Would you pledge your soul as collateral for a loan?

Ready to give your soul for a loan in these difficult economic times? In Latvia, where the crisis has raged more than in the rest of the European Union, you can.

Such a deal is being offered by the Kontora loan company, whose public face is Viktor Mirosiichenko.

Clients have to sign a contract, with the words “Agreement” in bold letters at the top. The client agrees to the collateral, “that is, my immortal soul.”

Mirosiichenko said his company would not employ debt collectors to get its money back if people refused to repay, and promised no physical violence. Signatories only have to give their first name and do not show any documents.

“If they don’t give it back, what can you do? They won’t have a soul, that’s all,” he told Reuters in a basement office, with one desk, a computer and three chairs.

Uh, OK. Maybe that works – if you believe? I think it’s useless for all the right reasons: non-definable collateral, worthless on the open market.

Internet social servers are not liable for predators


Internet servers like MySpace cannot be held liable when minors are sexually assaulted by people they first meet on a website, a California appeals court has ruled in an opinion.

The ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles is consistent with federal appeals court rulings

The appellate court consolidated several similar lawsuits brought by minor girls dubbed “Julie Does” and their parents or guardians, claiming that MySpace failed to implement available age-verification software or set the default security on the girls’ accounts to “private.”

But the Los Angeles-based appeals court found that a section of the Communications Decency Act immunizes Web servers against the girls’ claims of negligence and product liability…

Electronic Frontier Foundation spokeswoman Rebecca Jeschke said the opinion was “very important” in light of recent calls by several states’ attorneys general for online classifieds site Craigslist to remove what they claimed were illegal sex ads…

“The idea is, you hold the speaker responsible not the soapbox,” Jeschke said. “If you want any kind of social interaction on the Internet this is very important.”

At the rate we’re going, Americans – and lawyers [which I hold as a separate species from human beings] – should understand the Constitutional protection of Free Speech in another century or two.

Sarah Palin stepping down to run for President? – UPDATED

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

At an 11:00 a.m. press conference today, Governor Sarah Palin announced that she would not seek a second term as governor. The governor continued saying in a few weeks she would resign the governorship.

On a day that most public employees have off, Palin sent out an early morning press release indicating that she would be giving an announcement from her home in Wasilla. Joining Palin were her parents, family and state commissioners.

Palin did not field questions and would not give any indications as to her future plans.

Palin announced that she will transfer power to Lt. Governor Sean Parnell. Parnell will be sworn in during the upcoming governor’s picnic.

WooHoo. Here we go!

I’ll leave all the gossip-level discussion to folks who get off on that kind of politics. I think she’s getting ready for the next stage in her self-defined political career. That means Senator or straight after the presidency.

The former makes the most sense – but, sense ain’t Palin’s strong suit. She may fear her meteoric rise in Republican consciousness may dissipate as quickly. I don’t agree – but, none of the neocons in charge are going to ask me – or a traditional American conservative.

UPDATE: I’ve had the chance to listen in on some informed comment. The two I’d offer are [1] Ed Rollins, long-time Republican ideologue – who is just plain pissed. He’s lost whatever respect he ever had for Palin – finding her unwilling and incapable of finishing out one whole term as governor…and [2] Andrea Mitchell, who is a smart enough reporter to sit on inside information about this without leaking any of it. She said she’s been waiting for this for a couple weeks – and that Palin let her closest friends know she was already tired of elective politics.

Sounds like she wants to be a party “leader” without having to submit to the checks and balances of an election.

My kind of commercial

Even though I’ve hated GE most of my life – getting up to be at work as an apprentice machinist at 7AM in a New England factory town does it to you – the commercial is a gas.

Building machines this big. Playing a part in the industrial base of any nation. All give you a true feeling of accomplishment. I know how these dudes feel. And appreciate their care for their creations.

Polygamist has 25 wives, 101 kids. Phew!

A British Columbia man living in a polygamist sect has 25 wives and 101 children with brides as young as 15, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police allege.

Winston Blackmore, 52, is charged with one count of practicing polygamy as a member of the Bountiful sect, which has about 1,000 members.

In an affidavit filed with the provincial Supreme Court, the RCMP alleges since 1976, Blackmore had nine child brides, four of whom were 15, CTV reported. In Vancouver, he told reporters “that’s wrong” as documents were being filed for a pre-trial hearing.

The RCMP named four of the brides who allegedly had their first children by Blackmore before they turned 18. Federal law was changed in 2008 to raise the age of marital consent to 16 from 14.

His lawyers have said his defense will be the ban on polygamy violates Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Preliminary hearings are scheduled for April, but Blackmore’s lawyers are trying to have the case thrown out on procedural issues.

Must have a helluva kitchen garden.

BTW, I could care less how many spouses anyone wants to have. If it’s mutual consent, you’re not harming anyone else – stay out of their lives.

I don’t know how he does it. It took me forever to settle down.

There’s a Green Giant growing in China’s Gobi Desert

DUNHUANG, China – As the United States takes its first steps toward mandating that power companies generate more electricity from renewable sources, China already has a similar requirement and is investing billions to remake itself into a green energy superpower.

Through a combination of carrots and sticks, Beijing is starting to change how this country generates energy. Although coal remains the biggest energy source and is almost certain to stay that way, the rise of renewable energy, especially wind power, is helping to slow China’s steep growth in emissions of global warming gases.

While the House of Representatives approved a requirement last week that American utilities generate more of their power from renewable sources of energy, and the Senate will consider similar proposals over the summer, China imposed such a requirement almost two years ago.

This year China is on track to pass the United States as the world’s largest market for wind turbines — after doubling wind power capacity in each of the last four years. State-owned power companies are competing to see which can build solar plants fastest, though these projects are much smaller than the wind projects. And other green energy projects, like burning farm waste to generate electricity, are sprouting up.

This oasis town deep in the Gobi Desert along the famed Silk Road and the surrounding wilderness of beige sand dunes and vast gravel wastelands has become a center of China’s drive to lead the world in wind and solar energy.

Continue reading

iPhone 3GS marked AT&T’s “best-ever sales day”

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

According to an AT&T company memo, the launch of the iPhone 3GS wasn’t just a banner sales day for the carrier this year but broke records for any single day of retail sales in the company’s history — including for already stellar iPhone sales.

The leaked e-mail characterizes “iLaunch Day 2009,” its nickname for the June 19th iPhone 3GS release date, as the “best-ever sales day” and just second in terms of actual floor traffic. Many of its other sales-related records were also shattered at the same time, ranging from the number of upgrade eligibility checks made in a day to the sheer volume of orders taken through AT&T’s website.

The notice obtained by multiple anonymous MacDailyNews readers also illustrates just how quickly the seemingly more modest iPhone update outpaced the already large-scale iPhone 3G launch last year. 3GS sales not only exceeded the first days after both Thanksgiving and Christmas, either of which have always been popular shopping days, but were so brisk as to overtake the iPhone 3G’s launch day count by just noon in Texas time.

Interest in the stores was so high that AT&T stores were considered at “peak” activity for 11 hours, or nearly half a day, despite the company accepting pre-orders online for days in advance…

The poor buggers perpetually divided by an existential wedgie over Apple anything will have to work a bit harder to turn this into sad news.

No doubt they will.