chronovore: (sweater)
I watched two documentaries which were available briefly on iTunes for 99¢, and my one-month rental period was about to run out. I watched them on consecutive days, and I'm happy that I watched them in this order:

The Motivation
This documentary tells the story of six skateboarders competing in the winner-take-all Street League championship of 2012. Street League itself is the product of Rob Dyrdek, himself a hardcore skateboarder. There's a skinny kid from Long Beach who has been put on a skateboard by his dad, Tiger-Woods-style, since he was 6. There're a couple guys who are making sick, sick money from Nike and Monster, living in big houses with their hangers-on and entourage; I just hope they have been investing. There's a couple older guys (30s) who are capable of winning, but are less likely to win each year, due to the harsh cocktail of injuries and age. There is a wide range of difference between the skaters, in age, background, outlook -- but not ability. The whole thing really comes down to each of them being, in their own way, the best skater in the world, and the contest itself takes them beyond their comfort zone, pushes them to their limits, making the finals less of a question of straight up ability, and more a matter of handling psychological pressure. Fun, well-produced, and quite tense as it ramps into the Street League championship.

Dirty Wars
Jeremy Scahill, independent reporter frequently associated with The Nation, recounts his investigation into America's "War on Terror," and the indiscretion with which attacks are being carried out in more countries with less oversight and public awareness. It starts with an investigation into an American attack which mistakenly kills a number of guests at a wedding party in the Afghanistan countryside, which is denied, journalists disavowed and blacklisted, before finally having the official version reflect the mistake -- and continues through the same group, Joint Strike Operations Command, beginning to make strikes into Syria with drones and missiles, and JSOC's eventual move into the mainstream limelight and public praise with the assassination strike on Osama Bin Laden. Later, we find that the kill-list for JSOC includes Anwar al-Awlaki (wikipedia), an American citizen who has essentially been publicly targeted for assassination by his own government, without any attempt for capture or trial. Reading his wikipedia entry, Awlaki is painted as a through-and-through Al Qaeda supporter, though sermons in the documentary make it clear that his shift to radical Islam was later. Not only was Awlaki killed, but his 16-year-old son, also an American born citizen, was later killed by a US drone strike in Yemen while he was returning from searching for his father. Just amazingly tragic.

Interviews with officials and ex-JSOC personnel make it clear that we're operating outside our publicly defined rules for warfare, and that we're also inadvertently creating more enemies as we strive to make the world safer for the USA through violent intervention. From a technical standpoint, the documentary uses a bit too much flashy editing, moody shots, and re-created sets for Scahill's office and research, which look too self-consciously constructed to be believable. Scahill's narration tone seems timid and unsure; this is sad, because it's almost certainly a performance issue, and not one of his own confidence in the problems he is presenting.

As a liberal who has a sheaf full of concerns about the military industrial complex, corporate lobbying, corporate-funded news reporting, I was surprised and saddened that this wasn't a spot-on perfect, undeniable, shake-this-in-the-neocons-face piece of work but, then again, our self-awareness and self-questioning are hallmarks of what separate us from those who make decisions and then never reexamine the evidence. 

mma

Jul. 28th, 2009 04:30 pm
chronovore: (furious)
Cheick Kongo-Frank Mir rumored for UFC 107 - ESPN:
According to MMAJunkie, Frank Mir might meet Cheick Kongo at UFC 107 on Dec. 12 in Memphis, Tenn. If so, Mir may well get the sharpest striking test of his career to date.
No, no, no. Round 1 submission. Kongo on the ground is a fish out of water, and Mir's submission game is tight.
chronovore: (Default)
AFP: Five dead, eight missing in Japan mudslides: officials:
full text )
Side note: It's raining like the dickens here, but we're nowhere near all this craziness.
chronovore: (Default)
UPDATE PLUS VIDEO FOOTAGE: Tentacle UFO spotted night before carnage at Conisholme wind farm - Louth Leader:
It is believed the a blade fell off the 89m turbine and another was left badly bent on Sunday January 4.

Speculation has continued amongst residents in Conisholme and the surrounding villages with some saying they saw strange flashing tentacle shaped lights above the wind farm on the night before it happened.

helmet laws

Jan. 7th, 2009 01:18 pm
chronovore: (mouthy)
BBC NEWS | Africa | Nigeria bikers' vegetable helmets:
In the city of Kaduna, drivers waved palm fronds and rode in convoy to protest at the price of helmets, which can cost up to $29 (£20).

They say passengers often steal the helmets once they reach their destination.

Stories have also appeared in the local papers highlighting passengers' fears that the helmets could be used by motorcyclists to cast spells on their clients, making it easy for them to be robbed.
chronovore: (mouthy)
Copyright Czar's Fate in Bush's Hands; Veto Looms | Threat Level from Wired.com:
President Bush is opposing legislation creating a so-called copyright czar and might veto the measure.

The House on Sunday sent the president the "Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act," (.pdf) a measure the Senate approved Friday creating a cabinet-level copyright czar charged with implementing a nationwide plan to combat piracy and "report directly to the president and Congress regarding domestic international intellectual property enforcement programs."

The White House successfully lobbied the Senate to remove language tasking the Department of Justice with suing copyright and trademark infringers on behalf of Hollywood
, (emphasis mine) remainder of article behind cut )
What, seriously, the congress approached the executive branch with a proposal that government money should be spent suing "pirates" instead of the copyright holders? This whole song-and-dance about how piracy is destroying Hollywood and the record companies doesn't stop them from making money, and the losses they report are about as realistic as Fantasy Football; it's all about "what IF all those college students actually BOUGHT the music on those hard drives...?! We'd be more richer!" And apparently they've managed to convince congress that the government needs to pursue their own constituents more fully on behalf of big media. Good christ.
chronovore: (furious)
Reuters: U.S. to announce $1 billion aid for Georgia: official : I'm so US-centric that at first I thought, Did the state of Georgia get hit by a hurricane?! Or is this to address the report that they rank 41st out of 50 for "smartest state"? Then I remembered it's not the only Georgia in the world, and I felt like a clod.

Then again, it's also a brand of canned coffee here in Japan, so I could have done worse, and assumed that the US is trying to get itself really high on caffeine and sugar.

And just to maintain the rambling tone: During my trip to the USA, I found a copy of Max Max WITH The Road Warrior new for 10 bucks, American greenbacks. I have been sour on Mel Since he started made that romantic comedy with Helen Hunt, and she'd hinted in the PR tour that Mel's an abhorrent human being, and then much later he did that "sugartits/jew" thing in Los Angeles, confirming that he's bad... BUT IT WAS THE ROAD WARRIOR! I bought it, watched it while making tonight's dinner (before going to work), and it turns out to be 1 DVD, two-sided, and pan-and-scan 4:3, and a miserable transfer to boot.

Epic. Fail. I gave Mel Gibson 10 dollars, and didn't even get what I want.
chronovore: (Default)
A vote on banning new minarets | Oddly Enough | Reuters:
ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland will hold a referendum on whether to ban building any more minarets in the Alpine country, the government said on Tuesday.

A group of politicians from the Swiss People's Party (SVP) and Federal Democratic Union gathered more than 100,000 signatures to support the initiative, saying the minarets threaten law and order.rest of article, because reuters articles have a gossamer-like web halflife )

evil!

Jul. 9th, 2008 06:15 pm
chronovore: (mouthy)
Wired News - AP News:
Seeking to play down the effects of global warming, Vice President Dick Cheney's office pushed to delete from congressional testimony references about the consequences of climate change on public health, a former senior EPA official claimed Tuesday.

The official, Jason K. Burnett, said the White House was concerned that the proposed testimony last October by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might make it tougher to avoid regulating greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
Honestly, I would not be surprised if Dick Cheney tore off his own rubbery face at a press conference, and revealed himself to be one of those lizard people from that TV science fiction series, "V."
chronovore: (OMFG)
Questions For Gore Vidal - Interview - NYTimes.com:
How did you feel when you heard that Buckley died this year? I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred.
chronovore: (mouthy)
It's pretty common to hear tales on the news about how Japanese society is eroding, and how the youth of today are morally bankrupt compared to ten or twenty years ago. There was a story about a high school couple who got into a cab, forced the cab driver at knifepoint to drive to a secluded location, then killed him and took 5000 yen. Just a couple days ago an asshat with a knife decided he wanted "to kill 7 or 8 people" and went on a rampage in a train station and shopping mall. Despite this, it's been easy to convince myself that the problem is not as widespread as sensationalistic media would have us believe.

Yesterday my nephew was playing in a nearby park, only two blocks away from home. It's a wide field with a clear view from one side to the other; it sits directly behind the central police station for the city. He was playing with two friends who are our neighbors; just three boys, six- to seven-years-old, playing unattended by adults in a busy park filled with lots of locals.

At 3 p.m. my nephew went to get his bike, to leave early and get to a dentist appointment at our neighborhood doctor. His bike was next to a bunch of bushes. As he approached his bike, several people leapt out of the bush and grabbed him, put a towel in his mouth so he couldn't scream, and then proceeded to beat him. The kicked his stomach, and hit him with a baseball bat. When they were done, they told him that if he told anyone about the beating, they'd kill him.

He went home. He didn't say anything to his mom immediately, but ended up crying during his visit to the dentist. He told his mom what happened. His mom took him to the ER for x-rays and examination (nothing broken, no sexual violation, bruises should clear up in 5 days), and then to the police to report what had happened. My nephew was able to give a pretty good accounting of their appearance: 4 or 5 junior high school aged boys, with dyed blonde hair, and yellow and red piercings in their ears.

Apparently it takes 4 or 5 jr. high school boys to beat up one 7 year old. They'd better pray to god the police find them before anyone in my family does.
chronovore: (Default)
The cultural heritage administration in Shaanxi province, home to the 2,000-year-old clay army, said it had been "outraged" because it had not sent any original terracotta warriors to Germany recently.

"All the items on show in Hamburg are reproductions," the administration said in a strongly worded statement on its Web site (www.wenwu.gov.cn).

"We were completely unaware of the exhibition. It is a very serious act of cheating the media and the public," the statement said, dismissing reports that the administration had been one of the sponsors.

The show should be immediately closed and the public told the truth to eliminate the "extremely negative impact" caused, it added.

"We will pursue legal liability against those who use reproduced items to hold exhibitions of Chinese artifacts."
-- China slams German "warriors" show as fake from Reuters
chronovore: (mouthy)
This has got to be one of the most bullshit pieces of fearmongering, wrong-headed tripe I have read outside of a Bush presidency State of the Union transcription:
Wi-Fi piggybacking widespread: Sophos has revealed new research into the use of other people's Wi-Fi networks to piggyback onto the internet without payment. The research shows that 54 percent of computer users have admitted breaking the law, by using someone else's wireless internet access without permission.

According to Sophos, many internet-enabled homes fail to properly secure their wireless connection properly with passwords and encryption, allowing freeloading passers-by and neighbours to steal internet access rather than paying an internet service provider (ISP) for their own. In addition, while businesses often have security measures in place to protect the Wi-Fi networks within their offices from attack, Sophos experts note that remote users working from home could prove to be a weak link in corporate defences.

Stealing Wi-Fi internet access may feel like a victimless crime, but it deprives ISPs of revenue. remaining claptrap )
Sharing is not a crime; if I have a phone and am entitled to limitless free local calls, and if I choose to let my neighbor come over and make free local calls whenever they want, or even give them a satellite phone so they can use it without bothering me, that's not a crime. As for the EULA, I'd be hard pressed to believe it would hold up in a court.

I lock up my computers, but not my WLAN. I'm willing to let people use my WLAN as long as no-one goes crazy-abusive on it.

Edit: Apparently this is an IT security blog in the UK, where accessing a wifi network without permission is illegal. This is not /generally/ illegal in the USA, though there have been exceptions (see commments).
chronovore: (mouthy)
Salt Lake Tribune - Apple's new OS has its claws out for Microsoft:
Time for an OS smackdown. Turn to page E3 for a point-by-point comparison by Tribune staff writer Vince Horiuchi, who has tested both systems.
chronovore: (Default)
When Your Cellphone Is in My Space - New York Times: [the other michael]
Yes, it’s true: as James Katz, director of the Center for Mobile Communication Studies at Rutgers University, says, “If anything characterizes the 21st century, it’s our inability to restrain ourselves for the benefit of other people.”
Cellphone use is but one manifestation of this unhappy fact. Or maybe it was always so, but with more of us living in closer proximity, today it’s more obvious.
chronovore: (mouthy)
Free? Steal It Anyway - Forbes.com:
Piracy, it seems, is about more than price.

That's one of the surprising discoveries to come out of an experiment by the British band Radiohead last week. On Thursday, the group made its latest album, In Rainbows, available for direct downloading from the Web at an unusual price: whatever fans feel like paying. Downloaders who want to pay nothing can enter "zero" in the site's price field and download the album for free.
Well, another reason might be that, even if one enters 00.00 on the site, it still requests a VISA/MASTERCARD payment information before providing a download link. Is anyone else seeing this screen.
chronovore: (OMFG)
Digital Downloads: Radiohead Offers New Album For Whatever You Want to Pay - Gizmodo:
Oh, did I mention they're doing this without a record label? Yes, that sound you just heard was the music industry collectively crapping its pants. [Radiohead via Idolator]
chronovore: (magnum)
Zombie Pfizer Computers Spew Viagra Spam
Computers inside pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's network are spamming the internet with e-mails touting the company's flagship erectile-enhancement drug Viagra, along with ads for knockoff Rolexes and shady junk stocks.

But the e-mails are not part of Pfizer's official marketing efforts. (full article at Wired)

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