The courage we desire and prize is not the courage to die decently, but to live manfully.
- Carlyle, Scottish Author and Philosopher (1795-1881)
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.
Hackers 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.
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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So a few people on the Internet couldn’t help but notice that after 16 years of existence, Google chose today as the day they would honor Cesar Chavez’ birthday . . .
Today also happens to be Easter Sunday, the day that marks the Resurrection of Christ for the Christian faithful around the world, but hey, I don’t know why people are freaking out over Google’s choice of a leftist labor leader over the chosen Savior of two billion people. After all, Google has chosen to ignore Easter for thirteen straight years now. The last time Google recognized Easter was in their third year of existence back in 2000.
So I’m trying to figure out my reply to Google’s ongoing snub of the two billion faithful and I’m remembering how I was told that if you want to be a Christian, you should strive to be Christ-like in everything you do. Whenever you come to a decision point, you should ask yourself, WWJD – What Would Jesus Do? In this case, I asked myself, how would Jesus respond?
Unfortunately, I can’t really imagine what an Internet Jesus would tweet about this, so I decided to do the next best thing and take a positive course of action.
There, fixed it for you, Google!
I’m also fixing the default search engine on all the browsers in the house as well.
Happy Easter, all.
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I’ll call it the end of a love affair, although at times it was equal parts love and hate, especially when the bill came due, but other than those three months of wandering out in the desert in Aguanga, for twenty long years, whether it was cable programming through actual cable laid in the ground, or the same channels broadcast via satellite, cable TV had been a fixture in each and every home where I’ve lived.
Perhaps it sounds overly dramatic, but it really did feel like such a monumental decision, like a bridge that you cross and once you cross it, there might never again be any going back. Even knowing in the back of my mind that it would be as easy as a phone call to restart the service, it still felt like it was a life-changing moment as I called to cancel all those channels we’d been enjoying for so many years. (Yes, we do take TV that seriously in our house.)
Well, you know what? So far, we don’t miss anything as far as the programming goes and not paying the $70 / month? Very sweet indeed. Even when they tried to talk us down to $30 / month for just the basics, the decision had been made and we were determined to cut the cable to which we’d been bound.
As my eyes cleared and I realized that you can indeed have a great television set up with no monthly cable programming bill, I realized that I might even be a bit late to the party and there’s probably a lot of people in the youngest generation now who will live their whole lives and never sign up for cable and pay a monthly cable bill. For the rest of us, who have known nothing but cable our entire lives, I give you a five-point plan to ditching the cable bill and not missing very little of the service that went with it.
- It’s easy to forget that stations still broadcast over the airwaves, but they do and you can get most or all of your local channels for free by making a one-time purchase of an antenna like the Leaf for $37 delivered. How many channels you’re going to get depends on where you are, here in So. Cal. our antenna pulled in 30 stations (with maybe 7 or 8 in Spanish) when I visited my good friends in Nashville, they were pulling in 8, so it’s a little hit or miss, but local news and weather and exclusive channels you won’t find anywhere else make it a no-brainer.
- Once you’re pulling in your free local channels, for the rest of this to work, you’ll definitely need to ditch the dial-up if you haven’t already and you’ll probably need to upgrade if you’re on the cheapest DSL at 1.5 Mbps.
- Get a streaming player like the $50 Netgear NeoTV NTV200 which gives you full HD streamed from your wireless router. We started watching streaming TV on a couple PCs that were hooked up to our TVs via HDMI cables, but these little streaming players draw a lot less energy than a PC, so spend a little now and you’ll end up saving money on your energy bills in the long run. I also love small gadgets, the more they look like something Q would hand James Bond, the better. We have both the aforementioned NeoTV and a Roku in our house, both have performed nearly flawlessly. Internet enabled Blu-ray players or Smart TVs are two more options worth looking in to.
- Subscribe to HuluPlus for $8 a month and you’ll have some of the greatest shows on TV, most with every episode of the entire series available and all of them available completely on your own schedule. In our house, it was Arrested Development where we first discovered the joy of watching a great series, show by show, night after night, from the first episode to the last. Now we’re addicted to Lost and we get to feed our addiction every single night. The fact that we can go through the 120 episode series two, three, four episodes a night as opposed to waiting an entire week between episodes stretched out over six years, are you kidding me? I don’t think I could ever watch a series that way again. Just let me know when the series has had it’s run and all the episodes are available and we’ll enjoy it from beginning to end, a couple episodes a night, one night after the other.
- For another $8, subscribe to Netflix and you have the perfect combo, with HuluPlus specializing mainly in TV on demand and Netflix specializing mainly in Movies on demand. Yes, Netflix had by many people’s accounts 2011’s absolute worst PR disaster, but that’s old news at this point, the selection of movies they stream is pretty darn good, the same delay as the time it takes for a movie to make it from the theaters to your movie channels, but once it’s on Netflix, you can watch that movie a the time of your choosing instead of the schedule dictated by your movie channel.
So there it is, old news to a younger generation perhaps, but for those of us who have had nothing but cable bills our whole lives, with a good Internet connection, an antenna, a streaming player and a paltry $16 a month for HuluPlus and Netflix, as hard as it may be to visualize, you can ditch that cable bill and you might even find what takes its place far more enjoyable.
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The double-barrel decisions to punt on the bill capped an extraordinary week of public pressure — and an extraordinary reversal of fortunes for Hollywood, whose lobbyists seemed to think they were on cruise control to passage of bills aimed at protecting their content from online thieves.
Don’t you just love happy endings? Actually, in my case, I’m more of the Leaving Las Vegas ending type of guy, but still, to imagine the big money Hollywood lobbyists smug with the certainty that they had bought and paid for the votes of enough senators and congresspeople to ensure the passage of Chinese government censorship for America, only to see the tech heavyweights use their platforms on the Internet to rally public opinion to the tune of millions and millions of Americans signing petitions and calling their representatives . . . it’s a beautiful thing.
Power to the people – when organized and sufficiently motivated, even the biggest money of the big lobbiests can be defeated. Now if we could only get the same kind of public outcry to let the Obama administration know that “we can’t wait” on jobs and Keystone XL . . .
* technically, these bills have not been killed but punted, most likely until after the election. SOPA and PIPA are both heavily damaged in public perception though, so most likely it’s back to the drawing board instead of Congress trying to rework them. Let’s just hope they can find a way to address the concerns of the intellectual property rights holders without trampling the freedom of the Internet.
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If this doesn’t show why SOPA is so misguided and completely wrongheaded, check out the fact that even it’s own co-sponsors are not in compliance with the proposed law!!!
From Jamie Lee Curtis Taete at vice.com:
The above screencap shows the homepage of Florida congressman/SOPA co-sponsor/probable PIPA supporter Dennis Ross’ website.
Which features the appropriately titled illustration “Overweight Government Pig” by cartoonist John S. Pritchett. You’ll notice that Dennis cropped out the part where it says “© John Pritchett”. We contacted John, and he told us:
“To my knowledge, I did not license the usage of my “Overweight Govt. Pig” illustration to Dennis Ross.”
I felt it my duty as a law-abiding citizen to contact the Congressman and let him know of the offense:
Dear Congressman Ross,
This is to inform you that your use of the “overweight government pig” image at your website is in violation of copyright laws, and that your removal of the copyright holder’s name from the image shows premeditation and a willful disdain for said copyright laws on your part.
In keeping with the spirit of the draconian SOPA law which you support, we demand you blacklist your website and remove all traces of it from the Internet.
Thank you for your compliance. Long live Chinese-style totalitarian control of the Internet in America.
Congressman Ross only takes comments from addresses inside his 12th district of Florida. Feel free to contact him from my Bartow, Florida office:
255 N Broadway Ave
Bartow, FL 33830-3912