Sunday, April 22, 2007

Al Gore. Will he throw his hat in the Presidential ring?

Friends of Al Gore have possibly secretly started assembling a campaign team in preparation for the former American vice-president to make a fresh bid for the White House. Considering his popularity in the USA at the moment, he may well have a chance at the Democratic nomination shall he choose to run? He is polling ahead of Sen Edwards, and not to different from Barack Obama.... I am sure he could overtake Hillary if he is serious about it.

Al ore campaign team assembles in secret
Al Gore is third favourite for the Democratic nomination

Two members of Mr Gore's staff from his unsuccessful attempt in 2000 say they have been approached to see if they would be available to work with him again. Well who are they and where did this info come from?

Al Gore, President Bill Clinton's deputy, has said he wants to concentrate on publicizing the need to combat climate change, a case made in his film, An Inconvenient Truth, which won him an Oscar this year.

But, being aware that he may step into the wide open race for the White House, former strategists are sounding out a shadow team that could run his campaign at short notice. In approaching former campaign staff, including political strategists and communications officials, they are making clear they are not acting on formal instructions from Mr Gore, 59, but have not been asked to stop.

His denials of interest in the presidency have been couched in terms of "no plans" or "no intention" - politically ambiguous language that does not rule out a run.

In an interview on Thursday, which touched on the prospects for next year's presidential election, former President # 42 Bill Clinton commented: "You've got the prospect that Vice-President Gore might run."

Now wouldn't it raise some eyebrows if Albert Arnold Gore Jr actually does it?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Hillary Clinton gets it wrong?

It seems that while I tend to agree with Mrs Clinton's energy policy outlined in the video above, two things come to mind. Firstly who split the atom first, was it USA? No it wasn't. Her wording is rather ambiguous inferring that amongst being the first country in the world to land on the moon, USA also was the first to split the atom. Hmm is she presuming, trying to take credit, or just ill informed? You tell me.
Second thing is that it was very grating to watch the whole video of her.... Somewhat like listening to my 5th form English teacher scratching the old fashioned black board with her long but blunt nails while telling us she wanted us to write a 5000 word essay for homework due at 9am the next day... You get my drift.
She may be an effective Senator, and she may be married to someone who was an effective President, but thank goodness for John McCain. I don't want to listen to a weekly radio address from President H Clinton.

Friday, April 06, 2007

High speed train from Santa Monica to Las Vegas

If you have evet been to Japan you will realise that it is a trainspotter's paradise without any doubt. From the 12 separate metro lines that twist beneath Tokyo like a bowl of noodles to the suburban commuter trains packed to bursting every morning and evening, the country runs on rails. In 2005, Japanese traveled 243 billion miles by railroad, which is nearly 1,900 miles per person. And 49 billion of those miles were covered by the shinkansen, the super-fast bullet trains that make intercity travel as simple as a subway hop.

If all you've ever known is the slow torture of Amtrak, you won't believe trains that reach 170 mph, depart for major cities at least six times an hour, and measure punctuality in tenths of seconds. Still, the Japanese want to go faster.

Japan already has the world's fastest rail service, but it is spending billions on leaving the bullet train in the dust by dispensing with the friction of rails

For over a decade, Japan has been experimenting with electromagnetic trains at a testing facility in Yamanashi prefecture, about 50 miles west of Tokyo. The repulsion created between magnets embedded in the U-shaped track and others embedded inside the cars causes the train to levitate 10 cm above the bottom of the track "maglev" is short for magnetic levitation, even though is sounds like an Israeli name. The magnets also propel the train forward very, very quickly, in part because air creates less friction than rail. The Yamanashi test maglev set a world speed record for trains in 2003 at 361 mph, and it cruises at 310 mph. The standard bullet train' average speed is 164mph.

Right now, however, the maglev only travels the length of the 11-mile test track at Yamanashi. The train begins moving on wheels and the levitation doesn't kick in until the cars reach 81 mph. After a bump and release, as you would feel aboard a plane leaving the runway, it's pure, even, rapid acceleration to 310 mph. The only clue to the sheer speed is the tunnel lights outside: Standing 40 feet apart, they seem to stretch and blend until they appear as a single white stripe; very Buck Rogers. Outside the train makes a searing boom sound as it rips the surrounding air, but inside the car is as quiet as an airplane cabin, if a bit bumpy. Even before you've grown accustomed to the speed, the ride is over, the maglev gliding to a gentle halt, ending on its wheels.

Motaki Terai, the project's engineering manager, says that bumpiness won't be an issue: "People will be able to drink hot coffee when we start commercial service." But that day may be a long time coming, because the maglev is as costly as it is speedy. Japan Rail (JR) Central, the ex-public company that operates the country's main shinkansen artery, has already spent nearly $2 billion developing the maglev. Building an operational line that would cover the 342 miles between Tokyo and Osaka which is Japan's most heavily traveled rail route and would cost an estimated $70 billion which is about $204 million per mile. That price tag may be prohibitive for a country whose public debt is over 1.5 times its GDP and the largest in the industrialized world, and whose poplation is shrinking.

So it is about 236 miles from Santa Monica to Las Vegas Nevada. It takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes to 9 hours to get there or return depending on the traffic. It costs between $100 to $200 return to catch a plane and that doesn't include parking, and at least $100 in gas if you drive not including any speeding infringements that may be handed to you by officer friendly.

How about a maglev going from Santa Monica to Las Vegas. At the maglevs cost of $204 million per mile, it would cost about $48 billion to build and take less than an hour for the trip. Now I am sure that it would have to stop along the way to pick up passengers but if it was capable of carrying 300 passengers each way every 1/2 hour x 24 hours per day then that is 28800 paying paggengers. If it was $125 each way then that is $3600000 per day times 365 = 1,314,000,000 per year coming in which still would not be enough to make it a viable investment. You'd have to allow for running costs and maintenance as well as the fact that even though there is plenty of people in LA would the train be full all of the time?

What would make sense is a good old TGV or shinkansen bullet train which are capable of a top speed of about 186 MPH (300kph) or more. These are rather old technology and are capable of running on standard tracks up too about 150mph. If it cost 5 billion to complete properly then on the same calculations above you'd be able to charge $85 each way and have the project payed off in under 7 years.

The airlines would have something to say about it I am sure, but it would certainly make the trip to Vegas about 1 hour and a half and I for one would pay $85 each way to get to Sin City without worrying about speeding tickets or missing the plane.

Something to think about.

Pelosi in Damascus

Syrian President Bashar Assad, on the right, greets United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in Damascus, Wednesday, April 4,2007. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held talks with Syria's president on Wednesday despite harsh White House objections, saying she pressed Bashar Assad over Syrian support for militant groups and passed him a peace message from Israel's prime minister. It is a good thing that Speaker Pelosi is undermining the White House by visiting leaders of countries that are thought of as sponsors of terroristic activities?
Speaker Pelosi also visited with
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, having talks at his headquarters in Ramalla as well as popping quickly into Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to chat with the folks running the Kingdom.
I am all for diplomatic relations with every country. For the USA and others to publicly ignore someone or a particular country does not make them go away and it certainly does not make or give them the opportunity to favor or like you anymore than they do currently. It is a rather cheeky of Speaker Pelosi to have these talks, but maybe just maybe something will be made of them. Photo courtesy of AP/Sano

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Guns and Roses to play in Auckland

According to the NZ Herald, Guns N' Roses are set to rock Auckland's Vector Arena this June in a special one-night-only concert and what a show it will be.

The infamous rockers will come to New Zealand for the first time since 1993, as part of the Chinese Democracy World Tour. They need to release Chinese Democracy the album first but we have all been waiting years for it so lets hope it is soon.

They will play the 12,200 capacity stadium on Friday, June 29. I saw them in September at teh Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas and they rocked.. If you are a fan DON'T miss out.

Tickets to the show will go on sale on Monday, April 30 at 9am through TicketMaster.

The band will be joined by two special guests, former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach and Australian blues rockers, Rose Tattoo.

Gun N' Roses last played in New Zealand to a crowd of 52,000 at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium. I was there it was AXL's 30th birthday..... He is now 44.....

Rock on G'N'F'N'R.