On Guns and Hydrogen bombs

More hot topics: my challenge to Facebook readers

Some months ago I offered a challenge on these hallowed pages: we have a right to own a rifle or a pistol. So why doesn’t the Second also afford us the right to own a rotary cannon or a hydrogen bomb? How do you draw the line? What is the principle?

No one responded. Anyone’s first response would be, “Alex, that’s just common sense. No individual should own a hydrogen bomb.” But that doesn’t tell us how we can KNOW that, how we can draw the line. Is an M-1 semi-auto rifle OK? A Ruger? An H&K? Everyone says the AR-15 is suitable for “self defense.”. What about 50 caliber machine guns? What about fully functional M-61 tanks? What is the line between personal self-defense and battlefield atomic warhead mortars? What is the principle? If we don’t like where this seems to be leading, i.e. that there IS a line, all the more reason we should think about it.

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Orlando: Terrorism and Media Confusion

I share the sorrow, outrage and concern of the nation on the infamous event of this week. It was not the first, and will not be the last. It is said to be the largest lone-wolf massacre to which propaganda from so-called ISIS  has been linked, but it was not the largest. We won’t forget the Oklahoma City bombing, a domestic terrorist bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, nor the Twin Towers attack on 9/11/2001. Unsurprisingly, the nature of terrorism and the Orlando terrorist has been a subject of great speculation on Facebook this week. The killer could have turned to professional help and counseling, but he chose to turn against the world’s innocents instead. Our thoughts:

Media confusion: “Did Islamic State claim responsibility for latest attacks too soon?”
 
Re: “I’m wondering now if this was not really a terror thing but a combination of things played out by a truly troubled soul who just happened to be a Muslim and he adopted that mantra.
Me:
His ex-wife said he turned mean and crazy after -> becoming radicalized by personal contacts and “Islamic State” content on the web. A nut case may have more than one reason for turning killer.
It was a terror thing. The other things killed no one.

All good points you raise, but yes, people need to understand that it really was a terror thing. The other factors, known or conjectured, include: religious conflicts, sexual identity issues, psychotic behavior including wife beating and verbal abuse, and probable rejection issues at Plunge and on the gay dating sites for all of his obvious psych issues.

I’m asking your help in stressing that none of these “other things” in any way ameliorate, mitigate, dilute or minimize the terrorism aspect, as has been so often implied in media coverage. They do not change the fact that he murdered forty-nine people. As I said, the non-violent psychological aspects of his many problems did not harm anyone. And I know you already know that. No, it is not simple, but when you rank the laundry list by impact, as callous as this sounds, only one of them affects the country. He turned killer.
What I see on the media suggests the problem is that people tend to confuse and intermix the crime and the motivation. In criminal court, the crime is the crime, unless there are applicable and predefined special cases like insanity. Motivation is sometimes but not always considered in determining the severity of the sentence if there is a conviction. Societally, I think that’s a good way to look at it too.
A much simpler case, something that happens somewhere every day: a person has way too much to drink and is verbally rude and abusive at a party. People say, “That’s the liquor talking.” Trust me, it’s not.
More on media confusion: “Did Islamic State claim responsibility for latest attacks too soon?” We need to STOP glorifying the terrorist by sanctioning some question of “who was responsible” for an act of terrorism or claimed to be. The individual committing it is responsible. Instead of leaving open the notion that lone wolf terrorists are superheroes making a statement for God or Allah (which they are not), we need to start presenting them to the public as the highly screwed up mental cases they really were.
As I think more about the “claiming responsibility thing” I see it as presumptuous, and even preposterous. I have never been a fan of “shaming,” but perhaps this is a case where it’s appropriate.

Go out in a blaze of gunfire, see your every dirty little secret splashed across front pages, your family hurt and disgraced by you. See whatever dignity and tortured conflicts you had publicly ignored, deprecated and even trivialized, for you chose to turn into the worst animal of all. Whether a crazed so-called “Islamic” terrorist, or those Ku Klux Klan creatures who firebombed the church in Birmingham in 1964, murdering nine innocent and defenseless little girls, you are a terrorist who decided to take down the innocent as you turned away from the human race.
~~ Alex, June 15, 2016

 

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The Sanders Legacy

I probably spend too much time on Facebook. I also put huge blocks of my retirement hours into Perl projects, and yes, I’m still writing my book. Readers rarely respond to posts here, in part because the anti-spam interface makes it a pain. On my Facebook page, a good post will usually get a few “Likes,” sometimes maybe a dozen. I got 53 “Likes” on a New York Times post on another issue. This one on Bernie is well on the way., so I thought I’d get off my butt and share it. The rather snide NYT article is “What Is Sanders’ Endgame?” and you can read it there. My reply follows.

“At the end of the day, is his ethos greater than his ego?” There was no call for this small-minded NYT conclusion. Sanders has been a game-changer from the beginning. He forced [almost] all the other candidates of both parties to either address or pay lip service to important national issues they’d rather ignore. If he cashed in his chips tonight and retired to a remote cabin to contemplate his long decades serving the public, he has already made more of a difference than many presidents-elect. Bernie has raised our expectations.

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What Employee Attitudes Reveal About Shopping Experience

 

from my Facebook post March 31, 2016

I have worked, briefly, at establishments where morale is low, and you can see it in the faces, slow movements and attitudes of the employees. Once you work in the same conditions yourself, you’ll never denigrate the employee. I blame the workplace, and the buck stops at the employer. I worked retail for 11 years. By just walking into a store and observing, I can be prepared to get no better treatment than the employees I see by just looking around. We are not just getting what the marketplace supports with bare-subsistence wages, we are also getting the employer’s attitude toward running its shop. I take that as nature’s way of telling me to shop elsewhere.

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Summitlake Site Move Updates

My site move posts of November 23 and 24 (scroll well below this entry) hasn’t been updated since February 4. We do have new Photos posted, and hope you enjoy them. Here is the current status of tweaks and fixes at our new home at ICDSOFT:

  • December 20: I emailed a friend in November that our PHOTO department photo galleries were no longer loading, and the JavaScript so old it was not worth trying to fix. Not true. Apparently I was seeing another artifact of the domain transfer process; all pages load fine. Here’s a link to my 1979 Matterhorn Peak gallery folders. Enjoy, and Season’s Greetings to you all! Matterhorn Peak 1970.
  • The site stats and sidebar ephemera are working (top of right sidebar). The stats database is still being manually updated. I’m still working on new Perl code for automated updates.
  • The code change was essential as our new server runs a more recent version of Perl, 5.020002. Most date and time functions are now built-in, so calls to deprecated CPAN modules were failing. Since site statistics are all about dates and times, there was no quick-fix workaround, so I decided it was time to just rewrite and restructure 10-year-old code.
  • I borrowed time from the Perl project to investigate the broken RECIPES and HUMOR departments this morning. The fix was to just upload missing data files and graphics. They are working again.

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“They Are All Targets”

“We do not differentiate between those dressed in military uniforms and civilians; they are all targets in this fatwa” ~~ Osama Bin Laden May 1998, interviewed by ABC reporter John Miller.

“As the long roll call of mass shootings added a prosaic holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., to its list, a wide expanse of America’s populace finds itself engulfed in a collective fear, a fear tinged with confusion and exasperation and a broad brew of emotions. ~~  New York Times N. R. KLeinfield Dec 3, 2015

Let’s make this clear once and for all: the distinguishing characteristic of terrorism is mass murder for the purpose of inciting demoralizing fear and disarray. We should not not differentiate between terrorists who are white, black, Muslim, Christian, left-wing, right-wing, KKK, Neo-Nazi or “other.” They are all targets, not to be feared, but to be identified and neutralized by any means acceptable in free societies.

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SUMMITLAKE SITE MOVE

You’re reading this on our new home server at web host ICDSOFT. We’re moved on  from our old home of 17 years.

Friday November 4, 2015

  • Most core Perl and PHP scripts are working.
  • Automated scripts up update site stats: in progress
  • Counts since 1999 are accurate, currently still being maintained manually.
  • New posts are working.

Wednesday November 25:

  • Got yesterday’s day of week right on entry title 🙂
  • Got the core site stats PHP code working on the sidebar (top)
  • Perl and PHP date-time functions work differently on this system. Look at the sidebar dates under SITE STATS. Sidebar displays are not being refreshed daily yet as there is a date dependency to get yesterday’s data. Currently working on that.
  • Have a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Tuesday November 24:

  • Links to summitlake.com are working on this site. It may take longer at your ISP.
  • RSS has been disabled on the server. We we getting hundreds of thousands of RSS requests, which is the normal equivalent of one year’s page visits. Cause: undetermined.
  • ICDSOFT tech departments have been very helpful.  Their guaranteed 15-minute response time is real. Their responses are proactive, clearly and professionally explained, and very specific: all recommendations have worked on the first try.
  • By my count, this is my fifth site move, migration and conversion since 1995, including 12 years at the previous web host. There are always some problems and anomalies to work out, but so far I’m very pleased to be hosted by this provider.
  • We’ll continue to update this page as we test and bring utility features online. See below fortemporary caveats.
  • Department Links Now Work (Astronomy, Commentary, Computers … WRITING). We had a problem with this big “multi-site”Wordpress installation that I solved by “Upgrade Network.”
  • Sidebar Perl/PHP widgets will remain inop for a week or so as we bring the code online and reconfigure as needed.

As of Nov23 345PM PST, this front HOME page loads, but links (still pointing to the transferring domain) do not work.

There will be site disruptions and inoperative features as we bring the new site live. Although the transition has been relatively seamless so far, sidebar PHP widgets are going to be inoperative until we get the new PHP and Perl hit counters working again.

Thanks to you all for your support and readership over the years, and may we enjoy many more!

Alex

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Gun-Free Zones

I got into a social media thread where some folks vented their outrage by the recent news that the University of California Berkeley declared itself a gun-free zone, effective immediately. My reply:

You’re always welcome in my home, but it isn’t a gun-free zone for me, only for you – because I own it and you are free to go elsewhere if you don’t like the house rules.

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Supreme Court: Same-Sex Marriage a Right

I never thought I’d live long enough to see this hoped-for day. Congratulations to all American couples who finally won legal recognition for a universally cherished legal and moral right. Summitlake.com has argued for same-sex equality from 1995 until the recent time where we were just one more small voice in a national “yea” for equality for all.

Not to quibble excessively about something we’d looked forward to for half a century, but there was something disturbing about the 5-4 split on the court.

As reported in the New York Times analysis:

Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

We’re left with a stronger impression that marriage – any marriage, heterosexual or same-sex – is deemed a privilege granted by the States, not a right. We urge fellow Americans to consider that if a “right” can be imperially granted, a broad swath of individual rights not explicitly enumerated in our great Constitution may be deemed “privilege” that can be taken away. We (all Americans) must defeat the notion that rights can be compromised under the uncertainty and inequity of popular or regional votes.

news photo:

Same-Sex Marriage a Right - SCOTUS

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Bird Feeder

BIRD FEEDER: Heavy rains coming. Took the feeder off the top of the porch table and put it underneath, providing a “roof” to keep the feeder and seed dry. The little birds figured it out in a couple of hours. The big birds never figured out how to get seed out of the little feeder slots, but the little birds are messy eaters, so the big birds got fat on the spillage. Today, I watched a puzzled big bird, perched on the rim of the bottom tray that holds the spilled seed. He was staring right at the relocated feeder. He couldn’t figure out what had happened. “DUUHHH, where did the food go, George, where did it go?”

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Charlie Hebdo

The terrorists who assassinated staff at the offices of the satirical Parisian magazine “Charlie Hebdo” also attempted a hostage situation at a kosher supermarket outside Paris, where they were shot dead by police within the last few hours.

Much attention has rightly been paid to the acts of terror themselves, and to the increasing threat to free speech in Europe and beyond, and to the absolute necessity of fighting by whatever means, if necessary, to preserve that right. But there is a finer shade of question to these awful events, France’s “911,” which as yet has received scant examination.

We must ask ourselves what we might expect if a satirical cartoon “intended to highlight public issues” ridiculed and disgraced the Christian Jesus with a humiliating and mildly pornographic image. In some parts of Europe and America, the lynch mobs would be still be assembling. It’s not a question of free speech – of course we are free to speak plainly in the western world – it’s a question of matching the message to the issues. While I admire Charlie Hebdo’s courage in the abstract, their implementation was very junior-high-school and puerile. It was a gratuitous slap in the face to the majority of 1.6 billion Muslims in the world who live in peace for much the same values as we do. None of this in any way mitigates or ameliorates the terrorist attack of Charlie Hebdo offices, and I am glad those terrorists were shot dead. But it is worth thinking about.

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New Posts for 2015

It’s not a full-fledged “new year’s resolution,” but I neglected this site in December, with only two posts – an all time low, I believe, since 1995. I can do better!

I had cataract surgery in November, the fastest and safest procedure in the world. All went well, but any such procedure seems to take the wind out of my sails. I pampered myself, slept outrageously (but it was glorious), and re-thought how I’d been pursuing a massive Perl project I’ve had on my mind for some years. You know what that means!

430PM Update: new Quotes database installed. Links updated!

It involves our venerable “Quotes” database, accessed from the front page of this site for years. I don’t have a counter on it, so I have no idea who else uses it, but I use it all the time. With about 6,000 quotations amassed over the decades, the database has only one keyword field.

Take this quote, for example:

Bumper sticker seen on "Support our Teachers" auto: 
"Why is money always available for war, not for education?" 
Our guess: there's four whole syllables in 'education', 
only one in 'war'.

With only one keyword, I’d assigned the keyword “war.” Should that have been “teachers?” Or “education?” Why not all three?

No, no, the NEW quotations database and app is not available yet. It will be, much sooner than I’d expected:

A former manager used to tell us, Simplicity comes at the end, not the beginning.”

I rewrote all the Perl code and supporting libraries in connection with the project, in addition to adding four keyword fields. I created two new apps for my own use, Entry and Update (so I can add keywords, among other reasons). The first two months of coding were a minefield of unsatisfactory trials, mistakes, and “almost pretty good” results. I took the core program apart and worked on each piece again, then put them all back together. Voila, mon ami!

So it took about 2-3/4 months to work up the three prototype apps that finally worked perfectly. And then, only an hour or so each to convert them to “production” apps. That’s “portable!” You should see the new Quotations database version 81 in a few days.

In the meantime, as if this makes up for December’s lapse, I’ve today posted a new photo by my friend Swan, and a short personal recollection of a remarkable candlelight dinner in the Mojave Desert. You can see the short excerpts and links to the post pages below.

May 2015 bring happiness, laughter and friendship your way!

Alex

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“The Interview” and Hacking of Sony

We’re getting a little tired of reading harebrained opinions by pundits and experts about Sony’s decision to yank its movie “The Interview” after Sony was hacked, apparently by the petulant North Korean regime.

1) It’s Sony’s movie. There is no “right to be shown a movie.”

2) By all accounts this was a B-grade comedy with very little artistry or other redeeming merit. There are very few right-to-free-speech issues here.

3) The movie is Sony property and Sony’s decision to run it or not, not the media’s, and not the so-called cybersecurity experts’.

4) If Sony decided to run the movie anyway, and even one of 18,000+ theater outlets had been victimized by a terrorism bombing attack, the media and the public wouldn’t be screaming “capitulation,” they’d be screaming for Sony’s head on a platter for risking public safety by inviting a terrorist response.

5) The only appropriate response to North Korea is beyond Sony’s expertise, and hopefully Anonymous is working on that now.

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Respect the Office

I had lunch with a very old friend earlier this week. He is an old-school (1960’s) conservative. I mentioned how the media, including a channel he watches, savages the President with smears and lies. His answer surprised me. He said: “I don’t care WHAT party a person is from, the President of the United States is OUR PRESIDENT and he should be treated with respect, dammit!”

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Legacy HTML in Menus

I was looking for an old article called “Talking Crow” today, and, horrors! Our tried and true old HTML file listing, called by a PHP include, didn’t work!

I rarely if ever write new content in HTML, so I hard-coded a current cgi autolisting and put it into a WordPress page.

You can find it in the main Menu above here, and in Computers, La Parola, Outdoors and Writing. It’s a static page, so it’s fast.

The listings represent the best gems of ten years of writing for our old HTML website. You’ll also find embedded listings for Recipes and Humor, which are currently linked in our menus.

Cheers,

~~ Alex

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Taking Back the ‘Redskins’ label

Patent office cancels Redskins trademarks

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
The U.S. Patent Office has canceled trademarks belonging to the Redskins football team, saying they are offensive to Native Americans.

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'”

Might we fancy ‘Redskin’ as a neutral or even positive label just because we always have? Think about history. We can recall usage as defamatory pejoratives, in funny popular songs like “Please Mr. Custer,” as stereotyping generalization, and as an epithet. We can’t recall one case where a speaker used the word in high praise and tribute. In America, we’ve already “taken back” the N word, G word, Q word and many others. I say, time for Native Americans to “take back” the R word.

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Good show, America, what’s happening to us?

Recommended reading, from Bill Moyers:

Study: Politically Engaged Liberals and Conservatives Don’t Want to Be Neighbors

Me: Well now, there we have it, don’t we?

We invite our neighbors belonging to the “other” Party over for drinks and BBQ, and we smile sweetly and thank them ever SO much for coming, just as if they were “real” human beings. And then we trot down to the polls and vote to expropriate their property, curb their speech, deny them civil rights and liberties, jail them on trumped-up charges in Soviet-style courts, steal their privacy, and then we scratch our heads and wonder why we all demonize each other. Good show, America, what’s happening to us?

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