semiotic_pirate: (PirateLiberty)
Online snooping set to move up a gear
10/06/2006 - 11:51:40

A US government spy agency is funding research into the “mass harvesting” of information that people post about themselves on websites like MySpace, it has been claimed.

The New Scientist said the National Security Agency, under fire recently over reports it tracked millions of American citizens’ phone calls, had backed a study on how advances in internet technology could make mining such “social networking” sites more useful.

The magazine said tens of millions of users of such web spaces could be vulnerable to online snooping.

Phone logs had limited scope as spy tools, because they could only show a very basic picture of someone’s contact network.

But by adding online social networking data to that work, the NSA could connect people at deeper levels through shared activities, the New Scientist suggested.

Including details such as banking, retail and property records could help build an even more extensive picture of an individual.

Read more... )


May. 25th, 2006 12:04 pm
semiotic_pirate: (penguin spy)
[ profile] portia Found this by going to Google and typing in asshole and then clicking I'm Feeling Lucky.

That is just fucking AWESOME!
semiotic_pirate: (SVU flashlight-search)
Anyone who has done any running at all (training, military, track, whatever) has heard of the dreaded lactic acid. We were told it was bad, that it built up in your muscles and made them sore, that it would fatigue you. Not so! All those times at the end of track practice years ago when after we had finished stretching we would all line up with our legs propped against the wall while lying on the ground was misguided. Mitochondria yet again, throws us for a loop.

May 16, 2006
Lactic Acid Is Not Muscles' Foe, It's Fuel

Everyone who has even thought about exercising has heard the warnings about lactic acid. It builds up in your muscles. It is what makes your muscles burn. Its buildup is what makes your muscles tire and give out.

Coaches and personal trainers tell athletes and exercisers that they have to learn to work out at just below their "lactic threshold," that point of diminishing returns when lactic acid starts to accumulate. Some athletes even have blood tests to find their personal lactic thresholds.

But that, it turns out, is all wrong. Lactic acid is actually a fuel, not a caustic waste product. Muscles make it deliberately, producing it from glucose, and they burn it to obtain energy. The reason trained athletes can perform so hard and so long is because their intense training causes their muscles to adapt so they more readily and efficiently absorb lactic acid.
Read more... )
semiotic_pirate: (whoville dancing)

So, this is the film, on TCM, that [ profile] crabbyolbastard and I will be watching tonight. As it begins, CoB speaks: "I remember SEEING this... in school." Apparently he watched this in a history of film class while in college. Hrm. Totally created, screen-written, scene designs, everything by Dr. Suess - a live action Dr. Seuss movie with direct involvement by the artist who shaped the end product. It reminded me immediately of the new version of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Heh. And of course, in my tendency to over analyze something I went out in search of all the reviews I could find. Overall, it got really good reviews and I thought it would be interesting to see. I recorded them and their sources below so that I could look at them later, and possibly include them in the plot notes listed in the database when/if I end up getting it.

Read more... )
Bart: I don't think the piano is my instrument.
Dr. Terwilliker: What other instruments are there, pray tell? Scratchy violins, screechy piccolos, nauseating trumpets, et cetera, et cetera?

The only live-action Dr. Seuss movie for nearly a half-century, this delightful musical comedy is a treat--something for kids who thought they have seen everything. Young Bart (Tommy Rettig of TV's Lassie) detests his piano lessons with the fanatical Dr. Terwilliker (Hans Conried). As with Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Bart falls into a dream world in which the piano teacher--renamed Dr. T--is ruler and children are hunted down to have piano lessons. Worse yet, Dr. T has magical control over Bart's mom (Mary Healy). The Oscar-nominated songs are uneven but the art direction is superb, creating a truly magical world (and the world's longest piano). Dr. Seuss's love for language stays intact. Many kids of the 1950s might remember Bart's five-fingered beanie, which was a top seller. Great fun for all ages. --Doug Thomas (found here, followed by a large amount of very favorable customer reviews.
semiotic_pirate: (STFU!)
A Startling New Lesson in the Power of Imagery
Published: February 8, 2006

Correction Appended

They're callous and feeble cartoons, cooked up as a provocation by a conservative newspaper exploiting the general Muslim prohibition on images of the Prophet Muhammad to score cheap points about freedom of expression.

But drawings are drawings, so a question arises. Have any modern works of art provoked as much chaos and violence as the Danish caricatures that first ran in September in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten?

The story goes back a bit further, to a Danish children's author looking to write a book about the life of Muhammad, in the spirit of religious tolerance, and finding no illustrator because all the artists he approached said they were afraid. In response, the newspaper commissioned these cartoons, a dozen of them, by various satirists. And like all pictures calculated to be noticed by offending somebody, the caricaturist's stock in trade and the oldest trick in the book of modern art, they would have disappeared into deserved oblivion had not their targets risen to the bait.

The newspaper was banking on the fact that unlike the West — where Max Ernst's painting of Mary spanking the infant Jesus didn't raise an eyebrow when recently shown at the Metropolitan Museum — the Muslim world has no tradition of, or tolerance for, religious irony in its art.
Read more... )
So I am supposed to assume that the Danish paper did this on purpose, for their own amusement... To stir the pot, to get a rise out of an already upset with the world's view of itself people? What the hell were they thinking? Did they think that by doing this they would do something akin to breaking down the Berlin Wall? Did they think that by doing this (and it being repeated over and over by other newspapers) that the Islamic people would be less offended? That they would become inured to it all? Well, that is how the modernists have inured the rest of us - keep shocking and the shock begins to wane, must find something else, some other target... Of course, the western world has had a lot longer, being slowly secularized over time so that the pinpricks of, the assaults of the modernist art world no longer sting.

I find it interesting that they make a specific point to let us know that the Syrians are constantly making fun of, printing poisonous racist crap, the Jewish people. Of course, I will get the reply that racist remarks aren't quite as provoking as religious attacks. I guess it all depends on how sensitive the people being attacked are about the subject. However, religion has brought about the worst of the bloodbaths that our world has witnessed - even if some of them are also linked with economic and political gain...
semiotic_pirate: (cracking up)
Alright, this post is due to [ profile] crabbyolbastard being his crabby self about the new movie from Disney Eight Below. According to the official movie website, and all the other sites detailing the movie, this is supposed to be "inspired by" a true story. Because of viral advertising - such as the Blair Witch Project - and claims of being based upon or inspired by or... suggested by, which will someday be followed by "complete tangent from." Cob wants me to mention the possibility of "hinted at." He couldn't find, and doubted the veracity of the claim of an actual inspiring story for this movie.

In steps moi. *drumrolls and heroic trumpeting musical background score*

First hint was in this synopsis: "The film is inspired by the events of a 1958 Japanese Antarctic Expedition, which also inspired the Japanese film "Nankyoku Monogatari"(1983) a.k.a. "Antarctica." I then decided to track down any mention of said expedition and the Japanese film...

Nankyoku Monogatari sounds really good. I was touched by the user comment at the end of the page.

Then, I hit the JACKPOT. An article from The Japan Times. Voila!


So, what the heck is that?
The Japan Times: April 21, 2005

Dear Alice,

Please do me a personal favor and go to Tokyo Tower and find out the story behind that pack of dog statues at the entrance. I know what you're thinking: "A pack of dog statues? She must mean a statue of a pack of dogs." Go and you'll see what I mean. There's a pebble garden with maybe a dozen statues of dogs in random poses. I can't read the sign and I'm dying to know what the heck it's all about.

Pushba L., Tokyo

I went and you're right -- it is a pack of dog statues. The Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Nihon Dobutsu Aigo Kyokai) erected the statues in 1959 to commemorate one of the most famous Japanese dog stories I'd never heard of until I got your inquiry. I'm really glad you asked because I learned a lot in the process of getting you an answer.

In 1958, a Japanese research expedition in Antarctica had to make an emergency evacuation and was forced to leave behind 13 sled dogs. Thinking that a relief team would arrive within a few days, they left the dogs chained up outside with a small supply of food. But the weather turned so bad that the boat with the next team had to give up and head back to Japan.

Naturally, everyone felt awful about the way the dogs had been left, with absolutely no chance for survival. But nearly a year later, when a new expedition arrived, they discovered two of the dogs alive and well. Taro and Jiro were instant heroes.

I had to wipe away tears as I read the story, but there was something gnawing at me. Just what did Taro and Jiro eat all those months? What if they'd been lunching on the other pooches in the mush line? After a bit more research I was relieved to learn that some of the dogs had slipped their collars and learned to hunt penguins and seals. Of the dogs that got free, only Taro and Jiro survived the dangers of the harsh climate, but there is nothing to suggest cannibalism. In fact, the frozen corpses of several dogs were found untouched. Heroes don't eat their buddies.

All of the dogs were Karafuto-ken (Sakhalin huskies), Karafuto being the Japanese name for Sakhalin Island and ken meaning dog. The breed spiked in popularity around 1983 , when director Koreyoshi Kurahara turned the story of Taro and Jiro into a hit movie called "Nankyoku Monogatari (Tale of Antarctica)." I rented it on DVD from my local video store and recommend it, both for the moving story and the amazing scenery of Antarctica. The English version, "Antarctica," doesn't seem to be distributed in Japan, but you can buy it online.

So what became of Taro and Jiro? Despite their hero status (there are statues in their honor in other cities too, including Nagoya and Wakkanai), they both stayed on to pull sleds for the new expedition. Taro returned to Sapporo and lived at Hokkaido University until his death in 1970, after which he was stuffed (hakusei -- now there's a useful vocabulary word) and put on display at the university's museum. Jiro died in Antarctica in 1960 of natural causes. You can pay him a visit at the National Science Museum in Ueno Park, Tokyo.

Alice Gordenker
A&E Dept.
The Japan Times
5-4-5, Shibaura
Minato-ku, Tokyo
semiotic_pirate: (speak your mind)
*steps up onto the soap box*

First reported here
here and then here,

Now being dissected here,

and reported (officially) here.

Of course it is happening. Of course, in this digital age, soldiers are taking photographs of the carnage that previously we would never have seen and putting it out there for all to see. Proudly putting it out there is what it looks like. Detached from the reality of what they are showing, the horror of it. Desensitized by both training and circumstances... what are they becoming and how are we going to reintigrate their current mindset back into our society? Where is the humanity?


This is why, when I was in NYC and saw some of the original abuse photos on display I had such a visceral reaction. I was a soldier once. I was a Military Police Officer. My unit (while I was in training, I won't try and say I was there and knew what happened) went to Iraq the first time around in Desert Shield/Storm and they were running a POW camp for the many Iraqis who turned themselves in during the famous leaflet releases. It horrifies me still (what happened with England and all that's come since) because I would like to think that I would not have been doing the same thing, but how do I really know? How does anyone know how they will actually react until they are put in the situation themselves?

I recently finished reading Thud! by Terry Pratchett where Commander Vimes defeats the demon of the Summoning Dark that was lurking within him because he had a self-created policeman in his head, to keep him from doing the things that would make him (in his own eyes) into an animal (someone who mistreats prisoners, who uses his/her power for their own good and not for the good of the people, etc...). In the final pages, there is an internal confrontation between the two inside Vimes' head as the Summoning Dark tries to encourage him to kill those who had not only caused the deaths of his city's citizens but threatened to harm his own family during a deliberate attack on them:

cut )

It was because of this inner policeman (which earlier in the book he had thought was present in each person's mind to one degree or another) that whenever he was tempted throughout the book to do something horrible, tempted to do something that would be the quick and dirty way of getting something done by breaking his own laws (internal or external) in order to get either satisfaction or his job done, he was able to pull back and do it in a different way, one that agreed with the internal policeman's way of thinking, and still get the job done. With his sense of humanity intact. And he did this for his own personal ethical code, he did it for family, honor, and duty. Because somebody has to do it, and damn it if they don't do it right.

Do we become no better than the enemy in order to defeat the enemy? Would it have worked in LOTR if those in the Fellowship of the Ring, and all those who supported them were to have used Sauron's own tactics against him?

*steps down off of the soap box*

semiotic_pirate: (Default)
Yep, watching CNN, reading [ profile] interdictor's blog, reading articles elsewhere... I like many are glued to what's going on, hoping that the help that is needed will arrive finally (after DAYS of waiting)...

I'm amused though, about how CNN is almost giggling about how much fun they are having using Google's satellite pictures. "Before.... After.... Before.... After" "There's an oil spill... right here..."

And have you seen the picture? Posted on [ profile] midnightmadness's blog and then snagged by [ profile] crabbyolbastard that someone Farked? It shows the Shrub playing a guitar pasted into a picture of a woman in front of the Convention Center sobbing while holding a child on her hip.

I've been both amazed and disgusted, horrified and hopeful. As per usual, the emotions are swirling.

Good luck to all.


Aug. 27th, 2005 02:05 pm
semiotic_pirate: (Default)
How could I, in my pirate goodness, NOT include this article in my blog? Shiver me timbers, I'll be putting this wee bookie on my list to Santa. You hear that Santa?!

August 26, 2005
Avast! Pirates Steal Readers' Hearts

It was a strange day in Hollywood when someone decided that a costume drama based on an amusement park ride would sell lots of tickets. Stranger still was Johnny Depp's swishy performance in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," which, inexplicably, translated into a cascade of doubloons at the box office. A pile of gold, an ancient curse and lots of swordplay, it seems, can still do the trick, 70 years after Errol Flynn slashed his way through "Captain Blood." Mr. Depp, greatly enriched by his high crimes on the high seas, has agreed to reappear as Jack Sparrow in two "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels.

Read more... )
semiotic_pirate: (pirate grrrrrl pencil drawing)
NEW YORK Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to federal court, revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant on the name of that source. Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, now claims that at least two sources have confirmed that the name is--top White House mastermind Karl Rove.

O'Donnell first offered this report Friday night on the syndicated McLaughlin Group political talk show. Today, he went beyond that, writing a brief entry at the Huffington Post blog:

"I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's e-mails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.


"Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow."

semiotic_pirate: (Angelina eye)
Shock. Denial. Anger. Depression. Acceptance.

What is this?! I go out to walkabout nature, and what happens??? (Yes I know a lot of you have already posted about this, but I didn't see anyone with the NPR article coverage yet.) And just yesterday I bought a T-shirt on Cafe Press put together by someone that had a quote of her dissent on the KELO case. ::sigh::

Is it the end of the world as we know it?!

A Letter of Resignation

The text of Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement letter to President Bush:

Dear President Bush:

This is to inform you of my decision to retire from my position as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
effective upon the nomination and confirmation of my successor. It has been a great privilege, indeed, to have served as a member of the court for 24 terms. I will leave it with enormous respect for the integrity of the court and its role under our constitutional structure.


Sandra Day O'Connor

Click here for MUCH more about SDOC, articles, pictures, links to listen to interviews, etc... )
semiotic_pirate: (spinning tardis)
The following was written as a response to the single question essay final to a "modern" history course I took during my first semester, fall 2003, at Uconn. I continue to be surprised by things that I've written in the past during various classes. I can never seem to keep a firm grasp on all of it in my mind beyond what it takes to write whatever it is that I am required to. Does anyone else have this problem? I am usually left with an overall sense of what it boils down to, something that simmers in my subconscious, and it all serves as a base line on all decisions I make about the important stuff in life.

The question was, (approximately) "What was more important to the development of the Western world, the Renaissance or the French Revolution and why?" or maybe it was kind of a show me the progression of what was important and why you think it was so, etc...

Secularization of Society, The Displacement of Man From The Center of The Universe )
semiotic_pirate: (Default)
Okay, I'm totally disgusted here... I am an advocate for Choice... however, I believe that tests run during the first trimester of pregnancy can find most if not all deformities and congenital defects, etc. There is NO REASON that a doctor should be able to make this decision. Not only that, but it isn't going to stop with babies... it's going to escalate into the entire handicapped and mentally-challenged community... and probably further, once people are used to it. WE CANNOT ACCEPT THIS!

(Note: I have everything published so far in the news, except for the LA Times because I refuse to sign up for yet ANOTHER newspaper.)

Death by Committee
What the Groningen Protocol says about our world, and where it might lead next.

by Hugh Hewitt
12/02/2004 12:00:00 AM
Read more... )

Netherlands Hospital Euthanizes Babies
Nov 30, 4:24 PM (ET)

Read more... )

Euthanasia debate in Europe focuses on children
Knight Ridder Newspapers

Read more... )

and now for a little bit of a history lesson...

The Wannsee Conference and the "Final Solution"
Read more... )
semiotic_pirate: (Default)
Hmmmn. Now we know why so many people use storage units... (well that and the way CSI had them being used on last night's show.)

Authorities confirm woman's deathbed murder confession
By Jay Lindsay, Associated Press, 11/19/2004 16:36
Read more... )

The case shows how easily people can be forgotten in a fast-moving society, Coakley said.

''The reality of it is ... people go missing all the time,'' she said. ''We see it. It's not that difficult to make people disappear in a transient society.''


semiotic_pirate: (Default)

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