Archive for October 19th, 2010

An update on the traffic lights post


Thefrollickingmole brought it to attention at Tizona.

It was hence highlighted here

And thanks to stalwart, JM Heinrichs, we have more…

“Seven cities and regions in Europe are giving it a try — with good results.”

#2

We drive on to another project Monderman designed, this one in the nearby village of Oosterwolde. What was once a conventional road junction with traffic lights has been turned into something resembling a public square that mixes cars, pedestrians, and cyclists. About 5,000 cars pass through the square each day, with no serious accidents since the redesign in 1999.

Point: Counter Point

Granted, however, is the fact there is not much conclusive comparative statistical data available. It sounds like it’s well worth getting that info, but.

Who is responsible for your person?


A New York bloke is suing because he reckons he acquired mercury poisoning from the gargantuan amounts of tuna he ate.

Heck, who doesn’t know about increased levels of mercury in fish? Heck, half us know about increased levels in our humble light bulbs.

A MAN who ate 10 cans of tuna a week for nearly two years is suing the US canned food company Bumble Bee Foods for allegedly giving him mercury poisoning.

“There was tuna in my diet every day, just about,” Mr Porrazzo said.

“I thought it was the cleanest source of protein.”

He is blaming it on the canned tuna and wants unspecified damages for breach of warranty and negligence from the fish cannery. But he is also suing the supermarket chain – for putting the tuna on sale.

Mr Porrazzo says he started eating the seafood in January 2006 because Bumble Bee commercials called it “heart healthy” and the brand was “usually on sale” for $1 a can.

You’d think orbiting your diet around one particular food would encourage some extra research. Apparently not in this day and age.

Here’s one minute of google research.

Eating tuna safely ascertained by how much you weigh compared to how much you eat.

Your Tuna is Getting More Toxic

Mercury Toxicity Report

“Experts theorise that albacore, because it is a short-lived species, would tend to have less mercury than bigger, longer-lived tuna such as Blue-fin or Big-eye Tuna. And, by the same theory, the younger and smaller the albacore, the better. For the tuna fan, perhaps the best approach is to buy quality, not quantity, a strategy that the current canned tuna wave encourages.”

This bloke bought cans at $1 a pop.

But enough of the legal/eco nonsense.

Just how are the mercury levels in fish really doing these days?

Myth: The amount of mercury in our environment (and in the fish we eat) is dangerously increasing.

The truth: There’s considerable evidence that the amount of mercury in fish has remained the same (or even decreased) during the past 100 years.

One team of researchers from Duke University and the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum compared 21 specimens of Atlantic Ocean blue hake preserved during the 1880s with 66 similar fish caught in the 1970s. They found no change at all in the concentration of mercury.

In another study, Princeton scientists compared samples of yellowfin tuna from 1971 with samples caught in 1998. They expected to find a mercury increase of between 9 and 26 percent, but they found a small decline instead.

Nice try, treasurer. Expats beware: Govt. wants to “acquire” your Superannuation


I’ve been an expat for around five years now.

MORE than $13 billion in inactive or lost superannuation accounts is about to be taken by the Government unless the owners claim them.

Laws introduced last year by the Federal Government mean that, from this month, funds in inactive super accounts can be transferred into consolidated revenue. It is estimated that the government will fill its coffers with about $10 billion from these accounts in the next five years.

Essentially, a desperate Wayne Swan is trying to steal my Aussie superannuation which is a considerable amount.

Here’s the trick: Is my account “active”? i.e. Have there been employee or personal contributions over the last five years? If not, Swan swipes my stash.

Well, Swannie, here’s to squashing your swipe.*

Nice try, Duck.

BTW, Wayne, the idea of superannuation is that money I, an Australian citizen, have earned and put in Super is protected.

You utter dog!

*Account fixed… but only just in time.

Irony


A classic example:

“The Iraqi nation is vigilant and aggressors cannot dominate this country again,” Mr Khamenei told Mr Maliki, according to a statement put out by his office. “May God get rid of America in Iraq so that its people’s problems are solved.”

The Left left clueless about the Tea Party


This is funny. MSNBC contributors scratch their heads.

Caroline May:

Confusion was the word of the day on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning when the panel questioned why so many women have been drawn to the Tea Party movement.

Co-host Mika Brzezinski, The New York Times’ Sam Tanenhaus, CBS’s Lesley Stahl, columnist Mike Barnicle, and Newsweek’s Jon Meacham were initially stumped when Stahl prompted the discussion.

“I wanted to ask all the gurus here, why so many of the Tea Partiers are women. I find that just intriguing and don’t quite understand why that has happened,” Stahl said.

To which the panel replied: “I have no idea.” “Sarah Palin?” “I don’t know.” “I don’t know either.”

As Jim Treacher points out, surely it couldn’t “be that the Tea Partiers are exactly what they claim to be, for exactly the reasons they claim to have, because that would mean a wholesale rejection of Obama and everything he stands for. And who in their right mind could possibly believe that?

Picture sourced from here.

From Washington’s who’s-in-charge-here perspective, the tea party model seems, to use Wildman’s word, bizarre. Perplexed journalists keep looking for the movement’s leaders, which is like asking to meet the boss of the Internet. Baffled politicians and lobbyists can’t find anyone to negotiate with. “We can be hard to work with, because we’re confusing.”

Heh.

UPDATE (Oct. 20)

More on this in the WSJ.

Geert Wilders vs Islam


Pajamas Media has published a few excellent articles surrounding Islam in the West, namely what’s been happening to Dutch Politician, Geert Wilders, recently. The rubbish case against him is due to be dropped. PJM delves further.

Andrew G. Bostom:

In April 2008, during his keynote address to the first conference of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa, Professor Bernard Lewis warned of the ominous limits on scholarly analysis of Islam imposed by political correctness and multiculturalism:

The degree of thought control, of limitations on freedom of speech and expression is without parallel in the Western world since the eighteenth century and in some cases longer than that. … It seems to me it’s a very dangerous situation, because it makes any kind of scholarly discussion of Islam, to say the least, dangerous. Islam and Islamic values now have a level of immunity from comment and criticism in the Western world that Christianity has lost and Judaism has never had.

The politicized prosecution of Dutch MP Geert Wilders for his free speech criticism of Islam is a case study illustrating Professor Lewis’ most grave concerns. But it is also possible that the outrageous proceedings against Geert Wilders may have pushed the Western freedom-stifling agenda of Islamic correctness too far.

Agreed. The West must be able to discuss this issue more freely and openly.


Bruce Bawar:

One of the most bizarre aspects of being an American in Western Europe — at least if you’re an American who has opinions and is used to expressing them freely — is getting accustomed to the fact that there’s no First Amendment over here. Some of us grew up thinking of Western Europe as part of the “Free World.” But how free is a country if it doesn’t recognize freedom of speech as a fundamental right?

This trial wasn’t really about him or about Islam. It was about individual liberty. It was about fundamental rights that are enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but that in Western Europe are incredibly fragile — a fragility of which the “soft jihadists” haven taken full advantage.

Roger L. Simon:

Merkel and Wilders: fighting the good fight against multiculturalism

Immigration is fine, but immigrants have to fit in.

As a foreigner in Korea, sure, I will never assimilate completely. And I’m lucky that English is an international language that Koreans are keen to learn. But that doesn’t mean I can order a pizza or get in a taxi and just start ranting on in my native tongue. Also, I had to learn how to use chopsticks, and yes, I bow a lot. I’ve learnt to read their alphabet and know a lot of rudimentary stuff which gets me by day to day. My upcoming wedding will have many Korean aspects to it. My diet has changed somewhat.

I certainly do expect for Koreans to bend over backwards to accommodate my lack of language and cultural skills. That’s my problem. It’s ridiculous that everything be translated into my native language. That I could come here and receive welfare? You have got to be joking.

Anyway, all three articles are well worth reading in their entirety (and yes, I know I’ve given you guys a lot of work today).

H/T Insty

Obama’s ego


Paco elaborates.

Somewhere within the coils and folds of the frontal lobe of his cerebral cortex, one assumes that there is a synaptic connection, however weak, that is trying to communicate to President Obama that he is, in fact, a mortal human being, and thus capable of normal human failings. It is only an assumption, however, and certainly not one based on empirical observation. To listen to Obama speak out there on the campaign trail – and when has he ever not been on the campaign trail? – one could be forgiven for concluding that here is a fellow who seems to be under the impression, not only that he was conceived without sin, but perhaps that he was never conceived at all – at least not in the mundane biological sense – that he simply popped out of the godhead as the personification of one of the almighty’s particularly good ideas.

Read on.

Another rare glimpse inside Pyeongyang


Of course, all the things journalists recently were able to see when they were there for the “inauguration” of son#3, Kim Jong-un, were carefully managed by minders. And in this article by Tania Branigan in The Guardian, we are seeing pretty much the best of the best (poor sods).

It’s an interesting read and comes with some extra rare NK piccies, too.

But some who know the city suggest that attractions such as the street lighting will vanish once we have gone. Even during our visit, most roads away from our hotel are dark. The sleek restaurants surrounding it are almost empty. The central department store is gloomy, illuminated only by late-afternoon light and a string of fairy lights. As at a rainy English fete, the effect of the bunting above the counters is more plaintive than festive. Stock lies untroubled in glass counters or on the shelves behind them: lengths of plaid fabric, clocks, footballs, pastel towels, TVs and even a cafetiere set. There are perhaps 20 visitors sprinkled across four sizeable floors and the only actual customer appears to be a small child buying a cheap plastic toy.

Koreans in border areas are also using smuggled handsets and sim cards to make calls via Chinese networks. Many have slipped across the border, too, or have relatives living covertly in China. The country is becoming increasingly porous.

“People are beginning to suspect that the world lives better than they do,” says Lankov. But he adds that very few realise how much better…

The whole enchilada has a lot more fun facts and speculation.

BTW. Don’t forget to see the hairdresser or barber soon for your approved socialist haircut.

Southern (white) Democrats “one step closer to extinction”


I’m no expert of American politics, but it’s clear the Democrats are going to really cop it this November.

Jeff Zeleny:

The Southern white Democrat, long on the endangered list, is at risk of being pushed one step closer to extinction.

From Virginia to Florida and South Carolina to Texas, nearly two dozen Democratic seats are susceptible to a potential Republican surge in Congressional races on Election Day, leaving the party facing a situation where its only safe presence in the South is in urban and predominantly black districts.

The swing has been under way since the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson predicted that his fellow Democrats would face a backlash of white voters that would cost the party the South. It continued with Ronald Reagan’s election and reached a tipping point in the Republican sweep of 1994, with more than one-third of the victories coming from previously Democratic seats in the South.

Good, considering their history.

Afghanistan debate heats up


The PM reckons we’ll be there at least another 10 years, albeit not always in a combat role.

AUSTRALIA will remain in Afghanistan after its troops complete their training mission in 2014 and be engaged there “through this decade at least”, Julia Gillard said today.

Meanwhile, retired ADF chief, Peter Gration, is tiring of the vagueness surrounding the issue.

AUSTRALIAN troops in Afghanistan need an exit strategy based on clear and measurable objectives, says former Australian Defence Force chief Peter Gration.

Speaking on the eve of the parliamentary debate on Afghanistan, General Gration said the war effort was being undermined by vague military aims and public confusion about the rationale for Australia’s continued involvement in the conflict.

Korean F1 edges closer


It’s less than three days until the first practice session on Friday. And in a stroke of luck, the country school I attend on Fridays is having a field trip and I don’t have to be there! Also, the weather for the race (3pm Sunday) is looking good!

Here’s a bit of what FOM has to say.

So what have the simulations revealed so far? Well, the projected lap time is 1m 44s and the cars will be on full throttle for 55 percent of the lap and on the brakes for 20 percent. The average speed will be 195 km/h, with a top speed of 315 km/h on the 1.15 km straight between turns two and three. As for the corners, turn eight is probably the quickest of the lap with an apex speed of 235 km/h, while turn three is the slowest corner, expected to be taken at just 65 km/h.

Of course, being an almost untested new track, there are more unknowns than the teams and drivers usually face. Things like tarmac grip, bumps, camber are highlighted in the article.

In related “news”, here’s an interview with F1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone. Also, The Guardian caught a decent in-depth interview with F1 supremo, Bernie Eccleston.

[I]n his final race before he becomes an octogenarian, a compelling battle for the world championship reaches its third last stage with the Korean grand prix. A few weeks ago Ecclestone warned that the race was under real threat because the new track at Yeongam had not been completed. “It’s done now,” he says. “It’s all right. Last month I didn’t think it would be finished. And it would have been cancelled then – for sure. But the track has been inspected and passed. Everything’s OK.”

Can’t wait! :-)

Meanwhile, the building of the Korean f1 track city is due to start next year. It might hamper people’s view of more of the track once it’s finished but will certainly make a spectacle of the venue.

PS

Go Mark!

Trouble in France


The Unions and the socialists are having a hard time of late accepting the fact that France’s unsustainable social democratic model needs fixing.

French riot police and students fired tear gas and petrol bombs at each other while truckers blocked roads and almost 3,000 petrol stations ran dry, as nationwide protests intensified.

And this.

The Socialists, like the unions, want to allow the French to continue to retire at 60 despite rising life expectancy, saying the shortfall could be filled by increasing tax on capital and the number of years a person paid into the system.

Mr Fillon said his government has already made concessions but would not back down on the two most contentious changes. President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday that the reform would pass despite the strikes.

All 12 of France’s oil refineries remained closed because of strike action and many fuel depots were blocked by pickets. About 1,500 petrol stations on the forecourts of French supermarkets ran out of fuel, according to their industry association. Taking into account all other petrol stations, over 2,600 had run dry.

UPDATE

Violent French Protests Show Why A New Debt Crisis Is Inevitable

H/T Insty

Osama bin Laden “living well”


A top NATO official reckons he’s doing just fine in house in northwest Pakistan, protected by locals and some elements of the Pakistani intelligence service. The same goes for #2, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Pakistan, unsurprisingly, denies this.

Osama bin Laden is alive and well and living comfortably in a house in the north-west of Pakistan protected by local people and elements of the country’s intelligence services, according to a senior Nato official.

The latest assessment contradicts the belief that the al-Qaeda leader is roughing it in underground bunkers as he dodged CIA drones hunting him from the air.

“Nobody in al-Qaeda is living in a cave,” according to an unnamed Nato official quoted by CNN.

And further down in the report…

Earlier this month a leaked White House report accused its ally Pakistan of playing a double game by avoiding “military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al-Qaeda forces in North Waziristan”.

Well isn’t that just great.

UPDATE

More news about our “friends” at the ISI:

Pakistan’s powerful intelligence services were heavily involved in preparations for the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008, according to classified Indian government documents obtained by the Guardian.

A 109-page report into the interrogation of key suspect David Headley, a Pakistani-American militant arrested last year and detained in the US, makes detailed claims of ISI support for the bombings.

Under questioning, Headley described dozens of meetings between officers of the main Pakistani military intelligence service, the ISI, and senior militants from the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

He claims a key motivation for the ISI in aiding the attacks was to bolster militant organisations with strong links to the Pakistani state and security establishment who were being marginalised by more extreme radical groups.

Traffic lights


Do we really need so many?

Tizona’s thefrollockingmole draws attention to the case against such lights.

That said, not all drivers are such reserved, polite, responsible English drivers…

Check out all the crashes below!

No doubt, they’ll still keep the mobile, fixed and timed speed cameras, as well as the red light cameras, up and running in Australia, though.

H/T + H/T + H/T

Democrats on the ropes


Ten articles here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

When the leader of the free world starts using Star Wars references, you know he’s running out of ideas.

H/T Drudge

It’s not just the economy, however. How about the wars? Healthcare? Hope and change? Chicago politics?

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