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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

London Unveils Sleek Zero-Emission Double Decker Buses

Recently the London Transportation Department held a contest to redesign the iconic Double Decker bus, and we’re excited to announce the winning entry by renowned architects Foster + Partners! They’ve created a zero-emissions, super accessible, and environmentally innovative double decker bus that heralds a new era of sustainable public transportation for London.

 London Unveils Sleek Zero-Emission Double Decker Buses

It's refreshing to see modern design embracing classic styles and familiar heritages. What would London be without the red double decker buses? Does this mean we might see a resurgence of the trolley car in San Francisco? I could see a push to make trolley cars that embrace the nostalgia of old San Francisco with the latest green technology.

Of course, this leads the discussion to the bigger question. What is the future of rail service in the United States? If we pumped as much money into high speed rail as we have to the airline industry, we could be the world leader in mass transit and a model of how to tackle greenhouse gasses. The measure of success could be measured by the number of vehicles you remove from the road in a day. Imagine how much you could reduce the number of long haul trucks with a dedicated high speed freight rail system.

The new rail service could be powered by alternative energy sources placed along the routes. The power options could be decided by local folks at the state level. If NY wants to build a nuclear power plant for their share of the system. That's great. If California wanted to use solar and Pennsylvania wanted to use gas or clean coal, more power to them. Pun intended...

We can't let ourselves be lulled into thinking the problem has been solved because the price of gas is lower. This whole rise and fall should be a reminder to us all just how dependent we are on fossil fuels. If we had headed the warnings from the last energy crisis in the 70's, we'd be a lot better off. As I recall, we heard back then that the technology was 15 to 20 years away and we would be less dependent on oil. Here we are 30 years later and we're hearing the same old crap.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again: More Undersea Cable Cuts

Internet and telephone traffic between Europe, the Middle East and Asia was hampered today after three major underwater data lines were cut.

The cuts occurred between 07:28 and 08:06 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) (2:28 a.m. and 03:06 a.m. Eastern) on lines in the Mediterranean Sea that connect Sicily to Tunisia and Egypt.

Undersea cable cuts disrupt Internet access

Ok...I said it once and I'll say it again. It would be completely implausible to believe that three cuts were made in these lines completely by accident.....AGAIN!

If you recall back in January this same scenario played out where three lines were cut simulteneously and it was blamed on ships dragging their anchors. It seems extra suspicious that it has now occurred again and it has severed service to almost the same geographic region. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist here, but there has to be a lot more to this than has been reported by the main stream media.

This has to be a part of some criminal enterprise or perhaps some kind of espionage either corporate or from the intelligence agency of another country. Twice in a twelve month period? No way does that kind of coincedence occur twice in less than a year.

It will be interesting to see if this story gets buried in the media the way it did last time. I'm sure if there is something nefarious going on, the powers that be would want to keep it quiet. Incidents like this, if done intentionaly, could seriously undermine the integrity of the internet as well as the financial and credit markets that depend on a secure environment to transact business.

We'll have to keep our ears open for any more on this story.

RIAA Announces Plan to End Lawsuits

After years of suing thousands of people for allegedly stealing music via the Internet, the recording industry is set to drop its legal assault as it searches for more effective ways to combat online music piracy.

The decision represents an abrupt shift of strategy for the industry, which has opened legal proceedings against about 35,000 people since 2003. Critics say the legal offensive ultimately did little to stem the tide of illegally downloaded music. And it created a public-relations disaster for the industry, whose lawsuits targeted, among others, several single mothers, a dead person and a 13-year-old girl.

Instead, the Recording Industry Association of America said it plans to try an approach that relies on the cooperation of Internet-service providers. The trade group said it has hashed out preliminary agreements with major ISPs under which it will send an email to the provider when it finds a provider's customers making music available online for others to take.

I'm not sure if this is good news or not. While I'm glad to hear that they aren't planning on suing anyone besides heavy file sharers, I think it's bad for internet users in general. Having the RIAA team up with ISP's in an effort to stem copyright infringement opens the door for the RIAA to become even more heavy handed by circumventing the courts all together. Look how long it took for someone to actually take the RIAA to full trial. Only then did their tactics unravel and the holes in their plans become obvious. 

I think, as many others do, that letting the ISP's become content police is horrible. Should the US Postal Service be allowed to open the mail of people who have a high volume of mail? Should the postal service be inspecting every package to make sure people aren't sending anything illegal. Just because a package weighs 2.2 pounds, doesn't mean it's likely a kilo of cocaine or heroin. It certainly wouldn't be sufficient grounds for a search. 

Another question that comes to mind is why would the ISP's want this role? What's in it for them? Perhaps they envision enough of a drop in traffic (from throttling bit torrent etc) where they could further put off investing money into infrastructure that can handle the huge increase in traffic created by video, voip and file-sharing. 

The more likely scenario is that it's easier to play ball with the RIAA than it is to defend a huge lawsuit that challenges the "safe harbour" laws that protect them. One would think that the ISP's would want to remain neutral and not have the added expense of filtering and throttling. It seems like the RIAA is trying to put the ISP's directly in the crosshairs of consumer ire. Any way you look at it, this can't be a good deal for the ISP's bottom line.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Will DDA Technology Revolutionise Music?

The new digital album format called DDA is being called the future of music, able to store hundreds of tracks, lyrics, photos and liner notes usually found on an album sleeve. The technology allows for all these features to be stored on a pocket size USB memory stick. Northern Territory musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu will be one of the first artists to release albums using this format in the New Year."

DDA Technology to revolutionise the music industry - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Axl Rose Tells His Version of Events

Apparently, Guns and Rose frontman Axl Rose has been frequenting GnR message boards. If you have 15 or 20 minutes, you can read his rambling on about everything from the breakup to the new album. It appears he's been stung a bit from criticism for using the name even though he's the only remaining original member. I must admit that Rose does have some valid points and asks some good questions of his former bandmates and management. 

I'm not sure whether I buy Axl's version of events, moreover, I'm not sure I care. I do think the new album is pretty good, but even at it's best, it pales in comparison to Appetite or Illusions. While it's great to hear some fresh tracks from Axl, the album as a whole doesn't make me jump up and down with excitement. I will give Axl one bone up in this rift....the album is better than either of the Velvet Revolver albums.

Axl Rose Chat #3


Before I could even post this, I saw another story of Axl duking it out with other fans on the same forum. I'll have to dig a bit to find the actual post...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Marijuana Legalization Tops List of Questions for Obama in Online Poll

(SALEM, Ore.) - I am not surprised that the number one thing Americans are asking President-elect Barack Obama is whether or not he is going to legalize marijuana. Generations are changing and evolving and the taboos around cannabis are slowly falling away.

American industries can harness the power of this multi-billion dollar, still mostly black market business. The attitude of people in this country is in a mode of great anticipation and change. Barack Obama is already on the record saying he does not want to use the Justice Department to bust state operated medical marijuana dispensaries

Marijuana Legalization Tops List of Questions for Obama in Online Poll - Salem-News.Com

It will be interesting to see what response, if any, we get from the Obama team. I wouldn't be suprised if someone dug into the web site stats to see if the system has been "gamed" to put this topic to number one. It may be a legitimate "snapshot" of where the public stands on issues, but one certainly has to wonder about our priorities if it is. Then again, it would certainly give our economy a new sector with a very large cashflow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Real Life Pink Panther Heist

Their timing was as impeccable as a Tourbillon, a luxury timepiece whose name means whirlwind.

As the second hand ticked, four men — three disguised as women with long blond tresses, sunglasses and winter scarves — stood in front of an intercom and demurely requested to enter the fabled Harry Winston jewelry store on Avenue Montaigne. It was just before closing time on a chilly evening along this golden triangle of boutiques that includes Dior, Chanel and Gucci, the ornate facades and trees resplendent with Christmas lights.....

This sounds like a movie plot that has come to life. The world is getting very interesting lately.  Jewel thieves and pirates etc.....it makes one wonder what might be next!

The Heist at Harry’s - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, December 09, 2008