Most Saturday mornings you can find me checking headlines on my laptop while English Premiere League soccer is up live on my TV. Moments like this one from Saturday’s matches are why soccer fans watch the games. They’re what the sport is all about.
Arsenal are north London’s biggest soccer team (Spurs fans, you know it’s true). The Gunners currently lead the league, and Saturday they were at home facing Norwich, who are currently near the bottom of the league. Arsenal are playing lights out lately and expected the win, but no one expected the Gunners to score their first in quite the way that they did.
It happened in the 18th minute. With the match still scoreless but Arsenal dominating possession and forcing their will on Norwich, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere picked up the ball in the Gunners’ end and started to charge forward. He passed left to defender Kieran Gibbs, who passed forward to midfielder Santi Cazorla.
Cazorla, just returning from injury for his first match in several weeks, was showing a few signs of rust early in the game. But not at this moment. He held up the ball while Wilshere continued his run forward toward the Norwich goal. What follows is telepathic team play.
Cazorla’s move starts at the :05 mark of the video. He has the ball, and that’s Wilshere in red facing the Norwich #27 in yellow. Cazorla passes to Wilshere, who passes back to Cazorla, who one-touch passes to Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, standing side-facing the goal at the top of the Norwich penalty area. Giroud flicks back to Wilshere, who heel flicks back to Giroud as he continues to charge forward through the Norwich defense. Giroud turns around and one-touch flicks the ball forward into Wilshere’s path. All Wilshere has left to do at that point is slide the ball past the keeper into the net, 1-0. Those six pinpoint moves spanned about :03 on the clock. Play the video a few times and you’ll see 21-year-old Wilshere’s unbelievable heel flick as he charges at pace right through the defense. A lifetime of work on the training ground won’t leave most of us anywhere near capable of pulling that off.
The stunning goal silenced the stadium. Norwich’s defenders and goalkeeper could do nothing about it. Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil, who scored two on the day and is regarded as one of the best playmakers in world soccer, said his teammates’ “Playstation” goal was “unbelievable.”
The Gunners weren’t finished. Arsenal went on to score three more, including this solo masterpiece by midfielder Aaron Ramsey that sealed the win.
Last week I wrote a piece about bullying. My take on bullying is about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be. I don’t agree with school “anti-bullying” programs, and do not believe that bullying is an issue worthy of the President of the United States’ time. Especially since the current president is the Bully in Chief. I believe that most cases of childhood bullying can be solved by allowing kids who are bullied to defend themselves. The community should back victims up if they do defend themselves.
The piece I wrote last week centered on a study that shows that school “anti-bullying” programs may really be bully training programs. The study found that those programs show bullies how to be more effective bullies, while they also show bullies that no one will be allowed to stand up to them. I posted the link to Facebook to share it with my legions and legions of friends and fans.
Today, Facebook is suggesting this.
The link goes here, to the unfortunately named “The New Bully” website. Was the old bully defeated, or allowed to roam free by a leftist system that empowered him? Promoting that article to me may be due to an algorithm kick from the article I posted, or it may be part of Facebook’s latest anti-bullying drive.
“We are in this together and we can create change,” Nicholas says. Sure, and change is needed, but what kind of change are you proposing? The way we handle bullying now empowers bullies and leaves their victims to be victims for life. If you’re not about changing that, I’m not interested.
Are we going to change the way leftists bully everyone from attentive parents to veterans to the entire South to anyone and everyone who disagrees with them? If you’re not about changing that, I’m not interested.
As for Facebook’s “anti-bullying” drive, look out because it’s being done alongside the habitually bullying government of the state of Maryland. Soon enough criticizing that government on Facebook will end up being labeled “bullying” and censored.
Duck Dynasty features a number of things that run against the grain of popular culture. They’re a strong family that runs their own business, which is based on their patriarch’s invention. They go to church. They don’t engage in microwave marriages to pop stars. Their daughters aren’t famous for sex tapes or appearances in men’s magazines. They hunt. With guns.
They also pray, and according to two of the show’s stars, Phil and Willie Robertson, the prayers caused some problems with the producers.
When the producers of Duck Dynasty asked the stars to stop saying “in Jesus’ name” during prayers because it might offend Muslims, Phil Robertson stood his ground and gave an eye-opening response.
“So they would just have me saying, ‘Thank you Lord for the food, thank you for loving us. Amen.’ So I said, ‘Why would you cut out ‘In Jesus’ name?’ They said, ‘Well those editors are probably doing that. They just think that they don’t want to offend some of the Muslims or something.’”
Robertson says he had a conversation with the producers, and the objections to Jesus’ name stopped.
“I said, let’s see now…” Robertson went on, “I said, ‘what year is it?’” And the editor finally answered, “2012″ (the time the conversation took place, apparently).
Robertson then said, “2012 A.D. Anno Domini. The year of our Lord. I said, ‘you Hollywood cats are counting time from Jesus, just like I am. I would think that of all the people who walked the planet Earth, if we’ve all decided in America here to count time by just one of ‘em, Jesus of Galilee, I just don’t think it would hurt to throw his name in there from time to time.”
Phil may come off as Hayseed Treebeard, but he holds a Masters Degree in education. Don’t mess with the duckman.
I suspect that the aversion to Jesus’ name was less about Muslims, than about the media’s cultural aversion to all things explicitly Christian.
The producers also inserted bleeps to make it sound like the family was using profanity. Willie says the Robertsons don’t habitually use profanity, so the bleeps were unnecessary.
“If we’re not using profanity, why make it look like we’re using profanity? What is the point? Why don’t you just run it and say what we say?”
Good question. Duck Dynasty hauls in nearly 12 million viewers a week. I’m one, and I appreciate the fact that the Robertsons are the only “reality show” family that isn’t being bleeped every other word. It’s almost shocking to see a TV family or personality who can finish a sentence without resorting to profanity. You can’t say the same even for shows like SyFy’s FaceOff, a great competition show about make-up and special effects creators. Even American Pickers features its share of bleeps, and that’s just two dudes who go antiquing for a living.
Pastor Rick Warren, whose sermons, books, church org charts and teachings have worked their way into every nook and cranny of Christendom over the past decade or so, met recently* with Yusuf Islam.
Yusuf Islam is better known by the name he went by before he converted to Islam: Cat Stevens. Stevens converted to Islam in 1977 and changed his name to Yusuf Islam.
The singer of “Peace Train” has been known to espouse radical, even violent, Islamist ideas. In 1989, after the government of Iran issued a fatwa calling for the murder of author Salman Rusdhie, Mr. Islam rushed to back that fatwa. He said that if he knew where Rushdie was hiding, he would personally call up the Ayatollah to give that location away — which would have resulted in Rushdie’s murder. Islam has never recanted that, and remains a fundamentalist Muslim today.
Pastor Warren tweeted about meeting Islam on October 4. Robert Spencer captured this screenshot of the meeting and posted it at Jihad Watch.
But a Google search today reveals something curious: Warren has deleted the tweet.
“America’s pastor” may have been surprised by Stevens/Islam’s views when confronted with them online after his tweet, but Stevens/Islam’s radical views have been known publicly for years. Spencer notes that this isn’t the first time Warren has gotten cozy with Islamists. In 2009 he addressed a Hamas convention. In 2006, Warren also praised Syria’s “moderate” government. That government is currently waging civil war in which more than 100,000 have died. After controversy erupted following Warren’s visit to Syria, Warren blamed Rev. Franklin Graham and also journalists for reporting it.
*Originally I wrote that Warren met Islam Tuesday, but that was incorrect. Warren tweeted about meeting with Islam on October 4.
Over the weekend, the FBI took its Amber Alert missing child website offline, blaming the shutdown. At the same time, First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” web site stayed up and running.
Amber Alert is back online today, after the closure of the site generated negative publicity.
So it seems that Lord Obama can pick and choose what is and isn’t getting shut down. And it seems that he is in fact picking and choosing what gets shut down, in real time. He chose to close memorials and parks, including Mount Rushmore, and Obama chose to kick a pair of senior citizens out of their home. Obama’s decisions appear to be arbitrary and capricious, based not on actual fiscal conditions, but on what he can close to visibly demonstrate his political points on the shutdown. In some cases, the government is spending more to enforce the shutdown than it would spend simply to leave sites open. In closing hundreds of privately-run parks, Obama’s decisions are actively costing the Treasury millions of dollars per week.
When the lawsuits over closing a home and privately-run businesses get underway, and they will, the fact of these arbitrary and capricious displays of power should be included.
So state Sen. Wendy Davis, Democrat of Fort Worth, has made it official. She is running for governor of Texas.
Let’s set the politics of the race aside for a moment.
Wendy Davis would not be in the conversation at all if not for one action that she took.
The Texas Senate was deliberating a modest bill that did two things. The first of those was that it restricted abortions after five months of pregnancy.
At five months, this is what’s happening.
The baby’s organs have developed. She has a face and fingers and toes. She may look like this.
Wendy Davis wants to ensure that that baby could still be ripped apart and discarded in unsanitary, unregulated abortion mills.
On June 25th of this year, the previously obscure state Sen. Wendy Davis stood up and filibustered the bill that would defend the baby’s life. Davis didn’t have the numbers to win, and she didn’t have the facts or arguments to prevail. She had a hardcore pro-abortion ideology, she had a zeal to protect the Democrat-controlled abortion industry lobbyist Planned Parenthood, and she had a media that spread the word on her behalf. She also had a president who thought her antics were “special.”
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 26, 2013
The other thing that the bill before the Senate that day would do is defend women from monsters like Kermit Gosnell.
Gosnell is the abortionist who was convicted of running an abortion slaughterhouse in Pennsylvania. He killed babies after they were born. He mutilated women. He kept souvenirs of his kills in jars. Gosnell allowed staff with no medical training at all to perform procedures in his clinic. His clinic — abattoir — went unregulated for more than a decade because the politics of abortion got in the way of cleanliness and safety and women’s health.
The Texas bill would prevent another Gosnell by mandating that abortionists have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, ensuring that they are qualified doctors, and that women who access the clinics may get emergency treatment if something goes wrong. Many things went wrong over the course of Gosnell’s heinous career. The bill also upgraded standards at abortion clinics to defend the women who access them.
Outside the filibuster, there were other signs of evil. One, the media that utterly ignored the Gosnell horror trial made Davis a hero and turned her pink shoes into icons. Two, Davis’ supporters tried to destroy Texas’ legislative process to get their way. They engaged in some of the most disgusting, disgraceful — frankly, evil — tactics to force their will. Fortunately, they failed. Three, the Davis filibuster gave rise to a heinous lie — that the Texas Democrats were “standing with women.” They were standing with some women, but very much against other women, including the sponsors of the bill that Davis filibustered. The Texas Democrats and their new champion stood against the majority of Texas women, who are pro-life, to stop a law that most Texans support.
Should any of this have become a platform for rise of Texas’ next governor? What about any of this suggests that Wendy Davis would bring solid, sensible leadership to the pro-life state? Does any of this suggest that she is even remotely qualified?
Wendy Davis stands very little chance of winning. But if she does, her rise to fame, and the lies that powered it, would mark a horrible turning point for the state of Texas and for the country.
Janet Jackson was just a few years ahead of her time. The partial federal government shutdown has sent “non-essential” federal workers home, and the Federal Communications evidently deems scanning the airwaves for offenses against its standards non-essential.
The FCC has posted a notice that due to the shutdown, it is “limited to performing duties that are immediately necessary for the safety or life or the protection of property.” If that means what it sounds like it means, the airwaves across the fruited plains could get very sketchy.
I called the FCC’s headquarters in Washington for comment, pressed 1 to continue in English, and got a pre-recorded message that there is no one around to take my non-emergency call.
The latest installment of EA Sports’ globally popular soccer simulator, FIFA 14, hit the streets Tuesday. While it won’t shatter sales records in the way that Grand Theft Auto V has, FIFA 14 should maintain its place among the best-selling games worldwide for the simple reasons that soccer is the world’s most popular sport, and Electronic Arts is among the most massive game developers around. The new installment’s predecessor, FIFA 13, managed to be the highest-selling game of 2013 at the time of its launch. So FIFA 14 should be big. Does it deserve to be?
I had the chance to kick FIFA 14 for a couple hours on its debut day. The graphics are gorgeous, but not groundbreaking. The fact is, the FIFA franchise has looked great for years, and as the hardware that drives it — in my case, a PS3 — hasn’t changed in years, neither will the look of the game. The players’ faces do look a bit closer to their real-life counterparts than in previous versions. The crowds in the stands do come alive a bit more realistically than before. The grass looks like grass and the stadium color palettes appear to have been pushed toward more realism — they seem a bit more muted, as if the paints even in the spectacular Emirates Stadium in London have faded a bit. Playing during rain produces nice splashes off the grass. Overall the game looks fantastic, while not looking massively different from the previous version.
EA says it has upgraded the game’s engine to make matches play more realistically, with better ball physics and more intelligent player movement.
I haven’t noticed much in the physics area during gameplay, which were already good on previous versions. The improved physics have been apparent in the game’s many shooting, passing and ball control tutorials though. I did notice improved player ball control during action — a good dribbler in real life is also a good dribbler in the game, but if you insist on sprinting while dribbling, chances are the ball will get a bit too far ahead of your player and you’ll end up losing possession.
Every American city of any size these days has at least one sushi restaurant. Whether they’re good or not is another question. Even grocery stores carry California and tuna rolls, at least. But deeper modes of Japanese cuisine haven’t made as many inroads across the US. Sushi is ubiquitous, as are Americanized Japanese steakhouses with chefs who quick chop, tell jokes and throw food at you, but try finding good gyudon, tonkatsu or serious ramen outside the country’s more massive cities. Not the Top Ramen you can get six for a buck at HEB, but real hot ramen soup with a pork cutlet floating in its heavy miso or shoyu broth.
The availability of serious Japanese food is growing rapidly in Austin, TX. The city now boasts at least three eateries serving genuine Japanese ramen, the hearty noodle soup loved all over Japan. Ramen Tastsu-Ya in north Austin is the place to go for great ramen fast. Despite the fact that the line to get seated can hang outside the door and run down the walkway in front of the place, you can usually be in and out in about 45 minutes. The ramen is fantastic. Daruma, downtown on Austin’s famous Sixth Street, is a place I haven’t been to but have heard good things about.
A newcomer, though, intends to be more than just a ramen shop. It seeks to become a neighborhood hangout in the tradition of Japan’s izakayas. It’s called the Dojo, and by the way, it also serves amazing food.
I threw a couple of words at you in that last sentence that probably bear explaining. An izakaya is primarily a drinking spot in Japan, a sake shop, a watering hole. Think Cheers, but on tatami mats. Izakayas are where Japanese workers go to unwind with friends and colleagues after work. They serve food, but the main point of an izakaya is to relax and socialize. Fast food, they are not. They are a place where everyone tends to know everyone else.
A dojo in American thinking is a place where one goes to study martial arts. That’s part but not all of what a dojo is. The word really means “a place of the way,” or a place where a certain way is followed. That’s that I think Austin’s Dojo has in mind. You won’t be swinging wooden swords around, as fun as that might be. But you will absorb a new way of enjoying food and relaxing.
The wait staff will come explain the izakaya concept to you as they seat you. Our waitress, Stacy, explained that at an izakaya diners shouldn’t just order one appetizer, one main course and call it a dinner. Take your time. Order this. Get it. Enjoy it. Order that. Enjoy it. Explore the menu. Talk about the food. Order a couple other things. Enjoy them. Then order the main course. It was perfect advice.
The appetizers are authentically Japanese, with some Western twists, and of the highest quality in presentation and preparation.
The gyoza, kara-age, kewpie shrimp, every appetizer I’ve had at the Dojo, have been top drawer. If you want drinks, they have drinks.
Let this be a warning to criminals in the Lone Star State. We don’t even need guns to defend our families. But we do have guns. Lots of them.
A Texas father will not face murder charges for killing a man with his own bare hands after he discovered the suspect raping his 5-year-old daughter in a remote barn.
A Lavaca County grand jury decided not to charge the 23-year-old father, whose name was withheld, in the June 9 death of Jesus Mora Flores, 47, citing Texas state law where deadly force is authorized and justified in order to stop an aggravated sexual assault, the Daily Mail reported.
The jury also cut him a break for the 911 calls he made immediately after the attack.
Sheriff Micah Harmon said in June that he was not willing to press charges against the father, and rather the case would be presented to a grand jury.
The man did what any father would, or ought, to do. He rained down fists on the rapist until he was dead. His neighbors support him.
Residents of the small town largely supported the father through his legal troubles.
“[Flores] got what he deserved, big time,” Sonny Jaehne told the Victoria Advocate.
“I would probably do worse,” said friend Mark Harabis. “The family will have to deal with that the rest of their lives, no matter what happens to the father. Even if they let him go, he and his child will have to deal with that the rest of their lives.”
image courtesy shutterstock / Artkot
Prepare to learn new things, America. Alyssa Milano is all growed up from her Who’s the Boss? days, that’s for sure.
Fact: I could sit here and write a hundred, thousand-word essays about this. But one two-minute tape will undoubtedly teach more about the, erm, subject at hand.
The proverbial “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” comes to life.
Jon Lewis Alexander is an Iraq veteran currently working in a liquor store in Marionville, MO. A robber asks for money as he attempts to pull a gun, but Alexander pushes the robber’s arm down and draws his own gun. The description below the YouTube video explains that Alexander told the robber to leave before he would “blow his (expletive deleted) head off.”
Am I alone in thinking/hoping that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans turn out to be a subgeneration of heroes for decades to come?
image courtesy shutterstock / Naypong
Clark, who was once a Democrat presidential hopeful, is blaming “general indignities.” In Arkansas divorce law, “general indignities” is a catch-all for a lot of stuff.
“Rudeness, vulgarity, unmerited reproach, haughtiness, contempt, contumeliousness, studied neglect, intentional incivility, injury, manifest disdain, abusive language, malignant ridicule and every other plain manifestation of settled hate, alienation, and estrangement.”
Legal experts said “general indignities” is the equivalent of the standard, blame-less “irreconcilable differences” used in most states.
The only relevant “irreconcilable difference” at play here is the difference between his longstanding and longsuffering wife versus the 30-year-old fashion entrepreneur he met at — I’m not making this up – a Deepak Chopra symposium.
Irreconcilable difference: The wife he’s dumping can’t magically make herself half her current age.
Democrats, “war on women,” Weiner Spitzer Filner Gore Clinton Clark.
The media won’t make any of those connections.
More: Hm. Look at Item 4 in this list of things you need to know about Clark’s pal, Shauna Mei.
4. Mei Was Raised in China and Feels Chinese
Mei was born in Mongolia and raised in China before moving to the United States after the Tienanmen Square massacre. Her hometown is Beijing according to her Facebook profile. In an interview with a Chinese interviewer last year, Shauna Mei has stated: “I came to America when I was 8 and spent my first grade in China. I still remember a great Chinese role model called Lei Feng.” Lei Fend was a soldier of the People’s Liberation Army who was characterized as a “selfless and modest person who was devoted to the Communist Party” he also become a subject of a nationwide posthumous propaganda campaign.
Years ago I lived in Japan and loved to go to the local town festivals. There were games, people carrying giant dragons, taiko drums, kimonos, and great food. Really great food.
Everything was cooked outdoors on grills, not the urban cowboy gas style grill, but over charcoal or even over actual wood. The taste so achieved was unbelievable, and to me the best of the best of Japanese festival food was corn-on-the-cob.
No kidding. Corn-on-the-cob always beat the grilled squid, it beat the yakitori chicken, even the grilled beef. Well, sometimes. It’s pretty hard to beat grilled beef if it’s done right.
After several years and a few experiments and a happy accident, I’ve replicated and then improved on the taste of Japanese festival corn-on-the-cob.
You’ll need good quality ears of corn, soy sauce, a small bowl, a cooking paint brush, and small hickory chips for smoke grilling.
First you have to start with good, sweet ears of corn. Quality counts. It’s best to buy it in the husk so that it will be fresh, but we’ll remove the husk before we put it on the grill.
I grill my corn at the end of a charcoal grilling run, so that I can slow roast it at less than 300 degrees while controlling the fires started using hickory chips. So take the corn, get it out of the husk, and boil it in the kitchen while you’re grilling your steaks, chicken, and everything else you intend to grill. You’ll grill the corn last.
Once you’re ready to grill the corn, take it to the grill and lay it on the racks. Start using the paintbrush to slather the soy sauce onto it. Turn the corn a few times and paint the soy sauce onto the corn until you’ve covered its entire surface. The soy sauce will tend to run off the corn and into the coals so don’t worry about putting too much on. It won’t happen. You want to get enough on so that the heat carmelizes some of it onto the corn to flavor it.
Next we’ll benefit from my happy accident. The first time I tried to use hickory chips with corn on the grill, I obeyed the instructions on the chip bag and wrapped them in foil. I poked a few holes into the foil to let smoke out, and put the homebrew smoker box onto the grill as instructed. Nothing happened. The coals weren’t hot enough at that point to create smoke from the wood chips.
Impatience won out after a few minutes and I decided to take the chips out of the foil. I sprinkled a few around the corn on the grill, and several fell through onto the coals. After a few seconds those chips caught fire, and the flames and smoke licked the corn. I realized that this would probably turn out good, so I flipped the corn and kept dropping chips in twos and threes into the fire. I also kept painting the soy sauce onto the corn as I flipped it.
It ended up looking like this.
That’s the look you’re aiming for, and if you’ve used enough soy sauce and kept the hickory smoke going, you’ll have the best corn-on-the-cob you will ever eat. It will be sweet, salty and smoky all at the same time.
Editor’s Note: I’ve decided to cross-post together these four PJ articles about the NSA PRISM surveillance program. My colleagues J. Christian Adams, Bryan Preston, Ron Radosh, and Richard Fernandez each deliver compelling analyses and I agree with their conclusions. I’ve been disappointed as many conservatives and Republicans have sought to minimize the severity of what PRISM is, even siding with Democrats to support the program while encouraging focus on the IRS and other Obama scandals. They’re wrong.
At this point the Ron Paul radical anarchist Edward Snowden who initiated this story in the most irresponsible means possible has overextended his 15 minutes of fame. He has ceded any scrap of moral authority he may have once had. Everything about him is a distraction from what really matters. In the coming weeks let’s hope the sad tabloid story about him and his personality can pass and we can get to the serious discussion about the necessity of limiting the powers of government surveillance. - David Swindle
Americans tend to love underdogs and whistleblowers, and at the beginning of l’affaire Snowden it seemed that in one man we had both. Young Edward Snowden left his hot girlfriend and his cushy government job behind to tell Americans that our government has been systematically spying on all of us for years.
He’s a hero! Or some thought so at least, until he started outing US hacking against China and the UK’s spying on guests during a 2009 diplomatic summit. The US should be hacking against China, which is known to be hacking against the US. Cyberspace is part of the battlespace now. Everyone spies at diplomatic summits. It’s part of the international relations game. Those disclosures hurt the US and one of our closest allies, for no good purpose, and at a time when the US was seeking leverage against China’s spying and hacking against us. But it served as a warning that Snowden is liable to leak again if he believes doing so serves his own self-interests. He may fancy himself as a James Bond, but he’s not suave and he is and unlike Bond he is not loyal to anyone but himself. Snowden’s disclosures have earned him federal espionage charges from a government that appears to be impotent as it tries to catch him.
Snowden ran off to Hong Kong, nominally part of communist China, rather than stay in the United States to defend his actions. Running into the arms of an enemy is not generally something Americans support in our underdogs and whistleblowers. Now it turns out that Snowden’s presence in Hong Kong may have allowed China’s hackers to drain the contents of all of his laptops. They know whatever he knows. He is now expendable, but China allowed him to leave because he has earned some public support in the anti-American population in Hong Kong and mainland China. China drained his electronic brains before allowing Snowden to flee Hong Kong for Russia, from which he is supposed to travel to Cuba and Venezuela to end up seeking asylum in Ecuador.
China’s human rights abuses are well-known, though they are less criticized than they ought to be. China’s is an undemocratic, one-party regime that censors the Internet, jails and tortures dissidents, and commands the details of its subject’s every-day lives down to how many children they are allowed to have. China supports what may be the most thuggish and least freedom-friendly regime in human history, North Korea.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin hails from the USSR’s KGB. Under his watch an oligarchy rules Russia’s false democracy, and reporters who get in the way tend to die. Putin backs various human rights haters around the world, from the mullahs in Iran to the butcher in Damascus. Putin is a bully ruling a decrepit former power.
Supposing he does leave Russia, Snowden is set to travel through the Castro communist workers’ paradise of Cuba, which also spies on its citizens and aggressively imprisons dissidents, and Venezuela, which under the late Hugo Chavez’s watch became a Cuba with oil. Likewise Ecuador’s government cracks down on dissent in the media. It just passed a law in June 2013 in the name of “democratizing the media” that actually gives the government sweeping power to stamp out freedom of speech.
Knitting Snowden’s travelogue together is Wikileaks, the fringe international organization that thinks traitor Bradley Manning, the US soldier whose gay grudge ended up getting people better than him killed, is a hero. Its leader, Julian Assange, is hiding out on the Ecuadorian embassy in London dodging dodgy rape charges in Sweden. Wikileaks’ current comment on Snowden’s whereabouts reads like a schoolyard taunt: “Neener neener!”
Pursuing the leaking whistleblower Edward Snowden is the government of the United States. Once seen as the champion of liberty and civil rights around the world, the US government is now revealed to be a government that passes sweeping laws lacking democratic legitimacy, suppresses dissent through its army of tax compliance officials, spies on its citizens, elevates the concerns of illegal aliens over its citizens, leaves its diplomat and security officials to die to preserve a campaign narrative, and prosecutes information leaks it does not bless while blessing information leaks that serve its interests. The US government ought to come out in every exchange with the likes of Beijing, Moscow, Caracas and Havana as the shining city on a hill. Instead, thanks to its own actions, our leviathan government looks little better than any of the others it’s facing off with. Uncle Sam is a massive hypocrite.
All in all, l’affaire Snowden is a depressing battle between anti-heroes, none of whom have a moral leg to stand on.
While we were sleeping, President Obama and a federal court changed things quite a bit. The Guardian reports, with a lie in its lead.
The Obama administration will stop trying to limit sales of emergency contraception pills, making the morning-after pill available to women of all ages without a prescription.
“Women of all ages…” Women of age 85 aren’t going to be getting the morning-after pill. They don’t need it. Most females under age 17 are not, in the eyes of the law, women. They’re girls. They have not reached the age of consent in many states. Sexual intercourse with them can constitute statutory rape, at least. It may also constitute pedophilia.
The change that now allows girls to obtain the morning-after pill without a prescription and with no questions asked may declare open season on them by sexual predators. The point of the change was, in fact, to make it possible for girls to get this pill, not “women of all ages,” despite the fact that sexual intercourse with them in most cases is illegal. It can also be a monstrous crime, depending on the circumstances.
A 13-year-old girl who goes to the pharmacy to obtain the morning-after pill is probably the victim of a crime. She may be under threat, and walking into the pharmacy to get the pill because an adult has forced her into sex and is now forcing her to get medication that can help cover up the crime. Her parents have the right to know that their daughter is either wittingly sexually active or has been victimized. But no questions will be asked. The girl — not woman, girl — will not be asked to provide ID or any evidence of age. Her parents will probably never know.
Obama’s own decision-making on this should get no pass. He fought the court mandate in the year leading up to his re-election, only to reverse course once he was safely re-elected. Politics drives everything this president says and does. He has made the pedobear one of his administration’s mascots.
Sexual predators and those who despise the family will cheer Obama’s decision. No one in their right mind should join them.
Image courtesy shutterstock / filipw
DirecTV is about to enter the world of provider-creating original programming pioneered by Netflix. Its debut series is Rogue, a psychological cop drama that will launch on DirecTV’s Audience channel beginning tonight at 9 pm eastern.
Thandie Newton stars as Grace Travis,
“a morally and emotionally-conflicted undercover detective, is tormented by the possibility that her own actions contributed to her son’s mysterious death. In her quest for the truth, Grace finds herself striking out on her own and falling deeper into the city’s most powerful and dangerous crime family. As Grace struggles to become the wife and mother her family now needs, her life is further complicated by a forbidden relationship with crime boss Jimmy Laszlo. In order to stay alive, Grace needs to help Jimmy find the traitor in his midst, while knowing he may have played a part in her tragedy.”
That’s what the publicity campaign says about the show’s central character and driving plot. Unfortunately, that’s about as good as the writing gets across the show’s two debut episodes. The whole production looks stylish but has a lazy heart.
Early in the first episode, Grace does turns as an undercover cop trying to get inside gangster Jimmy Lazlo’s (Marton Csokas) empire, and mom who never sees her kids. Her husband (Kavan Smith) is a tattooed, muscular Mr. Mom whose outward appearance hides a big softie. In real life it’s hard to see how a police investigator as tough and courageous as Grace could put up with such a whiny man. By the end of the second episode, that problem seems well on its way to being solved. Body builder husband and bad boy Lazlo are equally implausible cardboard characters. Why Grace would bother tearing herself up over either one is never answered. Mobster or marshmallow: Why bother making that call?
Comic Jim Carrey takes to the august pixels of the Sideboob Gazette to hit back, again, at those of us who don’t care much for people who make their livings pretending to be other people lecturing us about reality.
For those who say I’m a hypocrite because I have an armed bodyguard, lets make one thing clear: No one in my employ is allowed to carry a large magazine and NO ONE IS ASKING ANYONE TO GIVE UP THEIR RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS, though it is in the vested interests of those who profit by gun sales to make it seem so.
Alrighty then. So if you happen to get into a shootout with Jim Carrey’s bodyguards, you can just wait them out.
Next up, Carrey compares himself to Ronaldus Magnus.
And to the bullies who will try to marginalize and discredit me by saying, “Shut up, you’re just an actor,” while they brag about what a great president the ACTOR Ronald Reagan was, who threaten me with the demise of my acting career and much worse, I say SO BE IT!
Reagan was also a union leader and successful governor who spent decades formulating ideas and plans to dismantle the Soviet Union. Carrey has spent decades turning his face into rubber.
Don’t read these two lines and then call Jim Carrey a hypocrite, though.
These horrific events are also an invitation for us to become more civilized and to deal with our addiction and entitlement to violence.
Later in the same piece…
These thugs, though menacing, are a minority but they will have their way if good people don’t step forward now and make a difference.
It’s as if Carrey knows words, and knows how to put them together into a sentence, but does not know what the words actually mean.
Through the years Neverhood fans have asked for another game, and I’m partnering with my EWJ and Neverhood buddies Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield to make a full sized, PC and Mac point and click adventure game in clay and puppet animation. New characters, but in my usual style.
TenNapel’s “usual style” is mind blowing. The Neverhood debuted on the Dreamworks Interactive label in 1996. It was a point-and-click adventure built entirely in clay and animated via stopmotion. Here’s a taste, and keep in mind that he did this in 1996 on PCs that can’t even compete with today’s smart phones for processing power.
SXSW Monday: I’m here today to check more sessions and events out. Most that I’m interested in are in the afternoon. In the morning, a man needs his coffee, and as I’m walking from my parked car — wherever that is, somewhere blocks away from the action — to the convention center, a man asks me out of the clear blue sky:= “Hey, would you like some free coffee?”
Um, yeah. I would. Very much. He ushers me over to this trailer, which it turns out belongs to GE.
Those two white arms are robots. The barista attaches a syringe to to what, I guess, is its hand. The syringe is full of condensed coffee. She doesn’t start you on a coffee IV, which is a pity.
They snap a photo of you, or a logo that you’re wearing or have handy.
I happened to be wearing my PJTV shirt…
So, after a few seconds, the robot gets the image and passably writes it onto the foam on top of the coffee.
Thanks to Vivian at RetailMeNot for letting me snap pics while the robot was making her coffee. Click on the next page to see the holographic tour guide.
Austin, TX, home of SXSW, is known for its live music and its food. The fact is, you’d have to work pretty hard to find a bad meal in Austin. The people here take pride in being one of the food capitals of America. The weary SXSWer may have a hard time sorting the great places from the merely good, though, so as a local, I’m here to help out. Here are the places and meals you shouldn’t miss while you’re in town.
10. Pluckers Wing Bar. Locations: All over town. This chain of wing stops was started by some UT students. Pluckers isn’t fancy but it’s local and good, and has restaurants all over town.
The bazillionth episode in the tomb-raiding life of Lara Croft hit Tuesday. Most of the previous episodes have not been good. Many came with flaws that rendered them nearly unplayable in spots. Unlike most of the previous, and especially the most recent, installments, reviews for the 2013 installment have not been mixed. Lara is scoring about a 9.25 across the board on video game-review sites. But is this hype fanboys falling in love with a game babe, or a reflection of a strong game that may just bring a storied but troubled franchise back from the dead?
I spent about an hour with the new Tomb Raider, so while I don’t yet have a comprehensive view of the game’s full story arc, I do have some strong first impressions.
Tomb Raider 2013 is an origins story, picking Lara up on an expedition to find a lost civilization off the coast of Japan. A nineteen year old on her first adventure, Lara isn’t yet the boss chick who greeted the gaming world in 1996. She’s young but determined, and convinced that if the expedition changes course, it will find the lost civilization they’re looking for. Changing course also risks entering the Dragon’s Triangle, an allegedly dangerous region of the Pacific similar to the Bermuda Triangle off Florida.
Things go about as you’d expect when a game amps up a threat — the expedition suffers a shipwreck and Lara finds herself stranded and alone. A knock on the head later, and she’s in a creepy, gory cave filled with bones and hanging corpses. It’s environments like this, and Lara’s tendency to lean on a couple of swears when she reacts to threats, that earn the game its M rating. No longer a cartoon, Tomb Raider is a cinematic beast.
The younger Lara is vulnerable. She picks up knocks and wounds. She scavenges and improves weapons as she goes. She gets hungry and has to hunt, which turns this Tomb Raider into more of an open world than any previous episode. She learns skills and, based on the dialogue, learns to overcome her fears. She thinks.
This Lara develops as the story goes, and is far more interesting and more realistically rendered than in any previous episode. She also eats meat, so she is more Duck Dynasty than Morrissey.
The story of Tomb Raider works extremely well, at least in the early going of the game that I’ve played.
On Wednesday Sony announced its next-gen gaming console, the PlayStation 4. Sony expects the new console to be available by the Christmas season of this year and is being coy about the price. When the PS3 arrived, it carried a hefty price tag of about $600, scaring some gamers off for a few months. Rumors are the new console will come in at around $450, but that’s just a rumor at this point. That’s one of the mysteries surrounding the new box. More about the other mystery later in the article.
The PS4 will not just be another console with beefier hardware. It will have that, with powerful new graphics processors capable of taking the visuals to another level of realism, while not presenting a quantum leap over the current hardware. But it will truly be a next-gen console in the sense that it comes with capabilities that up to now have mainly been available on game streaming sites like OnLive (which I reviewed, here). In fact, the PS4 may kill off the ailing OnLive service.
That’s because the PS4 is a social gaming console right out of the box. One of OnLive’s chief fun features is its ability to allow gamers to watch and interact with other gamers without being in the game themselves. Gamers can spectate in the Arena, picking up tips and tricks, jeering and cheering and generally checking out games before either buying them or downloading demos. The PS4 allows spectating and, with a push of a button on its new controller, sharing and uploading action clips. Some games currently allow this, but the new hardware makes sharing a universal feature. It also allows demos to be played the instant a gamer chooses them, putting it on par with one of the other great OnLive features. Along with that will come features that already exist, such as Amazon Video, Netflix and Hulu apps and Plex serving that turn the PS into a full home entertainment system. PS3 users can also already control their consoles when surfing YouTube via iPhones and iPods. Expect Sony to build on that capability as well.
The PS4 also builds on a feature currently found on the PS3 and the Wii U, remote play. Currently PS3 can be controlled via a handheld PSVita, while the Wii U can act as a server, with game play actually taking place on the screen in the controller. So it doesn’t really need a TV screen. The PS4 allows games hosted on its hardware to be played on the PSVita. So like the Wii U, the PS4 can free up your TV while still delivering the top level gaming experience.
The PS4 controller, the Dualshock 4, also builds on the current competition, adding Move capabilities, the aforementioned social gaming capabilities, and a new touchpad in the middle.
So, there’s the controller. But where’s the actual PS4? In its entire demo Wednesday, they never showed the PlayStation 4 itself. That has sparked a debate:
There are two rather polarized angles being tossed about this week as the Sony show (or no-show) of the PlayStation 4 was let loose. One side says it’s terrible that Sony made a 2+ hour presentation for the PlayStation 4 without actually showing the hardware, relying instead on the controller and a variety of promises from software developers to do all the talking. The other side says awesome! We know the PlayStation 4 is coming now, and we’ve got confirmation from some of the biggest-name developers that they’re on board, so we’re happy!
My own take is that Sony wants a second bite at the buzz apple, so they’re withholding images of the console for a later date, maybe E3 in June or SIGGRAPH in August. If they do that, they get to have another big moment, and may announce the price along with giving us a look at the beast. Sony usually goes the route of making their consoles dark and artistic (or odd, in the case of the PS3s that look like bbq grills). I would expect something smaller and sleeker than the PS3.
The bottom line is that we now have concrete specs on the next-gen system, a catalog of major titles that it will debut with including new material from heavyweights like Blizzard and its own in-house Killzone and InFAMOUS series, and solid information about the new things it will be able to do. And the things it won’t do, which brings me to the “bad” part of this article. Sony says that as things stand now, backward compatibility is not built into the PS4. Gamers will not be able to play legacy games on the new system, which may impact some of this year’s bigger releases like the Tomb Raider reboot. They say they’re working on it. They may be setting up to sell multiple forms of the PS4, some that will include backward compatibility for a price, and some that don’t. Backward compatibility can be gotten around via streaming games, but that requires hefty bandwidth that most American households still don’t have, or via downloads, which will take up valuable hard drive space and may create other issues. We’ll see. But the failure to provide backward compatibility from the get-go is an ominous sign that Sony may be looking to roll out their new box at one stated price, which is not the actual price gamers will end up paying if they want to keep playing their old Call of Duty titles on their shiny new systems.
The Dallas Sci-Fi Expo wrapped up on Sunday, February 10. We snapped photos of some of the best, most creative and most disturbing costumes of the show. Click on a thumbnail below to view photo galleries. They’re divided into Girls, Groups, and Guys.
You can see more costumes from the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo here.
We interviewed Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer, here.
And ran into MickeyDeadMau5Trooper here.