28.2.11

Gaddafi. Libya. "Zenga zenga" parody video.

Original and "no dancing girl" version.





Made by an Israeli who happens to play in a band called Lovers of Zion. Lol.

27.2.11

Blog posting.

Descriptive title that will let anyone know immediately what incident and where, rather than what "thematic" or intellectual/social issue is being discussed.

Everything you write or say will one day be picked apart and come back to haunt you.

100% transparency and honesty and accountability, therefore.

26.2.11

Religion. Kids.

I really truly don't care what you want to believe. Have at it. Or don't believe. That's your problem not mine. Until you put kids at severe risk for all kinds of bad stuff. You can even teach them damn near whatever you want until they become adults and learn that your hate-filled ideology and crap is just all wrong.

But yeah:




17.2.11

Lara Logan. Hand grenades.

http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/003325.html

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

I realize this seems like a joke, but it's not. Lara Logan wants the whole world to know that she reported that Iraqis were using grenades. Next up for Lara: blowing the lid off the Taliban's brazen use of guns.
 http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/09/05/america_in_iraq/main3237060.shtml


Mr. Schwarz (comments disabled in the first link, reason for this blog post), you may wish to actually read the full story you linked to. Here's the relevant part:


"When the pin is pulled and the grenade is thrown, a small parachute is released. It stabilizes the grenade and ensures that it comes down vertically on its target.
The shape [sic] charge inside punches through the armor, and slow-burning explosives are released to ensure the deadliest effect. 
During the battle in Dora, the Army says more and more of these hand grenades are being used. "

It's a shaped-charge armour-piercing grenade that's specifically designed and employed to puncture the relatively less armoured top of APV's. It's a very specific piece of weaponry that's not commonly available or even very well known outside of EOD/infantry military personnel. Which would be people like me. Apparently not people like you.

Lara Logan's mistake in the story she wrote may have been calling them hand grenades. They ARE hand grenades. Just not very normal ones. Let's just call them hand-delivered "armour-piercing shaped charges" which is a bit more accurate.

You don't throw these things at your target. You throw them ABOVE your target. They are very uncommon, to the point where most average military people won't even know about them. If they are being used a bunch, that's notable. Whether or not she should have reported it, I don't know. I don't see that information being used to very great effect by our enemies. I suppose I could be wrong, but these things are not easily manufactured or bought unless there happens to be a stockpile of them here and there.

In other news, this lady is apparently not a big fan of Michael Hastings. Good girl.

Lara Logan. 7 P's. Sexism. Misogyny.

http://jezebel.com/#!5761919/after-lara-logans-sexual-assault-media-helpfully-her-hotness



Writes Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon,
Like countless women around the world, Lara Logan was attacked in the line of duty. She was assaulted doing her job. It was a crime of unspeakable violence. And your opinion of how she does that job, the religion her assailants share with a few million other people, or the color of her hair has nothing to do with it.
It was a crime of violence. Let's reserve the "unspeakable" for things where people get their throats cut while conscious. Or get skinned alive and suffocated when the bastards cut your skin at your waist and then pull it up over your head and tie it together. Or when you're beaten, tortured, get your legs broken then raped then killed.


Lara Logan got roughed up, felt up and possibly raped. That sucks. Anyone going into Egypt already knows what an atrocious environment it is for females and foreigners.






If it was up to me and I could just flip a switch and make it so any woman on the planet could wear whatever she wanted and some diamond jewelry and walk alone through every single city on the planet I'd be more than happy to. In the meantime things like this are going to happen. If you care to avoid it I suggest you get some security and be mindful of local practice. Like not showing your blond hair. And not walking into crowds when you - to them - appear very foreign and exotic.


The guys who did this won't get caught. I wish they would get caught. I wish they'd get punished. Sure people should be outraged by that, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the huge amount of stuff that happens every day. Doesn't mean you can't be outraged and scream and yell about it. But how best to fix it? Writing blog posts - hardly. An end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a gradual opening of the repressive Middle East regimes the US supports, a reasonably fair solution to the Israeli-Palestinian mess and a gradual spread of internet and twitter and facebook in the face of religious fanaticism and propaganda from the dark caves of the last fundamentalist holdouts. Yeah - that'll eventually have an impact on how women are treated in that part of the world in general and Egypt in particular.


Hopefully some good will come of this incident. Like, a lot of people in Egypt will find reason to talk about sexual assault and the status of women - so maybe Lara Logan really did Egypt and the world a huge favour by inadvertently publicizing these issues.


Piss poor prior planning prevents proper performance. Watch out. Especially in war zones and conflicted countries where there's a lot of very conservative very crazy religious fundamentals. Female reporters face more risk than their male counterparts. That's unfortunate and hopefully it'll change but til then you'd better prepare for trouble. I sympathize with anyone who just wants to get on the story and do their job, but either pay attention to your security or any given situation could just come back and smack you in the back of the head with a vengeance.
The NY Post says Logan "is known as much for her toughness as for her good looks," and also includes a total of four paragraphs about her various romantic liaisons. Simone WIlson [sic] of theLA Weekly (via Salon) kicks the jerkitude up a notch, calling Logan a "Warzone 'It Girl'" and a "gutsy stunner" who "has long attacked Hollywood-lite reporters for their dumbing down of overseas violence — at the same time using her Hollywood good looks and spotlight to push a more hard-hitting agenda." Wilson also winds up her piece with this creepy line: "Impressive, indeed — but nobody's invincible." In fact, all the emphasis on Logan's "toughness" seems to imply, albeit indirectly, that the assault was some sort of inevitable comeuppance.
I'm terribly sorry, but I fail to see a massive amount of stuff to be offended by in the above quote. The tabloids and newspapers will want to sell copy. Saying she "is known for her toughness" won't sell as much as she ""is known as much for her toughness as for her good looks." That's America for you. Capitalism and our celebrity, sex & drugs-obsessed public discourse. (Rock 'n roll seems to be on the way down as far as getting attention goes.)


She has guts. That's moderately indisputable. She's good-looking by most accounts. "Stunner" is just reporters trying to catch attention. What's the problem? Why can't she use her looks and spotlight to pursue an agenda? Why can't another reporter use the first reporter's looks to get the story out there where, you know, people will actually start paying attention to sexual assaults in the Middle East?


She's a public figure doing her job in a very volatile region - if anyone thinks she has an expectation of privacy after a very public assault at a political demonstration, think again. That'd be incredibly naive.


So, mad respect for Lara Logan for doing her job in a rough part of town. But a little Operational Risk Management, some cultural sensitivity and a bit more common sense in how you approach demonstrations and lawless mob situations might go a long way. Piss poor prior planning prevents proper performance.


Who's guilty of a serious crime here? The bad guys who messed her up.


Who's guilty of a lapse in judgement and failure to properly manage risk? Her boss and/or her security detail and/or her.


College friend of mine (that I had a huge crush on, friendzone'd something hardcore) was a very good-looking girl, model type. She had gone to Morocco on vacation and was later pissed off about the fact that she had been followed while she went out jogging. I asked her what she'd been wearing. It had been hot. She'd gone running at the outskirts of town in a sports bra and shorts.


Yes, you have the moral high ground. Everyone should accept you doing what you did. Should. But they won't. Protect yourself. Plan ahead. The real actual world out there is a bit more crushingly heavy than your noble ideals and aspirations and anecdotal evidence from your friends.


If you choose to - as do I - live a life full of taking risks, then sometimes those risks will come back to haunt you, in a bad bad way. Plan for it. Be ready for it. Emergencies, threats and accidents don't happen when you're rested and all set to deal with them. Good luck.

16.2.11

CrossFit. What is a functional movement?


From page 1 of the CF Manual (v4) :

Prescription
The CrossFit prescription is “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.” Functional movements are universal motor recruitment patterns; they are performed in a wave of contraction from core to extremity; and they are compound movements—i.e., they are multi-joint. They are natural, effective, and efficient locomotors of body and external objects. But no aspect of functional movements is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly. Collectively, these three attributes (load, distance, and speed) uniquely qualify functional movements for the production of high power. [emphasis added]

So what's the problem, you might ask? 

I realize that not everyone agrees with me that (forgive me, I'm on my hobby horse now, CFJ article submission on this subject is in the works as soon as I get a job) - CF should primarily be about preparing people for the real world, and not for getting a smoking hot "Fran" and "Cindy" time or being the world's best at throwing around heavy barbells like they're toothpicks at the CF Games. 

To me, the word "functional" just implies something that fulfills a function. Which is way too broad of a definition to be useful for CF, so the whole "natural movement that moves a large load a long distance quickly" works pretty darn well for me in a CF environment. I'd just respectfully prefer that the term "natural" wasn't separated from the rest of it, and that that word wasn't set up to be seen as not quite as "right" and/or important as the rest of the quote.

"STORM IN A TEACUP. THIS GUY LARSSON JUST NEEDS TO BE QUIET AND DRINK THE KOOL-AID."

- Ok, it is just semantics and splitting hairs. I like the Kool-Aid by the way, it's dramatically improved my life and mission readiness. :)


15.2.11

Evolution is a theory. You can't prove it?

I grew up in Sweden.

Sweden is a very progressive liberal country that for most of the last century was in the grip of fairly moderate democratic socialists. It's got a monarchy with pure PR powers. For a long time the National Church of Sweden kept birth certificates and kids' school starts and the ...more importantly, the end of each school year - were celebrated in mandatory Church ceremonies. Whether you liked it or not you went to church a few times a year as a kid.

It ain't like that no more. Good thing. But it was a nice ceremony and kinda cool sometimes and everyone all dressed up and solemn and singing and whatnot.

My parents never forced me to do anything with regards to religion. My sister decided she wanted communion or whatever it's called. I made up my own mind after reading most of the Bible and some Buddhism and some of the Quran and some other stuff.

Pfft. Waste of time. But what you believe is your problem, not mine. Religion has done a lot of bad things over the years. And a bunch of good things.

Spread of literacy and books.
Giving people hope and something to believe in. Or false hope and keeping them complacent if that's your slant.
Tons of artwork.
Great monuments.
Cool stories.
Moral frameworks. ...That kind of turned out to reflect the societies of their age, e.g. Mohammed and misogyny.

My issue is this: Science is the act of furthering human knowledge by way of showing you've discovered things that are independently verifiable. I'm fairly certain that the whole thing about the Big Bang and Evolution and all that is, in each separate part of the human scientific knowledgebase, independently verifiable. It's PROVEN. You can go check out each individual part if you so desire, try to disprove it or improve it if you so please.

Yet no-one has put together an easy-to-follow chain of reasoning with hyperlinks to independently verifiable, peer-reviewed proof of each and every single little thing that underpins Evolution and the Big Bang and all that.

Might be nice for those Bill O'Reilly moments.

Hamas vs. Ultra-Zionist settlers. Who's worse? Beats me.



Please bear in mind that the same kind of film could be made about Hamas and Hezbollah and probably in Syria and Jordan and Egypt about some rather disgusting kinds of people there, as well.

That doesn't excuse the massive amounts of American taxpayer's dollars that go to THESE people. Or supporting them indirectly. Or private donations that should be illegal under the something something law saying you can't contribute to people on this or that State Dept list.

But I'm expecting that in the unlikely event that people find this blog and watch this, they'll just react with their usual reaction as most people's minds are already made up on this. I'm not expecting to change anyone's mind. I'm expecting to be accused of anti-Semitism for not mentioning THE Holocaust or for implying any sort of moral equivalence and so on and so forth.

I'm also expecting to be called a Zionist sympathizer.

So sue me.

Stupidity mixed with religion and rumours? It kills.

Dowsing Rods. Bogus, fraudulent bomb detecting devices.

Still working on getting a job where I get a chance to go after the purveyors of this kind of devilish crap.


13.2.11

Valentine's Day. Malaysia.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12443104
All of a sudden I'm a bit of a fan of Valentine's Day. Or at least its concurrent export of liberal values along the lines of DO WHATEVER YOU WANT AS LONG AS IT DOESN'T HURT OTHERS. Consenting adults, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness and all that.
Malaysia has stepped up a campaign to stop Muslims celebrating Valentine's Day - labelling it a "trap" that could encourage immoral behaviour.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Monday's celebration of romantic love was "not suitable" for Muslims.
 BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Malaysian muslims no longer allowed to fall in love. Do what your parents tell you. Do what the dirty old bearded preacher tells you. Stop thinking for yourself. God forbid you actually pay attention to your feelings.

Generally speaking I'm not a fan of commercialization of Love and Hallmark Gift Cards and showing your love for someone on X day every year but not really quite as much on other days. I understand the cultural pressure but any girl of mine probably isn't gonna be very happy about me not paying attention to this supposed "holiday" that just creates a bunch of pain and anguish for way too many people. Makes things fun for some people, too, though - just the polarizing thing that I don't like about it.

Plus the DeBeers jack***es that reach into your brain and tell you what to think and what to buy and 3 months' salary and how about a big UP YOURS to them.

But all this commercialization seems to spread like wildfire in many parts of the world. Riding on the waves of Facebook and Twitter and McDonald's, no doubt. And that's a good thing. Spread information and knowledge and internet and the world turns into a place where people can make Tunisia and Egypt happen.

Rock on, Valentine's Day.

11.2.11

CrossFit. Sex and Sexism. Discrimination.

What do you see when you glance at these pictures? Does CrossFit Inc need the business that they generate - or is it just an innocent celebration of the types of human bodies that result from the CF training regime?
Two strong, healthy & cute girls having fun on vacation someplace warm and tropical - and dressed appropriately for the occasion.

Two young girls exploited for their looks and dress - a message that all women must conform to a certain beauty ideal and society only values them for their looks and willingness to take their clothes off. A "rape culture" promotional image.
A strong man on vacation.
Yet another victim of society's macho idea of how a man should or should not look and act.
Same.


Should women have the same rights to go topless in public as men generally do?
Is she being exploited? Is this an insult to women and men who do not fit the "ideal" stereotype?








Personally I think it's a business as much as it is a community. The people selecting the pictures will always end up offending someone, and can be forgiven for wanting to have a little fun once in a while. Someone who grows up in an extremely liberal part of the US won't have the same mindset about what's right and appropriate as someone growing up in Victorian Singapore or a conservative holdout on the US East coast, e.g.

But then again, I'm a man and very comfortable in my own body. (Other than my inability to do a hand stand pushup after 3 years of CrossFit.) I suppose according to some people those two facts mean I'm automatically biased.

Pictures were taken from a cursory glance at the last 2+ months of www.crossfit.com mainsite images and do not include all images that were posted on the CrossFit facebook page. Maybe someone can do a more exhaustive image analysis. I only included the ones where there were significant amounts of skin showing.

In other news, sic semper tyrannis - so congratulations to the people of Egypt. Now, about that Muslim Brotherhood and sharia and women's rights and the right to choose or leave your religion thing and all that other stuff. Freedom from torture and the people who justify it and order it and so on and so forth...

Pakistan. Idiocy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12427518
Mr Tareen told a news conference: "The police investigation and forensic report show it was not self-defence.
"His plea has been rejected by police investigators. He gave no chance to them to survive.
Pakistani police escort US national Raymond Davis (centre) to a court in Lahore on 28 January 2011 Raymond Davis says the men were trying to hijack his vehicle at gunpoint
Mr Tareen also said that forensic evidence did not support Mr Davis's claim that one of the motorbike riders had approached his car window, cocked his gun and pointed it at him.
No fingerprints had been uncovered on the triggers of the pistols found on the bodies of the two men, he said.
And tests had shown that the bullets remained in the magazine of the men's gun, not the chamber.
"It was cold-blooded murder," said Mr Tareen. "Eyewitnesses have told police that he directly shot at them and he kept shooting even when one was running away. It was an intentional murder."
Excellent. I am now allowed to go to Pakistan, get a gun (gee - I wonder if the robbers' weapons were legal?) and point it at someone as long as I don't have a round in the chamber and don't touch the trigger or at least make sure to wear a glove or that my finger slides off the trigger to obscure any fingerprint residue - and no-one is allowed to defend themselves against me doing that. No matter that me and my buddy speed after you in your car right after you get done withdrawing money from an ATM. No matter that I robbed two people earlier in the same day.

Also, if I do get caught in an attempted robbery I just have to pretend that I'm running away and that way I can't get shot until I turn around and fire. I can run get my friends. I can go around the corner and then come back and ambush you.

There's a few very real crimes that took place here. First, was Raymond Davis legally allowed to carry a gun or not? Does he have diplomatic immunity or not? One would think these things would be spelled out in an Embassy agreement somewhere.

Second - the pedestrian/cyclist that was run over. Murder? No, probably not. Vehicular manslaughter - probably yes. There's a reasonable suspicion that the person driving the second car did not take proper care to not kill innocent civilians on his way to the scene of the robbery/killings.

The rest of this is just stupid. Unfortunately it still seems to be in the US' best interest that the Pakistani leadership keep Mr. Davis locked up for a while so as to prevent mass demonstrations and further violence. The Pakistani government cannot be seen to be kow-towing to the Americans.

As well, the US government personnel in Pakistan need to look at their procedures and legal statuses. This type of crap needs to be avoided by prior planning.

10.2.11

Robbery. 2 dead. Accident. 1 dead.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/09/AR2011020906775_2.html

U.S. and Pakistani officials agreed that the police report, written in Urdu, indicates that the two Pakistanis who were killed had robbed two individuals earlier in the day and taken their cellphones, which were found in their possession at the crime scene. These robbery victims came forward independently after seeing television coverage of the crime, saying they recognized the two Pakistanis who were shot by the U.S. official.
The report indicates that at least one of the motorcycle men cocked a weapon and aimed it at Davis while he was stopped at a traffic signal, but that neither of the Pakistani men fired. "One cocked a pistol and pointed it at him," a U.S. official said.
The two slain Pakistanis were found in possession of five cellular phones, a Rolex-style watch and four different types of currency, the report indicates.
Shooting was apparently justified, according to information from both the US and Pakistani officials involved. Doesn't really matter if he got out of the car to fire the last two shots or not as the would-be robbers laid in the street.

The one robber's wife committed suicide recently, saying her husband was a good man, not a robber. Husbands lie sometimes. Wives have a history of believing them. Love, trust, security and all that stuff. She died in vain. Many people came forward to defend the two men's reputation.

"My son was not a robber!"

Sorry, Pop. Two people came forward saying they'd been robbed by the same two guys earlier that day. "Thank you very much for recovering my stolen cellphone" and so on.

The only real legal issue then should be the manslaughter that was committed in killing a pedestrian/bicyclist as another embassy car was speeding to the scene of the accident. Sure the driver should have done what he could to reach the scene and aid his colleague as fast as possible. But that's no excuse to kill innocent people on the way there. Someone needs to pay the price for that, and an official, public, high-level apology sure as hell wouldn't hurt.

Tough on Raymond Davis, but his continued incarceration in Pakistan might actually be in America's best interests. We need a stable Pakistani government. Them releasing him anytime soon will just cause mad problems.

Yes, Pakistani leadership is guilty of a whole host of things, including but not limited to:
* Training and abetting and turning a blind eye to terrorists. LeT etc.
* Allowing the Taleban safe haven as they continue to attack into Afghanistan from their bases in the Pakistani tribal areas.
* Pushing conspiracy theories about India and the US to feed their populace so they won't see the corruption and lackluster political framework in their midst.

But further political turmoil in Pakistan isn't exactly what the world needs right now. Mr. Davis might have to sit tight for a while, for the good of us all.

Alternatively there could be a popular uprising in Pakistan. Except the last election was fairly free, so the leadership really is a reflection of the people.

The massively religious saturation of fanatics in Pakistani society is the real problem. Coupled with unquestioning US financial support for Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza. And a war of opportunity in Iraq. And Guantanamo. And Abu Ghraib. And torture and waterboarding and secret prisons and indefinite detention. Can I stop listing contributing causes now, do people get the point?

9.2.11

Wal-Mart. Unions. Zoning regulations. Cities.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12351860
Of all the existing businesses within four square miles of the store, a quarter closed within two years of Wal-Mart's opening day.
"Adding Wal-Mart is not an effective strategy to increase employment or economic development," says Prof Merriman, and cites other national studies with similar results.

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. It drives human progress and our quest to make profitable commercial space travel, profitable mass transit and an Africa that pulls itself out of the deepest hole any continent has been in for a long long time.

What's this got to do with Wal-Mart?

I shop at Wal-Mart when I can and it's convenient. Great selection, decent prices (not always the lowest), friendly customer service and a very convenient layout. Not very personal, but then I'd expect to pay more at the "Organic only" snobby food store in the more affluent part of town.

The mom & pop stores in the area close down because they can't compete. Tough luck. Innovate and re-invent and adapt your business style or get bought out out or out-competed.

Now the people in the area pay less overall for their goods. Now the value to many customers is increased a little across the board. They now have more money left over for other stuff. Like saving. College. Education. The economy as a whole prospers as things are delivered to the consumer more quickly and more cheaply.

Sure it doesn't look as nice as the old neighbourhood did. You're welcome to make zoning restrictions to try to keep a semblance of "Old World villlage" intact. In fact I approve of it. Just realize that with those restrictions will probably come higher prices for most of everyone.

Or you can insist on the old way of doing business as the rest of the world out-competes you. Kinda like that old Soviet Union thing - remember that? Or having small factories that hand-made automobiles and various consumer goods.

Yeah, let's accept the fact that with capitalism comes the fact that not everyone can just keep doing what they've been doing and expect to keep making money. The people with inventive business models that do things more effectively will prosper. Good for them.

I'll leave the unions out of it, for now. There's both good and bad things to say about them.

Stupidity kills.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12401032
 Medical tourism. Girl, 20, travels from London to Philadelphia to get injected with something that's illegal in both the UK and the US. In a hotel. By someone she met on the internet.

"Bottom augmentation is becoming more popular and originated in South America, in places like Brazil," said Paul Harris, plastic surgery consultant at the Royal Marsden hospital in London.
Mr Harris added that though bottom augmentation procedures were becoming increasingly popular with women in the UK, liquid silicone injections were not practiced because of the risks associated with them.
Anyone wishing to have a cosmetic procedure should check the credentials of the company and unit offering treatment, Mr Harris said.
"Despite recent changes in regulation, there are still patients who take part in medical tourism and go outside the UK," he added.

Why blog about this? Awareness. Not that many people read this. But hey, at least someone looking at what News stories get blogged about will now see that one more person blogged about this story. More people that know, the more information out there to stop this rampant stupidity from killing more people.

7.2.11

Ronal Reagan on torture.

"The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called 'universal jurisdiction.' Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution."

 So now what. We have George W. Bush admitting in his memoirs that he authorized waterboarding.

I was waterboarded... It is torture... It's drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you -- I'll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.



Rape victims denied justice.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12379018

There is a risk of "denial of justice" if Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is tried for rape in Sweden, his lawyer has told a UK extradition hearing.

Well hell, then. Let's just not prosecute people for rape. People who rape and claim innocence should just be allowed to leave the country and carry on with their lives. If they say they didn't do anything wrong, then everything is fine, right?

Or not. If you're sure of your innocence then stand up and say so in the court where you are accused. Your chances of being extradited from Sweden are no larger than they are in the UK.

Sucks when you get caught doing something bad, right? But I guess it wasn't rape since the girls continued to hang out with you afterward?

How about this:

What he did was probably some form of rape. How severe the crime was and what any possible punishment should be - is up to a court of law in the country where the alleged offense took place.

5.2.11

Religion taken a bit to the extreme.



Most people in general are not quite as stupid as Bill O'Reilly. He's a bit of an arrogant blowhard, kinda like me I suppose.

Most religious people are plenty smarter than someone who would say "How do tides work? - It's unexplained and must therefore be due to God!"

My high school physics and chemistry teacher was probably the school's biggest Christian. He never tired of talking about the laws of nature and chemistry and this and that, and it kind of surprised me when I found out he was a very religious person. In response he said that the more he studied and learned about physics and chemistry, the more convinced he became that God exists.

I respect that.

I also respect the old story (?) about the first Soviet cosmonauts in space who went into orbit and concluded that there was no God and no Heaven on the other side of the clouds and the atmosphere - just like I respect the US astronauts who went to the same place, saw the moon and the stars a little closer than you and I do tonight and came to the exact opposite conclusion from the same evidence.

Even if you give all the scientists the benefit of the doubt and assume (which makes an ... out of you and me) that everything they've ever discovered and proved is right about life, the universe and everything - then you still get back to the Big Bang and ask - "Okay, so what happened before that? Who or what made the Big Bang happen?"

Afaik science doesn't have an answer to that. If you choose to answer "God made the Big Bang" then there's nothing I or any other non-religious person can really say to that. I'd probably just say "Yep, you might be right" and move on.

Bill O'Reilly might do good to take a hint from my old high school physics teacher imho.

2.2.11

Sharia is fine. No big deal, right?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12344959
Four people including a Muslim cleric have been arrested in Bangladesh in connection with the death of 14-year-old girl who was publicly lashed.
The teenager was accused of having an affair with a married man, police say, and the punishment was given under Islamic Sharia law.
1. Any person who wants to leave a religion must be free to do so - anything else is a serious problem with religious freedom. I don't tell you that you have to be an atheist, and I expect you to not tell me that I have to think like you, and once someone doesn't want to go to church/the mosque/synagogue/local science fair then don't force them and don't kill them and don't harass them. You'd think that'd be a given but apparently it's not. This is a problem in some Christian and Jewish sects as well, e.g. some Mormons and fundamentalists - but way worse in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and to a maybe lesser extent - Indonesia.


2. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are equal before the Law, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...


3. Don't preach hatred in your place of worship.


4. Don't teach hatred in your schools or schoolbooks.


5. Don't discriminate based on race, religion, gender or sexual preference.


6. A man and a woman are equal before the law. None of this "the witness testimony of one man is worth that of two women" crap.


7. If you want to talk crap about atheists I'm fine with that. If you want to say that the Christians or Jews are wrong I'm fine - and they should be fine - with that. Blasphemy laws have no place in civilized societies. You're living in a tribal, backward mode of existence if you keep hanging on to these vestiges of medieval practices.


8. If a person is a victim of a crime or violence and dies, generally speaking an autopsy needs to be performed to determine the cause of death, substances in the blood and general condition of the person at the time of death. This is done by specially trained doctors and medical personnel. It takes time. These people are in short supply and usually overworked and underpaid. Do not bury the bodies before this can be done - or you'll never know exactly what happened to the person. Your religion - doesn't matter if it's Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Buddhism or whatever - is just going to have to adjust around this fact.


Nobody expects the Arab and Muslim world to all of a sudden decide to recognize the large homosexual and lesbian population that's all around them in their societies, and extremely common in certain cultures (Afghan dancing boys, women and men being in forced separation in Saudi Arabia etc). But eventually you'll have to get around that bend too - it's inevitable that people sooner or later realize that what a person does with another consenting adult in the privacy of their home or residence or social venue IS THEIR PROBLEM, not yours.


Just because some dude wrote some stuff in a book two thousand years ago doesn't mean that all that stuff applies to everyone's life today.


Now carry on with your hatred and persecution and anger and conspiracy theories and overthrowing your corrupt Egyptian governments and teaching your kids to hate Jews and generally pretending that we're still in the Dark Ages.


Good luck, all.

1.2.11

Hydrogen Peroxide and bomb factories in your midst.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12337575

This is what a bomb factory in your major city looks like. Or your suburbs. Or out in the countryside.

Hydrogen peroxide. Liquid oxygen.

The lounge of the 7/7 bomb factory in LeedsThe bombers made no attempt to disguise their work, the inquest in London was told



The court heard that although the four bombers bought large amounts of the chemical in the months before the attacks, none of the sellers alerted police with any concerns.
The barrister representing four of the bereaved families, Gareth Patterson, said: "It is clear, isn't it, that in making these purchases the four men didn't act to any great degree in a covert way.
"They simply found these places, often using the internet, drove there, purchased the liquid oxygen and left."
Four suicide bombers killed 52 Tube and bus passengers in the 2005 atrocity.
I'm terribly sorry, but your right to privacy and being able to buy anything you want is simply going to have to take a backseat to the public's right not have terrorists and crazy people buy easy-to-access bomb-making materials openly with little fear of getting caught.

The idea isn't to make these types of events impossible - it's making them so difficult to pull off that the terrorists are better off just buying a handgun or using knives or a big flatbed loaded with gasoline. Sure, that'll be a mess and cost a bunch of lives, but better that than let them get IED materials from your local wholesaler.

Cry about the nanny state all you want. Bomb- and drug-making materials need to be regulated and not just sold to whomever.

Myeah. About that "Help" button on websites.




I have found a company that promotes fraudulent products which cost Iraqi taxpayers $85 million dollars, don't work and make it easier for terrorists to blow up innocent civilians. I'd like to report them, but it's not immediately evident to anyone looking at their twitter feed that they're selling scams.

Details:
http://twitter.com/#!/unival_group
http://www.unival-group.com/hedd1.htm
http://www.docstoc.com/docs/23365128/Test-Report-The-Detection-Capability-of-the-Sniffex-Handheld-Explosives-Detector
http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=124620
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/9377875.stm
http://sniffexquestions.blogspot.com/

Same thing on Facebook. Trying to report a company pushing fraudulent bomb detectors.

Crime. Google Maps. Cameras.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12336381

Cameras all over Monaco. FBI and local PD's use convenience store and parking lot surveillance cameras all the time to catch criminals.

Anonymity, 4chan and the expectation that no-one is watching breeds temptation in the minds of people who are already up to no good.

That doesn't mean that taking away all our privacy is a good thing. But it does mean that a proliferation of camera surveillance around your house or business and place of recreation will make you and your family safer. Few criminals will take on "hard" targets - there's way too many much easier targets.

Plot the police reports on Google Maps. Want to move to a new town - check the Crime Stats for your new neighbourhood. Check the amount of camera surveillance around the place where you will be bringing up your children.

The Home Office said www.police.uk was receiving up to five million hits an hour, or some 75,000 a minute.
The site allows you to see the offences reported in your local street by entering a street name or postcode.
More information available to more people is a good thing, generally. More transparency keeps criminals and government/military people like me from doing really bad things.

Privacy.
Secrecy.
Making the world a better, safer, more transparent place as much as possible. That doesn't mean that Wikileaks and the like are right to just throw classified documents out there - that kind of crap just prolongs already unnecessary wars. Yes, the war in Iraq was unnecessary, but to withdraw right now would be massive chaos if you do it too abruptly. Once the US forces are out of there, feel free to pull all the nasty stuff out in the open.

Selling death. Fraudulent bomb detectors.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/9377875.stm

How'd you like to be "protected" by checkpoints where your military and police - paid to protect you with your tax money - use bomb detectors that have been proven NOT TO WORK? Example: you're rolling through Baghdad in your convoy. You're kinda scared. You approach a checkpoint. Driver stops. Dudes in uniform, Iraqi military hopefully, walk around your car. Some dude starts walking kinda funny and walks in a straight line past your car while holding a plastic handle with an antenna sticking straight out in front. The antenna wobbles, but the "operator" says it was his fault, he took a wrong step. Driver starts your car back up and you roll out of the checkpoint. The multiple artillery shells (cheap, easy to come by) with some detonators attached to a simple electric switch under the driver's seat in the car behind you roll on through the checkpoint right behind you, destined for a hotel area or a market place or any place with lots of people like a Sunni/Shiite mosque after Friday prayers.

Yeah, I wouldn't like that either.

Iraq. $85 million plus some kickbacks no doubt.

Yuri Markov.
Jim McCormick.
Bulgaria.
UK.

James Randi is offering $1 million to anyone that can make these things work in a double blind test. He's safe with his money. A dowsing rod on a stick. A plastic handle with an unstable antenna-like thing sticking out of it won't detect any explosives this side of a fantasy novel.

Only way you can detect them is with dogs, mirrors, flashlights, very expensive air-sniffing chemistry machines (think the thing you see in an airport terminal for x-raying luggage - but twice as big and ten times more expensive) or somewhat less expensive but less all-encompassing chemical wipes - you wipe the strip on a piece of luggage and then put the strip in a solution, shake it and wait - or a series of chemical tests. Think a pH-checking test for water - but way more complex and expensive.


One maker, ATSC Ltd, sold thousands of the so-called detectors, which essentially consist of a radio aerial on a hinge attached to a plastic handle, to Iraq for $85m.
It has been alleged that hundreds of Iraqis died in explosions in Baghdad after ADE651 detectors failed to detect suicide bombers at checkpoints.
ATSC boss Jim McCormick is currently on bail after being arrested on suspicion of fraud in connection with the so-called detectors.
The profit margins in the sale of this equipment are enormous.
The manufacturer of another of the devices, the Alpha 6, has admitted to Newsnight that they make them for £11 and then they are sold for £15,000 each to the end user.
'Unsuitable for British Army'
On Thursday, the UK government told BBC Newsnight that between 2001 and 2004 a Royal Engineers sales team went around the world demonstrating the GT200, another of the "magic wand" detectors which has been banned for export to Iraq and Afghanistan, at arms fairs around the world even though the British Army did not consider them suitable for its own use.
Seems like the Royal Engineers got bamboozled for a bit. Hey, you're not alone. The US military bought some to test them out (they buy stuff all the time just to see if it might possibly be of use). They didn't work. The manufacturers will of course tout the "bought by US military" thing and not report the "hey guys these things don't work" part. ***holes.

http://ade651gt200scamfraud.blogspot.com/

Oops. Wrong link. Another anti-fraud blog about the scams.

Right link: http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=124620


Bulgaria: Bulgarian Invents 'Scam' Bomb Detector - Report
Yuri Markov, a Bulgarian engineer, has allegedly invented a useless 'bomb detector', which has been subsequently marketed. File photo
Bulgarian engineer has invented abomb detector, which has reportedly turned out to be completely useless.
According to a BBC investigation, UKauthorities have admitted they the UKArmy and civil servants helped market so-called bomb detectors, which did not work, around the world. One of these detectors has turned out to be a Bulgarianinvention,
The product, called the HEDD1consists of a radio aerial on a handle and is made in Bulgaria. It has been displayed at a security exhibition at Olympia in London, even though it already has been banned for sale in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The company selling the devices, Unival, claimed that while all the other products which looked like it were a "massive scam", theirs was different," the BBC says.
However, the US Navy has subjected the product to a double-blind test and found it does not work.
In fact, the maker of HEDD1Bulgarian engineer Yuri Markov, had been charged in the United States in 2008 for fraudulently claiming that the previous version of his so-called bomb detector could detect explosives, BBC claims.

Shopping list. Traffic safety. Bicycle. Motorcycle. Car.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12334486

Bicycle helmet cam with affordable recording, easy battery-changing.

Motorcycle cam preferably wired to the internal battery so I don't have to worry about it, and it just starts and stops as I turn the motorbike on and off.

Dashboard car camera mostly for liability purposes (apparently common in Canada), but would be nice to have one pointed back and/or covering the sides - guess that might be a bit much to ask.