Nissan Wins Bid for New York's Iconic Yellow Cabs

1:17:52 PM, Wednesday, May 04, 2011

"Japan's Nissan Motor Co Ltd won a 10-year contract to build the next generation of New York's iconic yellow taxis, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Tuesday.

Nissan beat Turkish manufacturer Karsan Otomotiv and U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co for a deal city officials estimated at around $1 billion.

Nissan's design will be based on its NV200 minivan model.

"It's going to be the safest, most comfortable, and most convenient cab the City has ever had," Bloomberg said.

"We started this process to leverage our taxi industry's purchasing power to get the highest quality taxi," he noted. "The new taxis will be custom-designed to meet the specific demands of carrying 600,000 passengers a day."

On a conference call, Nissan officials said they expected to provide up to 26,000 taxi cabs over the lifetime of the contract starting in 2013, with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of about $29,000.

"It's very important for Nissan," said Carlos Tavares, Nissan's chairman in the Americas. "We deserve a better presence (in the United States) than we have today despite progress in recent years."

Officials at Nissan, which also provides taxis for Tokyo and Mexico City, said they also expected a marketing boost for the brand from television and film exposure.

The city's world famous yellow cabs feature in just about every feature film or television series based in New York. They were even the basis for the award-winning series "Taxi" that ran from 1978 to 1983, whose cast included Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd..."

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Tropical Peat Forests in Trouble

7:15:58 PM, Tuesday, May 03, 2011

"Southeast Asia boasts nearly 250,000 square kilometers of peat swamp forests, which host creatures such as orangutans and the world's smallest fish, and store vast quantities of carbon. But these peat swamps are in trouble, according to a new study of deforestation in the region. If people continue to chop, drain, and burn at current rates, researchers report, by 2030 no native swamps will remain and billions of metric tons of carbon will be lofted into the atmosphere.

Almost all peatland in Southeast Asia is found in peninsular Malaysia and an archipelago of islands that includes Borneo and Sumatra. Rain trickles down mountains and through forests there, ultimately ending up in low-laying lands that can't quickly drain. Plant matter can't fully decay and turns into a peaty, acidic stew, trapping carbon and forming a unique environment for wildlife. Although Southeast Asian swamps comprise between 6% and 7% of global peatland, they store roughly 64 billion metric tons of carbon—about nine times the global emissions from fossil fuel combustion in 2006.

Globalization eventually reached Southeast Asia in the 1980s, driving farmers to fell peat forest trees for cash and replace the swamps with palm oil plantations. Earth-monitoring satellites have visually documented such destruction for decades, but researchers had never precisely quantified the loss for the region over a long period of time. Sorting out which pixels in the images belonged to swamps, palm oil plantations, urban areas, and the like is also difficult work that's impossible without well-tuned algorithms. So for 5 years, lead author and ecologist Jukka Miettinen and his colleagues at the National University of Singapore studied maps and developed methods to codify the images. They also incorporated infrared images to gauge the effect of human-set fires in the region..."

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Obama's Silence on Boeing Is Unacceptable

3:01:14 PM, Tuesday, May 03, 2011

"The president's appointees have moved to block the company from building planes in my state. He owes us an explanation.

In October 2009, Boeing, long one of the best corporations in America, made an announcement that changed the economic outlook of South Carolina forever: The company's second line of 787 Dreamliners would be produced in North Charleston.

In choosing to manufacture in my state, Boeing was exercising its right as a free enterprise in a free nation to conduct business wherever it believed would best serve both the bottom line and the employees of its company. This is not a novel or complicated idea. It's called capitalism.

Boeing has since poured billions of dollars into a new, state-of-the art facility in South Carolina's picturesque Low Country along the Atlantic coast. It has created thousands of good jobs and joined the long tradition of distinguished and employee-friendly corporations that have found a home, and a partner, in the Palmetto State.

This a win-win for South Carolina, for Boeing, and for the global clients who will see Dreamliners rolling off the North Charleston line at the rate of 10 a month, starting with the first one next year. But, as is often the case, a win for people and businesses is a loss for the labor unions, which rely on coercion, bullying and undue political influence to stay afloat.

South Carolina is a right-to-work state, and we're proud that within our borders workers cannot be required to join a labor union as a condition of employment. We don't need unions playing middlemen between our companies and our employees. We don't want them forcefully inserted into our promising business climate. And we will not stand for them intimidating South Carolinians.

That is apparently too much for President Obama and his union-beholden appointees at the National Labor Relations Board, who have asked the courts to intervene and force Boeing to stop production in South Carolina. The NLRB wants Boeing to produce the planes only in Washington state, where its workers must belong to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers..."

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Forget Straws: Hummingbirds Sip With Forks

12:36:13 PM, Tuesday, May 03, 2011
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Jersey Shore Gone Oscar Wilde

12:04:34 AM, Tuesday, May 03, 2011

YES!!! I don't watch Jersey Shore, but this is amazing. Santino Fontana and David Furr, two actors on Broadway’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” star in these short videos from Playbill.com and re-enact lines and scenes from MTV’s Jersey Shore. [via]

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If Schrödinger Cats All Die, Do The Alive Ones Go To Hell?

11:31:35 PM, Monday, May 02, 2011

"Schrödinger’s cat is in a quantum superposition of two states, namely |Dead> and |Alive>. If we open the box and find the cat dead, where is the living one? You all know the answer: In the ‘parallel universe’ where I pull the cat out alive. Let me add a twist that only a true cat hater can come up with.

In short, I will use quantum interaction to let the probability of observing a dead cat go to 100% without destroying the alive state. I pull only dead cats out and the alive ones have no parallel universes where I take them out of the box, thus they have nowhere to go when the box automatically opens, except for jumping straight into hell. Muahahahaha!!! Well, actually they won’t, but I will ask you to provide the correct answer for where they go: A new didactic challenge! (BTW: Has anybody ever suggested this scenario before? If so, please let me know.)

A mechanism inside of my box will kill everything inside of the box with a 10% probability at the one minute mark. After three minutes, the box automatically opens. Hence, after three minutes, in nine out of ten cases, I could see a healthy cat jumping out of the box. But cats are dirty and stink, as is widely acknowledged in the research literature, so at the two minute point, I do something a little different..."

-- "When I hear about Schrödinger's cat, I reach for my gun." — Stephen Hawking in a conversation with Timothy Ferris (4 April 1983)

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Bearbackin' - Photo by Marcus J Ranum

11:08:06 PM, Monday, May 02, 2011

-- UM... NSFW!?! Hahaha...

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T.I. - What You Know

11:00:05 PM, Monday, May 02, 2011
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Man Discovers a New Life-Form at a South African Truck Stop

10:22:59 PM, Monday, May 02, 2011

"Like many biologists, the German biologist Oliver Zompro spends thousands of hours looking at specimens of dead animals. He found his first new species when he was twenty. By the age of thirty he had named dozens of wild new forms. While other people around him did crossword puzzles and drank lattes, he explored the world, one animal at a time.

Then, one day, things changed. He was looking through specimens when he found something more interesting than anything he had ever seen before. It was a fossil that looked like a cross between two different kinds of animals. It had the wrong mix of parts. It was--he would come to convince himself--a single individual of an entirely new order of beasts.

An order is one of the big categories of life, a big branch on evolution's tree. Animal species are named every day, but finding another new order would be equivalent to discovering bats having not previously known they existed. Bats constitute their own order, as do primates, beetles, flies and rodents.

It is easy to imagine that we have found all of them, living and dead. Yet the grass had parted for Zompro and revealed his treasure. He was not the first person to see it, but he was the first to recognize its significance and, he hoped, to give it a name.

But before Zompro went public with his find, he craved more specimens. He had found one specimen that other scientists had overlooked. It was at least theoretically possible that he might find others. And so he began to search, with zeal. First, he visited the Natural History Museum in London. It is filled with dead animals and so a good place to begin..."

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Warm Coat by Bobby McLeod - Tiger Sleeping Under a Cover of Snow

8:01:51 PM, Monday, May 02, 2011
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Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Photos, April 29 2011

7:47:49 PM, Monday, May 02, 2011

"In this April 28, 2011 image from video footage released Friday, April 29, 2011 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), top parts of fuel rods are seen about 6 meters (20 feet) from the surface of water in the spent fuel storage pool at the damaged Unit 4 reactor building at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. This is the first time an underwater image of the storage pool was released by TEPCO after the complex was ravaged byt the March tsunami. (Tokyo Electric Power Co. )"

-- Some more recent photos to go along with the previous ones I've posted for a quick update on this, since the rest of the world seems to have forgotten. What happened to all the panic!? *facepalm* Follow the links for the rest.

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Lupe Fiasco - Words I Never Said ft. Skylar Grey

3:59:27 PM, Monday, May 02, 2011

-- Politically charged music clip for Lupe Fiasco. Love it.

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Osama bin Laden Dead

2:54:52 PM, Monday, May 02, 2011

-- As if you haven't heard by now, even if you did manage to miss the 11PM show last night, but I thought I should address it anyway in light of the often foreign policy and other war related news I post here. It would be odd if I left this out. However this is a symbolic victory more than anything. Did it bring a sense of closure to many people? Yes. But, celebrating the death of a human being, no matter how terrible, is troublesome to me. Even an execution should never be cause for celebration. I'm not saying he did not deserve to die, or that there should not be a sense of accomplishment and justice served, or even the humor and jokes at his expense and the time it took for this to happen, but I was not happy with many of the reactions I saw. It is not like the war in Afghanistan and Iraq will just magically end now. Afghanistan hasn’t been about him for a long, long time now, it never really was. However maybe we’ll stop bombing Pakistan? Not likely either. It is doubtful that Al Qaeda will be affected by this at all. It’s been years since they have been a centralized organization and bin Laden has been more of a symbol than a leader for a long time now. If the last videos that he supposedly released are to be believed he was practically begging for money and followers to support his “cause”. He’s definitely has not been the priority of the US government, so the 11PM announcement on a Sunday night is more of an election year theatrics than anything. If he really was a top priority target it would not have taken 10 years to take him out. I just typed this all up in one sitting now, so if I left something out, or said something you don’t agree with please let me hear from you. Also, why does he get a proper burial at sea within 24 hours while the whole world watched Saddam hang?...

All that being said I leave you with these two clips and a photo to sum my reaction to the announcement since I watched it last night. Though I'll leave out the hilariousness and photoshops that are flaoting around the intrawebz.

Photo: Michael Appleton for The New York Times
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Libyans Burn UK, Italy Missions After NATO Strike Kills Gadhafi's Son and Three Grandchildren

9:02:51 PM, Sunday, May 01, 2011

"TRIPOLI, Libya – Angry mobs attacked Western embassies and a U.N. office in Tripoli Sunday after NATO bombed Moammar Gadhafi's family compound in an attack officials said killed the leader's second youngest son and three grandchildren, ages six months to two years.

Russia said the Western alliance exceeded its U.N. mandate of protecting Libyan civilians with the strike.

The vandalized embassies were empty and nobody was reported injured, but the attacks heightened tensions between the Libyan regime and Western powers, prompting the United Nations to pull its international staff out of the capital.

The bombing did not slow the attacks by Gadhafi's forces on rebel strongholds in the western part of Libya that has remained largely under the control of the regime. The rebel port of Misrata, which has been besieged by Gadhafi's troops for two months, came under heavy shelling Sunday and at least 12 people were killed, a medic said.

Gadhafi has repeatedly called for a cease-fire, most recently on Saturday, but has not halted his assault on Misrata, a city of 300,000 where hundreds have been killed since the rebellion against Libya's ruler erupted in mid-February.

The rebels, who control most of eastern Libya, have been unable to gain an advantage on the battlefield despite weeks of NATO airstrikes. Alliance officials and allied leaders emphatically denied they were hunting Gadhafi to break the stalemate between the better trained government forces and the lightly armed rebels.

Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, who commands NATO's operation in Libya, said that "we do not target individuals." However, the leaders of the U.S., Britain and France have said Gadhafi must go, prompting warnings by U.N. Security Council members Russia, China and Brazil against NATO attempts to change the regime..."

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How Badoo Built a Billion-Pound Social Network... On Sex

7:07:09 PM, Sunday, May 01, 2011

"It's a 120-million-member social network that's adding over 300,000 users a day, with more than 4.3 million daily photo and video uploads, and seven billion monthly page views. It has Facebook's fastest-growing app, with 570,000 new daily users, making it the third-biggest app of all after FarmVille and CityVille. Hugely profitable, it's forecast to generate hundreds of millions of dollars this year, and is being aggressively courted by venture-capital firms valuing it in the billions. And it's run from London by a secretive Russian serial entrepreneur who has steadfastly refused to be interviewed or photographed. Until now.

Badoo is the world's largest social network that you probably haven't yet heard of. Run from 800-square-metre loft-style offices in Soho, it is brilliantly effective at providing one simple and universally compelling service: hooking up members according to their profile pictures and location. "Chat, flirt, socialise and have fun!," implores the home page, alongside photos of prospective friends such as Terri, 21 ("Wants a candlelit dinner"), and Christopher, 25 ("Wants wake up with a girl" [sic]). Sign in, and a message declares that "204,516 girls [or guys] near you are looking to meet a guy your age!". Explain your intentions (the pull-down menu's suggestions include "to talk about sex", "to get a massage", "to flirt") and Tatyana, Oshrit or Gary might just give you access to their stash of private photos.

Still barely registering in Britain or the US, the free-to-use network -- on the web and via smartphones -- is a mass phenomenon in Brazil (14.1 million members), Mexico (nine million), France (8.2 million), Spain (6.5 million) and Italy (six million). Relying on word-of-mouth rather than any marketing spend, it has cracked the internet's eternal conundrum: how to persuade users to pay hard cash in a world drowning in free digital services and content, by charging members each time they want to boost their visibility to others searching for a date.

A year after Badoo's 2006 launch, when it had 12 million members, Russia's Finam Technology Fund bought a ten per cent stake for $30 million, valuing it at $300 million (this year Finam will realise an option for a further ten per cent at a higher valuation). Today, A-list investors such as Sequoia and Accel are courting the business and there is talk of an initial public share offering. "Cracking the Anglo-Saxon market will probably give us double to triple today's reach," says Bart Swanson, recruited as CEO last September, having expanded Amazon into Europe and run EMI in France. "The opportunity for people discovery [through Badoo] is a horrendously large market -- it's a confluence of social, proximity, mobile, and it's extremely local. The basic mechanism of what Andrey has developed is genius -- just like Google with its AdWords, it's people paying for self-promotion. And it works...""

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