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Gentlemen, stop your engines
EEStor's new automotive power source could eliminate the need for the combustion engine - and for oil.
Business 2.0 Magazine
By Erick Schonfeld and Jeanette Borzo, Business 2.0
September 20 2006: 2:16 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) -- The Disruptor: EEStor

The Innovation: A ceramic power source for electric cars that could blow away the combustion engine

The Disrupted: Oil companies and carmakers that don't climb aboard

Forget hybrids and hydrogen-powered vehicles. EEStor, a stealth company in Cedar Park, Texas, is working on an "energy storage" device that could finally give the internal combustion engine a run for its money -- and begin saving us from our oil addiction. "To call it a battery discredits it," says Ian Clifford, the CEO of Toronto-based electric car company Feel Good Cars, which plans to incorporate EEStor's technology in vehicles by 2008.

EEStor's device is not technically a battery because no chemicals are involved. In fact, it contains no hazardous materials whatsoever. Yet it acts like a battery in that it stores electricity. If it works as it's supposed to, it will charge up in five minutes and provide enough energy to drive 500 miles on about $9 worth of electricity. At today's gas prices, covering that distance can cost $60 or more; the EEStor device would power a car for the equivalent of about 45 cents a gallon.

And we mean power a car. "A four-passenger sedan will drive like a Ferrari," Clifford predicts. In contrast, his first electric car, the Zenn, which debuted in August and is powered by a more conventional battery, can't go much faster than a moped and takes hours to charge.

The cost of the engine itself depends on how much energy it can store; an EEStor-powered engine with a range roughly equivalent to that of a gasoline-powered car would cost about $5,200. That's a slight premium over the cost of the gas engine and the other parts the device would replace -- the gas tank, exhaust system, and drivetrain. But getting rid of the need to buy gas should more than make up for the extra cost of an EEStor-powered car.

EEStor is tight-lipped about its device and how it manages to pack such a punch. According to a patent issued in April, the device is made of a ceramic powder coated with aluminum oxide and glass. A bank of these ceramic batteries could be used at "electrical energy stations" where people on the road could charge up.

EEStor is backed by VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and the company's founders are engineers Richard Weir and Carl Nelson. CEO Weir, a former IBM-er, won't comment, but his son, Tom, an EEStor VP, acknowledges, "That is pretty much why we are here today, to compete with the internal combustion engine." He also hints that his engine technology is not just for the small passenger vehicles that Clifford is aiming at, but could easily replace the 300-horsepower brutes in today's SUVs. That would make it appealing to automakers like GM (Charts) and Ford (Charts), who are seeing sales of their gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks begin to tank because of exorbitant fuel prices.

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Basically, playboy want this charity to change names, cancel, whatever based on the argument that an event which supports a childrens charity will somehow tarnish the image of a pornographic empire...good one Hugh.
Playboy wields might to axe Chch ball
09 September 2006

Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner has got his cravat in a knot over a planned fundraiser for a Christchurch children's charity, claiming it will tarnish the Playboy empire's name.

Craig Douglas, the organiser of the Playboy Ball to be held at the Civic in Manchester Street next Saturday, has received a letter from a Wellington legal firm acting on behalf of Playboy Enterprises International demanding the cancellation of the event.

The ball is being held to raise funds for Koru Care Christchurch.

The letter objects to Douglas's use of the word "playboy" and "bunny themes" and claims the event breaches Playboy's trademark.

"We're not trying to pass off on their intellectual property in any way, shape or form," Douglas said.

"They have an issue with the rabbit-head device. That's funny – you can't put a patent on a rabbit-head device. You can buy rabbit ears at the $2 Shop. Rabbits have them. What are they going to do?

"And anyone can call themselves a playboy. I'm not; I'm happily married."

The ball will see Manchester Street closed to traffic and bright with the glare from paparazzi snapping the 550 people expected to attend. Entertainment will be provided by a local band called, ironically, Hefner, and members of 48 May.

The guest list includes master of ceremonies Mike King, Winston Peters, Marc Ellis, Matthew Ridge, Aja Rock, Byron Kelleher, Corey Flynn, Australia's Outback Jack, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, and Vicky Lee, once a Playboy Bunny.

The lawyer's letter says: "Your use of the Playboy trademark and bunny theme trades off our client's reputation and is likely to tarnish that reputation."

Douglas, a former youth minister, laughs at the thought of tarnishing the reputation of the Playboy empire, known for its magazines featuring naked women.

"This event is going to be lavish and exquisite. It's all about class," he said.

"We wrote to them eight months ago, and got their permission. Apparently, the person who wrote back to us had no authorisation to tell us that it was OK, but as far as we're concerned, we're covered.

"We sent an invitation to Hugh Hefner personally. We didn't think he'd turn up. We just hoped he'd possibly sign it, and send it back so we could auction it off.

"No way are we cancelling."

Proceeds from an auction at the ball, including a pair of Carter's underwear, will go to Koru Care Christchurch, a charitable trust devoted to making dreams come true for hundreds of sick and disabled New Zealand children.

Chris George, chairman of Koru Care Christchurch, was not aware of the bunny-ear row when approached by The Press.

"All I know is that some of the proceeds are coming to us. It's not an event run by Koru Care Christchurch. It's to help fundraise for our next trip," he said.

"We spend 11-months-a-year fundraising to take these kids away to Disneyland. It is hard work, but to look at the eyes of the kids when we go away makes it all worthwhile.

"These children would never get the opportunity to go away if it wasn't for fundraising events like this".

When approached by The Press for comment, patent and trademark attorney for Playboy Enterprises International Kate McHaffie said: "The short answer is that I can't tell you anything without getting instructions from my client, so that's a `no comment'."

Complaining about Bob

As a follow up to the recent poll here about Bob Geldof's comments regarding NZ's level of foreign aid, here's a pretty picture:
New Zealand's Official Development Assistance as a percentage of GNICollapse )
The average for OECD countries is 0.47%, we're contributing barely over half that amount. New Zealand has promised 0.35% by 2010 and 0.7% by 2015, targets which the Government of the day will probably sweep under the carpet by the time these dates roll round.

via No Right Turn

US plans to invade NZ in 1900s


Old US plan to invade NZ revealed
18 July 2006

The United States planned to invade Auckland almost a century ago if the emerging superpower had gone to war with Japan, then a British ally, a US intelligence document reveals.

The document includes intelligence reports on North Head, Fort Takapuna and Mt Victoria. It recommends the Manukau Harbour as the best invasion point.

The plan involved landing heavy guns on Rangitoto Island to shell forts on the North Shore.

Although the document was declassified by US authorities in 1972, little has been reported up to now. Military historian Peter Corbett has published an article in the February 2002 edition of Forts and Works, a specialist military historian journal.

"To the best of my knowledge it hasn't been reported by the media, probably because they don't know about it," says Mr Corbett, who is convinced of the document's authenticity.

The document - titled: Naval War Plan for the Attack of Auckland, New Zealand - includes information on the water supply, public transport network and climate.

Mr Corbett says the intelligence report was compiled by the US at a time when Great Britain and Japan were allied by a treaty.

The US and Japan had potentially conflictig interests in the Pacific, he says.

"They realised that if it had come to war then they would have had to fight in these regions," he says.

And if the US had gone to war with Japan, Great Britain could have been dragged in on the side of Japan. The ports of New Zealand and Australia would then be important strategic bases, Mr Corbett says.

Intelligence for the report was gathered during the visit of the Great White Fleet to Auckland over six days in August of 1908.

The fleet included 16 state-of-the-art battleships and visited Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Manila and Yokohama during its time in the South East Pacific.

"Basically it was a classic `stick this in your face'. It was a demonstration to the Japanese," he says.

Conservation Department historian and archaeologist David Veart says the document was produced at a time when there was a fear of the "Yellow Peril".

"A conflict in the Pacific between Japan and America was going to happen at some stage.

"The Americans were playing out war game scenarios with the British all over the globe."

Mr Corbett obtained the document from a US military historian after coming across references to the report in other documents.

"I've always been fascinated by warships and I grew up as a boy in Devonport and I suppose it had to get to me in the end," Mr Corbett says.

The American Consulate General's office was contacted to verify the document but said it does not have "any historical expertise in this area".

The North Shore Times has now contacted the Naval Historical Centre and National Archives and Records in the US and is awaiting a reply.