Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Problems with TSA Body Scanners

Unless you like the idea of showing your junk to the US Government every time you fly, you're probably unhappy with the new "Naked Body Scanners" and "Enhanced" pat downs. Or maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about. Either way, you should read this:

1. The backscatter x-ray technology used by the US produces a detailed, graphic outline of your body parts. A less invasive option would have been the ProVision ATD radio scanners used in Amsterdamn, which do not produce images of passenger bodies, only items found on the body. Why don't we use these now? Well, TSA Administrator John Pistole's answer is that

"these “blob” machines, as opposed to the “naked” machines, are the “next generation” of screening technology. His concern, he said, is that “there are currently a high rate of false positives on that technology, so we’re working through that.”"

I would take a false positive over my naked body being printed in an image any day. But at least the images aren't being saved, right? Think again...

2. All US scanners machines have the capacity to save your body scans and some of them ALREADY HAVE. Last August, a Florida courthouse using the machines admitted to saving "tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system." But don't worry, TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz assures us that "the agency's scanners are delivered to airports with the image recording functions turned off." And since turning that function on would be against the rules, its not like anyone would ever do that.

Well, at least all these scans are going to keep us safe, right? Sorry, wrong again..

3. The new body scanners let many dangerous objects through. Adam Savage of Mythbusters recently passed through with 2 12-inch STEEL RAZORBLADES in his jacket pocket. The scanners also miss any items below the skin or in body cavities, and cannot detect "plastics or ceramics used in bomb-making."

So, if body scanners can't protect us, what should we do? Should we submit everyone to an enhanced pat down and cavity search? That doesn't sound very fun or time-effective. Instead, FOX NEWS has an idea: profiling. "We have limited resources; why don't we use them on the 19-year-old Yemeni exchange student and not the 90-year-old grandmother or the nun who's been at the same convent for 50 years?" Hmmmm. This does seem like a time-saver, and you know who else uses this strategy? Israeli Airports.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Trees, Now With the Power of GMO!

Are you a fan of trees? Then you'll love these new super-trees being developed at Berkeley and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.

Called the "organic enemy" of global warming, these new trees act like mini carbon vaults, sucking up huge amounts of carbon from the air and then sending it down to the soil, never to see the light of day again. So, if carbon is the criminal causing global warming, these super-trees are the global policemen who will catch and imprison that carbon, thereby allowing humans to frolic freely and burn as much fossil fuels as we want!

Meanwhile, the soil under these GMO trees will become filled with carbon, which will stay there "for centuries." A small amount of carbon is already naturally present in soil, and is good for plant growth. Could too much carbon in the soil become toxic? No one knows yet, but if that happens we can just invent a super Potato-Bug to eat up all the carbon in the soil!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eating Meat Makes you Smarter (Kinda)

The next time someone tells you you shouldn't eat meat, tell them you're just protecting your brain.

NPR writes that when ancient people began eating meat, the calorie rich food allowed their brains to grow bigger while letting their stomachs grow smaller. The need to develop tools to hunt and butcher meat also caused our brain to grow smarter.

Cooking our food saves the most time of all. Raw meat could take as much as 6 times longer to chew and digest. (Cooking vegetables also makes more calories available and digestion easier.) Our brain requires constant calories to run and it can only use food that has been completely digested into pure glucose. So, having a rich source of calories that can be digested quickly is beneficial to our brain.

This means that humans became the great thinkers they are today by cooking and eating MEAT. Which means, if we had never eaten other animals, we probably wouldn't have the time nor mental capacity to protest moral wrongs like...eating animals?

Hah, try hitting a vegetarian with that paradox.

Warning: Eating a moderate amount of meat keeps your brain functioning at top capacity. Eating huge amounts of meat will not actually make you smarter and only runs the risk of making you look like THIS GUY --->

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fox News, the Best Talk Radio Ever

I was shocked to read today that FOX News has been awarded a front-row seat in the White House briefing room. Why is this so surprising?

It was only last year that this same administration tried to BAN Fox completely from doing interviews with White House staff. Back then, the administration said Fox was not real news and compared them to talk radio.

Now, the White House is rewarding Fox for its "length of service and commitment." Commitment to what? To being a really great talk radio program?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

California: Killing the Environment to Save Jobs

Californians, get ready to vote this November! Your ballots will now include the California Jobs Initiative. With unemployment rates at a frightening 12%, who wouldn't vote for such a heroically named law?

Now, while this law may not directly create any jobs, it does do the important duty of repealing global warming law AB32, which caused "higher utility rates and fuel prices," and paid subsidies to over 300 renewable energy companies. Lowering prices on fossil fuels and killing off that unproductive upstart industry of clean energy is clearly the best way to deal with an economic crisis. That must be why the guardians of public good, oil companies, covered 78% of the $3 million it took to get this law on the ballot.

Yes, the oil companies are going to protect YOU from that pesky environmental law that's making energy "so expensive." I mean, California oil companies can't help that oil comes with all these extra costs, like cleaning up the COSCO Busan spill in 2007 or the billion dollar BP mess of today. We just need to remove taxes on oil for a little while to let everyone get back on their feet! The California Jobs Initiative won't remove environmental standards forever, just until the state's unemployment rate drops below 5.5% for a full year. Sure that would require some of the lowest unemployment rates in California history, but with big oil protecting your jobs I'm sure we can all expect a new golden age to hit the state soon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mastectomy Fever Sweeps Iran

Fashion update: Breasts are officially an undesirable feature in Iran!

The Vice Police ordered the chop-chop for these mannequins while cracking down on "Un-Islamic" practices in Tehran.

In America I get annoyed just looking at super curvy plastic buttocks in the store window. Obnoxious and over the top for sure, but at least it's a cheerful image. Meanwhile, these dolls are frowning and shutting their eyes, more dismal than a dead nun. You can practically hear the sighs of all those plastic ladies wishing they didn't have awkward inhuman stumps showing through the front of their thawb.

How can this possibly attract women to shop at the store? "Oh yes, see how modest these dolls look in our clothes. With a robe like this you would never attract the attention of a man! So even though the ideal of not having womanly assets may be a bit out of your reach, our clothing is the next best thing."

Yep, breasts are totally disgusting. I mean, people might look at you and be reminded that you are a WOMAN! So keep them out of sight until you need them for the only thing they're good for:

feeding newborns, of course!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Geoengineers, the All-Stars of Science

Have you ever heard of geoengineering? It's a great new science that lets us FIX our climate! Brains from all around the world have been coming together this year to discuss ways we can lower the earth's temperature and keep global warming at bay.

Some of their lovely ideas include:
  • spraying sulfuric acid into the stratosphere (this creates aerosols which block solar radiation)
  • creating brighter clouds that produce more rain and block more sunlight
  • sucking CO2 from the air and storing it where it can never escape--cleverly named Carbon Capture!
  • shooting reflective disks into space.. at the exciting rate of 1,000,000 a MINUTE for 30 years!
Now, I know some people might worry that such hip and snazzy methods could be a little risky:
"But geoengineers, your sulfur particles that block the sun are the same ones that cause acid rain!"
Not to worry, concerned public: Sulfur aerosols that geoengineers create will be put above rain clouds, not into them! As Austrian physicist Jason Blackstock said, "by putting them higher, they stay up longer because they're above the clouds, which means they aren't raining out as acid rain all the time." And as long as you don't have acid rain ALL THE TIME, everything should be just fine.

Also, that guy who said what goes up must come down? He clearly wasn't at the conference.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wildlife Holocaust

Since the disastrous oil spill, BP has been working to keep journalists away from the Gulf Coast. Looking at these pictures, you don't have to wonder why:
These were taken along the Gulf Coast by AP photographer Charles Riede. I can't make any sort of joke about this, so I'll include the words of a commentator who said it best, Karen S :
With photos like this we get a glimpse of the amount of suffering, but what is taking place out of sight is truly a wildlife holocaust. We won’t know the scope of it for years. The Gulf will be a silent ocean for who knows how long, because it’s dying. If BP doesn’t stop the leak soon the health of the North Atlantic will also be at risk.
Unfortunately there are no plans to stop it soon. The leak is still going and BP has said the flow is too strong to plug it. Their new plan is to drill more wells to relieve the pressure and pull away the oil from the leak. These two "relief wells" are due to be completed in August.

So I guess we have two more months of oil-covered corpses coating the shores...how is this an acceptable plan?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tweet Tweet! You're Busted

Twitter now allows you to add a location to your tweets. The problem? It auto-tracks your location and inputs straight from your IP address.

So you don't actually have to type in anything, it just broadcasts your city wherever you go, until you turn it off. Sounds really easy-to-use...most likely too easy. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Example 1: Last year's GPS fail, that guy who lost his job by forgetting his GPS was auto-broadcasting.

Example 2: People often tweet from their phones when they are out partying, goofing off and maybe even *gasp* intoxicated! Does this sound like a good time to be letting the world wide web know exactly where you are? Now even a vague message like "Lady Gaga is sooooo good!" can prove to your parents/friend/boyfriend that you weren't home studying, if the location shows you left town. Gosh forbid if they get a more exact tracker that gives your address, because then everyone will know exactly which gay* club you hang out at that plays Lady Gaga.

*I use this term in the most friendly way. Lady Gaga is both gay and quality, as many other things can be.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Beeware of Cellphones

Researchers in India recently found that cellphones can be pretty bad for bees...

See, bees navigate like little compasses, using magnetite in their body to tell direction. Cellphone radiation ruins their compass! Beehives exposed to radiation lost all ability to produce honey, and hives ran out of food in three months.
i.e. Bees starving!

Queens also stopped laying eggs by 50%. So, less baby bees!

Gosh, this all sounds really tragic. But, is it enough to get people to stop using their cellphones...?

Maybe people need to know that bees are crucial to agriculture and food production. Or maybe, the bees just need a new spokesperson like the girl at right...

If girls in lingerie can't save the bees, who can?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bailout Apocalypse

Rolling Stone just published a frighteningly dramatic article that paints bailout-receivers as dirty con artists, and predicts that we're heading towards an even bigger economic crash. It actually uses the phrase "rape the taxpayer."

After seven pages, I hear a very believable story that we never should have bailed out corporate companies; they are spending all the bailouts on their own employees, have not changed the gambling behavior that caused their first crash and are setting themselves up to crash again, because now they know they can just get more money from the government once they crash. (I know that was a long sentence, so you might want to read it again.)

If you think this sounds like doom-and-gloom forecasting you are correct. Reading this article put me in a panic over how the "little man" can possibly stand up to the rich elite that is apparently going to keep taking our money, forever and ever! I thought Rolling Stone was about looking at Rock Stars and feeling cool...when did they switch to worrying about the fate of the free world?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Metro Madness

The MTA has some 'splaining to do. I lost $4 in a machine the other day and since then I've seen nothing but bad policy on their end. Awful, pirate-worthy policy.

To start, I was refilling my card and the machine looked like everything worked fine, but when I went to use the card it said insufficient fare. Inconvenience #1. I went back to the machine to find a receipt had printed out saying, "Trans: Add Value FAILED / Failure Reason: Unable to return money." I brought this to the teller and they told me the only way to get a refund was to call the MTA.

I called the next morning and was greeted by a recording that stated, "If you are calling to check on a refund, please be aware that our refund processing is backlogged and all refunds will be delayed for an undetermined amount of time." Blatantly curious at this point, I waited 30 min to speak to a phone rep only to be told that the only way to get my $4 back was to mail in the receipt, and my metrocard! He almost hung up without giving me the address even though I had asked twice.

Tired of all this hassle, I decided to read about the EasyPayXpress Metrocard for future use. For this card, you pay $45 and it is automatically refilled before it runs out, so you can avoid the dastardly MTA machines! Sounds great, except the card automatically refills whenever it's balance drops to $20, and a metro ride is only $2 and change. So owning this card, you've basically donated $20 to the MTA that you will never be able to spend until you cancel the card.

If only the MTA didn't have a monopoly on subway service, maybe these subway-robbery methods wouldn't exist. But, I suppose the subway could always be worse..

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Alli, Weight Loss via Suffering

I normally hate watching TV and last night I was reminded why. The worst of consumer culture swarmed the airwaves around 12am in a cacophony of diet commercials. I was surprised to see one for the diet pill Alli because I heard it was removed from the market due to bad side affects, so I Googled it and the results were acutely disturbing:

Alli is still on the market but it causes you to loose weight in a punishing way; if you eat fatty foods your anal sphincter becomes useless. Yes, you will poo your pants and it will be greasy, noisy and possibly explosive. And even if you stick to a diet plan, there is a period of adjustment where you will experience "treatment effects" including

» Gas with an oily anal discharge
» Loose stools or diarrhea
» More-frequent bowel movements
» Hard-to-control bowel movements

I'm not exaggerating, this list is quoted directly from the Alli review at mayoclinic.com . The reason Alli produces such awful effects is that it works by preventing your body from absorbing part of the fat you consume, so that fat just zooms through your body as oily sludge instead. The less calories from fat you consume, the less painful your "treatment effects" will be.

And how much weight can you expect to lose while on Alli? It only works when combined with a restricted diet and exercise plan, and the website says it will not cause any weight loss on its own, merely increase the effectiveness of your diet plan by 50%. So if your own, non-diaper demanding diet plan would net you 10 pounds lost, Alli will make that 15.

How could this possibly be worth it?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cell-ebrity Author makes $600k at 15 yrs

And my teachers used to say, "Texting on your phone is a waste of time!"

Maybe they should have encouraged us to text more in class! Then I too, could have become famous, and published a SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLAR ($600,000) novel; like this Tokyo teenager so famous she is now known only as "Bunny." Being a one-named celebrity now puts her right up there with Madonna and ...Madonna?