Archive for July 2011

Another Benefit of Concealed Carry

An armed society is a polite society.

The anti-gunners would have you believe that the mere presence of a gun in this situation would result in a dead guy in a BMW, as road rage would have taken over my mind, driving my hand to my pistol when our friend in the Beamer dared to insult me. Instead, the opposite happened. Rather than engage in my natural instinct to speak ill of the BMW-driver’s mother, I did nothing. I was polite, even.

Ditto.  A gun is a responsibility.  When you have that iron under your shirt reminding you how serious life is, you treat life seriously.

Gun grabbers are afraid that anyone with a gun would be homicidally violent at the drop of a hat.  When you look beneath the surface, this is usually because they are violent, temperamental people who have been violent before, and would have been homicidal if they only had the ability.  And they think that everyone is as weak as they are.

The fact that they are too irresponsible to be armed shouldn’t keep me from protecting myself from violent people like them.

(via Say Uncle)

Soldiers Angels VALOUR-IT fundraiser

Team USAF could use some help.  The yearly fundraiser is almost over, and giving is way down.  VALOUR-IT puts voice activated laptops and other in the laps of wounded servicemen and women who don’t have hands to use them with anymore.  Every bit helps.


From one of the beneficiaries, Chuck Ziegenfuss:

In 2005, I was wounded.  For some months, I was unable to use my hands.  They were simply too badly damaged from the blast, and the surgeries to make them usable again left me unable to do anything for myself.

Then came Soldier’s Angels, who gave me a laptop, and paired it with special software that allowed me to control the computer, using only my voice!  Imagine, being able to do anything you can do with a mouse and keyboard, using just your voice.  For me, it allowed me to do one thing, that I could do before I was wounded.

That one thing–when everything: feeding, cleaning, scratching, everything had to be done for me–that one thing I could do for myself allowed me to connect to my soldiers, friends, and family. That one thing… that one thing began a long road to recovery.  It gave me hope; that I could learn to do other things like I did before.

Nonexistent Licenses

More from Minnesota’s shutdown (that no one is noticing.)

Hundreds of bars, restaurants and stores across Minnesota are running out of beer and alcohol and others may soon run out of cigarettes — a subtle and largely unforeseen consequence of a state government shutdown.

In the days leading up to the shutdown, thousands of outlets scrambled to renew their state-issued liquor purchasing cards. Many of them did not make it.

Now, with no end in sight to the shutdown, they face a summer of fast-dwindling alcohol supplies and a bottom line that looks increasingly bleak.

“It’s going to cripple our industry,” said Frank Ball, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, which represents thousands of liquor retailers in the state.

Isn’t this a due process violation?  Haven’t the court repeatedly said that a behavior cannot be licensed if the state refuses to issue licenses for it?

Doesn’t this mean that anyone in Minnesota could sell liquor, since the licensing agency is failing its responsibility to provide due process?  Given that a constitutional amendment was required to prohibit alcohol, and another amendment was passed to remove this prohibition, it would seem that the right to buy and sell alcohol is a fundamental right, and failing to issue licenses to do so is an effective violation of this right.


From the foreperson on the jury:

VAN SUSTEREN: So what’s your most likely, which is — which is — apart from — beyond a reasonable doubt is a very different standard than what’s most likely or what you think or what you guess or anything. Where do you fall in the spectrum?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, as far as — again, this is all — this is all speculation. There’s a number of ways that Caylee could have died. You know, there is the possibility, there was the evidence of chloroform, which we can touch on later. There was a pool right there just a — feet away, you know, a couple feet away from the doors that, you know, has had pictures of her being able to open, ladders that she potentially could really have climbed up herself.

And I know that that is a major way that a lot of children die down here in Florida. But we don’t know if that’s the cause or if that was the cause of death. We don’t know the cause of death, and that was one of the major issues that we had and one of the major issues that we had to address. We don’t know the cause of death. Everything was speculation.

(My emphasis.)

Exactly like I said.  The prosecution did not prove a cause of death, and without a cause, you can’t have homicide.

Credit and Blame

I would like to point out a few things to the people hysterical about the Casey Anthony verdict.

It is the job of the prosecution to prove to the jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the crime in question was committed by the person accused, with certainty and specificity.

It is not the job of the jury to fill in the gaps left by the prosecution, or to fix the prosecution’s case.  In fact, it is the job of the jury to acquit when the evidence is lacking.

The prosecution did not prove a cause of death.

The prosecution therefore did not prove that the death was caused by another person, because they don’t know the cause of death.

The prosecution therefore did not prove homicide.  Without homicide, there can be no murder or manslaughter.

You want to blame someone?  Blame the DA who decided to level murder charges without even knowing with any certainty or specificity that a murder had even occurred.

p.s. Stop watching Nancy Grace.  She’s wrong much, much more than she’s right, and she’s a shining example of why prosecutors screw up cases like this, having been one herself.


I’ve been using Dropbox as both a semi-backup to the cloud, and to sync files (mainly PDFs) between various computers and my iPad.

I’ve never been entirely happy with it, because I’ve always known that Dropbox could get to my data if they wanted to.  They have policies that say they won’t, but they also don’t give me any confidence that they would resist a subpoena, even a wide-ranging fishing expedition one.

I’ve considered running my own encryption on the data before it gets there (there are lots of tutorials on that on the net) but it would defeat one of my main goals — being able to get to the data on my iPad.  Now, I’ve found SpiderOak.  (If you signup for it using this link, I get a free gigabyte of storage. Yay me! No homo — I mean, no promo code.)  Spideroak uses RSA encryption to lock the data up before it ever leaves your computer, so there is no way for them to access it or turn it over to .gov in a usable form even if they wanted to, which it doesn’t look like they do.

Check out the “zero knowledge” policy they have.  Hell, they don’t even have a Terms of Service to agree to.  All you have to agree to is that if you forget your password, you are screwed, which is a Goodness Thing.  They actually put it best on their Dev blog:

As we move forward, however, how is this always-on, instant-access society impacting you? Do you not expect that the enablers of this magic to take you seriously, with your needs as an individual? Why does adding the phrase “on the internet” suddenly imply that it’s OK to be lax about trust? You have a file store at home: your computer’s hard drive. For those of us renting, we pay someone (the landlord) to house it. How would you react if your landlord or a maintenance man plugged your hard drive into his laptop and downloaded a copy of everything just because some man in a suit asked him to? Why does “file store on the internet” mean anything different? Why should we instantly relax our standards just because it’s online and shiny?

If this sounds like a manifesto, that’s because it is. At the core of this future is the bedrock we lay down today. What you will have tomorrow, the freedoms and limitations of tomorrow, are set in concrete form with the foundations of today. That is the point of this message, that engineering matters! Core design principles will outlive any set of bugs in an implementation, and that is what we do here. Our core is trust, our core is security, our core is safety. The engineering of the system now will have a direct impact for years to come.

Hell yeah.  I’m there until they give me a reason not to trust them.