Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sony, Korea and Millions of Shoes

Movies can be dangerous things. Comedy and satire too mingle with danger, tyrants and dictators aren't powerful due to their great sense of wit.

Yesterday, fearful of a promise of violent attack on movie theaters showing "The Interview", Sony Pictures pulled the movie from release. The movie's comic misadventures in a silly CIA plot to assassinate an actual, living human dictator in North Korea catapulted it from obscurity to infamy and history in record time.

Immediately too, cries that removal of the movie from distribution was giving terrorists control followed Sony's decision.

Sadly, caving in to demands of supposed terrorists seems more a rule than an exception.

Millions upon millions of shoes being removed at airports seems proof of that. Nation after nation has embraced a grim surveillance society since 2001. Haven't we already caved?

As for the movie -- did North Korean hackers acting on behalf of the state attack Sony? Some say no way:

"It's not possible. It would have taken months, maybe even years, to exfiltrate something like 100 terabytes of data without anyone noticing. ... Look at the bandwidth going into North Korea. I mean, the pipelines, the pipes going in, handling data, they only have one major ISP across their entire nation. That kind of information flowing at one time would have shut down North Korean Internet completely."

"Monsegur thinks it's also possible this was an inside job, that an employee or consultant downloaded all the information from Sony's servers and then sold it to someone else."

The potential of lawsuits against distributors and theater owners seems large, given they had been "warned" ahead of time of an attack on theaters.

The screenwriter of "The Interview" is beyond amazed by all this.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Annual Christmas Monkey Caption Contest

We are just days away - so it is time.

Here are some captions to get you started ....

"Hang on, I'm taking a 'selfie'."

"Yeah, there's a reason me and Santa only visit you once a year."

"It's my special eggnog recipe, made with scotch and ice."

Tennessee's 1st Communist Town? Plz Don't Tweet or Repost!

Bad ideas - and perhaps a few good ones - thrive on the Internet.

Officials in the local government of South Pittsburg, TN are learning the hard way.

Earlier this month, for reasons as yet unknown, the town's elected folks voted to "ban" negative comments on social media about the town, applicable to  "all city elected representatives, appointed board members, employees, volunteers, vendors, contractors and anyone associated with the town in an official capacity who uses social networks."

Cue the avalanche of negative (if hilarious) comments.

"Guess we need to change the welcome say the first Communist town in the south," wrote one resident."

Fake social media accounts for Mayor Jane Dawkins (@NotJaneDawkins) have been created by one Reddit user, and another for Commissioner Jeff Powers. Hilarity and parody flow.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cranky Defenders of Torture Rise Again

Anyone strapped down will say anything, absolutely anything to get the torture to stop. Torture. Does. Not. Work." (Source)

Really? We're back to the topic of a systematic torture of prisoners?

Dick Cheney, former VP and longtime cheerleader for tactics from "the dark side", as he called it, makes no room for doubt - "I'd do it again in a minute!" -- "It" being torture.

Going back to Nov. 2007, a previous post shows Americans decry torture but reserve the right to use it, and such a contradiction carries a heavy price for Democracy ....

"I am pretty sure if the technique, often lumped into the phrase "enhanced interrogation techniques" (a grisly tortured used of language), if such an act were used on you, you would consider it torture. It has been a part of military training for some time, as reported by Malcolm Nance, former Master Instructor and Chief of Training at the U.S. Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) school in San Diego. He writes extensively about the tactic in this essay, which makes compelling arguments on what it is - torture - and that torture is a useless way to get information, and that even watching such interrogations is beyond the ability of most people: 
"Most people can not stand to watch a high intensity kinetic interrogation. One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred.
"It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American. We live at a time where Americans, completely uninformed by an incurious media and enthralled by vengeance-based fantasy television shows like “24”, are actually cheering and encouraging such torture as justifiable revenge for the September 11 attacks. Having been a rescuer in one of those incidents and personally affected by both attacks, I am bewildered at how casually we have thrown off the mantle of world-leader in justice and honor. Who we have become?"
The original post is here.