Archive for ‘Money’

September 10, 2012


LifeLock Inc., founded in 2005, is an American identity theft protection company based in Arizona. The company charges $10 a month for the LifeLock identity theft protection system intended to detect fraudulent applications for some forms of credit and non-credit related services. Lifelock provides a $1 million guarantee in the event of identity theft. The guarantee is that Lifelock will spend up to $1,000,000 on restoring your identity; Lifelock does not cover the direct losses you incur from identity theft or pay restitution to you for money lost. In 2010, LifeLock was fined $12 million by the FTC for deceptive advertising. The agency called their prior marketing claims misleading to consumers. LifeLock has partnered with major banks, national corporations and has celebrity endorsers like Rush Limbaugh.

LifeLock’s CEO Todd Davis was the victim of identity theft 13 times during 2007 and 2008, after he publicly posted his Social Security number on billboards and in TV commercials as part of a campaign to promote the company’s identity theft protection services. The company’s ex-cofounder, Robert Maynard, was accused in 2007 of misrepresenting his story about identity theft, which resulted in his resignation. Maynard often recants the story that the idea for the company was founded from a jail cell in 2003. He was serving for $16,000 in casino loans that he claims were made by someone who stole his identity. The story goes that he spent $20,000 and many phone calls to clear his name and thought of LifeLock as a way to prevent others from being victimized. The media was sucked into the story of LifeLock, but investigations later showed he was lying. Video recordings showed that he was at the casino and a drivers license confirmed the debt was his. He started LifeLock in 2005, even as he himself was filing for bankruptcy for the third time.

September 9, 2012



Uber (formerly UberCab) is a venture-funded startup company based in San Francisco that makes a mobile application that connects passengers with drivers of luxury vehicles (e.g. Lincoln, Cadillac, BMW) for hire.

The company arranges pickups in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., Vancouver, Toronto, Paris, and Philadelphia. Cars are reserved by sending a text message or by using a mobile app. Using the apps, customers can track their reserved car’s location.

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September 9, 2012


Klout is a San Francisco based company that measures influence by using data points from Twitter, such as following count, follower count, retweets, list memberships, how many spam/dead accounts are following you, how influential the people who retweet you are, and unique mentions. This information is blended with data from a number of other social networks such as comment, likes, and the number of friends in your network to come up with a ‘Klout Score’ (1-100) that measures a user’s online influence. The company has been subject to substantial criticism, both for its business model and its operating principle. Klout scrapes social network data and creates profiles on individuals and assigns them a ‘Klout score.’ Klout has claimed to have built more than 100 million profiles. Klout is not an ‘opt-in’ service, but individuals who register at Klout can ensure that all of their social networks are accessed and therefore evaluated in their Klout scores. Klout also builds profiles of individuals who are connected to those who do register at Klout.

Klout scores are supplemented with three nominally more specific measures, which Klout calls ‘true reach’ (the size of a person’s ‘engaged audience’ of followers and friends who actively listen and react to his or her online messages), ‘amplification’ (the likelihood that one’s messages will generate actions such as retweets, @messages, likes, and comments), and ‘network impact’ (value of a person’s engaged audience). The business model is then based around connecting businesses with individuals of high influence. Companies have paid to get in contact with individuals with high Klout scores in hopes that free merchandise and other perks will influence them to spread positive publicity for them.

September 8, 2012

Paul Bacon

slaughterhouse-five by paul bacon

we bombed in new haven

Paul Bacon (b. 1923), is an American book and album cover designer and jazz musician. He is known for introducing the ‘Big Book Look’ in book jacket design, and has designed about 6,500 jackets and more than 200 jazz record covers. His first big hit came in 1956 with ‘Compulsion,’ a novel by Meyer Levin.

This cover also marked the inception of the ‘Big Book Look’ that Bacon became known for. This look features a large, bold title, a prominent author’s name, and a small conceptual image. Instances of this ‘look’ include ‘Catch-22′ by Joseph Heller, ‘Visions of Cody’ by Jack Kerouac, and ‘Bullet Park’ by John Cheever, along with countless others.

September 8, 2012

George Dantzig

George Dantzig (1914 – 2005) was an American mathematical scientist who solved two unsolved problems in statistical theory, which he had mistaken for homework after arriving late to a lecture of UC Berkeley statistician Jerzy Neyman. Dantzig was the Professor Emeritus of Transportation Sciences and Professor of Operations Research and of Computer Science at Stanford. Born in Portland, Oregon, George Bernard Dantzig was named after George Bernard Shaw, the Irish writer. His father, Tobias Dantzig, was a Baltic German mathematician and linguist, and his mother, Anja Dantzig (née Ourisson), was a French linguist. Dantzig’s parents met during their study at the Sorbonne, where Tobias studied mathematics under Henri Poincaré.

After emigrating to the US early in the 1920s, the Dantzig family moved from Baltimore to Washington. His mother became a linguist at the Library of Congress, and his father became a math tutor at the University of Maryland. George attended Powell Junior High School and Central High School. By the time he reached high school he was already fascinated by geometry, and this interest was further nurtured by his father, challenging him with complicated problems, particularly in projective geometry. George Dantzig earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Maryland in 1936, and his master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1938. After a two-year period at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he enrolled in the doctoral program in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied statistics under Jerzy Neyman.

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September 8, 2012


Poka-yoke is a Japanese term that means ‘fail-safing’ or ‘mistake-proofing.’ A poka-yoke is any mechanism in a lean manufacturing process that helps an equipment operator avoid (‘yokeru’) mistakes (‘poka’). Its purpose is to eliminate product defects by preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human errors as they occur. The concept was formalized, and the term adopted, by Shigeo Shingo as part of the Toyota Production System. It was originally described as ‘baka-yoke,’ but as this means ‘fool-proofing’ (or ‘idiot-proofing’) the name was changed to the milder poka-yoke. More broadly, the term can refer to any behavior-shaping constraint designed into a process to prevent incorrect operation by the user. Similarly, a constraint that is part of the product (or service) design is considered DFM (design for manufacturability) or DFX (design for X). A good example of a poka-yoke design is the shape of a cell phone SIM card which can only be inserted in the cell phone in the correct way. Shingo argued that errors are inevitable in any manufacturing process, but that if appropriate poka-yokes are implemented, then mistakes can be caught quickly and prevented from resulting in defects. By eliminating defects at the source, the cost of mistakes within a company is reduced.

Poka-yoke can be implemented at any step of a manufacturing process where something can go wrong or an error can be made. For example, a jig that holds pieces for processing might be modified to only allow pieces to be held in the correct orientation, or a digital counter might track the number of spot welds on each piece to ensure that the worker executes the correct number of welds. Shigeo Shingo recognized three types of poka-yoke for detecting and preventing errors in a mass production system: the contact method identifies product defects by testing the product’s shape, size, color, or other physical attributes; the fixed-value (or constant number) method alerts the operator if a certain number of movements are not made; and the motion-step (or sequence) method determines whether the prescribed steps of the process have been followed. Either the operator is alerted when a mistake is about to be made, or the poka-yoke device actually prevents the mistake from being made. In Shingo’s lexicon, the former implementation would be called a warning poka-yoke, while the latter would be referred to as a control poka-yoke.

September 8, 2012


Jody Christian (b. 1985), best known by his stage name RiFF RaFF, is an American rapper and performance artist from Houston. He is signed to the Mad Decent record label. He is best known for his initial associations with Soulja Boy, and being a member of the comedy super group Three Loco with Andy Milonakis and Simon Rex. Riff Raff started his social media involvement as a rapper on Myspace, using the name ‘Kokayne Dawkinz.’ His first public appearance was not as a rapper, but as a contestant on the 2009 MTV reality show From ‘G’s to Gents’ (season 2). Though he was eliminated from series on the second episode, he used this exposure to publicize his career as a rapper. Two years later, he was said to be signed to the Soulja Boy’s Stacks on Deck Entertainment label in 2011, and added ‘SODMG’ to his name for a period. This was later said to be false in an interview by Soulja Boy.

He signed an 8-album deal with producer Diplo reportedly worth $2.7 million dollars. Riff Raff’s persona as a rapper can be described as nostalgic pastiche for late ’90s and early 2000s Houston Hip-Hop, with heavy reference to DJ Screw, DJ Michael Watts, and the Swishahouse record label. Riff Raff is noted for his technical skill as a freestyler, as mentioned by a number of news outlets, and exhibited in several World Star Hip Hop exclusive videos. He is also known as Jody Highroller. He aggressively uses social media for self-promotion. Because of this, Riff Raff is considered by many to be a ‘viral rapper.’ Riff Raff is the originator of a Twitter meme where he analogizes himself to being the rap game’s version of a certain individual, e.g. ‘Rap Game King Tut.’

September 7, 2012

The Thin Ideal

The Thin Ideal is the concept of the idyllically slim female body. The common perception of this ideal is that of a slender, feminine physique with a small waist and little body fat. The size of the thin ideal is decreasing while the rate of female obesity is simultaneously increasing, making this iconic body difficult for women to maintain. This creates a gap between the actual appearance of an average woman’s body and its expected appearance which, depending on the extent to which the ideal is internalized, may have serious psychological effects.

The degree to which women are psychologically affected by the thin ideal depends to what extent the ideal is internalized. An article from the ‘Eating Disorders Journal’ states that ‘thin ideal internalization is the extent to which an individual ‘buys into’ socially defined ideals of attractiveness and engages in behaviors designed to approximate these ideals.’ Women generally relate the ideally thin body to positive life outcomes such as happiness, confidence, and romantic success, and consequently a majority of women value the thin ideal to some extent.

September 5, 2012

Emotional Contagion

emotional healing by ward schumaker

Emotional contagion is the tendency to catch and feel emotions that are similar to and associated with those of others. One view developed by Elaine Hatfield, John Cacioppo, and Richard Rapson of the underlying mechanism is that it represents a tendency to mimic and synchronize facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements with those of another person automatically and, consequently, to converge emotionally.

A broader definition of the phenomenon was suggested by Schoenewolf—’a process in which a person or group influences the emotions or behavior of another person or group through the conscious or unconscious induction of emotion states and behavioral attitudes.’

August 31, 2012

Make It Right

Make It Right, or Make It Right Foundation New Orleans, is a foundation dedicated to rebuilding New Orleans in the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which flooded the city. In late 2006, Brad Pitt founded Make It Right to rebuild 150 safe, energy-efficient and affordable homes for families from New Orleans Lower 9th Ward who lost everything to Hurricane Katrina. As of 2011, Make It Right has completed 75 homes and is beginning work on the second half of the project. The homes are inspired by Cradle to Cradle Design (models human industry on nature’s processes in which materials are viewed as nutrients circulating in healthy, safe metabolisms), with an emphasis on high-quality design, while preserving the spirit of the community’s culture.

In 2012 at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, Brad Pitt, and Ellen DeGeneres hosted ‘A Night to Make It Right’ with Drew Brees and Randy Jackson and performances by Rihanna, Sheryl Crow, Seal, and local favorite Dr. John. Host Committee members for the event included Josh Brolin, Djimon Hounsou, Spike Lee, Blake Lively, Bennett Miller, Chris and Jada Paul, Sean Penn, Wendell Pierce, and Kevin Spacey. Soul Rebels Brass Band, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, and Seal played the ‘Night To Make It Right’ after-party, hosted by comedian Aziz Ansari.

August 26, 2012


Beatport is an online music store specializing in electronic dance music and culture. Beatport is a privately held company owned and operated by Beatport LLC and based in Denver, Colorado and Berlin, Germany. All tracks on Beatport are provided free of DRM. There are no restrictions on the number of devices to which a purchased song can be transferred nor the number of times any individual song can be burned to CD. The web store was opened in 2004 with 79 Electronic Music Labels in its catalog. Beatport 2.0 was released the following year, with 2,700 signed labels. Beatport was also made accessible through a scaled-down GUI embedded within DJ software; Traktor DJ Studio by Native Instruments. In 2006, Beatport released Beatport 3.0 Fully Loaded. In 2007, Beatport launched the Beatport Player, a viral marketing web widget to play back relevant Artist, Label, Genre, and Chart content. Also that year, Beatport launched a community-oriented music site, Beatportal, whose stated mission is ‘…to provide music lovers with up-to-date information about the world of electronic music.’ In 2008, Beatport introduced the Beatport Music Awards‏. Each year Beatport users can vote for the best electronic music artists. The BMAs are broken down into 19 categories, including Best Artist categories from each genre, Best Remix, and Best Single. The nominees for the BMAs are based solely on unit sales at Beatport.

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August 25, 2012


The Livestrong wristband (stylized as LIVESTRONG) is a yellow silicone gel bracelet launched in 2004 as a fund-raising item for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, founded by cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. The bracelet itself was developed by Nike and their ad agency Wieden+Kennedy. The bracelet is part of the ‘Wear Yellow Live Strong’ educational program. The program is intended to raise money for cancer research, raise cancer awareness, and encourage people to live life to the fullest. The bracelet sells individually, as well as in packs of 10, 100, and 1,200 as part of an effort to raise $25.1 million for the Lance Armstrong Foundation in cooperation with Nike who manufactures the bracelets in manufacturing plants both domestic and foreign and sells the bracelets through their Nike outlets worldwide. This target was achieved within 6 months, and there have now been 80 million Livestrong bracelets sold to date. Individual bands sell for US$1 each. Yellow was chosen for its importance in professional cycling, as it is the color of the yellow jersey worn by the leader of the Tour de France, which Armstrong won seven consecutive times. Other charities were inspired by the success of the Livestrong band, and many charities have developed their own bracelets for raising money and awareness.

The band became a popular fashion item in the United States by the end of the summer of 2004, especially among those following Armstrong’s Tour de France effort. They soon gained popularity worldwide. It first appeared on a majority of the contenders at the 2004 Tour de France. Personalities such as 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, news anchor Katie Couric, actor Matt Damon, and several athletes at the Athens Olympic Games wore the band. Appearances on and endorsements by popular TV shows such as ‘Oprah,’ also raised its profile enormously. Some hospitals have reportedly cut the Livestrong wristbands from patients’ wrists because they resemble the yellow ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ bands used by some medical facilities. The pro-assisted suicide organization Americans Allied for Allowing Death with Dignity (AAADD) has raised funds by marketing a black ‘DieStrong’ bracelet.

August 24, 2012

Doenjang Girl

Doenjang girl is a satirical Korean expression for girls and young women who are addicted to luxury and vanity. Doenjang is a fermented soybean paste used to make sour of bean soup. Instead of visiting an expensive foreign restaurant they will eat a three dollar bowl of soup and then go to Starbucks to purchase a six dollar latte, because carrying a Starbucks cup is considered posh. Likewise, doejang girls carry around shopping bags from Chanel and other high end stores to look as if they were shopping there.

August 23, 2012

Hebrew National

Hebrew National is a brand of kosher hot dogs and sausages made by ConAgra Foods, Inc. The Hebrew National Kosher Sausage Factory, Inc. was founded on East Broadway, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1905. The company was founded by Theodore Krainin, who emigrated from Russia in the 1880s. In a 1921 article, Alfred W. McCann writing in ‘The Globe and Commercial Advertiser’ citied Hebrew National as having ‘higher standards than the law requires.’ McCann wrote the article during a crusade for commercial food decency standards, in which ‘The Globe’ was prominent. He wrote ‘More power to Krainin and the decency he represents! Such evidence of the kind of citizenship which America should covet is not to be passed by lightly.’ Hebrew National ‘served the Jewish neighborhoods of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Germany and soon developed a favorable reputation among the other Jewish residents of New York City.’

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August 22, 2012

Sinclair C5

The Sinclair C5 is a battery electric vehicle invented by British entrepreneur Sir Clive Sinclair in the United Kingdom in 1985. The vehicle is a battery-assisted tricycle steered by a handlebar beneath the driver’s knees. Powered operation is possible making it unnecessary for the driver to pedal. Its top speed of 15 miles per hour (24 km/h), is the fastest allowed in the UK without a driving licence. It is powered by a 200w or 250W motor. It sold for £399 plus £29 for delivery. It became an object of media and popular ridicule during 1980s Britain and was a commercial disaster, selling only around 17,000 units, although according to Sinclair, it was ‘the best selling electric vehicle’ until 2011 when the Nissan Leaf had sold over 20,000 units. The C5 suffered from problems: cold weather shortened battery life, the driver was exposed to the weather, and because it was low to the ground, doubts were raised about its safety in traffic. The problems were addressed with a second battery, side screens for bad weather and a reflector on tall poles – all available as extras from the launch. Users of recumbent tricycles and a study by the Department of Transport suggested visibility fears were largely unfounded, but the weight, lack of seat-to-pedal adjustment, lack of gears, short pedal cranks, and that the motor overheated on long hills were serious problems; indeed the motor was essentially useless for climbing hills, with even mild gradients necessitating significant pedal assistance.

Sir Clive Sinclair started to think about electric vehicles as a teenager, and it was an idea he toyed with for decades. In the early 1970s Sinclair Radionics was working on the project. Sinclair had Chris Curry work on the electric motor. However, the company focus shifted to calculators and no further work was done on vehicles until the late 1970s. Development began again in 1979 and progressed erratically until, in 1983, it became apparent new legislation would alter the market and make it possible to sell a vehicle closely resembling development efforts. As time went on, the Sinclair Research C5 development cost gradually increased. In 1983, Sinclair sold some of his shares in Sinclair Research Ltd and raised £12 million to finance vehicle development. A new company, Sinclair Vehicles Ltd, was formed out of Sinclair Research and a development contract entered with Lotus to take the C5 design to production. At the same time, the Hoover Company at Merthyr Tydfil contracted to manufacture the C5. This, together with the fact that the motors were made by Polymotor in Italy, started the urban myth that the C5 was powered by a washing machine motor.

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