29 Jul 2014

Time Warner Cable hilariously claims that Google and Netflix are the real threats to net neutrality

 Per The National Journal, both Time Warner Cable and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association lobbying group have filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission warning that major Internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Netflix are the real threats to net neutrality because they could threaten to charge ISPs extra money for the rights to let their customers access their websites. We are sadly not joking.
“A relatively concentrated group of large [Web companies] — such as Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook — have enormous and growing power over consumers’ ability to access the content of their choice on the Internet,” writes the NCTA. “It makes no sense to focus exclusively on Internet access providers and ignore conduct by [websites] that threatens similar harms.”
This sort of complaint might make sense if cable companies actually competed fiercely one another for Internet service customers, but they really just don’t. If Google and Netflix were to threaten to bar Comcast from delivering their traffic, they wouldn’t hurt Comcast since many Comcast customers simply don’t have a choice when it comes to picking an ISP. Instead, they’d merely be depriving themselves of customers without doing anything to harm individual cable companies’ dominance in individual markets.
What’s more, we really need to consider how Internet companies’ business models work before you consider the likelihood that they’d ever do such a thing — they thrive when people access their content. More clicks mean more advertising dollars, which in turn means higher revenues.

Satanists Demand Religious Exemption From Abortion Restrictions, Cite Hobby Lobby Ruling

The Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed some for-profit companies to claim a religious exemption to Obamacare’s contraception mandate, has sparked a heated debate over the definition of religious liberty and its role in modern society. At this point, even a Satantic cult has decided to weigh in.
The Satanic Temple — a faith community that describes itself as facilitating “the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty” — has launched a new campaign seeking a religious exemption to certain anti-abortion laws that attempt to dissuade women from ending a pregnancy. The group says they have deeply held beliefs about bodily autonomy and scientific accuracy, and those beliefs are violated by state-level “informed consent” laws that rely on misleading information about abortion risks.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, the Satanists point out, it strengthens their own quest to opt out of laws related to women’s health care that go against their religious liberty. “Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our our beliefs are based on best available knowledge, we expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state­ mandated ‘informational’ material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them,” a spokesperson for the organization said in a statement.
The Satanic Temple, sometimes referred to as “the nicest Satanic cult in the world,” falls somewhere between satire, performance art, and activism. The group says its central mission is to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.” It has a set of seven tenets that closely track with humanism. Typically, wherever issues of church and state are overlapping, the Satanic Temple isn’t far behind.

Members of the Satanic Temple first made national headlines when they rallied in support of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) for approving a bill that allows prayer in public schools, saying they’re glad the new policy will allow children to pray to Satan. Since then, they’ve also held “a formal ceremony celebrating same-sex unions” on the grave of the mother of the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, declaring that she has posthumously become a lesbian, and commissioned a seven-foot-tall Satanic statue near a monument to the Ten Commandments at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Creepy Abandoned Houses (27 pics)

28 Jul 2014

Japanese steel workers reveal that they saved their city from a nuclear bombing by burning coal tar to block view of US planes; story was kept secret for 69 years out of respect for Nagasaki victims, who were bombed instead

As the 69th anniversary of the Nagasaki atomic bombing approaches, a former mill worker in the present-day city of Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture, spoke about his untold story on how he burned coal tar to block the view of U.S. aircraft as they were about to drop the A-bomb on the city.
The United States initially set the Fukuoka Prefecture city of Kokura, today's Kitakyushu, as the first target for the atomic bombing on Aug. 9, 1945. However, U.S. aircraft flying over Kokura on that day had to change their target to Nagasaki due to low visibility over the skies of Kokura.
While stories related to the incident have been rarely told in consideration of A-bomb victims in Nagasaki, three former employees of Yawata Steel Works -- present-day Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. -- have recently told the Mainichi Shimbun about the project to create a smoke screen over the sky to protect the city from bombing.
Of the three workers, Oita resident Satoru Miyashiro, 85, who worked at a can factory in the steel mill at around the end of the war said he burned coal tar to lay a smoke screen on Aug. 9, 1945.
Miyashiro was at the office next to the factory on that day when he heard a radio broadcast, saying a few U.S. aircraft were flying northward. As an air-raid siren went off, his supervisor told him to start the incinerator, in which oil drums filled with coal tar were lined up. After confirming black smoke shooting up into the air, Miyashiro evacuated to an underground vault. When he returned to the office after the B-29 bombers had flown away, Miyashiro learned that the city of Nagasaki had been attacked by a "new kind of bomb."
Miyashiro said about two days before the Nagasaki attack Yawata steel workers learned that Hiroshima had been wiped out by the "new bomb" from their colleagues who had come back to Yawata via Hiroshima. He thought the next target would be his city as there were arms factories located in the area.
According to U.S. military documents that have been collected by former professor Yozo Kudo of the National Institute of Technology, Tokuyama College, two U.S. aircraft, one carrying the A-bomb, reached the skies of Kokura at 9:55 a.m. on Aug. 9. They attempted to drop the bomb three times, but pilots could not see the target which was blocked by "fog and smoke." They then decided to switch to a second target, Nagasaki, and dropped the bomb there at 10:58 a.m.
Meanwhile, documents kept by the former Defense Agency say the Imperial Army's western military command headquarters issued preliminary warnings for an air raid on 7:48 a.m. on that day, and two minutes later, it issued an air-raid siren. Miyashiro is believed to have turned the incinerator on at this time.

Report shows 1 in 3 Texans chooses renewable energy options. That’s 100 percent more than any other state

A Texas Empowerment report released by Choose Energy shows that about one in three Texans choose renewably sourced energy options.
That’s 100 percent more than any other state, said a spokeswoman for Choose Energy.
“While Texans may have bigger grids and bills when it comes to energy, they also have a lot of choice in green energy plans — which may be partly why they gravitate to green energy plans more often than any other state,” she said.
This month, Choose Energy, an online energy marketplace that helps customers in deregulated areas, such as Tyler, choose the best energy option, released the Texas Empowerment report, found atwww.chooseenergy.com/blog/state-charts/texas .
The report showed that Texas residents are experiencing a significant increase in energy bills with the summer heat. However, electricity rates are expected to decrease until August by about $2 to $3 a month for the average household.
Choose Energy selects the leading energy suppliers who offer the best options for utilities. Consumers can choose the right plan for them — a fixed plan, a short-term option, cost savings, or a greener choice. Choose Energy shows customers what percentage of their power will be renewable with each provider’s offer.
Given recent pricing volatility, Texas residents are now increasingly opting for long term, 36-month plans, thereby locking in a fixed rate for three years, the report states.
Green plans tend to cost about half a penny more per kilowatt hour, equating to $75 more a year per household for renewable energy over coal-generated power, according to the Texas Empowerment report.
“We hear a lot about being more green, whether it’s related to recycling or choosing greener resources, and it’s something that Texans have embraced whole-heartedly,” Kerry Cooper, chief executive officer of Choose Energy, said in a statement. “What we allow customers to do with Choose Energy is really examine what a green choice would mean for them and compare their options. It’s empowering to take control and make an educated decision on who should be your energy provider and still benefit the environment.”

N. Korea threatens nuclear strike on White House

 A top-ranking North Korean military official has threatened a nuclear strike on the White House and Pentagon after accusing Washington of raising military tensions on the Korean peninsula. 
The threat came from Hwang Pyong-So, director of the military's General Political Bureau, during a speech to a large military rally in Pyongyang Sunday on the anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
Hwang, who holds the rank of vice marshal in the Korean People's Army, said a recent series of South Korea-US military drills, one of which included the deployment of a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier, had ramped up tensions.
"If the US imperialists threaten our sovereignty and survival... our troops will fire our nuclear-armed rockets at the White House and the Pentagon -- the sources of all evil," Hwang said in his speech broadcast Monday on state television.
It is not the first time that North Korea's bellicose rhetoric has included threats of nuclear strikes on the continental United States and US bases in the Pacific.
But most experts believe it is still a long way from developing a viable intercontinental ballistic missile with the required range. 
The North has conducted three nuclear tests, but is not thought to have mastered the miniaturisation techniques necessary for mounting a warhead on a missile.

Net neutrality is dead – welcome to the age of digital discrimination: A US appeal court ruling that undermines the principle of net neutrality could spell the end for the ideal of an open internet

Want to know if someone is internet-savvy? Just ask them why anyone should care about net neutrality. If they understand the technology, stand by for a lecture on why it is vital that all data on the network should be treated equally by ISPs, and why it is essential that those who provide the pipes connecting us to the network should have no influence on the content that flows through those pipes.
On the other hand, if the person knows no more about the net than the average LOLcatenthusiast, you will be greeted by a blank stare: "Net what?"
If, dear reader, you fall into neither category but would like to know more, two options are available: a visit to the excellent Wikipedia entry on the subject or comedian John Oliver's devastatingly sharp explication of net neutrality on YouTube.
The principle that all bits traversing the network should be treated equally was a key feature of the internet's original design. It was also one of the reasons why the internet became such an enabler of disruptive innovation. Net neutrality meant that the bits generated by a smart but unknown programmer's application, for instance the web, file-sharing, Skype and Facebook, would be treated the same as bitstreams emanating from a giant corporation. Neutrality kept the barrier to entry low.
So far, so good. But the problem with general principles, however admirable, is that they sometimes create inflexibility. In that sense, net neutrality is like the principle that one should never, ever, tell a lie, not even a small one: excellent in principle, unfeasible in practice. The internet works by breaking each communication into small data packets and dispatching them, often by different routes, to their destination, where they are reassembled into the original communication. This was fine in the early days, when most communications were files and emails, and it didn't matter if the packets failed to arrive in an orderly stream. But once innovations such as internet telephony, streaming audio and video emerged, it looked like a good idea to give them privileged treatment because otherwise quality was degraded.
When media corporations such as Netflix came along, they were outraged that their bits had to travel in the same third-class carriages as everybody else's. Which, of course, led big ISPs to the idea that they could put those bitstreams into a fast lane and charge their owners accordingly, thereby earning more revenue and throwing neutrality out of the window.
In the US, the neutrality buck stops with the Federal Communications Commission(FCC), historically a doughty supporter of the principle. Since last January, however, the FCC has been impaled on the horns of an appeal court decision. Verizon, the huge US ISP, successfully challenged the FCC's rules on neutrality. The court ruled that the commission did not have the right to prevent Verizon from charging a fee for traffic carried on its network and since that point Verizon has been billing Netflix for providing a fast lane for its content to Verizon subscribers.

Movies That Are Already Two Decades Old (20 pics)

Nice To See The Cast Of Friends Are Really Friends (13 pics)

We all know that sometimes we get stuck working with people we hate. Luckily for the cast of "Friends" they actually became friends.