Quotulatiousness

October 21, 2014

A legal warning shot for Manga fans in England

Filed under: Britain, Law, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:14

A man in Middlesbrough has been convicted of possessing illegal images of children … in his Manga collection. That is, cartoon drawings in the Japanese style called Manga. Gareth Lightfoot reports on the case for the Gazette:

A jobless animation fan has made legal history as he was convicted of having illegal pictures of cartoon children.

Robul Hoque, 39, is believed to be the first in the UK hauled before court over his collection of Japanese Manga or Anime-style images alone.

He admitted 10 counts of possessing prohibited images of children at Teesside Crown Court.

His barrister Richard Bennett said: “These are not what would be termed as paedophilic images. These are cartoons.”

And Mr Bennett revealed that such banned images were freely available on legitimate sites.

He said: “This case should serve as a warning to every Manga and Anime fan to be careful. It seems there are many thousands of people in this country, if they are less then careful, who may find themselves in that position too.”

Police found the images when they seized Hoque’s computer from his home on June 13, 2012, said prosecutor Harry Hadfield. He said officers found 288 still and 99 moving images, but none were of real people.

They were classified as prohibited images as they depicted young girls, some in school uniforms, some exposing themselves or taking part in sexual activity.

For obvious reasons, the newspaper article does not show any examples of the images in question, but Rob Beschizza warns you not to read his post at BoingBoing if you’re in England, as it does show an image that may or may not have been part of the investigation.

A welcome bit of local by-election news

Filed under: Cancon, Liberty, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:01

I’ve been a bit busy to pay much attention to the by-election going on here in Whitby-Oshawa for the seat of the late Jim Flaherty, but I was delighted to get this bit of news:

At least I know I’ve got someone I can vote for without having to hold my nose.

A different approach to building your own PC case

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:02

Published on 13 Nov 2012

In this video I show the features of my homemade silent wooden PC case, and how I built it.

Most silent PCs compromise on speed for silence, but not this one. Specs:

i7 2600k @ 4.4Ghz
GTX 460
24GB RAM
3TB HDD space + SSD

QotD: Hipster economics

Filed under: Economics, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Hipster economics are standard economics because hipsters are everything the US economy has ever wished for in one convenient package. It’s a group consisting largely of young, upper-middle class people with very little conviction, who will spend large amounts of money to maintain their own comfort and the appearance of diversity and rebellion. They are activists as long as it’s easy, poor as long as it doesn’t involve dirt or hunger, and selfless as long as they don’t stand to lose anything. They represent the sanitizing of national issues so that they can be discussed without being addressed. And all you have to do to control them is use some reverse psychology. They’re not rebels, they’re not even malicious, because they’re not anything except a bunch of kids playing pretend. They’ll eventually grow up and become bankers, lawyers and politicians, just like their parents…

“Robert” commenting on “The peril of hipster economics: When urban decay becomes a set piece to be remodelled or romanticised“, by Sarah Kendzior, 2014-05-28.

October 20, 2014

Marc Andreessen still thinks optimism is the right attitude

Filed under: Technology, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:14

In NYMag, Kevin Roose talks to Marc Andreessen on a range of topics:

It’s not hard to coax an opinion out of Marc Andreessen. The tall, bald, spring-loaded venture capitalist, who invented the first mainstream internet browser, co-founded Netscape, then made a fortune as an early investor in Twitter and Facebook, has since become Silicon Valley’s resident philosopher-king. He’s ubiquitous on Twitter, where his machine-gun fusillade of bold, wide-ranging proclamations has attracted an army of acolytes (and gotten him in some very big fights). At a controversial moment for the tech industry, Andreessen is the sector’s biggest cheerleader and a forceful advocate for his peculiar brand of futurism.

I love this moment where you’re meeting Mark Zuckerberg for the first time and he says to you something like, “What was Netscape?”

He didn’t know.

He was in middle school when you started Netscape. What’s it like to work in an industry where the turnover is so rapid that ten years can create a whole new collective memory?

I think it’s fantastic. For example, I think there’s sort of two Silicon Valleys right now. There’s the Silicon Valley of the people who were here during the 2000 crash, and there’s the Silicon Valley of the people who weren’t, and the psychology is actually totally different. Those of us who were here in 2000 have, like, scar tissue, because shit went wrong and it sucked.

You came to Silicon Valley in 1994. What was it like?

It was dead. Dead in the water. There had been this PC boom in the ’80s, and it was gigantic—that was Apple and Intel and Microsoft up in Seattle. And then the American economic recession hit—in ’88, ’89—and that was on the heels of the rapid ten-year rise of Japan. Silicon Valley had had this sort of brief shining moment, but Japan was going to take over everything. And that’s when the American economy went straight into a ditch. You’d pick up the newspaper, and it was just endless misery and woe. Technology in the U.S. is dead; economic growth in the U.S. is dead. All of the American kids were Gen-X slackers — no ambition, never going to do anything.

Vikings fall to Bills, 17-16 on last-second touchdown

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:03

This was described by fans of both teams as “must win”, with Buffalo hoping to stay close to New England in their division, and Minnesota hoping to have some faint hope of relevance in the NFC North. Buffalo came in to the game sporting one of the top defensive squads in the league, while the Vikings defence is starting to look at least respectable after a few years of far below average play.

Both teams are starting to look like patchwork quilts, with all the backup players thrust into starting roles, and by the end of the game Buffalo was down to one healthy running back, while Minnesota had to plug in their reserve centre and swing tackle at guard due to injuries to John Sullivan and Vladimir Ducasse.

Ted Glover hands out his Blue Chip Investments:

Jerick McKinnon, RB: Coming into this game, the Bills had the best running defense in the NFL, giving up less than 70 yards a game on the ground. All McKinnon did was go for 103 yards on 19 carries, leading a ground attack that chewed the Bills up for 158 yards. He’s taken over the starting job at running back, and although he’s not going to fill the shoes left by Adrian Peterson’s absence, we’re finding out that once AP’s time in Minnesota is over, the Vikings running game should be in good hands.

Anthony Barr, LB: Barr is making a strong case for Defensive Rookie of the Year, and had another fantastic game against the Bills–10 tackles, two fumble recoveries, broke up a pass, and was generally the Tasmanian Devil from the Looney Tunes cartoons–a mini hurricane that was all over the place. This kind of game is starting to become routine for Barr, and as exciting as that is for us as Vikings fans, I hope it’s scaring the Hell out of the rest of the NFL.

Everson Griffen, DE: I’m not trying to be a braggart when I say this, but I’ve been on a bunch of radio spots and podcasts between free agency and today, and in all those interviews, well, let’s just say I wish I had a nickel for every time I was asked if the Vikings made the right call in keeping Griffen and letting Jared Allen walk. After today, when Griffen had 3.5 sacks and was an absolute beast on the outside, I’m pretty sure I won’t be asked that question anymore. On the season, Griffen now has seven sacks. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Allen has one, and saw his playing time drop today against the Dolphins.

Blair Walsh, K: We really haven’t talked about Walsh much this year, but once again we got a reminder as to why he’s one of the best kickers in the NFL. He was 3/3 on field goal attempts, including a 55 yarder right before the half that might have been good from 65. In Buffalo.

Kate Bush “Hounds Of Love”

Filed under: Media — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:02

Uploaded on 31 May 2010

Kate Bush. Hounds Of Love – Gone To Earth version. 1985.

“It’s in the trees!
It’s coming!”

When I was a child:
Running in the night,
Afraid of what might be

Hiding in the dark,
Hiding in the street,
And of what was following me…

Now hounds of love are hunting.
I’ve always been a coward,
And I don’t know what’s good for me.

QotD: Sexual differentiation

Filed under: Quotations, Science — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

Our sexual differences can be more or less general, or more or less individual i.e. they may be typical for the whole sex or for only an individual member of that sex. Men with a vigorous growth of beard, hairy chests broad shoulders narrow hips, big penises, for example, are generally more in demand as are, conversely, women with delicate skin, big breasts, wide hips. The more individual polarity exists in any given case, the more ideal the sexual relationship is likely to become. We all do what we can to emphasize our sexual differentiation from the opposite sex — or with respect to a specific member of the opposite sex — as skillfully as possible. Whoever is not strikingly male or female will do everything possible to seem so by, for example, developing his biceps through gymnastics, pad her bra, style the hairdo, etc.

The same motivation also underlies the so-called ‘typically masculine’ and ‘typically feminine’ kinds of behavior: it is always a conscious or unconscious parading of sex-specific characteristics. To smile rarely or often, talk much or little, swing the hips or not in walking, makes people ‘more manly’ or ‘more womanly.’ This kind of behavior is simulated, as shown by the fact that it is subject to fashion and can be dropped at will. The ‘womanly’ mannerisms of the stars in the old movies are markedly different from those we see in films by Truffault or Godard. To behave like a movie vamp of the twenties today is to appear not womanly but ridiculous.

Esther Vilar, The Polygamous Sex, 1976.

October 19, 2014

Sex-toy-shaped installation deflated by Paris vandal (or someone with good taste)

Filed under: Europe, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:49

In the Telegraph, David Chazan tells the tale of the now-deflated artwork:

Vandals deflated a blow-up art installation in an exclusive Paris square on Saturday after outraged conservative groups said it resembled a “giant sex toy”.

The 79-foot-high inflatable green exhibit was called “Tree” because it looked vaguely like a Christmas tree, but the American artist, Paul McCarthy, told Le Monde newspaper that it was inspired by a sex toy known as an anal plug and was meant “as a joke”.

However, conservative politicians and many Parisians failed to appreciate the humour and called for the removal of the “offensive” installation after it was erected in Place Vendôme on Thursday.

Hours later, McCarthy, 69, was slapped in the face by a passer-by who screamed: “You’re not French and this has no place in the square”. The artist was dazed and shocked, but unhurt. “Does this sort of thing happen often in Paris?” he asked as his assailant fled before he could be apprehended.

In the early hours of Saturday, vandals climbed a metal fence around the exhibit, cut the power supply to a pump that kept it filled with air, and severed one of the straps that held it upright, police said.

By the morning, it was a shapeless green mess. McCarthy said he did not want it to be repaired or re-erected.

Brace yourselves for Beer Store price hikes

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Government — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:38

In the Toronto Star, Rob Ferguson details the provincial government’s new-hatched plans to pry more money out of consumers (by way of the Beer Store monopoly):

Premier Kathleen Wynne says she won’t shrink from a battle with The Beer Store as her government thirsts for a bigger cut of sales despite brewers’ warnings it would mean higher prices for suds lovers.

The comments came Saturday as Wynne commented in detail for the first time on recommendations from a blue-ribbon panel on squeezing more money from publicly owned agencies and the distribution system for beer, wine and spirits.

“They’ve laid out some challenging ideas for us and I’m absolutely willing take those on,” Wynne said of the panel headed by TD Bank chair Ed Clark.

“Will it be easy, will it be a path that is without any challenges? No it won’t be but that’s not a problem from my perspective. That’s exactly why it needs to be taken on,” she added after a 22-minute speech to party members in this border city for a strategy session and victory party after winning a majority in the June 12 election.

Clark’s recommendations Friday were a timely distraction for Wynne with the legislature starting its fall session Monday and her Liberals under fire for a bailout of the mostly vacant MaRS office tower across from Queen’s Park, with taxpayers on the hook for hefty interest payments.

The government already taxes beer at 44%. I guess they think that’s too little.

Developing salt-tolerant vegetables

Filed under: Environment, Science — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:22

Tracy McVeigh on a Dutch experiment to develop food crops that can be irrigated with salt water:

Here, on one of the Netherlands’ northernmost islands, windswept Texel (pronounced Tessel) surrounded by encroaching ocean and salt marshes that seep sea water under its dykes and into ditches and canals, an enterprising farmer has taken the radical step of embracing salt water instead of fighting to keep it out. And now he thinks he might just help feed the world.

Inspired by sea cabbage, 59-year-old Marc van Rijsselberghe set up Salt Farm Texel and teamed up with the Free University in Amsterdam, which sent him [researcher Dr Arjen] de Vos to look at the possibility of growing food using non-fresh water. Their non-GM, non-laboratory-based experiments had help from an elderly Dutch farmer who has a geekish knowledge of thousands of different potato varieties.

“The world’s water is 89% salinated, 50% of agricultural land is threatened by salt water, and there are millions of people living in salt-contaminated areas. So it’s not hard to see we have a slight problem,” said van Rijsselberghe. “Up until now everyone has been concentrating on how to turn the salt water into fresh water; we are looking at what nature has already provided us with.”

QotD: The countryside, at night

Filed under: Humour, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

We are creatures of the sun, we men and women. We love light and life. That is why we crowd into the towns and cities, and the country grows more and more deserted every year. In the sunlight — in the daytime, when Nature is alive and busy all around us, we like the open hill-sides and the deep woods well enough: but in the night, when our Mother Earth has gone to sleep, and left us waking, oh! the world seems so lonesome, and we get frightened, like children in a silent house. Then we sit and sob, and long for the gas-lit streets, and the sound of human voices, and the answering throb of human life. We feel so helpless and so little in the great stillness, when the dark trees rustle in the night-wind. There are so many ghosts about, and their silent sighs make us feel so sad. Let us gather together in the great cities, and light huge bonfires of a million gas-jets, and shout and sing together, and feel brave.

Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog), 1889.

October 18, 2014

Unmanned X-37B returns to earth after nearly two years in orbit

Filed under: Space, Technology, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:50

In the Telegraph, Rob Crilly tells us what is known about the X-37B’s mission:

It arrived back at a California air base after dark. Only the eagle-eyed would have spotted the snub-nosed spacecraft gliding out of the black sky.

Officially, the unmanned Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle had just completed its longest ever mission, spending almost two years circling the Earth, conducting experiments.

But its secretive history has sparked countless theories about what the computer controlled craft was really doing in space.

One idea is that the US Air Force has developed a drone spy ship, which it uses to shadow Chinese satellites. Another more fanciful claim is that it has been developed to engage in sat-napping — gobbling up rival spy satellites like something from a James Bond film.

There were few clues in an official press release.

“The landing of OTV-3 marks a hallmark event for the program,” said an unidentified programme manager quoted in the Air Force statement.

“The mission is our longest to date and we’re pleased with the incremental progress we’ve seen in our testing of the reusable space plane. The dedication and hard work by the entire team has made us extremely proud.”

The average online gamer isn’t who the media thinks of as “a gamer”

Filed under: Gaming, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:36

For one thing, the average online gamer is female*:

The confusing, nasty muck of the Gamergate scandal, in which anonymous attackers have harassed and sent death threats to women linked to the video-game industry, has morphed into a bitter culture war over the world’s $100 billion gaming empire.

But the fight has also highlighted the minefield facing an industry still learning how best to attract — and protect — a new generation of American gamer. The danger, analysts said: The fight could scare away the growing market of women the gaming industry wants.

The stereotype of a “gamer” — mostly young, mostly nerdy and most definitely male — has never been further from the truth. In the United States, twice as many adult women play video games as do boys, according to the Entertainment Software Association, the industry’s top trade group. Male gamers between ages 10 and 25 represent a sliver of the market, only 15 percent, according to Newzoo, a games research firm.

Yet America’s 190 million gamers, 48 percent of whom are women, still play in a harsh frontier. About 70 percent of female gamers said they played as male characters online in hopes of sidestepping sexual harassment, according to a study cited by “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace” author and law professor Danielle Keats Citron.

“It’s just like playing outside when you’re a teenager. It’s still a jungle out there,” said Peter Warman, the chief executive of Newzoo. Of the women who played as men, he said, “they wanted to be treated equal on the virtual battlefield.”

* Actually, the Washington Post headline mis-represents the data slightly, so this isn’t an accurate statement either.

Percy Harvin traded … again

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:18

Former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin was apparently unhappy in his new home of Seattle, so Seattle traded him to the New York Jets, along with his pricey contract. This isn’t the first time Harvin’s been unhappy enough to force his team to trade him: that’s the blueprint of how he left the Vikings. Harvin is a very talented receiver — when healthy — but he seems to be unable to get along with authority figures like head coaches. Even head coaches who are widely known to be easy to get along with, like Leslie Frazier and Pete Carroll. Harvin reportedly threw a weight at one of the assistant coaches early in his career with the Vikings, and gave Golden Tate a black eye during Superbowl week with Seattle. One wonders what he’ll manage to do to destroy the chemistry (such as it is) with his latest team.

At the Daily Norseman, Ted Glover reviews the [head]case:

To say this came as a surprise is an understatement, and it makes me wonder that if Harvin can’t play for two of the most player friendly coaches in the NFL in Leslie Frazier and Pete Carroll … how will he be able to fit in with Rex Ryan? And if Harvin wasn’t happy in Seattle, where he won a Super Bowl and has one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL throwing to him…how in the blue hell (as Fearless Leader would say) will he get along with Geno Smith and the talent wasteland that is the New York Jets offense? Yeah, Geno is an upgrade over Christian Ponder from his Minnesota days … but the Jets have literally nothing else in terms of offensive weapons, and a pretty bad offensive line.

And Geno’s not all that much better than Ponder, so yeah. I just see this as another train wreck already in the making, but who knows, stranger things have happened.

So with Harvin now on the Jets, let’s take on final look back on the trade that got this all started. In March of 2013, the Vikings sent the disgruntled but ridiculously talented Harvin to Seattle. In return the Vikings received Seattle’s first and seventh round pick in the 2013 draft, and their third round pick in the 2014 draft.

Arif Hasan at Vikings Territory:

The Seahawks evidently wanted to make this trade for a while. One interesting thing about the trade: Seattle will eat a significant amount of cap space from a trade, perhaps up to $9.6 million in accelerated cap (the combined cost of the future impact of the prorated salary bonus he received).

In all honesty, I can’t really say with confidence what the biggest reason for the Harvin trade was, though I have to imagine it’s more attitude than talent. Pete Carroll was enamored with Percy Harvin coming out of Virginia back when Carroll was at USC. The talent Percy had that made him a first-round draft pick and an early MVP candidate in 2012 is still all there.

But it’s not inconceivable that it’s for football-only reasons—he took up $13.4 million of cap space on a young team looking to sign new contracts, and was going to take up $12.9M and $12.3M in the following years. While he was taking all that cap space, he grabbed 133 receiving yards and 92 rushing yards for 45 yards from scrimmage a game. There are about 66 players with more, including Jerick McKinnon and Cordarrelle Patterson—both acquisitions made as a result of the trade the Minnesota Vikings made with Percy Harvin (McKinnon with a pick received directly from the trade and Patterson as a replacement).

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