Monthly Archives: October 2013

Technology to reduce death by police car chase

Story from BBC.  This is good news, I think.  I saw the aftermath of a police chase about a month ago.  The SUV was flipped in a ditch.  There were skid marks indicating it had hit the brakes and swerved.  The marks were right as you come around a curve and there is an intersecting road.  So at night, you can’t see if there is someone (say, a police car) at the intersection, but the car at the intersection can see the lights of the oncoming traffic.  So obviously the police pulled out in front of the SUV, forcing the crash.  The newspaper said the chase was due to “traffic violations.”  Not sure how PSP decides what is worthy of car chase.  Anyway, this would prevent it, and I’ve been wondering how long it would take to get this.  It’s almost too late, as it would be more effective to use a drone, and those are not far off.

GPS bullets are latest weapon for American police

StarcChase GPS bullet The bullet is used during car chases

It sounds like something out of a James Bond movie – GPS bullets that can track the location of a suspect’s car.

The bullet is designed to make high-speed chases safer – enabling the authorities to track suspects without having to risk theirs or others’ lives.

And in true spy fashion the system works by hitting a button inside a police car.

That triggers a lid to pop up releasing a bullet that shoots out and sticks to the car in front.

The system, dubbed Starchase, is already in use in four US states – Iowa, Florida, Arizona and Colorado – and the firm behind it is now keen to get the system into the UK.

It costs $5,000 (£3,108) to install and each bullet costs $500 (£312).

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Safety Net

This story from My Budget 360 details the numbers involved, from the census bureau.  I am adding it because it is the second time I’ve seen this information now.  The bottom line is that there are more Americans receiving means-tested benefits than working full time.  Not sure if the numbers cited include, for instance, children in the Medicaid figure.  That might be a distortion, as all children are supported by someone, but then again, I believe children are often covered by Medicaid even when parents are not.  So maybe they should count, as it is financially the parent receiving the benefit.  Also I think children can get SSI.

Anyway, it is quite upsetting and a real indictment of our corporatocracy.   The other article was from Zero Hedge or The Burning Platform, I think, and it was espousing the view that there is no way for “us” who work to vote in a better system now, because all those receiving these benefits will vote their interests.  I disagree with that assessment.  There are probably too many kids in the number for that to be true anyway, but the real voting bloc that outvotes workers is retirees.

And besides all that, the “welfare state” isn’t even the issue.  Benefits do not need to be reduced for poor people.  They need to be reduced for rich people.  How come we don’t hear about the ridiculous tax break for venture capitalists and hedgies anymore?  How in God’s name can the fine being paid by JPMorgan for criminal activities be tax deductible?  Why are we still subsidizing the big banks (through the interest on excess reserves held at the Fed)?  Why do we allow our mountaintops to be removed and then sell the coal to China?

I also think that Aldous Snow is a little off base on this as well.  It’s not profits that are bad; it’s rents that are bad.  It’s laws that erect barriers to new competition that are the problem.  Check into health care.  Obamacare’s so-called “free marketplace” cannot possibly reduce costs, because today’s healthcare purchasing process is so far from a free market.

If we had less corporate control of our legal and economic system, there would be more competition and better opportunities for individuals to be productive and support themselves and their families, and communities.  There is no reason we should not have a safety net to make sure no one in America starves, but it should not have to cover so many people.  That’s sad for everyone.

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The Never List

From Josh Brown.

I usually agree with almost everything Josh Brown writes.  But not this time.  I disagree with almost half of them.

Never sell a service or product that you cannot deliver. Never sell a service or product that the buyer doesn’t absolutely need or love. Be essential or desired, not annoying and unnecessary. – Disagree.  No one knew they needed or loved an iPad until they had one.   President Kennedy sold us a moon landing when no one knew how to accomplish such a thing.  If you sell what you do not have, and you are not a TBTF banker, you will find a way to deliver it.

Never work for someone who isn’t as smart as you are. Or plan your exit the moment you figure out that you have learned all you can and that you are now the smarter one. – Disagree.  I learned more working for a company/group of people best described as amoral, arrogant, and proudly, arrogantly ignorant in the Tea Party way, in 2 1/2 years, than I have learned working anywhere else, before or since.  Do not underestimate the power of a bad example.

Never work for or with people with a lesser moral code than your own. Be aware of how your colleagues feel about doing the right thing. You should watch how they prioritize it. Once you determine that the moral failings of the people around you are systemic and indefatigable, it’s time to get going. If you can fix a bad situation, by all means try. If you can’t, reserve judgment and simply say goodbye.  Disagree – See above.  Don’t stay if you are no longer learning, but there is a lot to be learned.

Never work in a career that relies on opacity, obfuscation, rhetorical fallacy or sleight of hand. There are plenty of people who can do this sort of work, fooling their neighbors and customers or tricking them into transactions that aren’t what’s in their best interests – the key is to not be one of them. Those who engage in this sort of work are either sociopathic or trapped because of financial circumstances or too stupid to have thought the consequences of their career choice all the way through.  AGREE.

Never cut any corners, there is no such thing as a free lunch and everything has a cost, even if you can’t see it right in front of you. Riskless reward is a desert mirage.  Disagree.  If you are thinking of doing this, then you must need to learn the lesson.  Do it.  See how awesome it turns out.

Never pursue something that you don’t really want in the first place just because you think you have to. You don’t have to and it won’t work out anyway. Successful people become successful because they are doing what they love and have a talent for.  Agree and disagree.  I think there are lots of successful people who don’t love what they are doing.  And once you have a certain amount of your human capital tied up in something, only you can decide what the tradeoffs are.  Sometimes sticking with what you don’t love can be the best option, even if only for a while.

Never keep a bad client just because they’re willing to keep paying you. Never allow a mismatched customer relationship to skew the way you do business or take care of your other clients. Never put off firing a customer the moment you realize there is a bad fit and that neither of you will be satisfied in the relationship. Life is too short to do business with unreasonable people or nice folks whom you just cannot make happy.  AGREE.

Never go through the motions. Find a psychologically rewarding way to go about your tasks, remind yourself constantly where the day-to-day drudgery of your job is leading. If it’s leading nowhere or toward something you don’t truly want, stop immediately. Don’t spend a moment being busy for no good reason.  Agree and disagree.  See above.  But even if you choose to do something unrewarding, experience it.  It is your life happening.

Never taunt others when things are going your way, people like dealing with gracious winners who raise others up with positivity. Never burden others with your problems when things are not going your way, the amount of mileage you’ll get out of pity is minimal and people will go out of their way to avoid getting involved with you.  AGREE. 

Never watch the clock or calendar. Have reasonable expectations for the timeline of your success. If you enjoy what you’re doing and are going to work with purpose each day, then what’s the rush? Only people who are doing something they hate are worried about how many dollars they can rip out of the endeavor right away.  Disagree.  There are time limited activities, and if you are unable to complete them on time, then you need to figure out why.  Is it lack of enthusiasm?  Training?  Confidence?  Competence?  Josh must never have done piecework.  LOL.

Never believe for one moment that your path is already laid out for you or that you can’t break away and find your own road toward happiness and success. Remember – Fate is the cards you’re dealt, Destiny is how you play them.  AGREE!!

And, I would add, Never do anything you wouldn’t want to discuss with your spouse and children.

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How to get away with murder

Be a cop.

First, this from Conor Friedsdorf.

The cop that pepper sprayed the peacefully demonstrating students in California got about $70,000 in paid leave, and now has been awarded another $30,000 for the “damages” he sustained for his treatment following the incident.  Unbelievable.  I know, no murder here, but stay with me…

And, also in California, a 13 year old with a toy gun was murdered by police Tuesday.

“At 3 p.m., two sheriff’s deputies patrolling in the area of Moorland and West Robles avenues observed Lopez walking with what sheriff’s officials said appeared to be some type of rifle.

The deputies called for backup and repeatedly ordered the boy to drop the rifle, Sheriff’s Lt. Dennis O’Leary said in a news release.

At some point after the deputies told Lopez to drop the rifle, they fired several rounds from their handguns at the boy, who was hit multiple times, O’Leary said.

After telling Lopez to move away from the rifle, deputies approached the unresponsive teen as he lay on the ground and handcuffed him before administering first aid and calling for medical assistance, O’Leary said.

Lopez was later pronounced dead at the scene.”

I see people walking with rifles pretty frequently in my neighborhood.  I did not think it was illegal to walk with a rifle.  Imagine the pain of the family, and they will have no recourse, and no one will be held accountable.

Just like here in Erie, where a woman died following her arrest back in July 2011.  Her family has sued, saying she had a heart attack after being tasered.  Cops say no taser was used.  Who knows, but it is certain that they arrested her, then she died.  She was 29, with young kids.

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Saudi Arabia

I’m glad to see that we may not keep such close ties with Saudi Arabia.  There is a lot bad about that partnership, from the Saudis’ treatment of women, to the whole “war on terror” thing (which ironically originated there anyway).  You know with it being all about money, that a lot bad is bound to happen.

Zero Hedge posted this article about how mad they are that we have not yet attacked Syria, and are now negotiating with Iran.

A quote they lifted from WSJ:  “The monarchy was particularly angered by Mr. Obama’s decision to scrap plans to bomb Syria in response to the alleged chemical-weapons attack in August and, more recently, tentative overtures between Mr. Obama and Iran’s new president.”

I wonder how much of this is due to our decreasing reliance on them for oil?  Good news.

 

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Debt ceiling removal, or the USA’s unlimited SNAP card

It has not been well publicized that the recent political BS deal, kicking the can until February, did not, as usual, raise the debt limit.  They REMOVED it.  The treasury can issue as much debt as it wants between now and February 7.

Remember when that happened a few days ago in the south, with food stamp (SNAP) cards?

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Benefits of LSD

I did not know that LSD is an effective treatment for alcoholism.  Wow!

And more than that, it’s also not harmful:

Coucou – Alexandre Duret-Lutz

LSD is good for you, say Norway researchers

Published: 22 Aug 2013 10:01 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Aug 2013 10:01 GMT+02:00

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Tales of debilitating acid flash-backs and permanently frazzled synapses are exaggerated, according to a new scientific report which concludes LSD use may even be beneficial.

“There were no significant associations between lifetime use of any psychedelics, or use of LSD in the past year, and increased rate of any of the mental health outcomes,” Pål-Ørjan Johansen and Teri Krebs from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim concluded in their study published in the PLOS One journal on Tuesday.
“Rather, in several cases psychedelic use was associated with a lower rate of mental health problems.”
For the study, the researchers analyzed data on the more than 130,000 Americans who took drug use surveys between 2001 and 2004, of which 22,000 had used a psychedelic drug at least once.

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Facebook Rant

Ok, I admit it, I don’t want to post this on FB because I don’t want to piss off all my friends.  There is really no point in posting it there anyway.  It won’t make anyone any more thoughtful, and probably no one would read it all anyway.  No one will read it here either, but at least it’s out of my head.

#1 – I did not turn out to be an awesome person due to regular beatings throughout childhood.  In fact, my parents NEVER beat me and I think I turned out just fine.  Not perfect.  There is no way that I will ever agree with anyone that thinks the answer to society’s problems is more beating of children.  We have so many options of ways to punish kids now, what kind of unimaginative parent needs corporal punishment?  Take away the iPhone or the XBox.  Hitting your kids just means you are lazy.  You don’t want to do anything that takes more than a minute of your effort.

#2 – No one wants to give cash to drug addicts.  However, taking welfare or food stamps away from anyone who can’t always give a clean sample is A-overkill and B-stupid.  Imagine the kids of people who can’t plan ahead enough to pass a piss test.  They need every extra bit of help they can get.  Yes, it will probably be used in less than wonderful ways.  But I would like to think at least some of the benefits get through to the kids, and they need all the help they can get.

#3 – God is not going to grant me favors, or conversely, punish me, based on likes or shares.  Duh.  But I do like any God-reminder posts.

#4 – No one is stopping kids from praying in school.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was in a school and NOT praying.  That doesn’t mean we need to force it on anyone, which is what you are doing if the teachers or administrators are leading prayers.  America was settled by Europeans who couldn’t stomach the religion forced on them.  Why would we do that now?  Ignorant.

#5 – People just do not think when it comes to immigrants.  I see a lot of complaints that US citizens who cannot afford but will be forced to purchase health insurance will then also be forced to pay for health care for illegal immigrants who don’t have to buy the insurance.  Ummm, OK, then lets register everyone at the border, make them ALL LEGAL, and make them all buy it!  Think of all the young healthy people that would add to the system!  Not to mention contributing to social security, medicare, etc!  Wouldn’t that be great!  OH, you want to CLOSE the borders.  Well good luck with that.  And by the way, how long has your family been here in the US?  And seriously, what kind of people do we need more of here?  I think it would be awesome to have more ambitious, hardworking, risk taking kind of people, like immigrants.  I have never met an immigrant who came here to live off the system.  However, I have certainly met many native born citizens who make great efforts to do so.

#6 – Please stop worshiping the military.  It seems to me the whole concept that as soon as you put on a uniform, you are automatically a hero, is really just wrong.  A hero is what you have done, not what organization you belong to.

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On vaccines

So today we have this from Aaron Carroll:  Delaying vaccinations is stupid.

You know, it’s hard to get past that kind of a headline, and I’m not a vaccine denier.  However, it is important to keep in mind the motivations of the parties involved, and their past behaviors and track records.  So, it is in the financial interest of doctors to sell us vaccines, and obviously also same thing for the pharmaceutical companies.  That does not make them bad, or harmful, by definition.  Possibly unnecessary and wasteful (Are you willing to take the chance that your child catches chickenpox, and maybe gets shingles later?  How about the flu?).  Something to consider.

Regarding the immunization schedule, Mr. Carroll says “the current schedule is optimized to achieve a good immune response, achieve protection before a child might be exposed, and prevent adverse events. We didn’t pull it out of a hat.”   Really?  I would like to see the history of that.  Because my admittedly lax research turned up this history of the schedule as being developed by the government.  The same people who are giving us the awesome ACA exchanges.

Here is some interesting and useful information from the post, regarding ongoing improvements to immunizations.  Wonderful to know:  “Another point, often overlooked, is that it is not the number of vaccines, or even shots, that matters.  It’s the number of antigens in those vaccines.  Advances in technology have allowed for fewer and fewer antigens to be required to achieve a good response.  So while a single smallpox vaccine hack in the day had over 200 different proteins in it, and the 7 vaccines in the 1980’s contained more than 2000, the 11 vaccines in the currently recommended schedule have only about 125 in all.”

However, it is also important to keep in mind the real life experience of moms everywhere.  Anybody else out there have a kid get a fever as an obvious vaccine reaction?  Hot, red site?  Yeah, me too.  So if I decide, hey, I’m not planning on taking my kids to Somalia or Pakistan any time soon, lets delay the polio vaccine, I’m not sure who is at risk here.  When I read something like “Dr. Paul Offit and colleagues estimated that infants likely have the capacity to respond to about 10,000 vaccines at any one time.  No vaccine could “use up” the immune system.  In fact, estimates showed that if a child received 11 vaccines at one time, that might occupy about 0.1% of the immune system.  You’d never notice that,” it doesn’t pass the smell test.  Because YES WE DID NOTICE IT.  That’s not a reason to delay or avoid the shots, but it does reduce the credibility of the science, or at least the conclusions that are being drawn.

My takeaway as a mom?  Don’t miss MMR or DPT schedule, because those diseases are out there and can really harm your baby, and others.  But everything else?  I’m not convinced that the schedule is necessarily the best plan for everyone.

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Persistence

From Whitney Johnson:

“A look at some of the research has convinced me that maybe Woody Allen was right, and 80% of success really is just showing up. According to Keith Simonton, professor of psychology at UC Davis, the odds of a scientist writing a groundbreaking paper (defined as the number of citations in other works) is directly correlated to the number of papers that the scientist has written — not to how smart the scientist is.

Rob Wiltbank, professor of strategic management at Willamette University, tracked the returns of the Angel Oregon Fund and found no material difference in the returns of the winners and the finalists in various pitch competitions over a 10-year period.

We all dream about winning, but it’s the showing up that counts.

Even though we can’t necessarily control the outcome.  Sarah Ban Breathnach said, “When you use expectations to measure a dream’s success, you tie stones around your soul.  Dreams may call for a leap of faith, but they set the soul soaring.” There are no regrets when we invest ourselves fully and show up to ourselves. Happily, we get lots of chances.”

I know this has been true for me, and is the secret of pretty much every success I’ve had.  I simply refuse to give up.  This obstinance can be a negative, but hardly ever.  Once in my life that I’m aware of.  And even when tenaciousness turns into hardheadedness or just plain denial, there is still much to be gained along the way, which is where letting go of the outcome comes in handy.

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