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Herding Cats: The Chris Christie Helicopter Incident, Cell Phone Radiation and Baby Bullet

By (view all posts by Dealman)
at 11:55AM Friday June 3, 2011
under Loose Change

Image courtesy of ICanHasCheezburger

This week we cover stolen (and recovered) laptops, politicians acting badly, underwhelming employment numbers, teens who are more financially conscious than their parents, cell phone radiation, and the popularity of infomercials.
CNN: 'This guy has my MacBook!' Blog, tweets help recover stolen computer -  Seen this story?  Pretty amazing.  Short version: laptop gets stolen, owner of the laptop uses an app called "Hidden" to take screenshots of the thief, and the thief is apprehended.  A feel-good story.  But one takeaway is how easy it is to manipulate a webcam from another computer.  It's not unimaginable that a hacker would be able to install some version of Hidden on your computer via malware and then take pictures of you at your desk.  Eerie.

L.A. Times: Under fire, Chris Christie will reimburse state for use of police helicopter - This was a week of politicians acting badly.  Actually, every week is, but this week was especially ridiculous.  Anthony Weiner may be totally innocent, but that he couldn't say "That's not my underwear" is suspicious, or at least suspiciously bad PR.  Meanwhile, Chris Christie, man of the people, takes a helicopter and limo to his son's baseball game--like most hardworking Americans.  He's reimbursing the funds, but the damage is done.  The optics are terrible, as they are with Weiner--weird moves for career politicians.

The New Republic: Ugh: Hiring Down, Unemployment Up - I'd like to report on all good news, but there's not much from the new jobs report that's very encouraging.  One way to spin this is to say that this could be a statistical blip.  After all, the jobs number were getting better for a couple of months, so why would this report be true and the more-positive reports be outliers?  The story is government job growth, which is something of a Catch-22. While some are clamoring to keep government spending down, they are often the same bunch who are clamoring about poor job growth, and those two things are seemingly at odds. Hopefully, some restructuring of government spending can help the situation.  Time will tell...

Mint: Survey: Teens of the Recession Generation Adopt New Thrift - Here's some good news about the next generation.  Well, it's actually a result of bad news: teens are taking the news about the bad economy to heart and are becoming savers, rather than spenders.  Still, it's good to see that this generation of teens is financially conscious.  It shows they're paying attention, and realize there's no short-term fix to our long-term problems.  Teens aren't necessarily known for taking a long-view approach to life, so this shows a real sense of maturity.

Mother Jones: Is the FCC Downplaying Potential Risks from Cell Phone Radiation? - If you read the report this week that cell phones could cause cancer, you might be confused as there's a lot of conflicting information.  Basically, the report just confirms what was already out there: that cell phones could cause cancer, not that they will.  So should you be worried? A little bit.  Where there's smoke, there's fire, and this article won't make you feel particularly safe.  Letting children use cell phones a lot probably isn't a good idea--and given this is a great unknown right now, it's better to be safe than sorry for adults too.  Moderation is key. If a cell phone is an absolute necessity for work, look for a phone with a lower SAR rating.

Bargaineering: Your Take: Ever Buy Something Off An Infomercial? - Bargaineering asks if you've ever bought something from the TV.  Personally, I haven't, and infomercials really seem like a throwback to the non-internet days.  If you can just buy something online, why would you bother ordering something off the TV?  Also: infomercial products seem to end up at Rite Aid et al. eventually anyway.  Still, infomercials seem to be going strong. Meanwhile, if you're in the mood for a nightmare, take a look at the infomercial for the creepily-named Baby Bullet, made even more creepy by slowing down the audio.  Grandma is especially weird, even when it's not slowed down.

So: have you ordered anything from an infomercial?  How about the Home Shopping Network?