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Fuel Cells, Part 2: The Future of Power
Topic: Technology 10:36 am EDT, Sep  3, 2008

For the cost equation, car manufacturers need to get about half of the job done by improving the technology. The other half deals with volume. The 30 cars Ford has on the road were all hand-built and custom-made, so there are no economies of scale. Increasing production volume will bring down the cost further.

On paper, fuel cells look great, said Nick Lenssen, an analyst at IDC's Energy Insights.

"We just haven't been able to make them work on an economic level yet. Even with some of the low temperature fuel cells there is complexity in converting the fuel into hydrogen onsite unless we eventually have some sort of hydrogen distribution system, which is decades away," he told TechNewsWorld.

Fuel Cells, Part 2: The Future of Power

Pat Buchanan: Johnny's got a new girl
Topic: Society 10:18 am EDT, Sep  3, 2008

The arrival of Palin on the national scene, with her youth, charisma and vitality, probably also portends a changing of the guard in Washington.

With Republicans having zero chance of capturing either House, and but a slim chance of avoiding losses in both, a Vice President Palin, with her reputation as a rebel and reformer, would surely inspire similar revolts in the Republican caucuses.

As Thomas Jefferson said, from time to time, a little rebellion in the political world is as necessary as storms in the physical.

The Palin nomination could backfire, but it is hard to see how. She has passed her first test, her introduction to the nation, with wit and grace. And the Obama-Biden ticket, having already alienated millions of women with the disrespecting of Hillary, is unlikely to start attacking another woman whose sole offense is that she had just been given the chance to break the glass ceiling at the national level.

Her nomination, which will bring the Republican right home, also frees up McCain to appeal to moderates and liberals, which has long been his stock in trade.

With his selection of Sarah Palin, John McCain has not only shaken up this election, he may have helped shape the future of the United States – and much for the better.

Pat Buchanan: Johnny's got a new girl

Drinking habits and the economy
Topic: Society 9:15 am EDT, Sep  3, 2008

A tough economy ratchets up the pressure to rethink spending decisions. Food, clothing and shelter are essential. But when it comes to the extras, grim new realities set out some straightforward choices between needs and things we can live without.

Then there's booze.

In the past few weeks, scattered reports have noted that alcohol sales are up in some places, despite -- or maybe even because of -- the downturn in the economy. The new figures have revived the thinking that when Americans are taking it on the economic chin they keep a firm grip on the bottle.

But individual decisions about alcohol can be very nuanced. In the short term, it's clear consumers are going out to eat less and drinking more at home, Brager said.

In a persistent economic downturn, though, drinking habits can change significantly over time.

"A lot of people think that when times are bad people will drink more. The evidence is pretty clear that, at least in terms of alcohol sales, that that's not true, that people will drink less," said Christopher Ruhm, a professor of economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Drinking habits and the economy

High Voltage Scoop: Chevy's Electric Car Caught on Camera
Topic: Society 1:08 pm EDT, Sep  2, 2008

A spy from an Internet fan site for the upcoming film, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," has posted a video purported to show the production version of the Chevrolet Volt during filming of the sequel to the 2007 blockbuster.

High Voltage Scoop: Chevy's Electric Car Caught on Camera

Fatimah Ali, Philadelphia Daily News
Topic: Society 12:52 pm EDT, Sep  2, 2008

We need Obama, not 4 more years of George Bush
By Fatimah Ali, September 2, 2008
Philadelphia Daily News

If McCain wins, look for a full-fledged race and class war, fueled by a deflated and depressed country, soaring crime, homelessness - and hopelessness!

Amazing... I find myself appreciating John McCain more each day.

Fatimah Ali, Philadelphia Daily News

Sesame Street Videos
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:27 pm EDT, Aug 28, 2008

From Muppet Wikki: is an official Sesame Street website, featuring video clips, games, playlists, and more. Although the site was scheduled for debut on August 11, 2008, it was on the web as early as August 5, 2008. Clips can be found by grouping by character, theme, educational topic, classic clips, or songs.

This is great! This new site has just about every muppet sketch I can remember from childhood. Most of the muppets are listed, but for whatever reason, they chose not to list Lefty (a.k.a. The Salesman) in the character search list, but he's pretty easy to find. Sure, you can find most of these on YouTube, but the quality is hit-and-miss.

"The Air Salesman" (click image) featuring Ernie and Lefty was always one of my favorites. Ernie finally gets the better of Lefty in "The Ice Cream Salesman," though.

Also, Johnny Cash sings "Nasty Dan" for Oscar and "Five Feet High And Rising" for Biff. Classic stuff!

Sesame Street Videos

Microsoft adds privacy tools to IE8
Topic: Technology 10:15 am EDT, Aug 27, 2008

Microsoft adds privacy tools to IE8
So-called porn mode tools to debut in IE8 Beta 2 this month

By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
August 25, 2008

Microsoft Corp. today spelled out new privacy tools in Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) that some have dubbed "porn mode" in a nod to the most obvious use of a browser privacy mode.

A privacy advocate applauded the move, calling it a "great step forward," while rival browser builder Mozilla Corp. said it is working to add similar features to a future Firefox.

Slated to appear in IE8 Beta 2, which Microsoft former chairman Bill Gates promised will release this month, the three new tools share the "InPrivate" name, which Microsoft filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office several weeks ago.

The most intriguing tool, and the one that has prompted the porn mode label, was called InPrivate Browsing by Microsoft. When enabled, IE8 will not save browsing and searching history, cookies, form data and passwords; it also will automatically clear the browser cache at the end of the session.

Other new tools will include InPrivate Blocking and InPrivate Subscription, which notifies users of third-party content that can track browsing history and subscribe to lists of sites to block, respectively. Microsoft will also tweak its existing "Delete Browsing History" by adding an option to preserve bookmarked sites' cookies even when all others are erased.

Microsoft adds privacy tools to IE8

Israel to Display the Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internet
Topic: Technology 10:06 am EDT, Aug 27, 2008

Ethan Bronner, New York Times
August 26, 2008

JERUSALEM — In a crowded laboratory painted in gray and cooled like a cave, half a dozen specialists embarked this week on a historic undertaking: digitally photographing every one of the thousands of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls with the aim of making the entire file — among the most sought-after and examined documents on earth — available to all on the Internet.

Equipped with high-powered cameras with resolution and clarity many times greater than those of conventional models, and with lights that emit neither heat nor ultraviolet rays, the scientists and technicians are uncovering previously illegible sections and letters of the scrolls, discoveries that could have significant scholarly impact.

The 2,000-year-old scrolls, found in the late 1940s in caves near the Dead Sea east of Jerusalem, contain the earliest known copies of every book of the Hebrew Bible (missing only the Book of Esther), as well as apocryphal texts and descriptions of rituals of a Jewish sect at the time of Jesus. The texts, most of them on parchment but some on papyrus, date from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D.

Only a handful of the scrolls exist in large pieces, with several on permanent exhibit at the Israel Museum here in its dimly lighted Shrine of the Book. Most of what was found is separated into 15,000 fragments that make up about 900 documents, fueling a longstanding debate on how to order the fragments as well as the origin and meaning of what is written on them.

The scrolls’ contemporary history has been something of a tortured one because they are among the most important sources of information on Jewish and early Christian life. After their initial discovery they were tightly held by a small circle of scholars. In the last 20 years access has improved significantly, and in 2001 they were published in their entirety. But debate over them seems only to grow.

Scholars continually ask the Israel Antiquities Authority, the custodian of the scrolls, for access to them, and museums around the world seek to display them. Next month, the Jewish Museum of New York will begin an exhibition of six of the scrolls.

The keepers of the scrolls, people like Pnina Shor, head of the conservation department of the antiquities authority, are delighted by the intense interest but say that each time a scroll is exposed to light, humidity and heat, it deteriorates. She says even without such exposure there is deterioration because of the ink used on some of the scrolls as well as the residue from the Scotch tape u... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

Israel to Display the Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internet

Drinking Age Debate
Topic: Society 1:51 pm EDT, Aug 26, 2008

Amethyst Initiative's Debate on Drinking a Welcome Alternative to Fanaticism
Monday, August 25, 2008
By Radley Balko, Fox News

It's been nearly 25 years since Congress blackmailed the states to raise the minimum drinking age to 21 or lose federal highway funding. Supporters of the law have hailed it as an unqualified success, and until recently, they've met little resistance.

But that may be changing. Led by John McCardell, the soft-spoken former president of Middlebury in Vermont, a new group called the Amethyst Initiative is calling for a new national debate on the drinking age. And McCardell and his colleagues ought to know. The Amethyst Group consists of current and former college and university presidents, and they say the federal minimum drinking age has contributed to an epidemic of binge drinking, as well as other excessive, unhealthy drinking habits on their campuses.

This makes perfect sense. Prohibitions have always provoked over-indulgence. Those of us who have attended college over the last 25 years can certainly attest to the fact that the law has done nothing to diminish freshman and sophomore access to alcohol. It has only pushed underage consumption underground. It causes other problems, too. Underage students, for example, may be reluctant to obtain medical aid for peers who have had too much to drink, out of fear of implicating themselves for drinking illegally, or for contributing to underage drinking.

The U.S. has the highest minimum drinking age in the world (save for countries where it's forbidden entirely). In countries with a low or no national minimum drinking age, teens are introduced to alcohol gradually, moderately, and under the supervision of their parents.

U.S. teens, on the other hand, tend to first try alcohol in unsupervised environments — in cars, motels, or outdoor settings in high school, or in dorm rooms, fraternity parties, or house parties when they leave home to go to college. During alcohol prohibition, we saw how adults who imbibed under such conditions reacted — they drank way too much, way too fast. It shouldn't be surprising that teens react in much the same way.

Anti-alcohol organizations like MADD and the American Medical Association oppose even allowing parents to give minors alcohol in supervised settings, such as a glass of wine with dinner, or a beer on the couch while watching the football game. They've pushed for prison time for parents who throw supervised parties where minors are given access to alcohol, even though those parties probably made the roads safer than they otherwise would have been (let's face it — if the kids hadn't been drinking at the supervised party, they'd have been drinking at an unsupervised one). They advocate a "not one drop until 21" policy that's not only unrealistic, it mystifies and glorifies alcohol by making the drug a forbidden fruit—a surefire way to make teens want to taste it.

McCardell and the academics who have signed on to the Amethyst Initiative are asking only for a debate—an honest discussion based on data and common sense, not one tainted by Carry Nation-style fanaticism. In today's hyper-cautious, ban-happy public health environment, that's refreshing. The group comprises serious academics who have collectively spent thousands of years around the very young people these laws are affecting. The nation's policy makers would be foolish to dismiss their concerns out of hand.

Drinking Age Debate

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major
Topic: Arts 1:45 pm EDT, Aug 24, 2008

Marc Ullrich, trumpet
Beatrice Nathez, flute
Peter Fuchs, oboe
Bettina Boller, violin

I've been looking for this recording on SACD, but I don't know whether it's even available. As for the video, I'm not sure what I think of the camera work overall, but the closeups in the 3rd Movement are interesting. Is it just me, or does Boller look pre-occupied... as though she has some ass to kick after the recording is done?

1st Movement

2nd Movement

3rd Movement

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major

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