Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Kano: A Lego Computer

I'm more of a computer user than a computer maker, but I do wish that I could get more into the coding of programs, and not be dependent on those people in IT to help me with all of my computer based issues.

Until now I hadn't heard of any way of building a bare-bones computer yourself. No doubt these have existed, but really, the website for Kano is just out of this world ~ is a great way of finding new products and personally I have been interested enough in the product to put my hard earned money into funding the following:

99% Invisible, an incredibly interesting podcast that needed funding to create season 4
Monster Hunter International: Challenge Coins. Think challenge coins + vampires and werewolves
God Hates Astronauts - an insane comic book that, if I explained it to you, would have me incarcerated
The Monster Hunter International Employee's Handbook and RPG - a book load of artwork about MHI
And finally, ringbow, that was meant to be a finger based mouse, but turned into a rage infested tornado!

Anyhoo, Kano is a make it yourself computer;

What you get from Kano 

What you can make


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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

J'accuse! By Robert Harris

Georges Picquart died 100 years ago this month. To which the response from most quarters is likely to be “Georges who?” Even in his native France, his centenary is passing largely unremarked. Yet in the days of Queen Victoria and Theodore Roosevelt, Picquart was a figure of global controversy, revered and reviled in equal measure as the world’s most famous whistle-blower.

Unlike his 21st-century counterparts Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, Picquart was neither a disaffected nor a junior figure in the organization he was to expose. On the contrary: In October 1894 he was a brilliant, rising army officer. One of his steppingstones to advancement had been a professorship at the École Supérieure de Guerre, and one of the officer-cadets he had taught there was a Jewish artillery captain, Alfred Dreyfus.
Photo du colonel Piquart - Affaire Dreyfus
Photo du colonel Piquart - Affaire Dreyfus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Picquart, like many of his contemporaries, was casually anti-Semitic. It came as no surprise to him when Dreyfus — the only Jew on the general staff — was suspected of passing secret intelligence to the Germans. It was Picquart who provided a sample of Dreyfus’s handwriting to the investigators. And when expert analysis seemed to confirm Dreyfus’s guilt, it was Picquart who met his unsuspecting former pupil in the Ministry of War so he could be quietly bundled off to prison.

Alfred Dreyfus
Alfred Dreyfus (Photo credit: George  Eastman House)

In December, Picquart attended Dreyfus’s court-martial as an official observer. For reasons of national security it was held behind closed doors. When told that a file of intelligence evidence existed, conclusively proving Dreyfus’s guilt, Picquart supported the decision to show it in secret to the judges.

The file clinched the conviction. Dreyfus was sentenced to life imprisonment. On Jan. 5, 1895, before a crowd of 20,000 shouting, “Death to the Jew!” Dreyfus had his sword broken and the insignia of his rank torn from his uniform. Observing the spectacle, Picquart remarked laconically to a fellow officer: “He’s a Jew, don’t forget that. He’s thinking of the weight of the gold braid and how much it’s worth.” In March, Dreyfus was transported to Devil’s Island, off the coast of South America, where he was denied all human contact, including conversation with his guards.

Picquart, meanwhile, prospered. Six months later, at age 40, he was made the youngest colonel in the French Army and put in charge of the tiny intelligence unit, known as the Statistical Section, that had compiled the evidence against Dreyfus.

The section’s prize agent was a cleaner at the German Embassy, Marie Bastian, who supplied the contents of the wastepaper basket of the military attaché, Col. Maximilian von Schwartzkoppen. It was she who was the source of the “bordereau” — the note that an expert had concluded was in Dreyfus’s hand.

Nine months into Picquart’s tenure, Bastian passed on a pneumatic telegram card — a “petit bleu” — that von Schwartzkoppen had torn into 40 fragments. Glued together, the telegram revealed that the German attaché was receiving intelligence from a serving French officer, Maj. Charles Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy. Picquart immediately put Esterhazy under surveillance. He turned out to have the classic profile of a spy: a drunkard, a gambler, heavily indebted, and leading a double life with a prostitute in Montmartre. Moreover, he was dangerously active: He had recently applied for a job in the general staff.

Sitting in his office, Picquart compared Esterhazy’s letters with the bordereau. “I was terrified,” he testified later. “The two writings were not similar; they were identical.” The next day he showed them to the handwriting expert, Alphonse Bertillon, whose evidence had helped convict Dreyfus. Bertillon confirmed Esterhazy’s writing was a perfect match, but saw no reason to revise his original judgment: “It merely shows that the Jews have trained someone else to write using the Dreyfus system.”

Picquart’s next step was to inspect the intelligence that had been passed to Dreyfus’s judges. “I took possession of the secret file for the first time since my entry into the service. I confess that my amazement was profound. I was expecting overwhelming evidence. I found nothing.” Indeed, such scant evidence as there was had plainly been fabricated.

Drawing "a family supper" from Caran...
Drawing "a family supper" from Caran d'Ache in le Figaro on February 14, 1898. The drawing depicts the divisions of French society during the Dreyfus Affair. At the top, somebody says "above all, let us not discuss the Dreyfus Affair!". At the bottom, the whole family is fighting, and the caption says "they have discussed it". (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Picquart took his discoveries to the chief of the French general staff, Gen. Raoul de Boisdeffre, and to the overall head of military intelligence, Gen. Charles-Arthur Gonse. Their reaction appalled him. He was told to avoid any avenues of inquiry that might lead to a reopening of the Dreyfus case. “What does it matter to you,” demanded Gonse, “if one Jew stays on Devil’s Island?”

“Well,” replied Picquart, “because he’s innocent ...”

He pressed on with his investigation, to the irritation of his superiors. Two months later, he was relieved of his duties. By the spring of 1897, he was an exile, transferred to a native regiment in Tunisia on what amounted to a near-suicidal mission into the southern Sahara.

It was then that Picquart, after 25 years’ army service, realized he had no alternative but to break ranks. He passed his evidence against Esterhazy to a senior politician, the vice president of the senate, Auguste Scheurer-Kestner. Then, at the end of 1897, he provided Émile Zola with the information that enabled the novelist to write his celebrated exposé of the affair, “J’Accuse ...!” Picquart’s reward was to be dismissed from the army, framed as a forger and locked up in solitary confinement for more than a year.

It was not until 1906 that justice was finally done; Dreyfus’s conviction was quashed, and Picquart was restored to the army with the rank of brigadier general. That fall, when his friend and fellow Dreyfusard, Georges Clemenceau — the owner of the newspaper that published “J’Accuse ...!” became prime minister, he made Picquart minister of war, a post he held for three years.

Front page cover of the newspaper L’Aurore of ...
Front page cover of the newspaper L’Aurore of Thursday 13 January 1898, with the letter J’accuse...!, written by Émile Zola about the Dreyfus affair. The headline reads "I accuse! Letter to the President of the Republic". See J'accuse...!, the whole text on Wikisource. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Jan. 18, 1914, six months before the outbreak of the First World War, while in command of the Second Army Corps at Amiens, Picquart died of edema of the face — effectively, suffocation — following a riding accident. He was 59.

He had no family to preserve his memory: A bachelor with a succession of married mistresses, he left no children. A large section of the army never forgave him for betraying his comrades. And some of Dreyfus’s supporters continued to accuse him of anti-Semitism. An awkward figure in death as well as life, he slipped through the cracks of history.

And yet the injustices against which he fought so courageously — the inherent unreliability of secret courts and secret evidence, the dangers of rogue intelligence agencies becoming laws unto themselves, the instinctive response of governments and national security organizations to cover up their mistakes, the easy flourishing of “national security” to stifle democratic scrutiny — all these continue. “Dreyfus was the victim,” Clemenceau observed, “but Picquart was the hero.” On this day, he deserves to be remembered.

Robert Harris is the author of a forthcoming novel about Georges Picquart, “An Officer and a Spy.”

 kthanxbai! Jumblerant
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Monday, February 3, 2014

A Few More Funnies

Just in case you thought I'd been a bit too 'heavy' in my recent posts; a light, refreshing intermission:

And my favourite:



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

SodaStream and Hating Israel

There has been a lot of hate and anger sent against Israel in the last few months (years, decades...) but none has been as obviously anti-Semitic as the BDS (boycott, divest and sanctions) attitude to a Super Bowl advert this year.

Her amazing-ness the Scarlett of Johannsen has come forward as a spokesperson for a fizzy water maker. Big deal. Ah, but that fizzy water maker is made in Israel. Oy vey! Stop the harlot from selling their wares. Its despicable. Its not fair on the kids.

Anyway, the factory in Israel is actually very supportive of it's workers, the majority of whom happen to be Palestinian.

Have a super day now!


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Monday, January 27, 2014

My Rabbi Is Tougher Than Your Rabbi

English: rabbi Shmuel rabinovitz Rabbi of the ...
English: rabbi Shmuel rabinovitz Rabbi of the Western wall with Rabbi Shmuel Deutch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Seriously? That's the level I'm stooping to? Yes, it appears that I am.

Despite the fact that Israel has a highly motivated and, sadly, highly active. army, the link between 'Rabbi' and 'Ultimate Warrior' has been lacking. Until now:

A California rabbi stepped into the cage for his first amateur MMA bout recently and won via TKO in the second round, according to FOX News (via The Algemeiner). Yossi Eilfort began training just six months ago under former UFC fighter Thierry Sokoudjou and said he never hit anyone in the face before.
His goal was to promote self-defense and fitness in the Orthodox Jewish community. Eilfort wanted the “physical, personal, mental challenge” -- not to injure someone.

“I believe if we’re not challenging ourselves, then we’re wasting time,” Eilfort said.

Yeah, my Rabbi can DEFINITELY beat up your Rabbi!

kthanxbai! Jumblerant
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

For The Danger Of It

A friend of mine recently praised wholeheartedly a new movie coming out called 'The Crash Reel'. Its a movie I am looking forward to seeing, but from the official trailer below, I was hooked by one line a reviewer is quoted on. And I think it might be the first time that I actually listen to what a reviewer says.

Did you catch the quote? At 1.49 Empire is quoted as saying ' Senna, its appeal and message transcend'.

Ayrton de Silva Senna was a hero of mine back in the '80s so I paid attention to that quote. And I am sure for sure going to watch The Crash Reel when it comes out too.

Here is why Ayrton Senna was just so amazing:

And thats why David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher and so many more F1 drivers all agree that he was an amazing driver, if not the best driver of all time.


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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Being Batkid

Back in November both The Joker and The Penguin invaded San Francisco, and the public not only cheered them, but literally hundreds of thousands of volunteers stood in the sun for hours on end to do so. Heck, the SFPD even had a helping hand in making sure that their plans went off like clockwork.

And here is why:

The Batkid phenomenon is already the subject of dissertations and theses as well as a forthcoming full-length documentary. Until that hits theaters, however, sit back and enjoy this video that takes you behind the scenes on Batkid day.

Miles, whose leukemia is in remission, was exhausted by lunchtime but the sight of the crowds and an escaping Penguin perked him right up again. His father beams with pride when Miles, a habitually quiet boy, put the Riddler in his place.

Great stuff. We can all agree that a 5 year old need never fight an evil such as cancer, but The Penguin? Yeah, he told him off without missing a step.



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