Archive for May 4th, 2008|Daily archive page

Sony Unveils Ultrasmall Hybrid Fuel Cell

Sony Corp prototyped a fuel-cell system small enough to fit in one hand. The size of the system is about 50 × 30mm, which was realized by combining a fuel cell, Li-polymer secondary battery, control circuit and so forth.

This is the first time that Sony revealed the prototype of a practical fuel-cell system including, for example, a secondary battery and control circuit. The company exhibited the evaluation results of the system at Small Fuel Cells 2008, which takes place from April 30 to May 2, 2008, in Atlanta, Ga.

As for the fuel cells for mobile devices, Sony has already announced the evaluation results of a fullerene-type solid polymer electrolyte membrane and MEA (membrane-electrode assembly) developed with the membrane. This time, the company expects to commercialize the new fuel-cell system.

“We have been aiming to mount (a fuel-cell system) in mobile devices and finally reached a level of commercial design,” an engineer for Sony Material Laboratory said.

The laboratory plans to commercialize the system for mobile devices consulting with the operation division of Sony.

The new fuel-cell system is direct methanol type and uses methanol as fuel. Also, it is an active fuel-cell system, which controls fuel supply with a pump. The system is hybrid type with the output supplemented by a Li-polymer secondary battery. And it can deal with steeply rising peak powers of mobile devices.

Though Sony did not reveal the output density of the system, its instantaneous output can be as high as 3W, the company said.

“3W is pretty enough for peak powers of mobile devices,” an engineer for Sony Material Laboratory said.

Also, its use efficiency of energy is high enough that 14 hours of 1seg movie can be continuously played by general mobile phones with 10mL of methanol.


Wallpaper of the Day: Green Hollywood

How Grand Theft Auto IV Threatens The Wii

BURLINGAME, CALIF. – Since the launch of the Nintendo Wii videogame console in November of 2006, the Japanese videogame company had not missed a beat. That is, until the release of Grand Theft Auto IV this week.

Analysts are predicting that Take-Two Interactive Software (nasdaq: TTWO news people ) will make $400 million this week on sales of 6 million copies of the crime-drenched videogame. Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT news people ) is eager to exploit the game, paying $50 million in advance royalties for the right to release exclusive content online. The title also promises to revive interest in the Playstation 3 gaming console, with game critics saying the game looks sharper on Sony‘s (nyse: SNE news people ) console. But the game is a bust for Nintendo (other-otc: NTDOY.PK news people ): not a single copy of the game will be played on the Nintendo Wii.

There’s more to come: “It’s one of a series of good games that will each convince consumers that there is a lot of good content on the other two boxes,” Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter says.

How many gaming consoles do you need? Could Grand Theft Auto IV put a chink in the Wii’s armor? Or will the Nintendo Wii continue to stomp the Playstation 3 and XBox 360? Share your thoughts in our Reader Comments section below.

Early on, some industry analysts predicted trouble for Nintendo (other-otc: NTDOY.PK news people ): The Wii had a relatively pokey processor, it lacked a hard drive, its controls were unusual. Two years ago, developer Chris Hecker took those whispers into the open, when he uncorked a rant at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, claiming the Wii was nothing more than a pair of Gamecubes held together with duct tape. (At least he picked the right venue: The session was called “Burning Mad: Game Developers Rant”.) Hecker has since apologized, and his personal Web site says of the matter “please don’t ask me about it, thanks.”

Yet even though the Wii seemed to lack the muscle that so many other gaming platforms hoped to build up, plenty of consumers fell in love with the console. In a relatively short time, the Wii elevated Nintendo from worst to first in the game console market. Wii sales in the United States now outstrip the combination of Sony‘s (nyse: SNE news people ) Playstation 3 and Microsoft‘s (nasdaq: MSFT news people ) XBox 360. Since releasing the Wii, Nintendo shares have surged more than 165%.

Even game developers who once spurned the Wii have reversed course and are now pumping out Wii titles. Microsoft is reportedly even developing a motion-sensitive knockoff of the Wii’s controller. That, no doubt, will make it easier to port some of the flurry of games built for the Wii to the XBox.

The problem is, it could get tougher and tougher to go the other way. It’s hard to imagine how the sprawling world of Grand Theft Auto IV–which already taxes the multicore processors powering the XBox and Playstation–could be recreated on the Wii. Bloggers have caught on, some complaining about the plethora of bad games for the platform.

The advantages of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 go beyond just rich, immersive games. “If [gamers] care more about high-definition, or they care about online, or they care about more graphically rich immersive games, they’re going to consider a 360 or Playstation 3,” Pachter asserts.

Sony’s victory in the next-generation videodisc format wars is a formidable advantage, Pachter argues. Grab a high-definition television at Best Buy (nyse: BBY news people ), and the salespeople will recommend that consumers–even non-gamers–buy Sony’s console so that they can play high-definition movies on their new displays. “That’s going to move consoles, maybe not today, but it will cumulatively over time,” Pachter says. (See: How To Get the Best (and Cheapest) BluRay Player.)

Microsoft, meanwhile, has invested heavily to create a best-in-class online experience to hook gamers.

By contrast, Nintendo’s online experience is safe, yet spartan. That means Microsoft’s deal with Take-Two for exclusive online content is just the start. “They’re certainly not stupid, they’re going to push online content like you wouldn’t believe,” Pachter says.

Wii won’t die, for sure. But Grand Theft Auto IV may have just given a new lease on life to the Playstation 3.

How many gaming consoles do you need? Could Grand Theft Auto IV put a chink in the Wii’s armor? Or will the Nintendo Wii continue to stomp the Playstation 3 and XBox 360? Share your thoughts in our Reader Comments section below.

Sun xVM VirtualBox 1.60 Just Released for Ubuntu Hardy Heron and other Os’s!

Sun xVM VirtualBox is an X86 virtualization software package originally developed by German software company innotek GmbH. As such it is an application installed on an existing host operating system; within this application, additional operating systems, each known as a “Guest OS”, can be loaded and run, each with its own virtual environment. For example, several Linux distributions can be “guest” hosted on a single virtual machine running Windows XP as the “Host OS”; likewise, XP and Vista can run as “Guest OS” on a machine running Linux as the “Host OS”, and so on.

Supported host operating systems include Linux, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp (experimental OSE builds), Windows, and Solaris/OpenSolaris.

Supported guest operating systems include FreeBSD, Linux, OpenBSD, OS/2 Warp, Windows and Solaris.

The application was initially offered under a proprietary software license. In January 2007, after several years of development, VirtualBox OSE (Open Source Edition) was released under GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2. Currently, there is a proprietary version, VirtualBox, which is free only for personal or evaluation use, subject to the VirtualBox Personal Use and Evaluation License (PUEL) and an Open Source Edition(OSE), VirtualBox OSE, which is free for commercial and private use, subject to Copyleft and other requirements of the GPL license.

Compared with other established commercial virtualization software such as VMware Workstation and Microsoft Virtual PC, VirtualBox lacks some features, but in turn provides others such as running virtual machines remotely over the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), iSCSI support and USB support with remote devices over RDP and also Has Seamless Desktop Integration which no other Virtualization Solution has!

VirtualBox supports Intel‘s hardware virtualization VT-x and has experimental support for AMD‘s AMD-V, but does not use either of them by default.

According to a 2007 survey by, VirtualBox is the third most popular software package for running Windows programs on Linux desktops.
VirtualBox 1.6 is a major update, incorporating over 2000 improvements. Among the highlights:

  • Solaris and Mac OS X host support
  • Seamless windowing for Linux and Solaris guests
  • Guest Additions for Solaris
  • A webservice API
  • SATA hard disk (AHCI) controller (
  • Experimental Physical Address Extension (PAE) support
  • In addition, the following items were fixed and/or added:
  • GUI: added accessibility support (508)
  • GUI: VM session information dialog
  • VBoxHeadless: renamed from VBoxVRDP
  • VMM: reduced host CPU load of idle guests
  • VMM: many fixes for VT-x/SVM hardware-supported virtualization
  • ATA/IDE: better disk geometry compatibility with VMware images
  • ATA/IDE: virtualize an AHCI controller
  • Storage: better write optimization, prevent images from growing unnecessarily.
  • Network: support PXE booting with NAT
  • Network: fixed the Am79C973 PCNet emulation for Nexenta guests
  • NAT: improved builtin DHCP server (implemented DHCPNAK response)
  • NAT: port forwarding stopped when restoring the VM from a saved state
  • NAT: make subnet configurable
  • XPCOM: moved to libxml2
  • XPCOM: fixed VBoxSVC autostart race
  • Audio: SoundBlaster 16 emulation
  • USB: fixed problems with USB 2.0 devices
  • MacOS X: fixed seamless mode
  • MacOS X: better desktop integration, several look’n’feel fixes
  • MacOS X: switched to Quartz2D framebuffer
  • MacOS X: added support for shared folders
  • MacOS X: added support for clipboard integration
  • Solaris: added host audio playback support (experimental)
  • Solaris: made it possible to run VirtualBox from non-global zones
  • Shared Folders: made them work for NT4 guests
  • Shared Folders: many bugfixes to improve stability
  • Seamless windows: added support for Linux guests
  • Linux installer: support DKMS for compiling the kernel module
  • Linux host: compatibility fixes with Linux 2.6.25
  • Windows host: support for USB devices has been significantly improved; many additional USB devices now work
  • Windows Additions: automatically install AMD PCNet drivers on Vista guests
  • Linux additions: several fixes, experimental support for RandR 1.2
  • Linux additions: compatibility fixes with Linux 2.6.25

Click Here to Grab the binary, at the drop-down Select Your Operating System and follow the directions here for install in Ubuntu

Mariah Carey Secretly Married


Mariah Carey has married actor Nick Cannon in a secret wedding, according to reports today.

The superstar singer apparently married 27-year-old Cannon yesterday in a “very impulsive” wedding on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera where Carey has a home. Her best friend Da Brat was among the guests at the wedding.

The couple have been together for just one month, according to the New York Post, and the story quotes a “worried” source who says “There was no pre-nup – there wasn’t time.”

World’s longest sea-bridge opens

The world’s longest sea bridge was formally opened yesterday linking Shanghai to the industrial city of Ningbo across Hangzhou Bay in China. The 22-mile bridge will reduce the driving distance between the eastern side of Shanghai and the port town of Ningbo by 75 miles.

Rare but Real: People Who Feel, Taste and Hear Color

When Ingrid Carey says she feels colors, she does not mean she sees red, or feels blue, or is green with envy. She really does feel them.

She can also taste them, and hear them, and smell them.

The 20-year-old junior at the University of Maine has synesthesia, a rare neurological condition in which two or more of the senses entwine. Numbers and letters, sensations and emotions, days and months are all associated with colors for Carey.

The letter “N” is sienna brown; “J” is light green; the number “8” is orange; and July is bluish-green.

The pain from a shin split throbs in hues of orange and yellow, purple and red, Carey told LiveScience.

Colors in Carey’s world have properties that most of us would never dream of: red is solid, powerful and consistent, while yellow is pliable, brilliant and intense. Chocolate is rich purple and makes Carey’s breath smell dark blue. Confusion is orange.

Scientific acceptance

Long dismissed as a product of overactive imaginations or a sign of mental illness, synesthesia has grudgingly come to be accepted by scientists in recent years as an actual phenomenon with a real neurological basis. Some researchers now believe it may yield valuable clues to how the brain is organized and how perception works.

“The study of synesthesia [has] encouraged people to rethink historical ideas that synesthesia was abnormal and an aberration,” says Amy Ione, director of the Diatrope Institute, a California-based group interested in the arts and sciences.

The cause remains a mystery, however.

According to one idea, irregular sprouting of new neural connections within the brain leads to a breakdown of the boundaries that normally exist between the senses. In this view, synesthesia is the collective chatter of sensory neighbors once confined to isolation.

Another theory, based on research conducted by Daphne Maurer and Catherine Mondloch at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, suggests all infants may begin life as synesthetes. In this way of thinking, animals and humans are born with immature brains that are highly malleable. Connections between different sensory parts of the brain exists that later become pruned or blocked as an organism matures, Mondloch explained.

Maurer and Mondloch hypothesize that if these connections between the senses are functional, as some experiments suggest, then infants should experience the world in a way that is similar to synesthetic adults.

In a variation of this theory, babies don’t have five distinct senses but rather one all-encompassing sense that responds to the total amount of incoming stimulation. So when a baby hears her mother’s voice, she is also seeing it and smelling it.

Technology lags

Maurer and Mondloch’s pruning hypothesis is intriguing, says Bruno Laeng, a psychology professor at the University of Tromso, Norway. But he adds a caution.

“At present, we do not have the technology to observe brain-connection changes in the living human brain and how these relate to mental changes,” Laeng said in an email interview.

Like other scientists, Laeng also questions whether synesthesia needs such extra neural connections in order to occur. Advancements in current brain imaging techniques may one day allow the pruning hypothesis to be tested directly, he said.

According to another theory that does not rely on extra connections, synesthesia arises when normally covert channels of communications between the senses are exposed to the light of consciousness.

All of us are able to perceive the world as a unified whole because there is a complex interaction between the senses in the brain, the thinking goes. Ordinarily, these interconnections are not explicitly experienced, but in the brains of synesthetes, “those connections are ‘unmasked’ and can enter conscious awareness,” said Megan Steven, a neuroscientist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Because this unmasking theory relies on neural connections everyone has, it may explain why certain drugs, like LSD or mescaline, can induce synesthesia in some individuals.

‘Like I’m crazy’

Many synesthetes fear ridicule for their unusual abilities. They can feel isolated and alone in their experiences.

“Most people that I’d explain it to would either be fascinated or look at me like I’m crazy,” Carey said. “Especially friends who were of a very logical mindset. They would be very perplexed.”

The study of synesthesia is therefore important for synesthetes, says Daniel Smilek, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

Research is revealing synesthetes to be a varied bunch.

More on Synesthesia
Synesthesia is from the Greek syn (union) and the aisthesis (sensation).

“If you ask synesthetes if they’d wish to be rid of it, they almost always say no. For them, it feels like that’s what normal experience is like. To have that taken away would make them feel like they were being deprived of one sense.”
— Simon Baron-Cohen, synesthesia researcher at the University of Cambridge

A group at MIT has a web page that shows how synesthetes might perceive letters as having colors.

Smilek and colleagues have identified two groups of synesthetes among those who associate letters and numbers with colors, he explained in a telephone interview. For individuals in one group, which Smilek calls “projector” synesthetes, the synesthetic color can fill the printed letter or it can appear directly in front of their eyes, as if projected onto an invisible screen. In contrast, “associate” synesthetes see the colors in their “mind’s eye” rather than outside their bodies.

In Carey’s case, the colors appear in quick flashes right behind her eyes, blinking in and out of existence as quickly as ocean foam. Other times they linger, coalescing and dividing like sunlight on the surface of a soap bubble.

‘No mere curiosity’

Other subgroups have also been identified.

The synesthesia of those in the “perceptual” category is triggered by sensory stimuli like sights and sounds, whereas “conceptual” synesthetes respond to abstract concepts like time. One conceptual synesthete described the months of the year as a flat ribbon surrounding her body, each month a distinct color. February was pale green and oriented directly in front of her.

Richard Cytowic, a neuroscientist and author of “The Man Who Tasted Shapes” (Bradford Books, 1998), has watched the scientific shift in attitudes toward the condition in recent years.

“Many of my colleagues claimed that synesthesia was ‘made up’ because it went against prevailing theory,” Cytowic told LiveScience. “Today, everyone recognizes synesthesia as no mere curiosity but important to fundamental principles of how the brain is organized.”

9 Foods You’re Not Allowed To Buy

9 Foods You’re Not Allowed To Buy

Bug-bot video reveals swarming drones, extreme rocking

We know that you love swarming bug-bots as much as we do, so of course we were thrilled to tell you about BAE Systems’ MAST project the other day. Luckily, the Army-contracted company didn’t stop at mere photos to scare the living daylights out of humanity, they also created a really cheesy, yet deeply frightening video to go along with them. Enjoy a glimpse of the Skynet-controlled / shredding-guitar future of warfare after the break — and don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Family Guy: The Matrix Trailer

Report: Kobe wins first career MVP award

Kobe Bryant has been selected the NBA’s most valuable player for the first time in his 12-year career, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The newspaper cited sources familiar with the outcome who were not authorized to speak publicly about the award until the official announcement next week.

“We have not been told anything by the league,” Lakers spokesman John Black told The Associated Press.

Bryant, 29, has won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and is widely regarded as the league’s premier talent. But he had never come close to winning an MVP before this season — he was third in voting last year, his highest finish.

Bryant averaged 28.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists in the regular season. More importantly, he led the Lakers to a 57-25 record and the top seed in the rugged Western Conference.

The award figured to go to either Bryant, New Orleans point guard Chris Paul or Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.

Bryant, second in the NBA in scoring behind Cleveland’s LeBron James, will be the first Lakers player to win the MVP award since Shaquille O’Neal was a near-unanimous choice in 2000. Other previous Lakers to win the award dating to 1956, when it was first presented, were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, who each won it three times. Abdul-Jabbar also won three with the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Space Elevator Test Run

“Although the day started with difficulties, it ended with a successful 1000 foot space elevator test climb to a tethered 10-foot diameter balloon – LiftPort’s first really significant climb. This was supposed to be a 1 mile climb test, but the FAA-required aviation orange paint – applied at 50 foot intervals to the ribbon – contained acetone, which weakened the ribbon. The first two attempts of the day resulted in ribbon breaks due to this acetone-induced degradation. (Lesson here: test what you will use!)

With the ribbon in a weakened state, three (or even two) balloons created more lift than the ribbon could handle without breaking. Therefore, only a single balloon was used for a 1000′ target altitude. We made the run back into town – about 12 miles away – and bought all the string we could find so we’d have enough for a safety line to a balloon at 1000′.”

A Space Elevator, or more specifically the LiftPort Space Elevator, will consist of a ribbon made of a very strong and very light material, carbon nanotubes, anchored to the Earth’s surface at the LiftPort Station with the other end reaching into space. By making the ribbon long enough, and attaching a small satellite as counterweight, the Earth’s rotation will provide enough centrifugal effect to overcome the pull of gravity and keep the ribbon taut. The LiftPort Space Elevator will then provide a permanent bridge between earth and space. Elevator cars will be robotic “lifters” which will climb the ribbon to deliver cargo and eventually people to orbit or beyond.

One Million Calls To Obama

Yesterday, in preparation for the start of our GOTV weekend, we asked our grassroots phonebankers to sound off and let us know who was committed to making calls to voters over the next two days.

Here are just a few of the people who have pledged to make calls this weekend to help Get Out The Vote in Indiana and North Carolina:

Teresa: I plan to call 1000 people this weekend. I am also canvassing from 1-7 Saturday! I have called about 50 so far, but I am not stopping until 1000!

Makeda: I will commit to make 100 calls to Indiana tomorrow….

Doris: I will promise to make at least 10 calls to Indiana Saturday. I will be calling from Florida. We must be a part of this change.

Sarah: I will make 100 calls this weekend … At least!

Chris: You can count on me to make at least one hundred calls this weekend.

Tracey: I can commit to 25 calls tomorrow, maybe more! It’s our 7 year olds’ birthday party but I’ll do some in the morning.

Max: I’ll be calling all Saturday and Sunday too! Going for at least 250 calls!

Barbara: I plan to make at least 150 calls this weekend. The people I’ve called in Indiana seem to be interested in discussing the issues — some of the longest calls yet. Talking about everything from jobs to unions right to organize to taxes to gay rights. It’s fun and interesting and feels like it’s making a difference. I like seeing the counter click over, knowing that so many others are doing the same thing.

Donna: I’ll be making 25 calls to IN and 25 calls to NC this weekend.

Daniel: At least 10 calls for me

Really Hopeful: I am devoting Saturday and Sunday to calling. I am pledging now to call at least 50 numbers each day.

Jen: I commit to doing 50 calls this weekend. It is easy. Heck getting into the flow of things I might makes 100 before I even know it. How about you?

Cathy: I’ll match 100…who else?

Eric: I’m good for at least 25 calls on Sunday. I’m hoping we’ll be well over 750,000 calls by then. We want change.

And we should also make a special mention for Christine, one of our grassroots supporters who has been an inspiration and a help to countless supporters here on the blog (and all of us at HQ). Yesterday, Christine reached her own personal goal:

I just finished my 1001st call to Indiana . . . But 14 other people have committed to make 500 calls each as part of the Christine O’Bama Indiana Call Challenge. That’s 7,000 calls pledged!

To join the Challenge, click here.

It only takes a minute to get started. The Indiana and North Carolina calling campaigns run from 9:00 AM to  9:00 PM Eastern time every day. If you’re willing to commit to making calls this weekend, let us know in the comments below and we’ll add you to the Roll Call.

Tuesday truly is one of the last big milestones of this primary season, and these next two days are our chance to move the polls and make a difference.

The Question of Hillary Clinton’s Guilt-By-Association Tactics

For several weeks, the Clinton campaign has been distributing literature and disseminating incendiary notions — which figured significantly in Pennsylvania, and are now central to the candidate’s message in Indiana and North Carolina — assailing Barack Obama for his association with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, the radical, violent organization responsible for bombing several government buildings in the early 1970s.

In their debate in Philadelphia, after moderator George Stephanoplous had raised the question of Obama’s relationship with Ayers, Hillary Clinton elaborated on the subject, seeking to add to its significance:

SEN. CLINTON: …I also believe that Senator Obama served on a board with Mr. Ayers for a period of time, the Woods Foundation, which was a paid directorship position. And if I’m not mistaken, that relationship with Mr. Ayers on this board continued after 9/11 and after his reported comments, which were deeply hurtful to people in New York, and I would hope to every American, because they were published on 9/11 and he said that he was just sorry they hadn’t done more. And what they did was set bombs and in some instances people died. So it is — you know, I think it is, again, an issue that people will be asking about.

Whether this is 21st century McCarthyism–as argued by several important commentators not publicly allied with Obama — among them Stanley Fish in the New York Times (who has written several admiring columns about her candidacy) and Rick Hertzberg of the New Yorker — is a matter readers will have to decide.

Whatever name it is called, Hillary Clinton, perhaps better than any contemporary political figure of our time, knows the insidious nature of this kind of guilt by association, for she (like Bill Clinton) has been a victim of it herself over a political lifetime.

Precisely because she knows the destructive power of such assertions and how unfair they can be, she has sought for a quarter-century to hide and minimize her own activities, associations, student fascination, and personal history with the radical Left. Those associations — logical, explicable, and (her acolytes have always maintained) even character-building in the context of the times — are far more extensive than any radical past that has come to be known about Barack Obama.

Which raises the question: Is the Clinton campaign’s emphasis on the Ayers-Obama connection significantly different or less spurious than the familiar (McCarthyite?) smears against Hillary, particularly those promulgated and disseminated by the forces she labeled “the vast right-wing conspiracy” in the 1990s?

Like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton has (at least so far as this reporter and biographer has been able to determine) consistently rejected the ideological rigidity of the radical Left and — especially — the notion of revolutionary violence as a means of political change in contemporary America, despite claims to the contrary by the VRWC. Like Obama — and John McCain for that matter — she has valued her friendships with individuals who figured in the Left-wing and anti-war movements of the 60s and Vietnam era. And like Obama and McCain, she has never wavered from her belief and faith in establishment politics, within the two-party system.

But her past associations — and her evasions about them — may tell us much about the formation of Hillary Clinton, both as a product of her youthful time — the sixties and seventies, when radical student movements and the anti-war movement were a hugely potent force on campus and in American politics generally — and as a presidential candidate. The facts are fairly simple:

In the 60s, as an undergraduate at Wellesley, she exhibited an academic fascination with the Left and radicalism; rejected more extreme forms of political protest and violence as a student leader (there is no evidence I know that Obama has ever done anything but the same); wrote her senior thesis on the radical Chicago community-organizer Saul Alinsky (whose best-known philosophical mantra was, “Whatever works to get power to the people, use it.”); and then, during the 1992 presidential campaign and White House years, insured that the thesis was locked up in the Wellesley archives and unavailable to reporters.

At Yale law school she embraced some leftist causes she perhaps wishes she hadn’t today (the Black Panthers’ claim that they couldn’t get a fair trial, more about which later); worked in the most important radical law firm of the day — Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein, in Oakland, which represented the Communist Party and defended the Panthers in their murder trials; and became associate editor of an alternative law review at Yale which ran stories and pictures depicting policemen as pigs and murderers.

In her 2003 “memoir,” Living History, Hillary mentions not a word about her role in the Panther trial in New Haven–during which she directed Yale law students monitoring the proceedings for evidence of government misconduct in its prosecution of the Panthers accused of murder. “It meant going in and out of the Black Panther headquarters to obtain documentation and other information,” a classmate told Donnie Radcliff of the Washington Post, quoted in Hillary Rodham Clinton: A First Lady For Our Time. “Hillary’s job was to organize shifts for her classmates and make certain no proceeding went unmonitored…[for] civil rights abuses…”

As for her summer at the law firm, Hillary’s one-sentence mention of it in Living History gives the impression that Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein might as well been handling postal rate increases, rather than defending the Panthers, members of the communist party, and accepting cases that mainstream lawfirms were afraid to take — particularly civil liberties cases — in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. “I told Bill about my summer plans to clerk at Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein, a small law firm in Oakland California, and he soon said he would like to go to California with me.”

That is the total verbiage expended on so formative an experience, and the lasting — but distant friendship — she maintained for the next twenty-some years with Bob Treuhaft and his wife, the muckraking journalist (and, like her husband) former communist party member Jessica Mitford.

“The reason she came to us,” Treuhaft told me [the quotation is in my biography of Hillary Clinton, A Woman In Charge] “the only reason I could think of, because none of us knew her, was because we were a so-called “Movement law firm at the time. There was no reason except politics for a girl from Yale” to intern at the firm. “She certainly… was in sympathy with all the Left causes, and there was a sharp dividing line at the time. We still weren’t very far out of the McCarthy era.”

And might not still be, to judge from the 2008 presidential campaign.

In the 1980s, Jessica Mitford visited the Clintons at the governor’s mansion in Little Rock. She and Treuhaft had left the communist party in 1958, years after the revelation of Stalin’s murderous crimes, but — Jessica Mitford wrote in her memoir, A Fine Old Conflict, she quit “not primarily over some issue of high principle, but because it had become dull….boring. Rather like London’s debutante circuit.”

When Jessica Mitford died in 1996, Hillary Clinton wrote Bob Treuhaft a lovely condolence letter from the White House, characteristically filled with the kind of heart-felt personal touches that the senator’s friends have always remarked upon.

Which, of course, no more raises the question “Is Hillary Clinton a Stalinist?,” or a communist sympathizer, than “Is Barack Obama a Weatherman?” or a weatherman sympathizer, because of his association with Bill Ayers.

Aside from the candidate herself, her prime-most abettor in pushing the Bill Ayers-Weatherman-Obama line is, inevitably, Sidney Blumenthal, who has also been distributing many other questionable allegations about Obama he has plucked from and disseminated to, at times, of all places–organs of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

As in the Clinton White House, where he was the archivist of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy’s plots, Blumenthal is no independent operator. He maintains an ongoing personal and strategic dialogue with his patrons, Hillary and Bill Clinton.

– –

One of Hillary Clinton’s most winning attributes — and Bill Clinton’s too — has always been their understanding of the complexity of American politics, and the danger of ideological demagoguery (witness their fight against the “vast right-wing conspiracy” and excesses). The resort by Hillary and her campaign to guilt-by-association–of which the Bill Ayers allegations are but one example: see Louis Farrakhan, or a comparatively-obscure African-American writer and perhaps — communist party member named Frank Marshal Dixon, whom Obama knew in high school in Hawaii — is, even for some of her most steadfast advocates, particularly dismaying. Like Gov. Bill Richardson and Senator Christopher Dodd, among others who have abandoned the Clintons, many old Clinton hands had hoped, judging from Hillary’s triumphant and collegial senate years, that she — and Bill — had left behind such tactics when the Clinton Presidency ended in 2001 and the Right-wing threat to the Clintons’ tenure in the White House had abated.

“The sad irony,” noted Jonathan Alter in Newsweek, “is that these are the same [guilt-by-association] attacks used against her husband in the elections of the 1990s. The GOP tried to destroy Bill Clinton for his relationships (much closer than Obama’s tangential connections) with Arkansas crooks, sleazy fund-raisers and unsavory women. But ‘The Man From Hope,’ while seen as less honest than Bush or Bob Dole, bet that issues and uplift were more important to voters than his character. He won….”

– –

“Shame on you, Barack Obama,” said Hillary Clinton in Ohio, asserting that the Obama campaign had misrepresented her health-care plan.

Shame indeed.

Holy Crap: MacGyver Blockbuster Film Coming!

Today at Maker Faire 2008, MacGyver creator (and real life inspiration) Lee David Zlotoff announced he has a big budget MacGyver movie in the planning stages.

Zlotoff mentioned he somehow ended up with the movie rights years ago (extremely uncommon), giving him full control over the film. While few specifics were mentioned, and no formal announcement has been made, its extremely promising that the man with the power to make the film is getting the ball rolling. The question is…do you bring back Richard Dean Anderson as old MacGyver, or bring in a younger, Christian Bale-type to reprise the role of makeshift gadget god? [Maker Faire on Giz]