Friday, June 30, 2006

A Stick In The Spokes At "le Tour de France"

T-Mobile rider Jan Ullrich of Germany, sitting inside a car, leaves the T-Mobile team hotel in Blaesheim, near Strasbourg, eastern France, Friday, June 30 2006. Favorites Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and dozens of other cyclists were barred Friday from the Tour de France in a doping scandal, causing a massive upheaval on the eve of cycling's premier race. Tour director Christian Prudhomme said team managers had agreed that riders implicated in a Spanish drug scandal would not be allowed in the race that starts Saturday. Image Credit: AP Photo/Peter Dejong

In what amounts to be a serious move to serve notice that performance enhancing drugs and the practice of doping will not be tolerated in the cycling world, Tour de France officials remove nearly 27% of the starting field one day before the start of the race.

The Tour de France is expected to start Saturday with 50 less riders from a slated starting field of 189. Saturday's prologue of the Tour de France features a 4.4-mile individual time-trial around Strasbourg.

Excerpts from AP via Yahoo! Sports -

Doping scandal strips Tour de France of its favorites
By JAMEY KEATEN, Associated Press Writer - Updated on Friday, Jun 30, 2006 1:11 pm EDT (Associated Press Writers Mar Roman in Madrid and John Leicester in Strasbourg contributed to this report.)

STRASBOURG, France (AP) -- A doping scandal knocked Tour de France favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso out of the race Friday and threw the world's most glamorous cycling event into chaos.

The decision to bar Ullrich, Basso and others implicated in a doping probe in Spain also sent a strong signal that cheating, or even suspicions of cheating, will not be tolerated.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme said organizers' determination to fight doping was "total."

"The enemy is not cycling, the enemy is doping," he said the day before the start of the Tour.

Riders being excluded will not be replaced, meaning a smaller field than the 189 racers originally expected. And that's not even counting the absence of Lance Armstrong, who retired after winning his seventh straight Tour last year.

It is the biggest doping crisis to the hit the sport since the Festina scandal in 1998 nearly derailed the Tour. The Festina team was ejected from the race after customs officers found a large stash of banned drugs in a team car.

Basso, winner of the Giro d'Italia, and Ullrich -- the 1997 Tour winner and a five-time runner-up -- were among more than 50 cyclists said to have been implicated in the probe that has rocked the sport for weeks.

Basso and Ullrich's teams said Friday that because their names had come up in the probe they were being withdrawn from the Tour. Ullrich's T-Mobile squad said it also suspended rider Oscar Sevilla and sporting director Rudy Pevenage because of their involvement.

Ullrich insisted he was innocent, and vowed to fight the allegations.

"The only thing I can say so far is that I'm shocked, that I still have nothing to do with this, that I'm a victim now and that I'm prepared (for the Tour) in this year like never before," Ullrich told reporters outside his hotel near Strasbourg, before leaving for home.
The Spanish scandal erupted in May when police carried out arrests and raids, seizing drugs and frozen blood thought to have been readied for banned, performance-enhancing transfusions.

Since then, the names of riders said to have had contacts with Eufemiano Fuentes, a doctor among those arrested, have leaked in Spanish media.
Then, after more leaks on Thursday, Spanish authorities released details from the probe to Tour organizers and other cycling bodies, showing which riders were implicated in the investigation. It was on the basis of that official information that Tour teams decided to act.

"It would be big chaos if those riders remain in the race," said the manager of Basso's team, Bjarne Riis. "We have to protect cycling."
Read All>>

Here A Penny, There A Penny, No More?

Image Credit: USAToday

Oil is up, Gold is up, it turns out that the prices of the common metals that make up our coinage are up as well.

It now costs more to manufacture and distribute a penny (or a nickel) than it is worth as money. This turn of events has some in Congress wondering if they should vote to scrap these coins altogether.

Don't try melting down the hoard you may have in the coin jar though, it will cost you more in effort and energy, not to mention marketing than the metals you have at the end of the process ... so just keep the jar, it makes a good paperweight/doorjamb.

Excerpts from USAToday via Yahoo! News -

Coins cost more to make than face value
By Barbara Hagenbaugh, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The next time someone offers you a penny for your thoughts, you might want to take them up on it.

For the first time in U.S. history, the cost of manufacturing both a penny and a nickel is more than the 1-cent and 5-cent values of the coins themselves.

Skyrocketing metals prices are behind the increase, the U.S. Mint said in a letter to members of Congress last week.

The Mint estimates it will cost 1.23 cents per penny and 5.73 cents per nickel this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The cost of producing a penny has risen 27% in the last year, while nickel manufacturing costs have risen 19%.

The estimates take into account rising metals prices as well as processing, labor and transportation costs. Based on current metals prices, the value of the metal in a nickel alone is a little more than 5 cents. The metal in a penny, however, is still worth less than a penny.

Metals prices have been soaring this year as a strong economy worldwide has led to an increase in demand. The prices of metals used in coins are all rising: Zinc is up 76% this year, copper is up 68%, and nickel is up 42%, according to the London Metal Exchange.
The Mint is one of the few government agencies that makes a profit.

The Federal Reserve, which distributes money to banks, pays face value for coins. If a coin costs less to manufacture than the face value, the Mint makes a profit.

Last year, the Mint's coin-making profit was $730 million. Mint officials estimate the added penny and nickel expenses will reduce the Mint's profit this year by $45 million.

Coin compositions, which are set by Congress, have been changed in the past because of rising costs. The penny has been altered several times since it was first changed from pure copper in 1837 to add other metals.

Read All>>

You guessed it, as usual, the Government still "makes a profit" through a ponzi scheme supported by the law of the people!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Privacy And Convenience Go Head To Head

Image Credit: Google

Google believes that it has the answer for the convenience of online shopping with its release of its new service - Google Checkout.

eBay’s PayPal and Microsoft's former attempt at streamlining the online checkout process, Passport, have tried to address the security and convenience concerns of retailers and buyers alike, but neither have been able to make the processes deliver sales at the end of the shopping experience.

Google is banking on the trust built through owning the private information of the online shopper and insuring its privacy, they can deliver valuable purchasing information to retailers so that the retailer can market more directly to its potential target market.

What is the convenience to the online shopper? To be able to purchase online as if one had a "Mobile SpeedPass", in that the shopper would not need to enter private purchasing information for every shopping experience at every online retailer.

The rub is this -- Can shoppers trust Google to treat the information and its potential monopolistic power with a strong enough respect over time? There lay many strong temptations to play with this information and its collective power to the detriment of the user of the service.

Excerpts from Reuters via Yahoo! News -

Google Checkout to make debut
By Lisa Baertlein Thu Jun 29, 12:46 AM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Google Inc. (Nasdaq:
GOOG - news) on Thursday will launch a long-awaited service called Google Checkout, which some analysts said could help online merchants boost sales and convince them to commit more advertising money to the Web search leader.

Analysts were mixed on whether the product, initially available only in the United States, puts eBay Inc.'s (Nasdaq:
EBAY - news) PayPal online payment system in Google's competitive sights.

The new offering, referred to in news and analyst reports as GBuy or Google Wallet, promises online sellers an easy way to add a checkout to their sites and can be used in addition to other options such as PayPal or a merchant's own pay system.

Google said Checkout stores names, shipping and credit card information and eliminates the need for consumers to resubmit that data with each purchase. Google is responsible for processing the credit card payments and keeping data safe.

"We think we're making e-commerce a lot more efficient and easier to use," Salar Kamangar, Google's vice president of product management, told Reuters.

Google charges merchants 2 percent of the value of each sale plus 20 cents per transaction -- a fee that early users said was in line with other options. The company rewards its advertisers by offering them $10 in free sales processing for every dollar they spend on its advertising program, AdWords.
Forrester analyst Charlene Li and early users such as said it will expand the market by giving consumers another way to pay.
If Google helps Web retailers sell more, they could be persuaded to spend more money on AdWords, Li said.

"It's a win, win, win all around."
"Google is looking at exactly the right problem," said John Bresee, president of, which specializes in high-end outdoor gear and had $52 million in revenue in 2005.

The company, along with online stores run by Starbucks Corp. (Nasdaq:
SBUX - news), Timberland (NYSE:TBL - news), Levi Strauss & Co. and underwear seller Jockey, is among the first to try Checkout.
"What we may discover is that Google knows a lot about search, but they don't know a lot about the way consumers are shopping. We just don't know," Bresee said.

In storing personal data, Google Checkout is reminiscent of Passport, Microsoft's online wallet, which bumped into security and privacy issues and failed to live up to the software titan's expectations after its launch about seven years ago.
Li predicted an eventual backlash as Google pushes ahead with its goal to be the world's information clearinghouse and encounters inevitable customer service problems.

"Whereas Microsoft wanted to own the desktop, Google wants the monopoly on your information," she said, noting Checkout also provides buyers with a purchase history that shows where they spend their money. "I'm concerned that they could fall into a situation where they're the next Microsoft."
Read All>>

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Laptop Records Employee Identity Theft Is Epidemic

At a conference in Japan, a Dell laptop suddenly exploded into flames, and lucky for its owner the fiery blast occurred while the PC was sitting on a table and not in his lap. An onlooker reported that the notebook continued to burn, producing several more explosions over the course of about five minutes. It’s only a matter of time before something like this happens on an airplane. [editor's note: at least the records will not be comprimised] Photo Credit: Charlie White – 6-21-2006 (HT: Gizmodo)

The U.S. Military is not the only organization to suffer from personnel records being compromised when a laptop is stolen. This stuff happens in the private sector as well. In fact it has happened twice to a major food marketing company this month alone.

Why are public and private employee records allowed to be transported on laptop computers that can be stolen and possibly compromised? Why aren’t these records kept on database media that is encrypted and locked down much like PDF documents while they are being moved around from location to location?

Forgive me if I am wrong, but in our society, don’t we take better care of our copyrighted sales brochure and procedure manuals data than we take care of our employee identity data?

Excerpts from Progressive Grocer -

Laptop with Ahold Employees' Confidential Info Swiped -- Again
Progressive Grocer, JUNE 27, 2006

QUINCY, Mass. -- In the second such incident to occur this month involving one of Ahold USA's external service providers, a laptop computer containing the personal information of current and former company employees was stolen during a domestic commercial airline flight.

Ahold USA spokesman Barry F. Scher told Progressive Grocer that Ahold here wasnít responsible for either of the security breaches. "We're the victims," Scher said.

A Deloitte Accountants spokesman told PG that the information on the stolen computer was password-protected. Deloitte spokesman Jeff Zack confirmed that one of its employees had violated company policy by checking the computer as luggage on an airline flight. According to Zack, the incident has been reported to airline and law enforcement authorities.

The information was about current and former associates who received or exercised stock options last year, Scher told PG. Ahold and Deloitte Accountants would not disclose any further details about what kind of personal information was stored on the computer, when the laptop was stolen, or how many current and former employees were affected.

There so far has been no evidence that information relating to any current or former associate has been misused, Ahold noted in a written statement.

"While our company has substantial policies and procedures concerning data confidentiality, both internally and with external service providers, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of such policies," Scher said in the statement. "We plan to evaluate and, if appropriate, implement additional safeguards upon completion of this review, and we will require our external service providers to confirm their compliance."

Earlier in June, an employee of Electronic Data Systems who was boarding a commercial flight had checked a laptop containing former Ahold employees' pension information, and the computer was also reportedly subsequently stolen. Current employees' information wasn't stored on the first stolen computer, officials said.

Read All>>

Sunday, June 25, 2006

From Hollywood Script To Fairy Tale - AJ 2-4-2

Allmendinger on the podium with trophy and flag. Photo Credit: Michael L. Levitt, USA LAT Photographic

You just can't make this stuff up. AJ Almendinger wins second race in a row after starting for Forsythe Racing.

As it was previously noted here at MAXINE, the last 20 or so days in the life of AJ have been pretty "Above Average".

--- He was fired, let go, 86ed by RUSPORT (replaced by past champion, Cristiano Da Matta).

--- He decided to grab his girlfriend and go to Niagra Falls, where he asked her to marry him, and she accepted.

--- He got a call from Forsythe Racing, one of the top three teams in ChampCar (the one that has past champion Paul Tracy on it, and it had just let go Mario Dominguez), they asked him if he would race for them on a three race deal, AJ accepted.

--- He qualified at Portland Raceway at P2 along side of series points leader, and double past champion Sebastian Bourdais.

--- AJ got the jump on Sebastian into the first corner, led most all of the race, and won!

--- This week at the Cleveland Grand Prix, he qualified for the pole position (P1) and he did it by setting a new track record, one that was set by past champion Jimmy Vasser back in 1998.

--- Right away, in the first straightaway in the race, his car was clipped and he had to come in for service. This set up a counter fuel filling strategy that paid off in the end. AJ avoided trouble on the track, raced away from the competition, and won the race climbing into third place in the points race for the season.

That would be 2 (wins) - 4 (for) - 2 (starts) for AJ Almendinger at Forsythe Racing.

Everywhere he turns, he is matching the history of past champions, MAXINE believes it's time he eventually becomes one.

Excerpts from Champ Car World Series -

By CCWS - CLEVELAND - June 25, 2006

A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was only two turns into today's Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford race before he was spinning in circles, having gone off course in a madcap start to today's event.

95 laps later he was spinning in circles again, only this time in jubilation, turning celebratory donuts after winning the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank.

Allmendinger survived a rough-and-tumble event that saw an event-record nine cautions, to come back and claim his second consecutive Champ Car victory - just one week after taking his first win with a romp in Portland.

Allmendinger became the first U.S.-born driver since Michael Andretti to win back-to-back Champ Car races with his victory today, and more importantly, got back in the title hunt as the top-two drivers in the standings suffered their worst results of the season. He beat Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to the line by 3.279 seconds to take the win with PKV Racing's Oriol Servia (#6 Gulfstream/Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) coming home less than a quarter-second behind Junqueira to round out the podium.
Read All>>

The last U.S.-born driver to have back-to-back wins ... Michael Andretti, a past champion of this series.

Yep! This is fairy tale stuff.

A Good Show For Canada, F1 Race Had Its Moments

Podium of 2006 Canadian GP with Schumacher, Alonso, and Raikkonen. Image Credit:

And Michael caught up enough to almost made it into Alonso's finish line photo!

Excerpts from -

Alonso takes Michelin’s 100th victory
Canadian GP - Race

Fernando Alonso can cross off ‘must win Montreal’ from his 2006 to do list as he claimed the 70-lap Canadian Grand Prix, claiming his fourth straight win and extending his championship advantage to 25 points over nearest rival Michael Schumacher. The victory was a historic one for Michelin who recorded their 100th Grand Prix triumph – the first of which came at the 1978 when Carlos Reutemann took the chequered flag in Brazil.

Alonso controlled his pace through the opening stint with Kimi Raikkonen in close attendance. Starting second, Giancarlo Fisichella moved a fraction too early, checked his start and then lost out as the race got underway. Fisichella would serve a drive through penalty for the jump start, even though he gained nothing, and then had a relatively quiet race from that point.

Out front, Raikkonen kept the pressure on Alonso until the first round of stops, with the gap rarely above a second. The first McLaren pit stop saw a problem with the right rear wheel and Raikkonen lost five seconds to Alonso. With a small cushion now Alonso was able to control the gap until the second round of stops when Raikkonen’s Mercedes inexplicable stalled.

From that point onwards Alonso had the race in the bag, despite a late safety car and he duly took his sixth win of the season.

Michael Schumacher took advantage of a late race slip-up from Raikkonen to claim the runner up spot after a very strong drive on a heavy fuel load in the early stages. Raikkonen will be disappointed with third position as will Fisichella who crossed the line in fourth position.

Read All>>

Formula One Starts In Montreal

Saturday's Qualifing Notes

Excerpts from -

Canadian GP: Renault Saturdy qualifying notes
2006-06-24 -- An all-Renault front row with Fernando ahead of Giancarlo in Montreal.

The Renault F1 Team locked out the front row for the Canadian Grand Prix during qualifying today at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with Fernando Alonso on pole position and Giancarlo Fisichella second. This was the team's second all-Renault front row of the 2006 season, following on from the Spanish Grand Prix last month, and Fernando's fifth consecutive pole position, continuing a run that began at the Nurburgring.

Qualifying confirmed the strong performances both drivers had put in throughout the weekend. They tuned the car set-up throughout practice to adapt to changing circuit conditions as the track rubbered in, and the R26 has performed faultlessly. The car balance has been neutral, giving them confidence to attack the chicanes and braking zones.

Tomorrow's race is expected to be run in hot conditions which will suit the team's Michelin tyres. They have performed excellently all weekend, offering a competitive blend of first-lap performance and long-run consistency, and both Renault drivers hope to make best use of those qualities to fight for the race win tomorrow.

Fernando Alonso, Pole position:

"Five pole positions in a row is something I have never experienced and it is a fantastic feeling. The competition between myself, Fisico and Raikkonen has been very close all weekend, and that was how it turned out in qualifying this afternoon. The car has felt very good from the first lap we did on Friday, and we have only had to tune it to adapt to the changing grip conditions."

"We needed to run at the end in qualifying because the track was improving all the time, and this result was perfect. To have an all-Renault front row at the ninth race shows how hard the whole team is pushing to develop the car at the moment, and they can be proud of the work they are doing. Now, we need to finish the job tomorrow."

Giancarlo Fisichella, 2nd position:

"I was really pleased with the performance today -- it's fantastic to have a Renault one-two in qualifying. I made a change to the car right before my last flying lap to add a bit more front wing and after that, the balance felt really good."

"Now we have to see what tomorrow brings, but I know that we have a good strategy and the perfect starting position. We have a great chance to win the race, and maybe we will want a one-two finish there as well."
Read All>>

Schumacher and Farrari will be waiting in the wings (having qualified fifth), hoping for some kind of terminal failure ... but he will probably be waiting ALL season.

Michael Schumacher, 5th position:

"Obviously, we can't be happy with this result, especially in the light of the championship situation. We have made some progress compared with yesterday, but we are still suffering from a lack of grip. This could be down to the car, the tyres or the set-up: at the moment we cannot be sure which. What is sure is that starting from fifth on the grid we can expect a very tough race. Seventy laps are a lot and yes, anything can happen. For our part, all we can do is give it our best shot and try and exploit any opportunity that presents itself."
Farrari Notes>>

Saturday, June 24, 2006

One Down, Two To Go ... F1 Is Next!

Indianapolis 500 winner takes the "bull ring" almost from the very beginning. Image Credit: IRL

Well, okay --- I did take out the trash after the race! One "honey-do" down, a bunch to go.

This from RacingOne -

Hornish Dominates Richmond
J.J. O'Malley - RacingOne Contributor

Sam Hornish Jr. took the lead from Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves and never looked back Saturday night, cruising to his second IRL IndyCar Series victory of 2006 in the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio at Richmond International Raceway.

Complete Results

First Up, IndyCar At Richmond

Richmond International Raceway is displaying a collection of racing memorabilia, including an open-wheel car driven by Al Fleming in the inaugural race at the Atlantic Rural Exposition (aka Strawberry Hill Speedway) on Oct. 12, 1946, in the midway area this weekend.
Image Credit: IRL

Richmond International Raceway opened in 1953 and the track has been reconfigured five times to its current 0.75 miles. Lights were added in 1991. The IndyCar Series has been competing at the D-shaped oval since 2001.

The cars, tonight, will average over 150 mph per lap and do a lap in about 17 seconds - It is just a "bull ring".

This from the IndyCar Website -

Blogs from the track.

Drawing a crowd in the Richmond garage area
Posted by Patrick Stephan - Saturday, June 24. 2006

There are three ways to attract attention in the garage area and just a few minutes ago, we saw all of them. Of course, the first way is to be fast, and there are some fans desperately seeking an autograph from pole sitter Helio Castroneves.

Unfortunately, Buddy Rice and his crew have drawn a crowd because he invoked the second method for getting attention at the racetrack - he crashed in the final practice session.

Several dozen fans have camped on the edge of the Rahal Letterman garage to watch Buddy’s team rebuild the rear end of his race car.

The team is in the process of fixing the gear box, rear wing assembly, rear undertray “wheel flip,” building a new left-rear and left-front suspension and changing the engine. The engine change alone requires breaking the car into three pieces, unbolting the engine from the tub and bell housing, then sliding the new powerplant into the middle. Fans seem fascinated by this hurried work, and many have been stationed there since the car came off the tow truck.

Of course, the other way to draw a crowd is to be famous. Danica Patrick was hanging out at the back of her transporter signing autographs for the hundreds of fans gathered there waiting for the sophomore IndyCar Series driver.

Eventually though, she had other meetings to attend to, so off she went on a scooter to head outside of the track where the motorhomes and hospitality areas are located. Before she left though, Danica caused another mini-commotion. She stopped at the infield exit gate to chat with Dario Franchitti and his wife, Ashley Judd. Took a good ... oh ... 15 seconds for the fans to see Danica with her competitor and the movie star and start heading that direction.

After signing a few more autographs, the trio disappeared into the tunnel on their respective scooters, and the fans went in search of other drivers such as Felipe Giaffone, who was talking with the Brazilian media outside of his transporter.
Link Here>>

Open-Wheel Racing's Orgy Week-End

Fernando Alonso takes the checkered flag at British Grand Prix, his fifth win in eight races this season. Photograph by: DARREN STAPLES, REUTERS

In North America, these are the auto racing week-ends we live for.

What with F1 in Montreal at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, ChampCar at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, and the IRL "flying" at one of NASCAR's more famous venues, the Richmond International Raceway in Virginia; how does one get any of the "honey-do's" done?

Excerpted snippets fron the F1, CCWS and IRL websites -

F1 - Canadian Grand Prix - Sun, Jun 25 12:30PM (EST)

A pretty low-key opening day in Montreal, with Midland’s Tiago Monteiro the only man to experience drama, as he tangled with the infamous ‘wall of champions’. And once again it was BMW Sauber’s third man Robert Kubica at the top of the times .
Kubica heads opening Montreal session
F1 - 23 June 2006

Practice for the Canadian Grand Prix got off to a quiet start in Montreal on Friday, under grey skies and windy conditions on the Ile Notre Dame.

Robert Kubica set the best time, for BMW Sauber, with a lap of 1m 16.290s. That compares with Jenson Button’s 2005 pole time of 1m 15.217s and Kimi Raikkonen’s fastest lap of 1m 14.384s.

Nobody else pushed particularly hard, with Anthony Davidson 1.916s down in second place for Honda on 1m 18.306s ahead of Alexander Wurz on 1m 18.941s for Williams. Right at the end they were joined by Michael Schumacher, with 1m 18.994s for Ferrari.
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CCWS - Cleveland Grand Prix - CBS - Race Live, Jun 25, 2:30pm (ET)

CCWS - June 23, 2006

CLEVELAND - Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had a great seat to watch a slugfest between Forsythe Championship Racing drivers Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), but when the dust had settled, it was Bourdais that stepped up to throw the battle-ending blow.

Portland racewinner Allmendinger and defending Cleveland champion Tracy swapped the first-day pole five times in a furious qualifying session at Burke Lakefront Airport today, but instead of locking up the front row, the Forsythe duo ended their day looking up at the two-time defending series champ. Bourdais blistered the 2.106-mile circuit in 56.851 seconds (133.359 mph) on his 15th and final lap of the day to lead the first round of qualifying.
Wilson ended up fourth with a top time of 57.312 seconds (132.286 mph), putting him one position ahead of last week's polesitter Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing-HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) continued his recent run of strong performances with a sixth-place finish, stopping the clocks at 57.779 seconds (131.217 mph).
The final grid for Sunday's 105-lap 25th anniversary Champ Car Grand Prix Presented by U.S. Bank will be set by Saturday's final qualifying session, which takes place from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
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IRL - SunTrust Indy Challange - 8 p.m. (EDT), ESPN2

Castroneves awarded pole after qualifying washed out; Sharp second
By Dave Lewandowski - - Friday, June 23, 2006

RICHMOND, Va. – Helio Castroneves said his mother told him to appreciate every gift he received. Years later, that includes pole starts in the IndyCar Series.

For the third time this season, the series points leader will start from the pole after rain curtailed qualifying after 10 cars had made attempts. The field for the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio (8 p.m. ET June 24 on ESPN2, IMS Radio Network affiliates, XM Satellite Radio Channel 145 and was set on combined practice speeds from earlier in the day. The thunderstorm also postponed the final practice session until 2 p.m. (ET) on race day (check out live Timing and Scoring on

Castroneves topped both pre-qualifying practice sessions with quick laps of 173.029 mph (15.6043 seconds in the first) and 173.472 mph (15.5645 seconds in the second). Delphi Fernandez Racing’s Scott Sharp will make his first non-Indianapolis 500 front-row start since Kentucky 2001 after a quick lap of 172.712 mph in the second session.

“I’ll take it,” said Castroneves, who also started from the pole at Watkins Glen (practice speeds) and Motegi (points because all cars didn’t have equal practice time). “I’m not upset that we didn’t qualify. Every time you have a chance to start on the pole position without going qualifying it’s a blessing in disguise.”

It is Castroneves’ seventh consecutive top-5 start this season and his second pole start at Richmond International Raceway (2004). He was midway through his first warm-up lap in qualifying when he spotted two raindrops on his visor. Obviously, he immediately stepped off the throttle.

The starting position was especially pleasing to Sharp, whose team switched to the Dallara chassis from the Panoz before the season-opening race March 26.
Sam Hornish Jr. (172.561 mph) and reigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon (172.492) will occupy the second row. Wheldon was the provisional pole sitter (173.991 mph) when rain cloud engulfed the facility.
Rookie Marco Andretti (172.068) and Panther Racing’s Vitor Meira (171.972) will share Row 3, while Tony Kanaan (171.950) and Kosuke Matsuura (171.802) are in Row 4.

The Nos. 5 (Buddy Lazier) and 14 (Felipe Giaffone) cars would not have made qualifying attempts. Lazier’s Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 4 in the first session. The team will have the back-up car prepared for the race. The A.J. Foyt Enterprises team changed the engine and multiple other components after a plume of smoke was visible after eight laps.

Read All>>

I guess the "honey-do's" will just have to wait!

Friday, June 23, 2006

"Totally" Free WiFi ... For A Price!

Brewed Awakenings, with its pithy name, artful drinks and wireless Internet service, has found itself unexpectedly percolating on the forefront of high-tech law. Image Credit: KATU - Channel 2, Portland

"Drive-by WiFi" just isn't what it used to be.

Here are some rules for "totally" free WiFi ... just to be clear:
  1. Find multiple locations
  2. Do not park in the same place at the same scouted access location
  3. Bring water and a snack
  4. Surf after you have cleared-up your legal record
  5. Get a life
Excerpts from television's KATU - Channel 2, Portland -

Wireless piggybacking lands man in trouble
By Dan Tilkin – KATU Channel 2, Portland, Web Staff

VANCOUVER, Wash., June 21, 2006 - Brewed Awakenings, with its pithy name, artful drinks and wireless Internet service, has found itself unexpectedly percolating on the forefront of high-tech law.

"He doesn't buy anything," Manager Emily Pranger says about the man she ended up calling 911 about. "It's not right for him to come and use it."

Pranger says 20-year-old Alexander Eric Smith of Battle Ground sat in the parking lot in his truck for three months, spending hours at a time piggybacking on the coffee shop's wireless Internet service for free.

When deputies told Smith to knock it off, he came back and is now charged with theft of services.

"It's a repetitive occurrence and it's something that is borderline creepy," says Pranger.

As it turns out, Smith is a Level One Sex Offender, but whether he in fact committed a crime by not buying a single tall latte before accessing the Internet, well that remains to be seen. The sheriff's office and prosecutors are now reviewing the case.

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The television reporters took on a little additional investigation. They found out that anyone driving through a residential neighborhood could potentially find a connection to hook up to.

On their test, they stopped at a random neighborhood intersection in Vancouver, Washington, turned on the laptop and found a total of 11 active WiFi networks, 5 of them were un-secured portals on which anyone could log on and surf.

All the web without the caffeine! Scone, anyone?
(HT: Slashdot Daily Newsletter)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Beyond Human Implanted RFID & GPS Technology

Go from box to boat to dash with the portable and versatile GPSMAP® 478. This combination color chartplotter and land navigator comes preloaded with U.S. marine charts utilizing elements of the latest BlueChart® g2 technology, in addition to detailed street-level mapping. Optional weather and sonar capabilities combined with the ability to conveniently add plug-in data cards, let you easily add more maps and features — making this one incredible GPS navigator for land and sea. Image Credit: Garmin International Inc.

When one digs deeper into what the state of Wisconsin did by outlawing all human implanted RFID and GPS technology for any reason, in one persons opinion, they took away a tool that would allow parents a greater level of security over their children.

Beyond RFID, an amendment to allow parents to implant Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) signal technology in their children was shot down during the run-up to the passage of the law disallowing the use of all human implanted tracking and locating technology.

Excerpts of an opinion article in Computerworld -

Thinking the Unthinkable
By Don Tennant - June 19, 2006 - Computerworld

A Wisconsin law that went into effect last week would probably be considered by most people to be a no-brainer. The law prohibits the implantation of any kind of microchip into a person's body without his consent. Who could fault legislation that serves as a proactive measure to safeguard personal privacy in the face of emerging intrusive identification and tracking technologies?

I could. And here's why.

A few weeks ago, at a dinner during Computerworld's Mobile & Wireless World conference in Orlando, I had the privilege of being seated next to one of the Best Practices award winners. In the course of our dinner conversation, we were talking about our kids, and he told me that he lost his teenage daughter in a car accident not too long ago. She had fallen asleep at the wheel. "Every parent's worst nightmare," he said.

"That's not my worst nightmare," I told him. "My worst nightmare is for one of my kids to go missing and to never be found." He understood and nodded. Not knowing would be maddening.

One day last week, I asked [my daughter] Shelly whether she'd be OK with it if I wanted to have a chip with a tracking capability implanted in her so we could find her if she was ever missing.

"Certainly," she said without hesitation. "Because I trust you." Her caveat: "Parents should only activate it if they really need to." Agreed.

The technology to implant GPS tracking devices in humans certainly exists, as a simple Google search will affirm. But it doesn't appear to be actively marketed or readily available in product form for implanting in children so they can be quickly located if they're lost or abducted. There's just too much negative publicity surrounding the technology and its privacy ramifications, and the companies involved in its development seem unwilling to run the political and public relations gantlet. That's a shame.

About six years ago, Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy took a now-famous position on the issue. "If I could embed a locator chip in my child right now, I know I would do that," he said. "Some people call that Big Brother. I call it being a father."
So I was troubled by the fact that an amendment to the Wisconsin bill that provided for an exemption in the case of parents directing an implantation in a minor was revoked before the bill became law. And I'm wary of the precedent set by such preemptive legislation and of the course that other states might take.

For anyone who finds that position unacceptable, I'll tell you what. Find me a parent with a missing child who wouldn't give anything to have had a GPS tracking device implanted in that child, and I'll keep quiet. Make a compelling argument that there's an abducted child who wouldn't feel the same way, and I'll shut up. Until then, I'll be a vocal advocate of thinking the unthinkable and doing something about it.

Don Tennant is editor in chief of Computerworld. Contact him at
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Ahhh, yes, human implanted tracking and locating technology is a slippery slope.

Does the tracking "chip" come out at the age of eighteen? Can you get them removed at the same time you get your first right-of-passage tattoo?

HT: Symblogogy
(photo and equipment description above relates only as an example of GPS technology in general and does not relate directly to human implant technology discussed in the opinion piece from Computerworld highlighted in this post)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Where FDA Advisories & Global Activism Meet

Oceana, a global organization "dedicated to restoring and protecting the world's oceans through policy advocacy, science, law and public education" is not shy in using the work of the FDA to push forward their agenda at the supermarket level.

This organization is currently involved in an outreach program designed to inform, but is also designed to shake-down food retailers through its "Green List" and "Red List" programs of advocacy.

The "Green List" grocery operations are those who put up "Oceana" approved signs that warn consumers of the recent FDA alert about the potential mercury levels that may be found in certain species of fish - Okay, good (but must it be "Oceana Approved"?).

The "Red List", however, are those food retailers who do no currently abide to the requests and will of Oceana about the posting of the FDA advisory on mercury levels found in certain species of fish - Shake-Down. ("Oceana Approved" ... because "Oceana" decides who, for what, and why a company appears on the "Red List").

There has to be a better way to express a desire to educate through advocacy than a scarlet-letter, "Red List".

Excerpts from the Progressive Grocer Magazine -

Whole Foods, Safeway, and Wild Oats to Post Seafood Mercury Warnings
Progressive Grocer Magazine - JUNE 21, 2006

-- WASHINGTON -- Natural and organic retailer Whole Foods Market yesterday joined Safeway and Wild Oats as the first national supermarket chains to commit to posting signs giving consumers a government warning about mercury in certain kinds of seafood.

The Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory in 2004 warning women of childbearing age and children to avoid swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark due to the high mercury content of these fish. The FDA also advised them to limit albacore tuna and tuna steaks to no more than six ounces per week. The agency has determined that mercury contamination in these fish is high enough to threaten fetal development and children's health. It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of women already have enough mercury in their systems to cause harm to a developing fetus.
Over the past year, Oceana and its members contacted major U.S. supermarket chains asking them to voluntarily post the signs. Savitz congratulated the three supermarket chains that made Oceana's "Green List" for committing to post signs in stores containing the FDA's advisory on which seafood contains mercury: Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and Safeway -- including its Vons, Dominick's, and Tom Thumb banners.

Oceana's "Red List" of supermarkets -- those chains not posting the FDA advisory in their stores -- includes A&P, Ahold, Albertsons, Delhaize, Costco, Giant Eagle, IGA, Ingles, Kroger, Price Chopper, Publix, Shop Rite, Trader Joe's, U.S. Supermarkets General Holding Corp., Wal-Mart, Wegmans, and Winn-Dixie.

Also yesterday, in cities across the country, conservation and health advocacy groups held rallies outside local supermarkets as part of a new public education campaign warning customers of mercury contamination in seafood.

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The issue here is how does a retailer try to comply with the wishes of a special interest group only to possibly have that interest group step up its demands in the future?

Tell Ted Danson that the strategy of the "Green List" and PR - good! "Red List" and shake-down - bad!

A sampling of their links at Oceana:
» Greenpeace Blog» Mysteries of the Deep (Greenpeace)» Grist Magazine's Gristmill» Mother Jones Magazine's Ocean Report» Nature Guy's Blog» Orcagirl: In Search of the Pacific Northwest Killer Whale

You get the idea. Go Vegan!

The title of this article is a little confusing - Are the food retailers to post the "FDA Advisory" or are they issueing a "Warning"?


This related story from the Idaho Statesman -

Protesters demand mercury warnings
Group wants Albertsons' notice about danger of fish to be more prominent
Rocky Barker - The Idaho Statesman Edition Date: 06-21-2006

Half a dozen protesters marched Tuesday around the plaque commemorating Joe Albertson's first supermarket to protest the grocery chain's lack of warnings about the dangers of mercury in fish.

Since last fall, Women's Voices for the Earth has been working to persuade Albertsons to provide clearly visible warning signs at the fish counters in all of its stores nationwide.

SuperValu, which now owns all Albertsons stores in Idaho, released a statement Tuesday saying it recognizes consumer concerns about mercury in fish and has provided customers with brochures with the latest information from the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.

"Our company is committed to making sure that our associates and our customers have access to the most current and accurate information to help them make informed food choices when they shop with us," SuperValu said.
Read All>>


Women's Voices for the Earth is a grassroots environmental justice organization.

Our mission is to empower women, who historically have had little power in affecting environmental policy, to create an ecologically sustainable and socially just society.

WVE works regionally and nationally to eliminate and/or substantially reduce environmental toxics impacting human health, and to increase women's participation in environmental decision making.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Border Hopping vs. Visa Hopping

Breaking the law is breaking the law - Border Hopping vs. Visa Hopping - without enforcement on any front, who cares?

Border fences and Data fences still need to be erected ... and then the law needs to be enforced.
At least if one "Visa Hops" the border, one wouldn't need to look for the water drums left on S2 in order to assure ones safe passage, a Visa Hopper could always buy Perrier or Evian.

Excerpts from The Washington Times -

Many illegals entered U.S. with visas
By Jerry Seper - THE WASHINGTON TIMES - June 20, 2006

Nearly half of the 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens now in the United States entered the country legally, but never left.

Carrying visas and U.S.-approved border crossing cards, they were inspected by immigration officers at 300 sea, air and land ports of entry and many -- according to a year-old U.S. Customs and Border Protection policy -- were told to "Have a nice day."

A little-noticed study by the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center says 45 percent of America's illegal alien population -- 4.5 million to 6 million -- carried legally issued border crossing cards for short-term visits or business and tourist visas for longer but temporary stays.

Ultimately, they became what the government refers to as "overstayers," hiding in plain sight, working, sending their children to school and using health care services.

The influx continues to stream into America unchecked despite efforts by President Bush to send 6,000 National Guard troops to better secure border areas between the ports of entry, where Congress will spend $1.2 billion to hire and station more U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Michael Cutler, a retired U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) senior agent, said the government is spending billions to secure the border but has "failed miserably" at interior enforcement.

Homeland Security has sought to target overstays through a program called US-VISIT, a biometric verification system that scans the fingers of each foreign national entering the country and matches them against government databases to verify that the visa holder is the person to whom a visa was issued.

The program, begun in 2004, is in place at 115 airports, 15 seaports and in the secondary inspection areas of 154 land ports of entry, although Mexicans and Canadians entering the country with border crossing cards are not required to complete an arrival-departure record, known as Form I-94, unless they are requesting an extended stay.

The Pew report said that when fully implemented, US-VISIT is supposed to provide computerized records of arrivals and departures and a means of checking the identity of visitors with biometric data. In the meantime, it said, "only handwritten forms track some foreign visitors."

"In effect, the government has a pretty good idea of how many people come into the country if they fill out one of the forms, but it does not have a full count of how many leave," the report said.

Mr. Cutler, who headed major drug investigations for INS for two decades, said, "Even if the system was working flawlessly at all the U.S. ports -- logging the entry and exit of foreign nationals and generating many investigative leads -- who's going to respond if they don't hire an adequate number of agents? It's like having a sophisticated 911 system but no cars to send if people call for help."
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Hasn't the Government ever heard of OCR conversion of hand written documents? It is right there in MS Office.

Immigration as brain-surgery ... just enforce the law at the employer level and it becomes a little more self-regulating.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Long, Slow Slide To The Bottom Rung

The newly-elected 26th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, of Nevada, speaks to the House of Deputies after her confirmation vote Sunday, June 18, 2006, in Columbus, Ohio. Image Credit: AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

The long, slow slide to the bottom rung of respected, tradition based, organized religion ladder in America.

I was raised in the Episcopal Church and I have fond memories of the tradition, being an acolyte, becoming confirmed, and how I used to crack wisely to my Catholic friends - Episcopalians are "Catholic Lite" ... No Latin & half of the ritual!

Not anymore, as a respected version of the global Anglican Communion tradition, the American "Province" is now only one of three worldwide (37 overall) to have and allow women to serve in leadership positions.

Tradition means adhering to traditional values and with its latest move, the American Episcopal Church clearly has no interest in tradition.

Hey! Why don't we just make it up as we go along? Yea, that's the ticket!

Excerpts from AP via Yahoo! News -

Episcopalians elect 1st female leader
By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer - 22 minutes ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori became the first woman elected to lead a church in the global Anglican Communion when she was picked Sunday to be the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. It was another groundbreaking and controversial move for a denomination that consecrated Anglicanism's first openly gay bishop just three years ago.

Standing before cheering delegates to Episcopal General Convention, Jefferts Schori said she was "awed and honored and deeply privileged to be elected." Outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold was at her side as she was introduced after closed-door balloting.

The choice of Jefferts Schori may worsen — and could even splinter — the already difficult relations between the American denomination and its fellow Anglicans. Episcopalians have been sparring with many in the other 37 Anglican provinces over homosexuality, but a female leader adds a new layer of complexity to the already troubled relationship.

Only two other Anglican provinces — New Zealand and Canada — have female bishops, although a handful of other provinces allow women to serve in the post.

Still, there are many Anglican leaders who believe women should not even be priests. Those opposed to female clergy often cite the unbroken tradition of male priesthood in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, and in the Anglican Communion until about 30 years ago.

"I will bend over backward to build relationships with people who disagree with me," she pledged at a news conference.

Whether that will be enough will play out in the days ahead. Andrew Carey, a British-based commentator on Anglican affairs and son of the Rev. George Carey, who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1991 to 2002, called Jefferts Schori "the most liberal of the lot" of candidates.

"I think this fully shows a noncompliance of spirit with rest of the communion," he said in an interview.

"I can't help but consider the peculiar genius our church has for roiling the waters," said the Rev. Eddie Blue of Maryland. "I am shocked, dismayed and saddened by the choice."
The new leader will inherit a fractured church. The Pittsburgh-based Anglican Communion Network, which represents 10 U.S. conservative dioceses and more than 900 parishes within the Episcopal Church, is deciding whether to break from the denomination. The House of Bishops recently started a defense fund that will help fight legal battles against parishes that want to leave and take their property with them.

Membership in the Episcopal Church, as in other mainline Protestant groups, has been declining for years and has remained predominantly white. More than a quarter of the 2.3 million parishioners are age 65 or older.

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This is really going to go over well with that 25% who have enjoyed the Episcopal traditions for almost all of their 65 plus years.

If one does not like the tradition, go build a relationship at another church ... I did, but I am not 65 plus.

Hey AJ! - Fired, Engaged, Hired, Qualified, & Won!

AJ Allmendinger taking a circuit around Portland Raceway - Photo credit: Phillip Abbott, USA LAT Photographic - Copyright © 2006 Champ Car World Series, LLC.

And all of this happening in about one week.

What do you do now? Go to Disneyland?

A great American race car driver story has just been written by AJ Almendinger at Portland Raceway in Oregon, and he was actually named by his father for AJ Foyte. AJ delivers a really neat present to his dad on Father's Day (and his dad actually teared up).

The race itself was a pretty good story as well. AJ, from his #2 qualifying position, took the lead into the first corner (the festival corners), and was challenged a little more than halfway by his former teammate, Justin Wilson.

This set up a bit of a grudge match for a few laps until Wilson flat spotted his right front tire during braking into the same festival corners at the end of the front straight away.

At the end of the race, Steve Johnson, president of Champ Car World Series, was interviewed by Derek Daly. Steve said that the talks between the IRL and ChampCar about a possible merger are still alive ... "The good thing is that we are still talking". Also, Phoenix wants to run a race in downtown using the temporary street circuit set-up ala Long Beach and that ChampCar is working with the Mayor Phil Gordon's office to put this together. Steve said that the Mayor expressed the desire to have a race in the streets of downtown Phoenix, "even if we have to race frogs!”

At Portland? a good, clean race with no yellows - rare that!

Post race notes on AJ from CCWS -


As races go, it was a cracker -- no cautions and 105 laps of qualifying to quote runner-up Justin Wilson. As crowds go, it was one of the best in several years here in Portland and certainly one of the most animated. As storylines go, well, it couldn't get any better for Champ Car.

In one of the wildest weeks of dramatic turns and surprise moves, A.J. Allmendinger went from out of a job to back in a car to victory lane.

How he got there was a script so made-for-television perfect that you would have thought NASCAR ordered it.

"I think it was good for the series and I think it was good for somebody else to get up there on the top step of the podium besides Sebastian (Bourdais)," said Gerry Forsythe, whose opinion understandably might be a little skewed since he's the one who replaced Mario Dominguez with Allmendinger. "A.J. did a helluva job and I don't think he put a wheel wrong all day."

Forsythe had to watch his cars sweep Sunday's show (James Hinchcliffe captured the Atlantic race) on television because he was attending a wedding and missed his first race of 2006. What the co-owner of Champ Car missed was an affirmation party for the only American in his series.

Why Carl Russo gave up on his 24-year-old protege remains up for speculation and discussion but it certainly shocked everyone in the Champ Car paddock since RuSPORT became a reality because of Allmendinger's success in Barber Dodge & Atlantics and Russo's affection for him.

One thing Russo said all week, and again Sunday afternoon when he congratulated his former driver in victory lane, was that A.J. had an abundance of talent and would be a winner some day. It's just that nobody imagined it would be in his debut for Forsythe Racing.

"Did we think A.J. could win races?'' said Mike Cannon, engineer for Allmendinger. Definitely. Did we think he'd win today in his first drive for us? Of course not. But I guess if somebody wants to know what we thought of him, well, obviously we know he can win races."

He did it in convincing and impressive style -- leading 100 of the 105 laps and withstanding immense pressure from his pal and former teammate Wilson. Unlike a year ago, when he threw away a win at Edmonton, A.J. never missed an apex or tripped over a lapped car.

In this instant gratification world we live in, so much emphasis is put on immediate results and people were saying crazy things like "When is this kid going to win?" and the truth is he's only been in 32 races. Jenson Button is zero-for-105 and Casey Mears hasn't won in over 100 Cup starts but there were such high expectations for Allmendinger.

"I was sick of finishing second and nobody put any more pressure on me than I did because I've always won and I expect to win," said Allmendinger, who jumped up to third in the point standings. "I can't begin to describe how this feels because of all the things that have happened in the past few days.

"Forsythe Racing made it fun again for me and I'll never be able to thank them enough." Of course this wasn't just a one-act play. Cristiano da Matta, who took a ride with Dale Coyne because he still has passion to race in this series and didn't want to sit on the sidelines, was rewarded for his attitude with A.J.'s ride at RuSPORT.

Dominguez, who was leading at Houston after winning the pole position, wound up as the loser in this transaction when Forsythe cut him loose after his second accident involving teammate Paul Tracy.

He drove here for Coyne, who is always the good soldier in these deals, and Champ Car still needs Mario to be competitive since it ends the season in Mexico City.

Another Mario, last name Andretti, was in the pits at Portland and made the following astute observation: "This is one of those deals that appears to be good for both guys (Allmendinger and da Matta)," said the two-time CART champion.

It certainly was well received by the fans, who chanted USA, USA and stuck around to help A.J. sing the national anthem. Funny thing, Americans appreciate the many talented foreign drivers who have made Champ Car their home during the past 27 years but they still love to cheer for one of their own.

Bourdais is a super star who had a great run and appears to be headed for a third consecutive championship. But Forsythe was right -- this series needed a new winner and having someone named after A.J. Foyt worked out nicely.

As for the original terms of Allmendinger's employment (a two-race deal and then it would be appraised), Forsythe said the kid passed the audition and has the ride the rest of '06. "I'm sure of that," he said. "No doubt. We'll keep him."

The last time Forsythe had an American driver was Danny Sullivan in 1982. He went on to do some pretty big things and maybe this is the beginning of a good red, white and blue relationship.
Link Here>>

The Portland Race Signals Change For The Good

Pole winner Bruno Junqueira with Bridgestone flag - Photo credit: Michael L. Levitt, USA LAT Photographic - Copyright © 2006 Champ Car World Series, LLC.

The ChampCars roll into Portland with a line up that is beginning to look a little like a mid-season roster of a baseball team.

What with the driver and team changes that happened during the last break between races, one can't tell who is racing for whom without a program.

The biggest benefit these changes brought about was a renewed spirit to the racing and qualifying at Portland. One would assume the series points leading Newman Haas driver would capture the pole ... but he (Sebastian Bourdais) ended up in the third slot, being bested by his teammate, Bruno Junqueira, winning his first pole in a couple of years, and team jumping (from RUSPORT to Forsythe) AJ Almendinger.

More excerpts about yesterday's qualifying at Portland from ChampCar News -

by Eric Mauk

PORTLAND (June 17, 2006) - Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has had more than his share of bad luck through the first four races of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, so the Brazilian decided to take luck out of the equation in today's final qualifying for the G.I. Joe's Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland.

Junqueira used his penultimate lap around the 1.964-mile road circuit to gain three spots and claim the Bridgestone Pole Position, winning a tight battle that saw the first three qualifiers covered by a microscopic .015 seconds. Junqueira's time of 57.631 seconds (122.684 mph) gave him his first pole of the year and his first since the 2004 season opener, besting A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) by .008 seconds, with points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) another .007 behind in third.

The majority of the teams then went to Pit Lane for final adjustments and to get a fresh set of Bridgestones, setting the stage for a furious final 10 minutes.

Defending race winner Cristiano da Matta (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was the first to make a move, jumping into the third spot, only to see the former #10 driver drop him back as Allmendinger posted his best lap, taking the pole. The Californian then overshot the approach to the Festival Curves on his next lap, forcing him to go hard on the brakes and slide the tires, effectively ending any chance he had to post a better time. With his 57.639 in his pocket, Allmendinger retired to Pit Lane to sweat out the final few minutes knowing that Bourdais and Junqueira still had plenty of time to leapfrog him and take the pole.

Tomorrow's 105-lap race will get the green flag at 12:30 p.m. local time (3:30 Eastern) and can be seen live on CBS Sports. In addition, fans can follow live via the Race Director feature available on the series' official website,

Today's qualifying session saw the first three qualifiers separated by .015 seconds, the closest session since the 2002 event at Chicago Motor Speedway when Dario Franchitti, Alex Tagliani and Cristiano da Matta also qualified within .015 seconds of each other.

Bruno Junqueira became the 15th different driver in the last 15 seasons to win a pole at Portland International Raceway. Emerson Fittipaldi (1992-93) is the last driver to win more than one pole at Portland.

Bruno Junqueira starts from pole tomorrow and has two runner-up finishes in Portland but has never led a Champ Car lap in Portland.

Dan Clarke's sixth-place qualifying result is the best for a Champ Car rookie since Andrew Ranger started fourth at Cleveland last year.

The command of 'Drivers Start Your Engines' tomorrow will be given via satellite from Afghanistan as members of the Oregon National Guard's 'Task Force Phoenix V' will give the command.

Read All>>

Other Notes:

Cristiano da Matta improves his fortunes by taking over the seat left vacant when AJ Almendinger was picked-up by Forsythe.

The Forsythe seat became available when Mario Dominguez was let go by the team due to the many reckless starts and wrecks Mario has had in the first four races beginning this season.

Mario Dominguez took over the seat left vacant when Cristiano da Matta jumped up to RUSPORT from Dale Coyne.

Both Allmendinger and da Matta had their best qualifying efforts of the season (2 and 5 respectively) while Dominguez languished at 14 out of 18 cars racing.

Friday, June 16, 2006

S2 & The Mile Marker Mystery Tour

Royal blue 55 gallon drum container marked "AGUA" that holds many factory sealed one gallon plastic containers filled with water from the Borrego Springs Water Company, Southern California. Photo Credit: Edmund Jenks

Is the photo above evidence that would suggest the potential existence of a California State sponsored “underground railroad”, facilitating the movement of illegal immigrants northward, on this road east of San Diego, California?

Read the whole story below and help me to find out.

On Friday, June 9th, 2006, I had occasion to attend a business seminar and new product introduction at the W Hotel in downtown San Diego. After spending a lovely evening in Old Town San Diego, it was decided the next morning to take the long way home back to Los Angeles.

We looked at a map after reading about the history of how Southern California built its communicative and travel infrastructure on the routes of the Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849 and the old Butterfield Overland Mail stages. So we set out east on Highway 8 before heading north, tracking along a line on the map that started at Ocotillo (a settlement about 2.5 miles due north of our border with Mexico), through the little town of Agua Caliente on San Diego County "S2".

S2, as shown on the map, is a road that goes mostly through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in the south, and ends near Warner Springs at California State Highway 79 in the north.

Late morning, upon entering the Park, about 3 miles or so north from Ocotillo, we saw the Border Patrol and a few National Guard troops setting up an immigration check point along the road. We thought to ourselves, "Well, so this is evidence of the new program of joint deployment we had heard about recently in the news", and then turned our attention to the beautiful landscapes that the far southern parts of the California deserts have to offer.

Driving along another couple of miles or so, we crested a rise in the road and my wife exclaimed, "Did you see that?"

"See what?" I asked.

"Did you see that blue can ... or thing along side of the road? It said "Agua" on side of it!" Cookie exclaimed.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"It was more of a large drum, and it had stenciled along the side in white lettering "AGUA", you know, Spanish for water.” she said.

We drove on and noticed in the next minute and a half another blue drum, but this one had "AGUA" along the top with "WATER" stenciled in white just underneath along the side.

I asked, "What is going on?"

Another 90 seconds or so passed and another blue drum sat along the side of the road.

Questions arose and the mystery began to build. Where did these blue drums come from? Why are they here? Who put them here? Why are most of them identified only in Spanish?

"Hey, Cookie, let's stop and look at the next one we see, okay?” I asked. She responded, "I think that they are placed near the mile markers along the side of the road."

And sure enough, at mile marker 52, there was another large blue drum (photo above).

I stopped the car, got out and walked across the street over to the west side of S2, and in from the mile marker a few feet I arrived at the side of the blue drum, camera in hand.

The drum was topped off with a half-disk shaped wood top that appeared to have been designed to keep the sun from reaching the contents inside. As I peeked into the drum, the shade in the bottom of the drum covered 6 containers holding a gallon of water each.

I reached down into the drum and pulled out one of the gallon containers to inspect it. The container was factory sealed and labeled as being produced by the Borrego Springs Water Company, complete with UPC barcode, ready for retail sale.

More questions rushed forward in our minds. Who is paying for this? Who is keeping the "water stations" stocked and maintained? Isn't this State of California land? This is a road that runs through a State Park after all! How does one get permission to do something like this ... that is, if it isn't the State of California that is doing the duty? Is the National Guard responsible for these support services too?

We drove on and discovered that not only are these blue drum "AGUA" water stations at each mile marker, one appeared in a dry streambed that was an obvious migrant trail track also used for hiking and offroading.

We drove on from the South to the North and it appeared that the blue "AGUA" drums were placed at every mile marker from mile marker 55 to mile marker 40 near the Agua Caliente airport. Beyond mile marker 40 on northward, no more drums were sighted. We drove throughout the park that entire day without sighting anymore blue drums for park visitors or anyone else … other than in the most southerly 15 mile section along this road, as described. Curious that.

This situation is a real mystery. When almost 70% of the voting citizens want to put up a fence, and implement processes that deter border hopping immigration, why is the State of California subsidizing, underwriting, working against, turning a blind eye to, anything that will facilitate illegal immigrants to migrate across the border, hide and survive just to assimilate into our capitalistic landscape?

So now it is time for MAXINE ( to turn to the internet community and, hopefully, tap into the power of, as Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit and MSNBC would put it, "An Army of Davids"!

Are there any answers out there to the questions raised by this mile marker mystery tour?

Further, I have photos and digital video clips to support this whole story if any one would need them to help spread the story and/or make the point. I look forward to your responses. "On point".

Al Gore Not Seeing 20/20 At Canada 2020 - A Rebuttal

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore arrives at the Canada 2020 conference in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Wednesday June 14, 2006. Gore will deliver his message about global warming as the keynote dinner speaker at the conference. Canada 2020 is a dynamic and networked ideas generation council that takes a unique approach to addressing Canadas public policy opportunities and challenges. Image Credit: AP Photo/CP, Jonathan Hayward

Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper is squarely in the cross-hairs of activists like Al Gore.

Back in April, P.M. Harper pulled back on the efforts of some in the Canadian government to tie Canada to the Kyoto accords when he decided to listen to the advice of 60 leading international climate change experts.

Apparently, the opposition to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" tenants is not backing down.

Excerpts from the Canada Free Press -

Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe
"The Inconvenient Truth" is indeed inconvenient to alarmists
By Tom Harris - - Monday, June 12, 2006

"Scientists have an independent obligation to respect and present the truth as they see it," Al Gore sensibly asserts in his film "An Inconvenient Truth", showing at Cumberland 4 Cinemas in Toronto since Jun 2. With that outlook in mind, what do world climate experts actually think about the science of his movie?

Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

But surely Carter is merely part of what most people regard as a tiny cadre of "climate change skeptics" who disagree with the "vast majority of scientists" Gore cites?

No; Carter is one of hundreds of highly qualified non-governmental, non-industry, non-lobby group climate experts who contest the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing significant global climate change. "Climate experts" is the operative term here. Why? Because what Gore's "majority of scientists" think is immaterial when only a very small fraction of them actually work in the climate field.

This is highly valuable knowledge, but doesn't make them climate change cause experts, only climate impact experts.

So we have a smaller fraction.

But it becomes smaller still. Among experts who actually examine the causes of change on a global scale, many concentrate their research on designing and enhancing computer models of hypothetical futures. "These models have been consistently wrong in all their scenarios," asserts Ball. "Since modelers concede computer outputs are not "predictions" but are in fact merely scenarios, they are negligent in letting policy-makers and the public think they are actually making forecasts."

Here is a small sample of the side of the debate we almost never hear:

Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years." Patterson asked the committee, "On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?"

Patterson concluded his testimony by explaining what his research and "hundreds of other studies" reveal: on all time scales, there is very good correlation between Earth's temperature and natural celestial phenomena such changes in the brightness of the Sun.

Dr. Boris Winterhalter, former marine researcher at the Geological Survey of Finland and professor in marine geology, University of Helsinki, takes apart Gore's dramatic display of Antarctic glaciers collapsing into the sea. "The breaking glacier wall is a normally occurring phenomenon which is due to the normal advance of a glacier," says Winterhalter. "In Antarctica the temperature is low enough to prohibit melting of the ice front, so if the ice is grounded, it has to break off in beautiful ice cascades. If the water is deep enough icebergs will form."
Gore tells us in the film, "Starting in 1970, there was a precipitous drop-off in the amount and extent and thickness of the Arctic ice cap." This is misleading, according to Ball: "The survey that Gore cites was a single transect across one part of the Arctic basin in the month of October during the 1960s when we were in the middle of the cooling period. The 1990 runs were done in the warmer month of September, using a wholly different technology."
Concerning Gore's beliefs about worldwide warming, Morgan points out that, in addition to the cooling in the NW Atlantic, massive areas of cooling are found in the North and South Pacific Ocean; the whole of the Amazon Valley; the north coast of South America and the Caribbean; the eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caucasus and Red Sea; New Zealand and even the Ganges Valley in India.
Gore's point that 200 cities and towns in the American West set all time high temperature records is also misleading according to Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. "It is not unusual for some locations, out of the thousands of cities and towns in the U.S., to set all-time records," he says. "The actual data shows that overall, recent temperatures in the U.S. were not unusual."

Carter does not pull his punches about Gore's activism, "The man is an embarrassment to US science and its many fine practitioners, a lot of whom know (but feel unable to state publicly) that his propaganda crusade is mostly based on junk science."

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In summation:

"Gore's Propaganda Crusade Is Mostly Based On Junk Science", "Misleading", "Different Technologies And Year-Parts Used In Comparisons (apples/oranges)", "CO2 Levels Have No Effect On World Temperature", "Gore Sites 'Vast Majority Of Scientists' vs. 'Climate Experts' ", "Gore's Circumstantial Arguments Are So Weak That They Are Pathetic".

'Nuff Said!

Of UVA, UVB - Not Colleges In Virginia

Catherine Hackney, 18, of Atlantic City, and Gigi Guida, 17, of Ventnor, N.J., sunbathe on the beach in Atlantic City, N.J., Friday, June 9, 2006. Image Credit: AP Photo/Mary Godleski

This summer, when you sit out at the beach with that slightly blue glow and think you have done your best to beat back the negative effects of the sun ... guess again.

Not all sunscreens are created equally. One with a high SPF rating, say in the triple digit range, may protect you from sunburn (and maybe give your skin the look of Michael Jackson) but do little to protect you from the cancer the sun can give you.

Excerpts from AP via Yahoo! News -

Sunscreens faulted on cancer protection
By LINDA A. JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer - Thu Jun 15, 6:06 PM ET

Think slathering on the highest-number sunscreen at the beach or pool will spare you skin cancer and premature wrinkles? Probably not, if you're in the sun a lot.

That's because you don't need a sunburn to suffer the effects that can cause various types of skin cancer

Sunscreens generally do a good job filtering out the ultraviolet rays that cause sunburn — UVB rays. But with sunburn protection, many people get a false sense of security that keeps them under the harsh sun much longer. That adds to the risk of eventual skin cancer — both deadly melanoma and the more common and less-threatening basal and squamous cell cancers.

And most sunscreens don't defend nearly as well against the UVA rays that penetrate deep into the skin and are more likely to cause skin cancer and wrinkles. That's true even for some products labeled "broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection."

Experts say the best protection against UVA is a sunscreen that includes zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or avobenzone. Consumers should also look for those that are water-resistant and have an SPF of 30 or better, indicating strong protection against UVB rays, and apply liberally and often.
Often, product labels are confusing or bear misleading claims. For example, the SPF, or sun protection factor, refers only to defense against the less harmful UVB rays.

"I don't think people understand they're only getting protection from part of the spectrum," said Dr. Sandra Read, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology. "You're accumulating this damage and you don't know it."
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Maybe Michael Jackson has it right ... stay indoors, in your room, out of the sun, away from people so that the sun does not know what you are doing.

I suppose you can always wear a hat and long sleeves.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Leader By Any Name Go BOOM!

This photo released by the U.S. Military at a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq Thursday, June 15, 2006, purports to show Abu Ayyub al-Masri who is allegedly the man claiming to be the new al-Qaida in Iraq leader and apparently the same person as a man identified by the nom de guerre Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, according to the U.S. Military, who has claimed to have succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and vowed to avenge him in threatening web statements in recent days. Image Credit: AP Photo/U.S. Military

This is the guy the U.S. Military put a $50,000 bounty on after al-Zarqawi went BOOM.

There was some confusion about his name but that has all been cleared up now.

Excerpts from AP via Yahoo! News -

U.S. identifies al-Zarqawi's successor
AP - Thu Jun 15, 10:53 AM ET

BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military said Thursday the man claiming to be the new al-Qaida in Iraq leader is Abu Ayyub al-Masri, an Egyptian with ties to Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said al-Masri apparently is the same person that al-Qaida in Iraq identified in a Web posting last week as its new leader — Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, a nom de guerre. Al-Muhajer claimed to have succeeded Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a June 7 U.S. airstrike, and vowed to avenge him in threatening Web statements in recent days.

The military showed a picture of al-Masri wearing a traditional white Arab headdress at a Baghdad news conference. The Afghanistan-trained explosives expert is a key figure in the al-Qaida in Iraq network with responsibility for facilitating the movement of foreign fighters from Syria into Baghdad, Caldwell said.
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Corn "POPS" On Wall Street, With Confidence

A company looking to cash in on the groundswell interest in renewable energy resources brought about by high oil prices and the desire to become less dependent on Islamic resourced products might just offer up an IPO (initial public offering of stock in a company) and see where it goes.

Building new and converting old distilleries may become big business in the processing of corn and other organic matter into Ethanol.

We know that Wall Street is famous for hopping on to, and hyping the next big thing, only to see the rush turn to bust.

So here we go again, from "Dot-Com's" to "Pop-Con's"

This from the New York Post -


June 15, 2006 -- Ethanol has hit Wall Street in a wild ride that could create quick billions - or sudden wrecks.

VeraSun Energy Corp., the first big ethanol maker to go public, soared as much as 34 percent in its first day of trading yesterday, closing at $30, up $7, for a 30 percent gain.

The sale created a market value of $2.24 billion - nearly one thousand times higher than its meager first-quarter profits of $2.7 million for the South Dakota corn-mash refinery.

Analysts expect a flood of other stock offerings and debt deals to build the nation's new ethanol refinery system for meeting the huge demand of the pollution-lowering fuel.

Shares of some new ethanol outfits, however, have already hit big bumps, such as Colusa Biomass, whose 6-cent stock is down 94 percent this year, and Headwaters Inc., whose $24.25 stock is off 32 percent this year.

"Ethanol is very hot and could get hotter," said Daniel Welt of Standard & Poor's.

"But it's also very volatile and could be hurt if gasoline prices go down, or there's overbuilding of refineries or a loss of political will for ethanol."

The nation's corn belt is already dotted with more than 100 refineries distilling corn mash into grain alcohol, which is spiked with foul-tasting compounds to prevent if from being taxed as a drinkable liquor.

The booze version sells for upwards of $50 a gallon, compared to the few dollars a gallon it fetches as a fuel additive.

Welt expects heavy consolidation and a rush of private debt to build more refineries - basically giant moonshine stills - in order to meet the national mandate of 4 billion gallons this year, rising to 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.

Even an old Miller beer brewery outside Syracuse, N.Y, is being retrofitted into a refinery to cook upstate corn mash into ethanol.

One gallon of ethanol is blended with 10 gallons of gasoline for the clean-burning fuel.
Also fueling corn's gold rush is the government's 51-cent tax break to distillers for each gallon of ethanol they make.

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