Thursday, February 05, 2015

Lord of the Drinks

I found an entertaining blog called Lord of the Drinks.

Recent headline with an excerpt from the story:

Ulysses S. Grant, a drunken fighting machine from American history

While historians rank him as one of the worst American presidents ever, his military achievements are quite impressive. Just as impressive was his legacy as a heavy drinker. Grant was many times labeled as an alcoholic, although he usually didn’t need ‘Dutch courage’ in battle. When there were no wars to be fought, Grant had just one hobby to keep him from getting bored: drinking.

Another interesting headline:

How Mahatma Gandhi killed thousands of Indians with his call for prohibition

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pravda is hilarious

I haven't read Pravda in a long time, so I decided to check it out tonight. These people are not sane. Here are a few tidbits, with each paragraph from a different story:
    Notice in the West the so called journalists are nowhere to be found on the battlefield in Ukraine as this man was here. I am certainly not addressing the media like CNN, FOX, CBS  and the other court jesters who are paid clowns in the freak show called "US government". They dare tell America lies about the war.
    (The US joins European wars) only when the enemy is sufficiently worn out. While you throw as many bombs on the heads of innocent civilians as you can, razing the beautiful cities and towns in which they live, you only send in ground troops when the enemy has effectively been beaten by an ally. That is what FDR did.
    The US has been ravaging the world, thinking that they are exceptional, indispensible and that they have a God-given right to take over and rule the world. They have been attempting to achieve global domination since 1492, beginning with their mass murderer hero, Christopher Columbus. The US is truly the ugly, bastard child of barbarian Europe, although the US has advanced itself to become master over Europe.
Some headlines:
    Pentagon commands the Ukrainian army
    US started Ukraine civil war
    Obama's State of the Union: Illusions, exceptionalism, empty promises
    S&P junks Russia at USA's bidding

Monday, January 26, 2015

Aboriginal storytelling accurate to 10,000 years

Australian aboriginals seem to be fairly accurate in oral storytelling, referencing islands -- by name and location -- that are now underwater. Story here at Scientific American.

This isn't the first recent reference to accurate storytelling that spans 10k+ years. The other one involved the hobbits. Officially called Floresiensis, these small people were a side branch of humans who lived in the mountains of Indonesia. The last ones died out around 13000 years ago, according to archaeological finds and carbon dating, etc. Today, locals mention "the little people who live in the mountains."

It's mind boggling that stories told person to person for more than 10k years have any level of accuracy. It makes me wonder how much is accurate in other stories and folklore. Some, like the Kalevala, are thought to have originated before the last ice age. I'm particularly interested in folkloric tradition of elves. These were thought to have existed, at least by some people, from prehistoric times right through the Middle Ages. The BBC has done some recent stories about Icelanders still believing (a few people, anyway, seem to believe). An example of the strength of the ancient belief in elves can be seen in the name of England's first king, Alfred. Alf meant "elf" and "raed" meant councilor. If one was a councilor to elves, he was a VIP.

Makes me wonder if all the oral tales about elves (written down much later, and later still inspired Tolkien) are actually based on real creatures.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mars is hell

A BBC interview with the chief medical officer for Mars One -- the first bigserious attempt to colonize Mars -- revealed some war metaphors I hadn't expected.

War Metaphor 1: On volunteering to go, "It's a calling, like being a war reporter."

War Metaphor 2: On choosing the right candidates from the current pool of 200,000 volunteers, "I’m going to give them so many challenges,” he says. “My hope is that when they get to Mars, they’ll say ‘compared to what Norbert put us through, Mars is a paradise!’”

The second one isn't exactly warfare, but it's the exact same idea behind military training. New troops are deliberately forced to go through something that will prepare them for the harsh realities of war, and in some cases, like special forces, the training is more harsh than war conditions.

If we're going to use war metaphors, why not make it truly warlike? Navy SEALs and British SAS probably stand the best chance of survival on Mars, when you really think about it. Living on Mars can't be much more harsh than SEAL training.

I have a better idea: model the first human colony on Mars after Botany Bay in Australia. Every murderer and rapist on Earth should be rounded up and shipped to Mars, whether they like it or not. We'll give them the necessary equipment and very basic training. Bon voyage.

Australia turned out well. Where Australia has giant spiders and snakes and stuff, Mars has deadly atmosphere and no potable water. It took months to communicate with Botany Bay and resupply the people. For Mars it takes only 40 minutes to communicate, each way, and 18 months travel time in person. The similarities are striking. I just hope the Mars colonists develop a society that drives on the correct side of the fucking road.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

More of the multicultural circle-J

Just when I thought this idiocy had fully saturated society, here comes one more. Deaf, spelled Deaf, not deaf, is now a cultural identity. The icing on the cake? Britain has just registered its first baby with a sign name, which is written in English as UbOtDDstarL. For fuck's sake. Everyone, come and see our beautiful new baby UbOtDDstarL! If I went to a baby shower for precious little UbOtDDstarL, I'd laugh right in the parents' faces.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Stairway to Heaven



The iconic rock song Stairway to Heaven has been re-released once again. BBC News interviewed Page recently to discuss how the song was created, and it's a must-watch for anyone who likes Led Zeppelin.

From the interview, Jimmy Page discusses the finale of Stairway to Heaven and the country setting in which it was created:

"And by that point it's really, it's, it's really motoring, it's not racing, but it's just the passion of it, it's just unfolded on every aspect of the lyrical aspect of it, about what it inspired. It was really an inspired period of time. I think it sort of shows the lasting quality of this music, over all these years, is the fact that everyone's playing so honestly and with such conviction, that it sort of shows."

Stairway to Heaven is the most requested song in the history of radio, according to experts. It's so well known that it has become a target of parody and ridicule. Sure. Yet, the human mind is capable of being wiped clean, so listen to Stairway to Heaven again, with a clean slate, and hear one of the greatest pieces of music composed for guitar. As all Led Zeppelin songs, it was composed for guitar by Jimmy Page, with lyrics added afterward. This doesn't disparage Plant, it elevates him. How do you overlay perfect lyrics onto something like this?

Certain flapjacks overstuffed by broiled lobster tail and imported beer and all-important portabello mushrooms -- folks prone to delusions of grandeur -- will say classical guitar and flamenco represent the pinnacle of the instrument. Pah. I believe anyone who listens to Stairway to Heaven with open eyes (and an open heart?) will agree that this song belongs in the pantheon.

When you're done eating elitist food that tastes good because wealthy aficionados say it tastes good, try this new interview with Page at medium.com.

From the interview:
    So these releases will be coming out through next year, and during that time I’ll be working, working, working. The prospect of actually coming back and showcasing the music that I’ve done all the way through my life, but also the new music that I’ve done, which will have some serious surprises in it—that’s fascinating. Because I love playing live, and that’s the next step, really.
That's interesting, because a guy who lives for playing guitar hasn't given the world, or sold it, a single piece of original music since one acoustic number that appeared as an Extra Feature on the It Might Get Loud DVD nearly 10 years ago. Where is this new music from Jimmy Page? If ever there was a man resting on his laurels, it's JP. He's stayed in the public eye, but in terms of output, Jimmy Page is another JD Salinger.

For aficionados, here are three versions of SWTH. The first one is from 1983. It's good, but not his best. People who knew JP said he was addicted to heroin in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. He has never admitted this, but his playing is sloppy...



This is the 2007 Celebration Day reunion concert. The uploader says 2012, but it's really 2007. This version is better than the 1983 version above. It's fantastic, but Plant can't hit the high notes, and Page's fingers aren't as fast. Skip to 1:18:28 for SWTH:



And here's the best live version, from 1973. Everyone is in their prime. I could be wrong about the year. Maybe be slightly later than '73. It's the best live version existing on video.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Asimov's Foundation story set for HBO series

Media is reporting this as fact, like The Wrap and The Verge. The best news is that Christopher Nolan is writing the adaptation for HBO. Nolan wrote Memento and Interstellar. I think those are serious chops for getting the show done right.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Swedish prisons, the alternate view

For years, even decades, I've been hearing that prisons in Sweden are utopian. These reports always come from die-hard socialists promoting a socialist vision. A new Guardian story about the experience of one of the Pirate Bay founders, Sunde, tells a different story. He's saying things like prisoners are "deprived of their humanity."

The Guardian story doesn't dig into the larger issue, but it remains the heart of the matter: is facilitation of file sharing a crime? Governments say it is, but the Internet generation, at least the current version of that, says not. It is a crime to download copyrighted material without paying for it, as all but the most foolish would agree, but what about facilitation? When jewel thieves are arrested, does the corner hardware store get indicted for selling the tools used to break into vaults? Does Ford get indicted for making the car used in the getaway? Strangely enough, individual downloaders -- the folks who are most obviously breaking the law -- are no longer prosecuted. The RIAA in particular announced that they are no longer going after individuals. In other words, the authorities have stopped going after jewel thieves, just the people making available the tools of the trade.

The other super-high-profile case is Kim Dotcom in New Zealand, who remains free on bail as the US government attempts to build a case against him. The main thrust of the FBI's argument is that Dotcom knew people were using his filesharing / hosting site for illegal purposes, and even encouraged it. If this was a case involving jewel thieves, the FBI is saying Ford custom-made a car, knowingly, for the purpose of escaping the scene of a crime. Once again, the authorities are going after a facilitator, not those who are clear lawbreakers. It's a steep learning curve for pioneers who want to facilitate file sharing.

While on house arrest, Dotcom started a new service that is encrypted to the point where he and other company officers can't see what is being stored. Good idea, but it may work against him during his current legal problems. Why make this version of storage when, as he claims, the other version was perfectly legal?

Dotcom has talked about Safe Harbor, the concept that facilitators aren't responsible for misuse on the part of individual users of an online service. Google used this successfully with YouTube, but there is a major difference: Kim Dotcom didn't initiate relationships with copyright holders to issue warnings and takedowns. Most fans of YouTube are familiar with videos disappearing on copyright grounds. I've lost a couple myself -- once the entire video, and once the audio (I have more than a million views on my most popular channel). I believe there is a legal gray area with Google. They're allowed to operate as long as they make a reasonable attempt to police copyright violations, which are initiated by the copyright holders. Dotcom didn't do any of this, to my knowledge.

Government strategy to ignore individual lawbreakers and go after larger players has been tried in another industry, at least in the U.S.. Gun manufacturers have been sued / prosecuted for gun violence. In those cases, advertising from manufacturers was used as evidence -- some of the ads seem to indicate the manufacturers knew their products would be appealing to gangs and would be used for violence. In the case of Kim Dotcom, the FBI is holding up emails seeming to show Dotcom knew and reveled in the fact his file sharing service was being used illegally.

Gun manufacturers successfully defended themselves against the legal actions. The Pirate Bay founders failed, and are all in prison (except the last one, who is now in the legal process in Sweden). Kim Dotcom has not yet had his trial.

The main question in my mind is, What is really happening here, and why? I believe the RIAA and the U.S. government backed away from going after individuals because it was unpopular with the public, as most downloaders are just ordinary college students, etc., and also because individuals don't have deep pockets. The government is swimming upstream to bigger targets with more assets and a greater ability to pay big fines. The added benefit for government is that the public doesn't get nearly as upset when a large corporation is sued compared to an ordinary citizen.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Goat joke

Found this online, of course...

What do you get when you mix human DNA with goat DNA?

Kicked out of the petting zoo.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Republicans win

Everything I'm hearing on the radio and seeing online is how the Republicans have won. Right wing folks are saying, "Everything's going to change now." No, it will not. Watch and see. These parties are nearly identical.

1. Obama's wings have been clipped, and he always refused to work with Republicans. That runs contrary to what the leftist press claims, but it is reality. Obama has been ruling by fiat for a long time.

2. The two power-parties are more alike than different. Case in point, and there are many others: warrantless wiretapping began in earnest under Clinton with bi-partisan support. It was greatly expanded under Bush, with bi-partisan support. Under Obama, it increased five-fold, with bi-partisan support. Another case: deficit spending was doubled under Bush, and it was quadrupled under Obama. Our debt stands are nearly $20,000,000,000,000. Both of these parties are to blame for causing severe harm to the nation and our liberty.

3. Republicans lack the spine to attempt big changes, and it's doubtful they'll have enough votes to override presidential vetoes.

Press turned on Obama

What I find shocking is something that began six months ago. Obama's champions -- WashPo, NYT, APM, etc.  -- turned on him. These same "journalists" were saying things like "he's a Lincoln-FDR-JFK" triple-combo six years ago. Today, six years too late, they finally started covering stories unfavorable to the prez. The why of it is what I can't understand. The only thing I can think of goes to the darker side of human nature. People attack the weak, and Obama has become weak in light of ten major scandals. Try as they did, the left-wing press couldn't ignore all of it. If his adoring press turned on him because they perceive him as weak, it's awful to see, even though I approve of the end result.

Amnesty

Here's the most interesting part of tonight's results, in my view, for the short term: Will Obama still take executive action to grant amnesty to more than 12,000,000 illegal aliens? Obviously, he's waiting until after the election, and would be a fool to do anything until the Media Dead Zone between Thanksgiving and New Year's (because the nation is deeply against something that will cause so much harm). Will he still do it after losing the Senate? It's going to be interesting to watch. If he carries through with his plan, I predict it will happen on a Friday night somewhere in the Dead Zone.

Single, 6-year term

I also feel vindicated in something I've been saying for years now, although I don't recall putting it online: any president would be a fool to seek a second term because the nation turns against presidents midway through the 2nd term. It happened to Clinton, it happened to Bush, and now it's happening to Obama. My solution, although it's far from a 100% solution, is to switch to a single, one-time term of 6 years. No other term possible, even after a gap. It's a once-in-a-lifetime slot.

Pros

A president can preside instead of campaigning for re-election.

He/she will be out before the nation turns against them. Division and hatred and lack of faith makes a president ineffective, which is usually harmful to the nation.

It's probably the most difficult job on Earth, and six years would be far easier than eight. I'm talking about the toll the job takes on the mind and body of any president. Eight years of major stress is excessive, to the detriment of the nation. Six is far better.

Cons

The last two years of a six-year term will be spent campaigning for candidates of his/her political party. Most politicians, and certainly 99.9% of all Republicans and Democrats, place the interests of their party above the interests of the country. This will not change with a single, 6-year term.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

The birth of a new phrase

Supervised isolation has replaced quarantine, as of today. We can thank our beloved friends on the left for this little gem. The new official term is true to the left's nature: it is non-offensive. As soon as somebody objects to "supervised" or "isolation", they'll have to come up with a new term.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Battle for Keene makes national news

I've been following the Battle for Keene for a while now. That's Keene, New Hampshire, home to Free Keene, a group of peaceful libertarians who are opposed to big government and sometimes seem to be opposed to any government. What they call peaceful, others, like opposition group Stop Free Keene, calls harassment.

The Free Keene folks and their battle to stop parking tickets just made Fox News. Stopping the tickets -- called Robin Hooding -- is only a part of what the group is fighting for.

Fox News video

2nd Fox vid, with written article

Free Keene

Stop Free Keene

The latest at Stop Free Keene's website talks about Ian, one of Free Keene's leaders. He changed his name from Ian Bernard to Ian Freeman (if I have that correct), but the SFK folks still call him Bernard, which is kind of funny on its own. From SFK: "The special snowflake leader of Free Keene has petitioned the court to let him make a charitable contribution to local service providers in lieu of actually getting his hands dirty or committing the mortal sin of “voluntaryism”: placing the welfare of others before yourself."

Meanwhile, the Free Keen website has a recent clip from RT doing a story about the Pumpkin Festival riots, which also made national news. And there's a mention of Jared Goodell, somebody associated with Free Keene. Goodell made it onto WGN Chicago, Fox News and CNN. He was filming during the Pumpkin Festival when the organizer of the fest seemed to take a disliking to him, which resulted in some funny video.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Darknet and Deepweb at Foxnews

I was surprised by an article today at Foxnews.com. I don't work in IT, presently, but I have read most books published on hackers -- currently known as the realm of the darknet and deep web. It's kind of funny how terms change, fueled by media pseudo-knowledge. What were once crackers became "hackers", and now they're "users" of the "darkweb" and "deepweb". Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. Whatever sells articles. FYI the best book so far is Kingpin by Kevin Poulsen. I rarely see these kinds of terms used in articles for the masses. Well done, Fox, and I'm surprised that Brazil cracked this kind of network. Somebody must have neglected to pay a bribe to a government official. This Fox translation of complicated things for the willfully uninformed public is rather good:
    The ring was buried deep inside a “darknet” – private networks built from connections between trusted peers using unconventional protocols.
    Darknets are just one part of what is known as deep web – a vast network which is not indexed by search engines such as Google and Bing. While most of the deep web is not mired in criminality - resources such as academic databases and libraries are said to make up much of its content - darknets typically run on the fortress-like Tor network.
    Tor, which stands for ‘The onion router,’ started out as a military project, but now functions largely as a highly clandestine civilian network.
For anyone curious, Tor is the public face of networks that can be nominally concealed from "authorities". It's general knowledge now that DHS / FBI has substantial inroads to Tor, so users beware. There are other schemes that are never made public, though. Food for thought, heh.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

'US-led' strikes on ISIL

As everyone knows, a coalition of at least 10 nations are conducting air strikes against ISIL in Syria and northern Iraq. I've noticed something at the BBC News website: the term "US-led" is used so frequently it seems odd. It really stands out, like the BBC has an agenda. Were they told to keep that piece of info at the forefront of viewers' minds? British government? It's used so much, to the point where it's unnecessary, that it can't be standard journalist writing.

I'm sure it's true to say US-led, but why is it being pushed to the point of absurdity? We're the world's policemen, like it or not, but our president went out of his way to get other nations involved, such as the UK and many Arab countries, like this recent BBC story says, "Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates." That's an unprecedented coalition. Is the BBC trying to assure the UK people that the UK is not leading a deadly military campaign? Are they trying to emphasize the warlike nature of the USA, which is something they love doing? It's all weird.

CNN

I quit watching CNN during the Iraq War because they sided against my country during a war. For that, there is no forgiveness. I don't mind seeing the "enemy" side of things, and I don't mind alternate points of view, but when a socialist media company openly hates America and hopes it loses a war, that's the end, permanently.

Now, I'm getting spammed by CNN. It's possible somebody other than CNN put one of my email addresses on a list to receive breaking news. But, if I learn that CNN is slamming, I'm going to sue the MOTHERFUCKING SHIT OUT OF that fetid socialist company. If that happens, I won't accept a settlement if it means a non-disclosure agreement. Those fucks.

Excuse my language. And, as I said, I don't know if CNN is slamming, or if some DB is messing with me. But oh boy would I love to take a swing at a garbage media company pushing an anti-American message. That would be raison d'etre.

Kindle Unlimited from Amazon

This is a blatant plug, for which I'm not ashamed. I'm on month two with the $9.99 service (1st month was a free trial), and I recommend it for anyone who reads a lot. I've been reading almost 3 books per week since I got it. In fact, I just found another good book in the 600,000 title collection: The Second Ship by Richard Phillips.

Here are a couple of others I plowed through on Kindle Unlimited, but there are many more I'm forgetting: The Atlantis Gene and the two sequels by Riddle, and all Michael Lewis books (yes, all of them). His Flash Boys blew me away. Fantastic.

The program offers unlimited reading of the titles on the list. Most current best-sellers are not included, but there are still tons of great books available. As a reader, it was an easy thing to do. It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet, except I'm not getting fat.

Unbroken, the movie

After I finished Unbroken a couple of years ago, I couldn't believe it wasn't already a blockbuster movie. Turns out, it's being made now. It was one of the best books I've read, and I read a minimum of two books per week, and have done so for many years. What really shocked me: the Cohen brothers are making it. Didn't seem like their kind of story.

Unbroken at IMDB