Letters from the Lunar Outpost

As a rock on the seashore he standeth firm, and the dashing of the waves disturbeth him not. He raiseth his head like a tower on a hill, and the arrows of fortune drop at his feet. In the instant of danger, the courage of his heart sustaineth him; and the steadiness of his mind beareth him out.
- Akhenaton?, Egyptian King and Monotheist (c. B.C. 1375)

Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Interview

Last night, the wife and I went to seetheinterview.com and for $6 we got to see what the most infamous movie of the 21st century was all about.

After my initial excitement earlier in the month, I saw one commercial with a couple lame clips and heard a few murmurs (including a leaked email from a Sony exec calling the movie “desperately unfunny“) which started lowering my expectations, but we began watching the movie with an open mind. From the beginning, it was typical Seth Rogen fare – drug addled, kind of juvenile, lots of jokes about dudes being gay – but Pineapple Express and This Is the End had me laughing pretty hard, so I had no problem going along with it.

For the first half-hour, my running evaluation had it as “worth watching”, though not much more, but as the movie progressed, it really did get better and better. What had me surprised was how much my wife began cracking up once the movie really got into gear with Kim Jung-il, she’s pretty conservative and anything gratuitous (drugs, sex, swearing, whatever) usually has her flustered a bit, but the movie was making her laugh hard enough to overcome all but a few objections.

I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say that the movie pulls no punches in telling just how evil that fat little tyrant really is. It’s a pretty silly romp for the most part, no surprise that critics are split at 49% positive, and while a 70% positive rating from the regular fans isn’t stellar, you can definitely count me in with the 70%. I give it rating of 4.5 / 5.

We went fully thematic that night and made it a North Korean trilogy, following The Interview with Team America: World Police and National Geographic’s incredible documentary Inside North Korea. Crazy fare for a Christmas Eve, but then again what could be more Christ-like than to take a few hours and turn our attention to some of the most brutalized and destitute people on the face of the Earth.

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An action comedy about two guys going to China to assassinate North Korea’s Kim Jong-un? And they call him by name and portray him as the real deal, Dear Leader Kim Jong-un? That’s pretty ballsy.

In our house, we’re content to wait out most movies until they hit Netflix or Redbox, but from the first time I saw the trailer for The Interview, this was a movie I wanted to see as soon as it hits the theaters. The movie is set to open on Christmas Day, although as you may have heard, some interesting developments have happened since the trailers were released.

On November 24, 2014, Sony Pictures was hacked, big time.

The work day ended early for Sony Pictures employees. Most of them, anyway. The IT crew will be logging overtime as they deal with a massive breach perpetrated by a group of hackers calling themselves #GOP. The letters stand for Guardians of Peace… While their motives are unclear at this point, what is clear is that this was an attack of cinematic proportions.
 
Reportedly the original attack breached a single server; from there, it spread like wildfire across Sony’s network. The image [below] popped up on “every computer all over Sony Pictures nationwide,” according to a Reddit poster with inside connections. Other sources have confirmed the ominous image, which looks like something straight out of a 90s hacking flick.

source: geek.com

Message left by hackers on Sony Computers NationwideHackers are usually either motivated by greed in stealing identities or by a desire to simply vandalize networks and computers just for the hell of it. Add the movie studio quotient, and with this attack, there was also the possibility that these hackers were of the pirate variety, motivated by a penchant for spreading “free movies” around the Internet.

While four unreleased have been uploaded to file-sharing sites, when you check out the “Engrish” from the image that popped up on all those Sony Pictures computers across the nation, it’s obvious that the main motivation for these hackers is something quite different – these guys are holding Sony’s data hostage “until our request be met.”

We’re talking Social Security numbers for 47,000 celebrities, freelancers, and current and former Sony employees, 33,000 documents including personal information, salaries and home addresses along with an unknown number of unreleased scripts and movies.

I’m sure you can guess who topped the list of suspects on the rumor mill, and it wasn’t long before North Korea came out and addressed the rumors, denying that they were behind it, but saying that it was “a righteous deed” and while they claimed they “do not know where in America the Sony Pictures is situated and for what wrongdoings it became the target of the attack”, they also said it is possible the attack might have been carried out by supporters of Kim Jong-un.

Oh man, I hope this is a great movie, because the way it’s now spilling out into the real world is enough to make a great movie even greater.

Check out the North Korean Government stating flatly that “wrongdoings” by Sony that must have inspired the hacking and then the obfuscation in saying “we do not know where in America the Sony Pictures is situated,” as if anyone with a brain doesn’t know the data was hacked across that whole global network thingy they call “The Internet”. That is just so bizarre for a government to behave like that – they’re not even trying to be serious, they’re taunting us on a level that’s absolutely juvenile.

Then there’s the DPRK line where they say, it wasn’t us but it’s quite possible the hackers were North Korean citizens acting on their own. Yeah right! In a nation where millions have starved in the last few decades, all you have to do is look at a nighttime satellite image of North Korea and South Korea to see that the citizens of the North are living in the Stone Age. The only North Koreans getting on the Internet are the people working for the government.

North Koreans live in the Stone Age

All I know is, if Sony doesn’t give into the hostage takers and their “request”, my family will be there to see The Interview on Christmas Day.

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The Obama administration thinks body cameras can prevent future Fergusons and will dedicate $263 million to increasing their use by law enforcement agencies. The funding includes $75 million over three years to help police buy cameras, in addition to support for better training and oversight.
 
For people who support putting cameras on cops, this is a very big deal. The White House plan is intended to outfit 50,000 officers with cameras, which would almost double the number of cameras in use in the country. There are currently two major U.S. companies selling body cameras: Vievu, which has sold more than 40,000 cameras to 3,900 police agencies, and Taser, with 30,000 cameras in use by 1,200 agencies. The $75 million earmarked to purchase new body cameras is over seven times the total revenue Taser earned from selling the devices in 2013.

source: businessweek

It’s a tentative step, but I couldn’t agree more with President Obama on this.

When you consider all the witnesses who flat-out lied and testified that Michael Brown was shot in the back, it took weeks for three different autopsies to come back and prove these scumbags were lying to try to start a race war. Had a body cam video been released immediately, confirming the indisputable evidence that proved Michael Brown was reaching into Wilson’s police car trying wrestle the gun from the cop, all this “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” garbage would have been nipped in the bud and there would have been no riots in Ferguson.

If every cop in America was mandated to wear a body cam, every false witness in America accusing an innocent cop of murder would be stupid beyond their own stupidity to make those false statements knowing the cop’s body cam video would show it all.

As it is in any profession or any walk of life, there are going to be bad apples in every barrel and bad cops in every department, but imagine this – if trigger-happy cops knew that the whole incident and the suspect’s every move was being recorded, how many less police shootings would we have?   How many less incidents of lethal force would we have from back in the day when every “they said / I say” situation meant the police officer could craft a police statement that would be the final word?  This will be a great step forward to the legal system, which typically favors the police in any incident where lethal force usually relies on the police statement and the side of law enforcement?

Every cop in America should have a body cam.  That’s just common sense.  The body cams are coming, but if you’re an investor, don’t feel like you’re coming late to the game. Even with President Obama’s proposal of 50,000 additional body cameras on top of the 70,000 in existence, 120,000 body cams is still just a small fraction of the 780,000 police officers in America.  Yes, the initial announcement has been made, but it’s nothing more than a small step forward. Mark my words, we will see legislation passed where every police officer in America is issued a body cam as part of their standard gear.

It will be great for justice, but it also makes for an incredible opportunity for those of use who are looking for the next best investment opportunity.

There are a few players in the game, so you have to do your homework, but I can promise you this, someday in the not too distant future, there will be body cams on every cop in America.

With the tentative steps forward being made by President Obama, the swell is starting to rise, but there’s a big wave a comin’ and I encourage you all to ride it.

TASER International is on NASDAQ as TASR.

L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL) acquired a small company named Mobile-Vision, a pioneer of in-vehicle recording devices, or what we now call “dash cams.” Today, L-3 Mobile-Vision manufactures digital in-car recording systems, motorcycle-mounted recording systems, interview-room recording systems, license-plate recognition systems, and the VIEVU body-worn video camera system.

There are other companies that make on-officer cameras, including Panasonic (PCRFF), Digital Ally (DGLY.)

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Doris Kearns Goodwin