China to Top TGV

The Chinese are growing four-lane highways like weeds, but they also want the world’s fastest high-speed rail system:

“It is possible that we can start to manufacture 380km/h trains in two years time, and put them into service on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway,” Mr Zhang told the state-owned China Daily.

Meanwhile, here in the US it’s a struggle to assemble political support for even one of these. Technological feats are increasingly the domain of other countries.

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FAA IT Systems: Snafu

In the dog-bites-man department, the computer system the Federal Aviation Administration relies on to track flight plans is tottering:

Stratfor, along with many other industry watchers, is very concerned about the flight-plan system and evidence that the system is wearing out.

“Regardless of what caused the Aug. 26 [National Airspace Data Interchange Network] crash, [there] is a monumental challenge the event underscores. Here an archaic system that had survived nearly seven years of 9/11-inspired overhauls went down, dumping its entire workload on one other switch. The NADIN system had already been partially upgraded with systems from Lockheed Martin and is slated to be replaced altogether with the FAA’s much-hyped NextGen Air Traffic Control system. But the lack of redundancy and dynamism demonstrated again by the latest NADIN crash makes a cyberattack against critical U.S. infrastructure all the more feasible. And the cost of comprehensively upgrading these systems would be an enormous financial investment, far more than we have seen so far in the years following 9/11.”

Why, oh why, does the feds’ civilian IT infrastructure suck so badly?

Thinking Makes You Fat

Oh, wonderful:

A preliminary study from a group of researchers in Quebec suggest that working on a computer may have an additional impact on our waistlines: taxing mental effort appears to cause people to eat significantly more food, even though it doesn’t burn many more calories than sitting around and relaxing.

Econ 102

McCain pounds away on the tax issue, lying along the way:

“These are tough times. Tough times in Wisconsin. Tough times in Ohio. Tough times all over America,” McCain told thousands packed into the picturesque downtown of Cedarburg, Wis. “My opponent will raise your taxes. My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases — increases, he wants to increase your taxes! — he’ll eliminate ’em!”

First of all, I rather doubt many people in that crowd would pay more under Obama’s tax plan. Second, why does the GOP keep getting away with the taxes/jobs meme when according to the Congressional Research Service (warning, PDF) economists say tax changes at this level don’t make much difference in macro-economic performance?

Like I Said …

Republican women and Democratic women just don’t mix. The Washington Post:

In the new poll, it is underlying political attitudes that appear to dominate, just as they do in ratings of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), the Democratic vice presidential nominee. Eighty-five percent of Republicans view Palin favorably, and nearly nine in 10 approve of her selection as Sen. John McCain‘s running mate. Among Democrats, 24 percent view her favorably and 57 percent disapprove of her selection.

Michigan Cracks Down on RIAA Snoopers

Amid all the complaining about the RIAA’s unlicensed snooping into file-sharing, Michigan’s legislature has passed a law that, yes, says firms engaging in “computer forensics” must obtain a private-investigations license.

Hold On To Your Lunch

Opinions varied, especially among the passengers, but the approach to Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport had to be the coolest anywhere because it featured a low-altitude turn to final that occurred just above the homes and businesses of Kowloon. I was lucky enough to take that ride once, in a UAL 747, and it beat any roller coaster. With Kai Tak’s passing the approach lives on only in flight simulations. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of people who want to try to re-create it. Rock on, dudes.