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New Rule: The Kremlin Konnection

Posted on September 30th, 2017 at 18:23 by John Sinteur in category: News

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The Coming Software Apocalypse

Posted on September 28th, 2017 at 22:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


This is why he was so intrigued when, in the appendix of a paper he’d been reading, he came across a strange mixture of math and code – or what looked like code – that described an algorithm in something called “TLA+”. The surprising part was that this description was said to be mathematically precise: An algorithm written in TLA+ could in principle be proven correct. In practice, it allowed you to create a realistic model of your problem and test it not just thoroughly, but exhaustively. This was exactly what he’d been looking for: a language for writing perfect algorithms.

TLA+, which stands for “Temporal Logic of Actions”, is similar in spirit to model-based design: It’s a language for writing down the requirements – TLA+ calls them “specifications” – of computer programs. These specifications can then be completely verified by a computer. That is, before you write any code, you write a concise outline of your program’s logic, along with the constraints you need it to satisfy (say, if you were programming an ATM, a constraint might be that you can never withdraw the same money twice from your checking account). TLA+ then exhaustively checks that your logic does, in fact, satisfy those constraints. If not, it will show you exactly how they could be violated.

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  1. Fantastic article. So much more you could say about this… the trade-offs between engineering and hacking, between repeated similar work and novel work, etc. etc.

  2. Anybody have a nice, clean 1961 Ford Falcon for sale? My next car needs to be completely computer free….

I asked Tinder for my data. It sent me 800 pages of my deepest, darkest secrets

Posted on September 28th, 2017 at 16:10 by John Sinteur in category: News


In March I asked Tinder to grant me access to my personal data. Every European citizen is allowed to do so under EU data protection law, yet very few actually do, according to Tinder.

With the help of privacy activist Paul-Olivier Dehaye from personaldata.io and human rights lawyer Ravi Naik, I emailed Tinder requesting my personal data and got back way more than I bargained for.

Some 800 pages came back containing information such as my Facebook “likes”, my photos from Instagram (even after I deleted the associated account), my education, the age-rank of men I was interested in, how many times I connected, when and where every online conversation with every single one of my matches happened … the list goes on.

“I am horrified but absolutely not surprised by this amount of data,” said Olivier Keyes, a data scientist at the University of Washington. “Every app you use regularly on your phone owns the same [kinds of information]. Facebook has thousands of pages about you!”

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  1. “OMG, the internet knows I’m a slut!”

    Yes, but don’t worry. We’re all just like you.

280 > 140

Posted on September 28th, 2017 at 12:00 by John Sinteur in category: News

My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.”

— Polonius, Hamlet Act II Scene II Line 85-92

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Nuclear Apocalypse Now?

Posted on September 27th, 2017 at 17:11 by John Sinteur in category: News


Debating whether Hiroshima was a war crime is, at this moment, anything but an academic exercise. America’s presumed innocence is not benign. It allows an ignorant and bellicose president to open the door not just to the Kim regime’s destruction, but to a possible act of collective suicide on a global scale. If Trump nukes North Korea, what will China do? And Russia?

In 1888, the philosopher Frederick Nietzsche predicted the coming of “wars the like of which have never been seen on earth before”. It seems unlikely that Trump was recalling Ecce Homo when he echoed Nietzsche’s phrase with his promise of “fire and fury like the world has never seen”, but he should consider the warning of Albert Einstein, four years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones”.

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Flight of the Year // Trains, Bridges, Rapids, Mountains, Sunset, Gapping, Perching, Powerlooping

Posted on September 26th, 2017 at 17:28 by John Sinteur in category: News

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  1. Wow, that’s phenomenal! Very nice Union Pacific train, too.

  2. This is like, so, illegal! 😀

The Lamps are Going Out in Asia

Posted on September 26th, 2017 at 3:47 by Sueyourdeveloper in category: News


US President Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19 may well come to be viewed as “historic,” but not in a good way. This article will leave for others the impact of Donald Trump’s and Kim Jong Un’s reality TV show rhetoric. But the substance of Trump’s speech—including threats to both North Korea and the Iran deal—may have closed any remaining doors to a diplomatic resolution to this crisis surrounding North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Moreover, Trump’s speech and the North Korean reaction seem to have set us on a path that could very well end in a major war in Asia. The escalating threats and the closing off of diplomatic options by both sides makes it now more likely than ever that President Trump will have to make good on his threat to “utterly destroy” a nation of 25 million people. The strategic consequences of carrying out this threat, even if successful, will be felt for the remainder of this century, largely to the detriment of the United States and the Western World.

If anyone else tells me that “One politician is the same as another!” and “Don’t vote, you’ll just encourage them!” I’ll puke.

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  1. One million and one ways to say “votes have consequences.”

  2. I can imagine Trump voters telling their grandchildren, “Yes, he DID bumble his way into a nuclear confrontation but hey, there were some sick burns on Twitter before that!”

  3. Excuse me for asking but is this “The Daily Trump”?

  4. @Gene: Well, in other news, there are some good things going on in the world.
    Saudi Arabia is going to let women drive.
    Australia might let same-sex people marry, if one bunch of people decide that another bunch of people should have the same rights as the first bunch.
    Ireland might let women choose to have abortions if their lives depend on it.
    So perhaps we can get through this the same way we got through the Cold War:

  5. @Gene If Trump has one skill, it’s to be talked about. Comedy writers in Hollywood know they need to make jokes about other things but Trump is very much the elephant in the room – it’s damn-near impossible NOT to talk about it – and given the way he manages to look and sound like he’s for racism, fascism etc, and inclined to start wars with North Korea, Iran etc, every other topic seems rather unimportant in comparison.
    There’s a lot of sites out there today that know they’re spending too much time on Trump but just can’t NOT mention his latest shenanigans.

  6. @Gene This is probably too late for anyone to notice but check out https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/10/2/1697145/-Cartoon-So-much-material (If I knew how to post the image, I would but…) this image best illustrates the problem that most of the internet is facing right now.

Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: I miss the Earth so much

Posted on September 24th, 2017 at 18:52 by John Sinteur in category: News


Another week, another attempt by Donald Trump to dominate the news cycle through insults and attacks. Last week it was Kim Jong Un, this week it’s the people who play professional sports – apparently all of them – who are in for Trump’s ire. It doesn’t really matter. Trump just wants the outrage. He wants people to be angry, upset, and divided. How he gets there isn’t that important. Whether it’s risking nuclear war or simply wiping his feet on the Constitution, eh, whatever works.

Trump doesn’t care about domestic policy. He doesn’t care about foreign policy. He cares about Trump and about how many times he can get the people to say and write the word Tru…that word. And since he has absolutely no idea how to engage people’s hopes and aspirations, how to lift up and encourage, how to stir people to positive action and greater ambitions…he does this.

He knows how to demean. How to belittle and mock. His natural expression is a sneer, his first instinct to deride. Because, to lift a few†words off a film, he’s a little man, a silly man, greedy, barbarous, and cruel …and he thinks everyone else is the same.

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  1. As those who continually learn shock-tactics learn, use only one method and eventually you become a caricature of yourself. Does Trump HAVE another operating mode? It looks like he doesn’t which means that, a year or so from now, he’ll be interviewed and the interviewer will say, “So, to open, what the first shocking comment you’ll be coming out with today? Go on, let’s hear it. I’ll wait.” and news programs will say, “…and finally, the President tweeted another in his long line of offensive tweets. Now, on to the weather!”

  2. @Kharkov: “Now, on to the weather! And that too is seriously fucked.”

  3. I like the (free) quote from Lawrence of Arabia, but the exact quote also applies if you replace “Arabs” by “politicians”. Try it:

    “So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people – greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are.”

    You can either find your favorite replacement for the “you” at the end… or not.

The Republicans Aren’t Even Pretending This Is About Healthcare Anymore

Posted on September 21st, 2017 at 0:05 by John Sinteur in category: News


What we are hearing now from a number of people is the open admission that the goal of the Republican Party, a death-cult based on human suffering, is to strip healthcare from those people who do not vote for them, and from people the conservative mind has adjudged are unworthy of its benefits.

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  1. They are literally willing to let people die so they can give a tax cut to rich people.

  2. Years ago, the Repugs would dress up their ideas as ‘Freedom’, ‘Efficiency’, ‘Equality’ etc. Now they’re not even bothering to hide it anymore.
    ‘We want to stick it to poor people, minorities and any group that didn’t vote for us, and yes, we’re happy to accept sloppy targeting that also gets those poor rubes who DID vote for us.’
    An improvement of sorts, I suppose but, and here’s where it gets scary, the Repugs have a guaranteed 35% base of support and the chance of up to 20% more.
    An educated, informed, active electorate… is one of those things the USA really should get around to at some point.

  3. In general some republicans can’t extend an open hand. I do think some are just going through the motions cause they can’t totally deny trump. Yet they do try. Who can really defeat him? That is the real question.

The Trump doctrine: Only I can fix the world

Posted on September 20th, 2017 at 16:45 by John Sinteur in category: News


If one were to believe Donald Trump’s speech before the United Nations, in his short tenure as president he has already fixed the domestic problems he outlined in his “American Carnage” inaugural address, and is now prepared to apply his methods to the rest of the planet. One might even call this speech “Global Carnage.” Trump described a Hobbesian world in which decent countries everywhere are under assault from “small regimes” trying to undermine their sovereignty and destroy their ways of life. Or, as he elegantly phrased it: “Major portions of the world are in conflict, and some, in fact, are going to hell.”
This was very much the way he described America on the day he was sworn in. It too was a desolate, dystopian hellscape of smoldering ruins and abandoned cities, where bands of foreigners and gangsters roamed the land, raping and pillaging and leaving carnage in their wake. He promised to take the country back (reclaim its sovereignty, if you will) from people who were trying to impose their values and culture on the Real Americans. He told the world on Tuesday morning that he had largely accomplished that task.
Contrary to popular belief among the chattering classes, the people who loved his promise to “make America great again” were undoubtedly pleased to see him pledge to get the world in order as well. Trump was saying that it’s none of America’s business how you treat your own citizens (unless it interferes with business) and we are not going to honor any international treaties, laws or institutions that we don’t like. But that doesn’t mean other countries can do the same. We are a sovereign nation  but we are also the richest and strongest superpower on earth, and we will decide when and where other people are allowed to exercise control over their own countries.

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Getting granular with the claim that Trump is some media wizard

Posted on September 18th, 2017 at 22:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


Conclusion: To the claim that Trump is a master of media manipulation – which I doubt – I offer these alternatives:

1.) He cannot be shamed. Trump does not care if he is shown to be a liar, idiot, ignoramus, clown, or monster. Most people are not built like that. Therefore he can generate media attention without caring about the consequences. Most people are not built like that, either. Trump is exceptional, but this is different from saying he is a masterful. In fact, he’s a compulsive. Which is the opposite of mastery. Everything explained by attributing to Trump some genius for the media arts is better explained by his utter shamelessness, his malignant narcissism – and his indifference to being the clown figure.

2.) He is risk-friendly in a field where nearly all practitioners are risk-averse. This follows from what I just said. Enormously risky behavior is routine for Donald Trump, because he simply doesn’t care if he is shown to be a liar, idiot, ignoramus, clown, or ethical monster. Therefore he can accuse a previous President of the United States of a devilish crime without any evidence… and feel fine about it. It’s true that by these methods he dominates the news agenda and forces attention to his groundless charges, but “master media manipulator” is a poor description of the man who would do that.

3.) If you have opened yourself to manipulation, it’s less bad if a master of it did this to you. Think about it. If it takes a wizard to manipulate me, I must be pretty smart… right? When journalists testify to Trump’s genius as a mover of media they are bragging in a way they don’t quite realize. For they are implicitly saying: genius is required to manipulate us. Sorry, it’s not. Anyone in a position of power willing to float a false accusation can get you to cover it – and subvert your intention to cover something else. Anyone eager to make a spectacle of himself can create lurid headlines. Anyone smashing to bits norms of democratic governance will dominate the news agenda.

If you are a man, and you bite a dog, that does not make you a master of anything. But it does make of you news.

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Posted on September 16th, 2017 at 16:45 by John Sinteur in category: News


The truth is, no matter how he winds up leaving office, Donald Trump will always be with us. We may, unless there is nuclear Armageddon, outlast his presidency. Robert Mueller’s investigation may even shorten it. But we can’t repeal or replace it. Long after his presidency ends – indeed, long after he has departed this vale of tweets for that gloriously appointed Mar-a-Lago in the sky – Trump will continue to dominate and disrupt our lives at every turn. Because he’s Trump, being a former president will do nothing to diminish his desperate need for attention or his willingness to hurt whomever it takes to get it. He’ll still have his gifts as a showman, his wealth, his mastery of social media, and the unshakable devotion of his followers. And the media will remain just as eager to report and dissect and amplify his every untruth and slander. Indeed, freed from the shackles of the Constitution, Trump could end up provoking even more havoc out of office than he has as president.

There will never be, in short, a world without Trump. As we work to remove him from office, we must also grapple with a harsh truth: that his influence, and the broader forces he represents, will not end with his presidency. When Trump leaves the Oval Office, our long national nightmare will not be over. It will have just begun.

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  1. I sadly agree. Sometimes your writings return me to helpless feelings and I cry.

    Somewhere I had read the writer predicted civil war— in 15 yrs. 15 YEARS!! That’s a lot of misery. And then even worse misery.

Apple Responds to Safari 11 Criticism From Advertising Groups

Posted on September 16th, 2017 at 9:13 by John Sinteur in category: News


Six trade and marketing organizations this morning published an open letter to Apple asking the company to “rethink” plans to launch new versions of Safari in iOS and macOS that block cross-site tracking, and this afternoon, Apple offered up a response, which was shared by The Loop.


“Apple believes that people have a right to privacy – Safari was the first browser to block third party cookies by default and Intelligent Tracking Prevention is a more advanced method for protecting user privacy,” Apple said in a statement provided to The Loop.

“Ad tracking technology has become so pervasive that it is possible for ad tracking companies to recreate the majority of a person’s web browsing history. This information is collected without permission and is used for ad re-targeting, which is how ads follow people around the Internet. The new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature detects and eliminates cookies and other data used for this cross-site tracking, which means it helps keep a person’s browsing private. The feature does not block ads or interfere with legitimate tracking on the sites that people actually click on and visit. Cookies for sites that you interact with function as designed, and ads placed by web publishers will appear normally.”

And the reply by the advertisers:

“Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love,” reads the letter. “Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful.”

Just die already. I’m still seeing your crap in the default setup. You’re still wasting my bandwidth with your “generic and less timely and useful” turds.

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  1. I want to meet some of the “consumers” the advertisers claim, who love those ads. I don’t like being followed by ads for a particular product months after I made a purchase of that product online.

  2. Mudak,
    Allow me to second that. It is extremely irritating to have ads thrown at you for an item you purchased and only need “one” of. How many vehicle radiators do you think I need, you advertising dip-wads?

  3. @Gene, I had it happen for a stove.

  4. It’s spreading. I just attempted to buy a bottle of water at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. The attendant kindly informed me that she would need to scan my boarding pass.

  5. I go to Amazon a couple times a week and shop for “Size 9 Chukka Boots” …… and now the ads follow me around online. Curate your ad stream.

Equifax CEO Hired a Music Major as the Company’s Chief Security Officer

Posted on September 16th, 2017 at 9:09 by John Sinteur in category: News


Susan Mauldin, the person in charge of the Equifax’s data security, has a bachelor’s degree and a master of fine arts degree in music composition from the University of Georgia, according to her LinkedIn profile. Mauldin’s LinkedIn profile lists no education related to technology or security. If that wasn’t enough, news outlet MarketWatch reported on Friday that Susan Mauldin’s LinkedIn page was made private and her last name was replaced with “M”, in a move that appears to keep her education background secret.

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Toronto man ‘angry’ after learning his $8,100 master’s degree that required no exams or academic work is fake

Posted on September 15th, 2017 at 23:55 by John Sinteur in category: News


Erwin Sniedzins doesn’t trust traditional universities.

So when the Toronto business management consultant found one offering a master’s degree requiring no studying, exams, or academic work — for just $8,100 — Sniedzins thought it was a school sharing his unconventional approach to education.

“I don’t necessarily like to pay $30,000 to get a master’s when I feel I already have the knowledge,” Sniedzins said in an interview with CBC Toronto.


Sniedzins is president and CEO of Mount Knowledge, an educational software company. In his LinkedIn profile, he is described as an “Artificial Intelligence Gamification Patent Inventor, Key Note Speaker, Professor, Author.”

Well, he sure has to depend on artificial intelligence, since he obviously has no real intelligence… Well, let’s rewrite the headline.

“Snooty know-it-all Torontarded man, with conspiracy theory leanings, is ‘angry’ that he might not be as smart as he thinks he is. Pays $8100 to find out.”

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  1. I see no problem here. Universities routinely hand out honorary Doctorate degrees to a variety of people under the rough category of Life Experience, with no formal academic work deemed necessary. A quick internet search reveals that Muhammed Ali, Dolly Parton, Robert de Niro, Aretha Franklin, Conan O’Brien, and many more, have received PhDs for their achievements.

    So this bloke has received an Honorary Master’s Degree, with just a small charge for postage and handling. What’s the big deal?

  2. Nice try, Ed.
    People who are idiots consistently over-estimate their intelligence, experience and virtue.

Vatican Recalls Priest at Washington Embassy Amid Child Porn Investigation

Posted on September 15th, 2017 at 23:31 by John Sinteur in category: News


A high-ranking priest working in the Vatican’s embassy in Washington has been recalled after U.S. prosecutors asked for him to be charged there and face trial in a child pornography investigation, Vatican and U.S. officials said Friday.

The Vatican declined to identify the priest, but said he was currently in Vatican City and that Vatican prosecutors had launched their own probe.

Clearly the Vatican is still protecting pederasts.

After all this. ALL of these things. If a Catholic reader would be so kind to explain to me: why do you still visit their church? I can’t for the life of me understand…

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  1. I believe it’s called cognitive dissonance. Same reason Trump voters voted for him in spite of all the evidence clearly before them and why many still think he’s doing a great job in spite of all the evidence since then. But I think you already knew that…

Teen sends dick pic to 22-year-old woman, now he’s a child pornographer

Posted on September 15th, 2017 at 23:00 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Washington Supreme Court has upheld the conviction under state child porn laws of a 17-year-old boy who sent a picture of his own erect penis to a 22-year-old woman. The case illustrates a bizarre situation in which Eric Gray is both the perpetrator and the victim of the crime. Under state law, Gray could face up to 10 years in prison for the conviction.

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Jaws Drop As Trump Admits That He Never Knew Category 5 Hurricanes Existed

Posted on September 15th, 2017 at 22:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


Trump claimed that he has the best brain and that he is a smart person, but the man charged with protecting the people of the United States and responding to natural disasters didn’t know that category five hurricanes exist. It is impossible to believe that Trump could be this dumb, especially after Hurricane Andrew and Hurricane Wilma. Trump has property in Florida, so if he doesn’t know about category fives, he is one of the most oblivious people in history.

No, no, no, dear reporter. It’s not impossible to believe that Trump can be this dumb. Damn, I bet I could not swing a cat around here without at least hitting five people who do believe it.

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A Tale of Two Donalds

Posted on September 15th, 2017 at 20:56 by John Sinteur in category: News


Consider, for instance, the recent decision by the generally admirable Ken Burns, that quintessential chronicler of the depths and surfaces of Americana, to launch his new documentary on the Vietnam War, a disastrous and near-genocidal intervention in a faraway land, by insisting that it “was begun in good faith by decent people” and was a “failure”, not a “defeat”.

Take that as just one small indication of how difficult it will be to get rid of the deeply ingrained idea that the United States, despite its flaws, is an unquestionable force for good in the world. Only an America that continues to bathe in this mythology of innocence, of a God-given exceptionalism and virtue destined to rule the Earth, could have produced a Trump victory.  Only a recognition of how malevolent and blinding that innocence is could begin to open the way to a fuller understanding of the causes of Trump’s ascendancy and his almost mesmerizing hold upon those now referred to as “his base”.

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James Brzyski, infamous Philly priest, found dead in Texas motel

Posted on September 14th, 2017 at 9:16 by John Sinteur in category: News


James Brzyski, a defrocked Archdiocese of Philadelphia priest once described as one of the region’s most monstrous sexual predators, but who eluded prosecution after allegedly abusing dozens of boys in the 1970s and 1980s, was found dead Wednesday at a Texas motel.

Authorities confirmed they were investigating a man’s death at the Super 7 motel on Seminary Road in Fort Worth. They had not officially determined his identity or cause of death but said they did not suspect foul play.
They’re not saying it outright, but it sounds like a suicide because the authorities were getting close to putting him behind bars.
“There isn’t anything to suggest that someone else did this to him,” Detective Tom O’Brien said.

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  1. Good riddance swine

The iPhone Is Guaranteed to Last Only One Year, Apple Argues in Court

Posted on September 13th, 2017 at 14:54 by John Sinteur in category: News


Greg Joswiak, Apple’s VP of iOS, iPad, and iPhone Marketing, told Buzzfeed last month that iPhones are “the highest quality and most durable devices. We do this because it’s better for the customer, for the iPhone, and for the planet.”

But in court, Apple argues that it is only responsible for ensuring the iPhone lasts one year, the default warranty you get when you buy an iPhone. For comparison, if you enroll in Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, you will be paying for your new phone for two full years.

We know this because Apple is currently fighting a class-action lawsuit over the widespread premature failure of tens of thousands of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices due to a design flaw that’s become known as “touch disease.” In that court case, currently being litigated in California, the plaintiffs attempted to argue that “consumers reasonably expect that smartphones will remain operable for at least two years when not subject to abuse or neglect because the overwhelming majority of smartphone users are required to sign service contracts with cellular carriers for two year periods.”

Apparently they have a different production line for European phones, as European law states:

EU law also stipulates that you must give the consumer a minimum 2-year guarantee (legal guarantee) as a protection against faulty goods, or goods that don’t look or work as advertised. In some countries national law may require you to provide longer guarantees.

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  1. Australia has a similar law to the EU. Australian Consumer Law guarantees certain rights to the consumer, one of which is that a warranty applies according to what a reasonable consumer would regard as reasonable, regardless of what a manufacturer states.

    What this means in practice is that a reasonable consumer would expect a $1000 phone to last more than a year, in fact you might expect it to last 3-4 years, and if that is accepted by a court, that is how long a warranty lasts, allowing refund, repair or replacement.

    See Also: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/warranties

Apple calling its stores ‘town squares’ is a pretentious farce

Posted on September 13th, 2017 at 9:34 by John Sinteur in category: News


Excruciating self-congratulation has always been part of Apple’s brand, but the company took this to new levels at today’s iPhone event.

It started with a tribute to Steve Jobs that was unnerving in the depth of its veneration. As smiling photos of the company founder beamed down at the audience, we were told that Apple is not, in fact, one of the richest and most influential corporations of all time, but the embodiment of one man’s creative spirit. The revenue, the supply chains, the employees, the users — all an incarnation of Jobs.

“His greatest expression would not be a singular product, but rather Apple itself,” said Cook.

Even the auditorium the event took place in was framed as a mausoleum. It’s the last creative project touched by Jobs’ genius, we were told, and look how it shelters the faithful, called here to see the latest relics the great man bequeathed to the Earth.

And then things got really crazy.

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Facebook Wins, Democracy Loses

Posted on September 11th, 2017 at 17:02 by John Sinteur in category: News


A core principle in political advertising is transparency — political ads are supposed to be easily visible to everyone, and everyone is supposed to understand that they are political ads, and where they come from. And it’s expensive to run even one version of an ad in traditional outlets, let alone a dozen different versions. Moreover, in the case of federal campaigns in the United States, the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance act requires candidates to state they approve of an ad and thus take responsibility for its content.

None of that transparency matters to Facebook. Ads on the site meant for, say, 20- to 30-year-old home-owning Latino men in Northern Virginia would not be viewed by anyone else, and would run only briefly before vanishing. The potential for abuse is vast. An ad could falsely accuse a candidate of the worst malfeasance a day before Election Day, and the victim would have no way of even knowing it happened. Ads could stoke ethnic hatred and no one could prepare or respond before serious harm occurs.

Unfortunately, the range of potential responses to this problem is limited. The First Amendment grants broad protections to publishers like Facebook. Diplomacy, even the harsh kind, has failed to dissuade Russia from meddling. And it’s even less likely to under the current administration.

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The Only Problem in American Politics Is the Republicans

Posted on September 11th, 2017 at 7:15 by John Sinteur in category: News


Political scientist Lee Drutman argues in a Vox essay that American politics is descending into what he calls “doom-loop partisanship.” Drutman notes that Americans have been “retreating into our separate tribal epistemologies, each with their own increasingly incompatible set of facts and first premises,” each heavily racialized, in which “[t]here’s no possibility for rational debate or middle-ground compromise. Just two sorted teams, with no overlap, no cross-cutting identities, and with everyone’s personal sense of status constantly on the line.”

Drutman attributes this to winner-take-all elections, the expanding power of the presidency, and the growing influence of money in politics. I think, despite all the very real design flaws in American politics, the problems he describe stem mainly from the pathologies of the Republican Party.

It is certainly true that the psychological relationship between the parties has a certain symmetry. Both fear each other will cheat to win and use their power to stack the voting deck. “If Republicans win in close elections, Democrats say it’s only because they cheated by making it harder for Democratic constituencies to vote; if Democrats win in close elections, Republicans say it’s only because they voted illegally.” But while it is not true that Democrats have allowed illegal voting in nontrivial levels, it is extremely true that Republicans have deliberately made voting inconvenient for Democratic-leaning constituencies. The psychology is parallel, but the underlying facts are not.

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Dozens gather at Jacksonville Beach to pray Hurricane Irma away

Posted on September 10th, 2017 at 10:30 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Jacksonville Beach Pier was the place where dozens gathered Thursday evening to pray with outstretched hands that this huge hurricane pushes out to sea.

News of the gathering spread fast.

“We’re gonna put this storm to sea — no fear,” one person in attendance said.

Darwin award volunteers.

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  1. Well, if it worked for King Canute then surely it’ll work for these…
    Oh, hang on, it DIDN’T work for Canute…

  2. Well, I suppose they could say they moved Irma to the other coast of Florida (Jax is on the E. coast).
    But passing it on to someone else doesn’t seem very godly.

  3. Wow, I am so glad there is an easier way to forecast weather with the JESUS model as those damn SHIPS, GFS, NAM , UKMET, ECMWF etc. models are far to complicated.


Posted on September 9th, 2017 at 16:50 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Google promised not to scan Gmail for targeted ads—but for how long?

Posted on September 9th, 2017 at 16:12 by John Sinteur in category: News


Google tells judge it might resume targeted advertising “to meet changing demands.”

As soon as their bottom line demands it…

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Hurricane preparation

Posted on September 9th, 2017 at 14:40 by John Sinteur in category: News


He should replace it with cat5 cable…

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  1. If you want to keep your roof from flying into the air you should secure it with an ethernet.

PSA: no matter what, Equifax may tell you you’ve been impacted by the hack

Posted on September 9th, 2017 at 12:27 by John Sinteur in category: News


It’s clear Equifax’s goal isn’t to protect the consumer or bring them vital information. It’s to get you to sign up for its revenue-generating product TrustID.

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Texas Chemical Plant Sued For Millions, First Responders Charge Gross Negligence

Posted on September 9th, 2017 at 11:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


Seven first responders filed a lawsuit Thursday against a chemical company whose Houston-area facility exploded after Hurricane Harvey. The lawsuit against Arkema and three of the company’s executives is seeking over $1 million in monetary relief, and alleges that the company did not adequately warn law enforcement and public health agencies about hazardous materials at the chemical plant. Those allegations come after Arkema and its lobbying group, the American Chemistry Council, lobbied to kill a federal rule designed to require companies to better coordinate and inform first responders about the toxic compounds at chemical plants. The rule would have taken effect in March.

The EPA’s rule, which included a series of other safety provisions, was ultimately delayed to February 2019 by the Trump administration, with the support of top Texas Republican lawmakers – many of whom received large campaign donations from the chemical industry.

The suit filed in Harris County court asserts that after explosions at the Arkema’s Crosby plant emitted a cloud of gas, company officials “repeatedly denied that the chemicals were toxic or harmful in any manner to the people, and first responders, in the community”. Yet, the complaint says the fumes sickened the first responders, and charges Arkema with “gross negligence” and “malice”.

“Immediately upon being exposed to the fumes from the explosion, and one by one, the police officers and first responders began to fall ill in the middle of the road”, says the lawsuit, which was filed by members of local agencies including law enforcement and the fire department. “Calls for medics were made, but still no one from Arkema warned of the toxic fumes in the air. Emergency medical personnel arrived on scene, and even before exiting their vehicle, they became overcome by the fumes as well. The scene was nothing less than chaos. Police officers were doubled over vomiting, unable to breathe. Medical personnel, in their attempts to provide assistance to the officers, became overwhelmed and they too began to vomit and gasp for air”.

In a statement, Arkema said its employees did “everything they could to protect the public.”

There’s a part missing in that sentence. I think the Arkema rep must have mumbled “as long as it doesn’t cost us money” in a way the reporter failed to hear.

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  1. Well. Suing arkema is a must. Gross negligence. But will someone please tell these folks they gotta sue the state of Texas too. It’s only fair.

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