Monday, May 10, 2010

Who Actually Invented GPS, the Global Positioning System? See Inside GNSS May-June 2010

 Who actually invented GPS, the Global Positioning System?

Inside GNSS May-June 2010

Ageing in America: The Western world is growing older. What are the consequences? Expectations vs. Reality at Pew Social and Demographic Trends

The Western world is growing older. What are the consequences?

This is a comprehensive report on aging in America with lots of charts, etc. VERY informative for everyone, both young and old alike.

Growing Old in America: Expectations vs. Reality - Pew Social & Demographic Trends

Root Canal Politics Replace the Tooth Fairy for Baby Boomers | Friedman at the NYTimes Sees Harder Times Ahead

Thomas L. Friedman at the New York Times has a somewhat black post at Root Canal Politics where he writes, inter alia, that the Tooth Fairy has died, being survived by 400 million Baby Boomers in North America and Europe. The core of Friedman's article is this thought:
"After 65 years in which politics in the West was, mostly, about giving things away to voters, it’s now going to be, mostly, about taking things away. Goodbye Tooth Fairy politics, hello Root Canal politics."
Get the whole message.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

The Greek Crisis, Angela Merkel and the Swabian Housewife : In the Long Run, You Can't Live Beyond Your Means

Katrin Bennhold at the New York Times has a thoughtful article at In Greek Crisis, a Window to the German Psyche - which she opens as follows:
"A few weeks after Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and the world plunged into a financial crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany offered some common-sense advice to reckless bankers, indebted consumers and profligate governments.

“One should simply have asked a Swabian housewife,” Mrs. Merkel said during an address to fellow Christian Democrats in December 2008 in the southwest German region of Swabia, hub of the Protestant work ethic. “She would have told us her worldly wisdom: in the long run, you can’t live beyond your means.” "
Read it all.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Judicial Activism and Originalism : The Upcoming Supreme Court Nomination

Linda Greenhouse at Opinionator Blog at the New York Times in Whose Originalism? discusses judicial activism as we all await the Obama nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court seat to replace Justice Stevens.

Are Lax Environmental Laws and Safety Rules Partially at Fault for the Deepwater Horizon Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico and the Ongoing Gulf Coast Oil Spill Disaster? What About Consumer Demand?

5000 barrels of oil per day....

The ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an environmental disaster of possibly unprecedented proportions.

Could it have been prevented by better lawmaking and more stringent enforcement of environmental laws and safety rules and standards? How about consumers? Is it time for Congress to end the irresponsible gas-guzzling culture that has prevailed in the USA for decades?

Richard S. Dunham and Stewart Powell, Washington Bureau, write at the Houston Chronicle in Critics blame energy lobby for lax safety rules that:
"The massive failure — or cascading series of failures — that led to the debacle has shined a Capitol Hill spotlight on the massive amounts of money spent by oil and gas companies on political contributions and lobbying of Congress and federal regulatory agencies."
That lobbying is directed in large part to making it easier for oil and gas companies to do what they do, often bypassing the kinds of environmental safeguards that actually are necessary of implementation.

Certainly, the following can not be the solution that proper Congressional legislation would have required:

Next step to stop oil: Throw garbage at it -

What amazes us is that the people trying to stop the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico are telling the news media that certain now planned measures to stop the oil gusher have never been tried before at 5000 feet, as if that were an excuse.

It would appear to this observer that drilling for oil at those largely inaccessible depths should be legally permissible only when absolutely dependable security installations can be constructed onsite -- BEFORE drilling starts -- installations that can immediately shut off any gushing oil in the case of an emergency like the one currently at hand.

The entire political machine in the United States as well as American automobile drivers also have to share a lot of the blame for this disaster, as the exploitation of petroleum and gas by energy companies tries to keep pace with the exorbitant demand produced by a nation whose environmental energy policies are recognized as insufficient everywhere else in the world and whose continued manufacture and purchase of gas-guzzling automobiles and much too minimal taxation of gasoline (petrol) use have contributed to the current demand situation.

When gasoline prices in the United States reached $4.40 a gallon in 2008, people in America started to think about energy consumption and some moved to smaller cars, a thought that was conveniently discarded again when those prices sank again to a low of $1.60 by the end of that same year. Most consumers are not "rational" -- they are selfish, and your average motor vehicle purchaser could care less about environmental concerns. "Drill, drill" is their philosophy.

When Detroit automobile manufacturers General Motors and Chrysler went bottoms-up in 2009, people in America started to buy smaller cars, but that stopped when the taxpayers bailed out the bankrupt companies. As written at the Chicago Tribune, car buyers returned to buying gas-guzzlers.

The Wikipedia writes:
"Environmental politics and related concerns regarding carbon emissions have heightened sensitivity to gas mileage standards and environmental protection worldwide. In a 2007 edition of his book An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore criticized the Big Three. "They keep trying to sell large, inefficient gas-guzzlers even though fewer and fewer people are buying them." For example, Japan requires autos to achieve 45 miles per US gallon (5.2 L/100 km; 54 mpg-imp) of gasoline and China requires 35 mpg-US (6.7 L/100 km; 42 mpg-imp). The European Union requires 47 mpg-US (5.0 L/100 km; 56 mpg-imp) by 2012. By comparison, U.S. autos are required to achieve only 25 mpg-US (9.4 L/100 km; 30 mpg-imp) presently. Other nations have adopted standards that are increasing mpg requirements in the future. When California raised its own standards, the auto companies sued.[103][104]"
And now America has a Gulf of Mexico filling with oil and a Gulf Coast that looks like it may suffer some of the most severe oil spill damage ever experienced.

At some point, the nation has to get the environmental message. Maybe the time has come.

New Privacy Rights Violations at Facebook -- the New York Times reports

It seems like a never-ending string of violations of privacy rights by social networking platforms.

Jenna Wortham at the New York Times reports on the newest Facebook incursion on privacy rights at Glitch Brings New Worries About Facebook’s Privacy:
"On Wednesday, users discovered a glitch that gave them access to supposedly private information in the accounts of their Facebook friends, like chat conversations."
The newest "glitch" comes on the heels of previous privacy rights violations at Facebook which suggest that no user should put sensitive information of any kind into the hands of social networking portals. As Wortham writes:
"Over the last few months, Facebook has introduced changes that encourage users to make their photos and other information accessible to anyone on the Internet.... Facebook began prompting users to link information in their profile pages, like their hobbies and hometowns, in a way that makes that information public.

That last change prompted the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group, to file a complaint on Wednesday with the Federal Trade Commission.

“Facebook continues to manipulate the privacy settings of users and its own privacy policy so that it can take personal information provided by users for a limited purpose and make it widely available for commercial purposes,” Marc Rotenberg, the group’s executive director, said in a letter to the commission."
Read the whole article here.

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