Archive for December, 2007

You like our family has probably been hit pretty hard by the gas prices at the pump nowadays. Sadly to say there is no relief in sight and gas prices are expected to go up higher as the price of oil approaches $100 a barrel. The price now is about $80 per barrel but no one expects those prices to go any lower any time soon.
There may not be any relief at the pump but there may be a relief in the cars we drive and their ability to squeeze out every drop of gasoline into our miles per gallon.
Last month California based Apetra let out word of its allegedly super fuel-efficient (and cheap) Typ-1 electric vehicle. A video test drive and gee-whiz specs breakdown at the Popular Mechanics site proves that this thing is for real. The plan is to have a vehicle that goes 120 miles on a single lithium-phosphate pack charge for 2008, with a 300-mpg model to follow by 2009. Aptera is also mentioned in Wired’s new cover story as one of several early front-runners for the Automotive X Prize.”
The vehicle three wheeled with one wheel in the back and two up front. and weighs in at approximately 1480 pounds. This model is a two seater but there are plans in the works to start building a 5 seat car with 4 wheels. The Typ-1 is constructed from advanced composite materials, with steel reinforcements in critical areas. Being able to go 120 miles on a single charge of the vehicles battery or get 300 miles to the gallon is great and is enhanced by the vehicles way cool space age design.
I remember back in the 80′s when Mother Earth News headquarters were right outside of Hendersonville North Carolina and visiting their site and viewing the 3 wheeler they made that if I recall correctly was getting about 120 miles to the gallon. They also had a hybrid car they had made themselves from an old Renault I think it was. My biggest question to the big auto makers is if they had done it back then and got those types of mileage figures, Why can’t the big auto makers, and why are we still stuck with mileage figures so low. I don’t know if it is collusion between them and the oil companies or not. Maybe some of the top executives hold oil stock.
Anyway this is great news that someone is finally putting out a vehicle that can get tremendous mileage figures like the Apetra is claiming. The big auto makers don’t sell anything that is remotely close to those figures. Hopefully startups like this will put pressure on them to try harder. Even with the hybrids they are selling the best figure I have seen was about 60 mpg and that is about half of what was obtained by basically garage tinkerers in the 80′s. It is high time they caught up.

Creating tables is relatively easy to do. But can become confusing especially when you want a background image in them. The proper way to create a table with a background is written like this:

style=”background-image: url(http://www.your-site/your-image.jpg); width: 100%;”
border=”2″ cellpadding=”2″
<td style=”text-align: center; vertical-align: middle;”></td>

Notice the way the backround image is written. this way will validate according to the W3 ( The World Wide Web Consortium). Now you can use the “background=” but this will not validate and is actually incorrect. Notice the width is set to 100%. This can also be set to a value determined by pixels, such as 700 pixels which would fit most screens. I prefer to use percentages as they will adjust to fit different size screens. You can also set the border, cell padding and cell spacing to any value you wish. These values are all in pixels.
Notice also that the td style is set to text align center and verticle align to middle. default if you are using Nvu would be “<td align=”undefined” valign=”undefined”>” which again will not validate. to be correct you need to set these values. This is where your table cell content will go, between the td tags:

<td style=”text-align: center; vertical-align: middle;”>This is where your text, images or another table (nested) will go.</td>

I hope this has helped you. If you are not sure of this or need more explanations let me know in the comments box and I will be glad to add more to this or another post to elaborate further.

? Last month Japans whaling fleet set sail for the south pacific in search of humpback whales. They are intending to slaughter 50 humpbacks.?Commercial hunting of humpbacks has been banned worldwide since 1966 yet Japan is using a loophole meant for science to take a few whales to study and further protect them to keep its whaling fleets afloat and in operation.
The United States along with Australia is pressing hard to get this practice stopped. The American ambassador to Tokyo said Wednesday that an agreement may have been reached. Lets hope so. Australia is dispatching ships and planes to conduct surveillance of Japanese killing whales off of Antarctica. They will collect photographic and video evidence to determine if Australia will launch legal action to try and stop Japans whaling industry.
Japan regularly kills about 1000 whales per year in its “scientific program”. Critics say the program is a shield for Japan to keep its whaling industry alive until it can overturn a 1986 ban on commercial whaling. Japanese coastal communities have a long history of eating whale meat, and it was a major staple in the poverty-stricken years after World War II. The red meat, however, has plummeted in popularity as alternatives such as beef have become widely available in Japan.
There is little we can do as individuals to prevent this but we can vote with our pocketbooks and do not purchase anything from Japan. If enough of us do that it will be felt by them and perhaps they will do something about it. Our whales are a precious few left in the oceans of the world. There is no reason to harvest any of them now.

??? I don’t know if any of you know this or not but today is the anniversary of Bill Clinton becoming only the second President to ever be impeached. After nearly fourteen hours of debate the House of Representatives approves
two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, charging him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. Nine years later we have a sitting President who lied to the American people as well as Congress to engage us into a war in Iraq. Yet none of the debate or hours of trash on television about it do we see. Basically we had a sitting President who had an affair and lied about it and he was impeached. Don’t you think lying to get us into a war of aggression deserves to at least be investigated and debated if not impeached?
Under the Bush administration our rights have quietly been eroding away. We have had a domestic spying program uncovered that has operated with impunity even though it is illegal. Not that we do not have means in place to do the spying that needs to be done under the rules of law. We have had our secret agents outed for political reasons. The office of the president is supposed to be charged with upholding the Constitution and the laws of the land. This administration does as it pleases and to heck with anyone or anything that it sees as in its way. It appears that we now sanction state sponsored torture of prisoners, and stripping them of any rights to a trail for their crimes, if any. Our CIA has secret prisons in foreign countries just for interrogating prisoners. And all authorized by this administration. Or if not officially authorized then unofficially when it refuses to speak out against them. After all they all come under the presidential branch of government.
It just seems so wrong that one President can have an extra marital affair and not only do we have to hear all about it on the news with graphic details but the president is impeached and here we have another president that lies to us and congress, starts an war, runs roughshod over the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and we do not hear a peep from our so called news stations or any hearings into the matter by Congress. In my opinion that seems as if we have our values completely wrong.

The NY Times is carrying a story giving new details on the telecom carriers’ cooperation with secret National Security Agency (and other) domestic spying programs. One revelation is that the Drug Enforcement Agency has been running a program since the 1990s to collect the phone records of calls from US citizens to Latin America in order to catch narcotics traffickers. Another revelation is what exactly the NSA asked for in 2001 that Qwest balked at supplying. According to the article, it was access to the company’s most localized communications switches, which primarily carry domestic calls.
One revelation is that the Drug Enforcement Agency has been running a program since the 1990s to collect the phone records of calls from US citizens to Latin America in order to catch narcotics traffickers. Of course if this were an article of abuse of liberties in China we would decry it as an example of the failed system we call communism. Here in America we are now just saying, “Well what have you got to hide anyway?”
I totally disagree with this attitude. I feel that everyone should enjoy freedom from someone always listening in without a warrant. I may not have anything to hide but that doesn’t mean I want my private business listened in on either.
The Bush administration has lobbied for months trying to get legislation passed that would indemnify the large teleco’s from lawsuits that relate to illegal wire tapping. It’s not like they do not have the authority to wiretap when it is necessary. There is the FISA Court that is set up specifically for just that. But once again this administration acts as if they are above the law and wants to do as they damn well please and to hell with the rights of the people or the constitution.
In early 2001 the NSA asked for and were refused access to the Denver phone carrier Qwest. They had asked for access to localized communications switches that carry mainly domestic calls. Among the big carriers Qwest is the only one to have refused the illegal wire tapping requested by the NSA. The NSA has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth. Warrants have not been used in creating the huge data base that they have amassed. Not only do we have the Bill of Rights ( fourth amendment) that is supposed to protect us as Americans against this type of warrantless intrusion to our privacy. We also signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as Charter members of the UN where in Article 12 it states: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”.
Now I am not against wiretaps and spying upon criminals and terrorist but I am for going about it in the right way. If we give away or freedoms to gain a little bit of security then the terrorists have already won.

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Thomas Jefferson

It’s so sad to see what America is turning into or has turned into. We are supposed to be a guiding light, a beacon of democracy and freedom for the world to see. With lofty principals and above the human rights abuses of other “lesser” nations. But that is not what we have became now. Under the Bush administration we now sanction torture of detainees. Something we should be above. After all we were one of the founding members of the UN and signed it’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights a little over 50 years ago. It’s no wonder we are hated so much the world over. With us saying one thing and doing another. Right now it is pretty much do as we damn well please and to hell with anyone else or their rights and opinions.

Now the Bush administration is telling a federal judge it was not obligated to save tapes of interrogations of suspected terrorists and is telling the court not to even look into the destruction of taped evidence. In court documents filed Friday night, government lawyers told U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy that demanding information about the tapes would interfere with current investigations by Congress and the Justice Department. What this really means is “don’t look into this cause we are hiding the fact that we sanction torture”. Kennedy had ordered the administration in June 2005 to safeguard “all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.” Five months later, the CIA destroyed the interrogation videos. The recordings involved suspected terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Now I will admit these are very bad men and deserve to be locked away and throw away the key. But that still does not give us the right to torture them, or anyone for that matter. We as Americans should be above that.

The Bush administration has taken a similar strategy in its dealings with Congress on the issue. On Friday 14 Dec. 07, the Justice Department urged Congress to hold off on questioning witnesses and demanding documents because that evidence is part of a joint CIA-Justice Department investigation. Attorney General Michael Mukasey also refused to give Congress details of the government’s investigation into the matter.
Even if Kennedy accepts the argument that government did not violate his order, he still could demand a hearing. He could raise questions about obstruction of justice.

What it all boils down to is more stonewalling by the criminal administration sitting in the whitehouse. I know there are still about one in four Americans who think that Bush was sent to us by God himself and is the best thing since sliced bread, but what about the other three in four ? Why do they remain silent about what is going on? Do we just don’t care or too lazy to get involved. All of our representatives have phones and addresses. I have contacted mine several times to no avail but at least I have tried and he won’t be getting my vote come November.

So I ask you, what have you done for your country? Sitting quietly and letting this go on without even a peep is not helping your country. If you are not speaking up you are sanctioning their use of torture whether you realize it or not.

US House of Representatives
US Senate
White House, Office of the President of the Uninted States of America

I know it hasn’t quite came to this yet but we feel so close it isn’t even funny. This video is brilliant and I felt I had to share it with y’all. Enjoy

This is pretty cool. Nothing like this was going on when I was in the army. The US Army has set up a project office just for building video games. The military has been training troops for decades now with video games. But this is the first wing of the armed forces dedicated exclusively for gaming. One of the first projects: a tool kit that would let soldiers “build and customize their own training scenarios ? just like the Marines’ did, adapting “Armed Assault” for military purposes. The marines pioneered this concept with its “Virtual Battlespace 2” or its “Marine Doom“.

The army is not about to start handing out copies of doom or unreal tournament to the troops. ?I haven?t seen a game built for the entertainment industry that fills a training gap,? said Col. Jack Millar, director of the service?s Training and Doctrine Command?s (TRADOC) Project Office for Gaming, or TPO Gaming. Instead, the new office — part of the Army’s Kansas-based National Simulation Center — will focus on using video game graphics to make those dull military simulations more realistic, and better-looking.

TPO Gaming, the ones who handled the army’s first foray into the field,”America’s Army” that was heavily used to recruit potential soldiers, Will also be starting work on a tool kit that will let soldiers build and customize their own training scenarios without waiting for a contractor to do it for them. The Americas Army” game proved so popular it became a military training tool. The Army has also poured millions into the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California, to use Hollywood know-how to develop next-gen sims. But while some military offices encourage video game development, others are looking to crack down on the games troops play. We’ll have to see how this one plays out in the future. It looks as if tomorrows soldier will be a high tech one.

I may have to do a follow up to this one with the Marines approach to simulations.

There is a new search engine on the block and it’s name is Spock. This search engine is for looking up people. Be it a famous person like an actor or major league ball player or something simple like your high school buddy or sweetheart.
Spock makes use tags for searching. They make up the way you search and how members can add to searches. Tags are simply bits of information about a person. If you wanted to add yourself to Spock then you could add your profession, your blog name, any awards you have, home town, etc. These identifying words are tags.
Another popular way of searching is to search by category. This could be helpful to bloggers looking for work. Try searching for on line advertising. You could also do searches for politicians. Either local or national politicians can be searched for and perhaps turn up things in their past or ways they have voted that will turn you against or for a certain candidate With the price of a vote being so terribly cheap you may want to keep a check on all your local representatives using Spock.
Spock is not a social engineering site like My Space etc they do have some capabilities like messaging. I was astonished to find me come up as the number one entry when I typed my name in the search box. Pretty eerie actually. But pretty cool at the same time. You can add tags to the items in the search to help narrow down searches. You can become a member and that allows you to add and vote on tags, message other members and have your favorite searches come up when you sign in.

They just don’t get it. Our so called leaders are more concerned with letting their cronies make millions of dollars while the environment be damned. This year is shaping up to be the eighth warmest year ever in the United States and the fifth over all warmest on the planet or at least since they started keeping records in the 1800′s. In the United States, the months of March and August were the second warmest in more than 100 years. Only February and April were cooler than average. View the report by NOAA. The complete data will not be released until spring.
The past year was particularly rough in the Southeast and West, which experienced serious drought conditions. More than three-quarters of the Southeast was in drought from midsummer into December. I live in the north western corner of South Carolina and it is so dry here. We have had very few rains this year mostly we get a light rain that is quickly evaporated leaving us as dry and dusty as before. It is sad to watch dust coming up from the rain drops and not enough rain falling to stop it entirely. And with the dryness comes wild fires. South Georgia had fires of such intensity that we had the smoke hanging over us for days. And it is not just the east. The Southwest faced its share of drought and wildfires too. I feel for all those that lost homes due to the fires.
We are doing nothing to try and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere and sticking our proverbial heads into the sand isn’t going to help either. The EPA
( Environmental Protection Agency) is charged with protecting our air for us and even after a court order they are dragging their collective feet on this matter. The office of the white house says it needs more study. That it is a natural phenomenon. Any thing to put off us facing responsibility for our waste being put into the air. And for what reason are they doing this? It can’t be for the general good of all the people in this nation or we would already be acting upon it. The reason must be something not necessarily good for all of the people but only some of the people, the few, the cronies of our president and those in his office.
So speak out whenever you can. Watch my blog for updates on legislation that we may need to speak to our legislators about sponsoring or voting for.