Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Friday, 30 December 2011

2011: The Year Facebook Killed Google - I used to discover new content via Google. Now I find it on Facebook and Twitter -

2011: The Year Facebook Killed Google - I used to discover new content via Google. Now I find it on Facebook and Twitter - 

I have to admit it: I get a queasy voyeuristic feeling in my gut when I see what my friends are reading on the Washington or Huffington Posts, watching on YouTube, or listening to on Spotify. This whole “frictionless sharing” business makes me uneasy. As my lovely talented wife always says when I do this, “too much information, dude.”

And yet I can’t pull myself away.

A few weeks ago I began to notice that most of the content I was consuming on the Web – at least, during moments of leisure and/or extreme procrastination – was coming via Facebook or Twitter. A friend or acquaintance would post a link, and I’d follow it. If I liked it, I shared it with others.

Facebook's frictionless sharing: A privacy guide
It didn’t used to be this way. I used to find stuff via Google. Now, not so much. And I’m not alone.

Let’s look at some stats. According to the folks at Nielsen, Facebook trails only Google in the number of unique monthly visitors (137 million vs 153 million) but it’s killing Google in time spent on line. People spend about 16 percent of their time online just on Facebook – or more than they do on Yahoo, Google, AOL, and YouTube combined. For the third year in a row “Facebook” was the most searched for term on the Internet, according to Experian Hitwise.

And when people look for interesting content, more and more they turn to recommendations from their online buddies. Google recently announced that people share 1 billion items a day on G+ – or about one-fourth the number of items shared on Facebook, a number that’s doubling each year.

Google’s once-secure niche as the place people go on the Internet when they don’t where to go on the Internet isn’t so secure any more.
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Friday Humor: Unspinning The "€100 Bill" Or How The European Bailout REALLY 'Works' -

Friday Humor: Unspinning The "€100 Bill" Or How The European Bailout REALLY 'Works' - 

It is a slow day in a little Greek village. The rain is beating down and the streets are deserted. Times are tough, everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit. On this particular day a rich German tourist is driving through the village, stops at the local hotel and lays a €100 note on the desk, telling the hotel owner he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night. The owner gives him some keys and, as soon as the visitor has walked upstairs, the hotelier grabs the €100 note and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.  The butcher takes the €100 note and runs down the street to repay his debt to the pig farmer. The pig farmer takes the €100 note and heads off to pay his bill at the supplier of feed and fuel. The guy at the Farmers' Co-op takes the €100 note and runs to pay his drinks bill at the taverna. The publican slips the money along to the local prostitute drinking at the bar, who has also been facing hard times and has had to offer him "services" on credit. The hooker then rushes to the hotel and pays off her room bill to the hotel owner with the €100 note. The hotel proprietor then places the €100 note back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect anything. At that moment the traveler comes down the stairs, picks up the €100 note, states that the rooms are not satisfactory, pockets the money, and leaves town.
No one produced anything. No one earned anything. However, the whole village is now out of debt and looking to the future with a lot more optimism. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how the bailout package works.

Chevy to Recall Over 4,000 2012 Chevrolet Sonics to Check for Missing Brakes - "could increase stopping distance" -

Chevy to Recall Over 4,000 2012 Chevrolet Sonics to Check for Missing Brakes - "could increase stopping distance" - 

General Motors Co. is recalling more than 4,000 of its 2012 Chevrolet Sonic subcompact cars to check for missing brake pads.
Some Sonics could be missing an inner or outer brake pad, which could increase stopping distance. GM said there are no known crashes or injuries related to the issue.
The recall involves 4,296 of GM's 2012 Sonics sold in the U.S. Affected models are from the Orion Township, Mich., assembly plant, which makes Sonics for the U.S. and Canadian markets.
Dealers will inspect front brakes on Sonics for missing inner or outer pads and install new pads, if necessary. Customers affected by the recall will receive dealer letters beginning Jan. 14.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/12/30/chevy-to-recall-over-4000-cars-to-check-for-missing-brakes/?test=latestnews

Kill-adelphia: Yet again, Philadelphia tops list of homicide rates - homicide tally stood at 324 Wednesday -

Kill-adelphia: Yet again, Philadelphia tops list of homicide rates - homicide tally stood at 324 Wednesday - 

ON THE DOOR into the Uceta Mini Market in North Philadelphia, a sign warns shoppers, "No Weapons Allowed."

Inside, the message on a sign sandwiched between cigarette ads is even more blunt: "Stop. Shooting. People."

The market sits at Stillman and Somerset streets, just steps from the scenes of two recent gun slayings that remain unsolved. But in the store, where you can buy everything from milk to motor oil, the signs are an ignored, endured part of everyday existence - just like the homicides themselves.

This is among the city's most dangerous neighborhoods, where violence is as ingrained as the futility many feel that it will ever abate.

"I know a lot of people who got killed, maybe 10, I don't know how many," Marcus Henry, 29, said yesterday as he got his morning coffee.

Murders are up again this year in Philadelphia, and the city still has the highest homicide rate of the nation's 10 most populous cities, according to stats provided by each city's police department. At the same time, fewer murders are getting solved.

With a few days left in the year, the city's homicide tally stood at 324 Wednesday, including the eight victims allegedly killed in previous years by West Philly abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Last year, 306 people were killed, and the year before, 302.
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Siri Tells Little Boy to 'Shut the F--- Up,' Calls Him 'Ugly' - iPhone 4S was then sent in for repairs -

Siri Tells Little Boy to 'Shut the F--- Up,' Calls Him 'Ugly' - iPhone 4S was then sent in for repairs - 
Siri Tells Little Boy to 'Shut the F--- Up'

For all the kind and helpful advice that Apple's Siri personal assistant gives out, don't ever catch it on a bad day, or it'll tell you off in ways your mother would not approve.

If a report from The Sun is to be believed, a demo unit for the iPhone 4S caught fire for telling 12-year-old Charle Le Quesne to "Shut the f--- up, you ugly t---."

Charlie reportedly asked Siri "How many people are there in the world?" and that was the answer he got back. Together with his mother and the manager, they asked the demo iPhone 4S the same question and got the same answer back yet again. Needless to say, the demo unit was unplugged and sent back to Apple for "diagnostic tests."

The errors seems to have stemmed from Siri thinking that the questioner's name was "Shut the f--- up, you ugly t---."

All this happened at a U.K. Tesco supermarket. It's worth noting that on U.K. iPhones, Siri's default voice is that of a male and not female like it is in the U.S. So you'll have to picture Siri cursing the poor boy out with a male British accent. I bet it sounds even funnier that way.

Read more -

What is the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about for 2012? -

What is the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about for 2012? - 

Can you guess what the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is?  There are certainly many to choose from.  Many Americans are deathly afraid of a major terrorist attack.  Others live in constant fear of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes.  Still others are incredibly concerned that a massive pandemic will break out at any time or that World War III will erupt in the Middle East.  Yes, there are certainly a lot of potential catastrophic events that one can worry about in the times in which we live, but the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is actually "economic collapse".  At least that is what arecent survey conducted by Leiflin Inc. for the EcoHealth Alliance found.  But this goes along with what so many other polls have found over the past few years.  Over and over again, opinion polls have found that the number one issue that American voters are concerned about is the economy.  The truth is that average Americans are deeply, deeply concerned about unemployment, debt, the housing crash and the steady decline in the standard of living.  It has been years since the U.S. economy has operated at a "normal" level, and many Americans are afraid that things could soon get a whole lot worse.
In the new survey mentioned above, those contacted were asked to select the top three potential catastrophes that worry them the most.
The following results come directly from the survey....
Economic Collapse: 63%
Natural Disaster: 46%
Terrorist Attack: 44%
Global Disease Outbreak: 33%
Global War: 27%
Nuclear Accident: 25%
Global Warming: 22%
Fuel Shortage: 15%
Cyber War: 8%
Famine: 8%
Oil Spill: 6%
Industrial Accident: 5%
As you can see, "economic collapse" was the winner by a wide margin.
So are there good reasons for the American people to be concerned about an economic collapse?
Of course there are.
Back in 2008, a financial crisis that began on Wall Street was felt in the farthest corners of the globe.
This time, ground zero for the financial crisis is going to be in Europe.  As I have written about previously, the European financial system is rapidly coming apart at the seams.  The euro continues to drop like a rock, and banking stocks continue their long-term decline.
Many people expect a "financial collapse" to happen on a particular day.  But that is not how it happens usually.  Instead, it is often like a snowball that starts rolling downhill very slowly at first but that eventually become a huge avalanche.
Right now, we are seeing the financial world come apart in slow motion.  A recent article posted on Automatic Earth included a list of the year-to-date performance of some of the most prominent global banking stocks.  These numbers are absolutely staggering....
  • BofA: -60.38%
  • Citi: -44.76%
  • Goldman Sachs: -46.41%
  • JPMorgan: -23.03%
  • Morgan Stanley: -45.24%
  • RBS: -50%
  • Barclays: -34.32%
  • Lloyds: -63.02%
  • UBS: -29.33%
  • Deutsche Bank: -28,55%
  • Crédit Agricole: -56.04%
  • BNP Paribas: -37.67%
  • Société Générale: -59.57%
But because these numbers happened over the course of a year and not on a single day it doesn't feel quite as much like a "collapse".
Unfortunately, things are about to get a whole lot worse.  Global credit markets are really freezing up - especially in Europe.
Considering the fact that the entire global financial system is based on credit and debt, that is a very bad thing.
Our system simply does not work when banks do not want to lend money to each other or to businesses.
Just yesterday there was an article in the Guardian that talked about how it looks like the credit crunch may be getting even worse....
"If European banks are still this concerned, it's not a good sign," said Karl Schamotta, senior markets strategist with Western Union Business Solutions. "That underlines the possibility that this liquidity crunch is getting worse and will continue into the new year."
When banks cut back on lending, that causes the money supply to shrink.  When the money supply shrinks substantially, it is almost impossible to avoid a recession.  A recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard detailed how the money supply in many eurozone nations is shrinking at a very rapid pace right now....
Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors said "narrow" M1 money – which includes cash and overnight deposits, and signals short-term spending plans – shows an alarming split between North and South.
While real M1 deposits are still holding up in the German bloc, the rate of fall over the last six months (annualised) has been 20.7pc in Greece, 16.3pc in Portugal, 11.8pc in Ireland, and 8.1pc in Spain, and 6.7pc in Italy. The pace of decline in Italy has been accelerating, partly due to capital flight. "This rate of contraction is greater than in early 2008 and implies an even deeper recession, both for Italy and the whole periphery," said Mr Ward.
Those are very, very frightening numbers.
About the only thing propping up European banks right now is the fact that the European Central Bank is loaning them gigantic piles of cheap money.
But there is a big problem.
European banks are running out of collateral for those loans as an article in the Wall Street Journal recently noted....
Even after the European Central Bank doled out nearly half a trillion euros of loans to cash-strapped banks last week, fears about potential financial problems are still stalking the sector. One big reason: concerns about collateral.
The only way European banks can now convince anyone—institutional investors, fellow banks or the ECB—to lend them money is if they pledge high-quality assets as collateral.
Now some regulators and bankers are becoming nervous that some lenders' supplies of such assets, which include European government bonds and investment-grade non-government debt, are running low.
So what happens when banks all over Europe start running out of collateral and can't get any more loans?
The answer should be obvious.
As I detailed a few days ago, many prominent voices in the financial world now believe that we could be looking at a financial crisis that will be even worse than 2008.
If you want to see what happens when a collapse happens and a depression begins, just look at what is happening in Greece....
*100,000 businesses have been closed since the beginning of the crisis.
*About a third of the nation is now living in poverty.
*The unemployment rate for those under the age of 24 is 39 percent.
*The number of suicides has increased by 40 percent in the past year.
*Thefts and burglaries nearly doubled between 2007 and 2009.
Things have gotten so bad that hundreds of families in Greece are abandoning their children.
Some are taking their children to charitable institutions and others are handing them directly over to the government.
The following sad story of one Greek family comes from an article in the Guardian....
"Psychologically we were all in a bit of a mess," said Gasparinatos. "We were sleeping on mattresses on the floor, the rent hadn't been paid for months, something had to be done."
And so, with Christmas approaching, the 42-year-old took the decision to put in an official request for three of his boys and one daughter to be taken into care.
"The crisis had killed us. I am ashamed to say but it had got to the point where I couldn't even afford the €2 needed to buy bread," he told the Guardian. "We didn't want to break up the family but we did think it would be easier for them if four of my children were sent to an institution for maybe two or three years."
Does that seem shocking to you?
Well, all of this is coming to America eventually.
Someday we will see American parents abandoning their children because they cannot take care of them anymore.
Someday we will see suicides absolutely skyrocket in America because people have lost all hope.
Someday we will see thefts and burglaries soar to unprecedented heights as millions of desperate people attempt to try to find some way to survive.
It is all coming.
The federal government cannot pile up a trillion dollars of additional debtevery year indefinitely.
We cannot afford to see an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day in the United States shut down.  Eventually there won't be anymore factories to shut down.
We cannot afford to keep putting millions more Americans on welfare.  At this point the government is feeding 46 million Americans a month.  Will the government eventually be feeding most of us?
The U.S. economy is getting weaker and weaker and weaker.  All of the long-term trends are absolutely nightmarish.  We are accumulating debt faster than ever, and our ability to produce wealth is diminishing faster than ever.
There is no way that things are going to be okay if we stay on the path that we are currently on.
So the truth is that Americans should be very concerned about an economic collapse.
It is coming and it is going to be very painful.
Read more -

Photo of Kim Jong Il’s funeral has created internet frenzy after finding a "giant" towering high above his countrymen -

Photo of Kim Jong Il’s funeral has created internet frenzy after finding a "giant" towering high above his countrymen - 

A photo of Kim Jong Il’s funeral has created an internet frenzy after eagle-eyed observers spotted a "giant" towering high above his countrymen. 

The Associated Press yesterday released photos of thousands of North Koreans lined up in orderly rows to watch their former dictator's funeral procession pass.

But one image has aroused worldwide curiosity for the mysterious figure standing in the back row. 

The man appears to be about one third taller than the men to his left and right, with the tops of his legs almost at shoulder height with others standing in the crowd.

It seems probable the tall man is North Korea's NBA star Ri 'Michael' Myung Hun, who is 235cm tall. 

The mystery man appears to be close to that height when compared with the other people around him.

The average height of North Koreans is 166cm, 5cm shorter than their South Korean neighbours.

The height difference has been blamed on the poor standard of living in the country.

Two Mexican police rob Canadian tourist in Acapulco - 300 pesos (about $22) and personal belongings -

Two Mexican police rob Canadian tourist in Acapulco - 300 pesos (about $22) and personal belongings - 

The Acapulco municipal government fired two local police officers Thursday who were accused of robbing a Canadian visitor in the popular tourist city.

Acapulco Mayor Manuel Añorve told the Reforma newspaper that the officers were fired for robbing 300 pesos (about $22) and personal belongings from a Canadian visitor early Wednesday near the Crowne Plaza hotel on Acapulco’s main tourist strip.

The tourist has since returned home, along with 32 other Canadians in his tour group, Guerrero state tourism secretary Graciela Baez said.

“It’s very regrettable that this happened,” she said.

An official with the state prosecutor’s office for tourists, Alfredo Fernández, was unable to confirm the identity of the Canadian victim or where he was from, but said the cash and stolen items were returned promptly.

The incident threatened to further sully the reputation of Acapulco, a city that gained fame as a beach resort destination but has more recently struggled with violence.

Pedro Isnardo de la Cruz, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, says Acapulco law enforcement and traffic officers have a long history of committing small-time crimes, such as demanding bribes, from local visitors.

“This isn’t the exception,” said de la Cruz, a native of Acapulco.

Acapulco tourism officials insist the destination is safe and say local hotels currently boast a 90 per cent occupancy rate as holidayers from Mexico City — a four-hour drive to the north — pour into town for New Year’s festivities.

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