Horrible abuse of prisoners by US renegade troops [BBC]

“Images of US soldiers allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners at a notorious jail near Baghdad have sparked shock and anger.”

This is a grim story. Looks like these prisoners were abused, possibly tortured and certainly subjected to humiliation and japes. Predictably and rightly we in the West have reacted with shock and outrage. The US armed forces have arrested several of the miscreants and launched a full investigation. The abuses are freely and widely reported. Justice will be done.

Whilst I am appalled at what these photos suggest, I am proud of the reaction by the US army and the people of the West. We are horrified by this sort of abuse and react forcefully demanding justice.

Contrast this with the murder of captured soldiers and civilians by our Islamist enemies and the lack of condemnation of their actions in many Arab countries.

Abuse prisoners in this civilisation and you are a pariah punished by the law. Cut the throats of journalists or shoot Italian civilian captives on camera and harvest praise and encouragement from ‘the Arab street’.

The Good Old Naughty Days – [Guardian Film Review]

“This is a bizarre and hilarious film: a fascinating chapter in the secret history of cinema, the belle époque, and of sexual politics. Originally entitled Polissons et Galipettes (“naughtinesses and tumbles”), it anthologises a dozen sex films, furtively made in France between 1905 and 1925, well before the Chatterley ban and the Beatles’ first LP. They were often filmed covertly using the stages and costumes of legitimate productions, and designed to be shown in brothels and at stag parties.

If you think these films are going to be like coy Edwardian postcards, or that screen sex was invented in the 1970s, think again. This is in-your-face hardcore porn with surprisingly high production values, complete with flabby tummies, mottled thighs and armpit hair, and given a tinkling piano soundtrack that goes into trilling glissando runs for the money shots.” MORE

The big fat con story [Guardian]

Size really doesn’t matter. You can be just as healthy if you’re fat as you can if you’re slender. And don’t let the obesity ‘experts’ persuade you otherwise, argues Paul Campos

at is on trial, but until now the defence has been mostly absent from the court of public opinion. At bottom, the case against fat rests on the claim that the thinner you are, the longer you will live. Fat Kills, and the prescription is clear: Get Thin.

The doctors and public health officials prosecuting the war on fat would have us believe that who is or isn’t fat is a scientific question that can be answered by consulting something as crude as a body mass index chart (the BMI is a simple mathematical formula that puts people of different heights and weights on a single integrated scale). This, like so many other claims at the heart of the case against fat, is false. “Fat” is a cultural construct. According to the public health establishment’s current BMI definitions, Brad Pitt, Michael Jordan and Mel Gibson are all “overweight”, while Russell Crowe, George Clooney and baseball star Sammy Sosa are all “obese”. According to America’s fat police, if your BMI is over 25, then you are “overweight”,full stop. Note also the radical difference between how our culture defines “fashionable” thinness for men and women. If Jennifer Aniston had the same BMI as her husband Brad Pitt, she would weigh approximately 55lb (nearly four stone) more than she does. MORE

The Hispanic Challenge By Samuel P. Huntington [Foreign Policy]

From Foreign Policy March/April 2004:

The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves—from Los Angeles to Miami—and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril. MORE

Spammers get seriously clever

You have probably head of SETI @ home and other systems where your computers idle time can be used as part of a massive parallel computing project. These projects harnassed the unused processing power of internet conneced PC, normally for noble ends.

That has changed.

A spam outfit is offering people $1 per CPU hour to use their computers as spam relays. Essentially it means you can use your PC to forward spam for spammers as an sending server. It is as ingenius as it is awful.

Here are the swines.

Semiotics: A Primer for Designers [Boxes and Arrows]

From the introduction:

In its simplest form, Semiotics can be described as the study of signs. Not signs as we normally think of signs, but signs in a much broader context that includes anything capable of standing for or representing a separate meaning.

Paddy Whannel[1] offered a slightly different definition. “Semiotics tells us things we already know in a language we will never understand.” Paddy’s definition is partly right. The language used by semioticians can often be overkill, and indeed semiotics involves things we already know, at least on an intuitive level. Still, semiotics is important for designers as it allows us to understand the relationships between signs, what they stand for, and the people who must interpret them — the people we design for.

The science of Semiology (from the Greek semeîon, ‘sign’) seeks to investigate and understand the nature of signs and the laws governing them. Semiotics represents a range of studies in art, literature, anthropology, and the mass media rather than an independent academic discipline. The disciplines involved in semiotics include linguistics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, literature, aesthetic and media theory, psychoanalysis and education. MORE