Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Which Is Less Manlier: Sex And The City or Gilmore Girls?

Today was an interesting morning. I had the pleasure of getting into a rather absurd argument with one of my editors, Lukas, about the "manliest" of things: two TV shows that are now both defunct. I am referring to Sex and the City and Gilmore Girls. Why in the world would we be arguing about this? Simple. We really have nothing better to do.

Here's how this is going to work, I will present my flawless argument below which will be followed by Lukas' erroneous dribble. Then you guys, the readers and our other editors, can determine who's right and who isn't. I am not being biased on this at all (as you can tell), I just know I'm right. Lukas will try to blind you with smoke and mirrors about how the original version of Sex and the City was about gay dudes, etc, etc, etc. I, on the other hand, will keep it simple. So, without further ado...

Sex and the City

Kristen Davis flashed some form of nudity at least five times, and had five other lingerie moments while on the show. Thanks to MrSkin for the stats! I rest my case.

The Gilmore Girls

Okay so first off...why am I defending Gilmore Girls? I do genuinely think the show has funny moments...but I watch it because my girlfriend likes it. So that's first off...I've mentioned to Fraq ONCE that I couldn't talk because Gilmore was on, and that was during the series finale. I didn't know him while Sex and the City was in its first run on HBO, but I imagine his girl had him by the ballz whenever it came on.

I'm also lucky as hell that my girlfriend didn't like Sex and the City. Thankfully my girlfriend's guilty pleasure isn't some shit that is about spending my money on shopping trips and fruity ass drinks. So other than having to sit through the show, Gilmore Girls had no effect on my life.

I will also look at the pedigree of the two shows. One is produced by the creative people behind The Family Guy and Curb Your Enthusiasm. One is produced by the people who brought you Melrose Place.

But regardless of all logical, by the book arguments I could make about how Gilmore Girls is a better show and therefore more watchable than Sex and the City (and therefore less reprehensible that I, a man and not part of its female demographic, watched the show), the fact still remains that Sex and the City IS A GAYER show.

•It's been said in MANY places that the characters of Sex and the City talk like gay men. That they are written like gay men and then have their lines given to straight women.

I defer to this quote from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald:

For Sex and the City, it seemed the formula was to write gay male and cast straight female. Its (gay) creator, Darren Star (pictured), devised one of the gayest hit series featuring straight characters in television history. The lives of the glamorous central characters - and apologies here to gay readers who dislike the stereotyping as much as anyone - revolve around sex, shopping, gossip and bawdy humour. As City Journal has noted, the show is a Yellow Pages of Manhattan's status fashion objects, including Prada skirts, DKNY jeans and shoes by Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo. "The heroines lust after these pricey and au courant accoutrements of success ... They size up men with a similarly calculating eye for surfaces."

•The show's creatives are a cross men...more gay men...and a few super strange women.

•Just as Fraq conducted an informal poll (which he flaunted to me and then didn't use in his part of the article), so did I. I asked all the gay people I know which show they prefer more, Sex and the City or Gilmore Girls. They all said Sex and the City. My poll, by the way, is far more scientific than Franco's "which show is manlier, bro" poll.

But in the end, I'll submit myself to Google. Look at the following google searches, one for Sex and the City, the other for Gimore Girls .

That's GOOGLE. Not Mr. Skin. I rest my case.

Oh, and that argument that Sex and the City had titties...dude, why don't you just put a porn on then? Or...better yet...look at your girlfriend's boobs? Also, these are 50 year old tits we're talking about, dude.

*Side Note: While I have only seen a few episodes of each show, Lukas is what one might consider to be a "fanboy" of Gilmore Girls. But don't let that sway your judgment.

*Side Note 2: Read my argument. As I said, I watched the show with my liar.

The notorious Frankfurter Illusion

What to do & see

If you have two roughly equivalent eyes you will see a ‘sausage’ floating in front of you in mid air, by following these steps:

1. Hold your hands in front of you, at 20–30 cm distance from you, at eye level.
2. Point your index fingers against each other, leaving about 2 cm distance between them.
3. Now look “through” your fingers, into the distance behind them.
4. The sausage should appear now, and you can change its length by varying the distance between the finger tips.
5. For most observers, the sausage will look blurred, at least initially.
6. If you try to look at the sausage, it will disappear, it is only present if you look at something more distant than your fingers.
7. It helps if the background is rather homogenous and has a color very different from your fingers.


Basically, this ‘sausage’ is caused by two mechanisms, (1) physiological double images and (2) interocular rivalry and suppression.

When you look at your fingers, the gaze direction of your two eyes is angled towards each other, so that their lines of sight meet at the target. When you then look into the distance, your eyes shift slightly outward, making their lines of sight nearly parallel. For close objects the image in the two eyes is consequently no longer at the right position, the images are no longer merged and can appear double for your “inner eye”. This is quite normal and occurs all the time, usually these double images are suppressed. So, if the two images overlap, why then doesn't the compound image look like the neighbouring figure on the right?

At the end of the image of each finger, there is a rivalry between the image from the two eyes when the brain tries to combine them. In one eye the finger ends, in the other it continues. So what does your brain do in such rivalry situations? If the two images are rather similar, the percept can oscillate between the alternatives. Here, however, we have a high contrast step in one eye, namely the end of the finger, where it is replaced by the background. In rivalry the eye with the higher contrast wins, at least locally; this is here meant by the term ‘suppression’. In the figure on the left this high contrast step is symbolised by the yellow halo.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Celebrity Virginity Showdown:Who lost it FIRST?

The “first time” is hardly ever the best time, but it is always a milestone. Often, this information is a closely guarded secret shared between select friends, lovers, and that creepy bartender who won’t leave you alone, but here we talk about celebrities, and we know the slutty lives of the rich and famous are hardly kept a secret.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie Picture
Angelina Jolie tops our list of the getting started the earliest. The exotic sex machine allegedly lost her virginity at the young age of 14. She proceeded to cut her boyfriend with a knife after getting screwed. “Your turn to bleed b*tch.” Okay, maybe she didn’t say that, but it’s fitting.

Kate Moss

Kate Moss water

Kate Moss, the supermodel, allegedly lost it also at the age of 14, on a family holiday vacation in the Bahamas. Her family was sitting back loungin, while Kate was off getting a poundin’.

Jaime Pressly

Jaime Pressly

Jaime Pressly, “The Southern Sizzler”, is another hottie that lost her cherry at 14 to a 16 year old boyfriend in her hometown of Kinston, North Carolina. According to the Kinston official website, “Kinston offers fun for all ages with a variety of recreation and cultural activities,” yet, 14 year olds are still obviously looking for dick.

Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton was 15 and allegedly lost it to Randy Spelling, Tori’s brother, at a hotel in Palm Springs, and she’s been fuckin ever since. Several sex videos, one alleged Valtrex prescription, and now we have the blogosphere’s most famous slut. Any questions?

Sienna Miller

Sienna Miller

Sienna Miller was 16 when she was deflowered by her first serious boyfriend. She was actually encouraged by her mother to do it inside the house if she was going to do it at all. Obviously, sex in the house, is a lot safer than sex in the city.

Marcia Cross

Macia Cross

Marcia Cross of “Desperate Housewives” was also allegedly 18 for her first romp. Dot the”i’s,” cross the”t’s,” add a little desperation, and Marcia was probably on her knees.

Britney Spears

Britney Spears

Britney Spears supposedly lost her treasured virginity to Justin Timberlake at the ripe old age of 18. And now, in a moment of silence, lets wonder why she decided to wife Federline, instead of hitting Justin one more time.

Shanna Moakler

Shanna Moakler

Shanna Moakler, former Miss USA (1995) and actress, was 18 and lost it in her dad’s office. He is a dentist. Suffice to say, teeth weren’t the only things getting drilled in that office.

Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields, once America’s most celebrated virgin, succumbed to the charms of fellow classmate Dean Cain when both were attending Princeton University. She was 20. And now, she is 42, and nobody cares.

Tina Fey

Tina Fey

Tina Fey, the “30 Rock” star, held out until she was 24. The lucky guy was her future husband. How upstanding and respectable, but with her loss, she was no longer a collectible.



Finally, Elvira, aka Cassandra Peterson, had singer Tom Jones as her very first lover. Supposedly, he was so well endowed that she needed stitches after all was said and done! But she says she still enjoyed it. Vampires like blood.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fill your car up with aluminum?

Pellets made out of aluminum and gallium can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them, offering a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines, U.S. scientists say.

Hydrogen is seen as the ultimate in clean fuels, especially for powering cars, because it emits only water when burned. U.S. President George W. Bush has proclaimed hydrogen to be the fuel of the future, but researchers have not decided what is the most efficient way to produce and store hydrogen.

In the experiment conducted at Purdue University in Indiana, "The hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need when you need it," said Jerry Woodall, an engineering professor at Purdue who invented the system.

Woodall said in a statement the hydrogen would not have to be stored or transported, taking care of two stumbling blocks to generating hydrogen.

For now, the Purdue scientists think the system could be used for smaller engines like lawn mowers and chain saws. But they think it would work for cars and trucks as well, either as a replacement for gasoline or as a means of powering hydrogen fuel cells.

"It is one of the more feasible ideas out there," Jay Gore, an engineering professor and interim director of the Energy Center at Purdue's Discovery Park, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. "It's a very simple idea but had not been done before."

On its own, aluminum will not react with water because it forms a protective skin when exposed to oxygen. Adding gallium keeps the film from forming, allowing the aluminum to react with oxygen in the water, releasing hydrogen and aluminum oxide, also known as alumina.

What is left over is aluminum oxide and gallium. In the engine, the byproduct of burning hydrogen is water.

"No toxic fumes are produced," Woodall said.

Based on current energy and raw materials prices, the cost of making the hydrogen fuel is about $3 a gallon, about the same as the average price for a gallon of gas in the United States.

Recycling the aluminum oxide byproduct and developing a lower grade of gallium could bring down costs, making the system more affordable, Woodall said.

How I Failed the Turing Test

Some time around March, I started receiving a number of random instant messages from people I've never met before. Apparantly, my AIM alias had been added to at least two online lists and people all over the world were busy importing me as a buddy.

I say "at least two" because the people who contacted me fell into one of two camps: people who thought they were contacting a celebrity and people who thought they were contacting a robot. As I talked to more and more of these folks, I began to discover something really disturbing about myself:

I consistently fail to be perceived as human.

When this first started happening, a typical conversation with a celebrity admirer would go something like this (participant's IM handle is fabricated):

angelcutie42: hi!
jmstriegel: hey. what's up? do i know you?
angelcutie42: no
angelcutie42: someone gave me a bunch of screen names. i heard you are a celebrity.
jmstriegel: that's weird. i'm afraid i'm not a celeb at all.
angelcutie42: oh.
angelcutie42: bye

This was entertaining at first, but it quickly became a bit depressing as the angelcutie42s of the wired world would, one after the other, decide I wasn't worth talking to if I wasn't a celebrity. Want to know what it's like being dumped by a random groupie 5 times a day? Not good at all, thank you very much.

So that's when I started hamming it up a bit. I'm not really proud of it, but my fans wanted a celebrity.. so I gave them one:

sexybumkin123: hey.. so you're famous right?
jmstriegel: Who me? I'm a movie star.
jmstriegel: Shit, I gotta go.
jmstriegel: My limo just arrived and Paris wants her damned sidekick back.
sexybumkin123: Oh my god. Come back!
sexybumkin123: I love you!!!!

My groupies loved it. The more celebrity balogna I manufactured, the more they ate it, and the more they loved me.

Then, something strange started happening. As my career as an artificial celebrity started to take off, I began to receive some strange IMs from a whole new class of random people. These new admirers were convinced I was a robot... and it suddenly became clear to me that something was very wrong.

Nobody would believe I was human. In one troubling conversation after another, I felt my intellectual teeter-totter quickly tip from from actual to artificial.

fratburger86: hey. so you're a sex bot?
jmstriegel: umm, no. who the hell are you?
fratburger86: yeah you are! i found your im online
jmstriegel: that's fine and all, but i'm pretty sure you have me confused with someone else.
fratburger86: just a normal chat bot then?
jmstriegel: nope. i'm human
fratburger86: ok. sure.
fratburger86: asl?
jmstriegel: no thanks.
fratburger86: what?
jmstriegel: i'm not really interested in any conversation that starts with "asl"
fratburger86: oh come on. say something sexy.
jmstriegel: seriously, i think you want to talk to someone else.
fratburger86: i knew it!!!
fratburger86: you are totally a robot!

This is where things took a turn for the worse.

I mentioned already that I couldn't convince a single person that I wasn't a chat bot. It's one thing for people to think you are artificially intelligent. I can live with that, I guess. What really killed me was that the more I tried proving my "actual" intelligence, the more my "artificial" intelligence would get called into question. Take this pivotal conversation:

jmstriegel: no, really. I'm quite human.
jmstriegel: test me if you want
shymuffin32: ok
shymuffin32: why do you like music?
jmstriegel: hmm. i've never really considered that.
jmstriegel: hell, i'm not going to be able to contrive a good answer for that one. ask me something else.
shymuffin32: jeesus, you're worse than eliza

And there you have it. I've been intellectually humbled by a 1960s robotic psychologist.

Stripped of all dignity and self respect, I decided to take my troubles to Eliza, robot psychologist and intellectual superior. Maybe she could help with the questions I now have. Perhaps there is some meaning to all of this that my feeble mind is incapable of investigating on its own.

eliza: Hello, I'm Eliza
jmstriegel: hi
eliza: How are you today.. What would you like to discuss?
jmstriegel: people think i am a robot
eliza: How long have you been a robot?
jmstriegel: i'm not a robot
eliza: Do you believe it is normal to be not a robot?
jmstriegel: are you saying i'm not normal?
eliza: Perhaps in your fantasies I am saying you're not normal?
jmstriegel: no. i just want to be human
eliza: What if you never got to be human?

What if I never get to be human? It's a good question. What does it mean to not exist in the minds of others? I've not only failed as an intelligent human, but I couldn't even pass as artificially intelligent. Even Eliza appears sceptical... how long have I been a robot?

So what if I'm not intelligent? What if I'm not even artificially intelligent? What if I never get to be human?

At least I can pass as a pretty convincing celebrity.

BitTorrent pirate loses appeal in landmark case

Authorities believe a Hong Kong man who lost his appeal today in the territory's highest court is the first in the world to be convicted of downloading pirated movies using BitTorrent file-sharing technology.

Chan Nai-ming, who used the alias 'Big Crook' on the peer-to-peer BitTorrent network, was found guilty in October 2005 of copyright infringement and attempting to distribute three Hollywood movies using the popular file-sharing software.

While Internet users have used BitTorrent technology for years to download movies undetected, Chan was caught red-handed by a Hong Kong Customs officer in January 2005.

The three movies Chan was convicted of pirating were Dare-Devil, Miss Congeniality and Red Planet.

"He plainly succeeded in distributing copies of the films in question," the five-member Court of Final Appeal said in its judgment. "The appeal must accordingly be dismissed."

Chan had been sentenced to three months imprisonment, and had served several weeks in prison before the appeal against his conviction.

The defence argued that Chan merely enabled BitTorrent users "to make copies of their own" of movies stored on his hard disk, rather than trying to "transfer" any copy in his possession, according to the judgment.

But the judgment rejected that argument, saying Chan "did create and have possession of such a copy, transiently or otherwise, for distribution to the downloading swarm".

The Hong Kong government welcomed the judgment, saying it clarified the law regarding Internet piracy.

The BitTorrent system is designed to distribute large amounts of data such as movies by allowing individual computers to "share" the material they are downloading from a source.

Hong Kong's Commerce Secretary said the posting of copyrighted materials in Hong Kong using BitTorrent had dropped 80 per cent within a year of Chan's arrest in 2005.

Georgia judge halts lesbian adoption

Days away from her seventh birthday, a little girl named Emma Rose is currently trapped in Georgia’s foster care system, unable to reunite with the woman who has been her mother for almost a year — all because the mother is a lesbian.

The prospective adoptive mother, Elizabeth Hadaway, was also sentenced to 10 days in jail earlier this month by a Wilkinson County Superior Court judge who refused to grant the adoption in part because “the child will have a long-term exposure to the homosexual parent’s lifestyle.”

Wilkinson County is located about 133 miles southeast of Atlanta.

“I thought one of the first rules of being a judge was putting your owns morals or views or whatever aside — you’re supposed to be fair,” Hadaway said. “I didn’t think who I decided to sleep with at night would determine whether I was a good parent — I didn’t know that was even possible.

“I’m hurt and I’m let down, but I feel even worse for Emma,” added Hadaway, 28.

Hadaway first began trying to adopt Emma Rose last spring at the request of the young girl’s biological mother, Deborah Schultz, who is also a lesbian. According to court documents and an interview with Hadaway, Schultz informed Hadaway that she had fallen on tough times and asked Hadaway to take custody of her six-year-old daughter.

Hadaway traveled to Florida last May to pick up Emma Rose, and a month later she was granted legal custody of the child by Wilkinson County Superior Court Judge James Cline. A few months later, Hadaway underwent a mandatory home evaluation by a local adoption agency, where it came out that Hadaway was a lesbian and living with her partner of seven years.

“We were pretty open about it and the lady who did the home evaluation was fine with it,” said Hadaway, who noted that the home evaluation found her suitable to adopt Emma Rose.

During a November hearing to finalize the adoption, Hadaway said Wilkinson County Superior Court Judge John Lee Parrott was originally supportive and encouraging of the adoption he was preparing to grant; however, once Parrott skimmed the home evaluation report, Hadaway said the judge’s mood shifted, and he began “acting really disgusted.”

“He started flipping through the home evaluation … and his whole demeanor really changed at that point,” Hadaway said. “He took his glasses off, and he sat there and looked at the other side of the room, and he said, ‘Let me get this straight — you are in a homosexual relationship,’” Hadaway said of Parrott.

Hadaway admitted she was in a lesbian relationship, and Parrott said he needed to do research to determine if Georgia law allowed adoptions by gay parents, according to Hadaway. On Jan. 8, 2007, Parrott issued a ruling that denied Hadaway the right to adopt Emma Rose and ordered the young child be returned to her biological mother within 10 days.

Parrott did not respond to interview requests.

Family union

Parrott’s 16-page ruling is inundated with references to Hadaway’s homosexuality, and his belief that placing Emma Rose in a lesbian home is not in the best interest of the child.

Parrott conceded that Georgia law has no requirements relating to the sexual orientation of adoptive parents, but accused Hadaway of attempting to “subterfuge and sham” the court by applying as a single adoptive parent when she “seeks to accomplish an adoption by a de facto homosexual couple," according to a copy of the ruling provided to Southern Voice by Hadaway.

Parrott also argued that the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage approved by Georgia voters in 2004 effectively prohibits adoptions by same-sex couples.

“[Hadaway] seeks to have her and her same-sex partner treated as a family union or unit, the same as a married couple for the purposes of adoption,” Parrott wrote. “Clearly, then, the unmarried homosexual union in this case would be getting a direct benefit of marriage under Georgia adoption law: the ability to adopt.”

Without the legal protections of divorce, Hadaway has no way to insure her lesbian partner will maintain financial responsibility if the couple breaks up, Parrott noted.

“If approved, the requested adoption would place the child in a markedly less secure legal environment than a child adopted by a legally married couple,” wrote Parrott.

But Hadaway contends that she alone is financially secure enough to raise Emma Rose, and that her partner’s income was included in the home evaluation because the report requires the listing of financial information for all adults in the household.

Parrott also ruled against placing Emma Rose with Hadaway because the young girl would be exposed to both homosexuality and discrimination.

“If the instant adoption is approved, inevitably the child will witness both directly and circumstantially the homosexual activity of [Hadaway] and her same-sex partner,” Parrott wrote. “There has been no study conducted … into the isolation and stigma that the child may face growing up in a small, rural town with two women, in whose care she was placed at the age of six, who openly engage in homosexual relationship.”

‘Deprived child'?

Parrott’s ruling ordered Emma Rose to be returned to Deborah Schultz within 10 days, or be declared a “deprived child” and turned over the Georgia Department of Family & Children Services. Hadaway and Shultz met at a truck stop in Jeffersonville, Ga., on Jan. 12, 2007, but Shultz refused to take Emma Rose back to Florida with her, instead reiterating her wish for Hadaway to raise the young girl.

Prior to Parrott’s Jan. 8 ruling, Hadaway left her longtime partner and moved to Bibb County, 70 miles south of Atlanta, which she considered more progressive and tolerant than Wilkinson County. After Shultz refused to regain custody of Emma Rose, Hadaway said she was encouraged by attorneys and DFCS workers to apply for an adoption in Bibb County Superior Court.

Upon discovering that Emma Rose remained in Hadaway’s custody, Parrott issued two more rulings: a Feb. 12 order to place Emma Rose in DFCS custody, and a March 23 ruling finding Hadaway and her attorney in criminal contempt for not following his order to transfer custody of the child. The two women were sentenced to 10 days in jail, or five days plus a $500 fine, but are currently appealing Parrott’s decision.

Citing a report by Alicia Gregory, a doctor hired by Wilkinson County DFCS to conduct an independent assessment of Emma Rose’s situation, Bibb County Superior Court Judge Tilman Self ruled March 30 that Hadaway be restored custody.

“Dr. Gregory concluded, and in fact was quite adamant, that Emma’s best interests would be served by returning Emma to [Hadaway’s] custody,” Self wrote. “Indeed, Dr. Gregory stated that Emma’s current foster placement was the worst possible scenario for Emma.”

But when Hadaway and Wilkinson County sheriff’s deputies attempted to retrieve Emma Rose from her foster family on April 3, they were rebuffed.

“The foster family would not turn her over to me,” Hadaway said. When the sheriff’s deputies informed the foster family that they had a Bibb County court order demanding Emma Rose be returned to Hadaway, the foster father allegedly called Parrott. The judge told the officer that he was not recognizing the Bibb County order, and if Hadaway wanted custody of Emma Rose she would have to re-apply in Wilkinson County.

“If anyone’s a pervert in this whole thing, it’s him — he’s sick,” Hadaway said of Parrott. “He’s mad because I’m gay, and he doesn’t want me to have custody.”

With Georgia law neither banning nor endorsing same-sex adoption explicitly, Parrott’s original order denying the adoption to Hadaway was within his authority, said Jim Outman, an adoption attorney in Atlanta.

But Hadaway is entitled to re-apply for an adoption if her circumstances change — such as moving to Bibb County — and Parrott’s efforts to prevent that have been “very extreme,” Outman said.

“If I petition [a judge] to do something and you deny my petition, that doesn’t invite you to become my enemy for life,” Outman said. “He’s carrying his beliefs beyond any case before him, and he’s saying he’s going to save this child from this lesbian woman.”

Hadaway’s new lawyer — Parrott prohibited her first attorney from continuing to represent Hadaway after he found them both in contempt — is filing a habeas corpus claim and a writ of mandamus with the Georgia Supreme Court in an attempt to get the Bibb County custody order enforced.

There is no timeline for when a ruling will be issued.

Blind man says his gun permit does not make him dangerous

A blind man who has concealed weapons permits in North Dakota and Utah says he's not a danger to society, even though he can't see the gun he's shooting.

Carey McWilliams, 33, says he has followed all the required rules, and he wants Minnesota to join other states that have granted him a concealed weapons permit. He says he was rejected first by a Minnesota county sheriff and then by a judge in that state.

"I'm trying to prove a point that people without sight still can carry (a gun) because brains are more important than eyesight in securing public safety," McWilliams said. "The shooter at Virginia Tech had really good eyesight and he killed 32 people."

Bill Bergquist, the Clay County, Minn., sheriff, said he felt bad about denying a permit for McWilliams.

"He's a super nice guy," Bergquist said. "But the application states that a person should be able to show proficiency on the firing range and a proficiency of the weapons. That's the issue.

"Sometimes I have to ask myself, what is right in this case? I felt when I denied it, he could have his day in court."

McWilliams said he completed the required class and shooting exercise by Paul Horvick, a National Rifle Association instructor. Horvick said he believes gun rights are private and would not comment on anyone he has taught or tested. Documents on Minnesota weapons hearings are sealed.

McWilliams said he uses special low-range, hollow-point bullets that are effective only in tight quarters.

"If I use a gun it will be at point-blank range, period," he said. "A sighted shooter is probably more dangerous because they can see something scary and pull their gun in haste."

Under Minnesota law, an applicant must be issued a license for a gun or a concealed weapon if he or she completes the class and shooting exercise and passes a background check - unless "there exists a substantial likelihood that the applicant is a danger to self or the public if authorized to carry a pistol under permit."

McWilliams believes Minnesota officials have violated his constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

"It's nobody's business that I'm blind," he said.

McWilliams lives in a Fargo trailer park with his wife, Victoria. One of their neighbors, Jon Storley, accompanied McWilliams during his appeal to the Minnesota district court.

"He's not a nut, he's not a weirdo, he's not a freak," said Storley, a cab driver and rock musician. "I'm not a lawyer, but in this case I believe the judge was legislating from the bench."

Storley also said he doesn't blame Bergquist and Kirk for their decisions, calling the case "a kettle of worms."

Oddly enough, the permit McWilliams obtained from the state of Utah is recognized in 30 other states - including Minnesota. McWilliams said he had to complete a "firearms familiarity course" before receiving the Utah license.

"Basically, they just passed around a couple of guns," McWilliams said.

McWilliams, who got his North Dakota permit in 2001, testified during the 2005 North Dakota legislative session against a proposal to drop the written part of the concealed weapons test. He told lawmakers it would allow people who are ignorant about firearm regulations to get permits. The test was eliminated.

The Legislature also decided to keep individual information about weapons permits confidential, said Liz Brocker, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.

"All I can tell you is the total number of permits that have been issued," she said. The state has issued 8,030 permits, she said.

McWilliams lost his eyesight when he was 10 years old, after a series of headaches and gradual deterioration. It was a mystery to doctors.

He said he was a victim of domestic violence growing up and was stalked by gang members. "I've had situations where I would have felt threatened if I hadn't been carrying," he said.

McWilliams has written two books, including an autobiography published earlier this year that talks about his experiences in sky diving, scuba diving and deep sea fishing. He was in two segments of Michael Moore's antigun movie, "Bowling for Columbine," including a scene showing him cradling an AK-47 assault rifle.

Much of his autobiography is about his weapons training and testing.

"My permits together allow me, with reciprocity, to carry my gun in 30 states, one of which could be yours," he writes. "But never fear, with my extensive experience in firearms, I have take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of others."

The 10 Greatest Completely Insane Television Shows Of All Time

During the upfronts this week, the media has been freaking out about the fact that ABC has given the greenlight to the new sitcom Cavemen, which is based on the popular series of Geico commercials. While I will reserve my judgement until I actually see the show (keep in mind it does feature our own brilliant Nick Kroll), I would like to point out some of history’s other competely insane TV shows, several of which actually weren’t half bad.

10. Homeboys In Outer Space (UPN, ‘96-’97) - Two black dudes fly around the galaxy in a “space hoopty” guided by a sassy onboard computer named “Loquatia”. Seriously. That was on television.

pular TV series about some chick hiding a coked-up space alien in her attic. Even more amazing is that TV audiences were able to put up with Robin Williams‘ wacky spaceman antics for a full 4 years without wanting to tear their eyes out.

6. Dinosaurs (ABC, ‘91-’94) - Oh, but to have been in the network pitch meeting where some dude was all like, “See, it’s a blue-collar family sitcom - but instead of people, they’re talking DINOSAURS!” And then some high-powered executive type starts nodding his head purposefully, then does a slow golf clap before asking if there could be an idiotic catchphrase, perhaps if the baby dinosaur keeps repeating, for no particular reason, “Not the mama! Not the mama!” while hitting people with a prehistoric frying pan.

5. Out of This World (Syndicated, ‘87-’91) - So it’s like a teen coming-of-age drama, except Evie - the puberty-ravaged Jr. High girl who the show’s about - is a half-alien who has the power to start and stop time like a clap-on lamp. Instead of using these powers for something awesome (say, robbing enough banks to retire by the time she starts high school), Evie mostly just tries to figure out why that surfer dude doesn’t like her. And somehow we never even got to see her mother tell Evie about the time she f*cked an alien.

4. Cop Rock (ABC, ‘90-’90) - Perhaps the most insane idea ever to have landed in the small mind of a desperate TV producer, the entire concept of a series that combines the melodrama of an urban cop show with the flamboyance of musical theater is something so retarded it almost becomes genius again. I seriously hope this gets a DVD release soon, because I would really love to enjoy lyrics like “We’re the local color with the coppertone skin / And you treat us like we’re guilty of some terrible sin.” over and over again.

3. Mr. Ed (CBS, ‘61-’66) - A pioneer in the “insane sitcom” genre of TV shows. I mean come on, it’s about a horse that f*cking talks, and with absolutely no explanation of how this horse somehow became imbued with the ability to communicate in clear, eloquent English. And why English? Why can’t the horse speak French or Portuguese or something?

2. Alf (NBC, ‘86-’90) - So a cat-eating alien crash lands into the home of a suburban family named “The Tanners”, then spends four years hiding in their kitchen (great hiding place, ALF!)? In the end, ALF ends up getting caught by the Military, who has presumably spent the last 20 years conducting scientific tests to determine why he’s such a smart-ass, the results of which were later used to create the character of Chandler Bing on Friends.

1. Manimal (NBC, ‘83-’83) - An entire show about a shape-shifting doctor who could turn himself in to an animal to fight crime? Yes, please! Besides, the title alone is one of the most awesome things television has ever given us.

Worst Dad Award Nominee

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Military officers explain why torture is disasterously counter-productive

Fear can be a strong motivator. It led Franklin Roosevelt to intern tens of thousands of innocent U.S. citizens during World War II; it led to Joseph McCarthy's witch hunt, which ruined the lives of hundreds of Americans. And it led the United States to adopt a policy at the highest levels that condoned and even authorized torture of prisoners in our custody.

Fear is the justification offered for this policy by former CIA director George Tenet as he promotes his new book. Tenet oversaw the secret CIA interrogation program in which torture techniques euphemistically called "waterboarding," "sensory deprivation," "sleep deprivation" and "stress positions" -- conduct we used to call war crimes -- were used. In defending these abuses, Tenet revealed: "Everybody forgets one central context of what we lived through: the palpable fear that we felt on the basis of the fact that there was so much we did not know."

We have served in combat; we understand the reality of fear and the havoc it can wreak if left unchecked or fostered. Fear breeds panic, and it can lead people and nations to act in ways inconsistent with their character.

The American people are understandably fearful about another attack like the one we sustained on Sept. 11, 2001. But it is the duty of the commander in chief to lead the country away from the grip of fear, not into its grasp. Regrettably, at Tuesday night's presidential debate in South Carolina, several Republican candidates revealed a stunning failure to understand this most basic obligation. Indeed, among the candidates, only John McCain demonstrated that he understands the close connection between our security and our values as a nation.

Tenet insists that the CIA program disrupted terrorist plots and saved lives. It is difficult to refute this claim -- not because it is self-evidently true, but because any evidence that might support it remains classified and unknown to all but those who defend the program.

These assertions that "torture works" may reassure a fearful public, but it is a false security. We don't know what's been gained through this fear-driven program. But we do know the consequences.

As has happened with every other nation that has tried to engage in a little bit of torture -- only for the toughest cases, only when nothing else works -- the abuse spread like wildfire, and every captured prisoner became the key to defusing a potential ticking time bomb. Our soldiers in Iraq confront real "ticking time bomb" situations every day, in the form of improvised explosive devices, and any degree of "flexibility" about torture at the top drops down the chain of command like a stone -- the rare exception fast becoming the rule.

To understand the impact this has had on the ground, look at the military's mental health assessment report released earlier this month. The study shows a disturbing level of tolerance for abuse of prisoners in some situations. This underscores what we know as military professionals: Complex situational ethics cannot be applied during the stress of combat. The rules must be firm and absolute; if torture is broached as a possibility, it will become a reality.

This has had disastrous consequences. Revelations of abuse feed what the Army's new counterinsurgency manual, which was drafted under the command of Gen. David Petraeus, calls the "recuperative power" of the terrorist enemy.

Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld once wondered aloud whether we were creating more terrorists than we were killing. In counterinsurgency doctrine, that is precisely the right question. Victory in this kind of war comes when the enemy loses legitimacy in the society from which it seeks recruits and thus loses its "recuperative power."

The torture methods that Tenet defends have nurtured the recuperative power of the enemy. This war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in the minds of potential supporters who have not yet thrown in their lot with the enemy. If we forfeit our values by signaling that they are negotiable in situations of grave or imminent danger, we drive those undecideds into the arms of the enemy. This way lies defeat, and we are well down the road to it.

This is not just a lesson for history. Right now, White House lawyers are working up new rules that will govern what CIA interrogators can do to prisoners in secret. Those rules will set the standard not only for the CIA but also for what kind of treatment captured American soldiers can expect from their captors, now and in future wars. Before the president once again approves a policy of official cruelty, he should reflect on that.

It is time for us to remember who we are and approach this enemy with energy, judgment and confidence that we will prevail. That is the path to security, and back to ourselves.

Charles C. Krulak was commandant of the Marine Corps from 1995 to 1999. Joseph P. Hoar was commander in chief of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994.

Ron Paul

Plenty of reasonable people can disagree about foreign policy. What's really strange is when one reasonable position is completely and forcibly excluded from the public debate.

Such was the case after 9-11. Every close observer of the events of those days knows full well that these crimes were acts of revenge for US policy in the Muslim world. The CIA and the 911 Commission said as much, the terrorists themselves proclaimed it, and Osama underscored the point by naming three issues in particular: US troops in Saudi Arabia, US sanctions against Iraq, and US funding of Israeli expansionism.

So far as I know, Ron Paul is the only prominent public figure in the six years since who has given an honest telling of this truth. The explosive exchange occurred during the Republican Presidential debate in South Carolina.

Ron was asked if he really wants the troops to come home, and whether that is really a Republican position.

"Well," he said, "I think the party has lost its way, because the conservative wing of the Republican Party always advocated a noninterventionist foreign policy. Senator Robert Taft didn't even want to be in NATO. George Bush won the election in the year 2000 campaigning on a humble foreign policy – no nation-building, no policing of the world. Republicans were elected to end the Korean War. The Republicans were elected to end the Vietnam War. There's a strong tradition of being anti-war in the Republican party. It is the constitutional position. It is the advice of the Founders to follow a non-interventionist foreign policy, stay out of entangling alliances, be friends with countries, negotiate and talk with them and trade with them."

He was then asked if 9-11 changed anything. He responded that US foreign policy was a "major contributing factor. Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attacked us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years. We've been in the Middle East – I think Reagan was right. We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. "

And then out of the blue, he was asked whether we invited the attacks.

"I'm suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it, and they are delighted that we're over there because Osama bin Laden has said, 'I am glad you're over on our sand because we can target you so much easier.' They have already now since that time – have killed 3,400 of our men, and I don't think it was necessary."

Then the very archetype of the State Enforcer popped up to shout him down.

"That's really an extraordinary statement," said Rudy Giuliani. "That's an extraordinary statement, as someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don't think I've heard that before, and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th."

Now, this is interesting because it is obvious that Ron never said that we invited the attacks. This was a lie. He said the US foreign policy was a "contributing factor" in why they attacked us, a fact which only a fool or a liar could deny. Guiliani then went on to say that he has never "heard that before" – a statement that testifies to the extent of the blackout on this question.

Ron Paul was invited to respond, and concluded as follows:

"I believe very sincerely that the CIA is correct when they teach and talk about blowback. When we went into Iran in 1953 and installed the shah, yes, there was blowback. A reaction to that was the taking of our hostages and that persists. And if we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don't come here to attack us because we're rich and we're free. They come and they attack us because we're over there. I mean, what would we think if we were – if other foreign countries were doing that to us?"

Wow, he broke the great taboo in American political life! Why this should be a taboo at all is unclear, but there it is. But now that it is finally out in the open, this shocking theory that the terrorists were not merely freedom-hating madmen but perhaps had some actual motive for their crime, let's think a bit more about it.

It is a normal part of human experience that if you occupy, meddle, bully, and coerce, people who are affected by it all are going to get angry. You don't have to be Muslim to get the point. The problem is that most of the American people simply have no idea what has been happening in the last ten years. Most Americans think that America the country is much like their own neighborhood: peaceful, happy, hard working, law abiding. So when you tell people that the US is actually something completely different, they are shocked.

Why would anyone hate us? The problem is that the military wing of the US government is very different from your neighborhood. After the Soviet Union crashed, US elites declared themselves masters of the universe, the only "indispensable nation" and the like. All countries must ask the US for permission to have a nuclear program. If we don't like your government, we can overthrow it. Meanwhile, we sought a global empire unlike any in history: not just a sphere of interest but the entire world. Laurence Vance has the details but here is the bottom line: one-third of a million deployed troops in 134 countries in 1000 locations in foreign countries.

All during the 1990s, the US attempted to starve the population of Iraq, with the result of hundreds of thousands of deaths. Madelyn Albright said on national television that the deaths of 500,000 children (the UN's number) was "worth it" in order to achieve our aims, which were ostensibly the elimination of non-existent, non-US built weapons of mass destruction. Yes, that annoyed a few people. There were constant bombings in Iraq all these years. And let us not forget how all this nonsense began: the first war in 1989 was waged in retaliation for a US-approved Iraqi invasion of its former province, Kuwait. Saddam had good reason to think that the US ambassador was telling the truth about non-interference with Kuwait relations: Saddam was our ally all through the Iran-Iraq war and before.

Ron spoke about complications of the Middle East. One of them is that the enemy we are now fighting, the Islamic extremists, are the very group that we supported and subsidized all through the 1980s in the name of fighting Communism. That's the reason the US knows so much about their bunkers and hiding spots in Afghanistan: US taxdollars created them.

Now, I know this is a lot for the tender ears of Americans to take, who like to think that their government reflects their own values of faith, freedom, and friendliness. But here is the point that libertarians have been trying to hammer home for many years: the US government is the enemy of the American people and their values. It is not peaceful, it is not friendly, it is not motivated by the Christian faith but rather power and imperial lust.

Ron is such a wonderful person that I'm sorry that he had to be the one to tell the truth. One could sense in the debate that he was making an enormous sacrifice here. After Guiliani spoke, the red-state fascists in the audience all started whooping up the bloodlust that the politicians have been encouraging for the last six years – a mindless display of Nazi-like nationalism that would cause the founding fathers to shudder with fear of what we've become. These people are frantic about terrorism and extremism abroad, but they need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

Thank you, Ron, for doing this. We are all in your debt.

Kung Fu Master Can Suck His Balls Into His Abdomen

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

115 Simpsons Openings in One Video

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This kid really, really loves his dog

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Vintage champagne and minders - the amazing life of the £250,000 conman aged 13

A 13-year-old boy who lives with his grandmother has been exposed as one of Britain's biggest Internet conmen.

The boy earned more than £250,000 by posing as the boss of several multinational companies selling vacuum cleaners, stationery and office supplies.

Many of the goods were never dispatched, but the fraudster used the cash to revel in a luxurious lifestyle way beyond his years: he wore designer suits, drank vintage champagne and travelled only by chauffeur-driven limousine.

He even employed a personal bodyguard, flew abroad on business trips and claimed he was going to buy a private jet.

The astonishing case echoes the film Catch Me If You Can (itself based on a true story) in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays a teenage con artist who makes millions posing as an airline pilot, doctor and lawyer.

And just as in the film, the boy - who cannot be named for legal reasons - became criminally obsessed with appearing wealthy and successful.

Scroll down for more...

Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can

Leonardo DiCaprio as conman Frank William Abagnale in Catch Me If You Can

A source close to the police investigation said: "Despite coming from a relatively humble background, he became an outrageous snob. He claimed public transport was 'for commoners'.

"He would not eat sandwiches unless the crusts were cut off. And once he started making money he refused to attend school unless the local council paid for him to go to a private school.

"He is a total bully and an extremely arrogant young man."

This week, Balham Youth Court in South London heard that the boy - now 16 - embarked on a three-year fraud spree after his mother died of cancer.

He received a £16,000 inheritance, some of which he spent on crime books that detailed the methods of successful conmen.

Then, working from his bedroom at his grandmother's house in Chiswick, West London, he set up a website which purported to sell plasma screen televisions at vastly discounted prices.

Despite not supplying the goods, the money started to roll in and he gave up going to school in order to expand the "business".

He eventually set up a stationery and office supply firm, a dating website and a modelling agency.

The teenage conman quickly outgrew his grandmother's bedroom and moved into a succession of offices - including one in Mayfair, one of the most exclusive areas of Central London.

However, he would never stay longer than two or three months and would always move out without paying the rent. He also took on staff, employing dozens of people after placing advertisements in a Jobcentre. Unsurprisingly, many are still waiting to be paid.

Trading Standards and the police were inundated with complaints and the boy was initially arrested in October 2004.

But he was given bail and went on to reoffend - a pattern that repeated itself four times over the following two years.

A police source said: "It was like he was addicted to conning people. And whenever he was confronted with what he did, he showed absolutely no remorse. He even appeared to enjoy the police and court attention."

On Tuesday the court heard that between 2004 and 2006 the boy racked up unpaid bills of more than £19,000 at three luxury cab firms.

He also made bulk purchases on credit from expensive stores and took so-called "business trips" to Paris and Edinburgh.

On one occasion he even claimed he wanted to buy an aeroplane and walked around a private jet salesroom, afterwards revealing that he loved the way the staff 'sucked up' to him.

He also spent his money hiring women from escort agencies, taking horse-riding lessons and going drinking in exclusive London clubs.

Yesterday a police source revealed that despite the boy's intelligence, his lack of a formal education was exposed in emails he sent to one of his victims, which were littered with simple spelling and grammatical errors.

A police source claimed he could be very convincing nonetheless.

He said: "He is 6ft tall and looks a lot older than he is. He was able to rent the business addresses by putting down a deposit and then simply disappearing when the rents were due.

"When finding staff he would use different Jobcentres, so that he was never blacklisted."

In court on Tuesday, he admitted 16 charges of fraud totalling £50,000 but a further 105 charges, worth £135,000, were taken into consideration. The court was told that the boy's latest project is an online lingerie store, which his solicitor insisted was a genuine business.

Despite this, the boy was warned he could face a custodial sentence when he returns to court later this month.

Yesterday, one of the teenage conman's former employees revealed how he owes her almost £4,000 in backpay.

Claire Young, 26, from Mortlake in South-West London, was until yesterday working as the teenager's personal assistant.

She said: "He used to take me to a polo club and expensive bars in the City. He would take his friends along, too, saying he would pay for everything. I just thought he was a very generous boss.

"I feel like a fool because all the time he was just conning me. My boyfriend even bought two printers from his website but they never arrived.

"But he always managed to convince me when I asked for my money. There was always an excuse like: 'I couldn't get to the bank. It was shut'."

Following his conviction, his victims are now likely to club together to bring a civil court case in order to recover their money.

Although it is not known how much money he has, the teenager is thought to be named as the sole beneficiary of his grandmother's £900,000 house.

Last night three of the fraudster's websites remained up and running, but he told the Daily Mail that many of his customers had received their goods, boasting: "I have many very happy customers."

Asked whether he would repay those who weren't so pleased, he said: "That's up to the courts."

However, he did admit that considering buying a private jet was "a bit silly - I was only 13 at the time".

This Is Hardcore: 10 Fleshy Album Covers

When it comes to cover art, there are a lot of things to consider. To succeed, an album cover must match the themes, emotions and atmospheres of the music to a stunning visual that encapsulates the album.

Sometimes artists go for subtlety and nuance, other times, they let it all hang out ... and I do mean all of it. But, as the soft-spoken members of Three 6 Mafia once said, "ass and titties."

Here's a list of 10 album covers that rely more on flesh than audio-visual consistency, but be warned it gets pretty raunchy (read: penis, vagina etc ...).

10. The Pixies - Surfer Rosa

9. The Strokes - It This It (UK version)

8. Basement Jaxx - Remedy

7. Grace Jones - Island Life

6. John Lennon & Yoko Ono - Two Virgins

5. Sugar Ray - Lemonade and Brownies

4. Pulp - This Is Hardcore

3. Xiu Xiu - A Promise

2. Blind Faith - Blind Faith

1. Liars - It Fit When I Was A Kid

Not that there's any reason you'd ever, ever, ever want to see, but here's the uncensored version.