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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.


Secret Swiss Misses

Image © UBS.com

CBS.News: Swiss May Renegotiate UBS Deal with U.S. (1/27/2010):

The court said the deal defined fraud too broadly and failed to address existing Swiss law on disclosing bank clients' information.

Of course we all know that cash transactions are amoral by definition and design. After all, money isn't the root of all evil, *people* are. So why should the banks give a franc damn where the money they protect - at "reasonable" fees - comes from? Just because the depositors are tax evading criminals doesn't mean they're rude to their slaves.

Red Flags Unheeded

Marjie Lundstrom/SacBee: Red flags unheeded before foster child died:

Four hours before sunrise on a foggy Sacramento night, a woman's wail pierced the silence of a suburban street. Flames crackled to life. Neighbors awakened, and some rushed outside. Others watched from their windows.

"My baby, my baby," the woman howled in the darkness.

The three part series in the Sacramento Bee ran part two today, three tomorrow, one yesterday. Read it if you have the time. This is investigative reporting at it's best.

Comparing to What

Peter Sager: . . .experts agreed [Martha Coakley] was the least charismatic candidate since Mel Carnahan in 2001, and he was dead. And he won.

In spite of the heavily publicized new poll, I'll take Peter Sager's take on the 'contest'. As long as the left maintains a laser-like focus on it's own collective navel, it will continue to miss the tree falling directly on it's head.