Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Random Barking: News And The Dog

Wir Verlangen Eine Erklärung, Bitte
  • Ebola Continues To Spread In Africa   
Responses by governments in Africa to the disease outbreak have been too little or too late, uncoordinated and only partly successful. Both Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), and Director of the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta, Dr. Tom Frieden, said that the Ebola outbreak must be brought under control as quickly as possible. The "Or Else" was unspoken but present.

Dr. Frieden went so far as to say that the epidemic is already "out of control", and that the "window of opportunity" for controlling the disease is rapidly closing -- a stronger international response must occur, or a greater tragedy will unfold.  On the PBS News Hour, Frieden (who had just returned from a one-week tour through the affected areas) said unless more medical and financial resources are made available, the disease would spread -- certainly further in Africa, potentially in more urban areas where it would be difficult to control ... and the disease could begin to appear, uh, outside Africa.  Like, in Europe.  Or, here.  That, too, was left unspoken, but present.

Earlier, the 'News Hour' aired footage taken by a BBC/ITV film crew near an 'Ebola Camp' (a medical compound where Ebola patients are isolated for treatment) in Liberia, as one of the infected walked out of the isolation ward. People in the immediate area began running away in terror; it was like watching a sequence from 28 Days Later.

The patient -- sick, frightened and probably not thinking clearly -- refused to listen to anyone suggesting he return to the Camp and kept on walking. Eventually, he was forcibly stopped and subdued by a small crowd of aid workers and a doctor, dressed in isolation suits, frantically pulled into the back of a truck and driven away.
Ebola Patient In Search Of Food (Left) Trailed By Aid Workers (Reuters News)
The sheer animal panic on the part of the townspeople around the Ebola Camp was disturbing and unnerving to watch -- but the patient had left the compound because he was hungry, and thirsty:  Relatives of those inside the compound were shown telling the BBC / ITV crew that those in the isolation ward were suffering, because the government of Liberia had not provided the Ebola facility with enough food or water.

At the moment, Ebola can only be contracted through direct physical contact with an infected person who is obviously ill. It doesn't spread as influenza does. However, as any virus circulates among more and more humans, it will do what any virus does -- mutate through recombination of genetic material, in order to give itself a better chance at replication by becoming more effective at infecting more hosts. Dr. Frieden noted there was no way to know how high chances are that Ebola could mutate, only that the possibility exists.

I invite you to remember the scene in the original Jurassic Park, where cloned Dinos had all been created as females and spontaneously changed sex in order to breed -- "Nature," Sam Neill said, "found a way".
  • 101 Celebrities' Nude Photos Hacked And Shared Online
In what must rank as one of the greatest tragedies of the twenty-first century, a group of 101 "celebrities", who apparently backed up their iPhone photos to Apple's iCloud, had their accounts hacked and the photos (apparently, some number of them showing the celebrities in the nude) copied and publicly distributed on the net via the site, 4Chan (The same folks what gave you " 'sup, /b/?" selfies -- yeah; those folks).

It was briefly considered whether to suspend trading on all major exchanges and to raise the matter in the United Nations General Assembly. Okay, maybe not.

One question, though: Why did these, uh, individuals have even so much as a single photo of themselves, naked? (Oh -- the UK Daily Mail reported that "Mary Elizabeth Winstead [who?] tweeted that nude photographs of her were taken with her husband 'years ago in the privacy of our home' ". Well, okay then.)
  • Sad Vlad Continues Slow-Motion Invasion, Eats Candy Bar
Well, no one is sure about the candy bar, but it's plain that the Russian 'Republic' has sent troops into Ukraine to provide just enough support for pro-Russian "rebels" that will allow them to seize the eastern section of that country -- which Russia will then absorb.

It's kind of a playful act by the Big Red Bear, really, just a 'little' invasion. No more than a division, tops -- and not even any air support! If they really wanted to go all out, the Ukrainians wouldn't stand a chance; Sad Vlad, The Putin, observed today that if he wanted to really invade, the could "take Kiev [Capital of Ukraine] in two weeks".
Obligatory Cute Small Animal Photo In Middle Of Blog Rant
The Ukrainian army had been winning against the 'rebels' in the previous two weeks -- which made Sad Vlad unhappy and peevish -- you know those Oligarchs; no one is permitted to say 'no' when they want something. So, the Russians slithered in, though one of their smaller units was captured by the Ukrainians and confessed to their active-duty status on camera.

The Russians waved a hand; ahhh, this is all a lie, a provocation. History and truth mean whatever the Oligarchs want them to.

America and the EU make noises about more trade and financial sanctions against Russia, and the Ruble continues to sink against the Euro and the Dollar -- but Sad Vlad knows he's holding most of the cards.  The EU, NATO and the United States appear weak and Sad Vlad appears fully in control. No one is going to start WWIII over the Ukraine.

And, the West Russia's diplomatic influence is needed to deal with Iran, Syria, and other nasty spots or bad actors in the Middle East.  Sad Vlad will eat another candy bar and snicker. No pun intended.
  • Lybia; Syria And Iraq And ISIS
Attacks by the Islamic Fascists in Syria and Iraq are -- unless the Ebola outbreak becomes worse -- together with the civil war in Syria, the greatest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century to date, a disaster equal to the appointment by the Supreme Court to the U.S. Presidency election of George "Lil' Boots" Bush.  It's a tribal conflict, a sectarian blood feud, with millions of displaced refugees and thousands dead, overlaid by a struggle for primacy in the Islamic world between the Mullahs of Iran and the House of Saud.

I'll say this once: Even if the West supplies more air power for the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmurga, ISIS will still have to be dealt with on the ground and destroyed. I'm not anxious for more conflict in a region that's seen almost nonstop bloodletting since March, 2003 (thanks, Dick! Thanks, Lil' Boots!), but these Fascists have proven themselves to be -- much like another bunch of European true believers who had to be crushed sixty-one years ago -- monsters who don't deserve to draw another breath.

You don't negotiate with them. You defeat them militarily and put the survivors on trial for Crimes Against Humanity, and then execute them or imprison them for life. Period.
  • America: It's Good To Be Rich
So long as a large majority of people have nice lives and can afford not to see the Bad Things just outside their magic circle -- or are so focused on making ends meet because their lives aren't so nice, and so don't have time to see anything else -- America will probably do very little about any of those Bad Things, until they start happening here. At the moment, it's all just things happening on a big flat-screen teevee. Until it isn't.

An article in The Motley Fool recently listed a number of reasons why You Should Be Grateful -- statistically speaking, even if you're not doing so well here in America ™ you're in the top One Per Cent of the world. Compared to the people suffering in West Africa, Ukraine, or the Middle East, you've got it made, Baby; there's a long line of humans who would do pretty bad things to have your life. 

The article's subtext was, aber natürlich: So don't whine any more. Statistically speaking.
  • The Most Profound And Important News Of All: A Story For The Ages
Finally, yet another humbling, and awe-inspiring chapter in the continuing tale of Rich Kiddies Gotta Play -- the best, of course, we saved for last:
(Photo: UK Guardian)


  1. Absolutely. And those little seals are winners, too.

    Uh... Hold on -- now I get it; you weren't just talking about Justin.

  2. Mary Elizabeth Winstead [who?]

    I didn't remember her by name either, but from Wikipedia I learned that I had already seen her in several movies. She plays Lucy McClane, the daughter of John McClane, the character portrayed by Bruce Willis, in two of the Die Hard series - the fourth film Live Free or Die Hard, in which her character has a central role in the plot, and the fifth film A Good Day to Die Hard.

    She was also Abraham Lincoln's wife in in the film adaption of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The film was released in summer 2012 to mixed reviews, but critics praised Winstead's performance. San Jose Mercury News calls Winstead "a standout" ,and Illinois Times says, "Winstead humanizes Mary [Todd Lincoln] by giving her a fiery wit and sense of resolve in the face of considerable adversity". h Little White Lies said she and the actor playing Lincoln share "a sweet chemistry that gives their handful of scenes an endearing warmth".

    After reading this Wikipedia bio, I have requested from my public library the DVD Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

    Just a word about Wikipedia - how did we live without it? Remarkably, even I appear in Wikipedia - not as the subject of an article, but as the second author of an article cited there: http://tinyurl.com/o6229n8, Reference 1. My co-author went on to be a Nobel Peace Prize winner - not individually, but as a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    It's a small world, after all - or maybe it's a very big Wikipedia. Probably the latter, actually.

    1. So *that's* who Lizzie is.

      I had dinner with Alan Rickman, accidentally, not long after the initial 'Die Hard' was released -- a friend's roommates were friends of Rickman's, and when his flight to or from Europe had a long layover in the Bay Area, he went to their house to visit. I dropped by unannounced and was invited to stay for dinner.

      Given my interest in character actors and Bad Guys in films, I recognized Rickman. He was sharp-witted and funny over dinner, making me wonder why he hadn't done more comedy (then came Galaxy Quest).

      viz. Wikipedia: Some time ago at work, a colleague showed me a U Tub video of a comic's appearance on the DLS. He described flying from Los Angeles to New York, sitting beside a man who complained loudly and long when, in the early hours of the flight, he lost an internet connection on his laptop.

      The comic observed, and not at all dryly, that this person was *flying*-- in a metal tube at 600 miles an hour on a journey from one edge of the continent to the other; something that would have taken roughly two weeks by train in 1900, *six months* in 1850, and over a year in 1815. The man was using an electronic device that could carry a good chunk of human knowledge on its hard drive and probably get him burned at the stake in the 16th century.

      "And you're *complaining*??" the comic said. "Really? Get a grip!"

    2. Alan Rickman

      the worst mismatch between film and film container description i have yet to encounter for an alleged comedy is from "an awfully big adventure" -

      "Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman star in director Mike Newell's (Four Weddings And A Funeral) engaging comedy about a star-struck young girl lured into the grown-up world of the theater. From a crush on the company's heartless director to her first sexual encounter with the show's biggest star, young Stella Bradshaw quickly discovers what it takes to make it in the theater.

      An intriguing blend of comedy and passion, this provocative story is a hilarious look at what really goes on when the lights go down."

      no, it is NOT hilarious - it is tragic - see it, or read a summary of the plot, with spoilers

      i have always hoped that Rickman, in person, is the gentleman he portrayed in Sense and Sensibility, or the opponent of evil he is finally revealed to be in the Harry Potter movies - i love movies where good people finally triumph, and the bad ones are defeated - that's what fiction is for, as Oscar Wilde sagely observed

    3. Never seen FWAAF; never wanted to. Language that describes a film as having an "intriguing blend of [Fill In Blank]" is like reading depictions of Thunderbird or TJ Night Train as possessing "curious notes of Ruby Port", or "undertones" of some damn thang o' other. At least cheap, fortified wine does precisely what you assume it will.

      As I said, that I recall, Rickman was funny, and in two very English modes -- dry, or Goon Show / Pythonesque.

    4. did see the scott pilgrim dvd and enjoyed it


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