Miscellaneous: December 2015 Archives

Dear America:

Look around you.  Look at what we have in America.  Look at our relatively very high levels of peace and prosperity.  We are living longer, we have less death, we have more stuff.  And for those of us who allow it to ourselves, we have plenty of opportunity for happiness and fulfillment.

We're winning.

People act like a few attacks against us means we're losing.  For every successful attack against us, we have dozens or hundreds against them.  They live in caves and shacks, we live in warm homes and have wireless Internet strapped to our faces.

Let's have some perspective.  Even on 9/11 we weren't losing.  We have never been losing, and there's no prospect that we will be losing.  France isn't losing, either.

Since we're talking about winning and losing, I might as well bring in a sports analogy: this would be like if Tom Brady got sacked three times by the Dolphins, but he still got six TDs and the Patriots were winning 52-6, and you polled Patriots fans and they mostly said the Patriots were losing.

Again: let's have some perspective here.  Most of the day, most of us don't think about anything bad, let alone terrorism.  We think about work, family, movies, games, sports, hobbies, pets, and all sorts of other things we would not be thinking about right now if the terrorists were actually winning. G+
Spike Lee's new film "Chi-Raq" is about gun violence. He wants people to walk away with a sense that we need to solve this problem.

But guns do not make us violence. Where we have high gun violence, we also have high rates of non-firearm violence; and where we have low violence rates, we often also have lots of guns.

It's not just that guns do not cause violence, it's that there is not even a correlation between guns and violence.  We do have violence problems in this country, but the more we blame guns, the harder it gets to actually solve the problem of violence.

On Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asks why Chicago gets less focus than Sandy Hook and Charleston. Lee says it's because people get numb.  But it's not: it's because people recognize that Chicago has systemic problems with a culture of violence that we, on the outside, are powerless to do anything about.  For big events with single shooters, we hold out hope that maybe there's something we can do about it.

I am not a fatalist.  I'm not.  I am not saying there's nothing we can do about violence.  I am saying that we cannot stop violence by going after guns, and I say this because the data demonstrates there is no correlation between guns and violence.

President Obama says we are not more violence, implying that the only difference between us and less violent countries is guns, but he's completely wrong.  We absolutely are more violent.  We need to change the culture, and that starts from within. G+
Matt Bai made the point on #MTP  that we treat candidates like they are game show contestants to be voted on or off.

I hadn't thought of this before, but -- combined with the foolish notion that poll numbers represent how people are going to vote in the primaries -- it might help explain why so many people believe that candidates with the lowest poll numbers should just "drop out."

In late 2007, everyone knew Hillary would be the nominee.  Rudy was the "frontrunner" for the GOP nomination.  It's the same story every year: the polls are more often wrong as a predictor, than right.  It's because they are not intended to be a predictor.  And if they are intended to be a predictor, they shouldn't be, because they cannot be: people "vote" in them differently than they vote in the primaries, both because they are meaningless, and because they change their minds.

I suspect lots of people "vote" for Trump in polls because they either think he's entertaining, because he's the only name they know, or because they want to damage Republican chances.  None of those people are likely to also vote for him in the primaries.

But even if they were, it's still the fact that this is not a race to win a poll, it's a race to win dozens of primaries, so no one should drop out unless they have no chance to win those primaries, and lots of things change between now and the primaries.  It's like telling the Seahawks they should drop out of the NFL season because they are too far behind to win the Super Bowl.  It's nonsense. G+
Weather is not climate.

This is what the pro-global warming folks tell us all the time, when someone says, "it's cold! therefore, global warming is a myth!"

Yet when we have a particularly warm winter, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are out here telling us that it is evidence of global warming.

It's not.  Stop it. G+
Hillary is right: Trump is a bully, and we shouldn't let him "bully his way to the presidency."

I just wish she would've stood up against Obama the many times he's bullied his way to, and in, the presidency, like when he, many times, dishonestly demonized Republicans and conservatives.  Sure, Trump is more vulgar and stupid and direct than Obama, but Obama shouldn't get a pass because he's more articulate. G+
Dear Humans,

Appropriation is not a bad thing. It's the basis of human society and all progress.

Misrepresentation of an appropriation may be bad. But the appropriation itself? It is, at worst, completely neutral, and at best a compliment or innovation.

Appropriate away! Appropriate like the wind! G+
Star Wars spoilers below.

So, I think Rey is Han and Leia's daughter. She acts like Han in various ways, is a loner, is mechanically inclined, can fight, etc. She thinks of Han as a father, and wears her pistol just like he does. Leia hugs her like a mother would. There's plenty of little hints.

Then there's the possible brother-sister dynamic with Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, and Rey. Sibling rivalry, light vs. dark, and so on. Reminiscent of Planet Mortis from Clone Wars, and the brother and sister who lived there (Google it).

Plus, long before The Phantom Menace, in various books etc., Han and Leia did have twins.

Also, Han and Leia named their son Ben, after Obi-Wan. Seems they might have wanted to name their daughter after someone too. Well, Leia's adopted mother is Breha Organa ... it seems possible Breha's nickname might have been Rey. (I thought of this today, but upon Googling I am not the first to think of it, of course.)

Many people think Rey is Luke's daughter. I say she's Leia's.

And that Snoke is Palpatine's former master. But he could also be the father or son from Mortis. G+
I love how Bernie Sanders basically begs people to not support him, by saying businesses won't like him as President. G+

Reshared post from Reason:

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Original Post from Reason:

Watch students at Yale University sign a petition to repeal the First Amendment.

I just realized ... some of you may not have ever even heard this song, or have forgotten it, because it is not in the "Special Edition" of Return of the Jedi.  I don't watch the "Special Edition," and you shouldn't either!  Boo! G+

Celebrate the love!

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Dear Internet,

I would really like to know why my MacBook Pro running El Capitan leaks fds so badly.  The worst offenders are Mail, Safari, and Calendar.  I had almost 23K fds reported by `lsof` -- just the ones owned by my user -- until I quit those three apps, and I dropped down to under 13K.

Most of them, from Calendar (well, CalendarAgent) and Mail -- several thousand -- are Unix domain sockets.  Most of the Safari ones are weird-looking cache filenames, like "/E99288583F728C94325C775C3437E13FCD52C315". G+
From The Star Wars ... Han Solo introduces Chewbacca to General Luke Skywalker and his Padawan, Annikin Starkiller.

So confusing. G+
This is currently on sale for $4.  I've been interested in it for awhile, so I grabbed it.  It's the original draft of Star Wars.

Spoiler alerts:

Luke is a general and old Jedi. Annikin is his Padawan Learner. Leia is a princess being protected by them. Biggs is her little brother. Vader is not a Sith. Leia falls in love with Annikin.  Han Solo is big and green.  Everyone carries a lightsaber, even the stormtroopers.

It's all very confusing.

May the force of others be with you, if you read this book. G+
What is your least favorite quote in the Star Wars films?  (Again, anything having to do with Jar-Jar is an unacceptably boring answer.)

My least favorite is, "only a Sith deals in absolutes."  It's so stupid, and not just because it's obviously self-contradictory, but because it's completely backward: it's the Jedi who generally regard issues as absolute, and the Sith who see everything as relative. G+
What is your least favorite part of the Star Wars films?  (Anything having to do with Jar-Jar is an unacceptably boring answer.)

Not to be all feminist, but I think it's gotta be how completely weak Padme was in Episode III.  Episode III was the worst of the films, not because it wasn't exciting or the story was terrible, but because the characters made no sense.  There's many examples of this (including Anakin's incomprehensible switch from "let's arrest the Chancellor because he's bad" to "I'm gonna go kill those younglings over there" in the span of about three minutes), but the worse is with Padme.

Here we have a person who is the head of state, who is a practically a commando, who stands up to anything and jumps into battle with a blaster ... and the next thing you know, the only thing she can hold is a hairbrush, she only sees herself in terms of her man, she's too scared to take any action, and she literally dies because she's so sad.  I know that pregnant women go through a lot of emotional changes, but it's pretty ridiculous.

In real life, Padme would have survived if for no reason but to protect her children, and would've devoted her life to destroying her ex-husband. G+
Who will be the Republican nominee for President? I don't know, but I'll tell you this: I have been involved in GOP politics for awhile (though I am not currently active), and I know a lot of Republicans, and a large majority of Republicans oppose the current "top three" in the latest poll (Trump, Cruz, and Carson).  They don't just favor someone else, they are against them being the nominee.

I know a few people who want Trump, a bunch of people who like Carson (and a few who want him to be President), and a larger number who want Cruz.  But most Republicans I know think Carson and Trump are not qualified, and simply dislike Cruz, or find him to be untrustworthy.

That's never happened before.  Granted, in other polls, Rubio is in the top three, and on average he may be in the top three.  But almost none of the Republicans I know would reject him as a candidate, unlike the other three candidates.  It's just remarkable how unpopular these "top three" candidates are, among the Republicans I've talked to. G+
Donald Trump is not the only dangerously ignorant "frontrunner" for a major party nomination: Hillary Clinton still thinks, 20 years after we already figured out that it is literally not possible, that we can and should find ways for government to bypass encryption used by terrorists.

STEPHANOPOULOS: How about Apple? No more encryption?

CLINTON: This is something I've said for a long time, George. I have to believe that the best minds in the private sector, in the public sector could come together to help us deal with this evolving threat. And you know, I know what the argument is from our friends in the industry. I respect that. Nobody wants to be feeling like their privacy is invaded.

But I also know what the argument is on the other side from law enforcement and security professionals. So, please, let's get together and try to figure out the best way forward.

That sounds good to some people ... but it is not possible.  The tools to encrypt are out there on the Internet and written in books and magazines and on t-shirts and coffee mugs, and it cannot be taken back.  And if I use encryption, generally speaking, you cannot get around it.  You might be able to crack it, in some cases; but generally, you simply cannot get it, no matter how many minds you put together to solve the problem.

While privacy is a big part of this problem, it's not the fundamental problem.  If Apple gives you back doors to get into communication, yes, you might have privacy issues.  But if Apple does that, then the "bad guys" will simply stop using Apple's messaging tools, and use other ones.  And if you get back doors to all commercial apps, they will write and use their own apps.  Then you'll be able to access communications ... but only of the law-abiding citizens, not the bad guys.

Encrypted communications is not something that you can stop.  You're wasting time and energy -- and demonstrating yourself to be woefully ignorant -- by trying. G+
Clearly, Trump is wrong about Muslims. But the "debate" about this is mostly missing an important point: "Islam" is not one thing.

It's fine to say that if you want to destroy America or commit terrorist acts, you shouldn't be allowed into America.  It's also fine to say that if you think that Americans should all be forced to follow Sharia law, your views are un-American.

But those views are not "Islam."  Neither is it true that those views are not "Islam."  "Islam" is not one thing.  "Islam" is different things to different Muslims.  Most of the angst we have regarding "Islam" in America is that many people see all Muslims as having the same views about "Islam," and that's just wrong.

But it is also true that many adherents to Islam do see Islam as being un-American and terroristic, and that we are terrible at figuring out which Muslims have those views, and we not only do let some of them into the country, but we also make some of them citizens.  Arguably, we should not be letting them in and making them citizens.  But how do you stop it?

This is a problem.  But Trump's proposal won't help solve it. G+
UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh told Law Blog that Mr. Trump’s plan “may be a very bad idea, but under the plenary power doctrine it may very well be constitutional.”

If you're serious, resist the temptation to conflate "I don't like this" with "this is unconstitutional."
Hard to keep straight face when I'm playing The Imperial March every time I walk through the halls at work. G+
I was so involved reading about this on my phone as I walked through my house that when I got to my chair to sit down and felt in my pocket for my phone, I couldn't figure out where my phone was (again, while I was staring at this on my phone). G+

Reshared post from Reason:

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"There's a clear pattern emerging here. Add it all up—the boat, the speeding ticket, and now this so-called 'water thing'—there's only one conclusion to be drawn: Marco Rubio lives in Florida." G+

Original Post from Reason:

Politico's latest in-depth report on GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio reveals something many have long suspected: He likes to drink water. Indeed, he likes to drink water a lot.

Banning people from guns based on the no-fly list clearly violates the 5th Amendment in order to violate the 2nd Amendment.

If you are against the idea that the government can ban you from posting on Twitter or Facebook because you are on the no-fly list, and if you respect justice and the rule of law, you must also be against putting people on the no-fly list on the "no-buy" list.

The Fifth Amendment requires that your liberty not be taken away by government without due process.  You have a constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, which necessarily includes the right to legally buy a gun.  The government cannot take that right (or any other right) away, without going to court and providing evidence that demonstrates that you should have your right taken away from you. G+
“We know that the killers in San Bernardino used military-style assault weapons — weapons of war — to kill as many people as they could. It’s another tragic reminder that here in America it’s way too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun.” -- President Obama

The only reason these guns were "weapons of war" is because they were illegally modified to be "weapons of war."

But even worse, President Obama is saying there's something wrong with selling a gun to apparently law-abiding American citizens.  The terrorist who bought the handguns had no criminal record.  On what basis should he have been rejected from buying a gun?  Because he's a Muslim?  Because his wife is a Muslim immigrant from the Middle East?

What does he want to do to stop future attacks?  It seems like he has no actual plans, as usual: just make bizarre handwaving gestures.

Yes, we could restrict people on the no-fly list from being able to buy a gun.  But that would not have stopped this American-born terrorist, who wasn't on that list.  So once again, he is offering "solutions" that don't address the problem.

Also note that it is blatantly unconstitutional to take away my right to buy a gun based on whether I am no the no-fliy list, because that very directly violates my due process rights under the Fifth Amendment: "No person shall ... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. ..."  The no-fly list is an administrative list, not subject to court oversight, and you cannot leverage it to take away someone's constitutional rights.  You can only do that through legal court proceedings. G+
I am pleasantly surprised by this, but also disheartened.  I thought maybe "on-premise" would beat "on-premises."  But "on-premise" is still used far, far, too often.  It's wrong.  Stop it! G+
Vermont has a lower homicide rate than Australia.  Clearly, Australia should do what works in Vermont, and repeal almost all of their gun laws. G+
Dear app developers,

If you have a pop up that asks me if I like/love your app, I will always tap "No" or the closest equivalent, because at that time, I hate it, because you're wasting my time by popping up a box asking me what I think of the app. G+
Best thing about San Bernardino shooting is that people are learning there's two r's in "Bernardino."  #toosoon G+
The left criticizes the right for praying about victims of gun violence, instead of doing something about it.

I criticize the left for criticizing the right for not doing something about it, while the left itself has no actual solutions for doing something about it. G+
This was a few months ago, down the road from today's shooting incident in San Bernardino.

It's so odd for a mass public shooting in this country to have multiple assailants (which is what reports are saying), so I started thinking about what could be going on.  The target (an agency to service developmental disabilities) is not an obvious one, but where there's a single assailant, you can reasonably assume the person is nuts.  That's much less likely with multiple assailants: there's usually a shared motive, such as we saw in Paris.

I have no idea what the motive might be, but it is probably planned, with an explicit purpose.

Something else uncommon in U.S. mass public shootings is the use of automatic weapons, but the likelihood of using automatic weapons increases with organization, and multiple assailants (with a planned and apparently successful escape) implies organization.  I know that if I were going to make a coordinated assault on a fixed target, I'd want a select-fire weapon.  So, I started searching for automatic weapon reports in the area, and found this report.

I have no reason to think these are connected, but the proximity in time and space -- three months ago, less than 10 miles -- is interesting enough to post. G+
It's so perfect how the cover of Sports Illustrated unintentionally features the most controversial storyline of the Patriots-Broncos game: the terrible officiating. G+
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Miscellaneous category from December 2015.

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