Tories dropping census after 2 centuries

The Census, the official population count carried out by the UK Government, is to be scrapped after more than 200 years…

Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said the Census, which takes place every 10 years, was an expensive and inaccurate way of measuring the number of people in Britain.

Instead, the Government is examining different and cheaper ways to count the population more regularly, using existing public and private databases, including credit reference agencies.

It will represent a historic shift in the way that information about the nation’s population, religion and social habits is gathered.

The suggestion is likely to be approved by Cabinet next week. It will be too late to prevent the next Census on March 27, 2011 from going ahead, although Mr Maude said he was looking at ways of reducing the £482million cost.

Britain has carried out a Census every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941 during the Second World War.

It is the only time that everybody in the country is counted, and is used by the Government to determine spending priorities and track population movements.

Mr Maude, who has responsibility for the Census, told The Daily Telegraph that the Government was looking for a “fundamentally” better way of doing it. “There are, I believe, ways of doing this which will provide better, quicker information, more frequently and cheaper,” he said.

“Cheaper” being the operative word. Cost is always a higher priority than accuracy or usefulness for beancounters and Tories.

Next year, they plan on replacing the Queen with Sarah Palin. She’ll work for less and say funnier things about working people.

Bill Richardson tries to salvage border governors’ meeting – UPDATED

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson says he is trying to rescue a long-scheduled meeting between the governors of U.S. and Mexican border states.

The six Mexican governors scheduled to attend the September Border Governors Conference in Phoenix have canceled their plans in protest of SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration-enforcement law.

“I feel very strongly, and so do the Mexican governors, that we need to have the conference because this is a conference that has been going for 30 years,” Richardson told The Washington Post. “It’s a conference that diffuses a lot of problems.”

The Post reported the Mexican officials said they would meet somewhere other than Phoenix; however, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, chair of the conference, responded by canceling the event altogether…

Richardson said SB 1070 had created a “serious breach” in relations along the border and is trying to organize a meeting in Washington or in another Western state.

Brewer, every day, sounds more and more like a Republican who fears for her job. It’s boring watching her slide further and further to the Right while claiming to represent all the people. Not an uncommon problem for someone reasonably incompetent at the breadth of issues requiring leadership at the governorship level in hard economic times.

After all, it was her Fearless Leaders who dropped us into the sub-prime crapper. Now, she’s hoping to rely on the rage of American xenophobia to pull her coals out of the fire.

As much as Republicans would rather croak than admit it, it’s only the undemocracy of term limit laws that keep Richardson from being elected a 3rd time in a row. He’s continued to create jobs, public transit, federal funds in excess of taxes to our state. He could invite the border state governors to New Mexico for the conference and the only question would be – where are we going to eat, tonight, Bill?

UPDATE: Har! I knew it. Governor Bill has taken over hosting the meeting. Though, I bet the AZ guv will not attend.

Apple Store opens in Shanghai

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Apple has opened a new retail store in the Lujiazui district of Shanghai, its second such outlet in China

The huge store, set in Shanghai’s wealthy financial district, will sell Chinese gadget fans the latest Apple devices, including iPods, iPhones and iPads.

The Shanghai Apple Store rubs shoulders with a number of other luxury retail brands, including Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

It stands in the shadows of Shanghai’s famous Oriental Pearl Tower, and itself boasts a 40ft high cylindrical installation that houses a glowing Apple logo, and is reminiscent of the famous “glass cube” outside the Apple Store in New York’s Fifth Avenue…

“We are thrilled to open the first of many new stores in China in this incredible location,” said Ron Johnson, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, and the mastermind behind Apple’s retail success.

The Shanghai shop is the first of around 25 retail stores that Apple is planning to open across China over the next two years. The company opened its first retail store in Beijing in 2008, just before the Olympic games.

The first 5,000 visitors to the store will receive a commemorative T-shirt to mark the opening. The T-shirt boasts the Apple logo, and a new slogan: “Designed in California, made for China.”

It’s a play on Apple’s traditional product credit of: “Designed in California, made in China.”

Hasn’t been that many years since the first house I worked on that used load-bearing glass for part of its structure. Apple’s store designers and architects have taken the concept to new levels.

I wonder who’s making the glass panels? PPG made the segments for that house I worked on – trucked in on a flatbed trailer all the way from Pittsburgh to Santa Fe.

Knocking down a few beers while naming your new dinosaur

When Nicholas Longrich discovered a new dinosaur species with a heart-shaped frill on its head, he wanted to come up with a name just as flamboyant as the dinosaur’s appearance. Over a few beers with fellow paleontologists one night, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind: Mojoceratops.

“It was just a joke, but then everyone stopped and looked at each other and said, ‘Wait — that actually sounds cool,’ ” said Longrich, a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. “I tried to come up with serious names after that, but Mojoceratops just sort of stuck.”

With the publication of Longrich’s paper describing his find in the Journal of Paleontology…the name is now official…

It was only after coming up with the unusual name that Longrich looked into its etymology. Surprisingly, he found that it was a perfect fit for the species, which sported a flamboyant, heart-shaped frill on its head.

“I discovered that ‘mojo’ is an early 20th-century African-American term meaning a magic charm or talisman, often used to attract members of the opposite sex,” he said. “This dinosaur probably used its frill to attract mates, so the name made sense.” The full name is Mojoceratops perifania, with “perifania” meaning pride in Greek. (The other part of the name mojoceratops follows the convention of other related species, with “ceras” being Greek for horn and “ops” being Greek for face.)

While all ceratopsids have frills on the tops of their skulls, “Mojoceratops is the most ostentatious,” Longrich said, adding that their frill is also the most heart-shaped of all the related species.

Haven’t been in New Haven in decades; but, I wonder which bar he was drinking in.

You have beaucoup choices. You can hangout near the campus and be surrounded by Yalies. Or wander out into the old neighborhoods like Wooster Street and have some dynamite pizza along with your beer.

More Mojo.

Bigots threaten Houston shopkeeper

Sajid Master wants the phone calls and angry letters to stop. He wants people to quit coming into Perfume Planet in west Houston to yell at his workers. He’d especially like folks to stop castigating his landlord.

Nearly a year after the Internet painted Master as an Al Qaida sympathizer, outrage toward the store at the Harwin Central Mart shows no sign of waning.

“They’ve threatened to kill me; sometimes they’re cursing when they call,” a resigned Master said in his shop.

Trouble is, all the indignation is the product of a massive misunderstanding, illustrating the awesome — and sometimes damaging – power of the Internet…

It started when the Muslim merchant posted a sign at his shop during Ramadan explaining the store would be closed Sept. 11 to remember the death of Imam Ali, a sacred Muslim figure. Master failed, however, to explain that Ali, who is remembered on a different date each year during Ramadan, died in 661 A.D. and was in no way related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Someone snapped a picture of the sign and started sending it around online, claiming Imam Ali was one of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

Before long the photo went viral, showing up on countless conservative Internet forums

Soon the phone calls started, befuddling and overwhelming store manager Hasan Kolsawala, who tried to explain that no offense was intended…

He probably could have shrugged off the incident as a temporary annoyance, but 10 months later the consequences of that sign still reverberate.

Phone calls to Perfume Planet often come in waves as people send around new e-mail chains urging recipients to voice their anger…

Luckily for Master, some websites, like the popular, have taken pity on him, dedicating space to debunking the controversy. But that doesn’t seem to have done much good.

Does anyone expect idiots to change their behavior just because someone pointed out they’re wrong?

The sort of crap bigotry that keeps any number of teabagger and rightwing ignoranus websites in business.

Geek activists sniff Congresswoman’s Wi-Fi

We’re not sure what’s more humorous: That California Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, maintains two unencrypted Wi-Fi networks at her residence, or that a consumer group sniffed her unsecured traffic in a bid to convince lawmakers to hold hearings about Google.

A representative for Consumer Watchdog…parked outside Harman’s and other lawmakers’ Washington-area residences to determine whether they had unsecured Wi-Fi networks that might have been sniffed by Google as part of the internet giant’s Street View and Google Maps program.

The group wants the House Energy and Commerce Committee, of which Harman is also a member, to haul Google executives before it, so they can publicly explain why, for three years, Google was downloading data packets from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks in neighborhoods in dozens of countries. Google has repeatedly said it didn’t realize it was storing snippets of payload data on unsecured Wi-Fi networks, until German privacy authorities began questioning what data Google was collecting.

Yup. We really need to spend taxpayer dollars to have Google state for the umpteenth time what they were doing. And why. And why they don’t do that anymore.

Consumer Watchdog’s wardriving unintentionally highlights the murky state of wiretapping laws in the United States. According to the text of the federal wiretapping statute, it’s not considered felony wiretapping “to intercept or access an electronic communication made through an electronic communication system that is configured so that such electronic communication is readily accessible to the general public.”

So even if had been deliberate, Google’s sniffing would arguably not have been illegal. For its part, Consumer Watchdog says it only grabbed frame data, not content, in order to enumerate the devices on Harman’s network…

Doesn’t seem especially murky to me. Either flavor.

Two unencrypted networks, Harmanmbr and harmantheater, according to the group, were discovered outside Harman’s residence.


Building climb ends in fatal fall – Darwin wins again!

Spidey he ain’t. Or wasn’t.

New York police said a man fell 11 stories to his death while trying to climb down to his girlfriend’s apartment from the top of her building.

Investigators said Steven Wright tried to climb from the roof of the building to his girlfriend’s 13th floor apartment at about 5:30 a.m. because he was locked out after an argument, the New York Daily News reported.

Police said Wright tied his shoelaces and belt to a pipe and tried to inch down to the top-floor window of the apartment belonging to his girlfriend, Lanecca Austin, 31, but he instead fell to a second-floor patio roof.

Officers said they do not suspect foul play in the incident and Austin, who was asleep with the TV on, was not aware of Wright’s fall until police knocked on her door.

Cops woke her up and told her what happened.

Not the best part of the gig.