From The Atlantic:
“The NSA Speech: Obama Accepts the Logic of Staying Terrorized”
Minor appeasements, with no guarantee they will ever be implemented…
Terrorists want to change how we live, make us live in fear, and they have already achieved that and more through the disruption of our way of life than they could ever achieve through direct force of arms.
We could have fought back by refusing to give in, refusing to be scared, and refusing to give up one inch of freedom and civil liberties in exchange for a fool’s security blanket. Instead, our governments panicked and played into their hand.
Sadly, when you look at the fear that exists in modern Western society, the massive disruptions caused by all the security procedures, the cavalier disregard for personal freedoms and dissenting voices, and the domestic spying being done on Western citizens by their own governments, you realize the terrorists already won.
Steve Coruzzi poses an interesting question on the Good Men Project site in his article ‘I Would Not Be Proud if My Daughter Posed for Playboy‘. In the article, he describes listening to a radio show in Philly that featured a girl who will be Playboy’s Playmate of the month and hearing the woman say that her father was proud of her. As the article progresses, Steve tangles with the thought process he went through to determine he would not be a proud father if his daughter posed nude.
The article struck a nerve with me, and I added the following comment to his article:
As a younger man, I found Playboy and its ilk interesting, and regardless of what anyone says, it wasn’t for the articles. I never understood the expression “that girl is somebody’s daughter” then.
Now that I have a young daughter of my own, I no longer find those publications appealing. While I would still love my daughter unconditionally, support and protect her if that was the path she chose to travel, I would not be a proud father if she appeared in a magazine nude.
The litmus test for me is whether I would place any magazine she appeared in on a mantle beside photos of her as a baby and her academic, soccer and music achievements. I would proudly display copies of any scientific or literary journal she was published in as a contributor, but magazines in which she appeared nude would not make the cut.
Does this make me old-fashioned?
So I went to see “The Hobbit” in 3D High Frame Rate (HFR – 48-frames-per-second) tonight. I’ll save you some reading by saying the following:
If you are a Tolkien / Middle Earth fan in general – and I am – you will love it.
Now, for the details. I’ll try to hold back somewhat on spoilers, although anyone who has read the book (and really, who hasn’t?!?) will already know how it goes and allowing yourself to be upset by a few spoilers is kind of like watching ‘Titanic’ and being upset if someone tells you ahead of time the ship is going to sink. But I digress…
Some parts of the movie were particularly close to the book and it’s intent (the first meeting/party/supper with the dwarves at Bag End for example), but if you read the Hobbit and expected it to stay true to the original, you will be surprised. Peter Jackson took a lot more creative license taken with this than with Lord of the Rings (LOTR):
1. Frodo/Elijah Wood has a cameo and is at Bag End with Bilbo at the start of the movie, when they basically replay the intro to the Party from The Fellowship of the Rings? I found that odd.
2. Peter Jackson added characters that were either not part of “The Hobbit” (Galadriel, Azog the Pale Orc), or barely mentioned (Radagast the Brown, Saruman). He also added scenes:
- a meeting between Gandalf, Elrond, Saruman, and Galadriel;
- a ‘greyhound’ race with wargs chasing giant jack rabbits; and
- several scenes/battles with Azog, the Pale Orc.
I guess the Goblin King wasn’t enough, he thought they needed two arch-enemies – three if you count the dragon, four if you bring Sauron/Necromancer into the mix? (I suspect Peter Jackson has plans for Azog in round 2 as a way to provide more insight into Sauron’s rise to power.)
3. Bilbo‘s intelligence from the book was downplayed. For instance, a major “Bilbo saves the day” scene – where he used his wits in the book to overcome adversity – was “given” to Gandalf (the Trolls).
4. Bilbo‘s heroics/skills were expanded upon in a battle with Azog – another appearance for one of those “extra characters” Peter Jackson threw into the mix.
5. The story was what I would consider to be much easier to follow for those heathen (er, I mean non-Tolkien) fans/readers who might have been lost during the original Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Although I had expected more of an evolutionary jump, the detail placed into the work was impressive, on par or somewhat better than that used in LOTR.
Also, while 3D is really not a big draw for me with movies – and I learned tonight that 3D at 48-frames-per-second didn’t really change my mind on that – it was definitely interesting to see. It worked well on inside shots (the supper at Bag End was amazing), while I found it a little lacking in the scenic shots.
Truthfully, the 48-frames-per-second rendition reminded me of the “True Motion” feature on the 120 and 240 Hz TVs that we all toyed with at first, then set back to normal and forgot about. That doesn’t mean I’m against it, it just means I need more time to decide.
Overall, I give it an 8 (out of 10)
Well-worth seeing on the big screen, and worth seeing at 48-frames-per-second, if for no other reason than to judge for yourself whether or not you like the new “look & feel” Peter Jackson thinks is the future in movie-making.
The extra characters and scenes do a decent job of aligning “The Hobbit” so that it does an interesting job of introducing the plot that leads into the LOTR trilogy.
Of course, that also explains how they are planning to get 3 feature-length movies out of a single children’s story! 🙂
If you are one of those people who – like me – prefers sorting your Facebook news feed in Facebook in chronological order (aka “Most Recent“) instead of what Facebook considers “Top Stories“, I found this little tidbit at PCWorld to help make “Most Recent” that your default.
Simply use this url (uri…) to launch Facebook:
That will make it default to “Most Recent“.
You are welcome. 🙂
A friend of mine posted this article from theatlantic.com (@TheAtlantic) on Facebook:
How to Trick Your Taste Buds Into Enjoying More Healthy Foods
It makes great arguments about how we have evolved to eat certain types of foods (crunchy, sweet, and salty) based on survival instincts, and how we must use those instincts to replace processed foods with healthier choices.
While I agree with this article, particularly with regards to the “crunch” (chips are my Achilles heel…), it omits another – and potentially the biggest – “crunch” to which processed/junk foods appeal – the “time crunch“.
The processed food machines have also spent billions selling their “quick fix” meals to a society that, whether real or perceived, is also addicted to a time crunch. They have convinced us that time spent preparing meals is wasted, rather than time that can be enjoyed. As a result, many people would rather plunk their fat a$$ down in front of the TV with a pre-processed dinner cooking in the oven or microwave rather than take a little extra time to prepare a healthy meal. That needs to be addressed as well.
Received from a friend via email
Helga is the proprietor of a bar.
She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar.
To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.
Helga keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers’ loans).
Word gets around about Helga’s “drink now, pay later” marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Helga’s bar.
Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in town.
By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Helga gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages.
Consequently, Helga’s gross sales volume increases massively. A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Helga’s borrowing limit.
He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral!!!
At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINK BONDS.
These “securities” then are bundled and traded on international securities markets.
Naive investors don’t really understand that the securities being sold to them as “AA” “Secured Bonds” really are debts of unemployed alcoholics.
Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb!!!, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation’s leading brokerage houses.
One day, even though the bond prices still are climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Helga’s bar. He so informs Helga.
Helga then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts.
Since Helga cannot fulfill her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and Helga’s 11 employees lose their jobs.
Overnight, DRINK BOND prices drop by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank’s liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.
The suppliers of Helga’s bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms’ pension funds in the BOND securities.
They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds.
Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.
Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multibillion dollar no-strings attached cash infusion from the government.
The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who’ve never been in Helga’s bar.
Now, hopefully you understand!
Trying to lure me to ‘liking’ or sign up by offering swag is a huge social media #fail. If your product is worthy, I’ll return/join/like. That is the essence of social media.
In response to my initial rant on this, a friend quite rightly pointed out to me on Facebook
“Keep in mind if it is worthy and swag is involved, then it’s just a plus ;)”
Indeed he is correct, but give me the swag and let me decide if you are worthy of coming back to like/register/join.
Example – In this particular case, what has me miffed was (yet another) ‘free’ eBook on a potentially interesting topic, which, may I point out that by requiring me to ‘like’ a page or register for a newsletter, is not truly free… Now, because I will not be bribed into liking or joining, I won’t read their eBook, so I won’t find out if they know what they are talking about and are worth more of my precious time.
The whole swag for likes/registering gimmick It is a failed tactic used by old-school marketers who really don’t “get” social media.
Rather than using social media the way it is meant – as a conversation with potential clients and others in their industry – they wrongly see it as just another pipeline to shout out their advertising.
Toronto Star endorses the NDP
While I prefer – and vote – a more centrist government approach (read Liberal), I have to agree with this opinion that the Liberal party have not been able to connect with voters *again* this time around. There are reservations across the country about their internal workings and a general belief they haven’t finished “cleaning house”. This has worried me throughout this election, because in my mind, Stephen Harper was a lame duck Prime Minister and his Conservative government should have easily been knocked out of power. But the Liberals just weren’t doing it.
Given that scenario, and despite the fact it does not change my voting decision in this election (the NDP has no chance of unseating the local Conservative MP, only the Liberal candidate has a shot), I can’t say I am upset by another, viable federal alternative to the right-wing leadership that has been marauding and vivisecting Canada from the PMO for the past 5 years. This may even be the catalyst needed to finally convince the old-boy network in the Liberal party to talk with the NDP about a formal merger of the two parties, much like the decimation and vote-splitting of the right forced the Progressive Conservatives to merge and become the Conservative Reform/Alliance Party (with an acronym like ‘CRAP’, you can see why they just went with ‘Conservative‘…). A resulting Liberal/NDP merged party should lie somewhere around the political spectrum of the Liberal Democrats of the UK. Still a little too left-wing for me, but definitely more palatable than a right-wing party.
As a former idealist (read NDP supporter), I honestly never thought I would see the day the NDP would be anything other than the ‘other’ party – albeit the ‘other party’ that had all the great ideas that have given Canada most of its best policies – and a great conscience while holding the balance of power in minority governments… In truth, they are a bit too idealistic for me and very naive, but some time with actual responsibility in Ottawa – potentially as the official opposition – instead of blind promises will likely temper that quickly.
At the start of this election, I predicted a Conservative minority, with the subsequent eviction of the three main party leaders, and possibly even Duceppe. I believe that would finally give Canada fresh, new faces at the helm. But Jack Layton’s surge seems likely to cement him in position for a while yet. I stand by my predictions on Harper and Ignatieff getting axed in the event of a Conservative minority, and I now add a more confident prediction that Duceppe will definitely get dumped after this election.
If this actually translates into votes on Monday – and not cause vote-splitting that hands Stephen Harper a majority – this election could indeed be historic. Another bonus? A federal surge for the NDP might also finally convince them that after 50 years, they no longer need the ‘New’ in their party name… 🙂
Just read a great article entitled “Voyager and the Will to Explore” about the two Voyager missions that are still going strong, lasting far longer than anyone ever imagined they would, and they are sending back information that we would have no other method of obtaining.
But the future of space exploration is in serious jeopardy, and a lot of the problem is the latest recession and subsequent Wall Street bailouts, which emptied government coffers as they bailed out criminal bankers.
When (it isn’t if, it really is when) we get hit by the next asteroid, or if global climate change makes things unbearable and we perish because of that first, our epitaph should read:
“Despite a demonstrated potential for greatness, this species, when it had an opportunity to push forward and explore ways to ensure its long-term survival, gave up power to a few who then gorged at the trough and undermined all by convincing them space exploration was too expensive.”
WestJet just announced it is cancelling its summer service to Saint John, NB because it was not profitable. This should be a wake up call to everyone that the time has come for one large, centralized international airport for the province, and I suggest Sussex.
It will be a hard sell. There are too many egos involved and not enough cooperation, particularly within the municipalities, but it is a necessary step. Our entire province barely qualifies as a mid-sized metropolitan city elsewhere. We don’t need an airport in every hamlet. Southern NB only has about 500,000 people between the 3 major cities and surrounding areas, yet we have three competing airports??? That’s absurd.
Sussex is accessible from all three major Southern NB metro area in less than an hour, which is more than reasonable for access to a decent-sized airport with international travel capabilities. Most of us already drive to Halifax or Bangor to take advantage of cheap flights because the Saint John airport is less than useful in many cases. Why would a 45 minute jaunt to Sussex bother us?
Take a look at the outlying areas of Toronto. Most of them are larger than the entire Southern NB area, but they don’t each have their own airports. They travel, sometimes several hours, to Pearson Airport in Toronto without question.
Building one large airport in the Sussex area would build business opportunities in the Sussex area, as well as foster spin-off enterprises such as shuttle and parking services elsewhere, not to mention the added incentive of larger companies having better access to the area. New Brunswick must begin to acknowledge we are a very small fish in a very big pond, and to survive we must streamline how we do business and change the way we think or we will die off fast in the modern, global economy.