Saturday, April 25, 2015
via Boing Boing: "The school bus driver in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec told 8 year old Sarah Auger she wasn't allowed to read on the way to and from school because she might poke herself in the eye with a corner of the book. He also speculated that other children might be tempted to rise from their seats to look at her book...
The Hautes-Rivière school board conceded that books are "obviously" not dangerous, but they backed the driver anyway, because "the person who drives the bus is allowed to make the rules.""
Friday, April 24, 2015
New Deadites! Everything You Need To Know About The New Evil Dead Show: "Evil Dead is back. Starz is digging up the original Evil Dead franchise (along with the creators and star) and giving the horror comedy its own series. But how will this work? Where is Ash? What happened to the Deadites? We got all your questions answered. Executive producer Robert Tapert and Evil Dead superstar and executive producer Bruce Campbell joined additional executive producer Sam Raimi (who is also writing and directing the pilot) for an hour-long conference call that we attended. The trio was asked absolutely everything you could ever want to know about their new series Ash Vs. The Evil Dead."
'Hail to the king, baby.'
'Dirty Wars.' - "...the American people would be extraordinarily surprised if they could see the difference between what they believe a law says and how it has actually been interpreted in secret." - Senator Wyden
"Somehow, in front of our eyes, undeclared wars have been launched in countries across the globe. Foreigners and citizens alike assassinated by presidential decree. The war on terror transformed into a self-fulfilling prophecy. How does a war like this ever end?"
Dirty Wars: "Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill travels to Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other countries where the United States has taken military action in the War on Terror. In Afghanistan, he investigates the United States military and government cover-up of the deaths of five civilians, including two pregnant women killed by US soldiers from the Joint Special Operations Command. After investigating the attack, Scahill travels to other sites of JSOC intervention, interviewing both proponents and opponents, and the survivors, of such raids, including U.S. Senator Ron Wyden."
THE FILM | Dirty Wars: "We encounter two parallel casts of characters. The CIA agents, Special Forces operators, military generals, and U.S.-backed warlords who populate the dark side of American wars go on camera and on the record, some for the first time. We also see and hear directly from survivors of night raids and drone strikes, including the family of the first American citizen marked for death and being hunted by his own government. Dirty Wars takes viewers to remote corners of the globe to see first-hand wars fought in their name and offers a behind-the-scenes look at a high-stakes investigation. We are left with haunting questions about freedom and democracy, war and justice."
Dirty Wars (2013) Movie Script | SS: "What we were being asked to do, and where, and for what purpose. A lot of it was of questionable legality. And most of it was outside of any stated battlefield. Kinetic operations, whether it's capture or kill, in some cases to detain, people as directed by the United States government. They launched their own internalized interrogation program, without the knowledge of the conventional U.S. military forces, or even the CIA. Because of the extreme secrecy surrounding the program, there was a variety of abuses.
I would say that, yes. The president has made a political and military calculation to let the joint special operations command run wild."
Scahill: So you're saying j-soc is able to hit harder under President Obama than they were under President Bush?
Harder, faster, quicker, with the full support of the the White House."
"Senator Wyden: It's important for the American people to know when the president can kill an American citizen and when they can't, and yet it is almost as if there are two laws in America, and the American people would be extraordinarily surprised if they could see the difference between what they believe a law says and how it has actually been interpreted in secret.
Scahill: You're not permitted to disclose that difference publicly.
Wyden: That's correct."
"We're now seeing the effects of covert intervention in countries on multiple continents without any thought to future repercussions. And it has radically expanded. At one point it was 40 countries. It is now expanded to over 75. And there are dozens, if not hundreds, of concurrent operations. But in theory, Congress is supposed to have oversight of these operations. They don't want to step into the dark and see what goes on behind the curtain. Joint special operations command became a paramilitary arm of the administration. And billions upon billions of dollars was poured into JSOC. What we have essentially done is created one hell of a hammer. And for the rest of our generation, for the rest of my lifetime, this force will be continually searching for a nail."
"Justice." "Equality." - 'Petraeus gets 2 years probation, $100K fine, can travel to speak overseas, lives happily ever after.'
Via Boing Boing: "David Petraeus, a top West Point grad who led U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, pled guilty Thursday to sharing classified information with his biographer/lover. Fellow leaker Chelsea Manning, on the other hand, remains in prison. And earlier this week, federal prosecutors called for accused leaker and former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling to serve up to 24 years in prison."
'Avengers' director Joss Whedon is pumped for 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' (video) - Batman News: "“I found [the trailer for ‘Batman v Superman’] interesting,” he tells Yahoo Movies in our interview above, “Because they’re bringing up a lot of issues that we bring up in ‘Age of Ultron’ and I think it’s inevitable.” “People with power, who are good, do not always agree and it makes perfect sense for me that [Batman and Superman] would fight. And besides… Batman and Superman are gonna fight! I’m so excited! I’m so excited!” Check out the full video interview above for more, and this GIF that Joss Whedon will probably regret for the rest of his life."
Joss Whedon wishes Batman could join The Avengers (video) - Batman News: "It’s no secret that Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon is a big Batman fan. Yesterday he fanboy’d over the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, and he’s expressed interest in directing a Batman movie in the past as well. When MTV asked Whedon which DC Comics character he wishes could join his Avengers universe, naturally he picked The Dark Knight. “Nobody doesn’t want Batman,” he said. “Everybody wants to play with Batman. Come on! That’s just a given. He would be the first”."
Via: "The Basics Eat: Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, high-fat dairy, fats, healthy oils and maybe even some tubers and non-gluten grains. Don’t Eat: Sugar, HFCS, wheat, seed oils, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, “diet” and low-fat products and highly processed foods.
Foods to Avoid: Sugar: Soft drinks, fruit juices, agave, candy, ice cream and many others. Gluten Grains: Wheat, spelt, barley and rye. Includes breads and pastas. Trans Fats: “Hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils. High Omega-6 Seed- and Vegetable Oils: Cottonseed-, soybean-, sunflower-, grapeseed-, corn-, safflower and canola oils. Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Cyclamates and Acesulfame Potassium. Use Stevia instead. “Diet” and “Low-Fat” Products: Many dairy products, cereals, crackers, etc. Highly Processed Foods: If it looks like it was made in a factory, don’t eat it."
Thursday, April 23, 2015
"Relocation Center." What a delightfully bullshit euphemism.
Manzanar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Manzanar is most widely known as the site of one of ten camps where over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II."
Manzanar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Dr. James Hirabayashi, Professor Emeritus and former Dean of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, wrote an article in 1994 in which he stated that he wonders why euphemistic terms used to describe camps such as Manzanar are still being used.
'Let us review the main points of the debate. Over 120,000 residents of the U.S.A., two thirds of whom were American citizens, were incarcerated under armed guard. There were no crimes committed, no trials, and no convictions: the Japanese Americans were political incarcerees. To detain American citizens in a site under armed guard surely constitutes a "concentration camp." But what were the terms used by the government officials who were involved in the process and who had to justify these actions? Raymond Okamura provides us with a detailed list of terms. Let's consider three such euphemisms: "evacuation," "relocation," and "non-aliens." Earthquake and flood victims are evacuated and relocated. The words refer to moving people in order to rescue and protect them from danger. The official government policy makers consistently used "evacuation" to refer to the forced removal of the Japanese Americans and the sites were called "relocation centers." These are euphemisms (Webster: "the substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit") as the terms do not imply forced removal nor incarceration in enclosures patrolled by armed guards. The masking was intentional.'
Hirabayashi went on to describe the harm done by the use of such euphemisms and also addressed the issue of whether or not only the Nazi camps can be called "concentration camps."
'The harm in continuing to use the government's euphemisms is that it disguises or softens the reality which subsequently has been legally recognized as a grave error. The actions abrogated some fundamental principles underlying the Constitution, the very document under which we govern ourselves. This erosion of fundamental rights has consequences for all citizens of our society and we must see that it is never repeated. Some have argued that the Nazi Germany camps during the Holocaust were concentration camps and to refer to the Japanese American camps likewise would be an affront to the Jews. It is certainly true that the Japanese Americans did not suffer the harsh fate of the Jews in the terrible concentration camps or death camps where Nazi Germany practiced a policy of genocide. Although the loss of life was minimal in America's concentration camps, it does not negate the reality of the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese American citizens. Michi and Walter Weglyn's research concerning Nazi Germany's euphemisms for their concentration camps revealed such phrases as "protective custody camps," "reception centers," and "transit camps." Ironically, two Nazi euphemisms were identical to our government's usage: "assembly centers" and "relocation centers." It might be well to point out, also, that the Nazis were not operating under the U.S. Constitution. Comparisons usually neglect to point out that Hitler was operating under the rules of the Third Reich. In America all three branches of the U.S. government, ostensibly operating under the U.S. Constitution, ignored the Bill of Rights in order to incarcerate Japanese Americans."
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
"...the number one reason why this stuff works so well is because he takes superhuman people, and he just lets them be super human.”
Joss Whedon's Astonishing, Spine-Tingling, Soul-Crushing Marvel Adventure - BuzzFeed News: "A little over a month before The Avengers opened in May 2012, Whedon was asked by the British magazine SFX how he might try to top the spectacle of the first film if he were to direct the sequel. “By not trying to,” he said. “By being smaller. More personal. More painful.” Three years later, Whedon had spent five months shooting Avengers: Age of Ultron in South Africa, South Korea, Bangladesh, Italy, and London...
What was that again about making the Avengers sequel smaller? “That has not gone my way,” Whedon said with a laugh en route home from the set in July. “I totes failed to make it smaller. There is a lot of movie.” Both Whedon and Feige insist, however, that the precipitously expanding scope of Age of Ultron was never by design. “The truth is, whether anybody will ever believe it or not, we never sat down — we being Joss and I and the team at Marvel — and said, ‘How do we make it even bigger?!’” Feige said on set. “It always was, ‘Where do we want to take the characters?’ That’s the way Joss thinks.”
Whedon’s obvious love for the spirit of each of these genres is matched by his eagerness to crack them open and remake them anew. And with Age of Ultron, he was getting to bring his character-driven, genre-mashing sensibility to life with a blockbuster budget. “I’m doing, ‘ARRRGGGG!’” said Ruffalo, bellowing like the Hulk. “And he’s like, ‘Yeah, maybe you should be in that moment like, Oh, what the fuck.’ He’s always bringing it down into these moments that are not superhero, and not grand, and not macho. Just the normal moments that we all experience every single day. I think that’s probably the number one reason why this stuff works so well, because he takes superhuman people, and he just lets them be super human.”
And there may not be superhumans dearer to Whedon’s heart than the ones who live in the Marvel universe, characters he fell in love with as a young teenager. While talking about the malleability of comic book storylines in his trailer, Whedon said with absolute seriousness, “Nothing has ever made me angrier than the Gwen Stacy slept with Norman Osborn and had genetically enhanced twins [storyline]. Gwen Stacy is the bedrock of the Marvel universe. And that to me is unforgivable.” (This storyline happened, by the way, in the mid-2000s, when Whedon was in his forties.)"
Small Victories: "Supreme Court Says Police Violated 4th Amendment When Use of Drug-Sniffing Dog Prolonged Routine Traffic Stop."
Via Reason.com: "In a 6-3 decision issued today in the case of Rodriguez v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Nebraska police violated the Fourth Amendment by extending an otherwise lawful traffic stop in order to let a drug-sniffing dog investigate the outside of the vehicle. According to the majority opinion of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, “a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures.” While “an officer...may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop,” Ginsburg held, “a dog sniff, unlike the routine measures just mentioned, is not an ordinary incident of a traffic stop.”"
Why the New Limits on Drug-Sniffing Dogs Matter - Hit & Run : Reason.com: "Today, as Damon Root noted this morning, the Supreme Court ruled that in the absence of reasonable suspicion, police officers who extend a traffic stop for the purpose of walking a drug-sniffing dog around the vehicle are violating the Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable seizures. As I noted last fall, this case is more important than it might seem because of the leeway the Court already has given cops and their dogs...
In the 1983 case U.S. v. Place, the Court said a canine olfactory inspection does not count as a "search" under the Fourth Amendment, meaning police do not need probable cause, or even reasonable suspicion, to conduct one. That decision set the stage for Illinois v. Caballes, the 2005 case in which the Court said walking a dog around a car during a routine traffic stop does not violate the driver's Fourth Amendment rights, provided the encounter is not "unreasonably prolonged" for that purpose. And last year, in Florida v. Harris, the Court confirmed what judges generaly had assumed, ruling unanimously that a police dog's alert, which may be erroneous, imagined, invented, or deliberately triggered, by itself is enough to justify a search unless the defendant can show the dog is unreliable—a tall order when the evidence on that point is controlled by the police, who have little incentive to collect it."
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Pretty interesting documentary, on a bunch of levels. The first is that Scientology - written by a science fiction writer, as a reminder - is clearly a cobbled together synthesis of psychoanalysis, Christianity, some ideas from Buddhism, hierarchical military stylings, a soupcon' of standard brainwashing techniques and a the type of True Believer nonsense that arises out of all organizations and mass movements. Not to mention some Crowleyan ritual and ceremony - most probably cribbed from Jack Parsons by L. Ron Hubbard. And some science fiction and aliens, of course.
Worth noting I tried to read Dianetics once, years ago, and found the writing fairly convoluted while it was paraphrasing some basic Freudian psychology & philosophies found in Buddhism, most notably the ideas of the divided mind and psychological pain arising from past events [or their attributed meanings] while confronting & releasing them. Worthwhile, as far as it goes, but presented poorly, imho.
A lot of people get wrapped around the axle when talking about their absurd cosmology - planet Xenu and thetans and whatnot... but honestly, that's the most innocuous part of their rap. And really, no more or less insane that most of the other religions, what with their Noah's Arks and walking on water, flying horses or magic breads that are *really* the body of a long ago blood sacrifice... But I digress.
I was struck by the very obvious, to me, parallels with Christianity. Thetans and souls. "Body thetans" and original sin/sin. Auditing & e-readers with the sacrament of confession. [With a dash of transactional analysis.] The ostentatious symbology and language. And like Christianity, Scientology purports that there is something inherently very wrong with you that only they and their magic have the cure for. Scientology's "disconnection" is little more than excommunication & shunning, ideas that have been endorsed by mainstream religion for centuries.
Scientology has adopted the basic techniques of brainwashing 101 - cutting off former connections, instituting new peer groups, encouraging mind/body breaks through extreme emotional duress, giving them a whole new jargon/vocabulary that only the in-group is privy to... A lot of the things you read/see/hear about how military boot camp works is exactly how brainwashing someone into a cult [or any other organization] works. The cliche' is that boot camp "Breaks you down to build you back up." And when they're built up you can inculcate almost anything, for most folks, and if done correctly. The military has it easier, in fact, in the way the new structure heavily regulates and controls both your sleep and feeding cycles, returning you in many ways to a dependent childhood psychology. You can see more of that in Scientology, not only in their very specific jargon and language, but in their adoption of military style uniforms. Super creepy and right on the nose.
But hey, nothing inherently evil about that. Folks choose to join those types of organizations all the time. So many are willing to give up their own autonomy to be part of the "greater good" however that's defined. So be it.
The doc also examines at length their accumulation of wealth, to which I can only think "meh." Having been raised Catholic, the wealthiest organization on the planet supposedly dedicated to helping the less fortunate, bullshit financial impropriety in religion is kind of a given. But I've grown cynical, I guess.
The physical abuse, harassment, smear campaigns, stalking and other improprieties and criminal acts - of which there seems to be ton of evidence for - that the Church of Scientology engages in as a matter of course are inexcusable. But I can't help but think, "Hey, well at least they didn't take part in a systemic decades long cover-up of the sexual abuse of children under their charge." The bar of 'things to be shocked by' done by the religious is pretty fucking low for me.
It's odd, I guess the takeaway from the doc is supposed to be a reveal of the shocking and fucked up behavior & nature of the Church of Scientology. And it is. But I just can't help take a look at the larger context of harms inflicted by religious organizations and think that as bad as Scientology may be, they're rank amateurs next to the big guys. The guys that no one seems to blink twice at.
Though the big question for me, in their clips of both L.Ron Hubbard and Miscavige is - how does nobody's bullshit detector go off? They both strike me as wildly inauthentic, pinging my douchebaggery meter all the way up. Like bad actors or lying politicians. Crazy.
Really interesting viewing though. Worth a watch.
4/21 - deadlifts, situps, sauna
How Maya the Aspiring Aerialist Lost 70+ Pounds! | Nerd Fitness: "Like many folks, Maya was fairly fit her teens and early twenties, but when she entered grad school, that all fell apart. She graduated completely out of shape, and the weight piled up: 30 lbs, 40, 50, and beyond. Maya got stuck in a cycle, and for years let a poor diet add pounds to her waistline. She was in a place in her life where she wasn’t happy with herself or her situation and had spent a year doing hours upon hours of cardio only to see no results. Finally, after a contest at work (and becoming a Rebel armed with the right tools) got her kick-started, Maya began to turn things around. Just over a year later, she’s accomplished a TON. In her own words, here’s what Maya has done: I lost 70+ pounds. I went from a size 14 in dresses/pants to a size 2. I cut almost all processed foods out of my diet and began home-cooking everything. I threw away my fear and tried parkour. I balanced Crow pose. For a record of 20 seconds so far. With a freaking boot on my leg. I can now deadlift 170 lbs. That’s more than I weigh. I rehabbed a broken bone to almost perfect health (still a work in progress, but I’m at the tail end). I tried aerial and discovered I love acrobatics. I can climb a rope (or silks) up to a 25 ft ceiling. I could never climb anything before in my life. I ran a 5k. Only a month after my foot came out of its brace. I can go snowshoeing up a mountain in the snow for 2.5 hours without losing my cool – or my breath. I have abs. They still shock me when I look at myself in the mirror. Actually, I’m just shocked by the person I see in the mirror. Today she’s 70 lbs lighter, and a whole new person."
How Maya the Aspiring Aerialist Lost 70+ Pounds! | Nerd Fitness: "Steve: What would you say was the most important change you made? Lifting, absolutely. It’s embarrassing how terrified I used to be of free weights, "
Monday, April 20, 2015