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Monday, April 26, 2010

In the News: April 26, 2010

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of the interwebs!

Here's what's been happening in the real world:
(Sorry, it's a little long)

Economists: The stimulus didn't help

"The recovery is picking up steam as employers boost payrolls, but economists think the government's stimulus package and jobs bill had little to do with the rebound, according to a survey released Monday."

"NABE [National Association for Business Economics] conducted the study by polling 68 of its members who work in economic roles at private-sector firms. About 73% of those surveyed said employment at their company is neither higher nor lower as a result of the $787 billion Recovery Act, which the White House's Council of Economic Advisers says is on track to create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of the year."

"That sentiment is shared for the recently passed $17.7 billion jobs bill that calls for tax breaks for businesses that hire and additional infrastructure spending. More than two-thirds of those polled believe the measure won't affect payrolls, while 30% expect it to boost hiring "moderately.""

Can't say I was ever for the stimulus package, because I'm still wondering how paying construction workers to fix roads was supposed to help everyone else.

I know it's been in the news a lot, but in case you haven't heard:
Iranian cleric blames quakes on promiscuous women  

"Women who wear revealing clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes, an Iranian cleric says.

Hojjat ol-eslam Kazem Sediqi, the acting Friday prayer leader in Tehran, said women should stick to strict codes of modesty to protect themselves.

"Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes," he explained."

""What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes," he said."

Ex-military leaders: Young adults 'too fat to fight'
China isn't the only concerned nation!

"More than a quarter of young adults are unable to meet physical requirements to join the military, creating a potential threat to national security, a group of retired armed forces leaders said Tuesday.

"It's not drug abuse, it's not asthma, it's not flat feet -- by far the leading medical reason is being overweight or obese," said retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Norman Seip at a news conference.

About 27 percent of young adults are medically ineligible for the military, according to Mission: Readiness, a group of retired admirals, generals, and other senior military leaders."


Cook-book misprint costs Australian publishers dear

The recipe was for tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto.

"An Australian publisher has had to pulp and reprint a cookbook after one recipe listed "salt and freshly ground black people" instead of black pepper.

Penguin Group Australia had to reprint 7,000 copies of Pasta Bible last week, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

The reprint cost A$20,000 ($18,000; £12,000), but stock in bookshops will not be recalled as it is "extremely hard" to do so, Penguin said."
(BBC thanks to Mike)

Spying school took "thousands" of photos of students with covert webcam app, caught kids sleeping, half-dressed
Can't remember if I posted this story before, but I've been following it and I'm interested in seeing what the outcome is.

I'm sure there are some compromising pictures, but for high school teens I'd imagine most looked like this

"More details have come to light in the case of the Lower Merion School District spying on its students with covert laptop webcam software. The school district of the affluent Philadelphia suburb issued mandatory laptops to its students, each one loaded with software that could covertly activate the laptops' webcams, supposedly as a security measure to help recover stolen laptops). Students were required to carry and use the laptops, forbidden from using their own computers in school, and prohibited from modifying the software on their machines.

The school claims that it only activated the webcam spying software on rare occasions, but this is contested by parents. One student, Blake Robbins, was called in for a disciplinary meeting for "popping pills" while at home (Robbins says he was eating Mike & Ike's candies). The revelation that the school had been watching him remotely resulted in a parent lawsuit."
(boingboing thanks to Seth)

Apple's blow-out quarter: The bloggers called it. The Street blew it.
Here's an amusing little statistic.
And further proof that the financial industry is filled with overpaid hacks.

"Once again, the armchair analysts humiliate Wall Street's professionals

There's almost nothing good to say about the estimates published by professional analysts in advance of Apple's (AAPL) second quarter earnings. Not only did the pros badly underestimate almost every aspect of the company's business — from revenue and earnings to unit sales — but they were bested in every category by a rag-tag group of bloggers, day traders and armchair analysts.

The chart posted below the fold says it all. The bright greens (indicating best estimates) are all in the top portion of the chart, where the estimates of the so-called unaffiliated analysts were recorded.

The bright reds (indicating worst estimates) all went to the pros. A few of the professionals scored some light greens, indicating second- or third-best guess. But all the pinks (second- or third-worst) fell in their portion of the chart."


Speaking of which...
Goldman reports huge profits, but troubles mount
Also all over the news, but I know some of you live under rocks.

"Goldman Sachs is still the king of Wall Street -- at least when it comes to making money.

Four days after being accused by the government of fraud in the subprime mortgage mess, the big investment bank reported blowout first-quarter profits Tuesday of $3.3 billion, nearly double from the same period a year ago. But it didn't get to celebrate."

Coca Colla hopes to create a buzz in Bolivia

I can't imagine Coke isn't building a case against these guys right now...

"An unlikely newcomer has made the world of soft drinks a little more crowded: Bolivia has started producing a new fizzy drink using the coca leaf.

It is called "Coca Colla" after the Colla people, the Andean tribes who cultivate coca in the areas bordering Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.

For some a matter of indigenous pride, for others another sign of Bolivia's growing anti-US feelings, this humble local initiative has set its sights on competing domestically with giants such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull."

Scourge of asthma is acute in N.E.

Sucks to your asmar!

"Not only does New England have the nation’s highest rate of asthma, but the disease remains poorly controlled in most patients — routinely causing trips to the hospital and lost days at school and work, according to a study being released today.

The Asthma Regional Council of New England, an independent agency underwritten by the federal government and foundations, finds that roughly two-thirds of New England’s 1.3 million people who have asthma regularly forfeit sleep, wind up in the emergency room, and frequently puff on inhalers intended as drugs of last resort.

The report is the third since 2003 to show that New England adults have the highest rate of asthma in the nation. But this year’s study is the first to portray with such precision the breath-robbing consequences of asthma in the region, where nearly 1 in 10 residents have the disease."

U.S. Treasury Jumps on 3-D Bandwagon, Unveils Redesigned Benjamins

Front  (U.S. Treasury)

"A running battle between the U.S. Treasury and the counterfeiting efforts of drug lords and North Korea just got even more high-tech, with 3-D interactivity. Now everyone can check the authenticity of their Benjamins, courtesy of color-changing and moving images of bells and numbers.

The first new security component comes from a 3-D security ribbon on the front of the new $100, which contains the previously-mentioned images of bells and numeral 100s that move as the bill gets tilted from side to side. A second new feature known as the "Bell in the Inkwell" makes a bell change color from copper to green based on its tilt. That makes it seem to disappear at times within the copper inkwell."

Back  (U..S. Treasury)


And I'll end with this oddity:
India's Chaplin-loving town

The Chaplin fan club in Adipur has more than 200 members

"A small town in the western Indian state of Gujarat is an unlikely haven for Charlie Chaplin impersonators. The BBC's Soutik Biswas travelled to the town of Adipur to find out why.

In the rising heat of a flaming Indian summer, more than 100 people have gathered in a small town in Gujarat to celebrate Charlie Chaplin's birthday.

There are girls and boys, men and women. They are young and old, fit and feeble. They have all trooped out into the streets of Adipur dressed up like the legendary actor's tramp - toothbrush moustache, bowler hat, scruffy black suit, cane.

What binds them is a love of Chaplin's cinema - most are members of the Charlie Circle, a local fan club which has been celebrating the actor's birthday every April since 1973."


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