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Showing posts from June, 2005

Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter?

Freestar Media, LLC : "On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home. Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land. The proposed development, called 'The Lost Liberty Hotel' will feature the 'Just Desserts Café' and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel 'Atlas Shrugged.' Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone lar

UC scientist says ethanol uses more energy than it makes

A lot of fossil fuels go into producing the gas substitute : "Ethanol, touted as an alternative fuel of the future, may eat up far more energy during its creation than it winds up giving back, according to research by a UC Berkeley scientist that raises questions about the nation's move toward its widespread use. A clean-burning fuel produced from renewable crops like corn and sugarcane, ethanol has long been a cornerstone of some national lawmakers' efforts to clear the air and curb dependence on foreign oil. California residents use close to a billion gallons of the alcohol-based fuel per year. But in a recent issue of the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, UC Berkeley geoengineering professor Tad Patzek argued that up to six times more energy is used to make ethanol than the finished fuel actually contains. The fossil energy expended during production alone, he concluded, easily outweighs the consumable energy in the end product. As a result, Patzek

Little dogs take care of big jobs : "Wright, 40, has her own service dog, a 5-pound Chihuahua named Joe. He sniffs out changes, undetectable to humans, that occur about 20 minutes before the onset of an epileptic seizure. Joe's warning gives his owner time to prepare herself so she won't fall and hit her head during a grand mal seizure. 'That keeps me safe,' Wright said. 'It puts me back in control.' Before she had the dog, she had no way to predict when seizures would strike. Since Joe moved in, he has accurately predicted more than 20 seizures."

Synagogue Sued Over Missing Ashes

The Democrat Houston Chronicle June 10, 2005 When relatives of Vivian Shulman Lieberman went to visit her final resting place in a Houston mausoleum one year ago today, they discovered that the cedar chest containing her ashes was missing. In its place, behind the locked, glass door of Lieberman's niche in Congregation Beth Israel's mausoleum, was a can of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips. jaynote: This is not surprising, as Vivian was known for saying "are you hungry? oy, you look so thin. Have a nosh."

Longer Yellow Lights Reduce Accidents

American Chronicle:s : "Longer yellow lights will do more to reduce crashes at intersections than any other method, including the use of red-light cameras, according to a new report. The report from the Texas Transportation Institute is the result of a three year study of 181 intersections using police reports in three Texas cities. The purpose of the research was to determine the most effective solutions for problem intersections. The research revealed that many yellow lights are shorting than the recommended minimum, causing a jump of 110 percent in the number of red-light violations. The finding gave support to motorists who are caught by red-light cameras. They frequently complain that a short yellow light forced them to chose between slamming on the brakes and getting rear-ended and continuing through the intersection. The report concluded that the best way to improve safety statistics at intersections is to lengthen yellow lights to one second more than the minimum

voices ring the halls

WIL WHEATON dot NET : "This may seem like stupid semantics on my part, but actors are so often misrepresented in the press, I feel it's important to set the record straight here. Residual payments are not profit-sharing. Residual payments are reuse fees that producers pay to actors when they've re-used the actor's performance a certain number of times. For example, when an actor works on a TV show (commercials are a much more complicated beast, so I'll stick with TV for this example) the initial fee that actor earns usually includes one or two re-airings by the producer. If the producer chooses to run the show again, a cycle begins, where the producer pays the actor a residual, or re-use fee, that slowly diminishes over time. The logic behind this is that if producers are re-running an old show, rather than creating a new one, actors have fewer opportunities to work. Also, if a show is re-run very often, the producer will continue to profit from advertising sale

Kodak to End B&W Paper Production : "Kodak to End B&W Paper Production By Mike Pasini, The Imaging Resource (Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 12:25 EDT) With publications turning to color digital imaging and amateurs to their inkjets and image editing software, sales of black and white photo paper have been steadily declining. The Associated Press has reported that Eastman Kodak Co. will discontinue production of black and white photo paper by the end of the year. The move follows bankruptcies by Britain's Ilford, the largest black and white paper manufacturer, and Germany's AgfaPhoto GmbH. According to Kodak spokesperson David Lanzillo, the story notes, demand for black and white paper is declining 25 percent a year. Lanzillo said the decline is the result of the imagining industry's transition from film to digital. Kodak will continue to make both black and white film and processing chemicals. The decision to discontinue the paper made at plants in Rochester and Braz

Death by Tech Support

Mobile Magazine : "To test tech support, we made three calls to each of 10 major notebook manufacturers (we've added three additional vendors since last year). We also called three third-party providers of PC help. On the whole, what we found was a sea of ignorance -- and annoying fixation with pinning down our name, address, and serial numbers. Just how bad is tech support? Things haven't gotten any better since our 2004 test -- and most of the vendors we tested have actually gotten worse. Read on to see our report cards on each manufacturer. And don't miss our review of three third-party tech support providers, plus our tips on how to fix PC problems yourself and avoid tech support altogether. The Tests We subjected each vendor to three increasingly difficult support tests designed to simulate frequent real-life technical problems. In each case, we used an actual notebook from the corresponding vendor, and made three separate calls."

…My heart’s in Accra

Iqbal Quadir at PUSH 2005 : "Iqbal found himself challenging some myths about economic development and the poor. Can shared costs overcome the problems of low individual buying power? Can the value of purchasing a productivity tool make it possible for people to “overinvest” in communication technologies, because these technologies can increase income? What’s the real problem with digital divides in Bangladesh? The lack of other infrastructures. There are no credit checks, rpads for repairmen, banks to collect bills, schools for the children of workers. Grameen Bank looked like a solution to a lot of these infrastructural problems. Would it make sense to put GSM towers within Grameen offices? Grameen had 1138 branches in Bangladesh, 2.3 million borrowers, 94% female, with $33 million lent per month. The core model - a woman borrows money from the bank, buys a cow, sells the milk and repays the loan. So why can’t a cellphone be a cow? There was a great deal of skepticism a

Suicide Bridge : "Her children stared at his brains, which oozed into the spikes of green and yellow grass. More neighbors gathered. Then the police. An hour or so later, the body was carted away. Shreve knew the routine. After all, she lives beneath the suicide bridge. Since its construction in 1981, the Y-Bridge has served as the launch site for 43 suicides and countless more attempts. But unlike most bridges that seduce jumpers, the bodies here don't fall into rivers, lakes, or forests. They fall onto buildings and houses, and into backyards, like some weird, ominous plague."

What if driving a car was as hard as using a computer?

techsupport : "------------------------------------------------------ Operator: 'AA helpdesk, Dave speaking.' Customer: 'I can't back out of my garage.' Operator: 'Is that because the garage door is closed, or because your car engine isn't turned on?' Customer: 'All I know is I could back out of my garage yesterday, and now I can't.' Operator: 'Are you in your car at the moment?' Customer: 'Yes.' Operator: 'Okay, I'd like you to turn around and look through your car's back window for me. What do you see?' Customer: 'Grey.' Operator: 'Grey like clouds, or like a garage door?' Customer: 'Like a door.' Operator: 'It sounds like your garage door is closed. You'll just need to open it, and you'll be able to back out.' Customer: 'Look, I don't understand any of this automotive stuff. I just want to drive my car.' Operator:

A Modest Proposal for Saving Our Schools

Senator Tom McClintock Date: May 15, 2005 Publication Type: Column The multi-million dollar campaign paid by starving teachers’ unions has finally placed our sadly neglected schools at the center of the budget debate. Across California, children are bringing home notes warning of dire consequences if Gov. Schwarzenegger’s scorched earth budget is approved – a budget that slashes Proposition 98 public school spending from $42.2 billion this year all the way down to $44.7 billion next year. That should be proof enough that our math programs are suffering. As a public school parent, I have given this crisis a great deal of thought and have a modest suggestion to help weather these dark days. Maybe – as a temporary measure only – we should spend our school dollars on our schools. I realize that this is a radical departure from current practice, but desperate times require desperate measures. The Governor proposed spending $10,084 per student from all sources. Devoting all

American Airlines contest fiasco

jackmccall : "I was shocked, to say the least. I did the math, and determined that my tax liability on this prize, between federal, state, and local taxes, would be somewhere between $15,000 and $23,000, depending on my other income for the coming year. I know it’s the law that taxes must be paid on winnings, and this certainly makes sense where winnings are in cash, or are items that can be sold if necessary to cover the taxes. However, in this case, I would not be able to sell the flight vouchers, and even if I was, I can’t imagine anyone who would be willing to pay $2200 for a restricted economy ticket. Yet this is what American Airlines has valued each flight voucher at. "

Hoax movie that horrified a nation

Telegraph : "Two Czechs conned thousands with an anti-consumerist prank. Chris Sullivan met them It's unusual for a small document ary to stir up national outrage, but that's just what happened with Czech Dream, released in the UK later this month. The film provoked more than 195 articles in the Czech press, spawned intense governmental debate and made stars of its creators. Consumerism's 'manipulative powers': shoppers race towards an imaginary supermarket in Czech Dream The reason for the outrage is that it documents what is essentially an anti-capitalist hoax. The two filmmakers, Filip Remunda and Vit Klusak, explore what they call 'the manipulative powers of consumerism' by creating an ad campaign for a hypermarket that doesn't actually exist. In a climactic scene, we see 4,000 people turn up for the store opening in a meadow on the outskirts of Prague. The crowd run to claim the bargains they have been promised, only to discover tha

John J. Miller on Archeology on National Review Online

John J. Miller on Archeology on National Review Online : If a lucky paleoanthropologist ever unearths hobbit bones on federal land, scientists won’t get to study them — at least not if Sen. John McCain and his allies have their way........When a team of Australian and Indonesian scientists found the first Homo floresiensis, in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, its members started referring to her as a “hobbit.” The nickname stuck. How did she get to be so short? And why does John McCain care? The first question is easy to answer. In biology, there’s a form of natural selection known as “island dwarfing.” Take a species, put it on an island, and watch it shrink over time..... It also has been documented here in the United States — on the Channel Islands, off the coast of southern California. If hobbit bones were to turn up on Santa Rosa, however, we might never have a chance to learn about them. That’s because McCain has proposed adding two words to the Native American Gr

Boing Boing: May 2005

Michael Hyatt says : "In the Eighties I worked at Polaroid's floppy disk factory in Santa Rosa, where they made 5¼ floppys.  They had a product they called 'Data Rescue.'  The deal was, you paid extra for them, but if they got damaged or screwed up in any way (from spilled sodas to accidental erasure) you could send them in and we'd try to recover the data.  The marketing kit included a disc and some mustard and ketchup packets.  The idea was you put some data on the disk, then covered it in goo, ran over with your desk chair, spilled whatever you wanted on it, and sent it in.  We'd get the data back and you'd be so impressed you'd buy the damn things no matter what they cost.  The secret?  We cut the disk jacket open, slid the 'cookie' out and gently washed it in the sink.  After much expermentation, we determined that Dawn dish detergent was best.  We then hung them up to dry in the lunch room on a piece of twine with wood clothes pins.  When