Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Chinese internet users to overtake English language users... - by 2015 -

Chinese internet users to overtake English language users... - by 2015 - 

In May 2011, there were 565 million English internet users, compared to 510 million Chinese users, representing 27 per cent and 24 per cent of total global internet users, respectively.
The report predicts that if current growth rates continue, Chinese will overtake English as the main language used by internet users in 2015.
This switch is largely due to China's massive population, now over 1.3 billion people.
Just under 40 per cent of people in China use the internet, compared to 82 per cent in the United Kingdom, and 78 in the United States.
Internet adoption in China is happening with a stronger emphasis on mobile phones. Nearly half of all smartphones are now sold in China, but only 12 out of every 100 individuals have a fixed broadband subscription.

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Americans Spend Less On Food, Movies To Pay For Soaring Cell Phone Obsession -

Americans Spend Less On Food, Movies To Pay For Soaring Cell Phone Obsession - 

As America's mania with cell phones as an aspirational status fad hits new records every day, this borderline addiction to "thinner, longer" mobility and a sub-1 year upgrade cycle, is starting to extract its pound of flesh: average cell phone bills that have risen by over 10% in one year (from $1,110 to $1,226), even as total household spending rose by half, or $67. In a word: iNflation. It gets worse. As the WSJ reports, "spending on food away from home fell by $48, apparel spending declined by $141, and entertainment spending dropped by $126." Like a true faux status/gadget junkie, Americans don't care what other discretionary items are cut, even such "American staples" as eating out and watching movies, just so they can keep up with all the other Joneses sporting a brand new iPhone X+1, while everyone's credit card bill just gets larger and larger, and the collective wealth evaporates.

From the WSJ:

More than half of all U.S. cellphone owners carry a device like the iPhone, a shift that has unsettled household budgets across the country. Government data show people have spent more on phone bills over the past four years, even as they have dialed back on dining out, clothes and entertainment—cutbacks that have been keenly felt in the restaurant, apparel and film industries.

The tug of war is only going to get more intense. Wireless carriers are betting they can pull bills even higher by offering faster speeds on expensive new networks and new usage-based data plans. The effort will test the limits of consumer spending as the draw of new technology competes with cellphone owners' more rudimentary needs and desires.

So far, telecom is winning. Labor Department data released Tuesday show spending on phone services rose more than 4% last year, the fastest rate since 2005. During and after the recession, consumers cut back broadly on their spending.


Families with more than one smartphone are already paying much more than the average—sometimes more than $4,000 a year—easily eclipsing what they pay for cable TV and home Internet.
None of this is surprising. The real question is how much more discretionary spending can the US cell phone junkie forego before there is a collectivist yell of revulsion, and the mobile PDA fad is as dad as, well, all those other fads that came before it?

 Melinda Tuers, an accounting clerk at a high school in Redlands, Calif., said she already pays close to $300 a month for her family's four smartphones. She and her husband have cut back on dining out, special events and concerts to make room for the bigger phone bill.

Her household may soon have an even bigger hole to fill. Two of the Tuers's smartphones are on unlimited data plans, meaning she pays the same price no matter how much she surfs the Web. She has taken advantage of that freedom to watch TV shows such as "Covert Affairs" and "Grey's Anatomy" on her phone almost every day.

Ms. Tuers figures that she and her husband would need to scrape together more than $1,000 to pay full price for two new high-end phones or settle for one of Verizon's tiered-data plans, which she fears would cost a lot more given her video habit.
For those who look for iNflation and can't find it, perhaps they should look deeper:

Carriers fully expect people to use more data and pay more for it. "Speed entices more usage," Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said at an investor conference last week, according to a transcript. "The more data they consume, the more they will have to buy."

Some question where the money for that data will come from. Americans spent $116 more a year on telephone services in 2011 than they did in 2007, according to the Labor Department, even as total household expenditures increased by just $67.

Meanwhile, spending on food away from home fell by $48, apparel spending declined by $141, and entertainment spending dropped by $126. The figures aren't adjusted for inflation.

The increase in telephone-services spending masks an even higher rise in cellphone bills, because people have been paying less for landline service.
Some people are very confused:

That trend is evident in the home of 40-year-old Scott Boedy, a neighborhood service representative for a cable company.

Mr. Boedy said he and his wife now pay $200 a month for cellphone service, up by about $50 from early last year, even as they have managed to cut spending on groceries by shopping at discount chain Aldi and on "fun stuff" by going out to dinner and movies less often.

Looking over the family budget on Sunday night, Mr. Boedy said, his wife marveled at how much of it was going to the phone company.

"It stinks," Mr. Boedy said. "I guess it's the cost of modern-day America now."
No Scott, it isn't. It's the consequence of your choices. But as long as one has the ability to do what every other borderline insolvent entity in the world does, namely to "charge it", sweep it under the rug, and hope to never have to repay it, this confusion will continue.

And now excuse us while we swipe our corporate credit card to buy that gold Vertu phone we have had our eyes on for so long: surely it will make everyone else think so highly of us...

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Wakeboarder’s missing finger found inside an Idaho trout -

Wakeboarder’s missing finger found inside an Idaho trout - 

A human finger found inside a fish at Idaho’s Priest Lake has been traced to a wakeboarder who lost four fingers in an accident more than two months earlier.

Fisherman Nolan Calvin found the finger while he was cleaning the trout he caught Sept. 11. He put it on ice and called the Bonner County, Idaho, sheriff’s office, the Spokesman-Review newspaper reported.

Detectives were able to get a fingerprint off the severed digit. They matched it to a fingerprint card for Haans Galassi, 31, of Colbert, Washington, and called him Tuesday morning.

Investigators learned that Mr. Galassi lost four fingers from his left hand in a June 21 accident on the same lake where the fish was caught.

“The sheriff called me and told me he had a strange story to tell me,” Mr. Galassi said Tuesday. “He said that a fisherman was out on Priest Lake, and I pretty much knew exactly what he was going to say at that point.

“I was like: Let me guess, they found my fingers in a fish.”

The fish was caught about eight miles (13 kilometres) from where Mr. Galassi had lost his fingers, the sheriff’s office said.

Mr. Galassi had been on a camping trip at the scenic lake when he decided to go wakeboarding. He told the newspaper his hand got caught in a loop in the towline, and he couldn’t pull it out before the line tightened behind the boat that was going to pull him.

When he finally broke free, he didn’t feel much pain. But then he looked at his hand.

“I pulled my hand out of the water and it had pretty much lopped off all four fingers,” he said. “It was a lot of flesh and bone, not a lot of blood.”

He was taken by helicopter to a Spokane hospital.

Mr. Galassi has been undergoing therapy twice a week for his injured hand. He still has half of his index and pointer fingers on that hand.

“I can still grip things and grab and hold the steering wheel with it,” Mr. Galassi said.

The sheriff’s office offered to return the finger, but Mr. Galassi declined.

“I’m like, ‘uhhh, I’m good,“’ he said.

Detective Sgt. Gary Johnston of the sheriff’s office said the agency will keep the digit for a few weeks in case Mr. Galassi changes his mind.

“There’s still three more, too,” Mr. Johnston said. “It’s hard to say where those are going to end up.”


Drummer dies on stage mid-song, band plays on... -

Drummer dies on stage mid-song, band plays on... - 

Brad Parker, the drummer of an American disco group suffered a heart attack and died mid-show during a performance in Brazil over the weekend.

The drummer of an American disco group suffered a heart attack and died mid-show during a performance in Brazil over the weekend
Brad Parker was performing with his band Generation Esmeralda in Uba, some four hours north of Rio, on Saturday night when he suddenly slumped over his kit and then tumbled off his stool.
Video cameras caught the horrifying moment, as the 59-year-old's bandmates initially kept playing, apparently unaware that Parker was in trouble.
Roadies and medics eventually rushed the stage and Parker was taken to a hospital, where he died on Sunday, a producer for the group told local media.
"Doctors performed all the emergency procedures but unfortunately there was no solution," Sergio Lopes said, according to Agence-France Presse.

Parker's body was flown back to California earlier this week.
Generation Esmeralda is a disco act formed by former members of Santa Esmeralda, which had its heyday in the 1970's.
“To Dispell All rumors and hopefully re-focus intentions to the family I am deeply saddened to report that during our concert in Uba Brazil last night, we lost our friend and brother Brad Parker to a fatal heart attack. Please exuse my feeble attempt to express our sadness over this tragic event. There simply are no words,” the band’s singer Jimmy Goings wrote in a statement on its Facebook page.
“He died doing what he loved best,” Goings wrote.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/disco-drummer-brad-parker-suffers-fatal-heart-attack-stage-concert-brazil-article-1.1168528

Feds bust women smuggling cocaine inside their towering hair weaves... -

Feds bust women smuggling cocaine inside their towering hair weaves... - 

The suspiciously towering hairdos of two women who had just flown into New York City from South America prompted federal agents to conduct searches that revealed each traveler was carrying more than two pounds of cocaine sewn into her weave, according to court records.

After arriving early Sunday morning on a flight from Guyana to John F. Kennedy International Airport, the women appeared fidgety and extremely nervous during routine questioning by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents.

In a U.S. District Court affidavit, a federal agent noted that Kiana Howell "appeared as if she was going to faint" and "her carotid artery was pumping." During a pat-down, an investigator felt "an unusual bulge beneath the defendant’s hair weave." When asked about the bulge, Howell claimed that it was "part of her hair weave."

When asked to remove the weave, Howell said that she could not "because she had a package that was sewn into it." Howell stated that her boyfriend in Guyana "told her to bring that package under her hair weave to the United States for him."

While claiming that she did not know the package's contents, Howell admitted, "it was not a good thing."

Howell's weave was subsequently dismantled at a medical facility, where agents removed a rounded package wrapped with clear plastic. Inside was nearly a kilo of cocaine. After Howell's arrest, she told investigators she had been promised $7500 to "smuggle the package under her hair weave."

The second traveler, Makeeba Graham, "had an unusually high and bulky hair style," according to an affidavit sworn by Department of Homeland Security Agent Jeffrey Fidler. After a CBP agent "felt a hard object on the defendant’s head," Graham, a 33-year-old Harlem resident, was "asked to remove her hair weave."

After Graham claimed that she could not remove the weave because it "was sewn to her natural hair," she was transported to a medical facility where the weave was partially dismantled. Inside, agents discovered a rounded package containing more than a kilo of cocaine.


Organ Donor Network pressured hospital staffers to declare patients brain dead so their body parts could be harvested -

Organ Donor Network pressured hospital staffers to declare patients brain dead so their body parts could be harvested - 

The New York Organ Donor Network pressured hospital staffers to declare patients brain dead so their body parts could be harvested — and even hired “coaches” to train staffers how to be more persuasive, a bombshell lawsuit charged yesterday.

The federally funded nonprofit used a “quota” system, and leaned heavily on the next of kin to sign consent forms when patients were not registered as organ donors, the suit charged.

“They’re playing God,” said plaintiff Patrick McMahon, 50, an Air Force combat veteran and nurse practitioner who claims he was fired as a transplant coordinator after just four months for protesting the practice.

The suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, cited four examples of improper organ harvesting.

In September 2011, a 19-year-old man injured in a car wreck was admitted to Nassau University Medical Center. He was still trying to breathe and showed signs of brain activity, the suit charged.

But doctors declared him brain dead under pressure from donor-network officials, including Director Michael Goldstein, who allegedly said during a conference call: “This kid is dead, you got that?” the suit charged.

The patient’s family consented to have the organs harvested.

“I have been in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan in combat. I worked on massive brain injuries, trauma, gunshot wounds, IEDs. I have seen worse cases than this and the victims recover,” McMahon told The Post.

That same month, a woman was admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx still showing signs of life, the suit said.

She had a kidney transplant earlier in life and network officials used that to pressure her daughter into giving consent.

“They say to her, ‘If you give us permission we will use your mother’s organs and we will help many, many people who need them,’ ” he said.

McMahon’s objections were ignored by a neurologist, who declared her brain dead — and her organs were harvested, according to the suit. McMahon even claims he tried to get a second opinion.

A month later, a man was admitted to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, again showing brain activity, the suit said. McMahon claims his protests were again blown off by hospital and donor-network staff, and the man was declared brain dead and his organs harvested.

In November 2011, a woman admitted to Staten Island University Hospital after a drug overdose was declared brain dead and her organs were about to be harvested when McMahon noticed that she was being given “a paralyzing anesthetic” because her body was still jerking.

When he objected, another network employee told hospital personnel McMahon was “an untrained troublemaker with a history of raising frivolous issues and questions,” the suit charged.

“I had a reputation for raising a red flag,” he said.

In order to harvest organs, the network needs a “Note” — an official declaration by a hospital that a patient is brain dead — and consent from next of kin.

The network hired marketing and sales professionals to “coach” workers to tailor their pitches based on the family’s demographics, said the suit, filed by McMahon’s lawyers Michael Borrelli, Alexander Coleman and Bennitta Joseph.

The suit said that on Nov. 4, McMahon told Helen Irving, president and CEO of the network, “one in five patients declared brain dead show signs of brain activity at the time the Note is issued.”

Irving, the suit said, replied: “This is how things are done.”

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