Friday, October 20, 2006

Nukes of Hazard

Kim Jong Il just wants to be loved. Is that so bad? It was a cry for attention; a cry for help.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told a visiting Chinese delegation that the communist nation was not planning a second nuclear weapons test, a South Korean news agency reported Friday.

The news agency, Yonhap, attributed the information to a diplomatic source in Beijing.

Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan led a delegation that met Kim on Thursday in Pyongyang to deliver a message from Chinese President Hu Jintao.
I'm guessing that China had his balls in a vice. They are plenty pissed off. Maybe this is what China meant by not needing any military actions as penalties in the new sanctions.

I have this image of Kim Jong Il tied to a chair in a smokey, dim-lit room. Two juiced goons are next to him with sleeves rolled up and holding baseball bats. All the while a slim, reedy looking Chinese diplomat with reptilian eyes is staring hard at him saying, "Now about those nuclear tests..."

You know, the Al Capone School of Negotiation.

PS - That title is a blantant steal from the cover of a Red Eye issue(a tabloid format put out by the Chicago Tribune). It's a freaking brilliant title and I couldn't resist.

Hey! I'm Insane, Too!

Sensing the world's attention focused on North Korea's Kim Jong Il, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has issued a warning to Europe, reminding us that Kim Jong Il is not the only rabidly crazy world leader.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned Europe that it may pay a heavy price for its support of Israel.

"You should believe that this regime (Israel) cannot last and has no more benefit to you. What benefit have you got in supporting this regime, except the hatred of the nations?" he said in nationally broadcast speech Friday.

"We have advised the Europeans that the Americans are far away, but you are the neighbors of the nations in this region," he said.
Does he really expect us to believe that Israel is the reason for this hatred? Or the hatred of the Middle East?


I think Steven Den Beste, back when he was writing on USS Clueless, exposed the real reason for the resentment and seemingly white hot fury aimed at the Western World. From his article written on 1 Aug 2002:
The problem is that Americans permit freedom of religion; Islam is tolerated and even celebrated here, along with many other religions. We certainly are making no important attempts to suppress it. But it doesn't seem to be dominating, and there's no sign that their attitudes are affecting us in any significant way. On the other hand, American ideas and attitudes are infiltrating their own societies and eating away at the foundation of Islamic practice. We offer things which are attractive to individuals, and they find them irresistible. Their young people want to wear blue-jeans. They want to listen to loud music. They like the idea of dating one another, just like young people do in the west. To reactionary Islamic zealots, it's not just that they don't seem to be spreading the faith, but that the faith is being eaten alive by a sinful attraction to our heathen ways. Islam is actually in retreat. It can't even be secure in its own nations, let alone try to take over ours.

The Q'uran also tells them that their nations should be powerful and important, and there was a time when it was true. The golden age of the Islamic empire was glorious. It also ended 600 years ago, and these days the reality is that the only reason that Saudi Arabia isn't a terribly impoverished third world nation is that it's sitting on reserves of oil. But among the Islamic nations, the only ones who have managed to succeed at anything other than selling natural resources have been those which have adopted western ways, western technology, western attitudes. The more devoutly Islamic a nation is, the more it seems to be a failure in all other ways. To be devout should mean being strong, but it seems to make them weak. It's almost as if the Q'uran was wrong – but the Q'uran cannot be wrong; it's the word of God.

So we (you and I) are a living, walking, talking heresy. We're not even trying to spread our culture to the Islamic nations; it just happens on its own because, quite frankly, they are not very fun places to live. Irrespective of whether a devout Islamic life might be good for the soul, it's boring and unpleasant for the body and mind. The people there prefer our lifestyle; they eagerly seek it out. We seem to have no interest at all in their culture, however, except as an intellectual curiosity. There's zero chance of American women adopting the abaya, for example.
In summary, we are an affront to their entire world-view. We are infidels, but worse than that we are prosperous and happy infidels with no desire to convert to the correct religion. And our prosperity is contagious. The hard-liners resent and fear this. The corruption, as they see it, of their culture is a deadly threat and they work tirelessly to eliminate its cause.


So when Iran says that our support of Isreal will cause a backlash, I say how can that be any worse than things stand now? Ahmadinejad's impetus is similar to Kim Jon Il's. He's simply being more subtle about it. His goal is to maneuver the situation so that the fear of the Middle East will soften or reduce the impact of any sanctions imposed by the UN over their nuclear program. North Korea was a wake-up call for the UN. It showed that a hard stance is needed at the outset, with tough sanctions that actually have teeth.

This is the last thing Iran wants or needs. After all this bluster and posturing, he stands to lose enormous face in the Middle East if the Western world manages to effectively castrate his nuclear program.

But this is exactly what we need to do. Ahmadinejad has shown that he is not the most... emotionally stable of world leaders. I truly fear what would happen if he manages to join the club of nuclear powers.

Do I think that Iran would bootstrap their program from energy production to weapons production?

Yes, I do. I also think that these weapons will end up in the hands of extremists. Iran has already shown it's willingness to arm terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah with large scale munitions and weapons.

It's time to make a stand.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Holy Bad Touch, Batman!

Honest to God, I though Foley was making this up.

Stingrays 2, Humans 0

I have to laugh.
A leaping stingray stabbed an 81-year-old Florida boater in the chest, authorities said Wednesday, leaving its poisonous stinger lodged close to his heart in an incident recalling the one that killed Australian TV naturalist Steve Irwin last month.
Now the damn things are leaping out of the water to get us.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Jihad 2.0

This has got me a little concerned.
On October 17, 2006, an Islamist website posted a message titled "You Can Spy on the Enemies' Airports Directly by Controlling the Cameras' Direction." The message contains a link to a screen showing what it claims to be a live view of various areas within Anchorage International Airport via several cameras ( The message gives directions for how to control the cameras and promises to provide links in the future for other airports as well.
The sample screen-shots on that page are from "Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport". I thought one of the requirements of having a place named after you was being dead (or is it for his father?)

The TSA and Homeland Security like to tout their initiatives to prevent unlikely movie-style terrorist plots and waste time foiling unlikely binary explosives. How about they spend just a teeny amount on securing our nation's airport computer networks?

The new arena of war and agression is the Internet. And the new special forces in this theater are the hackers (for good or ill).

And if you don't beleive that Islamic terrorists do not have people actively attacking our network infrastructures... well, I have a bridge in Alaska I want to sell you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's Like Choosing Sides Betwen Hitler and Stalin

I never thought I'd say this. I'm actually rooting for Wal-Mart, here.
Less-expensive CDs are something consumers have been demanding for years. But here's the hitch: Wal-Mart is tired of losing money on cheap CDs. It wants to keep selling them for less than $10 -- $9.72, to be exact -- but it wants the record industry to lower the prices at which it purchases them. Last winter, Wal-Mart asked the industry to supply it with choice albums -- from new releases from alternative rockers the Killers to perennial classics such as Beatles 1 -- at favorable prices. According to music-industry sources, Wal-Mart executives hinted that they could reduce Wal-Mart's CD stock and replace it with more lucrative DVDs and video games.

"This wasn't framed as a gentle negotiation," says one label rep. "It's a line in the sand -- you don't do this, then the threat is this." (Wal-Mart denies these claims.) As a result, all of the major labels agreed to supply some popular albums to Wal-Mart's $9.72 program. "We're in such a competitive world, and you can't reach consumers if you're not in Wal-Mart," admits another label executive.
This has got the RIAA shitting bricks. Wal-Mart is a huge percentage of their sales. Wal-Mart could severely hurt the music industry if they cut back on their inventory. Wal-Mart would barely notice; CDs are a loss-leader to them. The RIAA (and the associated labels) is the poster child for rampant greed. Yes CDs cost money to make, but to have the price point close to, and sometimes exceeding, DVDs? That's ridiculous. I cannot believe any album incurs more costs than a motion picture. It's about time someone with more clout puts them in their place.
Virtually no industry executives would publicly comment about their company's relationship with Wal-Mart. But off the record, many record-industry executives shared their concerns. "I don't think there is a music supplier in America who really enjoys doing business with Wal-Mart," says one major-label rep.
Oh, cry me a fucking river. After your shotgun legal cases aimed at file sharing, your insane profit margins, and the gouging of the majority of your contracted artists (anyone remember TLC declaring bankruptcy the same year they had a platinum record?) I have absolutely no sympathy when you end up being the ones bending over and taking it in the ass.

Lube up boys. Time to price your merchandise fairly (or at least more fairly than before)

Technology Tuesday

Kind of a light day, but here's an interesting stroll down memory lane. I remember almost all of these commercials.

A Brief History of Computers, As Seen in Old TV Ads

Monday, October 16, 2006

Uh Oh. Jack Chewed Through The Restraints, Again.

I don't even play Grand Theft Auto and I want to kneecap this publicity whore.
A US judge has rejected attempts to ban videogame Bully in Florida, after complaints it was a "public nuisance".

Judge Ronald Friedman said that violence in the school-based game did not mean it was a nuisance.

The attempt to ban the title was made by lawyer Jack Thompson, a well-known campaigner against what he believes are violent video games.
This goofball is the biggest moron out there. His biggest complaint is that this game will spawn more "Columbines". The idea that a game influences copy-cat violence is... tenuous, at best. Usually, there's a lot more going on in the noggin of a murderer and perpetrator of a violent act than a replay of the last game level they played. What I find most disturbing about his arguments is the he appears to remove any semblance of personal responsibility in the commission of a violent acts. And parental responsibility from actually, you know, raising a child. It's all the games (and by extension the developer's) fault. He sees the game industry as this insidious puppet master influencing millions of innocent teens around the world.

It's mind control, I tell ya!

He seems to have a real hard-on for Rockstar Games (of the Grand Theft Auto infamy). Every time they come out with a game, out comes the lawyerin' hat.

Here's the wikipedia entry on him. Read it. Especially the litigation section. It's good for a laugh.

Here's a fun Jack Thompson fact (I forgot he was the one that did this):
Thompson gave Reno a letter at a campaign event requesting that she check a box to indicate whether she was homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual. Thompson said that Reno then put her hand on his shoulder and responded, “I’m only interested in virile men. That’s why I’m not attracted to you.” He filed a police report accusing her of battery for touching him. In response, Reno asked Florida governor Bob Martinez to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate. The special prosecutor rejected the charge and concluded that Thompson did it as “a political ploy.” Reno was ultimately re-elected with 69% of the vote. Thompson repeated allegations that Reno was a lesbian when she was nominated as U.S. Attorney General, leading one of her supporters, lieutenant governor Buddy MacKay, to dismiss him as a “kook.”
This guy is seriously insane, although I must admit I do enjoy watching him froth at the mouth. And arguing with 14 yr olds via email.

And losing.

I'm In Bizarro World

I am stunned by this. This is twice now that news has come out recently of the UN acting sensibly. First the rather stringent North Korea sanctions and now this.
Guatemala topped Venezuela in the first four rounds of voting Monday for a U.N. Security Council seat, but it failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority to win a two-year term on the powerful United Nations body.

That result opened the door for others to join the race, in what could be a blow to both countries' chances for a seat. Now diplomats will search for a compromise candidate to break the deadlock.

The results were an embarrassment to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who had waged a highly public campaign on the claim that his nation would use its seat on the council to speak out against the United States. The U.S. and its allies argued that Venezuela's stance could stymie the council and undermine its credibility.
Venezuela's ambassador certainly did not go gently into the night.
Venezuela's U.N. Ambassador Francisco Arias Cardenas complained the United States has pressured countries worldwide to prevent Venezuela from winning the rotating seat.
I think Chavez's recent bit of performance-art at the UN last month was what prevented their seat. The UN figured out it would be exceeding its quota for crazy if Venezuela had been elected to the Security Council.

Paint me cynical, but I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. The UN will do something totally boneheaded (and completely in character) sometime soon.