Crazy like a fox, perhaps, but Walmart is offering the 5c for a huge discount down from $99 on Friday only. You’ll have to also sign up for a two-year contract with a phone carrier but that’s still a pretty attractive price for a phone that was just released three months ago.
It could be that the 5c just isn’t selling that well — maybe Apple customers like it shinier metal sibling the 5s more, who knows. But Walmart has been hacking at the price of the phone since it started selling it and this would appear to be the lowest it can go. Or can it go even lower? Doing the price limbo could be fun.
Other Apple dingles and dangles will also be discounted, adds the L.A. Times: The also newish 5s will be priced at $127 with a two-year contract, a discount from its usual $199; the 16 GB iPad mini will still cost you $299 but will come with a $50 gift card and then there will be $30 Apple iTunes cards fro $25.
The sale starts at 8 a.m. local time and will involve products that aren’t Apple as well, with prices in effect through Dec. 24 or until anything sells out.
A photography and public-art project focusing on mental health brings a portion of the community out of the shadows and helps residents understand more about the process of recovery.
“I'm used to living in the shadows,” said Paul Boyer, gazing at photos of himself that would eventually be displayed in public.
Paul was a participant in the Faces of Mental Health Recovery (FoMHR) project in Perry County, Pennsylvania. He spent more than 10 years in a state hospital for mental illness. His long road to recovery started with meeting Bill McHenry, the coordinator of a local Fairweather Lodge, which is a place where people with mental illness share housing and run a business together.
By participating in the FoMHR project, Paul would be moving out of the shadows in a big way: his 21-inch by 32-inch portrait would be hung from the porch of an arts council building in Newport, Pennsylvania. Displayed with eight other portraits of people in recovery from mental illness and their supporters (like Bill), these photos would declare the subjects to be the evidence that mental health recovery can and does happen.
All photos courtesy of I'm the Evidence/Mental Health Campaign Jasmine Colbert (Perry County Council of the Arts creative programs director), Bill McHenry, Brendan Bayer, Leah Clouser, Shelley Bishop, Todd Stephens, Paul Boyer and Nikki Miller display some of the images that hung from the porch awnings at Landis House in the Faces of Mental Health Recovery art exhibit.
“It's important for people to hear about your difficulties, but it's even more important to hear about the possibilities,” said Shelley Bishop, my FoMHR co-leader, during the photography workshop that constituted the first stage of the project.
Last Thursday we had cars floating on Morecambe seafront, the promenade feet deep in lumps of rock and small boulders hurled up from the flood defences and the everlasting lines of flotsam and jetsam left not in their usual high tide place but across the coastal road.
We were in the wood panelled hallows of the town hall that evening, four of us being trained to present more effectively, speak more slowly, use pauses, drop the ums and ers. The wind was merely a whisper beyond the heavy drapes. One of my fellow councillors, ever in touch with a multitude of her residents and friends through her phone and Facebook, was drawing up picture after picture of what had happened in Morecambe during the day, showing me in fascination, the damage done by wind and sea in a few short hours, She looked kind of enquiringly at me,
"Ee," she said, "the weather’s a bit funny at the moment."
Indeed it is and no she is not a Green Party councillor. You could feel intensely depressed that someone with responsibility for the conduct of local government, someone competent, caring, hardworking and ambitious to do her best for the district, should not understand the way it is threatened by climate change. Yet another part of me felt strangely exhilarated – she’s noticing and she is open now to explanations of extreme weather events. I wonder where to go next with that little moment – there’s some thinking to be done with the key strategic people of Lancaster and Morecambe about how we turn growing concern into positive action, rather than deep depression.
Last Thursday brought some more welcome news too; the planning permission for the growing project I am setting up with Joy, my fellow Transitioner, will go to committee on 6 January. No-one so far has objected and there don’t seem to be any insurmountable problems. Joy is working indefatigably with her team of volunteers to create the hard standing for the shipping container which will store our tools (currently left under the hedge) and it is arriving mid-January thanks to some funding from our partners at LESS. The field itself is growing a good crop of grasses and clovers, as advised by our friend and mentor Alan Schofield from Growing with Nature. We dug another little pit to look at the soil; since the deep harrowing we have seen a bit more worm activity but there is still a lot to do to improve fertility. For this, our farmer tenant James Park has promised loads of manure so Joy is pursuing stakes and pallets to create a clamp for it. Apart from an invasion of sheep from the adjoining field, things have been going well.
Yet, dare I say it, the events of last week are beginning to make me wonder whether this growing project, with its expectation of teaching people how to grow the annual vegetables that we expect to see on our plates after so many centuries of annual, seasonal agriculture is fast becoming uncertain, if not irrelevant. Unpredictable weather, cold when it should be warm, droughts, rain and wind destroying the pollination periods, too much water leaving crops rotten in the ground – we’ve seen it all in the last few years. There are ways to reduce the effect of the weather. Naturally, we plan to have a few polytunnels but it will clearly be a struggle to keep them intact on an exposed windy field. People are not going to survive if they are dependant on the vagaries of the kind of annual harvest we have round here. It seems like we need a whole different kind of food production that will be far more resilient to the weather.
Inevitably it seems the situation has brought me back to permaculture, an idea that both fascinates and annoys me in turns. Fascinates because on the ground, in amongst things growing according to permaculture principles there is nothing but wonder about the way plants interact and thrive. It annoys me because you need a lot of knowledge to do it properly and I confess I have made no dent in my ignorance partly because all the courses I have come across require large applications of time and quite often money. I feel a New Year Resolution coming on … Recently I have been reading and listening to Mark Shepard on Restoration Agriculture. As befits a visual learner I was first fascinated by a picture of his farm that you can see here. From the air you see lines of trees in slow curving rows – I wanted to know what and why. In the face of extreme weather the hardiness and adaptability of perennial plants, especially trees, seems hugely important. You find them in cracks in walls, in gutters and on filthy train sidings, seemingly undeterred by the conditions. The importance of trees as perennial sources of food seems to have been utterly forgotten here – a neighbour to our allotment orchard came over last week and said, “Can’t you just cut the tops off them all?” She doesn’t like trees – apples come from the supermarket.
If our growing project is to make a real contribution to the resilience of our immediate neighbours on the Ridge Estate and to others in our district, it is going to have to adapt to extreme weather here and now and offer something relevant to a future predictably unpredictable. We have allies with the knowledge and experience – maybe we need to give them a little more influence and elbow room in the design of our project. It’s an edgy, uncomfortable place for me to be – moving out of the neat, orderly lines of Mr McGregor’s potato plot and vegetable bed into the secret forest garden, yet exciting too.
During the course on effective speaking last Thursday night we were warned severely about the perils of using clichés in our presentations. Just to ensure we knew what to avoid we were provided with a list of twenty clichés never to be used. Number one on the list? Climate change!!
Pictures: Claver Hill diggers (CJ) Mark Shepard's farm (from Organic Connections)
EU has failed to defend Edward Snowden, says activist group 11 Dec 2013 The European Union has failed to stand up for whistleblower Edward Snowden or properly defend newspapers that have written articles about the scale of mass state surveillance, according to freedom of expression group Index on Censorship. To mark the launch of a report on Thursday, Mike Harris, the organisation's head of advocacy, criticised the EU for failing to take a strong stance against the mass state surveillance revealed by Snowden and a range of other freedom of expression issues in Europe and elsewhere. "No EU member state defended Edward Snowden as a whistleblower," said Harris.
Backpacker stripped of tech gear at Auckland Airport --'We're going to have to send this to a forensic investigator.' 12 Dec 2013 A backpacker coming home for Christmas had every bit of electronic equipment stripped from him at the airport. A Customs officer at Auckland International Airport took law graduate Sam Blackman's two smartphones, iPad, an external hard drive and laptop - and demanded his passwords. Mr Blackman, 27, who was breaking up travelling with his journalist fiance Imogen Crispe for a month back in New Zealand for Christmas, was initially given no reason why the gear was taken. The only possibility of why it occurred was his attendance - and tweeting - of a London meeting on mass surveillance sparked by the Snowden revelations, he said.
Media object to secret sanity hearing for alleged shooter Holmes 11 Dec 2013 A coalition of media outlets is fighting to keep the courtroom open next week for a hearing about the sanity of Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting suspect [false flag patsy] James Holmes. Holmes's attorneys have asked the judge to bar the public and the press from hearing pretrial testimony from the psychiatrist who evaluated Holmes's sanity. The judge hasn't ruled on the request.
Connecticut becomes first state to require labeling of GMOs 11 Dec 2013 Connecticut has become a pioneer in food labeling as it is the first state to pass legislation to make companies say if their products contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. GMOs are...created by taking DNA from a bacteria or a virus, which is inserted into the seed. Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) held a ceremonial bill signing in Fairfield on Wednesday to commemorate a bill that requires certain foods intended for humans to be clearly marked that it is entirely or partially genetically engineered.
9:30pm, December 31st
Meet at Oscar Grant Plaza
March to North County Jail
Bring friends, noisemakers, fireworks
Bring the noise to inmates in North County Jail. In solidarity with prisoners and prison rebels across the globe. In honor of fallen comrades. Against prison society. In the spirit of total liberation.
All rebels to the streets!Event date: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 21
Planes Parked in Weeds in Kabul After $486 Million Spent 09 Dec 2013 Sixteen broken-down transport planes that cost U.S. taxpayers at least $486 million are languishing among the weeds, wooden cargo boxes and old tires at Kabul International Airport, waiting to be destroyed without ever being delivered to the Afghan Air Force. The special inspector general for Afghanistan is investigating why the refurbished G222 turboprop aircraft from Finmeccanica SpA's Alenia Aermacchi North America unit no longer can be flown after logging only 200 of 4,500 hours of U.S.-led training flights and missions required from January to September 2012 under a U.S Air Force contract because of persistent maintenance issues. The unused transport planes are in addition to the billions of dollars in wasted U.S. funds documented by the inspector general's office since American troops entered Afghanistan after the Bush-Cheney's Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. [Right, so let's slash food stamps for the poor to pay for more planes for the Afghan Air Farce. Solution? Start reading.]
One of two cooling pumps fails on International Space Station - NASA 11 Dec 2013 NASA scaled back operations on the International Space Station on Wednesday after discovering a problem with a cooling system, but officials aren't sure yet what's causing it. One of two cooling pumps has failed, NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said. Officials discovered the malfunctioning cooling loop was producing too much ammonia, he said.
We’ve arrived at a whole new level of robocalling, and this time the robots don’t want us to know they’re robots. Did you just get a shiver down your spine, too? Shiver jinx! This particular telemarketer for a company hawking health insurance has her own name and a tinkle of laughter to go along with her denial of actually being a robot.
Time’s Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer ecnountered the robo-woman when his cell phone rang and the voice on the other end wanted to know if he was looking for a good deal on health insurance (sassy!). Things didn’t sound quite right, so he asked point blank if she was a real person or a robot voice.
She laughs it off and says of course, she’s a “real person.” But she couldn’t answer other simple questions that weren’t part of her script, like “What vegetable is in tomato soup?”(although technically, a tomato is a fruit, but whatever) or “What day of the week was it yesterday?”
When she’s got nothing good to say or is accused of being artificially intelligent, she asks if you can hear her, and ponders whether the connection could be bad, as heard in recordings made by other Time staffers to the same number.
One of those callers keeps asking, “Are you a robot? Can you just say, ‘I’m not a robot?’ ” to which she stiffly replies, “I am a real person.” It’s kind of heartbreaking to listen to, actually. She even insists she has a name, just like you and me and Siri.
When other reporters dialed her up and answered all her non-robot-but-yeah-so-robotic-sounding questions, eventually the callers were transferred to a real live person to close the sale. And when Time contacted the company behind the phone number, it appeared to be a health company located in Ft. Lauderdale.
“We don’t use robot calls, sir,” said one person who answered the phone, before hanging up. Another person called and another non-robot employee answered, saying he wasn’t sure if the phone number that led to the robot lady was one of the company’s. He says he’ll ask around whether or not she works for the company, noting that, “First of all, we use TV, we use radio, we use Internet.” Robot voices on the Internet?
Time has the source number for the not-so mysterious robot lady here, if you’d like to have a go, and you can listen to the recordings for yourself, one below and the other in the source link. Me, I’ll just be here planning for the robot invasion because it seems their plan is almost complete.
*Thanks for the tip, Joey!
Earlier this year, Kickstarter made some changes to the way they deal with campaigns to find new types of hardware. Most importantly, the product has to actually exist. But what happens when the Kickstarted project is obsolete before it even ships?
That’s what happened to the Syre, one of the many smartwatch-ish projects launched on Kickstarter. It wasn’t the first product that was a wrist strap that holds an iPod Nano like a watch, but it did feature a neat innovation: a super-small Bluetooth dongle so you can run around with wireless headphones.
Higher-priced backer packages included items like an iPod Nano and Bluetooth headphones for people who didn’t already own them. Great idea! Some backers even chose the “retail package” for resellers (now banned on Kickstarter) that cost them a $900 pledge and would get them thirty products to resell.
The problem? Since the project launched, Apple came out with a new iPod Nano that made the Syre unnecessary. It now includes Bluetooth. Oh.
That means there’s still a market for the Syre, but an ever-shrinking one going forward. What made the product special–the Bluetooth functionality–is now part of the iPod Nano when it ships.
The Syre already existed in prototype form back in the summer of 2012, or at least people in its Kickstarter video were exercising with things that looked a lot like the product. The creator posted photos of himself visiting the production line in China. He posted photos of what were allegedly the iPods that backers would receive. But the watch bands…didn’t ship. Nothing shipped.
In an interview with Techcrunch, the creator said that despite those sleek prototypes, the engineering for the Syre wasn’t quite done yet. The product shown in the last few updates was different from that prototype, but backers would still be happy to have it. They’d like to have something.
The product’s backers are now understandably irate. More than a year later, backers are mad and they’d at least like the iPods they paid for, if they can’t have their money back.
Where can backers turn when something like this happens? Kickstarter makes it very clear that once they send a project creator the money, it’s all out of their hands. It’s up to the creator and backers to sort things out themselves, whether that’s a refund, sending some kind of product, or a chargeback.
The problem, of course, is once a project has gone on for this long, enough time has passed that disputing the charge with one’s credit card company is no longer an option.