Thursday, January 19, 2017

St Louis Has a Nuclear Waste Fire Problem

January 19, 2017

This is definitely not "fake news" but instead news of a sort that is so replete with awful ramifications it would appear all media outlets are simply ignoring it.  Much more worrying, it appears both St Louis, the State of Missouri and the Federal Government are hoping it just goes away somehow.

Just one of the links out there to this story:

Even the Los Angeles Times has covered it:

And yet not a word of this story has shown up anywhere on CNN, on NBC, CBS, ABC, even FoxNews has not, as far as we know, mentioned it.  In fact not even the Drudge Report or ZeroHedge have covered it.  Perhaps no one wants to be guilty of crying wolf over anything with "nuclear" in it's subject line.  But then again, if you aren't going to be very concerned and risk a little egg in the face about an impending nuclear disaster, just what would cause you to get concerned?  Perhaps that mile-wide asteroid coming at us?  Clearly not much else besides a literal end of the world must bother you if that's the case.

Of course, long before any total end of the world, untold human suffering and economic ruin can happen which might prompt at least a little concern.  For instance, the 2,000-plus cases of CANCER that have erupted in the areas immediate to this 'undocumented' nuclear waste dump.  Multiple square miles of private property that are or will be rendered valueless because of radioactive/carcinogenic contamination.  And heaven forbid that fire makes it to all that waste and a big burp of radioactive smoke erupts and billows all across St Louis county and city.

You have to wonder, who is really more dangerous, radical Islamic terrorists trying to get a dirty bomb, or the Federal Government being ridiculously careless and nonchalant about how it disposed of 100,000 TONS of very radioactive isotope laden waste effluent from the production of nuclear weapons.  Evidently if the terrorists don't get you, government stupidity will.  One could be excused for assuming that the Federal Government and State of Missouri would not have played hot potato with General Atomics on passing the buck around on who is responsible for all that huge pile of waste since it was nuclear waste, not just trash from a giant inauguration celebration or agency retirement party.

Forget about any argument over nuclear weapons or nuclear energy.  For one, it is beyond dispute that nuclear weapons saved a lot more lives in World War 2 than they killed (the causality projections for the Japanese mainland invasion were truly apocalyptic for both sides)  and nuclear energy, dirty as it is with all those spent fuel rods, does not make hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive effluent.  No the real take away here is utter failure of Government to do the only job it is there for in the first place: protect the lives and property of citizens.  Granted the typical politician two-step has happened here, namely that anyone involved in this fiasco back in the 70's and before are now either almost dead or have died and are out of reach of any sort of responsibility blow back.  But current politicians, who are also in government precisely and only to serve the interests of their citizen constituents, are going to be just as negligent and condemnable if this thing gets worse - the radioactive waste plus the organic reaction going on in the waste dump will be mutually combustive if they get to each other - and then you'd have a large portion or all of a major US city rendered uninhabitable.  But perhaps that's OK so long as you maintain your plausible deniability.    

So, Eric Greitens, Donald Trump, Claire McCaskill, Roy Blunt, are any of you paying any attention to this situation?  You want to do something about this besides handing off to and hoping that the EPA (which just caused that huge "accidental" mine waste release in Colorado last year that sterilized an entire mountain river system) can fix it?  Yes, Richard Nixon was then President, he's now dead.  Warren Hearnes was Missouri Governor when the dump happened, he's now dead.  You guys/girls who are alive and in office have the ball now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why Apple is Rotten and Sprint really Stinks

January 12, 2016
published by: Matt Reinschmidt

Why Sprint Stinks and Apple Bites

In 2014 I bought an iPhone 6 Plus at the Sprint Store on Church Road near Liberty Missouri.  The package was a lease deal with a 24 month contract and was, I thought, part of Sprint's new iPhone for Life deal.  I have also owned 4 previous iPhones back to the original one in 2007, multiple iPods and Apple computers so I'm no hater of Apple, at least until now.  I declined the "insurance" Sprint sells because in addition to the monthly charge there's an actual deductible too - making this seem much more like Mob protection money than anysort of advantageous product coverage.  Plus, I figured - quite wrongly as I just found out, much to my dismay - that with a consumer product lease agreement the lease wouldn't extend past the product warranty for the device anyway since at the end of 24 months Sprint reclaims the phone and I roll over into another new iPhone.

To give further detail, the iPhone 6 Plus was from day 1 kept inside an Otter shock/scratch proof case and kept away from all water, mud, heck I even left it behind when I worked out so I wouldn't sweat on the thing.  And so, despite these precautions and treating the device with kit gloves, after 14 months the phone's touchscreen went dead with not a scratch on it.  Thus began my troubles and my now epic level of frustration and aggravation with both Sprint and Apple.

Since the Church Road Sprint Store is about 5 miles from me,  I went there to get some firsthand help.  I walk in and an iPad wielding store associate greets me and asks what I need help with.  I say I've got an iPhone that just stopped working and his demeanor immediately changes, he punches up some stuff on his iPad then says the way for the store's technician (there's only one???) is well over an hour.  I say ok, can we check the phone in with you and leave it for whenever the tech can get to it since it doesn't work anyway?  The attendant says no, they can't touch the device we just have to wait.  Now I'm getting aggravated.  Your car, with VIN numbers that attach right to your address and SSN and which still costs 10 or 20 times what an iPhone does, gets left at the service station all the time after you drop it off, but apparently malfunctioning cell phones you can't get any information out of can't be handled like that.  I ask what about the next morning and the attendant still says at least an hour wait is normal.  Does Sprint think people can just take the day off from work and do nothing but sit around inside one of their dang stores?  Seriously, this is most ridiculous, time-vampire put-you-in-your-place way to extent "customer service" I can think of.  Since I could not spend the entire rest of the day (the store was full of people waiting to get to that one technician) I decided to go home and see if I could get any sort of help by phone or internet.

So, I tried calling Sprint's customer support line which ended up being a 30 miinute  wait then attempting to explain my phone troubles to a representative who clearly did not speak English as a first language.  Now, I'm all for immigration and very supportive of people coming here from the rest of the world, but this call center I later determined wasn't even in the western hemisphere so that's a bit aggravating, I mean you don't call customer support and wait on hold for 30 minutes to engage in clever reparte or chit chat, you call because you bloody well need some help.  Having to overcome a language barrier is just one more needle stuck in your eye when you least need it.

So the representative says to call a different toll free number and they'll be able to assist me.  I call, and another 25 minute hold ensues.  Then, the phone gets answered by yet another ESL speaker who again seems to not be anywhere near North America and who proceeds to tell me I just need to go to the Sprint store again because they can't help troubleshoot iPhones, only Apple can do that or the Sprint Store.  Now, I'm really feeling the circle-jerk taking effect.

I decide to contact Apple and see what is going on - and so a 55 minute chat session ensues wherein the resolution is I just need to take it to the nearest Apple Store (32 miles away on the Plaza) and have them look at it.  I resign myself to this helpless reality and proceed the next day to go to the Plaza Apple store for an 11:50 am appointment and get some help.  Driving down there the next day, I walk in the store and there's 50 or more people ALL in there to get technical help with their new or virtually brand new iPhones.  I was shocked, this was not a line for new sales but a line for the Genius Bar.  So I wait again despite having an 11:50 am appointment.  At 12:50 I finally get checked in but then wait another 15 minutes for a technician to come out and look directly at the phone.

Then the moment arrives!  A friendly technician starts looking at the iPhone 6 Plus, notices the touch screen flat out doesn't work (the screen lights up and everything else works with the phone, but it doesn't recognize a finger touching the screen) and says yes, that's a problem they are seeing with a faulty connector in the phone between the digitizer and the logic board and there's no way to fix it if it fails, I'm just "unlucky" because the defect showed up outside the original warranty and I didn't want to pay the $200 or whatever for Apple Care or that bogus deductible laden Sprint warranty, so I just need to pay $350 to replace the phone altogether.  But that means this is a known product defect and hence a product recall is the right answer, NOT waiting around for the short Apple warranty to expire then sock someone with the "repair" cost (replacement actually) because you should reasonably expect that an Apple product would last 24 months if treated with care, not melt down due to an internal manufacturing defect at 14 months!!!

And then the real kicker, Sprint retains ownership of the iPhone at the end of 24 months so if I pay to fix this thing, I then have to hand a newer phone back to Sprint despite making monthly lease and service payments.  I mean, the cars I have leased don't come with a lease that goes past the manufacturer warranty and there's a reason for that, you don't own the doggone car it goes back to the car maker/dealer at the end.  And you aren't using this device as a commercial user, you are a consumer.  The Sprint iPhone for Life or lease program or whatever you call it is also for consumers and at the end the phone returns to Sprint.  So this strikes me as really bogus to stick a consumer user with a loathsome commercial type lease for a jetliner or array of vending machines and then have NO repair options on a device that comes from the maker (Apple) with a time-bomb defect in the screen connector to the logic board.

One thing is for sure, I have completely changed my mind about Sprint and Apple.  This August, my wife and I are telling the both of them to go jump in the lake and we will become happy members of the unlocked smartphone and discount no contract carrier like Cricket rather that end up in a trap like this chain reaction cluster bump has been.

#Sprint #Apple #BadCompany #Aggravation #Entrapment

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Are American Kids Commitment-less?

July 15, 2015

Are American Kids Commitment-less?

We've all heard for years the alarmingly uneducated-sounding results of surveys where high school seniors think Florida is in South America and that they cannot identify who George Washington was or what the Constitution is and so on and so forth.  At first glance this appears to be lazy teenager silliness, maybe even deliberately messing around with the survey out of an unsatisfied urge to mischief .  When those sorts of results are coupled with what we see in the special subset of people who opt-in and choose to take classical ballet as children, a much clearer and genuinely concerning pattern appears: the pattern of non-committal - or perhaps more telling, the pattern of choosing easy results and "likes" over real work and accomplishments - but not for the obvious reason of merely being lazy.  No, I think that unfortunately the problem goes far deeper than that.

Everyone says they want to, but so few can...

With ballet, everyone likes a well-done ballet (at least almost everyone) and almost everyone will say 'ballet is beautiful' or that they'd like to look like a ballerina when they grow up (for girls) or that male dancers are really amazing at jumping and turning and that it's "cool" to move like that (for boys).  What is happening however is that many pre-teens who encounter the challenge of growing into an adult body and at the same time are being challenged a bit more in their ballet class by the progression of class levels are now showing a general malaise or sloppiness in their work in order to avoid that feeling of physical challenge.  And therein is the real problem and the real solution!

Physical challenges require two things of you: the willingness to try very hard to meet the challenge AND - not to over-emphasize but this is very, very important - the ability to be able to tolerate the heat, pressure, exertion, and sense of the body needing to absorb and re-direct a lot of uncomfortable physical energy.    The willingness is still there among almost all kids nowadays, but that second part, the part where you can tolerate that feeling of extreme exertion that touches on real fatigue in the course of meeting that physical challenge, that's the part where American kids are really coming up short now.

Are there still American kids that can tolerate real exertion?  Yes, obviously there are - but the ratios are now totally upside down.  Whereas in the 80's and 90's it would be 20% - 30% of kids who could not tolerate real exertion but 70% - 80% could, now in the twenty-teens that has reversed like some-kind of polar shift to where only about 30% of kids can absorb and tolerate the feeling of real exertion but 60%-70% of kids simply have no capacity to handle exertion.

If your building crumbles, check the foundation first!

I can remember my grandmother talking to my mom about the fact I was watching too much TV each day - back before cable when there'd only be 1 or maybe 2 30-minute TV shows a day I'd want to watch assuming I got home in time from school to see them - and of course Saturday morning cartoons (about 2 hours worth).  Otherwise, neither I nor any of my friends spent any time in front of an electronic device because there simply were no devices and no digital media content anywhere. So what'd we do all the time?  Climb trees, ride bikes all over including down foundations of houses that were being built, play neighborhood soccer or baseball games, basically horse around outside all the time because being inside was boring.  Why is this so important?  Because the whole time we were outside playing around our bodies were exerting themselves and practicing all types of balance and coordination skills.  That made things like ballet feel like the physical discipline it is: ballet was created in a world where basic physical skills and capacities already existed in kids in a world and time where physical exertion was required to do anything and everything, and would then tune those into the finely balanced, poetic movement device you see on stage.

That's where the foundation comes in - we all had very solid physical ability foundations with no need for any PE class to be able to run for a mile, climb a tall tree, walk across narrow boards without falling off, and play play play all day.  We developed this capacity without deliberately taking a class or being forced to do it because all our free play did it for us while we were distracted by having fun! 

Today's kids have no foundation

Today, practically every kid I see is either actively using or just got done using a smartphone or tablet of some kind and in any case has been sitting very still, almost as still as we had to when we got in trouble.  Except, they are not in trouble, they are being "occupied" or "entertained" just like a Veal calf no one wants to allow to move until it's time to slaughter it so that the meat is as tender as possible.  Sorry if that's graphic, think instead of the movie Walle where all the passengers are obese and incapable of actually doing anything because they all just sit and let a digital media solution inject constant "entertainment" and "information" into them.  

What this does for the physical foundation we all need is change today's kids from well-built houses with solid foundations into mobile homes in a trailer park propped on cinder-blocks that can't hold on to anything and can't withstand much if any physical load without collapsing or blowing away.  This constant-entertainment, constant-connected "like" world has robbed today's kids of the essential tool needed to survive in a real universe full of real, physical obstacles and challenges: mental confidence in and high capacity exertion tolerance of your body.  

American kids are trending towards being commitment-less because they've been robbed of their capacity development under the guise of "neighborhoods aren't safe anymore" or "everyone's kids have iPads, we didn't want him/her feeling left out"  or "my 12 year old really wanted an iPhone for his/her birthday".  American kids are commitment-less because they don't have the ability to withstand the feeling of real exertion and fatigue - that has gotten robbed from them for the sake of some corporate profits and parental convenience "to keep them safe at home" and "to keep the noise down at home".  So that means as soon as any physical discipline such as ballet or karate or whatever gets somewhat advanced (which we always thought was the fun part because it meant we were finally getting somewhere) and starts making the body really exert within that discipline, that sensation is so overwhelming for so many kids that they are freaked out by it and have to stop rather than being able to press ahead.  The saddest thing I see are all the teens who cannot tolerate their muscles quivering when trying to master a physical skill.  

I think the answer to this observation-question is perhaps the most telling: when's the last time you saw anyone's kids confidently climb a tree or actually ride around the whole neighborhood all day on a pedal powered bicycle (battery powered kid cars don't count!!!) on a Saturday or a Sunday?  

Let's also be real clear about something - since we all still live in the physical universe and have bodies with things like hearts and muscles and lungs in them, real exercise and by that I mean developing the capacity to withstand real exertion, is extremely critical to your longevity and having a healthy, full-function life free from decrepitude and preventable illness like diabetes, obesity, alzheimer's, osteo-arthritis, muscle atrophy, etc.  There really is no way around this, Moore's Law, network fuzzy logic algorithms, 3-d displays, none of that helps with this.   I am very concerned that all these kids today who never get the chance to encounter and master real exertion due to iPad, tablet and Facebook immersion, are going to have a frightening adult life in just a few decades with bodies that simply won't last well in this 3-d universe full of snowstorms, gravity, heavy boxes, and all kinds of unpredictability with what will come at you.  No amount of 'likes' on Facebook or Instagram will help you withstand any of that and if you wait until middle-age to get serious about exercise you've totally missed the boat and your body has no chance to develop properly.  

Just imagine if we spent 15 minutes on our devices but 3 hours moving around in and challenging ourselves with the physical universe each day...