I had to laugh at Burger King's new advertising campaign in Puerto Rico for the 50th anniversary of their Whopper burger. Apparently they actually gave away 50 of these contraptions to loyal customers! They've even set up a Web site about it.
The idle musings of a former military man, former computer geek, medically retired pastor and now full-time writer. Contents guaranteed to offend the politically correct and anal-retentive from time to time. My approach to life is that it should be taken with a large helping of laughter, and sufficient firepower to keep it tamed!
The U.S. Department of Justice inspector general will investigate the mistake-ridden ATF undercover sting in Milwaukee as part of a larger review of the agency's handling of sensitive cases after its flawed "Operation Fast and Furious."
Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote to two members of Congress that the Milwaukee sting appeared to raise "significant management issues relating to the oversight and management" of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The issues, the letter said, were especially troubling coming after the agency had promised reforms.
Lest we forget the old adage "War is Hell," successful commercial director Paola Ameli brings us rushing directly into the maelstrom with highly stylized production value and bracing emotional intensity. Rosso Fango (translated to "Red Mud") begins deep inside a mud hole in no man's land during World War I. A British soldier is trapped inside with imminent danger around him. Scared and alone, he is running out of options. Suddenly, an enemy comes hurtling down upon him. Our man acts quickly and connects with his bayonet. But as the soldier begins to sputter and expire, our hero is faced with startlingly moral choice. Based on a frightening true story that you won't believe until you see, Rosso Fango details the ways in which a simple act of compassion can alter the entire course of human history.
For aviation fans, get ready for a ton of wonderful archival footage coming your way in William Lorton's Spitfire 944. A true-life story, Lorton has discovered rare 16mm footage of a 1944 spitfire crash and tracks down the pilot, now an 83-year-old World War II veteran to show him the footage. The early parts of this film consists of wartime remembrances and nostalgia for days gone by. The elderly pilot recalls his time spent with his comrades and explains the basic information involved with his aircraft. What he doesn't know is that he is about to see, for the first time in his life, footage of his own crash. When the camera captures the man's honest reaction to what he's viewing, the greater theme at work is suddenly revealed in a flash. The result is an affirming, honest portrait of a man confronted with his past.
The official Keynesian story is that the PIIGS of Europe (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) have been devastated by cutbacks in public spending. Austerity has made things worse rather than better – clear proof that Keynesian stimulus is the answer. Keynesians claim the lack of stimulus (of course paid for by someone else) has spawned costly recessions which threaten to spread. In other words, watch out Germany and Scandinavia: If you don’t pony up, you’ll be next.
Erber finds fault with this Keynesian narrative. The official figures show that PIIGS governments embarked on massive spending sprees between 2000 and 2008. During this period, their combined general government expenditures rose from 775 billion Euros to 1.3 trillion – a 75 percent increase. Ireland had the largest percentage increase (130 percent), and Italy the smallest (40 percent). These spending binges gave public sector workers generous salaries and benefits, paid for bridges to nowhere, and financed a gold-plated transfer state. What the state gave has proven hard to take away as the riots in Southern Europe show.
Then in 2008, the financial crisis hit. No one wanted to lend to the insolvent PIIGS, and, according to the Keynesian narrative, the PIIGS were forced into extreme austerity by their miserly neighbors to the north. Instead of the stimulus they desperately needed, the PIIGS economies were wrecked by austerity.
Not so according to the official European statistics. Between the onset of the crisis in 2008 and 2011, PIIGS government spending increased by six percent from an already high plateau. Eurostat’s projections (which make the unlikely assumption that the PIIGS will honor the fiscal discipline promised their creditors) still show the PIIGS spending more in 2014 than at the end of their spending binge in 2008.
As Erber wryly notes: “Austerity is everywhere but in the statistics.”
Simply put, survivorship bias is your tendency to focus on survivors instead of whatever you would call a non-survivor depending on the situation. Sometimes that means you tend to focus on the living instead of the dead, or on winners instead of losers, or on successes instead of failures. In Wald’s problem, the military focused on the planes that made it home and almost made a terrible decision because they ignored the ones that got shot down.
It is easy to do. After any process that leaves behind survivors, the non-survivors are often destroyed or muted or removed from your view. If failures becomes invisible, then naturally you will pay more attention to successes. Not only do you fail to recognize that what is missing might have held important information, you fail to recognize that there is missing information at all.
You must remind yourself that when you start to pick apart winners and losers, successes and failures, the living and dead, that by paying attention to one side of that equation you are always neglecting the other. If you are thinking about opening a restaurant because there are so many successful restaurants in your hometown, you are ignoring the fact the only successful restaurants survive to become examples. Maybe on average 90 percent of restaurants in your city fail in the first year. You can’t see all those failures because when they fail they also disappear from view. As Nassim Taleb writes in his book The Black Swan, “The cemetery of failed restaurants is very silent.” Of course the few that don’t fail in that deadly of an environment are wildly successful because only the very best and the very lucky can survive. All you are left with are super successes, and looking at them day after day you might think it’s a great business to get into when you are actually seeing evidence that you should avoid it.
. . .
Wiseman speculated that what we call luck is actually a pattern of behaviors that coincide with a style of understanding and interacting with the events and people you encounter throughout life. Unlucky people are narrowly focused, he observed. They crave security and tend to be more anxious, and instead of wading into the sea of random chance open to what may come, they remain fixated on controlling the situation, on seeking a specific goal. As a result, they miss out on the thousands of opportunities that may float by. Lucky people tend to constantly change routines and seek out new experiences. Wiseman saw that the people who considered themselves lucky, and who then did actually demonstrate luck was on their side over the course of a decade, tended to place themselves into situations where anything could happen more often and thus exposed themselves to more random chance than did unlucky people. The lucky try more things, and fail more often, but when they fail they shrug it off and try something else. Occasionally, things work out.
. . .
You succumb to survivorship bias because you are innately terrible with statistics. For instance, if you seek advice from a very old person about how to become very old, the only person who can provide you an answer is a person who is not dead. The people who made the poor health choices you should avoid are now resting in the earth and can’t tell you about those bad choices anymore. That’s why it’s difficult not to furrow your brow and wonder why you keep paying for a gym membership when Willard Scott showcases the birthday of a 110-year-old woman who claims the source of her longevity is a daily regimen of cigarillos, cheese sticks, and Wild Turkey cut with maple syrup and Robitussin. You miss that people like her represent a very small number of the living. They are on the thin end of a bell curve. There is a much larger pool of people who basically drank bacon grease for breakfast and didn’t live long enough to appear on television. Most people can’t chug bourbon and gravy for a lifetime and expect to become an octogenarian, but the unusually lucky handful who can tend to stand out precisely because they are alive and talking.
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Failure to look for what is missing is a common shortcoming, not just within yourself but also within the institutions that surround you. A commenter at an Internet watering hole for introverts called the INTJForum explained it with this example: when a company performs a survey about job satisfaction the only people who can fill out that survey are people who still work at the company. Everyone who might have quit out of dissatisfaction is no longer around to explain why. Such data mining fails to capture the only thing it is designed to measure, but unless management is aware of survivorship bias things will continue to seem peachy on paper. In finance, this is a common pitfall. The economist Mark Klinedinst explained to me that mutual funds, companies that offer stock portfolios, routinely prune out underperforming investments. “When a mutual fund tells you, ‘The last five years we had 10 percent on average return,’ well, the companies that didn’t have high returns folded or were taken over by companies that were more lucky.” The health of the companies they offer isn’t an indication of the mutual fund’s skill at picking stocks, said Klinedinst, because they’ve deleted failures from their offerings. All you ever see are the successes. That’s true for many, many elements of life. Money experts who made great guesses in the past are considered soothsayers because their counterparts who made equally risky moves that failed nosedived into obscurity and are now no longer playing the game. Whole nations left standing after wars and economic struggles pump fists of nationalism assuming that their good outcomes resulted from wise decisions, but they can never know for sure.
A TRIO of daredevil musicians known as Led Zipline took to the skies for a jam session - dangling 1,000ft above a French gorge.
Mich Kemeter and his crazy mates set up a hammock on a highline 300m above the River Verdon - friend Armin Holzer then serenades Mich with a didgeridoo.
Bonkers axe-man Niccolo Zarattini then plays guitar and sings to Mich and his girlfriend Karine while hanging from the rope with just one safety line.
Assuming that you are avoiding the blow of a sword, your armor should be designed so that the blade glances off your body, away from your chest. If your armor is breast-shaped, you are in fact increasing the likelihood that a blade blow will slide inward, toward the center of your chest, the very place you are trying to keep safe.
But that’s not all! Let’s say you even fall onto your boob-conscious armor. The divet separating each breast will dig into your chest, doing you injury. It might even break your breastbone. With a strong enough blow to the chest, it could fracture your sternum entirely, destroying your heart and lungs, instantly killing you. It is literally a death trap—you are wearing armor that acts as a perpetual spear directed at some of your most vulnerable body parts. It’s just not smart.
The former general counsel and chief of staff of the House Judiciary Committee, who supervised Hillary during the Watergate investigation, says her history of lies and unethical behavior goes back farther – and goes much deeper – than anyone realizes.
. . .
'A lifelong Democrat, Mr. Zeifman supervised the work of 27-year-old Hillary Rodham on the committee. Hillary got a job working on the investigation at the behest of her former law professor, Burke Marshall, who was also Sen. Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel in the Chappaquiddick affair. When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation – one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career.'
"Because she was a liar," Zeifman said in an interview last week. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.'
1. A leopard can't change its spots.
2. Forewarned is forearmed.
Anyone who uses Skype has consented to the company reading everything they write. The H's associates in Germany at heise Security have now discovered that the Microsoft subsidiary does in fact make use of this privilege in practice. Shortly after sending HTTPS URLs over the instant messaging service, those URLs receive an unannounced visit from Microsoft HQ in Redmond.
. . .
In visiting these pages, Microsoft made use of both the login information and the specially created URL for a private cloud-based file-sharing service.
In response to an enquiry from heise Security, Skype referred them to a passage from its data protection policy:
"Skype may use automated scanning within Instant Messages and SMS to (a) identify suspected spam and/or (b) identify URLs that have been previously flagged as spam, fraud, or phishing links."
. . .
In summary, The H and heise Security believe that, having consented to Microsoft using all data transmitted over the service pretty much however it likes, all Skype users should assume that this will actually happen and that the company is not going to reveal what exactly it gets up to with this data.
'EZ-POUR REPLACEMENT SPOUT KIT IS DESIGNED AND SOLD AS REPLACEMENT PARTS SPECIFICALLY FOR PORTABLE FUEL CONTAINERS MANUFACTURED BEFORE JANUARY 2009'.
IF YOU LIVE IN ONE OF THE FOLLOWING STATES YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED BY LAW TO PURCHASE THE GAS CAN SPOUT: CALIFORNIA, CONNECTICUT, WASHINGTON D.C., DELAWARE, MAINE, MARYLAND, MASSACHUSETTS, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA. IF YOU LIVE IN ONE OF THESE STATES, YOU MAY PURCHASE THE EZ-POUR WATER CAN SPOUT INSTEAD.
You get a sense of the bawdy but beloved tradition at the Holler House. Female customers, particularly first-timers, are encouraged to remove, autograph and leave their bras behind because, well, just because. Typically, they modestly wriggle out of them right there on a bar stool, or they retire to the ladies room.
It's a practice that Skowronski herself began one crazy night in the 1960s.
"We all got bombed, all these girls. And we just decided to take our bras off and hang them up," she said.
Dozens of bras dangled from skis, a coal bucket and other odd objects attached to the ceiling. Men's underwear was up there, too. But this week, Skowronski's son-in-law took them down for fear that city inspectors would return and slap them with a fine, which according to the official "order to correct condition" can run from $150 to $10,000 a day.
. . .
The Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services has inspected the Holler House many times in the past but has never before deemed the bra display a potential inferno. The written order from last month's visit said "curtains, draperies, hangings and other decorative materials suspended from walls or ceilings shall meet the flame propagation performance criteria of NFPA 701."
. . .
Realizing its straps were twisted on this one, the department Thursday dismissed the order. The official explanation for the DD-sized mistake says something about the bar having a smaller occupancy rate than originally thought, and therefore a less stringent fire code.
The so-called Howell torpedo was discovered by bottlenose dolphins being trained by the Navy to find undersea objects, including mines, that not even billion-dollar technology can detect.
. . .
At the Point Loma facility, 80 dolphins and 40 sea lions are being trained for mine detection, mine clearing and swimmer protection. When the U.S. led an invasion of Iraq in 2003, dolphins were rushed to the Persian Gulf to patrol for enemy divers and mines. Dolphins guard U.S. submarine bases in Georgia and Washington state. This fall, dolphins will deploy for a mine-hunting mission off Croatia.
To train the dolphins, Navy specialists sink objects in various shapes in rocky and sandy undersea areas where visibility is poor. The shapes mimic those of the mines used by U.S. adversaries.
A dolphin is then ordered to dive and search. If it finds something, it is trained to surface and touch the front of the boat with its snout. If it has found nothing, it touches the back of the boat.
When a dolphin named Ten surfaced from a shallow-water dive last month and touched the front of the boat, Navy specialists were nonplused. "It went positive in a place we didn't expect," said Mike Rothe, who heads the marine mammal program.
A week later, a dolphin named Spetz did the same thing in the same area. This time, the dolphin was ordered to take a marker to the object.
Navy divers and then explosive-ordnance technicians examined the object, which was in two pieces, and determined that the years had rendered it inert. On one piece was the stamp "USN No. 24."
The torpedo pieces were lifted to the surface and taken to a Navy base for cleaning and to await shipment to the Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard.
The release of evidence in George Zimmerman’s murder trial quickly made a mockery of his second-degree murder charges, and threw a further layer of shame upon media and political opportunists who misrepresented a tragic, but fairly straightforward, case of lethal force employed in self-defense.
It is remarkable to take stock of this evidence and realize that it supports every single aspect of Zimmerman’s statement to the police.
. . .
Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit relates the discovery of video from Trayvon Martin’s YouTube account, removed at some point during the last month, that shows he was actually involved in some sort of underground “fight club.”
Also fatal to the prosecution’s case is the discovery that Martin had THC in his system – he had apparently been smoking pot that night.
. . .
Despite the prosecution’s awareness of the autopsy reports and eyewitness testimony, they included none of it in their affidavit against Zimmerman. Criminal lawyer and Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has been beside himself ever since the Zimmerman charges were filed, writes in the New York Daily News that it’s time to drop the charges, but doubts State Attorney Angela Corey “will do the right thing,” because “until now, her actions have been anything but ethical, lawful, and professional.”
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Dershowitz also mentions a suspicion I’ve harbored since the weird, circus-like press conference at which Corey announced the charges: they’re a political instrument designed to buy time for everyone to cool down, leading to a long trial that dismantles some of the hysteria built up around the Trayvon Martin case. If true, the strategy is understandable… but utterly outrageous. The United States does not do “show trials.” The justice system is not a safety valve for releasing unhealthy levels of political tension. Individual citizens are not pawns to be shoved around in media games by gun-control advocates, race hustlers, or opportunistic politicians. The purpose of law enforcement is to protect the public, not appease certain segments of it.
... on Monday a goat was found trespassing into a resident’s garage ... Chief Kyle Aspinwall [of Mont Vernon, NH] responded to the scene and captured it, but not without a fight: The goat, which is believed to be a female even though it “refused to identify itself,” resisted arrest.
“The goat really did try to head-butt the chief,” said Sgt. Aaron Daigneault.
. . .
The brown-and-black goat’s owner wasn’t identified so the escapee was placed in a local resident’s home. That is, until it escaped for the second time, on Tuesday morning.