Short Shots

Unfortunately, I haven't had a lot of time today, so here are a series of shorts to tide you over:

T.O.L.1: School accuses 5-year-old of sex harrassment
A five year old, really? This is exactly the kind of ridiculous situations that "zero-tolerance" policies lead to. Which, of course, it just another way of saying "the adults don't have to utilize what little brainpower is available to them".

T.O.L.2: George S. Patton, Jr. 11 Nov. 1885--21 Dec. 1945
Third Wave Dave has an excellent post about General Patton, 61 years after his death. Good reading.

T.O.L.3: WVW student to keep Mohawk
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a story about knowing when to leave well enough alone... particularly when you have an outstanding warrant for your arrest.


The Darnedest Protest Sign

The obligatory link

It's a story about people protesting the Hamas/Fatah violence that recently killed three young boys. Nothing really strange about that, since such things are, sadly, happening in that part of the world on a regular basis. The picture, however, is worth having another look at.

On the protest sign, which reads something to the effect of "Stop the killing of children", is a very out-of-place image of one Suzumiya Haruhi. (Link goes to GIS.) Rather odd to see her show up on a protest sign in Gaza, to say the least. Photoshop is, of course, a possibility, but in addition to this AFP story, a friend of mine found it in a French-language newspaper as well. (Unfortunately, no link.)


An Equal-Opportunity Quotation

"Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity." -- Irving Kristol

Reviewing Reviewers

It's pretty safe to say that most people know better than to trust professional reviewers of just about anything these days. That said, though, it still might be somewhat useful to understand why that mistrust in them abounds.

"I like what I like." It's a simple enough statement, but it covers the entirety of why a professional reviewer's opinion fails compared to that of a friend. With a friend, you have a general understanding of their likes and dislikes, whether or not you happen to share them. Say, for instance, that a friend of yours absolutely hates horror movies, and you've loved to death every horror movie that he's hated. If somehow, he gets dragged along by another friend to see the latest, and tells you that it absolutely scared him out of his wits, that's probably a good indication you'd better get out to see that show.

The professional, meanwhile, is tied up in trying to be a professional. There need to be reasons that a professional does things, whereas an amateur can usually get by doing them by feel. (A professional, after all, has to justify why he should be paid, particularly when it comes to something like watching movies for a living.) So, our pro here has to keep their eyes out for the direction, and action, and the various story elements, and try to make a rational decision and commentary based on those things.

Where's the disconnect? After all, a well-directed, well-acted, well-storied movie ought to be a hit, right? Well, here's the problem in a nutshell. People, by and large, aren't going to the movies (or watch television, for that matter) for the art. They're doing it to be entertained... which, naturally, is an entirely different level from watching something for artistic value. Take Independence Day, for example. The professionals couldn't pan the thing fast enough. A pulp movie if there ever was one, aliens and rayguns and the potential destruction of earth averted by a cable TV guy. And yet, the viewing public couldn't get enough of it. Not because it was a great movie, but because it was an enjoyable movie.

It runs the other way, too, with all the press and pre-review for things. Take, for instance, all the pre-canned buzz that Studio 60, or whatever it's called, got from NBC before the season started. And yet, what took off in the eyes of viewers wasn't that, but the relatively unreviewed and unhyped (pre-season, remember) Heroes (which, unsurprisingly, is one of the two or three TV shows in English that I'll actually watch).

So, who are you going to trust when you're trying to make your media consumption choices? Seems like a fairly obvious choice.

Lose One, Gain Fifty-two

The obligatory link: Jungle Secrets

Given all the outcry in the media over the baiji freshwater dolphin apparently becoming extinct in China, this was something of an interesting counterpoint. There's far more out there than we're aware of, even with as long as we've been kickin' around on the planet.

Now There's Competition

The obligatory link: Medal Revoked After Runner Fails Gender Test

This can really split down two separate lines, one serious, one much less so. For the first, I'm no genetics expert, so I'll leave the amount of Y chromosome in the supposed woman's genetic make-up to someone who is (or, at least, to someone with enough time to do all the necessary research!).

My initial thought, though, after reading nothing but the headline, was this: A man went to all the trouble of getting into the women's section of the 800m race, and still didn't manage to win? Now, I'll grant you, I certainly couldn't, but at the same time, I'm not training daily for olympic-level running, either. The line of thought goes something like this: "He couldn't compete with the men, so he went to all this trouble to compete with the women instead... and still failed to come out ahead." Read that way, it certainly would've made for a more interesting human interest story.


Japanese of the Week

In keeping with the theme of wiping things out, choosing this week's word was easy:

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全滅 (ぜんめつ) (zenmetsu) n. - Annihilation.

I Have Come To A Decision

Recently, I got a virus. No, not physically, a computer virus. Thankfully, it was relatively benign, as computer bugs go, but getting rid of it was about as easy as getting rid of cockroaches. The bleedin' things'll survive just about anything. However, there's one thing I realized (or, should I say, remembered?) after running far too many spyware killers and anti-virus programs: On a computer, no simple software bug survives a low-level format c:. Hiding in some "good" file, or as an execute line in the registry? Tough to hide when such things get wiped out. Needless to say, it didn't take me long to execute the nuclear option on my hard disk drive.

So, that said, here's the decision: Since I can't guarantee that anti-virus software will be effective in the elimination of threats, nuking the HDD will become a semi-common thing. Further, in the interest of getting back up to speed quickly with such things as additional programs (Firefox, and other like things), install files for them will be kept on a known-clean external HDD (or possibly a flash drive) and used for installation after the wipes.

There you have it - a no-frills approach to computer security. AV software to find the bugs, format c: to sweep 'em away. Not exactly something I would suggest to the average user, but when it comes to the computer, I suppose it's safe to call me an extremist.

Jefferson On Taxes

"Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather
than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass through
so many new hands." -- Thomas Jefferson

For those who might wonder where these come from, you can get 'em yourself five times a week by subscribing to the Patriot Post's Founder's Quote Daily.