Friday, December 21, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oh My God Dept: Reality TV is Faked?

By David Perel: "Yuuupp,” Dave Hester has filed a blockbuster lawsuit against Storage Wars, RadarOnline.com is reporting. Hester, one of the show’s best-known personalities, charges that the A&E hit show is fake and fired him in retaliation days after he complained about it to network and production company executives. The reality TV show picked up Hester’s contract option and then rescinded it for season four. Now, in the lawsuit, the show is accused of illegal activity and an ongoing pattern of outrageous behavior in deceiving the public. The suit contains numerous bombshell claims, including that that the network and producers regularly “salt” lockers with valuable items to add drama to the show, rig the bidding and even paid for a female cast member’s plastic surgery to add sex appeal! In the five-count multi-million dollar lawsuit filed in California, Hester makes detailed and explosive allegations against the show, which the network has previously defended as 100% real and not staged. He also says that cast members confronted executives at an in-person meeting this year and expressed their concern over the show being rigged. Hester says he was fired days after meeting with executives and subsequently asking to be indemnified by the show for any third party claims regarding “the authenticity of the auction process and the Series.” Hester charges:
Producers staged entire units and enlisted the cooperation of owners of storage facilities to do so.
The show pays for storage lockers for “weaker” cast members as part of the manipulation.
The show plants items in lockers after having them appraised weeks in advance.
The show obtains items to be placed in the units from a business regularly featured on air.
Interviews with cast members are scripted and scenes of bidding are faked to the extent that there are no auctions taking place while cast members and members of the public are shown bidding. “The truth is that Defendants regularly salt or plant the storage lockers that are the subject of the auctions portrayed on the Series with valuable or unusual items". Hester goes on to detail how the show was fixed from the beginning. Now he is seeking millions for breach of contract, wrongful termination in violation of public policy and three other counts."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fox News Bucks Murdoch on Gun Control

(by Gabriel Sherman at NYMag.com) "At 7:58 p.m. on Saturday evening, gun control’s newest advocate took to Twitter to call for stricter firearm legislation. “Nice words from POTUS on shooting tragedy,” wrote News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch, “but how about some bold leadership action?” Around the same time at Fox News, one of Roger Ailes’s deputies was sending a very different message. According to sources, David Clark, the executive producer in charge of Fox’s weekend coverage, gave producers instructions not to talk about gun-control policy on air. "This network is not going there,” Clark wrote one producer on Saturday night, according to a source with knowledge of the exchange. The directive created a rift inside the network. According to a source, one political panelist e-mailed Clark that Bloomberg was booked on Meet the Press to talk about gun control. Clark responded, “We haven't buried the children yet, we're not discussing it.” During the weekend, one frustrated producer went around Clark to lobby Michael Clemente, Fox’s executive vice-president for news editorial, but Clemente upheld the mandate. “We were expressly forbidden from discussing gun control,” the source said. Clark's edict wasn't universal: On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace talked with Democratic Senators Joe Lieberman and Dick Durbin about gun control, and later in the program, panelists Bill Kristol and Fortune editor Nina Easton weighed in on the issue. Certainly Fox’s decision to avoid widespread policy talk could be seen as an editorial impulse to keep the focus trained on the tragedy’s human dimension. But Fox’s coverage also highlights the growing chasm between Rupert Murdoch and Ailes. Gun culture is alive and well at Fox News. Roger Ailes and Sean Hannity are reportedly licensed to carry concealed handguns in New York City. Fox personality Eric Bolling is a vocal Second Amendment proponent on air. “Not only do they carry guns, they don’t allow an honest debate on TV,” a Fox News insider said. In the past, when Ailes has clashed with Murdoch on politics, Fox News's outsize profits have helped Ailes prevail. Earlier this fall, Ailes signed a new four-year contract, and he retains complete editorial control over the network."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Superstorm Sandy: a Harbinger of Migration?

Global Warming refugees?
"Anyone who lived through the life cycle of the baby boom knows two things about demographics. First, demographic cycles are slow but inexorable. And second, perhaps because they move so slowly, they are often ignored. It was obvious with the emergence of the baby boom post-World War II that over the course of the next five to ten years there would be a tidal wave of bodies coming into elementary schools, and that in 10 to 15 years that tidal wave would hit high schools, then colleges, then the housing market. Yet schools were not built to accommodate this boom, even though there was more than adequate lead time. (And many of the schools that did get built then were torn down once the baby boomers move past school age, just in time to miss the next demographic wave – the children of the baby boomers). Climate change will progress at an even slower, imperceptible pace. And unlike demographics, where the changes in birthrates are undeniable, climate change exists in a cloud of uncertainty. Even those who take it as a given cannot clearly project its course. The point is that we miss even the obvious risks if they move slowly enough, and the realities and effect of climate change remain less than obvious. And there are few risks that are as slow moving but substantial as those associated with climate change. The frog in the pot is the operative analogy.
Barbarians overran Europe as far as Scotland to the north and Portugal to the west; the land was carved up and administered by this new elite, with the original land holders displaced and the laborers becoming serfs. The Burgundians and the Visigoths took two thirds of their respective conquests, each Burgundian being housed as a “guest” with the former landholder now living in a small part of his former estate. The Vandals seized all the best lands in northern Africa, without any regard to the former inhabitants. The Lombards in Italy took one third part of the land. The Franks took possession of much of the land in France. The newly arrived became lords of their holdings, the previous tenants and farmers became their serfs. In the end this great migration gave us the Feudal Age, a social order that defined Europe for eight hundred years. What will appear a century hence after the great migration on which we are soon to embark?" Read more posts by Rick Bookstaber
Read more: Business Insider

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The "Planetary Alignment" Threat Debunked

"One of the most bizarre theories about 2012 has built up with very little attention to facts. This idea holds that a cosmic alignment of the sun, Earth, the center of our galaxy - or perhaps the galaxy's thick dust clouds - on the winter solstice could for some unknown reason lead to destruction. Such alignments can occur but these are a regular occurrence and can cause no harm (and, indeed, will not even be at its closest alignment during the 2012 solstice.) The details are as follows: Viewed far from city lights, a glowing path called the Milky Way can be seen arching across the starry sky. This path is formed from the light of millions of stars we cannot see individually. It coincides with the mid plane of our galaxy, which is why our galaxy is also named the Milky Way. Thick dust clouds also populate the galaxy. And while infrared telescopes can see them clearly, our eyes detect these dark clouds only as irregular patches where they dim or block the Milky Way's faint glow. The most prominent dark lane stretches from the constellations Cygnus to Sagittarius and is often called the Great Rift, sometimes the Dark Rift. Another impressive feature of our galaxy lies unseen in Sagittarius: the galactic center, about 28,000 light-years away, which hosts a black hole weighing some four million times the sun's mass. The claim for 2012 links these two pieces of astronomical fact with a third - the position of the sun near the galactic center on Dec. 21, the winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere - to produce something that makes no astronomical sense at all. As Earth makes its way around the sun, the sun appears to move against the background stars, which is why the visible constellations slowly change with the seasons. On Dec. 21, 2012, the sun will pass about 6.6 degrees north of the galactic center - that's a distance that looks to the eye to be about 13 times the full moon's apparent size - and it's actually closer a couple of days earlier. There are different claims about why this bodes us ill, but they boil down to the coincidence of the solstice with the sun entering the Dark Rift somehow portending disaster or the mistaken notion that the sun and Earth becoming aligned with the black hole in the galactic center allows some kind of massive gravitational pull on Earth. The first strike against this theory is that the solstice itself does not correlate to any movements of the stars or anything in the universe beyond Earth. It just happens to be the day that Earth's North Pole is tipped farthest from the sun. Second, Earth is not within range of strong gravitational effects from the black hole at the ce nter of the galaxy since gravitational effects decrease exponentially the farther away one gets. Earth is 93 million miles from the sun and 165 quadrillion miles from the Milky Way's black hole. The sun and the moon (a smaller mass, but much closer) are by far the most dominant gravitational forces on Earth. Throughout the course of the year, our distance from the Milky Way's black hole changes by about one part in 900 million – not nearly enough to cause a real change in gravity's pull. Moreover, we're actually nearest to the galactic center in the summer, not at the winter solstice. Third, the sun appears to enter the part of the sky occupied by the Dark Rift every year at the same time, and its arrival there in Dec. 2012 portends precisely nothing. Enjoy the solstice, by all means, and don't let the Dark Rift, alignments, solar flares, magnetic field reversals, potential impacts or alleged Maya end-of-the-world predictions get in the way." (by Francis Reddy
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Putting Price Per Ounce in Context

"When it comes to commodities priced "per ounce", the two most quoted products are silver, and of course gold. But in a broader context are these prices a lot or little? How do some other less known commodities stack up to the world's two most precious metals. Here are the prices for a wide universe of other compounds which are also priced on a "per ounce" basis...
Copper: $0.24/oz
Silver: $33/oz
Beluga caviar: $345/oz
Gold: 1,700/oz
Carbon 60: $2,495/oz
Cocaine: $4,791/oz
Namibian uncut rough diamonds: $98,490/oz
Plutonium Oxide: $165,500/oz
Soliris (anemia drug): $533,000/oz
Human eggs: $157 trillion/oz
That said, we doubt any of the above have the wealth and capital preservation capabilities of those two most popular shiny metallic objects which may or may not be edible, but have survived the rise and fall of nearly 3000 paper currencies over the ages." (Source: Wired via Zero Hedge)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

So That's What You've Been Doing In There!

"It’s no secret that more and more holiday shopping is now done online, but apparently many Americans buy loved ones gifts while on the toilet. Some 16% of mobile-device owners do their holiday shopping in the bathroom, according to a recent survey by CashStar, a digital gifting company. The survey of 2,000 adults, which was taken by polling company Harris Interactive last month, found that the shop-til-you-plop approach was more prevalent among men than women. “Smartphones and tablets have enabled consumers to shop and gift on the go in more ways and places than ever before,” says David Stone, co-founder and CEO of CashStar." (The Drudge Report)

YouTube: 80+ Alan Simpson Has it Right!



Saturday, December 1, 2012

The "Nail House" Phenomenon in China

What Does an Employer See?

From The Business Insider:  According to heat mapping of eye movements, "In the six seconds they spend on a resume, recruiters focus on name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education." That's it folks, so keep it short!