Monday, November 22, 2004

CNN Stories

Before the first, posts to look forward to: movie reviews of National Treasure and Sideways; PS2 game reviews of X-Men: Legends and Shadow Hearts Covenant (SH2). There haven't been any posts for the weekend because of the latter. (Hehe.)


Kennedy assassination recreated in video game:
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- A new video game to be released on Monday allows players to simulate the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

The release of "JFK Reloaded" is timed to coincide with the 41st anniversary of Kennedy's murder in Dallas and was designed to demonstrate a lone gunman was able to kill the president.
Ewing said the game was designed to undermine the theory there was some shadowy plot behind the assassination. "We believe passionately there was no conspiracy," he said.

Traffic Games said the objective was for a player to fire three shots at Kennedy's motorcade from assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's digitally recreated sixth-floor perch in the Texas School Book Depository.

Points are awarded or subtracted based on how accurately the shots match the official version of events as documented by the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy's assassination.

Shooting the image of Kennedy in the right spots in the right sequence adds to the score, while "errors" like shooting first lady Jacqueline Kennedy lead to deductions.
That game is in such poor taste it's positively amazing. IMO, the only reason the company can get away with it is because the Kennedy assassination is so far rooted in the target group's past that there's virtually no memory of the event. Give it another 5-10 years and we may even see video games based on the Vietnam War, another currently-taboo subject. Wouldn't surprise me terribly though I would be equally apalled.


Scientists flood Grand Canyon - Flood waters will bring natural sediment to ecosystem:
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Arizona (AP) -- Scientists flooded the Grand Canyon on Sunday to restore beaches and save fish and plants that have been disappearing since sediment-free water began flowing from a man-made dam 40 years ago.

A torrent of gushing water raced down the Colorado River and into the canyon, carrying badly needed natural sediment with it, as four giant steel tubes at the base of Glen Canyon Dam were opened.
The construction of Glen Canyon Dam upstream forever altered the canyon: Four of eight native fish species have disappeared and prospects for the fifth, the endangered humpback chub, are grim. Only about 7 percent of the historical sediment before the dam was built remains.
Interesting application of ecology. I wish them luck!


First sex tourism law trial conviction:
SANTA ANA, California (AP) -- An 86-year-old man was found guilty Friday of attempting to travel to the Philippines to sexually molest girls, in violation of a new federal law aimed at fighting sex tourism.

A judge found John W. Seljan guilty of six counts, including attempting to travel for the purpose of having sex with minors and possession of child pornography.

Seljan faces a minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 270 years when he is sentenced in March.

The retired business owner is one of about a dozen men who have been arrested under the Protect Act, which was enacted last year. The law made it easier to prosecute those who molest children overseas and increased penalties.

Seljan was the first to go to trial on charges brought under the Protect Act, though at least two men have pleaded guilty.
A federal agent testified that Seljan told investigators he had "sexually educated" young girls in the Philippines with their parents' consent since 1983, and that he believed it was legal and culturally accepted in that country.
I vaguely recall hearing of this new law. Although I'm certainly not a fan of sex tourism or child pornography, the law reeks of an overextension of power. The government has decided that this particular conduct is so heinous that it must, for the good of its people, attempt to prevent them from participating in it. So, what's next? If the government determines that drug usage or prostitution is too despicable, no more flights to Amsterdam? Then, if people travel there from Germany (for example), no more flights to Germany?

Ridiculous, of course, but not too much so. Especially given the recent Republican win. Morals and values will be at the forefront of American government for at least the next 4 years. While often important, this particular aspect is also often too-far emphasized and considered.


Woman wins matchmaking lawsuit:
BALTIMORE, Maryland (AP) -- A federal jury awarded as much as $434,000 to a Ukrainian woman who sued the Internet matchmaking service that set her up with the man who allegedly abused her after they wed.

Nataliya Fox accused Encounters International of fraud and negligence, saying it should have screened its male clients and told her about a law that helps foreign nationals escape abusive relationships without fear of automatic deportation.

Instead, Fox testified, agency owner Natasha Spivack told her to endure the alleged abuse or return to Ukraine.

The agency had said it had no obligation to tell Fox about the so-called battered-spouse waiver because it never recruited her as a client. Spivack testified that Fox made up the story to get a U.S. visa. She said she had only introduced two adults and could not be held responsible for what happened.
Granted I have insufficient information to make a full determination (not that I'll let that stop me right now) but it sounds like the agency should have made it routine practice to inform its clients of this law. You know, your standard "Cover Your Ass" regiment. Hell, that's why us lawyers exist, right? (Or at least one reason.)


Microsoft warns Asian governments of Linux suits:
SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- Microsoft Corp. warned Asian governments on Thursday they could face patent lawsuits for using the Linux operating system instead of its Windows software.

The growing popularity of Linux -- an open-code software that is freely available on the Internet and easily modified by users -- is a threat to the global dominance of Microsoft's Windows.

Linux violates more than 228 patents, according to a recent report from a research group, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said at the company's Asian Government Leaders Forum in Singapore.
The Chinese government, in particular, sees its reliance on Microsoft as a potential threat. Conspiracy buffs believe certain patches in the Windows code might give U.S. authorities the power to access Chinese networks and disable them, possibly during a war over Taiwan.

Ballmer said the security fears some governments had about using Microsoft software were overblown.

"We think our software is far more secure than open-source software. It is more secure because we stand behind it, we fixed it, because we built it. Nobody ever knows who built open-source software," he added.
So much is wrong with this one that it's obscene. Let's start with Microsoft trying to instill a sense of hesitancy over an unlitigated matter (or one pending litigation) whose success could severely hurt Microsoft. That sounds like antitrust to me. Next, we have the conspiracy theories and comparisons between the two. I'm sorry, but Microsoft's Windows platform is less secure than Linux. Why? More popular means a better target. Write one virus for Windows or work on variants for Linux flavors? Which is the one-stop shop? And Microsoft is not doing a good job of keeping their operating system ("OS") in good straights. They never have, IMO.

If I could get away with it, if I knew my games and programs would work well, I'd switch to Linux in a heartbeat. Heck, I've already stopped using MSIE (Internet Explorer). I'm already thinking that when I get a new computer (probably in a little less than a year) I'll put a Linux flavor on this, my current-but-then-old computer. Just for fun, to play around with. Hopefully I'll have the time to play with it, too.