Why I Stay Home on Black Friday

Black Friday is the magical day of the year where people rush the entryways of stores to combat one another over marked down goods. Those of us who don’t enjoy engaging in physical combat have learned to stay home and partake in the deals being offered online if we partake at all. Every year there is a story or two that reminds me why I stay home on Black Friday, this year was no exception:

Black Friday got off to a rowdy start at a San Antonio mall where police say one shopper pulled a gun on another who punched him in the face while they were waiting in line at a Sears store.

Why go through such stresses when discounted goods can be found online? I purchased a refurbished iPhone 5 for a good price without having to worry about getting punched in the face or having a gun pulled on me.

Hours of Amusement

Perhaps I’m just easily amused by I find myself uncovering amusement wherever humans gather and interact. A social phenomenon that fascinates me are arguments in social groups over what does and doesn’t belong to that social group. To amuse myself I often find myself transversing Reddit. Reddit is where you can find many lengthy and epic arguments about nothing of importance. Do you want to join in my amusement? If so it’s easy! Go to Reddit and do the following:

Watch atheists argue about what is and isn’t atheism in /r/atheism.

Watch anarchists argue about what is and isn’t anarchism in /r/Anarchism.

Watch libertarians argue about what is and isn’t libertarianism in /r/Libertarian.

Watch metalheads argue about what is and isn’t trve kvlt in /r/Metal.

It fascinates me how much time is spent by self-proclaimed members of the same social group arguing over what their group does or doesn’t stand for. I’m left wondering what percentage of the Internet has been dedicated to arguments over what social groups do or do not stand for. It’s likely a mind boggling large percentage.

My Initiation iPhone 5 Impressions

On Black Friday I was made aware of the fact that AT&T had refurbished iPhone 5s for sale. This caught my eye because the cost of refurbished iPhone 5s was $100.00 less than brand new ones and still came with the same warranty. On top of that my contract was up so I was eligible for one of those steeply subsidized discounts that are all the rage with cellular phone users. I upgraded my old iPhone 4 for a new black iPhone 5 with 64GB of storage.

Although I’ve only had the phone for a few hours I feel safe giving my initial impressions. Overall I like the new iPhone. Apple installed a taller screen that, thankfully, is the same width at the iPhone 4 screen (I can still operate the phone with one hand, something that becomes more difficult as phone width increases) and Long Term Evolution (LTE) radios. Another positive change is a mostly aluminum back plate, which I hope it more sturdy than the iPhone 4’s glass back plate (I never broke mine but I know many who did).

Beyond those changes, some notable hardware improvements, and a new connector (which I’ll rant about in a bit) the iPhone 5 is a standard iPhone. If you like the previous iPhones you’ll probably like the iPhone 5 and if you disliked the previous iPhones you’ll probably dislike the iPhone 5.

Compared to the iPhone 4 the iPhone 5 feels like a toy. That’s not to say it doesn’t feel sturdy, the phone doesn’t creak or make any other odd sounds when you press on it, it’s just light. In fact it’s so light that it feels like an empty casing in your hand when compared to the iPhone 4. I doubt the weight difference is going to be appreciated by anybody as it is a very minor thing but it’s still something to note.

Since I upgrade from an iPhone 4 I never had much hands on experience with Siri. Siri is a pretty nice feature and has worked reasonably well for the minor testing I’ve performed so far. I should note that I’ve had great success with voice recognition software on Android so my expectations were high from the beginning. My testing consisted of performing searches, sending text messages, opening applications, and telling Siri to go fuck herself. Overall I was impressed although I must note that many foreign works are not transcribed properly by Siri (try doing a search for Odin, Thor, or any other Norse god and you’ll be amused with the results you get). Siri also has a decent sense of humor. When I asked “Do you know HAL-9000?” the response was “Everybody knows what happened to HAL, I’d rather not talk about it. But if you insist:” and the option to search the web for HAL is available. Little touches like that amuse me greatly and I do appreciate the attention to detail in that regard.

I was surprised to find an LTE signal in my dwelling. As far as I knew AT&T had not rolled out LTE in the Twin Cities yet. Even though LTE comes with the promise of blazing speed I ran a speed test on my LTE connection and was left wanting. The average download speed was a pathetic 4.63Mbps and the average upload speed was an even more pathetic 2.56Mbps. Perhaps the slow speeds are due to the fact that LTE is technically rolled out in the Twin Cities yet or it could be due to a ton of iPhone 5 users connecting to the LTE tower and soaking up all the glorious bandwidth. Either way I plan to do more speed tests in the future to see if things improve.

One of the most notable changes on the iPhone 5 is the connector. Gone are the days of the 30-pin iPod connector that has served use so well. In its place we now have Apple’s new connector which they dub Lightening. What does this mean for you? It means all of those 30-pin connectors you’ve been collecting over the years are worthless. Considering the number of Apple devices I’ve purchased over the years this is a big headache for me. Of course Apple sells a 30-pin to Lightening adaptor but at $29.00 you’re better off buying new cables, which Apple only wants $19.00 for. I understand why Apple is moving away from the 30-pin connector as it takes up a notable amount of room but it’s still annoying.

Speaking of annoying Apple has included one of my biggest phone pet peeves on their newest phone; the headphone jack is on the bottom instead of the top. Granted moving the headphone connector is a minor inconvenience but it still pisses me off. Why should my phone be upside down just to have headphones plugged into it? Unless you’re going to say “It shouldn’t,” don’t bother answering that question because you’re wrong.

Overall I like the new iPhone although I will admit it’s not that much of an upgrade over the iPhone 4. If I had to summarize the difference between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 I would say the latter is merely a collection of nice, albeit minor, improvements that have become available over the last two years. Nothing about it is Earth shattering but I felt it was worth the upgrade cost. My feelings are obviously subject to change based on future experience but so far I’m impressed.

One Set of Rules for Obama, Another Set of Rules for Everybody Else

Obama has a hardon for blowing people up with drones. He enjoys his flying death machines so much that he celebrated his reelection by blowing up some people in Yemen. Hell, Obama has blown up so many people with his precious drones that the government has lost count of the number of people killed. So far the rules about how will and will not be assassinated by Obama has remained a mystery. Obama has shown no desire to justify his murderous rampage and even told Congress to bugger off when they started whispering about drone oversight. But if Obama is one thing he’s a hypocrite and therefore wants one set of rules for himself and another set of rules for his successor:

After four years in which more than 300 drone strike killed some 2,500 people, President Obama and his team thought it was finally time to develop some actual, written-down rules on when the United States could kill someone. And what led them to this conclusion? Could it have been a recognition that perhaps there was something troubling about the widening net of suspects deemed eligible for murder by the U.S. government? Not really. They were just worried somebody else was going to make the decisions. “There was concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” an official tells the New York Times.

Fearing that Romney being the next guy with his finger over the drone button the Obama administration went to work codifying rules pertaining to drone assassinations. Since Obama wont the election I’m guessing those written rules will be filed in the recycling bin until 2016. Either way it’s always entertaining to point out the president’s hypocrisy.

Disposing of Evidence

What’s the best way to dispose of evidence? It really depends on the evidence. If you need to dispose of a murder weapon you wait until the police offer to buy it back and destroy it. On the other hand if you’re a police state and want to dispose of some paper evidence you simply shred it and use it as confetti at a parade:

Some confetti at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday in New York appears to have been made out of confidential police documents, a US media report says.

The documents, shredded but legible, belonged to the Nassau County Police Department, New York station WPIX says.

They included sensitive data such as social security numbers and banking information for police employees.

They were shredded horizontally, not vertically, leaving text visible.

Granted the papers may not actually be evidence of wrongdoing but I fail to see any other reason why a police state would shred documents and try to spread them around the city by tossing the shreds of paper as confetti. Regardless, something strange is going on here.

Meet Our Glorious Allies

The number of United States allies in the Middle East is depressingly low. This likely has something to do with the country’s rampant manipulations, assassinations, and outright wars in the region. Often American propaganda likes to point out the supposed human rights violations being performed by countries not on its allies list. One of the most common criticisms brought up by the United States against countries such as Syria, Iran, and Iraq are the way woman are treated in those countries. In general women’s rights have been going backwards in the Middle East for a good part of the last century. However America pointing out these criticisms about its enemies is rather hypocritical since its allies are just as bad, if not worse:

Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.


Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.

Women in Saudia Arabia, a country America proudly calls its ally, are treated like property. They have almost no rights and the Saudi Arabian government puts a great deal of money, time, and effort into keeping women suppressed. Now male guardians are being informed whenever “their” women leave the country. While this news is likely to surprise few it’s still important to point out because women’s rights is often used as a justification for America’s wars in the Middle East. If violating women’s rights is justification for war then the United States must break off its alliance with Saudi Arabia.

Slow Day

This weekend was exceedingly busy so I didn’t get time to write any posts. On the upside I believe I’ve finally tracked down the issue with my laptop that’s been giving me grief for the last several weeks. Let me just say bad random access memory (RAM) modules can manifest themselves in very mysterious ways. Furthermore a RAM module can be bad even if every piece of RAM testing software you’ve thrown at it says otherwise.

To atone for my sins of not posting new material today I leave you with a hilarious tale of a man . It really goes to show how a little determination and vodka can go a long way.

What Gun Control Reduces Lawful Individuals To

Gun control is an interesting paradox. Advocates of gun control believe the use of state initiated violence against all gun owners will reduce the amount of violence in society. Truthfully gun control merely makes the lawful unlawful. Deciding to obey a law, like everything else humans do, is based on a cost-benefits analysis. If an individual’s perceived cost of obeying a law exceeds that individual’s perceived benefit then the individual will disobey the law. With the constant increase of violent crimes in Mexico, a state with very strict gun control laws, lawful individuals are finding themselves having to restort to unlawful behavior by arming themselves:

Mexico has some of the toughest gun-control laws in the world, but drug cartels have well-stocked arsenals. For law-abiding citizens, it’s difficult and expensive to apply for a gun permit. It’s why many gun owners decide to defy the law.

People living in Mexico often find themselves subjected to the violent drug cartels. Without a lawful option to defend themselves the people are resorting to unlawful methods. Sure, violating the country’s gun control laws could land somebody on the business end of the state’s gun but being unable to defend one’s self could land them in a coffin.

Gun control creates a vicious circle of unlawfulness. Violent criminals, who disregard the law by definition, will arm themselves whether or not guns are made illegal. Armed with their weapons and the knowledge that the gun control laws have reduced the cost of inflicting violence on other individuals these violent criminals will begin to prey on the general populace. Being faced with the state’s violence and violence brought on by non-state criminals individual will have to make a decision: obey the law and hopefully avoid the state’s wrath or disobey the law and hopefully avoid the wrath of non-state criminals. As the state generally proves to be ineffective at defending the people it claims reign over individual will begin leaning more and more towards disobeying gun control laws in order to defend their lives. At that point previously lawful individuals become unlawful, a necessity brought on by gun control laws.

How the State Reduces the Cost of Making Bad Decisions

I’ve explained how the state reduces the cost of committing violent act but that’s not the only thing the state reduces the cost of. The state greatly reduces the cost of making bad decisions. Consider the state’s actions after hurricane Katrina. New Orleans, a city left devastated after Katrina, was constructed below sea level next to the sea. Normally a series of levies kept the city from flooding during natural disasters but those levies broke and the city was hammered. One might ask why building a city below sea level next to the sea is a good idea. Considering the expense of rebuilding the city and building new hopefully better levies it may not make sense. If the residents of New Orleans were forced to front the entire cost of rebuilding they may choose to relocate to a more sensible reasons. To help residents of that area avoid having to deal with the consequences of building there the federal government has chosen to sink a great deal of money into rebuilding.

After hurricane Sandy the federal government is swooping in again to help relieve people from the consequences of their bad decisions. Dauphin Island, a small speck of land in the ocean, has been destroyed by hurricanes before and Sandy didn’t show the island any special treatment. The federal government is providing funds to rebuild the island:

The western end of this Gulf Coast island has proved to be one of the most hazardous places in the country for waterfront property. Since 1979, nearly a dozen hurricanes and large storms have rolled in and knocked down houses, chewed up sewers and water pipes and hurled sand onto the roads.

Yet time and again, checks from Washington have allowed the town to put itself back together.

Across the nation, tens of billions of tax dollars have been spent on subsidizing coastal reconstruction in the aftermath of storms, usually with little consideration of whether it actually makes sense to keep rebuilding in disaster-prone areas. If history is any guide, a large fraction of the federal money allotted to New York, New Jersey and other states recovering from Hurricane Sandy — an amount that could exceed $30 billion — will be used the same way.

The state distorts reality. When common sense would lead most people to abandon dangerous property instead of constantly rebuilding it the state provides funding to alleviate people’s suffering from their bad decisions. Consequences that once seemed far too expensive to repeat the cause become bearable when the state foots a portion of the bill. This leads people to repeat the same mistakes again and again knowing that they will not be forced to deal with the entirety of consequences.

FBI Failing to Get Desired Sentence for the Terrorists it Created

Earlier this year the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) captured another one of their agency created terrorists. This time around the FBI armed a handful of supposed anarchists with a fake bomb and encouraged them to use it to blow up a bridge:

On April 30 — on the eve of major leftist rallies in Chicago and elsewhere around the U.S. to protest corporations and the government — five men affiliated with the Occupy movement tried to use an FBI-supplied dummy bomb to blow up a highway bridge in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

It appears a judge is taking away some of the FBI’s glory by handing down a lighter sentence because of the fact the FBI created the terrorists:

Prosecutors called it a dangerous anarchist plot that had to be severely punished to deter any would-be imitators.

The defense said a government-paid confidential informant manipulated five impressionable, down-on-their-luck men into an attack they never would have attempted without his help.

In the end, U.S. District Court Judge David D. Dowd Jr. split the difference: He agreed to strengthen three defendants’ sentences with a terror enhancement, but then handed down terms Tuesday in Akron significantly lighter than what federal prosecutors had sought.

I only wish the judge would have completely thrown the case out. If it wasn’t for agency created terrorists the FBI probably wouldn’t have captured any terrorists. The FBI needs to be taught that simply creating terrorists and then capturing them is unacceptable. Unfortunately no judge is likely to take such action because it would make them appear to be soft on terror.