If I couldn’t see the image (left), I wouldn’t believe it. But last week, students in Seminole County, Florida apparently received their report cards in envelopes adorned with Ronald McDonald promising a free Happy Meal to students with good grades, behavior or attendance, according to The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a consumer advocacy group that works to protect children from the harmful effects of marketing.
The advertisement appears on report card envelopes for students in kindergarten through 5th grade. The envelopes are used to transport report cards to and from home throughout the school year, says the CCFC.
A teenage suspect who secretly recorded his interrogation on an MP3 player has landed a veteran detective in the middle of perjury charges, authorities said Thursday.
Unaware of the recording, Detective Christopher Perino testified in April that the suspect “wasn’t questioned” about a shooting in the Bronx, a criminal complaint said. But then the defense confronted the detective with a transcript it said proved he had spent more than an hour unsuccessfully trying to persuade Erik Crespo to confess – at times with vulgar tactics.
Once the transcript was revealed in court, prosecutors asked for a recess, defense attorney Mark DeMarco said. The detective was pulled from the witness stand and advised to get a lawyer.
Senior Republican appropriators in the Senate have collected more money in earmarks than any other members of Congress, even though President Bush and GOP leaders have forcefully criticized “pork-barrel spending.”
Not only have these lawmakers defied their leaders, they have also taken a much greater share of the pot set aside for rank-and-file Republicans than have senior Democrats. As a result, some on the Hill are grumbling privately that GOP appropriators are “not only the kings of pork, they’re outright hogs,” in the words of one Senate Republican aide.
The Republicans’ status as the biggest earmark winners in Congress is surprising because they no longer enjoy majority control. As a result, they have seen their share of the federal spending pie sliced by a third.
The majority party typically gets to allocate 60 percent of the federal funds set aside for special projects such as waterworks, roads, defense contracts and housing. Members of the minority have 40 percent to divvy among themselves.
Although the GOP share shrunk significantly, senior Republican appropriators still managed to win more funding for their pet projects than senior Democratic appropriators.
In a troubling reversal, the nation’s teen birth rate rose for the first time in 15 years, surprising government health officials and reviving the bitter debate about abstinence-only sex education.
The birth rate had been dropping since its peak in 1991, although the decline had slowed in recent years. On Wednesday, government statisticians said it rose 3 percent from 2005 to 2006.
The reason for the increase is not clear, and federal health officials said it might be a one-year statistical blip, not the beginning of a new upward trend.
However, some experts said they have been expecting a jump. They blamed it on increased federal funding for abstinence-only health education that doesn’t teach teens how to use condoms and other contraception.
Some key sexually transmitted disease rates have been rising, including syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. The rising teen pregnancy rate is part of the same phenomenon, said Dr. Carol Hogue, an Emory University professor of maternal and child health.
“It’s not rocket science,” she said.
The check-in staff want to know if you have a bomb in your bag. But you’re more worried that your partner might have been cheating on you.
What you both need is a mind-reading machine, a way of peering into their heads and “seeing” their thoughts before they are articulated. Not only does that machine now exist, it is being touted for airports, police stations and even workplaces.
Don’t even think about lying. The “brainbox” in question is officially known as a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) detector, a medical device which companies in the US are now marketing as a lie detector, claiming accuracy of 90% to 100%.
No wonder, then, that law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI, CIA and the US Defence Department, are pumping big bucks into what they hope will be the successor to the polygraph.
Let’s make the huge assumption that this will work outside the lab, and run the numbers. The claim is of 90-100% accuracy, so we’ll split the difference at 95%. Since it’s a binary determination (either you’re lying or not), to be “inaccurate” would either be a false-positive (innocent person detained) or false-negative (liar gets on the plane). We don’t know if there’s a bias one way or the other, so we’ll split them down the middle.
In 2006, the TSA performed over 708 million screenings. Rounding to 700 million and using the failure rates described above, we’d have 35 million false results. That would be 17.5 million liars that got on board, and 17.5 million truthsayers detained in error.
But wait. Potential terrorists don’t make up fifty percent of the traveling public.
The government’s terror watch list is reported to have 755,000 names on it. Let’s pretend it’s been compiled by the most efficient government program ever, and every name on it is correct. On top of that, let’s assume there are 245,000 “unknown unknowns”, giving us an even million terrorists and that every single one will try to fly. With a five percent failure rate, that’s 50,000 that’ll get by the “brain machine”. That also means 34,950,000 innocent travelers detained.
Even if we reduce the number of terrorist flight attempts to 10,000 and bump the accuracy up to 99%, we’re still talking about 100 terrorists getting on board. So nearly one hundred thousand people detained every day, and still a terrorist gets through every three days or so.
Let’s just invest the money in real human intelligence activities, and spare ourselves the pointless exercise in security theatre.
“You were a nice person until you started working with the current bunch of creeps.”
false – I was never a nice person.
“You don’t trust the people around you, and they don’t trust you.”
false – The morons trust, nay, idolize me.
“You see your co-workers as competitors.”
false – How could those idiots possibly compete?
“You secretly enjoy watching other people suffer and squirm.”
false – nothing secretive about it.
“Sometimes you just can’t contain your contempt toward the losers and jerks at your workplace.”
false – sometimes?
“You take credit for the accomplishments of your team – why not? They would be nowhere without you.”
false – I contribute as little as humanly possible to my team.
“You constantly interrupt people because, after all, what you have to say is more important.”
false – I constantly interrupt people because I wasn’t listening in the first place.
“You love your immediate team and they love you, but are at constant warfare with the rest of the organization. You treat everyone else like crap because, after all, if you’re not on my team, you either don’t matter or are the enemy.”
false – I despise my immediate team
In Weir’s article, ” Bait and Switch“, he informs us that Microsoft is going back on public promises regarding control of the standard, should it be approved, promises which Ecma echoed [PDF]. You can’t take your eyes off Microsoft for even a minute, can you?
Here’s part of what Weir writes:
So much for the promises. What makes this story worthy of a blog post is that we now know that, as these promises were be made to NB’s, at that same time Ecma was planning something that contradicted their public assurances. Ecma’s “Proposal for a Joint Maintenance Plan” [pdf] outlines quite a different vision for how OOXML will be maintained.
A summary of the proposed terms:
- OOXML remains under Ecma (Microsoft) control under Ecma IPR policy.
- Ecma TC45 will accept a liaison from JTC1/SC34 who can participate on maintenance activities and only maintenance activities.
- Similarly, Ecma TC45 documents and email archives will be made available to the liaison (and through him a set of technical experts), but only the documents and emails related to maintenance.
- No mention of voting rights for the liaison or the experts, so I must assume that normal Ecma rules apply — only Ecma members can vote.
- Future revisions of OOXML advance immediately to “Stage” 4″ of the ISO process, essentially enshrining the idea that future versions will given fast-track treatment
A critical point to note is that “maintenance” in ISO terms is not the same as what the average software engineer thinks of as “maintenance”. The work of producing new features or enhancements is not maintenance. The act of creating OOXML 1.1 or OOXML 2.0 is not maintenance. What is maintenance is the publication of errata documents for OOXML 1.0, a task that must be completed within 3 years.
Bait and switch indeed. Now, I’m a simple soul, so I could well be missing something, but it looks to me like at February’s meeting, any unresolved technical issues can have Microsoft promising to fix the issue, hence winning approval, after which it, through, Ecma, controls how and when it is deemed “fixed”, since voting is by rubber stamp Ecma.
Does that sound like a good plan to you? Microsoft controls maintenance of its own standard? That may not lead to true interoperability, methinks.
Convenor Martin Bryan, in his “Working Group Status Report” prepared to report on WG1 activity for the December 2007 Meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34/WG1 in Kyoto:
The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.
He writes that ISO is becoming a laughing stock in IT circles and suggests standards that are outstanding be sent over to OASIS.
“This is the most extreme example I’ve seen yet of tech companies crippling data devices in order to please Hollywood: Western Digital is disabling sharing of any avi, divx, mp3, mpeg, and many other files on its network connected devices; due to unverifiable media license authentication’. Just wondering — who needs a 1 Terabyte network-connected hard drive that is prohibited from serving most media files? Perhaps somebody with 220 million pages of .txt files they need to share?”
A local politician has shocked Italians, and Jews in particular, by proposing that immigrants be treated with the same severity the Nazis used when they occupied the country.
Giorgio Bettio, a city councilor in the northern city of Treviso, said during a council meeting earlier this week: “With immigrants, we should use the same system the SS used, punish 10 of them for every slight against one of our citizens.”
His comments revived memories of the 1944 Ardeatine Caves massacre, when Hitler ordered that 10 Italians be executed for each of the 33 German soldiers killed in a partisan attack against occupying forces on a Rome street.