Google reshoots Japan views after privacy complaints

So what's with these island nations and Google Street View? First English villagers attack Google camera car. Now the Japanese are upset. See my previous posts on this here, and also here.

Google reshoots Japan views after privacy complaints - News - "TOKYO, May 13 (Reuters) - Internet search engine Google said it would reshoot all Japanese pictures for its online photo map service, Street View, using lower camera angles after complaints about invasion of privacy."

BTW and FYI, did you know that England, if considered as a separate country, has a higher population density than Japan. Does that make a difference to people's perceptions of privacy? You bet!

Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency: The 21 signs and symptoms

So, in the continuing iron overload saga, it now appears that my wife's hemochromatosis has had three major impacts, or impacted three major glands (thyroid, adrenals, and pituitary). Although a course of phlebotomy is underway to treat the hemochromatosis, dealing with damage to the glands is more complicated.

Consider the Human Growth Hormone deficiency due to the damage to the pituitary. It's not like HGH is something you can get over the counter at the local pharmacy. The substance itself is unstable, requiring special handling, and it very expensive to produce. And thanks to years of mindless abuse by selfish greedy so-called "athletes" HGH is not easy to get (in the State of New York it's a controlled substance, with all the hassles that designation entails).

On the upside, there is some good support out there for sufferers of human growth hormone deficiency, which mainly occurs in children. The adult version is known as Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency or AGHD. I was amazed to learn how much of an impact AGHD can have on a person. Consider this list:

  1. weakened heart muscle contraction and heart rate

  2. increased arterial plaque and blood pressure

  3. elevated lipids or fats in the blood (cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides)

  4. decreased exercise capacity due to decreased cardiac output

  5. decreased energy due to decreased metabolic rate

  6. abnormal body composition (increased abdominal obesity--waist to hip ratio)

  7. decreased bone density due to decreased synthesis of bone

  8. increase in fractures and osteoporosis

  9. decreased muscle strength and muscle size

  10. decreased lean body mass

  11. increased fat mass

  12. low blood sugar (dizziness or fainting weakness or tiredness, headaches)

  13. poor concentration or memory

  14. decreased sexual desire

  15. sleep problems

  16. shyness

  17. withdrawal from others

  18. nervousness or anxiety

  19. decreased social contact

  20. sadness or depression

  21. feelings of hopelessness

The bad news is, my wife has experienced all of these. The good news is, HGH could reverse any or all of these. So if you read the list as one of positive possibilities it's quite exciting, like #5: "Increased energy due to increased metabolic rate." I know she'd like that!

Of course, there's a long way to go yet. AGHD is a pretty nasty thing to be hit with. When I first looked over this list and got to number 21 my reaction upon reading it was: "That's entirely understandable!"

List source: Human Growth Foundation metabolic rate"

Cash for Clunkers Has Some People Upset

As you may have heard--or if you're like me, had not heard--the U.S. government is considering several programs that offer people money for their old cars. There is already a program along these lines in California that pays you cash for turning in an old polluting car.

Oddly enough, when I lived in California I passed off my old polluting car to the authorities by parking it illegally, repeatedly, because there was nowhere legal to park. Then I went out of town on business one time and found it gone when I returned. The city kept the vehicle in payment for the fines, which suited me fine.

But apparently this cash-for-clunkers talk has upset some people, such as those who collect old cars and some car bloggers. So now we have anti-C4C folks name calling people who have reported it fairly objectively, like John Voelcker at

In a rare case of me admitting that I just don't know enough to render an authoritative opinion, I'm going to sit out the C4C debate. However, I will throw a question into the ring: What happens to the flow of used vehicles to Africa? I was told by a "used car industry insider" in Florida that a lot of used cars that don't fetch money at auction are shipped to Africa. I had assumed they went there to be fixed up and driven. But maybe they go to be buried. It wouldn't be the first time we have dumped our inconvenient waste in poor countries. Hopefully any C4C program the government executes will include an environmentally sound end-of-line process.

Hybrids Decline as Diesels Pop? Google Trends paint interesting picture

Figured I would check out the new Google Trend gizmo which lets you chart search trends. You can adjust the terms and the time frame. I found that a one year view from the US perspective shows "hybrid" declined rapidly as fuel prices eased (or family budgets tightened).

National Train Day: Saturday, May 9!

That's right, May 9 is National Train Day in America. Amtrak gets high marks for the marketing campaign on this one.

I really like the idea of getting people excited about train travel and several angles are being played in this one campaign. There is an appeal to "Trainiacs" but also to families and executive travelers.

If only more people would get behind the idea that investing in trains is an investment in the future. Think of all the jet fuel emissions we could save with high speed inter-city links. Not to mention the productivity gains--it is so much easier to work on a train than a plane. (Assuming Amtrak or whomever installs broadband--it is not hard to do guys--if they can do it on buses between Philly and Manhattan you can do it on trains.)

Anyway, check the site and you will find links ot all sorts of train-related events around the country this weekend.

Stunning Tesla Model S Sedan: When a silent test drive can speak volumes

Thanks to good friend and fellow green car enthusiast, David Brussin, CEO of inherently green Monetate, I attended a great party last night, superbly hosted by New York mega-agency IAC, where the guest of honor was a stunning new emissions-free car, the all-electric Tesla Model S Sedan.

While David chatted with Tesla CEO Elon Musk, I had a chance to discuss the Tesla S design challenges with Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausenon. He said that in many ways the challenge was to avoid being too audacious, given the freedom afforded by an electric power train (like the absence of a large engine up front and a large fuel tank in the rear). The role of this sedan is to get mainstream consumers excited about an all-electric vehicle without coming across as far out.

In my opinion von Holzhausenon has succeeded on all fronts with this design. It would be a head-turner if it was a regular petroleum-powered car. As an electric it will turn even more heads, even though people won't hear it coming, or going.

Later in the evening we hooked up with Green Car Reports Editor-in-Chief John Voelcker and went for a test drive in the sedan. A very short test drive, but enough to leave a lasting impression, of amazing acceleration--accomplished in almost complete silence--and of terrific cabin space design. John has a more detailed write-up here.

BTW, during my chat with von Holzhausenon I was gratified to hear him acknowledge Coventry's continuing role as a source of automotive design and engineering talent. An excellent evening all round.

The Rural Broadband Challenge: Use It!

"Teleco and cable company lobbyists conspicuously have overlooked a decade of grassroots innovations generated by community technology centers and community networking. (For just a sample of the community work being done see Community Technology Review; Community Technology Centers Network; Association for Community Networking; and Community Networking Clearinghouse.) These community groups have been active in providing local Internet service, broadband, and the teaching resources to make the most of it."

The Rural Broadband Challenge: Use It | Daily Yonder | Keep It Rural

Move Over Mini? Fiat 500 could be the next big little thing

There is at least one bright spot in all the gloom surrounding the US auto industry today: Fiat might soon own a big slice of Chrysler Jeep Dodge. Why is this good news? Fiat makes some cool stuff, not the "least" of which is the ultra-cool Fiat 500. And the deal with Chrysler may bring this affordable high mileage mini-car to America.

Italian automakers have always had the ability to sell their vehicular technology on the basis of lifestyle and aesthetics (c.f. Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Lambretti, Ducati). The new Fiat 500 is no exception, except it is undoubtedly more reliable than the old Fiats most Americans have known (a.k.a. Fix It Again Tomorrow). This remake of the original mini-car from the 1950s and 60s is really exciting stuff. Even Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson was impressed. And check out Motor Trend raving about the fiesty 500 Abarth pictured here.

Also check out design of the Fiat 500 web site. Also cool. And there's talk of a diesel version and an electric version (of the car, not the web site). What's not to love? As to reliability. I've rented Fiats on several trips to the UK in recent years and had no problems. In fact, I even owned a Fiat Strada in the U.S. in the 1980s, probably the last time Fiat had dealership arrangements this side of the Atlantic. I put a lot of highway miles on that little hatchback across many Western states and I don't ever recall it failing to start (I even cut a hole in the roof and fitted a sunroof--but that's another story.

The Italian connection continues in our diesel Jeep Liberty, the engine of which is sourced from Italy. We've put 38,000 miles on it since late 2005, through all kinds of weather including deep winter. It's towed big trailers for days with no complaint. I like it. I also like the idea of Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealers carrying small Fiats. If they do it right, I'm thinking they could sell like hotcakes.

Could 1491 Solve the Swine Flu Mystery?

I recently wrote a review of a great book that I am re-reading these days: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. And today I realized that it might contain an explanation for something that has recently rocketed to the top of the news: swine flu in Mexico.

Right now there is open speculation as to why some people are getting infected and others are not, why some people are getting very sick and others not. Some reports suggest more people in Mexico are getting more seriously infected than eslewhere. And here's where 1491 comes in.

Author Charles Mann reviews all manner of resarch as to why some diseases had such a devastating effect on Indian populations. One factor was  human leukocyte antigens or HLAs, an important part of the body's disease fighting systems. Humans fight disease better when they have a diversity of HLAs.

Most human groups have a "scatterbox mix" of HLAs but South American Indians have fewer HLA types than populations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. In South America, according to one estimation, the minimum probability that a pathogen in one host will next encounter a host with a similar immune spectrum is about 28 percent. By comparison, in Europe the chance is less than 2 percent.

Now I'm sure that I'm over-simplifying here, but it would seem that there's an infection differential of 14X in there somewhere. While the population of Mexico is, in broad terms a mix of Europeans and Indians, it may well have less HLA diversity than the population of a melting pot like the United States. Which bodes well for the States, not so well for Mexico. I hope the World Health Organization is checking this out.

We Need Broadband! Worth Saying Yes

This survey/petition is not the only "we want rural broadband" effort out there, but one worth spreading. The more people who submit the better:

We Need Broadband Inquiry Form