Jul 4, 2008

Jul 3, 2008

US national anthem replaced by ‘Black national anthem’ in Denver

The city of Denver is buzzing about the wrong anthem sung yesterday.

Mayor John Hickenlooper's annual State of the City address may get more attention for what wasn't included than what was.

Rene Marie was asked by Denver mayor John Hickenlooper to sing the national anthem.

Instead, the black singer performed "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," which is also known as the "black national anthem." The U.S. national anthem was never performed.

Denver has a weak mayor in Hickenlooper (pictured) and it showed yesterday in his reaction when his handpicked singer performed the wrong national anthem.

The mayor says he believes Marie did not intend to offend anyone or make a political statement.

When asked if he was offended, Hickenlooper said, "You know I was more confused and I think I was more – what I was, was disappointed and confused and that's why I wanted to talk to her."

Confusion is not new to the mayor of Denver.

Governor Bill Ritter, however, was not confused and called it “inappropriate.”

The Governor went on to say Marie's actions were "wrong" and "outside the bounds."


Dutch women dash for cash in stiletto heels

Young women who enter the dash for cash in Amsterdam must run in shoes with heels at least 3 1/2 inches high.

Like a herd of antelope, jockeying and shoving for position, 150 young women raced down Amsterdam's most famed fashion street in stiletto heels Thursday, racing for a $15,000 prize.

The race on the P.C. Hooft street called the "Stiletto Run" is only three years old but has quickly grown in popularity and spawned imitation races in Germany, Sweden, Poland and Russia.

Tamara Ruben, 25, from the town of Veenendaal, claimed first prize in the 380-yard race, running so smoothly you might think she was wearing sneakers.

Asked how she would spend the money, she said: "Anything but high heels."


Starbucks coffee giant to close 600 stores

Coffee giant Starbucks plans to close 500 stores in the U.S. during the next 12 months. The company is blaming the cutback on over-aggressive expansion rather than slowing consumer demand.

We wonder if four dollar gasoline may be driving people away from four dollar cups of Starbucks coffee.

The company says the store closures will result in the loss of about 12,000 jobs. That’s a lot of barista’s who will clicking on Monster.com looking for work.

Some people walk past a Starbucks next to their commuter train station in suburbia, walk past another in the downtown train station and two more on a four-block walk to the office building where they work. Their office building, by the way, also has a Starbucks in the lobby.

Now those same people may only have two or three chances to get a Frappuccino on their way to work.


Jul 2, 2008

MIT develops foldable stackable car

Massachusetts Institute of Technology is tackling urban gridlock with a foldable, stackable futuristic "City Car."

The vehicle hasn't yet been built. But a miniature mock-up version has gone on display at a campus museum, and there are plans to build a full-scale model this spring.


Airport screeners: no tips but they keep change

A report at the link below says that screeners at the nation's airport checkpoints don’t take tips but they’ll definitely keep the change.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has collected — and kept — more than $1 million in the past three years from airline passengers who forget coins at checkpoints.

Passengers must take change out of their pockets and drop it in plastic bins that go through X-ray machines, but tens of thousands of people each year forget to reclaim it.

The TSA has been keeping change since October 2004, when it lobbied Congress to amend federal law and let the agency use the money to defray security costs. Previously, money left at checkpoints went to a general fund in the federal treasury.

The cash leader: Los Angeles International Airport, where passengers left behind $89,375 from Sept. 30, 2004 to Oct. 1, 2007, according to TSA reports. Las Vegas' McCarran International was a distant runner-up.

Coins are left by passengers who are either too rushed to bother collecting their change or too color-blind to see it, the TSA says.


Jul 1, 2008

Grave robbing: a crime reinvented

Twenty-first century grave robbing has become an aboveground affair. You can’t get much lower than stealing from the dead.

Gone are the days when enterprising thieves would dig up an old grave and pillage for gold teeth and rings. Today, it's mostly the bronze markers and flower vases that draw their attention.

Rising scrap metal prices, coupled with the lagging economy, have triggered a string of cemetery thefts both locally and across the nation.

But grave robbers beware: The authorities are getting wise. States are passing laws and police are cracking down.

The value of a bronze vase is about $300. The scrap metal price for the same vase is only about $10.

Grave robbery was more common in the 19th century, when thieves dug up the dead in a search for gold. Sometimes they snatched the bodies for medical experiments.

In 1876, three men broke into Abraham Lincoln's burial site in Springfield, Ill., in an attempt to steal the body and hold it for ransom. The men were caught in progress.

Through the decades, such nefarious acts became uncommon.

But now, grave robbery is quietly sweeping the nation. Again.

Three men were arrested earlier this month on charges of stealing more than 1,000 brass vases and headstones from nine Chicago-area cemeteries.

Also this month, about 150 bronze vases were reportedly stolen from a West Virginia cemetery. In addition, a man was arrested on charges of stealing 55 vases from grave sites in the Fort Myers, Fla. area.

In the last few weeks, robberies have been reported at cemeteries in Arizona, Maryland, Michigan and North Carolina.


From faux presidential seal to faux presidential press conference

First it was a faux presidential seal. Then it was a faux presidential press conference.

It's too soon to say that Barack Obama (pictured) is measuring the White House drapes, but he did size up an East Room press conference today. In a hotel ballroom here he met the press with great formality and all the trappings:

• Formal podium (minus the faux-presidential seal he test drove last week), gleaming American flags, reporters seated in tidy rows marked off by velvet ropes.

• Opened with a formal statement on the need for economic opportunity and the virtues of his energy policy.

• Covered topics ranging from the Supreme Court to the Zimbabwean political crisis.

• The only thing missing was Helen Thomas ending things with the ritual "Thank you, Mr. President."

Americans will decide in November whether Barack gets past the dress-rehearsal stage.


Scooting around high gas prices

A Denver yoga studio owner said she likes tripling her gas mileage and "going green" at the same time.
She said 80 percent of her driving is going to be on her Vespa.

Last weekend, she paid about $6,500 for a new 250cc scooter that gets close to 60 miles per gallon.

At Erico Motorsports in Denver, owner Tai Beldock said her scooter sales are up more than 20 percent this year over last, primarily due to rising gas prices.

Beldock said a popular model is a low-powered scooter that sells for less than $2,000 and gets close to 80 miles per gallon.


Jun 30, 2008

Palm reading takes on a whole new meaning

Fujitsu Ltd. of Japan has developed a biometric security device called PalmSecure.

The device works by matching the vein pattern of a person seeking access, for example, to an automated teller machine (ATM), with scanned biological information stored in its database.

To get into the database, your palm is scanned without touching the device.

Fingerprints are the features most commonly used in biometric security systems; you're given access if your print matches the copy stored in the system.

The trouble is, such scanners are expensive to set up and manage—and there is little evidence that they provide better security than less costly passwords.

Fujitsu's goal is to enhance reliability by using blood vessels in the palm rather than fingerprints.

More of the story here.

Microsoft to support Windows XP through 2014

If you are one of the multitudes of people who just don’t want to upgrade to Vista, take heart.

Even though Microsoft announced an end to Windows XP last week, the company has pledged to support XP though 2014.

Maybe by then Microsoft will have a non-buggy version of Windows 7 up and running and we can bypass Vista altogether. That comment generated a lot of applause - my speakers are still humming.

At the link below, InformationWeek says: Microsoft may have little choice but to support Windows XP for an extended period, given that the majority of its large business customers have not upgraded their personal computers and laptops to the newer, Windows Vista operating system.

Many companies have balked at Vista's cost, resource requirements, and lack of compatibility with older applications.


Change with Obama

Jun 29, 2008

Bill Gates giving up active roll at Microsoft

Microsoft announced that chairman and co-founder Bill Gates (pictured) will move out of his day-to-day role effective July 2008.

Depending on your point of view, it could be the end of an era, a new beginning or good riddance.

Gates co-founded Microsoft, which makes the ubiquitous Windows operating system, with Paul Allen in 1975, and took the company public in 1986. He remained CEO of the company until 2000, when Steve Ballmer took the reins.

Gates is ranked as the world's richest man by Forbes magazine, which estimated his net worth at $50 billion in its 2006 ranking. That was up an estimated $46.5 billion net worth a year earlier. He owned just over 1 billion shares of Microsoft, as of Sept. 9, 2005, according to the company's most recent filing detailing those ownerships. That amounts to 9.6 percent of shares outstanding.


Chrysler bringing the Internet to the road

Stuck in a traffic jam during rush hour might be more bearable if you could check your e-mail, place some bids on eBay or post to your blog.

You soon may be able to do just that in a 2009 Chrysler.

The cars will receive 3G cellular broadband signals, then route them to any Wi-Fi enabled devices in or around the vehicle.

Traffic-safety advocates are less than enthused.

"Stop already!" Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety told the Times. "Clearly this is a problem. Our cars are becoming just another place to catch up on calls and now e-mail, and that's a real safety problem."