Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The U.S. is bankrupt

"Let’s get real. The U.S. is bankrupt. Neither spending more nor taxing less will help the country pay its bills.

Based on the CBO’s data, I calculate a fiscal gap of $202 trillion, which is more than 15 times the official debt. This gargantuan discrepancy between our “official” debt and our actual net indebtedness isn’t surprising. It reflects what economists call the labeling problem.

We have 78 million baby boomers who, when fully retired, will collect benefits from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid that, on average, exceed per-capita GDP. The annual costs of these entitlements will total about $4 trillion in today’s dollars. Yes, our economy will be bigger in 20 years, but not big enough to handle this size load year after year.

“Something that can’t go on, will stop.” True enough. Uncle Sam’s Ponzi scheme will stop. But it will stop too late.

And it will stop in a very nasty manner. The first possibility is massive benefit cuts visited on the baby boomers in retirement. The second is astronomical tax increases that leave the young with little incentive to work and save. And the third is the government simply printing vast quantities of money to cover its bills.

Most likely we will see a combination of all three responses with dramatic increases in poverty, tax, interest rates and consumer prices. This is an awful, downhill road to follow, but it’s the one we are on. And bond traders will kick us miles down our road once they wake up and realize the U.S. is in worse fiscal shape than Greece.

Our country is broke and can no longer afford no- pain, all-gain “solutions.”"

Laurence J. Kotlikoff is a professor of economics at Boston University

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Ladybug that will solve energy problems

Here in Germany Volkswagen had a brilliant idea:
the New Beetle that runs with metan gas produced with human shit.
Now, that is really energy low cost.
On one hand it disposes of unwanted escrements and on the other is good energy fully Co2 neutral... I bet it will be a best seller.

"The results are impressive. A converted 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine runs on the biogas and can go speeds of about 114 miles per hour, Filipponio reports. He adds that it uses regular gas to start and then immediately switches to methane. Apparently drivers won't be able to tell the difference between driving in a standard car and one powered by the gas.
GENeco says that 70 households' worth of human waste is enough to power the vehicle for a year or 10,000 miles. While I still have lingering questions about methane for use in vehicles, including just how much cleaner the process is end-to-end compared to electricity or biodiesel, this little dung Beetle certainly shows promise. At the very least it proves that little bugs can achieve big things.

The Volkswagen "Bio-Bug" runs on methane gas from the British sewage treatment company GENeco."

Monday, August 09, 2010

I respect the road

Sometimes (very often) the steering-wheel of a motor car has the same effect on a modern, civilized English driver as the smell of blood has on the average tiger.
What he doesn´t do in the way of cutting in, crazy cornering, acrobatic overtaking and unindicated, or even misleading changes of direction is not worth doing.
With this type of driving one would not survive five minutes in any other part of the world, simply because no one would be expecting such feats: but in England every driver is expected to perform the physically impossible; every driver is expected to drive like a criminal lunatic let out on parole.
It is on this view that AXA has created a campaign called “Respect on the Road” to try and bring courtesy and respect back to British roads.
For this campaign AXA has created a Facebook fanpage, as well as `Road Rage kids’ a viral YouTube video.
In addition AXA has taken to the streets of London a series of videos called: ‘Cab Cam’
I myself think that the first duty of a civilized person is to respect the road, I respect the road and I expect the others to do the same.
I think what ´AXA Car Insurance’ does is great, because it helps to make a better life and a safer place to live in.
AXA Respect On The Road is the right campaign, targeting the right people and in the best and effective way, because a good driver is the one who understands his limits and respects the others.


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The Cookies that come for free (and sometimes unwanted)

At the beginning there were the banners.
These were supposed to drive the Internet marketing industry in its infancy. Scads of publishers paid scads of money based on a CPI (cost per impression) model or simply paid huge dollars for banner ads and other targeted online advertising on well-trafficked sites.
But the banner advertising technology on the Internet was not the magic bullet it was purported to be.
Then came the targeted online advertising system that worked – keyword advertising. Companies could bid on a per-click basis for certain key terms, which sent valuable traffic to its website.
There were not many raised eyebrows at this time, in terms of privacy. After all, the user was the one entering the query, and nobody suspected at the time that search engines might one day actually create individual profiles on users.
Google then took a similar idea a step further. Instead of just serving up targeted online advertising on its home page, the company created a content distribution network called AdSense. In this program, owners of websites could sign up to have the ads placed on their sites. Google would then use a “contextual” logic to determine which ads to place where. In other words, Google would “read” the content on a page and then serve up targeted online advertising in the area provided by the site owner that was relevant to the content.
Suddenly, Gmail was offered and that raised some eyebrows. Gmail, of course, is Google’s free email-based platform. Gmail gave people an (at that time) unprecedented 1 gigabyte of email space (Yahoo!, if memory serves, offered 4 megs for free email accounts and charged people for more memory). The only caveat – Gmail would use a similar advertising technology platform as AdSense, but it would decide which ads to serve up by reading through your emails.
If you didn’t want Google parsing through your email and serving up relevant, targeted online advertising, you didn’t have to use the service.

So there we all were, happily surfing away, not a care in the world. What most of us didn’t realize was that enough free cookies were being distributed to each of us.
These cookies, of course, are the ones that websites place on your computer when you visit – little packets of information that record your visit, and sometimes, your activity there.
Digital advertisers, however, saw another opportuníty for targeted online advertising. They invented advertising technology that would scour through the cookies on your personal machine, figure out what you liked and disliked by looking at the types of sites you went to, and then feed up highly targeted online advertising based upon your browsing history.
Liberally taken from...