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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

MIAMI COPS EMBRACE BIG BROTHER

Ha-ha, this is where being a reformed scifi fan helps you spot dangerous trends in government and law enforcement. The following excerpt comes to us from [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/29/AR2005112900172.html|an article] by WP.org available at WaPo :
Police are planning "in-your-face" shows of force in public places, saying the random, high-profile security operations will keep terrorists guessing about where officers might be next.

As an example, uniformed and plainclothes officers might surround a bank building unannounced, contact the manager about ways to be vigilant against terrorists and hand out leaflets in three languages to customers and people passing by, said police spokesman Angel Calzadilla. He said there would be no random checks of identification.

"People are definitely going to notice it," Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said Monday. "We want that shock. We want that awe. But at the same time, we don't want people to feel their rights are being threatened..."


HA! That's a riot. You show up in and out of uniform at random times, surrounding banks and swooping in with leaflets reminding us how to watch out for terrorists. Sure, this wouldn't indimidate anyone.

This is a tremendous joke. What a waste of money. A terrorist just might be a little more clever than a leaflet or some fat, lazy, TV-watching American, too. Besides, how big a terrorist target is Miami, anyway? And don't get me started on terrrorism as an imagined threat because, it is--sure, they might kill a few of us, but we can't expect to be the strongest, best country on the planet without having to take a couple of cheap shots every once in a while. Seriously--we run the world and that costs in pissed off customers every now and again. The good news is there are mere thousands of terrorists while American is just a tad more populated than Al Qeada.

The quote from Fernandez conitnued:
"...We need them to be our eyes and ears."


He's referring to "them" as the citizens of Miami. Sheesh.

I'm sitting here on my blog pointing out governmental crime all the time while those idiots in Miami are worried about banks being held up by terrorists.

Nut bags...

From AP.org and WaPo :

Miami Police Take New Tack Against Terror

By CURT ANDERSON
The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 29, 2005; 12:20 PM

MIAMI -- Police are planning "in-your-face" shows of force in public places, saying the random, high-profile security operations will keep terrorists guessing about where officers might be next.

As an example, uniformed and plainclothes officers might surround a bank building unannounced, contact the manager about ways to be vigilant against terrorists and hand out leaflets in three languages to customers and people passing by, said police spokesman Angel Calzadilla. He said there would be no random checks of identification.

"People are definitely going to notice it," Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said Monday. "We want that shock. We want that awe. But at the same time, we don't want people to feel their rights are being threatened. We need them to be our eyes and ears."

Howard Simon, executive director of ACLU of Florida, said the Miami initiative appears aimed at ensuring that people's rights are not violated.

"What we're dealing with is officers on street patrol (making informed decisions on which individuals to stop), which is more effective and more consistent with the Constitution," Simon said. "We'll have to see how it is implemented." One example of a legitimate stop might be an officer questioning a person entering a crowd while wearing a heavy coat on a summer day.

The operations will keep terrorists off guard, Fernandez said. He said al-Qaida and other terrorist groups plot attacks by putting places under surveillance and watching for flaws and patterns in security.

Police Chief John Timoney said there was no specific, credible threat of an imminent terror attack in Miami. But he said the city has repeatedly been mentioned in intelligence reports as a potential target.

Timoney said 14 of the 19 hijackers who took part in the Sept. 11 attacks lived in South Florida at various times and that other alleged terror cells have operated in the area.

Under the program, both uniformed and plainclothes police will ride buses and trains, while others will conduct longer-term surveillance operations.

Mary Ann Viverette, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said the Miami program is similar to those used for years during the holiday season to deter criminals at busy places such as shopping malls.

"We want people to feel they can go about their normal course of business, but we want them to be aware," said Viverette, the police chief in Gaithersburg, Md.

At Monday's Heat game against the New York Knicks, season ticket holder Tony Gonzalez, 34, said he wasn't worried about any potential violation of civil liberties.

"When you enter an arena or stadium at full capacity you just don't know who is going through the turnstiles," said Gonzalez, an attorney. "Everything that helps our security, I'm for it."

© 2005 The Associated Press

[ThePhlog] 11/30/2005 08:49:30 PM


this is an audio post - click to play


--
Posted by ThePete to ThePhlog at 11/30/2005 08:49:30 PM

BLU-RAY, HD or HOLO-DVD and HOW I WILL WIN THE DVD FORMAT WARS

If you're a geek-head like me, you've been following (at least, loosely) the format war that just might come to rival VHS Vs. Betamax. This time 'round it's HD-DVD Vs. Blu-Ray DVD. "HD" standing for High Definition and "Blu-Ray" referencing the blue laser beam the technology uses to write and read more data than a standard red laser. However, before you pick sides remember that formats always march forward. Sure, we had to wait over a decade for VHS to see any real competition but it looks like a competitor to the HD or Blu-Ray will be showing up a lot sooner than that.

Enter the holographic disc. No, it doesn't provide a 3-d floating image like something out of Star Wars. Here's an explanation from [http://www.techtree.com/techtree/jsp/article.jsp?article_id=69424&cat_id=581|an article] at TechTree.com that will help you understand where the name comes from:
Normal DVDs including Gen-Next formats - Blu-ray and HD-DVD, record data by measuring microscopic ridges on the surface of a spinning disc, and exploit shorter wavelengths of light to cram more information onto the surface.

However the holographic storage system uses light from a single laser split into two beams; the signal beam and the reference beam. The hologram is formed at the intersection point of these two beams, in the recording medium. By varying the reference beam angle, wavelength, or media position, several different holograms can be recorded in the same volume of material.


OK, so maybe that didn't help...

Let's see if I can explain it any better. Think of it like this: A holodisc would use a single laser, split into two to read two different books, creating a third, larger book in the middle. I think that's how it works, anyway.

Regardless, this is just going to add more frustration and confusion to our shopping.

Personally, I'm planning on abandoning all discs when it comes to my video collection. While I don't have TheWife's official "OK" yet, she tends to yield to my expertise when it comes to this stuff.

First, I buy a Mac mini with a DVD burner and the largest HD I can get with it. This should run me no more than $600. Then, I buy two [http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10695|500gb Brick external drives] from LaCie.com (that works out to a terabyte of HD space) each runs $400. Then, I grab a [http://www.eskapelabs.com/myTVPVR.html|myTV PVR] USB 2.0 video capture device from Eskapelabs.com which will run me about $150.

From there I will capture all of my video collection in either DivX or mp4 format onto just one of the LaCie drives (hey, 500 gigs will store a lot of mp4s). I may even simply keep everything in iPod-ready mp4 and deal with the VHSness of the picture quality on my 27 inch Sony TV. This will allow for even more videos to be stored. I will then use the myTV PVR software to record my favorite shows (like [http://dailyshow.com|the Daily Show], [http://colbertnation.com|the Colbert Report], and [http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/boondocks/|Boondocks]) directly to mp4 format. From there, I can burn my favorites to data DVD if my friends want to see anything I've recorded.

For safety's sake, I will install Deju Vu from PropagandaProd.com and tell it to back up everything on the one LaCie Brick drive onto the other LaCie Brick drive. On top of that, I'll go with some serious surge supression to protect both Brick drives--I'd hate to turn them into more literal bricks.

So, that's the plan. I figure the entire thing will run me about $1600 all told. Well, probably more with tax.

Regardless, at that point, I'll clear off nearly all of the book cases I'm using for videos right now (a substantial amount of space that stretches across two rooms) and will never really have to upgrade to a new format ever again. Sure, file formats will advance, but to deal with those, all I need to do is download new codecs. Eventually, if I want to be able to burn stuff for friends, I'll need to add a new burner drive, but that can be done easily and much more cheaply than adding a whole new standalone deck and replacing or redubbing my entire video collection.

So, that's my plan. I'll let you know when I finally start to put the damn thing together...

WEBSITE LETS YOU DISCOVER PHONE INFO

Wow, this is pretty messed up if you ask me.

Local6.com is [http://www.local6.com/money/5416040/detail.html|reporting in an article] that website LocateCell.com allows users to track down information based on phone numbers alone--for a fee, of course. This goes for cell/mobile phones as well as landlines.

I've checked out the site and here's what they say they can do:
Reverse Cell Phone Number Lookup $65
Find Name and Address from number. Additional Cell Reverses available including Canadian Cell $85, and International Cell $250.

Find Current Cell Phone Number $95
Give us the name and any combination of address or SSN and we will send you the working cell phone number.

Cell Phone Call Record $110
Give us the cell phone number and we will send you the calls made from the cell phone number.

Land Line Long Distance Phone Calls Made
Find in-state and out-of-state long distance calls made from a land line phone line with phone number.

Locate Active Non-Published Number
Find active working non-published number at any physical address.

Reverse Any Land Line Phone Number
You provide the nonpublished land based phone number, we send the name and address associated to it.


Is this legal?

It shouldn't be if it is.

Why? Because if private industry can do it then so can government. Either party being able to track me that closely is worisome to me and should be to you, too.

COMPETITION FOR THE $100 LAPTOP

Engadget.com on Monday [http://engadget.com/entry/1234000077069951/|blogged] about a computer designed for developing countries that would be even cheaper than [http://thepete.com/tag/%24100+laptop|Nicholas Negroponte's $100 laptop]. This one is going to be free for people in 3rd world countries. No, the parts aren't THAT cheap--basically, it's got corporate money behind it. It runs Windows CE, and has a stack of buttons on the thing that are programmed to deliver the user to the company website when pressed. It's from a company called Asiatotal and is called the iT. How CUTE.

Or not...

The bad things about this machine are obvious.

1) Corporate sponsorship
2) Uses Windows (aka a non-open source OS)
3) There is no talk about where the power for this thing will come from.

[http://engadget.com/entry/1234000077069951/|Check out the Engadget post for a pic and more details.]

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

BRITISH ANTI-SEMITISM OR BRITISH TRUTH TELLING?

Ah, the world of absurdly sensitive humans. Earth is a planet where if you point out something bad about a person you're accused of having something against that type of person.

So, if I say Jessie Jackson is a liar, I'm a racist. If I say George W. Bush is a sociopath then I'm a conservative-hating liberal. If I say that what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people is illegal, then I now hate all Jews, despite the fact that I'm married to a person of Jewish descent. So, before I go any further with this post, I just want to state clearly and fully that I have nothing against Jewish people. I do have some problems with the Israeli government however.

To me the Israeli Government does not equate to Jewish people around the world.

Hell, I don't think the Israeli government equates to the Israeli people.

OK, now, check out what Guardian.co.uk reported in [http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1650426,00.html|an article they posted on their site] last Friday:
A confidential Foreign Office document accuses Israel of rushing to annex the Arab area of Jerusalem, using illegal Jewish settlement construction and the vast West Bank barrier, in a move to prevent it becoming a Palestinian capital.


Wow--settlements illegal? I've read for years about this but it's nice to see that a (semi) world power actually knows this, too. Too bad they're not willing to do anything about it.

After all, what's the point of laws if the powerful (or those with powerful friends) don't have to follow them?

We might as well be a lawless planet all together.

The article goes on:
In an unusually frank insight into British assessments of Israeli intentions, the document says that Ariel Sharon's government is jeopardising the prospect of a peace agreement by trying to put the future of Arab East Jerusalem beyond negotiation and risks driving Palestinians living in the city into radical groups. The document, obtained by the Guardian, was presented to an EU council of ministers meeting chaired by the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, on Monday with recommendations to counter the Israeli policy, including recognition of Palestinian political activities in East Jerusalem.


Yowza...

I've been avoiding blogging much about the Israelestine mess lately. It's been all too confusing. One minute Sharon seems to be wearing the blood of Palestinians like a Republican wears 911. Then he talks about pulling out of the West Bank. Then he leaves the Likud Party. Did he end up doing that? It's all so confusing. I wish I had more time to research it. Regardless, what Israel has done/is doing is illegal and just because the Arabs started it (over 30 years ago!!) doesn't mean it's legal for you to finish it.

When are you going to finish it by the way?

So, are the Brits being anti-Jew just by reporting this memo? Is the UKG anti-Jew for having written the memo? Am I anti-Jew for blogging this?

I hope the answer is obvious.

FREE COURSE PODCASTS FROM HARVARD

Wow, this is pretty cool. Harvard.edu has available [http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~cscie1/?page=podcast&type=static|free podcasts] of the lectures given in the Computer Science E-1 class]. You won't get a degree at the end of the course, but you can still do the truly important part of taking a class and learn something. So, if you've got any interest in learning more about computers, give it a try. Hey, it's a class for beginners--how can you go wrong?

It's not like you can get a failing grade or something...

CUNNINGHAM THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG?

OK, so we all heard about California Republican and U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham who pled guilty to bribery charges yesterday. [http://today.reuters.com/investing/financeArticle.aspx?type=bondsNews&storyID=URI:urn:newsml:reuters.com:20051128:MTFH01308_2005-11-28_23-06-18_N28268599:1|An article] from Reuters.com reports:
Cunningham, 63, an eight-term congressman and decorated Vietnam War pilot, admitted taking cash, antiques, a yacht, vacation expenses and money for his daughter's graduation party from several defense contractors between 2000 and 2005.

"I am resigning from the House of Representatives because I've compromised the trust of my constituents," Cunningham told reporters after a hearing in San Diego federal court.

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, bribery and tax evasion, as well as one count of failing to report more than $1 million in income in 2004.

Cunningham's fall was the latest scandal to hit the Republicans who have controlled Congress for over a decade.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican, was indicted in September on charges of breaking his state's campaign finance laws. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating stock sales by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, and vice presidential aide Lewis Libby was charged last month with perjury over the leaking of a CIA operative's name.


So, three guys are under investigation and a fourth cops to what he was being accused of.

Might it be that all of them are guilty?

Might it be that we don't even need a court of law to know that they are guilty?

Might it be that all one has to do to see how illegal these guys are is to look at their actions?

Across the board (not just these four guys) Republicans are breaking rules and laws and the press nor the government are doing anything about it.

These four Republicans are like the tax evasion charge against Al Capone. It was what eventually brought Capone down, but we all know he was guilty of a lot worse. The difference here is that the crimes of the Bush 43 Administration are more or less out in the open. (I've blogged about them in my posts "[http://thepete.com/bush-43-admin-lies-breaks-fed-law-again/|BUSH 43 ADMIN LIES, BREAKS FED LAW AGAIN]" and "[http://thepete.com/uns-annan-iraq-attack-illegal/|UN’s ANNAN: IRAQ ATTACK ILLEGAL]")

Still, it's nice to at least see that at least one Republican evil-doer is facing time and not only that, is moral enough to admit that he did something wrong. It seems like Republicans are immature children, incapable of admitting mistakes--or worse--they're not able to learn from their mistakes. Cunningham, at least, could do this.

Will we see more cases like this one emerge?

Well, that depends on how many people are willing to do their jobs.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR REFUSING TO PROVIDE ID ON A PUBLIC BUS

Man, Nazi Germany, much?

Here's another gem from BoingBoing.net--last Friday they posted [http://www.boingboing.net/2005/11/25/woman_charged_for_re.html|a nice little piece about a woman who refused to show ID on a public bus and ended up being arrested for it]. God bless a free America, right?

Anyway, so BoingBoing points us to the [http://www.papersplease.org/davis/|Deborah Davis page] at PapersPlease.org that explains the woman's problem like this:
One morning in late September 2005, Deb was riding the public bus to work. She was minding her own business, reading a book and planning for work, when a security guard got on this public bus and demanded that every passenger show their ID. Deb, having done nothing wrong, declined. The guard called in federal cops, and she was arrested and charged with federal criminal misdemeanors after refusing to show ID on demand.

On the 9th of December 2005, Deborah Davis will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in a case that will determine whether Deb and the rest of us live in a free society, or in a country where we must show "papers" whenever a cop demands them.


Head on over to PapersPlease.org to read more about this and other ID-providing issues confronting America today.

You can also check out [http://rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4274023,00.html|an article] from RockyMountainNews.com for the official mainstream-news take on the story. (Mainly it actually bothers to mention that the bus was passing through some sort of federal center and this justifies the checking of IDs. The funny thing is that Davis claims they didn't match the IDs with names on any lists or even taking the names down. The question becomes, what good does it do to check IDs? Or were they just looking for Arab names?

Free Song Downloads for a Year!

OK, so it's not quite as good as that headline makes it sound. It's not like you're getting unlimited free downloads from iTunes or something. What you are getting from cc365.org is a free song every day released under the Creative Commons license for 2006.

What you do to get the songs (assuming you don't want to have to visit their site every day) is simply subscribe to their feed and your RSS/Podcast downloader app will pull each new track down daily.

Pretty cool, huh? Seems like the Internet is seriously fostering a huge group of people who are more interested in creating cool stuff and having people enjoy it than actually making money off of said cool stuff.

What ever will capitalism do?

Monday, November 28, 2005

USG THROWN A CURVEBALL BY CURVEBALL--HOW IRONIC

A lot of what the USG used as reasoning for the Iraq Attack turned out to be based on the information given to them by a source codenamed "Curveball." How ironic that it was so incredibly wrong. With foreshadowing like his codename, you wonder why the idiots in government couldn't see that coming.

Last week, BoingBoing.net had [http://www.boingboing.net/2005/11/24/how_us_fell_under_th.html|a great post] about Curveball and how screwed up the dude really was. Here's a clip:
It turns out that not only is "Curveball" a mentally ill liar who made the whole thing up just so he cold get a German visa, but the Bush administration knew Curveball was a liar all along and presented his testimony as the gospel truth anyway.


They go on to quote the LATimes article:
An investigation by The Times based on interviews since May with about 30 current and former intelligence officials in the U.S., Germany, England, Iraq and the United Nations, as well as other experts, shows that U.S. bungling in the Curveball case was worse than official reports have disclosed.

The White House, for example, ignored evidence gathered by United Nations weapons inspectors shortly before the war that disproved Curveball's account. Bush and his aides issued increasingly dire warnings about Iraq's biological weapons before the war even though intelligence from Curveball had not changed in two years.

At the Central Intelligence Agency, officials embraced Curveball's account even though they could not confirm it or interview him until a year after the invasion. They ignored multiple warnings about his reliability before the war, punished in-house critics who provided proof that he had lied and refused to admit error until May 2004, 14 months after the invasion.


There's plenty more [http://www.boingboing.net/2005/11/24/how_us_fell_under_th.html|where that came from], but what it all means is this: once again, the USG has let the American People down.

When will it stop?

And when will the American People get fed up?

2008 is still a long way away...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

STANLEY "TOOKIE" WILLIAMS HAS 2.5 WEEKS TO LIVE

This is pure Culture Jam, through and through. The death penalty--a punishment that harkens back to one of the oldest, most base laws--"An Eye for an Eye."

Pro-death penalty people also like to say that it's about providing an example to others who might be considering committing crimes that could result in themselves getting the death penalty.

UH-huh. So, I'm a guy who thinks killing for my own interests is OK but I decide not to kill because of the death penalty.

I'm dumb enough to think killing is OK but not so dumb as to think I can actually get away with murder.

This makes no sense.

Besides, it's my understanding that in most cases where the murderer gets the death penalty he's killed more than one person. Clearly, this person has more going on in his mind than a simple threat of capital punishment can disuade. No one who commits a crime thinks they'll get caught or they wouldn't commit it in the first place.

The death penalty is an easy out for the rich "white" folks who make the laws around the US who don't want to take responsibility for society's ills. They think that killing the killers will make the problem go away.

Well, the death penalty has been around in many states for many decades yet there are still people being put to death and in less than 2.5 weeks a guy who was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize will be executed by the state of California.

See, when he was 25, in 1979, he (according to a court of law) murdered four people. Eight years before that, he founded the Crips, one of the most notorious gangs in Los Angeles. Since then, however, he's turned his life around by writing several books, including a line of kids books that encourage kids to stay away from gangs. He denounces his former lifestyle and obviously agrees that murder is bad. He also maintains, to this day, that he did not kill those four people.

[http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/25/AR2005112500950.html|An article] from WaPo reports on those who would see his death penalty reprieved as well as those who think it's AOK that he is to be put to death in just 17 days:
As Dec. 13 draws closer, the competing choruses are getting louder. Nearly every day, more prominent entertainers, intellectuals and political leaders step forward to speak out for Williams's life. But California law enforcement officials have launched an offensive. The Los Angeles prosecutor wrote Schwarzenegger to say Williams is "a cold-blooded killer" who helped start a violent gang that continues to terrorize the city. The state attorney general's office said Williams has had 24 years to examine evidence -- it's too late now.


Ah yes, the "too late" argument. This one works for the anti-war movement and Iraq all the time.

Sorry, Bush! It's too late to try to rebuild the country, better bring the troops home now! Wow. It's so cool not having any USGIs getting killed in Iraq. OH WAIT, the "too late" argument doesn't work. Huh.

Sorry, LA Prosecutor Man. Your attitude is too late--as in, we're in the 21st Century--the dark ages are long gone and racism really should be long gone as well, don't you think? Yet to this day most of the people in jail around America are black. Is it because blacks are predisposed to commit crimes? Or is it because society is predisposed to slant disadvantages toward blacks?

I'm going with the latter since I know blacks who have done well in life--but does the latter get much (or any) attention in today's society? Nope! We're all too busy arguing about Affirmative Action to realize that the problem is far more buried than even the easy out of racism. It's classism. Poor people are systematically kept down and only those who ignore the messages all around them are able to get out. Society is programmed to keep us all in our places.

The point is, regardless of whether Williams killed those people or not, he should not be killed on December 13, 2005.

We are all humans and we are all flawed and we all make mistakes. The point of prison is to rehabilitate a person. I'm thinking this has pretty much happened.

Besides, with all the Christians running things in America today, you'd think some of them would realize that Jesus would probably have suggested we forgive him. I mean, don't you know the Lord's Prayer? "...forgive those who trespass against us..."

They're writing a letter to Arnold to ask him to meet with Williams' lawyer. Arnold has had a history of racism in the past. I hope that he has left that behind just as I believe that Williams has left his past behind.

I'll post more on this situation as we get closer to December 13.

In the meantime, you can check out the official spin on Williams by visiting the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Williams|unbelievably one-sided entry on Williams] at Wikipedia.org. Apparently, someone thinks the legal system doesn't screw up--ever.

You can check out Williams' personal website at Tookie.com and read the latest in the efforts to save Williams at SaveTookie.org.

From WaPo:

As Execution Date Nears, Gang Founder Stirs Debate

Ex-Crips Leader Has High-Profile Supporters and Detractors

By Evelyn Nieves
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 26, 2005; A03

SAN QUENTIN, Calif. -- Of all the thoughts that might rouse Stanley "Tookie" Williams in the middle of the night, his favorite are "pithies."

In case one hits, he keeps a pencil and pad and an Itty Bitty Book Light on the floor by his cot. That way he can hold on to the pithy -- a phrase or line "that just comes" to him -- and use it in one of the two books he is trying hard to finish writing before he is killed.

It seems impossible given time and circumstances. From his new quarters, cell No. 1 in the San Quentin death house, he is right by the old gas chamber, where he is scheduled to die by injection on Dec. 13. Pithies cannot compete with that.

Williams is probably the most prominent death row prisoner in the country -- co-founder of the Crips gang, convicted of killing four people in 1979 and then nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times in the past five years for his anti-gang work -- so his imminent execution also keeps him busy managing a flood of calls, letters and visits.

His death date has prompted one of the most high-profile debates on capital punishment in years. Radio talk shows, newspaper editorials, essays and school term papers are all weighing in on whether Williams should die. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has agreed to meet Dec. 8 with Williams's lawyers, Los Angeles County prosecutors and others involved in the case to consider whether to commute Williams's sentence to life in prison. If clemency is granted, Williams will be the first condemned person in California to win a reprieve in 38 years.

Sitting at an old pine table in a San Quentin visiting cell the other day, Williams seemed remarkably calm and composed. "I just try to do my work," he said, shrugging bodybuilder-big shoulders that nearly burst through his denim shirt. "But being who I am, because of what I've done in my gang past, I guess I've become the subject for people to debate."

On one side are those against state killings in principle, those who believe that Williams has redeemed himself with his 10 books urging youths to stay away from gangs, and those who argue that Williams, who has always maintained his innocence, should be allowed to reexamine ballistics and other evidence that might be a basis for a new trial.

On the other side are those who say Williams should die because retributive justice -- an eye for an eye -- demands it, not to mention those who don't believe that he has actually reformed. They note that Williams has never owned up to the murders and that while he has achieved fame, his victims have all but been forgotten.

As Dec. 13 draws closer, the competing choruses are getting louder. Nearly every day, more prominent entertainers, intellectuals and political leaders step forward to speak out for Williams's life. But California law enforcement officials have launched an offensive. The Los Angeles prosecutor wrote Schwarzenegger to say Williams is "a cold-blooded killer" who helped start a violent gang that continues to terrorize the city. The state attorney general's office said Williams has had 24 years to examine evidence -- it's too late now.

A San Quentin spokesman has even suggested that Williams might still be running the Crips from death row, contradicting official prison evaluations.

"That reprobative individual is part of a system that wants me to die," Williams said. "But I'm grateful for the Keystone-esque tactics of these people. It shows they're mendacious."

At 51 years old, after nearly half his life in San Quentin, Williams bears only the broad outline of his Crips self. More gray than not, he wears round, rimless glasses, a razor-neat beard and pulled-back cornrows. When he turns around, you can see a small ponytail. His speaks softly, dishing out big words like a five-course meal.

Still a big, bad Crip when he entered San Quentin in 1981, Williams spent six years in solitary confinement (1988 to 1994). Days in solitary moved like pond water, and Williams had time to make learning a serious pursuit. The dictionary and thesaurus were his favorite "valuable tools."

"I started with 10 words a day," he said, "writing the word and its phonetic spelling on one side of a piece of paper, and the definition on the other. Sometimes one word had a whole paragraph of synonyms and meanings. It was a revelation." By 1992, he was ready to apply all his reading to writing.

"I wanted to write a Peace Protocol for the gangs," he said, referring to a document that Crips and Bloods have used to hold a truce. "And I wanted to write children's books speaking out against gangs. I knew that once I did that, I would not retrogress. There was no going back to my despicable ways."

In 1992, Barbara Becnel, a journalist working on a story on the Crips, persuaded Williams to grant her an interview. She ended up helping him launch his writings, from the Peace Protocol to his "Tookie Speaks Out" series of nine children's books. His memoir, "Blue Rage, Black Redemption" -- adapted into an FX channel movie, "Redemption," starring Jamie Foxx -- traced their relationship from adversaries to friends and collaborators.

Williams has always said he did not commit the crimes -- that his defense was botched; the key witnesses, opportunistic liars facing hard time themselves; and the prosecutors, so intent on nailing the menacing leader of the Crips, that they ignored evidence pointing to others and away from him.

"I have never had any faith in the system -- period," he said. "I've never received justice in my entire life."

It is not the kind of contrite line his critics would want to hear. But Williams could not help himself. "I believe justice is more of a crapshoot than anything," he said. "Statistics-wise, the majority of individuals who do get justice are white and affluent. If Rodney King's beating hadn't been videotaped, the police would still be saying they never touched him. If I were affluent, I wouldn't be here right now."

The thoughts conjure up real regrets, the ones that come from remembering that he took the path of least resistance in his South Central L.A. 'hood: "drugs, crime, violence, stupidity."

As a middle-schooler, "I really only wanted to be left alone," he said. But he was puny and ripe for being picked on. "I always hated bullies," he said. So he blew himself up like a cartoon superhero -- 300 pounds on a 5-foot-10 frame -- and wore an afro like Superfly's.

Williams co-founded the Crips with his friend Raymond Washington in 1971, when they were 17. The original name, he said, was the Cribs, but it was misspelled during an alcohol binge and "Crips" stuck.

In 1979, Williams was arrested in the slaying of Albert Lewis Owens, a 26-year-old clerk at a 7-Eleven store in Pico Rivera who was shot in the head while lying face down on the floor during a robbery. Police said that a few weeks later he killed Tsai-Shai Yang, 63; her husband, Yen-I Yang, 76; and their daughter, Yee-Chen Lin, 43, during a holdup at their motel in South Los Angeles.

A shotgun shell found at the crime scene was said to be from a gun purchased by Williams five years earlier, which was under the bed of two associates under investigation for killing their business partner. Their murder charges were dropped after they testified that Williams had confessed to them. Other witnesses included a longtime felon who was placed in a nearby cell while Williams awaited trial.

Williams's attorney said that 20 years later, it was discovered that a Los Angeles police officer had left a copy of her client's file in the informant's cell for overnight study. Another witness, who was never called to testify, though he implicated Williams as the shooter in the 7-Eleven robbery, has recanted, the lawyer said.

Williams's clemency petition stresses his good works of the past decade or so -- his books, taught in inner-city curricula across the country; his A grade for behavior at San Quentin for the past 13 years; and his following -- the thousands of people who have written to him, the 32,000 people who signed a plea for clemency.

Williams said that he wants to keep on working -- writing. The two books he is currently writing -- an anthology of essays on politics, race, crime and punishment, and the latest in his "Tookie Speaks Out" series (this one on girl gang members) -- need attention. So do the letters he receives, sometimes 30 or 40 a day.

"The sad part," he said, with a sigh, "is that I couldn't possibly answer all of them individually." Even if he had all the time in the world, he said, "it would take forever."
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

SPACEX TO LAUNCH PRIVATE ROCKET TODAY

So, there's this guy who founds PayPal. A few years later he makes $150 million selling PayPal to eBay and founds his own rocket-building company. A couple years after that, he's ready to launch his first rocket, the Falcon I.

Pretty damn cool.

Sadly, he's only interested in lofting satellites into space instead of people which is where the actual human advancement is at, but hey, I'm all for non-bloated-governmental-interests getting involved in space stuff. Hell, in the end, I'm all for anyone getting into space stuff.

The Falcon I's maiden voyage was supposed to be yesterday but there was a scheduling conflict with a missile defense system test by the US Army that ended up having to happen on the same day. Yeah, like that stupid defense system will ever work!

Anyway, so it's set to launch today from [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omelek_Island|Omelek Island], which is one of the Marshall Islands, I believe. I'll post more when I hear how the launch went.

In the meantime, you can check out [http://www.latimes.com/technology/la-fi-rocket26nov26,1,1529248.story?coll=la-headlines-technology|an article] at LATimes.com about the launch or check out SpaceX.com to get the official spin.

UPDATE 11/27/5: She didn't launch. According to [http://www.spacex.com/index.html?section=updates&content=http%3A//www.spacex.com/updates.php|the official press release] :
What happened was that an auxiliary liquid oxygen (LOX) fill tank had a manual vent valve incorrectly set to vent. The time it took to correct the problem resulted in significant LOX boiloff and loss of helium, and it was the latter that caused the launch abort. LOX is used to chill the helium bottles, so we lose helium if there is no LOX to cool the bottles.

Although we were eventually able to refill the vehicle LOX tanks, the rate at which we could add helium was slower than the rate at which LOX was boiling away. There was no way to close the gap, so the launch had to be called off. In addition, we experienced an anomaly with the main engine computer that requires further investigation and was arguably reason in and of itself to postpone launch.

We anticipate a new launch attempt in mid-December, depending on the timing of LOX resupply from Hawaii (our LOX plant on Omelek can only produce about one ton per day).


So, at least they tried. Hopefully we'll hear more in December.

FREE iPOD, NINTENDO DS, ETC, UPDATE

You may recall [http://thepete.com/tag/FreePay|my past posts] on the FreePay network of free crap you can get in exchange for you and your friends taking part in offers from various companies. While I've read many accounts on the 'net of people actually getting their free things, after almost a year of trying to do the [http://www.freegamingsystems.com/?r=13469685|free gaming system] program, I've had 54 people sign up for offers but only 3 people actually finish them. This is extremely frustrating since I only need 4 to get my damn Nintendo DS (not that I need one since I've long since bought my own).

I even installed a conga line on my site that seemed like a perfect way to get people to sign up and only a single person has claimed to have actually scored their free item out of over 100 people who have signed up on the damn thing. I've decided to shut the thing down in early 2006 if I don't see some more people getting their items.

Does this mean I'm giving up on trying to get free crap? Well, I have a feeling that I probably should give up, though I'm not going to. I've signed up at the forum at FreeiPodGuide.com and am toying with the idea of trading people for referals. The way it works is, you find someone who wants one free item and get them to agree to do an offer for you in exchange for you doing an offer for them. The catch is, you have to make sure that you both want different things. I won't be able to do a free video iPod offer for you because I have to do one myself in order to start the program for one in the first place.

Will this work? Who knows? Again, it seems to work for others, but if it will work for me remains to be seen. I've PMed a couple people about possibly trading but have yet to hear back from them.

Of course, I'll blog more about it as my experience progresses. Wish me luck!

NORIYUKI "PAT" MORITA RIP

No, I won't just remember you as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid movies. I'll remember you as a great role model for people of all races. I grew up watching you as Arnold on Happy Days and when I did see the first Karate Kid film, you were so very different from Arnold that I didn't even realize both were played by the same guy. In the coverage of your death I've learned that you were a stand up comedian for a long time before you became an actor and that you would tell race jokes that made fun of yourself and the Japanese culture. I think that's perfectly cool because in a lot of ways we all take ourselves, our cultures (and each other's cultures) much too seriously.

I also didn't know you were nominated for an Oscar for your role as Mr. Miyagi. An Oscar nomination, several great roles, a long career and a family--you have a lot to be proud of and we have a lot to remember you by. I hope your passing was peaceful.

Thanks for changing our lives.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

SYRIANA (2005)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? Yes, without a doubt. However, it helps to be an intelligent person who has no problem keeping up with world politics, business and religion. :) If you're not up on these things, you'll still probably find elements of it you like.

Technically any good? While the script/story seem a bit scattershot, the film comes together quite nicely by the time the movie is over. From personal research, I know that the film is really very realistic. Things similar to those depicted in the film do happen in the real world. The acting was superb and, well, this film is brilliant.

How did it leave me feeling? Depressed, but happy that this film has been made and is in front of people who normally wouldn't know anything about this subject matter. See it and learn more about the world you live in, whether you like it or not.

Final Rating? SIYL (very brainy stuff but very important, too--a movie for adults)

BEWARE THE SPACE PULSE!

Right wing mouthpiece WashingtonTimes.com [http://www.washtimes.com/national/20051121-103434-8775r.htm|reports that] :
The United States is highly vulnerable to attack from electronic pulses caused by a nuclear blast in space, according to a new book on threats to U.S. security.
A single nuclear weapon carried by a ballistic missile and detonated a few hundred miles over the United States would cause "catastrophe for the nation" by damaging electricity-based networks and infrastructure, including computers and telecommunications, according to "War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World."


Well, this is just the Bush 43 Admin testing the waters for the next big con after Al Qaeda stops holding water with the American people. Hell, they gotta have something to scare us, right? So, now, all our "enemies" need to do is launch a nuke into orbit and blow it up over us.

DAMN! WE BETTER GET SOME GOOD OLD AMERICAN WEAPONS UP INTO SPACE!

Of course, that would violate International Law thanks to [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty|a treaty signed by the US and other world powers back in the 1960s promising to never weaponize space] (well, WMDize space, anyway). But, what the hell, the USG has broken International Law before and no one stopped them. Why should they care about following the law now?

Microsoft's Xbox 360 Crashing? YOU DON'T SAY!

Wow, this didn't take long--as of yesterday, the reports already started rolling in about the new Xboxes crashing for no apparent reason. Engadget.com has [http://engadget.com/entry/1234000743069364/|a post about it] featuring about 100 comments from people confirming the Xbox has been crashing and others who are LOLing so much their "L" and "O" keys are worn off.

Me? All I'll say is this: What do you expect from the company that brought you Windows 95, 98 and XP? All OSes that were/are easily crashable.

$100 LAPTOP CTO LADY SPEAKS!!

Remember the [http://thepete.com/100-laptop-for-developing-nations/|$100 laptop] that is being designed by Nicholas Negroponte? Well, there's a prototype of it at the World Summit on the Information Society. It's little and it's green and it's OH SO CUTE! What's even better is that Andy Carvin of AndyCarvin.com has [http://www.andycarvin.com/archives/2005/11/the_100_laptop.html|blogged about his interview with the Chief Technology Officer lady of the program making the laptop]. What's even better than that is that he's got a link to the interview itself in QT format. Check out that link and hear how the laptop will charge via a hand crank and use a monitor screen the likes we haven't seen in decades (monochrome--sort of). Watch the video to make more sense of it all.

HOT ROD HYBRID

Treehugger.com recently [http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/11/student_buildin.php|blogged] about a guy who has come up with a way to turn a 1932 Ford hot rod into a hybrid--that is, a car that runs on both gas and electricity. Treehugger.com points us to [http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=129930|an article] at KSL.com which is where this excerpt comes from:
Brent Singleton, Student: "Since it's electric, anything that creates some sort of energy can be your fuel source."

That's the idea behind this. It will become the first hybrid electric 1932 Ford Roadster.

Brent Singleton: "Their idea of a hybrid vehicle is that you run a gas motor to run electric, and then you have a little bit of battery pack to do the rest. And this is a mainly electric motor so you can have any fuel system on it, and on this one, it can be anything you want it to be!"

The key here being any type of anything that creates power, such as the wind, the sun, hydrogen or whatever else you can think of that makes energy.

But Brent can't do this alone, that's why he's asking for help from other students. He's received some help from the diesel department at Bridgerland Applied Technology College; they're putting together the body of the car, like the wheels and the brakes.

Vern Smith, BATC Dept. Head: "It makes a lot of sense, we need something else, let alone the emissions difference between an electric car and a fossil fuel car. It's an important thing, I think it's important for students. I think it's important for everybody. Ithink we need a change."

Once other students all work together and create the rest of the car, the next step is to make a kit so people can convert to their own electric vehicles.

Brent Singleton: "A kit car is where you buy every part individually. So, if you have every part off of the shelf, you can design everything, anyway that you want. And in the end you just buy a kit and it would go together really fast, and it would be really inexpensive."


Sounds good to me--can I hybridize my Honda Elite? ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

[ThePhlog] 11/23/2005 11:26:43 PM


this is an audio post - click to play


--
Posted by ThePete to ThePhlog at 11/23/2005 11:26:43 PM

While Eating TheTurkey, Don't Forget to Visit ThePete.Com!

Hey folks, just wanted to let everyone know that I will be blogging over the Turkey Day weekend--even on Turkey Day itself. I'll be blogging more on the $100 laptop, a "threat from space," as well as a classic hot rod that is also a hybrid. Oh and I'll also do my Wednesday night Phlog to wish everyone a happy Turkey Day. So be sure to stop by for that!! (hold me back... :\ )

US NOT PUSHING FOR IRAN ATTACK?

Here's some 1st class cynicism to send you off on your Turkey Day holiday with style... a recent AP headline reads:

[http://apnews.myway.com/article/20051121/D8E13P400.html|U.S., Europe Won't Push for Move on Iran]

Here's a tasty bit from the article available over at MyWay.com:
Washington and its European allies will forgo pushing for Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council later this week, giving Russia more time in persuading Tehran to give up technology that could make nuclear arms, diplomats and officials told The Associated Press on Monday.


My ass. The USG needs to figure out how the hell it's going to power an invasion of Iran. Bush want's to do it, but with US forces so spread out around the globe, and frankly so stretched thin, there's basically no way, in my humble opinion, that the US could invade Iran--no way at all. In fact, I'd go so far as to say if there was another military force in the world of any worth at all, they could invade the US and probably conquer us. We wouldn't go down without a fight, but with our boys and girls in uniform overworked and underpaid, they'd be in no position to defend the homeland.

I just wonder when Bush is going to reinstitute the draft...

GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS FOR GAMERA FANS

One of my fanboy passions is the giant turtle Gamera. I was introduced to this Godzilla rip-off through watching the five of Gamera's cheesier adventures from the 60s on the cult fave Mystery Science Theater 3000. However, the big turtle kind of grew on me and the idea that he was less predictable a giant monster than Godzilla definitely appealed to me. I mean, Godzilla is a lizard--that's an easy choice for giant monster. But a turtle? What was threatening about a turtle?

Well, like the very first, unedited Godzilla film, the first Gamera film was actually fairly dark. So was it's first sequel. Watching the films in their original Japanese really let me feel for the characters and story a lot more than the crappy dubs (though I still enjoy the crappy dubs--SANDY FRANK, YOU'RE MY HERO!!).

Enter Shosuke Kaneko--a life long Godzilla fan and film director, Kaneko-san had always dreamed of directing a Godzilla film but before that happened, he was offered a chance to remake Gamera in the 1990s. He ended up making a trilogy of modern Gamera films each darker and, dare I say it, more realistic than the previous one (yes, kaiju films that are realistic!!). It goes without saying that any of these films was infinitely more realistic than any of the original Gamera films. Gamera 3 has got to be the greatest kaiju (giant monster) film of all time.


Not your Otosan's Gamera.
In it, Kaneko shows us the true consequences of a real giant monster walking through a modern city. People die on camera, squashed under Gamera's feet and bodies are seen being incinerated by Gamera's fireball-breath. The consequences are emotional, too. In a previous visit of Gamera's to Tokyo (when defending it against Legion in Gamera 2), Gamera backs into an apartment building, killing (among other people) the parents of a young girl who from that day forward wishes for revenge on Gamera.

Several years after losing her parents, she is 16 and living in the country where she finds a small monster egg buried in an ancient Japanese shrine. Her hatred hatches the egg and the monster inside learns to hate Gamera as much as she does.

Pretty damn complicated for a big dumb monster movie, woudn't you say?

G3 is available on DVD in the US under the title Gamera: Revenge of Iris--you should check it out if you have the vaguest interest in seeing CG used properly in a monster movie (unlike that crappy Tristar Godzilla). You should also check it out if you're at all interested in being won over by a film that, to paraphrase MST3K's Joel Robinson, will make you believe a turtle can fly... and kill a lot of people...

To whet you're appetite, I've uploaded [http://thepete.com/uploads/g3teaser.mov|a teaser trailer for Gamera 3]. It's a 12.7mb QT/mp4 that is about 30 seconds long. Sorry--still trying to figure out how to get these damn QT files small...

All that gushing aside, I've been depressed that Kaneko-san hasn't graced us with a Gamera 4. A couple years back I had heard that Toho, the owners of Godzilla, and Daiei, the makers of the 1990s Gamera films, were talking about a Godzilla Vs. Gamera movie. This would be like having Roger Moore and Sean Connery both playing Bond in the same film. Apples and oranges!

Thankfully, Toho decided to do a 14-monster-fest with Godzilla alone for their next movie.

Sadly, what will be the next Gamera film may be worse than a match up that should never happen...

I stumbled across [http://www.cinegenre.net/archives15.html|this page] at CineGenre.net--a French movie site. A ways down that page I found a reference, in French, to Gamera. I had to use [http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cinegenre.net%2Farchives15.html&langpair=fr%7Cen&hl=en&safe=off&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&prev=%2Flanguage_tools|Google Language tools to translate it] but essentially it quotes some sports magazine as talking about a new Gamera film. I then found [http://www.tokyomonsters.com/news307.php|this post] at TokyoMonsters.com which, reports that there will be another Gamera film, but it won't be directed by Kaneko and it will be about how "Gamera is the friend of all children."

That was the most annoying thing about the showa (or "classic") era Gamera films--that stupid saying "friend of all children" indeed...

Here's a quote from that post:
Years ago Gamera saves a group of kids from Gyaos attack. 30 years later the son of the boy from the battle finds an egg and Gamera grows from it...the kid kinda "trains" him, Gamera spins and flies and shoots fireballs, etc. and a friendship develops...meanwhile a monster invasion is coming...

Filming starts in June '05 for a Spring '06 release"


Sheesh... Gamera and kids again... great. He goes from total scary, bad-ass to "the friend of all children."

Shoot me now...

Then I got the bright idea to check out Gamera.jp which is the official website of Gamera. There, was a picture of a kid, and a little turtle...

Then I saw another pic of the cast posing with a model of an unconscious Gamera from the new film--he's not even green and he's all cartoony. Just great. Oh well, there goes one of my favorite cinematic characters right down the poop-shoot.

[http://gamera.jp/movie/gamera_trailer01_l.wmv|Check out the trailer to The Tiniest Heroes - Gamera] (Windows Media).

ugh... All right Gamera, just step on my head already...

US AUTHORITIES FINAL HAVE TERROR CONVICTION OF SOME IMPORTANCE... OR DO THEY?

It's fairly well known that the US Freedom of Speech does not cover threats to the presidents life--or in this case, even George W. Bush.

HAHAHAHAHA...

But I kid the the guy who managed to eek out a win tighter than any president in recent memory...

The point is, if you so much as suggest that you're thinking about doing something bad to a certain someone in a certain big house that is white you can get investigated and possibly worse.

Enter Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who, as reported in [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/3479308.html|an article] from WaPo available over at Chron.com, has recently been convicted of plotting to kill Bush and also of aiding Al Qaeda. Dude faces life in prison. Here's the ironic part--for most of the above-linked article, the reporter lets us know that Ali was found guilty--but not why he was found guilty.

In the seventh paragraph down (out of twelve) we finally learn that:
Prosecutors said he had confessed to his Saudi jailers that he joined an al-Qaida cell in the kingdom and was determined to kill Bush by shooting him on the street or blowing him up with a car bomb.


So far so reasonable. However, the article immediately continues with:
Law enforcement sources have said the plot to kill Bush never advanced beyond the talking stage.


So, is the "talking stage" officially the same as the "planning stage"? My wife and I are planning on catching Syriana on Thursday, but are we really planning on it if we haven't even picked the showtime we're going to see? Hell, we might not even go. The point is, we're just talking about it.

I can talk about doing a lot of things, like writing another novel or going to Japan, but am I planning on doing those things? Not really, despite the fact that I'm serious about doing both.

The point is, this Ali guy is just talking shit or whatever, but doesn't really have a clue about how he's going to do it. He doesn't have a gun or suppliers or even a date picked. How can he be found guilty of a crime he hasn't committed? Sure, it's illegal to threaten a president's life--but should we send a man to jail for life for threatening the president?

I don't think so.

However, if he had a shopping list with bullets, a gun, a map of Washington DC with the White House circled, NOW we're talking a threat.

Of course there's another wrinkle to this story that the article finally goes into the eighth paragraph:
Abu Ali said the confession was false and was beaten out of him by the Saudis, who whipped him on his back so hard it turned bloody. His lawyers portrayed him as a polite kid from Northern Virginia who went to Saudi Arabia only to pursue religious studies.


UH-OH! Looks like it's TORTURE-TIME, AGAIN!

Of course, the article doesn't mention anything about Ali providing proof (or not) of the beatings--like showing scars, or anything like that.

The final four paragraphs of the article go like this:
Khurrum Wahid, an attorney for Abu Ali, indicated that he would appeal.

"Obviously, the jury has spoken, but the fight is not over," he said. "We plan to continue to use the justice system to pursue our client's innocence."

Members of Abu Ali's family, who attended nearly the entire 2 1/2 -week trial, declined to comment.

The trial, along with an earlier hearing that examined Abu Ali's claims of torture, revolved around the confession prosecutors said he gave to his Saudi jailers. Saudi security officers testified via videotape from Saudi Arabia, insisting that Abu Ali was well treated and confessed willingly.


Yeah. He confessed willingly.

WHY THE HELL WOULD HE DO THAT??

Surely he wasn't expecting leniency from the Saudi Arabian Justice System--the same people who brought us public beheadings in the street.

Oh yeah, and there was absolutely no mention in the article about how Ali actually did the "providing material support to al-Qaida" part. Good job, WaPo!!

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (2005)

Positive Experience/Entertaining? There were bits of it that were highly entertaining--bits.


Technically any good? Probably the most muddled of all of the HP movies. They always seem to come out in a big jumble with subplots mushing together to make an overall unmemorable mess. My wife and I spent a good 15 minutes trying to work out what the earlier 3 films were about before we saw HP4. We simply couldn't recall. HP4 isn't quite so bad, but I don't expect much of the film to stick with me.

How did it leave me feeling? Eh--unimpressed, but not surprised. I can't suggest anyone see this movie. It's by far the darkest and most exciting film of the four, but that's really not saying much. I don't see what HP fans see in these movies. Perhaps it would be better if I had read the books--but if this is true, then the movie is truly weak.

Final Rating? SIYL (ONLY if your a freak for HP.)

IS HARRY POTTER 4 ONLINE? WHAT DO YOU THINK?

The following comes from [http://imdb.com/news/sb/2005-11-22/#film2|a blurb] at IMDB.com's Studio Brief:
Forbes magazine reported Monday that it had found 1,500 AVI and 500 MPEG versions of the movie available for download on peer-to-peer file-sharing sites. Nevertheless, a spokesman for Warner Bros. told the magazine, "We are 100% sure that these files you have found are not going to be of the Harry Potter film"


HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

AT LEAST ONE DEMOCRAT CALLED IT IN IRAQ

One of the things I always bitch about is the general suckiness of Democrats. There are loads of problems with the way government is being run yet not a single Democrat has begun to push for impeachment hearings and only a handful have said anything about any of the myriad laws, rules and regulations the Republicans are breaking. One Democrat Congressman, John Murtha, has stepped up and spoken out about how he feels the war in Iraq is unwinable. Here's what AP.org reported he said from [http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/specialreports/iraq/s_192988.html|an article] at PittsburghLive.com:
A statement from a pro-defense Democrat that the Pentagon's current military strategy in Iraq makes the war unwinnable drew a sharp rebuke Thursday from Republicans, who accused Democrats of using the war for political gain.


The catch here is that those statements were made by Murtha a year-and-a-half ago. That's right, that AP article I link to above is from May 7, 2004. (Thanks be to Drudge for posting a link to this "flashback" story.)

The article, goes on to say:
"We cannot prevail in this war as it is going today," Murtha said yesterday at a news conference with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. Murtha said the incidents of prisoner abuse in Iraq were a symptom of a problem in which U.S. troops in Iraq are undermanned, inadequately equipped and poorly trained.

"We either have to mobilize or we have to get out," Murtha said, adding that he supported increasing U.S. troop strength rather than pulling out.


Well, Murtha is one Democrat you shouldn't call a waffler because in [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/17/politics/17cnd-military.html?hp&ex=1132290000&en=f8ef8379a16ec306&ei=5094&partner=homepage|an article] that ran on NYT last week, Murtha is sticking to his guns. Check this out:
An influential House Democrat called the Iraq campaign "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion" today as he called for the immediate withdrawal of United States troops, intensifying an already bitter debate on Capitol Hill.

...

"It is time for a change in direction," said Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania, the leading Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. "Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk."

"It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region," Mr. Murtha said during an emotional news conference on Capitol Hill. His remarks were quickly denounced by House Republicans as defeatist and wrongheaded.


I guess we can't call Republicans wafflers either in this case, since, at least the ones in DC, are still moronic enough to "stick to their guns" literally even when it's so clear that Murtha was right over a year ago and that the Republicans were still wrong over a year ago, too and they still are.

SEATTLE GYNECOLOGIST ONE TWISTED FUCK

Sorry, there's no other word to use to describe this guy than a "fuck." Remember, this site is PG-13!!!

Anyway, so Reuters.com [http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyID=2005-11-17T011925Z_01_MCC704695_RTRUKOC_0_US-CRIME-DOCTOR.xml&archived=False|reported] on a total, uh, well, fuck who called himself a doctor. He forgot that little oath all doctors take when they become doctors--first, do no harm. Well, he did plenty of harm. Check out this excerpt from the Reuters article:
A jury convicted a Seattle-area gynecologist on Wednesday of four counts of rape in the sexual assaults of two patients.

Charles Momah, 49, also faces civil lawsuits in which women claim that they were also sometimes deceived into being examined, operated on and sexually fondled by his twin, Dennis Momah, a general practitioner who is not certified in obstetrics and gynecology.

During Charles Momah's criminal trial, prosecutors said he sexually preyed on vulnerable, desperate women, many of whom had few other places to get gynecological care or were addicted to drugs.


What a wonderful man. Thanks American Justice System for taking another good man off the market for desperate women everywhere!

And you'd have to be desperate to fall for this guy... holy cats...

WEBCAM SAVES WOMAN'S LIFE

I love webcams. Sure, there's the obvious voyueristic appeal to them, but they are also very cool little gadgets. I've had 3 in my life and had a lot of fun with each of them and no, not one of them was used in the creation of porn. Anyway, so over at Engadget.com last week, they [http://engadget.com/entry/1234000097068596/|blogged about how a woman's life was actually saved by a webcam]. Here's a clip:
Karin Jordal, a 69-year-old artist was recently rescued by her far-flung sons after they discovered, via her webcam, that she had collapsed in her California home.


OK, so the clip is short--but so is their post. [http://engadget.com/entry/1234000097068596/|Go check it out].

Monday, November 21, 2005

I'm Blond on a Whim...

Holy crap! On a whim TheWife and I picked up some hair color and now I'm blond! I haven't decided if I like it yet... check out the webcam!

MORE TERRORISM, AMERICAN-STYLE

Hm, this is starting to sound like it's systemic--this torture thing started out as a rumor. A rumor I've heard about past wars America has fought in. Rumors that theUSMil and CIA (and the OSS before that) have done things that are not only unethical but illegal on a domestic and international level. We all know about Abu Ghraib but even before then I had heard that the CIA and other USG official types would grab "suspects" (guys with towels on their heads) and then cart them off to another country where torture is legal. There, they would transfer custody over to local authorities who would then torture the "suspects."

Now, with all the talk of those secret prisons (why aren't they still in the news???) we know that the US has stopped even bothering with the "going to a country where torture is legal" part. After all, the Washington Post's excuse for not revealing the locations of said secret prisons was that the prisons would be illegal in said countries.

Good plan, guys! And how disgusted am I (and should you be) that the Washington Post held back information just because it might harm the USG--rather than exposing the truth and helping the people at those secret prisons--hell, possibly saving their lives, even?

It's disgusting that we even need to talk about this stuff. It's disgusting that we [http://thepete.com/usg-thoroughly-unamerican/|need to have a law banning torture]. It's also disgusting that the guy using the title of "Vice President of the United States" is pro-life, but he's also pro-torture--well, when it comes to terrorists. According to [http://www.itv.com/news/index_1447362.html|an article] at ITV.com, former CIA Director (1977-1981), Admiral Stansfield Turner thinks Dick Cheney is "Vice President for Torture."

Our leaders should be moral, upright heroes who don't say it's ok to torture ever because we are not the disgusting savages who are willing to kill us. Here's a clip from the article:
He said: "We have crossed the line into dangerous territory".

The American Senate says torture should be banned - whatever the justification. But President Bush has threatened to veto their ruling.

The former spymaster claims President Bush is not telling the truth when he says that torture is not a method used by the US.

Speaking of Bush's claims that the US does not use torture, Admiral Turner, who ran the CIA from 1977 to 1981, said: "I do not believe him".

On Dick Cheney he said "I'm embarrassed the United States has a vice president for torture.

"He condones torture, what else is he?".


What is torture exactly?

Good question--basically it's anything that violates the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geneva_conventions|Geneva Conventions]. However, generally, it's a good idea to be a moral person and don't do anything to them you wouldn't want them to do to you. However, there are some things you might not mind having done to you that others might. I remember seeing on 60 Minutes that there's a provision in one of the Conventions that says you can't make a prisoner stand up for longer than 4 hours (I think it's 4--I can't confirm that at Wikipedia.org). Sec of Defense Donald Rumsfeld apparently said in a memo that he stands at his desk for 8 hours a day, therefore, we should be able to make these guys stand for longer than the four hours the GCs allow for.

Ha--so now, Rummy is so cool and hip he gets to rewrite documents written and agreed to by a stack of countries.

Nice ego, ya bastard.

The point is that the US signed on to the GCs, too. This means that we need to abide by them as well. The GCs say this about treating POWs:
No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind. (Article 17 of the Third Geneva Convention)


That seems pretty clear to me. The thing is, there are excuses made--like terror suspects are technically not members of a uniformed army with a clear hierarchy like the GCs define POWs as. Apparently, in the eyes of American leaders this means terror suspects don't possess human rights because here is what [http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=1322866&page=1|an article] at ABCNews.com says secret CIA sources describe as standard CIA procedure for dealing with "tight-lipped" terror suspects:
1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.


Hm... sounds like Article 17 of the Third Geneva Convention is being violated there... at least a little bit.

If this sort of systemic procedural torture isn't enough for you to realize that the American Government is not altogether unlike terrorists, check out [http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/17/white.phosphorous/|this article] from CNN.com that reports on the new Iraqi government investigating claims of the US military using chemical weapons against Iraqis. ([http://thepete.com/fallujah-the-hidden-massacre/|Remember that documentary on US chem weaps I blogged about]?) Here's a clip from said CNN article:
Iraq has launched an investigation into allegations -- denied by the Pentagon -- that U.S. soldiers aimed artillery rounds of flammable white phosphorus at civilians.

Doctors and teams from Iraq's Health Ministry have been dispatched to Falluja "so we can get a real answer," acting Human Rights Minister Nermin Othman Hassan told a news conference on Thursday.

"In some cases (the injuries) can look like phosphorus, but it can be something else."

U.S. military officials confirmed Wednesday that its troops used white phosphorus during an offensive to rid Falluja of insurgents last November, but the officials denied an Italian documentary allegation that the weapon was aimed at civilians.


Whoa--hang on for a sec... So, terrorists in military prisons are not Prisoners of War, but Iraqi insurgents are not considered civilians??

Either you're part of an army or you're not, folks. And guess what--regardless, you still can't treat humans like objects without rights. However, it was nice to see CNN admit that there actually is an [http://thepete.com/fallujah-the-hidden-massacre/|Italian documentary about this in existence].

The reason we should never torture our "enemies" is three-fold, in my opinion.

1) We are not animals and should not abandon our morals under any circumstances. If we do, why bother ever having morals? Morals are there to tell us what to do ALL the time--in good and bad times. Morals aren't just for deciding to forego the local Corporate Coffee establishment for a local Mom-n-Pop coffe shop. Morals are there to stop us from killing, hurting and otherwise be unfair to others.

2) It sets a bad example. It says that America, the greatest, most powerful country on the planet, champion of freedom and tolerance defines torture as "OK" in it's quest to reach that freedom and tolerance--this makes no sense. Torture flies in the face of those things. Doing this makes us look like hypocritical sadists.

3) If we do it to them, they'll do it (or something similar) to us. It's the golden rule in reverse when you do something bad to someone. If you do unto someone else something you would not want done unto you, don't be surprised when that's exactly what happens. We torture an Arab (Al Qeada-related or not) and an American who gets kidnapped ends up tortured, as well (or worse).

Now imagine yourself as that American.

From ABCNews.com:

CIA's Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described

Sources Say Agency's Tactics Lead to Questionable Confessions, Sometimes to Death

By BRIAN ROSS and RICHARD ESPOSITO

Nov. 18, 2005 — Harsh interrogation techniques authorized by top officials of the CIA have led to questionable confessions and the death of a detainee since the techniques were first authorized in mid-March 2002, ABC News has been told by former and current intelligence officers and supervisors.

They say they are revealing specific details of the techniques, and their impact on confessions, because the public needs to know the direction their agency has chosen. All gave their accounts on the condition that their names and identities not be revealed. Portions of their accounts are corrobrated by public statements of former CIA officers and by reports recently published that cite a classified CIA Inspector General's report.

Other portions of their accounts echo the accounts of escaped prisoners from one CIA prison in Afghanistan.

"They would not let you rest, day or night. Stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down. Don't sleep. Don't lie on the floor," one prisoner said through a translator. The detainees were also forced to listen to rap artist Eminem's "Slim Shady" album. The music was so foreign to them it made them frantic, sources said.

Contacted after the completion of the ABC News investigation, CIA officials would neither confirm nor deny the accounts. They simply declined to comment.

The CIA sources described a list of six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" instituted in mid-March 2002 and used, they said, on a dozen top al Qaeda targets incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on military bases in regions from Asia to Eastern Europe. According to the sources, only a handful of CIA interrogators are trained and authorized to use the techniques:

1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.

According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda's toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last between two and two-and-a-half minutes before begging to confess.

"The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law," said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch.

The techniques are controversial among experienced intelligence agency and military interrogators. Many feel that a confession obtained this way is an unreliable tool. Two experienced officers have told ABC that there is little to be gained by these techniques that could not be more effectively gained by a methodical, careful, psychologically based interrogation. According to a classified report prepared by the CIA Inspector General John Helgerwon and issued in 2004, the techniques "appeared to constitute cruel, and degrading treatment under the (Geneva) convention," the New York Times reported on Nov. 9, 2005.

It is "bad interrogation. I mean you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough," said former CIA officer Bob Baer.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer and a deputy director of the State Department's office of counterterrorism, recently wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "What real CIA field officers know firsthand is that it is better to build a relationship of trust … than to extract quick confessions through tactics such as those used by the Nazis and the Soviets."

One argument in favor of their use: time. In the early days of al Qaeda captures, it was hoped that speeding confessions would result in the development of important operational knowledge in a timely fashion.

However, ABC News was told that at least three CIA officers declined to be trained in the techniques before a cadre of 14 were selected to use them on a dozen top al Qaeda suspects in order to obtain critical information. In at least one instance, ABC News was told that the techniques led to questionable information aimed at pleasing the interrogators and that this information had a significant impact on U.S. actions in Iraq.

According to CIA sources, Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi, after two weeks of enhanced interrogation, made statements that were designed to tell the interrogators what they wanted to hear. Sources say Al Libbi had been subjected to each of the progressively harsher techniques in turn and finally broke after being water boarded and then left to stand naked in his cold cell overnight where he was doused with cold water at regular intervals.

His statements became part of the basis for the Bush administration claims that Iraq trained al Qaeda members to use biochemical weapons. Sources tell ABC that it was later established that al Libbi had no knowledge of such training or weapons and fabricated the statements because he was terrified of further harsh treatment.

"This is the problem with using the waterboard. They get so desperate that they begin telling you what they think you want to hear," one source said.

However, sources said, al Libbi does not appear to have sought to intentionally misinform investigators, as at least one account has stated. The distinction in this murky world is nonetheless an important one. Al Libbi sought to please his investigators, not lead them down a false path, two sources with firsthand knowledge of the statements said.

When properly used, the techniques appear to be closely monitored and are signed off on in writing on a case-by-case, technique-by-technique basis, according to highly placed current and former intelligence officers involved in the program. In this way, they say, enhanced interrogations have been authorized for about a dozen high value al Qaeda targets — Khalid Sheik Mohammed among them. According to the sources, all of these have confessed, none of them has died, and all of them remain incarcerated.

While some media accounts have described the locations where these detainees are located as a string of secret CIA prisons — a gulag, as it were — in fact, sources say, there are a very limited number of these locations in use at any time, and most often they consist of a secure building on an existing or former military base. In addition, they say, the prisoners usually are not scattered but travel together to these locations, so that information can be extracted from one and compared with others. Currently, it is believed that one or more former Soviet bloc air bases and military installations are the Eastern European location of the top suspects. Khalid Sheik Mohammed is among the suspects detained there, sources said.

The sources told ABC that the techniques, while progressively aggressive, are not deemed torture, and the debate among intelligence officers as to whether they are effective should not be underestimated. There are many who feel these techniques, properly supervised, are both valid and necessary, the sources said. While harsh, they say, they are not torture and are reserved only for the most important and most difficult prisoners.

According to the sources, when an interrogator wishes to use a particular technique on a prisoner, the policy at the CIA is that each step of the interrogation process must be signed off at the highest level — by the deputy director for operations for the CIA. A cable must be sent and a reply received each time a progressively harsher technique is used. The described oversight appears tough but critics say it could be tougher. In reality, sources said, there are few known instances when an approval has not been granted. Still, even the toughest critics of the techniques say they are relatively well monitored and limited in use.

Two sources also told ABC that the techniques — authorized for use by only a handful of trained CIA officers — have been misapplied in at least one instance.

The sources said that in that case a young, untrained junior officer caused the death of one detainee at a mud fort dubbed the "salt pit" that is used as a prison. They say the death occurred when the prisoner was left to stand naked throughout the harsh Afghanistan night after being doused with cold water. He died, they say, of hypothermia.

According to the sources, a second CIA detainee died in Iraq and a third detainee died following harsh interrogation by Department of Defense personnel and contractors in Iraq. CIA sources said that in the DOD case, the interrogation was harsh, but did not involve the CIA.

The Kabul fort has also been the subject of confusion. Several intelligence sources involved in both the enhanced interrogation program and the program to ship detainees back to their own country for interrogation — a process described as rendition, say that the number of detainees in each program has been added together to suggest as many as 100 detainees are moved around the world from one secret CIA facility to another. In the rendition program, foreign nationals captured in the conflict zones are shipped back to their own countries on occasion for interrogation and prosecution.

There have been several dozen instances of rendition. There have been a little over a dozen authorized enhanced interrogations. As a result, the enhanced interrogation program has been described as one encompassing 100 or more prisoners. Multiple CIA sources told ABC that it is not. The renditions have also been described as illegal. They are not, our sources said, although they acknowledge the procedures are in an ethical gray area and are at times used for the convenience of extracting information under harsher conditions that the U.S. would allow.

ABC was told that several dozen renditions of this kind have occurred. Jordan is one country recently cited as an "emerging" center for renditions, according to published reports. The ABC sources said that rendition of this sort are legal and should not be confused with illegal "snatches" of targets off the streets of a home country by officers of yet another country. The United States is currently charged with such an illegal rendition in Italy. Israel and at least one European nation have also been accused of such renditions.

© 2005 ABC News Internet Ventures

SONY INFRINGED COPYRIGHT WITH COPYRIGHT PROTECTION SOFTWARE

Yep--good old DVD Jon (the guy who broke the original DVD encryption) has said on [http://nanocrew.net/|his blog], according to [http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/80271/sonys-drm-woes-expand-to-include-copyright-infringement.html|an article] at PCPro.co.uk, that his own code was found in the Digital Rights Management software that Sony has gotten in so much trouble with lately. Here's an excerpt from that article:
If Sony BMG was hoping that the controversy surrounding its copy-protected CDs was going to die away, it was reckoning without infamous hacker Jon Lech Johansen, better known as DVD Jon.

It seems that the XCP software from UK company First4Internet that Sony had been using to prevent unauthorised copying of its music CDs, until it agreed to recall some 4.7 million discs, contains code 'infringing the copyright of several open source projects', Johansen notes in his blog. This includes code that he himself wrote for VLC, a free cross-platform media player.

The code was uncovered by Finnish software developer Matti Nikki, who also discovered other copyright violations.

'Multiple software components on the CD have references to the LAME open source MP3 code,' he wrote in an email. His findings have been substantiated by others.

'We can confirm that at least five functions in the XCP software are identical to functions in LAME,' Thomas Dullien from Sabre Security, a company that specialises in the analysis of complex software, told Reuters.


D'oh! Nice one, Sony!!

This reminds me of [http://thepete.com/orrin-hatch-the-distinguished-hypocrite-from-utah/|that time Orin Hatch wanted to pass a law that made it legal to automatically damage computers of users who had downloaded music]. The irony? Hatch was using copyrighted material on his very own website.

WELL DONE!!

COOL VIDEO GAME/COMPUTER ADS FROM EARLY 1980s

Remember the Vectrex?

Yeah, me neither. :) But now you can remember it again to the first time thanks to [http://www.flickr.com/photos/numlok/|Numlok] who has scanned and [http://www.flickr.com/photos/numlok/sets/1394109/|posted a bunch of great old magazine ads and articles to his Flickr account]. Numlok says he was inspired by [http://www.flickr.com/photos/78362749@N00/sets/1352356/|this picture collection] by [http://www.flickr.com/photos/78362749@N00/|Scrubbles]. I love retrotech and the media that came with it when it wasn't retro.

Ah, the good old days. Oh and just so you know I'm not just some poser with an Atari T-shirt I wear to impress people, I actually have a vintage Atari VCS that I restored myself. My favorite game is probably Warlords. Simple gameplay, but completely addictive.

Thanks be to Kotaku.com for [http://www.kotaku.com/gaming/retro/retro-game-mag-scans-138360.php|posting about these ads]. Sweet stuff!!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

[ThePhlog] 11/20/2005 10:54:15 PM


this is an audio post - click to play


--
Posted by ThePete to ThePhlog at 11/20/2005 10:54:15 PM

I BALANCED MY QUICKEN!!!

HOLY CRAP! MY QUICKEN MATCHES MY ACTUAL ACCOUNT BALANCE!! To the penny!!

Mark your calendars! This is the day ThePete didn't totally fuck up his finances!!

COMPETITOR FOR THE ViPOD? KINDA...

Coby is a company well known for making cut-rate, but functional, CD players. Before that they were well known for making cut-rate, but functional, tape players. Back in the 80s, I recall having owned a couple of their tape players because they were so cheap, when one died, I just dropped another $20 on a new one. It wasn't even a bad idea to have an extra Coby player around just as a back up. These days, however, people don't want tape players or even CD players. They want media players.

Here comes the Coby TF-500. It looks just like a cheapy CD player only it's a cheapy DVD/mp3 CD player. What's even better is that it plays the video from the DVD on a little 3.5 inch screen. The whole thing is just slightly thicker than your average portable CD player, which is pretty sweet, really.

Is this a competitor to the ViPod, though? In some ways, yes.

Sure, it's bigger, over all, and it doesn't have any storage, but it does price in at around $115 or so, which is a reasonable trade-off, really. However, having it play only DVDs I think was an unfortunate choice for Coby. If they were smart they would have this thing play not only regular DVDs, but VCDs and SVCDs, too. In fact, they should have just programmed the damn thing to play DivX, mp4s and mp3s off of DVD data discs.

Since, at least for now, the ViPod only plays mp4s and H2whatsis, this would actually make the dealing with carrying around discs to play in the Coby TF-DVD500 a reasonable alternative. Sure, you've got extra crap to carry but a helluva lot more freedom in what you are able to watch.

Am I still planning on getting a ViPod first?

Of course. But for $115, it might be nice to have something like this around... just as a back up.

[http://us.gizmodo.com/gadgets/portable-media/coby-mp3-player-and-portable-dvd-138225.php|Check out coverage of the Coby TF-DVD500] over at Gizmodo.com or just cut out the middle man and hit up [the TF-DVD500's product page] at CobyUSA.com.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

New Quickies Category

Hey, it's a new category for short posts. COOL! ;)

CVS CAMCORDER LINKS AND UPDATE

Hey there, folks! Just wanted to post some links I had laying around that might help anyone with their CVS camcorder hacks. The below links helped me on my project. The first two links below are on the older side, but good to get you started. The third link is--well what do ya know?!? They made a driver for Macs!! Way cool!

Anyway, here they are:

http://camerahacks.10.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=556 < -- go here to download the app that lets your PC connect to your CVS camcorder.

http://camerahacks.10.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=847 <-- go here to learn how to encode videos that you can upload to the camcorder to watch on it's tiny screen (hey, it's cheaper than a new iPod!). Be warned--it's not an exact science.

http://camerahacks.10.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=600 <-- bad ass--an actual app for Mac OSX. It even works, too!!

Oh yeah, and you may be wondering about my CVS camcorder project. Well, I'm very close to getting it done--close in the sense that all I have is one rather large thing left to do, which is figure out how to build an IR array. I discovered the hard way that I can't just wire up two "AA" batteries to a IR LED (yes, I actually burned it out--first time I ever did that to an LED). So, I need to find some good plans or someone with a brain (hey, my dad's got one of those and he's an electrical engineer! I bet he could help).

So, once I find the time to make that giant jump, I'll make it and then blog all about it. Sorry to leave ya hanging...

Diesel Sweeties Webcomic

Found this webcomic through [http://www.livejournal.com/users/dougygyro/114447.html|a friend] of [http://www.livejournal.com/users/biomix/|a friend]. It's called Diesel Sweeties and it's pretty dry and funny and right up my alley. Check out the comic that one me over:


Click it to make it bigger


Pretty damn funny. I'm annoyed I didn't write that!

Damn--that makes me wish that I had a drawing tablet for my PowerBook--or that I could actually do pixel art...

Friday, November 18, 2005

My Anime Avatar Alter-Ego

My Anime Avatar Alter-EgoI was at a screening the other night and was checking out my buddy [http://biomix.livejournal.com/|Biomix's LJ] and saw that he had [http://www.livejournal.com/users/biomix/54075.html|created one of these for himself] so I figured, I'm into anime, what the hell?

You can create your own at tektek.org/dream but just as an FYI, the site that creates these avatars for you says the avatars are really for an online RPG called Gaia. No idea what it is--never even heard of it, but these little guys are so cool, I can't imagine why they'd want to limit their users. Make sure to click on the ads once you get over there, too.

Man, looking at my avatar--I realize I need a haircut!

OIL LOWEST SINCE JUNE?



 

IT WON'T LAST



...no matter how red you make your font.

(Besides, we're still paying $2.50 a gallon in LA--what's so "low" about that?)