Monday, June 25, 2007

Work and whatnot

Interesting things happen when I'm on the job. I was out patrolling the campus the other night and came across a pickup parked near the baseball field. At first, it looked empty, but then I caught a bit of movement. I rolled down my window to see about talking to the folks who were...otherwise occupied. The man must have heard us coming, as he started to get up, giving us a full moon as he did so. My partner yelled "Oh my God!" before realizing I had rolled down my window.

The man smiled and quickly agreed with my assessment that he and his companion should go elsewhere. His companion, on the other hand, didn't speak, and tried to blend in with the seat as best she could. As he was leaving the baseball field area, the man stopped, smiled, and waved at us. I'm fairly certain that he had not put on pants by the time he left.

I added a standard quick notation to my log for the night. The next day, I was at work and the assistant director read it. She demanded to know why we hadn't gotten names and a plate number. I explained to her that it seemed like harmless fun, so we were more worried about not seeing any more than we had already been subjected to. The conversation then continued something like this:

"You can't write logs like this."
"Yeah, I think I did it alright."
"Your opinion does not belong in the report!"
At this point, I can only assume she had noticed that I had noted that "we were subjected to more man ass than we wanted to see in a night (the optimal amount of man ass is, of course, zero)."
"That's not my opinion. It's solid fact that the optimal amount of man ass in a night is zero."
"What if this went to court for some reason?"
"Well, if the judge feels obliged to rule on it, I will offer my opinion and the justifications thereof. I would be proud to be a part of that landmark decision."
"Well how would you feel if it got into the paper that you had put that in there?"
"Like I said, I would be proud to be a part of defining the appropriate amount of man ass."
"But it would make you a laughingstock in court."
"Who is going to submit that statement into evidence? And, if they did, I stand by the amount of man ass I feel is appropriate."
Last I checked, she had not modified my report, so I think she may have conceded that zero man ass is, in fact, the appropriate amount."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

DoJ visit

Huh. I was recently read by someone at the US Department of Justice. While I have no problem with someone there reading my posts, it's just odd to see my stats tell me that the DoJ has been reading.
I wonder whether it was an employee who happened to be bored or someone paid to check the blogosphere for potentially dangerous people. They came here from the War on Guns (thanks for the traffic, even if it is the DoJ this time!).
Either way, it's good to see some readers. And, hey, if they start to think I'm spreading dangerous ideas, it might mean I'm spreading ideas, which is kind of the point.

Street View

Google has introduced a new feature to their maps system. It is called Street View. People are throwing out terms such as "Big Brother." Let's examine these claims.

First, let's remember that this is not government-run or -sponsored. It is a private company going around photographing interesting locations. Lots of people and companies do this already. This one just added the feature to mapping software. They aren't trying to stalk anyone, but people end up in the pictures, which gives an accurate view of the location.

People make the claim that it is stalking software. A person with your address can see what your house looks like. Y'know, I can do that by driving by. And driving by lets me control the time(s) I do so, allowing for far more relevant data were I trying to stalk you. Google's pictures are not in real-time. They are taken whenever they get a chance to drive through an area and photograph it. This is not, as far as I can tell, conducive to stalking.

Others scream about privacy. Let's examine this statement. Google's van is driving on a public road, taking pictures as it drives along. If you are visible to them, you have already put yourself in public view. They aren't driving onto your lawn and trying to take pictures through your blinds. Some people mention things like being photographed in embarrassing locations, such as entering a strip club. If you are embarrassed by this, don't go to a strip club. People could see you (and it's more likely that someone you know will see you in person, rather than using Google).

I've heard people throw Gitmo into the equation. Look back to the first sentence of the second paragraph. Google is not the government. Google cannot and will not throw anyone into Gitmo.

A few people have suggested that Google could/should digitally remove people from the photos. This would make the pictures an inaccurate representation of the world they claim to portray. I want to see Times Square as it is, people and all, not some digitally deserted version. It would be somewhat dishonest to show deserted pictures of places that are always bustling.

Overall, I kind of like the idea of taking virtual tours of places I might want to go. This technology allows me to look at a place and decide whether I would even want to consider it. I'm not worried about Google snapping a picture of me, just so long as they do so out in public, and not within the privacy of my own home.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cost-benefit analysis?

There's a video that's apparently getting passed around. On the surface, the guy seems reasonable enough. He's weighing pros and cons. But, as usual, there's a bit of a misbalance to the scale.
His what-if scenario seems to be a great argument for trying to "fix" global warming. After all, you don't want war, famine, pestilence, and other end times happenings, right? And a global depression has to be better than all that, right? Except that this doesn't compare the worst that could happen on one side to the worst on the other.
War, disease, and famine can all be caused by the worst on the other side, too. After all, a global depression is sure to start some wars, de-industrialization may lead to a global medicine crisis, and trying to grow food in earth-friendly ways may well limit the total food supply, especially if done wrong. The impediment to the progress of technology could set back all sorts of things, from curing diseases to ways to communicate more effectively across different cultures.
Suddenly the two worst-case scenarios even out a bit, don't they? And when you're "buying lottery tickets," as he puts it, would you check the odds of winning the big prize on them? Just because one ticket may pay a billion dollars doesn't mean a rational person wouldn't look closely at a ten million dollar payout that had far better odds.
And, hey, one column has a smiley with a high cost (we could easily have global depression AND fix the problem), while the other has a smiley that stands alone. He can't honestly think he found the silver bullet argument, can he?

Don't you love it when the propaganda claims that it is the magical solution that all sides should be able to agree on? Isn't it funny how it is never a compromise, but one side's solution?

As usual, I'm confused

(This is one of those posts in which random ramblings factor in far more than republitarianism. I'm sorry.)
How am I so confused by the way things work in the present? I'm only 20-something, and I do not understand the life of my own generation.
Yesterday, as I was leaving work, my cell phone rang. The following conversation really threw me off:
"Watcha doin'?"
"I'm at work."
"Security or real work?"
"I have a question for you. On a scale of 1-10, how afraid are you of making out with girls?"
(At this point, I realized exactly who I was speaking to. It was still disconcerting.)
"Umm...that's an odd question."
"Well, there's a pretty girl over here who needs someone to make out with."
"Wait. What?"
"Well, she's kind of upset about some things, so she needs someone to make out with. You were the first person that came to mind."
"Wait. I was the first person you thought of? That doesn't sound accurate. Do I know her?"
"Well, you're fairly athletic, a nice guy, and you are good-looking. I don't know if you're a good kisser...but I don't think I've ever kissed you."
"You did. Drunken truth or dare."
"I don't remember that...well, will you make out with her?"
"Who, when, where, and why?"
"Answer the question first. She's pretty hot."
[The conversation goes on like this for awhile, even going into a discussion about whether I'm gay. I'm not. I explain to her that I'm not actually experienced in this area. I eventually go there, if only out of sheer confusion. Turns out I did know the girl in question.]

Seriously, when did making out become something you just randomly do with whoever to let off some steam? I was under the impression that it is supposed to happen during/after a date/excessive drinking. Am I living in a world that differs that much from the world that actually exists? Or do I just know odd people?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

NRA helps expand NICS

The NRA will crow about how they "fixed" the expansion of NICS. They will tell you that it only keeps people who shouldn't have guns from having them. And, most of all, they will tell you that you should trust the bill because they are defending your rights.

If you can manage to spread some of that on your garden, it should grow pretty well. The NICS system is already a travesty. If you can be allowed to walk free without constant supervision, you should be allowed to purchase a firearm. And there should be no paperwork fed through any federal databases. Ron Paul accurately described the bill as "a flagrantly unconstitutional expansion of restriction on the exercise of the right to bear arms protected under the 2nd Amendment." And you can bet the NRA will tell you he's the bad guy here.

The next time you hear about a gun bill that the NRA backs, check to see if it repeals one or more of our existing gun laws. If it does not, you can bet that the NRA is selling us out again.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Reasoning with a troll

I generally don't feed trolls, but I figured I could respond to a recent one. He/she/it strongly implied that I might be an insane individual with a firearm.
I won't try to argue the point. After all, a sociopath is hardly sane, but would argue quite eloquently that he is. Believe what you'd like about my sanity.
The idea we must consider here, in my opinion, is the rational response to the possibility of dangerous and unstable insane individuals. Some argue for disarmament because some unstable individuals are able to acquire weapons.
If they are truly a danger to society, they will be a danger with any tools at their disposal. Laws will not limit their choices in many cases, but even if we could somehow get rid of guns altogether, they'll still be dangerous with knives, axes, household chemicals, and automobiles.
The rational response is to attempt to separate those who are potentially dangerous until they can be determined safe to release. Since one can't expect 100% success in that endeavor, there must be a system in place to protect individuals from each other. The most effective way to protect yourself from dangerous people is to use the best means of self-defense available. A handgun is perfectly appropriate.
The anonymous commenter knows I'm armed. He/she/it may believe I am mentally unstable. If this is a scary prospect, he/she/it should then level the playing field, so to speak. Of course, I am applying reason to a situation that most anti-gunners love to cloud with emotion.