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Education

The Rise and Rise of the Cognitive Elite 671

hessian writes "As technology advances, the rewards to cleverness increase. Computers have hugely increased the availability of information, raising the demand for those sharp enough to make sense of it. In 1991 the average wage for a male American worker with a bachelor's degree was 2.5 times that of a high-school drop-out; now the ratio is 3. Cognitive skills are at a premium, and they are unevenly distributed."
Transportation

How Chrysler's Battery-Less Hybrid Minivan Works 347

thecarchik writes "Chrysler announced Wednesday that it would partner with the US Environmental Protection Agency to build and test prototypes of a different kind of hybrid vehicle, one that accumulates energy not in a battery pack but by compressing a gas hydraulically. The system in question, originally developed at the EPA labs, uses engine overrun torque to capture otherwise wasted energy, as do conventional hybrid-electric vehicles. The engine is Chrysler's standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder, the base engine in its minivan line. But rather than turning a generator, that torque powers a pump that uses hydraulic fluid to increase the pressure inside a 14.4-gallon tank of nitrogen gas, known as a high-pressure accumulator."
Businesses

IRS Nails CPA For Copying Steve Jobs, Google Execs 509

theodp writes "It seems $1 salaries are only for super-wealthy tech execs. The WSJ reports that CPA David Watson incurred the wrath of the IRS by only paying himself $24,000 a year and declaring the rest of his take profit. It's a common tax-cutting maneuver that most computer consultants working through an S Corporation have probably considered. Unlike profit distributions, all salary is subject to a 2.9% Medicare tax and the first $106,800 is subject to a 12.4% Social Security tax (FICA). By reducing his salary, Watson didn't save any income taxes on the $379k in profit distributions he received in 2002 and 2003, but he did save nearly $20,000 in payroll taxes for the two years, the IRS argued, pegging Watson's true pay at $91,044 for each year. Judge Robert W. Pratt agreed that Watson's salary was too low, ruling that the CPA owed the extra tax plus interest and penalties. So why, you ask, don't members of the much-ballyhooed $1 Executive club like Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt get in hot water for their low-ball salaries? After all, how inequitable would it be if billionaires working full-time didn't have to kick in more than 15 cents into the Medicare and Social Security kitty? Sorry kids, the rich are different, and the New Global Elite have much better tax advisors than you!"
Sci-Fi

Ridley Scott Abandons Alien Prequel 170

An anonymous reader writes "With Ridley Scott and 20th Century Fox announcing that the much-vaunted 3D Alien prequel has now mutated into an original SF film project called Prometheus, starring Noomi Rapace, the author of this article recalls his 2007 interview with the late Dan O'Bannon, who presumably is happy about the news, wherever he is. Asked what he'd like to see happen to the xenomorph franchise, the Alien co-creator said: 'I'd like to see it stop. A horror movie's a fragile thing, and once you've gotten past the original, it isn't scary anymore. So you do a bunch of sequels to a horror movie, all they do is drain any remaining impact out of the original...it's not as effective as it would have been if you had just left it alone.'"
Image

Research Suggests E-Readers Are "Too Easy" To Read Screenshot-sm 185

New research suggests that the clear screens and easily read fonts of e-readers makes your brain "lazy." According to Neuroscience blogger Jonah Lehrer, using electronic books like the Kindle and Sony Reader makes you less likely to remember what you have read because the devices are so easy on the eyes. From the article: "Rather than making things clearer, e-readers and computers prevent us from absorbing information because their crisp screens and fonts tell our subconscious that the words they convey are not important, it is claimed. In contrast, handwriting and fonts that are more challenging to read signal to the brain that the content of the message is important and worth remembering, experts say."
Medicine

Autism-Vax Doc Scandal Was Pharma Business Scam 541

Sockatume writes "In his second report, Brian Deer exposes how MMR-autism prophet Andrew Wakefield aimed to profit from the vaccine scare. Two years before the research that 'discovered' the MMR-autism link, Wakefield began courting interest in a hundred-million-dollar diagnostics firm. The doctor hoped to seed the company with government legal aid money and profit by charging 'premium prices' for new diagnostic tests to be used in vaccine injury lawsuits. By the time Wakefield published, the proposals had expanded into producing new 'safe' vaccines, two businesses to gather legal aid funding, and interest from partners including Wakefield's own hospital. The scheme ultimately disintegrated with the arrival of new leadership at Wakefield's hospital and ongoing scrutiny into his research."
Crime

Unwise — Search History of Murder Methods 532

nonprofiteer writes "Mark Jensen's home computer revealed Internet searches for botulism, poisoning, pipe bombs and mercury fulminate. A website was visited that explained how to reverse the polarity of a swimming pool — the Jensens had a pool — by switching the wires around, likening the result to the 4th of July. The State pointed out the absence of Internet searches on topics like separation, divorce, child custody or marital property. Julie Jensen died as a result of ethylene glycol in her system, an ingredient found in antifreeze. On the morning of her death, someone attempted to 'double-delete' (apparently unsuccessfully) the computer's browsing history, which included a search for 'ethylene glycol poisoning.'" What if searches for devious, undetectable methods of murder were in everyone's history?
The Internet

Rushkoff Proposes We Fork the Internet 487

Shareable writes "Douglas Rushkoff: 'The moment the "net neutrality" debate began was the moment the net neutrality debate was lost. For once the fate of a network — its fairness, its rule set, its capacity for social or economic reformation — is in the hands of policymakers and the corporations funding them — that network loses its power to effect change. The mere fact that lawmakers and lobbyists now control the future of the net should be enough to turn us elsewhere.' And he goes on to suggest citizens fork the Internet & makes a call for ideas how to do that."
Businesses

Chinese Intellectual Property Acquisition Tactics Exposed 398

hackingbear writes "In an interview published in Sina.com.cn, Chinese rail engineers gave a detailed account of the history, motivation, and technologies behind the Chinese high-speed rail system. More interestingly, they blatantly revealed the strategies and tactics used in acquiring high-speed rail tech from foreign companies (Google translation of Chinese original). At the beginning, China developed its own high-speed rail system known as the Chinese Star, which achieved a test speed of 320km/h; but the system was not considered reliable or stable enough for operation. So China decided to import the technologies. The leaders instructed, 'The goal of the project is to boost our economy, not theirs.' A key strategy employed is divide-and-conquer: by dividing up the technologies of the system and importing multiple different technologies across different companies, it ensures no single country or company has total control. 'What we do is to exchange market for technologies. The negotiation was led by the Ministry of Railway [against industry alliances of the exporting countries]. This uniform executive power gave China huge advantage in negotiations,' said Wu Junrong, 'If we don't give in, they have no choice. They all want a piece of our huge high speed rail project.' For example, [Chinese locomotive train] CRH2 is based on Japanese tech, CRH3 on German tech, and CRH5 on French tech, all retrofit for Chinese rail standards. Another strategy is buy-to-build. The first three trains were imported as a whole; the second three were assembled with imported parts; subsequent trains contain more and more Chinese made parts."
Security

Security Researcher Finds Hundreds of Browser Bugs 145

An anonymous reader writes "PC Magazine reports on a very understated late night post to the full-disclosure mailing list, in which security researcher Michael Zalewski shared a fuzzing tool reportedly capable of identifying over a hundred browser bugs. Some of these bugs, he says, may be already known to third parties in China. The report also includes an account of how browser vendors fared fixing these flaws so far. Not surprisingly, Microsoft's response timeline appears depressing."
Democrats

Democrats Crowdsourcing To Vote Palin In Primaries 1128

SharpieMarker writes "In what could be the most extreme and influential crowdsourcing project ever, Democrats are beginning to organize to purposely vote for Palin in the 2012 Republican primaries. Their theory is by having Palin as an opponent, Obama will have the best odds at winning reelection. Recent polls have shown that Obama comfortably leads Palin by 10-20 points, but Obama is statistically tied with Romney and barely ahead of Huckabee. They even have a state-by-state primary voting guide to help Democrats navigate various states' rules for voting Palin in Republican primaries."
Government

Wikileaks and Democracy In Zimbabwe 669

OCatenac writes "The Atlantic has an interesting story on the collateral damage of exposing diplomatic communications in Zimbabwe. From the article: 'The reaction in Zimbabwe was swift. Zimbabwe's Mugabe-appointed attorney general announced he was investigating the Prime Minister on treason charges based exclusively on the contents of the leaked cable. While it's unlikely Tsvangirai could be convicted on the contents of the cable alone, the political damage has already been done. The cable provides Mugabe the opportunity to portray Tsvangirai as an agent of foreign governments working against the people of Zimbabwe. Furthermore, it could provide Mugabe with the pretense to abandon the coalition government that allowed Tsvangirai to become prime minister in 2009.' Undoubtedly there are lots of things that our governments hide from us which should not be hidden but it's a shame that no one from Wikileaks could be troubled to consider the potential repercussions of this particular exposure."
Privacy

Mozilla Posts File Containing Registered User Data 154

wiredmikey writes "Mozilla yesterday sent an email to registered users of its addons.mozilla.org site, letting them know that it had mistakenly posted a file to a publicly available Web server which contained data from its user database including email addresses, first and last names, and an md5 hash representation of user passwords."
Google

Google Declines To Turn Over Harvested Wi-Fi Data 201

An anonymous reader writes "Google declined to submit data collected as part of the 'Spy-Fi' flap, and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is now promising further action: '"I certainly will be pressing for continued involvement at the federal level in coordination with the states," Blumenthal told Politico Monday, just days after promising to explore "additional enforcement actions" if Google does not share the data soon. Asked to describe what those federal efforts might include, the outgoing attorney general said, "There's a range of potential opportunities for oversight and scrutiny by a member of the US Congress – including letters, meetings, hearings, and potentially even legislation." For its part, Google has tried to defuse the issue by offering to delete the data. The company reaffirmed that position in a Friday statement, promising to work with Blumenthal in the coming weeks, but declined to comment further on Monday.'"
Google

Gmail Creator Says Chrome OS Is As Good As Dead 349

An anonymous reader writes "Former Google employee, Gmail creator, and FriendFeed founder Paul Buchheit has come right out and said what many people are thinking (or hoping for). On his FriendFeed page, Buchheit made a post titled 'Prediction: ChromeOS will be killed next year (or "merged" with Android).' In it, he bluntly says that Google's netbook-centric Chrome OS is as good as dead. 'Yeah, I was thinking, "is this too obvious to even state?", but then I see people taking ChromeOS seriously, and Google is even shipping devices for some reason,' Buchheit writes. 'Because ChromeOS has no purpose that isn't better served by Android (perhaps with a few mods to support a non-touch display).'"

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