matt | January 31, 2008
So, I've had two pints of reasonably high-octane ale, and I'm sitting here hacking (trying out PC-BSD, actually), and listening to music. I just took my big old 30GB of ripped CD's and hit “shuffle”. So, it's an interesting mix. I'm not really paying attention, it's just kind of background.. and then “Somebody to love” by Jefferson Airplane comes on (I think it was part of a soundtrack..)..
How fucking stoned did people have to be to like this shit
Aaaah… Some Metallica… much better. Sure, they got everyone pissed off with the Napster thing and I haven't bought one of their albums since then, but as long as you get some of their earlier stuff from back when they liked people to bootleg their tapes, I think enjoying them is fine…
Anyway, I'm out of beer, and I think I'll switch to tea.
matt | January 29, 2008
Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, Stephen King This is the final Dark Tower book, and it ended well. However, it lacks the charge one gets from reading the first three books. As these books were written, the author has aged, and the simple fire and passion of a young man has given way to the self-reflection and deep thoughts of an older man. As such, the later tomes become more contemplative, and this is no exception. Frankly, I am disappointed – not because of the book, but because the tale is done. To an extent, the story was better when we left our heroes rocketing towards possible doom aboard a senile old monorail. However, one must remember that there are other worlds than these.
Politically Correct Guns, Alan Gottlieb This was just funny. The typesetting was rough, the use of clip-art was garish, but the quotes, stats and figures just illustrate how.. special.. the anti-gun machine is.
- = denotes new addition
Currently Reading: The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, Massad Ayoob Serenity Found, Jane Espenson Betty Crocker's Kitchen Gardens, Mary Mason Campbell
Currently on the stack: The Official Handbook of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Mark W. Smith Supreme Court Gun Cases – Two Centuries of Gun Rights Revealed, Kopel, Halbrook and Korwin Straight Shooting – Firearms, Economics and Public Policy, John R. Lott, Jr. America Fights Back – Armed Self-Defence in a Violent Age, Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman The Past Through Tomorrow, Robert Heinlein The Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present, Howard Zinn The Underground History of American Education, John Taylor Gatto The Falcon Banner, Christopher P. Lydon Sigil of the Wolf, Christopher P. Lydon The Lion's Pride, Christopher P. Lydon Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy, G. Gordon Liddy The Door Into Summer, Robert Heinlein Tomorrow, The Stars, Robert Heinlein The Rolling Stones, Robert Heinlein The Number of the Beast, Robert Heinlein Great Issues in American History, Volume II – From the Revolution to the Civil War, 1765-1865, Richard Hofstadter. Great Issues in American History, Volume III – From Reconstruction to the Present Day, 1864-1981, Richard Hofstadter and Beatrice K. Hofstadter The American Political Tradition and the men who made it Richard Hofstadter SAS Survival Handbook, John “Lofty” Wiseman On Killing : The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, Dave Grossman On Combat, Dave Grossman Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, Joss Whedon
matt | January 29, 2008
A well educated populous, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books, shall not be infringed.
— Tom Gresham
Now, would anyone read the above to mean that only the “people who are well educated” can keep and read books? No? Well then why is:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
read to mean that only the “people who are part of a well-regulated Militia” are allowed to keep and bear arms? For the uninitiated, this is the crux of the collective rights argument – namely that the second amendment applies only to the militia.
matt | January 28, 2008
Sent to their OS X feedback thing.
To whom it may concern, I recently did a wipe and reload of my Mac Mini, installing OSX 10.5. I was presented with a "please enter your personal information" page, which would not let me leave items blank, insisting that I fill out some bogus data. Ironically, the text on the window stated that registration was not necessary for my warranty to be valid - but no option was given to skip sending the information to Apple. This is unacceptable. There should be an option to enter valid information, yet not send it to Apple. After this, there were TWO questions asking me if I wanted to set up a .Mac account. After I answered NO the first time, I should have not been asked again. I would hope that these issues would be addressed in the next version of OS X, given the level of polish and design which I have come to expect from Apple.
I was nice in the email, but this is completely friggin ridiculous. I think I'm going to have to check out what the state of making DVD's in Linux is. After all, I bought the Mac Mini about 3 years ago so that I could make DVD's, because Linux wasn't there yet. If Linux is now there, and Apple's “all your information is belong to us” policies are pissing me off, I might as well just figure out something else to do with the Mac Mini.. or give it over to Liz for whatever she feels like playing with it… I'm interested to see what Apple's response will be, though.
matt | January 28, 2008
So, I've been doing a bit of reading in prep for my anticipated new machine which I'm hopefully building at the beginning of April or so.
I suppose I should mention that I am a big fan of multiprocessor/multicore machines, because I do a lot of different things at the same time, and parallelism is king. This, the release of AMD's Phenom has me a little interested, because now both AMD and Intel have quad-core offerings.
So, I looked at the benchmarks, and the sad thing is that AMD's current high-end seems to be hitting the performance of about Intel's low end for the same price point. One would think that the native memory controller would help AMD, but I can't help but wonder if the whopping huge caches Intel is putting in is offsetting their memory controller hub.
The ATI Radeon HD cards look nice.. but the “ATI released specs for open source drivers” are reported to be pretty rough right now. I guess I expected a lot more stuff more quickly.
This was more of a ramble than anything – if folks have any ideas as to interesting hardware I should look at, let me know. In the end, I think I'm going to likely go with a dual-core CPU in a board which will take a quad-core at a later date. After all, it will end up being something like 1/3rd the price, but will still give me a huge performance over my current machine (Dual CPU Athlon MP running @ 1.0GHz).
Main motivating factors for upgrade:
- Ability to have more RAM (current limit is basically 2GB – I currently have 1.5GB, I'd like to have 4GB)
- Virtualization registers (for virtualization, duh)
- 64 bit support
matt | January 28, 2008
“I tend to scream “Porn thieves!” when I see a Geek Squad car out and about. >_>;;”
In other news, Liz and I watched American Pie Presents: Beta House. There are a lot of parallels to Revenge of the Nerds, though it is inverted (following the geek ascension to wealth in the past 30 years). In this movie, there is a scene where the head of the geek fraternity talks about how the Beta House is fostering depravity, consumption of alcohol, etc. Liz and I paused it and looked at each other and said “but geeks like that stuff!”. I mean, there could be issues made about class of alcohol – most geeks I know are more partial to regional microbrews and fine spirits such than bud light (though there is a place for that too, especially on a hot day whilst mowing the lawn.. of course, I prefer hot coffee).
matt | January 27, 2008
Email transcribed here for broader consumption. Crossposted to
After Action Report Thursday, January 24, 2008 @ 7:00 AM, Saratoga Springs Library Community Room. Saratoga County League of Women Voters Presents a Talk on Existing National Positions on Gun Control and Energy and LWVUS Program Planning The Positions on Gun Control talk was given by Robyn Ringler, Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Matthew Caron (firstname.lastname@example.org) I collected a handout detailing the League's position on gun control, and another one briefly detailing the League's positions on other topics. The main part of the gun control position can be found here: http://www.lwv.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=8642 In summary, mention is made that handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons represents a health and safety threat, that they support annual licensing, waiting periods and background checks. They support a ban on affordable handguns (aka Saturday Night Specials) and "acknowledge" that the Supreme Court and lower federal courts have ruled consistently that the Second Amendment only applies to militia service. While the former parts are opinion, this last part is a blatant falsehood. What follows are transcribed and expanded from my notes. As such, the spelling is phonetic. Ms. Ringler opened the talk with a list of unfortunate incidents which motivated her to form NYAGV: - The assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr. - A doctor with whom she worked named Halberston came home to find an escaped felon robbing his house. Halberston made entry in an attempt to chase the burglar and was shot and killed. - Columbine high school. - A 10 year old boy (last name Wooding) was shot and killed by the 16 year old next door neighbor, who had found a DEC officer's weapon, after that officer left the weapon on the hood of his vehicle, then drove off. The weapon fell off the hood and was found by the 16 year old. The DEC officer was acquitted of causing the murder of the 10 year old boy, but the 16 year old was convicted. 16 year old had just earned his boy scout gun safety badge the month before. - Her co-chair Alison lost her son, 24 years old in Albany. She now sits on the gun violence task force in Albany. The following stories come from a conversation Ms. Ringler had with the Saratoga County DA, who defines gun violence as "violence involving a firearm which results in criminal charges". These are stories from Saratoga County: - Dec 2007 - A couple is drinking up at the lake, get into a domestic dispute and start shooting at each other. Police show up, they don't want to press charges on each other, but they are prosecuted for unlawful possession of firearms and reckless endangerment. - A guy and his girlfriend get in a fight. He shoots her in the face and blows off part of her cheek. He is arrested. She doesn't want to press charges, but the DA does based on the evidence. He goes to jail. - According to the DA, there are a multitude of reasons where men hold women at gunpoint for ridiculous reasons (supper is late, etc.) - Safe storage is also a big deal up here. One story involved a father who had a handgun in his desk, and ammo in a separate location. The children got the handgun, picked the lock on the ammo storage, loaded the gun and fired it off the front porch. Luckily, no one was injured. Social services got involved, the father took a course in safety and safe storage, etc. After this, she segued into legislation: Federally: - The NICS improvement act is passed, and the cites this as a victory. She talks about Virginia Tech, the mentally ill, etc. She also mentions how the relief clause was added as a compromise, and claims that it is worded that it can be used to allow the mentally ill and criminals to legally get guns, and will need to be watched closely to ensure that this doesn't happen. State Level top priorities: - Gun dealer responsibility bill mandating stricter practices, better inventory records, liability insurance, training for all personnel (recognize straw purchases, etc.). She also mentions that ATF studies for upstate NY show that most crime guns come from up here. This is opposed to NYC, where the guns come from the south. - Microstamping bill. She mentions that California just passed the bill which will go into effect when the tech is available. She also talks about the possibility of requiring technology which ties a gun to a specific individual via fingerprint recognition, so only that individual can fire that gun, and legislation requiring the reporting of loss or theft of firearms. Throughout all of this, rights are never mentioned, but the theme that we have an ethical imperative to protect people is. At this point, my notes run out, so I am strictly going on memory. Question and Answer session begins. It is prefaced by one of the members of the League reading the text of the Second Amendment. A question is asked about the meaning of the Second Amendment and how Heller vs. DC will affect that, specifically with regards to the use of a comma in the first part. At this point, the text of the second amendment is reread, with the punctuation explicitly read out. Ms. Ringler responds that her understanding of the Second Amendment is that it only applies to those engaged in militia service, and her definition of militia is the one she learned in law school - the national guard, or a bunch of minutemen in the past. I get to speak next, and mention that I use a slightly different definition of militia, namely that which is used by the US Government. From memory, I do my best to quote the following: (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. (b) The classes of the militia are - (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia. -- USC Title 10, Subtitle A, Part 1, Chapter 13, Section 311 I express my disappointment that women are excluded and think that it should be amended to include them, and that anyone over the age of 45 is excluded, but since I'm 27, the federal government thinks that I'm part of the militia. Thus, even if the second amendment only applies to the militia, it still applies to me. Ms. Ringler responds that she didn't come here to debate the definition of militia, and it would seem that I am more knowledgeable about the definition of Militia than she is. A gentleman asks about the firearm dealer responsibility bill and inquires as to why there is duplication with existing law. Most of the provisions in the bill are already law. Ms. Ringler responds that she doesn't know which ones are duplicates and which ones are new, but that she is sure the new ones are very important. A gentleman states that he is a 30+ year veteran of the Saratoga County Sheriff's department, and that he had expected a shrill speech harping on gun control and that he was impressed and pleased that it was not shrill or abrasive, and was very informative. He has seen guns do good things and bad things, and the devastation wrought by firearms is truly heartbreaking. An older gentleman stands up and states that his family has been touched by violence with a gun - his grandfather was killed by a MAN with a gun. He doesn't blame the gun, the blames the MAN. He owns guns, he likes to shoot guns, and up until today, he didn't realize that several of his guns are assault weapons. They weren't when he bought them, and he doesn't understand how a .22 can be an assault weapon, but it's a semiautomatic .22, and NYAGV is claiming that it is now an assault weapon. At this point, Ms. Ringler says that only 2 or 3 more questions will be allowed. I ask about the Microstamping bill, and how we can be contemplating mandating a technology by law which is easily defeated in about 5 minutes with a grinding stone(1). Ms. Ringler informs me that this is an NRA myth, and that some organization (she cited it, but I didn't write it down, and I've emailed them to try and find out what it is. If I can find the study, I will post it.) had done a study which found that the technology could not be defeated with ordinary household tools. I wanted to rebut this, but this was not a debate - numerous statements had been made to that effect. Ms. Ringler does not like to debate, the members of the League did not want this to descend into a debate, etc. There was one more question, but I do not recall what it was. At this point, I was approached by one of the librarians who was a reenactor and was concerned about the bill requiring licensing and registration of antique firearms, so I missed what the question was. The talk wrapped up, the NYAGV folks packed up their table and handouts and left. The League then went into voting on what their official position should be on things. Since I am not a member (and, given their positions, I don't see myself becoming one anytime soon), I took my leave. I sat with the librarian and did my best to explain the permit process and what the bill in its current form would mean. I don't know if I answered all of her questions, but I gave her one of my cards. I also handed out some cards for the Gun Rights Advocates Podcast (http://www.gunrights.us/), which I sometimes guest host. As I was speaking with her, I was approached by a group of folks - a couple of them I had pegged as possible kindred spirits, but one I wasn't sure of. He was sitting right next to Ms. Ringler and was eyeballing me pretty hard.. then I saw the NRA Life Member jacket. The group and I hung out and talked for about an hour. I expressed my concerns that if legislation requiring licensing and registration of antique firearms gets passed, then it's a short ride to license and register all rifles and shotguns. After all, once you've bookended the high tech (handguns and "assault weapons") and low tech (black-powder muzzle-loaders) ends, it's quite simple to declare the stuff in the middle a "loophole" and start campaigning to close it. I think that about does it for the "factual" stuff.. Now I'll go into opinion. The saying goes "never attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity". In this case, it is not stupidity as much as naivete. Based on their representation here, the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence are both populated by well-intentioned idiots who seem to have a radically different worldview than what I possess. To wit - if all of the tools of violence can be removed, then man's propensity for violence will largely depart with it, and all that remains can be prevented by policemen. The idea of law and rights never enter into the equation, because these things are granted by the constitution and various other laws, and are therefore mutable. Why care what the law says, just change it? My view is somewhat different. I do not believe that the fundamental nature of man changes. There will always be people who wish to do you harm, and you cannot count on anyone to protect you except you. If someone does happen by and come to your aid, so much the better, but it can't be counted on. Thus, just as you should have first aid kits and fire extinguishers, you should have guns. Further, while various statue law is indeed mutable, the bedrock of western law is not. In days past, these were referred to as "natural rights of man", or "inherent rights of free men". In more recent times, we have begun to refer to them as "civil rights". These rights are many, but largely come down to the idea that one as a right to go about one's business unmolested. The rights which descend from this basic ideal are varied - the right to free speech, the right to a fair trial, the right to be secure in one's home, and the right to defend oneself. If it sounds like I am enumerating the bill of rights, it is mere coincidence, for these rights are not granted by the constitution. They existed prior to the drafting of that document, prior to some folks getting on a boat and exploring places their kinsmen had never been. These rights already existed with the inhabitants of the lands which they discovered, and these rights continued to exist in all of these lands, right up until the twentieth century, when we started to have these new lofty ideas about how to build a great society. Indeed, I have always found it interesting that so-called "enlightened" people are the first ones to take away your freedoms and start making decisions for you, and that so-called "savages" are the first to elect their own leaders and recognize an individuals sovereign rights to conduct his own affairs and see to his own safety. Finally, somewhere in this discussion, a quip is made about how urban areas are flush with illegal guns, and I am struck by the thought that legislation which they support creates the very statistic they are trumpeting as the need for more legislation. After all, when folks need guns for defense, and you can spend $150 to get the permit (more in some urban areas) + $150 for the cheapest legal gun you can buy vs. a $100 on the street corner, which would you do if you were a poor urban dweller? Face it - gun control largely affects the poor. Rich folks can afford to follow the law. By making the poor have to choose between being safe and obeying the law, you make a lot of criminals. By making most folks guilty of something, you can control them. After all, gun control isn't really about guns, is it? It's about control. (1) The paper I read was published in a trade journal by an employee of the Suffolk County Crime Lab. The text can be found here: http://www.nssf.org/share/legal/docs/AFTEVol38No1KrivostaNanoTag.pdf Short version - If he chucked the firing pin into a drill, he could take the "stamp" off in about a minute.
matt | January 24, 2008
This kind of gives you a clue as to how much of a jumble my life is right now.. just lots if things going in different directions. Not bad, just.. interesting.