6.29.2012

Say Goodbye To The Student Loan Grace Period



Though it looks like federal lawmakers will finally come to an 11th-hour deal to keep interest rates on federal Stafford student loans from doubling, certain programs that student borrowers have benefited from will be going by the wayside come July 1.


Neither graduate students nor undergraduate students will have a six-month interest-free period after finishing school. And graduate students will now be required to pay student loan interest while still working on their degree.


In total, it's expected these changes will cost students an additional $20 billion over the next decade.


The changes apply to new loans disbursed starting July 1, 2012, and through June 30, 2014.


No more grace period on student loans [Reuters]






via The Consumerist http://consumerist.com/2012/06/say-goodbye-to-the-student-loan-grace-period.html

Deli Imposes $3 ‘Yapping On Phone While Ordering’ Surcharge



We don't have a "Consumerist Hero Citation," but if we did, it would go to the person at this Vermont deli who had the idea to impose a $3 fine for yapping on one's cell phone while trying to order at the counter. "$3 will be added to your total if you fail to GET OFF YOUR PHONE while at the counter. IT'S RUDE," the sign reads.


And it works. Reader Lenny, who noticed the sign, wrote to Consumerist, "I asked about it and they said they zapped an average of one customer a day for talking on a cell phone while ordering a sandwich." Well, that's an income booster. He added, "They also said that other businesses in the area are adopting the rule."






via The Consumerist http://consumerist.com/2012/06/deli-imposes-3-yapping-on-phone-while-ordering-surcharge.html

Western US wildfires, as seen from space




NASA/NOAA GOES Project. Caption: NASA Goddard, Rob Gutro


The NASA GOES-15 satellite captured this image of the western United States which shows smoke from fires in many states creating a brownish-colored blanket over the region.



The dawn's early light revealed smoke and haze throughout the Midwest, arising from forest fires throughout the Rockies. While the most publicized fires occur along the populous eastern range in Colorado, the great smoke plumes in this image came from Wyoming. NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, GOES-15, captured this visible image on June 28 at 1245 UTC (8:45 a.m. EDT). This image was created by the NASA GOES Project at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.



More images at the NASA fire coverage site.








via Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/2012/06/28/colorado-wildfires-as-seen-fr.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+boingboing%2FiBag+%28Boing+Boing%29

Jon Stewart mocks reactions to the health care ruling



On his show Thursday night, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart mocked CNN and Fox News for falsely reporting that the individual mandate in President Barack Obama’s health reform bill had been struck down by the Supreme Court.


Both networks claimed the individual mandate was ruled unconstitutional.


“It was a moment of great drama and, like many of our greatest dramas, a work of complete fiction,” Stewart joked.


But while Fox News was able to correct itself within a matter of minutes, CNN continued to claim the individual mandate was unconstitutional for 7 minutes.


“No sympathy, CNN,” Stewart said. “You’ve been driving us nuts with this shit for months, it’s like Christmas morning for you guys.”


He also took aim at Romney’s reaction to the ruling, noting that Romney apparently wanted to keep all of “Obamacare” except for the individual mandate.


“So you’re going to keep everything but the mandate, A.K.A the thing that pays for all of it?” Stewart wondered. “So the fiscally responsible Republican is saying, don’t worry, you’re going to get all the goodies, but not the bill. Cus that would be taxes, and that is tyranny.”


Watch video, via Mediaite, below:






via The Raw Story http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/28/jon-stewart-mocks-reactions-to-the-health-care-ruling/

6.28.2012

Groups say Asian carp could help solve hunger in Illinois



CHAMPAIGN — Asian carp might get a bad rap as an invasive species of fish in Illinois.


But several Illinois organizations want to get the word out that silver Asian carp — sometimes called silverfin — works well for dinner.


read more






via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/food/2012-06-28/groups-say-asian-carp-could-help-solve-hunger-illinois.h

6.26.2012

UI professor fined $500 for skipping ethics training for years



URBANA — A University of Illinois math professor, who has called state ethics training "Orwellian" and akin to "Big Brother reducing us to the status of children" has been fined $500 for not completing training several years in a row.


He's also now taken the online ethics training after years of refusing to do so.


read more






via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2012-06-26/ui-professor-fined-500-skipping-ethics-training-years.html

"How can you call yourself a designer when you haven’t used Microsoft Word for ten years?"



“How can you call yourself a designer when you haven’t used Microsoft Word for ten years?”




































via Clients From Hell http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ClientsFromHell/~3/9Ija9G8L5nI/25656153511?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ClientsFromHell+%28Clients+from+Hell%29

REPORT: States With No Income Tax Get No Economic Boost



According to a report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, states without an income tax received no discernible boost in growth over the last decade compared to states with relatively high income taxes. Lacking an income tax provided no boost to incomes or employment for the nine states that have chosen to abolish their levies, Bloomberg News reported:



The nine states with the highest personal income taxes on residents outperformed or kept pace on average with the nine that don’t tax their residents’ incomes, according to a study of economic output, unemployment and household income by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. [...]


Per-capita economic output increased an average 10.1 percent in the nine “high-rate” states, led by Oregon, which grew 26 percent from 2001 to 2010. New York, Maryland, Vermont, Hawaii and California also grew faster than the 8.1 percent average for the 50 states.


Among states with no income tax, New Hampshire, Washington, Texas, Florida, Tennessee and Nevada had growth rates below the 50-state average, with Nevada’s economy shrinking 2.7 percent during the period. The average growth rate for the nine no-tax states was 8.7 percent. Three no-tax states grew faster than the national average, led by South Dakota and Wyoming at 22 percent.


Median household income declined an average 0.7 percent among the nine “high-rate” states, compared with a 3.5 percent drop in the nine states without such a levy. The study found no difference in the average unemployment rate between the two groups of states.




“Those who don’t believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny anymore, and actually look at facts and data, recognize that since supply-side economics has been implemented in America, the complete opposite of what supply siders had promised has occurred,” said Ralph Martire, executive director at the nonpartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. But that hasn’t stopped several states from attempting to implement supply-side tax cuts as a solution to their economic woes.






via ThinkProgress http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/06/26/506305/report-states-income-tax/?mobile=nc

6.24.2012

Sign-ups begin for Big Broadband



CHAMPAIGN — Door-to-door sign-ups for the Urbana-Champaign Big Broadband system got under way this week in neighborhoods just north of the Beckman Institute.


The sign-ups will give residents access to ultra-high-speed Internet service for as little as $19.99 a month, said Teri Legner, interim coordinator for the broadband consortium. Service is expected to be available July 9.


read more






via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/politics-and-government/2012-06-23/sign-ups-begin-big-broadband.html

6.22.2012

6.13.2012

Home is still home

Home is still home:
If you were to know only one thing about the electronic music scene in Champaign, you should know about its favorite daughter, J. Phlip. Here’s the basics: born and raised in C-U with family active in the music scene (her father was part of REO’s touring crew), Jessica Phillipe is the epitome of local-girl-made-good. She attended our local university down the street, worked at our local video game developer, and gigged around town before moving to Chicago and, ultimately, San Francisco, where she became part of the Dirtybird crew. She now splits her time between Berlin and the beautiful Bay Area while not on tour.
She's currently on a U.S. tour with stops in Los Angeles, D.C., Detroit (DEMF afterparty), … and Champaign. We are extremely lucky to have her in our very own downtown on a regular basis rather than Chicago or Indianapolis, where most of the big names hit as they travel through the US. J. Phlip, along with locals DJ Belly and HEYCASEY and former local Vader (otherwise known as Agent Mos out of Chicago), filled the bill the Tuesday after Memorial Day at Cowboy Monkey.

Continue Reading...

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6.11.2012

DJ and Social Commenter Jay Smooth Says People Should Be More Afraid of Mitt Romney




DJ and social commenter Jay Smooth, whose work can be found at WBAI 99.5 FM in New York, illdoctrine.com, YouTube and NPR, argues that people should be much more afraid of Mitt Romney than they currently are. In his latest web video, Smooth makes the case that Romney is comparable to Woody Allen's character in the movie Zelig, in that he morphs into a copy of the people he is surrounded by.


Smooth points out that, according to Colin Powell, Romney has been surrounding himself with the worst people who were associates of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Cheney's associates, in particular, were architects of much of the worst policy that was put upon the country during the Bush administration. Smooth says that Romney's greatest power is to appear to not be particularly offensive or dangerous, but that if he surrounds himself with this group of people, we are likely to see a return to the types of policies that got us in so much trouble in the last decade, and that people should be much more afraid of this outcome than they currently are.



The latest cable news talking point is that President Obama will be running a "campaign of fear" against Mitt Romney. I think this sounds like a good idea.








via Crooks and Liars http://crooksandliars.com/kenneth-quinnell/dj-and-social-commenter-jay-smoot

Romney's Creepy Fake Cop Act Extends To Staffers



storybadges2.jpeg

I'm still sort of amazed that this story about Mitt Romney's creepy and weird cop impersonation hasn't gotten more traction. Conservatives whip up a frenzy to the point of Hannity running a series on "The Vetting of Barack Obama" over stupid things like a speech in college, or those nefarious missing transcripts or the insane and ongoing birther controversy, but if a Republican candidate impersonates a cop, and goes so far as to use that phony authority to frighten and abandon a couple of girls on the side of the road, then...crickets.

Unlike so much of the conservative manufactured fauxtrage, Romney's penchant for impersonating cops has implications that shouldn't be ignored, because they point to an authoritarian world view that would permeate how he approaches the office of President.


Lest you think otherwise, here is a story of some other cop impersonators who just happened to be Romney staffers. Joe Conason:



If Mitt Romney had a penchant in his youth for masquerading as a state police officer — and there is reason to believe he did – then he seems to have attracted staffers with that same peculiar fantasy over the years. During the summer of 2007, months before the general public paid much attention to the Republican presidential candidates, Romney’s 2008 campaign stumbled into a scandal that led to the resignation of a top staffer accused of impersonating a state trooper, and allegations of similar misconduct by at least two others.


A former gubernatorial aide to Romney at the Massachusetts state house who served as his “body man” in the early stages of the 2008 primary campaign, Jay Garrity provoked several reporters with thuggish behavior that led to investigations of his conduct in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich accused Garrity of waving his car over and ordering him to “veer off” from a campaign motorcade, claiming that he had “run” the license plate of Leibovich’s car.



And then there's this in 2007, from the Boston Herald, hardly a bastion of liberal journalism:



In an apparent violation of the law, a controversial aide to ex-Gov. Mitt Romney created phony law enforcement badges that he and other staffers used on the campaign trail to strong-arm reporters, avoid paying tolls and trick security guards into giving them immediate access to campaign venues, sources told the Herald.


The bogus badges were part of the bizarre security tactics allegedly employed by Jay Garrity, the director of operations for Romney who is under investigation for impersonating a law enforcement officer in two states. Garrity is on a leave of absence from the campaign while the probe is ongoing.



And this from Boston.com:



State Police are investigating one of Mitt Romney's top campaign aides for allegedly impersonating a trooper by calling a Wilmington company and threatening to cite the driver of a company van for erratic driving, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the probe.



Also, The Politico in 2007:



Boston's Fox affiliate has their hands on the tape of somebody calling themselves "Trooper Garrity," as the owner of the plumbing company in question claims the culprit was also faking his conversation with the state police barracks.



Alter Net :



Just two days after Garrity's resignation, the Herald reported that Romney's event planner, Will Ritter, had uploaded a MySpace page painting himself as a "Jason Bourne-esque" figure in the description of the newspaper whose duties include "very secretive work" in "special ops."



Police impersonation seems to be a tactic Mitt Romney is perfectly comfortable with. I don't know about you, but to me this is not just one of those stories that we should shrug off as a smear. It's part and parcel of how Romney and Republicans view authority and its role in our government. On the one hand, they believe themselves to be above the law, and on the other, use the cover of authority to intimidate and bully their way toward whatever goal they may have.


Are there any investigative reporters left out there? If so, I'd like to suggest the names Jay Garrity, Mark Glanville and William Ritter as a place to start.








via Crooks and Liars http://crooksandliars.com/karoli/romneys-creepy-fake-cop-act-extends-staffer

6.08.2012

Automation

Been testing out some ifttt set-ups. The links for Google Reader > Blogger don't seem to activate but I'm looking for a fix for that.

6.07.2012

Looping retro game GIFs



Brother Brain has many. [via Waxy]

via Boing Boing 

Man cleared of rape gets NFL tryout today



Brian Banks will participate in a tryout with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks Thursday, two weeks after the Long Beach high school football standout was cleared of a rape charge for which he served five years in prison.



via MSNBC.com: Top msnbc.com headlines http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/47722897/from/RSS/

Wow. This sign exists. Submitted by R. Eastwood







Wow. This sign exists.




Submitted by R. Eastwood






via "NO BREASTS NO REQUESTS" http://nobreastsnorequests.tumblr.com/post/24405430682/wow-this-sign-exists-submitted-by-r-eastwood

Ripping Up A Parking Ticket In Front Of Police May Get You Tased, Even If You're Pregnant




If you're upset with the parking ticket you've just received, it's rarely a good idea to rip it up. It's certainly a bad idea to rip that ticket up in front of the police officer who just wrote it. Ask the pregnant Chicago woman who says police used a stun gun on her after she tore up her citation.


Police ticketed the woman, who is only a few weeks away from giving birth, for allegedly parking in a handicap spot outside a Walgreens.


The woman claims she had merely pulled into the spot to briefly console her young daughter and was upset when the police took the opportunity to issue the violation.


"The police came behind her, and she said they blocked her in," the woman's sister tells CBS Chicago. "She asked them, were they writing her a ticket, and they told her yes... She tried to explain to them what happened, as far as her little girl getting out of the car, and her trying to calm her down and console her, and the guy gave her a ticket for $200. She ripped the ticket up, tore it in half, and threw it on the ground."


The police report claims the woman not only ripped up the ticket but threw it in the officer's face before attempting to drive away.


She tells a different version to CBS Chicago: "I got scared, and closed the door. I didn't hit him. I didn't mean to harm him, or anything. He Tasered me through the window."


The woman was taken to the hospital and claims that cops made fun of her while she was being treated.


"They were laughing. They said ... I know she's pregnant. Then one of the other officers said I deserve it. Another officer said, 'Go get Jesse Jackson,'" she recalls. "They were all laughing, like it was so funny."


Regarding the use of a stun gun on a pregnant woman, a police department rep says, "you can't always tell if somebody's pregnant. You want to use it where you're overcoming an assault, or preventing escape."


In addition to the parking ticket, the woman has been charged with misdemeanor resisting arrest and simple assault. Her boyfriend was also charged with resisting arrest and simple assault.


CBS reports that the soon-to-be-born baby appeared unharmed.


Meanwhile, the city's Independent Police Review Authority is looking into the woman's complaint of excessive force.






via The Consumerist http://consumerist.com/2012/06/ripping-up-a-parking-ticket-in-front-of-police-may-get-you-tased-even-if-youre-pregnant.html

Holy Crap, Aerosol Sunscreen Can Set People On Fire




They're two staples of a summer day in the Northeast: a backyard grill and a bottle of sunscreen. Why not reapply some sunscreen before you prepare for a long session cooking some meats? It's not such a good idea if your sunscreen is the spray-on kind. Sure, the can says "flammable," but it didn't occur to a Massachusetts man that this statement is also true after the sunscreen is on your skin, for several minutes after application. He applied some Banana Boat Sport aerosol sunscreen, walked over to his charcoal grill, and was engulfed in flames. He ended up with second-degree burns on his upper body. Way more painful than a sunburn...but no excuse to skip putting on sunscreen.


In a statement, Banana Boat said:


We are unaware of any prior incidents similar to what Brett has described, but because nothing is more important to us than the safety of our consumers, we are taking this matter very seriously.

The most shocking aspect of this story? The burned man has no plans to sue Banana Boat, instead sharing his story with the media in order to protect others from similar injuries.


"I think if people were told this is flammable for two minutes on your skin, people wouldn't use it," he told reporters.


Massachusetts Man Catches Fire After Applying Sunscreen [Good Morning America] (via

Consumer Reports)






via The Consumerist http://consumerist.com/2012/06/holy-crap-aerosol-sunscreen-can-catch-fire.html

Volition parent THQ seeks reverse stock split to shore up price



CHAMPAIGN — THQ Inc., the parent company of Champaign-based Volition, is considering a reverse stock split to help preserve the company's stock trading price.


read more






via News-Gazette.com http://www.news-gazette.com/news/business/economy/2012-06-06/volition-parent-thq-seeks-reverse-stock-split-shore-price.html

SP Radio Podcast: BEST lists live with Don Gerard and SP’s editors



Download/listen to this week's edition of Smile Politely Radio here.



On this edition of SP Radio, we were live from Mike N' Molly's beer garden on what turned out to be a beautiful Friday night. Champaign Mayor Don Gerard joined us to talk about his first year in office and then discussed some of his favorite things in and around C-U.


Continue Reading...




Published in: {categories}{category_name}{/categories}






via Smile Politely: Full Site http://www.smilepolitely.com/news/smile_politely_radio/

6.05.2012

Wider letter spacing helps dyslexics read: study



WASHINGTON — European researchers said Monday that offering reading materials with wider spacing between the letters can help dyslexic children read faster and better.


In a sample of dyslexic children age eight to 14, extra-wide letter spacing doubled accuracy and increased reading speed by more than 20 percent, according to the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Scientists believe the approach worked because people with dyslexia are more affected than normal readers by a phenomenon known as “crowding,” which makes a letter harder to identify when it is close to other letters.


“Our findings offer a practical way to ameliorate dyslexics’ reading achievement without any training,” said the study led by Marco Zorzi of the department of general psychology at Italy’s University of Padova.


Researchers studied 54 Italian and 40 French dyslexic children, giving them a text made up of 24 short sentences to read in either standard or expanded letter spacing.


In the standard text, the words were printed in Times-Roman font with a 14 point print size (1 point = 0.353 mm in typesetting standards).


In the expanded text, the space between letter was increased by 2.5 points, so the “space between i and l in the Italian word il (the) was 2.7 pt in normal text vs. 5.2 pt in spaced text,” said the study.


The space between lines of text was also increased to show a proportional amount of white space on the page.


The children were given either French or Italian texts according to their native language, and the regular and extra-space sessions were scheduled two weeks apart to minimize the effect that memorization might have on reading speed.


Not only did dyslexic children read faster, but the greatest benefits were observed in children who had the most problem identifying letters.


Children without reading challenges showed no increase in reading speed when given materials in which letters were more widely spaced, suggesting that the benefit was unique to children with dyslexia.


“Practitioners only know too well that getting dyslexic children to read more is a key component in achieving long-lasting improvements in reading skills,” said the study.


“Extra large letter spacing, which could even be optimized adaptively on an individual basis, can certainly contribute to achieving this goal.”


Dyslexia is a developmental disorder that is linked to a problem in the part of the brain that interprets language, and can run in families. Extra tutoring and an intense focus on reading are the most frequently advocated treatments.


The disorder, which has no cure, is estimated to affect about 15 percent of Americans.


Co-authors on the study came from Aix-Marseille University and France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.


The research was funded by grants from the Institute for Maternal and Child Health in Italy, the European Research Council Grant and the University of Padova.






via The Raw Story http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/04/wider-letter-spacing-helps-dyslexics-read-study/

Doritos Locos Tacos Are Apparently The Most Successful Thing Ever




It's been more than a year since we first told you about Taco Bell testing out the wild, finger-staining notion of selling its tacos in hard shells made out of Doritos. The product finally launched nationwide in March and is already the most popular new item the fast food company has ever launched.


The OC Register reports that 100 million Doritos Locos Tacos were sold during the first 10 weeks following the national launch, booting the Crunchwrap Supreme from the spot it had held since 2005.


From the Register:


To put some perspective on the 100 million tacos sold, Taco Bell notes that McDonald's sold its first 100 million burgers in 1958 - 18 years after the first McDonald's burger stand opened, and three years after Ray Kroc started his first McDonald's franchise.

The success of the plain old nacho cheese variety of the Doritos Locos Taco means that Taco Bell is going to start trying new shells made from other Doritos flavors like Cool Ranch.


Taco Bell says Doritos taco breaks sales record [OCregister.com]






via The Consumerist http://consumerist.com/2012/06/doritos-tacos-are-apparently-the-most-successful-thing-ever.html

Ohio State Gets $483 Million Bid for Parking Lease



The deal, still tentative, for a 50-year lease to run the university’s parking lots is one of several steps by Ohio State to build its financial reserves as government support dwindles.







via NYT > Home Page http://www.pheedcontent.com/click.phdo

Mosquitos Have Little Trouble Flying in the Rain




sciencehabit writes with an interesting article about the (surprisingly not well studied) effects of rain on flying insects. From the article: "When a raindrop hits a mosquito, it's the equivalent of one of us being slammed into by a bus. And yet the bug will survive and keep flying. That's the conclusion of a team of engineers and biologists, which used a combination of real-time video and sophisticated math to demonstrate that the light insect's rugged construction allows the mosquito to shrug off the onslaught of even the largest raindrop. The findings offer little aid in controlling the pest but could help engineers improve the design of tiny flying robots." Bats, unfortunately, aren't so lucky: "...these furry fliers need about twice as much energy to power through the rain compared with dry conditions."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.






via Slashdot http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/06/05/0112252/mosquitos-have-little-trouble-flying-in-the-rain?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Slashdot%2Fslashdot+%28Slashdot%29

6.04.2012

Google lawyer on Oracle victory: "People are treating patents like lottery tickets"



Google defeated Oracle's claims regarding Java in the Android operating system. But at what cost? Google's general council writes: "The case illustrates the cost when the patent system doesn't work well. It costs millions of dollars to invalidate bad patents. That's money we'd rather spend on great new products for people to use." [Ars Technica]

via Boing Boing 

Closures, shortages loom as insurers exit Greece



ATHENS (Reuters) - Faced with the prospect of closing his family business and looking for work in Greece's sickly economy at the age of 65, Alkis Iliadis bemoans a decision by trade insurers to stop covering exports to his debt-choked country.


via Reuters: Business News