Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Internet Political Board Poster Meets Real Life

http://www.strangebeaver.com/2012/09/smart-ass-learns-not-to-run-his-mouth-at-the-court-house/

http://video.kxly.com/watch.php?id=31357

Monday, September 17, 2012

Snark Can Kill

http://lifehacker.com/5921655/the-snarky-voice-in-your-head-is-killing-your-productivity-heres-how-to-stop-it

"Snark/sarcasm/contempt is always an indicator that something else is going on in a given situation. When it's appropriate, it tells people that you're not going to let others push you around. When it's inappropriate it shows that you feel the need to make yourself "bigger" than others. That need to put one's self above others can be a symptom of depression or some personality disorders (of course, there would have to be other symptoms present to justify a diagnosis). That being said, perpetually putting others down can be indicative of insecurity, narcissism, negative thought patterns, or jealousy. If those things are present, then you definitely want to address it because it's likely to affect your relationships negatively."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Old Neighborhood Is Getting Worse.

Just had a lurk at the old political board. Some of the posters over there are threatening to "out" opposing poster's personal information. That pretty much cools any nostalgia for said board. The mods have not acted. I, however, remain the banned Anti-Christ.

Thank you, God, for keeping me out of there.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Odds And Ends

Labrooke's has Obama at 4/11 (73%, 11 chances to win out of 15), Romney at 2/1 (33%, one chance to win out of three) odds. These are winner take all for the final win.

Here in MO they have McCaskill at 4/7, Akin at 5/4

Intrade: Obama 56.8%/Romney 43.2%, McCaskill 63.3%/Akin 36.7%

Iowa Electronic Markets (winner-take-all, raw popular votes): Obama 64.4%, Romney 35.6%

Literally putting your money where your mouth is. Personally, I think outstate MO *is* crazy enough to put Akin into the Senate.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Observations Friday 24 AUG 2012

Busy, busy, busy.

More tubs have gone out to recycle or donations. More interviews.

With Todd Akin and Hurricane Isaac, late August is just a little bit less boring. Most amusing, in fact.

Eating fruit, now, for snacking. Drinking fruit juices and water. The End Is Nigh.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Geese Heading South- In August

In the last week I noted geese headed south, a month or so early.

The critters know more than we do about the weather...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Generational Marker?

http://www.politico.com/blogs/politico-live/2012/08/sandra-day-oconnor-bushgore-decision-may-have-sparked-131128.html?hp=l7

Sandra Day O'Connor: Bush-Gore decision may have sparked declining approval of SCOTUS

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor suggests that declining public approval of the court dates back to the controversial Bush v. Gore decision, which decided the 2000 presidential race.

"That was one that was widely talked about at the time, as you know, and involved the public in a presidential election," O'Connor said in an interview aired Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation." "And that could be something that triggered public reexamination."

She said she wasn't sure if people thought the court had become too political.

"But I suppose that's part of it, yes," she said. "And of course, anytime you're deciding a case involving a presidential election, it's awfully close to politics."

She cast the deciding vote in the case, but she demurred on taking responsibility.

"I don't see how you can say anybody was the deciding vote," she said. "They all counted."

O'Connor said she has no regrets about her vote.

"No, I mean it was a tough deal; i[t] was a closely fought election; and it's no fun to be part of a group of decision makers that has to decide which side the ball is going to fall on," she said.

Ache And Pain Day.

My body is paying the price for all that moving. My left shoulder, in particular, hurts. My back is stiff and sore. Good thing I bought the big generic Aleve bottle from Walgreens. I stood down the planned lifting of heavy stuff, and travel ideas beyond *very* local are cancelled. It is a good time to just do things sitting down, and not feel guilty about it. Better than an accident brought on by weakness/strain.The hands are a bit klutzy as well; I would give myself a -2 to dexterity due to strain.

Lots of time on the computer coming up for career searching.

I Love My Back Yard

Big, flashy storms moved through last night. I got to watch them come in from the Doghouse's back yard. It has a much better view of the sky than the undisclosed location, which was in a valley, with a street alignment that was off 45 degrees from the grid. Magnificent view of the storm here from my small ridgelet. The night sky is better here.

It felt good.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Runs Of August

Apologies to Professor Tuchman. :)

The move back from the undisclosed location is virtually complete. All the tubs are back, and filling the living room. This beats having to haul them upstairs from the basement for sorting. All other items seem accounted for (but the CD collection will need to be inventoried). Total costs for transport and storage, round-trip, approach $2,000, about $50.00/mile. Approximately 10,000 miles were driven between 15 FEB and 3 AUG 2012. The car had been averaging 7,500 miles a *year*, previously. I'll leave the other costs out.

I cleaned out the refrigerator, today. Shop and Save is discontinuing their Marie Callendar chicken pot pies, so I am filling the freezer with them (at a 23% discount). They have these things called "vegetables" in them, so, it's a step up from my nearly 67% fast food diet for the last few months. Over the last six months, I've gained about 12-15 pounds. Not good. The heavy exercise seems to have helped a bit, but it will be a long time going. Now, every time I get a fast-food urge, I go to the store with a $10.00 budget (the usual expenditure). Soup is an amazing value, and makes for a disaster precaution as well. 2 liters of root beer are eighty-nine cents! This is a big change from the $1.50+ soda's I had been buying on the run. Water is now being introduced as a drink! Mon Dieu!

I will miss the Hostess goodies I had been snacking on, but I think my weight and health won't. Rats!

Time to head back to the store- I've got space in my freezer, still.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Observations Monday 30 JUL 2012

The move to the undisclosed location is off. I've been busy retreating from Moscow, again. God said "Stay In The Doghouse, fool".

There are now 53 rubber tubs, 4 tables, 3 chairs, 6 books, two radios, two TV's, a VCR\DVD combo, a UHF antenna, 2 goose-neck lamps, and my CD collection left to retrieve. The 53 rubber tubs are in safely in storage. The CD collection has long since been recorded to computer, and backed up. The other items are still on the battlefield. Losing them would be painful, but not crippling.

In the interim, the entire upstairs has been cleaned, and the basement is just about ready to receive the tubs again. I've sorted through about 20 tubs already, and Goodwill is getting an unexpected number of old books (anything unused, or not available on Kindle for free is being purged). Anything that can be donated or recycled will be. Just checked with M. De Poisson on the value of the game items to be E-Bayed. The shredding will follow.

No more moving.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Cluck Is Ticking...

The Earth will be destroyed in five minutes. You want to escape.

You have:

A hammer

A tractor

And a chicken.

Good cluck. You're going to need it.

(This was inspired in no way by a chicken drive-through and a disastrous exhibition of children singing in church. Really)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Well, That Was Fun

Just finished loading a 17 foot U-Haul, driving it to my new, undisclosed location, then unloading it, by myself. Average temp was over 100 F. Only about four big, two-man load items remaining to be moved that cannot be moved by car. Still about only 50% complete. The rest is to be dealt with mostly with recycling or E-Bay. 100+ Rubbermaid tubs. And the task has to be sorted through, by hand.

Be all that you can be...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

E-Mail Contact For The Blog

I now have an e-mail for the blog: MLeChien2000-blog@yahoo.com

Members of the old political board can contact me through the Yahoo Group, if they belong to it, or ask someone who belongs to relay a message.

Or, I could be un-banned/restored to the board... :)

Monday Part 2- Wow.

1-800-GOT-JUNK took the entertainment center, my sister texted me four times, and someone from the old political board wants to contact me- all in the same half hour. Busy, Busy, Busy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Part One- Moving Stuff.

Just finished hauling furniture out for removal last night. Had to wait until temps fell after 2200 to haul them out. I'm shocked that I can still haul entertainment centers by myself :). When I returned tonight, 4/5 pieces were gone...except the entertainment center.

1-800-GOT-JUNK will be much less expensive, now.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Observations 28 JUN 2012

My apologies to Pat for the lateness of approving her post; a lot has been happening. My life has taken some radical changes in the last months. Scruffy's death marked the start of them. As noted earlier, I'm in a good relationship (And, she's forced me to clean up my life in more ways than one). Among other things, I'm living physically and mentally healthier. And a great deal of that change has been a decision to change my lifestyle to a simpler one. One turn has been to get rid of the monster computer array that I had at home- expensive, and too much hassle to maintain. I'm consolidating my records on file, e-mails, contacts, media, etc. I've downsized to a laptop, and some external drives. Another change has been to my house. Much of the reason for my house was to have a dog. Another was as a storage unit for my junk. I'm slowly disposing with that. Soon, I may be selling my house. It's too much to maintain, and afford, for a single person. It's amazing what I do not use, or need, that I have accumulated over the years. Kindle has greatly assisted with my book collection. Netflix, and broadcast TV do away with the need for pay TV. My prepaid cell phone has nearly replaced my landline. I'm keeping my radio gear. I hope to have a new base for it sometime in the next few months. The new location is not as advantageous as the doghouse. but will suffice for HF. I'm expecting to greatly reduce my costs of living, and eat healthier in the bargain. Very importantly, I'm changing my employment. It is time to be better educated, and to work at a job that has potential for growth. Someone asked me what I wanted to do for the second half of my life; part of that answer is to work at a job I find more fulfilling. I'm just a little funny in the head to try this in the middle of the Great Recession, but the clock is ticking, and I would rather work at a job that I can feel better with myself at. This will probably mean contract work, or part time work, but I now have a spiritual side that needs fulfillment. Working at my present position until 70 would mean I would not have a gastro-intestinal system left... Also, my current job means I have little spiritual or social potential for growth. My relationship has broken barriers that have been in place for decades. I actually have some self-esteem, now. :) It's time to stop being unhappy. And, I like the adventure. Wally.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Scruffy Has Died

One week ago, Tuesday night, a hit-and run driver killed Scruffy. He felt little. He was looking the wrong way as he scented something upwind on the street, crossing back to me at the open front door. The vehicle, running 40+ in a 25 zone, struck him with it's right two tires, in Scruffy's torso. The driver took no evasive action, and did not stop afterwards. He was unconscious when I got to him. We took him to the animal emergency room, where he was pronounced DOA. He loved to explore, and at 2330 at night there was little traffic. He never went far. I will never let myself forget. He will be cremated, and his ashes scattered in the yard. Wally.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Early Observation 23 MAR 2012

It's been a while since I have done an observation, and it is for an all too familiar reason: real life. Specifically, I'm dating someone very nice.

That tends to trump the need to post on my blog.

Back to work, tomorrow.

Wally.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Water bills expected to triple in some parts of U.S.

I never said anything about water being the decisive factor in how the US is mapped out in the future :)

http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/27/pf/water_bills/index.htm?source=cnn_bin

Many consumers could see their water bills double or even triple, as the country attempts to overhaul its aging water system over the next 25 years.

A new study by the American Water Works Association found that repairing and expanding the U.S. drinking water system between 2011 and 2035 will cost at least $1 trillion, an amount that will largely be paid for by jacking up household water bills.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Denver family stranded after passport denied because of crease

Your papers, citizen:

http://kdvr.com/2012/02/21/denver-family-stranded-after-passport-denied-because-of-crease/

A Denver family was supposed to be in Belize this week enjoying a beach getaway with their loved ones.

Instead, they’re in a hotel room in Dallas, TX because an American Airlines official there claimed they had a mutilated passport.

“We started at Denver International Airport, where we checked in and all our passports were checked very thoroughly,” said Kyle Gosnell.

Gosnell, his wife Dana, and their young son, Kye, received boarding passes all the way through to Belize City.

But in Dallas, they hit a roadblock. “They took a look at our passports and said that my passport was mutilated, therefore I wasn’t able to fly,” Gosnell said.

Little Kye’s passport has a crease on the back cover, which Gosnell says came from him accidentally sitting on the passport.

His passport was questioned, but not denied. It was Kyle Gosnell’s that was the real problem. It has a small crease on the back cover, and is overall weathered and worn.

While some travelers may consider that a badge of honor, of sorts, the government doesn’t.

Ray Priest, owner of International Passport Visas in Denver, said your passport isn’t actually yours at all; it belongs to the US government.

“To have a passport is privilege, it’s not entitled to you by citizenship,” Priest said. He said the issue may be with a microchip embedded in the back of all new passports. “They have no reason in the world to let you travel if it’s been damaged,” Priest said. “It’s like cutting your photo out or something if that chip doesn’t work.”

Kyle Gosnell has used this passport to travel to Belize before. The family just wants there to be more uniform policies.

“There was no protocol,” said Dana Gosnell. “They don’t have the same system of rules for the Denver airport that they do for the Dallas airport.”

But Priest called this a fair warning for other travelers. “This is done for national security, for whatever reason they can’t make an exception, period,” he said. American Airlines is paying for the family’s hotel.

A spokesperson for the airline didn’t give FOX31 an official statement, but said it is within the airline’s rights to refuse a traveler for a passport that might not be able to be scanned.

The family is going to the passport office Tuesday to hopefully get new documents and continue with their scheduled trip to Belize.

The myth of the eight-hour sleep

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Italian police seize $6 trillion in fake T-bonds

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46428102/ns/business-world_business/#.T0Oo3PX4V8F

Italian police said on Friday they had seized about $6 trillion worth of fake U.S. Treasury bonds and other securities in Switzerland, and arrested eight Italians accused of international fraud and other financial crimes.

The operation, coordinated by prosecutors from the southern Italian city of Potenza, was carried out by Italian, Swiss and U.S. authorities after a year-long investigation, an Italian police source said.

It began as a investigation into mafia loan-sharking, but gradually expanded as prosecutors used telephone and computer intercepts to unearth evidence of illegal activity surrounding Treasury bonds.

The fake securities, worth more than a third of U.S. national debt, were seized in January from a Swiss trust company where they were held in three large trunks.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome thanked the Italian authorities and said the forgeries were "an attempt to defraud several Swiss banks." It said U.S. experts had helped to identify the bonds as fakes.

Potenza's prosecutor Giovanni Colangelo said an international network "in many countries" was behind the forgeries.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera said on its website that the criminal network was believed to be interested in acquiring plutonium, citing sources at the prosecutors' office.

Police videos showed images of the trunks, with "Federal Reserve System, Treaty of Versailles" stamped on the side in large, golden letters.

Bond certificates marked "Chicago, Illinois, Federal Reserve Bank" and other securities, some for one billion dollars, were also shown.

Rock Hill Wants One Of These...

http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpp/news/offbeat/speed-limit-sign-in-white-lake-too-complicated-question-mark-20120214-ms

Kroger debuts kiosk concept at area college campus

http://www.toledoblade.com/Retail/2012/02/15/Kroger-debuts-concept-at-area-college-campus.html

ADA, Ohio -- Imagine a grocery store without checkout lanes, cashiers, or shopping carts.

Kroger Co. already has.

Last month Cincinnati-based Kroger, the nation's largest traditional supermarket chain, opened a robotic grocery kiosk in Ada, Ohio, that could be part of the company's future.

"We're kind of testing it to see how it goes," company spokesman Jackie Siekmann said of the new Kroger Shop24 Kiosk on the campus of Ohio Northern University. "We've had a lot of positive feedback.

"There are a lot of kids who are in the dorms and who don't have cars or access to a car, so this is close by and they can do sort of their basic shopping," she said.

About the size of an enclosed bus stop, the robotic kiosk is a self-contained, refrigerated vending machine that can carry up to 200 items. It is restocked daily with such staples as toiletries, cleaning supplies, and perishables that include fresh milk, bread, fruit, and ground beef. It accepts cash, debit cards, credit cards, and federal supplemental nutrition-assistance program cards.

Kroger, which partnered with Ohio Northern on the robotic store venture, purchased the 10-by-13-foot kiosk from Shop24 Global, a Columbus firm that makes grocery vending machines used widely in Europe. Since Kroger's Shop24 debuted Jan. 19, officials from five other universities have come to observe it, company officials said.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Amazing Videos of Earth at Night from Space

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/02/earth-at-night-videos/?pid=3120

Your ringtone is making me stupid

http://bodyodd.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/14/10400172-your-ringtone-is-making-me-stupid

The next time you hear strains of BeyoncĂ©’s “Single Ladies” emanating from a cell phone one cube over in your office, take note of how it affects your brain. Do you feel like your thought processes are temporarily on hold? According to a new study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, ringing cell phones are so distracting, they actually reduce our ability to remember information and slow our capacity to get back on task once the ringing stops.

Report: Russia faced major nuclear disaster in 2011

http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/14/10408881-report-russia-faced-major-nuclear-disaster-in-2011

Russia came close to nuclear disaster in late December when a blaze engulfed a nuclear-powered submarine carrying atomic weapons, a leading Russian magazine reported, contradicting official assurances that it was not armed.

Russian officials said at the time that all nuclear weapons aboard the Yekaterinburg nuclear submarine had been unloaded well before a fire engulfed the 550-foot vessel and there had been no risk of a radiation leak.

But the respected Vlast weekly magazine quoted several sources in the Russian navy as saying that throughout the fire on Dec. 29 the submarine was carrying 16 R-29 intercontinental ballistic missiles, each armed with four nuclear warheads.

Mitt Romney gets little love from mutts

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72840.html

“Dogs Against Romney” is taking its grievances against the presidential candidate to the Super Bowl of dog shows on Tuesday – the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The group, founded in 2007 to demonstrate against an infamous incident from the 1980s in which Mitt Romney’s family dog was subjected to ride on the roof of the family car for hours, is planning to rally in front of Madison Square Garden during one of the American Kennel Club’s biggest dog shows of the year.

Poor Fox News Is Too Damn Liberal

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72825.html

The grumblers were picking up on a strategy that has been under way for some time — a “course correction,” as Fox chief Roger Ailes put it last fall — with the network distancing itself from the tea party cheerleading that characterized the first two years of President Barack Obama’s presidency. Lately, Fox has increasingly promoted its straight-news talent in the press and conducted some of the toughest interviews and debates of the Republican primary season. Just last week, it hired the openly gay liberal activist Sally Kohn as a contributor.

All along, Fox watchers warned that it risked alienating conservative true believers as it inched toward the center.

Well, consider them alienated.

“To tell you the truth, a lot of conservatives see Fox News as being somewhat skewed on certain issues,” said Patrick Brown, who runs Internet marketing for The Western Center for Journalism, a conservative nonprofit that features stories questioning the president’s eligibility for office. “We actually did a poll recently that said, ‘Is Fox News actually conservative, or has it moved left?’ And some 70 percent of our readers thought it had moved left.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Alabama's Immigration Law May Get A Second Look

http://www.npr.org/2012/02/07/146490508/alabamas-immigration-law-may-get-a-second-look

Business leaders got caught off guard when the bill passed, and it was quickly obvious that the new law would have a significant effect on economic development, especially after two foreign autoworkers — a German executive with Mercedes-Benz and a Japanese worker at a Honda plant — were detained under the law.

Missouri's St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an editorial inviting companies to relocate to the "Show Me State," not the "Show Me Your Papers" state.

"It's not like business prospects are sounding an alarm and coming to us and telling us that they are rethinking their plans to do business in Alabama," says Brian Hilson, CEO of the Birmingham Business Alliance. "It's the unknown. It's what they're not saying to us."

Hilson says there's no way to know how much business the state is losing, but researchers at the University of Alabama peg the cost at up to $11 billion in lost jobs and income- and sales-tax revenues. State Sen. Scott Beason rejects that number and any efforts to significantly change the law. Beason, a Republican, co-sponsored the original bill.

"If people begin to cave from political pressure, that donors want something changed, they'll have to do it against the vast majority of the people in their district and go with the small special-interest group that makes their decision based on profit," Beason says.

In a poll conducted last week, 42 percent of respondents said they support the law but think it goes too far. Already, several legislators have introduced bills to modify it, and the courts have ruled some provisions unconstitutional.

Still, there's no disputing that supporters of the law have achieved their main goal — driving illegal immigrants out of Alabama.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Online dating has its pros and cons, meta-analysis says

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/online-dating-has-its-pros-and-cons-meta-analysis-says/2012/02/04/gIQADnpysQ_story.html?hpid=z4

Social scientists have confirmed what most singletons have known for years: Online dating is a crapshoot.

A new analysis of 400 academic studies explores whether online dating represents a dramatic shift in the way people seek mates (it does) and whether it is ultimately a good thing for daters (eh . . . sorta).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

US plans shift to elite units as it winds down in Afghanistan

Surprise:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46267459/ns/world_news-the_new_york_times/#.Ty8rC4GriSo

The United States’ plan to wind down its combat role in Afghanistan a year earlier than expected relies on shifting responsibility to Special Operations forces that hunt insurgent leaders and train local troops, according to senior Pentagon officials and military officers. These forces could remain in the country well after the NATO mission ends in late 2014.

India fireman takes over after air controller no-show

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-16866616

A fireman took over guiding a plane into landing after air traffic controllers failed to turn up for work at an airport in India, it has emerged.

The fireman, named as Mr Basha, helped the Jet Airways flight land at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh on 9 January.

The plane was flying from Hyderabad with 60 passengers on board.

Tirupati has no approach radar and pilots rely on air traffic controllers to provide runway and weather information and give landing clearance.

Tirupati airport handles only seven flights a day but is the landing point for visitors to the Tirumala temple, one of Hinduism's holiest shrines.
Visual approach

After the air traffic controllers failed to show up for their 07:00 start, airport deputy manager Janarthanan instructed Mr Basha, whose English was described as broken, to operate the radio in the control tower.

Pilots rely mainly on a visual approach to land at Tirupati and Mr Basha was reported to have supplied the support information needed for about 40 minutes before an air traffic controller arrived for work.

Airport authorities have launched an investigation into the incident.

Airport Authority of India regional executive director D Devaraj told the Mail Today: "No-one doubts Basha's intention to help during a crisis. He wanted the flight to land safely. But he is untrained and must not attempt to do the ATC's job. Mere good intention is not enough in this case."

Mr Devaraj told the paper the controller on duty "simply forgot to turn up"

Godlessness is the last big taboo in the US, where non-believers face discrimination and isolation

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/d2239780-4d4e-11e1-8741-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1lYxdkpK9

Psychotherapist Marlene Winell, who practises in Berkeley, California, specialises in “recovery from harmful religion” and advocates religious trauma syndrome as a psychological diagnosis. “There are so many places in the US that are just saturated with religion. Everything is interwoven – their families, their schools, their business – so that if you were not part of the club, part of the group, you get ostracised and people go through really horrible experiences of not belonging any more.” If that sounds like the experience of leaving a cult, perhaps that’s because, as Winell argues, “in its raw form, fundamentalist Christianity that believes that the Bible is the word of God is basically a giant cult.”

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

F-scale (personality test)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-scale_%28personality_test%29

The F-scale is a 1947 personality test, designed by Theodor W. Adorno and others to measure the authoritarian personality.[1] The "F" stands for "fascist." The F-scale measures responses on several different components of authoritarianism, including conventionalism, authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, anti-intraception, superstition and stereotype, power and "toughness," destructiveness and cynicism, projectivity, and sex. Scores acquired from the F Scale could be directly associated with background components, educational level, and intellectual capacity. [2] The existence of this correlation could possibly affect the way in which the F Scale accurately measures the authoritarian personality syndrome. [3]

The purpose of the F scale is to measure an antidemocratic personality structure, usually defined by authoritarianism. A score of above 80 on the F scale test indicates that the subject may be suffering from severe psychopathology. Patients who suffer from repeated episodes of disorders usually get a higher F scale score than those who have acute disorders. The scale specifically examines the following personality dimensions: - Conventionalism: ones conformity to the traditional societal norms and values of the middle class. - Authoritarian submission: a passive notion towards adhering to conventional norms and values - Authoritarian aggression: punishing and condemning individuals who don’t adhere to conventional values - Superstition - Stereotyping - Cynicism - Anti-intraception - Sexuality [4]

F scale tests are not only an indication of the subject's overall level of stress but also his or her willingness to cooperate in the testing process

Among the criticisms of the F-scale is its sensitivity to respondents with acquiescent response styles. A number of related scales such as the Wilson-Patterson Conservatism Scale and the Balanced F-scale have been created in an attempt to fix the shortcomings of the F-scale. Robert Altemeyer's Right-wing authoritarianism Scale is the most frequently used, contemporary descendant of the F-scale.[citation needed] The scale has caused a great deal of criticism, since it is ideological and associates societal processes with personality characteristics.

Socialists and conservatives may be born not made

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2012/jan/31/socialists-conservatives-born-not-made

What hope is there of rational debate if our political affiliations are biologically determined?

About a year after being appointed speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow announced that he wanted to reform the traditionally abrasive weekly prime minister's questions to foster more civilised debate. But new research from the University of Nebraska on the psychology of political persuasions suggests that confrontation between the political right and left is here to stay.

The research published online last week by the Royal Society indicates that where you put your cross on the ballot paper on polling day is, at least in part, instinctive. In other words, socialists and conservatives may be born not made.

Emotions in mammals are fuelled by the brain's evolutionarily ancient "appetitive" (desire for food and attachment) and "aversive" (defensive) systems. The appetitive system promotes social cohesion whereas aversive mechanisms drive autonomous survival. These mechanisms can be categorised as approach or avoidant responses: we approach what gives us pleasure (such as food or social contact) and we avoid things we know will harm us (such as faeces or predators).

We are all found somewhere on the approach-avoidant spectrum. Highly social people enjoy novel experiences and meeting strangers and will have a higher than average approach score, whereas others may feel aggression, suspicion and anxiety when confronted with surprises and strangers.

The new research suggests that these physiological and cognitive variations are likely to correlate with political preference. The study found that people at the appetitive end of the spectrum are more likely to vote for left-wing parties and want money spent on free public art events, whereas those at the aversive end of the spectrum are more likely to vote conservative and want tighter border controls.

This research builds on earlier evidence of correlations between empathetic traits/moral values and political affiliation, and correlations between threat/disgust reflexes and political affiliation. Those scoring higher on disgust/threat indexes are more likely to score lower on empathy and vote conservative, whereas those scoring higher on maximising equality and minimising harm are more likely to score higher in empathy and be left wing.

Sex differences are also highlighted by these measures, with females (or males with higher than average levels of empathy) more likely than average males to overcome their feelings of disgust or threat and vote left wing.

The team at the University of Nebraska have undertaken several studies over the past few years examining the relationship between personality and political bias. In the latest study they tested whether right-wing participants experienced relatively increased skin conductance (they sweated more, a measure of psychological or physiological arousal) when viewing aversive images (an open wound, a toilet with faeces on it, someone held at gunpoint or a car accident). They also tested whether left wingers experienced increased relative skin conductance when exposed to appetitive images (a bunny rabbit, puppy, a sunset).

The results showed those with right-wing beliefs had a relatively increased response to disgust and threat, whereas those who vote left-of-centre had a relatively increased response to pleasurable images.

The research team hypothesised that if pictures of famous politicians (Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton and George W Bush) were shown to their subjects, those who were politically right-of-centre would exhibit a greater aversive reaction to ideologically dissimilar politicians, whereas those who were left-of-centre would exhibit a greater appetitive response (in relative terms) when viewing left-of-centre politicians. This was indeed the case.

This suggests that left-wing people are relatively more responsive to appetitive than aversive stimuli and that people who are right-of-centre are more responsive to aversive stimuli. Put another way, conservatives are more responsive to negative stimuli whereas those on the left are more responsive to positive stimuli.

The implication is that the same stimuli will evoke polarised responses depending on where you are on the aversive-appetitive spectrum. These different reactions to shared experiences will mean those of politically opposing viewpoints will automatically judge the other as wrong, and no amount of arguing in the House of Commons can change that.

A further, significant finding from this research is that right-wing people give over more time and increased attention to things they find aversive, in spite of their greater physiological response to those stimuli. For example, a far-right wing person may find homosexuality disgusting and may become angered by the notion of same-sex relationships, but they may devote time to pursuing their object of disgust. This new research suggests the rigidity and intolerance of right-wing people to nonconformity might be vehemently expressed because these people are obsessively intolerant of things they find different and aversive.

High scores in aversive behaviour also correlate with autistic spectrum disorders, narcissism and socio- and psychopathologies. People with a diagnosis along these lines also suffer increased perceptions of threat and sensations of disgust when compared to the average. More men than women exhibit these pathologies.

It should be noted that the research only included participants with ideological convictions – it did not measure the behaviour of floating voters.

The research team hope that a greater social tolerance will emerge from public acceptance that our political outlook is in part biologically determined. Because if our individual cognitive and physiological systems mean we experience the world in fundamentally different ways, this helps to explain why people support different political parties when facing the same social problems.

But this research also suggests that when David Cameron and his ministers sit in the House of Commons and look over at the faces of the opposition they are more likely to experience a sense of threat and disgust than their political rivals do when looking back at them. It is going to be far harder for conservatives to bury the hatchet and cooperate for the good of the country than it is for the exasperated socialists on the other side of the chamber.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Police get help with vets who are ticking bombs

I never warned my political board adversaries that this would happen....

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-01-24/police-training-combative-veterans/52794974/1

The Justice Department is funding an unusual national training program to help police deal with an increasing number of volatile confrontations involving highly trained and often heavily armed combat veterans.

Working long hours doubles depression odds

http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/25/health/working-overtime-doubles-depression/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

Working long hours appears to substantially increase a person's risk of becoming depressed, regardless of how stressful the actual work is, a new study suggests.

The study, which followed 2,123 British civil servants for six years, found that workers who put in an average of at least 11 hours per day at the office had roughly two and a half times higher odds of developing depression than their colleagues who clocked out after seven or eight hours.

***

Overworked junior and mid-level employees appear to be more prone to depression than people higher up the food chain, the study suggests. The length of the workday didn't have a perceptible impact on the mental health of higher-paid, top-level employees such as cabinet secretaries, directors, team leaders, and policy managers.

That's likely due to the amount of control higher-ups have over their own work, says Alan Gelenberg, M.D., who, as the chair of the psychiatry department at Pennsylvania State University, in University Park, is a higher-up himself.

"We have more control over what we work on; we can choose the fun stuff," says Gelenberg, who was not involved in the study. "I do mostly what I want to do, and when I put in an extra hard week, it's my choice."

Health.com: Job killing you? 8 types of work-related stress

For those lower on the totem pole, the researchers say long hours at the office could contribute to depression in several ways—by creating family or relationship conflicts, for instance, or by elevating levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Job insecurity and sleep deprivation also may help explain the increased risk of depression, Bruno says, noting that previous research has shown that poor sleep is a key ingredient in work-related depression. "I often really focus on that symptom," he says, referring to his own patients.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

E-Textbooks Should Be Free-Textbooks

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2012/01/apple_s_e_textbooks_should_be_free_textbooks_.html

The rules of the game dictate that any effort to move into America’s large and lucrative education publishing industry must be swaddled in pieties, and the electronic textbook initiative announced by Apple last week was no exception. Apple, which is normally willing to state that customers will be willing to pay a premium for superior design, was reduced to platitudes about how “when you integrate photography, video, audio, interactive objects, and Keynote animations right into the page, the material becomes so much more immersive and compelling.” The real truth, of course, is that Apple’s getting into this market to make money, not because they “really believe that technology can make a profound difference in the way teachers teach and students learn.” If digital textbooks are a game-changer for education, what they’ll change is the dollars and cents, cutting prices in a market where high-school textbooks currently sell for over a $100 a pop.

Newt in His Own Words: 33 Years of Bomb-Throwing

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/newt-gingrich-greatest-rhetorical-hits

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mystery surrounds Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane landing plan

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46091282/ns/technology_and_science-space/#.Tx1xAPn4V8E

The United States Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane has been circling Earth for more than 10 months, and there's no telling when it might come down.

As of Friday (Jan. 20), the mysterious robotic X-37B spacecraft has been aloft for 321 days, significantly outlasting its stated mission design lifetime of 270 days. But it may stay up for even longer yet, experts say, particularly if the military views this space mission — the second ever for the hush-hush vehicle — as something of an endurance test.

"Because it is an experimental vehicle, they kind of want to see what its limits are," said Brian Weeden, a technical adviser with the Secure World Foundation and a former orbital analyst with the Air Force.

A long mystery mission
The Air Force launched the X-37B in March 2011, sending the reusable space plane design on its second space mission. The X-37B now zipping around our planet is known as Orbital Test Vehicle-2, or OTV-2.

Another X-37B vehicle, the OTV-1, launched in April 2010 and landed in December of that year, staying on orbit for 225 days — well under the unmanned spacecraft's supposed 270-day limit. But OTV-2 has already exceeded that limit by more than seven weeks, and the calendar keeps turning over. [ Photos of the 2nd Secret X-37B Mission ]

Racking up a lot of time in space might be a key part of the current mission, according to Weeden.

"I think they didn't want to push it, just because it was the first of its kind," he told SPACE.com, referring to OTV-1's flight. "But I think that they are looking to push the second one."

Why Apple says it can't build an iPhone in the US

Or why the US is dooooomed.....

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46091572/ns/business-us_business/#.Tx1w1vn4V8E

Slave worker factories built into super supply chains that can change overnight into new products using merciless force.

Friday, January 20, 2012

'Hatred is growing rapidly': Afghan soldiers killing more of their US allies

I warned my political board adversaries about this exact outcome:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46068115/ns/world_news-the_new_york_times/#.Txl6yPn4V8E

KABUL, Afghanistan — American and other coalition forces here are being killed in increasing numbers by the very Afghan soldiers they fight alongside and train, in attacks motivated by deep-seated animosity between the supposedly allied forces, according to American and Afghan officers and a classified coalition report obtained by The New York Times.

A decade into the war in Afghanistan, the report makes clear that these killings have become the most visible symptom of a far deeper ailment plaguing the war effort: the contempt each side holds for the other, never mind the Taliban. The ill will and mistrust run deep among civilians and militaries on both sides, raising questions about what future role the United States and its allies can expect to play in Afghanistan.

The violence, and the failure by coalition commanders to address it, casts a harsh spotlight on the shortcomings of American efforts to build a functional Afghan Army, a pillar of the Obama administration’s strategy for extricating the United States from the war in Afghanistan, said the officers and experts who helped shape the strategy.

France eyes early withdrawal after deadly Afghan attack

The problems risk leaving the United States and its allies dependent on an Afghan force that is permeated by anti-Western sentiment and incapable of combating the Taliban and other militants when NATO’s combat mission ends in 2014, they said.

One instance of the general level of antipathy in the war exploded into uncomfortable view last week when video emerged of American Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters. Although American commanders quickly took action and condemned the act, chat-room and Facebook posts by Marines and their supporters were full of praise for the desecration.

'Not rare or isolated'
But the most troubling fallout has been the mounting number of Westerners killed by their Afghan allies, events that have been routinely dismissed by American and NATO officials as isolated episodes that are the work of disturbed individual soldiers or Taliban infiltrators, and not indicative of a larger pattern. The unusually blunt report, which was prepared for a subordinate American command in eastern Afghanistan, takes a decidedly different view.

“Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern military history),” it said. Official NATO pronouncements to the contrary “seem disingenuous, if not profoundly intellectually dishonest,” said the report, and it played down the role of Taliban infiltrators in the killings.

The coalition refused to comment on the classified report. But “incidents in the recent past where Afghan soldiers have wounded or killed I.S.A.F. members are isolated cases and are not occurring on a routine basis,” said Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings Jr. of the Army, a spokesman for the American-led International Security Assistance Force. “We train and are partnered with Afghan personnel every day and we are not seeing any issues or concerns with our relationships.”

Army investigates video of sheep beating

The numbers appear to tell a different story. Although NATO does not release a complete tally of its forces’ deaths at the hands of Afghan soldiers and the police, the classified report and coalition news releases indicate that Afghan forces have attacked American and allied service members nearly three dozen times since 2007.

Two members of the French Foreign Legion and one American soldier were killed in separate episodes in the past month, according to statements by NATO. The classified report found that between May 2007 and May 2011, when it was completed, at least 58 Western service members were killed in 26 separate attacks by Afghan soldiers and the police nationwide. Most of those attacks have occurred since October 2009. This toll represented 6 percent of all hostile coalition deaths during that period, the report said.
Slideshow: Soldiers of the Afghan National Army (on this page)

“The sense of hatred is growing rapidly,” said an Afghan Army colonel. He described his troops as “thieves, liars and drug addicts,” but also said that the Americans were “rude, arrogant bullies who use foul language.”

Senior commanders largely manage to keep their feelings in check, said the officer, who asked not to be named so he could speak openly. But the officer said, “I am afraid it will turn into a major problem in the near future in the lower ranks of both armies.”

6 Marines die in Afghanistan helicopter crash

Cultural training
There have been successes, especially among the elite Afghan commandos and coalition Special Operations forces, most of whom have undergone in-depth cultural training and speak at least some Dari and Pashto, the two main languages spoken in Afghanistan. But, as highlighted by the classified report, familiarity in most cases appears to have mainly bred contempt — and that, in turn, has undercut the benefits of pairing up the forces.

The problem has also featured in classified reports tracking progress in the war effort, most of which are far more negative than the public declarations of progress, said an American officer, who asked not to be identified because he was discussing secret information.
Slideshow: Living in the combat zone (on this page)

“If you get two 18-year-olds from two different cultures and put them in New York, you get a gang fight,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington who has advised the American military on its Afghan strategy.

“What you have here are two very different cultures with different values,” he said in a telephone interview. “They treat each other with contempt.”

The United States soldier was killed this month when an Afghan soldier opened fire on Americans playing volleyball at a base in the southern province of Zabul. The assailant was quickly gunned down. The deadliest single incident came last April when an Afghan Air Force colonel, Ahmed Gul, killed eight unsuspecting American officers and a contractor with shots to the head inside their headquarters.

He then killed himself after writing “God in your name” and “God is one” in blood on the walls of the base, according to an Air Force investigation of the incident released this week.

Extreme war stress to blame in Marine urination video?

In a 436-page report, the Air Force investigators said the initial coalition explanation for the attack — stress brought on by financial problems — was only a small part of Colonel Gul’s motivation. His primary motive was hatred of the United States, and he planned the attack to kill as many Americans as possible, the investigators said.

There have been no reported instances of Americans’ killing Afghan soldiers, although a rogue group of United States soldiers killed three Afghan civilians for sport in 2010. Yet there is ample evidence of American disregard for Afghans. After the urination video circulated, a number of those who had served in Afghanistan took to Facebook and other Web sites to cheer on their compatriots, describing Afghans of all stripes in harsh terms.
Video: Pentagon fears fallout from Marine video (on this page)

Many messages were posted on public forums, others in private message strings. One private exchange was provided to The Times by a participant in the conversation; the names of those posting matched those on record as having served in the Marine Corps. In that conversation, a former Marine said he thought the video was “pretty awesome.” Another said he hoped it would happen more often.

UK soldiers arrested after Afghan sex abuse report

The 70-page classified coalition report, titled “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility,” goes far beyond anecdotes. It was conducted by a behavioral scientist who surveyed 613 Afghan soldiers and police officers, 215 American soldiers and 30 Afghan interpreters who worked for the Americans.

'Too arrogant'
While the report focused on three areas of eastern Afghanistan, many of the Afghan soldiers interviewed had served elsewhere in Afghanistan and the author believed that they constituted a sample representative of the entire country.

“There are pervasive feelings of animosity and distrust A.N.S.F. personnel have towards U.S. forces,” the report said, using military’s abbreviation for Afghan security forces. The list of Afghan complaints against the Americans ran the gamut from the killing of civilians to urinating in public and cursing.

Arkansas family loses second son in Afghanistan

“U.S. soldiers don’t listen, they are too arrogant,” said one of the Afghan soldiers surveyed, according to the report. “They get upset due to their casualties, so they take it out on civilians during their searches,” said another.

The Americans were equally as scathing. “U.S. soldiers’ perceptions of A.N.A. members were extremely negative across categories,” the report found, using the initials for the Afghan National Army. Those categories included “trustworthiness on patrol,” “honesty and integrity,” and “drug abuse.” The Americans also voiced suspicions about the Afghans being in league with the Taliban, a problem well documented among the Afghan police.

“They are stoned all the time; some even while on patrol with us,” one soldier was quoted as saying. Another said, “They are pretty much gutless in combat; we do most of the fighting.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Supreme Court Says Congress May Re-Copyright Public Domain Works

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/01/scotus-re-copyright-decision/

Congress may take books, musical compositions and other works out of the public domain, where they can be freely used and adapted, and grant them copyright status again, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

In a 6-2 ruling, the court said that, just because material enters the public domain, it is not “territory that works may never exit.” (.pdf)

The top court was ruling on a petition by a group of orchestra conductors, educators, performers, publishers and film archivists who urged the justices to reverse an appellate court that ruled against the group, which has relied on artistic works in the public domain for their livelihoods.

They claimed that re-copyrighting public works would breach the speech rights of those who are now using those works without needing a license. There are millions of decades-old works at issue. Some of the well-known ones include H.G. Wells’ Things to Come; Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and the musical compositions of Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky.

The court, however, was sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ argument. Writing for the majority, Justice Ruth Ginsburg said “some restriction on expression is the inherent and intended effect of every grant of copyright.” But the top court, with Justice Elena Kagan recused, said Congress’ move to re-copyright the works to comport with an international treaty was more important.

For a variety of reasons, the works at issue, which are foreign and produced decades ago, became part of the public domain in the United States but were still copyrighted overseas. In 1994, Congress adopted legislation to move the works back into copyright, so U.S. policy would comport with an international copyright treaty known as the Berne Convention.

In dissent, Justices Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito said the legislation goes against the theory of copyright and “does not encourage anyone to produce a single new work.” Copyright, they noted, was part of the Constitution to promote the arts and sciences.

The legislation, Breyer wrote, “bestows monetary rewards only on owners of old works in the American public domain. At the same time, the statute inhibits the dissemination of those works, foreign works published abroad after 1923, of which there are many millions, including films, works of art, innumerable photographs, and, of course, books — books that (in the absence of the statute) would assume their rightful places in computer-accessible databases, spreading knowledge throughout the world.”

Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University and a plaintiff’s lawyer in the case, called the decision “unfortunate” and said it “suggests Congress is not required to pay particularly close attention to the interests of the public when it passes copyright laws.”

The majority, however, rebuffed charges that a decision in favor of Congress’ move would amount to affording lawmakers the right to legislate perpetual copyright terms.

“In aligning the United States with other nations bound by the Berne Convention, and thereby according equitable treatment to once disfavored foreign authors, Congress can hardly be charged with a design to move stealthily toward a regime of perpetual copyrights,” Ginsburg wrote.

It’s not the first time the Supreme Court has approved the extension of copyrights. The last time was in 2002, when it upheld Congress’ move to extend copyright from the life of an author plus 50 years after death to 70 years after death.

The lead plaintiff in the case, Lawrence Golan, told the high court that it will not longer be able to perform Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony and Peter and the Wolf, or Shostakovich’s Symphony 14, Cello Concerto because of licensing fees.

How the Navy’s Warship of the Future Ran Aground

Worse than the F-22 and JSF:

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/08/future-warship-ran-aground/all/1

Experts: Vets' PTSD, violence a growing problem

This is something I hammered my adversaries over repeatedly on the political board. We will all be paying the price for this failed war for the rest of our lives, and those who fought in it will be paying the most, with no WW 2 hero worship.


http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/17/us/veterans-violence/index.html?hpt=hp_bn1

A man opens fire in a national park, killing a ranger who was attempting to stop him after he blew through a vehicle checkpoint.

A second man is suspected in the stabbing deaths of four homeless men in Southern California.

Both men, U.S. military veterans, served in Iraq -- and both, according to authorities and those who knew them, returned home changed men after their combat service.

A coincidence -- two recent high-profile cases? Or a sign of an increase in hostile behavior as U.S. troops complete their withdrawal from Iraq, similar to that seen when U.S. troops returned home from the Vietnam War?

"You're going to see this more and more over the next 10 years," said Shad Meshad, founder of the National Veterans Foundation, who has been working with veterans since 1970. "... There's a percentage that come back, depending on how much trauma and how much killing they're involved in, they're going to act out."

***

"The VA and the military can only do so much," Ritchie said. "It really takes a nationwide effort and a local community effort ... this is an issue that's not going to go away. It's going to be with us for 10, 20, 30 years."

More cracks found in Airbus A380 wings

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46053450/ns/business-us_business/#.Txgp1fn4V8E

Airbus said on Thursday it had discovered more cracks in the wings of A380 superjumbo aircraft but insisted the world's largest jetliner remained safe to fly.

The announcement comes two weeks after tiny cracks were first reported in the wings of the 525-seat, double-decker aircraft, which entered service just over four years ago.

Airbus said it was in talks with the European safety agency, EASA.

"Additional cracks have been found and we are working closely on this issue with EASA," an Airbus spokesman said. "They do not affect safe operation of the aircraft.

Two aviation industry sources told Reuters the agency, which is responsible for aviation safety in the European Union, may issue an airworthiness directive requiring checks this week.

Rupert Murdoch firm pays Jude Law $200,000 in tabloid scandal

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46053202/ns/world_news-europe/#.TxgpT_n4V8E

Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper company on Thursday agreed to pay actor Jude Law 130,000 pounds (about $200,000) to settle claims against the News of the World and The Sun tabloids.

News Group Newspapers (NGN) accepted that 16 articles about Law published in the now-defunct News of the World tabloid between 2003 and 2006 had been obtained by phone hacking, and that the actor had also been placed under "repeated and sustained physical surveillance."

The company also admitted that articles in The Sun tabloid misused Law's private information but did not give further details.

***

"In the face of this overwhelming evidence, the 'rogue reporter' position has disintegrated and the range, scale and extent of phone-hacking has become clear."

News International had for years claimed that any hacking was the work of a single, "rogue" reporter, who was jailed for the offence in 2007. Last year, it admitted the problem was more widespread and paid compensation to several victims.

In July, after it emerged that the voicemail of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler, later found dead, had been hacked by the News of the World, News Corp took the drastic step of shutting down the 168-year-old tabloid.

The scandal forced the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman, a former News of the World editor. British police were accused of failing to properly investigate the affair and top police officials resigned.

Criminal probes are now under way into the phone hacking and allegations of payoffs to police. Cameron launched a judge-led inquiry into Britain's press ethics. News Corp was forced to scrap plans to take full control of Britain's highly profitable satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

Hearings in the first cases of victims who have not settled are set to begin on February 13.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Credit card debt drops 11%

http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/17/pf/credit_card_debt/index.htm?source=cnn_bin

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Consumers whacked down credit card debt by 11% last year, and average debt loads dropped in every state.

The average credit card balance for 2011 was $6,576, down from $7,404 the previous year, according to a report from credit tracking and financial education website CreditKarma.com, based on data from more than 300,000 of its users.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Your bullying boss may be slowly killing you

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/45973010/ns/today-money/#.TxBsuYHNlOt

Your bullying boss may be slowly killing you

If you spend your workday avoiding an abusive boss, tiptoeing around co-workers who talk behind your back, or eating lunch alone because you've been ostracized from your cubicle mates, you may be the victim of workplace bullying. New research suggests that you're not alone, especially if you're struggling to cope.

Employees with abusive bosses often deal with the situation in ways that inadvertently make them feel worse, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Stress Management. That's bad news, as research suggests that workplace abuse is linked to stress — and stress is linked to a laundry list of mental and physical ailments, including higher body weight and heart disease.

In at least one extreme case, workplace bullying has even been linked to suicide, much as schoolyard bullying has been linked to a rash of suicides among young people.

Bullying is "a form of abuse which carries tremendous health harm," said Gary Namie, a social psychologist who directs the Workplace Bullying Institute. "That's how you distinguish it from tough management or any of the other cutesy ways people use to diminish it."

Struggle to cope
Namie was not involved in the new study, which surveyed nearly 500 employees about how they dealt with abusive supervision. Abusive supervisors are bosses who humiliate and insult their employees, never let them forget their mistakes, break promises and isolate employees from other co-workers, study author Dana Yagil of the University of Haifa in Israel told LiveScience.

About 13 to 14 percent of Americans work under an abusive supervisor, Yagil said. Her study on Israeli workers found that abused employees tend to cope by avoiding their bosses, seeking support from co-workers and trying to reassure themselves. As useful as those strategies might sound, however, they actually made employees feel worse. [7 Thoughts That Are Bad For You]

"It is understandable that employees wish to reduce the amount of their contact with an abusive boss to the minimum, but the strategies they use actually further increase their stress instead of reducing it," Yagil said. "This may happen because these strategies are associated with a sense of weakness and perpetuate the employee's fear of the supervisor."

Tragic consequences
Avoiding a workplace bully might seem easier than avoiding a school bully, given that employees can quit their jobs. But workers get caught in a cycle of stress, Namie said. An online survey of targeted workers by the WBI found that they put up with the abuse for an average of 22 months.

The stress of the bullying may itself lead to bad decision-making, Namie said. A 2009 study in the journal Science found that stressed-out rats fail to adapt to changes in their environment. A portion of the stressed rats' brains, the dorsomedial striatum, actually shrunk compared with that region in relaxed rats. The findings suggest that stress may actually re-wire the brain, creating a decision-making rut. The same may occur in bullied workers, Namie said.

"This is why a person can't make quality decisions," he said. "They can't even consider alternatives. Just like a battered spouse, they don't even perceive alternatives to their situations when they're stressed and depressed and under attack."

Sometimes this cycle ends with tragedy. Namie works as an expert legal witness on bullying. In one upcoming case, he said, a woman put up with daily barrages of screaming abuse from her boss for a year. By the end, she was working 18-hour days, trying to shield the employees under her from her boss' tyranny, Namie said. Finally, she and several of her co-workers put together a 25-page complaint to human resources. Nothing happened, until she was called in for a meeting with senior management. The woman knew she would be fired for making the complaint, Namie said.

"Rather than allowing herself to be terminated, she bought a pistol, went to work, left three suicide notes, and she took her own life at work," he said.

"She was like that rat stuck in a rut," he added. "She didn't see any alternative at that point."

Why bullying happens
While all workplace-bullying cases are not so extreme, it does seem to be a common problem, said Sandy Herschcovis, a professor of business administration at the University of Manitoba who studies workplace aggression. Between 70 and 80 percent of Americans report rudeness and incivility at work, Herschcovis told LiveScience. Fewer are systematically bullied, she said, but the best estimate puts the number at about 41 percent of American workers having been psychologically harassed at work at some point.

Hierarchical organizations such as the military tend to have higher rates of bullying, Herschcovis said, as do places where the environment is highly competitive.

"Definitely the organizational context contributes," Herschcovis said.

The personality of the bully is often key, with some research suggesting that childhood bullies become bullies as adults, she said. Targets of bullying are often socially anxious, have low self-esteem, or have personality traits such as narcissism, Herschcovis said. "We don't want to blame the victim, but we recognize this more and more as a relationship" between the bully and the target, she said.

Little research has been done on how to deal with abusive bosses or bullying co-workers. In mild cases, where a boss may not realize how their behavior is coming across, direct confrontation might work, Yagil said. One research-based program that seems to have potential is called the Civility, Respect and Engagement at Work project, Herschcovis said. That program has been shown to improve workplace civility, reduce cynicism and improve job satisfaction and trust among employees, she said. The program has employees discuss rudeness and incivility in their workplace and make plans to improve. [ 8 Tactics to Bust the Office Bully ]

For workers experiencing bullying, Herschcovis recommended reporting specific behavior to higher-ups, as well as examining one's own behavior. Sometimes victims inadvertently contribute to the bullying relationship, she said. Namie cautioned that victims should proceed with care, however, as there are no anti-bullying workplace laws on the books in the U.S.

"HR [human resources] has no power or clout to make senior management stop," Namie said. "Without the laws, they're not mandated to make policies, and without the mandate, they don’t know what to do."

Since 2003, 21 states have introduced some version of anti-bullying bills, but none have yet passed. Twelve states have legislation pending in 2012, according to healthyworkplacebill.org.

In the meantime, Herschcovis and her colleagues have found that bystanders in the workplace are usually sympathetic to the victim rather than the bully.

"Outside parties are most likely to want to intervene, and to be in a position to intervene," Herschcovis said. The trick, she added, will be to find ways to encourage co-workers to stand up for one another.

Inside the secret industry of inmate-staffed call centers

You are too lazy! You should be like these guys!

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/12/10140493-inside-the-secret-industry-of-inmate-staffed-call-centers?ocid=twitter

When you call a company or government agency for help, there's a good chance the person on the other end of the line is a prison inmate.

The federal government calls it "the best-kept secret in outsourcing" — providing inmates to staff call centers and other services in both the private and public sectors.

The U.S. government, through a 75-year-old program called Federal Prison Industries, makes about $750 million a year providing prison labor, federal records show. The great majority of those contracts are with other federal agencies for services as diverse as laundry, construction, data conversion and manufacture of emergency equipment.

But the program also markets itself to businesses under a different name, Unicor, providing commercial market and product-related services. Unicor made about $10 million from "other agencies and customers" in the first six months of fiscal year 2011 (the most recent period for which official figures are available), according to an msnbc.com analysis of its sales records.

30 years after Air Florida crash, skies safer than ever

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/30-years-after-air-florida-crash-skies-safer-than-ever/2012/01/05/gIQAW0GwtP_story_1.html

Thirty years later, few of the 26,000 passengers who take off from National on a typical day remember the details of the Flight 90 crash. But the people flying their planes do.

“Within the air crew world, this is a well-known accident,” said Jim Hookey, the resident expert on jet engines at the NTSB.

It was not the weight of the ice, the wait to takeoff or the slush on the runway that caused the plane to crash. For reasons no one will ever know, two pilots with little experience in winter weather failed to turn on heating systems that keep the idling jet engines warm.

Without that heat, something — almost certainly ice — clogged engine openings that are essential to determining how much thrust those engines are generating. As a result, the cockpit instruments told the pilots that the engines were generating far more power than they really were.

Because of those bad readings, when the plane failed to gain altitude, the pilots didn’t realize that throwing the throttle open would give them more lift.

“Up to about eight or 10 seconds before they hit the bridge, if they had just pushed the throttle [wide open], they probably would have buzzed the bridge, but they would have made it,” Hookey said.

That lesson, he said, has been learned throughout the industry.

“Crews now are not hesitant to jam the throttle to save the plane,” Hookey said. “There’s probably been a lot of airplanes that have been saved because of the errors that these guys made.”

* * *

Conversation in the cockpit as Air Florida struggles to get airborne:

Pilot: “Come on forward . . . forward, just barely climb. . . . Stalling, we’re falling!”

Co-pilot: “Larry, we’re going down, Larry . . .”

Pilot: “I know it.”

[Sound of impact.]

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How a private-equity firm would refurbish the United States for quick resale to China.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/moneybox/2012/01/america_for_sale_how_a_private_equity_firm_would_flip_the_united_states_to_china_.single.html

Why We Love to Loathe John Edwards: It's Science

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2104161,00.html

John Edwards is the putrefied meat of the American political system — literally, as far as your brain is concerned. Think about Edwards for a moment — the perfect hair, the honey voice, the oleaginous smile. Your lip curled ever so slightly, didn't it? A teensy bit of bile may have risen in your throat. The lip curl is a threat display, the bile is an attempt to purge a toxin. Both were triggered at least partly by your prefrontal cortex and your temporal lobes — and both would have also occurred if you'd smelled a piece of food gone bad.

***
There are a lot of things that make the ex-senator the pariah he is, and the brain is indeed one of the biggest players. It was only in the last decade or so, with the widespread use of functional magnetic imaging (fMRI), that neurologists discovered the overlapping circuitry that governs morality and disgust. In one study conducted in many parts of the world, pairs of subjects are given a quantity of cash to share — say $100 — with one of them getting to decide how the sum will be split and the other having the right to accept or reject the offer. If the deal is accepted, they both get the cash; if it's rejected, they both get nothing.

On average, subjects turn down any proposed division that offers them less than 43% of the pot — meaning they walk away from a free $43 simply because the other guy is getting $57. And when the subjects who reject the deal are scanned by fMRIs, their brains show pronounced activity in the disgust regions.

"There is literal disgust and moral disgust, and the two overlap," says Jonathan Haidt, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. "Betrayal, hypocrisy, certain kinds of baseness trigger the brain's moral response."

Pew poll: Class warfare visible for many

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71338.html

Although the Occupy Wall Street movement has receded from the headlines, a majority of Americans said in a new poll that they see major class conflict between the rich and poor.

Two-thirds of Americans said they think there are “very strong” or “strong” class conflicts in society, according to a Pew Research Center poll on Wednesday. That marks a 19 percent increase from 2009, when just 47 percent cited it as a main issue.

The clash between rich and poor now ranks as American society’s greatest social conflict, pollsters found, followed by 62 percent whosaid there are very strong or strong conflicts between immigrants and native-born Americans, and 38 percent who said these conflicts exist between blacks and whites. In 2009, more Americans said there were strong conflicts between immigrants and native-born Americans than the rich and poor.

And the intensity of the clash between rich and poor has grown more extreme, with 30 percent saying there are very strong conflicts in this poll compared with 15 percent who said the same in 2009. The 30 percent of Americans surveyed is the largest number recorded since the question was first asked in 1987, the pollsters said.

Over half of Republicans, or 55 percent, said there are very strong or strong conflicts between the rich and the poor, and 73 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents agree. All those figures have shot up since 2009, when 38 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents told pollsters they believed the same.

Overall, just 23 percent of Americans said there are not very strong conflicts between the wealthy and poor and 7 percent said there are no conflicts whatsoever.

The poll surveyed 2,048 adults Dec. 6-19, 2011. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Parkway's use of fitness monitors raises privacy questions Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/suburban-journals/metro/education/parkway-s-use-of-fitn

http://www.stltoday.com/suburban-journals/metro/education/parkway-s-use-of-fitness-monitors-raises-privacy-questions/article_af46b549-0f1e-5a41-8a26-7f77c91ced20.html

When is the line crossed between better health and surveillance?

In early 2012, wristwatch-like devices called Polar active monitors will be used by older students in PE classes at all 18 Parkway elementary schools. District officials say the devices should help improve the students' fitness and academic achievement.

Later this school year, the district plans to collect data about activity levels and even sleep patterns for a week at a time. It will have the students wear the devices round the clock.

Some parents and legal experts are raising privacy concerns about at least that aspect of the program.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just 1% of patients drive U.S. health care spending

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-01-11/health-care-costs-11/52505562/1

Five percent accounted for 50% of health care costs, about $36,000 each, the report said.

Texas Asks Feds To Delay Health Insurance Rebate Plan

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/01/10/144922562/texas-asks-feds-to-delay-health-insurance-rebate-plan

Starting in 2012, health insurance plans in Texas — and most of the rest of the country — may have to cough up millions of dollars in rebates to customers.

The rebates will come from health plans that spend too much on administrative costs instead of medical care. The change is part of the national health overhaul law, the Affordable Care Act.

But state officials in Texas and 16 other states have asked to push back the requirement for a few years.


Bob Vesey owns Packtech, a foam fabrication company that he started in 2003 in Grand Prairie, Texas, a town near Dallas. The small company has only three employees, and Vesey and his wife have to buy their own health insurance on the individual market.

Currently the couple pays $784 a month to Blue Cross Blue Shield, but the premium keeps going up every year, sometimes twice a year. "Right now I get these letters. I cringe every time I get an envelope from BCBS," Vesey says.

Vesey has his eye on the insurance rebate provision of the Affordable Care Act called the medical loss ratio, or MLR. In a nutshell, the MLR requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of what they take in on actual medical care or quality improvement. The other 20 percent can go to overhead and profit.

"That's reasonable in the mind of any Texan I've ever met," says Blake Hutson, an advocate with Consumers Union in Austin, Texas. "And that 20 percent, you can go keep spending 20 percent on your administrative overhead, which is things like lobbying or paying CEO salaries. They can still spend money on those things, but they've just got to give us a baseline. They've got to give us 80 percent of our premiums on actual health care."

Insurance companies that now exceed the 20 percent mark for overhead expenditures will have to rebate an estimated $160 million next year to Texans who buy insurance on their own.

Vesey says he'd welcome that: "That would be wonderful. At least you'd know." Without the rebates, Vesey says he and his wife will only get relief after they get on Medicare.

But the Texas Department of Insurance has asked the federal government for a delay on the rebate plan. Under the Texas proposal, insurance companies would have three years to reach that 80/20 ratio. The state told the federal Department of Health and Human Services that the phase-in of the rebate program is necessary to prevent smaller companies from leaving Texas or going out of business.

The Texas Department of Insurance declined to comment for this story.

Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, the national lobbying group for insurance companies, says that the new regulation tries to make insurers responsible for rising premiums, when really the problem lies with doctors, hospitals, and drug and device companies.

"The biggest issue is it doesn't get at the soaring cost of medical care," he says. "And instead it imposes a new arbitrary cap on health plan administrative costs. Some plans may have no choice but to exit the market altogether, and people could lose the coverage they have today."

More than 30 companies offer individual insurance in Texas. In contrast, Maine, the first state to win approval for its application to waive the requirement, has only three companies in its insurance market.

Consumer advocates say that even if a few Texas companies do drop coverage, it'll be less of a threat and more like good riddance.

Take, for example, Standard Life and Casualty Insurance. That company spends only 53 percent of premiums on medical care, with the rest going to overhead and profit, according to the state documents filed with the feds.

"I think [it] would surprise some Texas consumers that we have some plans out there that offer that little value," says Stacey Pogue of the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin. "The new rules that are put out would end business as usual for these types of low-value health plans, and that benefits all consumers."

Standard Life and Casualty did not respond to requests for comment.

For their part, Texas' Democratic representatives in Congress have sided with the consumer advocates, encouraging HHS to turn down the Texas request for a delay.

Austin Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who chairs the Texas Democratic delegation, disparaged the state's move as "nothing more than an early Christmas gift from Gov. Perry's allies to insurance companies."

Seventeen states asked the federal government for relief from the new 80 percent rule. The feds analyzed their insurance markets; six states were granted permission to phase-in the new rule gradually. But eight states were turned down. A decision on the Texas request is expected any day now.

Credit Card Arbitration Trumps Lawsuits, Court Says

http://www.npr.org/2012/01/11/144990644/credit-card-arbitration-trumps-lawsuits-court-says

Consumers who sign credit card agreements that feature an arbitration clause cannot dispute fees or charges in court, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The 8-to-1 decision drew immediate fire from consumer advocates.

To get a credit card, a consumer generally must sign a detailed agreement. In the fine print, almost always, is an arbitration clause that says that if consumers want to dispute fees, they must do so through arbitration, not in court.

A 1996 federal law allowed consumers to take their disputes to court. But in its ruling Tuesday, the Supreme Court said arbitration clauses in those agreements trump that law.

Michael Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, says the ruling gives companies that provide credit cards, student loans and car loans the ability to exact any fee, because consumers have no legal recourse.

"These arbitration clauses have become a 'get out of jail free' card," he says.

And that's why nearly every loan agreement now includes an arbitration clause. The main exception is for mortgage loans, where such clauses are prohibited.

Lauren Saunders, the managing attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, says the arbitration process itself is unfair because the arbitrators have a financial incentive to rule against consumers.

"Who are you going to favor, the company that might send you more business, or the consumer who you'll never see again?"

The company involved in this case, Synovus Bank, declined to comment. The American Bankers Association said it was not available for an interview.

This may not be the last word on this issue. Consumer advocates say the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may study arbitration clauses and could ban them from credit card agreements.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Doctors: Why we can't stay afloat

http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2012/smallbusiness/1201/gallery.doctors-broke/index.html

Doctors are becoming employees. Or going bust. Sense a change in politics? :)

Being a doctor is not the surefire path to financial security that it once was. These 6 doctors explain why it's becoming more difficult to make ends meet.

Monday, January 9, 2012

World's largest passenger plane may be unsafe, some say

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-57354488-52/worlds-largest-passenger-plane-may-be-unsafe-some-say/

The world's largest passenger plane may not be sky-worthy, some aircraft engineers in Australia are saying.

The BBC reports that the engineers are concerned about small cracks that have appeared on the wing ribs of some Airbus A380 airplanes, and that they're calling for the whole fleet to be grounded for investigation.

The cracks were found on A380s operated by Singapore Airlines and Qantas Airways, the BBC reports, and Singapore Airlines says it has repaired the wings of two of its A380s.

Airbus recommends that airlines check for cracks but says they present no real danger. The BBC quotes the following from a statement by the company:

"We confirm that minor cracks were found on some noncritical wing rib-skin attachments on a limited number of A380 aircraft. We have traced the origin. Airbus has developed an inspection and repair procedure, which will be done during regular, routine scheduled four-year maintenance checks. In the meantime, Airbus emphasizes that the safe operation of the A380 fleet is not affected."

But Steve Purvinas, secretary of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, disagrees. "We can't continue to gamble with people's lives and allow those aircraft to fly around and hope that they make it until their four-yearly inspection," the BBC quotes Purvinas as saying.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Huzzah! Banned Again!

Ah, good. I got banned again from the political board, mostly because I could not help twisting the tails of my adversaries. Especially the ones who called it wrong, and I got it right on how things turned out. Childish on my part, of course, but it is like taunting drunks in a bar, getting thrown out, and then watching them show up, one by one, on the police blotter. Which I get to gloat over, while rading the obits at the Geritol Cafeteria. Not very admirable, but damn fun. Almost without exception, the adversaries were sociopathic Generation X (censored's) reactionaries. Biggest group of liars, hypocrites, Pharisees, soiciopaths with no empathy, and hateful children on the internet. One of them spent 23 years in the military, and only made E-6. A piss-poor showing, even for an armchair warrior. Another scrubbed all her posts, so they could not be tracked to her very respectable professional blog. Hypocrite. Same thing for another ex-military type with a much more respectable record, but has now devoted himself into being a classic film-school auteur. Not surprisingly, he was a LARPer in his pre-military days. Poser.

Good. I got it out of my system for a while. I do sincerely apologize to the decent persons on the board for all the drama and antics. Can't resist pissing on those who deserve it. An unfortunate part of being an ACA is the need to triumph over the drunk, and prove I was right all along. This, of course, is not healthy behavior. No amount of revenge can make up for the damage I suffered, and I make myself worse by pursuing the drunks, and taunting them when I should be pursuing recovery. Let it be yet another lesson. Get busy living, and let them get busy dying. Living well is the best revenge...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Will Congress hold 'em or fold 'em on Net gambling?

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71155.html

The gambling lobby has a message for Congress as states line up to cash in on a White House ruling that in-state online lotteries and poker won’t violate a federal Internet betting ban: Deal now or get stuck with a bad hand.

Geologists say Ohio quakes directly tied to fracking

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45903873/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.TwfRYIHJbSs

Recent earthquakes in Ohio and Oklahoma have been directly linked to deep wells used to dispose of liquid wastes for hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" of natural gas, according to geological experts.

And they expect more earthquakes to come as the industry continues to expand across the eastern United States.

A boom in gas production using hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" of natural gas has played a role in decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and coal and helped cut energy prices, but evidence is mounting that the process may come at a price.

Lottery apologizes to winners for 'bounced' checks

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-lottery-apologizes-when-bank-fails-to-pay-dozens-of-winners-20120106,0,7644333.story

The Illinois Lottery is apologizing to dozens of winners who picked up checks for their winnings, mostly for scratch-off tickets worth $1,000, last week, only to find the Lottery’s bank wouldn’t cover the checks.

Of 311 checks written on Dec. 28, the Lottery’s bank failed to authorize payment to “about 85,” when a computer file that’s supposed to be sent to the bank at 2 p.m. every day wasn’t sent in time, said Lottery spokesman Mike Lang. The Lottery was short-staffed because of the holidays, causing the file to be sent late, he said.

“We had some checks that, from the consumer’s, the player’s perspective, bounced, and we’re making it right,” Lang said.

Only 1 in 7 hospital errors reported, study finds

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45903597/ns/health-health_care/#.Twd3bYHNlOs

Yet even after hospitals investigate preventable injuries and infections that have been reported, they rarely change their practices to prevent repetition of the “adverse events,” according to the study, from Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Brain function can start declining 'as early as age 45'

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16425522

Navy SEAL accidentally shoots self in head

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/sdcounty/region-navy-seal-accidentally-shoots-self-in-head/article_99947986-9e53-5204-8453-ac9954e2656f.html

A 22-year-old Navy SEAL was gravely wounded early today when he shot himself in the head at his Pacific Beach home while trying to convince a companion that the pistol he was showing off was safe to handle, authorities said.

The shooting in the 1800 block of Grand Avenue left the sailor on life support at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, according to San Diego police. Authorities initially reported that the man had died.

The serviceman, who had been drinking with a woman at a bar before they returned to his residence, was showing her his 9 mm handgun when the accident occurred, SDPD Officer Frank Cali said.

The man offered to let his friend hold the weapon, which he mistakenly believed was unloaded, according to Cali. When she declined, he tried to demonstrate how safe it was by putting it to his head and pulling the trigger.

The sailor, whose name was not released, graduated recently from the Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams program, which trains elite special-operations tactical units.

Deputies say burglar dumped rare coins into coin counting machine

http://www.kptv.com/story/16456519/deputies-looking-for-corbett-chrismas-burglary-suspect

CORBETT, OR (KPTV) -

Multnomah County Sheriff's Deputies are searching for a man they said stole tools, two safes and valuable coins from a shed at a Corbett home belonging to his own father.

Deputies said Dan Johnson, Jr., along with two other suspects, broke into the outbuildings on Christmas.

The safes had approximately 50 to 60 lbs. of silver and jewelry inside, detectives said.

They also contained a coin collection worth several thousand dollars.

Investigators told FOX 12 that the suspects dumped the collection into a coin counting machine in Gresham and received about $450 in return.

"The obvious answer that the crooks were idiots, just simply an idiot," said Dan Johnson, Sr. "To not know the value of what they had taken, just to get pocket change for it. Just really a stupid person. Makes me feel good he was a stupid person and didn't realize what he had."

With the help of friends and Multnomah County Sheriff's deputies, Dan Johnson, Sr. spent Thursday sifting through the coins deposited in the Coinstar receptacle looking for his collection. The included rare pennies, nickels and dimes dating to the early 1900s.

"It was an inheritance, which made it even worse because I lost an inheritance that was meant to go forward for my children and grandchildren," he said.

The coin counting machine would not accept about 500 silver quarters, so the suspects took those to a bank, according to deputies. The bank is returning the quarters to Johnson, Sr.

Detectives said they've caught the two other suspects in this case and they are cooperating with the investigation.

Anyone who can help deputies track down Johnson is urged to call the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office at 503-251-2515.

Why Do Languages Die?

http://educationviews.org/2012/01/05/why-do-languages-die/

One Of My Political Board Opponents Gets Busted (Or Looks Like One)

http://www.ohio.com/news/break-news/portage-deputies-arrest-gun-wielding-man-in-nelson-township-1.253697

How the Romans invented the text message...and the origins of some of the most common words and phrases

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2082934/How-Romans-invented-text-message.html

Observations Friday 6 Jan 2012

The Iowa reality show is over, and at least one loser has been picked-Bachmann. Perry is the next likely casualty.

Iran, driven by sanctions and internal rifts, is driving up oil prices. The threat of military conflict exists, but Iran would be cutting it's own throat. Israel is the more likely initial starter of hostilities.

The President is now playing hardball, at long last. He certainly can afford to do so while the GOP circus is on.

No tickertape parades for the end of the Iraq War. Just a huge bill, and broken people. The recent speeches by the administration accept that large ground conflicts are not supportable. I predicted this years ago on the political board; I'm shocked that no one has apologized to me for being wrong, or congratulated me on calling it right pre-war... :) With Pakistan degenerating, and Afghanistan a madhouse, expect an earlier end to the war, post-election.

Weather has been unthinkably mild this winter. I fear February and March.

Bad atmospherics on ten meters this week. Fifteen meters has been rough as well.

I'm saving more cash. The habit of using a strip of twos is helping. One person at work gave back a two (holiday gift); it went straight to savings.

Next week, panic redoubles at work, as the cycle begins again. Oh, jolly. How many of my co-workers will be popping Percoset, I wonder. No sick days for anybody.

Scruffy is doing well in the mild weather. His fondness for the new tennis ball continues.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What happens when candidates called by God drop out?

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/05/what-happens-when-candidates-called-by-god-drop-out/

On Wednesday, blogger and sitcom writer Kelly Oxford sent a tweet about the Republican race for the presidency that got a lot of folks asking: Is this God’s idea of a joke?

Oxford, whose Twitter feed was named by TIME magazine one of the 140 best of 2011, wrote, “Cain, Perry, Bachmann all claimed God told them to run for President, and all are out of the race. God is hilarious.”

It’s been reported that Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum have all suggested that God called on them to enter the presidential race.

But here we are: Cain’s out. Bachmann’s out.

After returning to Texas to “reassess” his campaign, Perry announced he’s not throwing in the towel. Judging by his poor showing in the Iowa caucuses and the debates so far, however, many political experts think it’s just a matter of time.

The only one with supposed divine guidance who’s still in the race is Santorum.

So what gives? Did the candidates misread God’s supposed message? Does the defeat of a divinely-inspired candidate necessarily contradict a message from God?

Bush tax cuts, stock market widen income gap

http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/03/news/economy/income_inequality/index.htm

The rich have gotten richer, thanks to the stock market and the Bush tax cuts, a recent report has found.

Growth in income from capital gains and dividends has widened the divide between the wealthy and the poor in recent years, according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. It supplanted wage inequality as the primary driver of the growing income gap, which helped spur the Occupy Wall Street movement last fall.

After-tax income for the top 1% of taxpayers soared 74%, on average, between 1996 and 2006. The top 0.1% benefited even more, nearly doubling their income over that decade.

By comparison, the bottom 20% of taxpayers saw their income fall by 6%, while the middle quintile experienced a meager 10% gain.

What's in a name? Possibly your shot at love, self-esteem and lung cancer

http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/What+name+Possibly+your+shot+love+self+esteem+lung+cancer/5946496/story.html

Forget mere playground jeers. A poorly chosen baby name can lead to a lifetime of neglect, reduced relationship opportunities, lower self-esteem, a higher likelihood of smoking and diminished education prospects, according to a new study of nearly 12,000 people.

The research, which appears in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, is thought to offer the firmest conclusions to date that "unfortunate" first names evoke negative reactions from strangers, which in turn influence life outcomes for the worse.

Doctors Join The 99%

http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/05/smallbusiness/doctors_broke/index.htm?source=cnn_bin

Doctors are going bust as businessmen, and becoming employees. Can you say "new Democrat constituency"? I knew you could.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Goodbye, Privacy, Again.

http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/03/9808600-7-signs-were-living-in-the-post-privacy-era

25 Worst Passwords

http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/21/8937472-the-25-worst-passwords-of-2011

Even Microsoft Hates SOPA

http://technolog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/11/22/8957694-software-alliance-yanks-support-for-piracy-bill?

Boeing Closes Wichita Plants

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45874707/ns/business-us_business/#.TwTV54HJbSs

The Future Military: Your Budget Strategy

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/01/02/us/you-cut-the-defense-budget.html?ref=us

$712 billion.

158% of $450 billion goal

Category
Cuts
Pct.
Benefits
$54
8%
Salaries
-
-
Personnel
$460
65%
Weapons
$56
8%
Nuclear, Missile
$13
2%
Operations, Maint.
$129
18%

Greece: Clinch Bailout or Face Euro Exit

http://www.cnbc.com/id/45854573/

Greece will have to leave the euro zone if it fails to clinch a deal on a second, 130 billion euro bailout with its international lenders, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.

It was an unusually public stark warning from the embattled country, aimed at shoring up domestic support for tough measures and possibly also at the lenders themselves.

"The bailout agreement needs to be signed otherwise we will be out of the markets, out of the euro," spokesman Pantelis Kapsis told Skai TV. "The situation will be much worse."

Greece is racing against the clock to agree with the EU, the IMF [cnbc explains] and private bondholders on the details of the rescue plan before a major bond redemption in March. It risks a default if there is no deal by this date.

Athens and its EU partners have repeatedly ruled out a euro exit, which could drag the bloc even deeper into crisis, and usually avoid saying this is a possible scenario.

But top Greek officials, who need to push through unpopular reforms to clinch the bailout deal, have warned over the past few days that a return to the drachma would be "hell" and that the country must stick to austerity to avoid it.

EU, IMF and ECB inspectors are expected in Athens mid-January to flesh out the new bailout plan agreed in principle by EU leaders in October to avoid a Greek default and a euro exit.

Dunkin' Donuts to double U.S. locations

http://money.cnn.com/2012/01/04/news/companies/dunkin_donuts_locations/index.htm?hpt=hp_t3

YESSSSS!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012