around 30 years,” Stephan MacDougall, president of the union representing trolley drivers, told The Boston Globe. “They’re playing catch-up.” Indeed, even the recent DC Metro crash may have been the result of a failed crash protection system — not a complete lack thereof.

The anti-crash system will be tested on the Mattapan Line at a cost of $500,000, though it’s final destination may be the T’s Green Line if the pilot is successful and the funds can be raised.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen = Physical Pain

Do not watch this movie. Or, if you do, skip the first 1:30. The last hour is actually pretty decent, as these things go. It is a big transformer battle and basically what I expected from the movie.

The first hour and a half however, is another story. It is incoherent. It is disjointed. It is creepy and sexual in strange ways. There are a lot of off-color bad sexual jokes. There are too many fast-talking annoying characters. There are racist characters (and I dont usually believe in that English Major stuff, but in this case, there really are racist characters). There is a segment of "college" that can only have been written by an old pervert trying to make college what he wished it had been.

It is bad. And this is coming from someone who loved Transformers, who went into the movie with pretty low expectations for the plot, but high expectations for the action. The latter was met in the last hour of the movie, but the price paid was just too high. I cringed more times in this movie than any movie I have ever seen.

There were long segments of the first half of the movie where I was physically in pain from watching it.

I am all for willing suspension of disbelief. I am capable of some pretty great feats of suspension in order to enjoy movies and give them the benefit of the doubt (I am there to be entertained, obviously I can tear it apart, but what is the benefit to that?). But this movie stretched me to the breaking point, and then smashed through the breaking point with idiotic plot lines, pointless characters with no explanation (T-1000 Terminator in the shape of a model, WTF?) and a lot of other crap.

Oh, and another thing that pissed me off: anthropomorphized transformers. In the first movie they had some human characteristics. Ok, thats fine, it makes sense if we want to identify with thim and like/dislike characters where we are meant to. But in this movie, they take it way too far. Transformers crying? Transformers getting old? Transformers going through generations? Transformer babies? Transformers with really strong ethnic/racial identities? What the hell is the point of all that? It was just weird, unexplained, and out of place.

AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG

I hate it when a movie I really like is followed up by a completely idiotic sequel. It would not have taken much from a director to make this movie dencent. What they churned out is a steaming pile of metal crap.

Google Announces its second OS

Along with Android - which is primarily designed for phones - Google has announced a new open-source OS called Chome OS.

As far as I can tell this is a linux based OS with a new UI which will be targeted at netbooks and possibly cheap desktops. Of course, as there have already been android netbooks, there is some overlap there, but still, I am really looking forward to a Google built and supported OS.

An Illogical Market

GM's stock is still trading at $0.80

Why?

Because the market is irrational - to a degree. I firmly believe that a market is the most rational way to arrive at the greatest common good, and all of that. However, that does not mean I believe it to be perfectly rational. Never have, never will.

GM is proof. They have issued--as far as I am aware--two press releases basically stating "dont buy our stock, it's worthless" and yet the price has yet to collapse. At one point after the announcement that common stockholders would get a grand total of $0.00 the stock actually went up to about $1.60.

The only thing you should do with your shares at this point is try and request the certs from the DTC and mount them on the wall. However, I dont think the trade in novelty certs is what is keeping GM's share price afloat - stupidity is.

I wonder how much, if any, GM stock is available to lend and has thus been shorted the shit out of by hedge funds. I would short it at this point if possible (scottrade is not so keen on trading in options on pink-sheet listed penny stocks, sadly enough in this case).

$465 Million loan to Tesla.. WTF?

Catching up with news back here, and I found out that the ridiculous loan that Tesla asked for was actually approved by the Obama administration.

They gave a $465 million loan to a company that in 5 years has built 500 overpriced laptop powered lotus elises and has gone through 5 CEOs.

Someone must have had an in somewhere in the White House, because this is just ridiculous.