Monday, October 22, 2012

Italy: six years in jail for failing to predict earthquake

BBC News reports that the 7 members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks who were on trial for manslaughter for failing to predict a major earthquake in 2009 have now been sentenced to 6 years in prison.

They will probably appeal.

Earthquakes are notoriously hard to predict, and you'd think that in 2012, people would have enough common sense to NOT engage in the kind of witchhunt shown above.

If the verdict stands, anyone working in seismology should just pack their bags and leave. Hasta la vista, no more predictions for you, fools!

Or they can decide to not issue any warnings anymore. Their jobs will be to study earthquakes, not predict them. You're on your own from now on.

Or they can start giving a warning every time a small tremor happens, and let the people do their own analysis.

Either way, it doesn't sound good for the people.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Public Citizen needs $$ to hire someone to sit outside Charles Carreon's house

Just thought I'd put it out there:

Public Citizen is defending the blogger suing for declaratory judgement that his blog satirizing Charles Carreon (of suing-the-oatmeal fame) is legal. Unfortunately, Carreon is hiding out and trying not to be served court papers.

Unfortunately, Carreon seems to be working the system effectively. Because even with all of these obvious attempts to avoid having to actually deal with the lawsuit against him, the judge is asking the blogger and his lawyers to "try harder:"
The process server could easily wait outside the fence for defendant to enter or leave the residence and could then leave the papers in the defendant's presence. Alternatively, the process server may choose to wait near a location defendant is thought to frequent, such as an office or grocery store. If the defendant still refuses to accept the papers, it will be considered sufficient if the “server is in close proximity to the defendant, clearly communicates intent to serve court documents, and makes reasonable efforts to leave the papers with the defendant.”
- Techdirt: Charles Carreon Still Dishing Out Threats & Intimidation... While Hiding From Court Summons

So there you have it. Public Citizen is now looking for public donations to help them hire some guy to site outside that other guy's house.

Public Citizen's Donations page

Monday, October 15, 2012

I'm not insured, I've got socialised healthcare...

Amanda Palmer is generating quite some chatter on Twitter these last few days with her hashtag #insurancepoll.

i asked everybody on my feed what their current situation was:
quick twitter poll. 1) COUNTRY?! 2) profession? 3) insured? 4) if not, why not, if so, at what cost per month (or covered by job)?

The feed is a fascinating snapshot of the healthcare coverage situation of people both in the US and abroad.

One thing I found particularly interesting was how every once in a while, someone living in a country offering socialized healthcare would answer "no" for question 3.

(1st and 3rd tweets in pic above)

There seems to be people in some places in the world for whom socialised healthcare is such a basic service that when asked "are you insured" they would think you mean whether they have private health insurance.

I chuckled a bit, but when you think about it, it's not such an unreasonable assumption...

Indeed, in many places, the public program does not cover all health-related expenses. For instance, in Quebec, drugs, dental and eye care are not covered past a certain age. Private insurance companies offer coverage for these services, and many of the Canadians responding "yes, insurance covered by employer" are actually referring to the complementary coverage.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Book blurb: The Twelve, by Justin Cronin

I don't usually do book reviews, but given I've had a lot of time on my hands lately, I've been picking at some books in my roommate's book pile (he receives more books for review than he can read).

Now, my roommate specializes in SFF, which isn't really a genre I'm THAT into, to be honest, and it seems SFF these days is mostly vampire romances, and, well, blergh.

The Twelve is about vampires, -ish, and it's NOT one of those sappy romances, so rest assured. I had not read Cronin's other book, the Passage, although I might just check it out now.

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where government experiments with some strange virus has unleashed a catastrophe of biblical proportions, quite literally. 80 years later, a small group of survivors must hunt down and kill the original twelve test subjects in order to rid the world of the plague.

The book is an interesting mix of Sci-Fi and literary fiction, the result being a detailed world and rich characters. However, the lengthy descriptions can sometimes be a little overwhelming, and the writing really leaves nothing unsaid.

If you are willing to push through till the end, though, the story is relatively satisfying

Friday, October 05, 2012

Chinese people: not happy, but will be amused

Chinese people are a weird mix of docility and irreverence. Many of them will not hesitate to poke fun at the government, sometimes in the most unusual ways. You just don't expect the CCTV to show it on TV.

On September 30, when asked “do you feel happy?” (你幸福吗), an elderly migrant worker literally could not believe he was being asked about his well-being and answered instead, “My surname is Zeng,” apparently mistaking the question to mean, “Is your surname Fu?” (你姓福吗)

When Chinese State TV Asks, “Are You Happy?” Some Literally Cannot Believe It

Monday, October 01, 2012

These days in file sharing

Torrent Freak: File-Sharing for Personal Use Declared Legal in Portugal

We couldn't expect better from a country that has one of the most progressive drug enforcement laws in the world.

Portuguese anti-piracy group ACAPOR hoped to come down heavy on file sharers, reporting 2000 IP addresses to law enforcement. Law enforcement tells them to get a life and quit whining.

On the other hand...
Anti-Downloading Law Hits Japan, Up To 2 Years in Prison From Today

While Japan already has the legislative muscle to hit uploaders with up to 10 years in prison and a 10 million yen ($128,300) fine, this new legislation makes criminals of mere downloaders.

From today, knowingly downloading copyright infringing material can result in a two-year jail sentence or a fine of 2 million yen ($25,680).

Obama's got 99 problems, but Mitt ain't one