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Top Stories: June 15, 2010

Apple's Gay Problem; San Jose's Budget Vote; Olympic Gymnasts Headed to Town

IBM Making Progress on Battery 500
The Holy Grail of electric vehicles is a car that could drive a very long distance before the battery needs recharging. Tesla is making some progress. Its $101,000 Roadster can get up to 200 miles with its lithium ion battery.

Now IBM is challenging that, with its efforts to build a new model battery that can go as far as 500 miles before it needs to be recharged or replaced. It will also be lighter. The electrical charge results from the interaction of lithium with air.

The idea of metal-air batteries is not new. They already exist in smaller devices, including hearing aids. What IBM's Battery 500 Project is trying to do is to increase the size of the battery so that it can power a car, not an earpiece. The concern is, however, that this may take some time. While a laboratory sized prototype could be ready by 2012, from there to a fully functional car-sized model could take ten years or more.

By then, some scientists warn, we may have reached peak lithium, and may have to find other metals for the battery. On the other hand, there is the (not-so) recent news that Afghanistan may be the "Saudi Arabia of lithium."
Read More at ABC7.

Apple Takes on James Joyce, Oscar Wilde
Way back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve took a bite of the apple, and as we are told, "The eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." It could be a metaphor for Adam and Steve—Steve Jobs, that is. His Apple products have been taking on nudity too, but instead of a skimpy little fig-leaf Speedo, he simply covered Adam with a big blacked "censored" box.

Apple apps have become rather infamous for blacking out images the company considers distasteful. It's most recent victim was Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. Tom Bouden's graphic novel features a gay kiss. Apple blocked it out, leaving the image of two naked men kissing (no frontal nudity, mind you) to the readers' imagination. How very Victorian, even if there is a hint of ankle in one of the boxes. They were following a tradition they started last week in Ulysses Seen, a graphic novel adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses.

On Monday, Apple reversed its decision and decided to let the works stand on their literary merit. Read More at the Huffington Post.

Hawgs to Close
For ten years, Hawgs Seafood Bar has been a local institution, where oysters in the half shell and Newhattan Chowder are just the start of a fabulous meal, before or after a night at the theater. That's about to end soon. The owners have announced that they will not be renewing their lease on the site, and they will soon be closing their doors.

Seafood fans may not be pleased, but city officials aren't too upset. The restaurant was leasing its premises from the San Jose Redevelopment Agency for the ludicrous price of $0.79 per square foot—well below its market value. The restaurant and sports bar which plans to replace Hawgs is ready to pay $1.95 per square foot, and has agreed to 3 percent annual hikes in the rate. In other words, the cash-strapped RDA will be getting what it deserves for the property.

As for people looking for a decent Seafood Alfredo, don’t worry. You can still go to Hawgs in Campbell or Santa Cruz. Neither of those branches are affected by the closure.
Read More at the Business Journal.

City Prepares to Vote on Budget
Tonight, the San Jose City Council will be voting on its budget, which includes a proposed 10 percent pay cut for all city employees. Then the fun begins, as city workers figure out what to do about all the money they won't be making. Enter, the Police Officers Association blog. On Monday they announced that the city would be holding its final public hearings on the budget that night, and encouraged anyone and everyone to attend. It wasn't just a riveting example of democracy in action. The front page notice went side by side with a chart showing how staffing for the SJPD has dropped dramatically since 1998. What was not said, but what was clearly inferred, is that the SJPD is not only losing police officers. It is also losing salaries, and it wants the public to protect it.
Read More at Protect San Jose.

Are Sports the Answer to San Jose's Budget Woes?
With property taxes in a steady decline, San Jose and Santa Clara County are looking for alternative ways to raise money. Gambling is one way, but it seems that the real answer lies in sports. Plenty has already been written about getting the 49ers and the A's to head south and set up shop here, we've already had basketball, and has even reported about how the city will be hosting the U.S. Skating Championships in 2012. Next on the roster is gymnastics. The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team trials in gymnastics for men and women will officially take place in the HP Pavilion, to coincide with the USA Gymnastics National Congress and Trade Show being held there.

According to Mayor Chuck Reed, this will bring a "surge of spending" to San Jose, reflected in "several thousand room nights." Perhaps all the guests can be directed to the expanded card tables after the competition.

So what's next for San Jose? The International Synchronized Swim-off, or how about the Ultimate Frisbee Festival. The truth is that the FIFA World Cup is scheduled for Brazil in 2014, but 2018 is still open. Has anyone on City Council applied yet?
Read More at the Business Journal.