Pic of the Day – 70 years apart

Left: A crashed U.S. fighter plane is seen on the waterfront some time after Canadian forces came ashore on a Juno Beach D-Day landing zone in Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer, France, in June 1944.

Right: Tourists enjoy the sunshine on the former Juno Beach D-Day landing zone, where Canadian forces came ashore, in Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer on Aug. 23, 2013. British and Canadian troops battled reinforced German troops holding the area around Caen for about two months following the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944.

Let us remember absent friends.

Slowly, surely, a plan to impede the NSA is taking hold

A year after revelations first emerged from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about mass Internet surveillance, more e-mail providers are adopting encryption, a simple change that could make it harder for spy agencies to vacuum up huge numbers of communications in transit.

In an analysis released this week, Google said 65 percent of the messages sent by Gmail users are encrypted when delivered, meaning the recipient’s provider also supports the encryption needed to establish a secure connection for transmission of the message…Gmail has more than 425 million accounts worldwide and was an early adopter of e-mail encryption.

Only 50 percent of incoming messages are encrypted, Google says, but that’s up from 27 percent on December 11, 2013. And the numbers could get even better as more providers offer encryption by default to their customers. Charlie Davis, a Comcast spokesman, says the Internet service provider is working on it and plans to “gradually ramp up encryption with Gmail in the coming weeks.”

There are still significant gaps: less than 1 percent of traffic to and from Gmail from Comcast and Verizon is currently encrypted, and fewer than half of e-mails from Hotmail accounts to Gmail are encrypted.

What’s more, messages are protected only in transit—there’s nothing to stop the NSA from reading them if it gains access to an e-mail provider’s servers. Even here, though, the tide may be turning: on Tuesday Google released draft source code of a tool, called End-to-End, that would secure a message from the moment it leaves one browser to the moment it arrives at another—meaning even e-mail providers couldn’t read them as they travel between two people, because they wouldn’t have the keys needed to decrypt those messages…

Embarrassed by Snowden’s revelations, many Silicon Valley giants are advertising increased use of encryption.

Apart from any other consideration, as long as smart coders devise methods for keeping freestyle government snoops out of your life – and a profit can be made from it – then the word will get out.

Whatever the reasoning, netizens will continue to make their own decisions about privacy, voting with their feet if they feel concerned, refusing to opt in if they value privacy more than an extended puberty. That’s still a milieu apart from creeps with unconstitutional authority handed over by elected cowards – looking through the pages of your life.

Texas Republicans embrace homophobia – replace outright bigotry with stupidity!

The Republican party of Texas has toned down anti-LGBT rhetoric in the party platform, replacing outright condemnation with a softer endorsement of the “value” of reparative therapy.

The “reparative therapy,” alluded to in the newly-unveiled party platform, is the controversial process of subjecting a homosexual to clinical and psychological treatment with the goal of “turning” the patient heterosexual.

Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values. We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.”

It is illegal to subject children to so-called “reparative” therapy in New Jersey and California, as those states say it constitutes child abuse.

While still extreme by traditional standards, the new language is significantly less incendiary than the previous platform, which condemned the LGBT community on both historic and religious grounds.

“We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of our society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders and shared by the majority …”

Like I said in the headline – Texas Republicans think they’re appealing to reason by invoking the kind of junk science so beloved of dorks like Michelle Bachmann and her hubby.

Frankly, even a state like Texas – full of folks who vote the way they do because that’s the way they did it in the Confederacy – has to absorb enough watered-down good sense over time into their black-and-white standard-definition minds to understand crap science fixes nothing, nada, nuttin’ honey.

Is schizophrenia caused by demons? WTF?

GBeck's bedroom

“The causes of schizophrenia have been the subject of much debate”, and the debate is now extended with a new possibility proposed by Dr. Kemal Irmak, of the High Council of Science, Gulhane Military Medical Academy, Ankara, Turkey.

In the June 2014 issue…of the Journal of Religion and Health(which is an “international interdisciplinary journal which publishes original peer-reviewed articles that deal with mental and physical health in relation to religion and spirituality of all kinds.”) Dr. Irmak and colleagues ask : Schizophrenia or Possession?

“Hallucinations are a cardinal positive symptom of schizophrenia which deserves careful study in the hope it will give information about the pathophysiology of the disorder. We thought that many so-called hallucinations in schizophrenia are really illusions related to a real environmental stimulus.

One approach to this hallucination problem is to consider the possibility of a demonic world. Demons are unseen creatures that are believed to exist in all major religions and have the power to possess humans and control their body. Demonic possession can manifest with a range of bizarre behaviors which could be interpreted as a number of different psychotic disorders with delusions and hallucinations. The hallucination in schizophrenia may therefore be an illusion—a false interpretation of a real sensory image formed by demons.”

The new theory raises an enigmatic question : if medication helps patients, is it acting on the patients themselves, or on the demons which possess them?