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Stephen Green

Stephen Green began blogging at VodkaPundit.com in early 2002, and has served as PJMedia's Denver editor since 2008. He's one of the hosts on PJTV, and one-third of PJTV's Trifecta team with Scott Ott and Bill Whittle. Steve lives with his wife and sons in the hills and woods of Monument, Colorado, where he enjoys the occasional lovely adult beverage.
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Is China Trying to Hack iCloud Accounts?

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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Is China attempting to phish iCloud users’ passwords? And note that I said “China,” as in the government, and not “Chinese hackers.” That’s what GreatFire claims:

According to the report, the government is using the institutional firewall to redirect traffic directed at iCloud.com to a fake page that resembles the iCloud.com interface almost perfectly.

Like other phishing attacks, this page is pretending to be Apple’s portal but instead intercepts entered usernames and passwords for other means. Although some browsers in China are set up to warn users about these kind of man-in-the-middle attacks, many don’t and (assumedly) many citizens disregard the warnings as the site appears quite genuine otherwise.

If true, the implications for Apple vis-a-vis Chinese relations are huge.

To say the least. I can think of any number of reasons why a Chinese citizen would want to keep the content of his texts and the history of his browsing safe from Beijing’s prying eyes.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit, image illustration via shutterstock / wk1003mike

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Was Stalin Crazy or Rational?

Sunday, October 19th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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How, The Atlantic asks, did Stalin become Stalin?

The article’s subhead reveals what even amateur students of history have long known. It reads, “Russian archives reveal that he was no madman, but a very smart and implacably rational ideologue.”

Anne Applebaum has done a job here which I can only describe as “typically damn good,” as I’ve long been a fan of her work. It’s good stuff; read it.

The only thing I could possibly add is my own wonderment that anyone still has any wonderment about supposed “madmen” achieving murderous pinnacles of power. Of course Stalin was an “implacably rational ideologue.” So was his stepfather, Lenin. So was their German cousin, Hitler. And their southeast Asian protege, Pol Pot. And Stalin’s peninsular nephew, Kim-il Sung.

I could go on, but I trust you got the idea years before I started typing these words.

Demented madmen rarely — ever? — achieve heights of power. We might call them, the Stalins and the Lenins and the Hitlers, “demented.” We might wish they were madman.

But no. They were implacably rational. They were ideologues. And they had the tools of all-powerful states at their disposal.

And that is why our Founders saw fit to cobble the State, so that implacably rational ideologues might never grab ahold of all-powerful levers.

****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit, image illustration via shutterstock / 

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The Yosemite Mini Review

Saturday, October 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

YOSEMITE

Here it is: John Siracusa’s bathysphere-deep review of OS X Yosemite. For rabid Mac lovers, skip my mini review and delve into all 25 pages of his. As always, he’s amazing.

My initial impression is twofold, the new features and the new look. Everything feels snappier, or at least as snappy as before. The new “Handoff” feature, allowing me to pick up my work seamlessly as I move from Mac to iPhone to iPad and back throughout the day — this is Mac crack, is what it is. The Spotlight search tool is now out of its upper-right-corner ghetto and is a fully-integrated experience. Moving search to front-and-center is long overdo, but it was worth the wait. I can’t say more yet, because I haven’t really had a chance to dig into Yosemite yet. For that stuff, go see Siracusa.

I love the new look, other than a few minor quibbles. That new Share button for instance looks just as ill-conceived and badly-proportioned in iOS as it has for the last year in OSX. Feh. And the Safari menu bar… it’s cohesive, but the Extensions buttons should be slightly smaller than the URL bar, for differentiation and ease of navigation. I’m also no fan of truncated URLs in the URL bar, but that’s the direction every major browser is taking. It doesn’t make much difference to people who just browse, but for those of us who live and work and practically breathe in our web browsers, it hides information we need to see at a glance. We can only hope it’s a short-lived trend.

Calendar got whacked, repeatedly, by the same Ugly Stick they used on the iOS version. There’s nothing wrong with the function, and there’s plenty right, too. But it’s just so eye-bleeding ugly that this might be when I finally upgrade to the much-beloved Fantastical.

And that’s about it for complaints.

My worries about transporting the iOS7/8 look to OS X were ill-founded. What could often seem busy and crowded on my tiny iPhone screen looks big, bold, clean, and most of all fresh on a 24″ screen. I get the feeling that the new look was designed with desktop screens and with the bigger iPhone 6-series screens in mind.

The new dock and its app icons are so clear and easy to read, that I was able to comfortably shrink it to a significant degree on my 24″ desktop display, freeing up valuable real estate. The same was not true on the 13″ display on my laptop.

I plan on writing up my industry-wide observations about the do’s and don’ts of translucencies at a later date.

Quibbles and minor complaint aside though, in the end I have to tell you that the new bells & whistles, and the low, low price of $0 make Yosemite an irresistible upgrade.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go ring my new bells and blow my new whistles a bit more.

UPDATE: Digging through Safari’s settings, I discovered you can force it to reveal full URLs in the URL bar. That removes my only functional complaint about the new version of the browser.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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You Have to Read It to Believe It

Friday, October 17th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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The rest is, as you might expect, a farce of unintended consequences.

*****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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New Blogs: Guns and Curves

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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What’s not to like about Guns and Curves? First article I read there was last month’s “I Was Afraid Of Guns: At 39, I Grew Up” by looooongtime blog-reader-turned-blogger Rachel Mullen. I know it’s from September, but it’s new to me and a timeless topic:

Convinced that I would accidentally shoot myself, I never touched a gun until I was 39 years old. (I feel like I just stepped out of the closet by admitting that publicly!)

In 2011 I found myself in a situation where I needed to protect myself. At first I just wanted to learn how disarm somebody with a gun in the event that I ever was in a situation that warranted it. But, after handling a gun for the first time, I realized that it wasn’t something to be afraid of, but rather something to be respected.

The gun wasn’t going to discharge just because I held it or even looked at it. It would fire when I told it to fire, when I squeezed the trigger.

Of course it is such a simple thing to understand, but with so much focus in the media and education that guns are dangerous and scary, many people lack confidence in using a firearm or become fearful by merely seeing one.

I bought into that scenario.

It’s a great tale, well told. Read the whole thing.

****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit, image illustration via shutterstock / xavier gallego morell

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In Defense of The Princess Bride

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

IMPRESSIVE

The Princess Bride star Cary Elwes has a new book out, going behind the scenes of the making of the movie. One story is Mandy Patinkin’s strange injury:

After Westley is rendered “mostly dead” at the hands of the evil prince, Inigo and Fezzik carry him to Miracle Max, an elderly healer played by Billy Crystal, who based the schticky character on his grandmother and former Yankees manager Casey Stengel.

Reiner gave Crystal free rein to improvise, and many of the scene’s memorable lines were ad libbed, including the crack about true love being the greatest thing next to a good MLT — mutton, lettuce and tomato.

The cast and crew had trouble keeping their composure. Reiner had to leave the room after ruining several takes, and Elwes — who was supposed to lie motionless on a table, pretending to be mostly dead — had to be replaced by a dummy, because he couldn’t keep from cracking up.

Patinkin kept his laughter bottled up and actually bruised a rib holding it in.

I believe it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched that movie, and Billy Crystal cracks me up each and every time — and Carol Kane is just as brilliant as Valerie.

We have a traditional here at Casa Verde of watching The Princess Bride once a year. Our dear friends Kat and Jay come over, in part because they’re godparents to our older son, Pres, and in part because they’re just as much diehard Bride fans as we are.

This last time around, just a couple of months ago, Pres got it in his eight-year-old head that he hates the movie. “Can’t we watch Pacific Rim? I hate Princess Bride.” And so of course his little four-year-old brother started to echo him — “I hate that movie, too.”

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Charging by the Laugh

Monday, October 13th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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In my preteen years I tried never to miss an episode of the game show Make Me Laugh. Simple premise: Three comedians had 60 seconds each to make a contestant laugh, who was awarded a dollar a second for not laughing. I think there might have been a $100 bonus for going the whole three minutes. Comedians got national exposure, contestants got prizes, the producers didn’t have to spend a whole lot of money.

But now there’s this:

The Teatreneu Club thought it might be an amusing experiment — a sort of world first — to give willing customers an iPad equipped with facial recognition technology that captures every laugh. The iPads are attached to the seat in front and keep score of the laugh total.

The charge per laugh is 0.30 euros. The Teatreneu Web site says that there is a maximum charge of 8 euros for its latest performance, though the BBC reports that the maximum was, in the past, 24 euros.

The idea was a reaction to increased government taxes on theatrical performances, which severely hit revenue. Pay-per-laugh was a big success, with other venues copying the idea.

EU taxes are for once a laughing matter.

*****
Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Can Microsoft Be Saved?

Sunday, October 12th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

MICROSOFT

That almost seems like a silly question for a company 100,000 employees, two massive cash cows with Windows and Office, and what is probably the world’s best cloud service. Nevertheless, that’s what Bethany McLean is asking in a Vanity Fair interview with former Softie CEO Bill Gates and current Softie CEO Satya Nadella:

“The way I think about success is our relevance,” says Nadella.

Relevance, however, is exactly what Microsoft doesn’t have, according to its critics. “The Irrelevance of Microsoft” is actually the title of a blog post by an analyst named Benedict Evans, who works at the Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. On his blog, Evans pointed out that Microsoft’s share of all computing devices that we use to connect to the Internet, including P.C.’s, phones, and tablets, has plunged from 90 percent in 2009 to just around 20 percent today. This staggering drop occurred not because Microsoft lost ground in personal computers, on which its software still dominates, but rather because it has failed to adapt its products to smartphones, where all the growth is, and tablets. Even Microsoft’s new chairman of the board, a former IBM executive named John Thompson, told Fortune last winter that “there are some attributes to Microsoft today that do look vaguely like IBM circa 1990.”

During its ’80s and ’90s heyday, Microsoft wasn’t so much relevant as it was necessary. During the ’80s, the personal computer market was so fractured that individual companies made product lines which weren’t even compatible with their own other product lines. Commodore went from the PET to the VIC-20 to the C64 to the Plus 4 (remember that stinker?) to the C128, and only an awkward emulation mode allowed the C128 to run C64 software. The other computers might have well have come from different planets. Apple? Same story with the Apple II, Apple III (another stinker), Lisa, and Mac. By the early ’90s, Apple couldn’t even keep Mac OS fully modern.

But there was Microsoft, producing one OS and boatloads of good enough software for most anything running on a x86 chip. Then along came the internet, allowing anything to share data with anything, and Microsoft (after a late entry into the Browser Wars) was there to take advantage. The resulting network effects turned computers from little boxes people worked or played on by themselves, into a massive global productivity machine.

Whatever you think of Microsoft’s products then or now, somebody had to get done what Redmond got done, and we’re all better off for it. But Microsoft missed the boat repeatedly in mobile and tablets, and the company’s necessary job has been complete now for 15 years.

I don’t doubt Microsoft will be making a lot of money for a long time to come, but it will likely never be what it once was.

****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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I Want to Say Just One Word to You: Bacon

Saturday, October 11th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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David Sax says the bacon boom is no accident:

In terms of economic impact, nothing beats bacon. While most food trends tend to trickle down from the gourmet market into the mouths of mass consumers, that wasn’t the case with bacon. Bacon mania was sparked not in the kitchens of fancy restaurants in New York or Chicago, but in the pork industry’s humble marketing offices in Iowa, where people like Joe Leathers engineered a turnaround for an underappreciated cut of pig.

Turnaround? Underappreciated? I honestly don’t understand.

I’ve witnessed the bacon boom, sure, but always figured it was just a fun social trend about a food everybody already knew and loved. You couldn’t turn around bacon’s appeal anymore than you could turn the tide — it’s something which simply is.

Except that apparently I had it all wrong, and until recently most people really did think that God’s Own Pork Product was just for breakfast.

I won’t ask what took everybody so long. It’s just nice to have you all aboard.

Also read: 

The 10 Best Deals in Fast Food

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Why Samsung Sings the Blues

Friday, October 10th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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Via Recode.net:

The company said it would report an operating profit of $3.8 billion for the quarter ending in September — a decline of nearly 60 percent from the same time a year earlier. Sales fell to $44 billion, off 20 percent from a year ago.

The preliminary guidance, which Samsung issued ahead of its quarterly report, due later this month, failed to meet the $5.2 billion average profit estimate of 43 analysts pulled by Thomson Reuters.

The South Korean electronics giant said that while smartphone shipments increased, its operating margins fell because of higher marketing costs, fewer shipments of high-end phones and a lower average selling price for the devices.

The company said it is responding with a new smartphone lineup that will include new midrange and low-end devices, which would make Samsung’s products more competitive in markets such as China.

Scrambling for low-margin sales against even lower-margin competitors in a low-margin market doesn’t seem like the best way to increase margins.

*****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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D-I-V-O-R-C-E for H-P

Thursday, October 9th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

Samsung, HP Pop-Tops Do Laptop Double Duty

HP is spinning off its PC & printer divisions into a new company:

The company said Monday that the PC and printer business will use the name HP Inc. The services business will be called Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.

HP CEO Meg Whitman will lead the Enterprise business. HP PC and printer chief Dion Weisler will be CEO of HP Inc.

“The decision to separate into two market-leading companies underscores our commitment to the turnaround plan,” Whitman said. “It will provide each new company with the independence, focus, financial resources, and flexibility they need to adapt quickly to market and customer dynamics.”

The split, if approved by the company board, is expected to close by the end of fiscal 2015. Once complete, HP stockholders will own shares of both companies.

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise has a shot at restoring some of HP’s former glory, but HP Inc is at an evolutionary dead end.

*****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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The Mouse that Squeaked

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

BAILOUT

Disneyland Paris is in deep merde:

The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) is digging into its pockets again to help Euro Disney, operator of the troubled Disneyland Paris theme park complex. The U.S. parent is backing a €1 billion ($1.25 billion) bailout, including a 420 million capital increase and the conversion of debt it’s owed by Euro Disney into shares in the French company.

Paris-listed shares in Euro Disney (EDL:FP) plunged as much as 16 percent today, Oct. 6, on news of its second major recapitalization in two years. Euro Disney hasn’t made a profit since 2008, a situation exacerbated recently by declining attendance as the French economy falters. The company has said it could lose as much as €120 million this year, with sales down 3 percent. By contrast, sales at Disney’s U.S. park and resort operations are up 8 percent this year.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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A Cock & Ball Story

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

BALL GAME

At Kens5.Com:

Testicular cancer survivor Thomas Cantley is pushing a giant ball across America to raise awareness for men’s health.

He quit his job and sold his house to push a six-foot ‘testicle’ from Los Angeles to New York City after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, according to his website.

He’s travelled more than 1,500 miles so far, but the story doesn’t say how much money he’s raised. “Awareness” is a more difficult measure, but there is a giant rolling testicle involved.

Traveling slightly north, we have this potentially related story from Wake Forest:

Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, are assessing engineered penises for safety, function and durability. They hope to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and to move to human testing within five years.

Professor Anthony Atala, director of the institute, oversaw the team’s successful engineering of penises for rabbits in 2008. “The rabbit studies were very encouraging,” he said, “but to get approval for humans we need all the safety and quality assurance data, we need to show that the materials aren’t toxic, and we have to spell out the manufacturing process, step by step.”

The penises would be grown using a patient’s own cells to avoid the high risk of immunological rejection after organ transplantation from another individual. Cells taken from the remainder of the patient’s penis would be grown in culture for four to six weeks.

This is great news for men with congenital defects or disfiguring injuries, but I fear what will happen when the porn industry inevitably gets hold of this technology.

*****

cross-posted from Vodkapunditimage via Instagram

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That’s a Bug, Not a Feature

Monday, October 6th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

MIND THE GAP

9to5Google has the latest …innovation… from Samsung:

Yesterday we reported that Samsung’s earlier-than-planned September 26th launch of its new Galaxy Note 4 had been met with complaints from customers regarding a ‘screen gap’ manufacturing issue. Today, a reference discovered in Samsung’s Note 4 manual confirms that the gap is actually a feature, not a flaw (via AndroidCentral).

The manual’s troubleshooting section has the following mention of the gap around the screen noting that it’s “a necessary manufacturing feature.”

A small gap appears around the outside of the device case… This gap is a necessary manufacturing feature and some minor rocking or vibration of parts may occur… Over time, friction between parts may cause this gap to expand slightly.

So that settles it. It’s a feature, not a flaw, and it could get worse (better?) over time.

In other words, Samsung couldn’t figure out how to manufacture their new flagship, shipped it out anyway, and are telling their customers that the big-ass flaw is really a “feature.”

They are without a doubt the shittiest major electronics manufacturer in the world, devoid of ideas, and in this case at least, ruthless in their disdain for their customers.

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BlackBerry: The Endgame

Sunday, October 5th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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That’s what Jean-Louis Gassée is calling it, although it’s certainly been long in coming:

It wasn’t until 2010 that RIM acquired QNX, a “Unix-ish” operating system that was first shipped in 1982 by Quantum Software Systems, founded by two Waterloo University students. Why did Lazaridis’ company take three years to act on the sharp, accurate recognition of its software problem? Three years were lost in attempts to tweak the old software engine, and in fights between Keyboard Forever! traditionalists and would-be adopters of a touch interface.

Adapting BlackBerry’s applications to QNX was more complicated than just fitting a new software engine into RIM’s product line. To start with, QNX didn’t have the thick layer of frameworks developers depend on to write their applications. These frameworks, which make up most of the 700 megabytes Lazaridis saw in the iPhone’s software engine, had to be rebuilt on top of a system that was well-respected in the real-time automotive, medical, and entertainment segment, but that was ill-suited for “normal” use.

To complicate things, the company had to struggle with its legacy, with existing applications and services. Which ones do we update for the new OS? which ones need to be rewritten from scratch? …and which ones do we drop entirely?

In reality, RIM was much more than three years behind iOS (and, later, Android). Depending on whom we listen to, the 2007 iPhone didn’t just didn’t stand on a modern (if incomplete) OS, it stood on 3 to 5 years of development, of trial and error.

BlackBerry had lost the software battle before it could even be fought.

The reason BlackBerry fell so far behind is that they failed back in 2003-04 — when iPhone development began in earnest — to imagine what could be done with the faster processors and bigger screens they had to know were coming. They seemed to think that a great email client and a crappy web browser were all anybody would want on their phones. By the time the iPhone came out, it may have already been too late. Worse, the company then spent years battling over which direction to take — keyboards or touchscreens, QNX or BlackBerry 100. In fact, BlackBerry still hasn’t figured out which direction to go — but the rest of us know exactly which way.

Counterclockwise, down the drain.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

image illustration via shutterstock / 

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Arrested for Jogging Drunk

Saturday, October 4th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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That’s what happened to college student James Finan:

James Finan, 21, was spotted “jogging alongside Rte. 378 without any light” around 1:30 Sunday morning, according to a Lower Saucon Township Police Department report. Finan attends nearby DeSales University, where he is a business major.

According to cops, “vehicles were observed to take defensive measures to avoid Finan” as he ran alongside the roadway.

More seriously, did the cops have to arrest the guy? Yes, he was running alongside the road like an idiot, and could have gotten himself hurt or killed. But back in the day a friendly cop would have delivered him back to his dorm to sleep it off. Now Finan has an arrest record.

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Cross-posted from Vodkapundit, image illustration via shutterstock / 

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Spyware Creator Jailed

Friday, October 3rd, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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Creepy stuff:

A Pakistani man has been indicted in the Eastern District of Virginia for allegedly conspiring to advertise and sell StealthGenie, a spyware application (app) that could monitor calls, texts, videos and other communications on mobile phones without detection. This marks the first-ever criminal case concerning the advertisement and sale of a mobile device spyware app.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“Selling spyware is not just reprehensible, it’s a crime,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Apps like StealthGenie are expressly designed for use by stalkers and domestic abusers who want to know every detail of a victim’s personal life – all without the victim’s knowledge. The Criminal Division is committed to cracking down on those who seek to profit from technology designed and used to commit brazen invasions of individual privacy.”

And when I say “creepy stuff,” I don’t just mean StealthGenie — although it’s certainly enough to make your skin crawl. I’m going to have to do some reading and thinking on this one, but my gut reaction is to ask if authoring or advertising software should really be a criminal offense?

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Uh Oh! Arrested for SpaghettiOs!

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 - by Stephen Green

ILLICIT CANNED PASTA

You read that right:

According to the Gainesville Times, police arrested Ashley Huff, 23, when they found a “suspicious residue” they believed to be meth on a spoon inside the car she was riding in.

Huff was subsequently charged with possession of methamphetamine.

Huff repeatedly told police that there was “no way in hell” that the substance was drug residue, according to Hall County assistant public defender Chris van Rossem.

Huff was unable to afford her bail and spent more than a month in jail while her attorney attempted to arrange a plea bargain.

She was released only after the crime lab finally came back with the results of its substance analysis.

It was spaghetti sauce.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Going Bam-Bam on Pebbles Prices

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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Pebble smartwatches on sale (temporally?) for just $100. I wouldn’t be surprised if that became the permanent “sale” price, if Android Wear begins taking over the bottom end of the nascent market and Apple takes over the top. But at that price, I might just pick up one to replace the el cheapos I keep in a drawer for beach vacation.

Of course what I’m really waiting for Apple to introduce a line of dive watches…

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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No Sex, Please — We’re Californians

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

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I’m with Dave Barry that Neil Diamond’s “I Am, I Said” is one of the worst songs ever written. But I’ll go a step further and argue that the real shame of it is that it started off so promising. The first verse is not a bad piece of writing at all. Read:

L.A.’s fine, the sun shines most the time
And the feeling is “laid back”
Palm trees grow and rents are low
But you know I keep thinkin’ about
Making my way back

Early ’70s California was, not to put too fine a point on it, a great place to get laid. I can vouch the same was true in the late ’80s and early ’90s, too.

But no longer. Not today. Not with the Junior Anti-Sex League running the joint. Amy Miller has the facts on California’s “affirmative consent” law, which just went into effect on Sunday:

Section 1 of the bill states that “the accused’s belief in affirmative consent” cannot have arisen “from the intoxication or recklessness of the accused.”

It also states that “it shall not be a valid excuse that the accused believed that the complainant affirmatively consented to the sexual activity if the accused knew or reasonably should have known that the complainant was unable to consent to the sexual activity under any of the following circumstances: (A) The complainant was asleep or unconscious; (B) The complainant was incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.”

Coupled with the campus “kangaroo court” system currently in place at so many American universities — including California — this bill is a recipe for disaster.

Real talk: sex happens. Drunk, sloppy, reckless sex happens on college campuses and there’s not a bill in the world that can eliminate the oft-depressing reality of “the morning after.”

This bill not only assumes a drunk male is guilty of assault, but assumes a drunk female is incapable of consenting to sex, and does not define what it means to be “incapacitated.”

Now, by law, in a situation where a substantial amount of alcohol is involved, consent cannot exist, the aggressor is by default a rapist, and an even-willing partner is by default a victim.

Stanford could call offering my boys a free ride and I would forbid them from accepting it. What California has done is the ex post facto criminalization of normal, healthy human behavior. Because let’s be clear about this: It’s already rape-rape to have sex with somebody who drank enough to pass out, but getting to know someone a little better over cocktails and then deciding to make the beast with two backs is a tradition predating, so to speak, the written word.

And now it could make one or both of my sons into criminals.

****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit 

image via shutterstock / 

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Steven Soderbergh Strips Indiana Jones

Monday, September 29th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

TOHT
ALLEN

Director Steven Soderbergh took Raiders of the Lost Ark and stripped it of color, dialog, and that famous John Williams score. Here’s why:

He posted the result on his experimental online marketplace, Extension 765. He begins his musing on the film by talking about staging, the way the elements of a scene are arranged. He writes, “I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount.”

The stripped-down “Raiders” invites viewers to concentrate on Spielberg’s staging, rather than Harrison Ford’s dialogue or the dramatic action music. Soderbergh replaced the original score with an unusual electronica soundtrack meant to “aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect.” Some viewers may find the new score a little off-putting, but you can always mute the thing and look purely at the visuals.

I’ve always thought the Nepalese bar sequence, when Indy first encounters Nazi Major Arnold Toht and rekindles his romance with Marion Ravenwood, was a perfectly staged small-set action sequence. Could it really be improved, or at least have my appreciation of it enhanced, by watching it stripped down?

There’s only one way to find out…

*****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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A Japanese Elevator to Outer Space!

Sunday, September 28th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

ELEVATOR

A Japanese firm wants to build a space elevator by 2050:

The elevator is being designed to take researchers 96,000 kilogram (km), or 59,652 miles, into space. Robotic cars would be used to carry humans and cargo to a new space station, and they would be powered by magnetic linear motors, which are used in Europe and Asia’s high-speed rail lines.

“The tensile strength is almost a hundred times stronger than steel cable so it’s possible,” Yoji Ishikawa, research and development manager at Obayashi, said in reference to the use of carbon nanotechnology. “Right now we can’t make the cable long enough. We can only make 3-centimeter-long nanotubes but we need much more.”

Last I’d read, nanotube lengths were measured in microns, so three centimeters is a big deal. And is there any cheaper way to get into space, even just on a drawing board somewhere?

*****

cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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War On and/or By Women Update

Saturday, September 27th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

Via WoundedAmericanWarrior.com:

ENDOWED

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cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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Should You Upgrade To iOS8 on Your Old iPad?

Friday, September 26th, 2014 - by Stephen Green

ipad-with-retina-display-1

As promised, I installed iOS 8 on an older iOS device to see if it bogged down, lost functionality, or just became a pain to use. Actually, I installed it on two devices — an iPhone 4s and a first-gen iPad with Retina Display. Both devices use an Apple A5 processor, except that the iPad’s is up-armored with a better graphic coprocessor.

I didn’t do any sort of extensive testing, deciding instead it would be more useful just to mess around with them like I would in normal day-to-day use for most of a week.

The short version? Go ahead and upgrade your iPhone 4S. Mine (my four-year-old’s, really) runs just fine. If load times take longer, they didn’t take noticeably longer. Nate still plays Angry Birds just fine.

Results were less clear on that old iPad, however.

iOS 8 feels like it’s ramped up multitouch sensitivity, which in and of itself is no bad thing. And the touchscreen doesn’t have any problems handling the increased sensitivity. But the display itself does sometimes have trouble keeping up — on occasion I get very un-iOS-like hesitations, instead of the instantaneous reactions I’m used to getting. As a result, I sometimes try the same action twice, only to have initiated a second action instead.

It’s not a huge deal, and I don’t know for sure if iOS 8 really does increase touch sensitivity. But that’s how it feels, and the A5X CPU is just a little too old and slow to pump 2 million pixels as quickly as iOS 8 demands.

If that’s a concern to you, don’t upgrade — and I’ll post on this again when the inevitable 8.1 release comes out.

*****

Cross-posted from Vodkapundit

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