Jul 21, 2006

Why Wal-Mart Should be Here

It Will Contribute to Household Savings!

Wal-Mart Stores, the largest retail chain in the world, is secretly going to allow people to steal from its outlets. According to internal memos leaked to the media, the company, which is already the leading destination for shoplifters, will no longer prosecute first-time thieves unless they are between 18 and 65 and steal merchandise worth at least $25.
Actually there's a solid reason for this: It's just not financially justifiable to expend more than twice the amount in order to prosecute someone who's stolen something worth $5. The legal costs required are simply too high.
Or as a person in charge of asset protection at Wal-Mart put it: "If I have somebody being paid $12 an hour processing a $5 theft, I have just lost money. I have also lost the time to catch somebody stealing $100 or an organised group stealing $3,000".
Unorganised kleptos and hobby shoplifters will immediately realise what a bonanza awaits under-aged and senior citizens of India should Wal-Mart be allowed FDI in retail for which it's been trying so hard.
For one thing $25 translates to over 1,100 bucks here. Which means if an average family has two live-in minors and two grandparents they should easily be expected to bring home nearly 5,000 bucks of stolen goods every month.
Will others narrow the age limit instead to prosecute only thieves between 35 and 36? The National Retail Federation of the United States says American retailers lose more than $30 billion a year to theft. [TOI]

Jul 20, 2006

Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

Yesterday my ISP too blocked access to blogspot.com but I hardly had any problem accessing all the blogspot.com weblogs I visit. Rest of the weblogs I read hosted on other blog hosts/servers are easily accessible via the right way.

The Indian government has done a dumb thing by banning specific weblogs, which has only helped the banned weblogs win more traffic, and the Indian ISPs have done a dumber thing by blocking access to weblogs hosts instead of blocking access to the specific weblogs the government wanted banned. They say they don’t have the technology to ban sub-domains. Well if you don’t have, go and get it. To top it all, my ISP has done the dumbest thing – they have blocked access to blogspot.com but I can still post the correct way. Now I don’t have to tell you the blog readers how we post on weblogs hosted on blogspot.com. ;-)

Am I Dangerous?

At last the govt has got my ISP to block my access to blogspot.com. Does that mean I am dangerous? If not yet, the cut and paste job below would justify banning me. ;-)
Here is all that you ever wanted to know about the Weapons of Mass Destruction(not the Iraqi ones).

What are the types of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)?
IEDs can be easily made at home by any graduate for a few hundred rupees. The essential components are explosives, detonators, trigger circuits, power supplies and timers. The power supplies are usually provided by batteries (AA, AAA, 9V). The trigger circuits can be cell phones, cordless phones, transistor radios, remote control toys and garage door openers. Trip wires are also used, especially when specific people are targeted, as they cannot be electromagnetically jammed — although they can be detected by sensitive metal detectors.
The timers can be electronic circuits as used in quartz circuit watches. Chemical and me chanical timers were also in use until a few years ago. The March 1993 Mumbai blasts used chemical timers while the February 1998 Coimbatore blasts used mechanical timers.
The best known plastic explosive is RDX (Research Department eXplosive), chemically cyclo-tri-methylene-tri-nitroamine). Other commonly used plastic explosives are PETN (Penta-erythritol Tetra-nitrate), Semtex (a mixture of RDX and PETN), and more lethal RDXbased explosives like C3 and C4.
Ammonium nitrate/fuel oil mixture (ANFO) is another explosive used. Ammonium nitrate is widely used as an agricultural fertiliser. The fuel oil can be diesel, kerosene or molasses. ANFO is widely used in coal mining, quarrying, metal mining and civil construction.
No one yet knows for sure what explosives were used in the Mumbai blasts. Some sections of Mumbai Police have stated that it could be RDX, while others suspect gelatin.

How difficult is it to manufacture IEDs?
All the components of an IED can be assembled from readily available sources without arousing suspicion as they all have legitimate uses.
RDX is manufactured by reacting concentrated nitric acid (available in every school lab) with hexamine. Hexamine is widely used as a medicine as well as an industrial chemical. Hexamine can be prepared in one’s kitchen by reacting two common chemicals — formaldehyde and ammonia. Purchasing large quantities of hexamine won’t arouse any suspicion as it is used as an antibiotic for treating urinary tract infections, preservation of cheeses, as well as in brake and clutch linings, abrasive products, non-woven tex tiles, fire-proof materials, rubber and textile adhesives and in paints and lacquers. There are reportedly dozens of cottage factories producing RDX in Maharashtra, Kerala and Gujarat.
PETN is even more easily available as it is used as a heart medicine. The vasodilator, Lentonitrat, is almost pure PETN. Less than one kg is required to bring down an airliner. All one needs to do is to buy a kilo of Lentonitrat from a medical supplier and install detonators and trigger circuits. Nor would the making of ANFO get anyone suspicious. Farmers buy tonnes of ammonium nitrate to use as fertiliser. ANFO is widely used in India in coal mining, quarrying, metal mining and civil construction. Gelatin sticks can easily be stolen from any mining or construction company.
How can IEDs be detected?
Plastic explosives like RDX, PETN, C3, C4, etc. are almost impossible to detect in the field by any practical means. Metal detectors don’t work against them. If they are made by an expert, they are odourless, look like children’s plasticine and can be moulded into any shape. Even highly trained sniffer dogs have had very limited success in differentiating them from food products.
Tests which can detect the chemicals involved in plastic explosives, like Neutron Activation Analysis, Gamma Ray Irradia tion and Laser Spectroscopy require equipment costing millions of dollars. They also require one to go very close to the suspected explosive. At best, these equipments can be used at entrances of airports or VIP security zones.
How can IEDs be prevented from exploding?
VIP zones and motor convoys are usually protected against Remote Control IEDs (RCIEDs) by electromagnetic jammers. These jammers emit high power radiowaves in HF, VHF, UHF and microwave bands. If they are of higher power than the signals transmitted by the terrorist, they either jam or prematurely detonate the IED.
But the use of jammers causes a lot of trouble to the general public. If a terrorist brought an RCIED within range of a jammer, the RCIED could instantly explode. While the VIPs would be saved, there could be many more civilian casualties in the streets outside. Also, since the best jammers work over the entire frequency range of 20 Hz-2,000 MHz, they would interfere with cell phones, television and radio reception. And electromagnetic jammers work only against RCIEDs and not against IEDs.[HT]

Phew! now I am surely dangerous!

Jul 9, 2006

The Taste of Cyanide

....“Prasad mixed a pinch of the potassium cyanide powder, he carried in a plastic cover with the liquor and stirred it with the other end of the pen with which he was signing off.” But he may have accidentally put the “poisoned” tip of the pen into his mouth before completing the note. When he realised his “folly”, he hurriedly wrote a few lines: “Doctors, potassium cyanide. I have tasted it. It burns the tongue and tastes acrid.”[HT]