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Archive for December 5th, 2012

Driving school for dogs in New Zealand

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A charity in New Zealand is teaching rescued dogs how to drive a car.

The canine driving school is aimed at proving how intelligent the animals can be.

Monty the giant schnauzer is among the novice drivers who have learned to control the brakes, gears and steering wheel.

I have no doubt they will end up driving better and safer than some of the folks on I see on the road every day.

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Written by Ed Campbell

December 5, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Subaru SHARC wins 2012 LA Design Challenge

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Screen Shot 2012-12-05 at 1.57.47 PM

Subaru’s SHARC (Subaru Highway Automated Response Concept) has been named the winner of the 2012 LA Design Challenge. The futuristic concept car was chosen by the judges as the best embodiment of the “Highway Patrol Vehicle 2025.”

Subaru’s SHARC beat six other automotive design studios, each of which presented its own concept of “the ultimate 2025 law enforcement patrol vehicle that supports the needs of dynamic urban environments.”

Subaru’s design for an unmanned 24-hour highway monitoring vehicle is intended for use by Hawaii’s highway patrol to police the state’s hypothetical “Paradise Highway” spanning the waters between the islands in 2025. The design is meant to be not only cutting edge, but also to conform to Hawaii’s UltraGreen carbon-neutral environmental regulations and eliminate the need for a large patrol staff in a time of shrinking budgets.

The SHARC is basically a big kevlar balloon with a framework made out of memory material that changes when you run a charge through it. Launched out of a tube, it expands to full size revealing wheels that are shockingly multipurpose. Each one has a 96 bhp electric wheel hub motor and the band-like tires have two tread surfaces set at an angle so the SHARC can make high-speed runs or navigate rough terrain. In between the treads is a slot for the headlamps and tail lights to shine through and the blade-like wheel spokes are actually propellers for when the SHARC takes to the air.

At the end of the day, SHARC deflates itself, rolls itself up again and goes back in its tube.

Um, imaginative comes to mind.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Time for Bob Dole to leave the Republican Party behind

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Bob Dole is probably mad as hell right now. And he has every right to be. In fact, he should leave the Republican Party in protest!

Dole, a lifelong Republican politician who was disabled during World War II, made an extraordinary appearance on the Senate floor Tuesday as lawmakers prepared to vote on a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled.

Dole, now 89, frail and in a wheelchair (and just six days out of the hospital), hoped his presence would sway his party to approve the treaty, which is modeled after the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act that he pushed through Congress in 1990.

But his party, now controlled by the hard right, rejected it. With 38 Republicans casting “no” votes, the 61-38 vote fell five short of the two-thirds majority needed to ratify a treaty.

Opponents like Tea Party favorite Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) argued that the treaty by its very nature threatened U.S. sovereignty and could lead to the state, rather than parents, determining what was in the best interest of disabled children in such areas as home schooling…

An instance where just a fraction of the reactionaries in charge of Republican ideology were able to translate their paranoia, xenophobia, idiocy into party policy.

The treaty, already signed by 155 nations and ratified by 126 countries, including Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, was negotiated by the George W. Bush administration and signed by President Barack Obama in 2009.

“This is one of the saddest days I’ve seen in almost 28 years in the Senate and it needs to be a wakeup call about a broken institution that’s letting down the American people,” Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said in a statement after the vote. He continued:

“We need to fix this place because what happens and doesn’t happen here affects millions of lives. Today the dysfunction hurt veterans and the disabled and that’s unacceptable. This treaty was supported by every veterans group in America and Bob Dole made an inspiring and courageous personal journey back to the Senate to fight for it. It had bipartisan support, and it had the facts on its side, and yet for one ugly vote, none of that seemed to matter.”

So this is what the Republican Party has become since Dole left office.

The article rolls on about the emotional difficulties facing Dole if he considers leaving the party he served all his political life.

Sorry, Bob – I offer the same unnecessary “sorry” to anyone else who thinks this is difficult. I have one family member who left what the Republican Party became under George W. Bush. He didn’t need to wait for the crass cowardice of party leaders since the advent of the Tea Party.

That the party he supported for 50 years discovered a “mandate” to invade two countries and lay the deficit for those wars on the shoulders of following administrations on the basis of neo-con ideology, after taking office with a losing popular vote – was contemptible. Crap not worth justifying by any stretch of self-deceit.

What has followed through Republican opposition to the Obama presidency solely on the basis of losing control of the White House to a Black intellectual – is something lower than contemptible. Only human beings are capable of conjuring up such rationales for self-destruction.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Farewell, Dave

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Farewell, Dave
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Many years of wonderful music, solid performance, inventive talent. He will be missed.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 5, 2012 at 10:36 am

British Boy Scouts consider atheist’s version of the Scout Promise

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The Boy Scout movement in Britain is considering creating a version of its oath that would allow atheists to become full members. U.K. Scouting said it is surveying its members on the change, a process known as consultation.

The organization has allowed members of other religions for the past 40 years to change the language of the Scout Oath by substituting the appropriate religious name. Muslims, for example, take the oath in the name of Allah.

We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and religion will remain a key element of the Scouting program,” said Wayne Bulpitt, the chief commissioner for scouting in Britain. “That will not change. However, throughout our 105-year history, we have continued to evolve so that we remain relevant to communities across the U.K…”

All scout organizations use a variation of the original Scout Promise or Oath: “On my honor I promise that I will do my best — to do my duty to God and the King (or to God and my Country); to help other people at all times; and to obey the Scout Law.”

In Britain, scouts who are not British citizens can substitute “the country I live in” for the queen.

Way too sensible and timely to receive consideration in the Boy Scouts of America.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 5, 2012 at 8:00 am

Scientists turn away from ideology with Sesame synchrotron

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Sesame
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Amid rising tensions in one of the world’s most volatile regions, an audacious project to use science for diplomacy is taking shape in the heart of the Middle East.

In this land of ancient hatreds, a highly sophisticated scientific installation is being built in Jordan. It has support from countries that are usually openly hostile to each other.

The plan is for a multi-million-pound synchrotron particle accelerator, known as Sesame.

It has backing from several Arab nations, together with Turkey, Pakistan, Cyprus, Iran and – astonishingly – Israel as well.

The Iranian government is publicly committed to Israel’s destruction and Israel has threatened to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. And most recently Israel accused Iran of supplying Palestinian militants with the missiles launched at Israeli cities.

Yet the governments of both these countries and others have pledged to provide more funding to Sesame, and BBC News witnessed their scientists and officials meeting for lengthy discussions in Jordan earlier this month.

After years of doubts about the project’s feasibility, construction is now at an advanced stage and most of the next round of finance is secured. The first science could start as early as 2015…

Synchrotrons have become an indispensable tool for modern science with some 60 in use around the world, almost all of them in developed countries, and this will be the first in the Middle East…

The governing council of Sesame is headed by a British physicist, Prof Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, a former director of Cern, which operates the Large Hadron Collider from Geneva in Switzerland.

During a visit to the facility, in the hills 20 miles northwest of Amman, he told BBC News: “It is pretty remarkable but it’s happened and it’s because the scientific communities in these countries have pushed for this and ignored the political barriers.

Science is a common language – if we can speak it together, possibly we can build bridges of trust which will help in other areas.”

Bravo!

RTFA for lots more detail – and hope.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 5, 2012 at 2:00 am

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