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Power Can Corrupt Even the Honest

Posted on October 1st, 2014 at 22:48 by John Sinteur in category: News


To investigate this the authors used experimental methods to distinguish between the situational and individual component; and determine if power corrupts or if corrupt individuals are drawn to power.

After completing psychometric tests to measure various individual differences, including honesty, participants played the ‘dictator game’ where they were given complete control over deciding pay-outs to themselves and their followers. The leaders had the choice of making prosocial or antisocial decisions, the latter of which resulted in reduced total pay-outs to the group but increased the leader’s own earnings.

The findings showed that those who measured as less honest exhibited more corrupt behaviour, at least initially; however, over time, even those who initially scored high on honesty were not shielded from the corruptive effects of power.

“We think that strong governance mechanisms and strong institutions are the key to keeping leaders in check,” concludes Antonakis. “Organisations should limit how much leaders can drink from the seductive chalice of power.”

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  1. So who do we vote for? Republican or Republican lite?

you can take my sagan cannon when you pry it from my cold lifeless fingers.

Posted on September 30th, 2014 at 8:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


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  1. Late, I know, but I gotta say it.

    Awesome picture & a striking contrast – which would YOU rather be? The person convinced they’ve found the answers & ready to strike down those who think they have a different answer or the person equipping themselves with the tools to ask the question, and then the question behind that, and the question behind that…?

  2. I see the problem here … women. :)

The ABC of Hand Tools

Posted on September 29th, 2014 at 21:17 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Why is this video so relaxing?

EU to Publish Details of Probes of Tax Deals Benefiting Apple, Fiat

Posted on September 28th, 2014 at 20:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


European Union regulators will publish as soon as Monday their preliminary view that tax deals granted to Apple Inc. and Fiat SpA violated EU law, people familiar with the matter said, marking the next formal step in the bloc’s drive against alleged tax avoidance by multinationals.

The European Commission, the EU’s central antitrust authority, opened formal investigations in June into whether tax deals granted to Apple in Ireland, Fiat Finance and Trade in Luxembourg and Starbucks Corp. in the Netherlands amounted to illegal state support for the companies.

The commission will publish its so-called opening decision in the Apple case as soon as Monday, explaining why it reached the preliminary view that two tax deals agreed between the U.S. company and the Irish government—in 1991 and 2007—amounted to illegal state aid, a person familiar with the matter said.

Apple will have 30 days to respond to the EU’s decision, the person said.

Wait what, aren’t we just supposed to have congressional hearings and then do nothing?

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  1. The taxman cometh.

Kicking the Facebook Habit

Posted on September 28th, 2014 at 14:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


In July, I posted 159 times to my 2,308 friends, or about five posts a day (peaking at 12), and got a total of 1,110 “likes,” or about seven per post (peaking at 228). Sometimes I commented on or liked my own posts, a pathetic kind of Freudian Möbius strip. There were two days in July when I didn’t post at all, but that chastity was undone by sharing videos posted by Diddy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a Barack Obama Throwback Thursday photo, and a status update by the astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson.

I was an old lady working the social-media slot machine. And my own likes felt perfunctory, never more so than my compulsion to like all the birthday notices posted on my page. Loading Facebook began to feel a lot like opening my inbox: lots of flotsam and jetsam.

It ended like any relationship does: bit by bit, then all at once. I wanted out from under Facebook’s thumb. So in mid-August, I deactivated my profile. (This can be undone at any time, unlike permanently deleting an account, a step that gives users 14 days to change their minds, and that I’m hesitant, for now, to take.)

When my friends tried to check in on me, they saw only an Error 404-style page. A typical note from an over-30 friend was “Are you O.K.?” A typical under-30 note was “Did you block me on Facebook?” Their self-centered hysteria only amplified my abstinence.

From the 12 Steps of FBAA FaceBook Addicts Anonymous:

1. We admitted we were powerless over Facebook—that our lives had become unmanageable.

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AC/DC: Malcolm Young will not return to the band

Posted on September 27th, 2014 at 20:37 by John Sinteur in category: News


Rock band AC/DC have confirmed that founding member Malcolm Young will not return to the band, after taking a break due to illness.

The band said “due to the nature of Malcolm’s condition” their new album Rock or Bust would be the first in AC/DC’s 41-year history not to feature Young on the recordings.

Malcolm is only 61….


AC/DC co-founder, guitarist and songwriter Malcolm Young, whose retirement from the band was announced on Wednesday, has been moved into full-time care in a nursing home facility in Sydney’s eastern suburbs specialising in dementia, sources connected to the Young family have said.

The home is understood to be Lulworth House in Elizabeth Bay, the same facility that is home to Gough Whitlam and, until his recent death, Neville Wran, who was afflicted with dementia in his last years.

The Young family connection said: “If you were in the room with [Malcolm Young] and walked out, then came back in one minute later, he wouldn’t remember who you are. He has a complete loss of short-term memory. His wife, Linda, has put him in full-time care.”

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The best “unlikely allies” story you’ve probably never heard.

Posted on September 27th, 2014 at 16:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


“Pride”, a critically-acclaimed new film given a limited release in the US today, tells the true story of how a small group of LGBT activists became the biggest fundraiser for the year-long British coal miner’s strike of 1984-85. The miners faced a pre-meditated, organized, thuggish, dishonest, deceptive, and illegal surveillance and smear campaign by the Thatcher government, which froze all mining union funds, cancelled their unemployment, and denied food and housing welfare to their wives and children, in an attempt to starve them out. For the first time, the British government trained Britain’s police into a paramilitary force, bused in at great expense and in great numbers to overwhelm the protesters, using violent, repressive, and corrupt tactics against non-violent protesters, with prolonged police detentions and the indiscriminate arrest of over 11,000 British citizens. The government was supported by the rightwing tabloid media, who used sensationalist, crude headlines to shape public opinion. LGBT activists reclaimed one such headline as the name of their most successful benefit.

Although the miner’s strike was broken by the Thatcher government, the miners kept their promise to support the LGBT community, by marching alongside them at the front of London’s 1985’s Pride parade.. Later that year at the Labour Party conference, a motion was tabled that supported adding equal rights for gays and lesbians as part of the Party’s platform. This motion was opposed by Labour’s executive committee, but the motion went to a vote – and passed, thanks to the votes of the National Union of Mineworkers and their allies.

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ДТП Челябинск – Троицк 20 сентября 2014 года

Posted on September 22nd, 2014 at 22:52 by John Sinteur in category: News

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John Cleese – how to inspire creativity within yourselves

Posted on September 22nd, 2014 at 15:55 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Love his use of the “screw in a lightbulb” jokes to emphasize his points. My favorite video of his is “Romance With a Double Bass” (1974). Absolutely brilliant!

  2. More pondering time == more creative solutions. I pondered a problem for 5 years, worked out a solution, and got a patent for it… :-) Unfortunately, a multi-mega-galacticorp owns the patent (I have credit as sole inventor), otherwise I would be getting a gazillion $$ a year from Microsoft, Oracle, and Google. Sigh…

Nurse says she’s tired of treating ISIL terrorists

Posted on September 19th, 2014 at 21:10 by John Sinteur in category: News


A nurse who works at a private hospital in Mersin, a city and province on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, has told Turkish authorities and Parliament that she is sick and tired of treating members of the terrorist organization the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which now calls itself the “Islamic State.”

The nurse, who was identified only by her initials, E.G., in a news story published by the Taraf daily on Wednesday, said of ISIL militants: “We treat them, and they go on to decapitate people. I am sick of treating wounded ISIL militants.” E.G. has also written a letter to Parliament and the National Police Department, saying she and her colleagues are extremely disturbed by the fact that they have to treat people “who chop off heads.”

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  1. If she’s really sick of it, all she has to do is pick up the phone. There are people in the US and UK who will gladly take over that responsibility.

  2. Surely a nurse who doesn’t like nursing is in the wrong profession, this is more than just “bad faith”, I blame poor career advice. What a waste:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmopROxBnBU

  3. Actually, we have some really good medication in the US for ISIL militants.

  4. typically a barbiturate, paralytic, and potassium solution, right?

    Your argument isn’t helping.

  5. Yes John, it’s probably too high tech for them. Actually, I don’t see a solution for the problem. The more we interfere, the worse it gets.

When mistreating users becomes competitive advantage

Posted on September 16th, 2014 at 20:50 by John Sinteur in category: News


This week, of course, provided a glorious example of how technology companies have normalized being indifferent to consent: Apple ‘gifting’ each user with a U2 album downloaded into iTunes. At least one of my friends reported that he had wireless synching of his phone disabled; Apple overrode his express preferences in order to add the album to his music collection. The expected ‘surprise and delight’ was really more like ‘surprise and delete’. I suspect that the strong negative response (in some quarters, at least) had less to do with a dislike of U2 and everything to do with the album as a metonym for this widespread culture of nonconsensual behaviour in technology.

Deb Chachra talks about the age of non-consensual technology.
Betsy Haibel explains why companies engage in these practises

Consent-challenging approaches offer potential competitive benefits. Deceptive links capture clicks – so the linking site gets paid. Harvesting of emails through automatic opt-in aids in marketing and lead generation. While the actual corporate gain from not allowing unsubscribes is likely minimal – users who want to opt out are generally not good conversion targets – individuals and departments with quotas to meet will cheer the artificial boost to their mailing list size.

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  1. Wow, did they really download the album over wireless against user preference? Was there some agreement with the carriers in place that the bandwidth used wouldn’t count against the user?

  2. They didn’t. Or rather, they didn’t on my devices. Apparently there are some hard to find “always download purchases on all devices” setting somewhere that you need to enable before you get this behaviour. And on top of that allow those purchases to download on 3G as well, which is yet another setting disabled by default.

  3. And even after a few days, on my devices the album shows up on my list of available music, but with a little icon next to it that I need to tap before it downloads a song.

  4. Oh gosh, this is all quite vexing! Annoying, even.

    But to compare the unwanted part of someone’s digital life to non-consexual sex (or even rape) is unworthy of whoever Betsy Haibel is. Do stop pouting and get a grip, madam.

    I shall have to look up “involement” – presumably it has something to do with small grey rodents?

I am a 14-year-old Yazidi girl given as a gift to an ISIS commander. Here’s how I escaped.

Posted on September 15th, 2014 at 22:45 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


This is the story told to me by a 14-year-old Yazidi girl I’ll call “Narin,” currently staying in northern Iraqi Kurdistan. I am a Kurdish journalist with a journalism degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia who covers northern Iraq as a freelancer for several international news outlets. I heard about Narin’s tale through a Yazidi friend who knew her. Aside from translating from Kurdish and excerpting her story in collaboration with Washington Post editors, the only things I changed are all the names, at Narin’s request, to protect her and other victims from reprisal; many of her relatives are still in captivity.

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Prosecutor Will Seek Death Penalty In Police Officer’s Death

Posted on September 14th, 2014 at 21:50 by John Sinteur in category: News


Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a man charged in the shooting death of a veteran Killeen police officer.

Marvin Louis Guy, 49, has been indicted for capital murder in the shooting death of police Detective Charles “Chuck” Dinwiddie, 47, and is named in indictments charging three counts of attempted capital murder, as well.

During a hearing Thursday, Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza said he’ll seek the death penalty.

The charges stem from a shooting, which occurred as officers served a so-called no-knock search warrant just after 5:30 a.m. May 9 at 1104 Circle M Dr. Apt. 3 in Killeen.

Dinwiddie later died in the intensive care unit of Baylor Scott & White Hospital.

Denton, who was shot in the femur, underwent surgery and was later released from Scott & White.

Two other officers were hit by gunfire, but were spared injury by their protective gear.

The story carefully avoids mentioning no drugs were found. Oh, and it has a picture of MArvin – guess his race without looking.

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  1. I guess he can’t claim the “stand your ground” defense?

‘So Little Compassion': James Foley’s Parents Say Officials Threatened Family Over Ransom

Posted on September 13th, 2014 at 10:30 by John Sinteur in category: News


The mother of slain American journalist James Foley said she wasn’t necessarily surprised that the U.S. government threatened her family with prosecution should they raise money to pay her son’s ransom, but she was astounded by how such a devastating message was delivered.

“I was surprised there was so little compassion,” Diane Foley told ABC News today of the three separate warnings she said U.S. officials gave the family about the illegality of paying ransom to the terror group ISIS. “It just made me realize that these people talking to us had no idea what it was like to be the family of someone abducted… I’m sure [the U.S. official] didn’t mean it the way he said it, but we were between a rock and a hard place. We were told we could do nothing… meanwhile our son was being beaten and tortured every day.”

Earlier this week five current and former officials with direct knowledge of the Foley case confirmed the alleged threats were made.

“It was an utterly idiotic thing to do that came across as if [the U.S. official] had the compassion of an anvil,” said a former official who has advised the family.

That’s an insult to anvils everywhere.

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  1. Not to mention the hammer… Now, let’s just put these pinheads’ heads on the anvil and apply the hammer a few times to knock some sense into their thick skulls.

  2. I’m guessing tact isn’t government’s strong suit but I’m kind of wondering why the family was warned three separate times. Did the government perhaps think the family was ignoring the warnings and planned to break the law?

  3. @Rob: they had them under surveillance, almost certainly. Intercepted members of the family discussing such things, their houses are bugged, etc.

    Time to crack open the Le Carré for a little refresher?

  4. I get that, Sue. My consternation lies with two traditions in America. One is Civil Disobedience, where you break the law and just accept the consequences. The other is more of a cowboy thing where you beg forgiveness after rather than ask permission before. I’m guessing the Foleys were possibly on one of those paths. If the government adamantly doesn’t want that law broken, is a couple of stern warnings really that severe a course of action?

  5. @Rob: I’m really sorry for these people, btw. Impossible situation, horrible result. And the family.

Star Wars Minus Williams – Throne Room

Posted on September 12th, 2014 at 20:05 by John Sinteur in category: News

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U.S. threatened massive fine to force Yahoo to release data

Posted on September 12th, 2014 at 12:21 by John Sinteur in category: News


The U.S. government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day in 2008 if it failed to comply with a broad demand to hand over user communications — a request the company believed was unconstitutional — according to court documents unsealed Thursday that illuminate how federal officials forced American tech companies to participate in the National Security Agency’s controversial PRISM program.

The documents, roughly 1,500 pages worth, outline a secret and ultimately unsuccessful legal battle by Yahoo to resist the government’s demands. The company’s loss required Yahoo to become one of the first to begin providing information to PRISM, a program that gave the NSA extensive access to records of online com­munications by users of Yahoo and other U.S.-based technology firms.

The ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review became a key moment in the development of PRISM, helping government officials to convince other Silicon Valley companies that unprecedented data demands had been tested in the courts and found constitutionally sound. Eventually, most major U.S. tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Apple and AOL, complied. Microsoft had joined earlier, before the ruling, NSA documents have shown.

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  1. Yahoo didn’t think this through far enough. They should simply have started paying the fine, and announced an expected decrease in income/profits. It would have made for an interesting share holders meeting. “So what is this line item for the 10 million dollar loss?” “Well we can’t tell you.”

  2. Lol…some hope. The company would have known that the government could have just forced them to do it anyway. You can have all the constitutional lawyers on your side (except one) and still wind up out of business (or dead).

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and bomb Iraq.

Posted on September 12th, 2014 at 12:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


“Just two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait.”

—President George H. W. Bush

January 16, 1991

“Good evening. Earlier today, I ordered America’s armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq.”

—President Bill Clinton

December 16, 1998

“My fellow citizens. At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”

—President George W. Bush

March 19, 2003

“My fellow Americans. Tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.”

—President Barack Obama

September 10, 2014

Every American President in the past quarter century has now gone on television during prime time to tell the nation and the world that he has decided to bomb Iraq.

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  1. Whatever happened to your “Mess-o-potamia” tag?

  2. They say you’re measured by your enemies.

  3. They also say that you should watch your back.

Virologist: Fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia is lost

Posted on September 11th, 2014 at 23:51 by John Sinteur in category: News


His statement might alarm many people.

But Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told DW that he and his colleagues are losing hope for Sierra Leone and Liberia, two of the countries worst hit by the recent Ebola epidemic.

“The right time to get this epidemic under control in these countries has been missed,” he said. That time was May and June. “Now it is too late.”

Schmidt-Chanasit expects the virus will “burn itself out” in this part of the world.

With other words: It will more or less infect everybody and half of the population – in total about five million people – could die.

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  1. If “this part of the world” includes Nigeria, that might be an understatement. Let’s hope the heroes on the front lines can keep up the fight.

  2. Yeah, the ultimate crowd control.

  3. @chas: Well, it would be better for everyone if they all stayed home (the virus would have to evolve into a less lethal version to survive), but I take it that wasn’t what you meant.

    Let’s also hope that the Boko Haram chaps don’t take it upon themselves to become vectors for the disease.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Posted on September 11th, 2014 at 21:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


What happened in New York 13 years ago deranged a nation that was almost begging to be deranged. The Soviet Union was gone. Grenada, Panama, the First Gulf War, the Balkans, in all these places where we made war, we had what were essentially walkover victories. We had no geopolitical enemies, no country strangling our trade, or impressing our seamen, or bombing our Pacific fleet, or pointing nuclear missiles at our cities any more. Then the planes hit the towers, and the towers came down, and we had an enemy again. We declared war on a tactic. We declared war on “terror.” The concept was so patently absurd that dozens of other absurdities naturally flowed from it, the most glaring of which was the preposterous and mendacious case made for our invasion and occupation of Iraq. We jumped at shadows, heard voices in our heads, ducked and covered and lost our minds, and there were people in positions of power who were happy to oblige us for their own political and economic benefit. Then, we elected a new president, and the new president extricated us from the occupation of Iraq, and from whatever the hell we were doing in Afghanistan, which primarily seemed to be keeping the people who live there from slaughtering each other. But the war on the tactic never ended because it cannot end. You cannot defeat “terror,” because it has too many allies, some of them in your own government. It is embedded in the political culture now as deeply as the Cold War ever was — and that is not an accident, either. War against someone, war against something, somewhere, anywhere, is one of the last unifying elements in a country that was encouraged by both its declared antagonists, and by far too many people within its own government, to become deranged

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Apple’s new Identification Revolution

Posted on September 11th, 2014 at 17:45 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


But the point here is that yesterday Apple launched the most significant innovation in payments since the credit card itself. Few people have noticed and that includes the market that took Apple stock on its traditional, post-announcement, plunge.


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  1. The plunge was roughly equal in size to the earlier ~3% run-up during the event. AAPL closed about 0.25% down on the previous day’s close, iirc.

    The big question (in the context of stock price, i.e. of revenue/profit) is whether Apple will see any direct revenue from Apple Pay, i.e. a cut of the transaction fees kicked back by the banks. I haven’t seen ay reliable info on it. My guess is that even Apple does not have enough clout with the banks to negotiate that. The article mentions that Apple might assume the fraud risk on Apple Pay transactions. I highly doubt that. If they are, we should hear about it in the next SEC filings, because that’d be a big change to their business.

  2. It’s probably going to be decided by how many banks they can separate from the herd.

  3. The cash hoard Apple is sitting on would be big enough for them to start their own bank, should they wish to, but it’s not their core business.

    Then there’s also the risk factor. Stores that do their transactions with “card in hand” get a lower transaction fee than those that don’t, such as internet stores. I would expect Apple to *at least* get a “card in hand” transaction fee deal for Apple Pay transactions at their own stores, both online and offline, since the risk involved in Apple Pay transactions is much lower even than “card in hand”.

    What I’m really not seeing is that Apple “has not enough clout” with the banks – their client database and card info for their eco-system (app store, iTunes, apple TV) is immense. If I were a bank CEO I would fear all income from transaction fees to evaporate if I were not on board with Apple..

    Actually, from all the product introductions made, iPhone 6(plus), Apple Watch, and Apple Pay, I’d consider Apple Pay the one with the biggest potential impact.

    The second biggest would be the U2 album they gave away for free. Think about it – how much money would Bono and Co make off CD sales for regular release? Not the T-shirt sales, live shows, etc, just the album? Let’s say somewhere between 10m and 20m. If Apple just gave them that amount upfront, that would be a smart move for U2, a great deal for Apple (who will probably just take it out of the advertising budget, because that’s what this is for them), but not so much for the record industry… If more big names start releasing their stuff this way, they are going the way of the dodo.

  4. par2: I’ve read commentary that claimed that *all* Apple Pay transactions will qualify as card-in-hand. This is speculation by someone familiar with the industry, not based on actual knowledge.

    par3: Sure Apple have a lot of CCs on file. Do you think they’re going to threaten BofA to no longer accept BofA VISA cards on iTunes if BofA doesn’t play along with Apple Pay? I think BofA would happily call that bluff. No, Apple needed to get the top few banks on board with Apple Pay so they could say that AP works with 80% of existing cards. The banks each knew this and knew they had some leverage.

    par4: “I’d consider Apple Pay the one with the biggest potential impact.” Impact on what? Life or Apple revenue/profit?

    par5: The free U2 album might have been better advertising if it weren’t presented the same day at the new phones and the watch. As-is it was completely drowned out in the media. So more than plain advertising, it seems to me like a move by Apple to get people who do not yet have an iTunes account to sign up for one. Can’t say that I understand the value to Apple of iTunes accounts that are not tied to any Apple device, given that they don’t have an iTunes Store app for Android.

  5. > It’s probably going to be decided by how many banks they can separate from the herd.

    Sue: Apple Pay works for the cards used in 80+% of transactions in the U.S. out of the gate. The big banks are all participating and I’d guess the rest are now desperate to join so they don’t lose traffic.

  6. WSJ: “The card-issuing banks have agreed to pay a per-transaction fee to Apple to be included on the phone, according to people familiar with the situation.”


  7. Banking has a lot of similarities to some other businesses that Apple has built into. Full of complacent incumbents with antiquated systems, horrible customer relations and artificially maintained prices.

    I don’t expect it to happen, but one can hope :-)

  8. par4: both. The second follows from the first. If only because I don’t see google or samsung capable of doing something similar. Or rather, not by themselves.

  9. Yeah, I read up on how Google Wallet works. Google took a go-it-alone approach and was possibly losing money on each transaction plus assuming some transaction risk.

Calm down, America: We’re as safe as we were a year ago

Posted on September 11th, 2014 at 15:15 by John Sinteur in category: News


Unless you’re judging American security by the safety of freelance Syria correspondents, nothing that happened to them proves that there’s any increased danger to Americans. We learned nothing new about the power or reach of ISIS, or its cruelty. The beheadings were designed to make the U.S. overreact, and to draw the country into a one-on-one war with “the Islamic state.” Let’s hope on that count they fail.

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  1. The political elite can use those panicked polling numbers quite handily to gather support around the flag while other indicators languish (jobs, wages, equality, education).

    The Empire makes the enemies it needs.

#notallslaveowners: the Economist complains that a book on slavery makes white people look bad

Posted on September 11th, 2014 at 1:23 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


The Economist has run an extraordinary piece that apparently defends slave owners. Its review of a book on slavery, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward Baptist, suggests the book is biased for making white people look bad.

The Economist: panderers to the rich and powerful, finally come out on the side of those woefully misunderstood fellows, decent white slave owners.

Since they never assign an author to any article in their magazine the whole editorial board is er…tarred with the same brush. (They have since retracted the story).


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  1. The Economist is very far from being the WSJ. They have a pro-business stance, but I don’t find them pandering to much of anyone.

    This incident strikes me as the result of an editor asleep on the job. It’s too predictable that this would produce a big flap for it to have gotten into print intentionally.

  2. I see a lot of articles that make (especially US) rich people feel rather good about themselves. I think they are trying to educate their masters.

    There are a few humanist hand-wringings here and there, so perhaps a bit of balance was needed :-)

  3. I’d be curious what kinds of articles you think make rich Americans feel good about themselves. (Also curious who you think of as “rich”–the top 5%, 1%, 0.1%?)

    (FWIW, I think the Economist has been clear that they think growing inequality in the U.S. is a problem and needs to be addressed.)

  4. I said I thought that they were trying to educate their masters – in general terms their editorial policy is arguably good – encourages reduction of poverty, increasing education for the poor, equality for women, giving everyone a job, available healthcare, against totalitarianism, for legalization of drugs and the sex trade etc.

    However, they pull their punches in direct criticism of policy or political actions, and allow the snug world of the rich (which I define as never really needing to worry about money) to glide on in oblivious contentment. There is usually a patronizing line to soften any bad news – no-one is really to blame, no-one is held to account, no politician is really that bad, aw shucks.

    I think this may stem from having a lot of intelligent and likeable journalists directly interviewing important people. They tend to get a bit too close, imo.

    OTOH, no-one wants to read a bunch of tedious, politically correct moaning from the New Statesman all the time :-)

Patrick Stewart: There’s no such thing as “just a domestic”

Posted on September 11th, 2014 at 1:08 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Domestic violence takes an enormous death toll. Every week two women are killed by current or former partners in England and Wales. And so, up and down the country, there are thousands of bereaved families struggling to come to terms with the loss of a beloved mother, daughter or sister. In too many of these cases, the police – and other state agencies – have failed to protect women and children at their moment of greatest need.

Timely reminder in light of this AJE report that domestic violence kills more than civil war:

“For every civil war battlefield death, roughly nine people are killed in inter-personal disputes,” said Anke Hoeffler of Oxford University and James Fearon of Stanford University, who wrote the for the Copenhagen Consensus Centre…

Civil wars cost the world economy about $170bn a year.

Illegal killings, mainly of men unrelated to domestic disputes, cost $650bn.

But those figures were dwarfed by the $8 trillion annual cost of domestic violence, mostly against women and children.

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The Biggest Lie of the New Century

Posted on September 10th, 2014 at 18:54 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Corporate executives theoretically work for the owners of the company, namely, the shareholders. But there is an agency problem in that owners can’t closely manage and object to the actions of these executives. Collective owners, such as mutual funds, seem to have no interest in doing so. What we end up with is a management class that works for itself instead of on behalf of the owners of the publicly traded banks. Many of these executives committed crimes; got big bonuses for doing so; and paid huge fines using shareholder assets (i.e., company cash), helping them avoid prosecution.

As for claims like those of white-collar crime defense attorney Mark F. Pomerantz, that “the executives running companies like Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan were not committing criminal acts,” they simply are implausible if not laughable. Consider a brief survey of some of the more egregious acts of wrongdoing…

Funny, but I don’t see much political effort going into “punishment as deterrent” for these crimes that have caused so much damage.

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Posted on September 10th, 2014 at 9:40 by John Sinteur in category: News

“I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance.”

-Reuben Blades

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  1. I have always had a great deal of respect for Reuben Blades. This quote is just so spot-on.

WHO: Ebola spread exponential in Liberia, thousands of cases expected in Sept

Posted on September 8th, 2014 at 22:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Ebola virus is spreading exponentially in Liberia, where many thousands of new cases expected over the coming three weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

Oh shit.

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  1. Watching the numbers there has been no significant sign of slowing the spread. (There was a slightly slower increase in the last batch of numbers to appear on Wikipedia, but one number could be a data collection issue.) Even if the spread rate was cut in half there would soon be thousands of new cases.

    I previous Central African epidemics most of the control was quarantining villages until 6 weeks after the deaths stopped. That is not a tenable solution for Monrovia, but do we have a better approach?

    Watch the log chart: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola_virus_epidemic_in_West_Africa#Timeline_of_the_outbreak

Bacteria from bees possible alternative to antibiotics

Posted on September 8th, 2014 at 18:56 by John Sinteur in category: News


Raw honey has been used against infections for millennia, before honey – as we now know it – was manufactured and sold in stores. So what is the key to its’ antimicrobial properties? Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in fresh honey, from the honey stomach of bees. The bacteria produce a myriad of active antimicrobial compounds.

These lactic acid bacteria have now been tested on severe human wound pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), among others. When the lactic acid bacteria were applied to the pathogens in the laboratory, it counteracted all of them.

While the effect on human bacteria has only been tested in a lab environment thus far, the lactic acid bacteria has been applied directly to horses with persistent wounds.

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Scottish independence and the complacency of the Westminster establishment

Posted on September 8th, 2014 at 1:58 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


For the last 35 years the behaviour of the Westminster establishment has been particularly egregious. The establishment class has repeatedly got away with neglecting the public interest in order to put their own interests first, in accordance with the cult-like economic dogma of greed, social neglect, privatisation and financialisation that they have become so obsessed with since Thatcher introduced it in 1979.

The Westminster establishment seized the profits from Scottish oil and siphoned them into the City of London and used them to fund tax breaks for their wealthy backers. Instead of creating a sovereign wealth fund which would surely have rivaled Norway’s as one of the biggest in the world, the establishment class squandered it all on the ridiculous fantasy of building a post-industrial economy based around the City of London financial sector.

Interesting times; polling is getting it wrong more often (hard to get a representative sample in an increasingly disparate world), but a recent poll has the “Yes” side gaining ground. The Establishment are crapping themselves…Is it going to be “Scotland, the Brave…?”

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Sierra Leone to Impose 3-Day Ebola Quarantine

Posted on September 7th, 2014 at 23:33 by John Sinteur in category: News


With West African governments increasingly desperate to contain an ever-quickening Ebola epidemic, Sierra Leone has decreed a stringent new measure confining residents to their homes later this month.

For three days, from Sept. 19 to Sept. 21, “everybody is expected to stay indoors” as 7,000 teams of health and community workers go door to door to root out hidden Ebola patients, a government spokesman, Abdulai Bayraytay, said Saturday from the capital, Freetown. The military and the police will enforce the measure, Mr. Bayraytay added.

With an incubation time of 8 to 21 days, that sounds woefully inadequate.

Right now they’re only managing to quarantine about 8% of social contacts of victims, and that was in the data published by Science- as the epidemic spread and resources run thing it’s probably even fewer now.

We get the infected patients in their home, they also quarantine everyone living in the home and try to track down anyone who was in contact with those people, who will also be in their home, hopefully. They’re not going to be just quarantining the ones that are actually ill, but also they contacted, who may become ill in the next 21 days.

It’s true you need to do this for 21 days to root everyone out. But they’ve done a number of studies on what’s a feasible quarantine length for a large population (I actually helped run one) and three days is pretty much as long as you can go without meeting a hell of a lot of resistance. So three days it is.

And they may well be wrong.

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Video captures explosive volcanic eruption in Papua New Guinea

Posted on September 6th, 2014 at 18:18 by John Sinteur in category: News


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