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August 31, 2008

The Sunday Funnies

And this week's winner is?




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This Week w/George Stephanopoulos

Bill Maher - New Rules




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Links With Your Coffee - Sunday

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End Corporate Rule

Matt Taibbi on Bill Maher with a segment that highlights the problem neither major party seems willing to address, the coporate ownership of our country. And while I expect phony free speech zones from Republicans I find it distressing that the Democrats do the same thing.

Related: Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis




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Real Time w/Bill Maher
More Bill Maher video here

August 30, 2008

Links With Your Coffee - Saturday

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August 29, 2008

The Worst Person




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Countdown w/Keith Olbermann
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Links With Your Coffee - Friday

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Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention

Inspiration + Red Meat = Road to the White House




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August 28, 2008

Al Gore at the Democratic National Convention

Another great speech, the Democrats are on a roll.




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Transcript PDF

Time Travel: Possible, or Impossible?

Jack Hokikian, Ph.D. is the author of The Science of Disorder, an excellent book, especially the chapter on he Second Law of Thermodynamics. This essay expands on that chapter; what exactly does the law have to do with the possibility of time travel. The answer is here.

Recently, time travel has received much attention in the media. Books and articles have been written on the subject purporting that time travel is possible and consistent with the laws of physics, and that Albert Einstein supposedly was in agreement with this assessment. [1] This essay examines the situation and reaches a definitive conclusion whether time travel is possible or impossible as far as physics is concerned.

Two statements of Einstein are often quoted, which presumably support the view that traveling into the past is possible. One quotation of Einstein comes from a condolence letter offering comfort to the son and sister of his longtime friend and engineer Michelangelo Besso: “In quitting this strange world he has once again preceded me by just a little. That doesn’t mean anything. For we convinced physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent.” [2] Some scientists have speculated that this remarkable statement was also a comfort to its author, who died a month later in April, 1955. [3]

Einstein was alluding to the fact that nearly all laws and equations of physics, including his theory of relativity, quantum theory and Newtonian mechanics are time-reversible. They make no distinction between future and past.

Does this mean that physics is telling us we live in a reversible world and that the passage of time is merely an illusion? The Second Law of Thermodynamics—the Law of Increasing Entropy—holds the answer.

more

John Kerry at the Democratic Convention

John Kerry details McCain flip flops. "Talk about being for it before you're against it."




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Bill Clinton at the Democratic National Convention

People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than the example of our power.—Bill Clinton




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August 27, 2008

Unity



Kucinich Roars




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Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday

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Clinton: Barack Obama Is My Candidate

"No Way, No How, No McCain"

Hillary was excellent. She played all the right notes, and played well, in the right order. She was right to spend a lot of time dwelling on her campaign, which so many people worked on and fought for. She knows very well that her supporters' emotional investment isn't something she can lightly hand over to someone else.

But she also hit McCain hard and gave the best pro-Obama argument of the convention. Yes, even better than Michelle's message.

People should compare this speech with the "dream will never die" speech by Kennedy at the 1980 convention, or the fight by Reagan people in the '76 GOP convention. HRC could have taken that route but she did just the opposite.— dende blogger



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I am honored to be here tonight. A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama.

My friends, it is time to take back the country we love.

Whether you voted for me, or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines.

This is a fight for the future. And it's a fight we must win.

I haven't spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women's rights at home and around the world ... to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people.

And you haven't worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.

No way. No how. No McCain.

Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our president.

Tonight we need to remember what a presidential election is really about. When the polls have closed, and the ads are finally off the air, it comes down to you -- the American people, your lives, and your children's futures.

For me, it's been a privilege to meet you in your homes, your workplaces, and your communities. Your stories reminded me everyday that America's greatness is bound up in the lives of the American people -- your hard work, your devotion to duty, your love for your children, and your determination to keep going, often in the face of enormous obstacles.

You taught me so much, you made me laugh, and ... you even made me cry. You allowed me to become part of your lives. And you became part of mine.

I will always remember the single mom who had adopted two kids with autism, didn't have health insurance and discovered she had cancer. But she greeted me with her bald head painted with my name on it and asked me to fight for health care.

I will always remember the young man in a Marine Corps T-shirt who waited months for medical care and said to me: "Take care of my buddies; a lot of them are still over there ... and then will you please help take care of me?"

I will always remember the boy who told me his mom worked for the minimum wage and that her employer had cut her hours. He said he just didn't know what his family was going to do.

I will always be grateful to everyone from all fifty states, Puerto Rico and the territories, who joined our campaign on behalf of all those people left out and left behind by the Bush Administration.

To my supporters, my champions -- my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits -- from the bottom of my heart: Thank you.

You never gave in. You never gave up. And together we made history.

Along the way, America lost two great Democratic champions who would have been here with us tonight. One of our finest young leaders, Arkansas Democratic Party Chair, Bill Gwatney, who believed with all his heart that America and the South could be and should be Democratic from top to bottom.

And Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a dear friend to many of us, a loving mother and courageous leader who never gave up her quest to make America fairer and smarter, stronger and better. Steadfast in her beliefs, a fighter of uncommon grace, she was an inspiration to me and to us all.

Our heart goes out to Stephanie's son, Mervyn, Jr., and Bill's wife, Rebecca, who traveled to Denver to join us at our convention.

Bill and Stephanie knew that after eight years of George Bush, people are hurting at home, and our standing has eroded around the world. We have a lot of work ahead.

Jobs lost, houses gone, falling wages, rising prices. The Supreme Court in a right-wing headlock and our government in partisan gridlock. The biggest deficit in our nation's history. Money borrowed from the Chinese to buy oil from the Saudis.

Putin and Georgia, Iraq and Iran.

I ran for president to renew the promise of America. To rebuild the middle class and sustain the American Dream, to provide the opportunity to work hard and have that work rewarded, to save for college, a home and retirement, to afford the gas and groceries and still have a little left over each month.

To promote a clean energy economy that will create millions of green collar jobs.

To create a health care system that is universal, high quality, and affordable so that parents no longer have to choose between care for themselves or their children or be stuck in dead end jobs simply to keep their insurance.

To create a world class education system and make college affordable again.

To fight for an America defined by deep and meaningful equality -- from civil rights to labor rights, from women's rights to gay rights, from ending discrimination to promoting unionization to providing help for the most important job there is: caring for our families. To help every child live up to his or her God-given potential.

To make America once again a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.

To bring fiscal sanity back to Washington and make our government an instrument of the public good, not of private plunder.

To restore America's standing in the world, to end the war in Iraq, bring our troops home and honor their service by caring for our veterans.

And to join with our allies to confront our shared challenges, from poverty and genocide to terrorism and global warming.

Most of all, I ran to stand up for all those who have been invisible to their government for eight long years.

Those are the reasons I ran for president. Those are the reasons I support Barack Obama. And those are the reasons you should too.

I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges. Leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in America.

This won't be easy. Progress never is. But it will be impossible if we don't fight to put a Democrat in the White House.

We need to elect Barack Obama because we need a President who understands that America can't compete in a global economy by padding the pockets of energy speculators, while ignoring the workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas. We need a president who understands that we can't solve the problems of global warming by giving windfall profits to the oil companies while ignoring opportunities to invest in new technologies that will build a green economy.

We need a President who understands that the genius of America has always depended on the strength and vitality of the middle class.

Barack Obama began his career fighting for workers displaced by the global economy. He built his campaign on a fundamental belief that change in this country must start from the ground up, not the top down. He knows government must be about "We the people" not "We the favored few."

And when Barack Obama is in the White House, he'll revitalize our economy, defend the working people of America, and meet the global challenges of our time. Democrats know how to do this. As I recall, President Clinton and the Democrats did it before. And President Obama and the Democrats will do it again.

He'll transform our energy agenda by creating millions of green jobs and building a new, clean energy future. He'll make sure that middle class families get the tax relief they deserve. And I can't wait to watch Barack Obama sign a health care plan into law that covers every single American.

Barack Obama will end the war in Iraq responsibly and bring our troops home --a first step to repairing our alliances around the world.

And he will have with him a terrific partner in Michelle Obama. Anyone who saw Michelle's speech last night knows she will be a great first lady for America.

Americans are also fortunate that Joe Biden will be at Barack Obama's side. He is a strong leader and a good man. He understands both the economic stresses here at home and the strategic challenges abroad. He is pragmatic, tough, and wise. And, of course, Joe will be supported by his wonderful wife, Jill.

They will be a great team for our country.

Now, John McCain is my colleague and my friend.

He has served our country with honor and courage.

But we don't need four more years ... of the last eight years.

More economic stagnation ... and less affordable health care.

More high gas prices ... and less alternative energy.

More jobs getting shipped overseas ... and fewer jobs created here.

More skyrocketing debt ... home foreclosures ... and mounting bills that are crushing our middle class families.

More war ... less diplomacy.

More of a government where the privileged come first ... and everyone else comes last.

John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn't think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it's OK when women don't earn equal pay for equal work.

With an agenda like that, it makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities. Because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart.

America is still around after 232 years because we have risen to the challenge of every new time, changing to be faithful to our values of equal opportunity for all and the common good.

And I know what that can mean for every man, woman, and child in America. I'm a United States senator because in 1848 a group of courageous women and a few brave men gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, many traveling for days and nights, to participate in the first convention on women's rights in our history.

And so dawned a struggle for the right to vote that would last 72 years, handed down by mother to daughter to granddaughter -- and a few sons and grandsons along the way.

These women and men looked into their daughters' eyes, imagined a fairer and freer world, and found the strength to fight. To rally and picket. To endure ridicule and harassment. To brave violence and jail.

And after so many decades -- 88 years ago on this very day -- the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote would be forever enshrined in our Constitution.

My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for president.

This is the story of America. Of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.

How do we give this country back to them?

By following the example of a brave New Yorker, a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad.

And on that path to freedom, Harriet Tubman had one piece of advice.

If you hear the dogs, keep going.

If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.

If they're shouting after you, keep going.

Don't ever stop. Keep going.

If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going.

I've seen it in you. I've seen it in our teachers and firefighters, nurses and police officers, small business owners and union workers, the men and women of our military -- you always keep going.

We are Americans. We're not big on quitting.

But remember, before we can keep going, we have to get going by electing Barack Obama president.

We don't have a moment to lose or a vote to spare.

Nothing less than the fate of our nation and the future of our children hang in the balance.

I want you to think about your children and grandchildren come election day. And think about the choices your parents and grandparents made that had such a big impact on your life and on the life of our nation.

We've got to ensure that the choice we make in this election honors the sacrifices of all who came before us, and will fill the lives of our children with possibility and hope.

That is our duty, to build that bright future, and to teach our children that in America there is no chasm too deep, no barrier too great -- and no ceiling too high -- for all who work hard, never back down, always keep going, have faith in God, in our country, and in each other.

Thank you so much. God bless America and Godspeed to you all.

August 26, 2008

Bill Maher

Bill Maher's thoughts on the convention.




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August 25, 2008

Edward Kennedy's Speech




Michelle Obama's Speech

I can't imagine her giving a better speech. It seemed to me to be pitch perfect.




Fox News

And the crowd chants fuck fox news.




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Links With Your Coffee - Monday

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August 24, 2008

The Sunday Funnies

And this week's winner is?




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This Week w/George Stephanopoulos

Links With Your Coffee - Sunday

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A Bit of Biden




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August 23, 2008

Links With Your Coffee - Saturday

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August 22, 2008

It's Biden

At least that's what the New York Times news alert I just received claims. No message from the Obama campaign on my phone yet.

update text message: Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live at 3pm ET on www.BarackObama.com






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Links With Your Coffee - Friday

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Roosevelt




August 21, 2008

Income Inequality




Links With Your Coffee - Thursday

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August 20, 2008

Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday

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  • Scientists Create Blood From Stem Cells | Wired Science from Wired.com
    Scientists have used embryonic stem cells to generate blood -- a feat that could eventually lead to endless supplies of type O-negative blood, a rare blood type prized by doctors for its versatility.

    "We literally generated whole tubes in the lab, from scratch," said Robert Lanza, chief science officer at Advanced Cell Technologies.

    People usually require blood transfusions that match their own blood type: A mismatch can be fatal. Type O-negative can be safely transferred into anyone, but is only possessed by about 7 percent of the population, leaving supplies perpetually short.

    The new technique, devised by Lanza and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic and University of Illinois, is still preliminary. Its safety hasn't yet been proved in animals, much less humans.


  • A Strangely Elegant, Convex-shaped Writing Machine—By Wyatt Mason (Harper's Magazine)
    In its name is the essay’s difference: where other literary modes–novel, poem, play–succeed or fail, the essay, by definition, tries. Too short to be definitive on any topic, the essay can’t manage the comprehensive. It aspires to adequacy, fluency. An essay can argue well, to be sure, but usually argues best for itself and for it’s writer’s best self. “I am myself the matter of my own book,” the namer of the essay said at the beginning of his book of 107 attempts, better and worse, at defining the form.
  • Basics - The Furcifer Labordi Chameleon Has a Short Life and an Interesting Life History - NYTimes.comSure, Michael Phelps may have snapped a string of Olympic records like so many Rice Krispies in milk, but what was this child of Poseidon up against, anyway? Elite human athletes from 250 countries.

    19angi1.190.jpg

    A small, speckled, asparagus-green chameleon of Madagascar, by contrast, holds a world speed record among just about all of the nearly 30,000 different animals equipped with four limbs and a backbone.


  • Click to translate - The Boston Globe
    Millions of people are deciphering vintage texts without knowing it - and forging a new path for computing.

  • McCain staffer slams Dungeons and Dragons players - Boing Boing

  • Editorial - Risking the Galápagos - Editorial - NYTimes.com
    It’s hard to imagine an ecosystem better protected by nature — and man — than the Galápagos Islands. They lie some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Most of the land is included in a national park, and the waters surrounding the islands form one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. The Galápagos Islands have often been portrayed as an evolutionary laboratory, which is how Darwin came to understand them after stopping there in 1835. But in recent years, the islands have become a laboratory for conservation — an ongoing experiment in how to preserve a nearly intact ecosystem while still making it available to tourists.

Bill Maher on Religion




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August 19, 2008

Bill Maher on Politics




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Charles Darwin

On TV: The Genius of Charles Darwin: Presented by Richard Dawkins
note: I've added Part 3
Richard Dawkins examines the legacy of Charles Darwin. The three part programme will be broadcast on Channel Four at 8 pm on Monday 4th, Monday 11th and Monday 18th August.

Part 1




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Part 2




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Part 3




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Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

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August 18, 2008

McCain's Mansions





note: If you still don't think John McCain is unfit to be the president of all the people; here is one from the archives that will remind you what an arrogant prick he really is.


More Kindle

I love lists like the Modern Library's 100 Best Novels, it is a list I've perused before and one on which includes many titles I've read. I stumbled across it again a few days ago and decided I'd make it a goal to read everything on the list I haven't already read. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I've only read 37 of the 100 books. I plan on reading the remaining 63 over the next three years, one does not live by classic literature alone.

I usually get through 40 or 50 books a year. I'm doing a little better this year, and will probably finish with 70 or 80. The nice thing about starting this project now is the Kindle I recently received as a gift. Many of the books are in the public domain and available for free from sites like Feedbooks, Manybooks, and Project Gutenburg

Think of the money I'll save, and maybe it is good for the environment as well. No trees are cut down to produce the books, no fuel is burned transporting them across the country on airplanes and in trucks. I may be overlooking something here, but it seems on balance to be a good thing. I could just check them out of the library of course, but even there it means a trip in the car and more fuel used.

And talk about instant gratification, I can decide on a book and in less than a minute it is available to read. My Kindle is already filling up with books I intend to read, but unlike the many books I've purchased intending to read they are not sitting on bookshelves, sometimes double stacked, on the Kindle the books don't require any more physical space. I was concerned when I got the Kindle that I wouldn't like reading on it but I do.

There are rumors about that the Kindle is really starting to take off sales predicted by some to be 180,000 this year may according to the same prognosticators reach 360,000. The current estimate of Kindles in the wild is 240,000. I've been amused by some of the naysaying I've been reading. One fellow doesn't believe there are that many because, although he lives in a city of six million, has never seen one in the wild, another, a literary blogger points to the lack of Kindle sales through her Amazon link. It seems to me that they simply are having trouble understanding what a small number a couple of hundred thousand is in a nation of over 300 million.

Ralph Nader Interview




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A Book For You

I've read it. I enjoyed it. Would you like it. The book is Democracy in America (Penguin Classics) (Paperback) by Alexis de Tocqueville. If you think I would give away my only copy you'd be mistaken. In an attempt to organize my books a little better I discovered that I had the LOA copy of this and so the Penguin edition can go.

And the winner is Erick

I'll take all requests for the book left in the comments during the next 24 hours, or so, and then use a random number generator to determine the winner. I'll then ship the book at my expense to the winner. The offer is limited to residents of the U.S. and Canada. My apologies to my good friends in other countries but the cost of shipments to other destinations is simply too high.

Note:The offer is open only to registered comments others will be ignored. Please make it clear if you want to be considered for the book or are just commenting.

August 17, 2008

The Sunday Funnies

And this week's winner is?




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This Week w/George Stephanopoulos

Links With Your Coffee - Sunday

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  • Science News / Do Subatomic Particles Have Free Will?
    “If the atoms never swerve so as to originate some new movement that will snap the bonds of fate, the everlasting sequence of cause and effect—what is the source of the free will possessed by living things throughout the earth?”—Titus Lucretius Carus, Roman philosopher and poet, 99–55 BC.

    Human free will might seem like the squishiest of philosophical subjects, way beyond the realm of mathematical demonstration. But two highly regarded Princeton mathematicians, John Conway and Simon Kochen, claim to have proven that if humans have even the tiniest amount of free will, then atoms themselves must also behave unpredictably.

    The finding won’t give many physicists a moment’s worry, because traditional interpretations of quantum mechanics embrace unpredictability already. The best anyone can hope to do, quantum theory says, is predict the probability that a particle will behave in a certain way.


  • Black Sun Journal » Pastor Acknowledges Arguments of New Atheism

  • The Corpus Callosum : A Cunning Disregard For Security
    This seems very odd. The Internet -- including web sites and email -- has been found to have a very serious security flaw. Civilized places such as Sweden and Puerto Rico are already fixing the problem. There are plans to improve security for US .gov and .mil sites (government and military , respectively). Yet, the most important fix for the rest of us, which is under the control of the US government, is being delayed.

  • John McCain Hits the Streets with Questionable Anti-Obama Campaign - NYsportSpace

  • Joho the Blog » Best. Explanation of sub-prime mortgage crisis. Ever

  • Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2008 Results
    Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped "Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J."

August 16, 2008

President Jimmy Carter - Energy

How sad, that he was not reelected. Instead we got Reagan, and Republicans, and the problems we face today.




Links With Your Coffee - Saturday

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August 15, 2008

John McCain, Dancing Queen




Links With Your Coffee - Friday

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August 14, 2008

A Book For You

I've read it; I enjoyed it; would you like it? The book is

  • The Enchantress Of Florence by Salman Rushdie

  • And the winner is Bryce

    I'll take all requests for the book left in the comments during the next 24 hours, or so, and then use a random number generator to determine the winner. I'll then ship the book at my expense to the winner. The offer is limited to residents of the U.S. and Canada. My apologies to my good friends in other countries but the cost of shipments to other destinations is simply too high.

    Note:The offer is open only to registered comments others will be ignored. Please make it clear if you want to be considered for the book or are just commenting.

    John McCain Steals From Wikipedia




    Links With Your Coffee - Thursday

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  • Minding Mistakes: How the Brain Monitors Errors and Learns from Goofs: Scientific American
    The brain contains neural machinery for recognizing errors, correcting them, and optimizing behavior.

    The neurotransmitter dopamine plays a major role in our ability to learn from our mistakes. Genetic variants that affect dopamine signaling may partly explain differences between people in the extent to which they learn from errors or negative consequences.

    Certain patterns of cerebral activity often foreshadow errors, opening up the possibility of preventing blunders with portable devices that can detect error-prone brain states.


  • Bad Science » You are hereby sentenced eternally to wander the newspapers, fruitlessly mocking nutriwoo
    The newspapers are so profoundly overrun with pseudoscience about food that there’s no point in documenting it any longer. They will continue with their Sisyphean task of dividing all the inanimate objects in the world into the ones that either cause or cure cancer, and I will sit at the sidelines, making that joke over and over again.

  • Solar Collector Could Change Asphalt Roads Into Renewable Energy Source
    Anyone who has walked barefoot across a parking lot on a hot summer day knows that blacktop is exceptionally good at soaking up the sun’s warmth. Now, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has found a way to use that heat-soaking property for an alternative energy source.

    Through asphalt, the researchers are developing a solar collector that could turn roads and parking lots into ubiquitous—and inexpensive–sources of electricity and hot water.


  • Respectful Insolence: Just what John McCain and Barack Obama need: Better "chi" through feng shui

  • George Bush Saves the World (Again) | Indecision2008 | Comedy Central

  • Free copyright license upheld Fed Circuit Court of Appeals - Boing Boing

  • Wood v. Updike v. Baker - Paper Cuts - Books - New York Times Blog

  • Some Olympians Dissatisfied With Religious Center - washingtonpost.com

  • Obamacans And Elders

  • MyDD :: Republicans for Obama: Add Colin Powell to the List?

  • Psychology Today: Plight of the Little Emperors
    Coddled from infancy and raised to be academic machines, China's only children expect the world. Now they're buckling under the pressure of their parents' deferred dreams.

  • August 13, 2008

    Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday

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    August 12, 2008

    Ron Suskind

    Ron Suskind talks about the forged letter that clears the Bush administration of using false pretenses for going to war
    .


    Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

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    • Social diversity improves cooperation and group fitness
      Nature magazine recently published a fairly hard to read but fascinating paper entitled “Social diversity promotes the emergence of cooperation in public good games” (10 July 2008 issue). The authors, Francisco Santos, Marta Santos, and Jorge Pacheco (the first at the University of Brussels, in Belgium, the other two at the University of Lisbon, in Portugal) argue that cooperation in human groups can evolve as a result of social diversity, an outcome that would make concerted efforts at increasing diversity not only ethically good, but practically useful as well.

    • None of the Answers - Stanley Fish - Think Again - Opinion - New York Times Blog
      In a famous passage in the sixth book of “The Prelude” (1805, 1850), William Wordsworth recounts a walking journey in which he and a companion (Robert Jones) crossed the Alps without having been aware that they had done so. That is, they were already heading down when they believed they were still going up. The big moment they had looked forward to occurred without their noticing. What they had missed was the liminal experience of crossing a threshold, stepping across a line, passing from one state to another. One minute they’re thinking about getting somewhere and the next minute they discover they’re already there. They can hardly believe it and question the peasant who has informed them: “And all the answers which the man returned/ To our inquiries, in their sense and substance/ Translated by the feelings which we had,/Ended in this — that we had crossed the Alps.”

    • LRB · Michael Klare: Past Its Peak
      Unlike the oil ‘shocks’ of the 1970s, the current energy crisis is almost certain to be long-lasting. None of the quick fixes proposed by pundits and politicians – drilling in protected wilderness and maritime areas, curbs on commodity speculators, pressure on members of Opec to increase output – is likely to have much impact. In 1973-74 and again in 1979-80, events in the Middle East led to a sharp reduction in the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf, causing a contraction in global supplies and a rise in energy prices, and thus sparking a global recession. But when equilibrium of a sort was restored to the region, the oil began to flow again and the crisis passed. Now, however, the imbalance between supply and demand is largely due to factors inherent in oil commerce itself – and so is less easily solved
      .

    • Amitava Kumar :: Bye For Now (a poem

    • Steve Fuller - Science v. Religion? Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution - Reviewed by Sahotra Sarkar, University of Texas at Austin - Philosophical Reviews - University of Notre Dame
      Steve Fuller getting what he deserves for his support of ID , a real thrashing
    • Jackie Gingrich Cushman :: Townhall.com :: Get Lost - In A Book
      The major finding of the study was “...a positive association between exposure to narrative fiction and social abilities, and the opposite pattern for expository non-fiction.” The conclusion was that fiction readers tend to have greater social skills than do non-fiction readers and mentioned “the possibility that social skills may be improved as a result of exposure to social narratives (i.e. reading stories).”

    • Steinbeck, Hemon and Our Progressive Zeitgeist

    • Wide Scope | 75th Philosophers’ Carnival

    • blog.talkingphilosophy.com » The Value of Philosophy, Yet Again

    • t r u t h o u t | Pay-As-You-Drive Insurance Comes to Brookings

    Mirror Mirror

    A great summary of the Bush Presidency.




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    Countdown w/Keith Olbermann
    Keith's latest book is Truth and Consequences: Special Comments on the Bush Administration's War on American Values

    August 11, 2008

    Spoofing President Bush - Onion




    Links With Your Coffee - Monday

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    August 10, 2008

    The Sunday Funnies

    And this week's winner is?




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    This Week w/George Stephanopoulos

    Links With Your Coffee - Sunday

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    • altmuslim - Free speech is a two-way street
      Back in 1989, when the publication of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses sparked a new phenomenon of protests from Muslims - particularly by those in the West - I was a student body senator at the University of California at Berkeley, where the Free Speech Movement was born in the 1960s. Two bookstores were firebombed - apparently in retaliation for the book - though without a claim of responsibility. Along with several other Muslim students, I appeared on local television to denounce the bombings and state our belief that while Muslims could understandably be offended, no one had the right to impose censorship or intimidate others with threats to their safety or property.

    • From the Writers of The Daily Show: The “Card” Frenzy | Indecision2008 | Comedy Central
      This week, the media accused Barack Obama of "playing the race card" by attributing some peoples' apprehension to vote for him to the fact that he doesn't "look like the other guys on the currency." The media frenzy around the comment comes at the heels of candidates being accused of playing "the change card", "the fear card" "the age card", "the gender card", "the Europe card and "the Maliki card." It's August, and the only card the candidates have left is..."

    • Next America

    • My “Dear John” Edwards Letter » Mad Kane's Political Madness

    • Comcast: Comcast Tech Accuses 74-Year-Old Man Of Stealing Cable Service
      Pretend you're a Comcast tech who has been asked to transfer Ally's account and internet service to her 74-year-old grandfather's house. Your work order shows that Ally ordered only internet service, but when you shimmy up the pole, you see that the house is also set to receive cable service. Do you:

      • A) Connect the internet service and leave.

      • B) Connect the internet service and check to see if the 74-year-old man has a separate account for the cable service.

      • C) Accuse the 74-year-old man of stealing cable, and declare "I don't want to see your fucking bill" when the granddaughter tries to explain the situation.

    • The Left Coaster: Get Your Filthy Authoritarian Mitts Off My Laptop

      Take my gun if you like but the only way you'll get my laptop is to pry it from my cold dead fingers.

      We can know with utmost certainty that 2008 will be classified by future historians as another year in one of America’s darkest, repressive eras, easily surpassing the McCarthy witch hunts in cruel stupidity and trampled freedoms. When a Department of Homeland Security hack equates seizing your laptop to copy all of its contents with rifling your backpack at a border search we are in one of our worst spots as a country, ever.

    • Think Progress » Suskind posts transcript of interview implicating White House in forged letter.

    • Compressor-free Refrigerator May Loom In The Future
      Refrigerators and other cooling devices may one day lose their compressors and coils of piping and become solid state, according to Penn State researchers who are investigating electrically induced heat effects of some ferroelectric polymers.

    Thomas Frank

    Thomas Frank author of The Wrecking Crew says "the argument of the book is that conservatives suck."




    August 9, 2008

    Weekly Review - Colbert Report




    Weekly Review - Daily Show




    Links With Your Coffee - Saturday

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    Quantum Mechanics


    Science Saturday: Problems in Quantum Mechanics Defining Quantum Mechanics (16:13) Why the Schrodinger equation seems crazy… (08:43) …and a few possible ways to make it seem sane (09:29) Sean on the many-worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (04:00) David attacks the many-worlds interpretation (17:22) Quantum Mechanics and free will (07:29)

    August 8, 2008

    Spida of Love




    Links With Your Coffee - Friday

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    August 7, 2008

    To Drill or Not to Drill




    Links With Your Coffee - Thursday

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    • Flocking to Faith

      Katha Pollitt has it exactly right. Barack's faith-based plan is a disaster waiting to happen.

      In the old days politicians would slip preachers some hundreds under the table, and preachers would deliver the flock on election day. It was borderline illegal, but at least it left the Constitution alone. The same could not be said of the Bush Administration's faith-based initiative, a political bribe to the religious right that put a hole in the First Amendment big enough for Christ himself to walk through. Given the dismal results of the initiative--millions wasted, many lawsuits, embarrassments like special Christians-only prison units and Faith Works, which aspired to bring "homeless addicts to Christ"--you would think getting rid of federal handouts to churches for social services would be one change we'd all be ready to believe in. But no. As he announced earlier this summer, Barack Obama plans to open the spigot even wider, beginning with half a billion dollars for summer classes for 1 million poor kids and presumably moving on to help for prisoners, addicts and other unfortunates. Perhaps worn down by years of being bashed as elitists ignorant of the real America, many liberals and progressives seem prepared to go along. Difficult as it is to dissent from the feel-good community spirit in which Obama casts his proposals--who wants to be the curmudgeon while people are in obvious need?--this is a major failure of nerve.

      Obama may have given his initiative an inclusive-sounding name--the President's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships--and he may insist that with proper oversight government money can go to religious institutions without going to religious purposes, like proselytizing. He wouldn't let churches discriminate in hiring for these programs or provide services only to their own (although the Supreme Court permits religious discrimination in church hiring, even for janitorial jobs). He says churches will have to obey their state's antidiscrimination laws, which would mean that in twenty states churches that consider homosexuality an abomination would have to hire gays anyway. It would be hard to overestimate the amount of bureaucratic energy required to enforce these provisions. Besides, money is fungible--a grant for the prison-ministry-that-never-mentions-Jesus frees up that many dollars for Sunday school or a new car for the Reverend.


    • Viruses can catch colds, says study that redefines life itself - Telegraph
      The debate about what counts as a living thing is fuelled today by the discovery of the first virus that is able to fall "ill" by being infected with another virus
      .

    • Nissan shows models of electric car, hybrid - Autos- msnbc.com
      Nissan showed on Wednesday a spiffy electric car packed with a battery developed by the Japanese automaker to deliver more power than the type common in today’s hybrids.

    • the advantages of trolls « The Lumber Room
      A slightly disturbing article about trolls. i learnt not to take virtual relationships and abuse too seriously, eventually, but trolls do have their uses. For one thing, since a troll is determined to attack you, he (i imagine they are mainly guys) will rigorously read you, like a good editor, for the slightest weakness, for a spelling mistake, a lapse into sentimentality, sloppy thinking. A troll is an unpaid editor.

    • The Millions: NYRB Classics: Not Just for Grownups
      We're not shy about our praise for NYRB Classics. Their volumes are smartly edited and well designed and quite a few favorite books of The Millions contributors - The Dud Avocado, Wheat That Springeth Green, and, of course, The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll - were first encountered in their NYRB Classics incarnations.
      While I had always planned on passing NYRB Classics books down to my progeny one day, I've just discovered that I may get to do that sooner than I had anticipated. NYRB Classics has a line of children's books, the NYR Children's Collection.

      One of the latest to come out under the imprint is James Thurber's The 13 Clocks with an introduction by Neil Gaiman and illustrations by Marc Simont.


    • VP wanted: No future presidents, please - Los Angeles Times
      Why Obama and McCain should pass over potential running mates who have their eyes on 2016.

    • Wal-Mart's clumsy, self-defeating attempts to influence the election. - By Daniel Gross - Slate Magazine
      Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that retailing giant Wal-Mart, concerned about a potential Democratic sweep this fall, has been not-so-subtly indoctrinating managers and department heads about the perils of an Obama presidency. The operating assumption in Bentonville seems to be that a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress would pass laws such the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize at Wal-Mart, thus hurting the company, its workers, and its shareholders. And while the executives running the meetings were careful not to instruct workers which lever to pull, the upshot was clear. "I am not a stupid person," a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor told the Journal. "They were telling me how to vote."

    • Indoctrination - A Clip from Pledge of Allegiance Blues

    August 6, 2008

    Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday

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    • Rising Inequality Hinders Upward Mobility « Consider the Evidence

      Indeed it does, and for that sorry state of affairs we can thank the Republican party aided by some spineless Democrats.


    • Evolution | Praying for health | Economist.com
      SOME people, notably Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford University, regard religion as a disease. It spreads, they suggest, like a virus, except that the “viruses” are similar to those infecting computers—bits of cultural software that take over the hardware of the brain and make it do irrational things.

      Corey Fincher, of the University of New Mexico, has a different hypothesis for the origin of religious diversity. He thinks not that religions are like disease but that they are responses to disease—or, rather, to the threat of disease. If he is right, then people who believe that their religion protects them from harm may be correct, although the protection is of a different sort from the supernatural one they perceive.


    • fiction and political fact - bookforum.com / in print
      The political novel has always been an odd hybrid of fact and fiction. One of the genre’s originators, Benjamin Disraeli, the author of Coningsby (1844), was also one of the few writers who had genuine inside knowledge of the political world. But political novels usually deal with more than the intrigues of cabinet ministers and young men on the make. The boundaries of this genre are very hard to delimit. For some critics, the political novel is precisely the kind of book Disraeli, Trollope, and Henry Adams passed on to a few modern writers like Gore Vidal in Washington, D.C., Burr, Lincoln, and 1876: a novel focused, often satirically, sometimes historically, on the machinations of the political class—the men, usually men, with their hands on the levers of power. At the other extreme, postmodern theorists like Fredric Jameson in The Political Unconscious (1981) insist that the genre has no meaning, since “everything is ‘in the last analysis’ political.” To suggest that some works are political while others are not, Jameson says, is “a symptom and a reinforcement of the reification and privatization of contemporary life.”

      What, you've never read Gore Vidal's Burr you really ought to, it's a great read.

    • A Second Life for literature | Books | guardian.co.uk hmm

    • Language Log » Prohibiting non-arbitrary trademarks

    • Body Matters - Telegraph I thought the Telegraph was a real paper, does Murdoch own it? I never would have believed that I would find such rubbish in this paper.

    The News Better Run




    McCain Ready To Lead?

    A response to McCain's "Ready To Lead" ad by Paris Hilton




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    Countdown w/Keith Olbermann
    Keith's latest book is Truth and Consequences: Special Comments on the Bush Administration's War on American Values

    August 5, 2008

    House of Scandal

    The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism by Ron Suskind


    Kwabena Boahen: Making a computer that works like the brain




    Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday

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    The Word - We The People




    The Race Genie




    A Book For You

    I've read it, I enjoyed it, would you like it? The book is The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank. His previous book "What's the Matter with Kansas" explained why people voted against their own best interests. In his new book disucsses the rise to power of the conservative movement even though its goals and interests don't serve the the majority of voters. How they keep the government broken and what it all means for the coming election.

    Bill Moyers and Thomas Frank

    And the winner is, Bill W.

    I'll take all requests for the book left in the comments during the next 24 hours, or so, and then use a random number generator to determine the winner. I'll then ship the book at my expense to the winner. The offer is limited to residents of the U.S. and Canada. My apologies to my good friends in other countries but the cost of shipments to other destinations is simply too high.

    Note:The offer is open only to registered comments others will be ignored. Please make it clear if you want to be considered for the book or are just commenting.

    August 4, 2008

    The Worst Person




    Links With Your Coffee - Monday

    • I'm sorry, but Barack is a wimp. His recent equivocation on offshore drilling is digusting. All he has to say is offshore drilling, according to the Bush administration, will have no effect on prices for ten years and then no more than a nickle a gallon, but no, he demonstrates once again that his principles are as light as the air. He really ought to change his slogan from Hope and Change to Polls and Change. And yes, he is by far the better choice when compared to McSame, but the distance seems to narrow every day. You'd think he was trying to lose it.
    • McCain, the Analog Candidate
      . . . Presidents can avoid using computers if they want to. That’s one of the privileges of the office. They are surrounded by a staff entrusted with keeping them plugged in, day and night.

      So why have Mr. McCain’s admissions of digital illiteracy sparked such ridicule in wiseguy circles?

      Computers have become something of a cultural marker — in politics and in the real world. Proficiency with them suggests a basic familiarity with the day-to-day experience of most Americans — just as ignorance to them can suggest someone is “out of touch,” or “old.”

      “We’re not asking for a president to answer his own e-mail,” said Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley futurist who teaches at Stanford. “We’re asking for a president who understands the context of what e-mail means.”

      The “user experience,” Mr. Saffo said, brings with it an implicit understanding of how the country lives, and where it might be heading. As Mr. McCain would lack this, he would also be deficient in this broader appreciation for how technology affects lives

      .

    • Anthrax » Listics
      In the 1950s, a spin off from the 1939 Gene Autry movie “Home on the Prairie” was serialized in comic format and syndicated in daily papers across the country. “Home on the Prairie” was about the bad guys importing anthrax infected cattle across that darn Texas/Mexican border. Texas Ranger Gene Autry went toe-to-toe with the bad guys. He got in a few scrapes, had some narrow escapes, and managed to beat the bad guys and protect the lady rancher’s honor in the end.

    • Church exorcism protected by First Amendment - Telegraph

    • 'Daniel Dennett: Autobiography (Part 1)' by Daniel Dennett, Philosophy Now - RichardDawkins.net

    • Notes Archive
      Do we want 'Christian Voice' telling newspapers what they can publish? No, we damn well don't. We don't trust 'Christian Voice' to choose wisely; we prefer to take our chances with competent newspaper editors rather than with puffed-up publicity-seeking tiny-minded religious zealots.

    • Philosophy Bites
      How can we enjoy watching tragedy when it is a genre that deals with suffering and pain? In this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast Alex Neill explains what the paradox of tragedy is, and shows how he thinks it can be dissolved. He also relates this discussion to related questions about our experience of horror movies
      .

    • Jesus and Mo » Questions and Anwers
    • Solzhenitsyn, Who Defied Soviets, Dies at 89 - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com
      Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whose stubborn, lonely and combative literary struggles gained the force of prophecy as he revealed the heavy afflictions of Soviet Communism in some of the most powerful works of the 20th century, died late on Sunday at the age of 89 in Moscow.

      I enjoyed One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich the most of his work I read, including Cancer Ward, and the Red Circle. I started Gulag, but never finished it.



    Why Batman Sucks




    August 3, 2008

    The Sunday Funnies

    And this week's winner is?




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    This Week w/George Stephanopoulos

    The Kindle

    A few words about my Kindle, a birthday present that I've now had a little over a week to explore, and some recent reading.

    The display is wonderful, clean, crisp and easy to read. I don't even need to take advantage of the larger text sizes, the default is fine. What I like most is the length of each line and the spacing of the text. It is ideal for reading quickly, each line the perfect length to take in at one time, and the spacing between lines is perfect for my tastes. And having the dictionary built in removes the temptation to guess at the meaning of words you're not sure of.

    The number of available books is something over 140,000 which is good, but not as good as it sounds. There are a number of books I'd like to own in the Kindle format that are still not available. Bestsellers are commonly available at $9.99, while the classics of literature are often available for a dollar or two. And there are the sites that have free downloads of books out of copyright. Many Books and Feed Books are two good ones.

    There is also the capability to convert your own files into Kindle format. There are two methods, you can email supported documents* as an attachment to Amazon for ten cents an attachment, currently free, and when you turn your Kindle on it will automatically download your file. This process typically takes less than a minute. You can also mail the document to a free kindle address and get the converted document back via email and then transfer it to your Kindle via USB.

    My son, who downloads and reads a significant number of PDFs related to his field of philosophy and is considering getting a Kindle. He wanted to know if he could transfer the documents to the Kindle and so we tested it with a couple of PDFs he recently downloaded. It works well. One of the settings for the Kindle is the email addresses from which you will accept documents. I simply authorized his email address and he sent the PDFs to my Kindle address as attachments.

    You can also listen to audio books and mp3s on a Kindle, but it is not something I'm interested in. In addition you can browse the Internet in a somewhat limited way, but you could check web based email, peruse Wikipedia etc if you wanted too. I find the Internet is a distraction from the reading I like to do and so I leave the connection turned off expect for downloading content. It also saves power on the Kindle's battery. It will last for a week without that capability enabled and two days with it on.

    A couple of other features I'm enjoying is the ability to attach notes and highlight text. It saves the notes and highlighted text in a clipping file and you can use the USB access to retrieve it to your computer. I often I read a passage that I want to remember and share and since it's not convenient, trust my memory, or I make a note on a card or the back of an envelope that is usually lost. The Kindle has solved that particular problem. It would be nice to be able to email the notes, but alas that feature is not available.

    Overall I'm happy my family chose to give me the Kindle as a gift since it may have been years months before I purchased one for myself.

    What don't I like, the fact that it doesn't have 'real' page numbers. There is a bar graph thingy at the bottom of each pages that show's how far into the book you are and it does have it's on numbering system for the pages, and that should be enough, but it just doesn't quite feel right. I suppose it's too many years of reading in the traditional way. I've been reading War and Peace, yes I finished it when I was on page 1000 I discovered that the Richard Pevear , Larissa Volokhonsky translation I was reading was available in Kindle format, and so I purchased it and read the last 200 plus pages on the Kindle. It was then I discovered that I missed the actual page numbers. I found myself rather irrationally going to the actual book several times to see what page I was 'really on', weird isn't it. I also read Predictablly Irrational on the Kindle, recommended by the way and now I'm reading The Amnesiac by Sam Taylor where I'm testing my British cultural knowledge. I think I'm doing well, I know for example that a crisp package by the side of the road is not some sort of rodent that's been out in the sun too long.

    The Kindle is not a substitute for traditional books, when I was reading War and Peace a big book, it was heavy and substantial and in some way that added something in addition to the page numbers that were missing on the Kindle. I think of the Kindle not as a replacement of traditional books but as a supplement. I've got jury duty next week and I can tell you that it will be nice to take the Kindle and have additional choices of what to read while I'm waiting rather than deciding in advance what specific books I'll be in the mood to read.

    I think I'll be using it mostly for throw-away fiction and various anthologies of essays and stories. You can, for instance, get all of Chekov's short stories for a pittance.

    *
    • Microsoft Wor (.DOC)
    • Structured HTML
    • JPEG
    • GIF
    • PNG
    • BMP
    • Compressed ZIP
    • PDF (not perfect but pretty good)

    August 2, 2008

    "Major Discovery" From MIT Primed to Unleash Solar Revolution

    t r u t h o u t | "Major Discovery" From MIT Primed to Unleash Solar Revolution

    more here (thanks Michael)

    Scientists mimic essence of plants' energy storage system.

    In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from a marginal, boutique alternative into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine...

    Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials, this discovery could unlock the most potent, carbon-free energy source of all: the sun. "This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said MIT's Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. "Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon."

    Inspired by the photosynthesis performed by plants, Nocera and Matthew Kanan, a postdoctoral fellow in Nocera's lab, have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun's energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.

    The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity - whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source - runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

    Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

    The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said.

    Links With Your Coffee - Saturday

    Week in Review






    August 1, 2008

    Links With Your Coffee - Friday

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    Dick Move of the Week - McCain Attacks




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