Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category
When police arrived at the Weel Road Deli in Clallam Bay, Wash., to arrest a suspected shoplifter, they found the man duct-taped up into a neat little package outside the store.
After store clerk Cipriano Ojeda allegedly saw Alexander Greene, 28, walking out of the store with six beers and three bottles of malt liquor stuffed in his backpack, he confronted him.
The suspect wounded Ojeda, 46, in the forehead with a knife, but the clerk was able to restrain him and pin him to the ground.
When officers from the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, they found Greene outside on the sidewalk with all four of his limbs bound with duct tape.
“We actually had help from another business’s employee down the sidewalk that helped duct-tape the suspect,” deli owner Marcia Hess told the Peninsula Daily News. “It was a team effort, [though] Cipriano definitely had him pinned down.”
Greene was arrested and is being investigated on charges of first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and third-degree theft.
Should be another exhibit in the Duct Tape Hall of Fame.
The hijacking of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 airliner on 17 February has seen the Swiss Air Force subject to widespread ridicule as it was unable to respond due to the incident occurring ‘outside of office hours’, international media has reported.
With Swiss Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and Northrop F-5 Tiger II fighters being unavailable due to the timing of the incident at 4am on Monday morning, Italian Eurofighter Typhoon and French Mirage 2000 jets, which had earlier intercepted the airliner as it passed through their respective airspaces were forced to remain on station as the Ethopian Airlines co-pilot diverted his aircraft to Geneva Airport.
“Switzerland [could not] intervene because its air bases are closed at night and on the weekend … It’s a question of budget and staffing,” Swiss Air Force spokesperson Laurent Savary was quoted as telling the AFP…
…The hijacking brings into focus the lack of resources available to the country’s air force at a time when it is looking to procure 22 new Gripen E fighters from Saab.
A national referendum into that procurement is due to go ahead on 18 May, and the air force’s embarrassment at its seeming inability to carry out its core mission to safeguard the national airspace could hardly have come at a worse time. With the government looking to convince the Swiss people of the need to spend US$3.5 billion on new fighter aircraft, many in Switzerland and beyond will be questioning whether that money might be better spent in properly funding the assets it already has.
Or they could spend the money developing a few more resorts to provide income and employment for the few not already making a living off 19th Century idiots who attach more importance to war and belligerence than peacefully going their own way.
Look at the circular reasoning in this event: The co-pilot wanted asylum. He waited till the pilot was off taking a pee and locked him out. Because the whole world has to change procedures because of 9-11 in the US, the air marshall on board [remember 9-11] and the pilot couldn’t break in through the new specially reinforced cockpit door [remember 9-11]. Why were fighter jets from France and Italy scrambled to follow the hijacked plane in to the Swiss border – remember 9-11 and be ready to shoot down the airliner if it looks ready to crash into something.
Multiply that by the thousands of commercial aircraft in the air at any minute around the world.
The Swiss don’t belong to NATO, don’t belong to the military forces of the EU and haven’t invaded another European country since Hector was a pup…BTW. They’re not worried about being invaded except during normal working hours.
Credit card company Capital One’s new terms of service allow the company to contact cardholders in any way possible, including a visit to the person’s residence.
According to their new agreement, Capital One can “contact you in any manner we choose.” This includes calls, texts, mail, emails, and even a personal visit at work or home if the cardholder is behind on payments.
The new terms received a lot of response on social media causing the credit card giant to issue a press release on its website, “Capital One does not visit our cardholders, nor do we send debt collectors to their homes or work,” says the statement.
And, uh, then, they offer the first exception of what may be more to come. In the case of secured collateral, jet skis, bass boat, motorcycle, whatever – “we may go to a customer’s home after appropriate notification if it becomes necessary to repossess the sports vehicle.”
The Chevron Corp. donation of free pizzas to Greene County, Pa., residents affected by a gas well explosion last week is not going over well, residents say.
Chevron is dispensing 100 gift certificates for pizza and soft drinks to those in the area of the southwestern Pennsylvania county where a gas well exploded Feb. 11. The incident killed a worker, injured another and sparked a fire that burned for four days…
Chevron’s attempted outreach was the topic of a Twitter user, who wrote Tuesday, “Worst apology ever. Sorry our fracking well exploded, here’s a free pizza.”
Another unidentified resident said he found the gift certificate when he returned home Sunday, and noted it was the first and last time Chevron contacted him about the incident…
BTW, Chevron says…the situation at the well “remains serious, and teams are working around the clock to safely approach and shut the well.”
Golly gee. They’re sticking around for a spell to clean up their mess. How thoughtful.
Latest look from the Hunter Autumn/Winter 2014 collection presented during London Fashion Week.
Hard economic times had kept Amy Derose and her husband Lawrence locked in an unhappy marriage for the sake of their engineering firm in Pompano Beach, Florida.
“The business was hanging on by a thread and we had to hang on,” said Derose, 53, who had been married 35 years and worked as the business manager. “We couldn’t afford to split. He needed me in the business and I needed him.”
With Florida’s economy and housing market recovering, “we are definitely on the upswing” and revenue is rising at their 24-employee company. That is allowing the couple to move forward with their divorce this month after years of showing up to work as if nothing were wrong personally. Now, she is looking for a job and “couldn’t be happier.”
The number of Americans getting divorced rose for the third year in a row to about 2.4 million in 2012, after plunging in the 18-month recession ended June 2009, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Whatever the social and emotional impact, the broad economic effects of the increase are clear: It is contributing to the formation of new households, boosting demand for housing, appliances and furnishings and spurring the economy. Divorces are also prompting more women to enter the labor force.
“As the economy normalizes, so too do family dynamics,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “Birth rates and divorce rates are rising. We may even see them rise strongly in the next couple of years, as households who put off these life-changing events decide to act…”
The rise in divorces has coincided with an increase in household formation. Almost 5.3 million households have been formed in the past four years after the figure slumped to fewer than 400,000 in 2009, according to the Census Bureau. That is bolstering the need for apartments, condos and furnishings…
That has contributed to the rebound in home construction. Housing starts surged 67 percent to 923,400 in 2013 from 2009, according to Commerce Department data. Multifamily housing starts have almost tripled since the recession and accounted for 33 percent of residential construction in 2013, up from 20 percent in 2009…
There are beaucoup benefits – and problems – resulting from the change. As Abdur Chowdury notes in the article, “In many cases after divorce, people sell their homes and divide up the proceeds which provides each of them with a nest egg to begin their separate lives.”
The unemployed percentage for women is lower than men; but, they often end up limited to crap jobs, more often in need of welfare and food stamps – which is OK with Congress-creeps. Still, as the economy trudges on towards reasonable from disastrous, collective decisions once put on hold are freed up.
Visitors to the ancient city of Teotihuacan—with its pyramidal structures arranged in careful geometric patterns, its temples, and its massive central thoroughfare, dubbed Street of the Dead — in Mexico may have the sensation they’re gazing at the remains of a society profoundly different from their own.
But new research from anthropologists armed with a bevy of recently derived mathematical equations shows that in some fundamental ways, today’s cities and yesterday’s settlements may be more alike than different.
In a new study led by a University of Colorado Boulder researcher and published in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists show that the same equations used to describe patterns of development in modern urban areas appear to work equally well to describe cities settled thousands of years ago.
“This study suggests that there is a level at which every human society is actually very similar,” said lead author Scott Ortman, assistant professor of anthropology at CU-Boulder. “This awareness helps break down the barriers between the past and present and allows us to view contemporary cities as lying on a continuum of all human settlements in time and place.”
Over the last several years, Ortman’s colleagues at the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), including Professor Luis Bettencourt, a co-author of the study, have developed mathematical models that describe how modern cities change as their populations grow. For example, scientists know that as a population increases, its settlement area becomes denser, while infrastructure needs per capita decrease and economic production per capita rises.
Ortman noticed that the variables used in these equations, such as cost of moving around, the size of the settled area, the population, and the benefits of people interacting, did not depend on any particular modern technology…
To test his idea, Ortman used data that had been collected in the 1960s about 1,500 settlements in central Mexico that spanned from 1,150 years B.C. through the Aztec period, which ended about 500 years ago…
“We started analyzing the data in the ways we were thinking about with modern cities, and it showed that the models worked,” Ortman said…
In the future, the equations may also guide archaeologists in getting an idea of what they’re likely to find within a given settlement based on its size, such as the miles of roads and pathways. The equations could also guide expectations about the number of different activities that took place in a settlement and the division of labor.
I have serious questions; but, no interest in pursuing the answers – right now. They come back to that division of labor and the basis of the economy. Are there no qualitative differences between a slave-based economy, a feudal economy, either the pre-industrial or industrial version of capitalism?
How many slaves were necessary to provide Aztec aristocracy with a satisfactory lifestyle? How many serfs tilling the soil of agrarian feudalism – and how were they housed, where were they housed? Will the current generation of plutocrats maintain their disdain for 21st Century workers and diminishing opportunities, a diminishing middle class?
Even the contrast between European and American concepts of where to enjoy luxurious living – with appropriate servants and service doesn’t seem to be mentioned. Yet, here in the United States once you’re away from the unique environs of Wall Street, the suburbs are the accepted direction of growth for most of the upper class. In Europe, that’s considered exile.
Maybe my questions are as much a reaction to reporting as analysis. There are few intellectual bodies I respect more than SFI.
Pluripotent stem cells injected into a mouse embryo
A leading Japanese research institute has opened an investigation into a groundbreaking stem cell study after concerns were raised about its credibility.
The RIKEN centre in Kobe announced on Friday that it is looking into alleged irregularities in the work of biologist Haruko Obokata, who works at the institution. She shot to fame last month as the lead author on two papers1, 2 published in Nature that demonstrated a simple way to reprogram mature mice cells into an embryonic state by simply applying stress, such as exposure to acid or physical pressure on cell membranes. The RIKEN investigation follows allegations on blog sites about the use of duplicated images in Obokata’s papers, and numerous failed attempts to replicate her results…
That scepticism deepened last week when blogs such as PubPeer started noting what seem to be problems in the two Nature papers and in an earlier paper from 2011, which relates to the potential of stem cells in adult tissues…The corresponding author of that study, Charles Vacanti, an anaesthesiologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, told Nature that he learned only last week of a “mix up of some panels”. He has already contacted the journal to request a correction. “It certainly appears to have been an honest mistake [that] did not affect any of the data, the conclusions or any other component of the paper,” says Vacanti.
The problems in the two recent Nature papers, on both of which Obokata is a corresponding author (Vacanti is a co-author on both, and corresponding author on one), also relate to images…
Teruhiko Wakayama, a cloning specialist at Yamanashi University in Yamanashi prefecture, is a co-author on both of the papers and took most of the placental images. He admits that the two look similar but says it may be a case of simple confusion. Wakayama, who left RIKEN during the preparation of the manuscript, says he sent more than a hundred images to Obokata and suggests that there was confusion over which to use. He says he is now looking into the problem…
Some researchers do not see a problem yet. Qi Zhou, a cloning expert at the Institute of Zoology in Beijing, who says most of his mouse cells died after treatment with acid, says that “setting up the system is tricky”. “As an easy experiment in an experienced lab can be extremely difficult to others, I won’t comment on the authenticity of the work only based on the reproducibility of the technique in my lab,” says Zhou…
Wakayama says that his independent success in reproducing Obokata’s results is enough to convince him that the technique works. He also notes that the cells produced by Obokata are the only ones known — aside from those in newly fertilized embryos — to be able to produce, for example, placenta, so could not have been substituted cells. “I did it and found it myself,” he says. “I know the results are absolutely true.”
One of the delights of peer review can be failure to corroborate or replicate results. Doesn’t mean the original work is incorrect. It means the system is working.
And more work to corroborate is required.
Close-up of Prime Minister during the press conference
He’s been to a doctor and a vet just to make sure, but Prime Minister John Key is adamant he’s not a shapeshifting reptilian alien.
Mr Key was unusually forced to deny any previously non-declared extraterrestrial connections to reporters after an Auckland man put in an Official Information Act request asking for proof he might be one.
“To the best of my knowledge, no. Having been asked that question directly, I’ve taken the unusual step of not only seeing a doctor but a vet, and both have confirmed I’m not a reptile,” a smiling Mr Key said today.
“So I’m certainly not a reptile. I’ve never been in a spaceship, never been in outer space, and my tongue’s not overly long either.”
Last month, Auckland man Shane Warbrooke put in an OIA request to the prime minister’s office, asking for “any evidence to disprove the theory that Mr John Key is in fact a David Icke style shapeshifting reptilian alien ushering humanity towards enslavement”.
David Icke is a British author who believes many world leaders are actually part of a plot to enslave the human race, driven by reptilian shapeshifting aliens…
When asked how he would describe himself, Mr Key said he was “just an ordinary Kiwi bloke”.
Unlike one of our most infamous Republican presidents who said, “I am not a crook” – and turned out to be one – I think we can take the prime minister of New Zealand at his word on this one.