retroworks (652802) writes "The announced merger discussions of Burger King and Canadian Burger-Coffee Chain Tim Hortons sets the stage for an "inverse acquisition", where the smaller company winds up the HQ. This tactic has long been used in domestic markets (waste giants BFI and Waste Management both had inverse mergers with smaller waste hauling firms more than a decade ago). http://www.nytimes.com/1998/03...
The spin on the Burger King — Tim Horton's deal is that it would allow Burger King itself to move to Canada, where corporate taxes are lower. Similar "big pharma" deals are cited in the WSJ coverage of the BK-TH deal. WSJ notes that since 2010, Burger King has been owned by a Brazilian company, 3G Capital Management, which took BK stock private, and purchased Heinz (the ketchup chain) and Anheiser Busch... so making an example out of Burger King could put Obama (who has publicly professed a willingness to "take action" on inverse mergers and expatriation) could take the USA out of the frying pan and into the flame broiler. WSJ http://online.wsj.com/articles..." Link to Original Source top
Potentially Immortal Single Cell Life form Eats, Breathes, Electrons
retroworks (652802) writes "University of Southern California, Los Angeles researchers are studying forms of bacteria, found on the sea bed, which can feed directly on electrons from electric current. Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form – naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. NewScientist reports on cells which make ATP, a molecule that acts as an energy storage unit for almost all living things. This life form needs no sugar or protein, it can consume electrons, from electricity, directly.
"To grow these bacteria, the team collects sediment from the seabed, brings it back to the lab, and inserts electrodes into it. First they measure the natural voltage across the sediment, before applying a slightly different one. A slightly higher voltage offers an excess of electrons; a slightly lower voltage means the electrode will readily accept electrons from anything willing to pass them off. Bugs in the sediments can either "eat" electrons from the higher voltage, or "breathe" electrons on to the lower-voltage electrode, generating a current. That current is picked up by the researchers as a signal of the type of life they have captured."" Link to Original Source top
Dubai's Climate-Controlled "Dome City": Members Only?
retroworks (652802) writes "Motherboard.vice reports on Dubai's planned 7Km "pedestrian city", complete with retractable air conditioned dome. The mega-project is projected to open at the United Arab Emirates World Expo Trade Fair (2020). Dubai's demographics — 85% expatriot imported labor (mostly Asian) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... — is already one of the most polarized by income level, and Motherboard finds the air conditioned cityscape artwork "dystopian". Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Rasheed, on the other hand, sees it as a move towards a tourism economy, and part of the kingdom's plan for post-petroleum. "We plan to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the two billion people living in the region around us; and we are determined to achieve our vision," Bin Rasheed explains in a press release. http://www.dubaiholding.com/me...
Details of the "Mall of the World" project include: - World’s largest mall occupying 8 million sq. ft. connected to 100 hotels and serviced apartments buildings with 20,000 hotel rooms - Temperature-controlled covered retail street network spreading over 7 km - Largest indoor family theme park in the world - Wellness district catering to medical tourists in 3 million sq. ft." Link to Original Source top
British Airways Experiments with Electronic Mood Reading Blankets
retroworks (652802) writes "From Bloomberg Businessweek: "British Airways (BAY:LN), the airline that pioneered the flat-bed seats in the 1990s, has taken the business of in-flight sleep to its next (logical? absurd?) level: The airline has developed a blanket to analyze the “meditative state” of premium cabin fliers. The wool “happiness blanket” is embedded with tiny fiber-optic LEDs that change color based on brainwaves transmitted via Bluetooth from a band worn on a passenger’s head. Blue signifies calm, peace, and relaxation and is seen most often when the person is sleeping deeply."
A British Airways video (embedded in the article) http://www.businessweek.com/ar... describes how its gizmo monitors "neurons in the brain" sensing when a passenger is enjoying a state of well being. Information is transferred via bluetooth to microfibers in the blanket, which turn bright red if the passenger feels anxious. Now, the video explains, British Airways knows — scientifically — that people like to sleep during their flight." Link to Original Source top
NIgerian born UK TV repairman sentenced 16 months prison for 91% reuse
retroworks (652802) writes "The Guardian uses a stock photo of obvious electronic junk in its coverage of the sentencing of Joseph Benson of BJ Electronics. But film of the actual containers showed fairly uniform, sorted televisions which typically work for 20 years. In 2013, the Basel Convention Secretariat released findings on a two-year study of the seized sea containers containing the alleged "e-waste", including Benson's in Nigeria, and found 91% working and repaired product. The study, covered in Slashdot last February, declared the shipments legal, and further reported that they were more likely to work than new product sent to Africa (which may be shelf returns from bad lots, part of the reason Africans prefer used TVs from nations with strong warranty laws).
Director of regulated industry Harvey Bradshaw of the UK tells the Guardian: "This sentence is a landmark ruling because it's the first time anyone has been sent to prison for illegal waste exports." But 5 separate university research projects question what the crime was, and whether prohibition in trade is really the best way to reduce the percentage of bad product (less than 100% waste). Admittedly, I have been following this case from the beginning and interviewed both Benson and the Basel Secretariat Executive Director, and am shocked that the UK judge went ahead with the sentencing following the publication of the E-Waste Assessment Study last year. http://retroworks.blogspot.com... But what do Nerds at Slashdot think about the campaign to arrest African geeks who pay 10 times the value of scrap for used products replaced in rich nations?" Link to Original Source top
PR Firms Admit: Whitewashing Wikipedia Articles is a "Black Hat" Process
retroworks (652802) writes "In the wake of a dispute over paid edits of Wikipedia pages, 11 of the largest public relations firms have agreed to comply with the online encyclopedia's rules. The move comes after Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that administers Wikipedia, threatened legal action for "suspicious edits", citing FTC laws.
Acknowledging that "prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship" with Wikipedia editors, the firms vowed to abide by the site's policies, guidelines and terms of service. The firms also promised to police their own industry and counsel their clients in regard to proper conduct on the site.
retroworks (652802) writes "Gizmag and ScienceAlert.com report that a solar thermal test plant in Newcastle, Australia, has generated “supercritical” steam. According to the reports, CSIRO is claiming it as a world record, and a big step for solar thermal energy. Using a field of more than 600 directional mirrors (heliostats) directed at two towers housing solar receivers and turbines, the researchers generated steam at a pressure of 23.5 mpa (3,400 psi) and 570 C (1,058 F).
"It's like breaking the sound barrier; this step change proves solar has the potential to compete with the peak performance capabilities of fossil fuel sources," Dr Alex Wonhas, CSIRO’s Energy Director, told Colin Jeffrey for Gizmag. Supercritical steam is used to drive the world’s most advanced power plant turbines, but the articles claim it was previously only been possible by burning fossil fuels (or I'd presume nuclear fission)." Link to Original Source top
Saturated Fat and Heart Disease Studies Full of Baloney (NYT, WSJ)
retroworks (652802) writes "The NYT and WSJ both report growing frustration with long-held medical "wisdom" on saturated fats in the human diet. While medical associations continue to caution against saturated fats, the strongest correlations seem to stem from research bias.
Per wikipedia: "Medical, heart-health, and governmental authorities, such as the World Health Organization, the American Dietetic Association, the Dietitians of Canada, the British Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, the British Heart Foundation, the World Heart Federation, the British National Health Service, the United States Food and Drug Administration, and the European Food Safety Authority advise that saturated fat is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD)."
However, original studies may have been influenced by "big corn". Nina Tiecholz (WSJ) writes "The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these [saturated] fats cause disease... Nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias... Too much whole-grain oatmeal for breakfast and whole-grain pasta for dinner, with fruit snacks in between, add up to a less healthy diet than one of eggs and bacon."
"Butter and lard had long been staples of the American pantry until Crisco, introduced in 1911, became the first vegetable-based fat to win wide acceptance in U.S. kitchens. Then came margarines made from vegetable oil and then just plain vegetable oil in bottles. All of these got a boost from the American Heart Association—which Procter & Gamble, the maker of Crisco oil, coincidentally helped launch as a national organization. " Tiecholz goes on to document the concerns now associated with saturated fats replacements, from oxidation to Alzheimers. "In short, the track record of vegetable oils is highly worrisome—and not remotely what Americans bargained for when they gave up butter and lard."
retroworks (652802) writes "In the latest tornado and storm tragedy to hit the USA's south and midwest, small drone cameras steered by storm-tracker and videographer Brian Emfinger gathered stunning bird's-eye footage of the wreckage. Forbes magazine covers the [paywalled] Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's speculation that Emfinger has violated FAA rules which prohibit commercial use of small drones. The laws, designed years ago to restrict hobbyists use of model airplanes, may conflict with USA First Amendment free press use. So far, nothing in the article says that the FAA is enforcing the rule on the media outlets that may pay Emfinger for his video coverage, but interest in the footage will probably create a business economy for future commercial drone use if the FAA does not act." Link to Original Source top
Is facial recognition at retailers being used to target banner ads online?
retroworks (652802) writes "Yesterday I had to go to a retail store (Staples) for something unrelated to laser printers. While I was in the store, I decided to check out the laser printers, see what's new, though I don't really need one.
Now my Sunday morning news search is filled with laser printer ads for HP. I have not been searching online. Looking for updates on whether stores are selling my aisle browsing habits to online advertisers, I found this NYT article by Natasha Singer to be quite informative, with interesting links to varying leads from Snowden testimony to Silicon Valley startups to National Telecom and Information Agency web pages." Link to Original Source top
retroworks (652802) writes "Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications are lobbying states, one by one, to hang up the plain, old telephone system, what the industry now calls POTS--the copper-wired landline phone system whose reliability and reach made the U.S. a communications powerhouse for more than 100 years. Is landline obsolete, and should be immune from grandparents era social protection?" Link to Original Source top
"Without the Domain Name System (DNS), we're all lost on the Internet. DNS provides the service that translates our human readable Web addresses such as google.com to their real, but mysterious Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses, such as 18.104.22.168 or IPv6's 2001:4860:4860::8888. The problem with this master yellow pages directory to the Internet is that DNS records themselves can be corrupted or your communications with the DNS servers interrupted by a man-in-the-middle (MiM) attack. "
While it's only 22 minutes, and apparently only affected internet users in Brazil and Venezuela, the repercussions of DNS hijacking could be huge for online commerce. Since many of these attacks in the past have originated in Eastern Europe, should we all be on guard now that Russia has been sabre-rattling? How likely is this to occur in California-based Google servers? For reaction on Twitter, visit here https://twitter.com/bgpmon/sta..." Link to Original Source top
U.S. to relinquish remaining control over the Internet
"U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move that pleased international critics but alarmed some business leaders and others who rely on the smooth functioning of the Web.
"Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash last year to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.
"The change would end the long-running contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based nonprofit group. That contract is set to expire next year but could be extended if the transition plan is not complete."
retroworks (652802) writes "While tax laws, minimum wages, and patent extension are frequently blamed for the rising gap between "haves and have nots", an international economics study finds another simple factor behind income inequality. Marriage. As gender equality has improved in the professional workplace, paired incomes don't occur randomly. "Better educated people are increasingly more likely to marry other better-educated people while those with less formal schooling are more likely to choose a less well-educated partner." Using Census data, the (UPenn directed) researchers found that "across the board, the income gap between couples with relatively high and those with relatively low levels of education had widened substantially since 1960 relative to the average household income... the relative earnings of couples with high school degrees had fallen by 20 percentage points relative to the average while the household incomes of highly educated husbands and wives had increased by 43 points."
The Economist http://www.economist.com/news/... notes, " The economic incentive to marry your peers has increased. A woman with a graduate degree whose husband dropped out of high school in 1960 could still enjoy household income 40% above the national average; by 2005, such a couple would earn 8% below it." And in Slate, http://www.slate.com/articles/... Matthew Iglesias puts it in terms a nerd can related to. "She likes Doctor Who; I like Star Trek...But one thing about us is pretty similar: We both went to fancy colleges full of people with high SAT scores. And in that regard, we’re pretty typical." Perhaps "Natural Selection" is the best explanation for rising college tuition, and increasing student debt." Link to Original Source top
Unlock Your Cell Phone? Forget First Use Doctrine, Go Directly to Jail
retroworks (652802) writes "CTIA, the Wireless Cell Phone Association http://www.ctia.org/about-us, has members who want to extend copyright law beyond the first use doctrine. The LG vs. Quanta case was the third time patent infringement lost to "first use" or "right to repair" precedent in the USA. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/... Rather than continue to lose technology patent court cases against reuse or "market cannibalization" gray markets, CTIA wants to take this to Congress. Bloomberg reports on a bill to make it illegal to tinker with your cell phone and move it to another carrier.
Since the Supreme Court rulings on first use are based on precedent rather than law or constitutional rights to ownership (an 1860s cotton baling wire case), passing an explicit law to ban repair seems like a more direct approach to making patents and copyrights apply to the multi-billion-dollar secondary market." Link to Original Source top
Blood Test of 4 BioMarkers Predicts Death Within 5 Years
retroworks (652802) writes "NHS and the Daily Telegraph report on two studies (original and repeat duplicating results) in Estonia and Finland which predict whether an apparently healthy human will likely die within 5 years. The four biomarkers that appeared to determine risk of mortality in the next five years were:
alpha-1-acid glycoprotein – a protein that is raised during infection and inflammation albumin – a protein that carries vital nutrients, hormones and proteins in the bloodstream very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) particle size – usually known for being “very bad” cholesterol citrate – a compound that is an essential part of the body’s metabolism
Researchers found that people in the top 20% of the summary score range were 19 times more at risk of dying in the next five years than people in the lowest 20%." Link to Original Source top
Ask Slashdot: What is the basis of 5-Cap Moderation Limit?
retroworks (652802) writes "Sometimes I submit a comment that is really good and deserves a 5 and is modded a 5. Sometimes it was really worth only 4, but someone was going to lose his mderator points and needed to spend them. Sometimes, once every couple of years, we submit a comment we think is worth 11. What was the original basis for the 5-max moderation, and does it still apply to comments today?" top
retroworks (652802) writes "Just over a year ago, complex systems theorists at the New England Complex Systems Institute http://necsi.edu/research/soci... warned that if food prices continued to climb, so too would the likelihood that there would be riots across the globe. Sure enough, we're seeing them now. The paper's author, Yaneer Bar-Yam, charted the rise in the FAO food price index—a measure the UN uses to map the cost of food over time—and found that whenever it rose above 210, riots broke out worldwide. It happened in 2008 after the economic collapse, and again in 2011, when a Tunisian street vendor who could no longer feed his family set himself on fire in protest." Link to Original Source top
Correlation, Causation, and Cancer: Temperature of Lab Mice Twists Tests
retroworks (652802) writes "The Economist reported on a study by Elizabeth Repasky, an immunologist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. Repasky noticed that mice prefer and will seek out a temperature of 30 Celsius, but that most lab technicians prefer to keep the mice at 20-26 degrees... it makes for cleaner cages. She then re-performed previous research showing causal cancer links on two sets of mice, one kept at 30 degrees, and one kept a 22 degrees. The report shows that temperature, a third variable, changes the correlations significantly." Link to Original Source
Vermont environmentalists were torn when Agency of Natural Resources began a crackdown on "e-waste" reuse, recycling, and repair company in Middlebury. Japanese robot Manio-Go was seized and impounded as hazardous waste, under actual new Vermont laws classifying electronic devices with less than 80% battery levels as "hazardous". A petition was released to get Governor Peter Schumlin to commute the sentence of recycling-by-shredder, to Free Manio-Go. This is partly April Fools, but sadly not April Fools enough http://tinyurl.com/saveManoi
Ten years ago this week, I was inspired to attempt to establish "fair trade recycling" exports of the much maligned "e-waste" (which is one of the most misleading and misunderstood terms ever coined). It was based on my experience in Africa, watching entrepreneurs and small businesspeople who "tinkered" and repaired goods, which I recognized was the way Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Signapore emerged. The opposite of the "resource curse", repair and refubishment is so vital to economic development that one could even argue that it was worth the price of "waste"... but I also believe that proper recycling, the best recycling, is done with hand-disassembly.
[Read more about my fair trade recycling philosophy, and how it guides my own company, at www.retroworks.blogspot.com ]
Like Fair Trade Coffee (which emerged in response to a horrible "coffee boycott" idea to help coffee farmers), the result of fairly traded used electronics can result in proper recycling infrastructures within the developing world, which has its own "ewaste" to manage. More importantly, it can result in Egyptian revolutions... the 3 billion people in the world who earn about $3 thousand per year have gotten online at ten times the rate of growth of the developed world, and they are not doing it with brand new PCs. http://retroworks.blogspot.com/2011/01/to-our-recycling-friends-in-egypt.html
retroworks writes | more than 11 years ago
Submitted for comment:
A program which submits random browser data can effectively complicate investigative work by 3rd party data collectors. It would take a lot of camouflage users to pollute Google or NSA's historic record base, but only take a few pieces of bad data to "poison the well" of information (e.g. he visited a gay website) used in court. I would like an option which is not completely random, which does not submit false terrorist or pedofile site data for example.
This would not be very effective against cookies (except when presence of cookies was to be used as evidence in a courtroom) but would effectively cloud any suspicions with doubt at the level of a large database such as a search engine.