30.1.11

A-ha! Got it!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/29/AR2011012902553.html

I have found the ideal! Or my ideal, or something!

In general, she said, people have subconscious reactions to different body types. For a man, skinny says less-than-manly, clashing with our vision of a leader: tall, strong and emotionally unmoved. For women, an ultra-thin figure simply says success and makes for an attractive corporate image, she said.

After a day or several of reflecting on how and why people deal with criticism and advice and internet arguments and flaming and anonymity and hearing today for the first time a decent manly explanation of "pity, sympathy and empathy" from a 54-year-old bad*** mother****er who also happens to train people to work as volunteers in a hospice - I think I've found the solution.

No - it's not skinny women or me being a tall, strong man. Personally I think the female beauty ideal is moving toward CrossFit - fit, strong, healthy and able to carry a bag of groceries (or ANYTHING, gosh - that was just an example - my grocery bag weighs about 50-100 lbs and is ONE single bag) without breaking her stick-thin arms.

The solution lies in the "emotionally unmoved" part. People (read: women, esp. my female relatives) continually decry male standoffish-ness and emotional unavailability. Yet that is still the key to my life and troubles. Just don't care and things become a lot easier. Be unmoved, and the world moves around you. They - women - might not like it. But there's plenty of respect. And simplicity.

I'm still human. Humans have feelings. But there's no real need to bother much this way. Yay. Finally a break-through. This solves a number of minor issues and drama. Now for some action. No, not that kind of action - though I wouldn't mind. And getting emotionally involved is still an awesome experience - this really only applies to non-romantic issues with people that I would normally expect to have a semi-friendly professional relationship with - as opposed to the current "frenemy" problem drama thing.

28.1.11

Culture? How do you explain this?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12298002

Angry mourners attacked police who rushed to the scene, accusing them of failing to provide protection.
...
He said young men were throwing stones at the Iraqi security forces, angry that they had failed to protect them.
Other witnesses said police fired into the air to disperse the angry crowd, but then came under attack from gunmen and returned fire. It is unclear if anyone was hurt in the shooting. 

American arrested in Pakistan for killing two people who allegedly pursued him after he withdrew money from an ATM and tried to rob him. The mob immediately accuses him of murder and the headlines read "American Rambo goes on murderous rampage!"

Guilt by nationality?

How about the people who may have been trying to rob him? Or kidnap or murder him?

"My son [brother/relative/whatever] was no robber! This is a lie!"

Ok, whatever. I'm fairly certain that the relatives of the person you're accusing of murder will also say that THEIR relative is no murderer. Fact is, you wouldn't know. You think you would know but ...No. It doesn't work that way. Unless you have video evidence of this incident I don't think you can clearly say what happened. Obviously most people who witnessed it have incentives to present themselves or the surviving participant in a positive/negative light.

Now the car bomb attack on the funeral. Horrible. Did the crowd and the organizers take any steps to pre-emptively defend themselves?

No?

But I guess the police should have and that makes them a legit target for stones and attacks and the mob.

You people deserve your dictatorships and your corruption and your secret police forces and your conspiracy theories and your dysfunctional political narrative.

We don't need a perfect situation in Iraq and Afghanistan before the US gets the hell out. We just need a situation that's stable enough that reasonable people will see that the collapse is their own damn fault if it comes. And let's hope it doesn't - but odds are it will. It'll be a mess and hopefully we won't have to go in there in quite the same amount of force next time.

27.1.11

Culture of criticism. Internet. Artists.

I'm a nerd.
I'm an artist.
I'm a macho military physical fitness guns and explosives kinda guy.

Amazing how I'm not able to separate myself from the works of art I produce, whether that be writing or film editing or whatever. I can't seem to take criticism, yet give it freely and harshly to others.

Correction - I can take criticism from sources I respect who seem knowledgeable and are well-respected/well-known.

Let's take a recent movie project of mine. Worked hard on it. Post & publish it. Get a semi-serious negative comment about something only tangentially related to the movie - just really about something minor I put in the movie description.

Emotional result? I immediately go into hard-core defensive mode.

"Damn trolls."
"How dare they attack my obviously superior, much more culturally valuable masterpiece?"

Except the person who made the comment meant it as sort of a joke.

4chan aside (and yes, anonymity kills rational discussion most of the time, which I why I like facebook so much) - this happens to tons of artists.

If you put your stuff out there for other people to see, they will tear it down and denigrate it. You will be offended. I had a small and inconsequential little feud going with a guy named Olibith or BaronSoosdon (?) for a little bit. "Your line of creative art is without value and only my way of doing machinima is worthwhile. Pvp videos are just some in-game footage and a silly Linkin Park soundtrack. Linkin Park shouldn't even be allowed, such horrible music." Etc. People who express opinions like that are hard to reason with. He was very upset that anyone could disagree with him.

Oh well, hard-headed very successful artist and all that. Great machinima, which nothing that I have ever produced really qualifies as. My stuff is more in the category of gaming fan movie. Shooting that on the fly when you're in a once-in-a-lifetime moment inside the game, controlling both a character and trying for an interesting camera angle and defeating an opposing player or computer-controlled opponent at the same time takes mad amounts of skill. To make it visually compelling even more so. Then to make it better by editing and setting to music. Machinima on the other hand is done at the pleasure and convenience of the artists - more of a traditional work of art where the film-maker sits down and works on it in peace and quiet at his leisure. If it doesn't look right you can always just rearrange some Model Viewer shots. Sure it takes lots of effort. But no particular gaming skill. And doesn't have all that much to do with the actual game in question.

All I want is to see cool stuff and be entertained. Model Viewer effort doesn't really excite me.

Back to 4chan.

You're anonymous on the internet. How much respect I give you and how much importance I place on your opinion is directly related to your credentials. If you're just random with no history, I truly don't respect you. If Tom Wolsky pipes up on a video editing forum, you can bet your last dollar I'm listening.

Vurtne just sent me a PM on WCM. You think I'm gonna listen? HELL YES.

Some random person on an internet forum criticizes me - should I care? HELL NO.

Unanswered questions in Pakistan.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12298546

A pedestrian was also killed by a speeding car from the US consulate which came to help, police say.
They are investigating whether the two men on the motorcycle were robbers.

Lahore police chief Aslam Tareen told the AP news agency that the American was being questioned by the police and may be charged with both murder and illegally carrying a weapon: a Beretta pistol. Weapons were recovered from the bodies of the dead men.
"Diplomatic staff usually enjoy a certain type of immunity, but I am not sure about murder," he said. "We will consult the Foreign Office and legal advisers in this regard."
Local TV showed footage of what it said was the American official's car. It had several bullet holes in the windscreen.
Why did he feel threatened? Was he being pursued - if so, why? Robbers or assassins or just law abiding people riding around with guns?

Why were the windows shattered? Did the American in the car fire out of the vehicle through the windows or was he fired on from outside?

And what's with the whole crowd-gathering that always happen in these countries as soon as there's violence?

Contrast that to people running for cover and disappearing in a lot of the more industrialized nations.

The speeding car was doing what when the person driving it killed a presumably-innocent civilian? That at least seems a little more clear-cut - if you're driving to someone's aid in a foreign city, then it's on you not to kill any pedestrians while doing so.

Why was the American alone? Is that standard practice for diplomatic personnel in the area? What was his job and background?

Did the two dead attackers (?) have the right to ride around with weapons? What kind of weapons?

Illegally carrying a weapon? Compared to how many guns all over the place in Pakistan?

I'm guessing the guy who was attacked (?) or pulled his gun in self-defense ****ed up pretty bad. Either he shouldn't have been in the situation he was in, or he was up to no good. Or he didn't have a right to just be driving around town with weapons.

The two dudes were either nobodies doing stupid stuff like chasing after a car with guns, or terrorists, or robbers. Or a combination of the two or three.

And a presumably innocent pedestrian dead by speeding car. That ain't right. But neither is robbers or terrorists chasing people.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12110235

Pakistan is heading for hyper inflation after the IMF stopped a payment of $3.5bn (£2.3bn) of its $11.3bn loan to Islamabad.
The IMF said the country's economic situation was far worse than previously thought.
It also said Pakistan had done nothing to reduce its budget deficit, which has soared to 6%, despite a 4% target for the current financial year.
That figure is expected to rise to 8% before the year is out.
The IMF is furious that the government has reneged on a promise to introduce a reformed general sales tax and a tax on agricultural income.
Pakistan's rich landlords and politicians pay barely any income tax.
Well that should work out allright, then. Culture of officialdom and impunity and mis-use of authority. What a mess of a country.

Low Orbit Ion Cannon eats it.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12299137

The group used an online tool called LOIC to allow members to easily take part in the bombardments of websites.
The site from which it could be downloaded reassured people that there was "next to zero" chance that anyone who used it would be caught.
But a study found that the tool makes no attempt to hide a user's net address which would lead any investigator almost straight to an attacker.

I sympathize with a lot of Anonymous' attacks. But not when they're trying to defend an organization which is an outspoken opponent of US efforts to provide a stable transition to successful civilian governments in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't care if you hate George W. Bush - he's not in charge anymore. We're just trying to pick up the pieces and fit them together into functioning democracies right now. The harder you make that, the worse the wars get and the more power and influence for Iran, Al Qaeda-in-Iraq and the Taleban.

Not everything the US does is right. Cue Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo (yuck) and indefinite detention (double yuck).

But trying to hit Amazon and VISA/Mastercard and whomever doesn't feel like doing business with an organization that is deliberately trying to stop American diplomats and military personnel from doing their jobs - that just ain't right.

Good riddance.

26.1.11

Superstition discriminates.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12280109

Horrible attitudes make life pretty darn rough for a mother of six sets of twins.

In other news, stop having children after the first two sets of twins when you're not really able to support the first two sets?

Your twins are not a curse on your community, but an attitude that it's ok to just keep having children is. And an attitude that's it's ok and fine for a richly dressed old man sitting on a golden throne on another continent to tell poor people that they shouldn't practice birth control.

25.1.11

Egypt.


I'm a slacktivist.

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=147639585248420&id=133634216675571


by We are all Khaled Said on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 2:32am
This note is to answer enquiries sent by our international supporters who want to help us and don't know what they can do to help.

We have made it clear many times that we are not asking for support from other governments but rather support from individuals which can and does make a BIG difference. International supporters can put pressure that will make those who commit torture too afraid to carry on with their systematic torture of Egyptians in case they get exposed to the world and it becomes a scandal for them.

This is how you can help:

1- Please invite ALL your friends to this page. This is the first and a really important way to support us. More members means more awareness about torture in Egypt and also means more pressure on those who commit, order or condone torture in Egypt.

2- When we publish a link or news, please click on the "Like" button and comment if you find it useful or important. This will mean that your friends will get an update about our link/news and the information will spread: more awareness.

3- If you work in the media or if you know someone who works in a media organisation anywhere in the world, then please consider writing an article about our campaign against torture in Egypt. This pressure does and will help us bring an end to torture in Egypt.

4- Join us on our silent stands and silent marches from your own town or city.
http://www.elshaheeed.co.uk/silent-stands/

5- Try to spread our website and Facebook page in forums, other Facebook pages or link to us from your website, blogs or any website you can get our link on.

Our website is: http://www.elshaheeed.co.uk/
Our Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/Elshaheeed.co.uk

We will be publishing more ways that you can support us with in the future. If you have any other ideas you think can support us then please let us know via a comment on this note.

Admin email: alshaheeed@gmail.com 

24.1.11

Muslims in America etc.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/23/AR2011012304448.html
Although no member of the Islamic Center has ever been accused of terrorism, King has singled out the mosque as a hotbed of "radical Islam" and called its leaders extremists who should be put under surveillance. He maintains that most Muslim leaders in this country aren't cooperating with authorities, even as arrests of homegrown terrorists are rising greatly.

Now, as the new chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, King said he is finally in a position to do something about it.
"My first goal is just to have people even acknowledge this as a real issue," King said. "This politically correct nonsense has kept us from debating and discussing what is one of this country's most vital issues. We are under siege by Muslim terrorists."
The vast majority of muslims in America are just as horrified about extremism as anyone else. McCarthy-style hearings aren't really necessary to figure out that there are problems with people no matter their religion. At the same time, there are some specific issues with Islam that don't much occur in Judaism and Christianity or with secular people.

Women's rights. Cue the Saudi Arabia issues with women in their 40s working as doctors and whatnot - and having their paycheck go straight to their male relatives. Father refusing to allow his daughter to marry because then he'd lose her paycheck. A woman's testimony being worth half that of a man's in Iran. Bearded old men telling women what they can and can't do - or what they can or can't wear. **** your cultural defense of gender discrimination.

Hatred. Teaching hatred in text books. Conspiracy theories in Pakistan.

Keeping your subjects in the grip of autocratic dictatorships while you dole out patronage and oil money. Egypt. Saudi Arabia. Jordan. Syria.

Muslims - sure you have the right to be pissed off at being treated differently than other people in America. You also have the right to reform Islam and work to put your own house in order.

In the weeks after the twin towers crumbled and the Pentagon burned, local reporters swarmed Long Island's mosques looking for reaction.
On Oct. 18, Khankan and another Westbury mosque leader were quoted in the local paper, repeating conspiracy theories that it wasn't Muslims who had orchestrated the attacks.
Yeah - that ain't gonna help you. Idiots sticking their heads in the sand and crying "THE JEWS DID IT!" Newsflash - the Israeli settlers and the treatment of Palestinians do have an effect on US Foreign Policy and how many Americans die in Iraq and Afghanistan. But no - the Jews didn't do it. The people to blame for someone getting killed are the people doing the killing. It's not the people "who forced us to kill these defenseless innocent civilians."

Within King's district, Nassau County Lt. Kevin Smith said he couldn't recall the last time police received a tip from local mosques. But the detective said: "It's hard for us to judge what that means - whether that's because they're not reporting something or if there's just nothing to report. On the whole, though, I think we have a good relationship with the mosques in our county."

...Good thing there are intelligent people around as well.

23.1.11

The "Princess" phase.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/books/review/Paul-t.html

...a toy fair, held at the Javits Center in New York, at which the merchandise for girls seems to come in only one color: pink jewelry boxes, pink vanity mirrors, pink telephones, pink hair dryers, pink fur stoles. “Is all this pink really necessary?” Orenstein finally asks a sales rep.
“Only if you want to make money,” he replies.
Makes me want to raise kids only out in the backwoods or countryside. To hell with this commercialized childhood. Make toys. Read books. Run around and play outside.
No wait - we need DVDs.
And stacks of Disney this or that.
And medications in case they don't feel the need to go to school or have this or that new disorder.
And Chinese mothering.

Whatever.

Yoga arrogance.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/nyregion/23stretch.html
http://tarastiles.com/blog/

TARA Stiles does not talk about sacred Hindu texts, personal intentions or chakras. She does not ask her yoga classes to chant. Her language is plainly Main Street: chaturangas are push-ups, the “sacrum” the lower back. She dismisses the ubiquitous yoga teacher-training certificates as rubber stamps, preferring to observe job candidates in action.

In her classes, videos and how-to book, “Slim Calm Sexy,” Ms. Stiles, a 29-year-old former model with skyscraper limbs and a goofball sensibility, focuses on the physical and health aspects of yoga, not the spiritual or the philosophical. For traditionalists, this is heresy, reducing what they see as a way of life to just another gym class.
Nothing wrong with making some money out of selling a book and being what the prevailing beauty standards term "ideal." - Esp. not if you're bloody helping a ton of people on the way by teaching yoga at $10 a pop without bothering about the whole mysticism and philosophy stuff. Apparently this upsets people.

Chill.

Now, yoga might not be for everyone. Almost everyone, but not quite. It's not necessarily true that more stretching and more flexibility when you're already crazy flex will help you achieve that gold medal in the Olympic ...weightlifting. Or this or that sport.

But if you're so badly inflexible that you can't even touch the middle of your shins with your legs straight or just coming off a major injury or can barely do a handstand pushup after 3 years of trying - then yeah. That would be me.

Professional "power" athletes' mileage may vary. Girls who are already crazy flexible - this isn't an end in itself. Being healthy and having fun is. If yoga does that for you - great. It's not the Whole Grain Grail of Eastern Super Truth.

On a side note I wonder if Ms. Stiles can lift a heavy grocery bag. Oh well. She's probably healthier than 99% of the population, so no worries.

If she's getting people to make healthier decisions in their lives then she's A+ in my book. Couldn't care less what particular brand of health/fitness she's brandishing. Funny blog video too - "I got a REALLY BIG ANNOUNCEMENT - but I can't tell you until you buy X more numbers of this DVD that I'm covering 3/4ths of the camera screen with!"

No worries, money talks. Good on her. Cult of personality (fitness). Beauty. The TV/video personality thing that we all sometimes secretly aspire to (...I do, anyway). All that.

Kinda like the whole P90X thing. Congratulations to them, as well. Basically same as CrossFit, just money and dvd's and different packaging and money money instead of open source community stuff. Not that there's not tons of money in CF, but a lot less for the people organizing for the last 15 years.

Oh yeah, the arrogance. That would be people saying "my fitness way or **** off." That's not her. That's the people saying her brand of yoga is heretical. Or the people saying Powerlifting is the only way to fitness. Or this or that. Maybe I shoulda been clearer on that.

Lolz @ the Chinese.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/20/AR2011012005348.html

Not the people themselves. But their government censoring their own leader's remarks out in the real world.

Sure, we all expect our leaders to say some things overseas and then pander to a different audience back home. But this kinda takes the cake in a way.


The BBC television report was airing a clip from Wednesday's Obama-Hu news conference at the White House, on the touchy topic of human rights. "A lot still needs to be done . . . ," Chinese President Hu Jintao started to say.

And then the television report went black.
... 
Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency that provides most of the reports for local news media, mentioned only in passing that Obama and Hu held a joint news conference. There was no transcript or details of the questions and answers.

Xinhua's English-language Web site, aimed at foreign audiences, did have a section on human rights but omitted Hu's concession. It quoted Hu as saying, "China recognizes and respects the universality of human rights. And at the same time, we do believe that we also need to take into account the different national circumstances when it comes to the universal value of human rights."

Several other Web sites did report Hu's comments on human rights, including QQ.com, Sina.com and 163.com. But QQ.com and Sina.com did not allow readers' comments after their stories.

The 163.com site had dozens of comments, but readers in China were able to see only two of them.
Good luck keeping this stuff bottled up forever. Worked out pretty well in Tunisia. Or not.

Maybe internet consumption will just all of a sudden slow down in the next ten-twenty years.
ROFL.

21.1.11

Stop what you're doing.

And read the hell out of this link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_common_misconceptions

Now continue. There's a reason why I always try to link with the actual address of the link instead of the title of the page. I hope to build up a sense of honesty and respect - generally speaking you should always mouse over a link and see what the link REALLY goes to before you click it, or else you get phished.

Plus it lets people see what I'm trying to promote.

Carry on, then.

19.1.11

Social D.



Only once in my life have I bought a CD and kept playing it over and over and over again in my car for an entire month. Social D.

18.1.11

Your religious freedom is someone else's discrimination.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-12214368

Christian hotel owners refuse a gay "civil union"-ized couple a single room because they don't believe unmarried couples should stay in the same room. Gay couple sues and wins. Gay couple did not set out to do this as an activist stunt, they just picked a B & B they thought seemed nice.

Mike Judge, from the Christian Institute, which funded the Bulls' defence, said: 'This ruling is further evidence that equality laws are being used as a sword rather than a shield.'
... 
'Christians are being sidelined.'
Your religion was formalized how many thousands of years ago? You didn't think society would move along a little bit in a few thousand years? They had slavery back then, women weren't allowed to vote and this and that. Torture was all over the place. Dictatorships were generally hereditary.

Time for Christianity and Islam to move along or get left behind.

You have the right to refuse entry into your home to anyone. If you're running a business you don't have the right to discriminate on who you serve based on gender, sexual preference, race or religion.

I wonder if these people ever rented out a single room to an unmarried heterosexual couple?

I'm not a big fan of the "alternative lifestyle" crowd. I despise some of their activists. But they're better than the hate & discrimination crowd.

17.1.11

Wikileaks has a conscience?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/business/global/18baer.html

Privacy is important. Paying taxes in a reasonably equitable way is, as well. Not all leaks are wrong. But the leaker and the publisher are still responsible for the consequences of leaking/publishing and what it does to people that may not be connected to any alleged wrongdoing. Innocent until proven guilty, all that.

At least they're not prolonging any wars or killing any civilians this time.

Take the money and run.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12206743
According to French newspapers, sources within the French security services suspect Leila Trabelsi, the president's wife, went to the Bank of Tunisia on Friday looking for gold bars.
When the governor refused to part with the bullion it is said the president made the call himself. It is suspected - though not confirmed - they might have escaped with 1.5 tonnes of gold, worth around 45m euros (£37.6m).
He fled when it became clear he had lost the support of the chief of staff and the army, who by that time were refusing orders to fire on the protesters. 
France, as usual, is calling for "calm" and trying to protect the interests of its officials with deep ties to the pockets of corrupt regimes in North Africa. Meanwhile some ***hole steals 45m euros of gold and holes up in a corrupt dictatorship called Saudi Arabia.

Here's to hoping for an open society coming out of the mess that is Tunisia. I'm guessing the relaxation of controls on Facebook and Twitter make that almost certain. Don't count on it snowballing into Algeria (too much religious fanaticism and history of violence that people aren't keen to repeat) or Egypt (not enough internet/education/media saturation) or Libya (same, plus a very heavy hand on top).

Israel hangs a right.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12204321

Labour is splintering and about to kick the bucket as a mainstream powerful force - the right-wing Likudniks and others are strengthened and the general strategy seems to be to just hang on and ride out Barack Obama while waiting for another George W. Bush.

Congratulations to the settlers. You win this one.

Condolences to the people living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza (might want to consider starting to call that Judea and Samaria) - your best bet might be to just get annexed by Israel and hope for Israeli citizenship eventually. But no mainstream politician in Israel proper wants an influx of poor Arabs with no education.

Or you could just dissolve your government and go the Gaza way. Or plod along without any real accomplishments or initiatives while the settlements grow strong and prosperous around you. After a few decades of that the settlements might actually start to become a catalyst for change in the Arab parts of the occupied territories - as people see what their own governments and leaders and business acumen is NOT bringing them.

Face it, you got outplayed - culturally, economically and politically. Can't beat them - join them.

16.1.11

Blame game.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/13/AR2011011306389.html

When I traveled the world representing the United States during the George W. Bush administration, I was often confronted by people who wanted to blame the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on American foreign policy.
U.S. support for Israel, along with the suffering of the Palestinian people, they told me, had spawned the resentment and anger that resulted in the attacks on our country.
No, I always answered, you cannot blame the murder of innocent people on any grievance, no matter how legitimate. The only organization and people responsible for Sept. 11 are al-Qaeda and the 19 hijackers who carried out its murderous mission. 

Sure. Doesn't mean that the people who are pissed off at US Foreign Policy don't have a decent reason to be pissed off sometimes. No, I don't blame anyone but Al Qaeda and assorted idiots for 9/11.

But I blame a lot of stupid people for insisting on supporting corrupt, oppressive Arab regimes as well as funneling money toward the Israeli settlers and their political supporters over the years. Stop that money and you stop a huge part of the problem getting worse every day. That's something that our side can do unilaterally without cost to us - to immediately and tangibly improve the odds of the situation being resolved in the next fifty years. In fact it would save us money that we can spend on more worthwhile causes.

I also blame a lot of US policies for making us look bad, and giving us a bad rap. Guantanamo. Abu Ghraib. Invading Iraq rather than just assassinating Saddam and his sons. Knee-jerk vetoes at the UN.

Meh. Sounds like Karen Hughes will do anything, and say anything, to defend her own country and her administration's policies - no matter the cost to truth and human dignity. Screw looking at other people's arguments and figuring out if there's any legitimate issues there. Let's just stand fast and try to shout louder than the other side.

The Tunisia Model?

"Today Ben Ali, tomorrow Hosni Mubarak"
http://www.startribune.com/world/113822224.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUvDEhiaE3miUsZ

 Mmmmm... Arab revolutions. Danger and excitement, for both freedom-fighters and radical fanatic jihadists.
Looting, killings, prison escapes and riots. 1000 prisoners let out. Let's hope they were political but I doubt that.

But no matter what - dictators falling can never be an entirely bad thing, no matter what happens next. Another repressive strong-handed regime might follow. With religious overtones.

Sure, that'd be bad. But they'd be looking over their shoulder for the next revolution. And the people who made this happen, will not suffer lightly another yoke of tyranny. Twitter. Facebook. Youtube.

The other regimes will likely do whatever to stave off a repeat. Clamp down. Concessions. Or collapse. Eventually they'll lose out, the clamp downs can't last indefinitely. People will out.

Yay. Hope.

15.1.11

Tunisia. Freedom.



Lotta bad things in the world right now. This thing in Tunisia is not one of them. People die, ouch. With a little luck the voice of moderate, reasonable Arabs will rise from the ashes of a corrupt, oppressive dictatorship.

14.1.11

Superstition kills? Or confirmation bias.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12196178

I am biased. So are you.
...deadly stampedes are not unusual at Indian temples, where huge crowds gather in small areas with few safety measures or crowd controls.
But why do things like this not happen in advanced, industrialized, comparatively secular and educated Western societies?

The goody two-shoes carebear soft-handed bleeding heart liberal here responds that I'm biased and cruel and mean and uncaring.

I do care. I'm also saying that traditional, tribal, heavily religious societies make for stupid people - or at least people who can't figure out what to do in emergencies. Sure, I get panicky sometimes, too. I get scared. I freeze up. I'm heavily trained to not react to this or that, and to be able to handle extreme cold, heat, discomfort, pressure, danger and all that stuff.

But good luck seeing these types of stampedes around where I grew up. Or in the USA.

Or maybe I'm just cherry-picking evidence to suit my own agenda, not unlike the neo-cons did to get the latest war in Iraq going off. Your call.

Get Pope. Become Saint.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12192639

Some dude gets elected to the highest administrative/bureaucratic office in his particular sect of his particular religion. Cool.

The guy dies. Ok, it happens.
Some nun is all up in his cult of personality, was diagnosed with Parkinson's - a disease with no tests or conclusive related diagnostical tools. Then she feels better and is able to write his name on a piece of paper.

*BAM* sainthood.
Why? "By popular demand."

You are now free to pray to yet another dead guy because some people are crazy and some sexually repressed girls/women get infatuated with their powerful religious leaders.

...may have included what medical experts suggested at the time could be "psychiatric mimics", which can show similar symptoms as Parkinson's disease, but those symptoms cannot be attributed to neurological disease.

"One of the French doctors who was treating the sister does not believe in the supernatural. Well, when he saw she was healed, he said that if she was now better, she could not have had Parkinson's Disease," Mr Tornielli said.
That last part isn't exactly a convincing argument against weird things happening. But then again, it's not like we thoroughly understand Parkinson's and/or related neurological diseases - and placebo/psychosomatic healing effects have long been observed in clinical trials. Good for the chick that she feels better. That rocks. I'm guessing it had something to do with her faith. Good for her. Sometimes I wish I had faith like that, too - then maybe I'd feel better as well.

Or maybe I'd feel worse for trying to believe in a fraud purely for my own personal gain. Which would be kinda hard to begin with. I'm one of those empirical, verifiable observations please - kind of guys.

I just think it's kinda funny and points to the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church how the dude holds a high office with no particular crazy stuff happening (let's disregard the whole AIDS thing for the sake of argument), dies and then five years later people are stumbling all over themselves trying to make sure he's attributed with a miracle so the High Reverend Church AUTHORITY can take a ...vote (??!) and issue a statement (!) saying the deceased is now open for business up in heaven, y'all just gotta get down on yer knees and open up your wallets and send happy thoughts and think real real hard and he'll listen to your thoughts, he will. That'll be 10% of your monthly income, please. Anything you can spare for the poor and the church needs a new roof and the Cathedral in Rome needs some more gold filigree and the Popemobile needs another tank of gas, thankyouverymuch.

But otoh, if it makes people feel better and keeps them docile and believing, I suppose that might be a good thing. Catholic believers are generally good people. Except when they launch wars and oppose birth control for poor people and persecute Jews and other religions.

John Paul's defence of the Catholic Church's moral teaching against the use of artificial birth control, including the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV,[14] was harshly criticised by doctors and AIDS activists, who said that it led to countless deaths and millions of AIDS orphans.[208] Critics have also claimed that large families are caused by lack of contraception and exacerbate Third World poverty and problems such as street children in South America.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Paul_II#Criticism

12.1.11

Stupidity kills. People are stupid.

Kuwaitis celebrating in 1991 at the end of the Gulf War by firing weapons into the air caused 20 deaths from falling bullets.[7]
July 22, 2003: More than 20 people were reported killed in Iraq from celebratory gunfire following the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay in 2003.[16]
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebratory_gunfire
It is culturally accepted in the Balkans, the Middle East, the South Asian regions of Northern India as well asPakistan and Afghanistan and Latin American regions such as Puerto Rico as well as some areas of the United States. Common occasions for celebratory gunfire include New Year's Day as well as the religious holidays Christmas and Eid.[1]  
Might want to stay indoors during New Year's Eve and any big celebrations in some parts of the world where people can be depended on to be more stupid than average.

11.1.11

Faces of Evil.

Ok, one is just mental while the other is a religious fanatic. Still, the point is that people of X, Y or Z complexion or race or religion do not have a monopoly on evil deeds. Agreed?

10.1.11

Tucson massacre. Gun rights. Gun control. Constitution. State's rights.

A.M. -
The lesson from the Tucson massacre for the Secretary of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, a guns right group, is that more people need to be armed, preferable with assault weapons, so that they'll be ready next time something like this happens at a Safeway. And they say the shooter had an elevator that didn't quite go to the top?


Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.[Note 1][1] As a result, people gather evidence and recall information from memory selectively, and interpret it in a biased way. The biases appear in particular for emotionally significant issues and for established beliefs. For example, in reading about gun control, people usually prefer sources that affirm their existing attitudes. They also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position.

Liberals as well as conservatives are plenty guilty of it, though I guess George W. and the few ten thousand dead Iraqi civilians would be the most extreme recent example. The real question I think you want answered, Augie, is how we fix this. 

http://nolabels.org/ might not be THE answer, but it's a good start. The U.S. Constitution famously guarantees its citizens the right to keep and arm bears. Or something like that, I keep forgetting which order the words go.

Anyway, the Constitution is a good thing. For its day it was pretty awesome. Minus the whole slavery and women's rights thing, but I digress. Doesn't necessarily mean that everything in it is directly applicable and awesome for today's population - they sure didn't have assault rifles and the like back then. Either case there's an established way to deal with anyone wanting to change the Constitution. I suggest you use it - talk to your local representative and elected officials and express your beliefs and start an open and free debate about this stuff. Eventually the will of the people will be reflected in the laws of our society. They can, and are frequently changed to reflect our evolving values.

I'm ok with each state determining the varying rights of people who want to carry concealed guns and whatnot. I don't think assault rifles are really needed for any legitimate defensive purposes. Shotguns, rifles and handguns do me just fine. And it's way too easy to transport guns south of the border, which comes back to haunt us as Mexico becomes worse and worse. If you don't think that's gonna spill over, think again. And it's way too hard to track guns, both illegal ones and the legal ones that get in the wrong hands. Shame on you for that, NRA.

I'd also be cool with individual cities determining the rights of people to carry guns inside the city limits. Let each state and city determine that based on ITS needs and culture and tradition and values. What works for Washington, D.C. might not work for Topeka, Kansas. Of course, that'd necessitate a constitutional change which I don't think is happening anytime soon. Oh well, let the ponderous legislative machine run its course.

The USA is not India or Sweden or Japan - the three countries which I have most experience with regarding this issue. If you don't like the individual freedom and individual rights' tradition in the US regarding guns I invite you to change the laws or perhaps move if you just can't deal with the gun-nuts. In those three countries the police and military basically have a monopoly on violence (disregarding the yakuza, which stay quiet so as not to upset the delicate balance of Japanese society) and those societies in general have a lot less fear of violence than does America. But they also have a radically different cultural tradition compared to the USA - so their models really aren't gonna work out in the US South or Midwest or Northwest. This country is gonna have to find a different balance.

I'd suggest more and better abilities for police and the ATF to track guns used illegally or for violent purposes. If you feel that these organizations infringe on your rights I strongly suggest you have your sons and daughters join them and change their attitude and culture from the inside, together with appropriate legislative branch oversight, not to mention judicial branch limits on their powers and ability to kick down your door after whispering "Police, open up!" in the middle of the night.

Background checks really need to happen for everyone that buys a gun. Up yours, gun shows. The Washington Post did a recent exposé on unscrupulous dealers and the sources for guns used criminally in Mexico. Could and should be acted upon, and would not hurt legitimate gun ownership for hunting and home defense and cultural traditions in places like Arizona. 


If the NRA would like to get more involved in tracking guns used in crimes I'd be all over that. Get the bad guys, let the good guys keep their handguns and shotguns and hunting rifles in accordance with the cultural and self-dependent traditions of this great nation.

Or we can just be angry and see what we want to see in the evidence presented and keep shouting at each other.
Shut up, you extreme left-wing liberal ****ies. We'll defend America.
Shut up, you extreme right-wing neo-con fascists. We don't need you authorizing torture or starting wars that kill tens of thousand civilians just to get rid of one single guy.

OF COURSE, THAT'S JUST MY OPINION. I COULD BE WRONG.

8.1.11

Evil.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/fashion/09swan.html

First of all, swans are not fat-free. Or stick-thin. They are graceful, strong and well-muscled - ready for a fight or emergency take-off at a moment's notice.

Ballet, she said, can be a “sick and twisted art form” that puts an unrealistic value on “achieving this beautiful thin body.”

Yup, sure is. But a thin body is not beautiful. If I can count your ribs then go grab something to eat and then we can sit down and talk about why the hell I would want to hang out with someone who's obviously living an unhealthy life. Yuck.

Sure, I'm as shallow as - or more - than the average guy. I have unrealistic standards. It's way easier for me as a 36-year-old man to be seen as good-looking than it is for the average 36-year-old woman with similar life background as far as upbringing & body work goes.

But I have zero desire to hang out with a girl on a long-term basis who's not healthy and is liable to break her brittle bones any day. That's just more trouble than it's worth. If you want to impress your girlfriends with how stick-thin your arms look in a dress, that's on you. Don't bring me into it.

7.1.11

Bill O'Reilly. God. Tides. Incidentally, not all religionists are scammers.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bill O'Reilly Proves God's Existence - Neil deGrasse Tyson
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Religion does a lot of positive things for people. Hey, thanks Catholicism for getting people to read and learn and write down stuff for, like, ...ummm, a few hundred years here and there. Without y'all this Europe place was kinda jacked. Otoh, witch-hunts etc.

Kindness. Positive morals. Yay. And then we have some dude sitting on a golden throne in a golden room in a golden cathedral telling people in Africa not to use condoms, but I digress.

5.1.11

The bullcrap strikes again.


This is bullcrap. The people convincting him have never done a WESTPAC or back-to-back Gulf deployments and struggled to keep their sanity and have a little fun while working 6-on 6-off amidst fire drills and ESWS b.s. Cellblock 62 00-02.



Many fellow sailors on the Enterprise leapt to the defense of Honors in the wake of his dismissal, describing him as a funny, caring and conscientious officer. A Facebook page that was created in his honor showed 2,700 supporters by day's end. [25,000 a day later]
"I have nothing to gain or lose by saying that Capt. Honors did wonders for the morale of our ship," said one sailor who served on the Enterprise when the videos were made and declined to be quoted by name because he remains on active duty. "I've been in for 13 years and never had an officer that I felt was more approachable."
Other former Navy officers acknowledged that ribald humor, similar in nature to the sexual innuendo in Honors's videos, is a storied part of Navy tradition. For decades ships have held elaborate "Shellback" ceremonies for sailors making their first trip across the equator. 

3.1.11

Pure Sex.

Move over, stick thin and anorexic and weak abnormally tall women with arms that look like the legs of a spider or spaghetti strings. Nothing wrong with you if you look like that normally, but at least be able to lift a bag of groceries and be healthy.

Yes, the shirt says "Cause I like it... HARD and FAST"

Edit: Athlete on the bottom appears to be named Elyse Umeda. Well, there you have it.

Afghanistan. Governance. Culture.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/03/AR2011010302175.html

The US can't fix everything. You can't overnight change a corrupt political tradition based on tribal and ethnic and religious loyalties. That kind of stuff takes half a century, ref. MLK and the civil rights movement in North America.

It's sooner or later up to the Afghans themselves how well they want their country to run. If you don't like the way it's going I suggest you start by organizing locally and making things happen at a grass roots level. Sure you'll come back and say "I can't do this because of that." And "these people are stopping me from doing X, Y and Z."

Thing is, that's the way it is with a lot of things in a lot countries. You have to organize, build a base of support and make things happen any way you can if you want transparency and good governance and a responsive leadership. And then you'll have power and be tempted and the cycle begins over again.

Good luck. No-one but you, the people of the area, can in the end truly defeat the Taleban and the corruption.

American soldiers can only bleed so much for you. American money will not flow limitlessly from the pockets of the American taxpayer.

Sorry. Now get out there and do something.

1.1.11

Iran. Daily Show. Hope.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/31/AR2010123103995.html

http://parazit-parazit.blogspot.com/

...doesn't know how many people watch "Parazit" via their forbidden satellite dishes, posts from "Parazit's" Facebook page have been viewed more than 17 million times in the past month - a staggering number compared with other VOA programming. The show's YouTube channel generates another 45,000 hits each week.
Another how many years until a new generation gets fed up with an out-of-touch religious government and student protests and lack of opportunities and right-wing fanatics trying to control society? I'm guessing less than 50, more than ten.

How much longer til they're fed up with the idea that a woman is legally worth half a man (i.e., it takes two women's testimony to equal that of one man)?

Internet. Mobile phones with access to news and anything you want as far as information goes. No way in hell you can stop this stuff.