Tuesday, January 31, 2012

F-scale (personality test)


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


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....


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


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


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


Monday, January 23, 2012

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


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.....


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:


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


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:


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.


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


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


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%


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


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!


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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?


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


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


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


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'


Navy SEAL accidentally shoots self in head


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



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?


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


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


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?


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


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


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%


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.


25 Worst Passwords


Even Microsoft Hates SOPA


Boeing Closes Wichita Plants


The Future Military: Your Budget Strategy


$712 billion.

158% of $450 billion goal

Nuclear, Missile
Operations, Maint.

Greece: Clinch Bailout or Face Euro Exit


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



Tuesday, January 3, 2012