Thoughts Gallery May 2002
May 1
Image of the Day
My electrician is supposed to finish up today, I am keeping my fingers crossed to get the inspections done this week.
Miss Jumbo Queen contestant Lalita Songrat holds the
winner's trophy for the heaviest category weighing 191kg (421.1 lb), at an elephant ground and zoo in Nakhorn Pathom, south of Bangkok. The Jumbo Queen contest is held to select the contestant who best exhibits the characteristics of an elephant, by virtue of her grace, elegance an size, to lead the jumbo banquet and help promote elephant conservation causes in Thailand. 
May 2
Image of the Day
I have to say that in our haste to become the convienience society were are convieniencing knowledge, and giving more powers to those that are the book keepers of knowledge.  As technology advances more, I see the old trade laws of years gone by influencing the trianing of knowledge.  Interns or skilled apprentises will study for years to master the arts of computer technology, nonotechnolgy, and electronics.
 BYE-BYE SAT 
The academic establishment (most notably in the outward visible form of University of California President Richard Atkinson) has declared war on the Scholastic Assessment Test. The Princeton Review Board, which owns and produces the SAT, has obligingly agreed to commit hara-kiri: Bye-bye SAT. Something called the SAT will linger around for a while. But the test's 50-year reign as an instrument of democratization of America's elite universities has clearly come to a crashing end. 
        Why? Because at public colleges, the SAT has increasingly proved a fatal barrier to affirmative action. To admit enough black (and to a lesser extent, Latino) students, universities had to accept minority applicants with far lower SAT scores than white or Asian students. Judges began to balk at such blatant racial classifications in a government institution. University administrators such as Atkinson could read the writing on the wall. 
        So Atkinson announced the University of California system no longer wants to rely on the old grades-plus-SAT formula. "It seems only right that students should be judged on what they have accomplished in four years of high school, not on how they rate on an ill-defined measure of aptitude or intelligence," said Atkinson. The Princeton Review Board announced it is changing the format of the SAT, eliminating or reducing those pesky analogies that measure something -- call it intelligence, call it cognitive ability, call it academic aptitude -- academia once valued but is now embarrassed by. In the future, the SAT will become less of an aptitude and more of an achievement test, like dozens of other tests designed to measure academic knowledge, not academic ability. 
       And it's worth pausing a moment to contemplate the social effects of this mini-earthquake in the ivy tower. For the old SAT, the now-despised aptitude test, played a key and important role in American social and educational history. The SAT was used by elite colleges to identify students of unusual ability, regardless of social background. Of course, student grades are a better predictor of performance than the SAT alone (students who underachieve in high school underachieve in college too). But the SAT allowed colleges to pierce the veil of rising grade inflation to separate the truly gifted from the merely hard-working. It transformed Yale and Harvard and their equivalents from a WASP club to an egghead club. The SAT allowed universities to identify achievers who had high academic aptitude anywhere around the country. Smart kids with good grades anywhere in the country had a shot at the ivies.
       Now a shot at the ivies is vastly overrated. Students accepted at, say, Princeton who go to the University of Oregon do just as well, it turns out, 10 years down the road. There are many roads to success in America, which is one of the great things about this country. And the high-tech revolution is shaking up the old hierarchies, even if many of them do not realize it yet. But elite colleges have maintained their status (and their huge price tags) in large part because of the SAT, which allowed the colleges with old money and reputation to gather together and brand the high-aptitude kids whose abilities are increasingly valuable in a high-tech world. 
        What will happen to the Yale or the U-C Berkeley brand when these colleges can no longer tell who the really, really smart kids are? It is not the biggest problem in the world, the decline of elite universities. Other institutions who resist the trend or who spot the market opportunity will no doubt rise to take their place. But it is a social spectacle worth watching: Elite eggheads shooting themselves in the foot. 
May 3
Image of the Day
I saw the midnight showing of Spider-Man.  It's nice to see the quality of animation coming along to be used alongside traditional film.  The script was well developed and kept a devent pace overall.  Yet the overall character depth and development was lacking, for a non-comic reader as myself I  desired more personality from the characters.  Even so, I would have to give this a 8/10.  It is so surprising to see the blatant brain-washing of children.
The young daughter of a Palestinian gunman who was killed recently during an attack on a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip is dressed in a uniform with a hand granade during a rally of the militant group Islamic Jihad, in Gaza City. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pursued his drive to crack the will of Palestinians, led by Yasser Arafat, after sending tanks into another West Bank town in response to a wave of suicide bombings.
May 4
Image of the Day
Melissa Virus Maker Gets 20 Months 
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The creator of the "Melissa" virus was sentenced Wednesday to 20 months in federal prison for causing millions of dollars of damage by disrupting e-mail systems worldwide in 1999.
David L. Smith, 33, pleaded guilty in December 1999 to a state charge of computer theft and to a federal charge of sending a damaging computer program. In the federal plea, both sides agreed the damage was greater than $80 million.  Smith is believed to be among the first people ever prosecuted for  creating a computer virus. In court, he called the act a  "colossal mistake."The Melissa virus, which struck in March 1999, was disguised as an e-mail marked "important message" from a friend or colleague. It caused computers to send 50 additional infected messages. The volume of messages generated slowed some systems to a crawl. 
       Smith could have faced up to five years in prison, but prosecutors suggested a term of about two years, saying he had given authorities extensive assistance in thwarting other virus creators. He was also fined $5,000 by U.S. District Judge Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. Smith has said he created the virus on computers in his Aberdeen apartment and used a stolen screen name and password to get into America Online.
May 5
Image of the Day
Spent the day in Houston with my parents.  My dad's birthday is today on Cinco-de-Mayo and he turned 52.  I bought him a paper shredder to help him clean the house. My sister's friend has moved out completely accept for a few amplifiers he left behind.  Paige had laser eye surgury on friday and is glad to be able to see the world without contacts or glassed.  If only I had the $800 per eye cost lying around to spend on such luxuries.
Crime Doesn't Pay Enough for Coffeeshop Bandits 
MONROE, Wash. - Sometimes even crooks have to work for a living. Disappointed with the loot they found in the safe at a Starbucks coffee shop on Tuesday, armed bandits resorted to serving lattes and cappuccinos at the drive-thru window to beef up their booty with customer cash, police said. Police said a store employee let a young woman inside the store to use the restroom just before the Monroe, Washington, cafe opened, only to have the woman and a male cohort brandish guns and demand access to the safe. The thieves then ordered store workers to brew beverages while they served customers in their cars and collected their cash for half an hour before speeding off in a small car, police said. Police in Monroe, a small town just outside Seattle, offered extensive physical descriptions of the bandits, noting the woman's multicolored leggings and her companion's pierced eyebrow and black jacket with "Sniper" across the sleeve. A Starbucks spokeswoman said the Seattle-based company, the world's largest coffee shop chain, had offered a $1,000 reward for help finding the suspects. 
May 6
Billy Graham's daughter was being interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her "How could God let something like this happen?" regarding 9-11-01 ... And Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said "I believe that God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman that He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand that He leave us alone?"
       In light of recent events . . . terrorist attacks, school shootings, etc. Let's see, I think it started when Madeline Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body was found recently) complained she didn't want any prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then, someone said you better not read the Bible in school . . . the Bible that says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said, OK.
       Then, Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). And we said, an expert should know what he's talking about so we said OK. Then, someone said teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And the school administrators said no faculty member in this school better touch a student when they misbehave because we don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don't want to be sued (There's big difference between disciplining and touching, beating, humiliating, kicking, etc.). And we said, OK.
       Then someone said, let's let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won't even have to tell their parents. And we said, OK. Then some wise school board member said, since boys will be boys and they're going to do it anyway, let's give our sons all the condoms they want, so they can have all the fun they desire, and we won't have to tell their parents they got them at school. And we said, OK.
       Then some of our top elected officials said it doesn't matter what we do in private as long as we do our jobs. And agreeing with them, we said it doesn't matter to me what anyone, including the President, does in private as long as I have a job and the economy is good. And then someone said let's print magazines with pictures of nude women and call it wholesome, down-to-earth appreciation for the beauty of the female body. And we said, OK.
       And then someone else took that appreciation a step further and published pictures of nude children and then stepped further still by making them available on the Internet. And we said OK, they're entitled to their free speech. And then the entertainment industry said, let's make TV shows and movies that promote profanity, violence, and illicit sex. And let's record music that encourages rape, drugs, murder, suicide, and satanic themes. And we said it's just entertainment, it has no adverse effect, and nobody takes it seriously anyway, so go right ahead.
       Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW". "Dear God, Why didn't you save the little girl killed in her classroom? " Sincerely, Concerned Student . . . AND THE REPLY "Dear Concerned Student, I am not allowed in schools". Sincerely, God. 
       Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven provided they do not have to believe, think, say, or do anything the Bible says. Funny how someone can say "I believe in God" but still follow Satan who, by the way, also "believes" in God. Funny how the lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but the public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. Funny how someone can be so fired up for Christ on Sunday, but be an invisible Christian the rest of the week.
       If you discard this thought process, then don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in!
May 7
Image of the Day
I have scheduled the framing, plumbing, and mechanical inspections for tomorrow.  I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope everything goes well.  Throwing away garbage seems like a neverending task, I'm thankfull for my 3 large garbage cans.
The pungent smelling Amorphophallus titanum, also known as the Titan arum, the world's largest flower, is tended to by Science and Collections co-ordinator Kath King at Kew Gardens, London. The phallic flower is a native of the rainforests of Sumatra and only a few specimens have been cultivated.
May 8
Image of the Day
Well it seems the city is very busy and my framing inspection has been delayed another day.
Artist rendering of Orbital's "Space Taxi" concept shown with a reusable stage by Northrup Grumman. The replacement for NASA's aging space shuttles may take off like a plane, be propelled by booster rockets that fly back to Earth and, in one of the more radical moves, eliminate pilots. The reusable space plane, equipped with crew escape and automatic landing systems, would be far safer than the shuttle, officials said, in unveiling 15 design concepts.
May 9
Image of the Day
I am extremely unhappy with my contractor after he failed to show up for today's inspection.  When I went to his house to confront him, his wife told me he weas gone for the weekend until Monday. I discovered I will have to rerun some of my ethernet & phone wires are they were cut in my contractor's haste to finsish off the new hallway on the second floor.  There is nothing more agravating than having to redo wiring work.
Remote-Controlled Rats May Hunt Bombs and Bodies 
LONDON - Rats steered by a computer up to 500 yards away could soon help find buried earthquake victims or dispose of bombs, scientists said on Wednesday. The remote-controlled "roborats" can be made to run, climb, jump or turn left and right through electrical probes, the width of a hair, implanted in their brains. Movement signals are transmitted from a computer to the rat's brain via a radio receiver strapped to its back. One electrode stimulates the "feelgood" center of the rat's brain,
while two other electrodes activate the cerebral regions which process signals from its left and right whiskers. Scientists at the State University of New York trained the wired-up rats to turn left or right in a maze, according to the artificial whisker stimuli. In training, a shot of euphoria rewarded the rats for responding correctly, but after that they turned on cue without any need for reward, the researchers said in the scientific journal Nature. Small, agile and with an acute sense of smell, the rats can be fitted with satellite positioning tags and trained to seek out explosives or a human body, playing a possible role in security or disaster relief work. Talwar admits playing with animals' minds, especially for dangerous  missions, raises ethical questions but points out the rats live as long as their untreated brethren and lead perfectly normal lives when not wearing their mind-altering backpacks.  "They're not zombies, they work with their instincts," he said. 
May 10
Image of the Day
US Pulls Out of Int'l Court Treaty
WASHINGTON -The United States has renounced formal involvement in a treaty creating the first permanent war crimes tribunal, Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper said. He said the United States has no intention of ratifying the treaty and now considers itself "no longer bound in any way to its purpose and objective." The declaration was contained in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that was delivered to U.N.
headquarters in New York. Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman made the announcement in a speech to the Center for International Strategic Studies. The International Criminal Court gained the necessary international backing to come into being when 10 nations joined 56 others last month in announcing their ratification of the treaty negotiated in Rome in 1998.
       President Clinton signed the treaty, but never submitted it to the Senate for ratification. The Bush administration has made its opposition clear. Prosper, the ambassador for war crimes issues, told reporters the United States regards the treaty as "a flawed document. This is formal notification that we do not want to have anything to do with it." But he said President Bush has made clear the decision does not mean the United States is waging war against the court.
       Instead, the United States favors working with nongovernment
organizations, private industry and universities and law schools to help
individual countries set up tribunals if and when they need them. The United States fears the court's impact on American citizens, arguing that safeguards against frivolous or politically motivated prosecutions of U.S. soldiers and officials are not sufficient. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was dismayed by the withdrawal from the treaty. "Beyond the extremely problematic matter of casting doubt on the U.S. commitment to international justice and accountability," Feingold said, "these steps actually call into question our country's credibility in all multilateral endeavors."
       The Washington Working Group on the ICC, a coalition of organizations that support the tribunal, issued a statement Sunday saying, "This rash action signals to the world that America is turning its back on decades of U.S. leadership in prosecuting war criminals since the Nuremberg trials." The coalition includes human rights organizations such as Amnesty International-USA and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
       The court, to be formed this summer without U.S. participation, will fill a gap in the international justice system first recognized by the U.N.
General Assembly in 1948 after the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials for
World War II's German and Japanese war criminals. Tribunals have been created for special situations like the 1994 Rwanda genocide and war crimes in former Yugoslavia but no mechanism existed to hold individuals criminally responsible for serious crimes such as genocide.  "We are the leader in the world with respect to bringing people to justice," Secretary of State Colin Powell said. "But ...  we found that this was not a situation that we believed was appropriate for our men and women in the armed forces or our diplomats and political leaders."
May 11
Image of the Day
Spring Hill is "a hill of eminence about fifty or sixty miles north and somewhat to the east of Independence, [Missouri]" John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, pp. 395-396. and "immediately on the north side of Grand River, in Daviess county, Missouri, about twenty-five miles north of Far West." Otten & Caldwell, Sacred Truths of the Doctrine & Covenants, Vol. 2, p. 277 (citing History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 39). It is "not far from the town of Gallatin" Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., The Way to Perfection, p. 287. and about one-half mile from Tower Hill, The old ruin referred to as "Tower Hill" was erroneously accepted by some as marking the site of Adam-ondi-Ahman. However, "Tower Hill" is some half a mile east of that place. The tower was believed to "have some association with the first patriarch of our race, hence it has been called 'The grave of Adam'" (B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. 1, Ch. 32, p. 422 (citing History of Caldwell County, p. 118; D. L. Kort, History of Daviess County.) Furthermore, "Joseph Smith assigned the ruin to Nephite origin." The tower "was but one of a number of such stone mounds or ruins in that vicinity: 'We discovered some antiquities about one mile east of the camp [the camp was in the vicinity of Lyman Wight's house], consisting of stone mounds, apparently erected in square piles, though somewhat decayed and obliterated by the weather (erosion) of many years. These mounds were probably erected to secrete treasures.'" (B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol. 1, Ch. 32, p. 422 (quoting History of the Church, Period I, Vol. 3, p. 37).) named by Joseph Smith because "of the remains of an old Nephite altar or tower that stood there." Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Three 1838-39 p. 122. Next to Adam-ondi-Ahman was Wight's Ferry. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Three 1838-39 p. 122. Joseph Smith provided a legal description of "township 60, ranges 27 and 28, and sections 25, 36, 31, and 30." Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Three 1838-39 p. 122.
       On May 8, 1838, Joseph Smith went to Adam-ondi-Ahman with Sydney Rigdon and Joseph Smith's clerk, George W. Robinson, "for the purpose of selecting and laying claim to a city plat ... called 'Spring Hill,' but by the mouth of the Lord it was named Adam-ondi-Ahman Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Three 1838-39 p. 122. because, said the Lord, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet." Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr., The Way to Perfection, p. 287 (citing D&C 116).. On "an elevated piece of ground or plateau near Adam-ondi-Ahman" was found "a number of rocks piled together ... where [Adam] gathered his righteous posterity." John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p. 102. According to John Taylor, Joseph Smith explained "that this pile of stones was an altar built by [Adam] when he offered up sacrifices." John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p. 102. 
May 12
Image of the Day
Today was mother's day. I gave my gift and card to my dad yesterday as he stopped by from a trip to Mexico.
A CL 75 AirCrane balloon lifts a 54 ton tank into the air near the hangar, background, of the CargoLifter company in Krausnick, Germany, 100 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Berlin. The CL 75 has a diameter of 61 meters and the total cargo can be up to 75 tons. The company intends to built the even bigger CargoLifter CL 160 that would be 260 meters in length with a volume of 550,000 cubic meters. The CL 160 is being constructed as a semi-rigid keel airship with a working heavy-load crane integrated inside the keel. Helium is used as a non-flammable lifting gas.
May 13
Image of the Day
I have scheduled yet another inspection for tomorrow.  Only time will tell how that goes. I met with a foundation engineer to measure my foundation again now that one side is almost completed.  I am happy to say that the foundation has not shifted and won't require any more support strusses.
U.S. Photographer Seeks the Naked Truth About Art 
SAO PAULO, Brazil - In the chilly, predawn hours in Sao Paulo, Brazil, more than 1,000 people mill around a parking lot, waiting anxiously to have their picture taken. One eager family gets ready for the camera -- by stripping to its birthday suits. And as one Brazilian's enthusiasm gets the best of him, he yells: "This is the best way to see the people, without clothes! YEAH!" The crowd responds with applause and cheers. Fat, thin, black and white, the crowd has volunteered to bare it all for New York-based artist and photographer Spencer Tunick. It will be the final piece for his project "Nude Adrift," which features photographs of hundreds of anonymous nudes on all seven continents, including Antarctica.
May 14
Image of the Day
The inspector didn't show up today, so that leaves another day of waiting to get the list of items to be completed.
Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany Had Plan to Take New York
BERLIN  - Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm had drawn up detailed plans in 1900 for an invasion of the United States centered on attacks on New York City and Boston, according to documents in a military archive published. The weekly newspaper Die Zeit published details from documents it said it uncovered in Germany's official military archives in Freiburg. One plan foresaw a force of 100,000 soldiers transported across the Atlantic on 60 ships. 
       Beginning in 1897, a German navy lieutenant named Eberhard von Mantey was assigned the task of preparing an invasion of the United States after German and American interests had collided in the Pacific.  "Wilhelm II wanted colonies and military bases around the world," author Henning Sietz wrote in Die Zeit. "The United States was increasingly getting in the Kaiser's way."  Von Mantey's aim was to find a way to force the United States to sign a treaty giving Germany free reign in the Pacific and Atlantic. He rejected ideas of a naval blockade or a naval battle and made plans for an invasion of the northeast instead. "This is the core of America and this is where the United States could be most effectively hit and most easily forced to sign a peace treaty," von Mantey wrote. He said the morale and discipline of American soldiers was low. 
       The plans were reworked and revised over the next decade. Chief of staff Alfred von Schlieffen, who planned Germany's invasion of France in World War One, was skeptical about the idea of attacking the United States, 3,000 sea miles away. But his loyalty to the Kaiser prevented him from rejecting the war planning outright, Sietz said. At one point the German chief of staff had a plan to bombard New York City. "The greatest panic would break out in New York over fears of a bombardment," von Mantey wrote.
May 15
Image of the Day
The inspector showed up at 2:00 today after 2 days of waiting.  Several minutes later Jerry and I had a list of 25 items that need to be completed for the inspections to pass.  Along with the missing plumbing inspections that took place in February.  Now comes the hassle of getting a timeline out of Jerry to completing these items.
US History Stumps Many High School Seniors 
WASHINGTON - More than half of America's high school seniors do not have even the most basic grasp of U.S. history, showing no improvement in a nationwide test since 1994, the U.S. Education Department said.  The department's national history "report card" measured the performance in 2001 of fourth, eighth and 12th graders in history, knowledge that is important for immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship. 
       Students did not know, for instance, that America's fundamental belief in individual liberty was expressed in the Declaration of Independence or that the image of Uncle Sam was used to appeal to patriotism during wartime.  Educators said the results were "truly abysmal," pointing out that the higher the grade and closer a student was to voting age, the lower the understanding of U.S. history. It also found that a child scored higher if his parents were better educated or enjoyed a higher economic status. In grade 12, the final year of school, only 43 percent of students had a basic or proficient knowledge of history, a figure unchanged from the same tests last done in 1994. Of these, only 11 percent of 12th graders performed at or above "proficient" level, identified by the Education Department as the level all students should attain. 
       More than a third of fourth graders and nearly 40 percent of eighth
graders also did not have a basic understanding of the subject, a slight
improvement from 1994. Among eighth graders, 17 percent reached
proficient or above levels while just 18 percent of fourth graders had
proficient scores.  "May I remind you that 'basic' is the bottom of the achievement ladder. And they didn't even reach that -- the lowest rung," Education Secretary Rod Paige told a news conference. "This is unacceptable. History is a critical part of our nation's school curriculum, and it is through history that we understand our past and contemplate our future," he added. 
       Paige said he was alarmed -- particularly following the Sept. 11 attacks that targeted U.S. democracy -- that some of the questions involving the most fundamental concepts of America's democracy had stumped students. "For starters, a third of our fourth graders don't know that our fundamental right to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' comes from the Declaration of Independence," he said. The level of reading skills, history, math and science scores among American students compared to other industrialized countries has long been seen as a national embarrassment and the latest test results provided little good news. 
May 16
Image of the Day
Artist's Prank Freeway Sign Helps Motorists 
LOS ANGELES - For nine months not a single driver among the hundreds of thousands of motorists who daily ply downtown Los Angeles' main freeway noticed that there was something odd about the large, green sign guiding them through the complex and confusing transition from the Harbor Freeway onto California's Interstate 5. It was a fake. But such a clever fake that not even Caltrans, the people responsible for the signs, realized it was not one of their own, but a hand- painted replica. 
       Created by Los Angeles artist and frustrated commuter Richard Ankrom as a benevolent gesture to guide motorists and to show that art has a legitimate place in society, the meticulously painted sign, embossed with tiny reflective buttons, embarrassed transportation officials who learned of it only in a local newspaper column. Especially because Ankrom installed it in broad daylight, dressed as a blue-collar worker in a hard hat and orange vest, and had friends videotape the entire process, according to a report published Thursday in the Los Angeles Times. 
       A spokesman for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) was not immediately available for comment. For now, transportation officials will leave the sign where it is, and will not press charges against Ankrom, the Times reported. But they may replace the sign in a few months as part of a program to retrofit all freeway signs with new more reflective models.  The artist, who moonlights as a freelance sign maker, came up with the idea for the sign three years ago while often getting lost trying to locate the right exit ramp to I-5.  Rather than lodge a complaint with transportation officials he simply designed a sign guiding motorists north. "It needed to be done," he told the paper. "It's not like it was something that was intentionally wrong.  The artist added that he would prefer that Caltrans return his work if they decide not to use it. 
May 17
Image of the Day
I managed to catch the Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones this evening. 
f you didn't think "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" was one of the worst movies ever made, please don't read any further. It'll just make you mad. Overall this movie was less than I expected it to be, as I was looking for a more thorough script after the poor reviews of the previous Star Wars movie.  The choice of Hayden Christensen for Anakin Skywalker was a poor one.  His lack of emotions in many scenes produced dry monologues.  There was little chemistry between the main characters whether in words, emotions, or discplays of affection.  They fall in love, it seems, because somebody has to produce Luke and
Leia. Yoda saves the day in the movie, but even he can't save the movie. I would rate it a 5.5 out of 10.
At the Financial Cryptography conference in March, cryptography experts claimed that 1,024-bit encryption was "compromised," but RSA Security says the situation has been misinterpreted. Burt Kaliski, RSA Security's Laboratories director, believes that estimates performed by the experts were done quickly, that they have proven to be significantly inaccurate, and that encryption is as reliable as ever. Kaliski says that although a machine could be built by the end of the decade that could break 1,024-bit encryption, such a machine would only be created if it offered a high return on investment. Kaliski says that 1,024-bit encryption still enjoys widespread industry support and that it will stand up "for a few years yet." He also says that as the U.S. relaxes encryption export rules, stronger encryption will follow.
       Security firm RSA has hit back at cryptography experts'
claims that 1,024-bit encryption is no longer secure.  A discussion on security mailing list Bugtraq at the end of March concluded that 1,024-bit encryption was "compromised", but RSA is now claiming that the situation has been misinterpreted.  At the Financial Cryptography conference in March the main topic of discussion was a paper published last October 2001 by cryptographer Dan Bernstein which proposed an architecture capable of factoring 1,024-bit RSA keys. 
Based on this proposal, the experts suggested that such a device could be built by an agency with good resources - the National Security Agency, for example - for less than $1billion. 
May 18
Image of the Day
I saw the band Garbage play tonight at the Austin Music Hall.  This was one of the best concerts I have seen in a long time.  The high quality equipment added to the stage preseence of the show.  Shirley Manson's singing was clear and resonant through her entire set.  The entire band's stage present was timed well with the light choreography.  She bolted out songs for almost 2.5 hours before it was over, the crowd responding to every song. That coming from someone who was not a Garbage fan, I would love to see more motivated bands with this stage appeal.
Carrots Modified to Contain Hepatitis B Vaccine 
BERLIN (Reuters Health) - German scientists have grown genetically modified carrots that contain the vaccine against hepatitis B, which they say could dramatically cut the costs of preventing the disease. Development has reached the stage where the carrots are ready to begin pre-clinical trials and researchers say that carrot-sourced vaccines could be a reality within about 3 years. 
        The current vaccine against hepatitis B is expensive to produce and is administered via three injections, which further increases costs and strains health services.  But now plant specialists and virologists from Giessen University in Germany have successfully inserted the gene for the hepatitis B surface antigen normally used in the vaccine into carrots, and have been growing the vegetables in the thousands.  "We can make 100,000 or so plants in 2 weeks and within 3 months they are ready to eat," said Dr. Jafargholi Imani from the research group at Giessen University. 
       He explained to Reuters Health that carrots are particularly good for this purpose as they are easy to grow in many different climates and soil types. "But it's not as if we will be able to hand out packets of seeds for people to grow their own," he said. "These are transgenic plants and need to be isolated. But it does mean that the plants can be grown where the vaccine is needed." Carrots are also easy to store, transport and consume raw, he said. Other attempts to grow transgenic drug-containing tomatoes or potatoes have suffered from the delicate physical nature of tomatoes and the fact that potatoes are difficult to eat raw, while cooking would destroy the vaccine.
May 19
Image of the Day
Kris and I spent the day running the phone and ethernet lines around the duplex again.  We ended up replacing all the old phone lines to get rid of the static over them.  We reversed the swing of the utility and downstairs bedroom doors. This "quick" process only  took 2 hours of playing with the door frames.  Erin conquered my laundry today with 10 loads of laundry finished.  There were so many clean clothes we had to go get more hangers to hang all the clothes up.
Survey Shows Nearly 4 in 10 Americans Can't Swim 
MONTREAL - Although the popularity of boating, water skiing, sailing and other water-focused activities continues to rise, a full 37% of US adults remain at a heightened risk for drowning because they cannot swim, according to a new report. Furthermore, middle-aged and older Americans--those most able to buy boats or other water craft--are much less likely to know how to swim compared to the young. "There are older generations of people who have no concept that it's a problem --that they would go boating and not know how to swim, or own a boat and not know how to swim," said researcher Dr. Christine Branche, of the US National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in Atlanta, Georgia. She presented the findings at the 6th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Control. 
       In a survey of over 5,000 US adults conducted in the mid-1990s, respondents were asked how confident they felt in swimming one or more lengths of a standard 24-yard pool. According to the researchers, the percentage of those reporting 'no' or 'limited' swimming ability rose from 22% among those aged 18 to 24 to about half of those aged 50 to 64 and 68% among those aged 65 or older.   Women were less likely to swim than men, and better-educated individuals were more comfortable in the water than persons with less than a high school education, the researchers add. Speaking with Reuters Health, Branche said many of us may underestimate the importance of being able to swim. "People may say 'well, I'm not going to get into the water," even though the vacationing public is increasingly lured to lake and beach resorts, boating events and water parks. But "whenever you're near the water, the fact that you may be in the water unexpectedly means that you need to learn how to swim," Branche warned. 
        Luckily, help is at hand for the water-shy. Local community groups like the Red Cross, 4-H and other organizations continue to offer classes for novice swimmers. "They'll even teach you some basic safety skills in the water, separate from learning how to swim," Branche said. "I think that people need to understand that this type of resource may be in their neighborhood if they haven't taken advantage of it. And it even may be free or at a nominal cost." She said the study findings have implications for those who design and maintain the country's water attractions, too. "We have all this encouragement to go ahead and take advantage of recreational facilities around water, but when people are talking about their own limited swimming ability, what kind of protection are you providing for them? Policymakers need to think about this." 
May 20
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Visited my old tenants last night.  They are doing good in there new home if you don't mind having to ward off scorpions.  A scorpion stung their dog on the foot while we were in the front yard on chair talking with them.  All our feet ended up on the legs of the table after that. I'm in the process of tracking down the plumbing drawings for my new sewage line that was recently tied in to the city sewage.
Spitball Could Land Boy in Prison
SAN FRANCISCO - An errant spitball that put a fellow student in the hospital with an eye injury could land a 13-year-old California boy in juvenile prison for up to eight years on two felony convictions. "I feel bad about it, and I'm sorry," Jeffrey Figueroa told the San Francisco Chronicle, which reported his run-in with the law.  Figueroa has admitted that he shot the spitball -- a gum wrapper moistened with saliva -- on the first day of school last September at a middle school in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek, California. 
        Jeffrey said he was not aiming at anybody in particular. But the spitball hit a 14-year-old boy in the right eye, requiring a trip to the hospital and surgery.  Jeffrey and his 14-year-old brother Stephen, who allegedly urged Jeffrey to fire the spitball, both were charged with battery causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury, and mayhem. 
Last Tuesday, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Araceli Ramirez found Jeffrey guilty of battery causing serious bodily injury and mayhem, both felonies. His brother was found guilty on a lesser charge. The Chronicle said that Jeffrey, who has had two heart surgeries and has Attention Deficit Disorder, now faces a sentence of up to eight years in a California Youth Authority prison when he is sentenced next month. 
        "What we have is an unfortunate accident with injury to a child, but what one time had been horseplay has now been, by the D.A. (district attorney), elevated to felony status, just on the basis of the
unfortunate outcome of an accidental act," said attorney Marek Reavis, who is representing Stephen Figueroa. The district attorney's office declined to comment on the Figueroa case, saying that because it dealt with juveniles the court records had been sealed.  But Jeffrey Figueroa's mother, Yvette, told the Chronicle her son's possible prison term came as a shock. "All along we've had a lot of confidence that the judicial system would actually prove that Jeffrey and Stephen were innocent in this," she said. "We're totally in shock that they've been overcharged for something that was a terrible accident." 
May 21
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Purple Carrots: Summer Food Fad? 
LONDON (Reuters) - It may seem like fashion gone mad but this summer there may be a new food craze in Britain -- purple carrots.  In fact, the violet vegetables are not unnatural -- it was their original hue before the Dutch decided to cultivate them in their national color orange in the 1720s, a supermarket supplier said on Thursday. Mark Spurdens, technical manager for food company Isleham Fresh Produce, predicts the purple carrots -- which are orange on the inside -- will be a hit with British consumers when they go on sale in July. "They're different. They've had a little bit of extra care and attention in the way they've been raised. They do taste quite sweet," he told BBC radio. Dutch scientists say purple carrots afford extra protection against some forms of cancer and heart disease -- a recent study concluded they contain pigments that act as anti-oxidants.  Carrots also come in white and black varieties, and Isleham plans to develop a "rainbow bunch" over the next year. 
May 22
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Copy-Proof' CDs Cracked with 99-Cent Marker Pen 
LONDON (Reuters) - Technology buffs have cracked music publishing giant Sony Music's elaborate disc copy-protection technology with a decidedly low-tech method: scribbling around the rim of a disk with a felt-tip marker. Internet newsgroups have been circulating news of the discovery for the past week, and in typical newsgroup style, users have pilloried Sony for deploying "hi-tech" copy protection that can be defeated by paying a visit to a stationery store. "I wonder what type of copy protection will come next?" one posting on alt.music.prince read. "Maybe they'll ban markers." 
       Major music labels, including Sony and Universal Music, have begun selling the "copy-proof" discs as a means of tackling the rampant spread of music piracy, which they claim is eating into sales. The new technology aims to prevent consumers from copying, or "burning," music onto recordable CDs or onto their computer hard drives, which can then be shared with other users over file-sharing Internet services such as Kazaa or Morpheus MusicCity. 
        Reuters obtained an ordinary copy of Celine Dion's newest
release "A New Day Has Come," which comes embedded with Sony's "Key2Audio" technology. After an initial attempt to play the disc on a PC resulted in failure, the edge of the shiny side of the disc was blackened out with a felt tip marker. The second attempt with the marked-up CD played and copied to the hard drive without a hitch. 
Internet postings claim that tape or even a sticky note can also be used to cover the security track, typically located on the outer rim of the disc. And there are suggestions that copy protection schemes used by other music labels can also be circumvented in a similar way. Sony's proprietary technology, deployed on many recent releases, works by adding a track to the copy-protected disc that contains bogus data. 
Because computer hard drives are programmed to read data files first, the computer will continuously try to play the bogus track first. It never gets to play the music tracks located elsewhere on the compact disc. The effect is that the copy-protected disc will play on standard CD players but not on computer CD-ROM drives, some portable devices and even some car stereo systems.   Some Apple Macintosh users have reported that playing the disc in the computer's CD drive causes the computer to crash. The cover of the copy-protected discs contain a warning that the album will not play on Macintoshes or other personal computers.  Sony Music Europe has taken the most aggressive anti-piracy stance in the business.  Since last fall, the label has shipped more than 11 million copy-protected discs in Europe, with the largest proportion going to Germany, a market label executives claim is rife with illegal CD-burning. 
May 23
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A Thai mother and her daughter stop to buy fried crickets, worms and grasshoppers at one of 31 supermarket outlets of the Insects Inter chain at Bangkok's Central Plaza Shopping Mall . The Insects Inter stand is part of Thailand's first insect fast food chain, a network launched in March that has already made more money than its creator expected. 
May 24
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Erin finally caught up with some of her old friend's from Georgetown.  After getting lost a few times they showed up and we enjoyed some good mexican food at Baby Acapulco's. I fell asleep watching trading spaces tonight.
Pet Hippo Seized From Man's Yard 
SAN DIEGO - California fish and game officials are investigating a San Diego-area man who kept a rare 500-pound pygmy hippopotamus as a pet in his suburban backyard for at least a decade, a newspaper reported. Surprised state officials seized the female hippo, believed to be 12 to 15 years old, from Arthur Stehly, a resident of Escondido, who has more than 100 animals living on his property, including emus, peacocks, geese, goats and ducks, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it," state game warden Zeke Awbrey told the newspaper. "No one expects to find a giant hippo living in someone's backyard." 
        The newspaper reported that officials were investigating Stehly for allegedly not having a permit to own a hippo. It said officials seized the animal in late January after a tip from a real estate agent showing a nearby home.  Neither the hippo's owner nor fish and game officials could be reached for comment. The hippo is now at a local center for wild animals and would be shipped on June 1 to a refuge in Florida that houses other pygmy hippos, the newspaper said. The animals, found along streams, forests and swamps in West Africa, number between 2,000 to 4,000 in the wild.  Neighbors in Escondido, about 30 miles from San Diego, said they had known about the hippo for years, but had never seen it, the newspaper said.  "I know he used the hippo manure on his garden," said Bill Ritcher. "It can smell pretty dang bad." 
May 25
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Kris and I finished running the cable coax cables today.  The hardest part was hauling the tv up 2 flights of stairs to test the signal for the new cable jacks.  We also pulled down a dead oak tree in the front yard.  After 1.5 hours of pulling and cutting it fell over and snapped into a thousand pieces upon hitting the driveway. Erin finished painting the downstair's bathroom with a forest mural scene with a large tree and various bugs. 
Archer takes a close look at an 1866 Tasmanian Tiger embryo in Sydney that scientists have used to successfully replicate some of the animals genes using DNA extracted from the specimen. Scientists say they hope to clone a Tasmanian Tiger in 10 years if they are successful in constructing large quantities of all the genes of the extinct animal and sequencing sections of the genome to create a genetic library of Tasmanian Tiger DNA. The animal, also known as a thylacine, was a dog-like carnivorous marsupial with stripes on its back that lived on the Australian island state of Tasmania before it was hunted down by farmers who blamed it for killing sheep. The last known tiger died in 1936.
May 26
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Enjoyed a some delicious food entertainment at Benihan's tonight.  I was invited to a birthday celebration dinner for Ashley Pardo & her father.  It was a interesting presentation for a meal, although extrewmely expensive for chinese/ japanese food.  Almost all the plates were in the $25 per plate range, with appetizers around $10.  Later in the evening we took Ashley down to 6th street to enjoy her birthday.  After wandering around we ended up at Platinum X for a few hours.  We left around midnight to wander home and find some smoke-free air.
New Robot Sings Baby Lullabies, Delivers Drinks 
LOS ANGELES - Imagine having your laptop fetch a beer from the refrigerator and then roll over to the baby's room to sing a lullaby while e-mailing snapshots to grandma a thousand miles away. Evolution Robotics, a start-up backed by Pasadena, California-based technology incubator Idealab, unveiled this week what it calls a "personal robot system" -- essentially a robotic framework centered on a laptop computer. 
        The company's ER1, which is able to perform the kinds of automated functions once considered science-fiction fantasy, retails for $499 in a do-it-yourself assembly kit or for $599 in a pre-built format. Users can plug any laptop into the robot, though the current configuration does not power the computer from the robot's battery. Planned future functions will allow for automatic recharging from standard electrical outlets, the company said. "It's sort of a young toddler of a robot," Mike Dooley, a product manager for Evolution Robotics, told Reuters.  Evolution chose a unique place to unveil the device -- the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the video game industry's annual trade show concluding in Los Angeles. The consumer model of the robot uses a basic visual training system. It has a Web camera, and using the included software, the owner can show the robot an item (examples used included a CD and a book) and then cue the robot to take action once it sees that item, in what the company described as an "if-then" arrangement. 
        Tucked away in a back corner of the main Convention Center hall, Evolution executives ran a demonstration in a mock living room where the ER1 was shown a Coke can, causing it to drive to a small
refrigerator, identify the right can from a group of three lined up in front
of the fridge, pick it up and deliver it to a recliner on the other side of the mock room. The system was not without its bugs. The retriever arm dropped the soda can on the floor halfway to its destination. Dooley said the arm is still a prototype and will not be available until later this year. He also conceded that, for the time being, the ER1 remains hobbyist's device, made available to the public more as a proof-of- concept than as a candidate for hot toy of the year.  "This is really an early-adopter market," he said. 
May 27
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Erin and I spent the day wandering down south of austin.  We drove through Budah and Kyle and ended up in Wimberly and foound a nice riverbed to relax and walk around in with CeeCee. I woke up at 2:00am to find it raining heavily outside.  After joking about CeeCee's showing up at the door, it takes just a few minutes for her to show up scratching the door.  We had to rescue the ducks from the duck pond, as they were swimming around in the mulchy water frantically.  Erin enjoyed the slip-n-slide effects of the backyard while gathering the ducks. 
Yasser Arafat Cheese Snack Is a Hit 
CAIRO - Yasser Arafat cheese puffs are the new hit snack on the streets of Egypt's capital. A cartoon of the Palestinian leader salutes consumers from each 25-piastre ($0.05) bag of Abu Ammar chips, beckoning them to buy the snack and support a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.   "Abu Ammar, hero of the struggle," the cover reads in bright red letters, referring to Arafat by his nom de guerre.  "The more you buy, the more you build," the bags say. "Heartbeat by heartbeat, hand by hand, we'll build a new era." 
        The bags feature a cartoon of an open-mouthed Arafat in khaki military dress and his trademark black-and-white checkered headscarf against the backdrop of a Palestinian flag. The cheese-flavored corn puffs lie at Arafat's feet.  One Cairo shopkeeper said demand was high for the snack, launched two weeks ago by Egyptian food group al-Jawhara.  "They (Egyptians) buy it because they see Abu Ammar, and they are sympathetic with the Palestinian people," shopkeeper Mursi Mahmoud Mohammad told Reuters. "They love this man. They love the people of Palestine," he said. 
        A company official said three percent of profits from sales of the snack would go to help pay for medical care of Palestinians wounded in the uprising that broke out more than a year and a half ago. Thousands of Egyptians have demonstrated in support of the Palestinians, demanding Egypt cut ties and expel Israel's ambassador. They have also called for a boycott of U.S. goods and have urged consumers to buy Egyptian. Palestinian scarves have become a must-have accessory for many young Egyptians, and Palestinian flags have started appearing in shop windows in a country where public political protest is rare. 
May 28
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I visited Home Depot tonight to get supplies to construct a barrier to home the baby ducks in and let them wander around the yard.  The inflatable pool they were in has sprung a leak since the heavy rains over the weekend.
FBI 'Carnivore' Glitch Hurt Al Qaeda Probe 
        WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Glitches in a controversial FBI (news - web sites) system to monitor the e-mail of suspected criminals likely hampered an investigation of al Qaeda two years ago, according to internal FBI documents released. According to memos obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, FBI investigators threw out the results of an e-mail wiretap in March 2000 because the system, commonly known as "Carnivore," collected electronic messages of regular Internet users as well as the target of the probe. 
        While the target was blacked out in the memo, the FBI unit in question was charged with monitoring Osama bin Laden, said David Sobel, the EPIC lawyer who obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Washington blames bin Laden and his al Qaeda network for the Sept. 11 attacks that killed about 3,000 people.  "The FBI software not only picked up the e-mails under the electronic surveillance of the FBI's target ... but also picked up e-mails on non-covered targets. The FBI technical person was apparently so upset that he destroyed all the e-mail take," said an unidentified supervisor in an April 5, 2000, memo to M.E. "Spike" Bowman, the FBI's associate general counsel for national security issues. 
        The documents do not imply the FBI could have prevented the Sept. 11 attacks, but they do highlight problems with the implementation of Carnivore, Sobel said.  "This shows that the FBI has been misleading Congress and the public about the extent to which Carnivore is capable of collecting only authorized information," he said. An FBI official declined to comment. Developed to intercept the e-mail and other online activities of suspected criminals, Carnivore has come under fire from lawmakers and civil liberties groups who say it is too invasive. 
        FBI officials have told Congress the system captures only a narrow field of information for which interception is authorized by a court order.  The documents showed Carnivore had occasionally grabbed the e-mail messages of other Internet users, especially when set up to work on unusual e-mail systems.  "Encountering nonstandard implementation has led to inadvertently capturing and processing data outside the Order of Consent," says one memo from an FBI field officer. 
May 29
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Smile for the Camera -- Gotcha! 
LONDON - Bank robbers, shoplifters or anyone else not wanting to be recognized on CCTV cameras should not smile because it is easier for face recognition systems to match a suspect to a grinning image than a neutral face.  Smiling faces show more expression and reveal more about the bone and muscle structure of the face.  "Even people who look very similar reveal different features when they smile," New Scientist magazine said. Researchers at the University of Maryland confirmed their theory about the importance of facial expressions by using an image processing technique called Principal Component Analysis.  The technique, which is used for face recognition, reduces an image to its most important features and stores it as a digital facial signature. After comparing 60 smiling facial signatures with signatures of the same face with a neutral expression, more variations were found in the grinning faces. Yaser Yacoob, who conducted the research, said it suggests smiling faces would produce fewer false positives when searching a large database of faces. "The study also revealed that angry, grimacing faces are even more distinctive than smiling ones, but grimaces tend not to occur as naturally as smiles," the magazine added. 
May 30
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Hydrogen Puts Iceland on Road to Oil-Free Future 
REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland, with its steaming geothermal power stations, already knows plenty about alternative energy. Now this island of lava on the edge of the Arctic plans to become the world's first society to ditch fossil fuels entirely, relying instead on hydrogen made using the power of its roaring rivers and volcanoes. Enthusiasts even talk about it one day becoming the "Kuwait of the North" as an exporter of the new, green fuel to markets in Europe. For Bragi Arnason, professor of chemistry at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, better known as "Professor Hydrogen," converting his country to a fuel that produces no greenhouse gases will be a science fiction dream come true. 
        In the relatively near future, Iceland's cars, buses and ships will be driven by electric motors powered by hydrogen-fuel cells that produce nothing but water in their exhausts.  Unlike other countries contemplating hydrogen power, Iceland has a chance to develop a genuinely carbon dioxide-free system, since the electricity to make hydrogen from the electrolysis of water will come from hydro or geothermal power, not fossil fuel. 
        Icelanders will get their first taste of the new era next year when three hydrogen-powered buses hit the road.  Converting all the country's 180,000 vehicles and 2,500 fishing trawlers to hydrogen won't happen overnight -- Iceland is giving itself 30-40 years to kick the oil habit completely -- but the launch of the energy plan a year ago was a watershed.  The scheme is backed by DaimlerChrysler, which will build the first buses, together with energy giant Royal Dutch Shell and Norwegian industrial group Norsk Hydro 
        All three firms have invested in a new company called Icelandic New Energy and plan to use Iceland as a test-bed for a technology that some scientists think holds the key to mankind's energy needs after the oil runs out. While technical problems remain, the technology of fuel cells has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. Arnason reckons hydrogen fuel cells are now approaching competitiveness with oil. With oil selling at $20 a barrel, Icelandic hydrogen is competitive on price. The fuel costs more to buy, but hydrogen-burning engines make more efficient use of fuel than traditional internal combustion engines. 
        At first sight, it might seem odd that Iceland should be bothering with hydrogen and worrying about greenhouse emissions. After all, 93 percent of all houses are already heated by eco-friendly geothermal energy. But Iceland's tiny population of 280,000 faces a paradox -- its large fishing fleet and energy-intensive metal smelting industry make it one of the world's largest per-head producers of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.  That is a major frustration for a country which takes its environmental commitments seriously, yet has few options for expanding its economy. 
        Switching Iceland's vehicles and ships -- which today account for two-thirds of carbon dioxide emissions -- from fossil fuels would give a lot more flexibility to build up industry while still meeting Kyoto Protocol guidelines.  Jon Bjorn Skulason, general manager of Icelandic New Energy, says the potential is considerable, since Iceland has so far tapped only 15 percent of its hydro and geothermal reserves. With its cheap energy resources, Iceland has a chance to lead the world in the coming hydrogen economy, Skulason believes.  Running tankers full of liquid hydrogen from Iceland to markets in Europe is one option, although any surplus from the tiny domestic economy means Iceland would probably never supply more than a small European market, such as Denmark. 
        Meanwhile, there are some major technical issues to resolve. Safety is one. The image of the 1937 Hindenburg airship disaster is hardly reassuring, although experts argue that hydrogen is no more explosive than gasoline and the Hindenburg's flammable casing, rather than hydrogen, was largely to blame. But storing the lightest element in the universe in a convenient form remains a big problem. BMW is planning to develop cars that would carry it as liquid, but most other car makers think gas under pressure makes more sense. Either way, the storage tank will be bulky. That may be surmountable for buses but it is major headache for cars and Iceland's fishing trawlers, which need to carry enough fuel for several weeks. 
        One intermediate-stage option being examined in Iceland is to store hydrogen in methanol, which could be synthesized using carbon dioxide emitted by the metals industry.  It is not a perfect solution since burning the methanol would still release some greenhouse gases. But
Arnason thinks it could be a useful halfway house while the country waits for long-term storage solutions, such as carbon nanotubes. 
May 31
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