London designer Dominic Wilcox created this stylus that straps over his nose for using his touch-screen phone in the bath
Mac Tonnies would have gotten a kick out of this techno-proboscis. At any rate, 'tis really a sign of the times, that is.
Ricky Garduno, a very creative artist who is part of the Dumm Comics collective, managed to brilliantly capture my own sentiment on this issue in today's strip.
(click for larger image)
If you're fans of dark corrosive humor, then you should definitely check the rest of his work —but preferably not during work hours ;)
A first look at the sets, props and costumes that will appear on the film. My geeky spirits soared when I spotted Sir Ian McKellen sitting at Bag End :)
If you're still craving for more —and who isn't??— you might also want to check this article at The Daily Mail. Of particular interest is the mention that The Hobbit will shoot at 48 frames per second; a groundbreaking departure from the traditional 24fps with which all films have been shot during the last century or so, and that will add the bonus of allowing viewers to watch a 3D film for more than 2 hours —without strain to their eyes.
Last week Mexican president Felipe Calderón made a trip to the US, to have his 5th reunion with president Barack Obama. This meeting could be considered an astounding failure, for Calderón went to the White House with one specific purpose: to receive the head of US ambassador Carlos Pascual on a silver platter.
Relationships between the diplomat and the president have turn incredibly sour ever since the Cablegate scandal unleashed by Wikileaks broke last year, when it was found Pascual had written several memos expressing his lack of confidence in the way the Mexican government has conducted the War on Drugs, initiated by Calderón since the beginning of his term in 2006. Specifically, Pascual mentioned to his superiors in Washington how the Mexican Army had shown certain amount of reluctance to action when provided with special US intel on the whereabouts of the druglord Arturo Bertrán Leyva; on account of this, the embassy decided to deliver the intel to the Mexican Navy, which promptly prepared an operation that ultimately ended in the execution of Beltrán Leyva in 2009.
Thus, Pascual revealed the constant infighting and lack of coordination that have plagued the government's effort to fight the cartels, coupled with the perennial corruption that permeates every aspect of the Mexican judicial system. This did not seat well with Calderón, who has maintained a PR campaign to ensure the citizens and foreign investors that things are under cotrol, and that the government has the upper hand in this war.
Unfortunately for the Latin American leader, the White House had no intention to grant him his wish, for it would establish and unfavorable precedent in US diplomatic relations: Pascual would have become the most prominent diplomat to have lost his career over the Wikileaks scandal, and you just can't have foreign dignitaries to start requesting the replacement of ambassadors because they are doing their jobs --i.e. spying on their hosts-- can you?
It is nevertheless most unfortunate that Calderón's staff didn't inform him about a little report conducted by CBS News on the very day he met Obama. The news was about a Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent named John Dodson, who claimed that he received orders from his superiors to allow the trafficking of weapons across the US-Mexico border.
Agent Dodson and other sources say the gun walking strategy was approved all the way up to the Justice Department. The idea was to see where the guns ended up, build a big case and take down a cartel. And it was all kept secret from Mexico. ATF named the case "Fast and Furious."
So the Justice Department was conducting a little experiment here, allowing the traffic of around 2000 weapons —and without bothering to inform the Mexican authorities, their so-called "allies". Weapons they knew would be used to commit violent crimes against Mexican civilians. Innocent people would die due to those guns.
And they went ahead with it.
Documents show the inevitable result: The guns that ATF let go began showing up at crime scenes in Mexico. And as ATF stood by watching thousands of weapons hit the streets... the Fast and Furious group supervisor noted the escalating Mexican violence. One e-mail noted, "958 killed in March 2010 ... most violent month since 2005." The same e-mail notes: "Our subjects purchased 359 firearms during March alone," including "numerous Barrett .50 caliber rifles."
Just what kind of heartless personality do you need to have in order to conceive such a Machiavellian scheme?
Senior agents including Dodson told CBS News they confronted their supervisors over and over. Their answer, according to Dodson, was, "If you're going to make an omelette, you've got to break some eggs."
If you're going to make an omelette, you've got to break some eggs...
Because that's ALL those innocent deaths amount to these bastards: eggs to be broken, pawns to be sacrificed in their shitty geopolitical board. Lives to be toyed with.
Another reason for Calderón's visit that I failed to mention, was the recent assassination of Jaime Zapata, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agent, who along with his partner was ambushed by Los Zetas near San Luis Potosí on Feb 15 (the other agent survived).
Subsequent investigations into the death of this US agent later managed to track the murdering weapon: it had been sold in Dallas, Texas.
A more cynic person would judge Zapata's death as poetic justice. But I don't see it that way; to me his death is a tragedy, like all the other deaths that have occurred in the past years in Mexico.
They are even more tragic, because they could have been prevented. Yet they are permitted by detached government officials on both sides of the border, who seem to forget that the numbers in their briefing documents and estimation reports are more than numbers: they are human lives.
I for one, I'm eager for a change in the menu.
Now this is an interesting change in developments: Australia has decided to ban the upcoming ultra-violent video game Mortal Kombat —of 'FINISH HIM!' fame— because at the moment their classification system doesn't go beyond 18+. But on the the hand, the risqué Wii game We Dare will find no objections in getting to the retail stores:
[Via Brisbane Times]: The decision to ban Mortal Kombat while giving the risqué We Dare a PG rating has revealed some interesting details about the federal government's morality on censorship. Judging by the decisions, it appears that games promoting spanking, stripping and sexual partner swapping are acceptable for children while hardcore simulated on-screen violence is strictly off-limits.
As a seasoned gamer myself, I kind of applaud Australia's decision —not the banning part mind you, censorship is always stupid— of acknowledging the hypocrisy of the modern society, which finds human anatomy and sexuality far more objectionable than filling young kids with images of gore and violence —a fact I have to deal with constantly every time I find my 8-year-old nephew sneakingly playing Assassins Creed II on my 360 console, and whenever he and his 6-year-old sister candidly admit that their parents have already let them watch movies like Gladiator *face-palm*
[Via Educating Humanity]
Let the record show that I'm not endorsing the following video as either authentic or a hoax; just that I find it very interesting, and if fake then it would require a fairly advanced expertise in CGI graphics:
Certainly there are some red flags with the clip --the usual "shaking camera" and stepping out of the car just ready to film the object in the sky-- but nevertheless the effect of showing the UFO hiding behind the cloud formation would not be an easy one.
BTW I don't speak Portuguese, but if you speak Spanish you can kind of discern some phrases, and these guys were saying A LOT of cuss words ;)
H/T to Badeye.
[UPDATE 02/03/11] Over at Phantoms and Monsters there's an analysis of this video, and a very fleeting flaw in one frame between second 38 & 39 (took myself at least 5 attempts to spot it) seems to indicate that this clip is in fact a hoax.
Oh well... at least it sparked a very interesting thread of comments ;)
[Warning: The reader may find this post as bunch of loony ramblings. Yet I want to share some of the ideas I'm having, that have been triggered by the incredible events that have unfolded today.]
As I wrote on my previous post, I find it incredibly interesting the fact that this momentous occasion in the history of Egypt happened on a palindromic date: 1102-2011.
Palindromes are cool. They're like the numerical version of looking through a mirror (more on that later).
I'm not a big follower of Numerology, but fooling around you can easily find that these integers are somewhat related to the number 8.
Ok, so what about the 8?
And an Octahedron is basically 2 square pyramids joined at the base —which you can also get by putting a pyramid next to a reflecting surface... like a body of water.
See where I'm getting at here?
This kind of "divine octahedron" could only be formed when the Nile —the life sustenance of this nation—is at its highest. The cycles marked by the river's floods have directed the course of Egyptian civilization throughout millenia.
So what does it all mean? Don't ask me, man! ;)
All part of this weird Fortean meta-narrative, I guess...
Oh, guys --how could you?
And you, Captain Slow? I'm always rooting for you, mate!
Top Gear, one of BBC's most popular shows, and the #1 TV program devoted to automobiles, has accomplished another incredible feat: it has made enemies with an entire nation.
On last week's broadcast of the show, the Top Gear guys were supposed to review the new Mastretta, a car designed and produced by industrial designer Daniel Mastretta --who incidentally, was one of the teachers back when I studied design at the Universidad Iberoamericana.
And here's what happened:
Well, turns out the Mexican ambassador WAS awake during the show, and he did issue a formal complaint against the BBC demanding a formal apology --although not exactly the way Taiwanese animated news imagined it, I presume:
Now I'm a big fan of Top Gear ever since I found the show on the BBC channel we get on Mexican cable. And I know that Jerry, James and the Hamster are always fond of making stereotyping jokes that can border on the offensive. It's part of the program's charm and the informal and even immature manner in which the guys conduct the show; they wouldn't be so successful if they decided to act serious. They are fun because they are outrageous.
But when James May writes the following message on his Twitter account, you know there's something else going on:
Can't believe all these mexicans tweeting. Apart from speedy Gonzales they've given nothing to the world apart from shit food and body odour
Oh, captain my captain...
The news received national attention here, with people who had never heard of Top Gear before complaining and attacking the trio. It was even discussed in the Mexican congress!
In the end the BBC did issue a formal apology to the ambassador, although it used the excuse that it was all part of the typical British humor, and that there was no "vindictiveness" behind what had been said during the show:
"Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes about the Italians being disorganised and over dramatic, the French being arrogant and the Germans being over-organised," the BBC said. It added that stereotype-based comedy was allowed within BBC guidelines in programmes where the audience knew they could expect it, as was the case with Top Gear. "Whilst it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour, the executive producer has made it clear to the ambassador that that was absolutely not the show's intention," the BBC added.
The problem with stereotype-based humor is that it is something of a win-win situation for the comedian. If you complaint about it you are then accused of having an inferiority complex, and that you "can't take the joke".
And you know what's the worst thing about it? that it's right.
Let me tell you something about Mexicans: feeling offended is something of a national pastime for us. We've been here before countless of times: when an Italian singer named Tiziano Ferro said that she didn't like Mexican women because they all had moustaches --later when Tiziano came out of the closet Mexicans considered it poetic justice... go figure.
There was also all the cruel jokes and personal attacks made when the H1N1 flu virus came out, and many advertising companies or countries took the opportunity to make fun of the same classical stereotype mentioned by the Top Gear presenters. Back in those days many people took the opportunity to say that Mexicans *were* swines; we became the new lepers --something I wrote about here in this little blog.
The thing is, that it's no use attacking stereotypes. There will always be ignorant people who think we all dress with sombreros and sarape, and take the siesta under a cactus. Many tourists are amazed when they get out of the Benito Juárez International Airport, and find out the streets are filled with cars --and not burros!
What are we to do? it occurs to me that there's nothing left but to follow the example of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Back in the days when the American armed forces were still segregated, the African American men who formed the Tuskegee air crew had to work harder, and under far worse conditions than those faced by white men, in order to prove they had the required physical and mental qualifications to become combat pilots. It wasn't easy, and it sure as hell wasn't fair; but the Tuskegee men knew from experience that life never is.
In the end though, their sacrifice paid off, and they became one of the most successful combat units during the war, with bombing units actually demanding to be escorted by the Tuskegee Airmen! After them, no one inside the military dared to question the courage, capacity and patriotism of African Americans. I think this is exactly the path we should follow if we want to erode the insulting stereotypes of laziness and complacency.
And as for the Top Gear guys, if I had been in the place of the Mexican ambassador, I would have played it completely different: instead of demanding an apology, I would have invited them to visit Mexico, so they could have the chance to admire the beauty of our nation's landscapes, and the hospitality of our people.
They would have had the chance to see they had it all wrong --particularly about the food! Because let's be honest here: if Mexican food is nothing but "refried sick" then why is it you can find Mexican restaurants pretty much all around the world?
Now, if you're reading this outside the UK, ask yourself this: how many British restaurants are near your home?
...I rest my case ;)