XIAM007

Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The War on Drugs Just Got Even More Vile: Police to Begin Inspecting Your Poop, Seriously - Sewage epidemiology -

The War on Drugs Just Got Even More Vile: Police to Begin Inspecting Your Poop, Seriously - Sewage epidemiology - 



As the wasteful, immoral war on drugs continues in police states around the world, authorities are always looking for ways to track the use of “illicit” drugs. It’s the intelligence aspect of their war, and some of the methods literally reek. Introducing “sewage epidemiology,” coming soon to a community near you.

Sewage epidemiology is a rapidly expanding field that can provide information on illicit drug usage in communities, based on the measured concentrations in samples from wastewater treatment plants.
According to the American Chemical Society’s report:

The war on drugs could get a boost with a new method that analyzes sewage to track levels of illicit drug use in local communities in real time. The new study, a first-of-its-kind in the U.S., was published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology and could help law enforcement identify new drug hot spots and monitor whether anti-drug measures are working.
The thought of authorities slogging through the sludge may be comical, but it represents another example of big brother using our money to monitor our behavior. Drug consumption is a non-violent act upon oneself. The drug trade is made violent in a black market under government prohibition.

What is the rationale behind attempts at drug eradication and criminalization? It provides a means for government to assert power; it enriches the prison industry and the jackboot industry and politicians. Take these away and there is no logic to the war on drugs.

Supply is consistently available to meet demand, despite massive amounts of money and effort directed at eradicating supply and criminalizing demand.

Instead of learning from this history, however, the state continues its meaningless pursuit by turning to things such as sewage epidemiology. While some European countries put this technology to good use by monitoring sewage for environmental toxins, in the U.S. it will be used to repress its citizens.

Most information on drug use is gathered by the state through surveys, crime statistics, and drug seizures. Analyzing our bodily waste will “help law enforcement identify new drug hot spots.”

After all, they have to find reasons to use all that fancy new military gear.

Read more -
http://thefreethoughtproject.com/war-drugs-police-inspecting-poop/

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Dog Shoots Man -

Dog Shoots Man - 



Stop trying to teach your old dog new tricks, and teach yourself some gun safety!

A Wyoming man is recovering in the hospital after his dog accidentally shot him. In a phone interview on Thursday, Johnson County Sheriff Steve Kozisek confirmed that Richard L. Fipps, 46, was hospitalized Monday after his dog stepped on a loaded rifle in the bed of his pickup truck and accidentally fired it. The rifle's safety was off, Kozisek said.

According to Big Horn Mountain Radio, Fipps was removing snow chains from his truck when he was shot in the left arm.

"The rifle was loaded and in the bed of the truck [with some other gear], and the dog hopped up there and either stepped on it or caused something to move and set it off," Kozisek told the Huffington Post.

Fipps transported to Sheridan Memorial Hospital via ambulance. His condition was not released, but his injuries were not life threatening, according to Big Horn Mountain Radio.

Kozisek said that the accident could have easily been prevented, had the gun not been loaded.

"Carrying a loaded rifle in a truck is never a good idea, safety on or safety off," Kozisek said.

The sheriff, who has worked in law enforcement for 42 years, said he'd never seen a case where a dog shot a man. 

Read more - 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/18/dog-shoots-man-wyoming_n_6348650.html

Wristband notices when you fall asleep, records your TV show... -

Wristband notices when you fall asleep, records your TV show... - 

The KipstR wristband tracks when you fall asleep and sets your TV to record the rest of the show.

Wearable technology is great, but so much of it is obsessed with getting you fit. Apps can track your heartbeat, encourage you to hit the gym, and remind you just how many calories were in that last donut. But what about a product designed for more relaxed individuals?

Wouldn't it be helpful, say, if a wristband could tell if you doze off while watching the TV, then automatically record the rest of the show?

SEE ALSO: The rise of the 'quantified self'

As it happens, two young tech prodigies have created exactly that. KipstR was developed by teenagers Ryan Oliver, 15, and Jonathan Kingsley, 14, students at Manchester Creative Studio, in conjunction with TV and broadband provider Virgin Media.

The pair have come up with a 3D-printed wristband that uses a pulse oximeter, a clinical device for diagnosing sleep disorders, to sense when the user has drifted off. The KipstR band then mimics the user's TiVo remote to pause and record the TV show that was playing.

Read more - 
http://mashable.com/2014/12/18/wristband-records-tv/

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

When advertising your business on your Truck goes Bad - Texas plumber's truck ends up in Syrian war - mounted with guns -

When advertising your business on your Truck goes Bad - Texas plumber's truck ends up in Syrian war - mounted with guns - 



A Texas plumber has been receiving threats after a photo emerged of Islamic extremists in Syria firing a high-powered gun from the bed of his old pickup, which still bears his company's logo on the door.

An extremist group, Ansar al-Deen Front, posted the photo of its fighters aboard the Ford F-250 sometime on Monday. That prompted a flood of calls to Mark Oberholtzer, who owns Mark-1 Plumbing in Texas City, and has nothing to do with Syria's bloody civil war.

"How it ended up in Syria, I'll never know," Oberholtzer told The Galveston Daily News.

The photograph spread online and Oberholtzer told the paper that he traded in the truck three years ago to an area auto dealership. AutoNation, the Houston dealership, told KHOU.com that the truck was auctioned and was likely traded from owner to owner over the course of three years.

Oberholtzer was surprised the auto dealership sold the truck with the company’s name still on the door.

"They [AutoNation] were supposed to have done it [covered the decals] and it looks like they didn't do it," he said.

AutoNation did not immediately return a phone call from Fox News.

Oberholtzer owned the mom-and-pop plumbing company for 32 years and said his business has received a thousand calls and faxes about the photo.

"A few of the people are really ugly," he told the paper. "I just want it to go away, to tell you the truth."

His son told KHOU.com that the family his hard working and has no ties to terror.

"We have nothing to do with terror at all," Jeff Oberholtzer said.

Read more - 
http://www.galvestondailynews.com/free/article_5f269ed2-8557-11e4-8588-37eb16686b02.html?mode=image&photo=0

Here's What's Wrong With Corporate America, And The U.S. Economy -

Here's What's Wrong With Corporate America, And The U.S. Economy - 














Will we ever tire of navigating the multiple layers of intermediaries between the customer and the provider, while corporate profits soar to unprecedented heights?

If we had to summarize what's wrong with Corporate America and the entire U.S. economy, we can start with all the intermediaries between the provider and the customer. There are a number of examples we're all familiar with.

One is healthcare, where a veritable phalanx of intermediaries filters the interactions between doctors and patients so heavily that the traditional practice of medicine has been nullified.

By traditional I mean the arrangement that was conventional a few short decades ago: you went to the doctor of your choice (typically, the same doctor your family used), he/she treated you, and you paid the doctor's bill in cash. Only hospitalization was covered by the minimal (and minimally limiting) healthcare insurance plans of the time.

The second example is home appliances purchased at a Big Box retailer. Here's the list of interactions between Corporate America and the customer:

1. Customer enters Big Box Store and is sold a high-margin appliance, unless customer insists on the sale item. Either way, the appliance was assembled in China for a few hundred bucks and shipped to the U.S. for a few more bucks. The difference between the low cost and the price the customer pays is gross profit for Corporate America.

2. Customer and salesperson both know the reliability of the appliance, regardless of brand or price, is low, so an extended warranty is an easy sale. The manufacturer's warranty is typically one year, and the extended warranty tacks on a couple years to the minimal manufacturer's warranty.

(Recall that not too long ago in America, any major appliance was expected to last a few decades, not a few years.)

3. Customer shells out $1,000 for the appliance and another $300 for the extended warranty, and a few more bucks for delivery.

4. Corporate America to customer: we're done with you, bucko. The delivery is subcontracted to another company, the extended warranty is handled by another company, and should the appliance fail during the manufacturer's warranty, the customer has to contact the manufacturer directly.

The only interaction retail Corporate America has with the customer is the initial sale. Everything after that is handled by other companies. So Corporate America has no interest in customer satisfaction or happiness after the sales experience.

5. Calls made to Corporate America--the Big Box retailer or the manufacturer--will be directed to somebody else. The job of taking care of the customer has been shunted to intermediaries that the customer cannot contact directly.

Compare this with the traditional arrangement between the retailer and the customer: whatever the problem, the retailer took care of the customer. If the appliance broke down, the retailer's repair crew would go out and fix it. The retailer was accountable to the customer all the way down the line; if there was a warranty covering the repair, the retailer handled that bureaucratic layer as part of their service.

6. The appliance fails two days after the manufacturer's warranty expires, i.e. one year after purchase. (True story.)

7. Customer calls Corporate America retailer. Response: we're done with you, bucko. Call the manufacturer or the extended warranty company.

8. Customer calls Corporate America manufacturer (or the U.S. office of a global appliance manufacturer). Response: Since your appliance is off warranty, the service call will be (insert outrageous fee): $99.99 (that's our special price for good customers, pal.) Parts will also be marked up triple from what you could buy them for on the Internet, and our labor charges are so high that the repair, even if it is modest in scope, will cost a third to a half of the original price of the appliance.

If the repair is serious, the cost might exceed the original purchase price a year earlier.

Stripped of phony solicitude, the manufacturer's response: we're done with you, bucko. You bought our appliance, but we're under no obligation to make you happy beyond the 365-day warranty period--and well, to be honest, we don't really care if you're happy with our service under warranty, either. Our repair people will get to you when they get to you, and there are plenty of loopholes in the warranty.

Here's the view from Corporate America: we can get these appliances assembled in
Robotic Factory #2 (yes, the appliance was stamped with this phrase) in China for an absurdly low cost for an order of thousands of units, and if 10% of those fail within a year due to defective parts, that's just the cost of doing business.

We can grind the customer down with lousy service to the point that many will give up and not even pursue repair or replacement under warranty.

Since Americans have been trained to buy the lowest price, a.k.a. The Tyranny of Price, or the currently fad (over-hyped, overpriced) model, we don't care if they're happy or not. They'll buy the lowest cost appliance or the over-hyped brand next time anyway.

9. Customer calls the extended warranty provider. The extended warranty provider is in a distant state and contracts with a local firm to handle the repair. The customer cannot contact the repair outfit or person directly; everything must be handled through the extended warranty provider.

10. Two weeks later, the repairperson shows up, takes apart the appliance and presents the customer with a bill for $900 which must be paid before he can order parts. But I'm under the extended warranty, the customer says, and the repairperson shrugs. "That's not what the paperwork says." (True story.)

11. Customer calls back extended warranty provider and gets the paperwork straightened out. Boxes of parts start arriving shortly thereafter.

12. A different repairperson comes back in two more weeks, takes a look at the disassembled appliance and the parts that had arrived, and declares the repair will cost more than a new replacement appliance, so the customer should contact the extended warranty provider for a voucher to buy a new appliance.

13. The repairperson leaves the disassembled appliance and the parts. The customer has to call the extended warranty provider again to demand the broken appliance and the new parts be hauled off. Three weeks later, somebody shows up to haul off the useless appliance and the new parts.

14. Customer reads that corporate profits for the Big Box retailer and manufacturer just hit record highs, and has a seizure. Corporate America doesn't make money making the customer happy, beyond the few moments needed to collect $1,300 from him/her. That's how you reap record profits: make the sale and you're done with the customer.

Nobody is tasked with making the customer happy--that's some other intermediary's job. The customer is denied contact with the actual person who ends up with the job of making the customer happy--all communications must go through multiple corporate intermediaries, guaranteeing frustration and wasted time and money.

Will we ever tire of navigating the multiple layers of intermediaries between the customer and the provider, while corporate profits soar to unprecedented heights? The two dynamics are intimately linked: once we book the sale, we're done with customers. 

Read more - 
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-17/heres-whats-wrong-corporate-america-and-us-economy

The man behind the deadly siege of a cafe in Sydney this week had a gun license AND wasn't on a security watch list -

The man behind the deadly siege of a cafe in Sydney this week had a gun license AND wasn't on a security watch list - 

Say WHAAAAAT?!?! - Say WHAAAAAT?!?!  Say What Stewie

The man behind the deadly siege of a cafe in Sydney this week had a gun license and wasn't on a security watch list, Australia's Prime Minister says. And he wants to know why.
Tony Abbott said Wednesday that the system fell short.
"There's no doubt about that, and this is why we've got to constantly learn the lessons of everything that happens," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "We've got to be constantly asking ourselves: Is this the best we can do?
"And frankly, we've got to always be better at this because if we aren't good at this, our people suffer. And the tragedy of this atrocity is that two delightful Australians, two very decent people, are dead. Others are injured. Others are traumatized because of a madman who was roaming our streets," the Prime Minister said.
His office announced that authorities will carry out an urgent review into the hostage taking and "what lessons can be learned from the events leading up to and surrounding the siege."
At a news conference later Wednesday, Abbott told Australians, "I will not rest until I am confident that you are as safe as any government can possibly make you."
A report on the conclusions of the review is due by the end of January.
 Photos: Sydney cafe siege Photos: Sydney cafe siege
 Australian Ambassador reacts to the Sydney siege Sydney victim 'shielded pregnant friend' Cameraman describes Sydney siege
Authorities have identified the gunman as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian-born refugee who was granted political asylum in Australia.
He seized control of the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in the heart of Sydney's central business district and held it for some 16 hours.
The siege ended when police stormed the cafe early Tuesday. The gunman was killed, but so were two hostages -- Katrina Dawson, a 38-year-old barrister and mother of three, and Tori Johnson, the manager of the cafe.

Read more - 
http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/16/world/asia/australia-sydney-hostage-situation/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

Now it is the Beavers - Beavers blamed for Global Warming... -

Now it is the Beavers - Beavers blamed for Global Warming... - 

"What! You telling me?"

Beavers are contributing to climate change, adding an estimated 800 million kg of methane to the atmosphere every year, scientists have found.

Over the last century, there has been a worldwide conservation effort to save beavers from extinction. The fur trade between the 16th and 19th century almost led to the annihilation of beavers across the globe.

After trapping was limited and the creatures were reintroduced to their natural ranges, their numbers grew significantly, with scientists now estimating their population to have reached over 10 million worldwide.

However, the consequence of this has led to beavers building more ponds, creating conditions for climate changing methane gas to be generated in the shallow standing water. Beavers build dams in rivers to create standing ponds, with dams normally reaching no higher than 1.5m.

In their work published in the Springer journal AMBIO, experts note that carbon builds up in oxygen-poor pond bottoms like those created by beavers, and methane is generated. The gas cannot be dissolved and is released into the atmosphere.

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada have found this methane release from beaver ponds is now 200 times higher than it was a century ago.

Read more - 
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/climate-change-beavers-boost-emissions-800-million-kg-methane-every-year-1479809

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Here's why you might want to stop drinking out of cans -

Here's why you might want to stop drinking out of cans - 

The chemical Bisphenol A- known as BPA - found in the lining of fizzy drink cans could cause high blood pressure and put heart patients at risk, experts warn

Might want to make your next six-pack glass bottles. Cans and plastic bottles are lined with a controversial chemical called BPA, and while the CDC still says the chemical's health effects are unclear, research on chronic exposure has linked it to high blood pressure and heart rate issues.

To test the effects of drinking from cans, researchers in South Korea provided 60 adults over the age of 60 with soy milk either in a can or a glass bottle.

Urine tests showed that those who drank from cans saw BPA levels up to 1,600% higher than those who drank from bottles, according to a post at Eureka Alert.

What's more, both BPA and blood pressure rose significantly in can-drinkers within a matter of hours, the New York Times reports, noting that this is one of the first studies to illustrate the potential risks of a just one BPA exposure.

An isolated experience of high blood pressure may not be that dangerous, but people should think twice before drinking regularly from cans or plastic bottles, an expert tells the Times.

"A 5 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure by drinking two canned beverages may cause clinically significant problems, particularly in patients with heart disease or hypertension," says a researcher, noting that he hopes manufactures will come up with "healthy alternatives" to BPA-lined cans.

Read more - 
http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/12/15/here-why-might-want-to-stop-drinking-out-cans/

Monday, 15 December 2014

Professor : 'Elf on the Shelf' conditions kids to accept surveillance state... -

Professor : 'Elf on the Shelf' conditions kids to accept surveillance state... - 



Could there be something more sinister behind the little elf sitting on the shelf who returns to the North Pole each night?

Yes, says Laura Pinto, a digital technology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

She recently published a paper titled “Who’s the Boss” on the doll, saying the idea of it reporting back to Santa each night on the child’s behavior “sets up children for dangerous, uncritical acceptance of power structures,” according to insideHalton.com.

From her paper:

When children enter the play world of The Elf on the Shelf, they accept a series of practices and rules associated with the larger story. This, of course, is not unique to The Elf on the Shelf. Many children’s games, including board games and video games, require children to participate while following a prescribed set of rules. The difference, however, is that in other games, the child role-plays a character, or the child imagines herself within a play-world of the game, but the role play does not enter the child’s real world as part of the game. As well, in most games, the time of play is delineated (while the game goes on), and the play to which the rules apply typically does not overlap with the child’s real world.

“You’re teaching (kids) a bigger lesson, which is that it’s OK for other people to spy on you and you’re not entitled to privacy,” she tells the Toronto Star.

She calls the elf “an external form of non-familial surveillance,” and says it’s potentially conditioning children to accept the state acting that way, too.

“If you grow up thinking it’s cool for the elves to watch me and report back to Santa, well, then it’s cool for the NSA to watch me and report back to the government,” according to Pinto.

Others concur with Pinto’s theory.

“It’s a little creepy, this idea that this elf is watching you all the time,” Emma Waverman, a blogger with Today’s Parent, tells the paper. She also doesn’t like that the story uses a threat – “nice” and “naughty” lists – to produce good behavior.

“It makes the motivation to behave something that’s external,” she says. “If I’m not around or if the elf is not around, do they act crazy?”

“Children potentially cater to The Elf on the Shelf as the ‘other,’ rather than engaging in and honing understandings of social relationships with peers, parents, teachers and ‘real life’ others,” Pinto writes.

“It’s worth noting that Pinto doesn’t object to the Elf on the Shelf’s Jewish counterpart, the Mensch on a Bench, which she characterized as ‘benign.’ Unlike the elf, the mensch doesn’t report to anyone at night but stays put, watching over the Hanukkah menorah,” the paper reports.

 According to the paper, 6 million “Elf on the Shelf” dolls and books have been sold in the last 8 years.

Read more - 
http://eagnews.org/prof-elf-on-the-shelf-conditions-kids-to-accept-surveillance-state/

Friday, 12 December 2014

Corporate America's Diversity Problem On Display At DealBook Conference - lack of women and people of color -

Corporate America's Diversity Problem On Display At DealBook Conference -  lack of women and people of color -  

BEWKES

It’s no secret that the leadership of corporate America, and Wall Street in particular, has a serious diversity problem. The lack of women and people of color in senior positions at the country’s largest businesses was on clear display at the New York Times DealBook conference on Thursday.

The theme of the conference, hosted by the paper’s finance and deal reporting site, was “Taking Stock of the Future: Rebuilding the Economy, Growth and Trust.”

Despite focusing on the future, the cast on stage looked a lot like the distant past.

Just three of the 20 people appearing on stage were women: Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, and Jessica Alba, the actress and co-founder of eco-friendly family products company The Honest Company. During her interview with DealBook founder Andrew Ross Sorkin, Alba was joined by Honest Company co-founder Brian Lee. Alba was the only executive who shared the stage with a colleague the entire day.

Only four of the 20 participants in the conference were people of color: Alba, who is Hispanic; American Express CEO Ken Chenault, who is African American; Lee, who is Korean American; and Jawbone co-founder and CEO Hosain Rahman, who is Pakistani American.

In a statement emailed to The Huffington Post, New York Times spokeswoman Stephanie Yera wrote: “Our DealBook conference is inclusive of innovators in business, finance, investment, retail, sports, media and tech, among other industries. We aimed to provide our audience with a diverse group of leaders, which included the first female C.E.O. of a major automaker, the first woman to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and our current chair of the S.E.C., and an entrepreneur who has found success as both an actress and a founder of a billion-dollar company."

The conference did manage to improve on corporate America’s standards of inclusion. Reuters reports that women account for 4 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, and a 2012 McKinsey study found that women make up only 14 percent of executive committees on corporate boards in the Fortune 500. The Center for American Progress found that a similarly tiny fraction of Fortune 500 CEOs, 4.2 percent, was made up of people of color.

McKinsey came to the numerically incontrovertible conclusion that in corporate America, “the top circles of leadership remain male bastions.” It is also incontrovertible that executive America remains a white male bastion. Unfortunately, the stage at the DealBook conference was like a refrigeration unit at a weisswurst factory: full of white sausage.

Read more - 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/12/corporate-diversity-lack_n_6315664.html