Tuesday October 3rd, 2017 16:10 From the higher perch: a note on reactions

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Heaven-Can-Wait

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Tuesday October 3rd, 2017 16:09 From the high perch: comparison and contrast

Let me introduce you to two men.

Charles Whitman

This is Charles Whitman.

In 1966, he killed 15 people and injured 31 others over the course of 96 minutes. He was 25 years old and a highly trained sharpshooter, having served in the Marines. He committed his murders using a variety of weapons, including bolt-action and semi-automatic riles.

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This is Stephen Paddock.

In 2017, he killed (at present count) 59 people and injured more than 500 others. According to witnesses, this happened over the course of 10-15 minutes. He was a 64-year-old retiree and professional gambler. There is no current indication he had any formal weapons training (his brother says he did not). There is currently no reliable information about what weapons he used (there are a few new photos, though), but anyone that’s ever fired a gun before can listen to the audio and determine that the shots came faster than one can feasibly pull a trigger, strongly suggesting that he used at least one automatic weapon. Given the distance, speed and lethality of those shots, an assault rifle is extremely likely.

This Average Joe out-murdered a Marine sharpshooter – by a factor of four – in less than 1/6 of the time.

To anyone who is still against reasonable gun control or a ban on assault weapons:

Do I need to draw you a fucking diagram?

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Monday July 31st, 2017 15:02 A preparatory ponderance on Mooch’s next CV

mooch

Might also want to warn the next guy not to trip over the bar he set for performance.

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Tuesday May 30th, 2017 15:54 Your things belong to you now (some of them, at least)

Big news, via the EFF.

Finally, a court has stepped up to knock down the notion of companies owning not only patents but consumers’ decisions over what to do with their own property.

trebek

In this instance, we are only talking about the right to refill printer cartridges. But the breadth of the ruling is sure to seep into other aspects of technology bemired in the overreach that is a company daring to tell me what I can and can’t do with something I already paid them for.

It’s the government’s job to pointlessly flail about trying to do that.

In: Computers, News, PoliticsNo Comments

Friday January 20th, 2017 13:35 So it begins, so it ends

Obama_Captain_America
stolen from Driftglass

Sir, you shall be missed.

drumpf
Absolutely loving Mitch McConnell’s ‘OMFG what have I done?’ face

In keeping with the superhero theme, Drumpf just set himself up as Spidey, with the “American carnage” reference. Two thoughts for him:

1. Spiderman is the best superhero ever. So, basically, fuck you.
2. Spot on setting yourself as a 15-year-old boy suddenly imbued with powers he doesn’t understand or know how to use. Though, we’re probably going to end up with a Joe Wade-style Scarlet Spider here. Sad!

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Tuesday January 10th, 2017 16:06 Trust, confidence and getting what you pay for

Doubtless, many people hear phrases like “I’ll just take it to Best Buy/the Apple store/etc.” all the time.

Me, not so much, given that I’m usually the repair point they’re taking ‘it’ to.

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No matter how badly I’ve wanted any given person to take any given device anywhere else, not once have I let such words pass without at least a bit of snark – e.g. “Yes, and since I’m hungry, I’m going to go lick the bottom of a McDonald’s fry trough. Same as any other food, right?”

Listen up, people:

This is an actual ad for an ‘advanced’ Geek Squad tech. Having an A+ cert is ‘preferred.’

For those unaware, an A+ is the toilet paper of the cert world. Most certs are crap in general, and completely unnecessary for someone with a decent resume, but that one just comes right out and says ‘You will have no serious responsibilities or challenges, not the least bit owing to the fact that the supervisor who will be conducting your interview barely knows the difference between CMOS and ATMOS.’

The Apple ‘geniuses’ have an even lower bar.

But why should anyone give a damn, so long as the computer comes back fixed?

Well, besides it costing a whole lot more money and taking an absolutely absurd amount of time, Best Buy, specifically, is full of thin-skulled twits that are all too happy to rifle through your computer or phone in order to fulfill the childish fantasy of playing Junior G-Man in the service of unscrupulous FBI agents.

It’s kind of funny to a tech person that the world is just now finding out that the Bureau has been paying Geek Squad nitwits to spy on customers. Especially since the case in question has had that as an open question for nearly a year now.

The thing is that we’ve always known they were doing that. This is just the first time there may be court-recognized proof.

Think of it this way:

If you’re sending off a computer to be repaired, it stands to reason that you don’t know much about computers. Odds are, you don’t know much about – to revisit my earlier example – making fast food either.

So why do you trust one group to handle a device full of personal correspondence, photos, and videos as if they are beyond reproach, but check the bag to make sure you got your fries while the other is still in the window, watching you insult their capabilities?

Literally the only thing that the Best Buy employee has on the McDonald’s employee is having done a similar job for one year. This qualifies them for ‘advanced’ work.

So is it hard to imagine that (probably) young, barely-skilled retail employees jump right in at the movie-script-esque prospect of spying for the FBI?

About as easy to imagine as a pimple-faced teenager intentionally dropping your burger on the floor?

There’s little chance that anyone not doing anything wrong will end up in such dire straits as Dr. Rettenmaier. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. And it doesn’t mean that the government gets to employ entry-level retail employees as de facto federal agents and send them off to rifle through your data just because a USB port broke on your laptop.

In: Computers, News, PoliticsNo Comments

Tuesday November 22nd, 2016 13:54 Fixed it for you, Mr. Welles

And now I’m going to tell you about a Trump.

Trump wanted to cross a river, so he asked the American voter to carry him.

No, said the American voter, no thank you. If I let you on my back you may sting me and the sting of Trump is death.

Now, where, asked Trump, is the logic in that? For Trumps always try to be logical. If I sting you, you will die. I will drown.

So, the American voter was convinced and allowed Trump on his back. But, just in the middle of the river, he felt a terrible pain and realized that, after all, Trump had stung him.

Logic! Cried the dying American voter as he started under, bearing Trump down with him. There is no logic in this!

I know, said Trump, but I can’t help it – it’s my character.

Let’s drink to character.

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Wednesday November 9th, 2016 15:57 I’m not angry. I’m disappointed.

I trusted you, America.

I trusted that there couldn’t possibly be over 50 million people in my own country with the motivation to physically go to a polling place and say “Yes, I want the sexist, racist, pig-ignorant fascist Cheeto to be the President of the United States.”

I trusted that, while those people who are actually sexist, racist, pig-ignorant fascists were always going to vote for him, that there were more than enough of us willing to stand up and say “That’s not okay.”

I did not for one second trust that the (often) poorer, less-educated white electorate would vote in their own best interest, because I have been alive for 33 years and damn well know better. I trusted that they would not do it with such enthusiasm.

I did not for one second trust that people would rationally consider the balance between the two candidates and make a reasonable decision based on the evidence, because I have been alive for 33 years and damn well know better. I trusted that the difference was so blindingly apparent, that even a quick glance would suffice.

It seems I was wrong on all counts.

So I’m pretty disappointed.

And I lied. I am angry.

I don’t think I’ll be doing that again.

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Thursday August 21st, 2014 02:10 I will say one thing about Michael Brown

I have heard a number of Very Serious People and seen innumerable internet bloviators repeat a particular thing about the Michael Brown case that really deserves a response. It’s all some derivation of:

‘I’ll bet that, when all the facts come in, we’ll see a much different picture of what happened than what the [insert racist code word or direct epithet, depending on commentator’s current forum (also accepted: Librul Media)] say happened.’

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I’ll take your wager if you take mine: that when all the facts are presented, they will show that a police officer shot and killed an unarmed person.

Double or nothing that another cop will do the same thing, somewhere in this country, within a week of that incident.

I understand if you won’t accept the second part because, in fairness, I already won: Andrew Gaynier, August 10; Dillon Taylor, August 11; John Winkler, August 11; Ezell Ford, August 11; Armand Bennet, August 11 (technically, he didn’t die, but he was shot in the head, so A for effort).

Double or nothing again if you can resist the urge to comment on race and stick to the fact that it took me 2 minutes on Google to find the names of 5 unarmed people that were shot dead by the police in a matter of 48 hours, and perhaps we should be focusing on the systemic problem of cops using disproportionate deadly force – not the details of what happened minutes before the latest body dropped.

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Monday March 3rd, 2014 20:56 Opinion entitlement and the wagging of the dog

My mind has drawn an odd thread between two recent events: Russia invading Ukraine and Arizona’s state legislature trying to legalize discrimination against gay people.

Oddly enough, it is not because Russia is an entire country in which it’s pretty much illegal to be openly gay, though many who claim the Arizona bill to be a good call would benefit from duct-taping those two ideas together and seeing how comfortable they are with the juxtaposition.

It’s that it reminds me of the early 90s, right after the wall fell in Berlin.

If you recall, there was that civil war in Georgia that Russia stuck its nose into (though, for that one, both sides were pulling Russia by the ears).

One also recalls how common homophobia was, largely fueled by the still-unchecked AIDS crisis for which middle America had yet to be given a Hanks-Washington educational primer telling them that they weren’t going to die from being in the same room as a gay man.

Though I was young, I remember enough to say that there was not this pervasive sense that everyone is a fucking expert on everything.

Turn on the news. Right now. Find a channel talking about Crimea. No, not Fox. They’re talking about liberals being horrible. Yes, it might be regarding Crimea. No, that is not the same thing.

Now, listen for five minutes.

Did you hear the phrase “I don’t know,” or some derivation thereof? Did you hear someone talking about needing to get more information before answering a question? Did you see a face you’ve never seen on the news before with a tagline touting decades of experience dealing with Ukraine, its politics and its relationship with Russia? Someone with a degree in international relations? The night janitor from the Moscow branch?

If you did, you were watching something called a “foreign” news station. We don’t do that.

Here, we have developed a destructive tradition of injecting the idea of “everyone’s entitled to their opinion” into our daily lives.

It’s a nice concept.

As a concept, it means that you shouldn’t shit all over someone for having different preferences than you do. When I say that I don’t like vegetables on my pizza, the most vocal opposition I should have to deal with is a suggestion of where to get really good vegetable-topped pizza that someone thinks will change my mind. A vegan mashing me over the head with a leek for daring to eat pepperoni in place of wheat gluten would be seen as going too far.

Our failure in this area is not what everyone thinks it is. I can say that because I’ve been carefully observing this phenomenon for a very long time (note: soon, we will see why this is important).

The problem is not that we’ve expanded the range of included opinions, though many claim as such.

The feminazis and homosexualists* and atheists and other mud people have mixed their non-white, non-traditionalist, non-christian viewpoints with those that are good and righteous, diluting them into a mess from which only hell itself can spring.

The bigots and the rednecks and the christopaths and other knuckle-dragging tripe have clung to their outdated, backwards, ignorant positions such that anyone with half a brain can’t be heard over the sheer volume of hate speech.

Here is one of the very, very, very, very, very few points at which I will declare that Both Sides are wrong.

The problem is that we have expanded the definition of “opinion” to include any piece of brain vomit that falls out of someone’s skull.

Any time I ever open up a browser to this post-entry page, it is after hours of doing nothing but lookin’ shit up. I don’t open it at all if I didn’t have a knowledge base before doing that research.

Why?

Because it doesn’t count as an opinion if you don’t know what the fuck you are talking about.

Sadly, that is no longer a requirement to participate in public policy or public discourse.

This is why we have twits suggesting military intervention in Ukraine. This is why that uninformed drivel is presented with equal weight against those who say that no one wants wide conflict in that region and that any possible intervention by the US that butts up against Russia, with whom we have an increasingly tense relationship, will be met with strong opposition from China, India and Europe, who all have considerable stake in maintaining stability and economic relations and saying otherwise is chicken-hawk nonsense from people who should just sit down and shut up.

Note that this is not my opinion, because I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. That’s the opinion of smart people who have international relations degrees and decades of experience with Ukraine and Russia and their politics and relationship. So that’s who I’m going to listen to.

This is also why we have bigots and homophobes getting terribly confused about what constitutes religious freedom.

Once you make every preference or belief into an opinion, culture kicks in to tell us that it is inherently valid. Slap on the most popular religion in the country, and now we’ve got a situation brewing.

I’ve got a family full of christians who will tell you that, even if you think homosexuality is wrong, the most that the christian god wants you to do is try to lead them back to the “right” path. I’ve read the book myself. The god that has them treating gay people like lepers spent a whole lot of time hanging out with lepers.

There is no necessity to get in to the bafflingly obvious biological and cultural and legal ways in which it is patently box-of-rocks ignorant to think that a discrimination law is a good idea. Their own holy book does it for me.

Thinking such a thing is just that. It’s a thought. A stupid, craven, worthless thought that should die before it slowly trickles through the mush these people call a brain, lest it make way to the mouth and be spewn out loud.

But, yet again, this is something which, on teevee, is given equal weight to “You can’t be serious. This is blatantly unconstitutional. You could put Scalia on the Bench while giving the other eight a chloroform facelift and it still wouldn’t stand up. Not to mention the fact that out of over a billion christians on this planet, the only other ones codifying homophobia into law are Vladimir Putin and some African assholes who our own government discourages us from visiting because of terrorist threat.”

As one professor put it, “You are only entitled to what you can argue for.”** Whether we will eventually hand the reigns of opinion back to those that actually possess one remains to be seen. For now, I will say this:

I fully respect everyone’s right to think whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want. But I will not respect whatever they think, whenever they think it, just because they did.

*no bullshit, some of these fuckwads use that term
**bastard stole my first choice for post title

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Whois

IT guy, dev, designer, writer.

Got a degree in print journalism from UF but history dealt some bad cards to that industry, so I moved back to an earlier love: the computer.

Was recently at ZMOS Networks, but am now the Senior IT Associate at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

My name is moderately common, as are a couple screen names, so always look for the logo to make sure you're reading something with official Km approval.

You can get to me directly with kyle(@)kylemitchell.org