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"You will learn who your daddy is, that's for sure, but mostly, Ann, you will just shut the fuck up." -Henry Rollins

Q&A: Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined
Topic: Movies 4:16 pm EDT, Sep 27, 2007

At age 69, Ridley Scott is finally satisfied with his most challenging film. He's still turning out movies at a furious pace — American Gangster, with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, is due in November — building on an extraordinary oeuvre that includes Alien, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down. But he seems ready to accept Blade Runner as his crowning achievement. In his northern English accent, he describes its genesis and lasting influence. And, inevitably, he returns to the darkness that pervades his view of the future — the shadows that shield Deckard from a reality that may be too disturbing to face.

Some MemeStreamers are probably interested in this interview.

[ Very much so...

I'm so looking forward to the new version.


Q&A: Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined

RE: Setting ourselves up for more 9/11s. - By Stewart Baker - Slate Magazine
Topic: Civil Liberties 4:02 pm EDT, Sep 27, 2007

Decius wrote:
This is an interesting discussion of the line between intelligence gathering and law enforcement that hasn't been recommended here before. I have some thoughts about this that perhaps I'll discuss at phreaknic.

It's interesting because it's a common attitude in the US these days, but it's not at all convincing to me.

Baker invokes "the hypothetical risk to privacy if foreign intelligence and domestic law enforcement were allowed to mix." I find this risk neither hypothetical or particularly complicated to identify. If all risks to American lives or property become conflated, then either you must increase the protections given to foreign nationals or agents to the equivalent of the 4th amendment protections a US citizen gets (which we don't want), or you have to diminish the 4th amendment protections for citizens (which we don't want).

Now, to argue that staff ought to be cross trained and capable of acting in dual roles might make sense, assuming certain protocols for admissibility of collected information are followed, is fine. There may be some efficiencies to be gained there.

The second lesson is that we cannot write rules that will both protect us from every theoretical risk to privacy and still allow the government to protect us from terrorists.

This is true, almost simplistically so. The question that matters is whether it is more important to you to live in a nation that is "safe" from terrorism, or if it is more important that you live in a nation which values such semi-tangible benefits as privacy, freedom and due process (among others).

I very clearly fall into the latter camp. I think it's terrible that people died on September 11th. I feel deep sorrow for their families and for the brave emergency workers that died or became ill as a result of their efforts. Yet I continue to feel that their deaths were not the most costly result of the attacks. The most costly result is precisely the erosion of civil liberties -- the erosion of the very meaning of America -- espoused by this column. After all, if we allow our nation to be subverted by fear, suspicion and an iron hand, I believe we will no longer be the country we set out to be.

Surely, we should expect protection and feel safe in our homes and lands, but eroding our rights -- in the very *best* case -- only substitutes the oppression of the State for the threat of terrorist attack.

I, for one, do not at all find this a worthwhile trade.

When Baker says "We should not again put American lives at risk for the sake of some speculative risk to our civil liberties," I hear, "Of course we should trade liberty for security!" I simply do not agree, particularly in light of the illusory nature of "security" in a system predicated on such beliefs.

RE: Setting ourselves up for more 9/11s. - By Stewart Baker - Slate Magazine

Stephen Colbert Interviews Naomi Wolf
Topic: Politics and Law 11:34 am EDT, Sep 26, 2007

Naomi Wolf's new book is The End of America: A Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot:

In a stunning indictment of the Bush administration and Congress, best-selling author Naomi Wolf lays out her case for saving American democracy. In authoritative research and documentation Wolf explains how events of the last six years parallel steps taken in the early years of the 20th century’s worst dictatorships such as Germany, Russia, China, and Chile.

From the introduction:

I have written this warning because our country -- the democracy our young patriots expect to inherit -- is in the process of being altered forever.

Americans expect to have freedom around us just as we expect to have air to breathe, so we have only limited understanding of the furnaces of repression that the Founders knew intimately.

There are ten steps that are taken in order to close down a democracy or crush a prodemocratic movement, whether by capitalists, communists, or right-wing fascists. These ten steps, together, are more than the sum of their parts. Once all ten have been put in place, each magnifies the power of the others and of the whole. Impossible as it may seem, we are seeing each of these ten steps taking hold in the United States today.

But America is different! I can hear you saying.

Gonna buy it.

Stephen Colbert Interviews Naomi Wolf

Weather call | Articles | Ocean Navigator
Topic: Sports 11:24 am EDT, Sep 26, 2007

To access buoy data by phone, select the “Dial-A-Buoy” heading. The Dial-A-Buoy Data Center (888-701-8992) provides telephone access to all of the weather reports from the buoy and coastal weather stations operated by the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) and numerous Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOSS) partners.

In my phone phreaking days I would have thought it interesting to know of a phone number from which one could receive an automated weather report from an ocean buoy.

[ You can get the data by RSS too... ahh data. -k]

Weather call | Articles | Ocean Navigator

Olympus creates 'world's smallest questionnaire' on specimen slide - Engadget
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:42 am EDT, Sep 25, 2007

We've seen ways in which quite a few marketers earned their bonus, but the bright lad (or dame) who dreamed this one up deserves a serious promotion. In what's likely to be confirmed as the "world's smallest questionnaire," Olympus sent out slides with questions to valued high-end microscope customers in order to boost awareness and hopefully drum up more business. The survey was shipped just like any other specimen slide, and it reportedly drove up traffic to the firm's website by around 24-percent.

Ha! Neat...

Olympus creates 'world's smallest questionnaire' on specimen slide - Engadget

Illinois: We'll seize your car if someone complains about your stereo.
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:04 am EDT, Sep 24, 2007

This month the city of Rockford, Illinois will begin allowing residents to call the police and have any vehicle seized on the mere accusation that the car used a loud stereo system...

The ordinance states that "hearsay evidence shall be admissible" and that property will be seized upon the assertion of probable cause...

...The city may then wait another 45 days to schedule a hearing while storage fees accumulate up to $1100. If the vehicle's owner does not receive the mailed notice or cannot pay the fees within 30 days, the city will confiscate the vehicle permanently.


[ Astonishing.

Sounds like Rockford's looking for a nice blanket law that'll allow them to selectively hassle anyone they don't like much. Are they a bunch of racists looking to simplify arrests for DWB, or just plain stupid? -k]

Illinois: We'll seize your car if someone complains about your stereo.

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature - Steven Pinker - Books - Review - New York Times
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:57 am EDT, Sep 24, 2007

I'm curious about this book... I think I'll read it.

I'm a bit miffed about the following segment of the review, however :

Lakoff’s proposal to reframe taxes as membership fees flunks the test: if you don’t pay your membership fees, you lose your benefits; but if you don’t pay your taxes, you go to jail.

I should think that going to jail is directly analagous to "losing your benefits" in some organization of which you are a member. In jail, you lose the benefits (freedom, employment, etc.) granted to the rest of the citizenry.

I'm not seeking necessarily to defend this particular frame of Lakoff's, just arguing that Mr. Saletan didn't convincingly dismiss it, I don't think.

As for this...

If frames overpower rational criticism, Pinker asks, then why do Lakoff and other quasi-relativists write books rationally criticizing frames? The medium belies the message.

I disagree. When Lakoff or someone in his camp say that "frames overpower rational criticism", they mean that in aggregate, frames represent a more reliable mechanism for convincing people of an underlying "truth". Individuals may or may not be swayed by it, but you can't necessarily analyse groups as collections of individuals. Some individuals are smarter than others, or more interested in rational analysis, or more prone to skepticism, or whatever.

In short, the percentage of people who will read Lakoff's or Pinker's books is small and these are, by self selection, in the group that values rational analysis, for the most part. For them, it's a valid medium, and a valid message.

The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature - Steven Pinker - Books - Review - New York Times

RE: MIT student arrested for entering Boston airport with art project
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:59 pm EDT, Sep 21, 2007

Decius wrote:

She's extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used," Pare told The Associated Press. "And she's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue."

The quote above is a Massachusetts State Police Officer publicly threatening to murder an MIT student who accidentally showed up at the airport wearing an electronic art project. She has, yet again, been charged with carrying out a hoax. Remember kids, anytime a Massachusetts police officer is confused, its your fault for confusing them, and not theirs for being fucking stupid and paranoid, and you are likely to go to prison or worse if it happens.

[ Yeah, this is a massive over-reaction and the quote above is extremely disturbing evidence of the mindset of law enforcement personnel (not to mention a lot of citizens).

The proper reaction might have been to approach her and inquire about the electronics. The fact that it has blinking lights on the exterior seems like a good indicator that it's *not* a bomb. In fact, airport security just provided a valuable lesson for anyone who might actually try to do such a thing... send someone in with a "fake bomb" as a smoke screen. Der-doink, Boston.

She probably should have known better than to go to an airport like that. I'm really not overly concerned about the chilling effect on Makers and hackers in this case. Again, the reaction was disproportionate, but even in a relatively sane society, you ought to expect an impromptu interview with a cop if you go to an airport with hastily constructed electronics on your shirt.

The genuinely sad truth is that if they'd shot her, a large proportion of the country would think it was the right reaction, and an even larger proportion would briefly reflect that it's a sad and wrong thing, and then promptly forget about it.

Side note, not relevant to the above, as an "art project", I think the hoodie sucks, but maybe it's just not my style, like Dali or 99% of comic strips.

RE: MIT student arrested for entering Boston airport with art project

Pub customers happily line up for drug testing - Boing Boing
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:09 pm EDT, Sep 21, 2007

Police in Bicester set up a drug testing station in a pub, and swabbed the palms of every customer before they were allowed to enter. The swab was checked for drug residue. Anyone who tested positive was searched on the spot for possession of drugs. 150 people submitted to the test.

The police explained that it was part of a crackdown on violent street crime.

That is fucked up. I would refuse the test and never return to that establishment again.

Pub customers happily line up for drug testing - Boing Boing

Harvard bookstore: Our prices are
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:07 pm EDT, Sep 21, 2007

Coop President Jerry P. Murphy '73 said that while there is no Coop policy against individual students copying down book information, "we discourage people who are taking down a lot of notes." The apparent new policy could be a response to efforts by online database that allows students to find the books they need for each course at discounted prices from several online booksellers--from writing down the ISBN identification numbers for books at the Coop and then using that information for their Web site. Murphy said the Coop considers that information the Coop's intellectual property.

Um, no.

Harvard bookstore: Our prices are

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