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The new Tower of Babel

I heard once that the theory is, that the famed ancient city of babel was located in Iraq on the Euphrates.  It doesn’t really matter if that’s right at all though.  It doesn’t even matter if the Euphrates doesn’t go through Iraq.  Both of those are true, BTW, I don’t just make shit up and post it here.  Actually, I do just make shit up and post it here, but I at least don’t say that it’s truth when I do.  I don’t think.  Regardless, below is a picture of the Burj Dubai, the newest addition to the most expensive, decadent city in the world, Dubai.  Next to it is a rendition of the fabled Tower of Babel.   Before the images though, I’ll let you in on something.  Burj means tower.  The Tower of Babel was Burj Babel.  There’s a bit of a coincidence going on here.

What does this mean for Dubai?  Well, Babylon no longer exists.  I’ll leave you with that.

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Picture depicting why being fat is bad

I stumbled across this image yesterday, and I had to share it with the world (or the 2 people who read this article, whichever the number ends up being).  Below are two images cropped together, one of a woman of normal body weight, the other a rather obese woman.  The difference is pretty self explanatory.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the overweight woman had emphysema like symptoms with her lungs being compacted like that.

Original URL:

Original URL:

This brings me back to my previous post on obesity and healthcare. Check out “The cost of America’s Obesity (and what to do about it)“.

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Suggestions for Windows 8

I stumbled across an article making suggestions for Microsoft for Windows 8 (here’s the link), and thought it was a worth-while list to share.  I have one suggestion to add though: optimize Windows, just like Apple just did.  Yes fan-boys will say “oh, look at Microsoft, copying Apple”, but so what?  An optimized Windows would be a thing to recon with.

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Who knew a new transmission could be so cool?

The transmission in your car is a complicated beast.  Your average transmission has 5 gears, and weighs about as much as you do.  It also accounts on average for about a 20% reduction in the amount of power sent from your engine to your wheels.  Part of this is simply the nature of anything mechanical; it takes power to turn the gears, so you’re never going to get all of it to the rubber.  But you can reduce this ratio.  A couple of  weeks ago, I talked a little bit about Nissan’s CVT’s.  They’re pretty great.  Now I’m going to tell you about something that’ll get put into a few more cars.

There’s a transmission manufacturer in Germany called ZF, and they make lots of transmissions.  They’re transmissions are in possibly every class of car on the road today.  And they’ve decided that they are going to make possibly one of the best transmissions ever designed to date, which they have.  The transmission is simply called the ZF-8 right now, and as you might guess, the 8 is for 8 gears.  Or more precisely, 8 gear ratios.


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Recycling Breakthrough

Recycling has been in widespread use since the 70′s.  The first recycling plant in the United States, and according to Wikipedia, the world, was in Woodbury, New Jersey, and opened its doors in the early 70′s.  This started with aluminum cans, as aluminum recycling uses 5% the energy as processing Bauxite to strip those pesky oxygen molecules off of the aluminum.  But this was eventually expanded to glass, plastic, and paper, as everyone knows.

But paper is a pesky little guy in the recycling world.  There’s debate as to how green it really is.  You see, recycling paper uses a staggering amount of water.  To be specific, a recycling plant can commonly use 100,000 gallons of water a day (378 cubic meters for those of you using a real system of measures), which yearly is enough water to raise (or lower in this case) the water level of Lake Ontario a quarter an inch, and that’s per plant.    Now, this isn’t really that bad, because it takes thousands of gallons of water to process freshly cut trees into paper as well.

But that’s all about to change.  A company called ECO2 has come up with a way to bring the amount of water used in the process to near 0.  How can they do this?  Well, they’ve developed a corn based liquid solvent that does what most of the water was used for: removing food and chemicals (think ink) from the paper.  And guess what else?  The corn solvent is biodegradable.  Because it’s corn.  And you know what else?  According to ECO2, using their solvent can cut some paper recycling plants costs by up to 1/3, because of how much cheaper the solvent is than the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.

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Recycling excess data center heat

I saw a post on Slashdot today about recycling datacenter heat, and thought I’d share my two cents.  You can read the article it links to for an idea of how the planned implementation will work, but I just want to say I think it’s stupid, and that there’s a much better way to do it.  That is very simple.  And cheap.

Step 1: attach pipe to roof.  Step 2: put turbine in pipe near top.  Step 3: open roof under pipe into datacenter.

To make that a little more clear though, as that probably sounds like a 3 step method a 5 year old came up with, the idea is to use convection currents to generate power.  If the pathway upwards tapers as it goes up, the upward motion of the heat as it tries to cool will cause it to move fast (faster than it normally would at least), which would make it so that the turbine could spin, thus creating eee-lec-tricity.  To make it even more efficient, you might point some solar reflectors at the base and add a cowell over it to direct heat, wait for it, up the tube toward the turbine.

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Food Stamps

Food stamps are one of those things that in my mind, everyone knows about, but don’t seem to actually exist.  Until I saw this article on the New York Times’ website.  Frankly, I was a bit shocked.  Looking around at all the data, it appears that at least 1/3 of the country’s children are provided food though food stamps, and probably about 1/4 of adults.  Why is that?  I had no idea that that many people ate thanks to taxpayer money.  Is it because that many people don’t have full time jobs?  I don’t think that accounts for all of it.  Is it because of pay?  Perhaps minimum wage isn’t as high as it really needs to be.

And what do you do about it?  Well, if it’s a jobs issue, I can’t think of what might need to be done.  I might be rather bright, but I can’t flip my hat upside down and pull out jobs for millions of people.  If it’s minimum wage, I don’t really have an answer either.  I feel that if you raise the minimum wage, that’s just a temporary fix while the economy adjusts.  The only thing I can remotely think of is some sort of jobs program that isn’t run by the government.  My exposure to government job programs in this day and age (mostly third hand), is that the government’s programs at least, are not very effective.  Maybe it’s because of the bureaucracy, I don’t know.  There’s thousands of charitable organizations, from churches to national organizations; maybe this is a job that they should start.  Or maybe this is a new sort of for-profit company, a dare I say socialist organization, possibly a social-capitalism entity.

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The cost of America’s Obesity (and what to do about it)

It’s no shocker that America, as a whole, is kind-a fat.  The current obesity rate is just under 1/3 of the population, and it isn’t going down.  For more of the data, check out the article over at Executive Health Magazine.  The gist of the article though, is it’s expected that in just 9 years, obesity related medical treatments will cost a staggering (yes, I used the word pundits use) $344 Billion (that’s with a B) every year, because an extra 10% of U.S. citizens waistlines will be considered obese.  And this isn’t because some government agency is out to make us all seem fat and thin up, that’s by current standards.


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A promise to ease traffic, and why it won’t work

NPR has an article with a nice flash based widget detailing a new traffic pattern in Missouri where Missouri 13 meets Interstate 44.  The new pattern is called a ‘Diverging Diamond‘, and the goal of the whole deal is to make it easier for cars to transfer from one road to the other, without causing a traffic stirr. At first, I thought it was great.  It’s different!  And, you don’t have to wait for the turning traffic to finish at the light before it turns and lets you go straight (or vise-versa).


Posted in Cars.

Hyundai: The new engine powerhouse

It used to be, that if you wanted the most efficient, powerful engine, you’d go to Honda.  How was this?  Well, one of the bigger things was their invention of variable valve timing.  Before that?  Well, probably the General, GM.  Who is it now though?  It’s become Hyundai, that wacky Korean car manufacturer, who also makes the not so awesome in one’s opinion Kia’s.

But how is it that little Hyundai is beating all the big boys?  Why, with it’s direct injection tech.  A lot of other manufacturers are hopping on this band wagon as well, but Hyundai seems to have figure out a way to edge up above the rest, at least with how they engineered it into the new Sonata.  All in all though, it seems like Hyundai is really starting to become a big deal.

Thanks to TTAC.

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