The Selfie: The Next Frontier in the Darwin Awards?

 

 

AS this photo from Reuters aptly suggests, a strange intersection between ballsy selfies and the Darwin awards has emerged, and it is likely growing large. Will the next Darwin awards winner earn his or her prize in the act of taking a selfie?

 

The rise of selfie photography in some of the world’s most beautiful, and dangerous, places is sparking a range of interventions aimed at combating risk-taking that has resulted in a string of

Source: Selfie madness: too many dying to get the picture | Reuters

Goodbye Apple, Hello Asus

I just completed installation of my new Asus RT-AC56U AC1200 router. After failing to get my old Airport Express to work consistently with all my devices after what feels like 100 configuration cycles, I now finally have spectacular network speeds all over the house. Transferring all my existing network devices to the new router was a cinch, and setting up the router was even easier. Everything works perfectly out of the box!

The current generation Airport Express is a fabulous device, but it fails miserably as soon as it encounters the demands that three remote Airplay speakers put on it.

The best part about this Asus router is that by plugging in a 3G/4G USB cellular hotspot, like this one from Verizon or this one from AT&T, the home network can get routed through the cellular network, should Charter decide to raise their prices again.

I’m digging this router! It’s built for the future. Look at these speeds!

Chaka Khan was Awesome

The organizers of the Ventura Counfy Fair deserve a lot of credit for putting together an excellent concert lineup that offered something for everybody. Chaka Khan and the band that backed her up will likely be the best and most tightly coordinated group of musicians to go through Ventura this year. It was nice to be at this performance. 

Chaka Khan at Ventura County Fairgrounds, Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Teachers learn to shoot after Peshawar school attack | Video | Reuters.com

Teachers learn to shoot after Peshawar school attack | Video | Reuters.com

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, the official stance of the National Rifle Association, as stated by its leader, Wayne Lapierre, was

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Implied in the NRA claim is the notion that the United States is a nation as lawless and hopeless as Pakistan; so much so that teachers are being trained with firearms in order to prevent further massacres. The NRA implies that the US government is so inept and so corrupt that it is incumbent upon schools and private citizens to protect children from madmen. The NRA argument is that the United States is a third world country, like Pakistan, where lawlessness rules.

Given that the above video is the embodiment of what the NRA is advocating, it is unequivocal that the NRA is the hopelessly outdated organization that is impeding progress in the United States.

Steal Better Movies, Please

Sony movies leak online as computer systems remain dark | LA Times

Sony’s demise is lamentable. The company is truly legendary in bringing cutting edge technology to the marketplace, especially with respect to entertainment. The company has defined the state of the art in consumer electronics for decades. They have lost their way with consumers, however, by attaching draconian rules to recordings made with their technology, and by leveraging their music and movie production businesses to impede digital media distribution.

The latter act may well have been what motivated hackers to exact revenge on Sony by stealing and distributing its movies, as noted in the LA Times article above.

The greatest disappointment to me is the fact that none of the titles are worthy of watching, in my mind. Fury might be, but the trouble of stealing it via file sharing networks seems hardly worth the trouble.

It’s difficult to condone such a bold act of theft on the part of the hackers–an act that has shut down all of Sony’s computer networks–but, it’s just as difficult to feel sympathy for a company that leverages its market power against the consumers who generate its profits. Conflicts of interest of Sony’s variety–tying entertainment production and distribution to technology–eventually lead to disaster. How could so many executives have been blind to it?

As the Google graph for Sony’s stock price amply demonstrates, it has been long, agonizing demise for Sony. Apple and Samsung have run away with Sony’s lunch while Sony squandered billions creating restrictive technologies to protect intellectual property that nobody cared to buy.

Breach at JP Morgan Chase

Chase posted the following warning to their mobile app this morning. No unusual activity in my account yet, and hopefully their ongoing investigation won’t reveal that my account was compromised.

This is not the compromising position in which I ever wanted to find myself.

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Strange Brew in Weed

Jalapeño Weed Lager. The beer that bites.
Jalapeño Weed Lager. The beer that bites.

Many would call this combination of flavors heresy, but I confess that I am enjoying this Jalapeño Weed Lager. Now if only the food would arrive faster.

No Freedom in Industry, or from Industry

Freedom Industries: other chemical is ‘proprietary’ | MSNBC

The reasons why this company calls itself “Freedom Industries” become less apparent by the moment. They enslave entire populations by polluting their water supplies, they don’t believe in freedom of information, and they don’t give any of their product away for free.

If the management of this company were following any logical argument, then it might declare that the disaster is “proprietary”: theirs, and theirs alone, just like the identity of this chemical. To the contrary, Freedom industries seems happy to claim ownership of everything except their responsibility in this mess. It is only in this sense that the name of the company makes sense. They are free from any responsibility for what they do.

To Which Crime Will Rob Ford Confess Next?

Rob Ford, embattled Toronto mayor, admits he has bought illegal drugs | CBS News

“What is this man thinking? What was this man thinking?” Those are the questions that every human being on earth asks after each Rob Ford revelation. How could an avowed conservative and ostensibly scrupulous man commit the lowest of crimes and then confess to them? Worse yet for the man–but absolutely wonderful for the entertainment starved world–each crime confessed is more outrageous than the last: getting drunk too often, smoking crack cocaine, buying crack cocaine! To what will he confess to next? Here is a list submitted for consideration, in no apparent order.

  • Shooting heroin.
  • Speed balling every time one of his initiatives pass the city council.
  • Running over a hobo before every Canadian Thanksgiving.
  • Acting as a mule for free joint.

Somewhere in the United States, former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry is assuredly sitting, aghast, mouth open, and utterly incensed that a pasty Canadian honky is flourishing under the spotlight for the same acts for which Barry was jailed.

Marion Barry ultimately reclaimed his elected position, and Rob Ford’s appeal seems not to be waning. Yet, this feels decidedly different from the apparent maturity we ascribe to the French populace when they wisely ignore their politicians’ dalliances.

Marion Barry was indignant even after he was re-elected. Ford is repentant to the extent that he seems to be preparing to offer “I was on crack” as an excuse for any poor decisions he may make or may have made as mayor. He and Barry are the only two politicians in all of history who could use that excuse. This is rarefied company, indeed.

I extended my warmest thanks to the citizens of Toronto for having provided the distraction that I desperately needed, as did countless overworked Americans.

Seminal Act of Civil Disobedience

Artist nails his scrotum to the ground in Red Square | World news | theguardian.com

Picture of the act from The Guardian.

Pyotr Pavlensky, the artist in the photo, has a substantial history of employing self mutilation in performance pieces that protest the increasingly repressive nature of the Russian regime, according to The Guardian article above. About the man’s possession of boundless will power and tolerance for pain, no doubts can be harbored. One only hopes that this act is more successful than his previous protests. This writer certainly wishes that this extraordinary act of self mutilation inspires the tsunami of rebellion that the artist desires to incite against a political system that has indeed become a shadow of the Soviet autocracy against which so many people like the artist gave their lives.

The most unfortunate question thus arises. Is a mere scrotum enough of a sacrifice? Should he have gone as far as being incarcerated without due process like Pussy Riot, a cause for which he mutilated himself to no apparently productive ends? Should he have immolated himself like the many Tibetans who do so annually in a final, desperate expression of defiance and self determination against an omnipotent, malevolent government? Must roads to freedom and self determination be paved with entire corpses, not just limbs and valuable appendages like the scrotum?

The political artist’s expression will forever be deconstructed. The desire for attention will forever confound any legitimate expression he or she may have made. It will be a shame if Mr. Pavlensky’s remarkable act of defiance is dismissed as a shameless act of self promotion. It rings sincere, in this writer’s mind, in its desperate expression of a desire for rights and dignity for every citizen in Russia.

Should its impact and distribution be limited to the pages of odd news sections and blogs like this, then the inescapable conclusion is that it is more effective to stick one’s neck out than it is to go balls out in the quest for freedom. Given how extraordinary it is to see a man go balls out like Pyotr, it is hard to imagine that anyone will stick their necks out. This may be the ultimate sign of resignation in the western world and the ultimate assertion of the current price of progress.

It is, perhaps, time to contemplate Syria, Chechnya, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia and myriad other countries where necks are slashed in plain sight of western citizens far too apathetic to vote to protect their own interests. Political and military power are tools we developed to stroke our own balls, it seems, rather then to save necks.

Pyotr, may your balls be safe and your scrotum whole again someday.