More lawlessness from police

Wall St. Protesters Lying on Sidewalk Are Arrested
[Via NYTimes.com]

The police arrested a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters who were lying on a sidewalk at the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street on Friday afternoon after one demonstrator announced that the law allowed them to do so as a form of political protest.

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Federal Courts have said that First Amendment rights can apply to people who sit/sleep on sidewalks as long as they do not occupy ore than half the sidewalk.

The NYPD simply ignored this and arrested people. Then they started arresting people who shouted. Then they declared this a sensitive area and arrested people – people they themselves had said could stay.

They then barricaded the protestors into an area and cited anyone who did not move fast enough past that area.

Interestingly, they are doing this at Federal Hall – where the Bill of rights was created. This area is run by the Federal Park Service and they are allowing the protestors to stay.

At least some of them.

Another instance of where the locals break the law and the Feds follow the law.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Life expectancy going backwards for many women in america

Girls born in 2009 will live shorter lives than their mothers in hundreds of US counties
[Via Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation]

Nationwide, women’s lifespans are improving at a much slower pace than men, and in hundreds of counties women are living shorter lives today than they did two decades ago, according to new county-by-county estimates of life expectancy released today by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The new data also show that life expectancy for black Americans – both men and women – is improving at a faster rate than for white Americans, especially in large urban areas in New York and California.

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In over 600 counties in the US since 1999, the life expectancy dropped or stayed the same. For males, there were only 166 counties.

And, interestingly, the gap between the longest – now 81.6 years – and the shortest – now 66.1 – life expectancies for men has hardly moved since 1989. But for women, this gap has increased from 8.7 years in 1989 to 11.7 in 2009.

And as can be seen by this visualization, life expectancies are much lower in the South.

Now have some real fun at this interactive page.

Here is an example, looking at both male and female life expectancy:

Screen Shot 2012 04 20 at 4 37 56 PM

As you can see, similar sized cities – Los Alamos, NM and McDowell, WV – had very different trajectories on life expectancies from 1989 to 2009. The boxes point to the data from 1989. Los Alamos had an ever increasing line for both men and women.

Not so for McDowell. it saw a slight increase in lifespan for men but a decrease for women.

Some large cities were not doing well in 1989 – the Bronx was worse for both sexes in 1989. Yet by 2009, it was doing almost as well as  the other cities.

Here is the data for women by counties.

Screen Shot 2012 04 20 at 4 44 54 PM


And for men:

Screen Shot 2012 04 20 at 4 46 35 PM


The takeaway from this is not to live in the South. Although looking at this, it seems that living close to the Mississippi is most detrimental.

Capturing asteroids to change the world

Asteroid takeout—a one-billionaire mission to bring a 500-ton asteroid to Earth by 2025
[Via Ars Technica]

Visiting (and eventually mining) asteroids is viewed by space development advocates as an imperative stepping stone to making our way out into the solar system. One group of President Obama’s advisors, the Augustine Commission, counseled that a manned asteroid mission might bring the highest payoff per dollar spent in terms of science and essential skills for space exploration. A study was also commissioned to check the feasibility of bringing a small asteroid—on the order of 10,000kg—back to the International Space Station. It reported no showstoppers.

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The title is misleading in one fact – the asteroid will not be brought to earth orbit. It will be brought to lunar orbit where it can be mined.

The report is quite fun to read. Using a single Atlas 5 level launch vehicle or a couple of Delta IVs, the entire launch system could be put into Earth orbit. It would use a solar-electric propulsion system to move out past the moon’s orbit to the asteroid, examine and capture it, and then move the whole package into lunar orbit.

It would take about 10 years to complete the whole trip. At a cost of $2.6 billion.

The asteroid – which is mostly iron, nickel, water and a few other precious metals – can then be mined for material. Material that can be used to create more asteroid catchers.

To lift 500 tons of material into the same orbit would cost about $20 billion. This would produce the same material for $2.6 billion. About an 8-fold reduction in trying to move things to the moon from Earth.

Further work could result in a 20-fold reduction.

And that’s not all.

Because once mining is set up around the moon, all sorts of possibilities come into existence. It becomes cheaper to produce material for space from here rather than the Earth.

NASA is already looking at putting a manned outpost on the far side of the moon. The moon has some worthwhile things to mine, such as nuclear fuels like Helium-3, as well as rare earth metals . What it does not have is a lot of iron and nickel for building things.

Combine both – mining on the moon for fuel and high tech materials, and asteroid mining for building materials/water – and we might have almost everything to expand to Mars and outward.

Using a nuclear reactor, ion engines could get us from the moon to Mars in perhaps 39 days, instead of the year or so by normal means from Earth. In fact, these engines could get us beyond Mars, perhaps taking only 3 years to get to Jupiter.

And since the nuclear power is produced from the moon, there is little worry of an accident releasing radioactivity into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Having a manned mining presence near the moon would serve as a tremendously cheap way to get to Mars, instead of trying to do it all from Earth. We have the technology today to do this.

The cost to get started is minimal. Do we have the will?

No tweeting from the Olympics?

ultimate discby Liquidgenius

Olympics 2012: branding ‘police’ to protect sponsors’ exclusive rights | Sport |
[Via The Guardian]

Victoria Pendleton will not be able to tweet about tucking into her Weetabix on the morning of race day, or post a video message to fans from her room in the athletes’ village.

Pub landlords will be banned from posting signs reading: “Come and watch the London Games from our big screen!”

Fans in the crowd won’t be allowed to upload snippets of the day’s action to YouTube – or even, potentially, to post their snaps from inside the Olympic Village on Facebook. And a crack team of branding “police”, the Games organisers Locog have acknowledged, will be checking every bathroom in every Olympic venue – with the power to remove or tape over manufacturers’ logos even on soap dispensers, wash basins and toilets.

[More]

I wrote about this the other day but I missed the part about Twitter and Facebook.

The Olympics were originally revived to support the amateur approach to sports competition, as well as provide peaceful means for countries to compete.

What a change in 100 years or so. All the athletes are professional and everything is paid for by corporations.

So, now if you post a picture you took, the corporate police can come by and have you make them down.

I think I’m going to try and find some sport that has not been corrupted by big bucks, one that fans can just enjoy.

Perhaps Ultimate?

Laughing at funny slips by news people

TV news blooper reel
[Via Boing Boing]

[Video Link] This cavalcade of Freudian slips made me chuckle. (Via biota)

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Slips never die thanks to the Internet.

Now a drone can be in the air for 2 days

Upgrade for Reaper ‘hunter-killer’ drones could increase flight time to almost two days
[Via The Verge - All Posts]

via upload.wikimedia.org

General Atomics, which builds the Reaper “hunter-killer” drones used in Iraq and on the US border, has proposed an upgrade that would increase the MQ-9 Reaper’s flying time from 27 hours to 42. Two different versions of the upgrade — both of which retrofit existing aircraft — are available: one adds an extra pair of fuel pods, and the other also replaces the current 66-foot wings with 88-foot ones. Both changes require heavy-weight landing gear to handle the extra weight of the wings or pods, making the redesigned Reaper weigh about six tons.

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This upgrade would seem to be more important for surveillance methods than attack.

Two days is some capacity. They appear to cost $160 million each, including ground control. It would have a range of about 7200 miles.

Quite a lot of watching in that time.

Now I know why a rubber chicken was lofted to the outer reaches of the atmosphere

High school students launch NASA’s rubber chicken into solar radiation storm
[Via The Verge - All Posts]

Camilla the NASA chicken

When Bishop, California-based high school group Earth to Sky wanted to learn more about solar radiation, it knew there was only one possible option — to send a rubber chicken named Camilla into the upper reaches of the atmosphere. The group teamed up with a class of 5th graders during last month’s massive solar storm, and used a helium balloon to launch Camilla and a lunchbox filled with cameras, a cryogenic thermometer, GPS trackers, seven insects, and 24 sunflower seeds 119,000 feet into the air. The chicken was outfitted with radiation badges to measure the storm, and at its highest the balloon managed to reach the top 99 percent of the planet’s atmosphere.

Of course, Camilla isn’t any regular chicken — she’s the mascot for NASA’s…

[More]

Such access to space has now become doable by young kids. Technology allows them to do some fun experiments for little cost.

When I was in school, we got to make fake volcanoes or learn how to light a bunsen burner. Now they can launch stuff into space.

Isn’t this old stuff about Apple and its cash hoarde?

moneyby Images_of_Money

Apple’s secret plan for its mountain of cash: Buying up its own supply chain
[Via MacDailyNews]

“Apple has $100 billion of cash and a lot of ways to spend it. Add more retail stores? Check. Set up more server farms to support its iCloud service? Check. Build a second campus in Cupertino, Calif. to house its burgeoning staff? Check. Acquire companies and expand R&D? Check. Pay dividends and do stock repurchases? Check, check,” Connie Guglielmo reports for Forbes.

“How about buying up its own supply chain?” Guglielmo asks. “A lot of high-tech manufacturers on The Global 2000 dream about controlling what they pay for components and gaining the assurance that crucial parts will flow as needed. Apple is one of very few firms with the financial wherewithal to make that come true, specifically by buying production equipment to outfit new and existing factories in Asia that other people will run.”

[More]

Businessweek talked about this kind of stuff last year – Apple bought up all the necessary lasers to allow the green light on laptops to be seen. It has its own term to describe – monopsony.

Here is another example:

To manufacture the iPad 2, Apple bought so many high-end drills to make the device’s internal casing that other companies’ wait time for the machines stretched from six weeks to six months, according to a manager at the drillmaker.

Earlier last year, Fortune magazine mentioned this.

When new component technologies (touchscreens, chips, LED displays) first come out, they are very expensive to produce, and building a factory that can produce them in mass quantities is even more expensive. Oftentimes, the upfront capital expenditure can be so huge and the margins are small enough (and shrink over time as the component is rapidly commoditized) that the companies who would build these factories cannot raise sufficient investment capital to cover the costs.What Apple does is use its cash hoard to pay for the construction cost (or a significant fraction of it) of the factory in exchange for exclusive rights to the output production of the factory for a set period of time (maybe 6 – 36 months), and then for a discounted rate afterwards.

I discussed this. Tim Cook discussed this a year ago:

One thing he talked about was the $3.9 billion dollars worth of agreements Apple signed over the summer and fall with three unnamed companies in its supply chain. The money came in the form of prepayments and capital expenditures for process equipment and tooling — for building factories, in other words — for components he declined to specify but which most observers suspect are touchscreens like those used in the iPad.

So buying up the supply chanin is something it has been doing and discussing for at least a year if not longer yet Forbes just now discovered this.

Am I missing something or is Fortune kicking Forbes’ butt on this topic?


Apple makes a big company mistake – spending tens of thousands on a case that could have been settled for a few thousand while hurintg its brand

Seattle Rex vs. Apple: The Verdict Is In
[Via Seattle Rex]

A few years ago, Apple sold me a $4,000 computer with a defective graphics chip/logic board. The defective part was the Nvidia 8600M GT GPU, and when it was discovered that the machine was defective, Apple refused to take it back and issue me a refund. Instead, they promised to replace the 8600M GT boards when they failed, up to 4 years from the date of purchase. Three years later, the board failed, and predictably, Apple refused to replace it. Instead, they used the fact that the machine wouldn’t boot (due to the failed logic board) to deny the repair. Not only that, but in addition, they tried to charge me a hefty sum of money to have it replaced, knowing full well that Nvidia pays for the full repair cost.

[More]

Interesting case. A defective graphics card causes a Mac laptop to completely fail. Instead of replacing the graphics card, Apple lets it go to court. Then supplies TWO lawyers along with legal help via cell phone and text.

The plaintiff actually tries arbitration but Apple doe snot accept any of his offers.

Then the two lawyers look like idiots in court and seem surprised that the plaintiff actually knows what he is talking about.  They try to argue by press release and the plaintiff shuts them down.

Then there is this:

At one point, the judge asked Apple how much it would have cost them to have simply replaced my logic board when I had taken it in, and one of the Apple guys said “Oh, it wouldn’t have cost us anything, Nvidia foots the bill for each board we replace.”

The judge’s face almost hit the floor as he shot me a quizzical look, to which I just shrugged. I knew that he, and everyone else in the courtroom was thinking the same thing:

If Apple could have replaced my logic board at no cost to themselves, then why in the hell did they drag this out for so long, and why did they send two people to court to try and make sure that I got absolutely nothing? Friends, this is a question I have been asking myself for three months, and it is a question that I do not have the answer to.

The costs to Apple to prevent fixing the computer seem so way out of proportion to the cost of the fix – a fix that would have cost them little or nothing.

Is it simply a case of a large company following some procedure without any real insight into balancing the costs? Is there something even deeper going on here?

All I can think of is that they had a problem that should have resulted in the recall of all such laptops but did not want to pay the expense as it was Nvidia’s fault.

Their number crunchers said it would be cheaper to lose a few penny ante cases like this than to pay for a full recall.

It certainly seems strange, especially given Apple’s reputation for high-powered lawyers.

And losing cases like this does not do Apple’s brand any good at all.


Things change. People don’t.

Things Don’t Seem Wonderful If You’ve Seen Them All Your Life (1912)
[Via Boing Boing]

201204200751

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Things Don’t Seem Wonderful If You’ve Seen Them All Your Life” is a cartoon from 1912 by John T. McCutcheon. (Via Laughing Squid)

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You could update this 100-year old cartoon and iy would be little different.

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