raven's Sift Talk Posts


Yep, it was only a matter of time, classic Star Trek has met LOLspeak, and the blog Live Granades has LOL-ized everyone's favorite episode:

... more inside ...

Michigan Folk! Did you Vote Today??

Our primaries are apparently today... I totally forgot what with school and all... and the suspicious lack of advertisement about it... but anyway, there are about 2 hrs left until the polls close, so I'm off! and I hope you are too!

If You Love the 80s...

I Can Haz Cuervo?

And you're looking for a glossy new book to grace your coffee table... then check out Taschen's new American Ads of the 80s book... its pretty kickass, and I found myself totally mesmerized by the scads of acid wash jeans, heavily padded shoulders, hair metal glam rockers, and mullet wearing celebs that grace its pages...

Yes... Benatar does rock... am glad they got that sorted out

And apparently, they also have books for other decades as well, like the 60s:

Astronaut Baby Approvez of Ur Ride

and 70s:

Now that's Frolicious!

I will have to hunt those down as well, because if they are like the 80s book, the sample ads on the website don't even begin to scratch the surface!

Outsourcing Pregnancies to India

Turns out that just about everything these days can and is outsourced to India... including your pregnancy.

From an article from the The Associated Press

"ANAND, India (AP) — Every night in this quiet western Indian city, 15 pregnant women prepare for sleep in the spacious house they share, ascending the stairs in a procession of ballooned bellies, to bedrooms that become a landscape of soft hills.

A team of maids, cooks and doctors looks after the women, whose pregnancies would be unusual anywhere else but are common here. The young mothers of Anand, a place famous for its milk, are pregnant with the children of infertile couples from around the world.

The small clinic at Kaival Hospital matches infertile couples with local women, cares for the women during pregnancy and delivery, and counsels them afterward. Anand's surrogate mothers, pioneers in the growing field of outsourced pregnancies, have given birth to roughly 40 babies.

More than 50 women in this city are now pregnant with the children of couples from the United States, Taiwan, Britain and beyond. The women earn more than many would make in 15 years. But the program raises a host of uncomfortable questions that touch on morals and modern science, exploitation and globalization, and that most natural of desires: to have a family.....

.... Commercial surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002, as it is in many other countries, including the United States. But India is the leader in making it a viable industry rather than a rare fertility treatment. Experts say it could take off for the same reasons outsourcing in other industries has been successful: a wide labor pool working for relatively low rates.

Critics say the couples are exploiting poor women in India — a country with an alarmingly high maternal death rate — by hiring them at a cut-rate cost to undergo the hardship, pain and risks of labor....

.... Kailas Gheewala, 25, said she doesn't think of the pregnancy as her own.

"The fetus is theirs, so I'm not sad to give it back," said Gheewala, who plans to save the $6,250 she's earning for her two daughters' education. "The child will go to the U.S. and lead a better life and I'll be happy."

Patel said none of the surrogate mothers has had especially difficult births or serious medical problems, but risks are inescapable.

"We have to be very careful," she said. "We overdo all the health investigations. We do not take any chances."

Health experts expect to see more Indian commercial surrogacy programs in coming years. Dr. Indira Hinduja, a prominent fertility specialist who was behind India's first test-tube baby two decades ago, receives several surrogacy inquiries a month from couples overseas.

"People are accepting it," said Hinduja. "Earlier they used to be ashamed but now they are becoming more broadminded."

But if commercial surrogacy keeps growing, some fear it could change from a medical necessity for infertile women to a convenience for the rich.

"You can picture the wealthy couples of the West deciding that pregnancy is just not worth the trouble anymore and the whole industry will be farmed out," said Lantos....

... For now, the surrogate mothers in Anand seem as pleased with the arrangement as the new parents.

"I know this isn't mine," said Jagrudi Sharma, 34, pointing to her belly. "But I'm giving happiness to another couple. And it's great for me."

From the full article, Click Here

RSS Help for War on Terror Channel.... Please?

Okay, so I have a slight problem I can't seem to figure out on my own and I thought I'd offer it up to the far more knowlegable code-monkeys that frequent this site.

So, as you can see if you go to the War On Terror Channel page, I've got it set up so a list of links from a del.icio.us account shows up. I'd like to keep this for compiling links of resources, but I'd also like a way for the latest news headlines to appear because I don't have the time everyday to go around hunting for them and then posting them to del.icio.us.

I was trying to figure out a way to get the BBC Middle East news roll to show up via RSS feed but I am stumped. The BBC RSS helps section seems to imply that I can use their feed on my website, but I can't figure out how to do this.

Will somebody look at this and see what we can do?

Iraq Gains Are "Reversible": Petraeus

By Peter Graff

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. and Iraqi commanders said on Saturday there had been a remarkable improvement in the country's security over the past year, but the top American general also warned that the gains could be reversed.

"Success will emerge slowly and fitfully with reverses as well as advances. Inevitably there will be tough fighting, more tough days and more tough weeks, but fewer of them, inshallah (God willing)," General David Petraeus said in a year-end briefing to journalists.

In a message to his troops, he wrote: "A year ago, Iraq was racked by horrific violence and on the brink of civil war.

"Now, levels of violence and civilian and military casualties are significantly reduced and hope has been rekindled in Iraqi communities. To be sure, the progress is reversible and there is much more to be done."

Petraeus said the number of attacks in Iraq had fallen by 60 percent since June and the number of civilian deaths had fallen by 75 percent since a year ago. The number of U.S. military deaths was also sharply lower.

But figures supplied at Petraeus's briefing also showed a slight rise in suicide car and vest bombs since October. At least 33 people were killed by two suicide bombs on Christmas Day, and 10 people died in a Baghdad car bomb on Friday.

December is on track to be the least deadly month for U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

At his own end-year briefing, Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf issued another series of optimistic statistics:

Seventy-five percent of Al Qaeda networks and 70 percent of its activities have been eliminated, he said. Assassination attempts were down by 79 percent since June.

Fewer corpses were being dumped in the streets: "We found more than 15 to 20 bodies in February every day. But now the number of dead bodies is 3 or 5 (per day)," Khalaf said.

Story Continued on Reuters.com

All Iraqi Groups Blame U.S. Invasion for Discord Study Shows

All Iraqi Groups Blame U.S. Invasion for Discord, Study Shows

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 19, 2007; A14

Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of "occupying forces" as the key to national reconciliation, according to focus groups conducted for the U.S. military last month.

That is good news, according to a military analysis of the results. At the very least, analysts optimistically concluded, the findings indicate that Iraqis hold some "shared beliefs" that may eventually allow them to surmount the divisions that have led to a civil war.

Conducting the focus groups, in 19 separate sessions organized by outside contractors in five cities, is among the ways in which Multi-National Force-Iraq assesses conditions in the country beyond counting insurgent attacks, casualties and weapons caches. The command, led by Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, devotes more time and resources than any other government or independent entity to measuring various matters, including electricity, satisfaction with trash collection and what Iraqis think it will take for them to get along.

The results are analyzed and presented to Petraeus as part of the daily Battle Update Assessment or BUA (pronounced boo-ah). Some of the news has been unarguably good, including the sharply reduced number of roadside bombings and attacks on civilians. But bad news is often presented with a bright side, such as the focus-group results and a November poll, which found that 25 percent of Baghdad residents were satisfied with their local government and that 15 percent said they had enough fuel for heating and cooking.

The good news? Those numbers were higher than the figures of the previous month (18 percent and 9 percent, respectively).

And Iraqi complaints about matters other than security are seen as progress. Early this year, Maj. Fred Garcia, an MNF-I analyst, said that "a very large percentage of people would answer questions about security by saying 'I don't know.' Now, we get more griping because people feel freer."

Iraqi political reconciliation, quality-of-life issues and the economy are largely the responsibility of the State Department. But the military, to the occasional consternation of U.S. diplomats who feel vastly outnumbered, has its own "mirror agencies" in many areas. Officers in charge of civil-military operations, said senior Petraeus adviser Army Col. William E. Rapp, "can tell you how many markets are open in Baghdad, how many shops, how many banks are open. . . . We have a lot more people" on the ground.

On Iraqi politics, "we have four to six slides almost every morning on 'Where does the Iraqi government stand on de-Baathification legislation?' All these things are embassy things," Rapp said. But Petraeus is interested in "his 'feel' for a situation, and he gets that from a bunch of different data points," he added.

Even though members of the military "understand the limitations" of polling data, Rapp said, "subjective measures" are an important part of the mix. In July, the military signed a contract with Gallup for four public opinion polls a month in Iraq: three nationwide and one in Baghdad. Lincoln Group, which has conducted surveys for the military since shortly after the invasion, received a year-long contract in January to conduct focus groups.

Outside of the military, some of the most widespread polling in Iraq has been done by D3 Systems, a Virginia-based company that maintains offices in each of Iraq's 18 provinces. Its most recent publicly released surveys, conducted in September for several news media organizations, showed the same widespread Iraqi belief voiced by the military's focus groups: that a U.S. departure will make things better. A State Department poll in September 2006 reported a similar finding.

Matthew Warshaw, a senior research manager at D3, said that despite security improvements, polling in Iraq remains difficult. "While violence has gone down, one of the ways it has been achieved is by effectively separating people. That means mobility is limited, with roadblocks by the U.S. and Iraqi military or local militias," Warshaw said in an interview.

Most of the recent survey results he has seen about political reconciliation, Warshaw said, are "more about [Iraqis] reconciling with the United States within their own particular territory, like in Anbar. . . . But it doesn't say anything about how Sunni groups feel about Shiite groups in Baghdad."

Warshaw added: "In Iraq, I just don't hear statements that come from any of the Sunni, Shiite or Kurdish groups that say 'We recognize that we need to share power with the others, that we can't truly dominate.' "

According to a summary report of the focus-group findings obtained by The Washington Post, Iraqis have a number of "shared beliefs" about the current situation that cut across sectarian lines. Participants, in separate groups of men and women, were interviewed in Ramadi, Najaf, Irbil, Abu Ghraib and in Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad. The report does not mention how the participants were selected.

Dated December 2007, the report notes that "the Iraqi government has still made no significant progress toward its fundamental goal of national reconciliation." Asked to describe "the current situation in Iraq to a foreign visitor," some groups focused on positive aspects of the recent security improvements. But "most would describe the negative elements of life in Iraq beginning with the 'U.S. occupation' in March 2003," the report says.

Some participants also blamed Iranian meddling for Iraq's problems. While the United States was said to want to control Iraq's oil, Iran was seen as seeking to extend its political and religious agendas.

Few mentioned Saddam Hussein as a cause of their problems, which the report described as an important finding implying that "the current strife in Iraq seems to have totally eclipsed any agonies or grievances many Iraqis would have incurred from the past regime, which lasted for nearly four decades -- as opposed to the current conflict, which has lasted for five years."

Overall, the report said that "these findings may be expected to conclude that national reconciliation is neither anticipated nor possible. In reality, this survey provides very strong evidence that the opposite is true." A sense of "optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups . . . and far more commonalities than differences are found among these seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis."

Article from the Washington Post

The Iraqi Shiites The history of America’s would be allies

This article is a pretty good run down on the history of the Shiites of Iraq, the multiple factions that constitute them as a political force, and their various goals. I think its a good read for anyone interested on the topic, or trying to understand the current struggle within Iraq and the region.

The Iraqi Shiites: On the history of America’s would-be allies
Juan Cole

The ambitious aim of the American war in Iraq—articulated by Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and other neoconservative defense intellectuals—was to effect a fundamental transformation in Middle East politics. The war was not—or not principally—about finding weapons of mass destruction, or preventing alliances with al Qaeda, or protecting the Iraqi population from Saddam’s terror. For U.S. policy makers the importance of such a transformation was brought home by the events of September 11, which challenged U.S. strategy in the region by compromising the longstanding U.S. alliance with Saudi Wahhabis. In response to this challenge, the Bush administration saw the possibility of creating a new pillar for U.S. policy in the region: a post-Baathist Iraq, dominated by Iraqi Shiites, which would spark a wave of democratization across the Middle East.

But the Bush administration badly neglected the history of the group they wanted to claim as their new ally. Who are the Iraqi Shiites? And how likely are they to support democracy or U.S. goals in the region? To address these questions, we will first need some background.
click to read the rest @ The Boston Review

For the Person Who Has Everything...

Gold Pill makes your poop glitter for Just $425

From: dvice.com [click for picture]

If you've got so much money that you're just looking for new ways to waste it, Tobias Wong and Ju$t Another Rich Kid created the Gold Pill for you. It's a pill dipped in gold and filled with 24-karat gold leaf. You're supposed to eat it "to increase your self-worth." That would be funny if it didn't cost $425 for the joke. Supposedly an added benefit is that it will make your poop sparkle, but no one seems to have proven that part yet (and if you do, please don't send us the pictures). This is either genius social commentary or a brilliant way to bilk rich people out of their money. If Wong's name sounds familiar, it's probably because he also created the $2,000 ccPhone.

Tancredo to boycott Univision debate

Tancredo to boycott tomorrow’s Univision debate. (from thinkprogress.org)

Tomorrow, Univision will be hosting a GOP presidential debate at 7 PM EST. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) is boycotting the event, and yesterday put out a statement criticizing the other candidates for attending:

“It is the law that to become a naturalized citizen of this country you must have knowledge and understanding of English, including a basic ability to read, write, and speak the language,” Tancredo said, in a press release e-mailed by his campaign to reporters. “So what may I ask are our presidential candidates doing participating in a Spanish speaking debate? Pandering comes to mind.”

“America has been a melting pot of people from all over the world but it can not survive as a nation if our immigrants do not assimilate. A common language is essential to that goal. Bilingualism is a great asset for any individual but it has perilous consequences for a nation. As such, a Spanish debate has no place in a presidential campaign.

Hey Girlzzz, It's Double X Delurking Day

To all my VideoSiftin' Sisters...
I've noticed recently that there are a lot more of you around and about. This is good, for a long time, there were seemingly very few of us chicas using this site (I believe the Sift census we took a while back counted us as 15% of users), and fewer that were active members (for a while there it seemed like it was just me, Swampy, and the long lost LadyBug). But I've noticed that there are more of us now, and many of you are users that I had assumed were dudes at first- common occurrence actually, happens to me all the time, because unless you have a very gender specific handle, who knows otherwise.
So, if your game (I understand if you've decided to remain gender neutral for some reason or another), stop on by this thread and give a shout out, so we can all get to know one another!

Man Caught Having Sex With Bicycle Sentenced

This was just too bizarre to not share...

Apparently, some 51 year old guy in Britain got caught having sex with a bicycle by two housekeepers at a hostel...

"The 51-year-old was naked from the waist down and when the women opened the door he paused only to ask, "What is it, hen?", before continuing to "move his hips back and forth as if to simulate sex".

The police were called and at a hearing last month Mr Stewart was placed on the sex offenders' register after admitting a sexual breach of the peace...

... The court was told that alcohol was the cause of his problems, and he was placed under the supervision of a social worker and warned that if he re-offended he would be sent to prison.

Sheriff Colin Miller added: "In almost four decades in the law I thought I had come across every perversion known to mankind, but this is a new one on me. I have never heard of a 'cycle-sexualist'. "

Mr Stewart, an unemployed bachelor, has described the incident as a misunderstanding caused by too much drink, and said claims that he was having sex with the bike were "a load of rubbish".

His solicitor Gerry Tierney described his client as a "sad little man" who was trying to tackle his drink problem. "

But yeah.... WOW... I can't decide what is more mind boggling... that someone would have sex with bicycle, or that someone would be charged with a crime for it...

Your thoughts, fellow sifters?

Channel Request

So, on our channels, all the tabs at the top are directly related to the specific channel one is viewing... except for the 'Playlists' tab, which displays playlists from the whole of the sift. Instead, why don't we have that tab display only playlists related to the specific channel, kind of how we had the 'related videos' function on the old collectives... that way we can use playlists to sort the videos within the channels... for instance, like I am sort of trying to do with my channel:

War on Terror
-Raw Footage from the Front
-Human Rights Issues
-Satire & Comedy

etc, etc.

Or, conversely, maybe we can figure out some sort of better interface to achieve such structuring.

TVLinks Shut Down, Owner Arrested!

TVLinks Shut Down, Owner Arrested.

"Though not hosting an actual content himself, and rather merely providing links to where particular titles can be found, he was nonetheless apparently charged for the "facilitation" of copyright infringement.

"Sites such as TV Links contribute to and profit from copyright infringement by identifying, posting, organizing, and indexing links to infringing content found on the internet that users can then view on demand by visiting these illegal sites," said a spokesman for Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) today. "

Uh oh... is VideoSift next?

32 Days of Halloween

Found this via Neatorama (love that partnership we have by the way, great idea guys!)...

32 Days of Halloween @ needcoffee.com

All month they've been posting great horror movies and clips in celebration of my upcoming and very favorite holiday. A lot of these flicks are already on the sift, but some aren't and are still up for grabs... I'm sure Pyrex would agree that any one of them would make a great addition to his HorrorShow!

If anyone is interested...

It would be a HUGE help to me if some willing individuals would help to append the massive amounts of previously sifted material to this new channel. If you are interested, you can help by going through my Mess-O-Potamia Playlist and tagging some of the vids with the command *waronterror. I, of course, have started to do this already (just finished going through its sister playlist, Vids-From-The-Front), but I do have a life off the sift as well and things need attending to. So, if you're interested, or possibly bored, or just as OCD as myself, and looking for something to do, this would help to speed up the launch of this channel.

Thanks, and anyone who helps out with this will earn my complete gratitude!

Some Guidlines for the War on Terror Channel

Greetings Fellow Sifters and Welcome to the War on Terror Channel!

In light of the serious nature of many of the discussions that will undoubtedly arise on this channel, I just want to lay out a few ground rules that I would be most appreciative if everyone followed:

1. In general, BE RESPECTFUL:
-of one another (no matter how heated an argument gets).
-of all military combatants (this goes for our men and women in uniform AS WELL as those we are fighting- it is important to at least try and understand the motivations of all sides of a conflict if one is to truly understand the root of it, and therefore, work towards a resolution).
-of other cultures, races, and religions (I DO NOT WANT any racial slurs or other forms of intolerance spewed forth in our discussion. It is childish, and counterproductive... please try to grow beyond this).

2. Posting Videos to the Channel:
-please do! Lots of em!
-for videos shot by soldiers, if at all possible, please include the who, where, what, why, and when in the title and/or description and tags of your submission... its just good journalism, and will make what the viewer is seeing more clear.
-please refrain from rampant editorializing in your titles and tags... if the content of the video is meant to push and agenda (like an anti-war song, etc), then let the content speak for itself. Please do not use your titling to skew the viewers opinion of the material, let them decide on their own what it is they are viewing.
-as of now the VideoSift Guidlines state:
"Please do not post pornography or "snuff" films (which we define as the explicit depiction of loss of human life displayed for entertainment).

Note: The presence of human fatality is acceptable and not considered "snuff" if presented as a limited portion of a lengthy educational, informative news report or documentary. Our definition of "snuff" does include but is not exclusive to any short clip in which a human fatality occurs whether or not any victims are actually visible on camera."

This rule is currently under review following a lengthy SiftTalk discussion held about a week ago. However, until the guidelines have formally been rewritten, please continue to follow the current ones in all your submissions.

I think that about does it for now, if there is anything else I think of I will be sure to bring it to your attentions. Thank you.

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