I had Chuck Norris pegged as a survival-of-the-fittest kind of guy. Guess I was wrong. Over at MovieGuide.org, a site that reviews movies based on biblical principles, the star of Walker: Texas Rangerweighs in on some of the wacky "Chuck Norris Facts" floating around the Internet. Like this one:
Alleged Chuck Norris Fact: "There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live." It's funny. It's cute. But here's what I really think about the theory of evolution: It's not real. It is not the way we got here. In fact, the life you see on this planet is really just a list of creatures God has allowed to live. We are not creations of random chance. We are not accidents. There is a God, a Creator, who made you and me. We were made in His image, which separates us from all other creatures.
Now while we're discussing the falacy of natural selection, let's talk about Hollywood projects God has allowed to live. (Image: publicity shot from Top Dog.)
Five years into the war on terror, American military contractors have finally lost some of their immunity from prosecution for dirty deeds done on the federal dime. In a post over on DefenseTech, the Brookings Institution's Peter Singer reports on a quiet insertion into the 2007 Pentagon budget that means "contractors' 'get out of jail free' card may have been torn to shreds." Basically, contractors are now subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which means they can be court martialed:
This means that if contractors violate the rules of engagement in a warzone or commit crimes during a contingency operation like Iraq, they can now be court-martialed (as in, Corporate Warriors, meet A Few Good Men). On face value, this appears to be a step forward for realistic accountability. Military contractor conduct can now be checked by the military investigation and court system, which unlike civilian courts, is actually ready and able both to understand the peculiarities of life and work in a warzone and kick into action when things go wrong.
The scope of new law is not entirely clear; it may include embedded journalists, too. (Not that they go around playing soldierJudy Miller aside.) But overall, says Singer, this move brings a bit of much-needed oversight to a largely unregulated industry. "Last month," he writes , "DOJ reported to Congress that it has sat on over 20 investigations of suspected contractor crimes without action in the last year." Sounds like a good place to begin.
This could be cool. A new site, Wikileaks, is setting up an open-source, online repository for leaked information. Using a wiki interface, it will allow anonymous whistleblowers to upload confidential info—but unlike Wikipedia, unhappy bosses and government agencies won't be able to edit or delete the entries. The site already claims to have received 1.1 million documents and plans "to numerically eclipse the content the English Wikipedia with leaked documents." Sounds like a potentially great source for activists and journalists. Not everyone is excited, though. Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News, who often passes on leaked or declassified documents from the U.S. government, writes: "In the absence of accountable editorial oversight, publication can more easily become an act of aggression or an incitement to violence, not to mention an invasion of privacy or an offense against good taste." Which gets to the heart of the wiki issue—unfettered authorship versus the demands of accuracy. Let's see what happens here.
Exhibit presents a snapshot of a single topic with a collection of stats, trivia, and factual found objects.This time's theme: advertising.
Worldwide product placement in all media was worth $3.5 billion in 2004, a 200% increase from 1994.
In 2005, there were 108,000 instances of product placement in television programming—up 30% from 2004.
Due to TiVo and other ad-skipping digital video recorders (DVRs), TV networks could lose up to 10% of their ad sales by next year.
The ceo of Turner Broadcasting told Cable World that using DVRs to fast-forward through ads is "actually stealing the programming." But, he conceded, "[t]here's a certain amount of tolerance for going to the bathroom."
"Make your patriotism pay off." That?s the pitch at Why-Buy-Dinar.com, one of dozens of websites that challenge stay-the-course Americans to put their money where their mouths are by buying up Iraqi banknotes on the cheap. Ten bucks gets you a "Patriot Pack" containing a crisp new 1,000-dinar note. Okay, it's only worth about 68 cents, but as soon as Iraq becomes a well-oiled capitalist democracy, the website claims, that banknote's value could increase a whopping 4,412 times to $3,000. Dinar dealer Darren Chabluk, a.k.a. "Dr. Dinar," says dinar speculation is booming despite the "dream stealers" covering up good news from Baghdad. "As long as there's no nuclear war in Iraq," he says, "I believe over the next five to ten years that a doubling of your money is highly possible." As Why-Buy-Dinar's president, Matthew Yonan, who personally owns around 50 million dinars, explains, "Iraq doesn't have to have peace in order to have prosperity."