Husband plays funny fake news prank on his wife

Pete says:

roswell.jpgI know my wife has this “AP Mobile” news app on her phone and receives text message alerts whenever something big is happening around the world, I decided to play a little prank on her.

This morning I changed my name in her contact list to “AP Mobile” and sent her a short and sweet message and waited for her to turn her phone on. Her mouth almost came down to the floor.

Indonesia: Citibank debt collectors arrested in death of client over credit card

In the Jakarta Post today, news that a Citibank employee and two debt collectors hired by the international financial institution are charged with murdering a customer in Indonesia. The man was the head of a local political party. He reportedly complained to the Citibank representatives about his credit card bill, which showed a higher balance than he expected (from about $7,825 to $11,500). By various reports, he came to negotiate the debt and was taken to a private room where he was questioned by the three suspects, then beaten to death.

Snip:

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Unable to handle the complaint, a Citibank employee and two debt-collectors, none of whom were named by police, took Irzen Octa to the fifth floor of the building where they killed him. “We found traces of blood on the curtains and walls,” Budi said, adding that Irzen’s body was found early Tuesday on the fifth floor.

An autopsy performed on Irzen showed he suffered damage to his brain. The three Citibank employees were named suspects in the murder case and could be charged with the Criminal Code on battery, which carries a maximum jail sentence of five-and-a-half years. Police said they would also question Citibank officials.

Citibank official Ditta Amahorseya declined to comment on the ongoing police investigation when approached by The Jakarta Post, but maintained that Citibank had and obeyed a strict code of ethics in regards to debt collection.

“All agencies’ employees representing us are obliged to obey [the code], including the obligation to deal with clients without using threats,” she said in an email sent to the Post. This is the second recent criminal case involving Citibank employees.

Citibank debt collectors allegedly kill client(Jakarta Post, via BB Submitterator thanks orangny)

Though today is April 1, this is apparently no joke. Here’s another related AP item, via Forbes. It seems violent debt collectors are quite a problem in the country.

At Fukushima nuclear plant, concern and confusion over state of #3 reactor

RTR2KD5D.jpgClick for larger photo. Japan Self Defense Force members in protective clothing prepare to transfer to another hospital workers who were exposed to radiation at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, at a hospital in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan on March 25, 2011. About 300 engineers have been working around the clock to stabilize the six-reactor Fukushima complex since an earthquake and tsunami struck two weeks ago. (REUTERS/Kyodo)


Two of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are now in cold shutdown. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Reactor #3, the one that uses recycled fuel, isn’t one of them. In fact, it’s giving people in Japan some new worries.

The temperature and pressure in the core of that unit are stable now, and the temperature is low enough that the core shouldn’t melt any more than it already has, according to the AP. But three workers were burned yesterday when they were exposed to very high levels of radiation in contaminated water, which they’d had to wade through as part of the work of keeping Reactor #3 under control. The doses they received are high, but well below the World Health Organization’s limit for worker exposure during emergency situations.

The cause of those elevated radiation levels is the source of a lot of confusion and concern right now. There are several possible causes, but the one that’s got people worried is this: The elevated radiation levels in that water could be a sign that there’s a physical crack or hole in one of the layers of steel and concrete surrounding either the core, or the spent fuel pool. If that is actually what has happened, it would mean that a lot more radiation is likely to be released compared to what we’ve already seen, and it would also likely mean that the groundwater has been contaminated.

It’s really hard to tell what’s going on exactly. The AP and Reuters are giving slightly different accounts of the same information. World Nuclear News says that the fact that pressures and temperatures are stable in Reactor #3 is evidence that the containment probably hasn’t been breached. But, again, they’re a potentially biased source.

It’s a little weird for me to pop on here and tell you that I don’t really know what’s going on. But I think it’s also important to do just that. When the information available isn’t as clear, cut-and-dry as the headlines make it sound, you need to know about that. In a nutshell, here’s what we do know: There are higher-than-expected radiation levels in one part of Fukushima Daiichi #3. Nobody knows what’s causing it yet, but they’re working on figuring it out. One of the several possible answers—a breach of the core—would be very bad. Hopefully, that’s not what’s going on.

Grand piano appears on sandbar

This grand piano mysteriously turned up on a sandbar in Miami’s Biscayne Bay, about 600 feet from shore. I wonder if it will be used for a performance of John Cage’s “4′33”. From the AP:

 A P Ap 20110125 Capt.Ea082E4F891C40Ac96451Efef34307A2-Ea082E4F891C40Ac96451Efef34307A2-0 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Jorge Pino says the agency is not responsible for moving such items. And, he adds, unless it becomes a navigational hazard, the U.S. Coast Guard won’t get involved.

“Grand piano found on sandbar in Miami bay” (Thanks, Lindsay Tiemeyer!)

Denis Dutton, founder of ‘Arts & Letters Daily,’ has died

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Via the Submitterator, BB reader C. White says,

4498560.jpg Denis Dutton, who founded and edited the website aldaily.com, passed away on 28 December 2010. Dutton was born in 1944, and was also a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He was a founding member of the New Zealand Skeptics. Although Dutton is “nearly irreplaceable” in running Arts & Letters Daily, a longtime collaborator will continue to produce the site.

More at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Related, “Remembering Denis Dutton: ART AND HUMAN REALITY [2.24.09], A Talk With Denis Dutton, Introduction By Steven Pinker” (edge.org, and via EDGE founder John Brockman, who was a friend of Dutton.)

More coverage: The New Yorker, LA Times, Reason, 3 Quarks Daily, D.G. Myers, National Review, Washington Post, spiked, Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, AP, Slate, City Journal, Open Letters Monthly, American Spectator, TED Talk.

Home bomb factory to be exploded

Remember the Escondido, California home that police found filled with “crates of grenades, mason jars of white, explosive powder and jugs of volatile chemicals” belonging to accused bankrobber/hoarder George Jakubec? It’s so packed with junk that authorities can’t take the risk of emptying it out by hand, and a robot apparently can’t maneuver inside. So on Wednesday they’re going to torch the place and hope for the best. Meanwhile, Jakubec has pled not guilty and is being held without bail. From the AP:

 Img Lg S Explosives-Keep-Out-Danger-Sign-S-1816 San Marcos Fire Chief Todd Newman acknowledges it is no small feat: Authorities have never dealt with destroying such a large quantity of dangerous material in the middle of a populated area, bordered by a busy eight-lane freeway…

They have analyzed wind patterns to ensure the smoke will not float over homes beyond the scores that will be evacuated. They have studied how fast the chemicals can become neutralized under heat expected to reach 1800 degrees and estimate that could happen within 30 minutes, which means most of the toxins will not even escape the burning home, Newman said.

The county has installed 18 sensors that will measure the amount of chemicals in the smoke and send the data every two minutes to computers monitored by the fire and hazardous material departments.

Experts also have mapped how far the plume will travel and predict it will not go beyond Interstate 15. They calculate that if there is an explosion, it would probably throw the debris only about 60 feet.

“It certainly would not be a detonation that would level a neighborhood,” Newman said.

Crews are clearing brush, wood fences and other debris that could cause the blaze to spread beyond the property in a region hit by wildfires in recent years. They also are building a 16-foot-high fire-resistant wall with a metal frame between the property and the nearest home, which will be coated with a fire-resistant gel.

Firefighters, who will remain 300 feet away, are placing hose lines in the front and back yards and will have a remote-controlled hose aimed at the nearest neighbor’s home. Ambulances also will be parked nearby.

“Explosive-laden Calif. home to be destroyed” (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

Synergon, a business LARP: escape into drudgery!


Synergon is a BLARP: a business live-action role-playing game. Players create fantasy characters who start out as low-level corporate drones and then perform boring, soul-destroying repetitive tasks set by a game-master (called “The Boss”) until they level up. Players also fight one another for the chance to do more boring, soul-destroying tasks.

Ambition Points (AP): Analogous to mana points; employees draw on AP when using abilities. Base AP = Creativity. Maximum AP = Creativity with all positive and negative modifiers applied. AP cannot exceed max AP.

Assignment: Basic tasks such as retrieving items or confronting a specific frenemy; assigned by The Boss. Each employee that contributed to completing an assignment receives 200XP.

Attack Ability: An ability used specifically to attack frenemies in hopes of draining MP and giving negative statuses. An attack roll is determined by rolling the specified dice and adding any attack modifiers.

Critical Hit: If an ability roll naturally results in the maximum number (i.e. 20 for a d20, 10 for a d10), the roll result is doubled. Modifiers are not doubled, just the dice roll. For rolls involving multiple dice, all the dice must show the maximum result (i.e. rolling double 4s for a 2d4 or double 10s for a 2d10).

Day: Made up of 8 soul-sucking hours. A night of prime-time TV is able to put employees into torpor deep enough that it basically hits the “reset button” in the brain. Each employee chooses 1 status to eliminate at EOD regardless of how many hours or days of the effect are left. At EOD, employees regenerate 10% of maximum MP and 15% of maximum AP.

Synergon (via MeFi)

Mathematician turns down $1 million prize

Brilliant and reclusive mathematician Grigory “Grisha” Perelman turned down yet another big prize for his breakthroughs. Of course, I only know they’re breakthroughs because I read that they are. Math is hard. Anyway, this year, the Clay Mathematics Institute awarded Perelman its $1 million Millennium Prize. His “no thanks” wasn’t a big surprise — in 1996 he didn’t show up to accept the hugely prestigious Fields Medal from the European Congress of Mathematics. At the time, he said, “I’m not interested in money or fame. I don’t want to be on display like an animal in a zoo. I’m not a hero of mathematics. I’m not even that successful; that is why I don’t want to have everybody looking at me.” From the AP:

 A P Net 20100701 Capt.519D63B586A22D7D0E053Fa95C157586 The Interfax news agency quoted Perelman as saying he believed the (Millennium) prize was unfair. Perelman told Interfax he considered his contribution to solving the Poincare conjecture no greater than that of Columbia University mathematician Richard Hamilton.

“To put it short, the main reason is my disagreement with the organized mathematical community,” Perelman, 43, told Interfax. “I don’t like their decisions, I consider them unjust.”

Russian mathematician rejects $1 million prize (Thanks, Marina Gorbis!)