Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

In the last three months, more Americans have joined disability than have found a job -

In the last three months, more Americans have joined disability than have found a job - 

A new chart set to be released by the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee details an alarming fact: In the last three months, more Americans have joined disability than have found a job: 

As the chart shows, between April-June 2012, an estimated 246,000 Americans were added to Social Security's disability insurance program. In that same time period, only 225,000 American jobs were created. 

These alarming numbers, though, are part of a wider trend, as another chart, also set to be released later today, from the Republican side of the Senate Budget Committee shows: 

As this chart shows, since 2008, 3.6. million Americans have been added to Social Security's disability insurance program. In that same time period, a net total of 1.3 million jobs were lost.

"Amazingly, while fewer Americans are working than at the end of 2008, 3.6 million Americans have been awarded SSDI benefits over the same period. The growing number of people on disability and other federal benefits, combined with weak economic growth, raises serious concerns about the sustainability of the American economy," Senator Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, says in a statement in response to these new numbers.


Man with the largest penis on record was frisked by the TSA after they suspected he was hiding something in his pants -

Man with the largest penis on record was frisked by the TSA after they suspected he was hiding something in his pants - 

A man famous for having one of the largest penises on record said he was frisked by TSA agents at San Francisco International Airport after they suspected he was hiding something in his pants, according to his Twitter account.

New York native Jonah Falcon, 41, reported on July 9th that he was returning from a weekend in San Francisco when he was delayed by TSA agents who became curious about the bulge in his pants.

“TSA didn’t know what to make of the massive bulge on my thigh. Even after I went through that body scanner that shows you naked,” Falcon said on his Twitter page.

According to online reports, Falcon’s penis is nearly 10 inches long when flaccid, and more than 13 inches long when erect. Online articles suggest it is the largest ever recorded.

On his Facebook page he lists his favorite quote as, “Yes, it really is that big. See, you can fit more than three hands on it.”

Falcon said he said he was subjected to both a metal detector and a body scanner before being selected for additional screening. He said he was eventually released and allowed to catch his flight.


Crazed beaver attacks / injures two girls swimming in lake... - at Lake Anna in Virginia -

Crazed beaver attacks /  injures two girls swimming in lake... - at Lake Anna in Virginia - 

A crazed beaver attacked two girls as they swam in a lake at a popular beauty spot leaving them with serious injuries.
Eight-year-old Annabella Radnovich and her 11-year-old sister, Alyssa, were playing with their cousins at Lake Anna in Virginia's Spotsylvania County when the 65 pound animal bit and scratched their legs.
The sisters were rushed to Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center after the attack just before noon on Sunday.

Mother Wendy Radnovich said the animal bit Alyssa first before moving onto her sister.

She told q13FOX.com: 'She had felt something touch her leg and she thought it was one of her cousins messing with her. 

'And she stopped and looked and pushed it off of her and started running out of the water.'
Annabella also thought it was someone in her family fooling around until she felt the animal's claws digging into her legs.
Describing the terrifying experience she said: 'It started swimming around me, and then I tried to get out again and it bit my leg.'
Annabella told how as soon as everyone realised what was going on they all rushed out of the water. 
The girls' grandmother treated their wounds at the scene until an ambulance arrived.
Doctors were yesterday contemplating operating on Annabella who had suffered the more serious injuries. Alyssa required stitches. 
She added: 'The pain was the most pain I've ever been through.
'When I was in the ambulance truck, they said they've heard of a skunk bite, but not a beaver. Ever.' 
Her mother added: 'Because it went through the muscle tissue, they didn't want to do surgery.
'The main concern is the infection and they're testing the beaver for rabies now.'
The girls are not believed to have been given injections against the disease at this stage. 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2174700/Crazed-beaver-attacks-girls-swimming-lake-leaving-injuries.html#ixzz20uLfJPck

Study: People Who Are Constantly Online Can Develop Mental Disorders -

Study: People Who Are Constantly Online Can Develop Mental Disorders - 

Get off that computer. A new study finds that constantly being online can affect your mental health.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg  recently studied more than 4,100 Swedish men and women between the ages of 20 and 24 for a year and found that a majority of them who constantly use a computer and mobile phones can develop stress, sleeping disorders and depression.

Sara Thomee, lead author of the study, said there was a “central link” between computers and mental disorders.

“High quantitative use was a central link between computer use and stress, sleep disturbances, and depression, described by the young adults,” Thomee said in the study. “It was easy to spend more time than planned at the computer (e.g., working, gaming, or chatting), and this tended to lead to time pressure, neglect of other activities and personal needs (such as social interaction, sleep, physical activity), as well as bad ergonomics, and mental overload.”

The study found a correlation between stress and always being available on the phone.

“Demands for availability originated not only from work and the social network, but also from the individual’s own ambitions or desires. This resulted in disturbances when busy or resting, the feeling of never being free, and difficulties separating work and private life,” Thomee explained in the study. “Unreturned calls or messages led to overload and feelings of guilt.”

Even people who played video games online faced a greater risk of suffering from depression.

“Daily computer gaming for 1–2 hours meant an increased risk for symptoms of depression in the women,” the study found. “Often using the computer late at 48 night (and consequently losing sleep) was a prospective risk factor for stress and sleep disturbances, including reduced performance, in both sexes.”

Thomee concluded that people need to set limits on computer and cell phone use and limit their own demands on their availability as to not suffer from these types of mental disorders.


UPDATE: Chevy Volt Makes NO Money, Costs Taxpayers Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Per Car... -

UPDATE: Chevy Volt Makes NO Money, Costs Taxpayers Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Per Car... - 

The Jurassic Press is missing much in their reporting on the $50 billion bailout of General Motors (GM).  The Press is open channeling for President Barack Obama - allowing him to frame the bailout exactly as he wishes in the 2012 Presidential election. 

The President is running in large part on the bailout’s $30+ billion loss, uber-failed “success.”  And the Press is acting as his stenographers.  An epitome of this bailout nightmare mess is the electric absurdity that is the Chevrolet Volt.  The Press is at every turn covering up - rather than covering - the serial failures of President Obama’s signature vehicle.

The Press has failed to mention at least five Volt fires, myopically focusing on the one the Obama Administration hand-selected for attention.

The Press has failed to mention that the Volt fire problem remains unsolved.  Is it the battery?  Is it the charging station?  Is it the charging cable?  All of the above?

GM and the Administration don’t know.  And the Press ain’t breaking their necks trying to find out.

In more recent news, the Press has almost as one hailed the June Volt sales increase.

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/seton-motley/2012/07/17/media-fail-chevy-volt-makes-gm-no-money-costs-taxpayers-hundreds-thous

Colorado man's 6-foot pet lizard on the loose - answers to Dino... -

Colorado man's 6-foot pet lizard on the loose - answers to Dino... - 

Emergency notification calls have gone out to residents in three Colorado subdivisions to be wary of a missing 6-foot-long lizard.
The owner of the escaped Nile monitor lizard named Dino says his pet got loose Monday and he hopes no one will hurt it.
According to KRDO-TV, the unidentified owner says his 25-pound lizard broke through its mesh leash. He says the lizard won't eat any animal bigger than a prairie dog.
Emergency notification calls were made to residents in surrounding subdivisions in Teller County west of Colorado Springs.
Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensinger says residents need to be careful because the animal can be aggressive

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/07/17/emergency-notification-calls-made-to-colorado-residents-after-6-foot-lizard/?test=latestnews

Record breaking wind-powered car is faster than the wind - heading directly upwind at 2.01 times wind speed -

Record breaking wind-powered car is faster than the wind - heading directly upwind at 2.01 times wind speed - 

This car is literally faster than the wind…in both directions.
Looking more like a windmill on wheels than an automobile, the Blackbird has set a record by a wind-powered car heading directly upwind at 2.01 times wind speed.
The mark, set earlier this month at the New Jerusalem airstrip in Tracy, Calif., was certified by the North American Land Sailing Association on Monday, and put the vehicle in the record books for the second time.
Two years ago the Blackbird blew the minds of skeptics when it drove directly downwind at nearly three times the speed of the wind, a feat once considered by many to be impossible. It was designed to be pushed by the wind as its wheels, through a transmission, spun a giant propeller which then drove the car even faster with its prop thrust. How it exactly works remains a physics brainteaser and the source of much debate in the scientific community.
To achieve the upwind run, which isn’t as difficult to understand, the system was effectively reversed. The propeller blades were replaced with slightly smaller turbine blades that are spun by the oncoming wind and turn the wheels to drive the lightweight car through gears that increase the turbine to wheel speed ratio. Frictional losses in the design ultimately determine the maximum speed. An annual event called Racing Aeolis is held in the Netherlands each year pitting similarly designed, but slower vehicles in a head-to-head upwind race.
The head of the Blackbird team, Rick Cavallaro, is a professional computer scientist and amateur aerodynamicist and hang and paragliding enthusiast who undertook the challenge as an academic exercise, and any practical applications for the technology have yet to be determined.
As for the Blackbird, Cavallaro says its record breaking days are likely over. He’s in talks with having this very unique car displayed at an aviation museum.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2012/07/17/record-breaking-wind-powered-car-is-faster-than-wind/?intcmp=trending

Traffic signs in New Zealand destroyed by pole-dancing prostitutes... - "the prostitutes are big, strong people." -

Traffic signs in New Zealand destroyed by pole-dancing prostitutes... - "the prostitutes are big, strong people." - 

More than 40 poles have been bent, buckled or broken in the past 18 months in one area of south Auckland, New Zealand, it is claimed.
The signs, bearing legally required notices such as parking restrictions, are thought to have cost ratepayers thousands of dollars to replace.
"Prostitutes use these street sign poles as dancing poles," said Donna Lee, an elected member of the city council's Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board.
"The poles are part of their soliciting equipment and they often snap them.
"Some of the prostitutes are big, strong people."
The revelation emerged as the community board published a tell-all booklet detailing frustrations of residents and businesses struggling to cope with the rampant sex trade on their doorstep.

Part of the area Ms Lee represents is Hunter's Corner, which has become notorious as a meeting place for prostitutes and their customers.
Bernie Taylor, a local resident, said: "We had a parcel delivered to us recently and the address was 'Hooker's Corner' and it found its way to us with no problems whatsoever."
Locals turned out with placards to welcome publication of the community board's report, which calls on parliament in Wellington to give Auckland Council powers to ban sex workers from certain areas of the city.
The report outlines other street incidents, including an angry clash in which it says a transvestite rammed a supermarket trolley into a woman's car before lying across the bonnet, and a school-bus full of children observing a transvestite changing her dress.
John McCracken, the board's chairman, said: "We are beyond moral outrage.
"We just ask for some reasonable control of this industry."
But the Prostitutes Collective warned that outlawing popular streets would encourage sex workers to stop carrying condoms in case they are questioned by police.
Co-ordinator Annah Pickering told Television New Zealand: "They'll be expected to pay a fine, which they can't pay.
"They'll go to court, then they have to come back on to the streets and work to pay them off."
New Zealand has some of the most liberal prostitution laws in the world after the sex trade was decriminalised by the previous Labour government in 2003.


Cyber-Screening, Social Media, and Fair Credit Reporting - potential employers are trawling the Internet -

Cyber-Screening, Social Media, and Fair Credit Reporting - potential employers are trawling the Internet - 

As American employees, we are increasingly becoming aware that our current and potential employers are trawling the Internet to look for our social-media activity as a way of judging whether we should be hired or retained.  Is that practice legal? As a baseline rule, it is, as long as the current or potential employer does not discriminate on protected grounds, such as race, religion, or gender.

Many companies are turning to private data-collection firms as a way of getting around possible discrimination claims or problems. To do so, they are hiring data brokers or aggregation firms that can collect data and “scrub” it (for example, by removing someone’s race).  These companies—much like Experian, Transunion, or Equifax, which prepare traditional credit reports—are subject to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)—a federal law that was designed to ensure that the information provided by third parties to employers or creditors is accurate, and that consumers are informed of any adverse decisions that are made about them, based on such information.

Are companies that compile social-media data subject to the FCRA? Until recently, the answer was unclear, but the FTC has now made it clearer.  Indeed, the FTC recently imposed a $800,000 fine against one of these social-media-data companies, Spokeo, for its failure to adhere to the FCRA when collecting social-media data and passing it on to prospective employers.

In this column, I will discuss the implications of the FTC’s Spokeo enforcement action, and why it is important. I will also discuss why the collection and use of social-media data is inherently different from the collection of the kind of data that has traditionally been gathered for credit-reporting purposes. This contrast means that policymakers now need to look afresh at the FCRA to see how it does, or does not, adequately address the ways in which social-media data is used to assess consumer and employee behavior.

The FTC Action against Spokeo:  A First Look at the FCRA and Social Media

The FCRA was enacted in 1970 to promote accuracy, fairness, and the privacy of personal information assembled by Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs).

CRAs assemble reports on individuals for businesses that make decisions based on our financial history, including lenders, employers, landlords, and others. The FCRA provides important consumer protections for credit reports, consumer investigatory reports, and employment background checks.  The FCRA’s primary protection requires that CRAs follow “reasonable procedures” to protect the confidentiality, accuracy, and relevance of credit information. To ensure that they do so, the FCRA establishes a set of Fair Information Practices for personal information that include a consumer’s rights to data accuracy, limited use of data, and a requirement of notice when data is used to make adverse decisions.

There are three major national CRAs in the United States: Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax.  There are also smaller credit-reporting agencies that often provide regional services.  And, as we have recently learned, social-media-data-collection companies (also referred to as data brokers) may also qualify as CRAs.

Typically, consumer credit reports contain information on financial accounts, and include credit card balances and mortgage information.  In addition to compiling traditional consumer credit reports, new companies are now also creating social-media reports or profiles, which are supplied to employers as part of employment screenings.

The Spokeo FTC Action

On June 12 of this year, the FTC issued a press release announcing that online data broker Spokeo, Inc. would pay $800,000 to settle FTC claims that it had violated the FCRA when it sold personal data about potential employees to prospective employers in order to assist those employers in screening job applicants. This FTC enforcement action is the first to apply the FCRA in a social-media context.

The FTC alleges that from 2008 until 2010, Spokeo marketed  employee and potential employee profiles on a subscription basis to human-resources officers, and job recruiters  as an employment-screening tool. Spokeo collected information about individuals from the Internet and public records in order to create profiles that included contact information, marital status, and age, and, in some cases, more detailed information about  hobbies, ethnicity, religion, participation on social networking sites, and photos.

Spokeo offered these composite profiles as a  file or dossier that could serve as a factor in a company’s deciding whether to interview or hire a job candidate.  Spokeo encouraged recruiters and employers to “Explore Beyond the Resume.”

Consumer reports are broadly defined in the FCRA as information “bearing on a consumer’s credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living which is used or expected to be used or collected in whole or in part for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer’s eligibility for credit or insurance; employment purposes; or any other purpose authorized under [15 U.S.C. § 1681b].”  The FTC thus treated Spokeo’s reports as consumer reports.

Accordingly, the FTC found that Spokeo had acted as a CRA, and it alleged that Spokeo violated the FCRA by (a) failing to ensure that the consumer reports that it sold were used for legally-permissible purposes; (b) failing to ensure that the information it sold was accurate; and (c) failing to inform users of Spokeo’s consumer reports pursuant to its obligations under the FCRA.

The FTC’s complaint also alleged that Spokeo violated Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive” trade practices, by requesting that its employees post “deceptive” endorsements of its consumer reports.  The employees posed as Spokeo customers when they posted the endorsements.  The FTC’s order now requires that Spokeo remove (or request the removal of) these false endorsements, whether they appear on its own website or on third-party websites.

This is the FTC’s first enforcement action focused on the sale of information culled from  social media for use in the employment-screening context.  Not only is the FTC watching what social-media companies are doing with users’ information, but it is also paying attention to how data brokers are using information that has been collected through social-media sites.

In addition to imposing the $800,000 fine on Spokeo, the FTC’s settlement order also prohibits Spokeo from committing any future FCRA violations, and requires that the company refrain from making future misrepresentations about its endorsements.

Going Beyond the Spokeo Example: Why Social-Media Reports Are Still Problematic

The Spokeo case makes it clear that social-media profiling, when done by CRAs for the purpose of employment screening, is covered by the FCRA.  Thus, companies that comply with the statute can legally use social-media profiling. One example of a company that is FCRA-compliant in the social-media area is SocialIntelligence (often referred to as SocialIntel).  The FTC previously looked into SocialIntel’s practices and deemed them FCRA-compliant.  Thus, according to the FTC, SocialIntel may continue to search for Tweets, Facebook photos and profile information, provided that it continues to comply with the FCRA.

The FTC’s letter to SocialIntel emphasized that when reports include information derived from social media, the same rules apply.  For example, companies selling social-media background reports must take reasonable steps to maximize the accuracy of what’s reported from social networks and ensure that the information relates to the correct person.  Such companies must comply with other FCRA sections, too—by providing copies of reports to people who request them, and by having a process in place if people dispute what has been said about them in a report.

At present, SocialIntel assembles a dossier that features both positive information—such as professional awards and charitable or volunteer work, and negative information that meets delineated criteria: online evidence of racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually-explicit photos, text messages, or videos; or displays of guns or bombs, for example.  Negative social-media profiles may lead to job offers being withdrawn or not made in the first place.  A SocialIntel spokesperson noted that one prospective employee was found using Craigslist to search for OxyContin, and was not hired as a result.  Moreover, a woman who posted nude photos of herself on a photo-sharing site didn’t get a job she had applied for at a hospital.

Read more -