Sunday, February 20, 2011

No, Facebook Can Not Get You Fired -Not Any More

Employees of the world, you may relax: It is safe to comment in Facebook again.

In a law suit filed last year the National Labor Relations Board took a Connecticut ambulance service to court after it fired an emergency medical technician (EMT) who voiced opinions the company did not like on Facebook. They argued that her comments may have been negative, but they were protected speech under federal labor laws.

The government agreed, settling the lawsuit against American Medical Response of Connecticut. The company agreed to change its blogging and Internet policy, which had barred workers from disparaging the company or its supervisors. The company also will revise another policy that prohibited employees from depicting the company in any way over the Internet without permission.

"I think it certainly sends a message about what the NLRB views the law to be," said Jonathan Kreisberg, a NLRB regional director who approved the settlement.

"The fact that they agreed to revise their rules so that they're not so overly restrictive of the rights of employees to discuss their terms and conditions with others and with their fellow employees is the most significant thing that comes out of this," Kreisberg said.
Terms of a private settlement agreement between the employee and the company were not disclosed, but Kreisberg said the parties reached a financial settlement. The employee will not be returning to work there.


You May Relax, Doomsday Has Been Determined and it is Not 2012

Asteroid Apophis Could Strike Earth in 2036.

The date for Armageddon is apparently not happening in 2012. The Mayans missed it by a mere 17 years. Not bad for dudes in loincloths and without computers or cell phones.

In 2004, NASA scientists announced that there was a chance that Apophis, an asteroid larger than two football fields, might smash into Earth in 2029. However, after some additional observations and recalculating, astronomers decided that the chance of the planet-killer hitting Earth in 2029 was nearly zilch.

Now, reports out of Russia say that scientists there estimate Apophis will collide with Earth on April 13, 2036. Although reports conflict on the probability of such a doomsday event, the question is: Just how scared should we be?

Our own scientists are more optimistic about our survival.
“Technically, they’re correct, there is a chance in 2036 [that Apophis will hit Earth]," said Donald Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office. However, that chance is just 1-in-250,000, Yeomans said.

The Russian scientists are basing their predictions of a collision on the chance that the 900-foot-long (270 meters) Apophis will travel through what’s called a gravitational keyhole as it passes by Earth in 2029. The gravitational keyhole they mention is a precise region in space, only slightly larger than the asteroid itself, in which the effect of Earth's gravity is such that it could tweak Apophis' path.

Russia is considering sending a spacecraft to a large asteroid to knock it off its path and prevent a possible collision with Earth. Just how would we prevent asteroids from colliding with Earth?

“The situation is that in 2029, April 13, [Apophis] flies very close to the Earth, within five Earth radii, so that will be quite an event, but we’ve already ruled out the possibility of it hitting at that time,” Yeomans told Life’s Little Mysteries. “On the other hand, if it goes through what we call a keyhole during that close Earth approach … then it will indeed be perturbed just right so that it will come back and smack Earth on April 13, 2036,” Yeomans said.

The chances of the asteroid going through the keyhole, which is tiny compared to the asteroid, are “minuscule,” Yeomans added.

The more likely scenario is this: Apophis will make a fairly close approach to Earth in late 2012 and early 2013, and will be extensively observed with ground-based optical telescopes and radar systems. If it seems to be heading on a destructive path, NASA will devise the scheme and machinery necessary to change the asteroid’s orbit, decreasing the probability of a collision in 2036 to zero, Yeomans said.

There are several ways to change an asteroid’s orbit, the simplest of which is to run a spacecraft into the hurtling rock. This technology was used on July 4, 2005, when Deep Impact smashed into the comet Tempel 1.

Live Long and Prosper...

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