(I promise! ;-)
While I’m finding time to do other things... accept these items from the Arlington Institute... followed by a couple more with the political lamp lit...
* Japan Puts Its Money on E-Cash -- (Washington Post -- December 28, 2005) A cashless society? Japan seems to be nearing this, as experts cite the rise of e-cash as a reason for a drop last July in the circulation of yen coins, the first decline since 1971. Using cell phones that transmit infrared signals, Japanese consumers are whisking through checkout lines, buying everything from sushi to furniture without ever yanking out their wallets. Similar electronic money concepts are being tried in North America and Europe. Analysts say the Japanese version requires some fine-tuning before it can be exported.
* Is 7-Million-Year-Old Skull Really Human? -- (Harvard Gazette -- January 10, 2006) Who or what was Toumai? Those who found his skull in 2001 insist he is the oldest human ancestor, a small fellow who lived by an African lake some 7 million years ago.
*Farming the Monsters -- (The Australian -- December 28, 2005) About 20 million people around the world are spending time in so-called massively multiplayer online role-playing games. These online spaces are not only adding users, but are growing economies that interact with the real world. One game, Second Life, has its own currency, convertible to US dollars at a fluctuating exchange rate, and users can buy the virtual currency with credit cards or sell it for real dollars by check or PayPal transfers. Its 60,000 users trade $US2 million monthly, making its economy about the same size as that of South Pacific island nation Tuvalu.
* Navy Tests Look-to-Talk Device -- (Wired -- January 11, 2006) The U.S. Navy is field-testing a new short-range communications device called LightSpeed that could soon let sailors talk securely up to two miles away, just by looking at each other. The device uses infrared, similar to that of a television remote control, to transmit audio and visual information. To overcome range limits, LightSpeed connects to ordinary binoculars and uses the optical lenses to amplify the signals. Then soldiers on either end can simply plug headphones and a microphone into their binoculars to talk to one another.
* Broken Ice Dam Blamed for 300 Year Chill -- (New Scientist -- January 10, 2006) A three-century-long cold spell that chilled Europe 8200 years ago was probably caused by the bursting of a Canadian ice dam, which released a colossal flood of glacial meltwater into the Atlantic Ocean. Two new papers, using different computer models, show that the massive freshwater flood accounts for evidence of the sudden climate change, which cooled Greenland by an average of 7.4C, and Europe by about 1C. It was the most abrupt and widespread cool spell in the last 10,000 years.
* The Hydrogen Gold Rush is On -- (Wired -- December 28, 2005) Todd Livingstone has a plan to solve the energy crisis by capturing huge amounts of energy from lightning. The idea itself is not new. But Livingstone has added a unique twist. Using lasers to capture lightning bolts, he wants to channel them through a large tank of water, producing near-limitless amounts of hydrogen. The implications, says Livingstone, are "mind-boggling." Put up a network of lasers in a lightning-prone area like Florida, he says, convert that energy into hydrogen, "and we could create more energy than the world needs."
And now, something so outrageous you will not believe your eyes. Actual notes in the handwriting of Philip Cooney, then chief of staff for the Ehite House Council on Environmental Quality, meddling in scientific reports in order to alter their meaning for political purposes. (Where is Cooney now? Oh, working for Exxon; why do you ask?)
Finally, the most important item...
One of you wrote in to say that there are signs, at long last, of a rising by decent American conservatives, against the monsters who have taken over their movement. The best sign so far is not (alas) coming from those “200 prominent conservatives” who I have yearned to come forward, and who could save this country, but from the heartland, where all true solutions must arise.
See Republicans for Humility by Dr. William Frey.
If more Republicans step up like this, there may even be a GOP worth salvaging, when it all comes crashing down. But now if people like George F. Will keep clinging desperately to illusions. Using mealy-mouthed euphemisms, e.g. “regretable,” “foolish” and “tragically flawed“... instead of vastly more apropos phrases like “treacherous,” “loony,” “demented-out-the-wazoo.”
I like, especially, the following quotation:
"....It really depends upon how our nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us.....but if we're a humble nation they'll respect us."
. . . - George W. Bush, October 11, 2000
for another, less explicit take on this theme see: http://www.checksbalances.org/
...finally-finally (for real this time...)...
. . . "You agree that this president is one of the top two or three most incompetent in history?" - Right wing financial talk show host Larry Kudlow, to a guest, last Tuesday, on MSNBC. Unheard of?