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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 47117 times)
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« Reply #8490 on: May 17th, 2013, 10:29am »

Reuters

Lawmakers accuse IRS officials of lying in tax scandal

By Andy Sullivan and Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON | Fri May 17, 2013 10:58am EDT

(Reuters) - Lawmakers accused leaders of the Internal Revenue Service of lying on Friday as they opened the first in a series of investigative hearings about the tax collection agency's targeting of conservative groups.

Republicans and Democrats said senior IRS officials should have alerted Congress last year when they found out that their examiners were singling out Tea Party groups for intense scrutiny when the groups applied for tax-exempt status.

"That isn't being misled. That's lying," said Republican Dave Camp, the chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.

The acting head of the agency, Steven Miller, apologized for the IRS's actions and said they stemmed from poor management, rather than a partisan desire to punish conservative groups.

"I did not mislead Congress or the American people," said Miller, who was fired by President Barack Obama on Wednesday. "I think what happened here is that foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient."

Obama, a Democrat, is racing to get in front of a scandal that threatens to eclipse his second-term agenda. He has twice appeared in public to condemn the IRS's actions and has promised to cooperate with three congressional investigations and a Justice Department probe. He has, however, resisted demands for a special prosecutor to look into the allegations.

Republicans have angrily accused Obama's administration of using government powers to target political foes. They say the IRS scandal is one example of a federal government that has grown too large and intrusive.

"Is this still America?" asked Republican Representative Kevin Brady of Texas.

AN EXPLOSION OF ADVOCACY GROUPS

An internal IRS watchdog reported this week that IRS investigators had singled out groups that had conservative-sounding phrases such as "Patriot" and "Tea Party" in their titles when they applied for a tax-exempt status.

Such status allows groups to keep their donor lists secret while engaging in limited political activity. Political campaigns, by contrast, must make their donors lists public.

Tea Party groups say they were asked for information such as what books they read. The questioning in some cases took nearly three years, preventing certain groups from participating in the 2010 and 2012 elections.

The IRS watchdog blamed the scandal on ineffective management and bureaucratic confusion.

The IRS has seen the number of groups applying for so-called 501(c)4 status double in the wake of a January 2010 Supreme Court decision that loosened campaign-finance rules at a time when it has struggled to monitor existing tax-exempt groups.

The top Democrat on the committee, Representative Sander Levin, warned Republicans not to turn the investigation into a partisan witch hunt.

However, he noted that Lois Lerner, the IRS official who made the scandal public last week, did not bring it up when she testified in front of the committee a few days earlier.

"That is wholly unacceptable and one of the reasons we believe Miss Lerner should be relieved of her duty," Levin said.

Two other committees, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, also will hold IRS hearings next week.

(Additional reporting by Patrick Temple-West and Susan Heavey; Editing by David Lindsey and Jackie Frank)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/17/us-usa-irs-idUSBRE94F10Y20130517

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« Reply #8491 on: May 17th, 2013, 10:34am »

Der Spiegel

Living by the Numbers: Big Data Knows What Your Future Holds

By Martin U. Müller, Marcel Rosenbach and Thomas Schulz

May 17 2013

Forget Big Brother. Companies and countries are discovering that algorithms programmed to scour vast quantities of data can be much more powerful. They can predict your next purchase, forecast car thefts and maybe even help cure cancer. But there is a down side.

On balmy spring evenings, Hamburg's Köhlbrand Bridge offers an idyllic postcard view of the city's harbor. The Elbe River shimmers in the reddish glow of sunset, forklifts, cranes and trucks seem to move in slow motion, and occasionally a container ship glides by. But from the standpoint of Sebastian Saxe, the area is primarily an equation with many variables. For the past four-and-a-half years, the 57-year-old mathematician has been working on his trickiest computing task yet at the behest of the company that manages the Hamburg port.

The port covers an area of 7,200 hectares (about 28 square miles). Roughly 200 trains a day traverse its 300-kilometer (186-mile) network of rails and its 130 bridges to transport goods that have arrived by ship. Saxe, as chief information officer of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), faces the enormous task of optimizing this logistical nightmare.

The amount of land is finite, and further expansion is not possible. Nevertheless, the Hamburg Senate has announced its goal of almost tripling container transshipment volumes in Hamburg by 2025. This will only work if Saxe and his 60-member IT team manage to optimally exploit another resource: data. He certainly has plenty of it.

The port is already filled with sensors today. Trucks and freight trains are constantly transmitting their positions while incoming container ships report their location and speed. Sensors that constantly monitor port traffic are built into the Köhlbrand Bridge.

"Our goal is a totally interconnected, intelligent port, a Smart-port," says Saxe. He envisions a port in which, for example, a railroad drawbridge would no longer open at specific times, but rather just before a ship actually reaches it. This eliminates unnecessary delays for the railroad and at the terminal. Even the Köhlbrand Bridge would become "intelligent," in that it would report its current condition and predict future maintenance needs, all through the use of sensors. The frequency of scheduled maintenance dates was recently increased because significantly larger numbers of heavy trucks were crossing the bridge than had been planned for. This was of interest to Saxe and the HPA, but also to police and the customs agency, because some of the trucks were carrying illegal loads.

Rediscovering Data

In the end, the complex harbor logistics will create a machine that controls itself. Saxe's vision of the future is a sort of port exchange, allowing shipping companies to predict, down to the minute, how quickly their containers will be moved from the water to the road.

Many other companies worldwide are in the same position as the HPA. They are rediscovering a raw material that they, their facilities and their customers produce in excess every day: data.

The expression "Big Brother" has become dated. Experts would seem to have reached consensus on the term "Big Data" to describe the new favorite topic of discussion in boardrooms, at conventions like Berlin's republica last week, and in a number of new books. Big Data promises both total control and the logical management of our future in all aspects of life. Authors like Oxford Professor Victor Mayer-Schönberger are calling it a "revolution." According to Mayer-Schönberger, Big Data, which is also the title of his current book on the subject, will change our working environment and even the way we think.

The most important factor is not the sheer volume of data, even though it is currently growing faster than ever. An estimated 2.8 zettabytes of data were created in 2012. One zettabyte is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilobytes. Experts predict that the volume of new data could increase to 40 zettabytes by 2020. It would take about 250 million DVDs to store the amount of data being transmitted on the Internet in a single day. This volume doubles about once every two years.

New is the way companies, government agencies and scientists are now beginning to interpret and analyze their data resources. Because storage space costs almost nothing nowadays, computers, which are getting faster and faster, can link and correlate a wide variety of data around the clock. Algorithms are what create order from this chaos. They dig through, discovering previously unknown patterns and promptly revealing new relationships, insights and business models.

Though the term Big Data means very little to most people, the power of algorithms is already everywhere. Credit card companies can quickly recognize unusual usage patterns, and hence automatically warn cardholders when large sums are suddenly being charged to their cards in places where they have never been. Energy companies use weather data analyses to pinpoint the ideal locations for wind turbines down to the last meter. According to official figures, since the Swedish capital Stockholm began using algorithms to manage traffic, drive times through the city's downtown area have been cut in half and emissions reduced by 10 percent. Online merchants have recently started using the analyses to optimize their selling strategies. The widespread phrase "Customers who bought this item also bought …" is only one example of the approach.

Turning Data into Dollars

Google and Facebook are pure, unadulterated Big Data. Their business models are based on collecting, analyzing and marketing information about their users, through advertising tailored as closely as possible to the individual. This gigantic database and the notion of what can be done with more than a billion individual profiles in the age of Big Data was worth at least $100 billion (€78 billion) to Facebook investors.

The prospect of turning their treasure troves of data into dollars is now fueling the fantasies of businesses in many industries, from supermarkets to the automobile industry, and from aviation to banks and insurance companies. According to figures published by industry association Bitkom, global sales related to Big Data applications amounted to €4.6 billion in 2012. That number is expected to increase to about €16 billion by 2016.

Countless Big Data applications are also being tested in medicine and science. Even the public sector, especially police departments and security agencies, not always the most progressive when it comes to IT, have recognized the potential benefits in their fields.

What captivates so many people is the promise of gazing into the future, thanks to the lightning speed at which massive amounts of data can be analyzed. In fact, algorithms allow for astonishingly precise predictions of human behavior, be it in front of supermarket shelves, in traffic or when it comes to credit-card payment patterns.

In 2010, Google predicted a wave of flu outbreaks on the basis of user searches. American data specialist Nate Silver predicted the outcome of the last US presidential election well in advance and more precisely than all demographers.

'The End of Chance'

Some cities even predict the probability of crimes in certain neighborhoods. The method, known as "predictive policing," seems like something straight out of a Hollywood film, and in fact it is. In Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report," perpetrators were arrested for crimes they hadn't even committed yet.

Finding the presumed delinquents also doesn't seem to present a problem. Scientists have figured out that, with the help of our mobile phone geolocation and address book data, they can predict with some certainty where we will be tomorrow or at a certain time a year from now.

The increasing accuracy of such forecasts have led American tech guru Chris Anderson to proclaim that we are arriving at the "end of theory." Austrian media executive Rudi Klausnitzer, who has just written a book on the subject called "Das Ende des Zufalls" ("The End of Chance"), has reached a similar conclusion.

It is a prospect that is not altogether appealing to some. But many already rely on the prognostic ability of soulless algorithms in the most intimate spheres of life. The extensive questionnaires used by online dating agencies are fed into algorithms designed to increase the probability of finding a compatible partner.

A gold rush of sorts is taking shape in companies, research laboratories and some government agencies. In many places, the mantra of data is extolled as the new "oil" or "gold" of the 21st century. Some people are already benefiting financially: statisticians, physicists and so-called data scientists or data miners, who advise companies on Big Data applications. As with the classic American gold rush in the 19th century, most of the money is being made by those who sell equipment, tools and expertise, Big Data specialists like Blue Yonder, a company with 85 employees.

more after the jump:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/big-data-enables-companies-and-researchers-to-look-into-the-future-a-899964.html

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« Reply #8492 on: May 17th, 2013, 10:37am »

Science Daily

Bach to the Blues, Our Emotions Match Music to Colors

May 16, 2013 — Whether we're listening to Bach or the blues, our brains are wired to make music-color connections depending on how the melodies make us feel, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley. For instance, Mozart's jaunty Flute Concerto No. 1 in G major is most often associated with bright yellow and orange, whereas his dour Requiem in D minor is more likely to be linked to dark, bluish gray.

Moreover, people in both the United States and Mexico linked the same pieces of classical orchestral music with the same colors. This suggests that humans share a common emotional palette -- when it comes to music and color -- that appears to be intuitive and can cross cultural barriers, UC Berkeley researchers said.

"The results were remarkably strong and consistent across individuals and cultures and clearly pointed to the powerful role that emotions play in how the human brain maps from hearing music to seeing colors," said UC Berkeley vision scientist Stephen Palmer, lead author of a paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Using a 37-color palette, the UC Berkeley study found that people tend to pair faster-paced music in a major key with lighter, more vivid, yellow colors, whereas slower-paced music in a minor key is more likely to be teamed up with darker, grayer, bluer colors.

"Surprisingly, we can predict with 95 percent accuracy how happy or sad the colors people pick will be based on how happy or sad the music is that they are listening to," said Palmer, who will present these and related findings at the International Association of Colour conference at the University of Newcastle in the U.K. on July 8. At the conference, a color light show will accompany a performance by the Northern Sinfonia orchestra to demonstrate "the patterns aroused by music and color converging on the neural circuits that register emotion," he said.

The findings may have implications for creative therapies, advertising and even music player gadgetry. For example, they could be used to create more emotionally engaging electronic music visualizers, computer software that generates animated imagery synchronized to the music being played. Right now, the colors and patterns appear to be randomly generated and do not take emotion into account, researchers said.

They may also provide insight into synesthesia, a neurological condition in which the stimulation of one perceptual pathway, such as hearing music, leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a different perceptual pathway, such as seeing colors. An example of sound-to-color synesthesia was portrayed in the 2009 movie The Soloist when cellist Nathaniel Ayers experiences a mesmerizing interplay of swirling colors while listening to the Los Angeles symphony. Artists such as Wassily Kandinksky and Paul Klee may have used music-to-color synesthesia in their creative endeavors.

In the first experiment, participants were asked to pick five of the 37 colors that best matched the music to which they were listening. The palette consisted of vivid, light, medium, and dark shades of red, orange, yellow, green, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, and purple.

Participants consistently picked bright, vivid, warm colors to go with upbeat music and dark, dull, cool colors to match the more tearful or somber pieces. Separately, they rated each piece of music on a scale of happy to sad, strong to weak, lively to dreary and angry to calm.

Two subsequent experiments studying music-to-face and face-to-color associations supported the researchers' hypothesis that "common emotions are responsible for music-to-color associations," said Karen Schloss, a postdoctoral researchers at UC Berkeley and co-author of the paper.

For example, the same pattern occurred when participants chose the facial expressions that "went best" with the music selections, Schloss said. Upbeat music in major keys was consistently paired with happy-looking faces while subdued music in minor keys was paired with sad-looking faces. Similarly, happy faces were paired with yellow and other bright colors and angry faces with dark red hues.

Next, Palmer and his research team plan to study participants in Turkey where traditional music employs a wider range of scales than just major and minor. "We know that in Mexico and the U.S. the responses are very similar," he said. "But we don't yet know about China or Turkey."

Other co-authors of the study are Zoe Xu of UC Berkeley and Lilia Prado-Leon of the University of Guadalajara, Mexico.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130516151256.htm

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« Reply #8493 on: May 17th, 2013, 10:40am »




Please be an angel



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« Reply #8494 on: May 18th, 2013, 07:59am »






Evil Brain from Outer Space is a 1964 film edited together for American television from films #7, #8 and #9 of the Japanese short film series Super Giant filmed in 1958.

PLOT

The film concerns Starman's efforts to save the Earth from the followers of Balazar, an evil genius from the planet Zemar whose brain has been preserved after his own assassination.

-

The nine Super Giant films were purchased for distribution to U.S. television and edited into four films by Walter Manley Enterprises and Medallion Films. The three original Japanese films which went into Evil Brain from Outer Space (The Space Mutant Appears, The Devil's Incarnation and The Poison Moth Kingdom) were 45 minutes, 57 minutes, and 57 minutes in duration respectively. The total 159 minutes of the three films were edited into one 78-minute film.

Since the three original films were self-contained stories, three different plots had to be edited together, and a considerable amount of all three films dropped. The result has been called, "an alternately mind-blowing and mind-numbing adventure... a non-ending cavalcade of characters, chases, captures, rescues and fight scenes."

Contributing to the difficulties of editing these three films together was the fact that the first film was in the older 4:3 ratio, while the latter two films were shot in widescreen format. This necessitated the use of pan-and-scan methods to make the three films match.


~

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« Reply #8495 on: May 18th, 2013, 6:34pm »

Marine reunited with dog he handled in Afghanistan in surprise ceremony

Published May 18, 2013
Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa – When Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach served as a dog handler in Afghanistan, he told the yellow lab who was his constant companion that he'd look her up when he returned home.

"I promised her if we made it out of alive, I'd do whatever it took to find her," Gundlach said.

On Friday, he made good on that vow with help from some sentimental state officials in Iowa who know how to pull off a surprise.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/18/marine-dog-reunited-in-surprise-ceremony/?test=latestnews#ixzz2Tgh1EFOA
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..you talkin' to me...YOU TALKIN' TO ME..??!


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« Reply #8496 on: May 19th, 2013, 02:20am »

on May 18th, 2013, 6:34pm, Swamprat wrote:
Marine reunited with dog he handled in Afghanistan in surprise ceremony

Published May 18, 2013
Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa – When Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach served as a dog handler in Afghanistan, he told the yellow lab who was his constant companion that he'd look her up when he returned home.

"I promised her if we made it out of alive, I'd do whatever it took to find her," Gundlach said.

On Friday, he made good on that vow with help from some sentimental state officials in Iowa who know how to pull off a surprise.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/18/marine-dog-reunited-in-surprise-ceremony/?test=latestnews#ixzz2Tgh1EFOA


Gawd, this story has me laughing and crying at the same time, Swamprat. Thanks for addding it! This marine got it just right, dog are our pals and we ought to treat them right. And the bomb sniffing white lab turns out a war hero, perfect detection record with three explosions prevented, meaning human lives saved.


Love it!

cheesy


purr
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Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.

-RONALD REAGAN
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« Reply #8497 on: May 19th, 2013, 08:27am »

on May 18th, 2013, 6:34pm, Swamprat wrote:
Marine reunited with dog he handled in Afghanistan in surprise ceremony

Published May 18, 2013
Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa – When Marine Sgt. Ross Gundlach served as a dog handler in Afghanistan, he told the yellow lab who was his constant companion that he'd look her up when he returned home.

"I promised her if we made it out of alive, I'd do whatever it took to find her," Gundlach said.

On Friday, he made good on that vow with help from some sentimental state officials in Iowa who know how to pull off a surprise.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/18/marine-dog-reunited-in-surprise-ceremony/?test=latestnews#ixzz2Tgh1EFOA


Wow! Thank you for that article Swamprat,

And good morning to you cheesy

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« Reply #8498 on: May 19th, 2013, 08:28am »

on May 19th, 2013, 02:20am, purr wrote:
Gawd, this story has me laughing and crying at the same time, Swamprat. Thanks for addding it! This marine got it just right, dog are our pals and we ought to treat them right. And the bomb sniffing white lab turns out a war hero, perfect detection record with three explosions prevented, meaning human lives saved.


Love it!

cheesy


purr


Good morning Purr cheesy

Dogs are a higher life form, they really are!

Crystal

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« Reply #8499 on: May 19th, 2013, 08:30am »

One Powerball ticket in Florida won last night.

That was supposed to be mine! Oh well, good for them, I hope they get a good lawyer to help with the finances.

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« Reply #8500 on: May 19th, 2013, 08:34am »

Seattle Times

Originally published May 18, 2013 at 2:57 PM
Page modified May 18, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Alaska volcano shoots lava up hundreds of feet

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP
Associated Press

Alaska's remote Pavlof Volcano has been shooting lava hundreds of feet into the air, but its ash plume is thinning and is no longer making it dangerous for airplanes to fly nearby.

Geologist Chris Waythomas of the Alaska Volcano Observatory says a narrow ash plume extends a couple hundred miles southeast from the volcano, which is 625 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The eruption that began Monday seemed to be slowing on Saturday, but Waythomas says that could change at any time.

He says seismic tremors from the 8,262-foot volcano have been going up and down, but remain at a fairly high level.

Scientists are not expecting the eruption to end anytime soon but so far it has not been explosive. There are mud flows, but no one close enough to be threatened.

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2021013363_apakalaskavolcano.html

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« Reply #8501 on: May 19th, 2013, 08:37am »

Science Daily

Agriculture in China Predates Domesticated Rice: Discovery of Ancient Diet Shatters Conventional Ideas of How Agriculture Emerged

May 17, 2013 — Archaeologists have made a discovery in southern subtropical China which could revolutionise thinking about how ancient humans lived in the region. They have uncovered evidence for the first time that people living in Xincun 5,000 years ago may have practised agriculture -- before the arrival of domesticated rice in the region.

Current archaeological thinking is that it was the advent of rice cultivation along the Lower Yangtze River that marked the beginning of agriculture in southern China. Poor organic preservation in the study region, as in many others, means that traditional archaeobotany techniques are not possible.

Now, thanks to a new method of analysis on ancient grinding stones, the archaeologists have uncovered evidence that agriculture could predate the advent of rice in the region.

The research was the result of a two-year collaboration between Dr Huw Barton, from the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, and Dr Xiaoyan Yang, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing.

Funded by a Royal Society UK-China NSFC International Joint Project, and other grants held by Yang in China, the research is published in PLOS ONE.

Dr Barton, Senior Lecturer in Bioarchaeology at the University of Leicester, described the find as 'hitting the jackpot': "Our discovery is totally unexpected and very exciting.

"We have used a relatively new method known as ancient starch analysis to analyse ancient human diet. This technique can tell us things about human diet in the past that no other method can.

"From a sample of grinding stones we extracted very small quantities of adhering sediment trapped in pits and cracks on the tool surface. From this material, preserved starch granules were extracted with our Chinese colleagues in the starch laboratory in Beijing. These samples were analysed in China and also here at Leicester in the Starch and Residue Laboratory, School of Archaeology and Ancient History.

"Our research shows us that there was something much more interesting going on in the subtropical south of China 5,000 years ago than we had first thought. The survival of organic material is really dependent on the particular chemical properties of the soil, so you never know what you will get until you sample. At Xincun we really hit the jackpot. Starch was well-preserved and there was plenty of it. While some of the starch granules we found were species we might expect to find on grinding and pounding stones, ie. some seeds and tuberous plants such as freshwater chestnuts, lotus root and the fern root, the addition of starch from palms was totally unexpected and very exciting."

Several types of tropical palms store prodigious quantities of starch. This starch can be literally bashed and washed out of the trunk pith, dried as flour, and of course eaten. It is non-toxic, not particularly tasty, but it is reliable and can be processed all year round. Many communities in the tropics today, particularly in Borneo and Indonesia, but also in eastern India, still rely on flour derived from palms.

Dr Barton said: "The presence of at least two, possibly three species of starch producing palms, bananas, and various roots, raises the intriguing possibility that these plants may have been planted nearby the settlement.

"Today groups that rely on palms growing in the wild are highly mobile, moving from one palm stand to another as they exhaust the clump. Sedentary groups that utilise palms for their starch today, plant suckers nearby the village, thus maintaining continuous supply. If they were planted at Xincun, this implies that 'agriculture' did not arrive here with the arrival of domesticated rice, as archaeologists currently think, but that an indigenous system of plant cultivation may have been in place by the mid Holocene.

"The adoption of domesticated rice was slow and gradual in this region; it was not a rapid transformation as in other places. Our findings may indicate why this was the case. People may have been busy with other types of cultivation, ignoring rice, which may have been in the landscape, but as a minor plant for a long time before it too became a food staple.

"Future work will focus on grinding stones from nearby sites to see if this pattern is repeated along the coast."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130517085734.htm

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« Reply #8502 on: May 19th, 2013, 08:43am »

Der Spiegel

Stopper: Mini Hot Rod Hits German Roads

By Benjamin Braden, Sara Maria Manzo and Christoph Stockburger in Hamburg

Kids never want the fun to be over. Being thrown in the air by their daddy just once isn't enough -- they want him to do it again, and again and again. The mini hot rod gives adults a chance to recapture that feeling of exhilaration. Anyone who's been behind the wheel once won't rest until they've done it again.

Forget everything you've ever heard about driving satisfaction and imagine a cross between a soap box car and a go-kart. A mini hot rod is a bit like a narrow bathtub -- and climbing in is similar too. Drivers have to lower themselves into the cockpit, one leg after the other, with their hands braced on either side. Then all they need to do is to put the pedal to the metal and hit the traffic.

As dangerous as it looks, the mini hot rod is approved for road use. Fifty one-year-old Maik Wenckstern still can't believe it. He and his brother developed the quirky vehicle five years ago. A beer-fuelled race on riding lawn mowers was what first gave them the idea.

"It took technical inspectors two years to approve it," says Wenckstern. In Germany, a vehicle is only road-worthy if it can travel at a speed of at least 80 kilometers per hour (about 50 miles per hour), but that was the least of his problems. He cleared the biggest hurdle when inspectors gave the nod to the GFK bodywork.

A Different Perspective

Weighing in at about 120 kilometers, the mini hot rod is even allowed on the autobahn -- not that Wenckstern ventures there very often. A trip along the Hamburg harbor is a more sedate option, but helmets are nonetheless a must. The world looks different from behind the wheel of a hot rod. A Smart car suddenly seems as big as a jeep, while SUVs look like trucks and it feels as though slipping underneath an actual truck is a realistic possibility. Inside a mini hot rod, the driver is at eye level with truck tires.

more after the jump:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/the-mini-hot-rod-is-made-in-hamburg-and-approved-for-road-use-a-900570.html

Crystal

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« Reply #8503 on: May 19th, 2013, 08:45am »

Japan Times

19 May 2013

U.S. shale gas alters Japan’s energy plans

Officials look for way to leverage savings in wake of Fukushima

by Miya Tanaka

Japan has made progress in its attempts to curtail soaring fuel costs since the 2011 Fukushima disaster and Washington on Friday gave it the green light to import cheap liquefied natural gas.

Since Japan is poor in natural resources, it has been longing to import U.S.-produced LNG emerging from the shale gas boom.

This is not only because the price of U.S. natural gas is around a quarter of what it is now paying for LNG imports, but also because it increases the nation’s bargaining power against other suppliers.

Japan imports LNG from Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, and the Middle East, among other areas, and the pricing system varies depending on the source.

Japan, which can only import natural gas in liquefied form, has been purchasing the most expensive LNG in the world under long-term contracts linked to crude oil prices, which remain high.

The government has been increasingly wary about the impact of high fuel costs on the economy, particularly since the Fukushima nuclear disaster resulted in the loss of most atomic power, forcing utilities to return to thermal power generation.

LNG imports reached ¥6 trillion in 2012, compared with ¥3.5 trillion in 2010. Japan also suffered its first annual trade deficit in 31 years in 2011.

“I welcome from the bottom of my heart the U.S. approval of LNG exports,” trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Saturday.

The U.S. government restricts LNG exports to nations with which it does not have free-trade agreements, including Japan, examining whether each business project is consistent with public interest.

Japanese government documents showed in late April that three major projects involving Japanese companies in the U.S. mainland will provide about 15 million tons of LNG per year — nearly 20 percent of the annual import volume — under a North American pricing mechanism reflecting supply and demand for gas. The United States permitted one of the projects Friday.

It seems Japanese government officials are counting their chickens even before they hatch.

“Theoretically, we may be able to import LNG at two-thirds of the price paid now if we can buy shale gas,” an official of the Natural Resources and Energy Agency told a gathering of ruling party lawmakers last month.

Access to shale gas is also expected to help Japan squeeze a price cut from other resource-rich countries such as Russia, which is facing a decline in its share in the European market because LNG that was supposed to head to the United States from Qatar, the world’s largest LNG supplier, was redirected to Europe amid the U.S. shale gas boom.

Russia is turning to Asian countries as an attractive destination to export gas, but Russia and China have yet to reach an agreement despite years of price negotiations.

“In this kind of situation, it is possible for Japan to enjoy a relatively advantageous position (in negotiations),” the agency official said on a separate occasion.

But some experts are not as optimistic as government officials are over the prospects.

Jitsuro Terashima, president of the Japan Research Institute, said during an industry ministry panel meeting to discuss Japan’s medium- to long-term energy plan in April that he has some “doubts” over expecting “too much” from shale gas.

As LNG shipments from the United States will not start until 2017 at the earliest Terashima said U.S. gas prices could rise to about $7 per 1 million British thermal units by then from the current $4 or so.

“So if we add costs for liquefying, transportation and tolls (for LNG tankers) to pass through the Panama Canal . . . it may be a situation that poses the question of whether there is any advantage to us,” he said.

Hikaru Hiranuma, a researcher on resource and energy issues at the Tokyo Foundation, said the government appears to be lacking a resource strategy that foresees what might happen in the coming decades.

“If Japan had been involved in the development of shale gas in the United States from the 1970s, when technology development started, we may have had a chance to secure shale gas exports more smoothly than now,” he said. “But Japan at that time did not think shale gas could be economically produced.”

To avoid a similar situation for other energy sources, the researcher added that Japan should not be obsessed with shale gas alone, and should quickly start laying the groundwork to ensure access to other resources with potential to be commercialized in the United States, such as methane hydrate.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government acknowledges that there is no quick remedy to bring down the current hefty energy costs that are leading utilities to raise electricity rates across the board for households and companies.

“In the world of energy, it takes quite a long time to do even one thing because it often needs investment or requires change in (overall) structure,” another energy agency official said.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/19/business/u-s-shale-gas-alters-japans-energy-plans/#.UZjXIpDn-1s

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #8504 on: May 19th, 2013, 10:20am »

on May 19th, 2013, 08:28am, WingsofCrystal wrote:
Good morning Purr cheesy

Dogs are a higher life form, they really are!

Crystal



Good afternoon, WingsofCrystal! Sure, human - animal cooperation and friendship (parakeets, dogs, cats, horses, hawks, dolphins whatever) expresses evolution of mind, leaving us both 'better animals'.

smiley

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