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Two posts in a week...'strewth Jul. 24th, 2014 @ 05:39 pm
Saw these:

Wherein is described ISIS's issuing of a Fatwa that all women between the ages of 11 and 46 have to have FGM. (Female genital mutilation.)

My own opinion is that the men ordering this to happen should be castrated. But I accept that for some people my position is a trifle extreme. However, just as I have little tolerance for the Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank, I have absolutely no tolerance for this sort of behaviour. In fact I'm seething with so much anger that if Israel started shelling these ISIS arseholes, I'd be standing back and applauding the Israelis. And if the US and the EU started arming Assad's Syrian regime properly, I'd be happy for them to. And even if the US and EU carpet bombed the "Caliphate", I'd raise a toast to the US and EU forces, and wish them well.

I guess that sometimes my enemy's enemy is, if not my friend, then at least someone I'm prepared to buy a beer for and not comment too much or too often on the fact he beats his kids...with a public. And in comparison to ISIS and the extremist Fundamentalist Muslims, Israel seems like a beacon of hope. And yet I really hate what Israel is doing to it's Palestinian population.

So, I'm conflicted, as the argot has it. Cognitive dissonance is paralysing me. I know the two situations (ISIS and Israel/Gaza) are distinct and separate, nevertheless I can't help but link them together because of proximity and religion.

Do you feel the way I do? And should we just bomb all the evil bastards back to the stone-age? Or just drone-strike all the religious leaders and politicians who contribute to this clusterfuck of evil? (For that matter, have we enough drones?)

Someone please tell me this is actually the 21st century, not some mediæval theme park with modern weaponry. Aargh!

The Unforgotten Jul. 24th, 2014 @ 07:05 am


Everyone should be respected as an individual, but no one idolized. - Albert Einstein

The European Court of Justice brought into existence Europe's "right to be forgotten" ruling. In a nutshell, Europe wanted to protect citizens from the fact that the Internet never forgets.

The particular case heard by the court involved a Spanish man who was in the press for serious debt problems, but who later climbed out of debt. The court ordered Google, Bing and other search engines to remove his name as a search query that returned the outdated information about his finances. The court ruled that the public should have a right to petition search engines to remove search results for resolved indiscretions that are not a matter of public record.

This has thrown the journalism industry into a panic. They are no longer guaranteed access to references and searches for their news stories with the greatest of ease. As a result, as is the case with the majority of people that are directly affected by a political direction, they are demanding immediate action from somebody else to resolve this issue for them.

The Washington Post Editorial Board thinks it should be our government at all levels that should preserve access to the information they’d like to have to do their jobs with the greatest of ease. Mike Elgan, who is a frequent contributor to Computerworld, a trade magazine for the computer tech industry, believes Google itself should provide a peer-to-peer TOR style shadow network that bypasses government oversight and regulation to provide easy access to the Internet’s “dark internet” underbelly so as to provide convenient snooping on everybody but Mike Elgan.

There is not going to be any fantasy simple or conveniently balanced solution between privacy and security on the internet, no matter how much everybody demands it. No one wants to be responsible for determining where the line should be drawn. And even if someone would, the decision isn’t going to be accepted or tolerated by a substantial number of people.

On-topic: It's poverty that pushes all those hordes to the US border Jul. 23rd, 2014 @ 09:29 pm

Obama Asks for $3.7 Billion to Aid Border...

Behind the thousands of brown people flocking to the southern US border there are thousands of stories - many of them about people living on a couple of dollars per week in countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. People with no prospects of a future, people barely making ends meet, and dreaming the American dream. Some rely on growing corn and coffee, many are permanently jobless, and the younger among them have left north a long time ago. There is no future for their children. So they venture into the drastic step of taking all the risks that come with a trip to the US border.

...Only to be yelled and spat at by angry locals, in turn heirs to immigrants to the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, who had arrived there decades and maybe centuries ago. If those immigrants of old ever saw how their successors are "welcoming" the new newcomers, they would probably turn in their graves, throw their hands in the air, yell "bah humbug" and sail back home.

A recent piece at The Daily Show concluded that America is a place where older immigrants can hate on newer immigrants. Jon Stewart also compared the Statue of Liberty to a bouncer. Food for thought indeed.

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"Nobody likes to see dead children." Jul. 22nd, 2014 @ 12:21 pm
Thane Rosenbaum opens his Wall Street Journal editorial with the obligatory moue of regret: “Let’s state the obvious: Nobody likes to see dead children.”

These are what I call “magic words,” that is, words that are intended to magically render the indefensible and immoral somehow defensible and moral. Whenever you read or see this oh-so-regretful face pulled near the beginning of an editorial, you know it’s going to be followed by the hardening of the jaw and narrowing of the eyes meant to indicate the writer isn’t allowing any namby-pamby sentimentality about children, little old ladies and baby seals to get into the way of his clear-eyed understanding of What Needs to be Done.

Rosenbaum goes on to say that

On some basic level, you forfeit your right to be called civilians when you freely elect members of a terrorist organization as statesmen, invite them to dinner with blood on their hands and allow them to set up shop in your living room as their base of operations. At that point you begin to look a lot more like conscripted soldiers than innocent civilians. And you have wittingly made yourself targets.

Other writers have pointed out the obvious parallel to Osama Bin Laden’s 2002 justification for targeting American civilians:

Why are we fighting and opposing you? The answer is very simple... the American people are the ones who choose their government by way of their own free will; a choice which stems from their agreement to its policies... This is why the American people cannot be not innocent of all the crimes committed by the Americans and Jews against us. Allah, the Almighty, legislated the permission and the option to take revenge.

I have a dream: I have a dream that someday, somehow, we will all understand that not applying human rights to peoples we hate renders the term “human rights” meaningless.

Personal freedom versus public good. Jul. 22nd, 2014 @ 05:35 pm
This rather concentrated my thinking today.

Wherein we find that due to an outbreak of bubonic plague, the whole Chinese city of Yumen has been sealed off by the Chinese authorities.

And I came to the conclusion that folks right to freedom of movement can sometimes be curtailed for the good of the majority... i.e. I find myself in agreement with the Chinese authorities, which is not my preferred political position, but nevertheless.

Ergo, I'm fairly sure I'm alone in this opinion.

So as a bit of Friday Lulz, if that's the phrase I'm trying to use inexactly: I wonder if there are any other, maybe less extreme, circumstances in which the panel thinks individual freedoms of some can be curtailed for the good of the many?

One more potential source of instability in East Europe Jul. 21st, 2014 @ 07:37 pm
Buna seara, plictisit prietenii mei! Ev'ning, m'dear bored fellows! Today I'm gonna occupy you with the story of a people who live so far away from you that you probably wouldn't care to try locating them on the map, even after I tell you how funny the name of their ethnic group sounds. Thing is, for them the EU is something bad, very bad. You see, obviously Brussels desperately wants to strangle their economy by insisting on painful modernization, while refusing to buy their glorious agricultural products. Romania is threatening them with cultural and social assimilation, and is hungry for territory. And in this disastrous situation where dangers lurk behind every corner, the only possible savior is... Russia.

That's how European integration looks in the eyes of the ethnic minorities in Moldova, the tiny country that neighbors on Ukraine to the south-west. Many Russians and Ukrainians in Transnistria, and Bulgarians and Gagauz in Gagauzia are concerned that Chisinau's cordial relations with Brussels could endanger their civil rights. While everyone was preoccupied with Russia's geopolitical retaliation to Ukraine's decision to side with Brussels, last month Moldova quietly signed an association agreement with the EU, which only fuels these fears some more, and gives new momentum to all the separatist rhetoric.

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"Buk" rocket: how it works and why Russia is a sponsor of terrorism Jul. 20th, 2014 @ 11:53 am
For me  it`s clear that Russia is directly responsibe for MH-17 flight crash.

Look, this is "Buk" rocket launcher.


Range - 25 km. So it is shooting down literally what is flying over your head at the moment.

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Developing story: Who Pushed the Button? Jul. 19th, 2014 @ 12:45 am
Sorry to spoil the nice Friday mood, but...

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: Was the cure for Aids lost along with Joep Lange and 100 top researchers?

"There are fears the cure for Aids could have been lost with 100 of the “best and brightest” scientists and researchers on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Joep Lange, a world-renowned researcher and former president of the International Aids Society, was with the group heading to the global Aids 2014 conference in Melbourne, Australia. The exact number of scientists he was travelling with has not been confirmed but delegates in Sydney were told that emails indicted around 100 attendees were on the ill-fated plane."

Just hours after the tragic airplane crash of the Malaysian airplane over Ukraine which took 298 lives, among them three infants and the above-mentioned top 100 world AIDS experts, the Western and the Russian media got very busy tossing the ball into each other's court and asking the question how has it come to this. And while Ukraine, Russia and the Russian separatists in East Ukraine are exchanging accusations for the downed commercial airplane, their respective mouthpieces are also shooting with all barrels.

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Friday Lulz: Stephen King vs Edgar Allan Poe. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 3. Jul. 18th, 2014 @ 10:39 am
Who won?

Poe. Hands down.

What do you think?

Friday fun... Gorgeous historical pics Jul. 18th, 2014 @ 08:09 pm
Many photographs only become iconic shots years later, once we understand their importance and historical context. From historical landmarks and famous people to the basic daily routines of the past, these pictures portray the past in a way that we can empathize with and understand more intimately.

These photographs all tell stories about the historical figures or events that they represent. Once taken simply to document their present, they now help us witness the past.

Some examples...Collapse )

Friday lulz: World Cup's awesomestest photoshop-bombs Jul. 18th, 2014 @ 04:04 pm

Now that the World Cup is over, we're being flooded with analyses of what happened in Brazil over the course of the last month - but also Tweets with photoshopped jabs at key events from the tournament, some of which are, frankly, quite awesome.

From RVP's plunging header against the Spaniards, to Suarez' vicious "Jaws"-style attack, to the heroics of the Mexican and US goalkeepers, to Dutch GK Cillessen's funny posture at the goal post, to Argentine coach Sabella's "almost-fainting" at the sideline - it's all there!

Behold the weirdness!Collapse )

Yet another science-phobic knee-jerk reaction Jul. 17th, 2014 @ 07:16 pm
Scientists: We're 'very close' to finding another Earth

"Scientists looking for signs of life in the universe -- as well as another planet like our own -- are a lot closer to their goal than people realize."

That said, I've been browsing through the comment sections under the related articles and videos (I know I know, big mistake), and I came across something that was pretty much to the following effect:

"...Those guys from NASA with their frequent 'good news' and 'encouraging results' about finding Earth-like planets are constantly looking for ways to justify the excessive spending of taxpayer money for useless stuff by giving false hopes to those same taxpayers".

Or something like that.

Well, what could I say to this. First off, in fact NASA's budget has steadily been sliding down in relation to the federal budget - in reality it's smaller by orders of magnitude than, say, the enormous funds that are being spent on constantly crafting ever more sophisticated shooting and exploding toys. While one could argue that the development of military technology ultimately drives technological progress overall, it's not like space exploration hasn't been bringing direct benefits to the human civilization.

As NdGT has said, the ratio between the budget for science/technology and the military one is quite telling - it speaks volumes about humankind's current priorities (as do knee-jerk responses like the above-cited). And the verdict is really not flattering at all, to put it mildly.

On the other hand, there's this argumentCollapse )

The Worst Piece of Journalism in History Jul. 16th, 2014 @ 08:15 pm

That's what the Blaze is calling it, anyway.  Yes, it is the Blaze, but one really does have to wonder what the Hell Rolling Stone's editors were thinking.

I am talking about the July 2014 issue's, "5 Most Dangerous Guns in America", which can be found at

I'll be the first to admit that I'm very pro-Second (as you guys doubtless know by now).  Still, I would think that such an article would analyze data from the FBI or maybe the CDC and identify the five firearms models that are responsible for the most deaths.  That seems to have been far too much trouble for Rolling Stone, though.  To illustrate my point, I present to you the five most dangerous passenger automobiles in America:

1. sports cars
2. small cars
3. pickups
4. SUVs
5. minivans

Of course there's not a whole lot left; that's almost the only kinds of passenger cars there are (source, by the way, is , Table 2).  This took me about two minutes to find via Google.  A more meaningful analysis would have examined the most dangerous models of vehicle, and why- much like Forbes did here (time to Google: about 2 more minutes).

Personally, I'm wondering what Rolling Stone's goal was by telling us, "Hey, firearms are dangerous"!  Were they short a few pages?  Was someone's niece begging for a chance to prove herself as a journalist prodigy (if so, she might want to rethink her choice of careers)?  Or was this a very cheap, very superficial political piece with no other purpose but to smear the very idea of firearm ownership?

Knowing the Left, it is this last theory.  I predict at least one comment here that will reinforce my suspicions.  Then again, the author acknowledges that the FBI does not keep record of specific models involved in firearms deaths.  But that just brings me back to 'why bother'? (It's not even factually correct. Revolvers have revolving barrels? Really?)

Rolling Stone, I am disappoint.  You went from that excellent Bain Capital article in August 2012 to...this.

Iron Domes and the rejection of the Two-State solution: Jul. 15th, 2014 @ 04:53 pm
Benjamin Nutandyahoo, the heroic American Jew who decided that American Jews aren't properly Jewish enough to be Israelis, has been able to reap good PR for his Iron Dome missile defense system:

cut for long sequence of links for the link-phobicCollapse )

The Israelis regularly vow to use overwhelming force to pulverize Hamas's poorly-aimed missiles, and have developed missile shields that theoretically are supposed to nullify the very threat of said missiles to begin with. Hamas keeps firing these missiles in perpetuity without much of any evident effect, blockade or no blockade, war or not a war, be damned. Somehow, in some way, the Israelis are convinced that all the running they can do to stay in the same place will lead them to the end of the rainbow, but the quest's repeated failure inclines one to believe that the rhetoric of Nutandyahoo is just an obfuscation for a deeper issue. In particular, one might be inclined to believe that the Iron Dome's supposed effectiveness and convenient ineffectiveness whenever most convenient indicates that this is the incident that Israel might use to illustrate how superficial its withdrawal from Gaza was in the first place.

In short, if the iron Dome is this super-effective weapon that nullifies all threats, then three kidnapped Israelis and one dead Palestinian are not justification for a massive ground troop deployment. If the Iron Dome is an overly expensive white elephant that fails to deliver, then Hamas is still not a credible challenge to the IDF, but the ground troop deployment makes more sense. Israel loves to claim to be simultaneously an 800 pound gorilla and Popeye sans spinach facing the incredible Hulk. It cannot be both at once and people who accept that it is both at once should question why an extremely effective missile defense system needs tens of thousands of ground troops to bolster an invulnerable system with a 100% success rate.

Whence it came, thither it went Jul. 16th, 2014 @ 12:24 am
Luck does have a sick sense of humor, doesn't it...

Shuttered: Belgian Soccer Fan Loses Model Gig After Hunting Photo Sparks Outcry

Well, seems like now-(in)famous gorgeous Belgian soccer fan Axelle Despiegelaere (bonus points if you manage to pronounce the surname), who L'Oreal recently "liked" and chose for their newest acquisition, is now witnessing her dream of making an illustrious career in modelling come to an abrupt and premature end.

Turns out, after a somewhat more thorough browsing through the lady's profiles in the social networks (Twitter in particular), some things surfaced that were deemed rather unpleasant from the standpoint of a reputed cosmetic corporation that's supposed to be upholding moral principles (yeah, really).

Behold the issue that stirred the nestCollapse )

Peculiarities of the Chinese dream Jul. 14th, 2014 @ 04:29 pm
The Chinese leaders often like to describe their approach to reform in poetic terms. Deng Xiaoping who took a course towards opening up to the world more than three decades ago, and introduced the "four modernisations" that changed the country, described that undertaking as "crossing the river by feeling for stones". The current president Xi Jinping who's walking in Deng's steps says the reform has entered "deepwater area". Meanwhile, there's a mood among the elites in Beijing that there may be no stones left on the way that one could use for stepping, so they'll now need to start swimming. Because we're talking of changes in complex and delicate areas (like the capital markets), the end goal being no less than a complete transformation of the economy.

While China is groping and paddling its way through the river of the now worn-out growth towards a more sustainable development, the world is looking anxiously, and with some hope. These moods will be dominating the upcoming Merkel-Jinping meeting in Beijing. In her 7th visit to China since she took over in Berlin, Merkel will be accompanied by a large business delegation, including CEOs from Siemens, Volkswagen, Airbus, Lufthansa, Deutsche Bank and a number of other German corporate giants, to whom China is a key market and a potential source of growth. But there are also risks, apart from promises of a bright future. At the background of a slowing economy and the uncertainty about where the reforms would end up, a recent report of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China warns that the golden age of doing business with the Asian giant may've passed already.

But that's not necessarily a bad thingCollapse )
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Sarko's uphill battle Jul. 13th, 2014 @ 06:29 pm

This irritated, unshaven guy is no one else but Nicolas Sarkozy, the infamous former French president. Now he's facing a 10 year jail sentence and half a million euros fine on charges of corruption and minipulation a of criminal investigation.

Once he was released from detention, he left the police station in a black limo with dimmed windows. One could've mistaken the tiny, shaggy passenger on the back seat with a Parisian pimp who'd been prosecuted for petty swindle at Champs-Elysees or something. But in fact, Mr Bling Bling is well known for his affinity to posh watches and shiny sunglasses, and much, much more beyond that. He's now the first French president to ever get into police custody. He's now facing a reality that'll be very different from his 5 years at the Palace d'Elysee. There's a strong case building against him on charges of corruption, trade with influence and violation of professional confidence.

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"Actual Violence" Jul. 11th, 2014 @ 08:56 pm
Some of you might remember something I posted four years ago about right wing thug Mike Vanderboegh and his blog call for loyal patriots to smash the windows of Democratic Party Offices. The result -- surprise surprise! -- was the smashing of windows in several Democratic Party Offices. Mr. Vanderboegh opined that he wasn't promoting "actual violence." “How ambiguous is it if I say break windows? Am I saying kill people, absolutely not,” he said.

As I pointed out, the comments section on his blog didn't exactly jibe with his insistence that, oh mercy no, he wasn't talking about KILLING people. They included:

“Today it was bricks, tomorrow it will be ???? The fuse has been lit.”

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Friday fun - Spock disproves paper... Jul. 12th, 2014 @ 12:54 am
I found this quite amazing, really.

Each gesture beats out seven others, and is beaten by the remaining seven.

And this doesn't even begin to describe how complicated the next level is...

Well, well, well. What can I say? Jul. 11th, 2014 @ 11:22 am

WTF did just happen out there!?Collapse )
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