Tornado Alley: Patterns without predictability
By Jason Palmer – Science and technology reporter, BBC News - 22 May 2013
The National Weather Service was able to issue a tornado warning 16 minutes before the storm struck
The enormous tornado that struck in Moore, Oklahoma, on Monday has added a chilling entry into the list of the deadliest tornadoes on record.
The event has many recalling a record-breaking tornado that struck in precisely the same region in 1999, during which the fastest winds ever seen on the Earth’s surface were recorded: over 500km/h (310mph).
Tornadoes remain the most viscerally terrifying example of extreme weather, combining an extraordinary capacity for damage with a stubborn unpredictability.
Broadly, they arise in the same conditions that spawn the biggest thunderstorms.
The geography and climatology in the US’ interior provide for just this situation with great regularity; three-quarters of the tornadoes that happen on Earth happen in North America. A disproportionate number of those occur in a region in the nation’s centre, widely known as “Tornado Alley”.
It is a loosely defined area; the state of Texas gets on average the highest annual number of tornadoes, but Kansas, further north, gets the highest number of the more violent storms.
Continue reading Tornadoes
Do You Need a Hug?
In a world where so much has gone horribly wrong, this outcry against hugging is just about the most unbelievable thing I have ever seen. Of all the things to take against! This is not to say that I would care to ask, let alone pressure, anybody (meaning, by “anybody,” anti-hug Katie Notopoulos of BuzzFeed) to hug, who is not comfortable doing so, though I can’t help but wish everyone on earth could experience even a small fraction of the pleasure I do from a hug.
Those who do not care to hug need only preemptively stick an arm out for a handshake, if they wish to avoid it. About 99 percent of people will take the hint; the remaining one percent who will recklessly grab you anyway have got far worse in store for you than a mere hug, I daresay. For me, at least, I pledge no hard feelings about refusing my embrace. Not everybody was raised by a passel of excitable, unbelievably noisy, affectionate Cubans!—of this I am well aware.
“Everyone thinks hugs are soooo great,” writes Notopoulos in yesterday’s post, “and if you don’t like hugging hello or goodbye, you’re some kind of socially deficient monster.” No. No judgment. And please believe me, it is just as unpleasant to feel oneself to be too warm toward others as too cold. In short, there is no “right” way to cope with the hug. Ideally we want to take people as we find them, and try to understand everyone within the parameters of his own “comfort zone,” in the old-fashioned but useful phrase. So for pretty much everyone, a calculation is taking place, the aim of which is to ensure that our own overtures are welcome, and not a matter for confusion, discomfort or horror.
There is the issue, too, even when the die is cast and a hug is already on the runway, as it were, of how close a hug one may risk. To touch chest to chest is a faux pas for many among whom the chaster “shoulder hug” or “Christian side hug” would be admissible. Alternatively, the other party may go in for the full-body superhug, perhaps even appending an additional coda or “hippie hug.” The correct level of closeness requires a careful and instantaneous calibration. Again—too much contact is quite as bad as too little! Or worse, even! One doesn’t care to be seen as a sweating vulgar beast who is lurching in for unwelcome physical intimacy.
But the correct level, once found, is an immediate way of expressing friendliness and pleasure in the other’s company, and other things, too: to show how much you have missed, or will miss, the other; to express one’s feelings that a meeting has been successful; to indicate acceptance of a new acquaintance to a deeper level of intimacy; to communicate sympathy, or forgiveness, or happiness, or sadness, or (if accompanied by jumping up and down) elation.
Therefore, I write to beg of those who may feel pressured to accept an unwelcome intimacy: please don’t! There is no pressure! Please indicate freely your unwillingness to hug, in terms as clear as you like, but please, please do not seek to take this harmless, conventional form of human contact from those of us who love and, indeed, may really need it. I am more than willing to offer you all the respect and consideration I can: but I ask that you do the same for us, who (you may not realize) are renewed and refreshed, who can perhaps even be recalled from unhappiness and loneliness, by this innocent, simple gesture. Continue reading I hug, you hug, we hug…
Patent lawyers: Help! The evil “Makers” won’t let us apply for bullshit 3D printing patents!
Two minor characters from my novel Makers have apparently come to life and written an article for 3D Printing Industry. These two people are patent lawyers for Finnegan IP law firm, Washington, DC, which I don’t recall making up, but this is definitely a pair of Doctorow villains (though, thankfully, I had the good sense not to give them any lines in the book — they’re far too cliched in their anodyne evil for anyone to really believe in).
These patent lawyers are upset because the evil Makers (capital-M and all!) are working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to examine bad 3D printing patents submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office. The problem is that 3D printing is 30 years old, so nearly all the stuff that people want to patent and lock up and charge rent on for the next 20 years has already been invented, and the pesky Makers are insisting on pointing out this inconvenient fact to the USPTO.
The America Invents Act changed U.S. patent law to allow pre-issuance submissions, a mechanism by which third parties can submit patents or printed publications to the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) for consideration during patent examination, along with “a concise description of the asserted relevance of each submitted document.” The U.S. Congress intended pre-issuance submissions to help the USPTO increase the efficiency of examination and the quality of issued patents. Congress did not, however, intend the use of this mechanism to interfere with patent examination. Nor did it intend pre-issuance submissions to allow for third party protest or pre-issuance opposition. Yet a segment of the 3D printing (3DP) community, known as Makers, is using pre-issuance submissions as a sword to oppose 3DP-related patent applications. Perhaps more importantly, they are leveraging the concept of crowd-sourcing to do so, potentially creating problems for patent applicants everywhere.
To understand why and how Makers are mobilizing to challenge patents through pre-issuance submissions, one must first understand what 3DP is, and the composition of the 3DP community. 3D printing—more formally known as additive manufacturing—is a technology that creates three dimensional objects from CAD files. There are many legacy and emerging 3DP technologies. Generally, 3DP works by fusing layer upon layer of materials, such as plastics, powder metals, and ceramics, to build a final, fully formed product, much as Athena sprung full-blown from the head of Zeus. This process requires a digital 3D model of the product, stored in a CAD file, and a 3D printer. Digital product models can be obtained by either (1) designing the product with a CAD program; (2) downloading an existing CAD file from the Internet; or (3) scanning an existing product with a 3D scanner to create a CAD file. Further, almost anyone can buy a 3D printer today; they are sold through Skymall and at Staples. Where 3DP was once cost prohibitive for most, ‘prosumer’ and home printers are now available at reasonable prices
Why Should Any Of These Groups Have Tax-Exempt Status? - by Jared Bernstein
May 14, 2013 at 9:20 am
Nope, I’m not going to defend the IRS, which appears to have acted in ways wholly inconsistent with their mandate for unbiased investigations into, in this case, whether certain political groups should receive tax-exempt status. It is unclear how high up the chain of command these untoward actions went, but this morning’s news suggests it wasn’t just a few rogue auditors in Cincinnati.
The problem wasn’t that the agency scrutinized these so-called “social welfare” organizations—as I’ll emphasize in a moment, tax law in this area is an accident going out to happen. It’s that they violated neutrality, investigating conservative groups by searching on “tea party” and “patriot.”
Republicans will of course try to pin this on the President, despite the fact that since Nixon used the IRS to target his enemies, the President’s been barred from even discussing this kind of thing with the agency.
No, the problem here isn’t the President. It’s the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision and subsequent tax law written by Congress that gives these groups tax exempt status (under rule 501(c)(4)) as long as most of their activities are primarily on educating the public about policy issues, not direct campaigning.
Of course, the ambiguities therein are insurmountable. Many of these groups, especially the big ones, spend millions on campaign ads mildly disguised as “issue ads,” and under current law they can do so limitlessly and with impunity.
According to today’s NYT:
The tax code states that 501(c)(4)’s must operate “exclusively” to promote social welfare, a category that excludes political spending. Some court decisions have interpreted that language to mean that a minimal amount of political spending would be permissible. But the I.R.S. has for years maintained that groups meet that rule as long as they are not “primarily engaged” in election work, a substantially different threshold.
Nowhere do the rules specify what “primarily engaged” means…
Again, I see no way that a government agency could fairly interpret and enforce these instructions. What is “primarily engaged”–at which point does an issue ad cross the threshold into campaign ad—what kind of “education” is GPS Crossroads providing and how is it promoting “social welfare?”
Weirdly, the IRS hasn’t seemed particularly interested in going after the big fish here, like Rove’s Crossroads GPS on the right or Priorities USA on the left. Instead, they appear to have systematically targeted small fry on the far right. If so, not only is that clearly biased and unacceptable—it’s also ridiculous given the magnitude of the violations of tax exempt status by these small groups relative to the big ones.
At the end of the day, we should really ask ourselves what societal purpose is being served here by carving out special tax status for any of these groups. If anyone can show me any evidence that the revenue forgone is well spent, that these groups are making our political system and our country better off, please do so. If not, then no one’s saying shut them down—they’ve got a right to speak their minds. But not tax free.
Across the country, from legal 21-and-over Denver dispensaries to black-market NYC delivery services, steeply priced strains of “killer bud”—so thick with tricome crystals they shimmer like snow-covered pine trees—are readily available. OG Ghost Train Haze, Headband, Blue Dream, Lemon Diesel, and Kosher Kush (and dozens of other similarly named varieties), pick your poison. Containing levels of THC up to 25%, a small toke of any one of these varieties will get you stoned.
But for some herb connoisseurs (and medical users in some states) these killer strains are not nearly strong enough. Especially on the west coast and in Colorado, where high-grade pot is much more prevalent due to relaxed laws, a few hits of chronic is strictly to get out of bed on a busy morning. For all other occasions and mind states there’s “dabs,” a type of solidified hash oil also known as “concentrates,” BHO (Butane Hash Oil) or more popularly, “wax”—so-named for its texture and glassy appearance. While no one person has taken credit for developing its extraction formula, the substance first started to appear out west about five years ago, but has since experienced galloping popularity. (Traditional hash oil has been around since at least the early 1970s.)
Most commonly created by a technique in which high quality pot is blasted with butane that is then extracted, these cannabis concentrates approach 70%-to-90% THC. Going on the basis of such super high purity alone, even the funkiest colored tricone crystal encased high-grade leaf start to look like steam technology in a fossil fuel world. Brad Gibbs, of Greenest Green, which has just opened a new state-approved lab in Denver Co., filled with $100,000 in equipment, specializing in BHO, says that the new product is so superior, buds will eventually disappear, at least among, “our generation,”—users under 40. “Dabs are the future of cannabis, both recreational and medicinal,” he adds. Continue reading Dabs and Wax
Pfc. Bradley Manning has been enduring a court-martial for well over a year now and in that time I have been covering the proceedings at Fort Meade extensively. That coverage has been possible because of you.
Every dollar donated to help fund coverage of Bradley Manning has helped transform me into a foremost journalist on one of the biggest cases in military justice history.
Every post of mine shared on Facebook or Twitter has helped amplify critical coverage that is keeping the world informed of how the government is prosecuting Manning as if he is a traitor that aided terrorists.
Every interview you have had others listen to or watch has given Firedoglake and the work I have been doing more notoriety.
And, every comment you have left on my live blogs of proceedings or on reports from Meade, where you thank me for my work or engage in discussion about the case, has been additional encouragement.
With the United States military and government still intending to take Manning’s case to trial on June 3, despite the fact that he pled guilty to some offenses, it will continue to be vital to have your support.
I hope you will keep sharing my reporting with family, friends or those in your social network, and, when possible, make donations so I can remain a fixture in the press pool at Meade and keep up my coverage of the Manning case.
POLITICS MAY 13, 2013
It wasn’t the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, but which of those groups it targeted
BY ALEC MACGILLIS in the New Republic
Imagine for a moment: You work at an Internal Revenue Service back office in the Midwest. No, you are not in a posthumously published David Foster Wallace novel
. You are in the Cincinnati office, which is charged with vetting applications for 501(c)(4) status, which allows groups not only to avoid paying any taxes on the money they collect but also to keep their donors secret. This status is intended for organizations that, unlike charity-focused 501(c)(3)’s, intend to engage in some advocacy or lobbying on a particular issue related to their mission. But under IRS rules
, this advocacy must be for the general “social welfare”—and not geared toward political elections. Courts have granted some leeway in this regard, saying that groups are allowed to engage in some election activity as long as it is “insubstantial.” The IRS has allowed this gray area to expand to the point where groups must have a “primarily” social welfare mission, which many groups have happily taken to mean that elections can consume up to 49.999 percent of their resources.
You are in your cubicle in Cincinnati, and your office is suddenly swamped with a surge in applications—rising from 1,500 to 3,400 the past few years. This surge is driven by two factors. One is the series of court rulings, such as the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, that encourage political operatives to use 501(c)(4)’s as a way to funnel huge undisclosed donations into television ads, regardless of the IRS rules for the groups. The other is the swell in grassroots activism that is coming almost entirely from the right thanks to post-2008 tea party ferment.This was the Cincinnati crew’s situation the past couple years. And the real problem isn’t that it decided to deal with this deluge in applications by giving undue scrutiny to the second source of the stream. It’s that in doing so, it has given so little scrutiny to the first source. Continue reading The Real Scandal Behind the IRS Controversy
Syrian Electronic Army Has A Little Fun Before Inevitable Upcoming Deaths At Hands Of Rebels
DAMASCUS, SYRIA—After hacking into The Onion’s Twitter account earlier today, members of the Syrian Electronic Army confirmed that the organization simply wanted to have a little fun before soon dying at the hands of rebel forces. “We figured that before they bust in here and execute every single one of us, we might as well have a good time and post some silly tweets about Israel from a major media outlet’s feed,” said a spokesperson from the pro-Assad group, adding that he and his cohorts “had a few good laughs” and are now fully prepared for their painful and undoubtedly horrific deaths in the coming days. “I mean, we definitely don’t have much time left, so we thought, hey, let’s just enjoy ourselves before getting blown away by rockets, decapitated, beaten to death, or hung during public executions. Why not, right?” At press time, violent screams and pleas for mercy were reportedly overheard as rebel troops broke into the Syrian Electronic Army’s hideout.
(Except from his article in the National Review – May 2013)
The Goldberg File
By Jonah Goldberg
May 10, 2013
It’s Always ‘Old News’
The most frustrating thing about Democratic scandals is the eye-rolling. Liberals feign ennui the way French princesses would yawn when the court jester failed to amuse. They act as if only crazy people and Republican partisans — to the extent they see a difference — would care about Bill Clinton’s rapacious sexual appetites and lies, or John Kerry’s fudged history, or Barack Obama’s racist pastor and terrorist friends. And because liberals control the commanding heights of the media, their lofty diffidence pollutes the public discourse in ways Republicans could never pull off. The Andrea Mitchells and George Stephanopouloses (Stephanopouli?) will always find that Rush Limbaugh insulting Sandra Fluke raises “troubling issues for Republicans,” but the corpse of an underage transvestite Laotian prostitute wedged between three bricks of uncut heroin and a box of Krugerrands in some Kennedy’s car trunk is simply another example of the tragic burdens that come with being a member of “America’s Family.”
(and really, this is the last item you will ever see on Flexible Reality from Mr. Goldberg…I promise)
How to Turn a World Lacking in Enemies into the Most Threatening Place in the Universe
By Tom Engelhardt – April 15th, 2013
The communist enemy, with the “world’s fourth largest military,” has been trundling missiles around and threatening the United States with nuclear obliteration. Guam, Hawaii, Washington: all, it claims, are targetable. The coverage in the media has been hair-raising. The U.S. is rushing an untested missile defense system to Guam, deploying missile-interceptor ships off the South Korean coast, sending “nuclear capable” B-2 Stealth bombers thousands of miles on mock bombing runs, pressuring China, and conducting large-scale war games with its South Korean ally.
Only one small problem: there is as yet little evidence that the enemy with a few nuclear weapons facing off (rhetorically at least) against an American arsenal of 4,650 of them has the ability to miniaturize and mount even one on a missile, no less deliver it accurately, nor does it have a missile capable of reaching Hawaii or Washington, and I wouldn’t count on Guam either. It also happens to be a desperate country, one possibly without enough fuel to fly a modern air force, whose people, on average, are inches shorter than their southern neighbors thanks to decades of intermittent famine and malnutrition, and who are ruled by a bizarre three-generational family cult. If that other communist, Karl Marx, hadn’t once famously written that history repeats itself “first as tragedy, then as farce,” we would have had to invent the phrase for this very moment.
In the previous century, there were two devastating global wars, which left significant parts of the planet in ruins. There was also a “cold war” between two superpowers locked in a system of mutual assured destruction (aptly acronymed as MAD) whose nuclear arsenals were capable of destroying the planet many times over. Had you woken up any morning in the years between December 7, 1941, and December 26, 1991, and been told that the leading international candidate for America’s Public Enemy Number One was Kim Jong-un’s ramshackle, comic-opera regime in North Korea, you might have gotten down on your hands and knees and sent thanks to pagan gods.
The same would be true for the other candidates for that number one position since September 11, 2001: the original al-Qaeda (largely decimated), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula located in poverty-stricken areas of poverty-stricken Yemen, the Taliban in poverty-stricken Afghanistan, unnamed jihadis scattered across poverty-stricken areas of North Africa, or Iran, another rickety regional power run by not particularly adept theocrats.
All these years, we’ve been launching wars and pursuing a “global war on terror.” We’ve poured money into national security as if there were no tomorrow. From our police to our borders, we’ve up-armored everywhere. We constantly hear about “threats” to us and to the “homeland.” And yet, when you knock on the door marked “Enemy,” there’s seldom anyone home. Continue reading The Enemy-Industrial Complex
The Hollowing Out of Government
by Robert Reich Saturday, May 4, 2013
The West, Texas chemical and fertilizer plant where at least 15 were killed and more than 200 injured a few weeks ago hadn’t been fully inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1985. (A partial inspection in 2011 had resulted in $5,250 in fines.)
OSHA and its state partners have a total of 2,200 inspectors charged with ensuring the safety of over more than 8 million workplaces employing 130 million workers. That comes to about one inspector for every 59,000 American workers.
There’s no way it can do its job with so few resources, but OSHA has been systematically hollowed out for years under Republican administrations and congresses that have despised the agency since its inception.
In effect, much of our nation’s worker safety laws and rules have been quietly repealed because there aren’t enough inspectors to enforce them.
That’s been the Republican strategy in general: When they can’t directly repeal laws they don’t like, they repeal them indirectly by hollowing them out — denying funds to fully implement them, and reducing funds to enforce them.
Consider taxes. Republicans have been unable to round up enough votes to cut taxes on big corporations and the wealthy as much as they’d like, so what do they do? They’re hollowing out the IRS. As they cut its enforcement budget – presto! — tax collections decline.
Despite an increasing number of billionaires and multi-millionaires using every tax dodge imaginable – laundering their money through phantom corporations and tax havens (Remember Mitt’s tax returns?) — the IRS’s budget has been cut by 17 percent since 2002, adjusted for inflation.
To manage the $594.5 million in additional cuts required by the sequester, the agency has announced it will furlough each of its more than 89,000 employees for at least five days this year.
This budget stinginess doesn’t save the government money. Quite the opposite. Less IRS enforcement means less revenue. It’s been estimated that every dollar invested in the IRS’s enforcement, modernization and management system reduces the federal budget deficit by $200, and that furloughing 1,800 IRS “policemen” will cost the Treasury $4.5 billion in lost revenue.
But congressional Republicans aren’t interested in more revenue. Their goal is to cut taxes on big corporations and the wealthy.
Representative Charles Boustany, the Louisiana Republican who heads the House subcommittee overseeing the IRS, says the IRS sequester cuts should stay in force. He calls for an overhaul of the tax code instead.
In a similar manner, congressional Republicans and their patrons on Wall Street who opposed the Dodd-Frank financial reform law have been hollowing out the law by making sure agencies charged with implementing it don’t have the funds they need to do the job.
As a result, much of Dodd-Frank – including the so-called “Volcker Rule” restrictions on the kind of derivatives trading that got the Street into trouble in the first place – is still on the drawing boards.
Perhaps more than any other law, Republicans hate the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Yet despite holding more than 33 votes to repeal it, they still haven’t succeeded.
So what do they do? Try to hollow it out. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly denied funding requests to implement Obamacare, leaving Health and Human Services (the agency charged with designing the rules under the Act and enforcing them) so shorthanded it has to delay much of it.
Even before the sequester, the agency was running on the same budget it had before Obamacare was enacted. Now it’s lost billions more.
A new insurance marketplace specifically for small business, for example, was supposed to be up and running in January. But officials now say it won’t be available until 2015 in the 33 states where the federal government will be running insurance markets known as exchanges.
This is a potentially large blow to Obamacare’s political support. A major selling point for the legislation had been providing affordable health insurance to small businesses and their employees.
Yes, and eroding political support is exactly what congressional Republicans want. They fear that Obamacare, once fully implemented, will be too popular to dismantle. So they’re out to delay it as long as possible while keeping up a drumbeat about its flaws.
Repealing laws by hollowing them out — failing to fund their enforcement or implementation — works because the public doesn’t know it’s happening. Enactment of a law attracts attention; de-funding it doesn’t.
The strategy also seems to bolster the Republican view that government is incompetent. If government can’t do what it’s supposed to do – keep workplaces safe, ensure that the rich pay taxes they owe, protect small investors, implement Obamacare – why give it any additional responsibility?
The public doesn’t know the real reason why the government isn’t doing its job is it’s being hollowed out.
The Lessons of the North Atlantic Crisis for Economic Theory and Policy
Posted on May 3, 2013 by iMFdirect
Guest post by: Joseph E. Stiglitz
Columbia University, New York, and co-host of the Conference on Rethinking Macro Policy II: First Steps and Early Lessons
In analyzing the most recent financial crisis, we can benefit somewhat from the misfortune of recent decades. The approximately 100 crises that have occurred during the last 30 years—as liberalization policies became dominant—have given us a wealth of experience and mountains of data. If we look over a 150 year period, we have an even richer data set.
With a century and half of clear, detailed information on crisis after crisis, the burning question is not How did this happen? but How did we ignore that long history, and think that we had solved the problems with the business cycle? Believing that we had made big economic fluctuations a thing of the past took a remarkable amount of hubris.
Markets are not stable, efficient, or self-correcting
The big lesson that this crisis forcibly brought home—one we should have long known—is that economies are not necessarily efficient, stable or self-correcting.
There are two parts to this belated revelation. One is that standard models had focused on exogenous shocks, and yet it’s very clear that a very large fraction of the perturbations to our economy are endogenous. There are not only short?run endogenous shocks; there are long?run structural transformations and persistent shocks. The models that focused on exogenous shocks simply misled us—the majority of the really big shocks come from within the economy.
Secondly, economies are not self-correcting. It’s clear that we have yet to fully take on aboard this crucial lesson that we should have learned from this crisis: even in its aftermath, the tepid attempts to fix the economies of the United States and Europe have been a failure. They certainly have not gone far enough. The result is that we continue to face significant risks of another crisis in the future. Continue reading Joseph Stiglitz on the North Atlantic Crisis
New Device Can Extract Human DNA With Full Genetic Data in Minutes
via Science Digest – May 6, 2013 —
Take a swab of saliva from your mouth and within minutes your DNA could be ready for analysis and genome sequencing with the help of a new device.University of Washington engineers and NanoFacture (http://nano-facture.com/), a Bellevue, Wash., company, have created a device that can extract human DNA from fluid samples in a simpler, more efficient and environmentally friendly way than conventional methods.
The device will give hospitals and research labs a much easier way to separate DNA from human fluid samples, which will help with genome sequencing, disease diagnosis and forensic investigations.
“It’s very complex to extract DNA,” said Jae-Hyun Chung, a UW associate professor of mechanical engineering who led the research. “When you think of the current procedure, the equivalent is like collecting human hairs using a construction crane.”
This technology aims to clear those hurdles. The small, box-shaped kit now is ready for manufacturing, then eventual distribution to hospitals and clinics. NanoFacture, a UW spinout company, signed a contract with Korean manufacturer KNR Systems last month at a ceremony in Olympia, Wash.
The UW, led by Chung, spearheaded the research and invention of the technology, and still manages the intellectual property.
Separating DNA from bodily fluids is a cumbersome process that’s become a bottleneck as scientists make advances in genome sequencing, particularly for disease prevention and treatment. The market for DNA preparation alone is about $3 billion each year.
Conventional methods use a centrifuge to spin and separate DNA molecules or strain them from a fluid sample with a micro-filter, but these processes take 20 to 30 minutes to complete and can require excessive toxic chemicals.
UW engineers designed microscopic probes that dip into a fluid sample — saliva, sputum or blood — and apply an electric field within the liquid. That draws particles to concentrate around the surface of the tiny probe. Larger particles hit the tip and swerve away, but DNA-sized molecules stick to the probe and are trapped on the surface. It takes two or three minutes to separate and purify DNA using this technology. Continue reading DNA sequencing while-you-wait
Why I Oppose the Internet Tax Bill – By Sen. Ted Cruz - May 5, 2013
The Internet is a thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurial freedom that should be protected and nourished. It has allowed new businesses to compete in the national marketplace in ways that would have been impossible 15 years ago, and it empowers consumer choice. But tax-hungry politicians view the Internet as yet another source of revenue to bail out their big-spending governments.The misleadingly titled Marketplace Fairness Act is a job-killing tax hike, plain and simple. It is, in effect, a national Internet sales tax, which would hammer the little guy and benefit giant corporations.
Senators who vote for it are voting to impose audits, compliance costs, lost wages, and inefficiency on small businesses in every state. And they are potentially crippling an engine of new job creation at a time of economic struggle. This bill will not create jobs; it will not create new opportunities; and it will not create the economic growth our country needs and our people deserve.
Currently, online sellers collect sales taxes based on their physical location. The MFA, however, would fundamentally change how businesses collect those taxes. Instead, it would require online retailers to charge taxes based on the consumer’s location or where the product is ultimately consumed. That’s like your grocery store quizzing you on where you’re going to eat those apples or Hallmark asking where you’re going to send that Christmas card. The compliance burdens associated with charging taxes based on the consumer’s location are mind-numbingly complicated.
Consider this: Online and catalogue retailers with gross sales of $1 million — a level that is mom & pop size in many places — will be forced to collect sales taxes for the country’s 9,600 state and local tax jurisdictions. Just as Obamacare punishes small business with taxes and regulations for employing more than 50 people, this legislation would punish small businesses for making more than $1 million in sales. For many businesses it may be more beneficial to make less money than to keep track of all the different taxes. Continue reading Caution required – Congress to vote on Internet tax law
As the shine wears off the first sparkling new Google Glass headsets out in the wild, the earliest of adopters have started to discover myriad problems with the wearable computers. Beyond aesthetics, professional Glass reviewers and amateur experimenters alike have reported some issues — bad battery life, a bad fit, vulnerability to hackers, and beyond — that might make future buyers reconsider the $1,500 investment when the glasses are available to the masses. Luckily, Google has said it will take “a while” before the headset is on sale for real, giving the company plenty of time to get the kinks out of these beta versions. Until then, though, Google has released a video teaching us the basics.
Continue reading Early adopters pave the way for newbies
Sean Wilentz | The Worst President in History?
The Worst President in History?
By Sean Wilentz
Friday 21 April 2006
One of America’s leading historians assesses George W. Bush.
|(Illustration by Robert Grossman)
George W. Bush’s presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.
From time to time, after hours, I kick back with my colleagues at Princeton to argue idly about which president really was the worst of them all. For years, these perennial debates have largely focused on the same handful of chief executives whom national polls of historians, from across the ideological and political spectrum, routinely cite as the bottom of the presidential barrel. Was the lousiest James Buchanan, who, confronted with Southern secession in 1860, dithered to a degree that, as his most recent biographer has said, probably amounted to disloyalty – and who handed to his successor, Abraham Lincoln, a nation already torn asunder? Was it Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, who actively sided with former Confederates and undermined Reconstruction? What about the amiably incompetent Warren G. Harding, whose administration was fabulously corrupt? Or, though he has his defenders, Herbert Hoover, who tried some reforms but remained imprisoned in his own outmoded individualist ethic and collapsed under the weight of the stock-market crash of 1929 and the Depression’s onset? The younger historians always put in a word for Richard M. Nixon, the only American president forced to resign from office. Continue reading And hopefully the last word on the topic
Note: (GMWAFS Department)
|The Waleska Award Program has chosen Bizmarts for the 2013 Waleska Awards in the Used Computers classification.
For most companies, this recognition is a result of your dedication and efforts as well as the work of others in your organization that have helped build your business. Your team is now a part of an exclusive group of small businesses that have achieved this selection.
The Waleska Award Program provides several ways for you to leverage your companyb accomplishment. First, you may use the digital award image from this email in any of your online marketing. Also, the press release with the Bizmarts official award announcement is on our website and available for your use. The Waleska Award Program gives Bizmarts the right to distribute and display the digital award image and/or press release in any way you choose.
|Finally, you may also receive a personalized award for you and your staff to showcase in your workplace. This is a great way to keep your employees motivated and impress your customers. Just copy and paste the link below into your browser to view the award selection:
Each year, across the greater Waleska area, the Waleska Award Program chooses only the best local businesses. We focus on companies that have demonstrated their ability to use various marketing methods to grow their business in spite of difficult economic times. The companies chosen exemplify the best of small business; often leading through customer service and community involvement.
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Note: Much has been made of the Presidential ritual of paying tribute to fallen military personnel who arrive back in caskets at Dover Air Force Base. There is a long history of such tributes in our Nation’s past, including Lincoln’s Gettysburg address; but in modern times we’ve had two Presidents who met with the families of the fallen at Dover, but only one who actually attended the formal ceremony. The “second-in-command” of each respective President followed in his leader’s footprint – guess who? Bush/Cheney or Obama/Biden.
Note: There is a very interesting Face the Nation episode broadcast in 2005 featuring then Sen. Biden being interviewed by Bob Schieffer, in which Biden directly addressed the “Fallen Heroes Ceremony” issues at Dover AFB.
Continue reading Paying tribute to fallen heroes at Dover Air Force Base
|Dr. Stephen Hawking is brought onstage by a helper to give his presentation, “The Origin of the Universe,” at Caltech on April 16, 2013.
CREDIT: Rod Pyle/SPACE.com
PASADENA, Calif. — Our universe didn’t need any divine help to burst into being, famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking told a packed house here at the California Institute of Technology Tuesday night (April 16).
Many people had begun queuing up for free tickets to Hawking’s 8:00 p.m lecture, titled “The Origin of the Universe,” 12 hours earlier. By 6:00 p.m. local time, the line was about a quarter-mile long.
A second auditorium and a Jumbotron-equipped lawn, which itself was jammed with an estimated 1,000 viewers, were needed to handle the overflow crowd. At least one person was observed offering $1,000 for a ticket, with no success. [Big Bang to Now in 10 Easy Steps]
Stephen Hawking began the event by reciting an African creation myth, and rapidly moved on to big questions such as, Why are we here?
He noted that many people still seek a divine solution to counter the theories of curious physicists, and at one point, he quipped, “What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?”
After outlining the historical theological debate about how the universe was created, Hawking gave a quick review of more scientific cosmological explanations, including Fred Hoyle and Thomas Gold’s steady-state theory. This idea hypothesizes that there is no beginning and no end and that galaxies continue to form from spontaneously created matter.
Hawking said this theory and several other ideas don’t hold up, citing recent observations by space telescopes and other instruments.
Enthusiastic attendees started lining up 12 hours early for Hawking’s 8:00 p.m. lecture at Caltech on April 16, 2013. The overflow crowd stretched for more than a quarter mile.
After giving a brief historical background on relativistic physics and cosmology, Hawking discussed the idea of a repeating Big Bang. He noted that in the 1980s, he and physicist Roger Penrose proved the universe could not “bounce” when it contracted, as had been theorized.
Therefore, time began at the moment of singularity, and this has likely occurred only once, Hawking said. The age of the universe — now believed to be about 13.8 billion years — fits that model, as the number and maturity of observed galaxies seem to fit in the general scheme.
In another observation of modern religion, Hawking noted that in the 1980s, around the time he released a paper discussing the moment the universe was born, Pope John Paul II admonished the scientific establishment against studying the moment of creation, as it was holy.
“I was glad not to be thrown into an inquisition,” Hawking joked.
He closed by outlining “M-theory,” which is based partly on ideas put forward years ago by another famed physicist, Caltech’s Richard Feynman. Hawking sees that theory as the only big idea that really explains what he has observed.
M-theory posits that multiple universes are created out of nothing, Hawking explained, with many possible histories and many possible states of existence. In only a few of these states would life be possible, and in fewer still could something like humanity exist. Hawking mentioned that he felt fortunate to be living in this state of existence.
Hawking closed the event with a familiar plea for continued exploration of the cosmos: “We must continue to go into space for the future of humanity,” he said, adding, “I don’t think we will survive another thousand years without escaping our fragile planet.”
Hawking has been battling the debilitating neurological disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disase, for 50 years.
The physicist has been spending a month or so at Caltech, as he does each year, sequestered with colleagues, such as fellow theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, to discuss many great mysteries of the cosmos.
The 1 Percent’s Solution
By PAUL KRUGMAN – N.Y. Times - Published: April 25, 2013 421 Comments
- Economic debates rarely end with a T.K.O. But the great policy debate of recent years between Keynesians, who advocate sustaining and, indeed, increasing government spending in a depression, and austerians, who demand immediate spending cuts, comes close — at least in the world of ideas. At this point, the austerian position has imploded; not only have its predictions about the real world failed completely, but the academic research invoked to support that position has turned out to be riddled with errors, omissions and dubious statistics.
Yet two big questions remain. First, how did austerity doctrine become so influential in the first place? Second, will policy change at all now that crucial austerian claims have become fodder for late-night comics?
On the first question: the dominance of austerians in influential circles should disturb anyone who likes to believe that policy is based on, or even strongly influenced by, actual evidence. After all, the two main studies providing the alleged intellectual justification for austerity — Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna on “expansionary austerity” and Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff on the dangerous debt “threshold” at 90 percent of G.D.P. —faced withering criticism almost as soon as they came out.
And the studies did not hold up under scrutiny. By late 2010, the International Monetary Fund had reworked Alesina-Ardagna with better data and reversed their findings, while many economists raised fundamental questions about Reinhart-Rogoff long before we knew about the famous Excel error. Meanwhile, real-world events — stagnation in Ireland, the original poster child for austerity, falling interest rates in the United States, which was supposed to be facing an imminent fiscal crisis — quickly made nonsense of austerian predictions.
Yet austerity maintained and even strengthened its grip on elite opinion. Why?
Part of the answer surely lies in the widespread desire to see economics as a morality play, to make it a tale of excess and its consequences. We lived beyond our means, the story goes, and now we’re paying the inevitable price. Economists can explain ad nauseam that this is wrong, that the reason we have mass unemployment isn’t that we spent too much in the past but that we’re spending too little now, and that this problem can and should be solved. No matter; many people have a visceral sense that we sinned and must seek redemption through suffering — and neither economic argument nor the observation that the people now suffering aren’t at all the same people who sinned during the bubble years makes much of a dent.
But it’s not just a matter of emotion versus logic. You can’t understand the influence of austerity doctrine without talking about class and inequality.
What, after all, do people want from economic policy? The answer, it turns out, is that it depends on which people you ask — a point documented in a recent research paper by the political scientists Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels and Jason Seawright. The paper compares the policy preferences of ordinary Americans with those of the very wealthy, and the results are eye-opening.
Thus, the average American is somewhat worried about budget deficits, which is no surprise given the constant barrage of deficit scare stories in the news media, but the wealthy, by a large majority, regard deficits as the most important problem we face. And how should the budget deficit be brought down? The wealthy favor cutting federal spending on health care and Social Security — that is, “entitlements” — while the public at large actually wants to see spending on those programs rise.
You get the idea: The austerity agenda looks a lot like a simple expression of upper-class preferences, wrapped in a facade of academic rigor. What the top 1 percent wants becomes what economic science says we must do.
Does a continuing depression actually serve the interests of the wealthy? That’s doubtful, since a booming economy is generally good for almost everyone. What is true, however, is that the years since we turned to austerity have been dismal for workers but not at all bad for the wealthy, who have benefited from surging profits and stock prices even as long-term unemployment festers. The 1 percent may not actually want a weak economy, but they’re doing well enough to indulge their prejudices.
And this makes one wonder how much difference the intellectual collapse of the austerian position will actually make. To the extent that we have policy of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, won’t we just see new justifications for the same old policies?
I hope not; I’d like to believe that ideas and evidence matter, at least a bit. Otherwise, what am I doing with my life? But I guess we’ll see just how much cynicism is justified.
Research Paper Claims That Microsoft Excel Coding Error Is Behind The Reinhart-Rogoff Study On Debt
- URL - Mike Konczal is an expert in financial engineering and the editor of the financial blog Rortybomb
In 2010, economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff released a paper, “Growth in a Time of Debt.” Their “main result is that…median growth rates for countries with public debt over 90 percent of GDP are roughly one percent lower than otherwise; average (mean) growth rates are several percent lower.” Countries with debt-to-GDP ratios above 90 percent have a slightly negative average growth rate, in fact.
This has been one of the most cited stats in the public debate during the Great Recession. Paul Ryan‘s Path to Prosperity budget states their study “found conclusive empirical evidence that [debt] exceeding 90 percent of the economy has a significant negative effect on economic growth.” The Washington Post editorial board takes it as an economic consensus view, stating that ”debt-to-GDP could keep rising — and stick dangerously near the 90 percent mark that economists regard as a threat to sustainable economic growth.”
Is it conclusive? One response has been to argue that the causation is backwards, or that slower growth leads to higher debt-to-GDP ratios. Josh Bivens and John Irons made this case at the Economic Policy Institute. But this assumes that the data is correct. From the beginning there have been complaints that Reinhart and Rogoff weren’t releasing the data for their results (e.g. Dean Baker). I knew of several people trying to replicate the results who were bumping into walls left and right – it couldn’t be done.
In a new paper, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff,” Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst successfully replicate the results. After trying to replicate the Reinhart-Rogoff results and failing, they reached out to Reinhart and Rogoff and they were willing to share their data spreadhseet. This allowed Herndon et al. to see how how Reinhart and Rogoff’s data was constructed.
They find that three main issues stand out. First, Reinhart and Rogoff selectively exclude years of high debt and average growth. Second, they use a debatable method to weight the countries. Third, there also appears to be a coding error that excludes high-debt and average-growth countries. All three bias in favor of their result, and without them you don’t get their controversial result. Let’s investigate further: Continue reading Figures lie when enough bias is crammed into them
College Drops N.C.A.A. Sports in Favor of Increased Fitness
Above, a warm-up before a recent five-kilometer run-walk at Spelman.
By MIKE TIERNEY - Published: April 13, 2013
ATLANTA — The softball bats and golf clubs have been stored away. All is quiet, too, at the basketball gymnasium, the volleyball courts and the soccer field.
Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times
A 5K race, part of Spelman College’s wellness program.
Only the tennis team endures at Spelman College, and after the Great South Athletic Conference tournament the last weekend of April, it will also be done. Then Spelman, a historically black women’s college with alumnae who include former slaves and a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will become the second college in the last decade to leave the N.C.A.A. altogether, the other being the New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn.
Officials at the college, whose 2,100 students make it the size of some high schools, decided last year to eliminate the athletic department. The college had 80 athletes spread across seven sports, but the athletic budget was roughly $900,000 for the 2012-13 academic year — from an overall operating budget of roughly $100 million.
“I was startled,” Spelman’s president, Beverly Tatum, said. “It seemed like a lot of money for 80 students.”
The highly unusual move by Spelman comes when few institutions seem to be able to resist the lure of intercollegiate sports, even as one scandal after another has tarnished the reputations of universities throughout the country.
Continue reading A great idea: just say no to N.C.A.A. sports programs
Note: From the bowels of the National Review comes another episode of eloquent trash entitled “The Goldberg File”
The Goldberg File
By Jonah Goldberg
April 12, 2013
Dear Reader (including those of you still languishing behind the veil of ignorance),
So earlier this week MSNBC released one of its “Lean Forward” ads, this time with a woman named Melissa Harris-Perry.
Before we get to all that, a word about the ad campaign itself. In one sense these ads are like the question, “You want extra?” from the masseuse at a shady Vietnamese massage parlor — proof that all pretense at propriety is exactly that, pretense. This is supposed to be a news network. Moreover, it is supposed to be a news network that constantly boasts of its professional and philosophical superiority to Fox News (and it’s true; except for ratings, influence, quality, and profit MSNBC kicks Fox’s butt). And yet, they run testimonials to state power with a frequency that rivals North Korean TV.
But in another sense these ads are the “extra” itself — a rather sad and perfunctory attempt to satisfy urges that barely rise above the masturbatory. The self-love oozes from the screen as the hosts’ inner-15-year-olds realize this is their chance to prove they’re as great as their favorite social-studies teacher told them they were!
Thanks to the magic of Hollywood, they preen for the cameras with an almost post-coital glow as they deliver their little sermonettes that amount to pointless verbal onanism. Hey, look. There’s no-necked Ed Schultz at a diner, looking like he’s having one last cup of coffee before he has to work up a sweat burying the corpse of a dissident union official still moldering in the trunk of his ten-year-old Coupe de Ville. And there’s Rachel Maddow (looking a bit like that aforementioned dead union official) trying to give her Stakhanovite commitment to infrastructure projects a romantic hue.
Got that? The preceding is a perfect example of the skilled use of words to propagate venal nonsense. True to the wingnut set of fascinations, Mr. Goldberg revels in the use of sexually charged and value-laden words, the ‘us against them’ imagery, the insubstantial political judgements, and the implication that he has insider access to truth. He is using words to propel an orientation that demands segregation into ideologically hostile camps, and is being paid to do so. While his writings might be considered articulate, they are also rude, crude, and nasty, but he is talking to like-minded people who perceive the World from a wingnut mental cloud, who absorb and regurgitate such bombastic blather because it “sounds good” to them. IMHO, poop sprinkled with Chanel #5 is still poop. Or more appropriately, a veneer of intelligence and sophistication in his writings cannot disguise the insubstantial base elements which lie below.
*****-continuing with a review of Mr. Goldberg’s book: “Liberal Fascism…” – on Amazon
This review is from: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Hardcover)
The Book “Liberal Fascism” would be funny if it were written in the context of a Monty Python comedy but unfortunately, Goldberg’s book demonstrates the very essence of fascism itself by attempting to invert the meaning of a well known word in order to confuse and distort a well documented historical phenomena. To equate Liberalism (from the latin word Liberalis which means “free man”) with fascism is tantamount to calling someone a “communist-capitalist, or “Catholic-Jew” or confusing a dog for a dolphin or giraffe with a salamander. The two have nothing in common, and are diametrically opposed virtual “opposites’. History irrefutably shows that liberalism is the mortal enemy of totalitarianism whether it be fascism or communism.
Liberal institutions, policies, ideas and individuals have been systematically attacked, persecuted and killed by fascist and communist regimes throughout the historical record. Therefore it begs the question, if right-wing Republicans are anti-liberal, then they are by definition, “anti-liberty” and “anti-freedom”. What does that tell you they are for? Do the math! Fascism is thoroughly documented with incontrovertible facts throughout the historical record in all it grisly incarnations whether it be German, Italian, Spanish or American fascism. Fascism consistently operates under the guise of nationalistic jingoism and the pious guise of religious fundamentalism, when the opportunity to exploit religion presents itself.
The current USA brand is successfully masking itself under the harmless cloak of apple pie, cookies, flag, guns and Jesus, and Fox News which is not news but Goebbels inspired 24 hour a day propaganda willfully designed to mislead and encircle the viewers. Very clever, and it works! In essence, Johna Goldberg is a paid propagandist for the true Oligarchical nucleus of American and maybe unwittingly, international “fascism”. A word that the true fascist movement cleverly attempts to distort and twist so it is unrecognizable and therefor allows them to continue their stealth operations under the sanitized, umbrella guise and grossly misleading term “conservative”. Continue reading Skilled at using words; but still crude, rude, and nasty
Note: Yet again there is a spike in political trash talking about the Social Security program. A casual observer could assume this is the most important socio-political topic in America, based on the frequency and scale of commentary that periodically saturate the social networks about it. Unfortunately, like on many topics, a lot of what is said is pure nonsense, especially regarding proposed changes.
One of the better professional papers written about the Social Security program from the perspective of its intended and actual progressivity comes directly from the SSA.
From that paper comes the following:
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
“For illustrative purposes, we use policy options described by the Social Security Advisory Board (2005), which outlines a “menu” of potential changes to educate policymakers and the public on the most common proposals to address the Social Security financing shortfall. Some of these changes would have limited distributional effects as measured by the progressivity index, such as increases in the payroll tax rate or the normal retirement age, which tend to affect individuals in uniform ways across the earnings distribution.
Other changes would have distinct distributional effects that can alter Social Security’s progressivity. While necessarily selective, and with the caveat that these policies are not equivalent in the degree to which they alter Social Security’s system financing, the progressivity index for Social Security is calculated under three potential changes:
- Increase the maximum taxable wage so that 90 percent of covered earnings are subject to taxation (Tax max 90) beginning in 2008. Doing so would subject a greater share of high earners’ total wages to payroll taxes and would pay benefits at retirement based on those higher wages. Making this change would tend to increase progressivity, as the additional benefits are unlikely to be equal in present value to the additional taxes paid.
- Increase the number of work years used to calculate benefits to 38 (38 comp yrs). Currently, Social Security retirement benefits are based on the 35 highest-earning years in an individual’s working lifetime. Increasing the computation period beginning in 2006 would tend to reduce benefits more for individuals with low lifetime earnings, since these individuals have fewer average years of covered employment. This would tend to reduce progressivity, but since many low lifetime earners who are disabled or survivors would be protected, the reduction is slight.
- Use progressive indexing (PI) for future benefits. Inflation-adjusted benefits for lifetime maximum taxable wage earners would be frozen beginning in 2012, while scheduled (wage-indexed) retirement benefits would be paid to earners in the bottom 30 percent of the earnings distribution. Individuals between the 30th and 100th percentiles of the earnings distribution would receive a mix of wage- and price-indexed initial benefits. This change would tend to increase progressivity, as initial benefits for high earners would increase at a slower rate from cohort to cohort than would benefits for lower earners.
by Richard @ Bizmarts
As a grandfather of three younguns’ I took especial interest in US Government Savings Bonds – by passing these on to the kids at important stages of their lives. I believed it was important for kids to internalize the notion that the act of saving for the future was important. But the modern era has inserted processes that mitigate the pleasure one can obtain from giving a child a U.S. Government Savings Bond.
Chiefly the issue is one of ease of access. In days gone by one could simply go to the local Bank and buy the Savings Bond, insert it in an envelope and mail it off. No longer. Now Savings Bonds are apparently only available online – at lease that is what I was told when I tried to buy one at Wells Fargo, BoA, a local Community Bank, and a local Credit Union. When I asked them why they no longer sell them, I was told by one teller that the Bank does not receive anything back for selling them. So it’s no surprise a Bank would have no interest in providing the bonds if it doesn’t make any money for doing so. OTOH, they generally charge for cashiers checks – $7 at the Bank I elected to use for the Savings Bond equivalent process.
So, the “fun” I used to have buying the Bonds is now reduced to participating in an online app – or paying $7 to buy a cashiers check..
Pity the passing of a more enlightened and genteel age.
Note: For troglodytes like me who prefer a laptop to a tablet or smartphone in my trucks and for on-site work, the ubiquity of a WiFi signal cannot be depended on, so many of us succumb to the telco’s “data plan” offerings. Unfortunately due to a wimpish FCC, and a lack of suitable competition, the Big Carriers are overly restrictive about what flows through their pipeline, and charge an outrageous monthly fee for access – generally $80+ per month. Yes, it is possible to piggy-back WiFi access for a laptop via one’s cell phone as a pseudo-router, and under some telco plans not have to pay a premium for doing so. But it’s clunky, and a huge waste of time and effort for short-term Internet access via a laptop.
But there is an alternative: FreedomPop
From the Wikipedia entry:
FreedomPop is pursuing a freemium business model, where it will provide a set amount of data to users, for free, sell excess data at a nominal cost, and allow users to trade unused data capacities with each other on a social network. Free Internet is FreedomPop’s primary service. After paying an upfront equipment deposit, FreedomPop users will receive 500 MB of data for free each month. Additional data will be available for $10-$20 per gigabyte.On top of the 500MBs of free data that renews with each month, FreedomPop offers additional ways to earn free data through partner promotions like signing up for trials of Netflix or registering a domain at GoDaddy. Referrals to new users will also, earn you up to 500MBS each month. Each referral will earn you 50MBS of data, up from 10MBs previously.
FreedomPop also, recently announced new Social Sharing features. On FreedomPop’s dashboard people can see a list of their friends with a graphic that shows how much free data each friend has left that month. There’s also a “Give” or “Get” button next to each name. So people can help those who are running out, or request data from those who haven’t used much. Or if someone is traveling, for example, they can ask friends to give them some of their data.
Data from Sprint’s 4G LTE, WiMax, and 3G networks will be available through portable WiFi hotspots or iPhone cases sold by FreedomPop.
The FreedomPop “Bolt” USB device is available from Amazon, or directly from FreedomPop. And if you are concerned about ending up with a lame-duck device, don’t…FreedomPop is spearheaded by Skype, Kazaa and Rdio co-founder Niklas Zennström, and backed by his venture capital firm Atomico. But before considering purchase verify that your target locations can pick up a signal from Clear Network, Sprint, or other providers as they become available. In my case as of April 2013 near Canton, Georgia, I had to drive 20 miles out of my way to gain net access.
Reviews and commentary are available here, and here, and here.
by Richard @ Bizmarts – Apr. 2013
As a professional computer tech for over 20 years it has been my distinct displeasure to have been asked on numerous occasions for a “step-by-step” cheat-sheet for client interaction with computers and I.T. equipment. I always try to avoid this request like the plague, for one very simple reason: step by step instructions can only be expected to work in closed systems like mathematics. But computer programs, like social interaction dynamics, change over time, sometimes several times in a few hours – so that a sequence of actions that “worked before” will fail to function as described in the step-by-step process due to an unaccounted-for change. In programming parlance, this is a “bug”.
Any instruction set must at minimum include an “if, then, else” logical structure. Problems arise when any segment is not rigidly specified, with all possibilities accounted for in the program.
This can readily be demonstrated by a simple descriptive sequence entitled: “Step by step instructions to construct a peanut butter and jelly sandwich” , a web article written by Christine Wiktorowski.
The point being, that anytime there is a change, almost any change, in the sequence, the step by step instruction set will fail. Start sandwich process: … can’t open the peanut butter jar – fail…the rest of the sequence is meaningless and useless because the peanut butter was not available to put in the sandwich.