5G – as it’s being rolled out – won’t transform much of anything

A blog post by Neville Ray, CTO of T-Mobile USA

❝ 5G is at the height of the hype curve right now…and there’s also a lot of misinformation. I’m not going to add to either…And when it’s ready for our customers…in a way that allows us to bring the benefits of 5G to the whole country…We are going to get it right.

I wish I could say the same for the rest of the industry. But with the 5G path the other guys are on – what I’m calling the status quo – we will not see the transformational power this technology has to completely change EVERY industry. And that’s not good enough…

Verizon’s mmWave-only 5G plan is only for the few. And it will never reach rural America. Meanwhile, AT&T has rolled out a “5GE” icon to customers phones to dupe them into thinking their same-old 4G LTE service is something new and different (spoiler alert: it’s not)…

❝ Some of this is physics – millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn’t travel far from the cell site and doesn’t penetrate materials at all. It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.

Yes, we’re all being hyped by the buzzwords. Something like “Make America Great Again” for cellphones. RTFA to get a grasp of the questions that haven’t been answered well enough to bring this faster technology to everyone.

And there’s more…

❝ 5G is the “fifth generation” of wireless networks. It will cover a wide range of devices, including both mobile and fixed network infrastructure, i.e. both mobile smartphones, wearables and settled machines will be wireless. So does that mean in future we will need no fiber cables running around?

❝ Beneath the surface of the world’s wireless infrastructure lies a big net interwoven by the fiber optic cables. And at present 90% of all internet traffic travels over wireline fiber, even if it finally terminates in a wireless device. 5G is targeted at a connection speed of 1-10 Gbps, which is ten to hundred times higher than 4G. The overwhelming traffic to data centers will demand a transport media that is capable of high bandwidth and long distance, and fiber is the best future-proof choice among all mediums…

We won’t receiving 5G anything under most circumstances if it wasn’t delivered by fibre-optic cables to be broadcast in the first place.

Personally, my best hope is that cable providers bringing most of us existing broadband access capable of 4K movies and the 5K and 8K to follow…will have the smarts to compete and offer matching speeds at affordable prices. Technically, they can already step up to that standard across a lot of the map. They simply aren’t being pressed by sufficient competition to care to do that. Capitalism 101, 2nd semester.

Televangelist Says Christians Can Survive World’s End by Buying His Condos, $150 Water Bottles

❝ Controversial televangelist Jim Bakker has claimed that the Missouri town in which he is building a Christian community is equipped to survive the end of the world, and is selling survival gear, such as 6-packs of water bottles for $150.

❝ Bakker said on his program…that various prophets have predicted that if there is a major world disaster and humankind faces the end of the world, people in large cities are not going to be able to survive.

That is why for 15 years Bakker has been building his Morningside community in Blue Eye, Missouri, which will come with an amphitheater, houses for the residents, and a chapel that can be used for weddings.

❝ He also is advertising survival gear, such as a pack of six “extreme survival” water bottles being sold for $150. His website claims that the bottles are “designed using a combination of both Advanced and Radiological filters.”

Nothing much new in Bakker’s hustle. Whether you recall the history of his so-called ministry – or that of many peers. He ended up in the slammer for fraud, accused of rape. Mainly, he was guilty of being caught. Many of his breed simply keep stealing from true believers and never even get investigated. The Land of the Free includes the opportunity to be gobbled up by sharks cruising the Great American Ocean of Superstition.

Are guns as important to you as the person you love and marry?

Gun lovers finally have a safe space where they can love each other — and each other’s guns.

ConcealedCarryMatch.com saves you the headache of nervously having to sift through page after page of potential partners without knowing the answer to the most essential relationship question of all: Do you love guns as much as I do?

“(With) other dating sites, initially you don’t know whether or not your potential partner is accepting of gun ownership,” one of the site’s founders, Molly Lund, said in a…launch statement. “Concealed Carry Match allows members to instantly bypass that mystery. It makes for a relaxed start to any potential relationship.”…

“We are serving a community of people who are often misrepresented or stereotyped,” Lund said. “This is drama that we are trying to avoid.”

And make a buck at the same time.

America, you can eat gluten again!

❝ In fact, most of you always could. That isn’t stopping the food industry from making a mint on gluten-free products.

❝ Only 1 percent of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with celiac disease, yet gluten-free products are still filling up—and flying off—grocery store shelves. U.S. sales reached $1.57 billion last year, up 11 percent over 2014, according to data from Packaged Facts.

Sure, that growth has slowed — it was at 81 percent in 2013. But it still runs laps around the grocery sector’s overall growth of 3 percent. In the cereal aisle, for example, where sales have been declining for the past decade, claims such as “gluten-free,” as well as “GMO-free” and “no high-fructose corn syrup” have made for one of the few bright spots, according to a recent Nielsen report…

❝ Avoiding gluten while dining out is also getting easier. Although some restaurants are now celebrating grain, others are touting their gluten-free options. “Gluten-free” was on 23.6 percent of menus this year, beating out “organic” (21 percent), “locally” (14.2 percent), and “all natural” (8.9 percent), according to DataSsential Menu Trends. That’s a big jump from 2014, when it was on only 15 percent of menus, and organic was still the health term to beat, appearing on about 19 percent of U.S. menus…

❝ For those diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, the sudden boom in tasty, sort-of-affordable gluten-free foods is a “blessing”…But only 15 percent of consumers make these purchases because a member of the household has a gluten sensitivity, and only 9 percent make them for a member with celiac disease…

❝ The top reason for purchase? Thirty percent responded that “some products that I buy for other reasons are marked gluten-free.” Nearly as many — 29 percent—said they buy them because “gluten-free products are generally healthier,” and 20 percent said they make the purchase to manage their weight. Other surveys confirm these findings. NPD Group found that about one in four consumers thinks “gluten-free is good for everyone.”

Healthcare professionals say this is a misconception — people without a related diagnosis don’t need to avoid gluten.

I didn’t have to sit around waiting for Bloomberg to publish this little article. As is my habit, when I see food purveyors ramping up production of something that reads like a fad diet, I start looking for articles from recognized sources of medical and nutritional information based on science – not profit or popularity.

I’d already learned the size of the legitimate market. I was able to compare that to what I saw in the markets where I shop. Fortunately, folks working in local stores belonging to national chains specializing in natural and organic foodstuffs have an obvious sense of humor. Signs appeared in both stores for gluten-free water, gluten-free carrots, and on and on.

Yes, they carried a chunk of the newly-expanded catalogue of wheat-free, gluten-free products. Some folks need them. Provide useful access for those who benefit and you may as well sit back and get your share of the fad from the rest.

RTFA for more details. Think you have a problem with nutrition? Consult a good doctor. Hopefully, you already have one. There are plenty around, at least, it feels like it in my neck of the prairie.

Buying aloe vera at Wal-Mart? Feel good? Look up “placebo effect”!

❝ The aloe vera gel many Americans buy to soothe damaged skin contains no evidence of aloe vera at all.

Samples of store-brand aloe gel purchased at national retailers Wal-Mart, Target and CVS showed no indication of the plant in various lab tests. The products all listed aloe barbadensis leaf juice — another name for aloe vera — as either the No. 1 ingredient or No. 2 after water.

❝ There’s no watchdog assuring that aloe products are what they say they are. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve cosmetics before they’re sold and has never levied a fine for selling fake aloe. That means suppliers are on an honor system, even as the total U.S. market for aloe products, including drinks and vitamins, has grown 11 percent in the past year to $146 million…

❝ Aloe’s three chemical markers — acemannan, malic acid and glucose — were absent in the tests for Wal-Mart, Target and CVS products conducted by a lab hired by Bloomberg News. The three samples contained a cheaper element called maltodextrin, a sugar sometimes used to imitate aloe. The gel that’s sold at another retailer, Walgreens, contained one marker, malic acid, but not the other two. That means the presence of aloe can’t be confirmed or ruled out…

❝ Fruit of the Earth, a Fort Worth, Texas-based aloe brand founded in 1980, said it made the gels for Wal-Mart, Target and Walgreens. Fruit of the Earth said its aloe supplier was Ormond Beach, Florida-based Concentrated Aloe Corp., which said it uses fair trade, organic aloe that’s farmed and processed in Guatemala.

Both companies disputed Bloomberg’s findings…

The International Aloe Science Council has been around over 30 years. They certify products as legitimate or not. I suggest that if you are a fan of aloe vera and its rustic healing properties you check in with the council or check the product you’re interested in to see if it is certified.

Trump’s infrastructure program sounds like a con, smells even worse!

❝ Trumpists are touting the idea of a big infrastructure build, and some Democrats are making conciliatory noises about working with the new regime on that front. But remember who you’re dealing with: if you invest anything with this guy, be it money or reputation, you are at great risk of being scammed. So, what do we know about the Trump infrastructure plan, such as it is?

❝ Crucially, it’s not a plan to borrow $1 trillion and spend it on much-needed projects — which would be the straightforward, obvious thing to do. It is, instead, supposed to involve having private investors do the work both of raising money and building the projects — with the aid of a huge tax credit that gives them back 82 percent of the equity they put in. To compensate for the small sliver of additional equity and the interest on their borrowing, the private investors then have to somehow make profits on the assets they end up owning.

You should immediately ask three questions about all of this.

❝ First, why involve private investors at all? It’s not as if the federal government is having any trouble raising money…

❝ Second, how is this kind of scheme supposed to finance investment that doesn’t produce a revenue stream?…

❝ Third, how much of the investment thus financed would actually be investment that wouldn’t have taken place anyway? That is, how much “additionality” is there?…

❝ …All of these questions could be avoided by doing things the straightforward way: if you think we should build more infrastructure, then build more infrastructure, and never mind the complicated private equity/tax credits stuff. You could try to come up with some justification for the complexity of the scheme, but one simple answer would be that it’s not about investment, it’s about ripping off taxpayers. Is that implausible, given who we’re talking about?

Paul Krugman has it wired. Trump chumps thought they were one up on the system voting in someone they knew was a crook and a liar. They were silly enough to believe he was “their” crook and liar. They missed the lecture on Capitalism 101 which states the greedy bastards in charge aren’t interested in sharing the wealth – except with co-conspirators.

That doesn’t include you.

Huh? Wha?

gluten-free-plates
Click to enlarge

WTF?

Humans grow vegetable matter. Eat part of it. Compost the rest and use that to help grow more vegetable matter. One use of inedibles involves pressing and producing useful container shapes. In our home, we use one of the larger form factor plants to heat the interior. Cellulose, fiber from any variety of plants, all are useful.

Gluten-free? Give me a break from silly marketing, from hustling people. Please!

Cripes! Even America’s favorite cons are being outsourced

❝ Police in India say they have arrested 70 call centre workers on suspicion of tricking American citizens into sending them money by posing as US tax officials.

A total of 772 workers were arrested on Wednesday in raids on nine fake call centres in a Mumbai suburb…

An estimated $36.5 million was extorted from Americans, police said.

❝ Seventy were placed under formal arrest, 630 were released pending questioning over the coming days, and 72 were freed without further investigation.

“The motive was earning money,” said Parag Marere, a deputy commissioner of police. “They were running an illegal process, posing themselves as officers of the [US] Internal Revenue Service.”

Marere said the year-long scam involved running fake call centres that sent voicemail messages telling US nationals to call back because they owed back taxes.

Those who called back and believed the threats would fork out thousands of dollars to “settle” their case, he said. The scam brought in more than $150,000 a day…

Americans are so fracking gullible. You get a voicemail telling you to callback the IRS – without ever checking on the phone number. You’re only calling back – much of the time – because you know you’ve been Trumping your tax bill, anyway. If they can pump you for how much you think you owe – it’s only a matter of playing the fish until you’re landed. You can go higher or lower. It’s all in the game.

Somewhere along the line you might notice your IRS agent has an accent. Perfectly reasonable in a nation of immigrants. If the boiler room is like most I’ve heard, you should also detect conversational background noise. And if everyone has the same accent – you’re in trouble, Bubba. The IRS doesn’t restrict hiring to any one ethnicity. 🙂

Bad science + campaign of lies = profits for pharma giant Abbott in India

When findings from a survey of thyroid disorders in India hit the news in 2013, the headlines were not subtle. “India’s cities in the grip of thyroid disease as new study reveals one in ten suffer from disorders,” blared one. “Time to get your thyroid checked,” another exhorted.

But the survey was bogus

Instead of straightforward population sampling, it relied on tests done at free clinics paid for by drugmaker Abbott India. Because such events attract disproportionate numbers of sick people in India, where many lack access to affordable healthcare, it was a recipe for inflated prevalences…

Ethics may not have been a top priority when the survey was done. Initiated and funded by Abbott India, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Abbott Laboratories, it was part of the company’s award-winning “Think Thyroid Think Life” disease-awareness campaign, which critics say is using shaky science and misleading health information to boost sales.

The campaign dates back more than a decade, but picked up steam in the late 2000s. Since then, an impressive array of Bollywood brand ambassadors, high-profile doctors, TV spots, media reports, roadshows, and web quizzes have helped create awareness of thyroid disorders in India…

❝ “They have made doctors think thyroid, they have made patients think thyroid,” said Shashank Joshi, MD, DM, president of The Endocrine Society of India and a paid speaker for Abbott.

Meanwhile, sales of the company’s flagship product Thyronorm, one of many branded versions of generic levothyroxine on the Indian market, increased seven-fold. It is now among the 10 top-selling drugs in India, grossing more than $41.5 million in 2015…

Although that may seem like a small amount by American standards, it is enough to buy a year-round supply of Thyronorm for some 6 million people in India. That’s more than the total expected number of clinically hypothyroid individuals in India, if prevalence is the same as in the U.S., where it is estimated at 0.3% of the population – actual prevalence in India is unknown regardless of what Abbott says….

Everyone agrees overt, symptomatic hypothyroidism should be treated. But there is no good evidence to support treating the much more common subclinical hypothyroidism, in which only thyroid stimulating hormone is abnormal. What’s more, screening for thyroid dysfunction has not been evaluated in randomized trials, and guidelines disagree on the question. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force last year found insufficient evidence to make a recommendation.

That opens the door to medicating a lot of people who will not get any benefit from levothyroxine, yet will still be exposed to the side effects…

Best quote in the article: “They are spinning the numbers, there is no question about it…These people are very smart, they know how to create a disease.”