Billion Shades of India – from Bhanu Sharma

Discovered this over at Om Malik’s personal blog. He says:

One of my really good friends fulfilled his life long dream of taking a pan-India trip with his father. A technology industry guy by trade, Bhanu is a photographer extraordinaire in his spare time. His journey across India is being captured in thousands of photos, but he made me a special 5 minute video version to share with all of you. Hope you enjoy his work.

If your monitor has the capacity, click on the expand icon for full-screen.

Canadian court rules Hutterites must have license photo

Alberta Hutterites have lost their fight to be exempted from a law making digital photos mandatory for drivers to get new licences in the province. The Hutterites, a Christian sect that believes being photographed violates their faith and way of life, have been allowed to carry special driving permits since 1974 – the year the government introduced photo licences.

But the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 4-3 on Friday to uphold provincial rules that went into effect in 2003 that make a digital photo universally mandatory for all new licences. “The goal of setting up a system that minimizes the risk of identity theft associated with drivers’ licences is a pressing and important public goal,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote.

The universal photo requirement is connected to this goal and does not limit freedom (of) religion more than required to achieve it.”

When Alberta offered the Hutterites a comprise in 2003 allowing permits without photos – with the proviso that photos must still be taken for a database – the Hutterites refused.

The Hutterites believe being photographed violates the second of the Ten Commandments forbidding idolatry.

And that’s about where serious legal discussion comes to an end.

Final days inside the bunker with Bush and Cheney

This is a long and intricate piece of research and writing. It deserves your full attention.

So, turn off the talk shows whining over cops with hurt feelings, skip the local news telling you about 665 new jobs from the Obama stimulus [in my neck of the prairie] – let your brain and sensibilities reflect upon what we have let politics become in this sad nation.


Hours before they were to leave office after eight troubled years, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney had one final and painful piece of business to conclude. For over a month Cheney had been pleading, cajoling, even pestering Bush to pardon the Vice President’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby. Libby had been convicted nearly two years earlier of obstructing an investigation into the leak of a covert CIA officer’s identity by senior White House officials. The Libby pardon, aides reported, had become something of a crusade for Cheney, who seemed prepared to push his nine-year-old relationship with Bush to the breaking point — and perhaps past it — over the fate of his former aide. “We don’t want to leave anyone on the battlefield,” Cheney argued.

Bush had already decided the week before that Libby was undeserving and told Cheney so, only to see the question raised again. A top adviser to Bush says he had never seen the Vice President focused so single-mindedly on anything over two terms. And so, on his last full day in office, Jan. 19, 2009, Bush would give Cheney his final decision.

These last hours represent a climactic chapter in the mysterious and mostly opaque relationship at the center of a tumultuous period in American history. It reveals how one question — whether to grant a presidential pardon to a top vice-presidential aide — strained the bonds between Bush and his deputy and closest counselor. It reveals a gap in the two men’s views of crime and punishment. And in a broader way, it uncovers a fundamental difference in how the two men regarded the legacy of the Bush years. As a Cheney confidant puts it, the Vice President believed he and the President could claim the war on terrorism as his greatest legacy only if they defended at all costs the men and women who fought in the trenches.

When it came to Libby, Bush felt he had done enough.

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Romaine recalled throughout United States and Canada

A Salinas, Calif., company is recalling romaine lettuce because it may be contaminated with salmonella. Tanimura & Antle issued the recall after a random test conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture tested positive for salmonella.

Salmonella infections can be fatal to the young and the elderly. The organism can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

The company has instructed stores in 29 all states to destroy the lettuce. The romaine also was sold to wholesalers and food-service providers.

Also distributed into Canada.

The cartons and wrapped heads of romaine are marked with the lot code 531380. The lettuce was harvested from June 25 to July 2. Although the recalled product is past its expiration date, Tanimura & Antle said it was recalling the lettuce to ensure that it does not reach consumers.

Interesting that Tanimura had already initiated a tracking program – that works. Something the FDA/food industry is beginning to support.

Tanimura & Antle Inc.’s live code traceback system helped the company quickly locate details on a potentially contaminated lot of romaine lettuce, said Rick Antle, chief executive officer.

We have discreet lot codes and we can trace everything back to the lot on a carton basis,” Antle said July 23, three days after the Salinas, Calif.-based company recalled the lot of romaine after a random Wisconsin Department of Agriculture test found salmonella contamination.

Antle said once the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture contacted Tanimura & Antle on July 20 with results of the positive test, the company was able to locate records showing when and where the lot of romaine was harvested June 25 through July 2.

It’s a start. When we have uniform tracking in place throughout the food chain – we may have safer mealtimes.

Newlyweds separated by incompetent British bureaucrats

MPs have taken up the case of two young newlyweds who are being forced apart as an unintended consequence of a new immigration law aimed at protecting Asian women from forced marriages.

Adam Wallis and Canadian Rochelle Roberts, who married in the UK a week after her visa ran out, face an enforced year and a half of separation until she is 21…

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said last night the case could prompt a change in the law, adding: “This is clearly a case which needs to be looked at by a minister. What needs to happen is the government needs to say, ministers in the Home Office need to say, that this is not what we intended with this act…”

This is as stupid as the Zero Tolerance regulations much beloved of school administrators in the United States. Removing the requirement to think – removes responsibility for stupid decisions. Supposedly.

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Television set discovered in UK – older than me!


Britain’s oldest working television has been tracked down in a house in London.

The 1936 Marconiphone is thought to have been made in the months that Britain’s first “high-definition” television service began.

The set belongs to Jeffrey Borinsky, an electrical engineer and collector of antique television and radio sets. He bought the set, which has a 12-inch (30cm) screen from another collector 10 years ago and is still working on restoring it to its original state.

The screen is mounted inside a wooden cabinet. The image from the cathode ray tube, mounted vertically inside the cabinet, is reflected onto a mirror.

The few controls include volume and vertical hold, but there is no channel changer, as there was only one channel when it was made: the BBC…

Mr Borinsky only keeps the set turned on up to two hours at a time, and he uses it to view films from the 1930s and 1940s.

He says he enjoys watching the kind of pictures that might have been seen by the original owners.

First TV set in a home that I ever saw was in the summer of 1946. The father of a girl I was in school with was an engineer at the local GE plant.

He converted one of the cathode ray tubes they built for military radar sets – to receive terrestrial TV.

I was one of her classmates invited over on a Saturday afternoon when cameras fired up down in New York City to telecast a Yankees game. Then, the channel would go back off the air. Pretty exciting stuff.

Invasive species hunt authorized for Burmese Pythons

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today reconfirmed the department’s commitment to, and expansion of, existing programs to eliminate Burmese pythons from the Everglades.

“Burmese pythons are an invasive species that have no place in the Everglades and threaten its delicate ecosystem,” Salazar said. “We are committed to aggressively combating this threat, including having trained and well-supervised volunteers hunt down and remove snakes. I have also directed my staff to look at the possibility of allocating additional federal resources this fiscal year and I have asked federal and state agencies to work with us to quickly develop an action plan to control this invasive species…”

The Park Service is also evaluating the Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s pilot bounty permit system for possible use on Park Service lands.

That program kicked off in mid-July and will run through Oct. 31. Under the pilot program, five reptile experts have received permits to capture and euthanize pythons on lands managed by the commission or the South Florida Water Management District.

Similarly, a pilot “partner with hunters” program is taking place in Big Cypress National Preserve in which the Park Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation are allowing licensed hunters in the preserve to shoot pythons, a non-game species, if they encounter the snakes while hunting…

In addition, the two agencies are funding a U.S. Geological Survey risk assessment project designed to help define the scope of the problem and develop “biological/management profiles for nine large constrictor snakes,” the government reported, adding that the “the risk assessment will contain information that has broad application to the management of pythons and other large exotic constrictors in the U.S.”

Phew. Overdue. Still scary.

We have native constrictors here on Lot 4 [if you’ve ever looked at any of my sidebar photos you’d know that]; but, nothing larger than a 7-foot gopher snake.