Calling John Connor!

When Skynet becomes self-aware, everyone will realize this was a really bad idea. (From the Washington Post):

One afternoon last fall at Fort Benning, Ga., two model-size planes took off, climbed to 800 and 1,000 feet, and began criss-crossing the military base in search of an orange, green and blue tarp.

The automated, unpiloted planes worked on their own, with no human guidance, no hand on any control.

After 20 minutes, one of the aircraft, carrying a computer that processed images from an onboard camera, zeroed in on the tarp and contacted the second plane, which flew nearby and used its own sensors to examine the colorful object. Then one of the aircraft signaled to an unmanned car on the ground so it could take a final, close-up look.

Target confirmed.

This successful exercise in autonomous robotics could presage the future of the American way of war: a day when drones hunt, identify and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans. Imagine aerial “Terminators,” minus beefcake and time travel.

It even has “The Terminator” reference.

And here’s a chart on how it will work:

I’m going to mix movie metaphors here and quote Luke, Leia and Han:

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

Stranger in paradise

This should be a story in The Onion. But it really happened (from CBS News):

A Pennsylvania school district has decided not to stage a Tony Award-winning musical about a Muslim street poet after community members complained about the timing so soon after the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Richland School District in Johnstown had planned to stage “Kismet” in February, but Superintendent Thomas Fleming said Tuesday that it was scrapped to avoid controversy.

“We’re not saying there’s anything bad about the musical. We may potentially produce it in the future,” Fleming told The Associated Press. The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown first reported on the district’s decision.

Music director Scott Miller said the district, not far from where hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed, last performed “Kismet” in 1983 — to sold-out audiences.

As the story points out, “Kismet” won the Tony Award for best musical in 1954, and a year later, it was a movie starring Howard Keel.

The Sept. 11 connection? There isn’t one. But since it’s a musical about a poet in Baghdad set a thousand years ago, some parents complained. A reminder: Baghdad is in Iraq, and Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

As a matter of principle, here’s the trailer from “Kismet”:

So let’s see if we’ve got this right. If the high school puts on this play, the terrorists have won?

Next thing you know, they’re going to ban this:

(Yes, Jeannie was an Arab.)

“Bolero,” now leaving from track 5

There’s something to be said for bringing the arts to the masses. And the examples I’ve seen on YouTube seems to show that happening in other countries, not here in the U.S.

Last year, about a month before Christmas, there was the “The Hallelujah Chorus” in Canada. And this past May, the following happened at Copenhagen‘s Central Station:

That’s a pleasant way to start your commute. The Copenhagen Philharmonic just shows up, knocks off Ravel‘s “Bolero,” and disappears in less than 10 minutes.

Any new sports atrocities at News Corp.?

The Chicago Tribune found one according to Jim Romenesko at Poynter.org.

The Tribune reported that:

During the fourth quarter of the Bears-Falcons season opener, Fox turned its attention to Jay Cutler. Announcers Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston — known as “Moose” during his playing days — addressed Cutler’s injury in the NFC championship game against Green Bay, including questions and criticism that arose concerning the nature of his injury and his toughness. The broadcast then flashed three “newspaper” headlines across the screen:

Cutler Leaves With Injury
Cutler Lacks Courage
Cutler’s No Leader

For good measure, Johnson said on air: “These are the actual headlines from the local papers in Chicago.”

The whole production rang false to us. The headlines didn’t look real. The language used in them was off. And since we know that most Chicago media had defended Cutler, we looked into it.

Of course, you know what they found:

Nothing.

In fact, we could not find any such headlines in any newspaper in the United States.

So, what did Fox Sports have to say about it?

“The wrong word was used,” said Dan Bell, Fox Sports spokesman. “Our attempt was to capture the overall sentiment nationwide following that game.”

So, according to Fox Sports, the nationwide sentiment was that Jay Cutler was a wimp, but since they couldn’t find any newspaper stories that actually said that, they made up a few headlines and said they were written by Chicago newspapers.

Those of us who remember the playoffs know that some players did criticize Cutler for not returning to the game. But if I remember correctly some of those were players who weren’t in the playoffs. So those guys just didn’t play tough enough during the season. Otherwise they would have been in the playoffs, like Cutler.

But I’m not going to make up any headlines and say that was the “overall sentiment nationwide” about those players.

I’ll leave that to the folks at Fox.

Rose Garden colored glasses

President Obama talked about his re-election chances last weeks. Here’s an excerpt from a Talking Points Memos post:

Speaking to small audience of Democrats Thursday night, Obama acknowledged the jitters on his side, and jokingly reminded his audience of just how improbable their conversation was in the first place.

“Now, I know that, over the last couple of months, there have been Democrats who voiced concerns and nervousness about, well, in this kind of economy, isn’t this just — aren’t these just huge headwinds in terms of your reelection?,” Obama said.

“And I just have to remind people that — here’s one thing I know for certain,” he continued. “The odds of me being reelected are much higher than the odds of me being elected in the first place.”

Sure, he’s trying to energize the folks in the Democratic base after slapping them around for the past 2.75 years. But surely he realizes that winning the nomination is different than winning the presidency. In 2008, pretty much any Democrat who got the nomination was going to win the general election … except perhaps John Edwards, who’s adultery/love child scandal would have broken just before voting day. The economy was collapsing, the markets were failing and total world depression was just around the corner. That alone knocks the party in power out of power.

And now?

If you’re among the top 5 percent economically, things are great. Just read the New York Times stories this year about luxury playhouses and private jets to summer camp … for kids.

But that’s the top 5%. The remaining 95 percent look around and see the economy is collapsing, the markets are failing and total world depression is just around the corner. Meanwhile, the focus of the administration has been on deficits (which could have been dealt with later) instead of jobs (which needed to be dealt with immediately). That doesn’t bode well for the party in power.

So in reality, the odds involving getting the nomination weren’t in Obama’s favor in 2008, but once he became the Democratic candidate, the odds of winning were. Today, it’s reversed. Getting the nomination is already locked up. The odds of winning … not as certain.

Ron Paul’s ‘Let them die’ answer

In the last GOP debate (the CNN/Teabagger “Ameri-gasm” as Jon Stewart put it), Ron Paul was the one who received the question, “Would you let a sick young man without health insurance die?” (A paraphrase, but really the essence of the question.) Ron Paul proceeded to give a convoluted answer, so the viewers where left wondering what he meant.

Turns out, his answer was “Yes.” Why? Because it happened to the person who was responsible for Paul running for president.

Back in 2008, Kent Snyder — Paul’s former campaign chairman — died of complications from pneumonia. Like the man in Blitzer’s example, the 49-year-old Snyder was relatively young and seemingly healthy* when the illness struck. He was also uninsured. When he died on June 26, 2008, two weeks after Paul withdrew his first bid for the presidency, his hospital costs amounted to $400,000. The bill was handed to Snyder’s surviving mother, who was incapable of paying. Friends launched a website to solicit donations.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Snyder’s death in 2008. Here’s the link.

So:

1) Ron Paul not only talks the talk. He walks the walk.

2) Ron Paul’s answer to the question was total garbage. Here’s the example. Charity didn’t help Snyder. The “church hospital” didn’t save an American who suffered from pneumonia. And because he didn’t have health insurance, his bill was an unpayable $400,000.

More cheers from the GOP base

Former Republican presidential candidate and televangelist Pat Robertson offers this bit of GOP compassion:

Asked what a man should do whose wife has Alzheimer’s, an increasingly decrepit Pat Robertson says, “I know it sounds cruel but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over.”

In a week of Republicans cheering for record executions and wooing for the uninsured to drop dead – does this even get a blip on our disgust radar?

Two things:

1) This means Pat Robertson probably endorses serial adulterer and dying-wife dumper Newt Gingrich.

2) I shouldn’t have even bothered to ask about kittens and baby seals yesterday. The GOP answer is obvious.