FAA Easing Ban on Electronics During Takeoff, Landing

The words “please stow all electronic devices” may soon disappear from the scripts of flight attendants. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is poised to lift its ban on the use of electronic devices aboard airline flights at elevations under 10,000 feet. It would also allow the use of e-readers, iPods, tablets, and phones in “airplane” mode even during take-offs and landings.

At last!


LA to Provide Every Student With an iPad

Apple Inc. won a $30-million contract Tuesday from the L.A. Unified School District, paving the way for the company to provide every student with an iPad in the nation’s second-largest school system.

The Board of Education voted 6 to 0 on Tuesday to approve the contract after hearing senior staff laud Apple’s product as both the best in quality and the least expensive option that met the district’s specifications.

In other news, Microsoft is desperately slashing Surface RT prices for schools.


Fares: Maybe Buses Should Be Free

A colorful take by The Economist:

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Fares bring in a lot of money, but they cost money to collect — 6% of the MTA’s budget, according to a 2007 report in New York magazine. Fare boxes and turnstiles have to be maintained; buses idle while waiting for passengers to pay up, wasting fuel; and everyone loses time. Proof-of-payment systems don’t solve the problem of fare-collection costs as they require inspectors and other staff to handle enforcement, paperwork and payment processing. Making buses and subways free, on the other hand, would increase passenger numbers, opening up space on the streets for essential traffic and saving time by reducing road congestion.


All-Day Battery Life With the 13″ MacBook Air

Walt Mossberg, for AllThingsD:

For these tests, I used the same tough laptop battery test I’ve used for years. I disable all power-saving features, crank the screen brightness to 100 percent, leave on the Wi-Fi to collect email in the background and play an endless loop of music until the computer loses power and shuts off.

For the new 13-inch MacBook Air, Apple claims battery life of up to 12 hours. In my tests, the Air lasted an amazing 10 hours and 14 minutes, the longest any single-battery laptop I’ve reviewed has ever gone and about what an iPad gets.

PCMag found over 15 hours of battery life when running its own set of tests. Impressive, to say the least. And we’re merely at the tick.



Looks like a neat replacement for Feedburner.


Fitch: China Credit Bubble Unprecedented in Modern World History

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, for the Telegraph:

The agency said the scale of credit was so extreme that the country would find it very hard to grow its way out of the excesses as in past episodes, implying tougher times ahead.

“The credit-driven growth model is clearly falling apart. This could feed into a massive over-capacity problem, and potentially into a Japanese-style deflation,” said Charlene Chu, the agency’s senior director in Beijing.

“There is no transparency in the shadow banking system, and systemic risk is rising. We have no idea who the borrowers are, who the lenders are, and what the quality of assets is, and this undermines signalling,”

Whoops! You mean there’s a giant hole in Chinese bank balance sheets? That they’re just as healthy as their western counterparts? Sounds very problematic indeed.

Luckily, China has massive amounts of foreign reserves. Oh, wait!


Andrew McAfee: What Will Future Jobs Look Like?

Insightful talk by Andrew McAfee on the future of the job market and income disparity.

His main point:

The first [set of challenges] are economic, and they’re really nicely summarized in an apocryphal story about a back-and-forth between Henry Ford II and Walter Reuther, who was the head of the auto workers union. They were touring one of the new modern factories, and Ford playfully turns to Reuther and says, “Hey Walter, how are you going to get these robots to pay union dues?” And Reuther shoots back, “Hey Henry, how are you going to get them to buy cars?”


NSA Spying Flap Extends to Contents of US Phone Calls

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed “simply based on an analyst deciding that.”

If the NSA wants “to listen to the phone,” an analyst’s decision is sufficient, without any other legal authorization required, Nadler said he learned. “I was rather startled,” said Nadler, an attorney and congressman who serves on the House Judiciary committee. […]

AT&T and other telecommunications companies that allow the NSA to tap into their fiber links receive absolute immunity from civil liability or criminal prosecution, thanks to a law that Congress enacted in 2008 and renewed in 2012. It’s a series of amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, also known as the FISA Amendments Act.

It must be really nice to be above the law.


Culture Wars: French ‘Exception’ Threatens Trans-Atlantic Deal

Der Spiegel:

It’s the country that brought us “Amelie” and silver screen greats like Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu. But its insistence on its “cultural exception” could derail the planned start to talks to create the world’s largest free-trade area between the European Union and the United States — an initiative that has been strongly promoted by Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

For better or worse, I wouldn’t count on France changing its mind here. Not under François Hollande’s watch, anyway: he’s a pure product of France’s über-meritocratic and elitist education system.

The country has a long tradition of defending culture as some kind of mystic totem that doesn’t mix with money. François Mitterrand is occasionally cited in the Anglo-Saxon press as having initiated this, but I’d argue this is incorrect. It’s something that is much more engrained in French society. The precise reasons are anyone’s guess. That its culture radiated throughout Europe — and indeed the world — for several centuries is probably one of them.


Pigs Fed GM Grain Suffer Health Problems, Study Says

Pigs fed a combination of genetically modified soy and corn suffer more frequent severe stomach inflammation and enlargement of the uterus than those who eat a non-GM diet, according to a new peer-reviewed long-term feeding study published Tuesday in the Organic Systems Journal. […]

“The new peer-reviewed long-term pig feeding study just published raises important concerns about possible health impacts of consuming genetically engineered corn and soy,” [Dr. Michael Hansen] said in a statement. “There have been very few animal feeding studies of GE food to date, and extremely few that lasted longer than 90 days.”

Quelle suprise!

Might anyone remember the GMO industry’s hatchet job on the research published by Gilles-Eric Seralini last year?

Perhaps Terrence Ingram‘s bee hives?

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