Couple of Pittsburgh Steelers Updates

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Posted on 29th July 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News | Sports Commentary

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It’s always great to see the Steelers put so much emphasis on getting their rookies signed ahead of camp (at this point, only Maurkice Pouncey is unsigned).  The last rookie not to be signed in front of training camp … Mr. Wreckless With His Wanker himself, Ben Roethlisberger.  He missed 4 days of camp in what really wasn’t an ugly holdout or anything.  Still, given the effort the Steelers put into getting their rookies into camp right from the start, and followed with the numerous newsworthy items to come from Roethlisberger since… kinda makes you want to wonder a bit.

Colbert’s extension is yet another reinforcement of keeping things strong from the inside of the organization out.  It’s hard to vote against him, what with the Steelers going 103 – 56 – 1 while he’s been in his position, since 2000.  Most importantly, that stint includes two Super Bowl Championships and what most consider to be one of the classiest operations in the league.

Finishing up with Flozell… actually this could be one of the biggest ‘under-the-radar’ (can a 6-7 340 lb guy fit under the radar?) signings of the offseason for any team.  After tackle Willie Colon was placed on injured reserve, officially ending his season after he tore his Achilles tendon in June, the Steelers were in need of an experienced tackle.  Flozell was available after Dallas decided to cut loose the aging mammoth lineman and it will be interesting to see just how much Adams has left in his Silverado sized fuel tank.  He should be able to step right in and start at tackle from day one and shore up that need for the upcoming season.  It’s my guess, though, that age will become a factor towards the end of the season and he will probably be more of a depth player in the second year of the contract after either Colon returns or the team drafts youth into the position if Colon cannot get back to 100%.

Apple To Issue Free Cases For iPhone 4 Antenna “Fix”

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Posted on 16th July 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News

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While it will no doubt affect their bottom line a little, Apple will issue a free case to all iPhone 4 purchasers or reimburse those who have already purchased a case.  The case, it seems, is plenty effective in reducing the antenna reception issue that occurs when a user places his/her hand or fingers over the flawed design of the antenna that wraps around the exterior of the iPhone 4.  This comes at no surprise to me and is the more sensible approach to correcting the issue which Apple continues to maintain has been blown way out of proportion by those who simply want to take shots at the technology giant.  Certainly more sensible than, say, telling people to place a piece of duct tape over the weak spot in the antenna (Consumer Reports – bunch of agenda driven dumb asses).

To be fair, without Consumer Reports’ ground breaking article (** hear the sarcasm, please **) Apple might still be responding to emails suggesting that customers simply hold their phone differently or issuing a PR statement that tries to redirect the issue as a software problem that is simple to fix while continuing to tout how great their device is.  But after seeing their stock price take a hit after CR’s “duct tape” solution, Apple finally had to come to grips with what the matter was going to do to their company image as a whole.  So you iPhone 4 users can thank CR, I guess, for getting you a new case sooner, rather than later.

No word on exactly what case is being offered or if there will be a maximum dollar amount associated with reimbursement, but I’m sure those details will come out shortly.

Apple clearly dealing with it’s first real bruise in quite some time.

Apple News Conference To Address iPhone 4 Antenna Complaints

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Posted on 16th July 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News

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Apple boss man Steve Jobs appears set to hold a 1pm ET news conference to address the iPhone 4 antenna complaints, today.  Here’s a couple of links:

It’s pretty clear to say that the iPhone 4 effort has been a bumpy ride.  First there was the iPhone 4 prototype that was left in a bar and ended up being snapped up and reviewed/publicized by Gizmodo in a post entitled “This is Apple’s Next iPhone“.  Then, when announcing the iPhone 4 and demonstrating it’s capabilities, Apple had a massive point of embarrassment when everything froze with Steve Jobs on stage pleading with everyone to turn off their wifi devices … leading to the infamous “Verizon!” shout out in a plea to get the iPhone 4 added to the Verizon network.  And the most damaging of all of the PR issues is now at hand with the complaints and poor reviews about the iPhone 4’s antenna losing reception when users hold them and cover up a weak point of the phone’s design with their fingers or thumb. It didn’t help that Steve Jobs responded to some emails suggesting that the problem is nothing but user error when he said (paraphrasing) “stop holding it that way”.  The PR on this issue had gone viral and is piling up fast.  Consumer Reports did a piece on the iPhone 4 and ended up saying that they cannot recommend the device because of this problem, which led to an instant hit on Apple’s stock price and a kick in the pants for Apple brass.

The funny thing in all of this, to me, is that the fixes are all the same – place something over the phone’s antenna.  99% of iPhones, I would bet, are immediately put into a case of some sort to protect it which instantly eliminates this problem.  So, really, what is the big deal?  Consumer Reports went out of their way to mention that a piece of duct tape fixes the problem – what a stupid ass comment to include in an article.  If a piece of duct tape placed on the side of the phone fixes it, then what else might fix it?  A case maybe?  No, that can’t be.  Let’s include something that has no intended purpose but has completely negative and old-ignorant-fix-it-style connotation just to slap Apple and their new technology aura in the face.  I hate Consumer Reports and this piece did nothing to help their cause with me.  Still, their piece accomplished what it was designed to do in grabbing Apple’s attention and getting them to focus on addressing the problem – at least that’s what seems to be happening with this conference, today.  Maybe they should just offer a free case for the phone?  That’s gotta be a lot cheaper and more reasonable than recalling all of the devices.

Republicans Continue To Play Politics, Point Fingers

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Posted on 26th May 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News | Politics - U.S. National

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Republicans seem to have no trouble finding a microphone to spew rhetoric into and yet another example of that appeared today in a article about President Obama privately (okay maybe not too privately, apparently) telling members of his team and BP officials to “Plug the damn hole!” with regards to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Missouri Republican Representative Roy Blunt said in a statement, “[the government's] lack of contingency planning for this kind of catastrophe should be a wake up call.”  He went on with, “The American people expect better from the federal government.”

My problem here is simply that it is abundantly clear Republicans are trying desperately to make this disaster in the Gulf a parallel to that of hurricane Katrina and the sluggish response by then President Bush and his team of folks that has me wanting to use the term ‘retarded’ here because of the words actual definition (slow, hindered, etc).  In reality, the differences between the two responses have been as clear as comparing night and day, but Republicans believe (and unfortunately, might be correct) that if they just keep pounding away at the microphones that are available everywhere to speak into they will eventually win over enough ears of the sheep that believe just about everything they read.

If the current President of the United States were a Republican and his cabinet were a full stock of ‘pubs as well, and the response to this grave problem in the gulf were exactly the same, Republican members of the House and Senate would be lauding the efforts as tremendous and superior of that of what transpired following Katrina – I have no doubt about that whatsoever.  Yet, here we are, listening to ‘pubs labeling the entire effort as substandard – as if there is some precedent for this accident, some standard for attending to what has happened, here.  Notice how you never hear new ideas or actions being proposed or taken by the ‘pubs, you only hear the need for “more” and “faster” – the easiest low-hanging press-ready fruit to pick on.

How much more can a government administration do in this instance than what has been done so far and what continues to happen?  The government is about policy, money, military assets and influential pressure.   They are not about drilling rigs and oil clean-up and the know-how to correct every problem any company might have on a public scale.  (Isn’t this very argument that was used by Republicans AGAINST the government rescue and management of GM?)  And what do we see aimed at the gulf right now?  There’s money, ships, scientists and “experts”, regulation, policing and natural resource research at every turn, not to mention an incredible amount of pressure being placed on BP to correct the situation – who technically didn’t even cause the accident at all, but is the only company with the resources to handle the aftermath and who, in fact, is responsible for the mess since the oil coming out of the well drilled by Transocean is owned by BP.  The response was pretty much immediate and was heightened at every turn of the process in accordance with new findings and new information that the government’s own resources were uncovering.

This is the kind of junk that often makes people just tune out politics and politicians and claim that the whole system is worthless.  People don’t want to hear tit-for-tat, they want action and benefits.  Actions will always speak louder than words, even if the media is super-penetrating and our eyes over-saturated with “news” and pundits railing about that which ails only their special interest.  If a ‘pub really had a problem with the way things have unfolded they would simply ACT and raise Cain within the confines of the committees and cabinets that actually produce actions and benefits for the situation and for those being affected by this mess.  So far we are seeing nothing … but we are hearing a lot.

Please, shut up and do your job as an elected official.  We’ll all be better for it.

SEC Staffers Caught Watching Porn While System Crashed

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Posted on 23rd April 2010 by Ben Krasner in Day to Day Goodies | In The News | Politics - U.S. National

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By: AP

Via: @

Senior staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were being paid to police the financial system, an agency watchdog says.

The SEC’s inspector general conducted 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The memo says 31 of those probes occurred in the 2 1/2 years since the financial system teetered and nearly crashed.

The staffers’ behavior violated government-wide ethics rules, it says.

It was written by SEC Inspector General David Kotz in response to a request from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

The memo was first reported Thursday evening by ABC News. It summarizes past inspector general probes and reports some shocking findings:

  • A senior attorney at the SEC’s Washington headquarters spent up to eight hours a day looking at and downloading pornography. When he ran out of hard drive space, he burned the files to CDs or DVDs, which he kept in boxes around his office. He agreed to resign, an earlier watchdog report said.
  • An accountant was blocked more than 16,000 times in a month from visiting websites classified as “Sex” or “Pornography.” Yet he still managed to amass a collection of “very graphic” material on his hard drive by using Google images to bypass the SEC’s internal filter, according to an earlier report from the inspector general. The accountant refused to testify in his defense, and received a 14-day suspension.
  • Seventeen of the employees were “at a senior level,” earning salaries of up to $222,418.
  • The number of cases jumped from two in 2007 to 16 in 2008. The cracks in the financial system emerged in mid-2007 and spread into full-blown panic by the fall of 2008.

Read the rest of “SEC Staffers Watched Porn as System Crashed” @

GM Recalls 1.3 Million Chevy, Pontiac Cars

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Posted on 2nd March 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News


General Motors - Another RecallOy!  Another GM recall, this time 1.3 Million Chevy Colbalt and sister models from the US, Mexico and Canada.  It seems GM has a power steering problem in these vehicles that has already caused some damage in the U.S.  Those of us who feel the Colbalt was a huge mistake on GM’s part are not surprised.

At least, with this problem, GM’s cars warn the driver of the problem’s presence unlike the mess Toyota has been embattled with of late.  And people are wondering why GM can’t capitalize on other car manufacturer’s misfortunes…

Read more about the GM recall, here.  You can also check out the GM media release about the recall, here.

Saturday Mail To Come To An End? Finally!

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Posted on 2nd March 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News

NEW YORK ( — Snail mail might soon get even slower.

Will the USPS be making its final Saturday deliveries soon?The U.S. Postal Service plans to propose Tuesday an adjusted mail service schedule, which will likely cut Saturday delivery. The agency will also suggest closing some branches and expanding its use of self-service kiosks in grocery stores and other popular retail spots, as part of its effort to work its way out of a mountain of debt.

USPS posted a $3.8 billion loss in its 2009 fiscal year, the latest in a multiyear string of whopping losses. Mail volume was down 12.7% for the year, a trend the agency expects to continue over the next decade as more consumers opt for online bill payments and message delivery.

The Post Office was $10 billion in debt as of Sept. 30 — not far off from its $15 billion debt limit, which the agency expects to hit in its 2011 fiscal year.

Read more about USPS proposing a 5-day mail schedule, here.

It is this blogger’s opinion that this is a decision they should have come to several years ago when their debt was mounting fast and their volume dropping sharply.  With electronic options abound, who really needs Saturday mail service at all, especially during non-holiday weeks?  Sure it’s nice to have some mail come on Saturday or have the option to drop something off at the post office while you’re running some other errands, but a simple adjustment to the Monday-through-Friday USPS work schedule would likely enable anyone who really was serviced by Saturday post office hours or delivery to do what they needed to do.  Besides, when you drop off that parcel at the post office on Saturday it isn’t actually moving until Monday anyway.

There is nothing wrong with a limiting a work week to only those days which make sense to the bottom line for any given business and I have never understood how an entity so closely tied to the government was working on Saturdays.  If the USPS was a private entity and they believed it made good business sense to offer the Saturday services, then so be it – like banks.  However, that is not the situation at hand for the USPS.

I hope this proposed service adjustment is approved.  US mail just isn’t the same volume or requirements as it once was and the system needed to start adjusting this radically years ago.

Chile Hit With 8.8 Magnitude Earthquake

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Posted on 27th February 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News


Chile 8.8 Magnitude Quake - AP Photo.The country of Chile has been struck with one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded – a magnitude 8.8 quake that has destroyed buildings and infrastructure and sent a Tsunami racing west/northwest alarming those lands, countries and vessels in the Pacific.  A ’state of catastrophe” was declared by the Chilean President and massive damage and an incredible death toll are both expected and feared.

The earthquake was felt as far away as Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Wow!

Check out this NY times page that has great maps of the epicenter of the event and the geology behind it, plus some tsunami forecasting.

Quite the slide show of the earthquake pictures at Yahoo.

Unbelievable.  Thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected.

Hummer Deal Falls Through, GM To Shut Down Brand

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Posted on 24th February 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News


General Motors to shut down hummer after potential deal with Chinese manufacturing company falls through

Hummer's trademark grill fascia - soon to be no more.We love our Hummer H3 but this one’s all about brand perception and high gas prices, folks.  Hardly a day goes by where we don’t have to correct someone about the gas mileage of our H3.  People automatically assume that it has gas mileage numbers hovering around 8 or 9 miles per gallon when it actually has better gas mileage than the Jeep Liberty that Natalie drove for years – a vehicle that people assumed got significantly better gas mileage than it actually did.  My how timing really is everything.

With the switch to more fuel-efficient utility vehicles built on car chassis (read STATION WAGONS) rather than those which trucks are based on, it may have only been a matter of time before this was going to happen anyway.  It just seems to me that GM could produce a niche level of the H2 and/or H3 to harness the still present off-roading consumers who are going to be quickly running out of options when it comes to buying something new.  It looks to me that GM is surrendering that completely to Jeep and, if so, Jeep brand managers should be sending GM gift baskets and thank you notes as it may be THE niche that keeps that entire Chrysler affair alive.

Or… does GM have a play up its sleeve for later?  What if GM lets the hummer brand disappear for a while until they can get righted (assuming they can) and eventually buys Jeep (or the government rolls Jeep into GM, however you would want to look at that) which is the only seemingly viable part of the Chrysler group?  I don’t know but I just have a hard time coming to grips with a total lack of off-road capable vehicles with the exception of trucks.

For what it’s worth, again, The H3 has been a great ride for us – it gave us the space we were after while staying reasonable in size and a small boost to fuel economy over our Jeep Liberty.  Our lease is almost up so we’re going to have to figure out what to do with our vehicles promptly.  I suppose we could buy the thing, but that might be difficult to justify financially.  Oh well, all things change.  If they didn’t they would just stay the same.

Joannie Rochette Skates Like A Champion After Her Mother’s Death

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Posted on 24th February 2010 by Ben Krasner in In The News | Sports Commentary


If you were watching the Olympics, last night, I hope you caught the skate of Joannie Rochette’s life (see also CNN’s Rochette article, here) … and if you watched her skate I hope that her effort and her emotion tugged at your heart strings because I know she sure did for me.  I’m not a fan of ice skating so much as I am a fan of athletic achievement and last night’s performances on the ice were pretty special – none, though, were more special that Joannie Rochette’s.

Joannie Rochette Emotional After Her Nearly Flawless Short Program SkateImagine that just two days before the event of your life – in this case her home country staging the Winter Olympics in which she is a participating athlete – your mother of father dies suddenly, at an age far too early and without warning or signs.  Position yourself on a map so that you are far away from home – in this case completely across the country from where she calls home in Quebec.  You have no time to mourn, barely enough time to make plans, and probably no way to even get your parent’s body sent back home (I don’t even know how you would accomplish that task, anyway).  Imagine the swing of emotion from absolute excitement and pressure to being crushed with sadness, loss and depression.  Now… go out and perform like an Olympic champion on the world’s biggest stage and do it all on ice, while balancing, jumping, spinning and dancing on two 1/8″ pieces of steel strapped to the bottom of your feet.  Are you kidding me?  Maybe the fact that I can barely stand upright on skates of any kind is influencing my opinion, here, but I think that’s flat out amazing.

I honestly don’t know what I was feeling the most during her skate.  Was it hoping that she did well because of all the hard work and time she had put into getting to this stage?  Was it simply hoping that she would not fall on any of her jumps or have any problems during her skate because of the seemingly strong likelihood of that happening?  Was it hoping she would do well to honor her mother’s life?  Was it actual excitement for the quality of her skate?  All I know is I was on the edge of my seat … for the first time during Olympic women’s figure skating … and I could not blink.

You could hear the crowd suffering the same fate.  At times they were simply holding their breath.  At times they were likely choked up.  At times they were into the music, clapping, rhythmically into the performance.  At times they were excited, then hopeful, then back to worried.  I know, even without being there, because that’s what I was going through thousands of miles away in my own home.

Somehow she pulled herself together and competed – so well that she earned her personal best score for her efforts.  When she finished she was immediately overtaken with emotion, as anyone should have expected.  By the looks of things she was teetering on that edge just BEFORE she took to the ice so I can only imagine the rush that came over here at the end, after performing so well – a performance her mother would never physically see.  Immediately, I welled up inside and out as if somehow I completely understood what she was going through when there’s just no way that I could.

What a champion.  In a world looking for heroes searching for individual efforts that inspire – here we were provided with a tremendous example in the form of a French speaking Canadian figure skater.  Absolutely one of the most amazing Olympic stories/moments I’ve ever heard of and I will never forget it.