Dumbest drunk of the week flashes police chief – WTF?

A 22-year-old man is accused of knocking on the door of the police chief of a northwestern Pennsylvania town and exposing himself…

Corry Police Chief Rich Shopene said Brody Eugene Hall knocked on his door shortly after 6 a.m. Sunday and exposed his genitals when Shopene opened the door.

“I saw you had Halloween decorations up,” said Shopene, quoting Hall. “I’m here to scare your children…”

Hall is charged with public drunkenness, harassment and other related counts, authorities said.

Hall was released from Erie County Jail on Tuesday and is expected to make his first court appearance on November 15, according to spokesman Steve Delinski.

Perhaps the court will ask him to recreate the incident. Just for giggles.

Is that latest smart gadget really a sleeper cell in your kitchen?

If you bought a major appliance in the last three years, odds are it was “smart,” even if you didn’t know it. Meaning: it probably contains a wireless radio that can broadcast and transmit over a small personal area network, sending out information about a device’s status and energy use, as well as receiving commands that alter its behavior.

Many appliances that don’t even announce they have this capability are equipped with it, says Mike Beyerle, an engineer at GE whom I recently interviewed about GE’s coming Nucleus home energy management system. “We want to build up a base before we make a big deal out of it,” says Beyerle.

It’s an intriguing twist on the old business maxim “under-promise, over-deliver.” In this case, manufacturers aren’t even telling consumers what their devices are capable of because, in part, those abilities are useless without an energy management hub like GE’s Nucleus or a utility company’s smart meter…

Once a device is hooked up to an energy management system, things get interesting. Did you realize, for example, that your refrigerator’s ice maker’s defrost cycle can be shifted to another time of day by your utility in order to drive down power use during times of peak demand..?

GE’s Nucleus won’t roll out until 2012, and smart meter penetration is still no more than 25 percent in the U.S. But with the cost of new power plants rising by the day, putting smart meters into homes is more attractive than ever to utilities. Not only do they allow utilities to enroll customers in demand response programs, they also tend to lower electricity consumption overall, because they empower consumers to understand when and how they are using energy.

So do you have a sleeper cell in your kitchen or laundry room, waiting to be activated by the installation of a new smart meter or some other Zigbee-capable device? You may not know until you have the right kind of hub installed — but some already have a ZigBee label.

RTFA. I posted this especially for the paranoid among our readers. You know who you are.

And, maybe, your toaster does, too. 🙂

Pump your own gasoline? Eeoough!


Phew! My next car will be electric and only recharged at home

A new study has found that the gas pump is the germiest, filthiest thing we touch in everyday life. That’s according to Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona — and he should know. A microbiologist, he’s known by the nickname “Dr. Germ.”

The research results released Tuesday found that 71% of gas pump handles and 68% of corner mailbox handles are “highly contaminated” with the kinds of germs most associated with a high risk of illness. The study…says that 41% of ATM buttons and 43% of escalator rails are similarly teeming with germs.

Other highly contaminated places that many people probably never considered before, and now might fear using, are parking meters and kiosks, about 40% of which are fouled by germs. Crosswalk buttons and vending machines were tied at 35%…

Gerba analyzed the results for Kimberly-Clark’s Healthy Work Place Project, a subsidiary of the manufacturer of tissues, hand sanitizer and the like. (The project’s website says sick employees cost the average business about $1,320 per employee.)

So what are we supposed to do? Apparently, it’s all about “hand hygiene” — washing your hands throughout the day — and wiping down your work station with a cleaning product because a desktop, keyboard and computer mouse can be a breeding ground for germs, says Gerba and the folks at Kimberly-Clark.

When I was on the road, especially when visiting clients and their own customers, handshaking was the biggest danger I faced as far as I was concerned.

I wasn’t obvious about it – you don’t wish to offend the folks providing the foundation of your income after all – I might pull around the corner first if I couldn’t surreptitiously take an alcohol and biocide handiwipe from the dispenser behind the front seat of my truck and clean my hands before I drove a block.

Oops! Germany finds 55 billion euros after fixing accounting error


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Germany has found itself 55 billion euros richer after discovering an accounting error at Hypo Real Estate (HRE), the troubled bank it nationalised in 2009.

The country now expects its ratio of debt to GDP to be 81.1% for 2011, 2.6 percentage points lower than previously forecast, the finance ministry said.

The miscalculation was at the so-called bad bank of HRE, FMS Wertmanagement. The discovery was made earlier this month but only announced on Friday…

Think this had at least a little bit to do with Merkel’s support for the Greece bailout?

HRE faced a severe liquidity shortage in the wake of US banking giant Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy in 2008.

The German government provided the bank with capital injections of 10bn euros and liquidity guarantees amounting to 145 billion euros before nationalising it.

Factbox: Has Obama delivered on his 2008 campaign promises?

President Barack Obama said at a fundraiser in California this week he has kept 60 percent of his 2008 campaign promises.

Here are some of his major promises made on the campaign trail in 2008 and where they stand:

* CLOSING GUANTANAMO BAY – Obama said he would shut down the facility set up by President George W. Bush to be the central prison for terror suspects in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks…

* END COMBAT MISSIONS IN IRAQ BY AUG. 31, 2010 – “Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end,” Obama said early in his presidency…

* REPEAL DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL – Last December, Obama signed legislation repealing a military policy that banned gays from openly serving in the armed forces. The policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” had been signed into law in 1993 under President Bill Clinton…

* UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE – In March 2010, Obama signed into law a bill to overhaul the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry. This followed months of wrangling and political standoffs with Republican lawmakers, who vehemently opposed the most sweeping social policy legislation in decades…

* FINANCIAL REGULATION – While running for president, Obama promised to rein in Wall Street forces and their risky practices that pushed America into its worst recession in decades…

* REPEAL BUSH TAX CUTS – As a presidential candidate, Obama vowed to oppose Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans…

* IMMIGRATION REFORM – Obama’s 2008 election victory can be partly attributed to a huge turnout of reliably Democratic Hispanic voters drawn by his promise to deliver immigration reform that would allow millions of illegal immigrants a path to U.S. citizenship…

* ISRAEL-PALESTINE – In foreign policy, Obama pledged to set in motion a diplomatic push to achieve a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state of Israel…

RTFA – and judge for yourselves.

Felix Pharand’s maps show human impact on Earth

On the last day of October 2011, the U.N. says the world population will hit seven billion people — an increase of one billion since 1999.

To show some of the impacts of this vast human upheaval, Canadian anthropologist Felix Pharand has created a series of visualizations mapping the presence of technology onto a selection of satellite images showing the Earth from space.

Using data from a range of sources, including the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the World Meteorological Organization, the images depict a sprawl of air traffic routes, the underwater cables that carry the internet, road and rail networks, pipelines, shipping lanes and electricity transmission lines.

These images are illustrations of how far we have come at transforming our home planet,” said Pharand, who is founder-director of Globaia — an environmental education organization based in Quebec.

“It shows a human-dominated planet where wilderness areas are shrinking and where the habitats of other species are decreasing in size,” he added.

‘Nuff said. RTFA. Look at the maps.