Wednesday, February 27, 2013

On the Second Amendment

The Second Amendment protects my right to keep and bear arms. The exact same arms as those wielded by the military.
When the Second Amendment was written, the usual means of fighting was to stand in lines and shoot at each other. Some talk about how dumb this was, ask why rifles weren't used, but given the technology of the time, it was the only way to conduct war.
The rifles of the time worked well as a weapon of asymmetric war, ideal for sniping, ambushes, and hit and run attacks, but it failed as a weapon of regular war. This was because the only ammunition available to anyone of the time was the lead ball. It wasn't until 1847 that the first successful real bullet was introduced. Until then, the only way for rifles to be effective was to force a lead ball slightly larger than the bore of the rifle, to engage the rifling, making it impossible to load a rifle quickly, allowing early riflemen to be easily overran and slaughtered by cavalry or advancing musketeers should they try to hold a battlefield.
The musket, on the other hand, was specifically designed as a weapon of war. Because it was a smooth-bore firearm, it could be loaded quickly (although at the expense of accuracy). This made musketeers harder to overrun, while forcing them to engage at much shorter distances.

Food and Movies

Israeli cuisine is having a moment

 Israelis may have been hoping 2013 would bring recognition for their cinematic prowess, with two Oscar-nominated documentaries, but its turning out to be "The Year of the Cookbook."

Whatever the misgivings about their Oscar candidates -- two films sharply critical of Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands -- Israelis were sorely disappointed to awaken Monday morning to find themselves without a single gold statuette.
Had they averted their gazes from garish Los Angeles to that other glittering metropolis, Paris, they might have felt better.
This weekend at an elegant ceremony at the Louvre, in the French capital, an Israeli cookbook called "Seafoodpedia" won "Best in World" in its category at the renowned Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, which are dubbed "the Oscars of international cookbooks."
Were they really disappointed? I don't really give a rat's *ss about the Oscars, so I don't really know how much the people of Israel want an Israeli movie to win in the Oscars, but given that the CBS article didn't quote any polls, I doubt that any significant number of people cared. And as to cuisine, I really doubt that any significant portion of any population can be convinced to care. I'm really wondering why CBS considers this to be news.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

China's navy

China launches stealth frigate amid ocean tensions

 China has launched the first ship in a new class of stealth missile frigates, state media reported Tuesday, amid ongoing tensions with neighboring countries over Beijing's maritime claims.
The People's Liberation Army Navy is building a total of 20 Type 056 Jiangdao class frigates to replace older models and bolster its ability to conduct patrols and escort ships and submarines in waters it claims in the South China and East China seas.
There's no telling how stealthy this new frigate actually is, but given the description I really doubt that its all that stealthy:
 The helicopter-equipped ships feature a sleek design to reduce clutter and make them harder to spot by radar and are armed with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles.
From the description, the new frigate design doesn't actually incorporate stealth technology, it just has a somewhat reduced radar cross section - from reducing clutter aloft. In reality, making a naval vessel stealthy requires that one: Reduce noise as a precaution against passive SONAR, find a way to defeat or reduce the threat of active SONAR and radar, and finally reduce the wake to prevent detection by satellite or plane. As far as the article concerned, the Chinese have only reduced the radar threat, and there's no telling how well they've actually done that without having the US Navy check them out - and even if the USN did that, it would no doubt remain classified for a long time.
 Even so, China is gearing up to become a naval power, and given their past proclivities, current actions, and system of governance they bear a lot of watching, especially as our own military gears down.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sony breaks copyright law

The company known collectively as Sony (its a multinational conglomerate) may not be happy soon. It depends upon whether KDE (K Desktop Environment) and the Oxygen theme creators decide to sue Sony for breaking copyright law. Based off of the original source, it is also in the UEFI firmware that Sony has on (new) laptops.

Sony, by the way, is the company that put rootkits on their music CD's which would then install themselves on the vict... customer's computer. This was supposed to prevent piracy, which is against the law, by maliciously installing software on their customer's computers which is also against the law.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I'm starting to really dislike Biden

Time for some fisking to get a little steam out of my system. My comments in bold.

China once again mounts an attack upon human rights

The same country which has in the past sat upon the UN Human Rights Council and which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has once again attacked human rights.

China's Christians see mounting persecution in country's effort to disband churches, report finds

Christians and human rights advocates are alarmed over an aggressive crackdown on house churches in China, where the faithful are forced to call their gatherings "patriotic" assemblies or sent to prison where they can face torture, according to a new report.
Cases of the government persecuting Christians rose 42 percent last year, amid a three-phase plan by Beijing to eradicate the home-based churches, according to China Aid, a Texas-based human rights group. Experts say the Communist Party in China has long felt threatened by any movement that galvanizes a large sector of the population, fearing it could wield political clout. But the nation has become more systematically hostile to worshippers, according to Bob Fu, China Aid founder and president.
China doesn't fall into the depth of evil of the USSR, Nazi Germany, or the Kmer Rouge, but what they do is nonetheless evil, albeit, a soft, ignorable evil.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We're finally doing something about the UN

Its nice to see that someone is finally doing something to combat the UN's inefficiencies and corruption. 

US, other nations quietly maneuvering to rein in sprawling, inefficient UN system

Frustrated by the epic inefficiency, sprawling disorganization and free-spending of their money by the United Nations, a group of Western donor nations, including the U.S., has been meeting quietly to develop a strategy to rein in the world organization’s more than $20 billion a year in anti-poverty assistance – which even parts of the U.N. concede hasn’t done much to relieve poverty.

The U.N. organizations themselves — including such high-profile entities as the United Nations Development Program, UNICEF, the World Food Program, the World Health Organization and more than 30 others —are not invited to the meetings.
I doubt that they'll be able to do enough, but this might bring some sorely needed reform to the UN. Unfortunately, they aren't trying to clean house on, for example, the UN Human Rights council, which includes members who have a scant regard for human rights.
As I've said in the past, the UN is not a pro-freedom organization. When the UN does something, we really need to take that into account and consider what their real motives might be.

Monday, February 18, 2013

More gun control BS

On one side, the Chicago Police Superintendent is attacking the Second Amendment.

Chicago top cop says pro-Second Amendment pols hurt public safety

Facing a surging homicide rate and several headline-grabbing murders, Chicago’s top cop is taking aim at the Second Amendment, according to critics.
Appearing on a local Windy City Sunday morning talk show, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said gun owners who lobby politicians or donate money to pro-gun rights political campaigns are engaged in corruption that endangers public safety.
McCarthy, whose city – despite having some of the toughest gun laws in the nation - saw more than 500 homicides last year for the first time since 2008, also said the Second Amendment limits citizens to owning smooth-bore muskets.
Police Superintendent McCarthy should probably consider the fact that despite his city's oppressive stance on guns it has a horrendously high murder rate (15.9 per hundred thousand) - unless compared to Detroit (48.2 per hundred thousand) , another city that lives under incredibly strict gun control. Compare Phoenix, a city with a population greater than Detroit's, but less than Chicago's, and with a murder rate of 7.9 per hundred thousand. If one really looks at the statistics, all that one really learns is that gun control is at best ineffective. All it really does is force law abiding citizens to be either disarmed or inadequately armed. 

On the other side, we have states acting to keep the federal government out of local gun markets.

Push to keep feds out of state gun markets gains momentum

States across the country are trying to protect gun ownership from the long arm of Washington by proposing bills declaring that firearms made and kept within their borders are not subject to federal restrictions.
I don't know how well it'll end up working, but bravo for them! At least someone is trying to protect firearms rights.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

From CBS:
Report: '93 World Trade Center bomber sues to end solitary confinement

The article didn't say anything about how the solitary confinement was being challenged, but I'd assume that the challenge is being done with the 8th amendment to the US Constitution:
"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."
The only bit we're interested in is the last part - cruel and unusual punishment. That phrase is open to lots of interpretation and argument. There are many different opinions on just what constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment" - in fact, the case which produced the first relevant Supreme Court ruling (Furman v. Georgia) so divided the SCOTUS that each justice wrote their own separate concurrence or dissent. Other cases, including some in recent years have continued to divide the SCOTUS. I'm going to add to the pile of opinions.

A cruel punishment is one that exceeds the crime in terms of severity or goes out of its way to be inhumane. Giving a life sentence to a petty thief would be cruel, as would applying crucifixion or impalement to any offense, even in cases where the offender tortured his victims to death. But the simple death penalty for occurrences of first degree murder is not cruel, nor is life in prison for any malicious act that results in the death of another. The punishment must be appropriate to the crime with sentences increasing in severity based upon the severity of the crime, and with those crimes where physical harm was committed or threatened automatically incurring a higher penalty than any crime where only financial harm was committed.
Unusual is when the punishment is only applied to a few of those who commit crimes of the same type and scale. If most convicted of one specific crime (auto theft, for example) got one sentence, but a select few convicts got a different punishment, that punishment would be unusual - no matter if it was more or less severe that the usual punishment.
Punishment must fit the crime, and the punishment must be applied the same to all convicted of crimes of the same type and severity (thus allowing for different punishments for different amounts of damage done).
This brings me to the death penalty. Many assert that the death penalty is cruel and unusual. While it is almost certainly unusual - most courts hesitate to apply an irreversible penalty, no matter the crime - is is not cruel when applied to those who commit first degree murder (premeditated). Still, due to its irreversible nature, in any case where there is any doubt as to the guilt of the convicted, other means of punishment should be applied, so that if new evidence is found demonstrating the innocence of the accused, they can be exonerated and released. However, in cases where, due to committing the crime in front of cameras/witnesses, taking of souvenirs (a la Ed Gein or Jeffrey Dahmer), confession, or other evidence that leaves no doubt as to the identity of the killer. When someone's life is on the line, there must be no doubt, no chance that someone else committed the crime, so that no one innocent of premeditated murder is executed.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

POTUS Forgot something...

The President gave a speech in Chicago recently. He acknowledged that Chicago's murder rates, even giving a couple of good quotes.
The president, speaking at the Hyde Park Academy in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood, lamented the losses in Newtown, Conn., in December, and remarked on the "profound and uniquely heartbreaking" fact that 20 of the victims were six years old.
But he also pointed out that "last year, there were 443 murders with a firearm on the streets of this city, and 65 of those victims were 18 and under."
"That's an equivalent of a Newtown every four months," he said.
He acknowledged that the violence isn't "just" a gun issue.
"In too many neighborhoods today... it can feel like, for a lot of young people, the future only extends to the next street corner," he said. "There are entire neighborhoods where young people, they don't see an example of somebody succeeding. For a lot of young boys and young men in particular, they don't see examples of fathers and grandfathers... who are in a position to support families and be held up and respected."
"That means that this is not just a gun issue," he continued. "It's also an issue of the kinds of communities that we're building."
  But he forgot to mention that Chicago has the most oppressive gun control laws in the nation. Oops.

Colorado and Gun Control

Despite not currently residing in Colorado, I'm a Colorado citizen. I pay Colorado income taxes. I vote in Colorado elections. And I'm seriously considering Wyoming as an alternative to Colorado. Wyoming has no state income tax and is very supportive of firearms rights.
Colorado on the other hand, has an income tax of 4.63%, is constantly attempting to either find ways around TABOR, or otherwise render it ineffective, (the usual method is to call them "fees" rather than "taxes") and is currently attacking firearms rights without regard to Colorado jobs or rights (read section 13 of the Colorado Bill of Rights on page 5).

A Good Reason to Avoid online social networking

From BBC:
Facebook was targeted by 'sophisticated' hackers

With as many people who use Facebook, it is a prime target for cyber attacks. Even if no one's data was compromised be this attack, there will be attacks in the future - and eventually they'll succeed. 
Think about how much information you have about yourself on your Facebook account. Now think about a criminal gaining access to that information. Now think of ways to limit your exposure should Facebook face a successful attack that gains access to user information.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Water-bottle Gate"?

What sort of person compares a politician taking a sip of water to a politician abusing his power? Why is it that when someone mentions the name of "Nixon" everyone thinks of Watergate, but when the name "Ted Kennedy" is mentioned no one thinks of the Chappaquiddick? Unlike Nixon, someone actually died because of Ted Kennedy's misconduct. Why is it that when Bill Clinton is mentioned, the (relatively) benign thought is of Monica Lewinsky, rather than the political power abuse of Whitewater?

By comparing Marco Rubio's sip of water to Richard Nixon's abuse of power, CBS has demonstrated a clear and disgusting bias. Some in the media are questioning the insane and inane manner in which others are attacking Rubio. The only thing that is clear to me is the bias of the media.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More Firearms Idiocy

One from the Denver Post:
Colorado House Committee passes amended gun magazine limit
The most damning quotes from the article:

...State Rep. Mike McLachlan, D- Durango, who sits on the committee, offered the amendment to, he said, allow citizens to protect themselves.
"Fifteen is a reasonable number, and this is what I'm going to ask in my amendment," McLachlan said.
"It will keep killers from being killing machines," Chipman said.

Charles Robles traveled from Colorado Springs and said had it not been for a high-capacity magazine, he would not be alive.
"It helped me engage the three men who were shooting at me," said Robles in reference to a 2002 Memorial Day robbery at his small business. "I was shot five times, but I was able to save my life and fend off my attackers. "
Doug Smith, chief operating officer of the Colorado-based ammunition magazine manufacturer Magpul, said the measure would force his company to leave Colorado and take with it an estimated $85 million in potential spending this year.

State Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, who chairs the committee, said he did not want Magpul to leave the state.
"I want to protect manufacturing in Colorado," Kagan said...

 Fifteen is only a reasonable number from the perspectives of politicians, who have multiple armed bodyguards, criminals,  who get to choose when, where, and how they attack, terrorists, who get to choose when, where, and how they attack, and mass killers, who get to choose when, where, and how they attack. Everyone else has to defend themselves with little to no preparation or warning. I applaud Magpul for having the guts to vote with their feet. Also - "keep killers from being killing machines"? Mass killers, criminals, and terrorists are not noted for obeying the law, and even if they do remain compliant with this one law, they still get to pick the time, place, and methods, which gives them an extreme advantage over regular citizens, and since they control the circumstances, they will have the extra magazines - and the regular citizen won't. All any "high capacity magazine" ban does is give the bad guys an even bigger advantage than they already have. Fortunately, this hasn't yet passed the full Colorado house.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Munich ditching Microsoft Products

Munich (as city in Germany) started a transition from Microsoft Windows NT 4 and Office 95 (the migration started in 2004, and is a slow, ongoing process).

Munich is slowly rolling out their own distribution of Linux, which means that they control what versions of what software they have.

They can easily update all machines with little work by the IT department (most Linux distributions come with a built-in update checker, which can often be configured for a set amount of time between check-ins).

They have lost (some) compatibility with some versions of Microsoft Word. But migrating to Office 2007 would have the same problems as migrating to OpenOffice/Libreoffice.

This post is about the recent study funded by Microsoft and conducted by HP.

"Spending problem" is a "False Argument"?

From Fox:
Pelosi: 'False argument' to say Washington has spending problem

When your deficit is equal to about half of your income, you have a spending problem. This spending problem is Congress' fault, as all spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives. The President is, at worst, an enabler of this spending problem, and at best, can be overruled by a super majority of both houses of Congress. Check your the voting records of your congressmen and senators, so you know if they're part of the problem, or the solution.

Gun Control - The unslayable demon

I've decided that gun control is a demon. Those places with the most oppressive gun control experience the highest rates of violent crime, and whenever large numbers of people in areas without hefty gun control die, gun control legislation is brought up, and sometimes passes, which ultimately either has no effect on violent crime, or leads to more violent crime. Gun control is a demon that feeds on the blood of the innocent.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Stupidity of Cutting Military Spending

From Fox:
Foreign adversaries ramp up defense spending as Pentagon cuts back

..."Instead of being a first-rate power in the world, we'd turn into a second-rate power. That would be the result of sequester," Panetta said. Sequester is the name for the automatic cuts first passed into law in the summer of 2011 as part of the debt-ceiling deal...  
The world is a dangerous place. We cannot afford to "study war no more" or cut military spending, because if we do, we'll lose our place as the premier power in the world. Congress needs to get its act together.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Leave the Boy Scouts of America alone

BBC links to a poll which says that 55% of US voters want the BSA to end its ban on homosexual leaders.
The BSA is only answerable to US voters in the sense that its adult leaders and parents of scouts are US voters. It is answerable to its members and no one else. President Obama may be its honorary president, but he has no power to change the BSA's policy.
In fact, those with the power to change the policy have decided to delay rather than decide.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Going too far...

From Fox:
Colorado boy, 7, reportedly faces suspension for tossing imaginary grenade

Note that the "grenade" in question is completely imaginary - it does not exist - there wasn't even a dummy grenade involved. Note also that the boy wasn't threatening anyone.Yet the school's rules require his suspension. The school's rule on no weapons is apparently "absolute" and includes completely imaginary weapons. This is the sort of story I'd expect to read on the Onion, its that ridiculous.

Why most people in the know hate the DMCA

The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is an act that was supposed to make digital copyright piracy different from previous versions of piracy.

The basics of the DMCA is that there are "safe harbours" for businesses (they have to have a takedown process), and it is illegal to remove digital rights management (DRM for short). That, by the way, includes installing whatever you want on a computing device (if it is a locked down platform, the DMCA applies).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ron Paul is a Jack*ss

From Fox:
Ron Paul tweets controversial message on murdered Navy SEAL sniper

In response to the news, Paul tweeted: “Chris Kyle’s death seems to confirm that ‘he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’ Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn’t make sense.”
I have always been a fan of Ron Paul's economic policies, but I do not support or respect the man, and stuff like this is why. Chris Kyle deserves respect. His friends and family deserve the right to mourn in peace. And Ron Paul deserves a clue by four to the head.

Let us all have a moment of silence for Chris Kyle.

No new taxes... That's funny

From CBS:
Obama says no to new taxes, yes to ending Boy Scouts' gay ban

My taxes have already gone up. Our Republican House, Democrat Senate, and Democrat President have together, already caused my taxes to go up. In December I paid $69.61 in Social Security taxes. Last month, I paid $104.62 in Social Security taxes. When the POTUS says he doesn't want to raise taxes anymore, I think of George H.W. Bush, who used "No New Taxes" as a campaign slogan - and who was hoist by his own petard when he reneged on that promise. I judge based upon performance, and based upon performance, I'm going to be voting for new senators in the next two elections (2014 and 2016), and against whomever the sitting POTUS supports for election in 2016.

RMS on too-big-to-fail-companies

Richard Stallman (RMS) is famous for the free software movement.

He is not a fan of Microsoft (neither am I, and its due to the absurdly large market share that they can abuse). RMS doesn't like Microsoft because they don't release the source code for the software.

So why is RMS saying anything about "too-big-to-fail" companies?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The BSA, gay leaders, and Obama

I admit to having a little grudge against our current president, in addition to opposing his policies. That the grudge and the opposition are completely unconnected. The opposition comes from the fact that I disagree completely with his policies - he isn't the problem (that prize goes to Congress), but he sure as heck doesn't do anything to alleviate the problem, and in fact, is an enabler for the worst excesses of Congress. The grudge comes from his actions concerning the Boy Scouts of America - a private organization that I hold dear to my heart, having earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Every four years, the BSA holds a National Scout Jamboree. The sitting President has always attended the Jamboree. Except for one. President Obama chose instead to show up on the View - a daily television show, and sent a recording to the Jamboree. Since I was a participant, I was more than a little pissed off.

Now the BSA is currently thinking of bowing to political pressure and revoking its blanket ban on gay leaders and scouts. Obama has come out in support of them revoking the ban. The BSA, no matter how much influence it has, is a private organization. Elected officials should only get involved with private organization when they're committing crimes - and the BSA as a whole does not commit crimes, and it ousts those of its members who do commit crimes.

I could care less...

About whether or not the POTUS actually shoots skeet.
CBS of course has an article about the POTUS and his recently released skeet shooting  photo. I don't care what the President does with his guns - I'm concerned about what the legislative and executive branches of government are, together, planning to doing to my ability to buy and own guns.
Fox has an article about the argument over universal background checks.

Did Prohibition stop alcoholism?
Has the current War on Drugs stopped substance abuse?
Did the Gun Free School Zones act stop school shootings?
Have the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, and the (expired) Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 done anything to reduce crime?
Have China and Russia, with some of the most oppressive gun control laws in the world, managed to stop firearms ownership, use, and crime?

The answer to all of these questions is no. If China and Russia, with their nonexistent respect for human rights, can't do it, what makes the fools in the Federal Government think that they can do it? It is simply impossible to effectively ban something that can be made easily in a well-equipped garage, and which manuals exist for the sole purpose of telling one how to do so. Our politicians either have no clue about such things, or have an ugly political agenda.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

France will Rebuild Mali

From BBC:
French President Hollande pledges to help rebuild Mali

It makes perfect sense for France to help rebuild Mali - after all, France may have "given up" its colonial empire, but it backs the currency of a large portion of that former empire, giving it a great deal of control and influence over those countries. They may have given up de jure control of their empire, but they still retain de facto control - and helping Mali rebuild will help with this.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Gun Free Zones...

Don't work
From CBS:
Atlanta schools chief unsure how middle school shooter got past metal detector

 Even with metal detectors to enforce the gun free zone, the shooter still managed to sneak his gun in. Explain to me how, exactly, gun free zones are supposed to stop school shootings? Someone who is already going to commit multiple crimes isn't going to care all that much about one more - especially since most of them commit suicide rather than be arrested. Larry Correia's Opinion on Gun Control has been around for a bit over a month now. No one who has read it will be misinformed, or uninformed, about the consequences and effect of guns and gun control.