The Null Device


The increasing weight of passengers is costing airlines in the US US$275m a year:

Through the 1990s, the average weight of Americans increased by 10 pounds, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The extra weight caused airlines to spend $275 million to burn 350 million more gallons of fuel in 2000 to carry the additional weight, the federal centers estimated in a recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The extra fuel burned had an environmental impact, as an estimated 3.8 million extra tons of carbon dioxide were released into the air, the study says.

Perhaps the solution would be to weigh passengers with their luggage and use the combined sum as an allowance? In the most obesogenic regions (i.e., the ones with no footpaths and no facilities within walking distance of homes), they could install cattle-weighing scales at the airports. (via bOING bOING)

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A good essay by Simon Schama on why America is now two nations: Godly America and Worldly America.

Worldly America is pragmatic, practical, rational and sceptical. In California it passed Proposition 71, funding embryonic stem cell research beyond the restrictions imposed by Bush's federal policy. Godly America is mythic, messianic, conversionary, given to acts of public witness, hence the need - in Utah and Montana and a handful of other states - to poll the voters on amendments to their state constitution defining marriage as a union between the opposite sexes. But then Worldly America is said to feed the carnal vanities; Godly America banishes and punishes them. From time to time Godly America will descend on the fleshpots of Worldly America, from Gotham (it had its citadel-like Convention there after all) to Californication, will shop for T-shirts, take a sniff at the local pagans and then return to base-camp more convinced than ever that a time of Redemption and Repentance must be at hand. But if the stiff-necked transgressors cannot be persuaded, they can be cowed and conquered.

And jwz makes a case for the US Presidential election having been rigged (though concedes that it is entirely possible that that didn't change the final outcome): has some graphs of the major discrepencies between exit polling and vote counts. They're pretty incredible! Now, maybe the exit polling methodology is just fundamentally broken, but isn't it funny when you see pictures like the one at the right, knowing that last year, Diebold's CEO swore that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to President Bush."
You don't steal an election with a landslide, you steal it with 3%. You stay within the margin of error across the board so that it's not obvious.

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