Wikileaks Underwhelms

After skimming articles and looking at some of the data from the Assange/Wikileaks Afghanistan leaks I’m achieved a state of underwhelmed anger. There aren’t new smoking guns or revelations that I’ve found, and beyond a few journalists being able to say “See I told you so” again it’s about as current and relevant as The Bronski Beat.

The major allegations (ISI helping the Taliban and other terror groups, Civilian Casualties, Corrupt Government, USAID and other dev money mispent ) are all claims that have ample evidence to back them up without Assange’s leaks.

I wrote a lot about Hamid Gul’s ISI old guard Al Haq factions way back in ’06, and I wrote about Musharraf’s Pakistani government openly supplying terror groups and camps through October 2006 when the announcement was made and that stopped in theory but not in practice (as Roggio, I, and others have mentioned.) E.G. When the HuJI assassination attempts were made on Musharraf himself way back when they probably did not have to steal the missiles and .50 cal machine guns.

The big question is what the heck is the point? Assange can whine all he wants but he has jeopardized lives – lives of those aiding the war efforts in a country where most are fence sitters.  Real names of real people really in the theater right now are in those reports, real names of people trying to make a better future for Afghanistan. When their headless bodies start showing up in village squares should those photos be leaked directly and personally to Assange?

How many are going to willing to come down from the fence in the future after seeing these names published worldwide?

Wilting Petals in the Morning Sun

The tea rose bush has flourished in the heat but the flowers wilt pretty quickly as result.

Things to Watch

Normally I do not watch movies or Television much, and I’m not a big visual media consumer. Over the past few weeks recuperating gave me opportunity to catch up on a lot of media I had missed simply because holding a book and reading after they crack your chest open is a bit problematic for more than 20 minutes at a time.  So here’s my rundown and my recommendations for what I’ve watched recently.

The Perfect Getaway — Pretty darned good thriller – a tense drama filled with good twists and moments of romance and humor — and you even end up liking the bad guys and gals….

“The Book of Eli” — This dog of a movie is so bad that even Denzel Washington couldn’t save it and I’m not even going to link it.  If you must have a post apocalyptic wasteland movie, try “A Boy and His Dog,” “Road Warrior,” “Damnation Alley” or pretty much anything else. “The Book of Eli” turns out to be Christian Proselytization wrapped in a lot of stinky Skiffy — it’s so bad I would watch Zardoz or Waterworld again before I watched this abomination.

Inception” – I hate Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor, but this movie is superb and a must see for everyone. The complexities in it do require your full attention, so make sure you hit the bathroom before you go to this and don’t drink a lot – even a short break might cause you to loose anchor and continuity.

“The Man From Earth” — Highly thought provoking and a must see – this is the last work of the great Jerome Bixby. ( remember the Twilight Zone episode about the kid who thought people out into the cornfield?)

“Mad Men” — I Highly recommend this series seasons 1-3, a larger than life look at the Ad men empires of the sixties and the turmoils of those times. You will love and pity many of the characters as they hit both tragic and comedic highs and lows. This is the sixties as Shakespeare might have done them.

The Legend of the Seeker” — Seasons 1&2 — a relatively well done adult fantasy series based on the “Wizard’s First Rule” series. S&M, Women in bustiers and tight red leather outfits, what’s not to like?

“Heroes” – Season 1-4 — well scripted in some places, trite and tired in others, this is a bit of an uneven series. There’s a lot of soap opera talent that seems involved in this production so it certainly has its ups and downs, hooks and put offs, but overall there are enough really good threads and story lines running to keep you watching the whole series. I do recommend it but not as highly as other things; (e.g. it’s a cut above “Stargate SG-1 Season 9” but nowhere near as good as any season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”)

“Criminal Minds” – If you liked “Silence of the Lambs” or you are a fan of Jeffrey Deaver novels, then this is the police procedural drama for you. The series follows an FBI profiler unit as they tackle serial killers, stalkers, and others week by week.

San Diego: Comic Con 2010

For everyone like me who can’t make it to comic con in San Diego this year, you can still live vicariously and see the Leeloo and Princess Leia slave outfits in SyFy’s photostream:

………….. sorry I had to delete this photostream as the continual updates were starting to cause issues.

When the Reporter Becomes the Story

Breitbart bashing in the wake of the true story of Shirley Sherrod plowing across the media landscape is all the rage, so far be it from me to forgo such a healthy community event. Like Dan Rather we see a purported journalist not just twisting or exaggerating truth to show an angle of a story but creating it whole cloth from some perversely reversed worldview.

“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him” – Cardinal Richelieu

Breitbart turned Shirley’s story of how she overcame her own initial xenophobe reactions to help a white farmer save his farm into its exact fun house mirror/ horror show opposite – he made it into an example of reverse Racism.

He did that to feed the Tu Quoque need of some whites to play their own victim card and say “See, we are victims of racism too!” This is a favored tactic at white supremacist sites from Stormfront to VDARE and it’s used often by the populist pus head pundits who host those sites. Andrew has always had a “but they do it too!” childlike approach to political discourse, but mainstreaming the white victimhood of the white nationalist sites is really a new low for him.

By vigorously pushing this BIG lie to attack a black woman Andrew Breitbart has amply demonstrated that everything the NAACP said in their resolution about the tea party and the far right was right on the money. There are extreme racist elements in the movement and their first handle on any issue is always going to be blood, religion, or skin color.

The story here isn’t Shirley anymore, rather it’s how a reporter became so narrow in vision and purpose that they forgot the truth. It’s a story of selling one’s soul to the devil in a Faustian political bargain, it’s a story of madness and how someone who was once a rising star went mad. It’s also the story of everyone associated and contributing to Andrew’s “BIG” sites, and how they won’t be able to get that shithouse loon smell off themselves as long as they are there.

As this Breitbart race to the bottom unfolds it will bear watching – after losing cred journalists and websites almost always end up in crazytown, and there’s only limited real estate there. It’s all very well staked out – so you can’t really poach Alex Jone’s turf, or Whirled Nuts Dailey’s dominion very long before you just become them – just like Hotair recently found out from Salem Communications.

Photo Credit: Life

Sarah Steps in it Again

It started this am with a tweet from Sarah Palin that on second thought or handler edit was determined to contain too much religious bigotry, so it got deleted, replaced, and rewritten. Charles over at LGF noticed the comment and screen capped it, and it’s been a rollicking laugh riot ever since Sarah ‘refudiated’ her original tweet…. now she’s whining that Shakespeare made up words too (by golly!) so people shouldn’t be picking on her … the temerity of comparing herself to the immortal bard in turn spawned the wonderful hashtag #shakespalin — check it out.

UPDATE 7/19: Earlier this am I googled “Refudiate” and found it to be the 10th most popular search, and at 10:30 am central “refudiate” was the second most popular search term at google, will Refudiate make it to number 1?

After the Storm

This was taken with the Canon T2i after the storm that rolled through here yesterday, which tore leaves and branches from trees, made Kasey hide under the desk, and caused three power outages. Click the thumbnail to embiggen & note that with most browsers holding “ctrl” and tapping the plus key a few times will take you to full size and detail.

Saturday Administrivia

Today I’m cleaning a few things up on the blog and while I’m at it I want to take a few moments to explain some of this blog’s sidebar evolution over the past two years. I thought it appropriate on the advent of adding the first Liberal / Progressive blog in my sidebar since like 2006 or so.

Right now you won’t find very many political blogs in my sidebar, however I used to carry a full spectrum mix of right/left links there. During election 2006 too many of the left links went crazy and became much less than credible – they got dropped one by one as they displayed a mix of anti-semitism, 9/11 trooferism, or outright willingness to pimp lies and kookspiracy, there were too many fellow travelers with Alex Jones and Lyndon LaRouche and ISM/ANSWER/UFPJ who were given platforms.

That same evolution happened with almost all of the right side political blogs the past two years. As Obama took the lead the standard partisan snark ‘n bark on the right escalated to insanely paranoid hyperbole and kookspiracy – formerly fringe scum groups that were not tolerated in the past were given big hugs. The Ron Paul branch suddenly gained huge influence and those sunsabitches, the John Birch Society, were allowed at CPAC. Whirled Nuts Daily and that crowd became even crazier – something you wouldn’t have thought possible, and the apocalyptic fundamentalist wings of the Christian right took the lead. So one by one the blogs on the right dropped out, some for printing things from the odious VDARE crowd, others for pimping White Supremacist Robert Stacy McCain articles, others just for running consistently with the “Outrage of the Day” tempest in a teapot non-stories that are now ingrained with the paranoid on the right. I was like “Birchers, and Birthers, and Bile … oh my…”

That brings me to today, where I am adding Digby at Hullabaloo to my links. I’m adding Digby because they are an old friend rediscovered. We do have some opposing views, but friendship certainly overcomes that. [ One more note to Digby: I blogged anon for years, so even though I came out a couple weeks back your ID is certainly safe with me, you have my word on that. ]

The Frankenputer Media Server Chronicles II – What’s out there for Content?

Frankenputer Streaming Media Server part II – What’s out there for Content?

In a previous article I explained how I replaced my DVD player/recorder with a PC server to view my home media, stream it anywhere in the house wirelessly, and play / record DVD s with the PC. The other goal was to gain access on my HDTV’s to the wide variety of other streaming sources on the internet that you just don’t get from cable. So far it’s working out great but there are a few minor snags and gaps, which I’ll be covering in a series of posts as I work around them. My goals in doing this are below:

  • To eschew adding proprietary widgets, proprietary software, or special gadgets to view streaming TV
  • To use my media and to tie it all together. Open is the operative word.
  • To gain access to the richest spectrum of content without paying additional
  • To identify and explore the gaps in delivery of digital internet streaming content

Some of you are using your game consoles and/or other devices such as auxiliary boxes that connect to your television and the internet to stream, but those are somewhat limited. More on that in later articles on the technical setup and feature gaps and improvements needed, and I’ll also explain some of the benefits and drawbacks of streaming your own media through wireless.

The first gap is content delivery: the content available for streaming on the internet isn’t quite as rich in video quality or in diversity as that found in the average cable contract without a bit of work or adaptation. In a few short years pretty much everything will be streamed, and physical media sold over the counter will go the way of the dodo within two decades, but we really aren’t there quite yet.

Even though there are gaps in what is fully available, there are also things available on the internet that you just can’t get through cable. Indy content is working really hard to replace Big Content, and Big Content is in a variety of defensive modes from circling the wagons to exploring new paths in reaction to the large scale changes to come – the form they will take is uncertain but there are certainly going to be new media behemoths and applications coming.

Those video quality gaps exist in cable as well however. Cable is not full 1080p all shows all of the time and neither are the locations on the internet that stream. Cable sometimes stutters or “Pixelates”, so do the media streaming sites. All of that said, it’s not quite a full replacement for your cable DVR yet so let’s review the options for someone who has zero cable and a streaming internet media server. There’s also the ongoing war over Net Neutrality which is what most of the holdup in internet streaming is about. [ More on the full ramifications and foundational shakeup that this legal war between cable companies and FCC could represent at this Berkman panel discussion, which, since it’s at you tube I can stream to my TV upstairs, just as I could be editing this post upstairs on my big screen if I wished to. ]

The first thing you will encounter is lack of full HD at some internet streaming channels – except where you use a DVD; more on that in some of the capsule reviews below.

So what is out there now?

Non Premium Internet Media Outlets

Since the “Dinosaur” broadcast networks are operating on a model that makes advertising their main revenue stream, they are uniquely positioned to undergo a quantum leap in evolution and become the free flying “Avians” of internet streaming. If they can dig out of the tarpit of non compete clauses etc with their local affiliates things could get real interesting if all of the major players build or rent their own content delivery networks with streaming engines in all medium to major cities. Here’s a hint: it costs less to build out a content streaming network than to either build or maintain a Broadcast network. There’s even room for new Ted Turners in this space: if some local stations band together in a region they could leapfrog and also become major players, and even eventually cut ties with the majors.

CBS streams their prime time and some classic shows, their functionality is built right into Microsoft Media Center, and there’s even a section for them in the guide. At CBS you can watch classics like the complete 7 seasons of McGuyver, or you can watch all broadcast content such as Survivor and CSI as they run for free on demand. CBS also streams in “HQ / HD” for most shows, which really means “480P and 720P.”

Hulu has quite a lot of content that grows daily and they are the site of choice for the broadcast and cable networks other than CBS – much of the content from Fox, NBC, ABC, etc. is found there along with select content from subsidiary networks and affiliates. Hulu is where the timid broadcasters go to get their feet wet in internet media streaming by sharing costs.

They haven’t yet realized that streaming Content Delivery Network infrastructure across the country is a heck of a lot cheaper in terms of real money than buying and maintaining their old broadcast infrastructure was/is. They also haven’t weeded through all of the non compete clauses etc. in contracts with local affiliates, so I expect them to act slow when they really should leapfrog to their own network by network infrastructure. At some point the light bulb will go on and people will realize that other than creating local news feeds, being a place to buy local ads,  etc. that there’s little other real value add from those local affiliates.

The “to stream or not to stream” question is one that’s easily answered… antique content or even newer content sitting in an archive is collecting dust, content streaming to even 0.01 percent of the populace is collecting some ad revenue. Something for antique content is still better than nothing for antique content. Trying to do this on the cheap via the joint venture of Hulu is a mistake to my mind. Trying to make Hulu “premium” is also a mistake, you can’t compete with the others unless you are ready to get into bidding wars for “exclusive” content with the HBO, Showtime, Netflix, and Blockbuster crowd.

Bottom line: ABC, NBC, and the others need to lose the “B” for broadcasting in their acronym and replace it with an “N” for netcasting if they know what’s good for them.

Hulu site | Wikipedia on Hulu.

Independent Media: These guys are the ones to watch, and this is where the experiments and innovators in new television are coming from. Among them you will find media distributors like Vimeo, Youtube, Bloggingheads, Motionbox, and even Old print magazine sites trying to claw back to relevance in this century, etc. There are channels, and original content at all of the above, but it’s going to take a while for them to reach maturity. In the meantime you still need to surf them on occasion just to stay in touch with the current buzz and memes.

The Premium Streamers

Netflix has quite a rich offering of movies, shows, and DVDs. The newer content streams for the most part, but some movies are “DVD only,” while most of the really old content is available as mailed DVDs.  Watching “The Legend of the Seeker” season 1&2, which just wrapped its finale May 21st was easy through streaming to Microsoft Media center, but watching Stargate Atlantis season 1 & 2 takes a series of mailed DVD’s. The turn around on the mailed DVD’s is prompt as long as you are good about mailing them back. Of the premium streamer/DVD outlets, this is my choice because they seem to be the best value as long as you keep your flow of DVD’s flowing along with the instant streaming items. Either alone is not enough, both together are great. Netflix has a tiered (1,2, or 3 DVD at a time plans)

Wikipedia on Netflix

Blockbuster is the competition, their advantage over Netflix is that if you just have to have a movie now that’s not available by streaming, then you can drive down to the nearest Blockbuster. Like Netflix they have a tiered set up and price plan, which I won’t quote since some of these are in flux due to WII deals market competition at present.

Wikipedia on Blockbuster

The Other Premium Option: Redbox

Redbox keeps DVD kiosks stocked at many grocery stores and fast food chains, and you can pick up a selection of the latest releases for $2.00 per day rental – by leveraging their McDonald’s connection Redbox actually surpasses Blockbuster in locations. That said, this would be my last resort – used only if I had a must see movie right away, which isn’t going to be often. At two bucks minimum per rental, you could easily over run your media budget, and I much prefer the flat rate commodity pricing of Netflix and Blockbuster over that of Redbox.

Educational Media

UC, Yale, MIT, PBS, TED, all provide online educational programming, most also have Youtube channels, but the real points of interest are the online open course ware offerings.  You can audit courses all the way up to master’s for free and you can’t beat that with a stick.

What’s interesting is that private schools stream tons and tons of actually valuable video on the web for free while Public Broadcasting System puts little up on their site, typically snippets and teasers vs their whole series archives complete online.

This follows the course of the current private broadcast companies and premium channel cousins, who don’t stream much from their sites, mostly from HULU. The point to make here once again is that unwatched, archived content that collects dust doesn’t collect revenue, everything online and running some ads collects some revenue. The question to ask is will the private Universities streaming open course ware eventually put in ads to support the infrastructure?

Finally: The internet is for Pr0N!

Or so the saying goes — it’s not a secret that Porn sites receive the most traffic on the internet. Since I am using a computer the ability to use a brower with flash and other video codecs is built in, and that means that Porn sites also work from this setup on the HD tv. Another big plus over the hardwired “use our widget” environments you find built into special set connecting boxes and TV channels.

Summary:

A computer hooked to your TV will not give you full premium channel cable package equivalence, however it will give you a lot of freedom to go beyond that pre-packaged big content box with methods to gain 80-90 percent of the content you get from the packages and tiers at your cable co. I would recommend it to everyone, and have trimmed all my premium channels from my cable package at this point. Sometime in the near future I could see even basic cable becoming unplugged.

Update 7/19 – Blockbuster Delisted on stock exchange.

The Gross Details

I’m posting this ugly picture in the hope of saving some lives – without a cardio scan and some good referrals from docs who were both smart and caring, I wouldn’t have had this operation and sometime over the next couple of years I probably would have died of a massive heart failure. If you have a few of the known the risk factors for heart disease,  (smoking, obesity, family history, male, Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.) then you really should go get a scan. In KC there’s a firesale on them the rest of the year, they are only $50.00 and your life is certainly worth more than that.

Now on to the kudos, great thanks go to Dr’s Bernhardt, Thompson, Pierson, Hannah, Forman, and Nunes for literally saving my life. Thanks also to the wonderful staff at OPRMC for all of the great care.

This also lets you know what I’ve been up to the past two weeks, don’t let that period of time scare ya, these usually get you out of the hospital in under 7 days, I just had some complications.

The other thing most worthy of noting here: no prayer, no homepathic remedy, no natural woo food would have saved me here – the arteries to the bottom back of my heart were 90 percent blocked – it’s Science and real medicine that I owe my life to.

No exercise regimen, no psychic healer, nor any pyramid power could have corrected my electrical path discontinuities — instead I owe my life to Science and modern medical technology in the form of a pacemaker.