Wednesday, June 28, 2006

To anyone who wonders why some carry.

This is an older post by James that answers the question as to why some carry. If you haven't already, read this now.

Every so often you see an item in the newspaper about some nutbag who shoots up a bunch of innocent and unarmed people. Talk to someone like me and they'll tell you that they wish they had been there. We wish we were in the same room with the nutter, the guy who has a weapon and is desperate to hurt people.

By any reasonable criteria this is completely insane. We're fantasizing about putting ourselves in harm's way, about allowing someone to shoot at us! This is hardly a sound strategy to a long and healthy life.

This isn't because we want to kill someone and the nutbag shooter provides a chance to do it in a legal way. Instead we want to stop the violence before some innocent person dies.

People talk too much...

[Warning; Rant mode ON]

I thought what I'd do was...

Why on Earth do people feel the need to fill the silence with meaningless, and purposeless conversation?

Me walking by the guard coming into work:
Guard: "Wednesday's hump day!"
Me: *eyebrow raise, and nod*
Guard: "...Yup."

So, what was the point of that conversation? It's Wednesday? What did either of us gain from that exchange? Nothing. I wouldn't even mind it so much, if it didn't happen so many times a day. I can't even go to the head without a "How's it going?" from someone who has nothing to say to me. Every time someone asks me that question, I always reply the same way, without stopping; "Good, good!" You'd think they'd get tired of asking me the same question, if I'm obviously not going to stop and waste some time with them at the water cooler. Maybe I should put together a mix of non-sequiters with which to reply to idiotic questions.

"How's it going?"
"Dogs hate expired canned peaches."

Or perhaps some canned phrases from the random word generator...

"How's it going?"
"Submission fog kindness between western"
(bonus points if the person has a stroke, aneurysm, or seizure trying to figure out what you just said.)

So why do people feel compelled to speak when they have nothing to say? I think it's because people are uncomfortable NOT talking to people, for fear the other person would think they're being ignored, and think ill of the non-talker. It's silly to think that your silence will incur their scorn, and even sillier to think that some prattle with earn their admiration. To them I say,

Not everyone likes you. Get over it.

The thought that exchanging light pleasantries will immediately earn you the good graces of everyone you see, smacks of an eagerness for validation. If everyone loves you, then you can love yourself.
Weak sauce.

I realize that some readers may not be like this, and secretly resent meaningless conversations just as I do. To them, I charge you with a task... Make an enemy of a validation-seeker. Give no reason for your displeasure of them, simply state that you don't much care for them, and do not wish to engage in purposeless conversation with them. This will cause the validation-whore to want to make the situation right, and make you like them. You must ensure that these attempts fail. Once they understand that you can't make everyone like you, they will have learned an important lesson. And will have you to thank for it! (they may send chocolates!) (but if they do, don't eat them...)

[Rant mode OFF]

Now that the rant mode is off, I'm still a nice guy, and don't seek to hurt anyone's feelings (though some may need it); it's just that these constant annoyances can wear on even the most tolerant people.

Will I belittle or degrade anyone who asks me pointless questions? Probably not (unless I happen to be in a poor mood, which happens very infrequently). Will I begin answering these pointless questions in ways that make the asker think they misheard, or become confused? Most assuredly.

Smashing tomatoes instead of slicing them?

Check this instructable for an excellent HOW TO for sharpening those dull knives to a serious edge!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What combat weaponry are you?

Well? Take the quiz!

I got AK-47 =)

Ancient Chinese butt-kissing

After indulging in some Chinese cuisine for lunch, I opened my fortune cookie only to discover that the very characteristic which earns it its namesake was woefully lacking.

Instead of a small slip of (delicious) paper indicating that in the future I may find myself overcome with riches, or perhaps that hard times will soon pass, I found the following;

You are sociable and entertaining.

Wow. Way to hit the nail on the head. You are one smart cookie! (no pun intended) But I couldn't help but notice that the previous statement is no more a fortune than me yelling "You suck!" a the nearest passer-by.

If I were more cynical, I'd be disgusted that people these days can't even handle some straight talk from a dessert, without running to their lawyer yelling "The cookie hurt my feelings!" The fact that people are content gaining a feeling of self-satisfaction because a cookie says that they rock, seems to indicate to me that we, as a people, may be better benefited by some desserts that don't mince words.

Fortunes that motivate people to be less sensitive about their ego are the way to go. Fortunes like, "You're too lazy." or "What have you accomplished with your life?" would take larger strides toward a more unflappable public. Please enjoy a few more of my proposed fortunes...

  • You're not that funny.
  • I'm not impressed.
  • When did you get so important?
  • You could die tomorrow.
  • What's your legacy?
  • Where's YOUR contribution to society?
  • Respect yourself.
  • Get some confidence in yourself.
  • Be comfortable with who you are.
  • Know yourself. All else will follow.
  • Stand up straight, and walk tall.
  • Don't be an ass.
  • Learn from your mistakes.
  • A little humility goes a long way.
  • This month do something you've always wanted to.
  • Get your hands dirty.
  • Change your own ****ing oil!

Wouldn't you rather see one of those ass-kicking motivational fortunes taped to your whiny coworker's monitor instead of "You are a unique snowflake" or "You are made of rainbows and unicorn farts"?

Happy half-birthday to me!

My girlfriend suprised me with a (nearly) half-birthday gift; some killer headphones to replace my sad, and slowly disintegrating hi-fi ones. Man they're nice. I'm really a closet audio snob, so when I queued up a phonographically diverse list of my favorites, it was like listening to them for the first time.

Apparently they have a "burn-in" period, during which you are recommended to play loud music through them for 48 hours. The result is supposed to be increased audio body.

They aer teh sweet.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Duct tape conducts electricity!

For all the myriad uses of duct tape, remember NOT to use it as an insulator. When it is used for it's intended purpose (ducting), it was made to keep static electricity from building.

So remember to keep some electrical tape handy whenever you bring duct tape! Don't learn the hard way!


The Drug War

People are usually surprised to hear that I'm for the legalization of marijuana since I'm so conservative. But I'm not really for legalization, so much as I am for ending the drug war entirely.

The logic behind it seems is inherently flawed.

"No, you can't do that to yourself."
Why does the government get to tell me what I can and can't do to myself? If I choose to eat triple bacon cheeseburgers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and die a bloated, sweaty death, I am free to do so. Should I wish to finish off at long day at the office with a beer (Jack and Coke, actually) I am free to do so. If I have some friends over, and we decide to smoke a bowl, we can be thrown in jail. None of these actions affect anyone but myself, nor do they infringe upon the rights of other citizens. Why is one worse than the other? It's like congress passing a law forbidding the sale, purchase, or use of onion rings. WTF?

Drugs cause social and moral decay!
People argue that onion rings are different than drugs because drug abusers rob and murder people to fund their addictive habit. Well, maybe if we outlawed onion rings there would be people robbing and killing to fund their onion ring habit. "That's silly!" You say, "Onion rings aren't addictive; drugs are." Non-addictive? Since when does the addictive nature of a substance contribute to its need to be contraband? Alcoholics are certainly addicted to alcohol. People get addicted to legal substances like pain killers, cigarettes, and caffeine all the time. (if you don't believe you can be truly addicted to caffeine, try talking to someone who's been drinking coffee for years, and tried to quit) Just because something's addictive doesn't mean it should be illegal, or that it contributes to "social and moral decay." So why are drugs illegal? mmmm, I'd kill for some onion rings right now...

But, "X" is a terrible vice!
So? This is possibly the worst argument. Where in the constitution does it give the government the power to keep us from engaging in "vice?" And, why is the government playing nanny? What's next; laws preventing us from touching hot stoves? The government is not your mommy or daddy, and certainly does not have the authority to tell you what you can and can't do to yourself (yet exercises it by jailing people who've committing no crime against anyone). Remember the failure of prohibition.

Drugs fund bad people!
This argument, I can agree with. Except that the only reason that drugs fund bad people is because they are illegal. If drugs were made legal, people wouldn't be buying these drugs from shady characters with questionable intentions; they'd be buying it from companies and corporations providing it for sale, as they do with their legal drugs now (AND they'd be paying taxes on their purchase). By simply making something illegal, you instantly create a black-market where there was none. Out of prohibition came the rise of various Mafia groups (not to mention street violence from turf wars). If drugs fund bad people, then why not let drugs fund good people?

Drugs are still bad.
Persuasive argument. While I can agree that drugs are bad, and that their use is simply not a good idea, the fact remains that the government has no right to make it a crime to do something to yourself.

Don't ignore the infringement of your rights just because you agree with the ends.

When they came for the drug users,
I remained silent;
I was not a drug user.

When they came for the smokers,
I remained silent;
I was not a smoker.

When they came for the gun owners,
I remained silent;
I was not a gun owner.

When they came for the Muslims,
I remained silent;
I was not a Muslim.

When they came for the Catholics,
I remained silent;
I was not a catholic.

When they came for me,
There was no one left to speak out.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Secretly a metal-head?

I didn't need to hear very much metal music before I decided I didn't want to hear any more. That was quite some time ago, and I've just ignored the genra entirely. This morning I found this video (via SouthParkPundit) that played some metal in the background (DragonForce, "Revolution Deathsquad" great name eh?), I wasn't too impressed with the music, but liked the video so I wound up watching it quite a few times...

On the third or fourth watching, I began to realize that I was just doing it for the music. So I unleashed some Google-fu, and downloaded the track myself, along with a few other from the same artist, and have been listening to them non-stop since.

After you get past the shock of what you're listening to you begin to pick out the tune, and follow the song. Or maybe you just rock out uncontrollably...

It kills me that I would have never looked for metal to listen to, and would have missed out on this entirely. Cheers to trying new things, and revisiting the old!

Who needs sleep???

Sleep?! I'll sleep when I'm dead. (or tonight. yeah, probably tonight. Or in a few hours...)

I'm a sucker for a beautiful knife...

There's a difference between "cheap" and "inexpensive."

You're looking at it.

It was the strangest thing... I never liked CRKT's M16 series of knives. No appeal whatsoever. Knew all about them, even tried liking them; I couldn't put my finger on it, just didn't care for them. Two days ago, I woke up thinking about them (I must have had a dream about them), and by 1pm, I knew I needed to hit the knife shop some time this week.

On my way home today I called my friend to make sure he was going to be coming to the range, he was, and I was going to pick him up. Guess what was on the way? The knife shop. I wanted to go with my friend and girlfriend to the range ASAP. (it was the end of a tough week, who wouldn't?) But would I postpone my range visit just to look at knives??? Guns vs knives, eh? Of course I would!

So after 15 minutes of perusing the M16 series, I found this. Deceptively smooth knife for a deceptively low price. It's a compact, so it's impressively thin, and the aluminum construction makes it very light. The "Carson Flipper" makes fast opening easy, and the curves of the handle somehow manage to fit my hand perfectly in the forward and downward position. This is a nice knife. I can see this easily settling into a sub-EDC position in my knife collection. Plus, I was getting my Benchmade 940 sharpened, and I couldn't just walk out of there without a blade on me!

Dangerous misconceptions about EDC knives

**DISCLAIMER** A knife can never be used as a weapon, admitting the possibility of using a cutting tool as a weapon may legally reclassify the tool as a weapon. Weapons may not be carried by civilians in public, tools may be carried freely. If I ever mention the possibility of using your cutting implement as a weapon of self-defense, I am only speaking of a hypothetical situation. I take no responsibility for your actions or ideas as they may be derived from my writing! Stay alert, stay safe, and admit to nothing!

There seem to be an alarming number of folks who think that their every day carry ("EDC" hereafter) Spyderco fully serrated, plastic handled, upside-down clipped $10 knife will instantly resolve all threatening situations with a mere flick of their wrist.

These people need to understand a few concepts:

Escalating a situation that is not yet a threat is always a bad idea

The escalation I'm talking about here, is drawing your knife, which (if done at the wrong time) will make you the bad guy, and may get you arrested. Most potentially dangerous situations can be diffused by simply backing down. You can't "keep it real" if you're dead. If some instigators stand up, and begin to thump their chests, stop and think about the situation. You don't know if they're armed, you don't know how skilled they are, you don't know how many of them there really are, and most importantly, you don't know how serious they are. I'm not saying that you should flee every possibly dangerous situation, I'm just reminding you that being Billy Badass, and whipping it out too soon, may make your the bad guy in the eyes of bystanders, and may get you injured or killed.

Unless you're well trained, your knife is not a fighting implement

If the situation warrants it, you're properly trained, and happen to be carrying a combat knife; by all means use it as a fighting implement. Draw it early, show them you mean business, and then show them no mercy. But for those of us who have a general use EDC knife, and no training, do not wield it prominently as a weapon. Hiding it in your hand, and first exposing it only when in striking distance (or during a strike) will give you the upper hand.

Your EDC knife is not a long sword. It's a push dagger.

If your attackers want to rough your up a bit, or worse, and are not displaying ranged weapons for doing so, it's likely they will attack you with their weapons, or fists and feet at close range. Here, you have the advantage of surprise. They plan to work over a defenseless person, and will act accordingly. Turning the tables on them by drawing your knife in the middle of the fray, and drawing blood from whatever is in arms reach will cause enough confusion and shock for you to secure an escape, or retreat to a better position. There's a high probability that a hand-to-hand fight will end up on the ground, once this happens, you may draw with your attacker at extremely close range, and go to town. There's no skill involved here, nor should you worry about it, the shock your attacker will suffer while going from top-dog to beef cutlet will cease the attack almost instantly, and give you valuable time to escape. It should be noted that if you are being attacked by multiple assailants, waiting until most of them get within arms distance is recommended. If you are dealing with multiple assailants, it is extremely likely that you will find yourself on the ground being kicked from all directions. If this happens, cowboy up, draw, and start swinging with broad strokes. Suffering a deep cut to the front of the shin, or the muscle behind the shin (gastrocnemius) will severely inhibit your attackers' ability to continue standing and give chase. Coupled with the shock of the blood, and the tables being turned, you are almost assured an escape during the confusion. Remember to sweep your blade broadly and in all 360 degrees, temporarily incapacitating half the group will do you little good. While stabbing motions can be devastating, refrain from using them unless you're sure to land the blow; the time it takes to stab one attacker would be better spent swiping the shins of three attackers.

Once your EDC is exposed, it is not a weapon, it is a distraction.

Once your attackers become aware of your knife, the dynamic of the ensuing combat changes drasticly. No longer will you be attacked by one assailant, they will likely gang up and surround you to regain the upper hand. In this situation you will likely have to bull-dog your way out, be sure that you hold your knife in the upside-down position! Point downward, cutting side away from you. The forward position is too easily defeated, don't rely on it when there will be many hands trying to keep that blade in a safe direction! When fighting multiples without being surrounded, your knife will become your distraction as it will demand the attention of your attackers. (knife in forward position) If you swipe your knife broadly, or stab forward, your attacker will definitely react, and will likely avoid the blow. But while they are distracted avoiding your glancing knife blows, your empty hand delivers devastating blows to the nose, chin, or eyes. Stabbing forward is a good way to bring your attacker off balance.

Ending the conflict

Of course, fleeing and calling the authorities is the best way to end a conflict, but that is not always an option. If the situation escalates to the point that you see the necessity to end the conflict quickly and effectively, (knife in forward position) bum-rush or tackle your opponent to get your body against his, and carve away. No stationary stabbing, no glancing cuts, no recovery; just broad, deep, slicing of soft, vital areas (belly, side, thighs, groin). Once that attacker is neutralized, move to the next quickly, or warn the next that he had better get his friend to the hospital quickly.

Remember: the best way to avoid conflict, is to avoid conflicts! Don't be too proud to back down, escalating a situation needlessly will only put more people (loved ones included) in danger.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pools vs. Guns

I think I'd like to expand on the analogy of pools being as dangerous as guns.

Children drown in pools because they don't have gates around them, but they don't just drown in their parents' pools, they drown in pools owned by neighbors and friends. How do we protect our poor children from these evil puddles? Regulate the hell out of them! Mandatory pool registration, followed by a Megan's law type piece of legislature that alerts nearby families that a family plans to install a pool, and provide a website where people can view the dastardly pool owners in their area! You know... For the children.

Mandatory purchase of fences with the installation of a pool or purchase of a house with a pool. Right to inspect for the police; if you admit to owning a pool to a law enforcement officer, he does not require consent, and has the legal right (and duty) to inspect said pool to ensure it is being maintained properly, and has a government approved fence, gate, and lock. Pool owners will be required to submit to a background check, and must undergo no less than 36 hours of training on pool safety and the pool regulations in their area, and must pass a test prior to receiving a pool safety certificate. This certificate must be provided to the pool retailer prior to purchase. Convicted felons will not be allowed to own pools. New pool owners will be required to wait a 10 day "heating up" period to ensure there is necessity for the pool.

From the fear surrounding pools will rise a Assault Pool Ban, which will ban pools from bearing particularly insidious accessories. Pools deeper than 36" will be designated "assault pools." Pools bearing slides or diving boards will be designated "assault pools." Pools with non-government approved toys will be considered "assault pools." Pool owners will be allowed to own unapproved toys, but must keep them deflated, at least 20 feet from said pool, and are required to keep them in a locked container. Failure to do so will result in arrest for bearing the capacity to create an "assault pool," and/or conspiracy to make or sell said "assault pool."

On tips, no-knock raids will be served against offending pool owners to search their house for improperly stored unapproved toys, and upon confirming the unlawful ownership of an assault pool; the pool will be confiscated in 50 gallon drums to be destroyed by fire, and the pool will be ordered to be filled with dirt or sand. The government will also be allowed to inspect the filled pool for water or moisture. Any dirt filling the pool may not be watered, even if grass is placed over it. Watering the area where a pool once was is a felony for unlawful construction of a pool.

A black market will be formed, selling after-market shower drains, which have the capacity to accept plugs to form baths.

Pro-pool activists will picket, and argue that they are allowed "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of pools." MAPV (Mothers Against Pool Violence) will argue that pool ownership should be left to the professionals, and that there is no legitimate reason for the average citizen to own a pool.

The BATFP will intimidate pool sellers into closing up shop, and unlawfully confiscate their pools for months to research their "capacity to become" assault pools.

Ah, what a world it would be...

"But the only thing guns do is kill!"

How many times has someone resorted to this argument? This statement usually comes from the "cars kill more than guns" argument, and it's just silly and simple-minded.

The argument goes that cars kill FAR more people than guns do (and they do), so by the same reasoning, we should ban cars. The misguided person you are arguing with usually comes back with, "Well, cars are for transportation too! Guns are only for killing people!" (Kill? I bought mine for hammering nails into my wall...)

Of course guns kill people. If they didn't, they wouldn't be very useful. But they must realize that guns don't just kill people; they defend people, and they provide recreation for sport shooters.

To those who refuse to recognize the recreational or sporting aspect of shooting, I like to remind them of pools. Small children drown in pools all the time, and not only in their parents' pool, the pools of neighbors or friends who do not have gates around their pools, or fail to properly secure their gates. We should ban pools! Obviously people only use them for recreation, and our children are dying. WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!

People who argue that guns just kill people, should be reminded that the police use guns to kill people. "Well, they just kill bad people" they argue, "then why shouldn't I?" you counter. Now you're back to a "only the police can use guns" argument, which is much easier to defend against than a "guns can only kill things" argument.

To Admins:

Don't be cocky when it comes to security.
(For those of you unfamiliar with the English language, that dot at the end of the sentence was a period, it denotes the end of an idea or sentence, and eliminates the possibility that there are caveats to the statement.)

I'd like to cover a few points, if I may...

  • I know you are an admin, and that you've been doing it for a long time, and I'm very impressed; but you must realize that you are NOT a security expert.

  • Nothing is more unprofessional than a little chest-thumping or insulting my age when I find vulnerabilities in your website. Well, taking a dump on your boss's lap would be pretty unprofessional, but if you're doing that, you probably know that you're being unprofessional. "I've been doing this since you were in diapers!" may seem like a good point in your mind, but it doesn't change the fact that I found a vulnerability.

  • Don't get pissy when I break shit. It's on the waiver. I plan around your working hours so the impact is minimized. EXPECT ME TO BREAK SHIT. Because if I pull any punches, you're not getting the true vulnerability assessment you want. If I didn't try to break shit, then what happens when a malicious hacker actually TRIES to break shit? "Why didn't you tell me we were vulnerable to this kind of attack?!" "Because you didn't approve me to test for it." Don't ask for an incomplete test. It gives you no assurances whatsoever.

  • Jacks of all trades are masters of none. I'm very impressed that "back in your day" you used to write databases in assembly with one hand tied behind your back, maintain your own database, and chew gum at the same time, but knowing a bit about everything, and a lot about nothing is not something to be proud of. Reminding me to "check for open ports!" only shows me how little you know. Know your limitations, try to know what you don't know. And for cripes' sake; leave it to the professionals.

  • You can NOT run a scan on your own network or website. This is for everyone, myself included. Someone who works on the network they're scanning will not run a complete scan. There WILL be things you leave out, there WILL be avenues you don't follow, and it probably won't be on purpose. You can't run a complete scan on your own network. Period.

  • Divide your site into two sections, unauthenticated pages, and authenticated pages. NOT just authentication pages and non-authentication pages. I can't tell you how many sites I've gotten into because the login page was defended against every type of injection possible, only to find a help page or contact page that used an unprotected DB query to retrieve information. As cliché as it sounds, your doors are locked, but your windows are open.

  • Don't be afraid of a security audit. The only thing it will do is give you some holes to patch. If you think it will somehow expose you as being a bad admin (which you're probably not); just think of the alternative... Malicious hacker gets in, wreaks havoc on your network, and it takes you days to recover (if you're lucky!), only to find that the hacker is still in your network weeks later. Malicious hackers are hard to remove. Let a benevolent one tell you what to fix, so you can sleep well at night.

  • A Web Application Security Assessment, is NOT a Vulnerability Scan. 90% of penetrations occur through the web front-end; a patched, firewalled, anti-virus scanned, web front-end. A vulnerability scan checks for server vulnerabilities, not exploitable code in a website. There are very few automated scans that can perform good web front-end code checks, and none that can do it completely. What admins don't understand is that the web front-end is not suffering from a vulnerability, it's acting exactly as it should; it's just that it is allowing people to get away with functions they shouldn't be able to do. Know what you need, and hire someone who knows what they're doing.

These don't sound like unreasonable requests. Give them some thought. When's the last time you had a externally provided security audit? I'll bet the answer is either "over a year" or "never." Get the audit before it's too late.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Reasoning myself into working out.

Blast. I think I've finally trapped myself into going to the gym more often using my own logic.

I'm really big on being prepared, I carry a few tools with me, and have three sets I keep in my car, at home, and at work. This keeps me from having to drag my pants behind me with the weight of at least 4 different tools to be prepared. My personal carry is a Benchmade 940 (quite possibly the best knife ever made) (for me!), and a swiss card with a LED light, pin, blade, pen, and screwdriver set (I'll find a link, it's the only swiss card that isn't completely worthless). I like being prepared.

I was reading some accounts of people getting into dangerous situations, and diffusing dangerous situations, and I kept worrying about my physical abilities. I weight trained pretty heavily years ago, ran track, and worked myself into a 5'9" 210 pound sculpture. After I stopped my muscles lost tone, but not mass, they became for show. When I started working in the NOC two and-a-half years ago, I've slowly gained 10 pounds, and developed a spare tire that I'm a little sensitive about. I recently joined a gym, but the membership fell into very sporadic use (as most gym memberships do).

My concern was primarily my ability to sprint at least a quarter of a mile, stamina, and the ability to lift myself with my arms.

Currently, I can sprint about an 1/8 of a mile before becoming useless, and can run about 3 miles before becoming useless. I can do about 15 pull-ups, and doubt my ability to raise myself over an obstacle quickly or to jump to grab onto something, and climb over it.

This will not do. In order to be well prepared, there's no way around being able to perform these simple physical tasks. If I want to be prepared for dangerous situations, I must work out.

I seem to have my motivation, lets see how I do...

An unnerving decision

As I've gotten deeper into gun ownership, I've formulated a number of strong beliefs and opinions. I believe it is a citizen's patriotic duty to own guns. I had been very mindful of the whole gun-nut segment of the gun owner crowd, but as I learned more about ownership, the "gun-nut" classification of owner dissolved into "owner."

I was not concerned that I no longer recognized a gun-nut from a gun owner, as gun-nut is simply a derogatory term for gun owner; what I was concerned about was the possibility of my loved ones not yet making that realization, and fearing I'd succumbed to the depths of gun-nuttery. (that is an awesome word)

Specifically, my girlfriend (mostly fiance), and to a lesser extent, my Dad (though I'm turning him).

While I didn't think it very possible this would happen, the possibility of the issue escalating to an argument ending with "... It's either the guns or me!" was not one I wanted to even think about, because I was afraid of both of the answers.

I love my country, and respect and appreciate it for the opportunities it has given me and my family (especially since I'm half illegal immigrant). I knew that I needed to own guns. My country wanted me to own guns. And, by god, I needed to protect my loved ones. Gun ownership is non-negotiable.

I love my girlfriend, and aside from being a perfect match for me, we've grown even more in love with each other over the years. Before her I had some serious problems with depression, and always wondered what would happen to me if I ever lost her. She was non-negotiable.

A few nights ago I couldn't sleep, because I couldn't stop thinking about the unsettling possibility of having to choose. My girlfriend asked what the problem was, and after giving her fake excuses she finally got me to talk about what was really bothering me.

I told her about my new beliefs and opinions regarding gun ownership, and how strongly I felt about them, and how I was afraid that the future could make her slight aversion to guns worse, and possibly result in the arousal of the unsavory question.

To which she replied after a long pause, "I don't think you'll have to worry about that."

Man, I love her.

Yesterday she said that she wants to go to the range on Saturday. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I held my tongue. She stood there and finally said, "Aren't you going to ask why?" I said that I was a little afraid to. She chuckled and said, "I want to get better."

Man, I love her.

Why I'm getting a CCW permit

What to do when stopped while transporting firearms.

The trials of gun ownership never cease. At least, in California...

After weeks of study and research I've determined that when it comes to gun laws; you are truly at the mercy of the District Attorney. At worst you find yourself on the receiving end of a DA with something to prove, with a gun-unfriendly jury convinced that you are an evil outlaw attempting to use the system of "laws" (he would use air quotes, you know it) to avoid much deserved jail time. Yikes. At best you find yourself dragged through the mud, possibly at the loss of property, and spending tens of thousands of dollars keeping yourself out of jail on charges that will just be dropped anyways.

Gun ownership and active use in California seemed difficult at best, threatening at worst.

After a recent trip to the range with my dad (LA Sheriff of more than 35 years) we got to talking about legal transport of firearms. Not the silly what-if scenarios you read about on so many boards where people attempt to skirt the law to get away with keeping their gun in their car without a CCW permit, "Yes, I do have a gun in the car. Where am I going? Why, to or from the range... (tee hee!)." Idiots. Some folks argued for pages on whether or not to admit to a cop that you're transporting firearms in your car (lawfully or unlawfully). What the argument boiled down to was that it really depends on the cop. Is the cop of the mind that law abiding citizens should be allowed to own guns (and *gasp* transport them?!), or is the cop a rookie looking to impress his superiors? It even got into the whole off-list lowers discussion; will the cop know about OLLs? Will the cop take your word for it when you educate him about the law? Or will he just confiscate your possibly illegal weapon just to be sure? 10 to 1 on the last.

Back to our conversation, I covered a number of legal aspects of searching cars, and he covered what the average cop's responses would be fairly well. Here's some of the highlights...

1. If a cop wants in badly enough, he'll get in.
If there's no probable cause to search your vehicle, and they want to; they will find it. Maybe they thought they smelled drugs, maybe they thought they saw you make furtive movements when driving by, there are a number of easily pardoned reasons that can be used to search your car. Some will stretch the truth or even simply lie to get a look around in your car. They are convinced that they are doing it for their own safety, and to enforce the law, most will not think twice about this. I was told about cops who picked up unloaded handguns and loaded magazines stored separately and in some form of locking container, and simply put the magazine into the gun, and called it loaded. Again, they view this as an officer safety issue. Unless you have everything on video, good luck convincing the Judge that the law enforcement officer is lying to him.
My dad went over some specifics regarding implied consent, and other tricks to getting into your car entirely legally. There are provisions on what can and can't be searched, but it all falls apart when confronted with a cop who thinks you're up to no good, and thinks everyone would be better off with you off the street or disarmed.
Pretty much the only semi-safe thing we came up with was putting the gun in a small COMBINATION (no keys!) locked box that isn't obviously for guns. A money box is a good choice. Dad said that in that case, perhaps the case will be busted open and tossed into a dumpster on the way in, and its contents submitted into evidence. I thought this was a bit extreme, but he insisted that it could, and probably did, happen. The only saving grace for this instance was the thought that the cop's in-dash camera would record the officer returning to his car with an obvious box. Whether or not the cop HAS an in-dash camera, and the department would be willing to relinquish the (unedited) footage is another matter entirely. But this was about as close as we got.

2. 99% of the time, your mood determines the cop's mood.
Cops are put in life threatening situations every day. The only thing that keeps them alive is a sense of good guys, and bad guys. Since you can't always tell one from the other they develop a list of things that good guys do, and a list of things that bad guys do. One of the big things that bad guys do, is disrespect the police. If you give a cop attitude, he's not going to "make it hard on you" just for payback, he's going to do it for his own safety. In his experience people who give cops attitude have something to hide, and you, a law abiding citizen confuse yourself with a law breaker simply by acting like one. Cops treat (perceived!) good guys and bad guys differently. If you don't want the bad guy treatment, don't act like you need it.

3. Rights-thumpers get no love.
I thought this was the answer.
"Officer, I will produce my license, registration, and proof of insurance, if you cite me, I will sign the citation; but I will not answer any questions without an attorney present."
Simple, yes? What cop couldn't respect a citizen exercising their rights? My Dad for one. In one of our many hypothetical traffic stops I felt confident in whipping out that line. My dad's response was immediate. "You're hiding something." I reasoned that it could just be a citizen who knows his rights, to which he replied, "Doesn't matter. Non-cooperation is a sign of hiding something. I'd definitely want to search that car." Oh well. So much for my proud, defiant response to unlawful search...

4. Most cops don't know the law.
At least, they don't know all of it. This is why your best defense is to know the law, and act within it. There's a pretty good chance that once on the stand, the officer will nullify his search (and its findings), and leave you free to go. But its up to you to now the specifics they don't. Dad said that he was "amazed" that so many convictions come from illegal searches, and/or poorly written reports. He though that he could personally get 90% of traffic stop cases thrown out simply by asking the right questions.

So what's the final answer from Dad?
Lie. Say you don't have any firearms in the car, and give them no reason to believe there are any. This includes any gun-related items left in an area readily viewable from the outside of the car. Too much can go wrong. If you lie and don't get away with it, the courts will decide if you were transporting legally or not (which you should always be).

So, after all this nonsense with probable cause, caveats, implied consent, and truth stretching I asked my Dad the serious question.
"What happens if you have a CCW permit?"
"Nothing. It's almost always legal to have a loaded gun on your person, or in your possession."
"Well then... For the sake of simplicity, I'll just get one then!"

There you have it. I didn't plan on getting a CCW permit, but now I need one to just ensure my freedom as a firearm owner. Beautiful. Fortunately, I found a number of California CCW resources with tricks and tips for getting approved on the first try. The process IS cumbersome, but is clearly worth it. I'm fairly confident that I'll be able to get a CCW permit, and am lucky to be in a "may issue" county. ("May issue" means that if you're a law-abiding citizen with no criminal past, with numerous character references, and want to be able to protect yourself, your loved ones, and others... You will be denied your 2nd amendment right to bear arms. You need something much more precious than life to protect! Like diamonds, cash, or drugs. No I'm not kidding. Protecting life will not get you approval in a "may issue" county, protecting lots of cash will! My solution? Give your kids diamonds!)

For your reading pleasure, I've provided one of our better traffic stop exchanges; enjoy!
Dad: Hi, any weapons in the car?
Me: I will produce my license [...] not answer questions without an attorney present.
D: Please step out of the vehicle
D: Where are you headed?
M: I will not answer any questions without an attorney present.
D: You need an attorney to tell you if it's ok to say where you were going?
M: Is that a question?
D: Where is your license?
M: In my wallet in my back pocket.
D: Where's your registration?
(this is usually when you say that its in the glove box, and the cop has implied consent to go into the glove box to retrieve the documents)
M: in a small carrier clipped to the visor above my seat.
D: Where's your proof of insurance?
M: in the same visor.
D: Ok, let me get it. (pause)
(the pause was for implied consent, if you do not stop or respond negatively to an officer's statement that he will search or otherwise enter your car, you are giving implied consent. Note how dad made it a semi-question by beginning with "let me")
M: I do not consent to any searches!
D: I know, but you need your information.
D: [reaches for the visor, feigns dropping the wallet from the visor to under my seat] Oops, clumsy me, let me just feel under your seat for your information... [retrieves the wallet, then slips again and drops it behind drivers seat] Oops, there I go again, let me just get that... [Looks in the back seat]
M: [feeling a little uneasy about my real rights being pretend violated] I do not consent to any searches!
D: ...I know... [Finishes, steps out of the car] What's in the case on the passenger seat?
M: I will not answer any questions without an attorney present.
D: [Takes my imaginary keys from the ignition to see if the case has a key on the ring, unlocks my glove compartment and looks inside] What's in your pockets?
M: I do not consent to the search of my pockets.
D: Fair enough. [takes out the imaginary case] Where's the key?
M: It's a combination lock, and I do not consent to the search of my locked container.
D: What's the combination?
M: I forgot.
D: Well, I've got a prybar in the car, I can help you open it since you forgot the combination! [smiles]
M: [crap] Hey, I just remembered the combination, but still don't consent to the search of my locked container.
D: Look, the box is heavy, and clanks when I shake it, it's pretty obvious to me that there's a gun in there. (pause)
(the pause is for implied agreement, I need to reject the idea)
M: Could be full of rocks.
D: But why would you lock rocks in a box, and refuse to tell me about them?
M: Is that a question?
D: It did go up at the end.
M: I will not answer any questions without an attorney present.
D: There's obviously a gun in here, it's obviously well locked, and obviously being transported safely. Now, I DO have the legal right to inspect any firearms being transported to ensure they are being transported securely, I don't need your consent. This is just a officer safety issue. Just open the case, and we'll move on.
M: ...
D: Well?
M: Was that a question?
D: I'm going to put handcuffs on you and you can sit in the back of my car while I call for gunpowder and drug sniffing dogs.
M: Am I being detained?
D: I just need you secure while I get the dogs over here.
M: Then I'm free to go?
(The question of being detained MUST be answered with a clear yes or no, I'm mad at myself for not asking "Am I being detained? I need to go." sooner in the conversation. It's supposed to be a good way to put some pressure on. The question of detainment is an important legal one, make sure it's asked frequently, and answered clearly)
D: ... No. I'm detaining you for suspicious activity.
M: Which law is that?
D: [smiling] Was that a question?
M: I will not answer any questions without an attorney present.
Aaaaaand scene!

At no point in this scenario was my Dad breaking any laws (that he couldn't easily explain around).

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Oh man. This is too insanely funny to be fake...

Read for yourself...
(short read)

Hell, even if it is fake, it's still worth the read!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My eyes! The goggles do nothing!

Good eyes!

third silk screening pic

This is my third silk screening, I did it at the request of some guys on a forum (plus I wanted to see how well I could do it)

Pretty good. I like the speckles around the design, but may get rid of them.

Some of the lines are a bit flakey, but its no where near enough to detract from the design. If you were going over it with a magnifying glass, I'm sure you'd find plenty of things to complain about anyways.

CLICKY for full size.

My next project will be a sprawling sketch full of strangeness, made with the intention of becoming a shirt. It will probably be my first professional-style silkscreening.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

You already know without me having to say it...

CLICKY for full size.

Traffic school post! (finally)

Ok, so this was lost in my moleskin. I though I had lost it somehow...
3-4-06 (UBER BELATED!) (yay!)
It's odd to see sooo many different people in one place. Majority of the people here are here for getting tickets from those photo ticket things. The instructor is teaching in an anecdotal fashion. I enjoy it, and I think everyone else does too. It really makes the time pass more quickly and makes the experience more pleasurable. I wonder if instructors also find straight reading from the manual boring, so they use anecdotes to cover the points they must. I wonder, if the instructor preferred anecdotal teaching, but didn't have any meaningful anecdotes if the instructor would make up stories to make the learning more enjoyable for us, and the teaching more enjoyable for themselves. I like that I didn't look at the instructor as a teaching robot, but as a person who may not prefer their job.

[the following is not part of the journal entry]
One thing I remember was with so many people in there for the photo red-light ticket machines, there was a lot of ill will toward them. When the instructor asked who thought they were a good idea, a percentage of people raised their hands. When asked who thought they were a bad idea, a percentage of people raised their hands. When asked who didn't care, I was the only one to raise my hand. "So much for wallflowering my way through this..." I thought to myself. The instructor asked me why I didn't care, and before I had a chance to get aprehensive at being the deviant, and develop some kind of present-company-friendly response, I spoke the unpalatable truth:
"Because it's still breaking the law, whether you were caught by a cop or a camera. Thinking you shouldn't be punished because it was one or the other is silly."
To which she [the instructor] replied, "...Well there you have it!"

More often before, less often lately...

4-13-06 (belated journal post)
More often lately I've been getting an overwhelming feeling of loss. Maybe loss isn't the right word. Maybe it's just incompleteness. I just get that whole rat race feeling. I go from day to day with few highlights, and think to myself that things will be different soon. Well I just kind of figured out that that is unlikely. It was a "this is your life" moment. I just got the feeling that I was trying to keep busy to avoid something, and I didn't want to avoid it anymore. I feel like I should be doing more, but I'm not sure what "more" is. There's something I miss doing, but have never done before. There's some intangible round peg out there, just waiting to make me whole. But what and where is it? Does anyone else feel this way?

5-9-06 (less belated journal post)
I've been drawing more, and have started scanning and coloring my sketches. I've also been perusing my interest in firearms. I can't think of anything else notable that I have done since the entry on the opposite page (above), yet I'd forgotten that lost feeling I used to have. The above activities are the only things I can attribute the lost feeling to. I hope I'm really dealing with these feelings and not just busying myself enough to forget about them.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Novice silk screening

I'd had an interest in it before, and have finally gotten around to trying it out.

Well, not entirely. I'm actually doing a half-assed version using those cross-stitching hoops. I still use actual silk screen (2 yards for $1.35!), and the right paint, but I just use glue instead of a photo receptor to get the design in the screen. The results have been promising, but using this method, I'm restricted to small, relatively simple designs.

After an extended Sunday session, I have a sketch of mine on a one shirt, and a glider on the other. I did rather like walking around with a big glider on my shirt, knowing that most of the people who saw it would wonder what on earth I had on my shirt, and that a select few would understand.

For now, I'd like to stay within the boundaries imposed by the method I've chosen. I think it will force me to become more creative with my designs. Plus, the main benefit of silkscreening is to be able to mass-produce designs quickly, cheaply, and easily. For now... I have no need for that. Just being able to put my designs on a few shirts is good enough.

I have no doubt that I'll pick up the correct equipment, and make a few screens for some quality designs, but for now, I'm happy with a few simple designs.

The power to make my own (very professional-looking) t-shirts has made me spend more time drawing up more designs. Of course, the design constraints have helped me to get more designs out. Without constraints, I usually just spin my wheels and accomplish nothing.

Why do I need an AR???

This question has been posed to me, and I've refrained from explaining the real reason because I wanted to have time to make my reasons clear and understandable. I will do that here.

There are really three reasons I wish to own an AR type rifle. One is patriotic, one is practical, and the last is a bit morbid.

1. The AR-15 is America's rifle. It fought and continues to fight on fronts all over the world in the hands of Americans. It is a symbol, and has served this country well.

2. This is really an argument for carbines. Having a short-to-mid range, rapid fire, carbine with decent penetration is the yin to a shotgun's yang. Even the largest, most intimidating, room-broom still has disadvantages. Is there a perfect, well-rounded weapon that has a balance of both worlds? Probably. But I'd rather have selection of two weapons that are optimized for different situations than pick one that will have any shortcomings in the situation I need to employ it in. Like settling on a wagon when you really need a small, fuel efficient car, and a large truck.

3. The SHTF situation. If America becomes occupied or threatened by forces foreign or domestic, there's about a 50/50 chance they will be carrying weapons that use 5.56 (.223) ammunition. Which will be extremely important in mounting any kind of resistance. What's the other 50% chance? They will be using 7.62 ammunition. And yes, I am looking into getting an AK type.
Some have said they do not understand my third reason. I was tactfully suggesting that we may, one day, have to turn our weapons on our own government (in the form of our military), and they will undoubtedly be using AR-type weapons which will fire the same ammunition as my AR. The decision was a question of ammunition availability in the case that ammunition is taken away from citizens.

Can on handgun defeat an army?


An unbelievable article, long and meaningful! All Americans should read it!

What good can a handgun do against an army?

Psychiatrist examines the anti-gun mentality (and more)

Good god, this is a good article!
(caps are not mine =)

Interesting article on personal defense mechanisms, and how to convince close-minded people to open their minds a bit. Definately worth the read.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Why own guns?

This is probably the most asked question. What made me decide to get a gun, and have I prepaired for the risks involved in gun ownership. I think to appropriately answer both questions I need to provide a bit of background.

I had very little experience with guns when I was young. In fact, half of the experiences I did have were negative, so I was in no way a gun freak/nut/thumper... In fact, I'd later discover that I actually had a fear of guns, unbeknownst to me.

I was a believer in the 2nd amendment because I knew history. I knew that Hitler rolled over so many European countries because they offered little to no resistance due to the fact that they were mostly disarmed by their government. I knew that when asked about invading America's west coast in world war two Japan's Admiral Yamamoto is reputed to have said, "You cannot invade America. There is a rifle behind every blade of grass." I knew by reading the Franklin letters that the point of the 2nd amendment wasn't for hunters, it was to protect civilians from a tyrannical government, and to remind the government that citizens of America will never be disarmed and overthrown. I knew that it was our freedoms that made us a strong people, a people who turned a very young nation into arguably the most powerful nation on the planet. I also knew that bad people have guns, and if good people didn't have them to level the playing field, things would be very different in this nation.

But that just makes me a 2nd amendment promoter, not a gun owner.

During the Katrina situation, I saw the worst in people; robbing, looting, raping, murdering, but I also saw some great people who stood up when the police didn't (and wouldn't). They stood up against those awful people, and protected their families and their neighbors. With guns.

Living in southern California along a fault line, which (everyone agrees) is LONG overdue for the "big one," the idea of being left high and dry in the event of a natural disaster seemed like a sobering prospect. As to police protection; remember the LA riots? Police fought valiantly to protect the city? Nope. There were too many rioters and the police literally stepped back and let them have control of the city for days until it burned itself out. Unbelievable. The world was rapidly becoming a more dangerous place. Well, not really, it was already dangerous, I was just naive.

I looked into the future, and saw my family, and looked at my girlfriend (mostly fiance), and knew that I had things to protect.

But I still wasn't decided. I thought I was being a little cynical to think that the police can't protect me at all. So I started talking to my police friends and family members... Wow. I didn't believe it, and wound up searching the net for a long time to find people denying these statements, but only found agreements. The police DO NOT, and WILL NOT "protect" you. The supreme court has found that the police are NOT liable to provide you with protection. This means that if you call 911, and they never come, it's not their fault. Not to mention that response times can vary from 5 minutes to 5 hours in busy areas (or even if areas become busy as the result of a disaster of some sort). If there's a natural disaster and widespread looting and violence, you can NOT count on the police to help. Try to find out how many police are employed by your city, then find out the population of your city. Now do your county. The police are outnumbered, and overworked without the added strain of a disaster of some sort. I'm not just saying these things. They're true. Don't trust me, get the numbers and see for yourself just how safe you are.
For more info on how the police can't and won't protect you check an earlier post here, or just google it.

I feel it's worth touching briefly on the notion that you can simply run away from your attacker. Assuming you aren't protecting your children, know your surroundings perfectly, can outrun a rapist or murderer, aren't disabled in any way, have already called the police, and know the attacker is working alone, you may have a chance. If people could simply run away from their attackers, there would be no victims of violent crimes. Since that is not the case, I think we can assume that "just run away" isn't the correct answer.

After all this, I realized that I should have a gun. I then started a long process of researching, testing, and buying my first handgun. In the process of researching my first handgun purchase, and in the weeks following my purchase I came across lots of other information. Most bothersome of which was the fact that a handgun is not very effective in combat. People type for pages about stopping power of this caliber versus that caliber and muzzle velocity for this round versus that round, but the simple fact remained. Handguns are not very effective, and are hard to use. Firing a handgun accurately takes lots of practice and training. But even after you've mastered your handgun, and can place three shots into a nickle at 50 feet in under a second from a standing position, a handgun's energy output is FAR less than that of a rifle or shotgun, and its effective range is still FAR shorter than that of a rifle. I know that most gun encounters take place within 5 feet, and take less than 5 seconds, but in an instance where you are protecting an area (your home, your neighborhood), or simply don't want to have to shoot someone four times to make sure they are neutralized, rifles and shotguns are the undisputed masters.

Just as you wouldn't bring a knife to a gunfight (as the saying goes), you shouldn't bring a handgun to a gun fight. Rifles and shotguns are 10 times easier to use than a handgun, and are 100 times more effective. Even in the hands of someone untrained. Pistols are hard to use effectively, and are not effective people-stoppers. The only advantage handguns have is portability. In a situation where you are not concerned with concealing a weapon on your person, IE: there's an intruder in your home, handguns lose their only advantage instantly. As an aside, the absolute best anti-crime device is the sound of shotgun being racked. The only thing that will stop a criminals faster is if you pointed it at them and pulled the trigger on some double aught buckshot.

I began to see gun ownership not as a choice, but a duty. Our founding fathers knew that an armed people are a free people. Countless studies find that more guns mean less crime. And if you've decided you need to arm yourself to protect your loved ones, you have a duty to arm yourself with the most effective tools available to you.

The dangers. Ah the dangers. Everyone always wants to remind you of the dangers. To those who say that guns are dangerous I ask that you support this site the people here are dedicated to protect our children from the dangers of evil guns. Or perhaps they're providing a stinging satire; I can't remember. There is no doubt that guns can be dangerous in malicious or untrained hands. Therefore, a responsible gun owner MUST educate those with access to the guns (including children of age), and a responsible gun owner MUST store their guns safely. To me, the idea of gun locks is silly, as most locks are easily opened (I'm a novice lock picking enthusiast, and am well versed in the shortcomings of most locks), and they will not prevent the gun from being taken and becoming a danger to others. A safe is the only way to go. Otherwise, remove an important part (or otherwise disable it), and store it separate from the locked gun. I am, of course, referring to guns that are not being employed in protecting your home, and need not be ready at a moment's notice. I won't say that a loaded gun with children home is a good idea, though it's the most effective. I also feel reluctant to apply a lock to a gun that is being used to protect your family. Maybe some form of quick safe like the small under-the-bed safes that hold one handgun, and use a push-button combination to open, so they can be opened quickly in the dark, except for shotguns... I dunno. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I know that guns aren't for everyone, and that some people are fearful of them (as I was), but I beg you, PLEASE get some form of basic handgun training. It's not that expensive, and you will never know when you may use the experience! A gun (especially a handgun) in untrained hands IS DANGEROUS to everyone within range! I know the movies make it look easy, but believe me, it's a difficult skill to master, and a trial by fire is not the way you want to learn to save the lives of your loved ones.

Remember, a 3 minute 911 response time may seem fast now, but just wait until someone's two kicks away from breaking in your door.

Data; the medium to end all media

(binary) Data is rapidly becoming the primary medium for information transmittal, desemination, and storage. Data can be used to represent pretty much anything. And while this is not particularly impressive, what IS impressive is the fact that the very nature of data is to be free.

I know I've probably just annoyed a large group of people with that statement. "Information wants to be free" is a common chant for those breaking copywrite laws, which some people resent. Whether or not it's right, it's definately true.

Data is easily replicated, cheaply stored, easily transmitted, manageable, and can represent almost anything. This makes the medium very prone to "sharing," which people will do as long as it's easy to do and carries little chance of reprecusion. Any attempts to control data will, I have no doubt, be soundly defeated.

Human nature aside, the fact is that Bill Gates was an anomoly. The fact that he was able to get people to spend their real money, on a series of ones and zeros is truly admirable. But the current level of data control is a bit different than it was when Billy was pushing his snake oil.

We can easily, and cheaply transmit gigabytes of information across the world very quickly. And by "we" I mean almost anyone. This lovely internet is mostly unpoliced, and that is a great thing; to allow anyone with as little as $9 a month to have access to this mind-blowing wealth of information, and instant world wide communication!

There's no doubt that the internet has changed our lives, well now it's changing some companies' business models. (or at least it should be)

Information doesn't want to be free.
Information will be free.

It will always be free. That's why I have no worries about Microsoft beating out Linux. Microsoft can't win. Their business model is obsolete. They may have been able to get away with selling data before, but with so much ease of data management available to everyone, there's no way they'll be able to keep it up. It's not a matter of if, but when.

All data will be free.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Gadgets, gadgets everywhere;
And still I hesitate;
Gadgets, gadgets everywhere;
Are they really that great?

I'm not really much of a gadget freak. I used to be, but somewhere along the way, I realized that I'd really much rather spend money (or not) on more important things. It should be noted, though, that this line of thinking causes me to pick up games, hot new portable gaming systems, and gadgets when I can't readily think of something I'd rather spend the money on.

Most recently, though, I've been focusing (fixating) on the slew of worthy games being released for the DS. Initially, I didn't have much interest in the DS, I picked one up for my girlfriend, and found that, while I though it had some pretty good ideas, it was poorly executed. It was big, cumbersome, and annoying. I'd seen Advance Wars: Dual Strike come out for it, and knew that there was no way I could justify getting a DS just for one game, so I pretty much dropped the idea.

Recently the game Brain Age was released, I'd been paying a bit of attention to it, and thought it was a cool idea. I only needed a slight push to pick it up. After my girlfriend said a coworker enjoyed it, I was sold, and picked it up for her.

It's a pretty good idea and a pretty cool premise, you test your brain function with a test, and determine your "brain age," then train daily with different programs, and track your progress. It also graphs your results so you can see your improvement. It's a bit of fun, and definitely worth my time (especially when there are measurable results!). So my DS interest was re-kindled.

I looked around and quickly found that the DS Lite was coming out soon. I looked at reviews and comparisons, and the lite is, for lack of a better word, sexy. I want it. I told my girlfriend that I'd happily buy it for her, but she was resistant. She thought it was silly to get one just because it was smaller. I'd have a tougher time justifying the purchase for only myself. (I don't like spending money on myself if it's not a necessary purchase) So I started reviewing some of the games available for the DS (to justify the purchase to myself), and while there were a few MUST HAVE's (Twilight Hourglass, Advance Wars: Dual strike) I could see that the game selection had expanded into some impressive games. I knew I had to get Super Mario 64, and New Super Mario World looked awesome, Partners in Time got awesome reviews; I was sold (again).

I had picked up "brother in arms, earned in blood" used from gamestop when I picked up Brain Age, and planned on returning it, as it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. Instantly this return turned into money towards the DS Lite. I also figured I could trade in my GBA Micro toward the DS Lite. (I really love the Micro, but the DS Lite seemed like it could (almost) fit the niche, plus it had a bigger screen with the micro's DPI. I love my Micro, but every time I take a game out, and pop it in my girlfriend's DS I always admire the game's appearance (though the same can't be said for the DS). Making the issue worse, I just got my bonus check (modest, but enough to put me over on the DS Lite). I was pretty resolved to get it.

If you know me, you'd know that after I've resolved to something, it becomes time to second-guess it!

I started to think about the game, the Micro, the Lite, and the bonus check. If I turn them in, and deposit the cash, I could get around $160 extra cash. Extra cash can be spent on other things. Other things like part of an upper for my newly acquired lower... I know I said I'd take my time building that rifle, and maybe I should, but it is quite tempting.

Continued... After thinking about this a bit, and coming back to it, I think I should really spend more time preparing for the upper purchase, so I should not spend it on that. However, saving specifically for the purchase is tempting, and probably the thing I should do. But on the other hand, $160 isn't that much to bother over. I was really looking at it as "free money" because it was money I didn't have before. But just because it's free money doesn't mean I should spend it, just to spend it. I think I'll use it to pay down my credit card, that way, I'll leave both options open... I still don't know what I'll do...

Bugger. I don't know. I think I'm going to reserve it. Well, it's not like it won't be there later... I obviously don't need it right NOW... It's just that the thought of that huge, bright, colorful screen gets me all hot and bothered. I don't even know when it will be released... Ah. June 11th. Is it sad that I'm so worried about this?... Hey, word is out that Target is improperly selling Lites early... I'll have to hit the Target in the same shopping center as the GameStop... I think I'm going to get it. As it happens, that bonus check was really just a spiff. The bonus check should come mid month, and be a bit larger... (further justification!)

Ok. I'm going to wait. (probably the best idea.)

Death by PowerPoint

It's really amazing how impressively tired I get as soon as someone fires up a power point "presentation." I really wonder if other people really get as worn out as I do, simply by sitting in a chair and reading (or trying to read) a bunch of slides with three lines of info each. I actually have trouble keeping my eyes in focus. I have to fight not to see double. I'm serious, it's like I'm drunk...

I suppose the only thing more amazing than how tired I get during a power point, is the fact that the presenters make so little effort to make their presentations more exciting than a funeral. No movement from the presenter. Droning voice. Pointless slides. Even something as minor as using colorful clip-art can stimulate your brain more than seeing a slide full of text, listening to the presenter read all the text word for word, then moving to the next slide.

Worse, was I didn't bring a notepad to doodle or write on. At one point I seriously considered writing on my arm just to keep from becoming a drooling vegetable. I didn't know if I could write in the presentation book I'm writing in now, nothing to do but sit. I could feel pieces of my mind melt away one by one, and spread across a vast darkness seeking to join the other lost consciousnesses. I was lost in the abyss. Free floating in nothingness, trying to keep my mind focused on something, anything, to keep it from descending even further into the unknown. But there was no stimulation, nothing to focus on, I had to focus on something. I wonder what would happen if I didn't fight it. If I would have just reduced to a catatonic state. And become on of those weird stories in the paper where some random person somehow breaks their brain in an unexplainable way...

An unidentified man was rushed to a hospital after he fell out of this chair at a presentation, and became unresponsive. Once at the hospital, doctors declared him to have somehow slipped into a coma. "He was awake, and watching the presentation like we all were, then he just fell out of his chair, and he was gone." said another patron of the presentation. No one has come forward to identify John Doe, so we've supplied a picture, but police are quite certain that he will be lost forever.

As the world withdrew further and further from my sight and my focus slipped from the conscious realm; I heard a magic word which echoed in my abyss. First it was muffled and underwater, then as the sound bounced closer it became more clear until it reached my ears clear and bright as the shine of the sun on a summer day in a rolling meadow.


My mind, spread across the universe, coalesces instantly. I'm violently gripped by my chest and rocketed from the darkness. The nothingness whips my face and howls in my ears as I ascend. I snap back into consciousness so fast I fear I might have a stroke. For a brief moment I am reborn. Confused. Panicked. Scared. Blind. Lost....


Fractions of a second later I regain my bearing, and immediately forget how closely I came to losing myself.

Onward to the next journey...

Impressive stupidity

In a previous post, I, tongue-in-cheek, suggested that under the "strictest interpretation" of Ca law, one would be required to put a gun lock on any lower receivers they purchase. Apparently this was not as far from the truth as I though.

Sunday I purchased a STAG-15 lower receiver, and when filling out the paperwork to own this piece of aluminum with no moving parts, I was told that if I have a gun safe, I would be required to bring the model number in when picking it up, if I didn't have a safe, I would have to bring in a receipt to prove purchase of a gun lock.

A stripped lower receiver is not actually a gun. It's a piece of molded aluminum, with no moving parts, no firing pin, no barrel, no springs, no pins, no trigger, no nothing. It's a paperweight. An expensive paperweight. Yet since it has the "capacity" to become much more, it must be treated as a firearm. I guess, technically, that makes sense. Otherwise, you'd be able to assemble a gun with no control on any of the parts. But to require a lock be purchased with it? I don't know.

If we pull this "capacity" argument out a bit, we can find new laws on pretty much anything. Imagine having to register your pet rock for its "capacity" to become a dangerous weapon? What if you are a highly trained martial artist? Should you have to register your body as a lethal weapon? How would you lock it up to prevent others from using it? (or yourself, on accident?) These are silly arguments, but so is the idea of needing to prove purchase of a gun lock for something that simply has the capacity to become a weapon.

What if I had no intention of using it, but only chose to buy it as an aid to show people what a "Dangerous Assault Weapon" is? I'd still have to buy a trigger lock for a piece of aluminum that doesn't even have a trigger (or even a trigger guard to put the lock into).

I'm not arguing that we don't need gun locks, I think they serve a very valuable purpose, but to insist that one be purchased before the gun is even a gun? Feel free to enforce gun lock laws once the lower receiver joins with an upper receiver, and a barrel, and (for god's sake) a trigger. But until then? Trust I have the ability to handle a chunk of aluminum responsibly.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Friday, June 02, 2006

Gimby and the GIMP!

My first "GIMP'ed out" sketch!

(and my first attempt, so be gentle!)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

One of these things is not like the other... Or is it???

Below you may behold the aluminum cast visage of pure evil! Or so your Senator would have you believe...

Don't let their looks fool you. These pieces of aluminum are pure evil.

Look at these molded chunks of aluminum. Some of these are DEADLY ASSAULT WEAPONS! While others, somehow, are not. There's no need to squint; these chunks of aluminum are exactly the same, except for some cosmetic differences. Yet the state of California has deemed these strangely shaped bits of aluminum are the very face of death and destruction that our elected officials are sworn to protect us from!

Note I called them "weapons," that's because that's what these are. You may not purchase one of these unless you are over 18 years of age, pass a background check, and wait a state mandated "cool down" period. (I guess you could throw it at someone if you were angry) Yeah. These pieces of aluminum are deadly. Under the strictest interpretation of Ca. law, were I to purchase one of these evil pieces of metal (or even one of the non-banned ones which are just as capable) I would be required to put a gun lock on it.

Here's an artist's rendition...

Don't worry, Ma'am... Your children are safe!

If you weren't able to determine which ones were illegal assault weapons and which ones were not, don't worry. I'd bet $10,000 the senators and DOJ wouldn't be able to tell either; and they passed the damn law.

Why gun control will never work.

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find ways around the laws." - Plato

I particularly like this quote because it doesn't end with "will break the laws" because, in reality, criminals really just find their way around laws and punishment.

Everybody likes to think that the Police will save everyone all the time, instantly. They can't. They'll be the first to admit that. I think that most people really need to have a sit-down discussion with a cop of more than 15 years.
Ask them three simple questions;

1. Can the Police protect me?
2. Does the Criminal Justice System work?
3. Do gun laws keep guns out of criminals' hands?

Three easy questions. Questions I was told to ask any police officer I met by my Dad, a LA County Sheriff.

Here's the overwhelming response to these three simple questions. While I will not recount every single word uttered by every cop I asked, I will note inconsistencies between them, and emphasize things they emphasized.

1. The response from all but one was a "Yes" which they quickly changed to a "No." The other simply answered "No." The police rarely catch and stop crimes in progress, much less prevent. Ask any cop how they spend most of their time, and they will tell you gathering information on crimes that have already been comitted, and writing reports on those crimes. When I raise the question of 911, they were all quick to note that a call to 911 (that doesn't get a busy signal) almost never stops a crime from taking place. They talked about response times being from 5 minutes to several hours depending on the severity of the crime. Were you to call to report some suspicious characters hanging around your house, that's given a low priority. Were those people to force their way in, and prevent you from calling again with the escalated situation, know you may have to wait hours for help to arrive. This isn't the fault of the Police, they are often behind the 8-ball, and doing their best to do their job. A few even related not being able to properly "handle" dangerous people for fear they would file complaints or cause legal trouble which, no matter how unfounded, remain on their record permanently.

2. Everyone I asked expressed dismay with the current state of the criminal justice system, but some were optimistic that it was making a positive difference. Two answered simply; "We need a victim justice system, because right now only the criminals are getting justice." You don't have to search the internet very long to find cases like this, so I won't bore you. It is my contention that the criminal justice system doesn't work well enough.

3. Everyone I asked answered "No." When pressed they told me that we can make all the laws we want, but since criminals don't respect our laws we're only making it harder on law-abiding citizens.

The police are not a protection company. Have no illusions.

I was at a sporting goods store recently, and saw "Bear Mace," a form a pepper spray to be used on bears. I couldn't help but laugh. A bear is charging you with the firm intent of mauling you, so you spray it with something that will inflict minor pain, and expect it to stop in it's tracks? Lunacy. Idiocy. Ignorance. Peper Spray doesn't stop determined humans from doing what they're trying to do. It may slow them down, which may give you time to escape, but to a 1,500 pound that can run faster than you, and is hundreds of times stronger than you, you're just making it more likely to kill you. For a situation like this, Yogi would be much more receptive to multiple shots from a rifle or .45 pistol.

I would say that dialing 911 is about as effective as that bear mace will be on an angry bear, but I'd be lying. In the choice between 911 and bear mace, I pick bear mace. At least the bear mace has a remote chance of protecting my life. All 911 will do, is give you false hope.

Most people are trusting... to a fault

My girlfriend and I were getting out of the car after parking in a parking lot, looked over at a mother, grandmother, and 3 kids getting out of a car.
Grandma: How do you lock it?
Mom: Just leave it unlocked.
Grandma: You can't just leave it unlocked.
Mom: No one is going to steal it. Besides, how would they know it's unlocked?
Grandma looks reluctant, but says nothing
Me walking by: I know it's unlocked...
Mom: But would you steal it?
Me: Doesn't matter.

I thought of a few things I could have added later (and was upset I didn't remember them at the time);
Criminals are busting into cars, (or opening unlocked cars) and getting garage door openers and registration. Few people lock the door between their garage and their house, so armed with your address off your registration, they open your garage and ransack your house and leave... if you're lucky.

I know for a fact that that woman didn't suspect even for a moment that by leaving her car unlocked she was letting criminals into her house. She may even have been secretly hoping it would be taken so she could get another car with the insurance money.

Mom walks into her home after her car is taken: Tee Hee! I "forgot" to lock my car, and now the insurance will buy me a new car! I'm so smart!... Honey? Is that you?

I hope that bothered you to read, because it bothered me to type it. It's very simple. When you come hope, you relax because you're safe and comfortable inside your home. To have someone gain such easy access completely unbeknownst to you (especially at your fault) is a huge violation on many levels.

This is a simple thing that could wind up saving the lives of yourself and your children. To anyone who would say "That's a bit far-fetched! What are the chances that could happen to me!?" I say that if there is a .00000001% chance of the situation happening to you, you'd better prepair for it. Because if the possibility isn't a flat 0% you need to know that it happened to someone, and it may as well have been you (and may be in the future).

If the chances are 1,000,000 to 1, there's still one person who had it happen to them; and I'll bet money that they didn't think it would happen to them either.

I'm not saying that you should take extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of yourself and your family, I'm just saying that a little bit of effort here and there goes a long way toward protecting your loved ones.

There's no reason to be paranoid either, you shouldn't suspect everyone, I'm just saying that we don't exactly live in a utopia. The argument "I live in a good neighborhood" is well and good until your neighbor murdered in a home invasion robbery. And if you have kids, remember that they trust and depend on you to protect them. If you put them at risk just because you didn't want to take an extra few seconds to lock the door behind you, or check the windows before bed, or just because you don't think something like that would happen to you, the blame falls entirely on you. You've failed. And what if you survive an attack but your children don't? Was it worth the carelessness?