Monday, January 22, 2007

This is What I Want All Houses to Be

A combination of solar power and hydrogen power storage system yields a house that produces 100% of its own electricity. Aside from saving untold amounts of money and environmental damage extracting, refining , and burning fossil fuels, it's the first step into a future where the U.S. doesn't care all that much about Middle East politics...

Science Fiction Wars are Becoming Reality

From tales of a suit of bullet-proof armor, to an eight megajoule rail gun designed to replace tomahawk missiles, up through missile defenses on commercial jets, it has been quite a week for previously science fiction weapon systems.

Big Tobacco = Evil

A recent Harvard study shows that cigarette companies have steadily increased the levels of nicotine in their products over eight years. These things need to be illegal, but they never will be.

The Google is Coming

To North Carolina that is. The search engine giant has been searching for areas with great power grids to place server farms, and they found one here in NC. And the state wanted them badly enough to give them over $100 million in tax breaks.

If I consider moving my household to Virginia, or perhaps South Carolina, would North Carolina compete with them to give me incentives to stay? Of course not.

Doomsday Follow-up

The Doomsday Clock ended up being moved two minutes closer to midnight, leaving it at five 'til.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Waiting for the Pendulum to Swing

I have written before about the idea that there are some signs of the imbalance in the U.S. economy being acknowledged. I'm referring to the overpaid gentry with titles such as CEO, CFO, and Executive Vice President (and to a lesser extent quarterback or point guard or actor). Personally, I have distaste for bureaucrats who add nothing except red tape and overhead, but who are paid more than the people who actually create the products. None are treated worse in this extent than teachers, who have the most important job in the world but make less than the paper pushers who's jobs are titularly to facilitate the teachers actually being able to teach.

One economist asks why income inequality matters. It's a decent question, though the gross reasoning in the article is wishy-washy. But it gains great importance as the Democrats come in with lofty promises of helping the poor up (while exempting the poor in their districts from such aid). And articles such as this description of the growth in median home pricing outpacing the growth of lower to middle grade salaries.

Certainly, I can't complain about the salary I'm being paid, but I certainly can complain about it not keeping pace with inflation. The net result will be me being forced to change jobs just to keep up. And that doesn't sound like a good way to run a business to me. But then I don't have one of those fancy Harvard MBAs.

Watching the Watchers

Thank goodness the Democrats are in power again and all the shady government dealings can stop. Right.

Meanwhile the military has revoked the limit on cumulative active duty time for reservists. Single mobilization limits remain at two years, though the Pentagon says they intend to keep deployments down in the one year range.

And in a really scary breach of the commonly considered limits of two government organizations, the Pentagon and the CIA are both apparently gathering credit records on Americans. It has been know that the FBI was doing it, but it's the FBI's job, not the military or foreign intelligence services'.

Meanwhile, up on The Hill, big music's piracy straw man continues to drive legislative debate. They won't rest until they can charge you every time you hear a song.

Apple, the Next Big (but Shiny) Evil

Apple uses so-called Digital Rights Management for the same purposes anyone else does: to generate money for themselves. With the dominance of the iTunes Music Store and the coming of the iPhone, it's worth a reminder that Apple is not exactly the most consumer friendly corporation.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

The Bulliten of Atomic Scientists maintain a "Doomsday Clock" that is a symbol of how close mankind is to nuclear destruction. Currently the clock stands at seven minutes to midnight. (Midnight is when we all go boom.) On Wednesday the clock's hands are going to be moved, presumably forward. Seven minutes to midnight is where the clock started when it was created in 1947, and it has been as close as two minutes to midnight and as far as seventeen minutes 'til over the years.

Nifty Science Things

One of the iconic (and most used in sci-fi movies) images from the Hubble telescope are the "pillars of creation" in the Eagle Nebula. New measurements indicate the gas cloud fingers show in the shot may have already been blown away by an exploding star. We'll know for sure in about one thousand years when the light from the nebula reaches us...

And it looks like ball lightening may be a mystery no more. It's been created in a lab in Brazil.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year

If you have someone to kiss, go do it. And don't forget to tell them you love 'em. If you don't then find someone to make smile. If nobody is handy, make yourself smile. If there is one thing that the world can always use, it's more smiles.