Monday, September 29, 2008

French cuisine in Rosebank

This looks interesting, but WHERE in Rosebank is this restaurant?
HAUTE couture is usually associated with fashion, but one entrepreneur has turned dining into a fashionable experience with the launch of his French-themed restaurant in Johannesburg.

Louis XVI, which cost R3-million to set up, is well placed in the upmarket suburb of Rosebank, and is a reflection of French society and lifestyle, from the food, to the music and décor.

“We wanted it to be relaxed, upmarket, and unique through this theme — a restaurant with a personality,” said Raphael Benza, co-owner of Louis XVI.

“Also, there are not many French restaurants in the city and none in the Rosebank area where we are situated.”

The establishment boasts an authentic French chef, menu and staff of 17, with at least eight of them speaking French.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bamboo Bike [PICTURES]

NVDL: This is amazing.
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LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Bike maker Craig Calfee has found a way to grow bicycle frames in a field, with sunlight and water.

He makes them out of bamboo.

"It's like bonsai basically," said Calfee, who is based in Santa Cruz,
California. "If you grow it in the shape you want it, it's by far the
strongest way to get it in the shape you want it."

The bike is comparable in weight to an aluminum bike, Calfee said, but offers better performance. Plus it appeals to consumers who want to buy green -- a rapidly expanding market.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If Peak Oil is here, the Bailout won't work

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Lawmakers raised doubts Monday about what would be the largest government bailout in American history, but a bigger, more terrifying question lurked right under the surface: What if it doesn’t work?

“The alternative is complete financial Armageddon and a great depression,” said a former Federal Reserve official. “Where do they go after this? Well, the U.S. government could nationalize the banking system outright.”

A few months ago, that idea would have been laughed out of the room.

US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson briefs reporters in Washington, DC on September 15. World markets slid amid mounting concerns over a massive bailout for the US financial system, as haggling over the fine print sparked investor impatience and a spike in oil and gold.(AFP/File/Jim Watson)

But no one’s laughing anymore.

So what’s Plan B?

There really isn’t one.
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Yesterday was World Car Free Day

NVDL: I deserve a huge smack for not broadcasting this until I was hoarse or until my own website could stand no more. I did run yesterday, which was at least something unusual I did to propel myself forward (albeit on a treadmill

This is an excellent article and I can't think of a better cause right now. If you don't already own a bike, get one. If you do own a bike, consider getting another one (like a Mountain Bike if you only have a racer). Despite the worrying current state of affairs, it is heartening to recall that humanity lived well enough for millennia without automobiles. However, my solution is not a return to the horse-drawn carriage, but the healthy, emissions-free, fun and efficient bicycle. It’s perhaps odd in an age of such technological sophistication that a simple device is making a comeback, but the bike’s simplicity is also its advantage.

While there is much to say about the disadvantages of cars, there is at least as much to say about the related benefits of streets with few or no cars. Pedestrian-dominated roads are more likely to house outdoor cafés and local shops that don’t need large obtrusive signs to get people’s attention. Streets can be casually crossed without paranoia of inattentive drivers, and mothers can stroll with their infants knowing their sensitive lungs won’t be harmed. In Stockholm, the simple intermediate measure of lowering the urban speed limit to 50 km/h has produced the dual benefits of reducing greenhouse emissions and making roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
Even beyond the direct correlations between driving and obesity, global warming and foreign oil dependency, these intangibles can and should motivate citizens to leave the car at home for World Carfree Day.

Or better yet, every day.
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The car is dying; it's the age of the bike
Commentary | Search restaurants | Archives
Indeed, if this year is anything to judge by, money does speak louder than the environment when it comes to driving behavior. Apocalyptic warnings from leading scientists that climate change could, within this century, turn Southern Europe into a desert and leave Florida below sea-level did little to change driving habits, but a $70 to $100 bill at the gas pump did. It was never going to be easy convincing the United States or other car-dependent nations that their passion for cars is an unhealthy addiction, and, if it all comes down to economics, then threats posed by peak oil are certainly worrying.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Financial Markets: Who is to blame and what are the billionaire's doing?

Mike Bloomberg: "You can’t just blame the banks, you also can blame the people that took out mortgages ... We were brought up that you first had to put some savings together and then enjoy. But this whole society has gotten to the fact that we’re a ‘now, give it to me today’ kind of society. I think regulation has not been adequate.

"There’s no one person to blame other than all of us," he added.
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"One thing that I noticed about two years ago was that financial sector of the American economy had grown to percentages that were greatly disproportionate to history," he said. "The financing part of the economy grew much more than the part that was making and selling something. It will be shrinking at least for a while."
When does the housing market bottom? Catsimatidis, who has extensive real estate holdings in the New York area, says, "Home prices stabilize when they equal the cost of actually building of home plus the cost of the land plus a premium for location."
©AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Mark Cuban

"Any company that is built around the need to add debt is in trouble," says Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and founder of HDNet.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ike death toll reaches 37 - imminent health crisis in Texas

Snapshots of damage were emerging everywhere: In Galveston, oil coated the water and beaches with a sheen, and residents were ordered off the beach. Dozens of burial vaults popped up out of the soggy ground, many disgorging their coffins. Several came to rest against a chain-link fence choked with garbage and trinkets left behind by mourners.

Galveston officials guessed it would be months before the island could reopen, and warned that mosquito-borne diseases could begin to spread. Cows that had escaped flooded pastures wandered around a shattered neighborhood. An elderly man was airlifted to a hospital, his body covered with hundreds of mosquito bites after his splintered home was swarmed.

"Galveston can no longer safely accommodate its population," City Manager Steve LeBlanc said. "Quite frankly, we are reaching a health crisis for people who remain on the island."

NVDL: One of the implications of a massive power failure is that systems that serve communities immediately fail. These include food, water (and water sanitation), communication, refrigeration, air conditioning, health care, fuel - the works.
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Image: Residents wait for aid in Houston
While the number of confirmed deaths was still remarkably low at 37 in Texas and eight other states, the distress was considerable.
Nearly 37,000 people were in shelters in Texas, and there was no word on when those living in the most devastated towns, such as Galveston, might return. An estimated 2.2 million people in Texas alone remained without power. Many service stations had no gasoline, or no electricity to pump it. With no running water, some residents were dumping toilet waste directly into the sewers. Major highways were still under water.
Victims grew irritable as they waited for food and water. Some relief stations ran out of supplies, leaving thousands hungry and panicked.
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Electric Car, born and bred in South Africa, Unveiled in Cape Town

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The vehicle is a compact six-seater that looks like an uncluttered mix of a Renault Scenic and a Citroen Picasso. It is due to make its global debut at next month's Paris Motor Show.

Minister of Science and Technology Mosibudi Mangena drove the silent vehicle at Killarney on Thursday and said afterwards: "At face value, this may seem a foolhardy venture, given the fiercely competitive nature of the car industry, particularly at a time when market conditions for such products are difficult."

Then he added: "This car is simply gorgeous, and many of us would love to drive it."

Cape Town company Optimal Energy has spent over two years developing the Joule, with the help of R50-million from the National Research Foundation's Innovation Fund.

The car was designed by SA-born Keith Helfet, who has also designed a number of high performance Jaguars, such as the iconic XJ-220, XK-180 and F-Type.
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Monday, September 15, 2008

Coughing? Sneezing? Sniffing? Sinus? Blame global warming

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One of the few potentially positive effects of climate change, at least in the short term, is that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may enhance the growth plants. That could be good for agriculture - though warming temperatures and changing rain patterns in a warmer world might wipe out that advantage. But there are no unalloyed gifts from climate change. Recent research suggests that global warming will also exacerbate respiratory allergies, as higher CO2 concentrations lead to vast increases in ragweed pollen production. "There's no denying there's a change," says Paul Ratner, an immunologist with the American College of Allergies. "It's definitely bad news for people who have allergies." (Hear Ratner talk about the connection between warming and asthma on this week's Greencast.)

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Do Hurricanes Even Matter? Because you might have to give back your house, your car - you could lose your job and even your ability to get around at all

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HOUSTON - From Florida to Tennessee, and all the way up to Connecticut, people far from Hurricane Ike's destruction nonetheless felt one of its tell-tale aftershocks: gasoline prices that surged overnight — to nearly $5 a gallon in some places.

A gas station roof is seen laying on gas pumps caused by high winds from Hurricane Ike, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008, in Beaumont, Texas. The storm blew out skyscraper windows, cut power to millions and swamped thousands of homes along the coast. Yachts were carried up onto roadways, buildings and homes collapsed and cars floated in floodwaters. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Late Saturday the U.S. Minerals Management Service said there were two confirmed reports of drilling rigs adrift in the central Gulf of Mexico.

"A lot of it is simply incredible," Blumenthal said, "and a lot of the price increases make no sense economically in terms of supply and demand."

The price jumps came after the wholesale price of gasoline soared to $4.85 a gallon Friday in anticipation of Ike's arrival.

"By the time it hit 6 o'clock news and 11 o'clock news it was like snow was falling and milk and bread were flying off the shelves."

"People are outraged," Daugherty said. "Everyone is having a hard time understanding all of this."

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

10 coolest small towns in America

You'll be browsing the local real estate pages before you know it.
Click on the link below to see the 9 other contenders.
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Image: Port Jervis, N.Y.

These towns all have fewer than 10,000 people—but they can rival larger cities when it comes to good food, culture, and quality of life.

1. Port Jervis, N.Y.
By Karen Tina Harrison   

Population: 9,161
Nearest city: New York, 93 miles
Priced out of New York City by rising rents, many artists and shopkeepers are moving to this old railroad and canal hub on the Delaware River. "You can own a house with real character at a price that's unheard of downstate," says Mark Washburn, who opened an arts and crafts furniture store, Bungalow Antiques & Unusuals, with his partner, Billy Stephens, last year (80 Front St., 845/858-8021).

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ready for a darker, more tormented Superman?

The Man of Steel is not usually thought of as a brooding, tormented character, but there's certainly room in his mythology for him to be portrayed that way. David Mamet wrote an essay about 20 years ago emphasizing Superman's history of psychological damage. He's an orphan who never knew his real parents or even his birthplace; he loves a woman he can't really have, everyone he's close to is consequently a target for his enemies; he's an immigrant who remains a freak who'll never be able to fully assimilate (and who finds refuge in the remotest place on Earth); and the only thing that can kill him is literal fragments of his past. Plus, his human disguise -- as weak, awkward, clumsy, ineffectual professional bystander Clark Kent -- suggests he doesn't hold humanity in high regard.

Still, do moviegoers even want a dark Superman? We do like our superheroes bleak these days -- not just Dark Knight and the Marvel characters, but also Hancock and the forthcoming Watchmen. And we've certainly seen Clark himself display plenty of teen angst on Smallville. But moviegoers have almost always gotten a Superman who's a big blue Boy Scout. There's certain to be outrage from some quarters if Superman is portrayed as something other than the untroubled, apple-pie defender of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. But I wouldn't worry; he's a pretty strong guy. If he bounced back from Superman IV and Superman Returns, he'll survive this, too. -
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Warner Bros. has a plan, according to the Wall Street Journal, to reboot the Superman franchise, and its DC superhero properties in general. That plan, in a nutshell: Do what Marvel does.
The two prongs of the plan: First, make a bunch of related movies about individual DC heroes (including Green Arrow, Green Lantern, the Flash, and Wonder Woman), then tie them together with a group tale (the sidelined Justice League of America movie), à la Marvel's Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Avengers. Second, make the characters all psychologically darker (like Iron Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, Spider-Man, etc., but more importantly, like Warners' own Batman, as Christian Bale has portrayed him, to great box office success).
Derivative as it is, this is not a bad plan, but can it work for Superman?
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Survivor Earth: If it's not us and them it's us or them (CARTOON)

No man is an island, or can survive as a disconnected fragment of the environment as we have been doing for some time now.
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Now might be a good time to discuss - no, DO SOMETHING ABOUT - climate change

NVDL: The problem with all this is
1) It's happening at higher latitudes where most of world's population don't have cities (few of the world's wealthy elites experience these changes firsthand)
2) This news has to compete with the lalest on The Dark Night, Britney Spears and a much loved voice-over artist that died. (People don't consider it a priority, and mistakenly don't see how it affects them - as such it's a subtle failure of perception, and of the imagination).
3) By the time climate change knocks on our doors in the suburbs (and I believe it has started, through the weird waves of diseases and potent flu seasons we're starting to get), well then it is too late. It's already very very late to start changing our habits.
4) Neither leaders, governments nor individuals (for the most part) have the will, resolve, virtue or discipline to unilaterally apply common sensical responses to what is widely apparent
5) Due to the size of the problem, even entire countries feel powerless. What can we do? A lot.

- Change our living arrangementsto more walkable communities
- Consume food (and grow it) locally
- Eat less meat and more produce (what we should be doing anyway) , since the livestock industry is incredibly energy intensive, as well as water intensive

The first thing you can do today to be part of the solution is eat less meat. It's that simple.
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Global Climate: irreversible, fundamental change going into high gear

NVDL: More and more of these events are occurring now,and escalating rapidly.

"These substantial calving events underscore the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic," said Derek Mueller, an Arctic ice shelf specialist at Trent University in Ontario.

"These changes are irreversible under the present climate and indicate that the environmental conditions that have kept these ice shelves in balance for thousands of years are no longer present," he said in an e-mailed statement from the research team sent late on Tuesday. -
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The northern section of Ellesmere island is seen in a 2003 photo from NASA. (Handout/Reuters)

OTTAWA (Reuters) -
A huge 19 square mile (55 square km) ice
shelf in Canada's northern Arctic broke away last month and the
remaining shelves have shrunk at a "massive and disturbing"
rate, the latest sign of accelerating climate change in the
remote region, scientists said on Tuesday.

They said the Markham Ice Shelf, one of just five remaining
ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic, split away from Ellesmere
in early August. They also said two large chunks
totaling 47 square miles had broken off the nearby Serson Ice
Shelf, reducing it in size by 60 percent.

"The changes ... were massive and disturbing," said Warwick
Vincent, director of the Centre for Northern Studies at Laval
University in Quebec.

Temperatures in large parts of the Arctic have risen far
faster than the global average in recent decades, a development
that experts say is linked to global warming.

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