Feast your eyes on how Apple hopes you remember its visionary founder, Steve Jobs.
That thing is a scale- model of the winning design, which was selected from among 10,000 entries. Were they all this ugly?
It’s memorable, for whatever that’s worth. It’s also nothing like anything Jobs would have probably approved. He was all about clean design that made intuitive sense. That statue has Cyrillic letters sticking out of the side, because the designer is Serbian. Also, it has a tiny, pitted pinhead. It is basically a disturbing Pez dispenser, but without candy. The full-size 10 to 15 foot version will be built and stand outside Apple HQ in Cupertino, CA, where it will frighten children and impressionable adults for generations to come.
It’s now legal to buy pot in two different ways in Colorado. You can get clearance to use it for medicinal purposes, or you can just go to a dispensary and buy your pot and pay sales and other taxes along the way.
BuzzFeed reports that many in Colorado are just keeping on buying their pot illegally.
But some people like Mario, a 31-year-old graduate student who works part-time at a restaurant, are still turning to the black market for their weed.
Sitting in a vegetarian café near his Denver apartment that has a bathroom covered in graffiti like “Urban Farming Is The Future!”, Mario said he feared being on a medical registry while still in school.
A lifelong Colorado resident, Mario, a slight man with glasses and a goatee, who asked that his last name to be withheld, has yet to step foot in a dispensary. That’s because he can get an ounce of weed for $60 from a coworker whose family member has a home grow. Granted, that’s an unusually low price, as high-quality green generally costs an average of $237 an ounce, according to priceofweed.com, a self-described “global price index for marijuana.”
Purchased legally, without a medical card, that same amount would put him out around $400.
“I’m afraid that information could get somehow compromised,” he said about his fears of his loans being affected by being on a medical registry. “The last thing I’d want is to get my federal funding cut off.”
On the other hand, Mario’s fear of getting on any government list makes sense and should be encouraged.
image courtesy shutterstock / KUCO
In December 2013, Google snapped up Boston Dynamics. You probably haven’t heard of that company. It makes terrifying robots that look like this:
That thing is called WildCat, and it’s designed to run fast on all kinds of terrain, while looking like something you had nightmares about when you were a kid. WildCat is being developed via DARPA funding. That’s the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Boston Dynamics was one of eight robotics companies that Google recently bought, along with Nest, which makes Internet-connected thermostat controls.
Boston Dynamics also makes this freaky thing, the Atlas. Atlas is also a DARPA project.
We have the beginnings of a droid army here. In the Star Wars universe, droids’ main weakness was their inability to think creatively. Well, other than R2-D2, but you’re not supposed to notice that droid thinking creatively all the time, making hash of the droids-can’t-think issue. The emperor secretly had the clone army built because the droids were just too predictable and lacked tactical awareness. Except R2-D2.
Google apparently doesn’t want to be tripped up by the same problem. Or it wants to build its own walking, running, DoD-funded R2-D2.
Today, Google reportedly added to its curious acquisitions with the purchase of a secretive artificial intelligence company called DeepMind.
Though DeepMind may not be a household name in tech, sources in the artificial intelligence community describe the company as a formidable AI player and say it has been aggressively recruiting in the space. One source said DeepMind has a team of at least 50 people and has secured more than $50 million in funding. This person described DeepMind as “the last large independent company with a strong focus on artificial intelligence,” and said it competed with companies like Google, Facebook and Baidu for talent.
Marry up Atlas and WildCat with DeepMind and the dumb droid problem may go away.
Despite the fact that Bridgegate is such an unimportant, non-scandal that even Tom Brokaw has started to wonder if the media hasn’t gone too far:
It’s already having an electoral impact.
— Melissa Clouthier (@MelissaTweets) January 15, 2014
Wait, I think Christie would be yet another lousy nominee who would fail to cater to the center as moderate Republicans keep promising their nominees will, and crater with the GOP’s grassroots, so maybe this is a reason for optimism.
No, it’s a reason for pessimism. It’s a non-story that the media is turning into a full-blown crusade, mainly to kill off a GOP governor and distract from everything that Obama is doing.
John Kerry may be our top diplomat, but that doesn’t mean that he knows anything. He doesn’t.
In remarks following the meeting, Kerry linked poverty not only to terrorism, but to the “disenfranchisement of millions” [emphasis added]:
We talked about the common interest of Pope Francis and President Obama in addressing poverty and extreme poverty on a global basis. The United States of America is deeply involved in efforts in Africa and in other parts of the world – in Asia, South Central Asia – to address this poverty, as is the Catholic Church. And so we have a huge common interest in dealing with this issue of poverty, which in many cases is the root cause of terrorism or even the root cause of the disenfranchisement of millions of people on this planet.
Osama bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri are rich. They certainly didn’t get into terrorism because of poverty. The Saudi and other oil sheiks who fund terrorism aren’t poor either. The current Washington clown show does not understand the enemy’s motivations.
Another day, another lawless Obamacare delay.
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it was again extending the ObamaCare enrollment deadline for people with pre-existing conditions.
The administration said it would extend the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan (PCIP), slated to end Jan. 31, until March 15.
“As part of our continuing effort to help smooth consumers’ transition into Marketplace coverage, we are allowing those covered by PCIP additional time to shop for new coverage while they receive the ongoing care and treatment they need,” Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement.
The deadline was originally at the end of December, but last month, the administration pushed it back through January because of the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov.
The new extension is just the latest in a string of unilateral delays the administration has implemented to buy time after the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov.
Unilateral, lawless and illegal, whatever.
Justin Bieber could be deported for felony vandalism.
The 19-year-old pop star has not been arrested at this time following a search of his Calabasas, Calif., home in connection with an egg-throwing incident in his posh neighborhood—but if he is and subsequently charged with a felony.
Immigration attorney Michael Wildes, whose firm’s clientele over the years has included John Lennon and Craig David, tells E! News that Bieber would not be deported “for an egg-throwing incident.”
Bieber is currently residing in the United States on an O-1 visa, issued by the government to people with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics,” according to U.S. visa policy.
“But,” Wildes added, “if an assault or battery charge was leveled, that could be more serious. Visa fraud, a gun charge, burglary are usually things that [are] tantamount to that type of scrutiny.
“The truth is, crimes are crimes and the government has a strong policy of pursuing individuals who are here on temporary visas if the case warrants it. However, I do not believe that this case warrants it.”
Whatever a Justin Bieber is could be sent back to Canuckistan? Our long national nightmare could be over? Watch the wheels of injustice grind. He won’t be deported, much to our everlasting national shame.
As we study the core beliefs that animate religious cable network MSNBC, it’s important to determine what is ruled in and what is ruled out. Clearly, everyone at MSNBC seeks to please Barack Obama in some way in their daily lives every day. How one goes about pleasing Him is for the most part one’s own business, but the ethics that one abides by should be more or less universal, at least among members of the following.
Today, MSNBC’s faith leaders debated the ethics of lying for a good cause. Specifically, the good cause was saving a few bucks by lying to Amazon.
MSNBC’s is a new and growing faith, so very little has been canonized or written down. Matt Yglesias leads today’s study with a parable from his own life: He lied to Amazon to receive a mother’s discount.
I hope I’m not heteronorming in pointing out that, as a man, Matt Yglesias is not a mother. He’s not even a father.
Amazon’s intent was to reward mothers by chopping a few bucks off some prices for them. That, in the MSNBC religion, amounts to unacceptable price discrimination.
Most people just see it as Amazon being a good corporate citizen.
Josh Barro took up the position that lying to Amazon, in order to save a few bucks by claiming a mother’s discount one doesn’t deserve, is perfectly fine.
“I think I’m a very good guy and very good fake parent,” Barro said.
Well, it’s hard to be a bad fake parent. No matter what you do, your nonexistent kid won’t grow up to suffer from “affluenza.” They won’t pose in an Obamacare ad wearing footies despite the fact that they’re over 26 years old. Nonexistent children are worry free. They can’t even disappoint any of MSNBC’s faith leaders by voting Republican.
Toure chimed in: “Who’s getting hurt here?”
Well, the ethics there are a little murky for the faithful leftist. Amazon is being deprived of a few bucks, and Amazon owns the Washington Post, so it’s possible that the mother’s discount deception will result in some at the Post not getting raises or bonuses. It’s tricky if you take the holistic view.
Toure demonstrates his shallow understanding of Amazon’s purpose: “Amazon’s not even really into making money, right?”
That would be news to billionaire and founder Jeff Bezos. Also, to everyone he employs and pays, and to everyone who sells products via Amazon. It would be news to a lot of people.
Krystal Ball — which is her real name — was the only voice from the wilderness: “I still say even if it is a corporation that you’re lying to, it’s still a lie.”
“It’s a noble lie,” Toure responded.
As a host on MSNBC, Toure works for a corporation. He has therefore declared that it’s “noble” to lie to the people who pay him. His employers might be interested to know if he has told them any noble lies.
Such is the murky ethical landscape of a new and developing religion.
And by “we,” she means herself and pretty much everyone else in the media.
Walters made the admission in a chat with another member of the media’s Obama faithful, Piers Morgan.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: You have interviewed every president of my lifetime. Why is Obama facing so much opposition now? Why is he struggling so much to really fulfill the great flame of ambition and excitement that he was elected on originally in 2009?
BARBARA WALTERS: Well, you’ve touched on it to a degree. He made so many promises. We thought that he was going to be – I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime, but – the next messiah. And the whole ObamaCare, or whatever you want to call it, the Affordable Health Act, it just hasn’t worked for him, and he’s stumbled around on it, and people feel very disappointed because they expected more.
Walters hastened to follow up with an encouraging note for the faithful: Obama still has a couple years, so he can turn this whole thing around!
Hey, even Jesus had to die before he could be resurrected. If Obama can turn his polls around, well, he’ll be a miracle worker too…
Walters’ comment explains quite a bit, doesn’t it. On the one hand we had the media elites tripping over themselves and each other to wave palm branches as they heralded their new messiah with his Greek columns and his total lack of experience. They were never going to vet him to question him. On the other hand, we had elites like Peggy Noonan who call themselves conservative but who care more about their standing with the liberals they associate with than about any actual principle. It has taken each five years to come to their crisis of faith. Walters admits that Obama just might not be the chosen one (but he still could be!). Noonan finally realizes what many of us saw years ago — that Barack Obama is incompetent and has brought forth a regime that is incompetence all the way down.
Noonan probably came to this conclusion some time ago, but only now does she have the courage to state what has been obvious for half a decade at least.
Walters is holding out prayerful hope to see her messiah rise once more.
But will the reboot turn out better than the awful, un-Godzilla-like 1998 treatment that starred Matthew Broderick?
The first teaser-trailer for 2014′s Godzilla is out. Take a look. You should take it full screen. Chromecast it if you’ve got it.
The teaser opens with a group of soldiers HALO leaping into a city that is already being ravaged by the beast. We get to fall along with the troops, then see fleeting glimpses of the wreckage on the ground, reactions from the puny humans in the city, and then the monster, shrouded in a massive cloud of dust and debris.
The teaser doesn’t show much of the legendary monster, whose name is an amalgamation of the Japanese words for “gorilla” and “whale,” but what is shown already looks far better than the villain from the 1998 version. That Godzilla was more of a leaned-forward speed-walking dinosaur-like creature than the upright plodding disaster of the Toho films. It neither moved nor felt very much like Godzilla.
The 2014 version appears to be standing upright in the sequence that leads up to the frame below. The sequence begins with a shot of Godzilla’s feet at ground level, tracks upward showing the spikes on his back, and around his neck to his head. And then we hear a bona fide Godzilla roar. This is no man in a rubber suit, and the cinematography that brings him to life is spectacular.
Godzilla’s cast looks decent. Hollywood notoriously lacks any original ideas these days, and returning to a giant monster that first leveled Tokyo in 1954 certainly doesn’t speak to the film industry’s originality now.
But still…it’s Godzilla. In 3D. And IMAX 3D. Movies just don’t get much bigger than that.
Godzilla destroys us all starting May 16, 2014.
The “comet of the century” is dead.
Comet ISON, once optimistically called the comet of the century, is dead, the victim of a way-too-close brush with the sun. It was barely a year old.
Eh, I hate to get persnickety but it’s way older than one year. Maybe not as a comet per se, but certainly as a celestial snowball hanging out in the Oort Cloud. We’ve only known about it for a year. There are trillions of bits out there that we’ve never seen and will probably never see.
The comet, which excited astronomers and the media as it zipped within 730,000 miles of the sun on Thanksgiving Day, was pronounced dead at a scientific conference Tuesday. Astronomers who had followed the ice ball mourned the loss of the sky show that once promised to light up during December.
Naval Research Lab astronomer Karl Battams, who headed the observing campaign for the comet, said ISON (EYE’-sahn) was stretched and pulled by the sun’s powerful gravity. It was also hit with solar radiation. And the icy snowball just fell apart.
“At this point it seems like there is nothing left,” Battams said at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco. “Sorry, everyone, Comet ISON is dead. But its memory will live on.”
Today’s episode of “Idiots are Educating Our Children” comes from Colorado. The state that has recently been overrun by liberal locusts who ruined California has a school that just suspended a 6-year-old boy for “sexual harassment,” according to KRDO TV.
Hunter Yelton’s tale is an old story…boy meets world in first grade, develops a crush on a little girl, kisses her hand, faces the unholy wrath of school bureaucrats who don’t remember what it’s like to be a first-grader at all.
It may sound innocent enough…but at six years old Hunter now has ‘sexual harassment’ on his school record.
“It was during class yeah. We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That’s what happened,” said Hunter Yelton.
Six year old Hunter was at home on Monday instead of at school.
“They sent me to the office, fair and square. I did something wrong and I feel sorry,” he said.
“She was fine with it, they are ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’. The other children saw it and went to the music teacher. That was the day I had the meeting with the principal, where she first said ‘sexual harassment’. This is taking it to an extreme that doesn’t need to be met with a six year old. Now my son is asking questions… what is sex mommy? That should not ever be said, sex. Not in a sentence with a six year old,” said Hunters’ mom, Jennifer Saunders.
Both hunter and his mom, Jennifer, admit he’s had some trouble at school in the past. Hunter has been suspended for rough-housing, and for kissing the same girl on the cheek.
“We’ve been working with him with the classroom disruption. He was grounded for awhile. Big restrictions,” said Saunders.
Report Bonnie Silkman asks Hunter, “Are you trying to be good at school? Hunter replies, “Yes…I have a lot of energy. I mean six year olds. They have a lot of energy.”
The superintendent at School District RE-1, says any school record remains within the district. And Hunters’ actions fit the school policy description of ‘sexual harassment’.
There are only a couple of glaring problems with the superintendent’s take. One, the alleged perp is six. Two, the alleged “victim” welcomes his attention. So, in other words, there was nothing sexual and there was no harassment. Other than that, super, you’re spot on.
Who wants to bet that the super has a handful of degrees and pulls down a massive salary? Let’s do a little research. The superintendent of Cannon City schools is Dr. Robin Gooldy. There’s your handful of degrees, though they didn’t prepare Dr. Gooldy to understand how he may be hurting young Hunter. He’s working in a well-paid racket in which salaries rise beyond inflation while schools claim that they don’t have enough money for anything.
Riddle me this: When schools are run by unthinking morons, is it possible for anyone who attends those schools to receive an education?
thumbnail image courtesy shutterstock / Alexey Losevich
More Edward Snowden documents have come out, and as usual, they paint a picture of a government that is simply spying on everyone, everywhere, all the time.
Stories carried Monday by The New York Times, the Guardian, and ProPublica said U.S. and U.K. spies have spent years trawling online games for terrorists or informants. The stories, based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, offer an unusual take on America’s world-spanning surveillance campaign, suggesting that even the fantasy worlds popular with children, teens, and escapists of all ages aren’t beyond the attention of the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ.
Virtual universes like “World of Warcraft” can be massively popular, drawing in millions of players who log months’ worth of real-world time competing with other players for online glory, virtual treasure, and magical loot. At its height, “World of Warcraft” boasted some 12 million paying subscribers, more than the population of Greece. Other virtual worlds, like Linden Labs’ “Second Life” or the various games hosted by Microsoft’s Xbox _ home to the popular science fiction-themed shoot-em-up “Halo” _ host millions more.
Spy agencies have long worried that such games serve as a good cover for terrorists or other evildoers who could use in-game messaging systems to swap information. In one of the documents cited Monday by media outlets, the NSA warned that the games could give intelligence targets a place to “hide in plain sight.”
So the suspiciously good 13-year-old who owns you at “League of Legends” isn’t the worst you have to worry about online? That sexy elven warrior you’ve been questing with isn’t just probably a guy. It may be a spy.
The companies involved swear that they had no knowledge that G-Men were all up in their online games. Microsoft says it’s going to see about locking the government out of X-Box Live.
I’m for NSA doing its thing when and where it’s warranted, but is there a single documented case of terrorists meeting up in “Second Life” to plot attacks? Or WoW or any other game space? And what kind of “virtual weapons training” can one really conduct in “Halo” or “Star Wars: The Old Republic?” One? Anywhere?
Begun, the Austin burger wars have.
So California-based In-N-Out Burger thinks it can invade Texas and push the indigenous and other national burger chains aside? Is that how it works?
World famous California hamburger chain In-N-Out Burger opened a new location in Round Rock Tuesday.
As the first location in Central Texas, the new In-N-Out will allow customers a much easier way to satisfy their addiction. Larry Sherwood said he’s been hooked on In-N-Out since his first bite in the 90s
”Now I don’t have to fly to L.A. or Dallas to get my In-N-Out fix,” he said.
Karen Brewster-Clanton moved here from California and said she’s been not-so-patiently waiting for In-N-Out ever since.
“I’ve been telling my job, my boss and everybody just, ‘Get ready – you’re going to taste the best burger in town,’” Brewster said.
I don’t know about that. It’s a grandiose claim. Can In-N-Out back it up?
The Austin area is home to some of the best local and national burger chains on the planet. We have everything that everyone else has, and which won’t be discussed here — McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, etc. etc. They’re not part of the burger wars and don’t rate an honorable mention here. They exist.
But we also have Mighty Fine, which always lives up to their name. We have P. Terry’s. They’re both local. We have Braum’s with their combination ice creamery-grocery store-burger joint thing. Well, we don’t have them in Austin, but we have them in Texas. We need them in Austin. We have recent entrant Fire Oak Grill. We have Moonie’s Burger House. We have Hat Creeks, though I have to confess that I haven’t visited one of them yet. That situation will be rectified soon. We have Whataburgers everywhere, and Sonics, which are ubiquitous across Texas and stretch out to fortunate states beyond, but they’re not quite national. We have Five Guys with their beautifully messy burgers and their peanut-oil fries. We have the gourment-treated Smash Burger. And now we have In-N-Out. Let burger lovers rejoice!
I’m a burger veteran. I started enjoying Five Guys back when I lived in Baltimore. I sampled In-N-Out on a trip to PJ Media World Headquarters in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. It was the In-N-Out close to LAX, so no one can claim that I didn’t get the authentic In-N-Out experience. I did. Mighty Fine, P. Terry’s, I’ve had ‘em all. I have my opinions on all of them. I have opinions on really obscure local joints like Burger Bros in Towson, MD. Burger Bros flat out rocks, by the way. I’ve had burgers in Tokyo, on the Champs Elysee in Paris, on Guam, in Alaska, too many places to name. I might have had a burger in Baghdad.
This conflagration in Austin is going to be a major war. In-N-Out is coming into one of the most contested theaters of burger battle in the world. Austin is weird, but it’s not stupid. We have it all here. We know what we like. We know what passes muster and what doesn’t. You can’t sell a weak burger here on brand name alone. We won’t stand for it.
60 Minutes previewed the future last night. Amazon is planning to use drone aircraft to enable 30-minute delivery of many products that we order online.
Charlie Rose: This is?
Jeff Bezos:…is…these are octocopters.
Charlie Rose: Yeah?
Jeff Bezos: These are effectively drones but there’s no reason that they can’t be used as delivery vehicles. Take a look up here so I can show you how it works.
Charlie Rose: All right. We’re talking about delivery here?
Jeff Bezos: We’re talking about delivery. There’s an item going into the vehicle. I know this looks like science fiction. It’s not.
Charlie Rose: Wow!
Jeff Bezos: This is early. This is still…years away. It drops the package.
Charlie Rose: And there’s the package.
Jeff Bezos: You come and get your package. And we can do half hour delivery.
Charlie Rose: Half hour delivery?
Jeff Bezos: Half hour delivery/and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds, which covers 86 percent of the items that we deliver.
Charlie Rose: And what is the range between the fulfillment center and where you can do this within…
Jeff Bezos: These…this…this…these gener…
Charlie Rose: 30 minutes?
Jeff Bezos: These generations of vehicles, it could be a 10-mile radius from a fulfillment center. So, in urban areas, you could actually cover very significant portions of the population. And so, it won’t work for everything; you know, we’re not gonna deliver kayaks or table saws this way. These are electric motors, so this is all electric; it’s very green, it’s better than driving trucks around. This is…this is all an R&D project.
Charlie Rose: With drones, there’s somebody sitting somewhere in front of a screen.
Jeff Bezos: Not these; these are autonomous. So you give ‘em instructions of which GPS coordinates to go to, and they take off and they fly to those GPS coordinates.
Charlie Rose: What’s the hardest challenge in making this happen?
Jeff Bezos: The hard part here is putting in all the redundancy, all the reliability, all the systems you need to say, ‘Look, this thing can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood’…
Charlie Rose doesn’t know what a drone is? Sheesh.
This idea seems cool until you think it through for a bit. Amazon’s drones will be eyesores in the air and electromagnets for lawyers when one of them goes haywire and crashes in someone’s yard or in the middle of a street or, heaven forbid, kills a guy. Human nature can be a nasty thing. Lawfare is strangling innovation in America. Watch octocopter-chasing lawyers have a heyday over Amazon’s drones and its fat wallet. Watch the newspaper Amazon owns defend whatever the company does. And watch environmentalists slow this whole thing down in court.
The hardest part technologically probably isn’t building in redundancy. The hardest part is making sure these things don’t become magnets for thieves (other than the aforementioned lawyers). Where you have valuable product moving, you have the potential for heists. These drones could and probably will become targets, especially if they’re in operation at night. So game that out, and Amazon will end up working with the FAA to either create sky lanes through which its drones will have special permission to travel, which would be protected either from the air or the ground against theft, or they’ll have to arm the drones with countermeasures.
When Amazon merges with Google to perfect the drones’ accuracy, it’s all heading toward SkyNet.
Ed Snowden has leaked another trove of documents, and the Huffington Post is generating clicks with it. The upshot is that the NSA monitored the online activities of six people it characterizes as Islamist radicalizers. The NSA built up information on these Islamists’ porn habits, for the purpose of discrediting them.
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target’s credibility, reputation and authority.
The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT” — or signals intelligence, the interception of communications — “assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues.
None of this is especially new. The allies built up extensive profiles and dossiers on Hitler’s private and even sexual life during World War II, and I’m sure the axis did the same to allied leaders. The Soviets probably had great fun building up files on J. Edgar Hoover and JFK, among others. They didn’t really have to build up a file on Ted Kennedy. Once he left a woman to drown, there wasn’t much they could expose that would have cost him his Massachusetts Senate seat. Maybe they could have run an op outing him as a closet Republican or something, but he was much more useful to them as a senator.
An attached appendix lists the “argument” each surveillance target has made that the NSA says constitutes radicalism, as well the personal “vulnerabilities” the agency believes would leave the targets “open to credibility challenges” if exposed.
One target’s offending argument is that “Non-Muslims are a threat to Islam,” and a vulnerability listed against him is “online promiscuity.” Another target, a foreign citizen the NSA describes as a “respected academic,” holds the offending view that “offensive jihad is justified,” and his vulnerabilities are listed as “online promiscuity” and “publishes articles without checking facts.” A third targeted radical is described as a “well-known media celebrity” based in the Middle East who argues that “the U.S perpetrated the 9/11 attack.” Under vulnerabilities, he is said to lead “a glamorous lifestyle.” A fourth target, who argues that “the U.S. brought the 9/11 attacks on itself” is said to be vulnerable to accusations of “deceitful use of funds.” The document expresses the hope that revealing damaging information about the individuals could undermine their perceived “devotion to the jihadist cause.”
The tactic of building up personal information on foreign enemies probably dates back, I don’t know, thousands of years. As long as humans have waged organized warfare. Sun Tzu would surely approve, and said as much when he wrote “Know your enemy.” We remain at war and we pay the NSA to conduct SIGINT on people who wish to harm Americans. That’s it’s job.
The Puffington Host is on the case. Because that’s what they do. They determine stories by their search engine optimization possibilities, run them through the “X is offensive because Y” macro, hit publish.
Katy Perry opened the American Music Awards on Sunday night dressed as a geisha while belting out her latest single “Unconditionally.”
Although the stage aesthetics and colorful attire were quite beautiful, Perry is being called racist for sexualizing a traditional Japanese female figure, who is paid to serve as a hostess and excels in the art of entertainment, reports The Huffington Post.
The opening act included cherry blossoms, a Shinto shrine and taiko drummers. Perry appeared on stage draped in a kimono along with several dozen dancers wearing the cultural garb. Shortly after her performance ended, though, the critics began sounding off.
Cosmopolitan.com led their coverage by asking ”Was Katy Perry’s AMAs performance racist?” but Vulture.com’s writer Jesse David Fox wasn’t so diplomatic in his approach. He compared her showing to other “racially tut-tutted” performances.
Whatever. The Grammys are among those boring awards show I only watch if I absolutely have to. There are approximately 3,720 better ways to spend one’s time than watching egos who mostly attack what I believe in stroke each other. In this case, I’m offended that people keep getting offended at everything. We’ve built cities and empires and come to this pinnacle of civilization, only to take offense at every single thing about it.
The only opinion I have about the actual show is that Katy Perry is the worst looking geisha in the history of geishas. I have some Japanese roots. This is awful.
I’ve seen better geishas on Halloween. I hope it’s not racist to say that Perry’s getup looks more like a clown costume than anything else.
The Most Controversial Voice Ever in in the History of Recorded Music, Steve Taylor, is Back. And He’d Better Behave. (UPDATE)
Since I gave up hope of ever expecting to hear from Steve Taylor again, I felt a lot better. Because I blame Steve Taylor for pretty much everything.
Sure, I could blame myself for picking up his Meltdown record back in 1984. That was a fateful choice. But I was a kid. How was I to know how damaging that record would turn out to be?
Steve Taylor was already controversial back then. He had debuted in 1983 with a mini-LP (that was a thing in the 1980s, Google it), I Want to be a Clone, that made an awful lot of people mad at him. They had every right to be. In “Bad Rap” he seethed “You save the whales/You save the seals/You save whatever’s cute and squeals/But you kill that thing that’s in the womb/Would not want no baby boom.” Green Peace denounced it, but they couldn’t deny it. In the title song, he mocked “Be a clone and kiss conviction good night/Clone-liness is next to Godliness, right?/I’m grateful that they show the way ’cause I could never know the way/To serve Him on my own?/I want to be a clone!”
Then he did it again, in “I Manipulate.” There was pretty much no one and no issue that Steve Taylor wouldn’t write about. He’s arrogant like that.
To a 14-year-old Christian, Taylor’s mix of art, humor, rebellion, truth and nasal vocals was just too much to resist. “We Don’t Need No Colour Code” beat up on Bob Jones before it was a mainstream thing. The haunting “Hero” took the nice-boy notion of being something more than another corporate type and turned it all on its head. “Meltdown” burned the rich and famous long before the Kardashians showed up to beg for every thinking person’s derision.
Then, there was this hideous cover photo on CCM. It set the magazine publishing industry back 10 years. The music industry almost never recovered.
Steve Taylor taught me that it was possible to be right with God and still have a healthy skepticism for those who claimed to speak for Him, and that it was possible to make a difference in one way or another. What a jerk. I’d probably be rich and own a Gulfstream if not for him.
Taylor’s entire career is littered with wickedness. He ripped amoral state-run education in “Lifeboat” decades before CSCOPE and Common Core showed up. He tore up celebrity cults in “Jim Morrison’s Grave.” Then he got lost in “Sock Heaven.” I followed him the whole time, and even saw him wear a bizarre confetti suit in concert once. But it’s all his fault.
The reason I started caring about issues more than just having a regular job? At least partly Steve Taylor’s fault. The reason I started wanting more from the artists I support than just a good back-beat I can badly dance to? Also partly Steve Taylor’s fault. My collection of Flannery O’ Connor books? His fault too. Have fun Googling that one. The two years I wasted in the Hindu Kush searching for the perfect backup band? Totally Steve Taylor’s fault. The money I blew on yodeling lessons because he made the Swiss mountain call rock star cool? Absolutely, 100% Steve Taylor’s fault. I’ll never forgive him. Neither will anyone who’s ever heard me yodel.
So now he’s at it again. After 20 years of producing hits like “Kiss Me” with Sixpence None the Richer, being the shadowy hand behind the Newsboys (yep, they’re both his fault) and making movies, Taylor is going to inflict himself on the music world again. And I’m ashamed to admit that I’ll be right there with him. I’m already backing his next album on Kickstarter. I can’t help myself. If you know what’s good for you, you won’t join in. But I’m living proof that people who like Steve Taylor never seem to know what’s good for them.
Update: I’m not sure yet who deserves the most blame, but they’ve made their goal. There WILL BE another Steve Taylor album.
We're all slightly in shock at the size and speed of your generosity. I'll send out a video update later today. http://t.co/Am5B7kGwgh
— Steve Taylor (@theperfectfoil) November 27, 2013
Well, they’re young and healthy (for now), and they’re independent contractors on the individual insurance market, so Obama needs them to sign up for Obamacare. And now, they can. Depending on how much income they report, you may be subsidizing them.
Maybe Obamacare is really Clintoncare.
PHILADELPHIA (CBSDC) — The Washington Redskins team bus was apparently egged on the way to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia Sunday morning.
Defensive lineman Chris Baker posted a photo of the egg smeared side of the vehicle on Instagram.
Hate: It’s what’s for breakfast.
Right on cue. Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest women in America, but as President Obama finds himself drowning in his own disasters and dishonesty, Winfrey betrays America to a foreign media source.
“There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs,” Winfrey tells the BBC, “and occurs because in some cases, and maybe even many cases, because he’s African-American. There’s no question about that, and it’s the kind of thing that nobody ever says, but everybody’s thinking it.”
In the same interview, Winfrey also declared her desire for “old racists” to die.
“There are still generations of people, older people, who were born and bred and marinated in it, in that prejudice and racism, and they just have to die,” she said.
I long for an America that stops making people who hate it fabulously wealthy.
Yahoo needs to get something straight. In its report, it calls these new atheist gatherings “mega-churches.” But they’re not “mega” and they’re not churches.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Several hundred people, including families with small children, packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational talk and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.
Nearly three dozen gatherings dubbed “atheist mega-churches” by supporters and detractors have sprung up around the U.S. and Australia — with more to come — after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year. The movement fueled by social media and spearheaded by two prominent British comedians is no joke.
They sing songs, they hear a sermon, they meet and greet. But it isn’t a church. It’s a club.
The word “church” has a specific meaning — it’s the body of believers in the global context and a Christian place of worship in this specific context. Just as a mosque is an Islamic place of worship.
Notice which word the atheists are attempting to steal and render meaningless. One, not the other.
“Mega-churches” are typically churches with thousands of members, some have tens of thousands. None of the clubs in Yahoo’s piece have anything close to that scale of membership. They’re all in the hundreds at most.
So they’re not mega, and they’re not churches.
The anti-churches are being set up both to mimic the authentic church, and to provide something that churches provide members.
“There was so much about it that I loved, but it’s a shame because at the heart of it, it’s something I don’t believe in,” Jones said. “If you think about church, there’s very little that’s bad. It’s singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?”
Sunday Assembly — whose motto is Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More — taps into that universe of people who left their faith but now miss the community church provided, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont.
As a Christian, this makes me sad. We’re wired to need and want community. But if you don’t believe in what the church is teaching, the few rituals that survive in the mega-church setting make no sense. Why take on the symbols of belief? Why go out of your way to mock those who do believe? Calling these clubs “churches” is an act of intolerance and aggression against believers.
CNN’s new Crossfire isn’t firing the cable news network to the top of the ratings, says Deadline Hollywood.
Resuscitated on September 9 after eight years off the air, the political debate show pulled in just 233,00 viewers overall and a mere 59,000 among adults 25-54 between 6:30 PM and 7 PM on Monday. Full-hour time-slot rivals on Fox News Channel and MSNBC did a lot better — to put it mildly. FNC’s Special Report had 2.44 million viewers with 411,000 in the key news demo, while MSNBC’s Al Sharpton-hosted PoliticsNation had 707,000 total viewers and 170,000 among the 25-54s.
The younger political animal me used to watch Crossfire every chance I could. I admired the platform itself and the figures who engaged each other, whether I agreed with what they were saying or not. Well, other than Mike Kinsley, who mostly just made my skin crawl. It seemed like a healthy place for real debate, when so much of political debate is staged and phony, just set up for gotchas and soundbites, only occasionally and accidentally engaging in real ideas.
But I haven’t tuned into the new Crossfire, not even once. Not even just to check it out.
When Crossfire debuted, there were very few other places to find conservative opinions on the air outside the Sunday morning talk shows, which air when most Americans are just not interested in politics. We’re at church or off at sports or sleeping in or doing a million things other than watching strangers argue about arcana.
Crossfire succeeded, to the extent that it did, in a different cable news universe. When it debuted, political debate on television wasn’t all that common. Now it’s ubiquitous to the point that even those of us who engage in it every day just want to turn it all off sometimes. I can only imagine what normal people must think. Arguments do make for compelling television, evidenced by ESPN’s and Fox Sports One’s embrace of sports debate to fill out much of their respective broadcast days. Sports radio is almost nothing but debate and argument, with the occasional game thrown in to break things up. There’s always something to argue about, and everyone has an opinion. But do normal people want to watch very flawed politicians and opinionators argue and strut without ever solving a single thing? Some days, even I would rather argue about whether Arsenal really can mount a Premiere League title challenge (yes) or whether the Cowboys can ever rise above mediocrity with Jerry Jones as GM (not likely), or whether this player or that one is a better fit for one team or another. No one off the field really gets hurt and ultimately facts do win out when the season ends. Political season never ends now. It just. Never. Ends. There are no permanent victories, though paradoxically, there may always be a permanent defeat coming up tomorrow or next year.
Now that the entire political world is Crossfire on steroids and speed, there may not be a place for Crossfire, the show.
When does Fox Sports Live come on tonight?
From the beginning of NBC’s new Dracula series, a question kept creeping up behind me: Hasn’t Jonathan Rhys Meyers already played this role?
As King Henry VIII, Rhys Meyers charmed, seduced, hunted and murdered his way across the lavish but ultimately depressing The Tudors. His Henry was a man who had it all, always wanted more, was never satisfied, and morphed into an engorged serial killer with a crown.
As Alexander Grayson/Dracula, Rhys Meyers charms, seduces, hunts and murders his way across London. Only, this London is a couple of centuries forward from Henry, Gothic and grimy as we think of the 1890s, full of villains and devoid of heroes. Henry VIII would have fit right in, and in the person of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, he does.
NBC’s Dracula is not a re-creation of Bram Stoker’s classic. It shares some character names along with an English setting, but the writers have twisted enough of the story so that no one really can guess where it will go. To give some sense of the twists if you haven’t seen it, Dracula is posing as an American industrial power, Alexander Grayson, engaging in as many hostile corporate takeovers as hostile blood transfusions. He personifies predatory capitalism. Van Helsing (Thomas Kretschmann) not only is not hunting Dracula here, he revived the vampire 10 years before the story begins and is working in league with him to destroy a common enemy. They have patiently built an industrial empire and moved it to London just to fight that enemy, the Order of the Dragon. That common enemy made Drac a vampire, and framed Vlad the Impaler aka Dracula on the very crime that made him the “impaler,” so they’re evil. But they fight vampires, who are more evil. Dracula may drink blood but he has a moral compass. It’s mostly broken, but it does guide how he treats love interest Mina Murray (Jessica De Gouw). This Dracula is a student of Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and to some extent P. T. Barnum and the great magicians. He is interesting to watch, and seems poised to kill any character on screen with him at any moment. Van Helsing is working on a way to help Dracula walk in the sunlight and evidently has a plan to kill off his vampire ally once their common enemy is defeated. But as that common enemy is a secret and very powerful global organization akin to the Templars or the Freemasons, defeating them could take a few seasons. Drac runs on blood, while his enemy runs on oil. When you consider the fact that Dracula and Van Helsing are both evil, and their enemy’s evil is what created and united them, well, you have a revenge story that can go just about anywhere. Nobody likes anybody else and poor Mina is stuck between all of them. She should move to New York and forget them all.
Tada! We’re a screwed up country.
It’s a well-chronicled fact that people tend to gravitate to sexy Halloween costumes, but sexy Halloween costumes for babies? In our pre-Halloween infographic, we’ve coupled trending Halloween costume search terms (both popular and strange) from our sister site Bizrate.com and a survey of 7,315 online shoppers.
We found some interesting things, namely that someone out there wants to be Slutty Bacon for Halloween. (True story!) We also found plenty of evidence that the senior population hates Halloween, while Generation Y embraces it. And what’s even better for retailers? Most people will at least spend a little bit of money on the holiday.
“Slutty Bacon”? I subscribe to the theory that “bacon makes everything better,” but still…
Tada’s artists managed to depict what “Slutty Bacon” might look like. It turns out that bacon really doesn’t make sluttiness better.
Get more coupon data at Tada.
Late night host Jay Leno joined the culture-wide mockery of Obamacare last night. In his monologue, Leno compared Healthcare.gov’s “glitches” to al Qaeda’s website.
LENO: “Here’s a very disturbing story. You may have heard about this 25-year-old man in New York arrested for trying to join al Qaeda. Well, here is the amazing part. He said it was still easier to join al Qaeda using their website than it was to sign up for ObamaCare. And he was in! He was in, in like, two minutes! [Laughter and applause] Well, President Obama said yesterday, when it comes to all the problems with the ObamaCare website, he said, “No one is madder than me.” So apparently he hasn’t met any of these Republicans, I guess. [Laughter] And of course, you know, today, boy, it’s, and you know, it is hard, because today there were more problems with the website. It seems when you type in your age, it’s confusing, because it’s not clear if they want the age you are right now or the age you’ll be when you finally log in. [Laughter] So there’s a period there.”
On Monday night, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart ripped Healthcare.gov in a hilarious segment that spanned several minutes and flayed the website’s “glitches” in excruciating detail.
Progressive politics are the combination of amorality, arrogance and plain old theft. Some Colorado progressives are running this ad, along with many similar ones, to promote Obamacare to young Colorado residents. Click to enlarge.
The ad seems too idiotic to be real. But it’s real and it’s the product of Progress Now Colorado. PNCO says its mission is “to build and empower a permanent progressive majority, challenge and correct right-wing misinformation, and hold public leaders accountable.”
Apparently it’s “right-wing misinformation” that adult men should take care of their own lives.
In its ads, PNCO is promoting stupidity and thievery. “Be as irresponsible as you want,” the ad’s subtext tells young men. “Obamacare is there to bail you out with other people’s money.”
The ads promote high-risk behavior.
Yes, Phil Powers is a real guy and he actually climbs mountains. He’s happy that you and I are subsidizing his high-risk lifestyle. Progress Colorado is happy about that, too.
PNCO’s message should embarrass serious people, but it follows directly from then Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Obamacare boosterism, which boiled down to “Quit your job, do whatever you want, Obamacare will pay for it!”
h/t Igor Volsky