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Keystone XL & $5.00 Gasoline

An email from warns that the Keystone XL pipeline project is already being revived. You can sign a petition against that action here. While we follow the unfortunate death of Whitney Houston or the trial from the unfortunate death of Yeardley Love, or even the GOP Primary follies, oil interests are trying to pull a fast one:

Senate Trying To Sneak The Keystone XL Pipeline Onto Obama's Desk Through An Unrelated Bill

After last month's decision by the Obama administration to reject the 1,700-mile-route of the Keystone XL Pipeline, Republican lawmakers are trying to revive the controversial project by attaching it to transportation legislation.
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DC Auto Prototype Show

"It's a prototype; it's not supposed to work. That's why they call it a prototype." - Texas Rangers (2001)

Getting to the DC Auto Show was easy. I drove South on I-95, parked at Greenbelt metro station, then took the green line seven or eight stops to the Mt Vernon Square / Convention Center station. I walked from the station into the convention center just as the show opened. Toyota had a Ride & Drive booth near the ticket area, so I scanned my driver's license and quickly found myself getting into a Prius v - which is called an extended hatchback wagon, but just looks like a longer Prius.
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Obama attends DC Auto Show (before me)

I stopped by Light Street Cycles today to buy a brighter taillight. The weather's been so unseasonably warm that I'm riding to the light rail, but it's really dark in the morning. The owner showed me all sorts of rechargeable blinkies, and I bought a Knog Boomer. I also signed a petition to complain about building a new street with no bike lanes right next to two college campuses, UMB & MICA. Then I told the owner that I was planning on visiting the Washington Auto Show tomorrow, and being a bike person, she looked puzzled. When I told her I wanted to see the Leaf, she seemed satisfied.
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Endurance Topspin

The promoters of the Australian Open should be awfully pleased. Often—too often—the women's final in a major is a dud. Usually the semis are better matches, and one player freezes up to play a bad match in the final. But even though the 2012 women's final was a 6-3, 6-0 rout, a new Number One was crowned, and the match wasn't completely awful. Maria Sharapova wasn't dumping serves into the net, was returning well, and hit a few winners—she was simply led into a boatload of errors. The NY Times' Straight Sets blog offered the theory that Victoria Azarenka won mostly because she hit with more topspin than Sharapova. Even though she obviously does hit with topspin, Sharapova is considered a flat hitter in the modern game. My feeling was that Azarenka covered the court a lot better than Sharapova, while hitting the ball just as powerfully (and shrieking just as loudly).

The men's semifinals were excellent, and the final may be one for the ages. The Atlantic speculates that this final may portend the new look of men's tennis: as an endurance sport. Even given that both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal took a lot of time between points, the match took almost six hours, and many of the points involved over twenty shots, even thirty shots. A popular tennis coach once noted that, statistically speaking, for the average player the point will end on the next shot. For these guys, it seems that no matter how well they hit the ball, the point will go on at least another six shots. Part of that is because the tennis authorities have slowed down the courts, and part of that is because these guys are very fast and very fit, and part is because they are hitting with extremely exaggerated topspin.

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What would you do for HFCS?

While watching various matches of the Australian Open, we were bombarded by those videos from the Corn Refiner's Association claiming that your body can't tell the difference between cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) - so they must be the same. But consider that your body can't tell the difference between air and carbon monoxide, either, and low concentrations of CO will kill you.

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Dogfight Down Under

Yesterday, the New York Times' Straight Sets blog raved about the intensity of the Nadal-Federer semifinal, but this morning's match between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray was a dogfight. I woke up at 4:30AM to a score of Djokovic leading 6-3, 3-5, but Novak fell behind on serve and was broken to lose the second set. All even.

The third set was very tight. The first game, Djokovic serving, took over ten minutes. Murray was serving crisply and controlling the baseline rallies with tightly-angled forehands. Reportedly suffering from a "stuffy nose," Djokovic looked tired and far less confident than usual. He wasn't serving that well, and repeatedly had to fight back to hold his own service games. Nole did well to reach a tiebreak, but couldn't hold off Murray. Andy only needed to keep going and take the fourth set. Crikey, even Ivan Lendl cracked a smile.

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Newt Gingrich - Warlord of Mars

The Earthman boldly stalked into the arena. Far up in the stands, he saw his prize: Ballista Thorax, Princess of Barstoolm. He had left one wife on Earth, and already had taken another in Helium, but Newt was not one to let a healthy, unclaimed princess go begging. To impress her, he must defeat all comers.

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New #1 After Australian Final

Women's tennis will have a new #1 next week, and the current top-ranked player, Caroline Wozniacki, will drop to #4 in the WTA rankings. A lot of scenarios were possible before the semis, but now that third seed Victoria Azarenka and fourth seed Maria Sharapova are to play the finals, the winner will also secure the #1 ranking.

According to a contributor at Yahoo, if Azarenka wins, the points will stand at:
1. Victoria Azarenka 8585
2. Petra Kvitova 7690
3. Maria Sharapova 7560
4. Caroline Wozniacki 7085

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Operation Plowshare

I just added Operation Plowshare to the long list of stuff I never knew about.

Following links, I ended up at 1967 Recklessness in PA Equals Destruction? at How Should We Do the Mountain blog:

In hindsight, the plan seems impossibly audacious: Explode a 24-kiloton atomic bomb in the thick shale beneath the Sproul State Forest near State College to create a massive cavern for storing natural gas. Known as Project Ketch, it was a partnership between the Columbia Gas System Service Corp. and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which was hungry to find peaceful purposes for nuclear technology. (Another commission brainchild of the era: to nuke its way across Panama to create a second canal.)

Back then, Harrisburg had the red carpet out for any nuclear project, no matter how bizarre, and the proposal caught on. Why not put all that empty forest land to good use? Pennsylvania could cash in big, because the industry and the AEC hoped to detonate as many as 1,000 nuclear bombs to allow gas storage in the Northeast.

While the plan had the blessing of lawmakers from downstream districts along the Susquehanna, the reception wasn’t as enthusiastic upstream. Among those opposed were the residents of Renovo, which was ground zero for Project Ketch.


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Donal is now posting on a wordpress blog called simply, Donal.


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