Archive for January, 2010
The new Roman Polanski movie is a thriller based on The Ghost by Robert Harris. The book is entertaining fiction about Adam Lang’s (Tony Blair’s) involvement in the Iraq war and Polanski’s adaptation could be fun to watch. However, Polanski was at first set to film Harris’s Pompeii, which is a much better novel, but unfortunately that project was cancelled. I was much more looking forward to that one. Read Pompeii and the Imperium/Lustrum series by Harris!
Let’s see, so the digital revolution led us all to this: a gigantic, commercial, high school reunion/mall filthy with insipid tabloid trivia, populated by perpetually distracted, texting, tweeting demi-humans. Yes, the information age truly is every bit as glorious and special as everyone predicted it would be!
Dutch sailor Henk De Velde has sold all his belongings but a big sailboat in 2007, and is now sailing around the world on a never ending voyage. He lived among a local tribe in Micronesia in 2009 and is now back on the ocean. Check out his blog: http://www.humanedgetech.com/expedition/hdv/ (Dutch/English)
I’m not a big fan of Shia Laboeuf, but I really want to see Michael Douglas reprise his role as Gekko.
EDIT: The title sucks, why not just call it Money Never Sleeps? The script has already leaked: http://rapidshare.com/files/236202345/Money_Never_Sleeps_Loeb_Allan.pdf
The movie poster:
@ajboekestijn Bush en Blair vielen Irak onder valse voorwendselen binnen: alleen jij denkt nog dat er massavernietigingswapens waren
Magic Through Music:
From the NYT:
Almost seven years after he ordered British troops to join the American-led invasion of Iraq, former Prime Minister Tony Blair mounted an unwavering defense of his actions on Friday, saying he would take the same steps again to counter what he depicted as a threat from Saddam Hussein that had assumed far greater dimensions after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
At times spirited and at times prickly, Mr. Blair was speaking at an official inquiry into Britain’s role in the Iraq conflict, reaching for arguments to shape a legacy in the face of criticism that he had led Britain into an unpopular war and misled the nation about his reasons for doing so.
Asked if he had regrets, Mr. Blair said he bore responsibility “but not a regret for removing Saddam Hussein.” And while he said he was sorry about the profound divisions the war caused in Britain, “I genuinely do believe the world is safer as a result.”
This is really cool. Via Crack Two, a guy exploring the massive underground city complex beneath Beijing that Mao had built in the late 1960s.
In 1969, Chairman Mao commanded the construction of a second Beijing beneath the surface of the original city, designed to accommodate all six million of its then inhabitants so that if nuclear war did kick off, folk would still have somewhere to hang out and play Mah Jong while the rest of us burnt to death in a shower of atomic rain. War never came, but the city is still there.
People nowadays apparently eat, live, sleep, and organize rave parties in the caverns.
Ok… From the New York Times:
President Obama will end NASA’s return mission to the moon and turn to private companies to launch astronauts into space when he unveils his budget request to Congress next week, an administration official said Thursday.
Mr. Obama’s request, which will be announced on Monday, would add $6 billion over five years to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s budget compared with projections last year. With the increase, NASA would receive $100 billion over the 2011 through 2015 fiscal years.
The new money would largely go to commercial companies that would provide transportation to and from the International Space Station. Until now, NASA has designed and operated its own spacecraft, like the space shuttles.
The commercial rockets would displace the Ares I, the rocket that NASA has been developing for the past four years to replace the shuttles, which are scheduled to be retired this year. Companies expected to seek the new space taxi business include United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin that launches rockets for the United States Air Force, and Space Exploration Technologies, a start-up company led by Elon Musk, who founded PayPal.
Apparently Osama Bin Laden is expanding his policy agenda to include the fight against global warming. Via myway:
Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has called for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming, according to a new audiotape released Friday.
In the tape, broadcast in part on Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden warned of the dangers of climate change and says that the way to stop it is to bring “the wheels of the American economy” to a halt.
He blamed Western industrialized nations for hunger, desertification and floods across the globe, and called for “drastic solutions” to global warming, and “not solutions that partially reduce the effect of climate change.”
Most likely an attempt to win some sympathy, as at least in the Arab world nobody listens to him anymore.
Bin Laden has mentioned climate change and global warning in past messages, but the latest tape was his first dedicated to the topic. The speech, which included almost no religious rhetoric, could be an attempt by the terror leader to give his message an appeal beyond Islamic militants.
Het kabinet, specifiek ministers Hirsch Ballin (CDA) en Ter Horst (PvdA), gaat een wetsvoorstel indienen dat het preventief opslaan van nummerbordgegevens van langsrijdende automobilisten everywhere mogelijk maakt. Persbericht van het Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken:
De ministers Hirsch Ballin (Justitie) en Ter Horst willen dat de politie het automatisch registreren van nummerplaten met camera’s breder kan inzetten om verdachten van strafbare feiten op te sporen. Zij zullen daarvoor snel met een wetsvoorstel komen. De ministers reageren daarmee op het oordeel van vandaag van het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens (CBP).
Automatische nummerplaatherkenning met camera’s is al toegestaan om bijvoorbeeld gestolen auto’s op te sporen en vermiste, veroordeelde en gezochte personen. In die gevallen leveren de camera’s direct een hit op.
De gegevens van langsrijdende auto’s, motoren en vrachtwagens die geen hit opleveren, mogen wettelijk nu niet bewaard worden, oordeelt het CBP. Dat willen Hirsch Ballin en Ter Horst veranderen om strafbare feiten op te kunnen sporen die pas later bekend worden.
Het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens (CBP), belast met het beschermen van de privacy van burgers tegen een oprukkende overheid, doet eindelijk eens haar werk en trekt aan de bel. Uit de papieren Volkskrant:
Het kabinet en het College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens staan lijnrecht tegenover elkaar over het gebruik van automatische nummerbordherkenning (anpr). Het kabinet wil het systeem ‘verbreden’, wat volgens het CBP neerkomt op ‘een nationaal volgsysteem’. Het CBP noemt dat ‘erg’ en ‘een schending van de burgerrechten’.
‘Het leidt ertoe dat iedere automobilist als potentiële verdachte wordt beschouwd’, aldus [collegelid CBP] [Jeanette] Beuving. ‘Het is of de overheid een elektronisch sleepnet uitgooit. Grote groepen burgers komen zo in politiebestanden terecht, terwijl ze niets op hun kerfstok hebben. Als alle korpsen dat zouden doen, krijg je een nationaal volgsysteem waarbij alle burgers in politiebestanden zijn opgenomen. Dat zou erg zijn, want dat is in strijd met de burgerrechten.’
[Maar] met zulke argumenten kan de staat ook bij iedere burger thuis een camera ophangen. Beuving: ‘Wat je dan allemaal kunt voorkomen! Toch voelt iedereen dat dat te ver gaat.’
De surveillancestaat, opgetuigd door het CDA, wordt verder uitgebouwd.
Amazing photography blog:
Panoramic photo’s of WWI:
Remote locations in Saharan desert:
Glenn Greenwald, in reaction to Justice Alito’s breach of decorum during Obama’s SOTU speech:
There’s a reason that Supreme Court Justices — along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff — never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It’s vital — both as a matter of perception and reality — that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. The Court’s pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations. The Court’s credibility in this regard has — justifiably — declined substantially over the past decade, beginning with Bush v. Gore (where 5 conservative Justices issued a ruling ensuring the election of a Republican President), followed by countless 5-4 decisions in which conservative Justices rule in a way that promotes GOP political beliefs, while the more “liberal” Justices do to the reverse (Citizens United is but the latest example). Beyond that, the endless, deceitful sloganeering by right-wing lawyers about “judicial restraint” and “activism” – all while the judges they most revere cavalierly violate those “principles” over and over — exacerbates that problem further (the unnecessarily broad scope of Citizens United is the latest example of that, too, and John “balls and strikes” Roberts may be the greatest hypocrite ever to sit on the Supreme Court). All of that is destroying the ability of the judicial branch to be perceived — and to act — as one of the few truly apolitical and objective institutions.
What’s most disturbing here is the increasing trend of right-wing Justices inserting themselves ever more aggressively into overtly political disputes in a way that seriously undermines their claims of apolitical objectivity. Antonin Scalia goes hunting with Dick Cheney, dubiously refuses to recuse himself from a lawsuit challenging the legality of Cheney’s actions, and then rules in Cheney’s favor. Scalia has an increasing tendency to make highly politicized comments about purely political conflicts, most recently defending torture in an interview with 60 Minutes. As part of Clarence Thomas’ promotional efforts to sell his book, he spent substantial time building his conservative icon status with the furthest right-wing media elements — even parading himself around on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program — and turned himself into the food fight of the week between Democrats and Republicans.