Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 30 September 2010

$27 million to change NYC signs from ALL-CAPS - will have 11,000 done by end of this fiscal year, rest finished by 2018 -

$27 million to change NYC signs from ALL-CAPS - will have 11,000 done by end of this fiscal year, rest finished by 2018 - 

$27 million to turn PERRY AV into Perry Av

The Capital of the World is going lower-case.
Federal copy editors are demanding the city change its 250,900 street signs -- such as these for Perry Avenue in The Bronx -- from the all-caps style used for more than a century to ones that capitalize only the first letters.
Changing BROADWAY to Broadway will save lives, the Federal Highway Administration contends in its updated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, citing improved readability.
At $110 per sign, it will also cost the state $27.6 million, city officials said.
"We have already started replacing the signs in The Bronx," city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told The Post. 'We will have 11,000 done by the end of this fiscal year, and the rest finished by 2018."
It appears e.e. cummings was right to eschew capital letters, federal officials explain.
Studies have shown that it is harder to read all-caps signs, and those extra milliseconds spent staring away from the road have been shown to increase the likelihood of accidents, particularly among older drivers, federal documents say.
The new regulations also require a change in font from the standard highway typeface to Clearview, which was specially developed for this purpose.
As a result, even numbered street signs will have to be replaced.
"Safety is this department's top priority," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last year, in support of the new guidelines. "These new and updated standards will help make our nation's roads and bridges safer for drivers, construction workers and pedestrians alike."
The Highway Administration acknowledged that New York and other states "opposed the change, and suggested that the use of all upper-case letters remain an option," noting that "while the mixed-case words might be easier to read, the amount of improvement in legibility did not justify the cost."
To compensate for those concerns, in 2003, the administration allowed for a 15-year
phase-in period ending in 2018.
Although the city did not begin replacing the signs until earlier this year, Sadik-Khan said they will have no trouble meeting the deadline, as some 8,000 signs a year are replaced annually simply due to wear and tear.
The new diminutive signs, which will also feature new reflective sheeting, may also reflect a kinder, gentler New York, she said.
"On the Internet, writing in all caps means you are shouting," she said. "Our new signs can quiet down, as well."

NFLer’s charity hotline phone number points callers to sex line - 800-prefixes mixed up - should begin with 888 - oops -

NFLer’s charity hotline phone number points callers to sex line - 800-prefixes mixed up - should begin with 888 - oops - 

Cincinnati Bengal Chad Ochocinco has never been big on good intentions. And then when he finally tries them out, they end up going all “road to hell” on him.
A few weeks ago, the gleeful NFL villain debuted his own cereal line in Cincinnati – OCHOCINCOs. The breakfast treat was designed in part to push support to the player’s pet charity, called Feed the Children.

On Thursday morning, the cereal was pulled from shelves after an area parent attempted to call the toll-free number on the box – 1-800-HELP-FTC.
When Tara Sand called, she got the following message: “Wanna get off with the sluttiest girls your imagination can dream up?”
Cringingly, someone got their 800-prefixes mixed up. Instead of the charity hotline, the number directs callers to a sex chat line. The correct number begins with 888.
“You do have to admit it is kind of funny. When we dialed it for the second time, I sat there and thought 'are you kidding me?' Nobody has found this yet?” Sand told Cincinnati’s WCPO.
Reached by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Ochocinco said he regretted the mistake.
"I really do apologize," Ochocinco told the Enquirer on Thursday. "Some people got a laugh out of it, others are upset."

Navy's new $2 billion nuclear subs, super-stealth coating falls apart - Cheapened by Chintzy Coating -

Navy's new $2 billion nuclear subs, super-stealth coating falls apart - Cheapened by Chintzy Coating - 

Of all the complicated gadgets in the Pentagon's arsenal, a nuclear submarine is one that probably shouldn't be built on the cheap. Yet according to military analysts, that's precisely what the Navy and two defense contractors did with a series of $2 billion attack subs, and now they're literally dropping chunks of their protective skins into the briny deep.

The problem afflicts the Navy's growing fleet of Virginia-class subs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_class_submarine), high-tech boats longer than a football field and armed with a dozen Tomahawk cruise missles.

The subs are coated with a "special hull treatment," urethane tiles that are supposed to make them super-stealthy, reducing their noise underwater and absorbing sonar impulses. As these photographs show,

Link to photos and additional info:

and as the Pentagon's top weapons inspector has reported, the tiles have been peeling off of the subs while they're at sea, often in large sections. So far, missing tiles have been documented on four of the Navy's seven , the first of which launched in 2003.

The disappearing tiles won't sink the subs, but they could seriously impede their primary mission—to run silent and run deep without being detected. "When pieces of the hull coating fall off, the sub gets noisier because it interrupts the water flow over the hull," Norman Polmar, a defense analyst who literally wrote the book on Navy subs, explained to the Newport News, Virginia, Daily Press. "When you put more noise in the water, you're easier to detect." A blogger at Halibut Hangar, which discusses submarine systems, puts it more bluntly: "The submarine platform may purr like a kitten when delivered and roar like a lion after a subsystem failure."

How could one of the world's most advanced pieces of military machinery be laid low by something so basic? Officers and contractors may have been cutting corners when the subs were built, says Craig Hooper, a San Francisco-based security strategist who's been tracking the Virginia-class woes on his blog Next Navy. "The demand to build this submarine in a fast, cost-effective way led them to skip some steps that should have been in the process," he says. "They've got this beautiful, fantastic vessel, and they just covered it in a Wal-Mart tarp."

In 2004, the Navy estimated that it needed 55 nuclear subs to keep up with the rest of the world's navies (never mind that the costly and top-secret Cold War battle for underseas supremacy was well over). To meet that ambitious goal, it kicked up production and broke with its long-standing practice of using one contractor per boat by splitting the work on its new Virginia-class subs between two shipbuilders, Northrop Grumman's yard in Newport News and General Dynamics' Electric Boat Co. in Groton, Connecticut. It also put a premium on building quickly and inexpensively, pressing for a goal of "two for four in twelve": putting two subs into service every year, for $4 billion a year, every year until 2012.

Members of Congress and Navy brass have touted the Virginia program as a paragon of cost-effectiveness. But according to a Congressional Research Service report (http://www.fas.org/man/crs/RL32418.pdf ) on the program, the time and financial pressure put on the shipbuilders may have had unintended consequences, such as "production inefficiencies and higher costs." And in a recent memo (https://dap.dau.mil/policy/Documents/Policy/State%20of%20Reliability%20-%20DOT%20and%20E%2030%20June%202010.pdf), J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon's director of operational test and evaluation, has criticized the Virginia-class subs for "multiple 'fail to sail' issues." Gilmore, the nation's top weapons inspector, cited the program as an example of widespread shoddy weapons manufacturing, warning that unreliable equipment "can essentially render weapons useless."

The Navy has been slow to say much about the problem. When it has, it's contradicted itself. Sailors who work in the office of the Virginia program initially told media that the hull-splitting issue came to light in 2006; they later claimed that it first popped up in 2007, immediately after a brand-new sub was delivered with its skin peeling. The Navy also asserts that only three subs—the USS Virginia, Texas, and North Carolina—have succumbed to hull decay. But Hooper brought the service's attention to its own public affairs photos, which show damage on the USS Hawaii as well. In response, the Navy said that the peeling tiles were part of normal wear and tear. Hooper says the photos of the Hawaii, which was peeling after a routine 10-day voyage, prove otherwise. "The program office is saying this happens over years. It doesn't."

Asked for comment, Northrop and General Dynamics—two of the military's largest vendors—both referred questions to the Navy.

Military analyst Hooper doubts the Navy can be trusted to face up to the seriousness of the problem. "If the Virginia-class program office cannot muster the cojones to even recognize a problem that is staring 'em in the face, how in the heck is the rest of Big Navy going to muster the will to get the problem solved?" he asks. "This lack of intestinal fortitude will, in a shooting war, get our sailors killed."

Read more - http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/09/navy-submarine-virginia-hull-problem

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Abandon Ship! Three Deadliest Catch Captains Leaving Show - they are leaving the show, due to litigation with Discovery

Abandon Ship! Three Deadliest Catch Captains Leaving Show - they are leaving the show, due to litigation with Discovery-

There's a storm hitting the hit Discovery show Deadliest Catch

Three of the programs stars, captains Sig Hansen and Johnathan and Andy Hillstrand, are retiring – from reality TV. 

The three crab fishermen are leaving the show, due to litigation with Discovery, they tell the
Hollywood Reporter

"We have been through a lot over the past year and unfortunately given the current situation with Discovery we are unable to continue participating in
Deadliest Catch, they said in a joint statement. 

The network sued the Hillstrand brothers for $3 million in September, claiming they failed to finish production on their planned spin-off, 

"It has been a fantastic ride, and we wish the best to all of the amazing and supportive 
Catch fans we have met over the years," the captains added. 

Their departure comes after a highly emotional season, which documented the death of beloved Captain Phil Harris, who 
died of stroke complications at 53. 

Harris's sons, Josh and Jake Harris, plan to return to the show for season seven. 

"Both boys are eager as ever to get back to fishing with their crew on board the Cornelia Marie," Jake's rep, Russ Herriott, tells PEOPLE. "Josh and Jake hate to see what is going on at this time. The Hansens and Hillstrands are close friends and part of the crab fishing brotherhood and it is sad to see that they have chosen this path to leave the show." 

Read more - http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20430353,00.html

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

United States Mint has depleted its inventory of 2010 American Buffalo One Ounce Gold Bullion Coins

United States Mint has depleted its inventory of 2010 American Buffalo One Ounce Gold Bullion Coins

The U.S. Mint has run out of a type of highly pure gold coin it had been selling amid record high prices of gold.
The mint said it will not stock more of the 1-ounce, 24-karat American Buffalo bullion coins.
"The United States Mint has depleted its inventory of 2010 American Buffalo One Ounce Gold Bullion Coins," the Mint said in a statement, seen by Reuters on Monday.
Officials at the Mint could not immediately be reached for comment.
Gold prices have hit record highs over the last two weeks, breaching $1,300 an ounce, as investors bought into the precious metal on global economic health worries and possibilities of more U.S. stimulus programs that could weaken the U.S. dollar.
In Monday's trade, New York's most active gold futures contract, December, settled up 50 cents at $1,298.60 per ounce, after rising to $1,301.30. Spot gold, which reflects the price of bullion, hit a high of $1,300 against the $1,295.60 level quoted in New York late on Friday.
This year alone, gold prices have risen more than 18 percent. Fund managers and industry experts think the rally has further to run in the longer term as gold provides a hedge against inflation amid expectations that central banks worldwide could resort to more monetary easing to support their economies.
The Mint said on its website that the American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coins -- authorized by Congress in 2005 and first minted in June 2006 -- were "among the world's purest gold coins in terms of the fineness of the metal they contain".
Each coin contains a full 24-karat of purity, the Mint said.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

US Seizes 3 Failing Corporate Credit Unions - were critically undercapitalized - cost the industry between $7 to $9 billion -

US Seizes 3 Failing Corporate Credit Unions - were critically undercapitalized -  cost the industry between $7 to $9 billion - 

U.S. regulators seized three corporate credit unions on Friday and will repackage about $50 billion in troubled assets from these and previous seizures to sell on the open market.

The National Credit Union Administration said the three corporate credit unions, which provide clearing services to retail credit unions, were critically undercapitalized.
Barclays Capital will manage the securitization plan, the regulator said. A securitization trust will be created to issue about $35 billion in guaranteed notes backed by the government, a process likely to start in October, the NCUA said.
"This approach is best for taxpayers, consumers and credit unions," NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said.
Matz said the agency also put in place on Friday regulations requiring corporate credit unions to hold higher levels of capital and setting risk limits.
The institutions seized on Friday were Members United Corporate Federal Credit Union of Warrenville, Illinois; Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union of Plano, Texas; and Constitution Corporate Federal Credit Union of Wallingford, Connecticut. Matz said combined they had about $16 billion in assets.

The seizures come after the NCUA last year took over two other such institutions: U.S. Central Corporate Federal Credit Union of Kansas and Western Corporate Federal Credit Union of California.
Corporate credit unions are the retail credit union's credit union, providing services including lending, and check and payment clearance services.
The wholesale credit unions have experienced more troubles than their retail counterparts because they did not face the same restrictions on permitted investments, leading to big losses during the financial crisis.
The $50 billion in troubled assets comes from all five credit unions and is mostly in the form of mortgage-backed securities.
Matz said 70 percent of all assets held by corporate credit unions are now under conservatorship.
The seizure of the five firms will ultimately cost the industry between $7 to $9 billion, she said, and NCUA will collect this amount from credit unions over the next 10 years. Taxpayers will not have to foot any of the bill, she added.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

19 Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Will Blow Your Mind -

19 Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Will Blow Your Mind - 

The United States is rapidly becoming the very first "post-industrial" nation on the globe.  All great economic empires eventually become fat and lazy and squander the great wealth that their forefathers have left them, but the pace at which America is accomplishing this is absolutely amazing.  It was America that was at the forefront of the industrial revolution.  It was America that showed the world how to mass produce everything from automobiles to televisions to airplanes.  It was the great American manufacturing base that crushed Germany and Japan in World War II.  But now we are witnessing the deindustrialization of America.  Tens of thousands of factories have left the United States in the past decade alone.  Millions upon millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost in the same time period.  The United States has become a nation that consumes everything in sight and yet produces increasingly little.  Do you know what our biggest export is today?  Waste paper.  Yes, trash is the number one thing that we ship out to the rest of the world as we voraciously blow our money on whatever the rest of the world wants to sell to us.  The United States has become bloated and spoiled and our economy is now  just a shadow of what it once was.  Once upon a time America could literally outproduce the rest of the world combined.  Today that is no longer true, but Americans sure do consume more than anyone else in the world.  If the deindustrialization of America continues at this current pace, what possible kind of a future are we going to be leaving to our children?Any great nation throughout history has been great at making things.  So if the United States continues to allow its manufacturing base to erode at a staggering pace how in the world can the U.S. continue to consider itself to be a great nation?  We have created the biggest debt bubble in the history of the world in an effort to maintain a very high standard of living, but the current state of affairs is not anywhere close to sustainable.  Every single month America does into more debt and every single month America gets poorer.
So what happens when the debt bubble pops?
The deindustrialization of the United States should be a top concern for every man, woman and child in the country.  But sadly, most Americans do not have any idea what is going on around them.
For people like that, take this article and print it out and hand it to them.  Perhaps what they will read below will shock them badly enough to awaken them from their slumber.    
The following are 19 facts about the deindustrialization of America that will blow your mind....
#1 The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001.  About 75 percent of those factories employed over 500 people when they were still in operation.
#2 Dell Inc., one of America’s largest manufacturers of computers, has announced plans to dramatically expand its operations in China with an investment of over $100 billion over the next decade.
#3 Dell has announced that it will be closing its last large U.S. manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in November.  Approximately 900 jobs will be lost.
#4 In 2008, 1.2 billion cellphones were sold worldwide.  So how many of them were manufactured inside the United States?  Zero.
#5 According to a new study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, if the U.S. trade deficit with China continues to increase at its current rate, the U.S. economywill lose over half a million jobs this year alone.
#6 As of the end of July, the U.S. trade deficit with China had risen 18 percent compared to the same time period a year ago.
#7 The United States has lost a total of about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since October 2000.
#8 According to Tax Notes, between 1999 and 2008 employment at the foreign affiliates of U.S. parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1 million. During that exact same time period, U.S. employment at American multinational corporations declined 8 percent to 21.1 million.
#9 In 1959, manufacturing represented 28 percent of U.S. economic output.  In 2008, it represented 11.5 percent.
#10 Ford Motor Company recently announced the closure of a factory that produces the Ford Ranger in St. Paul, Minnesota. Approximately 750 good paying middle class jobs are going to be lost because making Ford Rangers in Minnesota does not fit in with Ford's new "global" manufacturing strategy.
#11 As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing.  The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.
#12 In the United States today, consumption accounts for 70 percent of GDP. Of this 70 percent, over half is spent on services.
#13 The United States has lost a whopping 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
#14 In 2001, the United States ranked fourth in the world in per capita broadband Internet use.  Today it ranks 15th.
#15 Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.
#16 Printed circuit boards are used in tens of thousands of different products.  Asia now produces 84 percent of them worldwide.
#17 The United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States.
#18 One prominent economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.
#19 The U.S. Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty and according to them that is the highest number of poor Americans in the 51 years that records have been kept.
So how many tens of thousands more factories do we need to lose before we do something about it?
How many millions more Americans are going to become unemployed before we all admit that we have a very, very serious problem on our hands?
How many more trillions of dollars are going to leave the country before we realize that we are losing wealth at a pace that is killing our economy?
How many once great manufacturing cities are going to become rotting war zones like Detroit before we understand that we are committing national economic suicide?
The deindustrialization of America is a national crisis.  It needs to be treated like one.
If you disagree with this article, I have a direct challenge for you.  If anyone can explain how a deindustrialized America has any kind of viable economic future, please do so below in the comments section.
America is in deep, deep trouble folks.  It is time to wake up.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Worst billboard typo ever? - What it was supposed to say: “15 best things about our public schools.” missed the "L" -

Worst billboard typo ever? - What it was supposed to say: “15 best things about our public schools.”  missed the "L" - 

Billboard typo

Four people proofread the ad. Four dirty, dirty minded people.
In the end, it was Indiana drivers who spotted the problem.
A cringe-inducing absence appeared this week in the middle of a billboard ad touting South Bend, Indiana’s school system.
What it was supposed to say: “15 best things about our public schools.”
Minus a very pivotal ‘L’.
The billboard stood for nearly five days. No word on any spikes in applications for enrollment.
Passing motorists noticed and phoned in the error.
The company which produced the billboard quickly fell on its sword.
“I feel terrible. It’s a mistake we made, and we’re guilty of it, and responsible for it, and we take full responsibility for the error,” Patrick Strickler, president of the Blue Waters Group, told theSouth Bend Tribune.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Emergency Bra - emergency respiratory device - slip it over your head - one cup for you, and one for your friend -

Emergency Bra - emergency respiratory device - slip it over your head - one cup for you, and one for your friend - 

Caught in a disaster? You'd better hope you're wearing the Emergency Bra. Simply unsnap the bright red bra, separate the cups, and slip it over your head -- one cup for you, and one for your friend. 
Dr. Elena Bodnar won an Ignoble Award for the invention last year, an annual tribute to scientificresearch that on the surface seems goofy but is often surprisingly practical. And now Bodnar has brought the eBra to the public; purchase one online for just $29.95. 
"The goal of any emergency respiratory device is to achieve tight fixation and full coverage. Luckily, the wonderful design of the bra is already in the shape of a face mask and so with the addition of a few design features, the Emergency Bra enhances the efficiency of minimizing contaminated bypass air flow," explains the eBra website. 
It sounds silly, but Bodnar, a Ukraine native who now lives in Chicago, started her medical career studying the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster. If people had had cheap, readily available gas masks in the first hours after the disaster, she said, they may have avoided breathing in Iodine-131, which causes radiation sickness.
The bra-turned-gas masks could have also been useful during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and for women caught outside during the dust storms that recently enveloped Sydney, she said.

"You have to be prepared all the time, at any place, at any moment, and practically every woman wears a bra," she said. Her patented devices also look pretty, no different from a conventional bra, she added.
According to a report on tech news site CNET, there are plans for a "counterpart device for men" in the works, though the precise shape it will take has yet to be revealed.