Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Feathered Raptor

I had intended to blog on this yesterday when the news came out but I decided instead to lie down and moan softly in pain. Anyway, here's some more dinosaur news, which I'm sure you've read already, concerning the ferocious velociraptor. Turns out someone has discovered quill knobs on the forearms bones of a specimen and now the press is doing its usual "dinosaur revisionism" dance. A few feathers and apparently velociraptors weren't predatory carnivores but big fluffy turkeys; as if feathers make them less dangerous. Have these people even heard of terror birds? Only The Times seems to avoid knocking down another dinosaur icon-

The discovery means that as well as being more decorative than the creatures that appeared in the film they could have been an even more terrifying predator because the feathers would probably have been improved their manoeuvrability.

The researchers said that one of the most likely functions of the feathers was to display to other velociraptors, perhaps in courtship rituals or as a show of strength against aggressors. Other functions could have included use as a shield to protect eggs, a temperature control to prevent the dinosaurs from getting too hot or cold, or to help them to manoeuvre while running.

And some reports also mention the fact that the raptors portrayed in Jurassic Park (apparently the main reference for the press and many scientists alike these days) were smaller than real life- "oh, they're so tiny and they have feathers". It seems that few in the media are at all scared of a six foot long, three foot tall predator which hunts in packs, has inch long teeth and a sickle shaped foot claw 3.5 inches long. That would appear to indicate a serious lack of imagination to me. Although heavier, for example, a Doberman Pinscher is only a little over two feet tall. Would a pack of wild and hungry Dobermans scare a member of the press? Given the alarmist cover of dog attack stories I can only assume the answer is a resounding "yes". Is it really that hard then to picture in their minds the dangers that a velociraptor could pose, feathered or not?

Oh yeah, and these same reports fail to mention thee larger raptor species that was discovered around the same time as the Jurassic Park movie and billed as Utahraptor- like Spielberg's raptors these were about 6 feet high and 22 feet long, weighing in at a huge 1500lbs. I wonder if these dinosaurs magically become less dangerous when covered in feathers too?

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Beast

Want to find some real life mutants? Look no further than the Beast Hall of Fame.

The Beast is a monster kettlebell, a behemoth that tips the scales at 48kg or 106lbs. To be a Beast Hall of Famer requires successfully completing three exercises.

First up is the press- starting off with the kettlebell held at shoulder level you have to press it straight up above you head. Next up is the pistol- with the Beast held in both hands in front of your body you do a one legged squat, getting right down low to the ground, and then stand up again. Finally, there's a pull up with the Beast hanging from your waist.

Thus far, only six men are members of this elite group. If you think you have the mutated genes required to join you can now buy your very own Beast kettlebell.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Searchers

Police search a house and fail to find a body-

The body of a woman missing for three weeks has been found in her home, despite the property being searched by two officers when she vanished.

Yes, the highly professional "only ones" missed her dead body during the first search, but what if she had been only dying then? Could they have perhaps saved her life?

The premises were initially searched on 29 August by two officers," a Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said.

"The house contained a very large quantity of items, which were stacked in layers and piles which made searching very difficult and at the conclusion of the search Mrs O'Sullivan was not located in the property."

So the house sounds like a complete mess, packed full of stuff all over the place- is that a reason for the first officers on the scene to not do a thorough job? The story claims that specialist search teams took a half hour to find her body- they don't mention (and the reporter doesn't think it worthwhile to enquire) just how long the first two officers searched the residence for. Doesn't that seem relevant to the story? And what was the condition of the woman when she was found- was her body covered by items that had somehow fallen on top of her? Again, the journalist doesn't seem to think this important- only that the police say that the house was messy and full and that she was "hidden from view". But view from what? The doorway of a room as an officer looked inside but didn't enter or was she completely covered so that someone entering the room and looking around couldn't see her without looking underneath something? It's a pretty vague description if you ask me.

Perhaps the police who did the first search did have a good look around and this is just one of those odd things that happens- but from this reporting it's hard to tell.

The Vickers

I've been doing a bit of research and during my reading I came across this fascinating piece of information-

"The Vickers gun accompanied the BEF to France in 1914, and in the years that followed proved itself to be the most reliable weapon on the battlefield, some of its feats of endurance entering military mythology. Perhaps the most incredible was the action by the 100th Company of the Machine Gun Corps at High Wood on August 24, 1916. This company had ten Vickers guns, and it was ordered to give sustained covering fire for 12 hours onto a selected area 2,000 yards away in order to prevent German troops forming up there for a counter-attack while a British attack was in progress. Two whole companies of infantrymen were allocated as carriers of ammunition, rations and water for the machine-gunners. Two men worked a belt-filling machine non-stop for 12 hours keeping up a supply of 250-round belts. One hundred new barrels were used up, and every drop of water in the neighbourhood, including the men’s drinking water and contents of the latrine buckets, went up in steam to keep the guns cool. And in that 12-hour period the ten guns fired a million rounds between them. One team fired 120,000 from one gun to win a five-franc prize offered to the highest-scoring gun. And at the end of that 12 hours every gun was working perfectly and not one gun had broken down during the whole period. It was this absolute foolproof reliability which endeared the Vickers to every British soldier who ever fired one. It never broke down; it just kept on firing and came back for more. And that was why the Mark 1 Vickers gun was to remain the standard medium machine-gun from 1912 to 1968."

Wonderful. Care to replicate this feat with a modern MG?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Grabbing For Votes

Politicians- have they no shame at all? Rudy Guiliani goes looking for votes from people who he evidently holds in no regard.

Giuliani will go before the rank and file of the National Rifle Association on Friday, seeking support for his Republican presidential campaign from a group he once likened to "extremists" for its efforts to repeal the ban on assault weapons.

Yep, he thinks they're extremists but times have changed and now he really needs those extreme votes. And even as the NRA lets him ask for those votes, "a panel of federal judges in his home town will be hearing arguments on the lawsuit that Giuliani filed seven years ago aimed at punishing the nation's gun manufacturers for violent crimes involving firearms."

And Guiliani's people refuse to say if he ha s actually has had a real change of heart by not telling those potential voters whether or not he still supports the lawsuit. Any guesses? Well, they do refer to that old chestnut of "enforcing the laws" on the books (i.e. denying law-abiding citizens their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and the ability to effectively defend themselves from criminal predators) and there's even a very telling statement on his website-

Rudy understands that what works in New York doesn't necessarily work in Mississippi or Montana."

From this we can take that Guiliani believes that denying people their Second Amendment rights is fine in the big city- a right denied under threat of force and imprisonment or even death from law enforcement remember- but not in the wider nation; at least, not when large numbers of people who actually want their Constitution to mean something have a say in the matter.

Funny how he squares his time in New York with this-

"whatever my personal views, the Constitution of the United States decides this . . . you have a personal right to carry arms, to have arms. That personal right is as strong as the right to free speech."

If that truly is the case then why didn't he do something during his time as mayor of New York to actually allow citizens to exercise that right? And given these "personal views" of his how can we expect him to do anything but sign into law any anti-gun legislation that comes his way if he's elected? When he's President is he going to oppose another "assault weapons" ban? Or will he still continue to brand those who believe that the Second Amendment means what it says as extremists?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Flight of Fantasy

Alexandre Tso is a new artist to me- a Google search shows he has a deviantART page- but I like his style on this image of Wonder Woman.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Surplus Firearms

Hoping someone can help me out here- I'm finding it impossible to track down a copy of this year's Guns and Ammo Surplus Firearms magazine. My local retailer doesn't have it and can't tell if it will come in stock, nothing is showing up with an online search or at eBay. Does anyone know of a source online where I can buy a copy?

Last year's book is superb- articles on Mosin sniper rifles, handguns of the British Empire, a cache of Nepalese Martini-Henrys, the Garand sniper and more. All great material- and I've been looking forward to reading this new issue.

So, if you do know where I can find a copy, please do let me know.

UPDATE - Details on how to buy online here.

Clueless in Hollywood

Hot Air mentions Sally Field at the Emmys- "If only mothers ruled the world there would be peace".

A commenter there already highlighted the idiocy of that statement-

A 22-year-old Palestinian mother of two small children, pretending to be disabled, killed four Israelis at a Gaza border crossing yesterday after duping soldiers into allowing her a personal security check rather than going through a metal detector.

And this-

This is the final message in the life of Fatma al-Najar, widow, great-grandmother, matriarch of her large family and, a few hours after this brief video was shot, the oldest Palestinian to become a suicide bomber. "I am the living martyr Fatma al-Najar," she says, and praises the armed wing of her beloved Hamas movement, its political rulers and its violent struggle.

Has Sally Field ever actually had an encounter with reality or any knowledge of recent history? Has she heard of Hamas elected representative Miriam Farhat?

The New York Times recently identified her as “the mother of three Hamas supporters killed by Israelis.” The Times added that “she bade one son goodbye in a homemade videotape before he stormed an Israeli settlement, killing five people, then being shot dead. She said later, in a much-publicized quotation, that she wished she had 100 sons to sacrifice that way. Known as the ‘mother of martyrs,’ she was seen in a campaign video toting a gun.”

Sure, with women like her there sure sounds like there will be peace, doesn't' there? Perhaps Field would be better off remembering the words of Golda Meir-

"We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us."

That certainly applies to an awful lot of women, not just the men. How about this?

I hear a mother saying ‘Thank God, my son is dead.’ Her son had became a shaheed, a martyr, which for her was a greater source of pride than if he had became an engineer, a doctor or a winner of the Nobel Prize.

Motherhood doesn't seem to have made these women any less violent that the other female terrorists who seem to have become more common in recent years. But I guess Sally Field hasn't heard of any of these other women either-

The woman regarded as the first female Palestinian guerrilla fighter is Fatima Barnawi, who in October 1967 planted a bomb in a Jerusalem cinema that left dozens of Israelis injured. She was 28 and a member of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

Perhaps the most iconic Palestinian woman was the hijacker Leila Khaled. In 1969, she took part in the hijacking of a TWA plane, flying it to Damascus before blowing it up. She had cosmetic surgery to disguise her looks and the next year made a failed attempt to hijack another plane as part of a wave of hijacks planned by the leftwing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Nearly a decade later, Dalal Mughrabi landed with a group of other Palestinian fighters on an Israeli beach, killed an American photographer and seized a bus filled with passengers. After a gunbattle with Israeli soldiers, she blew up the bus, killing 36 people on board. Mughrabi and her fighters were also killed.

You ever hear of this Sally?

A woman in Brussels reads news of Muriel Degauque, 38, a Catholic from the southern Belgian city of Charleroi who converted to Islam, traveled to Iraq and blew herself up in November 2005.

And it's not just limited to the Middle East- doesn't Field remember the horror of Beslan, the innocent children that were deliberately murdered by terrorists, some of whom were women?

The myth of innate female compassion has been put to rest in Beslan, and in the earlier Moscow subway bombing, when a female suicide bomber detonated herself, killing 10 people, and in the two simultaneous plane crashes in central Russia a week earlier, in which 90 people were killed and which authorities say were caused by two other female suicide bombers.

I guess the news that this myth has been debunked still hasn't gotten through to some people.

At the siege of a Moscow theatre by Chechen terrorists in October 2002, 18 "Black Widows" - veiled, wearing black from head to toe, with explosives strapped around their waists - played a major role. The hostages who survived described the women as noticeably crueller and more determined than the male terrorists.

Is that clear enough? If not here's one last story which I find particularly chilling-

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said Wednesday that it thwarted a double suicide attack set for Tel Aviv and Netanya last month, orchestrated by Islamic Jihad and meant to be carried out by two Palestinian women, one of them pregnant.

Yes, you read that right- a pregnant woman was attempting to carry out a suicide attack. So much for the myth of the peace-loving mother.

One of the women, Fatma Zak, 39, a mother of eight in her ninth month of pregnancy, has been director of Islamic Jihad's women labor department in Gaza City for the past four years

Not only was she willing to kill her unborn child and leave her children motherless she also took along her niece-

The second suspect is Zak's 30-year-old niece, Ruda Habib, a mother of four. Both were arrested by the Shin Bet at the Erez Crossing on May 20, moments before entering Israel.

The women said they had planned to blow themselves up in Netanya and Tel Aviv, respectively, in a restaurant or a wedding hall. They said they were instructed to cross into Israel and then contact Islamic Jihad members from Ramallah, who were supposed to guide them to their targets and supply them with explosive belts.

Perhaps Sally Field will educate herself about the nature of terrorism committed by women and mothers before she speaks in public again.

Friday, September 14, 2007

EU Web-Block

The EU wants to get tough on terrorism.

Internet searches for bomb-making instructions should be blocked across the European Union, the bloc's top security official said on Monday.

Of course that seems reasonable at first glance. So what are they proposing- creating a team of cyber-detectives to track down these websites and shut them down by any means necessary? Why, no, of course not!

Internet providers should also prevent access to any site giving instructions on how to make a bomb, EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said in an interview.

"I do intend to carry out a clear exploring exercise with the private sector ... on how it is possible to use technology to prevent people from using or searching dangerous words like bomb, kill, genocide or terrorism," Frattini told Reuters.

In short, the government doesn't know how to do what they're proposing but they want to try and foist it onto the ISPs, burdening them instead with the problem and no doubt also the cost of implementing their scheme. Note too that he suggests banning words like terrorism and genocide- dangerous words- but not words like "jihad". And there's no mention at all of the jihadist propaganda and recruitment videos that seem rife on the internet.

Asked whether a plan to block searches for bomb instructions or for the word 'terrorism' on Web search engines could infringe on the rights to expression and information, Frattini said in the phone interview:

"Frankly speaking, instructing people to make a bomb has nothing to do with the freedom of expression, or the freedom of informing people.

"The right balance, in my view, is to give priority to the protection of absolute rights and, first of all, right to life."

Frattini said there would be no bar on opinion, analysis or historical information but operational instructions useful to terrorists should be blocked.

So the government can circumvent access to certain information that they deem to be dangerous- right now it's bomb-making info but it seems to me that this could be the beginning of a slippery slope. What might they consider to be "dangerous words" in years to come?

And I see too that he's proposing that search engines will block dangerous words but only those leading to websites where certain information might be located- which would mean that they'd need some way to track and find those websites, no? So perhaps it would make sense just to shut those sites down instead of letting them distribute jihadist instructions and just ban people in the EU from accessing them- or maybe the EU doesn't mind if someone looks up the info in, say, Algeria and then takes a quick trip north to France or Italy and puts that information to use. And banning words won't really work for jihadist forums, to name but one example, where people can go and presumably access the same bomb-making information without having to go to any search engine in the first place. Do the EU have a plan for that or is this merely some knee-jerk reaction from people who don't really understand the breadth of the problem and how the internet works.

After German police arrested three men suspected of a major bomb plot last week, politicians called for greater powers to monitor computers. Germany's top appeals court has ruled the clandestine monitoring of computers by police is illegal.

"The level of the threat (in the EU) remains very high," Frattini said. "That's why I am making appeals and appeals for stronger and closer cooperation."

Ah, I see where this is going now and why he's not proposing a team to attack the jihadist websites themselves- another attempt by the government to make ISPs track and keep the records of their customers. On-line CCTV so to speak, so that Big Brother can find out what the peasants are up to.

Defying Justice

What on Earth was the judge in this case thinking- is he wildly incompetent or completely deranged? Because I'm having trouble conceiving a valid reason for coming to the conclusion he did.

A Sheboygan County judge on Wednesday overruled a jury’s guilty verdict, acquitting a previously convicted sex offender accused of trying to lure a 9-year-old Sheboygan girl into a park shelter, officials said this morning.

According to local law the luring must be to a "secluded place" and it's on this that the judge made his ruling, right at the end of the trial and after the guilty verdict has been issued. Odd, no?

According to a criminal complaint, Pask approached the 9-year-old while she was with friends at Worker's Park on June 8, saying, “Look at those sexy little salty girls.” He repeatedly offered the girl candy while gesturing she should follow him toward the area of the shelter and the shelter’s bathroom, but she refused.

A bathroom sounds like a secluded place to me.

The jury, which earlier travelled to the park, found Pask guilty after about 30 minutes of deliberations. But Van Akkeren then overturned the verdict, saying the jury could not have determined the shelter was a secluded place as required by statute.

In other words, a jury of his peers is incapable of deciding what the word "secluded" means even when confronted with the place with their own eyes- and a convicted sex offender might be allowed to go free because of it.

DeCecco [prosecution lawyer] vehemently disagreed, adding that such a ruling is typically made far earlier in the trial process or left to the jury, which was instructed that to find Pask guilty they had to determine that the shelter was a secluded place.

In short, the jury was fully aware of what the law meant and what was required of them- but the judge evidently knows better than mere citizens.

“In our opinion, any area can be ‘secluded,’ including a park shelter, trees and large bushes — any area where a child may be sexually assaulted out of the view of other persons,” DeCecco said. “The jury, having visited the site of the incident, obviously concluded we had met that burden beyond a reasonable doubt.

And yet once again, common sense and justice are being supplanted by the decision of a lone judge.

Killing Britney and Madonna

You know it's always baffled me that artists- be it in music, film, literature or art- have always refused to speak out against Islamist terrorism and the culture (if you can call it that) it tries to spread. Why do they seem, by and large, to view the major threat to their way of life to come from George Bush, Republicans in general or Christianity? Nope, they seem to have almost nothing negative to say about a culture that demands conversion, subjugation or death, that oppresses women, calls for the death of homosexuals, suppresses free speech and is against representational art to name but a few. I wonder if this will change any views?

Muslim terrorist leaders threatened to forcibly convert Britney Spears and Madonna to Islam and warned if they resist, their heads would be cut off for "spreading Satanic culture," according to a new book released today.

Somehow I doubt that the message will get through. Will anyone in Hollywood even begin to reconsider what seems to be their widespread support for the so-called Palestinian struggle?

"If I meet these whores I will have the honor – I repeat, I will have the honor – to be the first one to cut the heads off Madonna and Britney Spears if they will keep spreading their satanic culture against Islam," said Muhammad Abdel-Al, spokesman and senior leader of the Popular Resistance Committees terror organization.

But wait, there's more-

The Committees' Abdel-Al accused Madonna and Spears of "spreading this culture by the Americans as part of the war against Islam."

"If these two prostitutes [Madonna and Spears] keep doing what they are doing, we of course will punish them. First we will call them to join Islam. But if they keep what they are doing ... we can stone them or even we can kill them if they keep ... tempting men in order to put them far from Islam. ... A prostitute woman must be stoned or must be eighty times hit with a belt."

Abdel-El said even before Islam takes over America he would personally kill Madonna and Spears if he ran into them. He boasted he would "be the first one to cut the heads of Madonna and Britney Spears."

So, how long before we hear calls from those bastions of liberal, tolerant, peace-loving Hollywood to condemn this? I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Never Forget

Six years ago today 2,974 people were murdered by Islamist terrorists and the world was changed forever.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Sequel

It seems that George Lucas still hasn't hired these guys to make another Star Wars movie. What's up with that? Ryan and Dorkman are back- enjoy...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Flight of Fantasy

Adam Hughes continues his incredible streak of Catwoman covers with this dramatic image from issue 73.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Blogging Tips

Tamara has some advice on blogging, most of which makes a great deal of sense. As regular readers will know I've been having a bit of a problem with the post something every day bit- a wife, two young girls, two kittens, a bad back and strong meds don't make the best combination for regular blogging. Now that school's started again though I'll hopefully be able to slump in front of this infernal machine a little more often.

BTW, Tam also linked to a piece on the Battle of Omdurman the other day. Three VCs were won by the 21st Lancers in one action. Definitely worth a read.

Well, I'm off now but before I go here's some artwork by Mike Mignola- a Gotham by Gaslight-era Batman.

Islamic BBC

Not the first time this has happened and surely not the last.

Sweden's embassy in Pakistan has expressed regret over the publication of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a Swedish newspaper.

The prophet? I didn't know that the BBC was a Muslim organisation. And it's no accident.

Pakistan had complained about the cartoon, which depicted the head of the Prophet on the body of a dog.

Other cartoons depicting the Prophet sparked worldwide protests last year.
Muslims regard any visual representation of the Prophet as blasphemous.

The new drawing depicting the Prophet's head on the body of a dog was published in the Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda on Sunday.

Five times in one article. I guess this means that the BBC is a Muslim news organisation now- or do they also refer to Jesus as the son of God?

Attempted Infanticide

The start of another school year, so what do Islamic Jihad do?

The Sderot Parents Association decided they would not take their children to schools and day care centers beginning Tuesday, until the government changed its policy regarding ongoing Kassam rocket attacks on the western Negev town, The Jerusalem Post learned Monday.

It followed a salvo of seven Kassam rockets that landed in and around the beleaguered town Monday morning. After one of the rockets thudded into the courtyard of a day care center, soldiers scrambled to evacuate everyone inside. Twelve people, including some of the babies, suffered shock and a building was damaged.

Despite the fact that none of the 15 babies at the center were wounded, frantic parents across the city - already furious over the government’s failure to protect them and their children from the near-daily rocket fire - pulled their children out of schools on the second day of the academic year.

In total, seven Kassam rockets landed in and around the western Negev town as Sderot children started their second day of the new school year. The Islamic Jihad said they had fired nine Kuds-3 rockets, saying on their internet site that the attack was “a present for the start of the new school year.”

A deliberate attempt to murder children- one which almost succeeded in killing babies- and the world's press yawns. Isn't this newsworthy? Doesn't the public at large deserve to be told that a group calling itself Islamic Jihad (I guess they misunderstand their religion, eh?) are gloating over their attempt to murder babies? And only days after the anniversary of Beslan? The press rooms that choose not to shine a spotlight on despicable acts like this should be ashamed of themselves.