peas_n_carrots writes: Following Statfor's security breach, they are offering most of their articles gratis (for now). This is an interesting analysis of the US's position of power due to its geographical location and makeup.
FTA- "The American geography is an impressive one. The Greater Mississippi Basin together with the Intracoastal Waterway has more kilometers of navigable internal waterways than the rest of the world combined. The American Midwest is both overlaid by this waterway and is the world's largest contiguous piece of farmland. The U.S. Atlantic Coast possesses more major ports than the rest of the Western Hemisphere combined. Two vast oceans insulated the United States from Asian and European powers, deserts separate the United States from Mexico to the south, while lakes and forests separate the population centers in Canada from those in the United States. The United States has capital, food surpluses and physical insulation in excess of every other country in the world by an exceedingly large margin. So like the Turks, the Americans are not important because of who they are, but because of where they live."
peas_n_carrots writes: Alot of attention has been placed on offshore domestic drilling lately. Proponents claim that it would have a psychological effect on the market to reduce prices. Another common claim is that if we'd started this 10 years ago, we'd have oil from those wells by now. A "friend" who claims to be an intellectual but consistently plays partisan politics in favor of Republicans holds firmly in that belief. He claims that a New Zealand company can drill an offshore well in less than a year, and that it's only environmental legislation blocking such rapid drilling. He also believes that oil shale is the answer, but it seems like a desperation ploy because oil shale is expensive to process and extremely polluting.
On the other side, I've read articles on Greenpeace and Sierra Club which quote that the US has a mere 3% of the world's oil reserves. If that oil hits full production, estimates are that it would reduce the price of gas by 4 cents per gallon. To me it seems obvious that offshore drilling is at best a wash due to the environmental impact. A single oil spill could be extremely costly from direct and indirect cleanup costs.
Which estimates are the most accurate? How does one convince someone who's already made up their mind whether expanding offshore drilling is appropriate?
peas_n_carrots writes: I came across the website http://www.veromi.net/ which provides publicly searchable data on businesses. The information returned include the officers of the company, which seems reasonable. However, the insidious part is that they list the names of ALL of my immediate relatives under my information link. None of my relatives were ever involved in the business, plus the business is no longer in operation. This seems like a serious intrusion of privacy. Their contact email on the web page (email@example.com) bounced back with a 550 error. Maybe they've gotten too many complaints through email?:) Their help page http://www.veromi.net/Help , complete with broken links, says that blocking of information must be requested via postal mail:
"We value your privacy and, upon request, can block your records from being shown in many, but not all, of our search results. To do so, you should contact us by writing a letter giving us your:
1. First name
2. Last name
3. Middle initial
4. Aliases and A.K.A.'s
5. Complete current address
6. Complete former addresses going back 20 years
7. Date of Birth — including month, day, and year
It is also very helpful to include a print out of the records that you wish to have suppressed.
Send this letter to:
1821 Q Street
Sacramento, CA 95814"
The last 20 years of addresses is absurd. Veromi seems like a shady operation, and I don't want to give them my current address for fear of receiving more junk mail. Any suggestions on how to get them to change their devious ways?
peas_n_carrots writes: Just received an email from Yahoo! about their music store closing. Below is the text of the email (bolding added for emphasis):
The Yahoo! Music Store Will Be Closing; Important
Information About Backing Up Your Music Files
The Yahoo! Music Store, along with the ability to purchase and download single
songs and albums, will no longer be available as of September 30, 2008.
Songs and albums that were purchased through the Yahoo! Music Unlimited Store are protected by a
digital rights management system that requires a valid license key before they
can be played on your computer.
After the Store closes, Yahoo! will no longer be able to support the retrieval
of license keys for music purchased from Yahoo! Music Unlimited, and Yahoo!
will no longer be able to authorize song playback on additional computers.
After September 30, 2008, you will not be able to transfer songs to unauthorized computers or re-license
these songs after changing operating systems. Please note that your purchased
tracks will generally continue to play on your existing authorized computers
unless there is a change to the computer's operating system.
For any user who purchased tracks through Yahoo! Music Unlimited, we highly
recommend that you back up the purchased tracks to an audio CD before the
closing of the Store September 30, 2008.
Backing up your music to an audio CD will allow you to copy the music back to
your computer again if the license keys for your original music files cannot be
Stay tuned! While the Yahoo! Music Unlimited Store will no longer be available,
Music has partnered with Rhapsody so you can still purchase your
favorite tracks. Plus, Yahoo! Music will continue to offer users a complete online
music experience with the largest collection of music videos, Internet radio,
exclusive artist features, music news, and more!
peas_n_carrots writes: Every year, the prolific trees and weeds in my yard produce mountains of cellulosic material. I put as much out for the weekly brush pickup as I can, but even 3 large trash cans a week isn't enough to keep up. When an older tree dies and is cut down, it leaves a whole lot of wood waste. It's not high-quality hardwood, but it burns well. I usually have a couple bonfires a year and cook marshmallows & yams.
I've always hoped there would be some way to reclaim the vast amount of heat energy released from burning the brush. It's essentially a carbon-neutral solar-powered energy source (plants absorb sunlight, breathe in CO2 and build fibrous structures). A Stirling engine seems like an ideal candidate, but there's no good source of consumer-grade models (500-2000W). All the ones I've found are either trinkets powered by body heat or coffee, or industrial grade ones made by the likes of WhisperGen (in New Zealand). I don't have the equipment to build a reliable, useful Stirling engine. My vision for a heat reclamation system looks something like a Stirling engine on top of a chiminea, which is very good at funneling heat up and out its stack. The engine would turn a generator and charge batteries and such.
Burning for home heating is only feasible during the winter. Much of the brush is not good for burning indoors either. I've thought of using it for heating water, but tying that into the water system would be complicated/costly. What other ideas does the resourceful Slashdot crowd have?