Friday, 29 April 2011

Back from the dead?

I've been spending the week watching back-to-back horror films and it got me thinking:

What gets to come back from the dead?
Nothing good that's for sure. It's what: a Zombie, Vampire, werewolf, mummy ... ? Nothing good. And if you see something freshly ressurected what do you do? Everyone knows the answer: you shoot it through the head, with a silver bullet, stake it through the heart, and set it on fire. Lets face it: Jesus dosn't stand a chance.


"No Dad please no, You know what they do to people back from the dead!"
"That's a bright side?"

So we're not going to get the final trump any time soon.

On the other hand the Antichrist is careful to get born the normal way. Clever. Is Satan smarter than God?

Anyway - I'm quite dissappointed about the lack of Zombie outbreaks in the Bible. This has got to be a major oversight on the part of the authors. People do come back from the dead all right, they just don't lurch around biting people (but see). At least, this did not get reported... hmmmm... I smell a cover-up! (Or is it the brains?)

Lazarus (John 11:41-44) lurched out of his tomb, and Jesus had the burial stuff taken off him, and everyone says how miraculous it all was. Then the story sort of dries up. ... perhaps a Roman soldier had to pilum him through the head to stop him. That wouldn't exactly support the Bibles main thesis at this point (God Good, Romans Bad) but it would certainly have made a big impression on the people watching.

But the situation is more Pet Sematary than Night of the Living Dead. Lazarus' body came back, but who (or what) was inside it? There's evedience for this: Jesus was known to be able to command demonic possession like a pro. Consider the followng testimony that didn't make it into the Bible:
There I was, innocently going about my lawful business as a pig hearder, when what happens? Jesus happens is what happens! What does he do? I'll tell you: he only goes and takes the demons out of this girl and all right by me too, nothing against curing demonic possession have I. But then he goes and, without so much as a by your leave, stuffs the demons into my pigs! I mean: the nerve! And my pigs go right barmy and all of them, every single one of them, run right off a cliff poof! Deprived me of my livelyhood he did.
(Mark 5:13 etc.) Cue lawsuit.
So here we have eye-witness testimony showing that Jesus could, and did, transfer demons from one host to another.

Of course we can only expect this sort of stuff considering Jesus' dad. If Jesus lived in modern New Zealand, CIFS would have taken custody.

"So Mr Yahweh, is it true that you sent you only Son into the World knowing all the while that he would be tortured to death? Are you aware that this is a criminal offence in NZ?"


Well, actually, God declines to talk for fear of self incrimination.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Yet another scam recieved...


Dr Goddy Jenkins from has sent me an email saying I have won something from shell and I can claim my prize if I supply some details. Oh goody. Hang on...

It is possible because I have taken part in a number of promotions but ... "Dr"? Is it likely that an MD or PhD will be in a PR job emailing competition winners? Still, it could be his name ... that can happen right?

Looking closer:

You have been declared the winner of GBP 350,000.00 (Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand British Pound Sterlings) .This is a concluded selection conducted over the internet with our automated email selection machine.This Lottery is promoted and sponsored by Shell International Petroleum Company Limited (United Kingdom) as part of their social responsibility to alleviate poverty.We hereby congratulate you on this huge prize monies.You are required to contact Mr. Alan Yates for immediate verification and disbursement of your Prize winnings with the following contact details below:

The sum won is in pounds stirling ... I have only been involved with Shell NZ, so the prize should be in NZ dollars. But there's an answer to that ... seems to be some sort of email lottery and the aim is to "alleviate poverty". So I don't need to enter to win - that's nice of them. However, there are registered charities in the UK which will reward Shell for their contributions, if they want to just hand out large sums of money to help the needy, surely this path is more in keeping with the corporate mentality. Then there's the "huge prize moneys"? Would Shell hire someone with such poor English grammar? Finally, the name to contact, Mr Alan Yates, is different from the name in the from field. He is described as a "fiduciary agent", a claims agent: lotteries never use claim agents. Though a corporation might, one as large as Shell is quite capable of handling the matter in-house: I'd expect a letter from their lawyers. In fact, once that thaught crosses my mind I realise that a company like Shell would not contact me through email: this is way out of character.

The body of the email provides winning numbers and so on as well as someplace to go claim my prize. Then I am told I'll need to submit these things to get the prize: surely they have that information already? They want more information than that - they want all my phone numbers, and contact details as well.

What's more, they want me to keep my winnings a secret - huh? Lotteries are keen to publish you as a winner, just look at the terms on a Lotto (NZ) ticket.

Long before now the email gets junked as a scam. But look it up and you find I am not the frst, nor will I be the last. This is an example of a 419 scam where marks are asked for some sort of fee, and personal details, in order to claim a lottery or other prize.

This is what has to say about this particular example:
This email uses a separate reply address that is different from the sender address. Spammers use this to get replies even when the original spam sending accounts have been shut down. Also, sometimes the sender addresses are legitimate looking but fake and only the reply address is actually an email account controlled by the scammers.
This email message is a fake lottery scam. Consider the following facts about real lotteries:
They don't notify winners by email.
You can't win without first buying a lottery ticket.
They don't randomly select email addresses to award prizes to.
They don't tell you to call a mobile phone number.
They don't tell you to keep your winnings secret.
They will never ask a winner to pay any fees to receive a prize!
This email lists mobile phone numbers. Use of such numbers is typical for scams because they allow criminals to conceal their true location. They can receive calls in an Internet cafe from where they send you emails, while pretending to be in some office.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

re2dux updated

(click on the image for a bigger one)

I have added specular and glows to almost all the ships in the re2dux collection... the pic shows a fre de Lance with purple and milky-white hull lights. I have put separate greyscale textures to map out the glows so users can redo them to suit. If you have a nice looking version different from mine, tell me about it. If I like it I'll use it.

Right to Silence at risk

I've written about this before. The right to silence is more properly thought of as a requirement on the part of the police to find evidence and make their case without the accused assistance. The police cannot legally compel you to incriminate yourself... with the corrollery that you cannot be legally compelled to exonerate yourself either.

This means that it is just a logical result of normal "assumption of innocence".

There has been a lot of discussion of this in relation to corruption and child abuse. eg. in the Herald. Police complain that their investigations would go much more smoothly but for the silence of witnesses. Well yes, I imagine their job would be easier if people would just confess the second they saw a blue hat. It would be easier if we all stayed home, sat around the dining table, with our hands out in front of us. I don't see any of that happening any time soon.

The implication is that witnesses are trying to protect the accused. But we should bear in mind that these witnesses are being expected to relate events to which they may be accomplice. Especially under new laws - witnessing child abuse and doing nothing will be a crime, and so you have even more incentive to remain silent.

Did the police offer immunity from prosecution? This would satisfy the normal interpretation of the right as the "privilege against self-incrimination" outlined above. One suspects not.

Where you have lots of suspected witnesses, you can interview them separately and offer immunity to the one who first spills the beans... setting up a prisoner's dilemma.

The right to silence is one of the older legal rights on the books, predating the Heralds misleading mafia references. True, it was established in a time when most people were much less educated than today. However, regular folk are as unfamiliar with authority, police powers, the law, and so on, as their Elizabethan counterparts. Most people cannot afford a lawyer and talk unwisely to the police.

The protection is still needed.

Somewhat stunned...

I see the anti-filesharing bill snook in by pretending to be earthquake relief ... I think that's my biggest gripe about this: MPs should not be able to push a bill through by pretending it is something else. A lot of us weren't watching because we were told the seesion was to help those CHCH needy people and who would oppose anything that is for disaster relief?

Its not a huge disaster... at least you are innocent until proven guilty. Did I say "proven"? Oh dear - I meant "until big corporate interests take you to a tribunal". I want to see what sort of evidence-based decision making the copyright tribunal uses. Since the main complaint is that corporate interests find actually proving their cases too much trouble and this is supposed to be better (for them) I'm not hopeful.

More worrying is the ignorance in our political leaders. As voters, we need to insist that MPs we elect actually understand a bit about the single most influential media form of the 21st century - the internet. C'mon people.

For example:
the computer system called Skynet that ruled the world, is like the internet today.... Johnathan Young
No John, it isn't. Terminator's Skynet was self-aware and operated without human intervention. It tries to wipe out human beings by sending armed robots to kill them. By comparison, the internet facilitates normal human communication and socializing ... part of normal human socializing is sharing stuff we like with our friends.
It is really important to remember that file sharing is an illegal activity.... Katrina Shanks
No Kat, sharing files is quite legal, and a normal social activity. It is copyright infringement that is against the law. The bill was supposed to make it easier to enforce existing copyright laws. The main complaint is from corporate interests (publishers, producers and the like) who find it is too expensive to take internet users to court and too hard to prove they've done anything wrong when they do. Even then, a win is not guaranteed ... so they want something cheaper and that requires less (preferably no) proof.

Basically, if this is such a good law, why sneak it in? There was extensive and robust public debate over the last one... OK it was ignored, but it was done. I'm with boing boing on this:
Using the tragedy in Christchurch as a means to advance the corporate agenda of offshore entertainment giants is shameful, to say the least

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Birthday Survived

I did manage to get a date for my birthday, but she phoned to say she didn't want to after all :( still ...

so I spent a long weekend just me and a big stack of DVDs.

The surprise of the bunch was "Dog Soldiers". It was odd ... from the cover it looks like another "sexy women become maneating werewolves once a month and nobody notices the difference"  gut it is actually much more studied than it looks. Its your basix "gulf war syndrome is actually the early stages of lycanthropy" stuff. There were a couple of vietnam vets as aging werewolf hunters and a couple of wolf factions. Lots of teasing early on. The screenplay was quite bright, trying for tarantino-esque wierd philosophy,  and the camera-work excellent.... it needed a more experienced cast. The direction was relentlessly single-paced, so the same atmosphere prevailed for combat scenes as for weekend sports: it's all part of what marines do. This should have given the story a scence of inevitability but the pace was a tad too slow for that and it tended to drag. Dog Soldiers was better than I expected but worse than it should have been given the material.

I tried the Red Crab (restaurant) in Oneroa: turned out to be excellent. Prices are normal, but the servings are large and everything is well made. Though the dining area looks formal, this is Waiheke: I got seated in tee-shirt and jeans, no footwear, no problems.

I had the ginger duck, tender and light: just what I was looking for. I took my Mum and she had the snapper - which turned out to be one of the larger snappers: easily enough for two or three people with appitites. That was listed as mildly spicey but it was enough to water my eyes so be warned to expect Tai judgement on these things.

Meantime, I have been reassembling my Cosmic Encounters game, and working on expanding the Oolite re2dux collection.

I emerge at last, blinking, into the sunlight ... whats left of it. Its a bit like hibernating and waking up in a post apocalyptic wonderlant.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

News Caution: Koran Burning Protests

We have been hearing in the news how Afganis are so outraged at a Florida bigot's public burning of the Quran that they are rioting, shooting people, burning stuff and so on.

My bullshit detector went off big time over this one. Let me spell it out: there is no way these protests are about some nobody minister being stupid! N O   W A Y. This has got to be about something else which the Florida idiocy is, at worst, a trigger event.

To start with, the target of the protests are not anyway remotely connected with the event. Muslim protests are never so poorly targeted. Add that the people on the ground have quite limited internet access and we have reason to suspect other reasons being important. But all the so-called news services are all reading the same script at us ... I had to hunt hard for some alternative commentary.

It looks like someone wrote a press release and the news agencies have been reading it verbatim. Facts are thin on the ground, even Al Jazeera seem to be having trouble figuring out what to report but at least they remain measured and calm.

It does look like some sort of power-play is involved. If, as the linked article suggests, this is a Taliban power-bid, then it has backfired: the immediate result is that the UN are staying longer. The Taliban would have been better advised to wait a bit.

It also does not explain the uniform scripted message the media are handing us. "Muslims are violently insane." is what we are being force fed (with a side order of "we must respect religions") but "the Taliban are sneaky" would work better, yet that is not what we are hearing. We'll have to wait a bit, with skeptical caps firmly in place, for when the other shoe drops. Meantime: do not believe what the news are telling you.

Kiwibank security message

I have just got an email claiming to be from the Fraud Prevention Unit Legal Advisor for Kiwibank.
You have 1 new security message.
Click on the link below to solve the problem.
The link looks genuine but I don't have a kiwibank account, so why would I get a security alert from them?
Hovering over the link shows that the destination is something to do with bricklaying ... you have to remember that a link can show any words it likes, it doesn't mean anything. In fact, hovering over the link can sometimes activate it ... so it is safer to just look at the source code instead.

This is a common type of scam. Kiwibank know about it. Basically, no bank will ask you to update your security details via a website. S, any message that does so is a scam. Easy.

I notice that there is yet another half-hearted attempt to raise awareness of scams in NZ. Sadly the emphasis is still on the "if it seems to good to be true it probably is" message. The trouble is that these scams are designed to look like they are part of normal life ... they generally don't seem to good to be true, just a bit surprising.

Instead, the campaign needs to emphasize critical thought ... this is harder to do in the short term but pays dividends in the long run. Are there any red flags? Does the message pass a basic bullshit test? We also should be teaching students how out electronic services actually work at a nuts-and-bolts level ... that way redirected links wouldn't fool anyone.

Real solutions are always hard - suck it up.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Birthday Month!

Cool ... it's on the 8th and I want an HRV system :) Mind you, if random women will come up to me and give me a kiss that would be nice too :D

On the home front - the cat is doing nicely - he's missed his vets appointment so I'll have to set another one. I hope we can remove the wire from his jaw this time.

Today I am off to an audition for a V ad. I'm up at 5pm so we'll see how that goes. This morning I got a txt asking if I am up for a $5000 ad job, but it was dated last month ... aaaargh! I hate it when this happens. I really really really have to get internet at home. So far the acting thing is the only proper job stuff that works - except it is not really a proper job. I don't know if that is good or bad but seeing as I've never actually had a proper job, not really, ever, I'd don't have anything to compare with.

Which reminds me, last quarter's acting income is in ($750 for those who want to know what a 2-bit TV ad actor makes in three months) so I have to give the paperwork to Income Support.