Category Archives: Science & technology

Machinists withdraw request for South Carolina Boeing union vote

boeing-strike

MyNorthwest.com: The Machinists union is delaying its attempt to organize Boeing workers in South Carolina, announcing Friday that it’s withdrawing a petition to hold a union vote next week because of what it called a toxic atmosphere and political interference.

Almost 3,200 production workers at Boeing facilities in North Charleston, where the aeronautics giant has a 787 assembly plant, were eligible to vote in the election that was set for April 22.

Withdrawing its petition before the National Labor Relations Board means there cannot now be another union vote for at least six months. Boeing employs nearly 7,500 workers in South Carolina.

“We’ve determined now is not the right time for an election,” said Mike Evans, lead organizer for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “An atmosphere of threats, harassment and unprecedented political interference has intimidated workers to the point we don’t believe a free and fair election is possible.”

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley

The union said it had contacted about 1,700 workers but Evans said the home visits were suspended after two organizers were threatened at gunpoint and other workers reported hostile confrontations. “I hold the Boeing Company, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and their surrogates responsible for creating an atmosphere of state-sanctioned hostility toward unions and union organizers,” Evans said.

“The IAM’s allegations are ridiculous,” responded company spokeswoman Candy Eslinger. “We’ve taken a very transparent approach to informing our teammates and the community about what it means to be represented by the IAM. We have provided factual information backed up by data throughout this entire process.”

Haley, a strong opponent of unions, had urged Boeing workers to vote against representation. “We are proud of our loyal workforce, their unmatched work ethic and the strong, direct relationships they have with employers in our state,” Haley said in a statement released by her office. “In South Carolina our workers know that we always have their back.” The AP left a message with Haley seeking comment on the union allegations.

Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager for Boeing South Carolina, issued a statement thanking workers for “their passion, spirit and determination to move forward together.” She added that “we now have the opportunity to make Boeing South Carolina and our local community an even better place to work and live.”

The union, which has filed unfair labor practice complaints, said it will continue efforts to organize Boeing workers. Less than 4 percent of workers in South Carolina are members of unions.

The Machinists have had members in the Charleston area before. The union won the right to represent workers at Vought Aircraft Industries in 2007, a plant that Boeing later bought. Less than two years later, plant workers voted against union representation.

Four years ago, shortly before Boeing opened the $750 million Dreamliner plant, the NLRB filed a complaint against the company alleging the nonunion plant was in retaliation against Washington state workers who earlier went on strike. The NLRB later dropped the complaint after Boeing agreed that the 737 Max would be built in Washington.

See also:

Debbie

If you install solar panels, the company may put a lien on your home

Are you considering having solar panels installed in your home?

If you do, think twice, especially if the solar company’s condition is that you enter into a long-term lease contract.

A man in California who had his solar panels installed by a company called SolarCity discovered, to his shock, that the company actually placed a lien on his house.

Jeff Leeds' solar-paneled roof

Tori Richards for Watchdog.org, April 15, 2015, that Jeff Leeds now regrets having solar panels installed on the roof of his home in the Northern California city of El Granada.

Leeds didn’t actually buy the panels, but acquired them by making a 20-year lease with SolarCity — an agreement that he now says is like “partnering with the devil.”

Not only has he endured skyrocketing electric bills, installation of an inferior system, SolarCity’s refusal to clean the panels or to provide a payment for his system’s poor performance, Leeds recently received a notice from his bank telling him that SolarCity had placed a lien on his home, and that his equity line of credit application for a second home could not proceed until the lien was removed.

Leeds said the bank “told me it was a lien. I had to pay the bank a $48 fee for removal. They held me up from closing my loan to buy a vacation home so I had to borrow from another account. It cost me time in calls to both Wells Fargo and to SolarCity.”

SolarCity say it’s not a lien, but a “fixture filing” that stakes the company’s claim to the panels, which it owns if consumers have taken part in its popular 20-year lease program. Owning the solar panels that it installs on clients’ homes allows SolarCity to claim lucrative state and federal subsidies available only to system owners. SolarCity has received approximately $500 million in tax subsidies and grants over the years.

In fact, SolarCity’s lease contract specifically states “SolarCity will … file no lien against the home” and that “The Fixture Filing is intended only to give notice of its rights relating to the System and is not a lien or encumbrance against the Property. SolarCity shall explain the Fixture Filing to any subsequent purchasers of the Property and any related lenders as requested. SolarCity shall also accommodate reasonable requests from lenders or title companies to facilitate a purchase, financing or refinancing of the Property.”

SolarCity’s website, in a consumer Q&A format, also states:

“Is there a lien on the solar home? No … the UCC-1 protects our interest in the solar energy system and prohibits the lender from taking ownership of it.”

Indeed, when Leeds confronted SolarCity about its lien on his house, “they referred me to a paragraph sunk deep inside their contract. That UCC-1 is what they kept telling me on the SolarCity side, but Wells Fargo Bank considered it a lien and charged me $48 for the fact that it was there…. And nobody explains that to you when you buy it. They give you a huge contract to read and nothing is explained.”

A March 10 email from a Wells Fargo Bank employee to Leeds confirmed that the UCC-1 is a lien: “To the bank, it’s a lien on the title..”

Sal Balsamo, a real estate attorney and owner of Barrister’s Title Services in North Carolina who has been involved with closing some 40,000 home loans as both an attorney and title underwriter, explains that by attaching a fixture filing to the property, SolarCity is second in line to collect proceeds behind the original mortgage lender in the event of a default. Any future lender — whether providing a refinance or equity loan — would not want to be third in line and will demand that SolarCity remove the lien.

Balsamo says that for SolarCity to call its lien on Leeds’ house a “fixture filing” is “parsing words to a ridiculous degree.  I don’t think there’s any question that it’s a lien. Someone can say it’s nothing more than a security interest, but that’s nonsense. At best they are mincing words and at worst they are being intellectually dishonest. A fixture filing is a lien.

Balsamo warns that signing lengthy contracts like those involving solar companies is risky because consumers often don’t realize what’s contained in the contract. “It’s up to the vendor to explain it to them. Either it wasn’t explained so customers understood, or, more likely, the vendor did not tell them” about the filing. Balsamo suggested that solar customers have an attorney read any contract before signing.

During a Feb. 12 Capitol Hill hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) grilled Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz about solar company liens and singled out SolarCity’s rival Stealth Solar as the offender.

Flake said, “After entering into these long-term agreements, a lot are in for a surprise when they realize they have to pay off a lien put on their house. What role, if any, can or does DOE plan to play in ensuring these companies who access federal tax incentives in particular  … aren’t misrepresenting what they are doing to their customers?”

Moniz was apparently caught off guard by the question and stammered that he didn’t know anything about liens but would look into it.

Ernest Moniz

A California banker, who requested anonymity because she is not authorized to speak on this topic, says she encounters enraged homeowners with Leeds’ same scenario five to 10 times a day: “This is my nightmare for 2015. Homeowners have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into. Fixture filings are definitely liens…. Green energy is so popular with lawmakers that it allows these companies to say, ‘This is ours, our property.’ “That lease will follow you until you die.”

Arizona acts to protect home-owners

Solar customers who live in Arizona will soon have state protections with the nation’s most comprehensive transparency laws. One of those regulations, SB-1465, prohibits any type of secretive lien process. Despite vigorous opposition by SolarCity and another solar contractor, Sunrun, Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill into law last week. It had unanimous legislative approval.

Among the items solar contracts must contain:

  • At least 10-point type and contain no blank spaces
  • Total price must be stated over the life of the contract, including interest
  • Potential tax ramifications
  • Disclose restrictions or impacts the buyer may have to transfer or modify the property
  • Depreciation schedule
  • A right to cancel up to three business days after purchase.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz) explains:

“We have to have better transparency and better truth in lending. This is becoming a bigger and bigger problem across the country as (solar) systems are getting transferred. Solar is getting to be our future and we don’t need people who are pulling shenanigans on the homeowner by not allowing them to know the full story of what they are signing. We are now living in an environment where it’s OK to lie and you just back up one lie with another lie – from the spokespersons at the White House all the way down to SolarCity.

Jeff Leeds believes SolarCity “just friggin’ lied to me in the sales process.” If he had been alerted to the fixture filing by the sales person, he would have thought twice about signing the contract. He has even filed a complaint with the state of California regarding SolarCity’s business practices.

“I would love to tell them how they bamboozled me, a Ph.D.,” Leeds said. “Imagine what they can do with the average schmuck out there.”

Here are the other articles in Watchdog.org’s series on SolarCity:

  1. Congressional leaders charge ‘potentially deceptive sales tactics’ by SolarCity, others
  2. SolarCity’s $750M tax gift shrouded in secrecy
  3. SolarCity and others backed Chinese solar-panel makers flooding U.S. market
  4. SolarCity skyrocketing stock dependent on government tax giveaways
  5. Customers tell horror stories of solar company that gets $422M in tax dollars

A Cato Institute report on renewable energy like solar, written by Robert L. Bradley Jr., president of the Institute for Energy Research in Houston, Texas, warns:

A multi-billion-dollar government crusade to promote renewable energy for electricity generation, now in its third decade, has resulted in major economic costs and unintended environmental consequences. Even improved new generation renewable capacity is, on average, twice as expensive as new capacity from the most economical fossil-fuel alternative and triple the cost of surplus electricity. Solar power for bulk generation is substantially more uneconomic than . . . biomass, hydroelectric power, and geothermal projects . . . . Wind power is the closest to the double-triple rule.

The uncompetitiveness of renewable generation explains the emphasis pro-renewable energy lobbyists on both the state and federal levels put on quota requirements, as well as continued or expanded subsidies. Yet every major renewable energy source has drawn criticism from leading environmental groups: hydro for river habitat destruction, wind for avian mortality, solar for desert overdevelopment, biomass for air emissions, and geothermal for depletion and toxic discharges.

Current state and federal efforts to restructure the electricity industry are being politicized to foist a new round of involuntary commitments on ratepayers and taxpayers for politically favored renewables, particularly wind and solar. Yet new government subsidies for favored renewable technologies are likely to create few environmental benefits; increase electricity-generation overcapacity in most regions of the United States; raise electricity rates; and create new “environmental pressures,” given the extra land and materials (compared with those needed for traditional technologies) it would take to significantly increase the capacity of wind and solar generation.

~Éowyn

Secret Republicans in California’s Silicon Valley and Hollywood

The two-party system is embedded in the institutional structural DNA of the United States. That’s why historically, third parties have built-in disadvantages and thus fare poorly in elections. Some of us still remember both the allure as well as the ultimate defeat of Ross Perot.

It is bad enough that at the élite leadership level, often there’s precious little difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, despite the fact that a majority of Americans (62% in October 2010) identify themselves as “conservatives.” (Note: Conservative is not synonymous with Republican.) But in some states, California being a notable example, government has become the monopoly of the Democratic party, with all the attendant corruption and unaccountability endemic to single-party states. (See, for example, DCG’s “Shocker, not: Audit finds California departments break law, game personnel system for money“.)

Blacklist

Significant industries and sectors of America are also effective one-party states. Below is Rebecca Nelson’s article in the National Journal, April 8, 2015, on two such sectors that are dominant in forming and molding public opinion and popular culture — Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

Deep in Silicon Valley, where the free market reigns and the exchange of ideas is celebrated, a subset of tech workers are hiding their true selves. Working as programmers and software engineers, they don’t want the stigma that comes with revealing who they really are.

They’re the tech company employees, startup founders, and CEOs who vote for and donate to Republican candidates, bucking the Bay Area’s liberal supremacy. Fearing the repercussions of associating with a much-maligned minority, they keep their political views fiercely hidden.

“It’s a liberal echo chamber,” Garrett Johnson, a co-founder of Lincoln Labs, which was started in 2013 to connect the right-of-center outsiders in Silicon Valley, told National Journal. “People have been convinced that Silicon Valley is reflexively liberal or progressive. And so their response is to conform.”

Silicon Valley has long been a bastion of liberalism. Since George H.W. Bush won Napa County in 1988, Republican presidential nominees have lost every county in the Bay Area. In 2012, President Obama won 84 percent of the vote in San Francisco to Mitt Romney’s 13 percent and raised more for his reelection campaign from Bay Area donors than from those in New York or Hollywood. Political donations specifically from tech workers follow that trend: Google employees collectively gave $720,000 to Obama in 2012, versus $25,000 for Romney. Crowdpac, a nonpartisan political analytics firm, found that between 1979 and 2012, tech companies have overwhelmingly favored liberal candidates.

Rather than ruffle feathers—or worse—Republicans who work there often just keep quiet. Rich Tafel, who coaches tech companies in politics and policy, understands the dynamic. The founder of the gay group Log Cabin Republicans, he’s had many Republicans in Silicon Valley confide to him their true political views.

“You just learn how to operate, if you will, in the closet as a Republican,” Tafel told National Journal. “You keep your viewpoints to yourself.”

One startup CEO who has worked in Silicon Valley for more than a decade says that while it’s popular to talk politics in the workplace, the underlying assumption is that everyone has similar views.

The CEO, who generally votes Republican and donates to GOP candidates—he spoke on background to conceal his right-leaning views—said that in 2012, “you wouldn’t want to say you’re voting for Romney in the election.” At the same time, openly expressing one’s support for Obama was “incredibly common.”

His opposition to raising the minimum wage is just one area where he diverges with most of his colleagues…. But he would never reveal his more conservative outlook on the matter…. “They can’t fathom that somebody disagrees with them,” he said. “And I disagree with them. So I’m not going to open up that box.”

Closeted Republicans aren’t just a phenomenon in the tech industry. In Hollywood, where acclaimed movie stars and directors throw lavish fundraisers for Democrats and unabashedly support liberal causes, Republicans are a rare breed. Friends of Abe, a GOP support group of sorts, caters to A-list conservatives in the entertainment industry. Only a handful of its members have made their affiliation known, and its roster is kept secret out of fears of a blacklisting reminiscent of the McCarthy era.

For some right-leaning techies, the GOP brand itself is a liability. The startup CEO stressed that there are “a number of ideas that conservatives have that I totally disagree with,” such as opposition to same-sex marriage, and he abhors the thought of being lumped in with Republicans who deny climate change or evolution.

“Republicans are regarded as assholes,” he said. “And I wouldn’t want to be associated with assholes.”

Another Republican who founded a small San Francisco-based startup told National Journal that he’s worried potential partners and investors would be turned off by his libertarian views. Recently, it seems like all of his peers in Silicon Valley have been outspoken about their opposition to the thwarted religious liberty law in Indiana, he said. He thinks business owners should be allowed to decide whom they serve, and if they discriminate against gays, people can choose not to patronize their business. He won’t discuss that view, though, or debate his left-leaning colleagues on Facebook or Twitter.

“If I were to speak out about something like that, maybe one of these companies wants to buy my company one day and the CEO is like, ‘Oh, I remember this guy saying all this stuff about this thing that I really disagree with.’ And that obviously could have negative effects,” he said. “Getting your point across isn’t worth it.”

The consequences for being outed for conservative views can be dire. In a highly public controversy last year, newly-hired Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich stepped down after critics attacked his 2008 donation to support Proposition 8, the anti-same-sex marriage law in California. Eich, who declined to comment for this story, faced an internal uprising from within the Mozilla community, as well as boycotts from other tech companies, and quit after just two weeks on the job.

Though Eich’s was an extreme case, some Republicans in Silicon Valley fear that if they go public, they’ll face subtler, less direct repercussions. The CEO who spoke on background keeps his conservative-leaning views to himself, he said, because he doesn’t want to risk people not liking him, which could hurt his job in imperceptible ways. As a leader, he needs to be able to inspire people to join and thrive in his company. If he’s “contrarian,” he said, he can’t build the necessary camaraderie to succeed.

Matthew Del Carlo, the former president of the San Francisco Young Republicans and the COO of the California Young Republican Federation, said that transparent Republicans can have a much harder time finding work in the Bay Area. “I’ve had people tell me, ‘If I found out that this person’s a Republican, their resume’s off the list.‘”

Prominent Republicans do openly work in Silicon Valley, and not all of them feel stigmatized for their political views. Billionaire Paypal founder Peter Thiel is a high-profile GOP supporter who has made considerable donations to presidential contender Ted Cruz’s 2012 Senate run and former congressman Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential super PAC. And Sarah Pompei, who handled Romney’s regional press in 2012 and now serves as Hewlett-Packard’s director of corporate communications, told National Journal she’s never felt denigrated for her conservative views.

Both Pompei and Thiel, who declined to comment for this story, prove success in the tech industry is possible for Republicans who are open about their political leanings. But they wield more power and cachet than the average start-up employee.

“There’s fearless people out there that don’t care, but those tend to be people that are in a better position financially. They’re secure in their job,” Del Carlo said. Those with more to lose, he said, often find it easier to keep quiet.

Still, Thiel’s attention-getting fundraising for GOP candidates and libertarian causes, along with other high-profile Republicans in the tech sector, show that the climate in Silicon Valley is—albeit incrementally—becoming more politically inclusive. Lincoln Labs, the group dedicated to connecting right-of-center techies in the Bay Area, has been a big part of that effort. Earlier this year, its annual conference, Reboot, brought libertarians and conservatives from Silicon Valley to Washington to hear Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul speak on deregulation, net neutrality, and other tech-industry priorities.

Throughout the year, the organization holds meetups and hackathons to build a “sense of community, so that people don’t feel like they are isolated,” Johnson said. He and Lincoln Labs’ other co-founders, Aaron Ginn and Chris Abrams, want to empower a true exchange of ideas within the tech community, without ostracizing any one view.

Silicon Valley purports to be a place where the best ideas win,” Johnson said. “If we are going to encourage diversity, let’s not just stop with gender and ethnicity. How about ideological perspective?

Conservatives and libertarians in Silicon Valley like Johnson are pioneering a new kind of Republican. With a distinctly libertarian flavor, they align with the party on the principles of liberty and limited government, but don’t necessarily lean right on—or care much about—social issues.

The entrepreneurs and techies of the Bay Area, said Tafel, are “very aligned to what could be a Republican party.” They just need to come out.

See also:

~Éowyn

Facebook ‘illegally’ tracks all visitors to its site even if they do not have accounts

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

Daily Mail: Facebook is ‘illegally’ tracking people’s internet searches across the web, even if they do not have an account with the social network. The technology company is using so-called internet ‘cookies’ – little pieces of tracking data – to collect information about people’s activity online, each time they visit a website which features a Facebook button.

Academics in Belgium claim that Mark Zuckerberg’s social network is breaching EU privacy laws by placing the tracking cookies on computers without the user’s consent to log their browsing data.

Facebook buttons are on more than 13 million ordinary websites, including those run by the government and the National Health Service, and allow users to do things such as ‘like’ a website, or ‘share’ the link on their own Facebook page.

facebook

A new report from the University of Leuven and a Brussels university claims that Facebook is tracking internet users in Europe for two years even if they have expressly opted out. Facebook has more than 1.3 billion users but there are millions more visits from people who are not signed up.

The researchers say Facebook is putting tracking cookies on internet users’ laptops, PCs and phones when the visit facebook.com – so they can target them with online advertising. This includes anyone clicking on a fan page or other pages still available without a login, or even when they visit some of the 13 million pages with a Facebook module on it and do not click on it.

The company first plants a tracking cookie on a user’s computer whenever they visit a website hosted on facebook.com, such as a page for a friend’s birthday party, a fan page for a celebrity, or for a brand or shop. After that, any web page they visit which features a Facebook button will relay information back to the social network.

And the problem only becomes worse if they try to protect their privacy online, by ‘opting out’ of allowing web companies to track them. Under EU privacy law websites must gain consent before using a cookie, with few exceptions, and websites must ask users to accept cookies when they visit for the first time.

Privacy campaigners have today accused Facebook of taking ‘staggering’ liberties by behaving in this way, and suggested that people can only really protecting themselves if they stop using the internet.

Many online companies use cookies, sent over the internet and ‘planted’ on people’s computers, to gather as much information as they can about their users. These little pieces of data send information back to the companies’ servers, allowing them to ‘remember’ the user. Often this can help them do simple things like ‘remembering’ the user, so that they don’t have to log in afresh every time they visit a particular website.

But cookies are also used to gather information about what websites people have visited, at which times of day, so that companies can target them with carefully tailored adverts.  This practice, known as ‘behavioural advertising ‘, means that users who research a particular car online, for example, would then see an advert for the same car when they visit an unrelated website.

Users can theoretically stop companies from tracking their information in this way by clicking an ‘ad choices’ button, featured on many websites. Once they click that button, people are invited to pick and choose which internet companies are allowed to track them, or just ban them altogether.

However, researchers said today that Facebook takes the request to ‘opt out’ of online tracking as a cue to plant an extra cookie on people’s computers instead. The special cookie, called ‘datr’, gives that person’s computer or smartphone a unique tracking number, and allows Facebook to follow its activity for the next two years.

Report author Brendan Van Alsenoy told the Guardian: ‘European legislation is really quite clear on this point. To be legally valid, an individual’s consent towards online behavioural advertising must be opt-in. Facebook cannot rely on users’ inaction – not opting out – to infer consent. As far as non-users are concerned, Facebook really has no legal basis whatsoever to justify its current tracking practices.’

The report’s authors said that those who make the effort to opt out of getting Facebook cookies are given one as a result. Co-author Günes Acar said: ‘If people who are not being tracked by Facebook use the ‘opt out’ mechanism proposed for the EU, Facebook places a long-term, uniquely identifying cookie, which can be used to track them for the next two years.’ ‘If you take measures to protect your privacy from Facebook, you are actually going to be followed more on the internet,’ said Rob Heyman, another of the authors of the report.

Privacy campaigners said today that Facebook seemed to have forgotten that people are private citizens, rather than money-making machines. ‘It is both staggering and disappointing that Facebook feels the need to track non-Facebook users, people who don’t want to interact with the social platform,’ said Renate Samson, chief executive of the lobby group Big Brother Watch.

‘Just because internet companies can do something doesn’t mean that they should do it. This takes it a big step further than what [European Commission Attorney Bernhard] Shima was saying, which is that if you don’t want to be spied on, you should opt out of Facebook. Actually, you need to opt out of the internet.’

Mr. Shima said last week that people should close their Facebook accounts if they want to ensure that US security services are not spying on their information.

Facebook today said that the report was inaccurate and the researchers had persistently ignored their request to meet. A Facebook spokesman said: ‘This report contains factual inaccuracies. The authors have never contacted us, nor sought to clarify any assumptions upon which their report is based. Neither did they invite our comment on the report before making it public. However, we remain willing to engage with them and hope they will be prepared to update their work in due course.’

‘Earlier this year we updated our terms and policies to make them more clear and concise, to reflect new product features and to highlight how we’re expanding people’s control over advertising. We’re confident the updates comply with applicable laws including EU law.

Two peas in a pod...

Two peas in a pod…

Facebook was last month accused of acting in violation of EU privacy laws by the same academics who claimed they had just expanded its old policy, not changed it, which Facebook denied. The group claimed the social media site ‘placed too much burden’ on users, rather than protecting themselves.

‘If a Facebook user opts out, Facebook promises to stop collecting or using browsing information for the purpose of showing ads. Running a number of tests, we confirmed that Facebook still tracks its users when they visit a webpage containing Facebook social plugins, even after the user “opts out”,’ the researchers concluded. Facebook tracks its users across websites even if they do not make use of social plug-ins, and even if they are not logged in.’

In January an Austrian court said it will consider a class action against Facebook by 25,000 people who are claiming their privacy has been breached.

The David v Goliath case is being spearheaded by law student Max Schrems, who wants Mark Zuckerberg’s social media site to compensate him and his supporters with a symbolic £400 each. A hearing in Vienna on April 9 will consider whether the lawsuit is admissible.

Mr. Schrems began his legal challenge last June, claiming that Facebook supplied personal information to the US Prism spy programme. Over the next few months 25,000 people added their names to the lawsuit. The programme is the U.S. secret service’s worldwide monitoring and data mining system and was exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden last year.

Mr. Schrems is claiming damages of £397 (€500) per supporter, meaning that if the case was expanded and the activists won, Facebook would have to pay out a total of £23.8million.

facebook

See also:

DCG

Smartphones Are Debasing Society

image

The following appeared on Henry Makow’s excellent site:

http://henrymakow.com/2015/03/smartphones-have-debased-society.html

Thanks to smartphones, people are always
distracted. They are not interacting with people
or places in the moment. Baby boomers like
David Douthit have banished them from their lives.

by David Scott Douthit
(henrymakow.com)

Everywhere, people seem to be glued to their smartphones. I was at one of my son’s baseball games. My ex-wife and my daughter were in the bleachers behind home plate. Neither one saw any of the game, as they were both busy texting the entire game. My son hit his first home run. After the game he asked his Mom if she saw it. She answered, “Saw what?”

I tried the smartphone thing around ten years ago. The problem was people kept calling me up. They would call when I was walking the dog. They would call when I was taking a nap. They would call and expect me to call them back immediately, and get mad when I didn’t. The smart phone was much more an inconvenience, than convenience. I threw it away, and have not had one since.

My wife and I had to put a sign on our front door that reads “Turn that bleeping smartphonr off!” because her kids kept coming over to make phone calls, or at least that is the way it seemed. It was aggravating when a visitor comes over and just had to “take this call” or that call after call. Or, they would be sitting on the couch looking at the smart phone and texting. You get schizophrenic trying to converse with someone who is some place else mentally all the time.

HEALTH DANGERS

Then there is the matter of electromagnetic radiation waves emitted from the smart phone into the users brain.

There is ample evidence smartphones cause brain tumors, as well as a host of other maladies. I make it a point to tell all my family and friends about that risk. It is usually dismissed with a, “So what? Everybody dies sometime.”

Although my son has a smartphone, I do not allow him to put it up next to his brain, or carry it in his pocket next to his testicles. Organ tissue is much more sensitive than muscle or bone. My boy is only seventeen, but I would like him to use his brain, and father some grand kids someday.

This generation will be stunted. They have conceded their cognitive ability to computers and cell phones. It appears this has enabled them to argue and bicker with people non-stop. The smartphone is a extension of their sour attitude. Grammar and good manners are gone.

This generation has no morals. The breakdown of morality has a lot to do with rise of technology. You would think technology would not have affect morality, but it has enabled the wolves among us to be more wolf-like. Guys brag about bedding hundreds of women. They attribute the ability to meet more women to modern technology.

Most modern men have absolutely no standards. The only standard they have is their ability to use other people. The exact inverse of the Golden Rule.

I also try to stay off the computer. I have to admit, it is addictive. The pixels excite the brain in a drug-like fashion. I have spent too much time on the computer in the past. It didn’t make me any happier or wiser.

Knowledge and wisdom are two different things. Knowledge is accumulated information. Wisdom is the ability to know the right way to use it. Wisdom is gained by negotiating difficult situations, crises, real life moral dilemmas. Time spent on the computer is not real life experience. I think I will go for a walk and exercise some wisdom and my legs.


Also by David Douthit- MD Pill Pushers-A Personal Story
————————— The AIDS Hoax
Also by David Douthit- The AIDS Hoax——————— Gulf War Troops Got vaccine Containing Nerve Gas

Makow comment- And David doesn’t even get into the surveillance aspects.

First Comment from Dan:

I’ve lived with dial phone ‘land lines’, sending letters by postman, and writing checks. “New” isn’t always better; it’s a always a trade-off. Switching from land line telephone to ‘smartphone’ exchanges one set of inconveniences for another, more complicated set.

At the moment people remain concerned mainly about the loss of privacy [1] that goes with storing every byte of information about you on these GPS tracking, hand held chipset.

But you’ll get over that. Now that they’ve got you hooked on ‘convenience’ , heavily invested into it (iPhones ain’t cheap), and visually dependent upon digitally processed images do recognize what you’re seeing on that little screen as ‘real’, privacy will become less important. – See more at: http://henrymakow.com/2015/03/smartphones-have-debased-society.html#sthash.S4TX7ugM.dpuf

Germanwings Airbus crash: Co-pilot deliberately crashed plane; captain was locked out of cockpit

UPDATE:

The New York Times reports that today, March 26, 2015, French officials said that Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525 deliberately crashed the aircraft. Voice recorder evidence shows that he had locked the captain out of the cockpit, ignored his pleas for re-entry and steered down into the French Alps as passengers were heard screaming.

The top executive of Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, said he was speechless at the news from France.

Prosecutor Brice Robin said it appeared that Lubitz’s intention was “to destroy the aircraft.” Voice recorder showed that the co-pilot had been breathing until before the moment of impact, suggesting that he was conscious and deliberate in bringing the plane down and killing all 150 abroad.

The assertions instantly changed the nature of the Tuesday crash into a wide-ranging criminal investigation that focused on Lubitz the co-pilot, a 27-year-old German with no obvious reason to commit mass murder, who had been hired less than two years ago. (Read more, here.)

Click to enlarge
Germanwings crash

From the New York Times:

PARIS – As officials struggled Wednesday to explain why a jet with 150 people on board crashed in relatively clear skies, an investigator said evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in.

A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”

He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.” […]

“We don’t know yet the reason why one of the guys went out,” said the official, who requested anonymity because the investigation is continuing. “But what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door.”

The data from the voice recorder seems only to deepen the mystery surrounding the crash and provides no indication of the condition or activity of the pilot who remained in the cockpit. The descent from 38,000 feet over about 10 minutes was alarming but still gradual enough to indicate that the twin-engine Airbus A320 had not been damaged catastrophically. At no point during the descent was there any communication from the cockpit to air traffic controllers or any other signal of an emergency.

When the plane plowed into craggy mountains northeast of Nice, it was traveling with enough speed that it was all but pulverized, killing the 144 passengers and crew of six and leaving few clues. […]

The flight’s trajectory ahead of the crash also left many unanswered questions.

But minutes later, the plane inexplicably began to descend, Mr. Jouty said. At 10:40 and 47 seconds, the plane reported its last radar position, at an altitude of 6,175 feet. “The radar could follow the plane until the point of impact,” he said.

Mr. Jouty said the plane slammed into a mountainside and disintegrated, scattering debris over a wide area, and making it difficult to analyze what had happened. […]

A senior French official involved in the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that the lack of communication from the pilots during the plane’s descent was disturbing, and that the possibility that their silence was deliberate could not be ruled out.

“I don’t like it,” said the French official, who cautioned that his initial analysis was based on the very limited information currently available. “To me, it seems very weird: this very long descent at normal speed without any communications, though the weather was absolutely clear.”

“So far, we don’t have any evidence that points clearly to a technical explanation,” the official said. “So we have to consider the possibility of deliberate human responsibility.” […]

Speaking on the French radio station RTL, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Wednesday morning that terrorism was not a likely “hypothesis at the moment,” but that no theories had been definitively excluded. He said the size of the area over which debris was scattered suggested that the aircraft had not exploded in the air but rather had disintegrated on impact.

H/t my friend Don Hanks, who wrote this comment with which I heartily agree:

If the names of the pilots are ever disclosed, we may have a clue.

~Éowyn

Urban Death Project proposes to use corpses as compost. Is Soylent Green far away?

Soylent Green

Soylent Green is a 1973 science fiction film starring the late Charlton Heston. The film depicts a dystopian 21st-century Earth of pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans, and constant humidity due to the greenhouse effect from global warming.

In 2022, with 40 million people in New York City alone, housing is dilapidated and overcrowded; homeless people fill the streets; about half are unemployed, the few “lucky” ones with jobs are only barely scraping by, and food is scarce. Most of the population survives on rations produced by the Soylent Corporation, whose newest product is Soylent Green, a green wafer advertised to contain nutritious “high-energy plankton” from the oceans.

It turns out Soylent Green is made not from plankton, but from human remains.

Katrina Spade42 years after Soylent Green the movie, a Seattle architect named Katrina Spade has a proposal, the Urban Death Project, to turn human corpses into compost for plant food.

Simply put, families of the deceased surrender the corpses to the project to rot in a 3-story recycle building.

Urban Death Project

As described on Urban Death Project’s website:

The Urban Death Project is a compost-based renewal system. At the heart of the project is a three-story core, within which bodies and high-carbon materials are placed. Over the span of a few months, with the help of aerobic decomposition and microbial activity, the bodies decompose fully, leaving a rich compost. The Urban Death Project is not simply a system for turning our bodies into soil-building material. It is also a space for the contemplation of our place in the natural world, and a ritual to help us say goodbye to our loved ones by connecting us with the cycles of nature.

This is how Urban Death Project envisions the process to be:

1. The deceased may be stored in a refrigerated space for up to ten days before the ceremony takes place. There is no embalming because decomposition is an important part of the design.

2. Those closest to the deceased meet the body in the shrouding room, where they wrap it in simple linen. Supportive staff are on hand to assist in this process.

3. Mourners enter the facility and walk up to the top of the core where they say goodbye to the deceased at the laying in.

“Laying in” refers to placing the corpse into a mixture of woodchips and sawdust.

Over the next few weeks, the body decomposes and turns into a nutrient-rich compost, which is given to the deceased’s family or spread in national parks.

The project’s founder Katrina Spade says she got the idea from animal composting. She plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign on March 30 to build a prototype system by 2020. She admits the project will face legal problems and envisions “It’ll be state-by-state, a lot of small campaigns. It’s about telling people this is an option that works.”

H/t Daily Mail

Here’s an article for Catholics on the proper treatment of the cremated ashes of loved ones: “Concerns about Cremation: Some Very Strange Practices are Emerging“.

~Éowyn