Good news fellow Twin Cities denizens, Sprint has turned on their 4G service in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Of course I can’t find any place that actually has 4G coverage but I’m generally on the outskirts of the Twin Cities anyways.
Month: September 2010
If You’ve Got Nothing to Hide
Recently the Obama administration has been trying to require all Internet communication companies such as Skype to place back doors into their protocols. These back doors are to be used for law enforcement personnel to eavesdrop on conversations. Obviously the standard mantra of our government is, “if you’ve got nothing to hide you shouldn’t be worried.”
Well there is another danger in placing back doors into communication software as Bruce Schneier brings up:
These laws are dangerous, both for citizens of countries like China and citizens of Western democracies. Forcing companies to redesign their communications products and services to facilitate government eavesdropping reduces privacy and liberty; that’s obvious. But the laws also make us less safe. Communications systems that have no inherent eavesdropping capabilities are more secure than systems with those capabilities built in.
Any surveillance system invites both criminal appropriation and government abuse. Function creep is the most obvious abuse: New police powers, enacted to fight terrorism, are already used in situations of conventional nonterrorist crime. Internet surveillance and control will be no different.
Official misuses are bad enough, but the unofficial uses are far more worrisome. An infrastructure conducive to surveillance and control invites surveillance and control, both by the people you expect and the people you don’t. Any surveillance and control system must itself be secured, and we’re not very good at that. Why does anyone think that only authorized law enforcement will mine collected internet data or eavesdrop on Skype and IM conversations?
Any lock can be bypasses. The best option is to have the fewest doors possible. Ideally you have no doors to enter at all. By requiring yet another door our government is purposely requiring these protocols to be less secure. Of course this law is meant to protect them (government) not us so they don’t care.
More Android 2.2 Fun
I mentioned that the recent Evo 4G update fixed quite a few annoying bugs that were driving me up a wall. Well I’ve come across a new bug and once again it’s with the media layer (this could be a pre-patch bug and I just never encountered it before). If you’re playing an audio file, pause it, leave the application, and come back after an indeterminate amount of time (the amount of time seems random) the audio file will not pick up where you paused it. Instead it resets to the beginning of the file.
This is extremely annoying when the primary audio you listen to are long podcasts and lectures. I’m getting into the habit of looking at the time the audio file is at before leaving an application expecting to have to fast forward to it when I come back to the application. I think Google really screwed the pooch with their sudden switch to the new media layer known as StageFright.
What’s sad is that Android 2.1 worked damn well but most new software being released (at least by Google) requires Android 2.2 to work. I know Google loves to play it fast and loose but when we’re talking about a phone operating system I think they need to spend a little more time testing before release.
Happy Birthday Ludwig von Mises
Today is September 29th which makes it the birthday of Ludwig von Mises. If you’ve never heard of him I advise you to read the Wikipedia article. He was one of the most influential people in the libertarian movement and a proponent of Austrian economics. It’s too bad he’s dead now but you can listen to some of his old speeches which is at least something.
Richest 1% of Americans
There is a lot of talk about how we need to increase taxes for the richest Americans. People spout lines about how the rich need to pay “their fair share.” What these people never do is actually look into how much the richest Americans pay in taxes. Solely because I like to rain on peoples’ parades I looked into the matter.
I’ve discovered that the richest 1% of Americans pay 40% of the federal income tax. That means of all the money stolen by the government via income tax 1% of Americans pay 40% of it. In dollars that means the top 1% pay more than the lowest 95%.
Here’s the raw data on the percentage of income taxes per income bracket. I’d say the top 1% are already paying their “fair share” and then some. Maybe instead of looking to gouge these people which gives them cause to consider moving somewhere else (and remember these rich people generally own companies that employ a lot of people) our government should look at reducing the amount of money they spent. I’ll help them out here.
First and foremost bring our overseas troops back home. Our spending on national
offense defense is a huge majority of our spending. Cancel all government approved bailouts, if a company is facing bankruptcy they did something wrong and their assets could be sold off to small start up companies who actually have good ideas. Eliminate welfare and social security, we can plan for our retirements better than the government. Disband some of the hundreds of federal agencies because frankly we don’t need an agency that exists only to ensure taxes and regulations on alcohol, tobacco, and firearms are followed. Hell if the government follows my ideas we won’t even need a federal income tax to make ends meet.
Apparently an Al-Qaeda plot has been uncovered by I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E:
An al-Qaeda plot to carry out co-ordinated attacks in the UK, France and Germany has been uncovered, Western intelligence sources say.
Small teams of militants were to seize and kill hostages, similar to the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, the sources said.
Sorry but that idea is completely impossible. The Mumbai attack required the user of firearms and firearms are strictly controlled in the UK, France, and Germany. Hey I’ve got an idea. Since gun control has worked so well at preventing mass shootings let’s make suicide bombing illegal! What didn’t anybody think about that?
Glock Generation Four Sub-Compact
I’ve learned via Every Day, No Days Off that the Glock 4th generation sub-compact pistols should be coming out sometime soon. He is a scan of an advertisement on his site which shows the sub-compact Glocks will have the same interchangeable backstraps of their larger brethren.
I’m still waiting for the new Glocks in .45. Although I have no desire to rid myself of my 30SF I would like a Gen4 21SF. The 21SF is the gun I use to shoot USPSA and sadly mine happens to have the ambidextrous magazine release. I say sadly because the ambi mag releases on Glock pistols are known for not dropping magazines reliably. This is where somebody will stated Glock magazines aren’t “drop-free.” Frankly I don’t give a damn. My Gen4 17 and 30SF both drop magazines free and the only reason Glock released fully lined magazines is so they would drop free and thus appease the American consumers. In USPSA not having drop-free magazines costs time and I’m not a fan of that. Additionally it would be nice to have the larger magazine release button on my competition pistol.
My Problem with Socialism
I often voice my concerns about my country’s spiral towards socialism. Things such as welfare, social security, mandatory purchasing of health insurance, etc. are all aspects of a socialist state. When I speak out against these things others often say things such as, “If that’s socialism I want it!” Then they ask me what I could possibly have against socialism.
Here’s my problem, people can not be free in a socialist system. Upon bringing this up my more liberal friends will say they still have the freedom of speech in socialist countries. When I’m referring to freedom in this case I’m not talking about having rights. Socialist programs such as social security are mandatory, you can’t opt out of them.
If I went to the government and said I wanted to keep my money that would be paid into social security and in exchange will opt out and receive no benefits when I come of age they would just laugh at me. Social security requires everybody who is working to pay in on it because the people who are currently on social security are not paying in on it. The only way the system can even attempt to continue running is if everybody who is of working age pays for those who are beyond that point in their life.
When something is forcefully taken from you it’s called theft. Unemployment is the same way. Government steals money from my pay check and says I can have some if it back if I should lose my job. Here’s the thing though, I could take that same money and invest it to create more meaning if I lost my job I’d have more money to life off of.
In a socialist country the government has a gun to your head and demands you comply with their rules. That’s ultimately my problem with socialism, you are not a free person when the government steals your property using the force of a gun.
The Anti-Educational Effects of Public Schools
I came across a brief (under 20 minutes) lecture on the Ludwig von Misese Institute website. This lecture involves the public education system and I think everybody should give it a listen. I attended a public school and now that I reflect upon my time there I can raise may problems with how such institutions are run. One of my biggest criticisms of the public education system is the indoctrination of discipline insofar as to punish children for doing anything that isn’t specifically approved by the administration staff (in other words a strong attempt at removing individualism).
The lecture covers this and other topics and is a very interesting listen.
Science Fiction Spaceships
Linoge over at Walls of the City made a topic near and dear to my heart, a top 10 list of science fiction spaceships. I have some knowledge in the field of science fiction so I figure I might as well join in the fun (read steal his idea). As a ground rule I will not select any ships Linoge has and I will not select two ships from the same series (just to keep it interesting). So here a top 10 list of spaceships from yours truly:
- Shadow Vessel: Much like Linoge I chose a ship from Babylon 5 for my top one. Why? Because Babylon 5 is the best damned science fiction series that has even been on television. The Shadows are a race billions of years old. Being that old means two things; you’re cranky and you have kick ass technology. The ships used by the Shadows are large, black, spidery looking craft. Part of the thing I like about them most is their unique design. The other things I like about their ships are the fact they are heavily armed, heavily armored, and use a living being as a central processing unit because the Shadow are dicks like that. They also materialize out of nowhere and disappear into nothing making them a bitch to target and shoot.
- The Alliance battle cruiser Dauntless: I’ve mentioned The Lost Fleet series before. It’s hands down one of my favorite science fiction series. The series does a great job of bringing up the ideas of fighting large navel battles in space along with the tactics and technologies needed to do so. Dauntless is the ship the main character of the story spends a huge majority of his time on. There isn’t anything special or fancy about the ship except for the fact it’s carrying a key piece of cargo that can be used to win the war for the Alliance (the good guys). Dauntless is heavily armed while remaining maneuverable and has all the awesomeness of a futuristic star ship.
- The Lexx: What’s not to like about a giant living ship that can blow up planets as easily as you can blink your eyes? The Lexx’s sole reason for existing is to destroy planets, that’s it. Of course the ship is also incredibly stupid and takes any given orders in their most literal sense.
- USS Daedalus: The USS Daedalus was the second star ship built by humans in Stargate SG-1. The ship is a combination of human and Asgard technology. For those you who haven’t seen Stargate the Asgard are the generic “gray” alien but instead of being anal probing bastard they’re actually pretty decent folk. The Daedalus comes equipped with 32 railguns, a good load of missiles, and some naquadria enhanced nuclear warheads making it a virtual death machine. Late in the series the ship also gets equipped with Asgard kill-everything beams. Yes I like high firepower as you can tell and the Daedalus manages to have that and look awesome at the same time.
- Union Class Dropship: What’s more terrifying than a drop ship armed to the teeth? A drop ship armed to the teeth and transporting 12 BattleMechs. The Union class dropship is one of many dropships in the BattleTech universe, it just happens to be the most memorable for me. The only purpose of a dropship is to get your 50 foot tall heavily armed walking robots from an orbiting spaceship to the ground. The Union class does this while also managing to be a heavily artillery piece to boot. Death from above baby!
- GTF Hercules Mark II: In Decent Freespace 2 many of the ships from the first game got some upgrades. The Hercules Mark II was one of those and ends up being your primary workhorse throughout the game. Although not the most maneuverability craft in the Glactic Terran Fleet the Hercules was heavily armed and armored. Its heavy shields generally made up for it’s lack of quick movement. It works pretty well for sending those Shivan bastards back to their little part of space.
- SA-43 Endo/Exo Atmospheric “Hammerhead” Fighter: I too am one of the people on a relatively short list who have seen Space: Above and Beyond. The Hammerhead was the main fighter used by the humans to blast those Chiggers out of our sector of space. Hammerheads are maneuverable on their won as they have thrusters the can propel them in almost any direction but also mount their laser cannons on rotatable turrets. This makes flying one direction and shooting in another very practical. These maneuverable little bastards were great for the one season they graced our television screens.
- GDI Kodiak: In Command and Conquer Tiberian Sun the Kodiak served as your command and control ship. Although having no demonstrated armaments the Kodiak does have the ability to fly inside and outside of Earth’s atmosphere. The only real advantage it presents is the ability to rapidly get to a battle zone but it looks awesome while doing it. I guess the fact that you can use it to call down orbital ion cannon strikes does mean it has some form of offensive capabilities. It should also be noted that the Kodiak appears in the new Battlestar Galactica series as a refuge ship for a brief scene.
- VF-1 Valkyrie Veritech Fighter: One of the best ways to get a giant walking robot from one point to another is by putting it on a giant dropship. A more expedient way of getting said walking robot from one point to another is by having it transform into a jet and fly you there. The VF-1 Valkyrie was the first veritech, a class of craft capable of transforming from a walking robot to a fighter jet-like craft. The craft is powered by an internal reactor making it capable of flying both in atmosphere and out in space. The Valkyrie carries a machine gun as well as a bank of good old fashion missiles.
- Rama: Last but most certainly not least we have Rama. The first space craft designated Rama by the human race was a giant cylindrical craft that did a flyby of Earth. Although apparently dead the Rama craft was a self-contained world. The environment was built on the inside of the cylinder and used rotational gravity to keep creates from flying off into other sections of the ship. Rama was not a hostile craft and contained no weapons but was certainly interesting to read about as astronauts from Earth explored the inside of the massive beast.