Kentucky Homeland Security office relies on what!?

The religious language was tucked into a floor amendment by Riner and passed the General Assembly overwhelmingly. It lists the Homeland Security office’s initial duty as “stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth.”

Included in the law is a requirement that the office must post a plaque at the entrance to the state Emergency Operations Center with an 88-word statement that begins, “The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God.”

Thomas Preston, Gov. Beshear’s Homeland Security chief, said he is not interested in stepping into a religious debate.

“I will not try to supplant almighty God,” Preston said. “All I do is try to obey the dictates of the Kentucky General Assembly. I really don’t know what their motivation was for this. They obviously felt strongly about it.”

Riner said crediting God with helping ensure the state’s safety is appropriate.

Just in case anyone thinks some other part of the world is political leader of the loonies.

Ireland sets goal of 10% electric cars by 2020

Electric version of the Smart Car

A package of incentives to encourage motorists to switch to electric vehicles has been unveiled by Irish Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan and Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey.

Under a scheme to cut the State’s €6 billion annual bill for imported fossil fuels, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions, businesses which purchase electric vehicles will be able to write off 100 per cent of the cost against tax…

Mr Ryan said Ireland was almost uniquely placed with “a massive renewable wind resource that we can tap into. We can store that at night, plug in our vehicles, power up the battery, and then have a cheap form of fuel the next day”…

The Government has set a target of 10 per cent of all vehicles to be electrically powered by 2020, a figure which Mr Dempsey said would be difficult to achieve.

The figure represents some 250,000 electric cars coming into use over the next 12 years.

Once again, a small nation leads the way for the big countries.

Do hand gels help? Or are they just a fad?

If you’ve ever shaken someone’s hand, only to watch them slather themselves with hand sanitizer afterwards, you’re not alone. The little bottles of hand gel are everywhere you look, especially now during the prime cold and flu season in the U.S. and Europe. Even world leaders, it turns out, are equally concerned with fighting pesky germs.

President Bush offered Barack Obama hand sanitizer the first time they met at the White House in 2005, according to an account in Obama’s book “Audacity of Hope.”

Obama recalls shaking hands with Bush, who then “turned to an aide nearby, who squirted a big dollop of hand sanitizer in the president’s hand.” “Good stuff. Keeps you from getting colds,” Bush said, according to Obama’s account.

These days, you’re likely to encounter a bottle of the “good stuff” just about everywhere. Eating at a restaurant, flying or taking public transport? Not without an application of germ-fighting gel first.

Next, we need something like this to use on our brains after watching the news on television.

Will cleantech China surpass the West at being green?

For Dr. Xingyi Xu, the grass used to be greener on the other side. Chinese engineer Xu spent a decade developing electric vehicle systems for Ford Motor Co. in America. In 2002, he decided to return to China to develop electric vehicle systems of his own.

“There are many guys like me,” said Xu, founder of Shanghai Kinway Technologies, a small start-up specializing in motors for electric cars and manufacturing equipment. “China offers a very good platform and environment for us to do innovation.”

“The demand is going to be here. The opportunity is here,” Xu told CNN…

Progressive environmental policies from the Chinese government combined with an increasingly green-minded public is fueling what some are calling a clean technology renaissance around the country.

The Chinese government is spending millions of dollars on clean energy initiatives ranging from the construction of charging stations for electric vehicles in several major cities to massive wind farms in Inner Mongolia and offshore in the Pacific Ocean.

In June there was a nationwide ban on plastic bags, and most recently Beijing announced it’s committing an additional $1 billion over the next three years to environmental protection and related industries as part of an investment plan aimed at stimulating domestic growth amidst the global downturn…

Continue reading

10-ton rock responsible for fireball in western Canada

Investigation of the fireball that lit up the skies of Alberta and Saskatchewan on November 20 has determined that an asteroid fragment weighing approximately 10 tonnes entered the Earth’s atmosphere over the prairie provinces last Thursday evening.

The fireball first appeared approximately 80 kilometres above and just east of the border city of Lloydminster, Alberta/Saskatchewan, and traveled SSE towards the Battle River valley fragmenting spectacularly in a series of explosions. The fireball penetrated the atmosphere at a steep angle of approximately 60 degrees from the horizontal and lasted about five seconds from 17:26:40 to 17:26:45 MST with the largest explosion at 17:26:44. The fireball was recorded on all-sky and security cameras scattered across Saskatchewan and Alberta in addition to being witnessed by tens of thousands of people who saw it streak across the sky, saw its arc- welding blue flash, or heard the subsequent explosions.

The asteroid fragment is now known to have weighed approximately 10 tonnes when it entered the Earth’s atmosphere from an energy estimate derived from infrasound records by Dr. Peter Brown, at the University of Western Ontario. Infrasound is very low frequency sound produced by explosions that can travel thousands of kilometers.

“At least half a dozen infrasound stations ranging from Greenland to Utah, including Canada’s Lac Du Bonnett, Manitoba and Elgin Field, Ontario stations, recorded energy from the fireball’s explosions. The indicated energy is approximately one third of a kiloton of TNT,” Brown said.

Brown also says that a fireball this size only occurs over Canada once every five years on average. About ten fireballs of this size occur somewhere over the Earth each year.

Latest reports indicate discoveries of meteorite fragments near the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, near Lloydminster.

Hard-working Japanese keep forgetting to have sex

Confusion is rampant in Japan

Japan’s workers are being urged to switch off their laptops, go home early and use what little energy they have left on procreation, in the country’s latest attempt to avert demographic disaster.

The drive to persuade employers that their staff would be better off at home with their wives than staying late at the office comes amid warnings from health experts that many couples are simply too tired to have sex…

Many couples said they didn’t have the energy for sex, while others said they found it boring

Japan’s birth rate, at 1.34 – the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime – is among the lowest in the world and falls well short of the 2.07 children needed to keep the population stable.

I still get pissed off over the premise of articles like this one. Use existing and advanced labor-saving techniques and technology to shorten the work-week. Use them to reduce the amount of people-power required to achieve necessary tasks.

It make reduce the margins for some of the Zaibatsu grand corporations; but, there will be no need to import labor or motivate procreation beyond whatever people feel like. Especially, the half of the equation that gets to be the Moms.

Trailer Park 2.0: Cloud on Wheels!

The prospect of outsourcing servers and storage to the cloud has an irresistible lure of operational simplicity and cash efficiency for today’s application developers. Cloud computing vendors help operate social networking applications, micro-blogging sites, global gaming networks and a plethora of applications that we use everyday. Yet, as successful and economically desirable as clouds have been for many organizations, outsourcing servers and storage causes a serious emotional and operational dilemma for the hardened breed of systems administrators called server huggers.

Everyone working in and around the Internet knows a server hugger. Server huggers relish spending time in air-conditioned data centers, sitting on raised floors under florescent lighting with a laptop connected to a console port of a server (or, if they are lucky, standing against a server rack using a dedicated terminal and a slide-out keyboard tray). They spend hours staring at command-line on a terminal and at notebooks of commands, passwords and IP addresses…

But server huggers face an impending crisis — the data centers that host their servers in many large metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco are increasingly filled. It is unfulfilling to hug a server that sits in a cardboard box because there is no rack space left in a data center, so server huggers have been scrambling to put their servers in geographically desirable locations that do not require new construction or an exorbitant budget.

And that got me thinking: Does the data center of the future look like a mobile home park? A mobile home park provides a place for you to park a single-wide or double-wide home and some basic utilities — power, roads, mail, etc. Yet, unlike seemingly every person on the Jerry Springer Show, servers do not operate well in mobile homes. However, as Microsoft, HP, Verari and others have shown, high density blade servers can be packed with hundreds of terabytes of storage, cooled and operated efficiently inside standard shipping containers. Maybe instead of more metropolitan data centers for the server huggers, we need container parks.

There are questions to be asked; but they are the same ones you’d ask before siting a permanent structure. And this solution has the advantage of mobility.

Filling the gap in health journalism – online

The Kaiser Family Foundation is starting a news service to produce in-depth coverage of the policy and politics of health care, both for an independent Web site and in collaborations with mainstream news organizations.

With a budget that is expected to reach $3 million to $4 million in two years, the project is one of the most ambitious in a wave of nonprofit online ventures that have emerged as mainstream newspapers and magazines cut jobs and budgets.

Though it will be the largest and best-financed project of its kind, the Kaiser start-up service is only one of several by foundations and entrepreneurs aimed at providing serious coverage of health issues…

“In terms of these new journalism ventures, there’s more activity in health than in any other area, and they’re all slightly different,” said Louis Freedberg, director of the California Media Collaborative, which sponsored a conference on health journalism in Los Angeles last week. “It may be because there are so many foundations focused on health. And perhaps it reflects the fact that this is such a critically important issue.”

Though the models vary, they are united by a conviction that health policy is vastly undercovered by most news organizations at a time when polls show high levels of public concern about the cost, availability and quality of health care.

This is a story I’ll track – and not just for this blog. Interesting, useful and overdue.

Oven-baked solution to 500-million year fossil mystery

The 500 million year-old fossils of the Burgess Shale in Canada, discovered over a century ago, still provide one of the most remarkable insights into the dawn of animal life. The beautiful silvery fossils show the true nature of the life of that time, just after the “Cambrian explosion” of animal life.

Yet, their existence is a paradox: the fossils have been buried deep in the Earth’s crust and heated to over 300°C (~600 °F), before being thrust up by tectonic forces to form a mountainous ridge in the Rockies. Usually such extreme conditions are thought to destroy fossils. But, in the Burgess Shale the most exquisite detail of soft tissues has been preserved.

Now, by careful restudy of its fossils, Alex Page and his colleagues have solved this riddle.

They have shown that as the delicate organic tissues of these fossils were heated deep within the Earth, they became the site for mineral formation. The new minerals, forged at these tremendous depths, picked out intricate details such as gills, guts and even eyes.

Alex Page said: “This provides a whole new theory for how fossils form. The deep heating may not have cremated them, but it certainly left them stone baked.”

Sounds like some of the cookies I made when I was a child – my Mom trying to teach me to bake. Har!