We really appreciate your visits! Every Friday, our goal is to provide you with a few laughs, some inspiring stories and some food for thought. We look forward to your visiting with us again next Friday! Y'all come on back now... ya hear!
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"Pay per Laugh" ... comedy club where you only pay for what you consume
In mid-2013, the art industry in Spain suffered one of the hardest blows ever.
The government decided to raise the tax for theatrical shows from 8% to 21%, resulting in the greatest loss of audience in living memory.
People returned to consume “proven” entertainment en masse such as the American blockbusters…
Faced with this reality, the independent comedy theatre company Teatreneu decided to look at the situation with humour and invented something:
Pay Per Laugh
We fit out each seat with a facial recognition system that detects the smile, and proposes the following deal to spectators:
“Entrance will be totally free... if the show produces no laugh, you don’t pay anything. However, if you laugh, you have to pay for each smile.”
Each smile produced is worth 30 euro cents, something that in this day and age is quite a reasonable price.
At the end of the show the spectator could check that laughter account before paying, and even share it on the social networks.
And so that no-one would cry for having laughed more than they could afford, the maximum amount to pay was 80 laughs or 24 euros. The average price of the ticket increases by 6 euros compared to traditional shows.
The system was covered by the main national media outlets. This produced more publicity, and this in turn produced 35% more spectators.
Each pay per laugh show produced 7,200 euros of ticket money compared to 4,400 euros that was normally taken.
Currently the Pay Per Laugh system is being copied in other comedy theatres in Spain.
A mobile phone app was created to use as a system of payment in other independent theatres. The first season ticket was also launched for the amount of laughs and not the number of shows.
We should also not write off the “Pay Per Cry” or “Pay Per wtf” system. Well, actually perhaps these options should be disregarded…
Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksAC4bS_wa4
Google's driverless car ideas... include a novel idea of airbags on the outside
Airbags on the inside, that's what cars typically have, protecting the driver from any incident that might knock them around inside a vehicle. But how about airbags on the outside, for the rest of us?
Google's patented the idea for its driverless cars, with a system of inflatable bumpers that would react in the event of an accident.
Sensors could detect when a collision is imminent and inflate the bags to hopefully reduce damage to anyone (or anything) involved.
That said, typical airbags might not help when installed outside of the car, as any poor pedestrian that the system would aim to protect would likely be bounced off - which doesn't sound particularly safe.
Google has the answer, however: visco-elastic material. This wonder-material that would offer a degree of give when coming into contact with objects (or what we like to call 'people').
The idea of airbags-on-the-outside isn't completely new, though. Volvo is also toying with the idea, here's how the carmaker imagines it would look like:
Google appears to be making sure its driverless vehicles are packed with safety features: hopefully, to assuage that freaky feeling a lot of us get at the idea of a car that gosh-darn drives itself.
In case you haven't heard, or you are oblivious to the news of the day... America's 'Debt Limit' is now again the latest fabricated crisis in Washington.
Today is March 27th... and your taxes are still going up... and our country is virtually bankrupt... and going $2 billion dollars deeper in the hole - each and every day. Yet Obama pretends all is well. Obama's debt comes right out of your pocket...
Our nation-state is no model of fiscal responsibility. When Barack Obama took office, the national debt was already an impressive $10 trillion. Today it is $18.1 trillion. The national debt is still growing at a rate of more than $50 million an hour.
Here's Obama's "bull crap" for the week... 03/27/2015
President Barack Obama between the prime ministers of Canada and Australia, two countries he seems to feel he has no more need for ...
Obama has selfishly destroyed our relationship with Israel... he has also done the same thing with Canada and Australia
U.S.-Israeli relations are strained, and with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu winning reelection after a very public rebuke of the Obama White House, they could be worsening.
But Israel isn’t the only U.S. ally at odds with the Obama administration.
Seems U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman, a major Obama campaign bundler, is having a hard time getting in good with Canadian government officials, Canada’s the Globe and Mail wrote last week.
“The cold shoulder turned to the ambassador was part of a chilly year for U.S.-Canada relations, which have become unusually discordant at the top,” wrote Campbell Clark, the newspaper’s chief political reporter.
Put simply, President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper aren’t exactly close. The fact that these two leaders, like Obama and Netanyahu, don’t get along well is not new.
But the stark observation from Canada’s leading national newspaper on Heyman’s treatment by our neighbor to the north really brings it home.
At the heart of the rift is disagreement over building the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Harper has lobbied for it.
Obama has declined to move on it. Last month, Allan Gotlieb, who was a Canadian ambassador to the United States through the 1980s, described the relationship between the two countries as “as cool as I ever remember.”
“The Keystone project has been handled with considerable insensitivity. Our history has been characterized by . . . a sensitivity to each other’s interests,” he told the Globe and Mail in late February.
He said he thinks Obama is prioritizing a desire to “stand up to big oil” over “Canada’s interests.”
It is not just the liberals propaganda war on using oil... it is the liberals false propaganda war against what is best for America.
Liberals don't care about America - liberals only care about themselves.
The slimy liberals in America have completely taken over the public narrative for Democrats... why aren't the moderate liberals speaking out?
Moderate liberals in America try to tell us... that the big-mouth, divisive, trash-talking, extremist liberals - are not their representatives.
But the moderate liberals - never speak out against the big-mouth, divisive, trash-talking, extremist liberals?
"I you remain silent where there is aggression, slander, theft, lies and hate... then you by default, condone and accept the crimes against your neighbor and humanity." -- jb
There is another old saying that dates back to Socrates, I think, and it goes something like this: you know you’ve won the argument - the moment your opponents start flashing their genitals at you.
Actually, maybe it was Lincoln who said that. Anyway, it’s a rather urgent bit of wisdom in our time.
Now, I don’t want to reiterate the entire ancient history of the last five and a half days, but I’ll give you a little context so that you understand.
It started with the belligerent rantings of a pop singer-rapper named Azealia Banks, who appears in Playboy magazine this month.
Banks’ last album sold only 15,000 copies or so in its first two weeks - making her about as musically relevant as a Creed cover band - so she has instead achieved fame by taking off her clothes and saying inflammatory things about white people.
This is the first strategy they teach you in Liberal Marketing 101 at rapper school, and it’s extraordinarily effective.
In her Playboy interview/stripping session, she spoke proudly of her hatred for white conservative men, white teenage girls, white farmers, white Middle Americans, and anything else created by or associated with white people...
Presumably including democracy, the automobile, air travel, antibiotics, computers, electricity, photography, and about a 100,000 or so other essential innovations that were born by the bloody hands of whitey.
Shortly after these interview excerpts were published, I wrote a piece to retort Banks and to point out her hypocrisies and prejudices.
I intended to call her out for being such a classless, fanatical bigot, and to make the magnanimous gesture of offering to pay for her one-way ticket out of this cesspool of oppression and to a land not plagued by the terrible cancer of white America.
You know, an oasis like Nigeria or Pakistan or some other paradise.
Late on Friday, Banks took to Twitter to send me and another conservative, Wayne Dupree, a close up photo of her genitals. I suppose this is what passes for dialogue in more progressive circles, but among sentient humans it tends to derail the conversation considerably.
I’d say Banks has gotten a free pass for her hatefulness and bigotry, but that wouldn’t be completely true. A “pass” insinuates that she did something wrong, but in the minds of many liberals, she behaved heroically. Pass? More like applause and a trophy.
Conservatives tend to make this dichotomy worse by - as some have urged me to do here - ignoring the slobbering liberal bigots and trying to be the “bigger person.”
But progressives continue to use even the flimsiest of examples to support their narrative of racist white America, and they win. People believe them.
Their story sticks, and nobody says a peep or attempts to refute it, because, you know, we’re too mature or something.
Well, I guess I’m not that mature and not that “big.” The progressive racial and gender narrative is a deranged fiction, and I intend to make that fact known.
This is the slimy genius of modern liberalism. It packs a lie on top of a lie, and forces you to inadvertently accept one premise by arguing against the other.
I can try to point out that America is not “institutionally racist” - and if our institutions were designed to oppress black people and women, they’re clearly doing a really bad job of it.
But by having this debate, I’m giving off the impression that the definitions of “racism” and “sexism” somehow hinge on this question. They don’t.
Racism is hatred of another race. Sexism is devaluing someone based on their sex. Those are the definitions. If you engage in those things, you are those things. Black, white, male, female, it doesn’t matter.
No excuse. No mitigation. A racist is a racist is a racist, a sexist is a sexist is a sexist. Simple.
The aurora borealis, or the northern lights as they are commonly known, are seen over Derwent Water near Keswick, United Kingdom on March 18, 2015.
Gabrielle Daleman of Canada is pictured during a training session ahead of the 2015 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Shanghai, China.
Kyle Davis #3 of the Dayton Flyers goes to the basket against Chandler Hutchison #15 of the Boise State Broncos during the first round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 18, in Dayton, Ohio.
An Afghan family on the outskirts of Mazari-i-Sharif on their way to celebrate Nowruz which marks the Afghan New Year.
A bee collects pollen from a crocus blossom on March 15 in Kaufbeuren, Germany. March 20 marks the first day of spring.
Singapore has begun seven days of national mourning following the death of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Lee, who was 91, led Singapore's transformation from a small port city to one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
A mute swan cleans its plumage on the river Havel in Potsdam, Germany, on March 18.
The multi-stage Absa Cape Epic race saw 1,200 cyclists riding in pairs over 700km (435 miles) and climbing more than 16,000m, twice the height of Mount Everest during eight days of racing in South Africa.
Ya' know, sometimes things just fall in place.
When I'm bored, I send a text to a random number saying, "I hid the body, now what?"
More people have access to cell phones than toilets. That’s not a typo... According to a U.N. study, “Out of the world’s estimated 7 billion people, 6 billion have access to mobile phones. Only 4.5 billion have access to working toilets.”
Have you every noticed... that a woman's, "I'll be ready in five minutes" ... and a man's, "I'll be home in five minutes" ... are exactly the same?
Dear God... I want to take a minute, not to ask for anything from you... but to simply say, "Thank You for all I have!"
He got a tattoo in honor of his girlfriend four years ago. She's now an ex... but the tattoo now cost him his job
Four years ago Kirk Soccorso and his girlfriend decided to commemorate their love by each getting tattoos on the inside parts of their bottom lips, News 12 Long Island reported.
While Soccorso’s girlfriend is now an ex, his tattoo of her name is alive and well in his mouth - and it may have cost the Mastic, New York, man his job.
You see, the tattoo - in all capital letters - reads “ISIS.”
Perhaps understandable given his then-girlfriend’s name is Isis, he said.
Except most folks these days recognize the all-caps acronym as standing for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or the Islamic State - the world’s most notorious terror group.
“I honestly didn’t know what the acronym meant until just recently,” Soccorso told the station.
After he showed his tattoo to a coworker at Home Depot in Patchogue, he soon got the bad news: Don’t return.
“It’s a personnel matter and the decision wasn’t just based on the tattoo,” Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes told News 12.
Soccorso, a tool demonstrator at the store for about six months, told the station he’s not a terrorist and is considering a lawsuit.
He could get “CR” added to his tattoo, but I have a feeling the tattoo is not the source of his problems.
Seven normal everyday snacks... with a crazy amount of sugar
Call us greedy, self-centered, or overly idealistic, but no one should ever accuse Americans of being bitter:
We devour more added sugar than people in any other country - 30 teaspoons a day by some estimates. (Indians, on the other end of the spectrum, consume just one.)
The reasons go back to the 1960s, when supermarkets proliferated in US cities and readily available corn-syrupy sodas and juice drinks supplanted milk on the dinner table.
By 1996, the daily calories we got from added sweeteners had increased by more than 35 percent.
On top of that, during the low-fat frenzy of the 1980s and '90s, manufacturers replaced the flavorful natural oils in their products with sweeteners.
"Now it's challenging to find a food without added sugar," says Dr. Andrew Bremer, a pediatric endocrinologist and program director in the diabetes, endocrinology, and metabolic diseases division at the National Institutes of Health.
Indeed, today a full three-quarters of the packaged foods that we purchase - including everything from whole-wheat bread and breakfast cereals to salad dressings - contain extra sweeteners.
That's a problem: Naturally occurring sugars (the kind in fruit, for example) come with fiber, which helps us regulate the absorption of food.
Without fiber, sugar can overwhelm your system, eventually leading to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.
Given these risks, experts suggest dramatically cutting your intake of extra sweets.
The 'four words' Charles Krauthammer used to characterize illegal action Hillary Clinton took with deleting emails
“She burned the tapes.”
That’s how conservative political analyst Charles Krauthammer characterized Hillary Clinton’s move to store her emails as secretary of state on a private home server.
“This is really an elaborate scheme, very obvious, not done for convenience, but done to conceal, and that’s what this is all about,” Krauthammer said Wednesday on Fox News. ”George is right, she burned the tapes.”
“And obviously, as her defender James Carville said, you don’t want Louie Gohmert, meaning a Republican member of Congress, going through her emails,” he continued. “That’s the point. Not convenience.”
The veteran political pundit then offered a reason as to why he thinks she took such actions.
“It was to prevent the Republicans or really the government, the Freedom of Information Act, the public from looking at her emails, which is required by State Department regulation...
A departing official, must ensure that all record material that they possess is incorporated in the department’s official files,” he said.
“And if you don’t, if you willfully remove or destroy the records, the penalty can be fines, imprisonment, or both.”
Challenged by Fox News host Bret Baier over why similar criticism hasn’t been leveled against Collin Powell or Condoleezza Rice’s lack of signed OF-109s, Krauthammer didn’t give in.
“It’s not the OF-109,” he contended. “It’s the entire scheme that she did to remove the files, to burn the files essentially, and it wasn’t her job to decide what’s private or not.
Once you leave the government, it is clear that the regulations are that the department archivists are the ones who decide what is government and what is not, and she decided and then acted to destroy the files.”
These liberal rats have been operating like this for many decades. The public is just opening their eyes to it.
Clinton, Obama, Democrats in Congress, the corrupt liberal media… it’s all part of a vast left-wing conspiracy, that is corrupting the system.
"The Elvis" ... has the king's favorite fixins: bananas, peanut butter and bacon
The King would have turned 75 on January 8. If you’d like to celebrate Elvis Presley’s birthday with a sampling of his favorite foods, there are plenty to try - an Elvis sandwich, an Elvis cupcake, even a cocktail dedicated to his memory.
The sandwich that bears his name at Peanut Butter & Co. is a grilled peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich for $7.50. (Add bacon for another buck.)
It’s the best-selling item on the menu, with dozens ordered every day, and uses two of his favorite ingredients: bananas and peanut butter.
Recipe: The Elvis sandwich
Ingredients/ 4 servings
2 tablespoons butter, softened
8 slices white bread
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 large ripe banana, sliced
1/4 cup honey
12 slices bacon, sautéed until crispy (optional)
Spread the butter on one side of each slice of bread. On the other side of half of the slices spread peanut butter. Place banana slices on top of peanut butter.
Drizzle honey over bananas. Place three bacon slices on top of the banana, then place the remaining buttered bread slices on top, butter-side-out.
Place sandwiches on a preheated grill pan or griddle. Flip them over when they become golden brown and crispy. When the sandwiches are browned on both sides, remove to plates. Slice in half and serve immediately.
Newsboys... "He Reigns"
"And all the powers of darkness TREMBLE at what they just heard. 'Cuz all the powers of darkness CAN'T DROWN OUT A SINGLE WORD."
That is the most beautiful part in this song for me. It reminds me that God is dominant and WILL win in the end. Satan has a grasp on the world now, but be faithful to God, for He REIGNS!
Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8R9ZPT2T-I
iCloak Stik aims to put online privacy in the hands of many, not the few
Meet iCloak Stik: a plug and play device that’s being designed to make robust online privacy accessible to the many not the few -
By enabling an average computer user to route their browsing via the Tor or I2P anonymizing networks so it can’t be tracked.
The device will also let users select a particular country where they want to appear to be coming from, which can defeat regional content locks.
Every time you connect to the Internet with iCloak it will also generate a new random MAC address - meaning the hardware itself can’t be traced either.
All your browsing activity disappears without a trace once you shut an iCloak session down.
This is because it’s effectively a clean install every time you use it, which thwarts tracking techs like cookies and adware, along with more pernicious malware that might lurk on a computer that’s been around the cyber block a few times.
Sound interesting? Of course it does. Online security and privacy are continuing to rise up the digital agenda thanks to disaster vulnerabilities like Heartbleed...
Coupled with the slow drip of intelligence agency surveillance leaks from the Snowden files, and a growing realization among Internet users about the sheer volume of data mainstream digital services are amassing on their users - and using to manipulate the things we are exposed to.
The mainline Internet has become both an experimental corporate playground and an enabling Panopticon for omnipresent state surveillance. Little wonder there appears to be a growing appetite for privacy online.
We’ve automated a lot of the things that we would do, as security guys, to keep ourselves safe and now, obviously, we’re passing that on in a consumer product so that grandma or my brother or my friend can take one of these things.
And at least when they decide that they want to be private they can be.
Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKAT0y_E5WE
Want to get ahead? ... try attending church for guidance and a sense of community
Attending religious services regularly can confer many things besides salvation.
For generations in America, houses of worship were places where families built relationships with similar families, and where clergy could provide the kind of mentorship that helped working class kids step up the economic ladder.
These days, though, young people are less likely to say they belong to a religion than their parents were at the same age. And the gap is not just generational - it's also about class.
Social scientists are finding that in the last 40 years, teenagers whose parents are in the bottom third on the socioeconomic scale stopped coming to services twice as fast as kids from the top.
Separation from houses of worship is just one of many ways that lower-income children live in a less supported world than wealthier kids.
Poor kids are now less likely than wealthy children to be part of sports teams, Putnam says, in part because schools now charge students to join.
That means they lose a potential tie to a coach who might guide them to college.
And because of changing family structures and the demands of their parents long work days, lower income kids spend less time with family and generally have fewer close social connections.
In the early part of the last century, Putnam says, lower income families were equally or more likely than wealthy families to be members of religious institutions.
By the 1970's, that had started to change, and children of parents with the lowest education levels were slightly less likely to attend religious services, compared to the children of more educated parents.
Now that has more than doubled: teenage children of the least educated adults today spend about a third less time in religious services than the children of parents with college and graduate degrees, according to Putnam's analysis of several major national public opinion surveys.
The gap in attendance, scholars say, is not about a decline of religious belief. Research has found that belief in God or the power of prayer may actually be lower among people of higher educational status.
The disparity emerges in which children actually show up in churches and temples.
"Even in churches where mostly working class people attend, there are certain kinds of resources that congregants can access," said Omar McRoberts, a University of Chicago sociologist who studies religion.
"Sometimes religious leaders have access to opportunities, networks, and information that their own congregants would not otherwise have access to. Sometimes these connections come from other congregants."
"Church was a place where low-income kids made connections, learned about what else might be out there for them," Aguilar says.
"I think it's the power of prayer, but it's really the power of community that brings unity, and brings a sharing of concerns."
These scholars and many members of the clergy worry that a growing religious attendance gap between rich and poor children is contributing to class inequality by stripping poor kids of a valuable source of mentorship.
Civil War battles
Jany, a blonde tourist, could not resist asking it any more, so she questioned the guide, "Give me a good reason why so many of the famous Civil War battles had to be fought on National Park Sites?"
Well, there was this blonde who just got sick and tired of all the blonde jokes. So one evening she went home and memorized all the state capitals.
Back in the office the next day, some guy started telling a dumb blonde joke. She interrupted him with a shrill announcement,
"I've had it up to here with these blonde jokes. I want you to know that this blonde went home last night and did something probably none of you could do... I memorized all the state capitals."
One of the guys, of course, said "I don't believe you. What is the capital of Nevada?"
"N", she answered.
St. Patrick’s Day is the fourth biggest drinking day in America. It’s not the biggest. It’s right behind New Year's Eve, Fourth of July, or any Secret Service party. -- David Letterman
Burger King is now making a Whopper-scented cologne. But there is a warning. If you wear Burger King's Whopper cologne, don't go near a lion cage. You know, I think I'll just stick with my Steak and Shake aftershave. -- David Letterman
Everybody was upset that Vladimir Putin was missing. He was in Switzerland with his girlfriend. She had a baby in Switzerland because in Russia childbirth is not covered by Putin-care. -- David Letterman
During a speech yesterday, President Obama discussed the country's successful economy and said, "I'm going to take a little credit." Then the people at the rally said, "Dude, we're all here in the middle of the day because we don't have jobs. So stop talking about how good the economy is." -- Jimmy Fallon
Obama discussed the successful economy and said "I'm going to take a little credit." Then the economy got bad again and he said, "Republicans did it." -- Jimmy Fallon
Most NCAA office pools are illegal. That's what makes it so exciting — the thrill of potentially doing hard time for circling the word "Valparaiso" on a piece of paper. It's sad that the one thing that we actually enjoy about work is against the law. -- Jimmy Kimmel
Starbucks is discontinuing its “Race Together” initiative where baristas were asked to discuss race relations with customers. Apparently, there aren’t many combinations worse than “racial discussions” and “hot liquids.” -- Seth Meyers
Larry King reportedly tweets by calling a designated voice mail and leaving a message, and then an assistant tweets the message for him. Which I guess explains why so many of his tweets begin with “Hello, operator?” -- Seth Meyers
Arnold Schwarzenegger was stopped by police in Australia this week for riding a bike without a helmet. It’s especially dangerous for Schwarzenegger because if he got a concussion, how would you know? -- Seth Meyers
Blackberry and Samsung are working together on a new project to build a high-security tablet. The way it works is this: It says “Blackberry” on the back and nobody wants to steal it. -- Seth Meyers
You will be searched
I was at the Canadian border, headed toward the freedom that exists a few feet beyond the last security check. I was gently waved down a side corridor.
Ninety minutes later, I was let go, but not before something truly alarming happened. I'm pretty sure that the Canadian government captured a mirrored version of my smartphone - which pretty much holds the whole of my life.
I'll explain precisely how this happened in just a bit - in the hopes that perhaps you can take precautions that I did not. But let's first establish that this practice is not unusual.
According to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, this has become the standard backdoor method of search used today by governments around the world.
At border crossings, governments have discovered that they can get away with seizing and searching electronic devices from smartphones to laptops to tablets. The reason is that it is standard practice that border officials can ask you anything. Anything at all. You have to answer.
They can make you empty the full contents of your brain and check for even the smallest misstatement. You can refuse to answer, but then you can expect detention for untold amounts of time. So of course, you comply.
If this is standard practice, it makes perfect sense that there is not anything they are not entitled to know. This is why they have begun to profile people based on their devices.
Maybe there was nothing I could have done to stop it. Maybe I was somehow fated to be among the 15 that were hit with this. But as I look back, I realize now that I was far too nonchalant in my whole approach.
I've crossed that border dozens of times and never had any trouble. I expected no trouble this time.
The problem began at passport check. I was coming into Canada just to visit friends, but my dress suggested business. An official later confirmed to me that this was the first point that caused me to be flagged.
Then, in stating my traveling route to get to that point, I flubbed a bit on the cities I had been in (some I entered by car and others by plane). I just wasn't focusing, and I was just a bit too chatty and casual.
As I became increasingly flustered, the agent apparently marked my customs form to indicate that I should undergo a secondary screening. I didn't know this had happened.
As I casually presented my form to the last agent in the line, he signaled for me to follow a different path. I did so.
There were no agents around. There were no officials. I just walked and walked until I found myself in a long and nearly empty room.
I realized that I was going to be there for a few minutes at least, and that I was in some kind of lineup. I was, essentially, under arrest. Unguarded, but arrested.
There was nowhere to go. I could not go forward nor could I go back. There was no one to protest to.
I asked the people ahead of me how long they had been there. Forty-five minutes. I pulled out my laptop and starting watching an episode of Breaking Bad to pass the time.
After about an hour, I was called up. At first, everything seemed fine. The official wanted some clarification about whom I was visiting.
They wanted the phone number in particular - a startling demand, but one never knows for sure when one should comply or refuse. Of course, I didn't have the number memorized.
This was (I think) when I made my fateful decision. I reached into my pocket. I pulled out my smartphone. I unlocked it. I pulled up the contact information.
Instead of reading it out loud, I showed the agent the number. She calmly took the phone - which I thought she was doing so she could see the number better.
In an instant, she was gone. She went to some back room somewhere. I stood there at the counter, completely unguarded. My heart started to race. My palms grew sweaty. I began to fidget.
After all, my whole life was suddenly in the hands of a government official. My emails, my phone calls, my Facebook messages, my contacts far and wide, my financial information, my browsing history - even my diet and exercise routines were there.
And incredibly, I had unlocked it all and handed it over.
I stood there in this vulnerable situation for 30 minutes. Next to me, a man was being interrogated about the contents of his own smartphone.
He had claimed that he had no family in the country. But officials confronted him with evidence that he had sent an email only 30 minutes earlier to a family member in Canada.
"You lied to us. Why did you lie to us?" they kept pressing. And the only reason they knew this was that they had read his email.
It is almost unbelievable to me that this whole scene was taking place, almost as if there are no protections at all in place for a normal understanding of privacy and human rights. All is fair in love, war, and border crossings.
She returned finally, and with a new countenance. I was free to go. I said to her, in the most gentle possible way, "You know, I was really alarmed that you took my cellphone. I was just standing here for 30 minutes, and you had my cellphone the entire time. Was that necessary, really?"
She answered that she had to take it, to or else I might have made phone calls to people and ruined their investigation.
What could I have done but nod my head and go on my way -- shaken, but feeling like I had narrowly escaped some unknown fate.
What did I learn?:
1. Never approach the passport window without being extremely clearheaded about what you are going to say.
2. Don't ever reverse your story in light of questioning. Tell necessary truths, but never volunteer unnecessary information.
3. Put all your digital devices away deep in your bags. Do not pull them out at any point in approaching any border. And if you ever get a secondary screening, prepare to have all necessary information stored in some place other than your live cellphone.
I can't guarantee that if I had done this, all would be well. They could have searched my bags (which they did not!) and found all my devices. One way or another, they might have had their way with me. But I didn't have to make it so easy.
Live with Leviathan and learn as we go. We have no rights. We are all one tiny step from formal incarceration. But in many ways, the whole of society is already in jail. All we can do is keep plotting our escape.
Stephen A. Smith wants all black people to vote Republican in 2016... to get some real representation and to help themselves
ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith spoke on Wednesday at Vanderbilt University. In his remarks, he offered a rebuke to African Americans' strong voting alliance with Democrats. Here's part of what Smith had to say:
What I dream is that for one election, just one, every black person in America vote Republican....
Black folks in America are telling one party, ‘We don’t give a damn about you.’ They’re telling the other party, ‘You’ve got our vote.’
Therefore, you have labeled yourself ‘disenfranchised’ because one party knows they’ve got you under their thumb. The other party knows they’ll never get you and nobody comes to address your interest.
It is true that African Americans have been the most reliably Democratic voting bloc going back at least three decades. I looked through all exit polls dating back to 1976 at the Roper Center's Public Opinion Archives.
The best any Republican has done among black voters in the last three decades is Gerald Ford's 17 percent way back in 1976. In three out of the last four presidential elections, the Republican nominee hasn't broken into double digits with black voters.
And while many people ascribe that recent dominance to the presence of the first black president in the White House, the average black vote share the GOP nominee has won in the last 10 election is 10.3 percent.
"By the '70s and into the '80s and '90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, by exploiting inflaming the racial divide.
Republicans did not effectively reach out. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong and we are ready to work with the black community."
“If Republicans have a clue and do this and go out and ask every African-American for their vote, I think we can transform an election in one cycle," Paul told Politico's Mike Allen last October.
“That doesn’t mean that we get to a majority of African-American votes in one cycle.
But I think there is fully a third of the African-American vote that is open to much of the message, because much of what the Democrats has offered hasn’t worked.”
Smith, undoubtedly, would agree with Paul's sentiment since it's an echo of his own.
Some see it necessary to court the "black vote". Wasn't desegregation supposed to be about being equal and integration?
The Democratic Party is the EXACT opposite of integration folks.
If you look around, ALL of the districts that are gerrymandered are in places with large black population percentages. They are the most oddly shaped districts you can find.
The Democratic Party never intended on helping the blacks rise up... they just want the blacks to shut up and vote for them.
Snowboarder's tiny home is nestled on a mountain and off the grid
A professional snowboarder in California figured out a genius way to get closer to the slopes. Mike Basich built this tiny 225-square-foot home in the middle of his 40-acre property near Truckee, Calif.
He told Laura Ling from “Going off the Grid” about how he built his new digs by hand. “It took me five years - two and half years to do all the rock work. I think I moved about 175 ton of rock.”
Not only is the little house off the beaten path, it’s also off the grid. That means no Internet, no indoor plumbing, and no traditional electricity.
Luckily for anyone wanting to take a shower or wash their hands, the property has two creeks that provide water for the home. The best part for Basich is the location.
Not only can he snowboard on private trails, but the property even has its own chair lift that Basich built with the help of some friends. If you think this style of living is crazy, Basich is one of 180,000 Americans choosing to live off the grid.
He says of the home, “I like to think of it as getting back to the basics of humanity. I like feeling connected to the earth more than I could with a 4,000-square-foot house.”
Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sadOfmkTtpw
Critics warn that high-tech "talking Barbie... could eaves drop on kids
Looks like Siri has some new competition from an old friend.
That’s right, Barbie is going high-tech! Not only will your child be able to dress her up and talk to her, but the doll is now able to respond thanks to Wi-Fi and voice recognition technology.
“The No. 1 request we receive from girls globally is to have a conversation with Barbie, and with Hello Barbie we are making that request a reality,” Stephanie Cota, Mattel's senior vice president of global communications, said in a statement.
Here’s how it works: Your child pushes a button to chat, and Barbie will “listen” through an embedded microphone.
She then sends the audio to a cloud-based server, operated by Mattel’s technology partner ToyTalk, which then records the speech and processes it. Then Barbie responds to the question or comment.
Privacy advocates and parents have dubbed the doll “Eavesdropping Barbie” and are concerned about their children’s conversations being recorded and stored.
Faculty adviser Angela Campbell from Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology said in a statement...
“If I had a young child, I would be very concerned that my child’s intimate conversations with her doll were being recorded and analyzed.
In Mattel’s demo, Barbie asks many questions that would elicit a great deal of information about a child, her interests, and her family.
This information could be of great value to advertisers and be used to market unfairly to children.”
Sydney, Australia: Taronga zoo's leopard seal... serenaded by saxophone
See what's helping the jazz-loving seal, get her groove back.
Steve, an elephant keeper at Sydney's Taronga Zoo, has played for his fair share of unusual audiences.
But no one has been as receptive to his saxophone jazz as this seal...
Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EgRq7wKkRp0
7 Day Free Trial @ Chemistry.com.
Thought for the day...
Meditate and Live Longer
Before I practiced medicine, I was a sports physiology educator. So I know first-hand the value of a sound mind in a sound body.
In fact, my "whole-body, whole-mind" approach led me to study anti-aging in depth, which has become my main areas of specialization. In fact, I was one of the first physicians in the country to be certified as an anti-aging specialist.
While advising a gymnastics team back in those early days, I often found myself dealing with the mental states of athletes.
And that's when I really discovered the power of meditation. I taught many of these gymnasts how to meditate so they wouldn't choke in close matches.
The mind-body connection has always fascinated me. But, at the time, I had no idea these mental exercises could actually help them lead longer, healthier lives.
Beyond a certain level, the differences between the athletes' physical abilities become unimportant. Any scratch golfer or competitive tennis player will tell you that.
What really makes the difference is always the mind – or, more precisely, mental focus.
Meditation has the power to calm nerves, relieve stress, focus on victory – and also to extend lives.
Over time, I saw that patients who meditated seemed to thrive. They were also happier, healthier and younger in body and spirit.
Recently, I came across some studies that back up my observations. These studies prove that you can slow your aging by using your thoughts and emotions to influence your chromosomes.
This mind-body connection remains a cornerstone of my anti-aging philosophy. You see, the modern world overloads our brains.
Will I catch the flu? Will I wreck my car? Will the stock market fall? I haven't heard from my children or grandchildren in days… are they all right? Will terrorists attack?
Stress is killing us and science proves it.
Stress creates a hormone in our bodies called cortisol. A little cortisol can help us deal with life's ups and downs. But a steady stream of it is toxic.
It makes people eat too much and pack on too many pounds. It also triggers insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. And it can cause mental problems, like anxiety and depression.
But as an anti-aging specialist, I was most interested to find that too much cortisol also shortens telomeres, the caps at the end of each strand of DNA in all living creatures. Cortisol sabotages telomerase, the enzyme that rebuilds your telomeres.
That's where meditation comes in. You've got to banish the stress from your mind and your body for at least 10 minutes every day.
The new studies confirm how meditation benefits telomeres by keeping them from getting shorter. And it can help them grow longer. In other words, meditation can prevent your cells from aging and it can even make them younger.
Harvard Medical School psychiatrists looked at telomeres from people who regularly practice a Buddhist-style of meditation. The meditators had significantly longer telomeres than people who didn't meditate.
Plus, the study found that meditation benefited women most of all.
So, here's a simple-but-effective, 10-step meditation technique I teach my patients. I call it the "box-step," even though you do it sitting down:
1) Get in a comfortable sitting position and start by focusing only on the moment. Banish all thoughts of the past or the future.
2) Concentrate on your breathing. Slowly inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
3) At first, do the breathing exercises for two minutes a day. But make them as mindfully perfect as possible.
4) Each week, add two minutes to your mindful meditation. When you've mastered mindful breathing for 10 minutes, you're ready to move on to the box-step.
5) Like before, you're going to start with two-minute sessions every day for a week. Then increase the daily sessions for each week by two minutes until you reach 10 minutes.
6) Now point your index finger at chest height as if you're going to draw with it. Then use your finger to slowly outline the shape of a box. This imaginary box will help you focus.
7) Once you have mastered this imaginary box, you're ready. Take a long, slow, deep breath while making the top horizontal stroke of the box. Hold your breath at the corner for two seconds. Then exhale slowly on the down stroke.
8) Inhale slowly while tracing the lines of the box back. Exhale at each corner and repeat the process two or three times.
9) Now put down your hand and relax. Close your eyes and visualize the box floating in front of you. Keep your mind in the moment.
10) Mentally trace the same path along the box's edges while you perform the same breathing exercises. Forget the past and the future. Focus only on now.
This is a great way to clear your head after hard day at work. Or it could calm you before you give a wedding toast.
People are not meant to be controlled by governments and regulations...
They will fight for their God given rights... with new and innovative ideas
A healthy civilization, according to Toynbee, is in expansion, is creative, and it encourages social mobility.
But here’s the incredible part: for the first time in history, all of the advancement is happening outside the control of the status quo.
No matter where you look in the world, this is basically true. (Save for a few unsavory places, of course.)
From Astana, Kazakhstan to San Diego, California - people feel as if they have more power over their lives than ever before. And this feeling is translating into something big.
Instead of the individual seeing him or herself as helpless and reactionary, we are beginning to see ourselves as active participants in shaping reality.
We didn’t always think this way. Why, when you could get burnt to a crisp for your opinions, you couldn’t afford to!
You are an inseparable part of this movement. And now that you are aware of this, there’s no turning back. Once you learn of the vast power you hold, you can never unlearn it.
With all that said, it’s time to see what people are doing every single day to subvert the “powers that be."
State management of society, is not only contrary to human liberty; it is also unworkable and it cannot achieve what it seeks to achieve, which is often all-round control of some sector of economic and social life.
The attempt provokes a social backlash.
People find loopholes and workarounds or just invent new ways to make progress possible. This is because people will not be caged. They struggle to be free and sometimes they succeed.
In our times, innovation has provided people with more tools. And often they use these tools to get around the barriers that politicians and bureaucrats have erected.
Some of us take note of them every day.
Something’s happening. It’s like the Singularity for civil disobedience. Pandora’s box. Perhaps a series of innovation tidal waves.
A whole lot of people are participating in a great unfolding. And if you’re drawing up grand social engineering plans, throw them out. The world is about to get a lot more dynamic.
Here are 25 ways people are working around the obstacles of the “Established Order”:
ONE: Airbnb: This service allows people to rent out their homes for a couple of days. It offers competitive prices compared to hotels and gets around the whole of the regulatory apparatus, zoning control, union monopolies, and other barriers to entry. Of course, in some states, hotel cartels aren’t happy.
TWO: Uber: Taxis have their licenses, which drive up fares. It’s a cozy and well-protected cartel. Uber lets you get around this system, finding great rides in clean cars for better fares - all while checking (gasp! unlicensed) chauffeurs with reputation ratings.
THREE: Bitcoin: Government ruined money long ago. The market has made an end-to-end crypto currency. It could mean death for the euro, the dollar, and other fiat currencies. The implications are awesome and inspiring.
FOUR: Private power generation: Big companies like Google are tired of dealing with regulated utilities. They fear outages and need more reliable power. They’re generating their own power. There are only a few, but then again there used to be only a few rich guys using cell phones.
That’s where innovation happens. Then, the price goes down and the quality goes up. Moore’s Law kicks in. Someday this trend could challenge the grid.
FIVE: Concierge healthcare: Doctors are opting out of Obamacare and the third-party payer system. Pay them upfront and pay them out of pocket. Get the care you need and go buy a catastrophic plan if you can (instead of taking whatever’s on the Obamacare exchanges).
SIX: Bitmessage: Want to evade the surveillance state? Bitmessage is the latest in crypto communications, poised to replace email. A few more tweaks on the user interface, and we are good to go.
SEVEN: Email: The process of destroying the USPS as a monopolistic provider of mail is pretty much a done deal. It took 20 years, but now email is the new first-class mail. Meanwhile, the government’s service loses billions each year. Such a moribund provider could go for decades as a tax-subsidized monopoly. But the market moves on.
EIGHT: Silk Road: This anonymous website lets you use crypto currency to buy illicit substances, including not-yet-FDA-approved drugs and food. You might find this alarming but consider: the site brings a beautiful peace to an unstoppable market that government has otherwise caused to become violent and deadly. (Shut down on Oct. 2. Remember Napster. The hydra lives.)
NINE: YouTube copyright rules: They were once simple, but as remixing, parody, and covers evolve, the exceptions to strict copyrighting are growing. Now a Miley Cyrus video released at sunup is covered 1,000 times before sundown.
In effect, the initially imagined scenario of copyright -- government confers monopoly status on every piece of art -- is dying before our eyes.
TEN: 3D printing: Not only will people circumvent unconstitutional gun restrictions (like Cody Wilson has), but people will be able easily to get around patents and regulations by printing their own high-flow showerheads. When everyone is a maker, no one is regulated.
ELEVEN: P2P lending: Prosper and Lending Club let people bypass big incumbent banks and crowdfund as borrowers and lenders. Where there is communication, there are deals being made.
TWELVE: Health coverage cooperatives: It doesn’t have to be just Christian organizations that set up health coverage coops. These groups cover catastrophic healthcare costs for members, bypassing - for now - Big Insurance and the government regulatory apparatus. (See also this group.)
THIRTEEN: The raw milk movement: The government has tried for decades to suppress this unpasteurized brew, but fans won’t be stopped. Buyers’ clubs are everywhere. The more the feds crack down, the more the demand for the product grows.
FOURTEEN: Private arbitration: If you have a dispute with someone, the last place you want to end up is in the thicket of the government’s court system. People are opting for private arbitration. Private arbitration may be nothing new, but the extent of reliance on it is.
There are a zillion bricks-and-mortar arbiters. Online, Judge.me is now defunct, but Net-Arb is still working. Stay tuned.
FIFTEEN: Space tourism/exploration: XCor, SpaceX, and lots of other groups are getting into the private space race. They’re doing NASA - only better, faster, and cheaper.
SIXTEEN: Escrow: How do you guarantee that you will get what you pay for online? Escrow.com is glad to hold the payment and verify the transaction before rewarding both sides with the results. It is security for property that lives in the cloud - and no government courts (or even laws) are involved.
SEVENTEEN: YouTube stars: People like Lindsey Stirling, Rebecca Black, and a thousand others are bypassing the old centralized system of getting an agent and begging a monopolistic record label to take control of your life.
Lindsey has made sharp YouTube videos that have launched her into stardom, complete with lucrative tour dates. Such decentralization is happening in movies, music, and more.
EIGHTEEN: TOR/Deep Web: This browser for the crypto web bounces your originating IP address all over the planet. That way you can surf anonymously - i.e., away from the eyes of the NSA panopticon. (What is acypherpunk?)
NINETEEN: Death of prescriptions: You can order your inexpensive drugs from many countries now - safely, cheaply, and securely (and with no prescription). No need to give your overpriced Obamacare doctor or Big Pharma a cut.
TWENTY: Medical marijuana/decriminalization: States are relaxing their prohibitions on marijuana. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the drug war is lost and that some drugs, like cannabis, have real therapeutic value.
Regardless, prohibition is a fool’s errand and punitive measures are increasingly viewed as cruel and unnecessary. Even as the crackdowns continue, these are the first signs of the Drug War’s obsolescence and popular dissent.
TWENTY-ONE: Universal self-publishing: At one point, a few people maintained the primary conduits of information. Blogging and Web publishing make it easier to express yourself. Censorship has become nearly impossible.
The newspapers are finally staking out their territories online. But they are losing control of the primary conduits of information. Tumblr alone has 50 million unique publishers. (Liberty.me offers a new, distributed platform.)
TWENTY-TWO: Expatriation: Sometimes if you don’t like it somewhere, you just have to leave. It’s easier and easier to find better climes, whether for weather, taxation, or culture. Expatriation from the United States is reaching record levels in 2013. While this number is still only in the thousands, the option to leave is there and more people are availing themselves of it than ever.
TWENTY-THREE: Startup cities: People in developing countries are starting to understand that rich countries are rich for a reason. So poor countries are starting to import good institutions, or are “rezoning” for prosperity (all while the rich countries are going in the wrong direction). Outside of China’s special economic zones (SEZs), Honduran startup cities are a new experiment worth watching.
TWENTY-FOUR: Seasteading: Blueseed is one of the earliest examples of entrepreneurial ventures that will take people to the sea in search of opportunity and superior rule sets. The Seasteading Institute has also successfully worked with a Dutch firm to design the first seasteading modules. The harder the tax and regulatory State pushes, the more viable the sea becomes as a place to live and do business.
TWENTY-FIVE: Radicalization of media arts: Goodbye network television from the Cold War era and hello subscription-based content. The shows that are running (Breaking Bad, Orange Is the New Black, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire) sport themes of defiance, disruption, and the persistence of freedom in the face of regimentation.
Not only is the a la carte model disruptive, the content is subversive.
This Week's Government Goofs & Goofballs
An Independent & unbiased accounting of our government & political mischief
Another day, another supporter of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank... this will not be good for America
China is pushing its own agenda for currency control… and one day this will potentially cause inflation in America.
As we've chronicled for more than a week now, China's potential competitor to the U.S.-dominated World Bank has been lining up big member nations, eager for access to growing Asian markets.
Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain all want in. A "fiasco" for the United States, declared The Economist.
Now International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde says the IMF would be "delighted" to do business with the AIIB... and there's "massive" room for cooperation.
Mme. Lagarde delivered this message in Beijing... at the China Development Forum. Heh...
As we mentioned last Monday, the IMF decides next fall whether to change the makeup of special drawing rights (SDRs) - the super-currency the IMF issues periodically during financial crises.
China is lobbying hard to have the yuan added to the mix along with dollars, euros, pounds and yen.
This will likely happen in September, and may cause a weakening of the dollar in the years ahead. A weaker dollar means more inflation is the U.S. This is an important development for investors to watch.
VA Colorado hospital has an enormously shocking sticker price: $1.7 Billion! Yes, Billion!
The troubled new Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Aurora, Colo., is expected to cost what Congress members are calling a “shocking” $1.73 billion, more than five times its original $328 million estimate, according to fresh estimates from VA officials.
The hospital is one of four VA medical center projects - including sites in Las Vegas, Orlando and New Orleans - that were listed as behind schedule and over budget, with a total cost increase of $1.5 billion and an average increase of $366 million, according to a Government Accountability Office report in 2013.
The new estimate for the Aurora project, which has been lobbied for by the Denver area’s large population of veterans since the late 90s, is now by far the most expensive in VA history.
It will be more than $1 billion over budget before it is finished. And it will need an increased congressional authorization of “$930 million to complete the project,” a VA statement said. The medical center would serve 83,000 veterans in the Denver area, replacing World War II -era facility.
Congress has been angered at the delays and cost overruns. Some lawmakers are advocating to remove construction oversight from Veterans Affairs and give it to the Army Corps of Engineers, which helps build other sites for federal agencies.
The Corps of Engineers was called in this year to work with project’s contractor, Kiewit-Turner, in an “advisory and assessment” role, according to Veterans Affairs.
“One thing is certain: Congress will not authorize another dime until VA gets its construction affairs in order,” said Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
On top of that, VA executives in charge of the four hospital projects were given bonuses despite the administration admitting failures to keep the projects on schedule and budget, FOX31 Denver reported.
Documents the Denver station obtained show that executives in Veterans Affairs were given $22 million in bonuses over the past six years.
When Kiewit-Turner took the Aurora project in 2010, the budget at that time was $600 million, which itself is on the high end of costs for a typical construction of a hospital in the private sector.
But the contractor warned that the plans Veterans Affairs submitted would cost more than $1 billion.
“The spending on this project is so egregious and out of control it makes Kim Kardashian look like a tightwad,” said Coffman’s spokesman, Tyler Sandberg.
Miller, the House committee chairman, called the project “the biggest construction failure in VA history” on Wednesday afternoon and said those responsible –
Construction Principal Executive Director Glenn Haggstrom and VA Office of Construction and Facilities Management Executive Director Stella Fiotes – should be fired.
“Every single member of VA’s top leadership is fully aware of these issues, yet the senior executives who presided over the mismanagement that led to them remain firmly entrenched at VA, where they collect generous taxpayer-funded salaries,” Miller said.
“A design that has grown from a basic hospital into a Taj Mahal, mismanagement of funds, arrogant attitudes by the VA’s head of construction and the Design Team...
Has been allowed to plague not only the Aurora VA Replacement Hospital but three more that are under construction,” Legion members said in a press release at the time.
I simply do not understand all these "Bonuses" that I keep reading about with Government workers. Private Industry does not give out bonuses like the Government does.
Makes me ill to keep reading about incompetent Government executives getting bonuses!