Saturday, May 31, 2014

When is an American not an America UPDATE!!

Sudanese authorities are to free a woman who was sentenced to death for having abandoned the Islamic faith, a foreign ministry official says.

Meriam Ibrahim, who gave birth to a daughter in custody, will be freed in a few days, the official told the BBC.

Abdullahi Alzareg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, said Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman.

Khartoum has been facing international condemnation over the death sentence.

It seems somebody made a rather pointed phone call to some poobah in Sudan who was in a position to force the weirdos to behave.

Why do I think that somebody was not Barack Obama, or a minion of his? And couldn't it have been made before this poor woman had to give birth in a Sudanese jail? Can you say unsanitary?

The Phantom

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Self driving car reveals Google mindset.

If you want to know what people are thinking, its useful to look carefully at what they do.

Can this carry a sheet of plywood?

Google Inc. (GOOG) has designed its own self-driving vehicles that transport passengers at the push of a button as it aims to spread the new automotive technology, co-founder Sergey Brin said.
Working with automotive partners, the company plans to have 100 to 200 test vehicles that are fully autonomous with extra safety features, Brin said during a conference yesterday hosted by technology blog Re/code in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Google, which until now had added its technology to other vehicles, plans to start testing the prototypes with drivers this year, he said.

Why bother? SAFETY! Its for the children, you know.

Work on autonomous vehicles has gathered speed as carmakers build smarter cars that will help reduce accidents, and make driving easier and safer. In 2012, there were 1.3 million people killed in road traffic accidents, making it the ninth leading cause of death globally, according to World Health Organization data. It is the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 29.

What are they doing to  make the self-driving car safer?

Brin's announcement comes amid a push to encourage the adoption of driverless cars, which aim to make roads safer with the company's hardware and software. The two-seat prototypes, which have safety items such as additional foam at the bumper and a plastic-like windshield, are part of the company's research laboratory called Google X, which is led by Brin.
"We took a look from the ground up as to what it would be like if we had self-driving cars in the world," Brin said. "We've worked with partners in the Detroit area, Germany and California," he said without giving specifics.
The prototypes let users ask for a destination address and then drives them to it, Brin said.
The vehicles will initially have a top speed of 25 miles per hour and won't have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal or brake pedal, the Mountain View, California-based company said in a blog post.

Apparently the key to safe driving in Sergey Brin's mind is to remove any possibility of human influence and ship passengers around like spam in a can. The world would be so much better if all you stupid, mindless assholes out there would just sit down, shut up and let Sergey do the driving.

This is you in a Google car.

Sergey is the same guy who's got a record of every frickin' web click you ever made sitting on a server in Mountain View.  Talk about being taken for a ride.

Wake me up when they make self-driving mandatory. I'll post an instructable on how to give yourself manual steering and brakes using a Nintendo controller, a pair of side-cutters and some baling wire.

I got yer manual control right here, Sergey.

The Side-Cutting Phantom.

Google update: How Google got the law passed to make self-driving cars legal. Short answer, political chicanery.

Monday, May 26, 2014

EPA=Leftists with money and time on their hands.

US EPA will now develop new standards for cooking stoves... in Darfur. Because people are dying from indoor soot pollution. Just not in America.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy is set to unveil on Tuesday six federal grants to universities to fund research on clean cookstove technology.

The announcement will put the EPA's resources squarely behind a United Nations' quest for cleaner burning stoves and an end to deadly cooking pollution.

"This research will help to improve air quality, protect public health and slow climate change," the EPA said in explaining why the agency chief will preside over the announcement on Tuesday.

To make the case for why these grants are so important, EPA noted the World Health Organization estimates that exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open pit fires leads to 4.3 million premature deaths each year.

Over the years I've seen a lot of these "new" cook stove designs. Kids at design school come up with them all the time. Some of them are quite clever, being made out of tin cans and random stones, and can cleanly burn anything from newspaper to camel poo. An excellent and educational project to undertake as a design school student, and possibly even useful to poor bastards in the Third World too if done properly.

Of course solutions to this problem have been around FOREVER, since Greek and Roman times at least. The Egyptians had some kick-ass solutions too if I remember right. Here's one from Victorian times, the Kelley Kettle. You can make tea with dried grass if you want.

The one that can't be beat is called a chimney, of course. Anybody can arrange a chimney out of mud and rocks, if there's nothing else around. That they don't is an indication that the problem is not one of materials or time, but rather something else. Like a chimney tax/hearth tax, perennial favorite of grasping tyrants throughout history, or them getting raided by bandits, or debilitating disease, or general starvation, or something else you ain't going to fix with a fricking tin-can stove design.

For the US EPA to be getting involved in this re-invention of the wheel contest indicates deep penetration of spoiled, sophomoric Leftists into the middle and upper management structure of the agency. The effects can be reduced with a starvation budget but the really determined parasites will cling on to the bitter end, poisoning everything around them. Once you get an infestation like that, the only way to get rid of it is to raze the thing down to the ground.

Kill it with fire. Salt the ashes.

Or better yet, nuke it from orbit. "Its the only way to be sure."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Real-time surveillance of US medical records.

Your doctor types, Big Brother reads.

The federal government is piecing together a sweeping national "biosurveillance" system that will give bureaucrats near real-time access to Americans' private medical information in the name of national security, according to Twila Brase, a public health nurse and co-founder of the Citizens Council for Health Freedom.

The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response is currently seeking public comment on a 52-page draft of the proposed "National Health Security Strategy 2015-2018" (NHSS).

The deadline for comment is 5 pm EST on May 21st. (See Draft National Health Security Strategy 2015-2018.pdf)

What does this mean? It means they know every frickin' thing you ever told your doctor or ever will.


"I think people are worried about things like HIV or something stigmatizing or embarrassing. But they should be very concerned about the fact that this is really a sweeping strategy to oversee your entire life with the intention of keeping you, and making you keep yourself, healthy," she continued.

"And that is a government that is too big. That is a government that says you have no freedom, because if you are not free from surveillance, you are not free."

Dear America, you boys and girls need to get very pissed off about this. Because if you don't, Michelle Obama is going to be telling you what's for dinner, and you are going to eat it. Hope y'all like kale.

The Phantom

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Study suggests DemocRats full of it on STEM immigration.

DemocRats lyin'? Say it ain't so, Joe!

Would you buy a used car from this idiot man?

The idea that we need to allow in more workers with science, technology, engineering, and math ("STEM") background is an article of faith among American business and political elite.
But in a new report, my Center for Immigration Studies colleague Karen Zeigler and I analyze the latest government data and find what other researchers have found: The country has well more than twice as many workers with STEM degrees as there are STEM jobs. Also consistent with other research, we find only modest levels of wage growth for such workers for more than a decade. Both employment and wage data indicate that such workers are not in short supply.

Wow, didn't see that comping, eh? In an economic downturn, with big American companies outsourcing their outsourcing to China, who would have thought there would be more American engineers and programmers than there are jobs for them?


When is an American not an American?

When they're a toddler locked up in a Sudanese jail, is when.

The U.S. State Department on Monday declined to say if Martin Wani, a 20-month-old Christian boy imprisoned by the Islamist Sudanese government, is a U.S. citizen.
"You don't know whether that little boy in prison is a U.S. citizen?" asked State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki at the department's Monday press briefing.

"I don't have any more details to share," Psaki said.

The State Department also would not say if the boy's father, Daniel Wani, is a U.S. citizen and if, as the father has reportedly said, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum asked the father to secure DNA evidence to prove his imprisoned 20-month-old son was in fact his son.
Meriam Ibrahim—the toddler's mother and fellow prisoner--was sentenced to be executed last week by a Sudanese court. Her capital offense was refusing to renounce her Christian faith.

Daniel Wani, Meriam Ibrahim's husband, is reportedly a naturalized U.S. citizen who has been seeking help from the U.S. State Department for himself, his son, his wife, and the unborn child, who Meriam Ibrahim is now carrying in the eighth month of pregnancy.

Meriam, 27, was born in Sudan to a Muslim father and Ethiopian Orthodox mother, according to Morning Star News, a Christian news site. Her father reportedly left the family when she was six and her mother raised her as a Christian. She and Daniel Wani married in the Christian faith in 2012 and had their first child, Martin Wani.
This is supposed to be a picture of the happy couple, pre-jail.

Funny that the US State Department can't tell CNS News if this man and his kid are American citizens or not. I don't mean funny in the amusing way, I mean it more in the "WTF do you mean you don't know? Do we look stupid to you?" kind of way. If the NSA tracks every fricking phone call in the Sudan, and they do, then the State department knows if an America citizen is in their jail house.

Is it in America's interest to let the freaks running Sudan lock up American citizens at whim and execute them? You would think NO would be the obvious answer, but somebody at the State Department may have another opinion.

The Phantom

Happy "Throw Molly Norris Under The Bus!" Day.

Actually its "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" but given that poor old Molly has a real live Fatwa O' Death against her by some freak named Anwar al-Awlaki, I figure we should rename it.

Anwar al-Awalaki, guy who condemned young women to death for drawing things.
Luckily for the world, Anwar-baby had a falling out with a Predator drone in Yemen on September 30, 2011, so there's that.

Predator drone shooting Hellfire missile.

Artist's conception of Anwar's car right afterward.
You play with the bull, you get the horn.

But even though Anwar's gone on to his reward, whatever that may be I'll leave up to the Almighty, Molly is still under the bus.

To recap, Molly Norris drew this rather nice and funny cartoon 'way back in 2010. That's like four years ago, dude. It went viral, because its damn clever, frankly. Then the death threats started rolling in, and Molly Norris has completely disappeared. Vanished, poof. And she's still gone, four years later. Probably waiting tables in some roadside bar in Missouri. I'd put her picture up, but it might make her life harder. So I'll put up her poster instead.

Yeah, this is worth killing over.
To date, ZERO feminist, Leftist or other Progressive Human Rights-type organizations have come forward to protect, help or even verbally support Molly.

Molly being both a girl and an avowed DemocRat Lefty herself, I think all of y'all out there who consider yourselves Lefties, hipsters, artists, or generally anybody who doesn't rate the label "cis-male gendernormative Fascist" ought to take a moment to hang your heads in shame at the way Molly has been trashed and forgotten.

Yea, verily.

Worse, you know who's the only people paying a lick of attention to her plight? Your avowed enemies. The people Molly used to trash in her cartoons.  The cis-gender Fascist Christian God-bothering crowd. The pickup truck driving, gun toting, beer swilling, red-necked Capitalist enemies of Gaia crowd. The SUN TV/Robert Spencer crowd.
I must say I don't think much of a Progressive Social Justice Movement that so easily ditches its adherents. Not the kind of club I'd want to be in.
The Phantom

Reward your friends and punish your enemies with money.

Two alarming things here. First alarming thing, the US federal government is using banks and credit card companies to attack businesses that sell and/or make guns in the USA.

Gun retailers say the Obama administration is trying to put them out of business with regulations and investigations that bypass Congress and choke off their lines of credit, freeze their assets and prohibit online sales.

Since 2011, regulators have increased scrutiny on banks' customers. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2011 urged banks to better manage the risks of their merchant customers who employ payment processors, such as PayPal, for credit card transactions. The FDIC listed gun retailers as "high risk" along with porn stores and drug paraphernalia shops.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has launched Operation Choke Point, a credit card fraud probe focusing on banks and payment processors. The threat of enforcement has prompted some banks to cut ties with online gun retailers, even if those companies have valid licenses and good credit histories.

"This administration has very clearly told the banking industry which customers they feel represent 'reputational risk' to do business with," said Peter Weinstock, a lawyer at Hunton & Williams LLP. "So financial institutions are reacting to this extraordinary enforcement arsenal by being ultra-conservative in who they do business with: Any companies that engage in any margin of risk as defined by this administration are being dropped."

The second alarming thing of course is that the federal government isn't supposed to have the legal power to dictate to banks what customers they shall have. But they do it anyway, even though it is obviously outside their legal power.

Regulations on the financial industry have increased over the past few years, said Thomas P. Vartanian, chairman of Dechert LLP, a global law firm specializing in regulatory and financial matters.

He noted the chilling effect of overregulation by the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, an interagency behemoth that includes the departments of Commerce, Justice, Labor, Education, Homeland Security and Justice along with the Internal Revenue Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Secret Service, the FBI, the Social Security Administration and the Federal Trade Commission.

Let's list the alphabet soup here shall we? DOE, DOJ, DOL, DOEd, DHS, IRS, SEC, SS, FBI, SSA and FTC. Doubtless the EPA is in there somewhere as well. Now I'm certainly not a lawyer, but I'm sure that given the volumes of regulations implied by that list it would be possible for a bureaucrat find a rule or precedent that would make virtually any transaction or activity impossible to do legally. Pretty much anything you could think of would be either outright illegal or so burdened by tax and reporting requirements as to be uneconomical or simply impossible.

Therefore, by merely declaring an interest the government can shut down virtually any commercial concern they like. Obviously they'd like to shut down the gun business and the coal business, both f which have the audacity to be making a profit these days. Meanwhile billion dollar government loans to eco-friendly DemocRat party donor corporations disappear in bankruptcy after bankruptcy. But its all good and nobody needs to investigate because hey, its for the children right?

You want to build a successful police-state tyranny, you do it by rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies.

The Phantom

Monday, May 19, 2014

Big Brother likes the self-driving car.

European governments really, really like the idea of a self-driving car.

Cars could be driving themselves down the world's streets far sooner than expected, thanks to a change in a global treaty backed by European countries.

A little-noticed amendment to the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic agreed last month would let drivers take their hands off the wheel of self-driving cars. It was pushed by Germany, Italy and France, whose high-end carmakers believe they are ready to zoom past American tech pioneers and bring the first "autonomous vehicles" to market.

While I find the idea of a robot able to safely drive a car to be very cool, I find the amount of official interest in this idea to be extremely alarming.

Here's why. As with seat-belts and airbags, these autonomous robotic vehicles will first be options on the toys of the very  rich. Then they will be options on normal cars as the price comes down. Eventually they will be standard equipment. Finally, they will be legislated as "safety equipment" and mandatory on -all- cars. Obviously they will be centrally controlled, as a "safety feature" and to "prevent crime".

At that point, your car isn't yours anymore, its a public transportation vehicle controlled by the state, they just make you pay for it. Like a private train carriage, it only goes where the tracks go. Just that the tracks are invisible and easy to change.

It only drives where and when you want it to as long as government officials don't decide otherwise. If they want to keep the center of town clear for some reason, you'll be walking ten miles to the center of town.

If some Greenie gets into power and decides to ration CO2, your car will only operate on alternate days. Or not at all.

If the Church Lady gets into power (it could happen) your car will only drive you to church on Sunday and nowhere else. It will also tell on you if you don't go.

Because centralized control.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

The Phantom

American vets complain about Canadian-style medical care.

In medical care as in all other things, you get what you pay for.

PHOENIX -- The veterans who use the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health System are angry, sick and scared.
They say they call and call, but get no answer.
They say they are ignored, disrespected and turned away by employees with no medical training.

They say they wait months for an appointment with a primary care doctor, then wait several more months to see a specialist.
More than 200 veterans and family members packed into American Legion Post 41 to share horror stories of delays, misdiagnoses and poor treatment with the national commander of the American Legion and the interim director of the Phoenix VA. Steve Young took over after whistleblowers revealed secret waiting lists used to cover up backlogs and extensive wait times.

Welcome, my American friends, to Canadian socialized medicine. We feel your pain.

But remember, this is a universal Rule Of The Universe: when you pay nothing, you get nothing. When you pay government to be the middle-man, you get nothing PLUS you get abuse and disrespect along with your nothing. Like a side order of smackdown.

VA patients currently have the option of going to a non-government hospital and getting actual medical care. Canadians have to leave the country to get that. We have no private care in Canada, we have to drive to Buffalo.

Presently, when Obamacare really starts to bite down, there will be no private option. ALL hospitals will be the VA, and ALL doctors will be the burned-out wrecks that work at the VA.

This will suck a lot more than you think. Ask a Canadian, they'll tell you.

The Phantom

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Just how small are these GPS trackers?

GPS tracked oxycontin bottle? Yes!
Really fricking small, my friends.

Police shot and killed an armed man suspected of robbing a drugstore on the Upper East Side Friday afternoon, the NYPD confirmed.
Scott Kato, 45, robbed the HealthSource Pharmacy on Second Avenue and 68th Street Friday afternoon, demanding cash and OxyContin, police said. He fled in an SUV and made almost 30 blocks when cops tracked him down, police said. How? One of the pill bottles he took from the drugstore was actually a decoy containing a GPS device, police said.

GPS tracker in a pill bottle. Everybody got that? Mostly battery too. The GPS part is like a quarter inch square.

Coming soon to every single thing you buy? No technical or financial reason why it can't be included in anything with electronics in it, from clock radios to cars, watches, toys, whatever. If it plugs in or runs on batteries, it can in principle include GPS tracking capability. Smartphones already have it.

On the bright side, there are lots of radio-frequency detectors out there that can sniff out teeny weeny little bugs, or you can make your own.

The Phantom

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Nothing changes but the colour of the shirts.

Imagine this with a pink plaid fedora on top. That's Brandeis 2014.

Dan Henninger in the Wall Street Journal today, speaking about the speech chill falling on the Ivy League school's commencement ceremonies. After Ayaan Hirisi Ali and Christine Lagaard were forced to cancel their speeches at Brandeis University and Smith College, Tuesday a genuine ivory tower Über Leftist was forced out... from the Left!

On Tuesday, Haverford College's graduating intellectuals forced commencement speaker Robert J. Birgeneau to withdraw. Get this: Mr. Birgeneau is the former chancellor of UC Berkeley, the big bang of political correctness. ... Berkeley's Mr. Birgeneau is famous as an ardent defender of minority students, the LGBT community and undocumented illegal immigrants.

Mr. Henninger offers this wisdom to the various college heads.
Mr. Birgeneau, Ms. McCartney, Mr. Weiss and indeed many others in American academe must wonder what is happening to their world this chilled spring.
Here's the short explanation: You're all conservatives now.

Welcome to the Conservative fold, my formerly liberal friends. You are under the bus, baby.  You are now just another red necked, beer swilling, climate denying, pickup driving, racist/sexist/homophobe/bigot tool of the Patriarchy, clinging to your guns and religion.

Better buy a buttload of ammo and start praying to God you won't need it, just like the rest of us.

The Phantom

Quantum based navigational system.

Looking at Drudge today and seeing nothing but "look, shiny thing!" propaganda,  I discovered this single gem.

MoD's 'quantum compass' offers potential to replace GPS

Several quantum-navigation technologies are being developed at Porton Down and the NPL. At a basic level, they work by supercooling trapped ions and reducing the effect of external radiation so they are sensitive only to electromagnetic fluctuations produced by the earth.

Measuring the influence of those fluctuations on the particles should allow scientists to track the movement of a chip containing the trapped ions with extreme precision.

The article itself is utter crap except for the above two sentences. But what is revealed here is amazing. An "inertial" guidance system so accurate it can locate its self without a fixed external reference point OR a map of the magnetic field.

Currently the equipment fits in a three foot long shoebox, according to the crappy article. That's already more than good enough for an aircraft or a ship, maybe a little large for a car. Going to be interesting to see how they put it in a cell phone though. :)

The Phantom

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Federal law enforcement not about criminals.

The feds are releasing immigrants convicted of serious crimes, including murder, at a rate of about 100 a day. No film at eleven.

Immigration officials knowingly released dozens of murderers and thousands of drunken drivers back into the U.S. in 2013, according to Obama administration statistics that could undercut the president's argument that he is trying to focus on the most serious criminals in his immigration enforcement.

Among the 36,000 immigrants whom U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released from custody last year there were 116 with convictions for homicide, 43 for negligent manslaughter, 14 for voluntary manslaughter and one with a conviction classified by ICE as "homicide-willful kill-public official-gun."

Americans should be asking themselves why this is happening. The media is ignoring it, and Americans should be asking about that too.

It does however explain the ever-increasing rate of gun and ammunition sales in the USA. A new sales record every other month it seems, as the USA armors up for some serious zombie apocalypse action.

The Phantom

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Quantum encryption and invisible messages.

Behold, there IS a way to escape the All Seeing Eye of Sauron.  It is ingenious!

Photon detectors are extremely accurate, able to detect single photons passing between two points, but they aren't perfect and sometimes they read false positives. Bash's technique makes use of that flaw using pulse position modulation — and it's not much more complicated than Morse code.

Take a unit of time, like a second, and chop it up into smaller parts that vary in size, one-fourth, one-eighth, etc. Then assign each band a corresponding symbol. There's your code. You can transfer a photon-based message over a fiber-optic capable that corresponds to the code and — so long as the message sender and the receiver of the message both have the key to the code — then each can read the message.

Basically you hide the message in transmission noise. It works on fiberoptic, it works better on cell phone frequencies in the EM band, where there's lots of noise. The article goes on to say that the message size in only hundreds of bits per second, but that's more than big enough to do an awful lot of things given the processing and storage capability we have at our disposal these days. Like control a semi-autonomous robot, for example. Can't jam it if you can't see it.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes the USA to pass laws banning the use of tools like this.

The Phantom

Friday, May 09, 2014

California, the police state.

When they come after your children, its serious.

Children as young as kindergarten-age could face misdemeanor charges for bullying under a proposed law advancing in a Southern California city.

The Carson City Council gave preliminary approval this week to an ordinance that would target anyone from kindergarten to age 25 who makes another person feel "terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested" with no legitimate purpose.

This is pretty much an all-purpose, arrest anybody you like kind of bill. "Intimidated or harassed" cover a lot of ground, right?  Here's why:

The measure also would cover forms of cyberbullying in the city of 93,000 people in Los Angeles County.

What constitutes "cyber bullying"? Anything the Sheriff's office says. You post a tweet that call the mayor a doofus, you might be a "cyber bully".

Shazam! the reason is uncovered.

The Phantom

Nobody is going to help you.

I have come to the conclusion that most people in this world are just a bunch of stunned assholes.

Good Samaritan Joshua Garcia saved the life of a 16-year-old teenage girl who fainted on a crowded Union Square subway platform during rush hour Wednesday, plunging head first onto the tracks just a minute before a train pulled into the station.

He moved when nobody else on the platform did. Except to whip out their cellphones and take pictures. Take home quote from the article is from Mr. Garcia.

For a moment, he found himself looking up from the tracks at scores of faces watching them. Some people were snapping photos or taking video with their cellphones, he said.

"It was amazing seeing all these people doing nothing," he said. "It was an eye-opener."

Yeah. I've personally seen this a couple of times. It really is an eye-opener when there's an emergency and you're the ONLY GUY in motion while everybody else, dozens of people, just stand there like dozy cattle with their eyes all wide.

So for every single one of you out there who's stood doing NOTHING while there's a human lying bleeding in front of you... maybe you should start thinking about what it would take to wake yourself the hell up and be Joshua Garcia instead of the frickin' stunned ox that you are.

The Phantom

California lawmakers tired of having their picture taken at 7-11.

On a second attempt, California lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday that would require electronics manufacturers to install a shut-off function in all smartphones as a way to deter what one senator called a crime wave of thefts.

The legislation by Democratic Sen. Mark Leno requires companies to produce smartphones with technology that makes them inoperable if the owner loses possession.

According to the story this type of legislation is moving across the USA in state legislatures virtually unopposed. The various levels of governments REALLY want to be able to shut off your phone, my friends. They really, really do.

I suggest we all get really good with the hackware and the soldering iron, day may come when you might need a phone that can't be turned off.

The Phantom

Sunday, May 04, 2014

So what are you saying, New York Times?

Find My iPhone is an app on all the Apple products that locates your phone by GPS. In case you left it at the cleaner's or something, you can look it up and get a Google map to the location.

Obviously this also works if someone stole it. People have been going to the location of phone thieves in ever-increasing numbers, and demanding their phones back. And getting them, too.

The New York Times views this with alarm.

With smartphone theft rampant, apps like Find My iPhone offer a new option for those desperate to recover their devices, allowing victims like Ms. Maguire to act when the police will not. But the emergence of this kind of do-it-yourself justice — an unintended result of the proliferation of GPS tracking apps — has stirred worries among law enforcement officials that people are putting themselves in danger, taking disproportionate risks for the sake of an easily replaced item.
"This is a new phenomenon — it's not simply running after the person to grab the phone," said George Gascón, the San Francisco district attorney and a former police chief. "It opens up the opportunity for people to take the law into their own hands, and they can get themselves into really deep water if they go to a location where they shouldn't go."
"Some have been successful," Mr. Gascón said. "Others have gotten hurt."

Yes indeed! The world is a dangerous place! Somebody could lose an eye.

Cmdr. Andrew Smith, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, called the trend "a big concern."
"It's just a phone — it's not worth losing your life over," he said. "Let police officers take care of it. We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have."

LAPD iPhone recovery team.
Well you know, that would be fine and everything if the cops actually did take care of it. But they don't. Even given the precise location of the stolen item, they won't go get it. Budget cuts, y'know. Everybody has to tighten their belts and conserve police resources to go after the Really Big Crimes, right?
Girl who actually got her phone back. Times says she must be CRAZY!

I leave it to the gentle reader to wonder why America's National News Paper of Record, the very Gray Lady herself, has seen fit to paint America as a dark and horrible place, where confronting petty thieves is so fraught with the potential for deadly violence that it is far too dangerous for common citizens to do themselves without body armor and an MRAPS vehicle for backup.

I also leave it to the gentle reader to wonder: if you knew the iPhone's owner would be showing up at your doorstep to get their phone back, possibly with some large friends, possibly armed... would you steal it in the first place?

The Phantom