Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Lifelike Robot Revealed In Japan. Dems Cave Again, Senate Gives Bush His Energy Bill.

Lifelike Robot Revealed In Japan

We may be one step closer to Isaac Asimov's "I Robot". Check out the following National Geographic News excerpt:

Repliee Q1 appeared yesterday at the 2005 World Expo in Japan, where she gestured, blinked, spoke, and even appeared to breathe. Shown with co-creator Hiroshi Ishiguru of Osaka University, the android is partially covered in skinlike silicone. Q1 is powered by a nearby air compressor, and has 31 points of articulation in its upper body.

Internal sensors allow the android to react "naturally." It can block an attempted slap, for example. But it's the little, "unconscious" movements that give the robot its eerie verisimilitude: the slight flutter of the eyelids, the subtle rising and falling of the chest, the constant, nearly imperceptible shifting so familiar to humans.

Full story: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/06/0610_050610_robot.html

Now we just have to hold our collective breath as we wait for the Dobsons, Falwells and other religious nuts to weigh in on the "morality" of this event. Fortunately, the aforementioned Asimov classic contains a plan on how to cope with this coming innovation. Unfortunately, the aforementioned religio-nutjobs read nothing but the Bible, and therefore aren't close to being qualified to judge developments from the 17th century, let alone here in the 21st. Interesting times lie ahead...

Dems Fail To Show Up For Work Again As Senate Gives Bush An Energy Bill

In another disgusting capitulation to the Bush administration and the energy lobby that pulls its strings, the Senate passed a slightly different version of the energy bill that recently passed in the House of Representatives. Painful Christian Science Monitor excerpt:

WASHINGTON – Soaring fuel prices and concerns about a Chinese company buying a major US oil producer give a long-stalled energy bill its best shot at passage since George W. Bush took office.

The Senate Tuesday passed its version of energy reform by a bipartisan 85-12 vote, opening the door to tough talks with the House to reconcile differences over issues from drilling in the Alaskan wilderness to a controversial liability waiver for a gasoline additive that pollutes drinking water.

But with the price of crude oil topping $60 a barrel, the pressure on Congress to move an energy bill is all but irresistible. Adding to the momentum, China's bid for the California oil group Unocal sent shock waves across Capitol Hill last week, fueling speculation that the global rush for the world's oil reserves is on.

First China buys up most of our trade deficit by purchasing massive amounts of treasury bonds, and now they want to buy up our oil companies. To echo a phrase Republicans used during President Clinton's impeachment: "Where's the outrage?"

US business interests lobbied heavily for a new energy bill. The energy sector contributed more than $50 million in the 2004 election cycle, 75 percent of it to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Vastly outspent, environmental groups gave $1.9 million, 88 percent of it to Democrats.

For industry groups, the key selling point for an energy bill is jobs. Without an agreement, the US stands to lose 2 million jobs, especially in industries fueled by natural gas, according to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The plastics industry has already lost more than 150,000 jobs. The US chemical industry has lost some 90,000 jobs. Of the 120 chemical plants priced at $1 billion or more being built today, only one is in the US.

Wait a goddamned minute. Didn't these industries get BILLIONS of dollars in tax cuts from President Glad-Hand? And wasn't the main argument for these cuts that they would stimulate job growth? Why then, do we see the figures listed above? Could it be because these people are lying scumbags? Just asking...

The House bill, debated only two days, strongly favors fossil-fuel producers and traditional energy sources. The Senate version is deliberately weighted toward subsidies for conservation and renewable energy sources.

That may be true, but it's just a matter of degree. Sort of like the choice of being dipped in shit, or being dipped in puke. Either way it's a fucking mess...

"The Senate bill is a lobbyist's dream and a taxpayer's nightmare. [It] is less a coherent policy than a grab bag of giveaways for special interests," says Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, in a statement.

Gee, I guess we're lucky then that the House version didn't pass muster with the Senate, aren't we? While watching a Red Sox game with Dad, one of the many pickup truck, SUV and luxury car commercials finally prompted Dad to bust out with this: "I'm disappointed in Detroit. We should be able to get cars that give us at least 50 miles to the gallon. Why the hell doesn't the government step in and force the issue?" Well, my answer, that the government is headed by a greedy oil man and his greedy cronies, and that said oil man's political party controls both houses of Congress, and that given those facts we aren't likely to see the type of changes Dad wants to see, was less than satisfactory. See, Dad is a Bush lover. In fact, he loved the first Bush mistake, as well as the Reagan disaster, but I can only put up with so much self-delusion for so long, even when trying to cut Dad some slack. Oh well, no sense beating this dead horse any longer. In the immortal words of Judge Smails: "You'll get nothing and like it!!!"

Anyway, here's the full story link: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0629/p02s02-uspo.html

Odds And Ends

The Red Sox, after having been shut out last night 7-0 at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, look for revenge tonight. Wade Miller starts on the mound for the Sox against lefty Cliff Lee of the Indians. Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros is still waiting to be hit by the next pitch to tie Don Baylor for the all-time major league career record in that painful department. He still trails Baylor 267-266.

Also, President Clueless gives an address tonight, presumably on why we need to stay bogged down in Iraq. I wonder if he'll address the mixed messages coming from his own camp? Dick "Five Heart Attacks" Cheney recently said that the Iraqi insurgency was "in it's last throes". Not long after those famous words, General John Abazaid AND Defense Secretary Donald "Saddam Was My Best Business Partner" Rumsfeld both claimed the opposite. Abazaid claimed that the insurgency was "as bad as it's ever been", while Rummy claimed that we could be fighting these insurgents for the next 12-15 years! Given the Moron In Chump's propensity for ignoring inconvenient facts, I wouldn't expect him to address this issue.

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