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Geek humor

Volker Weber provides a strong counterargument to my posts favoring public investment (very funny, if you are a certain kind of geek):

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Protests arise over British government’s “eco-town” plans

The British government is preparing a shortlist of sites for high-density, carbon-neutral eco-towns, but is coming under consistent protest from villagers who don't want 'em nearby. Many residents living near the proposed sites have concerns that, eco or not, new development will take over agricultural land, increase traffic, and burden local infrastructure. Says Mark Sullivan of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, "[Eco-towns] will never be self-sustaining, effective communities if they are sited in the wrong places."

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Deep thought of the day

As rising energy prices and better urban planning push the affluent back to city centers, the poor and working class will be pushed out to the suburbs. Soon, we'll see blight, crime, the drug trade, and other social pathologies where we have been accustomed to seeing the American Dream. "Inner city" and "outer suburb" will flip their cultural connotations. It will be confusing.

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Cities worldwide will turn off lights for Earth Hour

Mark your calendar for March 29, when cities around the world will switch off non-critical lights at 8:00 p.m. for an awareness-raising Earth Hour. At present, 24 cities -- with a total population of some 30 million people -- plan to participate in the energy-saving symbolism, from Toronto to Tel Aviv, Bangkok to Brisbane, Canberra to Copenhagen, and first Earth Hour participant Sydney to copycat event holder San Francisco. Thousands of individuals and businesses have also signed on to come to the dark side.

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How to kill coal in 10 years

We know that coal is the enemy of the human race, what with carbon emissions, deadly air pollution, and unsafe and destructive mining practices. The supply of coal is becoming more problematic as well: recently, a Wall Street Journal article described a "coal-price surge," and Richard Heinberg has warned that coal may peak much sooner than most people expect. So what's to like? Not much. But since coal-fired plants provide almost half of our electricity, we can't get rid of coal unless we find either a way to replace it or a way to reduce the use of electricity. Recently, …

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A breathless appraisal of Lance’s new bicycle mecca and mission

Lance Armstrong will soon unveil his 18,000-square-foot Austin-based bike shop, Mellow Johnny's (named after the Tour de France's yellow jersey -- or "maillot jaune"). The goal of the shop is to promote bike culture and bike commuting: "This city is exploding downtown. Are all these people in high rises going to drive everywhere? We have to promote (bike) commuting..." Showers and a locker room will allow commuters who don't have facilities at their offices to ride downtown, store their bikes at the shop, bathe and catch a ride on a pedicab or walk the rest of the way to work. …

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Engineer plans to sell compressed-air car in India within a year

Could folks in India be driving a car that runs on compressed air within a year? French engineer Guy Negre says it will be so. Tata Motors has backed his invention: a five-seater called the OneCAT, which would produce no emissions and cost around $5,000. "The first buyers [of the car] will be people who care about the environment," says Negre, who hopes that investors around the world will set up factories to build the car using local materials, cutting down on shipping emissions. "I really hope he succeeds," says Terry Spall from the U.K. Institution of Mechanical Engineers. "It …

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What would you build on the land near the iconic Hollywood sign?

Get out your checkbooks, folks: The mountaintop property located just above the "H" in the iconic "Hollywood" sign is now for sale. The asking price? A sweet $22 million. Two years ago, Los Angeles officials and conservationists tried to purchase the land atop the 1,820-foot Cahuenga Peak to create a city park, but were unable to raise the funds. No matter what is constructed there -- homes, additional words (I see an advertising opportunity, Planet Hollywood!) -- one of the city's most famous views could be forever altered. So what would you put up there? I'm thinking wind turbines.

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NYC nightclub groovin’ to a green tune

Dirty dancing is so 2007. An NYC hot spot aiming for LEED certification could become the first eco-club in the U.S., W Magazine reports: Jon B., owner of Manhattan nightclubs Home and Guest House, plans to open Greenhouse -- the first eco club in the U.S. -- in time to make it New York Fashion Week's buzziest hot spot. In the three-story space on 10th Avenue, LED lights replace standard bulbs, the toilets are programmed to use less water, furniture is covered with recycled material, and an organic drinks menu is in the works. Hey, Jon B., put me on …

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