Eideard

Photos from Japan’s Festival of the Steel Phallus

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Lots more photos.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

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Written by Ed Campbell

April 13, 2014 at 8:00 pm

America’s ten least healthy cities

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smoking, obesity, no exercise

There’s no doubt that great strides have been made in Americans’ health over the years. Americans smoke less, are more likely to be insured and live longer. However, significant health disparities remain across the nation, influenced by individual choices, the community and clinical care.

To determine the well-being of Americans, Gallup-Healthways surveyed hundreds of thousands of Americans in 189 metropolitan areas in the United States in 2012 and 2013. The survey recorded the physical and emotional health of the residents, as well as measuring job satisfaction and access to basic needs. The resulting Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index allows for comparisons between places and over time.

Not surprisingly, the physical health of residents was influenced by their habits. While less than 20% of Americans surveyed were smokers, more than 34% of Charleston, W.Va., residents smoked, the most in the nation. Residents also reported among the highest rates of obesity in the country…

According to Dan Witters, research director for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, there is a clear relationship between poor physical health outcomes, such as obesity, and many of these habits. “When you’re talking about obesity, the big three are healthy eating, exercise, and smoking…”

AMERICA’S LEAST HEALTHY CITIES:

10. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.

9. Spartanburg, S.C.

8. Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.

7. Clarksville, Tenn.-Ky.

6. Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla.

5. Redding, Calif.

4. Columbus, Ga.-Ala.

3. Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, Tenn.-Va.

2. Charleston, W.Va.

1. Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio

RTFA for the depressing details. Each metro area is rated for a physical health index, obesity, blood pressure and poverty rate. Following notes describe contributing factors – without having the courage to confront politics and ideology.

Fact is – nine of these ten unhealthiest cities are in the old [and new] Confederacy. You’re looking at the actual achievements of Tea Party and right-wing Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats and True Believers in fundamentalist religion. This is the reality they offer to Americans gullible enough, ignorant enough to vote them into power.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Where to watch – Years Of Living Dangerously

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Dangerous environment

Director and producer of films like Terminator, Titanic and Avatar, James Cameron has made a 9-part documentary on the environmental challenge climate change presents. The Years of Living Dangerously debuts Sunday night, April 13th, on Showtime. If you don’t subscribe to Showtime the debut will be available on YouTube.

Click on the graphic above to check out your choices.

Thanks, Mike

Written by Ed Campbell

April 13, 2014 at 8:00 am

ATM strikes back

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Hot foam may soon send criminals running if they damage ATM. ETH researchers have developed a special film that triggers an intense reaction when destroyed. The idea originates from a beetle that uses a gas explosion to fend off attackers.

Its head and pronotum are usually rusty red, and its abdomen blue or shiny green: the bombardier beetle is approximately one centimetre long and common to Central Europe. At first glance, it appears harmless, but it possesses what is surely the most aggressive chemical defence system in nature. When threatened, the bombardier beetle releases a caustic spray, accompanied by a popping sound. This spray can kill ants or scare off frogs. The beetle produces the explosive agent itself when needed. Two separately stored chemicals are mixed in a reaction chamber in the beetle’s abdomen. An explosion is triggered with the help of catalytic enzymes…

The researchers use plastic films with a honeycomb structure for their self-defending surface. The hollow spaces are filled with one of two chemicals: hydrogen peroxide or manganese dioxide. The two separate films are then stuck on top of each another. A layer of clear lacquer separates the two films filled with the different chemicals. When subjected to an impact, the interlayer is destroyed, causing the hydrogen peroxide and manganese dioxide to mix. This triggers a violent reaction that produces water vapour, oxygen and heat. Whereas enzymes act as catalysts in the bombardier beetle, manganese dioxide has proven to be a less expensive alternative for performing this function in the lab…

While protective devices that can spray robbers and banknotes already exist, these are mechanical systems, explains Stark. “A small motor is set in motion when triggered by a signal from a sensor. This requires electricity, is prone to malfunctions and is expensive.” The objective of his research group is to replace complicated control systems with cleverly designed materials.

Clever, yes? Effective, very likely? Likely to be instituted in the United States? Doubtful – we have enough lawyers and politicians dedicated to making the work environment as safe for criminals as we do for protecting victims.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 13, 2014 at 2:00 am

Pic of the Day

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Click to enlargeREUTERS/Yves Herman

Aerial view of flower fields near the Keukenhof park, also known as the Garden of Europe, in Lisse, Netherlands, April 9, 2014. Keukenhof, employing some 30 gardeners, is considered to be the world’s largest flower garden displaying millions of flowers every year.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 12, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Dumb crook of the Day

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A New Hampshire man was arrested on burglary charges after police were able to track him down for stealing a laptop when he called technical support for help with the device.

The computer’s rightful owner, Mike Witonis, received an email from Apple thanking him for calling customer service about the laptop even though he hadn’t had it for a year.

Casey Wentworth, 24, was arrested at his home after police were able to use the computer’s serial number, which he had provided during the tech support call, to locate him.

“It then took us a while to track down the individual who made the phone call, but we were able to put that together and ultimately come up with enough evidence to charge him with the original burglary and recover the computer,” Lt. Brant Dolleman told WMUR…

“It was sort of shocking,” Witonis said. “I guess luck was on our side that the guy who took it didn’t try to get rid of it, which was sort of strange. Then, all of a sudden, he decides in his infinite wisdom, ‘Well, I’ll just call Apple and see if they can help me unlock this thing.’”

Coppers are hanging onto Witonis’ MacBook Air until the case is resolved. He can wait a few more weeks, OK. Hopefully, the judge will make certain the state of New Hampshire hangs onto Casey Wentworth – behind bars – for a spell, as well.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm

God sues Equifax for reporting that he has no financial history

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Even God has credit rating problems.

A Brooklyn man is suing Equifax for reporting that he has no financial history because the credit-reporting agency’s system won’t recognize his first name.

God Gazarov was named after his grandfather.

Gazarov filed a federal lawsuit on Friday after more than two years of fighting with the agency. He claims that the agency’s refusal to accept his name as legitimate stopped him from buying an Infiniti car last year.

According to the 26-year-old, an Equifax customer service employee suggested that he change his name to fix the problem.

The owner of the Gold Hard Cash jewelry store claims he has scores of more than 720 with TransUnion and Experian.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Gazarov told the New York Post. “I worked hard to get good credit to look good to lenders and this happens.”

What idiots. What do they do about Hispanics named Jesus or Muslims named Mohammed? Naming your kid after your favorite deity or prophet is pretty common in many communities.

When you run into a CSR this dumb, usually you’re OK just politely saying Goodbye – and calling back in a few hours. The odds are you’ll catch someone with more than half a brain the second time. Or third.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 12, 2014 at 8:00 am

CIA torture report starts to leak from the Senate

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A still-secret Senate Intelligence Committee report calls into question the legal foundation of the CIA’s use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, a finding that challenges the key defense on which the agency and the Bush administration relied in arguing that the methods didn’t constitute torture.

The report also found that the spy agency failed to keep an accurate account of the number of individuals it held, and that it issued erroneous claims about how many it detained and subjected to the controversial interrogation methods. The CIA has said that about 30 detainees underwent the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

The CIA’s claim “is BS,” said a former U.S. official familiar with evidence underpinning the report, who asked not to be identified because the matter is still classified. “They are trying to minimize the damage. They are trying to say it was a very targeted program, but that’s not the case.”

The findings are among the report’s 20 main conclusions. Taken together, they paint a picture of an intelligence agency that seemed intent on evading or misleading nearly all of its oversight mechanisms throughout the program, which was launched under the Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and ran until 2006.

Some of the report’s other conclusions, which were obtained by McClatchy, include:

_ The CIA used interrogation methods that weren’t approved by the Justice Department or CIA headquarters.

_ The agency impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making regarding the program.

_ The CIA actively evaded or impeded congressional oversight of the program.

_ The agency hindered oversight of the program by its own Inspector General’s Office.

RTFA and imagine what we wait to read in detail. Thugs acting on behalf of the United States government do our nation no service at all. Lying about what they did – in conjunction with a phony court called to order to justify crimes committed in our name – doesn’t change their deeds.

We need a government with sufficient backbone to keep this from happening again. We need laws that can’t be defeated by the usual expedient of crying “wolf” about national security.

Written by Ed Campbell

April 12, 2014 at 2:00 am

Religious nutballs fear GOP can’t handle convention in Las Vegas

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Religious conservatives are urging the GOP to scratch Sin City off its list of potential locations for the 2016 Republican National Convention..Advocates are concerned that Las Vegas’ reputation as a gambling and prostitution haven will discourage conservatives from attending the event and that the city is a “trap waiting to ensnare” convention attendees.

“The GOP is supposedly interested in reaching out to conservatives and evangelicals. Maybe that’s just a front, but if they really mean it this is not the way to do it,” James Dobson, founder of Family Talk, a Christian radio show that broadcasts across the United States, told the paper. “Even though Vegas has tried to shore itself up and call itself family-friendly, it’s still a metaphor for decadence. There’s still 64 pages of escort services in the yellow pages.”

Dobson, along with leaders of the American Family Association, Eagle Forum, the Traditional Values Coalition, and Family-PAC sent a letter to Republican chairman Reince Priebus warning him to choose another destination…

Las Vegas has a strong lobbying campaign behind it. The team includes casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who spent over $98 million on GOP candidates in 2012, resort businessman Stephen Wynn, and Washington political strategists, according to the New York Times. Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, told The Dallas Morning News that while she supports Adelson, she fears that with all of the escorts and prostitutes available in the Las Vegas area, she “can see all the setups that are going to take place.”

Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of the conservative blog RedState.com, also expressed concern about the GOP choosing Las Vegas. “Good Christian delegates getting drunk, gambling, stuffing dollar bills in strippers’ g-strings, etc. will be the toast of not just MSNBC, but the front page of the New York Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, the Huffington Post, and more.” he wrote…

Guess he knows the stuff his troops are really made of, eh?

Written by Ed Campbell

April 11, 2014 at 8:00 pm

The Heartbleed web security flaw – runaway, runaway! — UPDATE: NSA scumbags knew about the bug for 2 years

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heartbleed

It seems as though every week or so there’s a new hack or exploit that reveals millions of passwords or important data from a popular web service, and this week is no exception. On Tuesday, IT professionals got word of a serious flaw in OpenSSL — the browser encryption standard used by an estimated two-thirds of the servers on the internet. The flaw, which was dubbed “Heartbleed,” may have exposed the personal data of millions of users and the encryption keys to some of the web’s largest services. Here’s what you need to know:

It’s a bug in some versions of the OpenSSL software that handles security for a lot of large websites. In a nutshell, a weakness in one feature of the software — the so called “heartbeat” extension, which allows services to keep a secure connection open over an extended period of time — allows hackers to read and capture data that is stored in the memory of the system. It was discovered independently by a security company called Codenomicon and a Google researcher named Neel Mehta, both of whom have helped co-ordinate the response…

As Tim Lee at Vox points out in his overview, the lock that you see in your browser’s address bar when you visit a website “is supposed to signal that third parties won’t be able to read any information you send or receive. Under the hood, SSL accomplishes that by transforming your data into a coded message that only the recipient knows how to decipher.” But researchers found it was possible to “send a cleverly formed, malicious heartbeat message that tricks the computer at the other end into divulging secret information…”

What can you do about it?

If you are a web user, the short answer is not much. You can check the list of sites affected on Github, or you could try a tool from developer Filippo Valsorda that checks sites to see if they are still vulnerable (although false positives have been reported), and you should probably change your passwords for those sites if you find any you use regularly.

RTFA if you want all the gory details. The bug is 2 years old albeit just discovered; so, no one has a clue how long evildoers may have been screwing around with folks’ accounts at sites containing the bug.

I’d suggest reading the list at Github and staying away from sites on the list – until they disappear from the list. Changing passwords – as suggested – at affected sites is a good idea as well. Though I can think of problems happening if you’re pinged while doing exactly that. If and when sites are certified clean, then, change your passwords and do a thorough job of it.

UPDATE: NSA scumbags knew about the bug for two years and used it to break into encrypted communications – rather than notify American companies and consumers so they might protect themselves…http://tinyurl.com/mq8owa2

Written by Ed Campbell

April 11, 2014 at 2:00 pm

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