daily news


Kevin Bullis/TR: Biofuels from Saltwater Crops:

Researchers at the Masdar Institute in the United Arab Emirates are starting a two-square-kilometer demonstration farm that will combine fish and shrimp farming with the cultivation of mangrove trees and salicornia, a plant with oil-rich seeds that can be converted into fuel.

The *real* systems engineers. (Image linked to source).

Redone: YJCMTSU - O'Thief Story

[Note: I've removed the original as being a bit too far over the edge, even for me. Below is CMan1's rather more rational irrationality-of-the-day. -rba]

How about this one from Raw Story:

Landrieu phone plot: Men arrested have links to intelligence community

Two of the three men arrested on Monday along with "ACORN pimp" James O'Keefe
for "maliciously tampering" with Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) phones in
her New Orleans office have ties to the United States intelligence

The three accused by the FBI of "aiding and abetting"
O'Keefe are Stan Dai, Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel. O'Keefe is 25,
and the other three are 24.

Dai's links to the intelligence community appear to be particularly strong. He was a speaker at Georgetown University's Central Intelligence Agency summer school program in June 2009, and is also listed as an Assistant Director at the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity in D.C.

Parsing Reform

Noam Levey/LAT: Soaring cost of healthcare sets a record

CMS actuaries estimated that the Senate healthcare bill would boost total healthcare spending by less than 1% over the next decade, in large part because the legislation includes initiatives to make Medicare more efficient.

Well, at least the information got into the piece - in the last paragraph. Above that graph are cites to the Republicans (no fact check, just a 'said/said'); the Prez' of the Commonwealth Club ('they are experts in health care policy'); and - surprise - the Heritage Foundation rep, who garnered the most print after CMS (who generated the report).

Aided and abetted by a compliant, unquestioning media, the republican '41-59 majority' rolls on.

Franchising OBL

Image © Mike Luckovich/Atlanta Journal Constitution

Today the U.S.'s numba one ter'rist probably got up, had breakfast, did a short walk-about in the cave, read the morning's newspaper, and later in the day might have tended a small garden. In between, quite naturally, he would be plotting the demise of the Western World as we know it.

And in the 'greatest nation' of the Western World, all 300 million people have altered the way we live, work, and even play; created a 'mega-agency' devoted (ostensibly) to hunting he and his cohorts to extinction; and invaded two countries killing hundreds of thousands of people. As a bonus of sorts he's successfully turned the nation's Righteous Right into depends-wearing, shit-they-pants, torture-them-till-they-die, paranoids.

Not a bad decade for a single act of terrorism. And I read somewhere he managed all of it on less than 500 grand, while we - the 'greatest nation' - have expended somewhere North of a trillion chasing his scrawny ass all over Central Asia. No wonder he has no problem franchising. A little pre-investment in, say, any part of the 'military industrial complex', and all the little 'Ladens are rich for life. Of course that huge piece of the poppy trade doesn't hurt.

Evil? Oh hell yes. In a morally relativistic, Wall Street kinda way.


Image: Floormat by Target @ boingboing.net

Declan McCullagh/CNET: Police want backdoor to Web users' private data

"Let's assume you set this sort of thing up. What does that mean in terms of what the law enforcement officer be able to do? Would they be able to fish through transactional information for anyone? I don't understand how you create a system like this without it." (Lee Tien, EFF)

Exactly the right question, precisely the wrong answers from law enforcement.

Dave's Not There

It now seems clear that the only way the U.S. is going to avoid an economic crisis is if the oldsters take it upon themselves to arise and force change. The young lack the political power. Only the old can lead a generativity revolution — millions of people demanding changes in health care spending and the retirement age to make life better for their grandchildren.

[David Brooks, NYT (2/2/2010)]

As a bona fide member of the 'oldster' brigades, I'm on board: lift the income cap on the Social Security tax, raise the payroll tax on Medicare. Amendments to existing codes of less than a paragraph each. Or is that too damn hard to understand?

For the 'loyal opposition', apparently so.

Homegrown Hydrogen

Image © Honda @ gizmag.com

A key strategy in Honda’s creation of a solar hydrogen station for home-use was to create a new lifestyle with convenient, clean, energy-efficient and sustainable home refueling, by addressing the need for refueling infrastructure that can advance the wider use of fuel cell electric vehicles by consumers.

Of course in the U.S. we all know hydrogen - the most abundant element in the universe - is not to be relied upon to reduce our reliance on dead dinosaurs.

Urban Green in Portland - via the NYT

Image © SERA Atchitects @ William Yardley/NYT: In Portland, Going Green and Growing Vertical in a Bid for Energy Savings:

PORTLAND, Ore. — Urban gardening used to seem subversive. . . Yet here in one of the more thoroughly tilled cities in America, subversive has come full circle: the federal government plans to plant its own bold garden directly above a downtown plaza.

That 'thousand-mile journey's' first steps. Cool.

Bloomberg on DeFazio's Tax

DeFazio’s proposal would put a tax of 0.25 percent on stock transactions and 0.02 percent on derivatives including futures, options, swaps and credit-default swaps. A transaction of 200 shares at $40 each would result in a $20 tax, compared with a commission of $1 for active traders at Interactive Brokers, Peterffy said. [Nina Mehta and Whitney Kisling/Bloomberg: Stock Tax May Cut Trading Volume 90%, Peterffy Says (29 Jan '10)

So the entire trading apparatus of the United States will collapse? Let's do the numbers: "0.25" percent = .0025 of each trade ($40 here) = ten cents a share traded. Oh yeah, the market will absolutely crash from the weight of the tax. And all those traders out on the street? Kinda like 10,000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea: a good start.

I don't really see a downside here. Tax away.


Image © Lawrence Livermore @ sfgate.com
David Perlman/Chron Science Writer: Focusing 192 lasers on one little target:

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reported Thursday they have taken a major step toward harnessing the forces that power the sun in an effort to create unlimited energy on Earth.

Having read about scientists promise of "fusion power" for the past 50 years I'm just a little skeptical. Kinda like the promise of "solar power" using technology that achieves a measly 15% conversion efficiency. But hey, no harm in trying. And in the current political atmosphere an advance like this, no matter how small, earns the white-coats their paychecks.