Apr 11, 2008

Subprime housing crisis hits McMansion country

It appears that the U.S. housing crisis has come to McMansion country.

Million-dollar fixer-upper for sale: five bedrooms, four baths, three-car garage, cavernous living room. Big holes above fireplace where flat-screen TV used to hang.

Just as the foreclosure crisis has hollowed out poorer neighborhoods, "for sale" signs are sprouting in upscale developments so new they don't show up on GPS navigation screens.

The crisis has hit especially hard here in Loudoun County, Virginia, where upscale developments have supplanted horse farms over the past fifteen years.

The county has also ranked as one of the nation's fastest growing in recent years as developers built thousands of super-sized, amenity-laden houses to keep pace with the booming high-tech economy.

Without lenders willing to deal in over assertive mortgages, large numbers of foreclosures would not be a problem -- especially McMansion foreclosures.

These houses are sometimes nicknamed "McMansions," disparaging both their extravagance and their look of mass production -- like hamburgers from a McDonald's restaurant.


Hillary’s glass house

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Apr 10, 2008

2 Chinese men arrested with infrared cameras at LAX

Two Chinese men were arrested as they attempting to board a plane to Beijing, China with nearly a dozen sensitive infrared cameras in their luggage.

The men had been in the United States for about a week.

Ten of the cameras, which measure about 2 inches square and cost about $5,000 each, were found in the men's checked luggage. It appeared they split the shipment up between them.

The cameras have both commercial and military uses but they are very expensive, highly sensitive. They're not something you could buy off the shelf.


Ford Fab 1 from the film Thunderbirds revisited

The DVD movie by Universal Pictures called Thunderbirds is based on the Thunderbirds TV series. I didn’t see any of the TV series episodes and I have not seen the DVD movie. However, after looking at the awesome methods of transportation on various web sites, it should be worth the cost of the DVD just to see the travel action.

One of the stars of the
movie Thunderbirds

What intrigued me most was the pink car with two sets of front wheels. Ford helped by providing design and technical support in the design of the car called FAB 1. It is more than a car. It can act as a boat on water and can also fly. Short wings “sprout” from the lower sides and the trunk lid slides back to reveal a jet engine.

More photos of FAB 1

The movie is set in the year 2010 hence the futuristic designs and capabilities of the transportation vehicles. FAB 1, the car/boat/aircraft, is surely one of the stars of the movie. This awesome pink vehicle is the personal transportation of London Agent, Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward played by Sophia Myles. The car will probably upstage the people using it in the movie.

Click here for more information.

Apr 9, 2008

No honor in their Honor Code

Students at the University of Texas at San Antonio wanted an honor code that discouraged cheating and plagiarizing.

Only one problem -- the wording in their honor code draft appears to exactly match another school's code — without proper attribution.

The student currently in charge of the honor code project said it was an oversight, but cheating experts say it illustrates a sloppiness among Internet-era students who don't know how to cite sources properly and think of their computers as cut-and-paste machines.

More of the story here.

Home made half size panzer tank shoots paintballs

A Kettering University student built a half-sized panzer tank powered by a diesel engine.

(click on picture to see video)

The tank is outfitted with a functional air cannon that shoots painballs.


Apr 6, 2008

This spy device is a digital “fly on the wall”

A digital intruder spy camera (upper picture) by Swann Communications has a Digital Private Eye™ video camera and time-lapse recorder with motion trigger.

The manufacturer says:

Position the camera at your front door or hallway, then simply plug in your SD Memory Card, power cable or 9V battery then watch the camera go to work! You can use up to a 1GB on your SD Memory Card, which takes up to 30,000 images.

This covert surveillance device is motion activation and can take pictures at set intervals.

Maxwell Smart, agent 86 (lower picture), would have given up his shoe-phone for this device in a heart-beat.


Little diversity in the university classroom

Students lack true diversity as public universities limit students' exposure to conservative ideas. The article at the link below refers to universities in Missouri. However, it also mirrors the situation found in many other universities in many other parts of the country.

Missouri universities, especially Missouri State and Drury, lack true diversity. Students are not exposed to diverse viewpoints because of a huge liberal bias.

Students are far more likely to be taught by liberal professors, read textbooks written by liberal authors and attend liberal guest lectures. Exposure to conservative views is limited to a handful of conservative professors, guest speakers and outside readings.