The Canard Times

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Q&A session at Johns Hopkins University:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. It's an honor to have you here. I'm a first-year student in South Asia studies. My question is in regards to private military contractors. Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to these contractors in Iraq. I asked your Secretary of Defense a couple months ago what law governs their actions.

THE PRESIDENT: I was going to ask him. Go ahead. (Laughter.) Help. (Laughter.)

Q I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. (Laughter.) Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws, much less against -- over our American military contractors. I would submit to you that in this case, this is one case that privatization is not a solution. And, Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that very much. I wasn't kidding -- (laughter.) I was going to -- I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I've got an interesting question. (Laughter.) Actually, let’s do that. Anyone want to see me pump the Secretary of Defense for information? (applause) Ok. Donny, come on out here…Yes, come out on the stage and make sure you bring your cell phone. This is Don; he’s called my personal aid. He’s the one who remembers my wife’s birthday. (Laughter.) Ok Donny, I want you to get Mr. Rumsfeld on the phone, but I don’t want him to know we’ve got an audience. Everyone: keep quiet so we don’t tip him off. Yeah, put it on speaker phone and I’ll put it next to the mic. (Ring.) Anyone got a stopwatch to see how long…


THE PRESIDENT: Rummy? I’ve got an interesting question for you.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

SloGlas Sheds Light on Privacy and Legal Issues

Five years after the light-slowing material known as SloGlas has been installed throughout the US, groups are becoming concerned about the privacy and legal concerns that are now starting to arise.

SloGlas is created from a carbon-silicon crystallite that slows down the light particles that pass through it at a predetermined rate. This way the light shone through the material can be seen a few minutes or years later in perfect clarity.

This has become a great boon for reducing artificial lighting in homes and businesses as dual-sky lights have been pre-installed in millions of buildings. The delay is usually set at 12-hours on one half of the skylight while the other half is just normal glass. Enjoying the night sky and natural sunlight 24 hours a day has now become the norm.

Since light passes through at the same speed in both directions, these skylights and windows offer a glimpse back in time for both those inside and outside. The legal ramifications of this became apparent during the murder trial of Benny Harris who was accused of killing his wife. The prosecutors were granted an eight month recess while they waited for the subpoenaed SloGlas to reveal what happened at the murder scene at the time of the crime.

In another creative use of the material for the other side of the law, a serial flasher found a way to get around the statute of limitations. He exposed himself in front of the three-year pane at the Slivers of Time sculpture in Central Park, then came back three years later with a flash mob he created to enjoy their reactions. After being charged with indecent exposure, the judge ruefully had to throw it out because they were past the statute of limitations. Congress is now considering ways to get around this new loophole.

Joint ownership rights of SloGlas have been giving divorce and property rights lawyers a headache. Spouses want to see their kids grow up all over again, but don’t want their former significant others to see them in compromising situations. And previous renters of apartments claim they own the images that will someday shine through the other side of the expensive panes that were installed in their residences.

The material’s use as energy storage has also elicited a lawsuit. A broken pane that had been shipped from the Sahara and ended up in a US landfill spontaneously combusted the trash it was laying on when the direct sunlight finally shone through.

What once started as modern art sculptures and time capsules to novelties, batteries and ubiquitous energy-savers has time- and place-shifted light in a way that we are only now beginning to grasp.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Google’s Hunt For The Icy Blue

Most of the servers that power the search engines of Google are in the process of being relocated to Oahu, Hawaii to take advantage of their cooling waters. Google has been on a constant search to find ways to reduce the amount of power or cool down their fields of low-end computers that run their business.

John Piña Craven offered a solution, harvest the near-freezing waters within the ocean depths. He is the “mad genius” who designed the miles of pipes that feed through the servers and eliminated the need for fans or even A/C throughout the complex.

The temperature difference between the ice-cold water and the tropical air outside can also be harnessed to create enough electricity to power the same computers they are cooling. This slightly warmed water is then returned hundreds of meters back down.

“The real advantage of tropical islands is their warm climate and lack of a continental shelf,” explained Craven. “This way you can send your pipes far below the bulk of the marine life, the warm air boosts the amount of electricity generated, and you never have to worry about your above-ground pipes freezing in the winter.”

Craven also pitched his idea feed ceramic pipes through Hawaii’s lava fields, calculating that the difference between the superheated steam and chilly ocean water would power the state capital. Google declined, saying they had no interest in becoming a public utility.


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