Too bad to be true?

kidsa

When obvious VCIs (Vested Corporate Interests) use kids as marketing tools,  dressing up their tawdry offerings as  ‘educational, ‘it really pisses me off.

‘Mind rape’ is a phrase I coined to describe “A very dark, very frightening corporate scheme  being carefully orchestrated around the world with the full and active support and cooperation of governments and public administrations”.

And yet teachers, parents, school boards and administrators everywhere apparently believe the carefully calculated, carefully executed, commercialization of our class rooms is acceptable.

I didn’t think any corporate being could sink lower than Big Music and/or its vicious pit bull of a ‘trade’ outfit, the RIAA, whose principal  purpose seems to be  to alienate its owners’ global customer base by suing consumers for specious ‘copyright’ infringements.

But I was wrong.

A least one corporate huge outfit has  managed to go even beyond even that. And that’s Germany’s Bayer, those Good folk who brought us Zyklon B gas during the WWII Holocaust.

Hold that thought.

A favourite entertainment cartel PR tactic is to lauch spurious comics aimed at ‘educating’ children until they recognize and accept whatever’s being promoted and then bug the life out of their parents

Back in July last year wrote »»»

beez

It’s an apparently innocuous term:  colony collapse.  But what it means is ‘Death to Bees’ at the hands of Neonicotinoids, made by Bayer,  the German chemical and pharmaceutical company  which invented Aspirin and also  caused  countless deaths during World War II.

I went on »»»

Bayer was  among the many German other companies  which actively collaborated with the Nazis.

“The Bayer aspirin company has finally apologized for the inhumane acts of its parent firm including using Jewish slave laborers during the Holocaust,”  says the New York Daily News.

“I have sorrow and regret and apologize for the inhumanity in my country for what I,G. Farben did to your people,” Helge Wehmeier, the head of Bayer Corp., told Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel at a lecture.

“Bayer’s parent company, Bayer AG, was part of the German chemical conglomerate I.G. Farben, which used Jewish slaves at its factories during the Holocaust including one at which Wiesel worked as a teenager,” says the story, adding:

“I.G. Farben also had a significant investment in a company that made Zyklon B gas, which was used to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews at Auschwitz the concentration camp in Poland where Wiesel’s mother and sister died.

bayer

Now, Sum of Us says, Bayer is touting Toby and the Bees to spread mis- and disinformation about what’s making bees sick.

And “that’s on top of suing the European Union and launching a massive’bee care tour’ in the US to prevent any regulation of the pesticides that are killing the bees — and earning Bayer millions.

But going after kids with its propaganda campaign is too low even for Bayer, says the organisation, adding:

… “these are tactics taken from the worst of Big Tobacco.

“In the children’s book, the friendly neighborhood beekeeper tells ‘Toby’ that the bees are getting sick, but ‘not to worry’ — it’s just a problem with mites, he says.

But, adds Sum of Us, there’s no mention of the Bayer-made pesticides that scientists have tied to the global bee die-off, and that Europe has already banned in response.

Meanwhile, I launched Kids ‘n Kartels because as a father  I think there should be at least one online publication which doesn’t grovel to the kartels or US-government supported for-profit VCIs, even if it is in Canada.  But I’ve been busy with other things and I’ve fallen well behind.

Jon Newton — myblogdammit

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The ‘thin line between philanthropy and pursuit of profit’

Google v Apple

“Google unveiled a new educational initiative at I/O centered on Android apps,” says Slashdot, going on,  “It’s altruistic, but also something of a swipe against Apple.”

“Something of a swipe”  would be more properly “catching up with,”since  together with Microsoft, Apple has  always been  right at the forefront of   mind raping kids under the pretext of providing them with useful   school aids(read ‘product’.)

The graphic on the right goes with a  Tech The Best post headlined  “Bill Gates Shamelessly Ripped Off Other People’s Ideas – Steve Jobs

In the meanwhile, Slashdot goes on
»»»

At this week’s Google I/O conference in San Francisco, Google announced a new app initiative designed to make the company more of a presence in classrooms—or at least those classrooms in school districts wealthy enough to purchase tablets for students.

“Today we are excited to expand Google’s education offering by combining the ease and portability of Nexus tablets with highly engaging educational content,” read a note posted on the Official Android Blog after the keynote. “Through this new program educators will be able to manage tablets and discover, purchase, and distribute content through Google Play for Education.”

Google Play for Education allows school districts to purchase and instantly distribute apps to student devices, after browsing through options subdivided by curriculum, grade or standard. In theory, this sort of system works out well for everyone: app developers potentially profit from bulk sales to educational institutions, Google and its manufacturing partners earn considerable cash from sales of Android tablets, and students get educated in a cutting-edge way.

But from a different perspective, Google’s push into the classroom can also be construed as an attempt to block the influence of a rival, Apple, which has made educational outreach a priority. In January 2012, Apple launched iBooks Author, which lets educators and publishers create interactive textbooks for the classroom; it also unveiled a revamped iTunes U, a platform for distributing course materials and video lectures. “Education is deep in our DNA,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, told the audience gathered for the rollout at New York City’s Guggenheim Museum.

It adds, “ tech companies also aren’t charities, and executives know that a kid using their PC or tablet in the classroom today is more likely to grow up to become a long-term customer.

“In these sorts of cases, there’s a thin line between philanthropy and pursuit of profit.”

No need to stay tuned

Kids and kartels.com — rebooted

Around the time I launched http://www.myblogdammit.net/,  I also started publishing  http://www.kidsandkartels.com, based on one of the  sections  in my  now defunct p2pnet blog.

I stopped  running it because Dammit  was first and foremost  a  tool  to help in my recovery  from my  (at the time)  open-heart surgeries  and the stroke  which occurred  while I was on the operating table undergoing  a quadruple coronary bypass.

I figured one blog was enough to cope with.

Not coincidentally,  K & K  Mark I highlighted kiddie mind rape, usually disguised as industry  ‘educational’ materials. Perpetrated principally  by the entertainment cartels,  in the shape of Big Music  and  Hollywood  they typically took form of  Videos, webpages  and print  publications such as ‘comic books’.

I also   occasionally drew readers’ attentions  to some of the crimes  committed by Big Pharma  to promote  its /their mindbending ‘product’.

I decided to reboot K & K  because  pharmaceutical companies, aided and abetted by  child psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers  and even, to some extent, parents fooled by lamescream media-hyped  ‘reports’  are feeding kids drugs such as Ritalin,  a federally approved form of ‘legal’ Speed that’s also  available  as a street drug  for about $.10  a pill.

Acquired by one means or another, it can be  swallowed, injected or snorted  for a cocaine-like ‘high’.

But that’s only the beginning.

Some students  use it  to help stay  alert while they’re cramming  for exams, and even that  isn’t the end of the story.

It’s routinely  prescribed by doctors  to treat kids with  attention deficit disorder  of (ADD)  and/ or ADHD  (attention deficit hyperactive disorder).

Kids with either of these ‘disorders’  are frequently prescribed  small doses of Ritalin,  or  one of the many similar drugs.

“Health Canada is receiving growing numbers of reports of serious complications in children taking powerful antipsychotics, including deaths,”  says Sharon Kirkey in her Post Media  story.

Once reserved for schizophrenia and mania in adults, the drugs are increasingly being prescribed to children as young as preschoolers, she says, continuing,.

“As of Dec. 31, 2012, Health Canada had received 17 fatal reports in children related to so-called ‘second generation antipsychotics,’ or SGAs …”

ritalin“Four of the reports concerned deaths in babies who were exposed to antipsychotics in the womb.

“The government has also received 73 reports of ‘cardio-metabolic’ reactions in children taking the drugs, including dramatic weight gain, high blood pressure and blood sugar abnormalities.

“Use of the drugs in children has increased substantially in the last decade. Overall, from 2005 to 2009, antipsychotic drug prescriptions for children and youth in Canada increased by 114 per cent, despite limited evidence about their safety in children.

“The drugs are being used for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, “conduct” disorders, mood disorders, aggression and other behavioural problems.”

Blogs doctor Nick Campos »»»

So what’s the big deal about ADD anyway?  Why do I care about this “disorder” at all?  Why care about a diagnosis that has become so common that the number of children labeled with it has nearly tripled since the 1970s…why?  I care because the primary treatment for children branded with ADD is dangerous stimulant drugs.

Ritalin, or methylphenidate, was first synthesized in the 1940s and identified as a stimulant the following decade.  In the 1960s, doctors first started prescribing Ritalin for hyperactivity, or minimal brain damage, as ADD/ADHD was called then.  The 1990s saw an explosion of Ritalin prescriptions, as ADD became the widely diagnosed condition it is today.

Ritalin is produced and consumed primarily in the United State, with 90% of all prescriptions going to American kids.  Strange that the consuming public has yet to catch on to this anomaly.  Hmmm…ADD said to affect 3-5% of kids worldwide, but why is the U.S. the highest consumer of doctor prescribed speed for this disorder???  A newer, time-released version of Ritalin has been on the market for the last decade; it’s called Concerta.

Ritalin and Concerta work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain.  Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and the reward system.  The compound methylphenidate is very similar to amphetamines, including methamphetamine (meth, crystal, crank), as they all belong to a family of chemicals called phenethylamines.  The all act as central nervous system stimulants.  The methylphenidates, however, actually resemble cocaine more in their structure; yet all three substances–cocaine, amphetamines, and Ritalin–all basically do the same thing; they just do it a bit differently, pharmacologically that is.

Like all the other stimulants just noted, Ritalin has a high potential for tolerance and dependency.  As tolerance increases, so does the need for greater doses to achieve the same desired effect.  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) knows this, as they pointed out at their 2000 Congressional Testimony before the Committee on Education and the Workforce: Subcommittee on Early childhood, Youth and Families.  In response to a 1995 petition by Children and Adults With Attention Deficit Disorder (CH.A.D.D.) and the American Academy of Neurology to lower the regulatory controls on methylphenidate, the DEA conducted an extensive review of the use, abuse liability, actual abuse, diversion, and trafficking of methylphenidate, the DEA said:

The CH.A.D.D. petition characterized methylphenidate as a mild stimulant with little abuse potential – this is not what our review found (emphasis mine) and the petitioners subsequently withdrew their petition. In December 1996, the DEA held a conference on “Stimulant Use in the Treatment of ADHD”. We gathered experts in the fields of ADHD research and treatment, psychiatry, social work, ethics and law enforcement who offered their expertise and unique perspectives to the many controversial topics related to ADHD and its treatment. In addition, the DEA participated in the 1998 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Conference. In 1998 and 1999, the DEA was invited to the Council of Europe to participate in joint meetings with the Pompidou Group and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) to discuss the control of stimulants in Europe and the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD with stimulants. Today, I will present a summary of the data we have gathered about the use of Ritalin and like drugs. These data show:

    • The number of children diagnosed as having ADHD is unknown.
    • Psychostimulants are effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD. Long-term studies looking at the effects of using these drugs are very limited.
    • The medical use of stimulants in the treatment of ADHD in children continues to escalate.
    • The expansive use of these drugs for childhood behavioral disorder in the United States differs significantly from medical practices in the rest of the world (United Nations data)
    • The NIH Expert Panel (1998 Consensus Conference) concluded that the variability in physician diagnosis of ADHD as evidenced by areas of extremely high and low distribution and prescribing rates of stimulants is suggestive of both over and under-diagnosis (Expert Panel, NIH Consensus Conference).
    • Poison control data, emergency room data and high school surveys all indicate that the abuse of methylphenidate has increased significantly since 1990. !!!!
  • A number of questionable practices have contributed to the diversion and abuse of stimulant medication including improper diagnosis, lack of adequate information to youth, parents, and schools regarding the abuse potential of these drugs and lax handling of medication (Consensus statement, 1996 DEA Conference).

And in 1997 the United Nation’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has also expressed similar concerns:

  • the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has observed that world-wide use of methylphenidate has risen from less than 3 tonnes in 1990 to more than 8.5 tonnes in 1994, and continued to rise in 1995.
  • The United States accounts for approximately 90 per cent of total world manufacture and consumption of the substance. The unprecedented sharp increase is due to its controversially extensive use in the treatment of ‘attention deficit disorder (ADD)’ in children. Some other countries have also reported more moderate increases in the use of methylphenidate for this purpose.
  • The INCB shares the concern of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) about the increased use of methylphenidate, most commonly marketed in that country under the brand name Ritalin. The latest data indicates that 10 to 12 per cent of all boys between the ages 6 and 14 in the United States have been diagnosed as having ADD and are being treated with methylphenidate. Treatment is more prevalent in middle class communities and is expected to rise in 1996.
  • ADD might be diagnosed too often overlooking other causes for attention and behavior problems and that doctors may be overprescribing methylphenidate. United States investigators found divergent prescribing practices among physicians, only 1 per cent of whom were responsible for the majority of all methylphenidate prescriptions issued. This also has impact on regional variations in the use of methylphenidate.
  • The Board is also concerned that, contrary to labeling, some doctors prescribe stimulants to children under the age of six and, in many cases, other recommended forms of treatment are not applied. The duration of treatment with methylphenidate, which in many countries is restricted to three years, tends to be much longer in the United States and many children remain on it into adolescence and even adulthood. No information on possible side-effects of such long-term treatment with methylphenidate is currently available
  • ***The INCB is also concerned that the use of Ritalin is being actively promoted by an influential parent association, which has received significant financial contributions from the preparation’s leading United States manufacturer. The same parent association has petitioned the DEA to ease the control of this substance, a move which would make methylphenidate even more easily available. Among the changes sought is dropping the requirement that the patient be re-examined by a doctor before a prescription for methylphenidate can be refilled.
  • At present, the unprecedented high level of ADD diagnosis in children, the very widespread prescription of Ritalin and the growing abuse and black market appear to be limited to the United States. But, the INCB foresees the likelihood that this trend will soon take hold in other countries. Some of the parent groups promoting methylphenidate in the United States have announced their intention to extend their activities outside the country. The Board is therefore requesting all Governments to exercise utmost vigilance to prevent the overdiagnosing of ADD and any medically-unjustified treatment with methylphenidate and other stimulants. It has also requested the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate this matter and to provide expertise to national public health authorities.

Anybody need more convincing?  Ritalin and the other stimulant drugs used to “treat” ADD (Adderall, Concerta, Desoxyn) are habit forming and dangerous (more on this in next post)–the DEA knows it, and so does the United Nations.  But today American doctors prescribe these dangerous drugs freely, to treat a  condition with such wide parameters and potential for subjectivity (despite what the American Medical Association claims), one that has expanded in its definition steadily since its inception–that’s what really concerns me.

ADD matters to me precisely for these reasons…because if I can help even one family, one child, from getting put on these dangerous drugs, to be treated for something that makes them “different” from the norm (the masses), for something that their teachers can’t figure out or deal with, then I’ll have accomplished something; something I’ll be satisfied with.  That’s why I care.

Apple shoves iPad into schools — redux

“As students returned to class this week, some were carrying brand-new Apple iPads in their backpacks, given not by their parents but by their schools.”

That’s the intro to a New York Times s story I quoted the January 5, 2011, edition of p2pnet, which I founded and ran before relentless health and financial problems forced me to sell it for fraction of its true worth.

The  NYT story ran under my heading Apple pushes iPad into schools.

As an aside, I should stress  these days I use an iMac, bought for me by a local agency to help my continuing recovery from a quadruple coronary bypass and the debilitating stroke I suffered while I was on the operating table and I’m using the Apple computer despite the fact I’ve been a constant critic of Apple mania and its boss, the late Steve Jobs who never saw a product or application he couldn’t hijack and re-present as an Apple original.

The story above should, of course, have read something like, “Are tablet computers needed in US schools? And if they are, which of the growing number of similar products are best for pupils and best suited to school requirements?”

Or perhaps, “At a critical time of economic hardship, why are scarce educational financial resources being spent on Apple iPad computers when there have been no preliminary tests, no comparisons with similar products, and no studies to determine if indeed this type of product is needed in schools.”

But the New York Times has no doubts. It goes on, “A growing number of schools across the nation are embracing the iPad as the latest tool to teach Kafka in multimedia, history through ‘Jeopardy’-like games and math with step-by-step animation of complex problems.

“As part of a pilot program, Roslyn High School on Long Island handed out 47 iPads on Dec. 20 to the students and teachers in two humanities classes. The school district hopes to provide iPads eventually to all 1,100 of its students.

“The iPads cost $750 apiece, and they are to be used in class and at home during the school year to replace textbooks; allow students to correspond with teachers, file papers and homework assignments; and preserve a record of student work in digital portfolios.”

Not that largess for Apple is anything new.

Saving Apple’s apples

One of the reasons the company has survived with its expensive computers and software is because it’s been able to sell to schools around the world, with heavy emphasis  on the  cynical marketing phrase, ‘Get ‘em while they’re young.’

In 2004, when the iPod was new, the lamescream media went bananas hyping it up, and Jobs and his Merry Marketeers managed to talk the prestigious Duke University into blowing half-a-million-dollars on the music player.

In a follow-up post, “When Jobs & Co launched their brilliant iPod/iTunes marketing push, they literally saved Apple’s apples“, I wrote, continuing >>>

Suggesting that getting iPod and iTunes into Duke is “an initiative to encourage creative uses of technology in education and campus life,” as EContent puts it here, is pure PR hype-speak repeated, as usual, by the mainstream media as if it’s real.

 

It’s an initiative to sell more Apple product.

 

“Through a Duke Web site modeled on the Apple iTunes site, students also can download faculty-provided course content, including language lessons, music, recorded lectures, and audio books,” says EContent and Oh, by the way …

 

… “They also will be able to purchase music through the site.”

 

No kidding.

 

A student who left Duke in May posted on p2pnet, “Despite having raised vast quantities of money the university somehow doesn’t have enough money to fund its dining service and the Art & Sciences school is running at a deficit of $1.4 million!

 

“They can’t hire new or good profs due to lack of money but somehow they can dole out $500,000 for friggin iPods? They have no real academic purpose or use that cannot be covered by existing resources like the library and the computer network.”

In another p2pnet article, “Duke could perhaps have assigned its Pratt electrical and computer engineering unit a development project”, I suggested, ie, “Design and build a small, light record-and-playback unit that’ll interface with the school network so students can download faculty-provided course content, ‘including language lessons, music, recorded lectures, and audio books’. Then sell, or preferably give, the specs to other schools so they can make improvements, such as adding WiFi.”

I went on, “And while that was going on, Fuqua business school students could have been contacting the various mp3 player manufacturers to see what kind of deals they could cook up: maybe Duke could have ‘branded’ the player.

“In other words, if Duke really needed an iPod-type product, which I strongly doubt, there are a lot of ways it could have acquired one creatively, perhaps turning the end results into a profit instead of a loss.”

Macolytes have lots of dollars but not much sense

Now it’s the same old same old all over again, but with iPads instead of iPods. And instead of asking why this is being allowed to happen, the New York Times is in effect endorsing it.

Parents are paying for this through school fees and taxes. Were they asked if this was OK with them?

In April last year, “Once again suggesting (proving?) Macolytes have lots of dollars but not much sense, 300,000 iPads were sold on its first day, says Apple”, I said in p2pnet, adding:

“The company is great at coming out with fantastic numbers and statements without ever backing them up, knowing the lamescream press corpse will parrot them just as though they’re real.

“It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world — it’s going to be a game changer”, Macworld says, quoting both the 300,000 figure and Steve Jobs.

In the same story,  I cited a TechNewsDaily post in which Ker Than and Robert Roy Britt disassembled the iPad.

Is it worth buying?- they asked, answering, “Given the cost, and a slew of drawbacks, the answer boils down to how much you’re willing to pay for a toy”, going on, “our overall conclusion is that while the iPad is fun to play with, it’s hard to figure out what role it fills that some other device doesn’t do much better.”

It’s heavy

To be sure, at 1.5 pounds and with all this functionality, the iPad is an impressive feat of engineering. But it’s simply not light enough (a Kindle ebook reader is about 10 ounces) and that heft adds to the awkwardness. Holding the iPad in one hand for more than a few minutes to watch a movie or read an ebook results in tired wrists. Even holding it with two hands to read an ebook is tiring. Reading an ebook on a smartphone is ergonomically much more practical.

It’s slippery
We might ignore the awkward size and weight, but the iPad is also slippery, and its aluminum back is ever-so-slightly slightly concave. You feel as though it’d slip right out if you try to hold it under your arm. And on the kitchen counter, it slides and twirls as you try to type or swipe the screen (required for navigating). It needs rubber feet, but of course then it won’t be near as cool.

The remaining 10 points are summarised as >>>

  • The screen has too much glare
  • Forget reading in the sun
  • Fingerprints are annoying
  • It does not multitask
  • The browser is limited
    The virtual keyboard stinks
  • There’s no USB port
    iPhone-only apps look horrible
  • The price is just too high
  • It doesn’t replace anything

Hold those thoughts … And meanwhile,  no one is safe from  Apple  marketeers.

“Students at the UK public school Flitch Green Academy use iPad, Mac, and iPod touch to create unique learning experiences, brags  a new piece of Apple  puffoonery, going on,

“Flitch Green is a public elementary/middle school located just outside of London. This modern eco-friendly version of a village school was designed to be the hub of the community — where the teachers support the kids so they feel safe to explore, to ask questions, and even to make mistakes. The school was built on the principle that there needs to be a purpose to learning, and that children learn best from an innovative curriculum that teaches through first-hand experience and discovery.

“The founders of Flitch Green designed a creative curriculum that allows children to develop skills for the 21st century. The school’s philosophy is that learning is not just about gaining knowledge and acquiring facts — it’s that you need to be able to do something with those facts. This purposeful learning needs a strong investment in technology, That’s where Mac, iPad, and iPod touch come in.

“When designing this curriculum, Apple products were a natural fit. Their ease of use allows students to master the tools, and focus on their projects. The work they’re able to produce is greatly enhanced by the creative opportunities the products give the students. Flitch Green’s creative curriculum couldn’t exist without the Apple products.

“We wanted a curriculum that was meaningful, purposeful, and creative. And with Apple technology we have the whole package. It’s ignited everybody’s learning progress.”

— Tracey Bratley, teacher at Flitch Green Academy

The implementation

“The staff first purchased MacBooks, and as the curriculum evolved, they quickly added iPad and iPod touch devices. Apple products have become an essential piece of how students learn at Flitch Green.

“Flitch Green’s unique approach is taught through open-ended “experiences” where students use the Mac, iPod touch, and iPad, alongside more traditional media, to work towards an end product. “This allows children to use all the resources they have available to them to represent what we’ve asked them to do,” says Principal Helen Johnson. “And normally they come back with things that we won’t have even dreamt of.”

“Giving all students access to all of the Apple products was also a goal for the school. The 11 year-olds as well as the 4 year-olds are using the Mac, iPad, and iPod touch to explore and create. “Originally we thought the iPod touch would be great for the older children and the iPad being bigger would be for the younger children. But actually our 4-year olds are more than capable of picking up the iPod touch, recording their voices, taking a photograph, or writing on it for phonic work,” says Helen Johnson. The Flitch Green vision — right from the beginning —was to equip the children with the technological know-how so they would be well prepared once they got to the outside world.

“Creating their own learning experiences with Apple products allow the students focus on their end-product( not at all incidentally  also turning them  into good little  Macolytes.  “The Mac, iPad, and iPod touch lend themselves seamlessly to these cross-curricular experiences and give the students the choice of technology tools that best suits their individual project.

The results

“Since first opening its doors in 2008, Flitch Green’s academic scores have been in the 90th percentile, granting the school Academy status. Students are not only learning basic academic skills such as English, Mathematics, and Science, but they also learn and practice key life skills such as resilience, reflection, and risk taking. With the Mac, iPad and iPod touch, lessons are fun, interesting and packed with activity.

“Students can find all the objects inside and outside the school that start with a certain letter and record it with their iPod touch. They get excitement out of that which keeps them engaged, and keeps them learning longer than they would have if they’ve been sat down with a pencil they can’t hold very well.” says Helen Johnson.

Also see:

New York Times – More Schools Embracing iPad as Learning Tool, January 4, 2011
blowing half-a-million-dollars – Duke gets free iPods, July 21, 2004
saved Apple’s apples – The Duke – iPod ‘initiative’, July 23, 2004
fantastic numbers and statements – Apple owners ‘leery’ of buying an iPad, March 29, 2010
p2pnet – 13 reasons to ignore the Apple iPad, April 5, 2010
TechNewsDaily – 13 Glaring iPad Shortcomings, April 4, 2010
Jon Newton — kidsandkartels.com

Fa$ebook competition

One of the first things my 15-year-old daughter and many (most?) of her friends do in the morning is: log on to premiere American data mining company Fa$ebook because they’ve been brainwashed into believing it’s the way to talk to each other online.

And, if they want to find something, they ‘google’ it just as they believe Google is the only search game in town.

In short, both giant US online advertising companies have become indispensable to teens, and to millions of adults, in the 21st, digital, century.

In the first post on my new blog, “I’m assuming many of you missed the marvelous piece of bumf crafted by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook – it was published by the Economist Group late last year, in The World In 2012″, said my wife, Liz, going on:

“Well, Sandberg’s effusions about how “profiles will no longer be outlines, but detailed self-portraits of who we really are, including the books we read, the music we listen to… just didn’t ring true to me, after my recent experiences on Facebook, or Facebutt as Jon inadvertently called it. I was creating a personal profile in order to then be able to make a page for our Dad’s Westcoast Awesome Sauces, our truly awesome hot sauces.

“I’m certainly old enough to know what I like and how I like it and I found it very trying to express the little that I was willing to share while Facebook attempted to pigeon-hole my entries into it’s preset modules, which then enable it to conveniently resell you information.”

Hold that thought, and then move on to dystopia and diaspora.

The first means “An imaginary place or state in which the condition of life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression, or terror” or “A work describing such a place or state: ‘dystopias such as Brave New World’.‘

Not at all incidentally, it’s used by “Google’s Senior Policy Counsel Nicklas Lundblad and policy manager Betsy Masiello [who] published a paper called ‘Opt-in dystopias’ in SCRIPTed, a Journal of Law, Technology & Society”, the company says glibly on one of its PR puff pages.

Journal of Law, Technology & Society, huh? Guess that means we should take the ‘paper’ seriously.

In it, the duo “explore how forcing opt-ins for online data collection could have unintended consequences that are not beneficial for user privacy”.

‘Forcing’ opt-ins?

But according to Google, “Partially-informed opt-ins that ask for excessive data, for example, could actually be more harmful for users’ privacy than better-designed, more intuitive and granular opt outs”.

Nicklas and Betsy argue that focusing on the opt-in versus opt-out “as a black-and-white matter” creates “false choices” for users.

Instead, they try to make the case that it’s better to have a structure in which online data collection is an ongoing negotiation between users and service providers.

What negotiation? It doesn’t exist.

And although Nicklas and Betsy don’t “focus on advertising”, their paper is “timely given recent industry discussions about data collection in the online advertising world.”

‘Public outrage’ would be a more accurate phrase than ‘industry discussions’.

Below are excerpts from the Google ‘paper’, trying to convince you that Black is White by using clap-trap such as >>>

Loosely, opt-in is intended as a proxy for gaining affirmative consent prior to the collection or use of information, while opt-out is thought of as a proxy for collecting information without gaining prior consent. We will find that this simplification glosses over important distinctions between the contexts of information collection, as well as critical subtle technical differences between the ways information can be collected.

And >>>

Opt-in is necessarily a partially informed decision because users lack experience with the service and value it provides until after opting-in. Potential costs of the opt-in decision loom larger than potential benefits, whereas potential benefits of the opt-out decision loom larger than potential costs.

And >>>

Under an opt-in regime, the provider has an incentive to exaggerate the scope of what he asks for, while under the opt-out regime the provider has an incentive to allow for feature-by-feature opt-out.

And >>>

If everyone requires opt-in to use services, users will be desensitised to the choice, resulting in automatic opt-in.

And >>>

The increase in switching costs presented by opt-in decisions is likely to lead to proliferation of walled gardens.

Google’s and Facebook’s businesses are built on the premise that they get untrammeled access to any, and all, data scooped up from people who use one or other of its ‘services,’ as it calls its advertising products.

This is a scam where Google (and others) glom onto peoples’ data by signing them up for things without permission and then claim people simply have to ask to be ‘opted out’.

For instance, you may find yourself being used by Google in one of its products — its sneak view StreetView, as just one example — without ever having given your permission. You have to ask, cap in hand, to be taken off.
In other words, you have to ask to be removed without ever having opted in.
It looks ridiculous. And it is.

Diaspora means “A dispersion of a people from their original homeland”and/or “The community formed by such a people”, in other words, the open source answer to Fa$ebook. And in May, 2010, the word was being used by four New York University Courant Institute students who were looking for $10K so they could spend the summer “building Diaspora; an open source personal web server that will put individuals in control of their data”.

I say ‘wanted $10K’ because in May last year, Max Salzberg, Dan Grippi, Raphy Sofaer and Ilya Zhitomirskiy had been promised not $10,000, but a whopping $129,906 by 3,490 people on KickStarter.

Now, “Connecting socially is human nature,” they say, going on, “You shouldn’t have to trade away your personal information to participate.”

So what is their Diaspora, exactly?

It’s a decentralised “open source distributed, do it all, privacy aware, social network” they say.

“We think people’s privacy and personal control is in jeopardy more than ever online, and every day we hear about more and more of our peers who say that Diaspora is something that they want and need”, they say on their web site.

You can follow the four on Twitter or Identica, and on Diaspora itself, of course :)

Not only but also, “Now you don’t have to settle for having your data on someone else’s server. Since Diaspora is completely free software, you can grab the code and host it wherever you want.*

Have gun, will matriculate

“Hundreds of British school children have been licensed to use shotguns over the past three years — including one seven-year-old, according to the Mail Online.

The figures came to light on the day MPs were slated to debate a possible ban, says the story

Hundreds of primary school-age children are being granted shotgun licences, figures show, says the story, going on:.

“Between 2008 and 2010, licences were granted to 281 children aged 11 and under — including one as young as seven.

“Five licences were granted to eight-year-olds, 25 to those aged nine, and 92 to ten-year-olds. Another 158 licences were given to children aged 11.

“The figures, released by the National Policing Improvement Agency, show 4,771 licences were granted to children aged 16 and under — an average of four a day.”http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2089172/Hundreds-primary-school-children-licensed-use-shotguns-including-young-SEVEN.html

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Paul Mazer of Lehman Brothers, was clear about what was necessary. “We must shift America,” he wrote, “from a needs to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”

US car industry indoctrination event — Get ‘em while they’re young!

There they were, all lined up to be ‘educated’ by the US auto manufacturing industry, kids from the Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences, that is.

They were at the North American International Auto Show’s 8th annual ‘Education Day’ where “Nearly 5,000 students [read punters-in-training] from 104 schools throughout the state, ranging from pre-K to college, converged on Cobo Center for knowledge and entertainment, said the Detroit Free Press, from whence came the photo.

“This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” the story has Justin James, 10, a fifth-grader at the academy, saying as he “affectionately eyed a candy-apple red Dodge Charger”.

“I’ve never seen so many new cars in all my life.”

Paul Mazer of Lehman Brothers, was clear about what was necessary. “We must shift America,” he wrote, “from a needs to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things even before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”

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J & J ‘pushed’ anti-psychotic drug for kids with ADD

Risperdal, a heavy duty anti-psychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia and manic depression, was ‘pushed’ by the maker, Johnson & Johnson, for hyperactive kids with ADD, aka attention deficit disorder.

Proving that drug peddlers don’t hang out only on street corners, this happened although regulators hadn’t approved it for that purpose, company records show, says Bloomberg News.

“Officials of J&J’s Janssen unit pushed sales people in Texas to ‘flood clinics with Risperdal stuff’ as part of a 2004 campaign to increase prescriptions, story goes on.

According to the New York Times, “Powerful antipsychotic medicines are being used far too cavalierly in children, and federal drug regulators must do more to warn doctors of their substantial risks, a panel of federal drug experts said,”

“More than 389,000 children and teenagers were treated last year with Risperdal, one of five popular medicines known as atypical antipsychotics. Of those patients, 240,000 were 12 or younger, according to data presented to the committee. In many cases, the drug was prescribed to treat attention deficit disorders. it continues,

“But Risperdal is not approved for attention deficit problems, and its risks — which include substantial weight gain, metabolic disorders and muscular tics that can be permanent — are too profound to justify its use in treating such disorders, panel members said.

‘This committee is frustrated,’ said Dr. Leon Dure, a pediatric neurologist from the University of Alabama School of Medicine who was on the panel. ‘And we need to find a way to accommodate this concern of ours.’

“Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) Risperdal was, in some ways, a drugmaker’s dream. At its peak in 2007, the antipsychosis medicine produced $4.5 billion in revenue,” said another Bloomberg story, headlined, “Did J&J Plan to Break Rules?” .
It went on,

“But it has also opened up a medicine cabinet full of legal woes. Lawsuits are now pending against J&J in 10 U.S. states for promoting Risperdal ‘off-label’—meaning for uses the Food & Drug Administration did not approve. And in January of this year, the U.S. Justice Dept. sued J&J in a federal court in Boston, claiming the company paid kickbacks to Omnicare (OCR), the largest U.S. pharmacy for nursing home patients, to buy and recommend Risperdal and other drugs.

Documents from a lawsuit by the state of Louisiana accusing J&J of off-label marketing shed fresh light on the company’s long-standing desire to broaden the market for Risperdal beyond the ailments listed initially on the label—psychotic disorders linked to schizophrenia. J&J disclosed the documents from the suit, filed in the Opelousas district court in September 2004, after Bloomberg News asked the court to unseal them. The case is scheduled to go to trial in September.

As early as 1994, the filings show, the FDA ordered J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit, which developed Risperdal, to stop making false and misleading marketing claims about the drug’s superiority to competing medicines. In 1999 the FDA warned J&J in a letter that its marketing materials for geriatric patients, including brochures, journal ads, and letters, overstated Risperdal’s benefits while minimizing its risks. The letter said J&J misleadingly implied that Risperdal had been found effective for illnesses such as bipolar disorder and elderly psychosis. Months later J&J drew up a business plan that called for increasing Risperdal’s market share in treatments for elderly dementia, aiming at $302 million in sales, the filings show.
“Egregious Examples”

Louisiana cited dozens of internal J&J files in its lawsuit claiming the company marketed Risperdal to the elderly and to children for unapproved, off-label uses. Professor Jerry Avorn of Harvard Medical School, who isn’t involved in the case, says the papers add up to “one of the more egregious examples” of marketing drugs to vulnerable patients. Medical professionals know “that drug companies resort to unsavory practices to promote drugs,” he says, but seeing the details of this campaign “is still pretty upsetting.”

“J&J, based in New Brunswick, N.J., denies engaging in off-label marketing and has not reserved money for a settlement. The company says it will fight the lawsuit, in which Louisiana seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and reimbursement of public funds spent on Risperdal. Louisiana “does not cite any evidence that Janssen made misrepresentations or engaged in off-label promotion of Risperdal,” J&J said on Nov. 30, 2009, in court papers asking a Louisiana state court judge to dismiss the case. In an e-mail, a Janssen spokesman told Bloomberg: “The Louisiana litigation should be decided on the body of evidence, including testimony, not the basis of excerpts from documents that could be selectively quoted.”
(Bloomberg graphic by John Kuczala)


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Brainwashing your child: kiddie mind-rape in the 21st-century

Mind rape is a phrase I coined to describe “A very dark, very frightening corporate scheme  being carefully orchestrated around the world with the full and active support and cooperation of governments and public administrations”.

As a parent, do you really think copyright law should be an integral part of your child`s education, or the subject for a scouting merit badge? Should it be the focus of ‘educational’ pamphlets distributed by Childnet? And should your son or daughter be thinking up names for a ridiculous ‘copyright crusading ferret’?”

I asked those questions in a p2pnet post headlined They’re brainwashing YOUR child.

“The answer is, of course, that IP law has a legitimate place, But only in a law school or special interest classes”, I said, going on.

“But the software, movie studio and recording industries are using publicly funded schools and teaching staffs and institutions around the world to try to make you believe that protecting industry product is of primary importance to you and your children.

“And carrying the corporate message that young children need to be subjected to intensive indoctrination on copyright laws are the same on- and offline newspapers, magazine and radio and tv stations that depend almost wholly on corporate advertising cash and goodwill to survive.”

Now, “A major consumer education campaign is being launched by the non-profit organisation Childnet International (www.childnet.com), supported by a new partnership between the film, TV and music industries”, says a post from Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music’s IFPI.

“The campaign starts in the UK and is planned for rollout in multiple countries and languages in the next few months”, it said, going on >>>

Music, Film, TV and the Internet – a guide for parents and teachers was being unveiled on Tuesday 9th November in the UK. In jargon free terms, the guide provides straightforward, practical advice to parents and teachers on how children can enjoy and access entertainment safely and legally on the internet. The guide is available at www.childnet.com/downloading.

The guide has been produced by Childnet International and is supported by Pro-music (www.pro-music.org) , the international information campaign launched in 2004 under the umbrella of major and independent record companies, publishers, performers and musicians.

“The inter-linked, multi-national corporations are slowly and surely brainwashing our children. And many of you – especially if you’re teachers or are involved in institutions administering to children – are helping.”

I continued >>>

 ”The entertainment and software cartels, principally, are trying desperately to stay afloat, using outdated business models from the 1970s in the digital 21st century. They’ve lost control of their consumer bases and to regain it, they’re painting everyone who uses non-corporate p2p applications to download digital files, and the companies which make them, as hard-core criminals.

As the Live8 shows proved, the labels could easily and effectively harness p2p power, using it to rope in hundreds of millions of paying file-sharers and their discretionary dollars.

Instead, to achieve the same end, our children are being force-fed warped values through schools and organizations such as the scouting movement and Childnet International under the pretext of ‘education’.

“The BSA (Business Software Alliance) is a major trade group owned by such heavyweights as Microsoft and Adobe and they’re using it to weasel their way into your child’s head with a “copyright-crusading ferret” which “teaches tech-savvy kids about cyber ethics’.

For cyber-ethics read copyright law.

Even the FCC is in on it. And the aim of all of these apparently separate, but in reality closely interlinked, entities is to firmly implant industry compliant behaviour patterns and attitudes into kids’ brains while they’re still young and highly impressionable.

Pliable ‘consumers’
“Over time, say industry strategists, using schools as pre-marketing units will become accepted practice and properly obedient cash-cows will replace the people who, thanks to the emergence of the Net and blogs, are for the moment showing alarming tendencies to think for themselves and to make their own decisions about what they want and don’t want, and to use online outlets which aren’t corporate-owned or controlled.

“Clearly, this must stop, say the corporate leaders. How better than to indoctrinate ‘consumers’ while they’re still at school and while they’re still relatively uninformed and, therefore, pliable?

No need to worry about in-depth media cooperation because the landscape is “very, very heavily dominated” by a tiny handful of “gigantic media transnational media corporations,” says Mark Crispin Miller, the most important being Disney, Time Warner, Viacom, the News Corporation and Universal-Vivendi.

“Viacom owns, among other important media entities, MTV. And MTV, in turn, now owns NeoPets.

Advertisers spend about $15 billion a year, targeting kids through sites like NeoPets which has product advertising cleverly hidden in games and links to websites run by McDonald’s, General Mills and Procter & Gamble. Other NeoPets ‘consumer’ clients include Carl’s Jr, Hasbro, Hershey, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods / Nabisco, LEGO, Mattel, Nestlé, Pepperidge Farm, Thinkway Toys and Wrigley.

M”ore than 40% of the NeoPets audience is under the age of 13.

“America’s Children Now says it’s a “national organization for people who care about children and want to ensure that they are the top public policy priority”. But its chairwoman, Jane Gardner, is a marketing consultant, and its vice chairman, Peter D. Bewley, is the Clorox Company’s senior vp, general counsel and secretary. On the board are the likes of Neal Baer, Wolf Films/Universal Television’s ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ executive producer and Suzanne Nora Johnson, vice chairwoman, Goldman, Sachs & Co.

‘Breaking the law for years’
“”Gina Harkell was, putting the final touches to her third CD when the full weight of the music industry came crashing through her letter box, said Britain’s prestigious The Times recently.

`It was a legal document,` she recalls. `There were all these huge names – 14 of them – Universal, Polydor, EMI, Capitol, Virgin, Mercury, Sony versus, well, me, my partner, but principally my son.`

A hundred miles away, at about the same time, Richard French, a respectable financial adviser, was calling his wife, Louise, with the news that he and his two young children had apparently been breaking the law for years, and they hadn`t even known it. If they wanted to keep out of the courts, he told her, they would have to pay £2,500.

“In fact, all over the country on that day in mid-April, the opening of dull white envelopes elicited gasps of astonishment and despair among parents as they found out that they – usually because of their children – had become the first in Britain to be hit by a clampdown on internet music piracy. After losing sales amounting to some £300 million because of music-sharing software, the industry had decided it could take no more; there was no option but to use the courts.

The industry could “take no more”. And the article goes on and on in this vein, treating the £300 million claim as though it’s based on reality and as though it comes from credible sources.

“And behind this victimization of children and their parents in the UK is the BPI (British Phonographic Industry), owned by the members of the Big Four record label cartel with their direct and indirect associations with the major print and electronic media outlets.

The BPI is also a leader in the UK government backed move to ‘educate’ British school children during class time and at tax-payer expense. And the many other cartel owned and funded organizations such as the RIAA, CRIA, JRIA, ARIA, IFPI, and etcetera, also feature the creation and implementation of ‘child education’ programs in their mandates.

‘Consumer’ of tomorrow
Our daughter, Emma, is now almost 16. She went to kindergarten but ever since, we’ve home-schooled her.

And we thank God we made that decision.

To some extent, we’ve been able to filter the outside world for her, which isn’t to say she’s cloistered. She has, for example, a room almost filled with Barbies and she’s exposed to TV advertising aimed at kids every time she tunes into one of her favourite TV programs during the two-hours-a-day she’s allowed to watch.

But thankfully, the kind of materialistic, pernicious garbage now being fed to kids in schools (which these days can be counted as media outlets of the third kind) doesn’t reach her.

We hope she’ll grow up having a value system garnered not only from us, but also from other people with independent mindsets, as well as from the books she chooses to read, from the music she chooses to listen to and from the movies she chooses to watch, none of them suggested by the cartels.

Although Emma will make make up her own mind about what’s good for her, and what’s bad, where she’ll spend her money, and when, sadly, she’s part of a small minority.

But it needn’t be that way if you and your teachers love and care about our children enough to take back control of what happens to them, what they’re taught and by whom.

If you don’t, the corporations, of which Hollywood is only the most visible, will.

Nothing has changed.

Not even the names.

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Jon Newton – p2pnet

Placido Domingo to teach New York kids

Famed Opera superstar Placido Domingo Is taking on a new role.

He’s to conduct New York City schoolchildren studying under a program inspired by  an acclaimed Venezuelan youth orchestra program says Associated Press.

The 35 are studying music five days a week under a program sparked by Venezuela’s El Sistema.

“33 years ago in a parking garage in Caracas, Dr. José Antonio Abreu (right) gathered together 11 children to play music, says El Sistema USA. going on:

“ElSistema now teaches music to 300,000 of Venezuela’s poorest children, demonstrating the power of ensemble music to dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of a nation’s youth while transforming the communities around them.

El Sistema USA is a support and advocacy network for people and organisations inspired by Venezuela’s music education program.”

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