Monday, August 29, 2016

Two books from my wishlist on sale at Amazon:

Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam is $1.99:

The inspiration for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival documentary, NUTS!. “An extraordinary saga of the most dangerous quack of all time...entrancing” –USA Today

In 1917, John R. Brinkley–America’s most brazen con man–introduced an outlandish surgical method for restoring fading male virility.

It was all nonsense, but thousands of eager customers quickly made “Dr.” Brinkley one of America’s richest men–and a national celebrity. The great quack buster Morris Fishbein vowed to put the country’ s “most daring and dangerous” charlatan out of business, yet each effort seemed only to spur Brinkley to new heights of ingenuity, and the worlds of advertising, broadcasting, and politics soon proved to be equally fertile grounds for his potent brand of flimflam.

Culminating in a decisive courtroom confrontation, Charlatan is a marvelous portrait of a boundlessly audacious rogue on the loose in an America ripe for the bamboozling.
The Friends of Eddie Coyle: A Novel is $2.99:
George V. Higgins's seminal crime novel is a down-and-dirty tale of thieves, mobsters, and cops on the mean streets of Boston. When small-time gunrunner Eddie Coyle is convicted on a felony, he's looking at three years in the pen--that is, unless he sells out one of his big-fish clients to the DA. But which of the many hoods, gunmen, and executioners whom he calls his friends should he send up the river? Told almost entirely in crackling dialogue by a vivid cast of lowlifes and detectives, The Friends of Eddie Coyle is one of the greatest crime novels ever written.

“The best crime novel ever written--makes The Maltese Falcon read like Nancy Drew.” -- Elmore Leonard

"I tried to help this psychiatrist figure out why Facebook is recommending that her patients friend each other"

Fu:

“He laughed and said, ‘I don’t know any of these people who showed up on my list— I’m guessing they see you,'” recounted Lisa. “He showed me the list of friend recommendations, and I recognized some of my patients.”

She sat there awkwardly and silently. To let him know that his suspicion was correct would violate her duty to protect her patients’ privacy.

Another one of her female patients had a friend recommendation pop up for a fellow patient she recognized from the office’s elevator. Suddenly, she knew the other patient’s full name along with all their Facebook profile information.

"Several SoCal USPS Employees Charged With Stealing Or Not Delivering Mail"

LAi:

Norman A. Muschamp, 48, who worked for the Mid-City District of Los Angeles, is accused of taking part in a scheme where information from victims of ID theft was used to order pre-paid PayPal debit cards and have them sent to fake addresses along his route. He is accused of receiving the debit cards from the mail, then giving them to the others involved in the alleged conspiracy in exchange for cash.

Sherry Naomi Watanabe, 48, is accused of hoarding mail as opposed to delivering it to customers along her Placentia route. According to a plea agreement, she was found to have over 48,000 pieces of mail that she was supposed to deliver stored in her home.

Magneto comics illustrated by Gabriel Walta are on sale today

99 cents each (cross purchase for Amazon/Comixology). Kris Anka X-Men, too.

"I noticed Panera has a 'gluten-conscious cookie.' What does that mean?"

AP interview with Panera's CEO:

A: That is gluten-free cookies in a world where the lawyers won't let you say "gluten free." You cannot walk into a Panera and be a celiac without having flour dust in the air. We're not telling you this is celiac standard. So our lawyers say we can't say gluten free. They're gluten conscious.

Having said that, there is no gluten in that cookie. That doesn't mean that your personal injury lawyers have permission to go after us.

Q: So your lawyers came up with the name?

A: As a simple, single soul that goes into Panera, I feel good about eating that cookie because I often try to avoid gluten. It has no gluten in that cookie. I'm not telling you that it meets the highest standards of whatever.

I think it's a stupid name.

Q: Why is the CEO of Panera trying to avoid gluten?

A: There are times when I want to eat it, and times that I don't. I would suggest that gluten tends to be tied to carbs. And I try to balance my carbs and my proteins and my fats.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Unlocking puzzle box

A video posted by Kagen Sound (@kagensound) on

"California bans ITT tech from accepting new students"

LAT:

“We took today’s action in the interest of protecting potential students who are considering enrolling in ITT.”

...

ITT operates vocational schools at more than 130 campuses in 38 states, often under the ITT Technical Institute name. Last year, it enrolled 45,000 students and reported $850 million in revenue.

"When the government planned to make it easier for mutual funds to quit mailing investors billions of pages of reports each year, the paper industry got involved"

WSJ:

American mutual funds estimate they spend more than $300 million every year chewing up 2 million trees to print and send investors 440 million densely written reports—which many recipients promptly toss out unread.

...

So last year, regulators proposed what to them was an obvious adaptation to the age of Venmo, bitcoin and mobile banking: make it easier for funds to provide certain records electronically.

But what was logical progress to some loomed as a menace to others—notably the American Forest & Paper Association and the Envelope Manufacturers Association. The two industries’ jointly funded group Consumers for Paper Options rallied retiree and consumer groups to join their campaign, decrying what they call the government’s “rush to digitize.” They persuaded a bipartisan coalition of politicians—especially from the paper-heavy state of Maine—to threaten legislation blocking the rule.

"Carson Block, the renowned short-seller and founder of research firm Muddy Waters LLC, has taken a short position in St. Jude Medical Inc., denouncing the security of its cardiac devices"

B:

Block warned that tens of thousands of Americans are living with ticking time bombs: St. Jude pacemakers and defibrillators that are easily compromised, causing potentially fatal disruptions.

..

Muddy Waters became aware of the potential flaws after a startup cybersecurity company, Miami-based MedSec Holdings Inc., approached the short-selling firm three months ago. The hackers had been working for more than a year, ferreting out security flaws in medical devices made by four leading companies. One stood out from the rest: St. Jude’s products had an “astounding” level of problems, including lack of encryption and authentication between devices, which could allow hackers to tap into implanted devices, said MedSec Chief Executive Officer Justine Bone, herself an experienced hacker.

Bone said her company’s compensation is tied to the success of Block’s trade, an arrangement she knows will lead to some criticism.

"The War on Rhinos? It’s an Investment Bubble"

SB:

Since the start of the current war on rhinos, in 2006, journalists and wildlife trafficking experts alike have treated the trade as a product of Asia’s new-found wealth combined with old-style traditional medicine: Rich buyers pay astounding sums for rhino horn in the belief that it will cure cancer or a host of other ills.

This reporting often comes with an undertone of bafflement or even thinly veiled condescension. Buyers, mainly in China and Vietnam, appear to be so naive that they ignore the total absence of scientific support for the medicinal value of rhino horn and put their faith instead in a substance that is the biochemical equivalent of a fingernail.

But a new paper in the journal Biological Conservation raises a startling alternative theory. Rhinos are dying by the hundreds for what may be in essence an investment bubble, like tulips in 17th-century Holland or real estate in 1920s Florida.

...

“Rhino horn pieces are portrayed in the Chinese media,” Gao and his coauthors write, “as an excellent investment opportunity whose value is tied more to the rarity of the raw materials rather than the artistic nature of the item. The aggressive media attention has played a significant role in the growth of the art market.” Press reporting about outlier items—those sold for astronomically high prices—“drives the perception that collecting rhino horn is highly profitable and influences black market prices.”

"The Average Joe Accused of Trying to Sell Russia Secrets"

TDB:

When promotion after promotion passed satellite engineer Gregory Allen Justice by, he allegedly turned to the Russians to solve his family’s dire financial straits.

...

The story of Justice is a cautionary tale of low employee morale combined with a 49-year-old man’s overactive imagination. As described in the affidavit, Justice’s preferred method for escaping the frustrations and anxieties of everyday life seemed to be watching Jason Bourne films and popular spy shows, like The Americans, a critically acclaimed series about deep-cover Soviet spies that Justice supposedly mentioned multiple times to his contact. Even the questions he allegedly asked about his handler’s exact role in the Russian government—quizzing him about the FSB, Russia’s successor to the KGB—sound as if he had watched The Bourne Supremacy one too many times.

Justice had apparently been prepping for this act of corporate and national betrayal for several years. Starting back in 2013, he allegedly began spending thousands of dollars on online training courses, signing up for such topics as “Spy Escape and Evasion” and “Legally Concealed.” According to FBI computer records, Justice also researched the “sovereign citizen” movement and its highly esoteric arguments that U.S. citizens are, in fact, Constitutionally immune to any form of federal oversight, including income tax.

Justice clearly reveled in what many military and security professionals jokingly deride as “tacticool.”