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Comcast Tells Customer The Only Reason He’s Getting Bogus Charges Refunded Is Because He Recorded Call

Posted on August 11th, 2014 at 20:59 by John Sinteur in category: News


When Davis asks why she couldn’t simply do that during the earlier call, her explanation is enough to make you pound your head through a wall in frustration.

“We try to negotiate, and again, that is a valid charge,” she answers. “But since I advised my manager that there is a recording and you were misinformed, then she’s the one who can approve that $82.”

Seemingly flabbergasted, Davis asks to confirm, “You’re telling me that if I didn’t have a recording of that call, you wouldn’t have been able to do it?”

“Yes, that is correct,” answers the rep, confirming that the only way to get Comcast to erase a bogus charge from your account is to have recorded evidence that you were promised in advance that the call would be free.

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Bundesregierung Aufdeckung aller Agenten in Deutschland

Posted on August 11th, 2014 at 17:22 by John Sinteur in category: News


Die Bundesregierung erhöht den Druck auf ausländische Nachrichtendienste, ihre Aktivitäten in Deutschland offenzulegen. Nach Informationen von SPIEGEL ONLINE drängt das Auswärtige Amt (AA) alle ausländischen Botschaften auf offiziellem diplomatischen Weg, ihr gesamtes Geheimdienstpersonal zu benennen.

Konkret fordert eine bereits am Mittwoch versandte Verbalnote, dass alle Staaten, einschließlich der internationalen Partner, Listen mit den Namen aller aktiven Agenten vorlegen sollen. Ausdrücklich sind Konsulate, Kulturinstitute und auch Geheimdienstler miteingeschlossen. Die Bundesregierung erwarte nun, dass die Note “von allen angeschriebenen Vertretungen beantwortet” werde, hieß es im AA.

Berlin drängt mit dem ungewöhnlichen Schritt auf mehr Transparenz für die in Deutschland tätigen ausländischen Geheimdienste. Im Ministerium von Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) heißt es diplomatisch, Ziel des Vorstoßes sei es, zwischen der Bundesregierung und den Botschaften “einen gemeinsamen Sachstand” herzustellen. Tatsächlich aber belegt die provokante Bitte die deutsche Frustration über das Treiben der ausländischen Nachrichtendienste. Vor allem die konstante Weigerung des Partners USA, Berlin zumindest das offizielle Personal der CIA, NSA oder des Militärgeheimdienstes offenzulegen, sorgt in der Regierung für Ärger.

It does sound like they plan to perform a comprehensive cross checking between what embassies are willing to report, what they already know for certain, and what they have evidence to suggest may be incorrect. And draw conclusions over which countries are friendly or hostile..

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  1. A rational attempt to try to avoid embarassing incidents such as happened recently. However, they are not going to succeed, imo, as the U.S. isn’t a single rational actor; it’s a highly idiosyncratic combination of a large number of organizations and sectional interests. (Part of its genius and its weakness).


Social Engineering a Telemarketer

Posted on August 11th, 2014 at 16:10 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


Today is a good day. I just had a call from a telemarketer. Did I yell and scream at them, you ask? Certainly not. Like a good IT administrator I put my skills to use for their benefit. Here’s how the conversation went:

Computer: “Press 9 to not be contacted in the future. Press 4 to speak to someone about your mortgage issues”

TM: “Hello, are you having problems paying your mortgage?”

Me: “Hi, this is the IT department. We intercepted your call as we detected a problem with you phone and need to fix it.”

TM: “Oh… ok, well what do we need to do?”

Me: “We’re going to need to fix the settings by pressing 4-6-8 and * at the same time”

TM: “Ok, nothing happened.”

Me: “Are you using the new Polycom phones that we deployed?”

TM: “No, it’s a Yealink”

Me: “Ok, I see. You haven’t had the new Polycom phone deployed to your desk yet. Let me check our technical documentations for the Yealink.”

Me: “Alright, do you see an “OK” button on your phone?”

TM: “Yes I do”

Me: “Alright, you’re going to press and hold that button for 10 seconds.”

TM: “OK, pressing it now”

Me: “Perfect, let me know if you get a password request”

TM: “OK, nothing has popped up ye—-”

That’s right. I made a telemarketer unwittingly factory reset his phone which means he will be unable to make anymore calls until someone is able to reconfigure his phone and that will take at least an hour or longer if they can’t do it right away!

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  1. Almost as funny as this one

Amazon Gets Increasingly Nervous

Posted on August 11th, 2014 at 10:52 by John Sinteur in category: Amazon


In sum and once again: Amazon is not your friend. Neither is any other corporation. It and they do what they do for their own interest and are more than willing to try to make you try believe that what they do for their own benefit is in fact for yours. It’s not. In this particular case, this is not about readers or authors or anyone else but Amazon wanting eBooks capped at $9.99 for its own purposes. It should stop pretending that this is about anything other than that. Readers, authors, and everyone else should stop pretending it’s about anything other than that, too.

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  1. I can’t wait for the movie. That deep booming promo voice:

    “In a world where dark forces are constantly trying to enslave us all; one man, leading a tiny band of heroes, is struggling against all odds to overcome a many-headed monster of the deep…”

    Apple did that one price per track thing. Is this different?

  2. Well, yes and no. I agree with Gruber on this: I think Apple cares about music in a way that Amazon does not care about books. Maybe only because Steve Jobs personally cared about music in a serious way, but now it’s ingrained in Apple’s culture.

    (And if we want to be cynical, let’s admit that it’s possible for Apple to care about music for music’s sake because they sell tens of millions of expensive gadgets on which we listen to music every quarter.)

  3. Speaking as someone who self-publishes ebooks (and who sets his own prices), I would like to point out that it was Apple that forced Amazon to pay higher royalties on ebook sales. Apple drove the royalties up from 35% to 70% and Amazon has already had to scramble to remain competitive. There are other, smaller sites like Smashwords or Lulu that pay even higher royalties.

  4. Fits on the cynical bit – Apple makes more money from the devices they sell with the iBooks app on it than from e-book sales, so it is in their interest to make the authors pick them over Amazon. They probably ran the numbers on the best (for them) royalty percentage to give to authors, and 70% for the authors makes them the most money.

  5. @Mudak: What does Apple pay 70% royalties on? And to whom, publishers or authors?

Inside Apple’s Internal Training Program

Posted on August 11th, 2014 at 10:11 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


Apple may well be the only tech company on the planet that would dare compare itself to Picasso.

In a class at the company’s internal training program, the so-called Apple University, the instructor likened the 11 lithographs that make up Picasso’s “The Bull” to the way Apple builds its smartphones and other devices. The idea: Apple designers strive for simplicity just as Picasso eliminated details to create a great work of art.

Steven P. Jobs established Apple University as a way to inculcate employees into Apple’s business culture and educate them about its history, particularly as the company grew and the tech business changed. Courses are not required, only recommended, but getting new employees to enroll is rarely a problem.

Although many companies have such internal programs, sometimes referred to as indoctrination, Apple’s version is a topic of speculation and fascination in the tech world.

It is highly secretive and rarely written about, referred to briefly in the biography of Mr. Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Apple employees are discouraged from talking about the company in general, and the classes are no exception. No pictures of the classrooms have surfaced publicly. And a spokeswoman for Apple declined to make instructors available for interviews for this article.

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Super Moon

Posted on August 11th, 2014 at 9:00 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. That fat orb is going to ruin our view of the Perseids!

Storm Chasing on Saturn

Posted on August 10th, 2014 at 18:09 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


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Man & Computer

Posted on August 9th, 2014 at 21:08 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Ah, the good old days! I was 10 in 1965 :-)


Posted on August 9th, 2014 at 19:52 by John Sinteur in category: Caturday


Late last month, a Siamese cat named Coco went wandering in his suburban Washington, DC neighborhood. He spent three hours exploring nearby backyards. He killed a mouse, whose carcass he thoughtfully brought home to his octogenarian owner, Nancy. And while he was out, Coco mapped dozens of his neighbors’ Wi-Fi networks, identifying four routers that used an old, easily-broken form of encryption and another four that were left entirely unprotected.

Unbeknownst to Coco, he’d been fitted with a collar created by Nancy’s granddaughter’s husband, security researcher Gene Bransfield. And Bransfield had built into that collar a Spark Core chip loaded with his custom-coded firmware, a Wi-Fi card, a tiny GPS module and a battery—everything necessary to map all the networks in the neighborhood that would be vulnerable to any intruder or Wi-Fi mooch with, at most, some simple crypto-cracking tools.

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The US bombing its own guns perfectly sums up America’s total failure in Iraq

Posted on August 9th, 2014 at 13:43 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia


And so now the US has to use American weaponry to destroy the American weaponry it gave Iraqis to make Iraqis safer, in order to make Iraqis safer.

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  1. War is Hell. It is also a very profitable business. Why do you think the MSM likes to beat the drum for war, it is because it makes them money. Making weapons, selling them, making more weapons, selling those and having them used to destroy other weapons is genius a way to make money. Read the Arms of Krupp. It tells the story of a German family that made millions making weapons. They probably still are. Both France and Germany are selling weapons to Russia. How long do you think it will be before NATO is trying to destroy those weapons?

    The mistake made in Afghanistan and Iraq was 1) going there in the first place and 2) thinking we could make them into democracies. We cannot force them to be like us, the sooner we leave them to choose their own fate the better. (The better for us, probably not for them.)

  2. “Leave them to their fate” would be a better way to express it. I don’t think any Afghans or Iraquis will be choosing their own fate.

YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS

Posted on August 9th, 2014 at 10:39 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


There’s a nice little feuilleton in the New York Times looking at why everyone whines about their iPhone slowing down when Apple releases a new variant.

Starting from a personal complaint by a professor, one of his students looks at the incidence for “iPhone slow” in Google Trends and notes that there’s a leap every time a new model is released.

That is released – not announced – so it must come from actual use, rather than just thinking that it isn’t quite up to date.

It’s also noted that releases of new Samsung models do not coincide so strongly with leaps in similar search terms. Obviously there’s something specific to Apple here, and that’s that major upgrades to the iPhone coincide with upgrades to iOS, something which 90 per cent of iPhone users will implement.

Famously, Android users do not tend to upgrade their OS over time. So, we might think that this observed slow-down is a result of trying to run the new OS on old hardware which isn’t quite up to supporting it. And we’d probably be right there.

However, we can now go off on our own and go a little further than this. For what’s really remarkable about these OS upgrades is how good Apple has been at keeping new versions of iOS compatible with old versions of hardware. No one at all would suggest running today’s Samsung bloatware (that bit that floats around on top of Android) on hardware three years old. But it seems perfectly acceptable to be running this year’s iOS on old kit. It’s also at this point that we can wander off into a couple of bits of economics for illumination.

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Oracle Database 12c’s data redaction security smashed live on stage

Posted on August 9th, 2014 at 7:46 by John Sinteur in category: Security


Oracle’s much-ballyhooed data redaction feature in Database 12c is easy to subvert without needing to use exploit code, attendees at Defcon 22 in Las Vegas have heard.

The redaction features in 12c are designed to automatically protect sensitive database material by either totally obscuring column data or partially masking it – for example, recalling just the last four digits of a US social security number when a search query is run.

But according to David Litchfield, security specialist at Datacomm TSS and the author of The Oracle Hacker’s Handbook, the mechanism is so riddled with basic flaws that you don’t even need to execute native exploit code to defeat the redaction – some clever SQL is all that’s needed, we’re told.

“If Oracle has a decent security development lifecycle in place anyone would have found these flaws and stopped them in tracks,” Litchfield said.

“Anyone with a modicum of SQL would have found these bugs.”

Litchfield said that within five minutes of investigating the redactions system, he found serious flaws in the coding. He’s previously documented his findings here [PDF].

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Microsoft Scraps Windows 8 Major Updates. Bets The Farm On Windows 9

Posted on August 8th, 2014 at 23:24 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


It’s official, Windows 8 is a write-off . Sales for the operating system have been poor and now it is even starting to lose market share to Windows 7. To Microsoft MSFT credit it has bravely persisted addressing issue after issue. Most notable was the major Windows 8.1 Update 1 patch released in April which makes the OS a genuinely credible platform. Still it remains far from perfect and now Microsoft is prematurely pulling the plug.

In a blog post by Microsoft Senior Marketing Communications Manager Brandon LeBlanc, he explains that there will be no more major update releases for Windows 8: “despite rumours and speculation, we are not planning to deliver a Windows 8.1 ‘Update 2’.”

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Google to Tie Mobile Web, App Trackers for Ad Targeting

Posted on August 8th, 2014 at 22:37 by John Sinteur in category: If you're in marketing, kill yourself, Privacy


Google has come up with a way to overcome the ad-targeting gap between mobile web visitors and mobile app users, according to people familiar with the matter.

The online ad giant is set to begin testing a new method of targeting tablet and smartphone users that connects the separate tracking mechanisms that follow what people do on the mobile web and in mobile apps respectively, the people said. Until now, advertisers have usually been forced to treat individual mobile users as two unconnected people, depending on whether they are using a mobile browser or apps.

A Google spokesman confirmed the effort. “As an alternative to less transparent methods, we’re doing some tests to help businesses run consistent ad campaigns across a device’s mobile browser and mobile apps, using existing anonymous identifiers, while enabling people to use the established privacy controls on Android and iOS,” the spokesman said in an email.

The targeting method relies on Google’s two-million-plus network of third-party sites and its mobile app ad network AdMob, which is able to track and serve ads to users of hundreds of thousands of mobile apps across Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems.

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Casual Friday

Posted on August 8th, 2014 at 22:30 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


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  1. Where’d he get the cheetah skin?

“If you blow the whistle,” Obama said, “you should be thanked.”

Posted on August 8th, 2014 at 11:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


Obama said the department and administration have started reaching out to veterans who are on the wait lists to match them with care, have fired people and are investigating numerous allegations of misconduct.

Obama and members of Congress said one of the most important provisions of the bill is free: It allows McDonald free reign to fire people who are not doing their jobs or have engaged in unethical behavior.

If an employee does not meet standards of conduct, “You should be fired, period,” Obama said. Whistleblowers, Obama said, should be protected.

“If you blow the whistle,” Obama said, “you should be thanked. You should be protected for doing the right thing. You shouldn’t be ignored and you certainly shouldn’t be punished.”

“…Unless you blow the whistle on my or any of my pals. In that case, you’d better flee the country quick or my people will kill you or lock you in a cage for the rest of your life.”

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  1. Politicians are fair weather friends, you can’t expect them to be consistent and they have to pander to the mass vote, ideally with meaningless slogans that are open to multiple interpretations.
    When Obama talks about whistle-blowers he doesn’t mean people alerting us to the miss-deeds of his own security services, oh no, that is treason.

  2. The man is an habitual liar. He’s never told the truth in his life.

WHO: Ebola ‘an international emergency’

Posted on August 8th, 2014 at 9:47 by John Sinteur in category: News


The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of Ebola in West Africa an international health emergency.

WHO officials said the possible consequences were “particularly serious” because of the virulence of the virus.

The announcement came after experts convened a two-day emergency meeting in Switzerland.

I wonder… if they announced a vaccine tomorrow, would all the anti-vaccine people line up to get a shot?

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Posted on August 8th, 2014 at 9:29 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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The Social Laboratory

Posted on August 8th, 2014 at 8:06 by John Sinteur in category: Privacy, Security


When Peter Ho, the senior defense official, met with John Poindexter back in 2002 about the Total Information Awareness program, Poindexter suggested that Singapore would face a much easier time installing a big-data analysis system than he had in the United States, because Singapore’s privacy laws were so much more permissive. But Ho replied that the law wasn’t the only consideration. The public’s acceptance of government programs and policies was not absolute, particularly when it came to those that impinged on people’s rights and privileges.

It sounds like an accurate forecast. In this tiny laboratory of big-data mining, the experiment is yielding an unexpected result: The more time Singaporeans spend online, the more they read, the more they share their thoughts with each other and their government, the more they’ve come to realize that Singapore’s light-touch repression is not entirely normal among developed, democratic countries — and that their government is not infallible. To the extent that Singapore is a model for other countries to follow, it may tell them more about the limits of big data and that not every problem can be predicted.

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  1. Interesting. Not much mention that they are yet trying to manipulate public opinion.

    Another thought: The idea that perpetual growth in an economy is necessary and desirable seems to be unquestioningly accepted, by everyone. At some point humans will have to manage population growth so that a fertility rate of 1.2 is good.

Snowden gets three-year residence in Russia

Posted on August 8th, 2014 at 3:27 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Edward Snowden, the former US intelligence contractor turned whistleblower, has been granted a three-year residence permit to remain in Russia.

Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, told reporters on Thursday that Snowden had been granted asylum allowing him to move about freely and travel abroad.

Funny coincidence that, just as the Russians want to be really annoying to the West…

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  1. Strange that freedom should annoy the West.

Christian Radio Host Hopes Ebola Will ‘Solve America’s Problems Of Atheism And Homosexuality’

Posted on August 7th, 2014 at 22:16 by John Sinteur in category: batshitinsane


Speaking on his radio show on Tuesday, Wiles said, “Now this Ebola epidemic can become a global pandemic and that’s another name for plague. It may be the great attitude adjustment that I believe is coming… Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography and abortion.”

“If Ebola becomes a global plague, you better make sure the blood of Jesus is upon you, you better make sure you have been marked by the angels so that you are protected by God. If not, you may be a candidate to meet the Grim Reaper.”

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  1. Holy shit – The Ebola virus can check your beliefs before infecting you! Can it also be bribed? And what is this blood of Jesus stuff? Where the hell are we going to get that? Wait…let me check on Facebook for everyone named Jesus…..ah, I found a few…see you later ..got to run and get some blood.

  2. “Ebola could solve America’s problems with atheism (not enough), homosexuality (too much prejudice), sexual promiscuity (not fucking enough), pornography (not the good sort) and abortion (too hard to get).”

    (Actually I’d like to meet the Grim Reaper. Has he come about the hedge?)

Beyond Torture: The CIA’s Shameful Kidnapping of a 12-Year-Old Girl

Posted on August 7th, 2014 at 22:10 by John Sinteur in category: News


President Obama is letting the CIA play a major part in censoring a report on brutal human-rights abuses perpetrated by CIA employees. This has always been self-evidently absurd: No possible arrangement would present a bigger conflict of interest. What many Americans might not know is that the CIA isn’t just intent on covering up torture. It’s also averse to the public knowing more about renditions, a euphemism for kidnapping people and handing them over to violent thugs.

A rendition victim is now speaking out to highlight this aspect of the controversy. Today, she’s a 23-year-old college student working toward a degree in the humanities. When her family was kidnapped she was a frightened 12-year-old girl.

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  1. Where’s the Evil Empire or the Axis of Evil now?

The terrifying scale of political illiteracy in the UK

Posted on August 7th, 2014 at 20:54 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


Essentially, the British public has allowed right-wing press barons like Rupert Murdoch to frame the political debate to such an extent that the actual meanings of basic political words and phrases have become lost. This alarming scale of political illiteracy has not been brought about because the public is inherently stupid or gullible, it has come about after decades of effort from the right-wing media to frame the political debate in such a way that basic political words and phrases like “socialist” and “left-wing” have been divorced from their actual meanings.

Although this blogger is writing about the UK, the lesson is the same across the Murdoch media empire and beyond. The Big Lie, repeated frequently and consistently actually wears a hole in people’s heads.

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Bike Lanes

Posted on August 7th, 2014 at 8:44 by Paul Jay in category: News

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  1. Very funny and also true – ticket the path blockers. As an avid city bike rider, often with my twin daughters in tow in a trailer, when on common paths (for joggers, walkers and bikers), I am amazed how many stupid selfish people are out there. Either pedestrians walking 4 abreast blocking the bath, runners/walkers with earphones cranked up so loud that my dual bells do not register, other bikers out weaving like they are the only ones. Road bike nazis who feel it is their right to speed through crowded sections. Common sense is lacking. Share the trail – a concept very far.

  2. Is there as much friction between cyclists and cars/trucks in Europe as there is in America?

    That guy is a bit of a tool. When your path is blocked, you don’t keep going forward. You go around or you stop until the path is cleared, just like cars and trucks. Also, he was going the wrong way on the bike path about half of the time. Finally, complaining that you’re getting a ticket when so many other lawbreakers aren’t is definitely a losing argument.

    That said, cyclists do need drivers to be more aware of them. It’s not easy, though. The mind and the eye work together. Drivers looking for and expecting to see a car or truck may not see the cyclist or the pedestrian at all.

  3. @Rob In Europe, at least in the NL, the drivers are trained to look for bikers, especially when turning. Bikes have the right of way, except when it comes to Trams. Thus I disagree with “it is not easy”. It is easy, it requires retraining drivers that the car is not king and the road is for multiple vehicles. Open season on pedestrians and bikers by car drivers is closed.

  4. ALL drivers are trained to look for pedestrians, cyclists, and obstacles everywhere. Unfortunately, experience and repetition are far better trainers. If you don’t see it much, you won’t always look for it. It’s human nature. Magicians use that in their misdirection.

    Or, you can take your approach and I’m sure your family will take comfort that you were totally in the right, Mykolas.

  5. @Rob – What? Restrain you leaps of logic. I said nothing about being totally right. I merely said it is easy if there is training. And besides, driver training in the U.S. is a bloody joke compared with the riggers one goes through to get a license in the E.U.

  6. OK, I’ll bite. What rigors do you in the EU go through to get a license that I in the US don’t go through, particularly in regards to avoiding collisions?

  7. Blimey! Talk about bull-baiting! The average cop on the street in a dark serge uniform with flak jacket is already hot and bothered. He was lucky the officer was too tired to get out of his car…

    And for crying out loud, wear a helmet, people!

  8. @Rob – Google it. If that fails read http://ec.europa.eu/transport/roadsafety_library/publications/supreme_f2_thematic_report_driver_education_training_licensing.pdf and http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/pdf/811543.pdf
    Also “texting” and hand held phones while driving is still allowed in numerous US states. In the states that it is prohibited, it is not enforced. Now, please go away and read.

  9. Not going to get into dueling links with you, Mykolas. Besides, maybe you shouldn’t link to a PDF document. It’s searchable. See where it says anything other than hand held phones are anything other than unsafe. If you can’t find that same guideline on a US site, I’d be a little disappointed in you. You haven’t read all of the US manuals and I haven’t read all of the European manuals. I don’t intend to. Drivers here have to take a written and a driving test. Most of them also take a course. I suspect I would pass in Europe just as easily as you would pass in America.

    The problems here between drivers and cyclists stem from a lack of awareness and maybe even a little condescension on both parts, not from lack of rules or training.

  10. @Rob Oh yawn zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  11. After reading the discourse between Mykolas and Rob I need to just need to give you my personal experience. I am from and live in the US. I moved to Scotland and had to get a British drivers license. Without going into detail I can tell you that the drivers test I took in Scotland was much more intense. The US test was a joke in comparison. In the US the actual driving part took about 15 minutes or less. In the UK it took almost 45 minutes. That’s why you see driving schools all over the UK. You don’t see that here in the States. I also noticed that bicyclers in the UK were given much more respect than the US.

  12. “Is there as much friction between cyclists and cars/trucks in Europe as there is in America?”

    This is all I asked. I then got a lecture on who’s right and who’s wrong and why the EU is far superior to the US, blah, blah, blah …

    From your experience, Gene, did you also notice more people on bikes in the UK than here in the US?

    From my experience, I see dual-controlled training cars on my commute every day and I don’t even know where the school is. My driving test was about 30 minutes long as I recall. I’ve been driving for 40 years now. That semester of driving school and the tests I took have been replaced by everyday experience.

    When I’m on my bike, I am intensely aware of everything going on around me. I am never, ever going to be one of those cyclists who says bikes have right of way always and forever when I can tell that 18-wheeler coming up to the traffic circle doesn’t see me. Right or wrong, I’m going to stay out of his way. When I’m in my truck on country roads, I have good awareness of bikes and give them a wide berth. When I’m on busy streets in the city with lots of moving parts, it’s much more difficult … regardless of training or where you took your tests. You have bikes weaving in and out, pedestrians walking out from behind cars, and construction everywhere.

    As far as training goes, the cyclist in the video needs it as much as any of the motorists he was whining about.

  13. “Is there as much friction between cyclists and cars/trucks in Europe as there is in America?”

    Not easy to say – Europe has a lot of different countries. Here in the Netherlands however… The Theory test for a drivers license usually sees only 46% pass, that should tell you something about the intensity. There are lots of regulations for mirrors and even cameras on trucks for dead angles where a driver could otherwise overlook people on a bike.

    But more importantly, driving a bike is much more common over here than in most other countries, especially in town.

    I think in the Netherlands there is far less friction between different uses of the available road space. Can’t say about other European countries.

  14. One thing I’ve noticed in North American states and provinces – generally roads are not very often well designed for sharing the road between bikes and cars. (There were few bikes around until recently).

    Ironic, considering that nice smooth asphalt roads were first lobbied for by bicyclists in the late 1800′s/early 1900′s.

  15. Absolutely true, Sue. The roads out here where I live were just re-paved. The painted end stripe is between two inches and six inches from the edge of the road. I don’t even know how they kept their machine that close to the edge. So when you see a road that has a two to six inch shoulder, it’s not erosion like I always thought. It was designed that way.

  16. That’s pretty much how it is here, John. In the city here, people use bikes as transportation and recreation. Outside of the city, they use them almost strictly for recreation. The problems are in the city where the drivers are hurried and harried to get where they’re going and the cyclists are, too. Neither observes and respects the other and neither observes or respects the rules of the road.


    Bike messengers are a thriving business in New York. See how many rules they break in that one video. That’s partly why drivers get so testy with them. They don’t stop at stop signs, they don’t fall in line behind cars, they don’t stay on the road, they ride against traffic. If you’re driving along and a cyclist comes flying out of a side street and turns alongside you without even giving you a glance like that messenger did, it will test your resolve.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Asks About Lack of Private Student Loan Relief Options

Posted on August 6th, 2014 at 23:32 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons

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  1. Maybe she can get Israel to pay for it.

They didn’t think this one through, did they?

Posted on August 6th, 2014 at 23:08 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Advertising

Posted on August 6th, 2014 at 16:01 by Paul Jay in category: News

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  1. To avoid ads, I’d like to pay for content. I just don’t want to subscribe to every news outlet or website, that would be more than it is worth and I’d have another bunch of useless logins.

    A micropayments system would be my preference. A little to view, with an additional tip if it was worthwhile. Feasible but not gonna happen.

‘God is angry with Liberia,’ local religious leaders say, blaming Ebola on ‘homosexualism’

Posted on August 6th, 2014 at 15:14 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Ebola pandemic — which has killed 887 in West Africa including 255 in Liberia — has terrified people so much that some local leaders discern divine meaning in it. According to Front Page Africa and the Daily Observer, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called on Tuesday for all residents to fast for three days and pray for forgiveness.

“Relying on His divine guidance for our survival as a nation,” she announced, “I call on all Liberians to observe three days of national fast and prayer to seek God’s face to have mercy on us and forgive our sins and heal our land, Liberia, as we continue to fight against the deadly Ebola virus.”

That followed a recent recommendation by the Liberian Council of Churches, which said in a statement last week the outbreak has Biblical implications. “God is angry with Liberia,” the religious leaders said, according to the Daily Observer. “Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness.”

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  1. I dunno, several of the Yoruba orisa told ME that the problem is we’ve let them fall away in worship due to the Christians and the solution to the ebola crisis and all our other troubles is to get all the western, christian, and islamic influences off the continent. Just sayin’…

  2. @Mark — social solution is to get demagogues of all strips off the planet. Medical solution – science.

  3. @Mykolas – I agree, I’m just physiologically incapable of making any point without a little snark…sorry about that.

  4. @Mark – NP – I enjoy snarks! :-)

How your innocent smartphone passes on almost your entire life to the secret service

Posted on August 5th, 2014 at 18:52 by John Sinteur in category: Privacy


Intelligence services collect metadata on the communication of all citizens. Politicians would have us believe that this data doesn’t say all that much. A reader of De Correspondent put this to the test and demonstrated otherwise: metadata reveals a lot more about your life than you think.

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  1. Will it be a crime to leave the phone at home or to forget to charge it?

  2. @Sue – Yes. Grounds for immediate detention and reprogramming at Facebook re-education camp.

Why the internet of things could destroy the welfare state

Posted on August 5th, 2014 at 18:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


The numerous possibilities that tracking devices offer to health and insurance industries are not lost on O’Reilly. “You know the way that advertising turned out to be the native business model for the internet?” he wondered at a recent conference. “I think that insurance is going to be the native business model for the internet of things.” Things do seem to be heading that way: in June, Microsoft struck a deal with American Family Insurance, the eighth-largest home insurer in the US, in which both companies will fund startups that want to put sensors into smart homes and smart cars for the purposes of “proactive protection”.

An insurance company would gladly subsidise the costs of installing yet another sensor in your house – as long as it can automatically alert the fire department or make front porch lights flash in case your smoke detector goes off. For now, accepting such tracking systems is framed as an extra benefit that can save us some money. But when do we reach a point where not using them is seen as a deviation – or, worse, an act of concealment – that ought to be punished with higher premiums?

Or consider a May 2014 report from 2020health, another thinktank, proposing to extend tax rebates to Britons who give up smoking, stay slim or drink less. “We propose ‘payment by results’, a financial reward for people who become active partners in their health, whereby if you, for example, keep your blood sugar levels down, quit smoking, keep weight off, [or] take on more self-care, there will be a tax rebate or an end-of-year bonus,” they state. Smart gadgets are the natural allies of such schemes: they document the results and can even help achieve them – by constantly nagging us to do what’s expected.

The unstated assumption of most such reports is that the unhealthy are not only a burden to society but that they deserve to be punished (fiscally for now) for failing to be responsible. For what else could possibly explain their health problems but their personal failings? It’s certainly not the power of food companies or class-based differences or various political and economic injustices. One can wear a dozen powerful sensors, own a smart mattress and even do a close daily reading of one’s poop – as some self-tracking aficionados are wont to do – but those injustices would still be nowhere to be seen, for they are not the kind of stuff that can be measured with a sensor. The devil doesn’t wear data. Social injustices are much harder to track than the everyday lives of the individuals whose lives they affect.

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  1. Interesting article. A bit overwrought, but he wouldn’t have a book to sell would he?

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