Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CNN drops to last in the ratings

News giant CNN is having some issues with competiting networks. In fact, they're losing to them all in the ratings race, including their own sister network HLN. Execs can't be too thrilled about this one.

CNN, which invented the cable news network more than two decades ago, will hit a new competitive low with its prime-time programs in October, finishing fourth – and last – among the cable news networks with the audience that all the networks rely on for their advertising.

The official monthly numbers will be finalized at 4 p.m. Monday and will include results from Friday. CNN executives conceded that will not change the competitive standing for the month. CNN will still be last in prime time.

That means CNN’s programs were behind not only Fox News and MSNBC, but even its own sister network HLN (formerly Headline News.) Three of its four shows between 7 and 11 p.m. finished fourth and last among the cable news networks. That was the first time CNN had finished that poorly with its prime-time shows.

Maybe Anderson Cooper could start hosting "Who's the daddy?" episodes like Maury Povich or start yelling a berating guests on his show? Hey, it works for Bill O'Reilly!

You know your church might be in trouble when it's convicted of fraud

Signs your religon might have some issues...

(1) It was founded by a science fiction writer.
(2) It's most famous member is considered crazy and jumps on Oprah's couch.
(3) It's convicted of fraud.

It would be safe to say that Sciencetology has some issues...

PARIS (AP) - A Paris court convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud and fined it more than euro600,000 ($900,000) on Tuesday, but stopped short of banning the group's activities.

The group's French branch said it would appeal the verdict.

The court convicted the Church of Scientology's French office, its library and six of its leaders of organized fraud. Investigators said the group pressured members into paying large sums of money for questionable financial gain and used "commercial harassment" against recruits.

The group was fined euro400,000 ($600,000) and the library euro200,000. Four of the leaders were given suspended sentences of between 10 months and two years. The other two were given fines of euro1,000 and euro2,000.

Prosecutors had urged that the group be disbanded in France and fined euro2 million. A law that was briefly on the books this year prevented the court from going so far as to disband the French branch of Scientology in Tuesday's verdict—though it could have taken the lesser step of shutting down its operations.

On the other hand, you can earn eternal salvation by paying off that fine if you choose to join the church. Woo hoo!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oops, plane overshoots airport by 150 miles

Well, this is embarrassing for the airline and the pilots...

WASHINGTON — Were the pilots distracted? Catching up on their sleep? Federal investigators struggled to determine what the crew of a Northwest Airlines jetliner were doing at 37,000 feet as they sped 150 miles past their Minneapolis destination and military jets scrambled to chase them. Unfortunately, the cockpit voice recorder may not tell the tale.

A report released late Friday said the pilots passed breathalyzer tests and were apologetic after Wednesday night's amazing odyssey. They said they had been having a heated discussion about airline policy. But aviation safety experts and other pilots were frankly skeptical they could have become so consumed with shop talk that they forgot to land an airplane carrying 140 passengers.

The most likely possibility, they said, is that the pilots simply fell asleep somewhere along their route from San Diego.

"It certainly is a plausible explanation," said Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation in Alexandria, Va.

Simply fell asleep? Since when is a pilot falling asleep at the controls just a simple mistake? With 140 people in your care, you'd think the pilots would be a bit more receptive to the outside conditions of their aircraft - namely where the heck they are. I think something else happened that caused them to overshoot their intended airport.

1. They though they were smuggling 140 American immigrants into Canada. It happens, espicially in this economy.

2. The pilots were watching Season 3 of "Friends on DVD."

3. The pilot slammed on the brakes, but it kept on skidding.

This makes me even more apprehensive about flying? I might be better off getting in a hot air balloon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Smart meters to save the world and piss off customers

Lookey here! The next step of evolution in the way we get out electric bill. It's suppose to improve efficiency and we're actually suppose to be able to see how much we're using in real-time.

However, when they installed all these meters, power bills immediately went up. Ooops.

Fast Company loves smart electric meters. They're the first, essential step in the smart electric grid, which promises to fight global warming, improve efficiency, and bring consumer control into our electricity system.

Pacific Gas & Electric loves SmartMeters too. They've installed 3.7 million, with a goal of 10 million by 2012--the largest program in the nation.

Who doesn't love smart meters? Thousands of PG&E customers in Bakersfield, California. They blame the newly installed meters for doubling and tripling their power bills over the summer, compared to the previous year. The SF Chronicle reported that "Angry homeowners repeatedly booed PG&E representatives during a public hearing on the meters earlier this month."

PG&E says it's a case of mistaken identity. The true culprits were July heat waves and recent rate increases. Every meter they've inspected so far has been working properly. 

Well so much for going green if you lose green in the process. 

Swine flu numbers inflated?

Apparently the reports coming out about the number of causes of swine flu may make things seem worse than they actually are...

With most cases diagnosed solely on symptoms and risk factors, the H1N1 flu epidemic may seem worse than it is. For example, on Sept. 22, this alarming headline came from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.: "H1N1 Flu Infects Over 250 Georgetown Students."

H1N1 flu can be deadly and an outbreak of 250 students would be an especially troubling cluster. However, the number of sick students came not from lab-confirmed tests but from "estimates" made by counting "students who went to the Student Health Center with flu symptoms, students who called the H1N1 hotline or the Health Center's doctor-on-call, and students who went to the hospital's emergency room."

Without lab testing, it's impossible to know how many of the students actually had H1N1 flu. But the statistical trend indicates it was likely much fewer than 250.

Oh no! What does this mean? Well people that think they have swine flu but done have it may elect to skip the vaccine because they think they're fine. However, since they didn't contract H1N1, they're still susceptible to it.

That's not good news by the way. More people could become infected largely due to misinformation. Somebody get me a breathing mask ASAP.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New York Times to cut 100 jobs

Another sign that newspapers are quickly falling off the face of the earth: the New York Times is cutting more newsroom jobs. Apparently the janitor and bagel guy will be left.

The New York Times plans to eliminate 100 newsroom jobs — about 8 percent of the total — by year’s end, offering buyouts to union and non-union employees, and resorting to layoffs if it cannot get enough people to leave voluntarily, the paper announced on Monday.

The program mirrors one carried out in the spring of 2008, when the paper erased 100 positions in its newsroom, though other jobs were created, so the net reduction was smaller. That round of cuts included some layoffs of journalists — about 15 to 20, though The Times would not disclose the actual figure — which was the first time in memory that had happened.

Not a good sign for up-and-coming journalists who see the holy grail of newspapers shed off more jobs as the sagging economy continues to hit bottom lines.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hospital mistake exposes hundreds of patients to dangerous radiation levels

Ways to get people not to come back to your hospital: expose them to dangerous levels of radiation. Yay American Healthcare!

According to hospital officials, the error responsible for subjecting patients to eight times the recommended dose of radiation occurred in February of last year. The Los Angeles Times reports that, at the time, the hospital
believed using a new protocol for a specialized type of scan used to diagnose strokes would provide them with more useful data. However, this called for the machine to be re-programmed so they could  override the pre-programmed instructions that came with the scanner when it was installed.

As a result of the hospital's fiddling, patients receiving CT brain perfusion scans were subjected to extremely high doses of radiation, which in some cases, resulted in radiation poisoning. The mistake was only noticed when one stroke patient reported that he had begun to lose his hair following a scan. Upon discovering their mistake, the hospital contacted 206 patients who had received overdoses and found that 40 percent of them had experienced either patchy hair loss or reddening of the skin as a result.

I won't fiddle around with the settings on my microwave much less a CT scanner. When effects of a potential screw up could be (and were) felt by hundreds of people, maybe you should look at things a little closer? Just a thought.

So do they get a lifetime free food card to the hospital cafeteria or something?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chuck Norris: Not the guy you want to owe money

Apparently Mike Huckabee owes Chuck Norris some money. How much? Oh, to the tune of $25,000.

Politico brought Huckabee's newly filed campaign finance report to our attention with an item about how deadbeat news outlets CNN and ABC News owe the campaign $2,906 and $833, respectively, for "Press Travel Reimbursement." We checked, and it does. But the eye-popping figure to us was $23,570 owed by the campaign to Top Kick Productions of Houston, Texas for "travel - charter." Hmmmm—what is Top Kick Productions, and what films has it produced? Why, Lone Wolf McQuade, Deadly Reunion, and Silent Rage! Certainly looks like Chuck Norris' production company. Indeed, Norris listed Top Kick as his employer in a donation to Huckabee's PAC last year.

Well somebody better pay up before they get a roundhouse kick to the head.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NASA invites tweeters to space shuttle launch

This is certainly more exciting than sitting at your computer and tweeting all day.

WASHINGTON — NASA invited fans on Twitter to get front-row seats for next month's launch of the space shuttle Atlantis from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Registration for a NASA "Tweetup" will open on Friday, and the first 100 people to sign up will get to spend two days at the space center, touring the facility, chatting with technicians and astronauts, as well as watching a launch.

The event planned for November 11 and 12 will be the US space agency's fifth Tweetup for users of the wildly popular microblogging service but it will be the first time the gathering includes a shuttle launch.

"The goal of this particular Tweetup is to share the excitement of a shuttle launch with a new audience," said Michael Cabbage, director of the News Services division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

It's only a matter of time before people start Tweeting from space. I also wonder what will happen when aliens run across twitter and realize that all the human race likes to do is talk about themselves.

(Maybe that's why we haven't encountered other life in the galaxy)

Model fired for being too fat?

Ralph Lauren is catching some flack for firing size 4 model Filippa Hamilton, for allegedly being "too fat."

“They said I couldn’t fit in their clothes anymore,” the size 4 stunner told TODAY’s Ann Curry Wednesday in New York. Hamilton said that Lauren wrote a letter to her agent saying, “We’re terminating your services because you don’t fit into the sample clothes that you need to wear.”

Lauren has a different story about her departure, saying that she simply couldn't meet the obligations of her contract. There is no mention of weight in their official statement and they call her a beautiful and healthy woman.

Regardless of whether or not her firing was because of her weight, it sure sparked dialogue on the current state of models and how they're getting smaller.

Kate White, the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, joined Hamilton and Curry and agreed with Goldman. White said that the problem is something of a vicious circle.

“It really starts with the sample clothes. They’ve downsized. They’re now like a 2 or a 4. In some degree it relates to the Kate era,” she said, referring to Kate Moss, the super-thin supermodel whose career began in 1988 at the age of 14. “Before then, supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Christie Brinkley — they were really curvy. But they got skinnier and skinnier. The clothes got smaller. So it creates this cycle where you have to fit in the clothes to get the job, and then the models get smaller and that’s who we have to use in the fashion stories.”

White said that despite some recent efforts to show normal women in fashion magazines, women have to force the industry to change.

Now White makes a valid point about women making the industry change. They'll continue for force super-thin models down our throats as long as we gobble it up. As soon as "heavier" models become more popular or sell more, than they'll make that shift.

The solution? Start putting Cosmo in McDonalds.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Moon is probably very angry right now

Remember when NASA use to do cool things like land on the moon and drive around it on rovers? Now they just like crashing spacecrafts into it. In probably the most hyped space mission in a long time, two NASA spacecrafts was smashed into the moon in order to determine if there was water present. I wonder if this is a warning shot to possible invading alien species.

NASA officials touted loads of data from the probe and telescopes around the world and in orbit. But most of the photos they showed during a Friday morning press conference were from before the crash. The crash photos and videos were few and showed little more than a fuzzy white flash.

Still, NASA scientists were happy.

"This is so cool," said Jennifer Heldmann, coordinator for NASA's observation campaign. "We're thrilled."

Ladies and gentlemen, the space program! It could take two weeks to even determine if the data collected was useful, meanwhile NASA seems just happy they could smack something into the moon.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

They're actually making a remake of Red Dawn

After scouring cable channels in my youth, I came across an 80s movie entitled "Red Dawn" and when I read the "Info Box" (thanks DISH Network), I nearly collapsed laughing. They actually made a movie about the Russians invading the United States and our only hope were a rag-tag group of teenagers? It's like Breakfast Club meets Rambo. Yowza.

Well, guess what everyone... they're making another Red Dawn!

The Chinese-infused Red Dawn re-make's been blowing crap up filming this week in Detroit. The city's an awesome place for making a movie. Just ask Michael Bay. He's been blowing crap up filming in Detroit for years.

They're also filming it in Detroit, which seems like the last place the Chinese would invade since, you know, that city should be deserted by Christmas. Economy jokes aside, this movie has replaced the Russians with the Chinese and from what I can tell they all have Humvees.

Oh brother.