Elvis Presley, Nazis, (dis)information freedom and whatnot

Vanity, disinformation and rumors get picked up and passed around and our BS filters get sidestepped by the sourcing of the information. Take this Elvis Presley = Nazi idea that circulated lately. Another example of the perils of the information age:

Almost 28 years after his death, fans of the King of Rock, Elvis Presley, can now see their icon in a radically different light; that as a Nazi.

The legend is seen wearing a Nazi cap and giving a Nazi salute in some pictures taken from a grainy half-hour home cine film.

The pictures, believed to be from the sixties, were taken during a boat trip with friends and have surfaced at the same time as Presley's ex-wife Priscilla released his home movies.

"I was given it ages ago, I think when I used to own a bar. But I had never watched it. It wasn't until I found it in the loft that I decided to. When I did I was shocked," Mark Vernon, who owns the tape, was quoted as saying.

The story still appears on News.com.au, an Australian site, FemaleFirst.co.uk, ContactMusic.com. Originally the British tabloid Sun propagated the story but of course the Sun's Elvis page has expired. The counter-story comes from Elvis-express.com, which is filing a complaint with the UK's Press Complaints Commission.

The other horror would be blogebrity.com, an agglomeration of big shots or something like that. So when I first visit I get the bloviating post:

While the majority of the emails we've received have been something along the lines of:

I love it....this is so much fun; I'm glad somebody finally did this, etc.

There have been a few of these:

You suck. Your list sucks and you suck and people should ONLY talk about blogs in the way I WANT THEM TO. Shame on you. Oh....and you didn't put me on your list. You suck and I hate you.

Just a clue to the haters--your whining is more transparent than a glob of used Neutrogena. But please, do keep it up....your sour grapes are like a glass of Opus One to us.

Speaking of which, I do think it's time for an eye-opener.

So right off the bat they are indulging their own egos in the mailbox. This one's destined to be a classic. On the other hand this site declared that blogging has finally passed a critical peak, from which it will roll downhill:

Blogging Jumps Shark, Becomes Trucker Hat

Following the recent whirlwind of blog hype including Nick Denton's love affair with the New York Times, his pie to the face at the Radar Magazine party, the launch of Blogebrity, Jason Calacanis' three million micro-blogs, a sudden explosion of branded character blogs and "all marketers should blog" blog conferences, it's now official. Rick Bruner and I, today, declare blogging to have gone the way of the trucker hat. In celebration of this sacred event, May 20, 2005, you can pick up your memorial, Nick Denton Trucker Hat over at Cafe Press.

That is too bad. HongPong.dyndns.org ran on a hacked-together Mac Linux server in the fall of 2000, when "blog" had not yet become soggy label to spill from the mouths of those grinning chicks on CNN... Before Hugh Hewitt and Scott Johnson appropriated something thought up by far more clever people.

So it is sorely tempting to pull the plug on HongPong.com now that the living situation is changing. Either that or some sort of drastic redesign, something overwrought and bombastic, like a John Williams score.

Elvis might be a Nazi but Jim Morrison is alive, according to rodeoswest.com. Why the hell not? I guess it reinforces my point that there is very little truth to latch onto. "FlashNews" tells us something:

Filmmaker Claims Jim Morrison Is Alive In Oregon

NEW YORK (Wireless Flash) – Here’s news that will light the fire of Jim Morrison fans: A filmmaker claims The Doors’ frontman is alive and raising horses on a ranch in southern Oregon. Rodeo photographer Gerald Pitts insists Morrison didn’t die in July of 1971 and he has current photographs and film footage of the rocker to prove it.

Pitts, who met Morrison in 1998, says the rocker staged his death because of a French conspiracy to kill him, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix with narcotics because they were all Vietnam war protestors. These days, Morrison isn’t the drug user he once was, although Pitts says when he goes over to Jim’s house he’ll “maybe have an occasional beer.”

Now Pitts claims that Morrison is announcing he’s alive, in part, to promote his recent agreement to star in a rodeo shoot-out movie based on events that actually happened to Pitts.

Yet another reason to leave this country, as Arun would put it.

In other random news an online tool called Tor provides anonymity in Internet use, and was originally developed by the Navy. It is becoming popular among government and other such types... Mysterious. But the EFF supports it, so it must be good. Sort of similar to this sourceforge project called ANts, Freenet, (Freenet-china.org looks interesting) and MUTE are all anonymizing systems--that is, they shield a user's IP number and data using layers of encryption. A major problem, for say, your software pirate or Chinese dissident, is making sure the IP can't be traced to you as you engage in things. Centralized servers are another weak point, and other technologies such as our beloved BitTorrent are getting "distributed tracker" features put into their clients. Tor sounds promising, then:

The Naval Research Lab began developing the system in 1996 but handed the code over to Roger Dingledine and Nick Mathewson, two Boston-based programmers, in 2002. The system was designed as part of a program called onion routing, in which data is passed randomly through a distributed network of servers three times, with layers of security protecting the data, like an onion.

Dingledine and Mathewson rewrote the code to make it easier to use and developed a client program so that users could send data from their desktops.

"It's been really obscure until now and hard to use," said Chris Palmer, EFF's technology manager. "(Before) it was just a research prototype for geeks. But now the onion routing idea is finally ready for prime time."

Dingledine and Mathewson made the code open source so that users could examine it to find bugs and to make certain that the system did only what it was supposed to do and nothing more.

The two programmers wanted to guard against a problem that arose in 2003 when users of another open-source anonymizer system -- called JAP, for Java Anonymous Proxy -- discovered that its German developers had placed a backdoor in the system to record traffic to one server. The developers... said they were forced to install a "crime detection function" by court order.

Law enforcement authorities have long had an uneasy and ambivalent relationship with anonymizer services. On the one hand, such services allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies to hide their own identity while conducting investigations and gathering intelligence. But they also make it harder for authorities to track the activities and correspondence of criminals and terrorists.

Anonymizer services can help protect whistleblowers and political activists from exposure. They can help users circumvent surfing restrictions placed on students and workers by school administrators and employers. And they can prevent websites from tracking users and knowing where they're located. The downside is that anonymizer services can aid with corporate espionage.

....Tor builds an incremental encrypted connection that involves three separate keys through three servers on the network. The connection is built one server at a time so that each server knows only the identity of the server that preceded it and the server that follows it. None of the servers knows the entire path the data took.

So I guess my ultimate point is that technology is offering solutions for freedom, as well as coercion. Disinformation, however, is something that only our brains seem capable of swatting away, and it's an uphill battle.

Misc:

Look at this sweet

Robot Hand. More Koran desecration rumors. "60 Minutes Wednesday" gets cancelled, y'all can't keep telling us about insane prisons....

Television newsmagazines in general have been suffering in the ratings. There was some speculation that one of ABC's newsmagazines might be canceled, but both "20/20" and "Primetime Live" were included on the schedule announced Tuesday.

"The mood in the country right now tends to favor escape," Heyward said. "There's a lot of grim news out there. In prime time, when people are looking to be entertained as well as informed, a drama or a reality show is tough competition. The thing about reality shows is they offer the same appeal of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances, but it's all a game. There's a happy ending."

Tech: Microsoft used Apple G5's to demo their Xbox games at the recent E3 conference. That's right, Apples run the Xbox software somehow... Check out ImageSavant.com: this is what the Apple spinning ball should look like.

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