The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Getting up with modern tech

| December 31, 2005

So, since I'm commuting, I'm actually listening to the radio for an hour or so each day. I have a portable music player, and have been listening to Tales From The Afternow, but now that I've worked through that, I started listening to AM talk radio. Two weeks later, and I'm tired of that. So, I installed iPodder and hooked up the Hydrogen Economy to grab those. Now, I listen to Rant Radio at work (which I like), but there's just too much crap I'm not interested on on Rhode Island terrestrial radio.

So, I need more. Ideally, what I'm looking for is interesting music, even better, some decent talk radio subjects. Those of you who know me know what I'm in to. Suggest away.

Culture, Islam, etc.

| December 29, 2005

Sabin sent me the following:

matt, What does your new religion of “don’t-be-a-dick-ianity” say about this behavior? ‘Honor’ killings shock Pakistan http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/asiapcf/12/28/pakistan.honor.ap/index.html sabin

To which I replied:

My religion doth state: ——————— While Western civilization is not without it’s black marks in this regard (adulteress == witch, scarlet lettering, etc.), enourmous strides have been made in the past couple centuries towards curbing this type of behavior. Similarly, the Chinese and Japanese cultures have had changes in the cultural ideas as “women as property” and the cultural ramifications of adultery/virginity/etc. Now, while it is unfair to judge a whole culture by the actions of one man (and indeed, one who is being prosecuted for his crimes), there is most definitely a strong opinion of women as property and second-class citizens in the Arab world (nicely addressed by an episode of “American Dad” where Stan gets stationed in Saudi Arabia). Indeed, many Muslims (both men and women) are of the opinion that treating men and women equally is a bad thing from a cultural and societal perspective. In this regard (the treatment of women), I think that Western civilization, non-Muslim Eastern Civilization, and, hell, basically the rest of the world, while not necessarily perfect, is vastly superior to Muslim civilization. This may make me a cultural bigot. I am perfectly comfortable with this. ———————- Now, with regards to this specific individual, I think two in the chest and one in the head will suffice. Carry on.

Discuss, if you like.

Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter

| December 20, 2005

  • Was better than Bubba Ho Tep
  • Rivals Army of Darkness as the best B-horror-movie error.

Oh yeah, for all you business traveling people

| December 20, 2005

If you travel, for business, and need your stuff covered (Laptops, projectors, etc.) plus some other supplementary coverages, then we just added a new insurance product to our lineup – we are now carrying CSA's “Business Executive” policies.

You can read more here

The big thing about this (not mentioned in the overview linked to above) is that the baggage coverages are $5,000, which is way more than most leisure travel products.

And another thing

| December 19, 2005

Everyone is up in arms about the whole “presidential wiretap” thing. Here's my take on it:

What did people expect? Between the PATRIOT act, and, gee, I don't know, everything that's happened with the FBI and all the other intelligence agencies in the past 75 years?

Think about it – when you give governments the ability to do something, the only thing stopping them from doing it is their own restraint, which invariably erodes over time.

The only way to stop this from happening would be to stop the government from having the ability to wiretap, hence my use of crypto as often as possible. (Here's my PGP key for those who are interested).

“But, but, then the evil terrorists will attack us because we don't have surveillance”.

Yeah, and if we are constantly living in fear and having our whole lives monitored, then they already have.

Commentary on various news items

| December 19, 2005

  • 81 Year Old Woman Evicted for nonpayment of Sewer Bills Basically, the gist of it is that she owed $1000 to the sewer commission and payed $500 of it, but she ended up losing her house because she didn’t pay the rest. Everyone here is going nuts about how unjust and unfortunate this is. Now, I agree that it is a little sad to happen near Christmas, and it pisses me off that the Sewer company has the same authority as a tax collector (they can take a lien on your property and all this stuff), which is much more authority than the other utility companies have. However, fundamentally, this woman did not pay her bills, and when you don’t pay your bills bad shit happens
  • Race Riots in Australia, Muslim Rape Wave in Sweden Okay, the basic idea about this is that muslim men from various countries are raping western women because they don’t wear head scarves and likely aren’t virgins. Therefore, they get what they get. The guy in Australia mentioned that “I’m from Pakistan. This is how we do it here. It’s part of my culture”. I could easily see this happening here, and the liberals making excuses about how this is his culture and religion, and he didn’t know any better, and was exercising his first amendment freedoms. Okay, well, how about some of my culture. Hell, I’ll even invent a religion: it’s called Boondock Saintsianism, and the nutshell deal is:
    We do not ask for your poor, or your hungry. We do not want your tired and sick. It is your corrupt we claim. It is your evil that will be sucked by us. With every breath we shall hunt them down. Each day we will spill their blood till it rains down from the skies. Do not kill! Do not rape! Do not steal! These are principles which every man of every faith can embrace. These are not polite suggestions. These are codes of behavior. And those of you that ignore them will pay the dearest cost. There are varying degrees of evil. We urge you lesser forms of filth… ..not to push the bounds and cross over… ..into true corruption, into our domain. But if you do… …one day you will look behind you and you will see we three. And on that day you will repent! And we will send you towards ever god, you wish.
    Lucky for me, the citizens here in the states have a long tradition of taking the law into our own hands when the institutions fail us. We’re not that far from the common man’s law of the old west. Suffice to say, if anyone comes here, and pulls this type of stuff, we, the people of these United States, will pull you from the stand and extract real justice. Even when we run out of trees, there are still lamp posts. (As an aside, I’m all for a lack of moral absolutes, but some things are simply inexcusable. Sanctioning rape to enforce “social values” is one of those things, and any culture which believes such actions should be wiped from the face of the earth)
  • On a similar note (vigilante justice)A women is sentenced to 22 years in prison for killing her parents Short version: She was abused by her father, presumably with the silent consent of her mother. Raped repeatedly from age 5 on, bearing him two children at ages 13 and 15, she learned that her father was molesting her 14 year old daughter, and so she shot both the parents with a .45. I am completely comfortable with this.
  • Armed New Hampshirites torch the UN flag This is apparently a yearly ritual for them, and I’m all for it.
  • An administrator at California State University, Sacramento has banned decorations pertaining to Christmas and the 4th of July, among other holidays, from her office because they represent “religious discrimination” and “ethnic insensitivity.” Yes, because stifling everyone’s right to express their beliefs is a marvelous way to celebrate diversity. Hey, guess what people – diversity means everyone gets a voice, even those voices which you might not like or agree with. This is part of the first amendment. If Toby Kieth wants to talk about putting a boot in someone’s ass, or everyone wants to talk about how bad the president is, then go right ahead; that’s what this country was founded on. But don’t make people stop talking because someone might get offended. There is no constitutional protection to stop you from getting offended. Grow a pair and get over it. (Additionally, I’m not a religious person, but I’ve taken to wishing people a Merry Christmas just to piss off the rabid atheists, because they bug me just as much as Christian Fundamentalists.)
  • Some kid was making a lot of money posing (pornographically) in front of his webcam Okay, so while I concede that this is sick and depraved (not getting off on watching 14 year old boys get naked, I have little appreciation for it), I don’t actually see what is wrong here? Oh, wait, he’s not 18. Did it ever occur to people that maybe, just maybe the fact that there is both supply and demand for this might mean that it shouldn’t be illegal? (Yes, like prostitution). “Oh, but these impressionable children are being victimized” How? They’re making a pantload of money, in the privacy of their own home. There is no danger. It’s safer than working at a 7-11. “But they’ll be corrupted and scarred for life” Maybe. Maybe not. However, I think that the law should protect the physical security of the citizens. If you are not getting robbed/beaten/raped/murdered, then the law is functioning correctly. What two consenting citizens do is up to then. “But they’re children, they’re not adults, they don’t know any better” And this is where we come into how our society represses maturity. Fostering this attitude is like telling black people that “the man” is keeping them down – it destroys individial initiative by telling you what you can’t do, and why. Hell, Admiral David Farragut was given his first command at 12 years old, and people were apprenticed about that age. It’s only in modern times, when “education” became a mass-produced inistitutionalized regimen synchronized to the calendar that we’ve invented these modern ideas of adulthood.
Anyway, there’s a rumbly in my tumbly. Oh, a quip from Liz: “If the History Channel is the Hitler Channel, the Food Network is the Pennsylvania Dutch Channel” (because the Pennsylvania Dutch are the fathers of just about all American confectionry).

News Commentary

| December 13, 2005

Some items in the news which I feel are worthy of some discussion.

  • Yet another study which says that video games desensitise people to images of violence. For the time being, let’s just ignore whether or not this is accurate, and assume that it is. What is so bad about that? Maybe this is a balancing factor for the ongoing pussification of America. You know, the whole “violence is not the answer/take back the night but no one should have guns” crowd. Maybe it’s just me, and I grew up in a more rural area, and am close enough to the cycle of life to be aware of it. I look at the Peta “meat is murder, look at these poor animals” and I don’t feel anything other than a rumble of hunger in my stomach, because dead animals are good.
  • I’ve been listening to AM talk radio on the way home. One of the shows is the Randi Rhodes show. She (and everyone else) is talking about the “Cycle of Death”, because of this Stanley Williams fellow, who started the Cripps and was executed for some murders he committed twenty years ago. I guess that her basic idea is that since he’s written a few children’s books while on death row, somehow he’s redeemed himself and has some value now, and killing him hasn’t gotten us anything else. I have a slightly different take on it: HE KILLED FOUR PEOPLE. For this he was sentenced to die. It is only because of the architecture of our criminal justice system that he sat on death row for twenty years. (I’m avoiding using words like “inefficiency” here, because I don’t have any suggestions on how to improve it. Suffice to say that the nature of it causes there to be a lag from when someone is sentenced to death and when the sentence is carried out). If our system was a little quicker, he wouldn’t have had a chance to write these nice books. However, I’m sure that if that was the case, they would have found something else to complain about with it. Maybe how the justice system is racially biased because the majority of people convicted of crimes are black. Maybe because more black people (for whatever reasons) commit crimes? But no, you can’t say that, that’s politically incorrect.
  • The other thing that Ms. Rhodes said was something to the effect of “The world isn’t going to let us get away with our invasion of Iraq, and China/Russia/etc. are going to come and attack us”. I call bullshit, for a couple reasons. First, I don’t think they care. They have enough to worry about. Second, it would be suicide. It would be as bad as it would have been if we had invaded the Japanese Home Islands in WWII. Hell, it probably would be worse, because we folks in the US are ARMED, wheras the Japanese weren’t.
  • Ms. Rhodes also was talking about how much this war was costing, and how bad the deficit is, and how much the Republicans are costing the country, and similar. Now, she’s right, it is costing us a lot. However, in the previous breath, she was talking about how the evil Republicans want to cut back on food stamps, education, medicare, etc. Let’s break it down, shall we? – The constitution says that the government has the right to wage war. – The constitution makes NO provisions for education, welfare, medicare, and all this other socialist shit. Ergo, the Republicans are actually spending money in line with the constitution. Now, that said, I tend to agree that we’re spending too much money, but I think that we could cut our defense budget in half simply by good accounting packages. According to some statistics on a GAO report which I read, none of the various facets of the DoD can actually account for what money they spend from their budgets. If this is to be believed, it’s something like three quarters of our federal budget, where we have no idea where it went, aside from “to the DoD”. We, as taxpayers, need to demand more.

I think that's it for now.

Snow

| December 9, 2005

We got about 10 inches today. I worked from home (got to love hacker jobs).

Beetle Liz’s Beetle in the snow. Golf My Golf in the snow. Golf Wheels Detail of my wheels. It’s drifted up a bit, since this is the upwind side, but without the drift it would still be at the lugs. Needless to say, I’ve been loving the heated seats and mirrors while commuting. Deer The deer mentioned in an earlier post glowing in the snow.

More stuff, and promised pictures

| December 8, 2005

Links: Maxpedition makes some cool bags. Not sure if I'll get any, because Sportsman's Guide has a pile of cheap stuff (as always), but hey, seems like a decent company to plug.

The community seems interesting.

Other stuff: So, Liz doesn't seem to have a problem with the survivalist stuff. This is good. It means I don't have to feel guilty or hide anything from her, and she'll keep me in line if I get a little too nutty. For example: I realize that I don't NEED an East German AK-47 bayonet. This is not a survival thing, but merely a toy. I don't need a WWI trench knife either, it's just badass.

However, I realize that these things are silly. Bouncing ideas off of Liz, however, makes me realize that the ones that I think are good ideas might be silly.

I dug out my compass today. Why do I have one? Because everyone should. Why did I dig it out? Well, we're talking about going hiking in the woods. Noting the bearing which you head out makes it easier to get back.

We've also talked about maybe getting some lightweight aluminum snowshoes. I found some cheap ones for less than $75. Might do that. Not sure. We'll have to see.

no flash No flash. flash Flash.

Ketchup

| December 7, 2005

  • I’ve started listening to Rant Radio at work. It is interesting and amusing. I highly recommend it, though one should utilize headphones, because they tend to curse a lot.
  • I’ve started watching Patrolling with Sean Kennedy, which is sort of a “modern survivalist” sort of show. For example, the show I’m watching now is doing a segment on boots, what type of boots to buy, how to choose boots, etc. The previous episode has a section on pants. Anyway, I recommend it. The second season is torrents, which are pretty scalable, but the first season is straight download, so to save the nice mirror guy’s bandwidth, if anyone wants a copy of it, I can burn them a DVD of it (it’s about 2GB) if you drop by my house to pick it up.
  • I’ve modified my AK according to the instructions here, because it has a lot of trigger slap (the trigger comes back and hits your finger when the bolt cycles and it chambers the next round). Now, this was actually pretty easy. The downside to it is that if I screwed it up, the disconnector could fail to catch the hammer which could lead to a slam-fire (which happens when the round is fired before it is fully seated in the barrel) which could do such nasty things as destroy my rifle and kill me. Anyway, I don’t think that this will happen, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. However, I will start with single shots – the idea being that if the disconnector doesn’t catch the hammer, I would be happier if it falls on an empty chamber than on a live round, you know?
  • Anyway, I’ve taken a liking to paintball scenario games. Large games (300+ people), with lots of large scale maneuvering, recon, strategy, and all that stuff. The last one I went to featured lots of folks with very military looking rifles. Come to find out, there’s a whole subculture of people devoted to this stuff. So, I figured I’d try my hand at making a paintball version of my AK, without too much effort. Paintball gun and real gun So, the basic gun is a Tippmann A5, which has a quasi MP5 look to it. If you remove the foregrip, and add a stock (yeah, it’s sort of an MP5 style stock, but it’s the best I could get) and a BT AK-47 barrel. It points well, and looks the part. I thought about putting an empty magazine on it. I picked up a polymer Pro-Mag, but the mag wants to be where the pressure regulator is, and I couldn’t come up with a way to make it fit all nicely, I could get a bracket and mount it forward of the pressure regulator as many folks do, but that screws up the ergonomics of the rifle, because the mag is too far forward. It is actually lighter than the AK, but once you add tank and hopper, it ends up being a little heavier. Paintball gun with tank and hopper When you add the tank and hopper, it doesn’t spoil the lines too much.
  • I’ve been thinking that Liz and I should try to get out and hike more. I feel a lot less stressed with my job, and have started to become restless. I need to get some cargo bars for my car, so that I can borrow my parents’ kayaks and explore the little lakes and tributaries around northern RI. Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to go hike around as well. Maybe I should pick up a cheap used GPS on eBay and do the geocaching thing? Or, maybe I should just take a compass and hike. I had a compass, I should probably find it. Heh, errant thought. Anyone want to join me? We can call it “Hike Club”. 😉
  • Liz was watching Oprah. This woman was on where she divorced her husband and he came back, stabbed her something like 50+ times, then strangled both the kids. Now, aside from how tragic this is, I can think of two anti-gun responses: (1) That’s horrible! We should ban knives! (2) It’s a good thing he didn’t have a gun, otherwise, she’d be dead, because she would have been shot! No one has actually said this, but neither would have surprised me. Oh, and stabbing people is basically as deadly as shooting them. Shooting them just has longer range, and doesn’t require a lot of physical strength.
  • Speaking of shooting, I managed to hurt myself shooting this weekend. I got a chance to fire a Smith and Wesson Model 500. This fires bullets that looks like this. Now, that’s a bullet that is 1/2 inch wide, in a casing over an inch long, full of powder. Anyway, it was so powerful, and I was holding it so tight, that I managed to pull the muscles on the back of my hand – you know the muscles that you use to make a tight fist. This has never happened to me before, and is a little disconcerting. But then again, that gun was basically a round almost as powerful as a rifle, with nothing to eat up the recoil (such as a bunch of moving parts which chamber the last round). Just a little nuts.
  • I bought new shoes this weekend. It was a “buy one, get one half price” deal, so I got some slippers too. I feel old, since they’re Dr. Scholl’s, which makes me think “orthopedic”. But, man are they comfortable. I need to buy socks, too. And underwear. I guess I’ll have to head to Target or something. I should probably clean and polish my boots, too. They look like crap.
  • We have 5 foot long animatronic deer on our lawn now. Liz wanted them, because she likes them. Each one has 300 little lights on it, and they move. I’ll try and grab pictures some evening. I had already taken my coat and shoes off, so I didn’t do it tonight.
  • Lobsters amuse me. What better thing to do than take a bunch of territorial arachnids and stack them in a tank. That must drive them nuts.
  • Elk meatloaf is yummy, especially when Liz makes it.