Audi Scores Thrilling Sebring Victory

Daylife/Getty Images

Audi christened its brand-new R15 TDI with a thrilling debut victory Saturday in the 57th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The second-generation diesel-powered prototype co-driven by Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen crossed the line 22.3 seconds ahead of the second-placed No. 08 Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi-FAP of Stephane Sarrazin, Franck Montagny and Sebastien Bourdais.

The thrilling down-to-the-wire battle between the two diesel juggernauts ended up favoring the German prototype despite McNish having to make a splash-and-go for fuel with 15 minutes remaining. The team’s sister car of Marco Werner, Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller rounded out the podium in LMP1.

The two Audis also did an exciting job of swapping places with each other. You really couldn’t predict this one.

Lowe’s Fernandez Racing celebrated its maiden victory in the American Le Mans Series, taking the LMP2 class win, while the No. 3 Corvette Racing C6.R took home GT1 honors. Risi Competizione started its 2009 season on the right foot by claiming GT2 honors in the around-the-clock marathon with their Ferrari F430GT.

The story for me was the diesels. Four of the first five places were diesel-powered.

And I still can’t get a small or mid-sized pickup truck in the United States – with a diesel engine.

Thumbprint needed for Chicago home sales

A law that goes into effect June 1 will require homeowners in the Chicago area to provide their thumbprints when selling their homes.

The Chicago Sun-Times has reported the law passed by the Illinois Legislature last fall mandates Cook County homeowners planning to sell their property to provide their right thumbprint to a notary public when transferring the deed to the new owner. It’s part of an attempt to limit housing fraud…

The Sun-Times said property sellers will also be required to provide photo identification as part of the sale.

When do they start asking for a DNA swab?

Did I mention there’s a $25 charge for processing the thumbprint?

Warning from Web surfers prevented attack on school

The police in Britain have credited a group of young Internet users with alerting them to a Web posting by a 16-year-old who said he planned to attack his high school with “arson and other forms of violence,” enabling officers to arrest the teenager as he approached the school carrying a knife, matches and a plastic can of what the police described as “flammable liquid…”

In the Attleborough case, the teenager’s use of a Web forum to announce his plan appears to have been the step that made it possible for the attack to be foiled.

Still more notable, the first alert to the police in Norfolk, the largely rural county where Attleborough is located, came in a telephone call from a 21-year-old student in Montreal, more than 3,200 miles away, after he read the posting threatening the school attack while eating his breakfast in a university dormitory.

Only 50 minutes elapsed between that call and the arrest of the youth outside the school, according to a timeline drawn up by J.P. Neufeld, the Montreal student, who said he drew on his own computer records and the accounts given to him by the Norfolk police. In that time, Mr. Neufeld said by telephone on Friday, two other people browsing on the same Web site,, which is used for sharing music files and user-created animations, provided the information that enabled the police to identify the school that was the target of the planned attack, and the would-be attacker…

A police spokesman, Superintendent Katie Elliott, credited the arrest to Mr. Neufeld and the other Web browsers who provided warning of the attack. “It goes to show that things written on the Internet can be viewed across the world,” she said, “and we thank the person who has read this and done something about it.”

RTFA. The details bring it all home.

Credit to the student in Montreal for acting upon his understanding of what he read. And credit to the coppers in Norfolk for paying attention and responding.

Wii supply has finally caught up to demand

Daylife/Reuters Pictures

GameStop, the leading boutique video game retailer in the U.S., finally has enough supply of Nintendo Wii consoles on store shelves to satisfy consumers who want to simply walk in the store and pick one up. In an interview with Gamastura, GameStop Senior Vice President of Merchandising Bob McKenzie told the publication that his company waited almost three years for this to happen.

“Three years later, we finally have enough inventory on the shelf, and we’ve got a couple of weeks in supply,” he told Gamasutra.

Wow. No longer do potential buyers need to wait in line, call GameStop to find out if Wiis are available, or search elsewhere for a stray console. The Wii is just available.

Remember when the Wii was first announced? It was April 2006. Everyone was expecting Nintendo’s secret new console to be called
Revolution. And then, in what would become a joke for months, Nintendo announced that its new console would be called “Wii.”

Nintendo listened to the jokes about the name, and probably expected them, but kept pressing on until the console was shown to journalists and gamers–who became believers.

And that was the first step in Nintendo’s dominance over this generation.

Unless you’ve been living in the basement with your Playstation or XBox for the last three years, now you know – Nintendo is back in a big way.

Spa owners to politicians: “Stay out of our pants!”


The state of New Jersey has scrapped plans to ban bikini waxes after an outcry from beauty salon owners. The Cosmetology and Hairstyling Board proposed the move after two women were hospitalised for infections following the procedure; one filed a lawsuit.

But officials reversed course after salon owners complained about losing business ahead of the swimsuit season…

David Szuchman, New Jersey’s consumer affairs director, said in a letter to the board on Friday that he would not support the ban…

Spa owner Linda Orsuto told the Associated Press news agency: “It was an unnecessary issue.

“In New Jersey especially, where the government has been picking our pockets for so long, it was like: ‘Just stay out of our pants, will you?'”

Yeah. Stay out of her pants!

Protect the believers, not the belief

Yup. I wanted to save this one for the weekend. Give you time to reflect and ponder.

“Defamation of religion” was once again highlighted on the international stage at last week’s meeting of the UN human rights council in Geneva.

It is also at the centre of the continuing negotiations over the Durban review conference in April, which will evaluate progress towards a set of goals to eliminate racism, intolerance and xenophobia. Indeed, the US has cited the introduction of a clause prohibiting “defamation of religion” in the Durban review document to justify its non-participation in the conference…

The motivation behind the introduction of this concept may in fact be clearer than its definition: disallowing criticism of a religion on the basis that religious dogma is sacred and cannot be challenged – a position that has been used to justify vast human rights abuses.

Article 19, which campaigns on freedom of expression, has spoken out consistently against religious defamation, beginning 20 years ago with our campaign in defence of Salman Rushdie…

We are uneasy with the current debate and with its “clash of values” thesis. Instead, we seek a more sophisticated understanding of the issue and the tensions involved, believing that this is the only way to uphold universal human rights. We particularly want to make sure the rights to freedom of expression and equality are protected…

Most important, we must act to shift the terms of the debate around religious defamation, both nationally and internationally. It is vital that we recognise that discrimination and intolerance – often along religious and cultural lines – exist, but we must focus on remedies that insist on the protection of the believers and not the belief.

Ain’t easy, especially when so many “democratic” governments find excuses for suppression of freedoms in the name of a War on Terror.

Palin rejects funds for education, public safety, unemployment benefits, health programs: a solid Republican

Daylife/AP Photo

Gov. Sarah Palin is putting political ambition above Alaska’s interest by rejecting federal stimulus funds, Democrats said Friday.

Bob Poe, a Democratic candidate for governor, suggested Palin is grandstanding because the legislature can overrule her — and is considered likely to — CNN reported. Poe, in a conference call with reporters, suggested the governor is “narcissistic.”

“It’s outrageous that Palin wants to turn down Alaskans’ fair share of federal stimulus money for education, public safety, unemployment services and health programs,” said State Democratic Party Chair Patti Higgins. “It’s very clear that Palin is sacrificing the needs of Alaskans for her national political ambitions.”

Palin said she is willing to take federal dollars for construction projects but not $288 million for schools, energy assistance and social services, the Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News reported…

Anchorage School Superintendent Carol Comeau said she was “shocked and very disappointed” that Palin would reject funds for schools.

The Dem’s candidate isn’t the only pol in Alaska who thinks Palin is playing this game as part of her future plans as McCain’s replacement as candidate. But, that alone – can be enough to piss off a lot of Alaskan conservatives. They’re not necessarily interested in being pawns in her game.

Lubchenco and Holdren confirmed for Obama science posts

It’s taken a while, but the Senate officially confirmed two of President Obama’s science picks: John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco.

There was about a month-long hold on Holdren’s confirmation as the president’s science adviser. You can peruse the blogosphere for speculations about why, but suffice it to say it wasn’t because the Senate had grave reservations about his qualifications. When the vote finally took place, Holdren won unanimous confirmation.

Beginning today, Holdren directs the Office of Science & Technology Policy, an organization created by Congress in 1976. It advises the White House on the impacts of science and technology on domestic and international affairs; leads interagency efforts to develop and implement “sound science and technology policies and budgets;” works with the private sector to ensure federal investments in research and development aid the economy, protect the environment, and bolster national security; and analyzes the scale and effectiveness of federal R&D efforts.

Lubchenco has just been made undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere. As such, she becomes the first woman — and first ecologist — to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In that capacity she will oversee a budget of $4 billion and staff of 12,800.

A tireless advocate for improving the understanding and protection of our marine world, Lubchenco accepted her new post with this statement: “With hard work and the best science as our guide, NOAA can spur the creation of new jobs and industries, revive our fisheries and the economies and communities they support, improve weather forecasting and disaster warnings, provide credible information about climate change to Americans, and protect and restore our coastal ecosystems.” Yep. Sounds just like her.

Cross your fingers and hold your breath. Looks like we have reality-based, actual scientists accepted in leadership roles in government.

Man sentenced to 30 years for chat-room shooting

A judge in Miami-Dade County, Fla., said Friday a 42-year-old man will spend 30 years in prison for shooting a man over an online chat-room conflict. Circuit Judge Julio Jimenez told William Cruz it appeared the man’s pride led him to shoot Yanko Diaz in May 2005 in Winchester, Fla..

“I think that when you took those actions, you didn’t care about the consequences,” Jimenez said of the shooting, which left Diaz with wounds to his wrist, thumb and buttocks. “You were ready for whatever the consequences were, because of your pride.”

While the two men became friends online, Cruz apparently became upset that Diaz and his other online friends failed to invite him to real-life gatherings, the Herald said.

I don’t do chat. Ever.