All posts by CelticBear

Left turn at pretension crossing

I figure after all the drivel of the last few postings I should turn things a little lighter. =)
Here’s a quote from Roger Ebert’s review of “Grind” (a movie I have no intention of seeing, but does remind me fondly of my skater wannabe days. I got sorta good at street skating but not much experience with ramps, sort of like The Squid on Rocket Power *grin*. I grew up and went to college before I could get as much into skating as I wanted to.)

“The movie is nevertheless sweet, in its meandering way. It has no meanness in it, no cynicism, no desire to be anything other than what it is, an evocation of the fun of living your life as a skateboarder. While there are few things more poignant than an ancient skateboarder (as “Dogtown and Z-Boys” also suggests), these guys are still in their endless summer and don’t yet understand that.

Neither this movie nor “Dogtown,” by the way, answers the question I have every time I see high-level skateboarding: In order to learn to fly free high into the air, and go through body twists, and land again on your board, you presumably must fail a lot of times before you succeed. It looks to me as if that would involve a drop of 10 or 20 feet to a hard surface. How many skateboarders are killed? Maimed? Paralyzed? What about that first guy who thought about flying free beyond the lip of his skating surface–how did he think he would get down again?”

Utterly Rediculous

I just received this e-mail. I don’t know if it’s really by Rush Limbaugh since the e-mail asked to be sent to as many people as possible (and I DESPISE that!)
But, regardless, even though I personally can’t stand Rush, I DO think this essay on the absurdity of how much money 9/11 victems’ families are getting and U.S. Senators vs. the pittance our fighting forces get is pretty startling.

So, I urge you to click the link to read the article. You do NOT have to send it to everyone you know. =)
Continue reading Utterly Rediculous

Actors are…uhm…hmmm

Update: 16 Aug 2011: Holy moly has a lot changes since I wrote this… 8 years ago! Like, for one thing, I’m not at all a libertarian any more.

(you might want to read the other post for today before this one. Then again, you might not.)

On a vaguely circuitously related note (the friend of mine mentioned in the Noah entry considers himself an actor): why is it actors tend to believe the most absurd things, and tend to be left-wing extremists? (Don’t get me wrong, liberalism is OK. I’m a Libertarian myself. I’m talking about blind liberal extremism.)

(more in the extended entry link)
Continue reading Actors are…uhm…hmmm

Noah’s Lark

(read this entry before the other entry for today)

I just can’t understand how otherwise rational, intelligent humans can believe fanciful mythology as reality. It HAS to be something biolochemical, on a genetic level.
I take for example the numerous programs I watch on Discovery and A&E and TLC, etc, that have to do with subjects such as the history of the Bible, or the biography of a Biblical figure, or the archeology of Biblical things, or pretty much anything that has to do with Judeo-Christianity and the Bible and science or anthropology. And there will always be a few people on the program who seem like extremely intelligent people: Pulitzer winners, scientists, deans of colleges, etc, who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. It confounds me to the point of bleeding out the ears.

(more in the extended entry link)
Continue reading Noah’s Lark

Wardriving a crime?

First a quick explanation: Wardriving is the practice of roaming around looking for and most likely connecting onto open wireless networks.
Now, some links on the subject. =)

wardriving.com
Wired News article
Just about everything you’d want to know about wardriving, wireless networking, and security
Wireless equipment site
A Seattle Wardriving group site
Interesting site on warchalking: marking locations with open wireless ports, like what the hobos did during the Depression
And finally, a site that proports wardriving is not a crime

Now my opinion? Wardriving may not be a crime, yet, but it certainly is unethical. Ethics, you know, that silly concept almost completely forgotten about since the 80’s. It’s the concept of doing the “right thing” and not doing things that infringe upon others or violates another’s rights, etc.

I agree wardriving is very intriguing and interesting. And I have the desire to do it myself if for no other reason than for the hunt. But to actually log onto and use a network someone did not invite you to use is unethical and just plain wrong.

(Let me interrupt to clarify that technically speaking “wardriving” is simply locating open wireless networks and not technically using them, but I’m looking at it with the implied meaning of using the access you find.)

Now, some wardrivers will say things like “if it’s an open network, then it’s an invitation,” and “it’s not hurting anyone, they likely won’t even know.”
1st of all, no, an open network is NOT an invitation any more than a store placing product out on a shelf is an invitation for some to steal something. Or building a house with a door is an invitation for any stranger to walk on in, locked or not.

And don’t give me this “well I’m not stealing anything or even looking at files, I’m just using bandwidth they aren’t” arguement. That’s like saying “the door to the house was open, so I just walked in and watched some TV on their couch since the family was in another room.” Same damn thing. Sure, any cheap wireless node or access point or router has security you can (and should) setup and use, but not doing so does not give anyone the right to just log on anymore than not locking one’s front door is an invitation to walk in.
And in fact, ethics aside, even if you just connect in order to use their ‘net access and not look at, damage, or copy files, you’re still stealing bandwidth, whether they’re using it or not. I have some change in a jar on my desk. Chances are I’m never going to use those pennies and nickles, but no one has the right to walk in my door and take some of them. Even if I proclaim I’m not going to use them. Or, closer to the analogy, a stranger does not have the right to walk into my house with their VCR and use my electricity and cable access to tape some programs for their own use.

Besides the fact you’re making me legally responsible for your actions now. You access my network and use my connection to the Internet in order to download kiddie porn or send terrorist threats or send out pirated music files, I’m now legally at risk because the activity occurred on my network. You can drive away and be long gone and now I’m saddled with the threat of prosecution for having done nothing more than left my door unlocked. Perhaps irresponsible of me, but criminal and unethical and immoral and on you. (No offense, dear reader, just using the “you” pronoun for illustration *grin*.)

That can certainly fall under the heading of harming me. And putting me at harm’s risk whether I know it or not doesn’t make it right. Is it the right thing to do to twirl around a loaded gun on one’s finger behind the back of someone who’s not aware of your actions? Does it make it an OK thing to do if they never turned around and found out?

You cannot rationalize away unauthorized use of another’s network without their permission in any way that makes it ethical. But it probably doesn’t matter to the growing ranks of amoral pseudoanarchy wanting punks who wouldn’t know a hint of morality if it came up to them and said “Hi there, I’m a hint of morality.” Another byproduct of the legion of people being raised (sort of) by parents who don’t care about teaching such out of date concepts such as right and wrong and considering the rights of other people. God forbid a parent this day and age try to stifle a child’s development by impressing upon them such restrictive concepts like ethical behavior.

Grrrr…..

Spam Wars

MSN.com article on the war on spamming
Good article describing the fight against spam, and the position of high-profile spammers.

In the article, spammer Ronnie Scelson, known as the “Cajun Spammer”, is quoted as saying: “I’m willing to die for what I believe in,” he said. “Look at Martin Luther King (Jr.). When they assassinated him, that’s when everything changed.”
That’s disgusting ans despicable for a) Comparing himself to Martin Luther King Jr. and spamming to the Civil Rights movement, and b) Insinuating the harassing forced entry of junk mail into a person’s life falls under “Free Speech.”

Personally, I’m all for the death of spammers, figurative and literal. I’m not a violent person, never been in a real-life fight, but I fantasize about being omniscient and able to find people responsible for spamming and eviscerating them in the most disgustingly horrific manner possible and decorating the room with their entrails like party decorations, hoping to keep them alive as long as possible during, to be found by their co-workers.

That’s how much I’m against spam. It makes me angry…very VERY angry. Livid in fact.

I despise that spammers think they have the right to send me mail on everything under the sun and it amounts to free speech.
No, free speech is about being able to express political opinions and governmentally derisive comments without fear of the government shutting you up. It does not cover falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theater and it does not cover unasked for marketing to clog up my mail through Internet service I pay for .
I pay for my Internet service that comes to my house, it’s not a free portal for anyone to access without my permission. (Yes, I realize the Internet at large is an open, superhighway no one OWNS, but once your e-mail breaks the barrier between the free ether of the Internet and the bandwidth I’m paying for, you’re intruding upon my private space.) I despise the idea that a spammer thinks it’s OK for them to enter my house en masse via my computer and barrage me with unasked for crap. If some stranger just walked into my house and started telling me about some porn site I should go visit, you can bet they’d be sent to an intensive care unit. Instead, they sit in their anonymous safety of some remote location, using illegal and unethical tricks to prevent detection in order to invade my privacy.

I’m a pretty active person on the Internet; I use newsgroups and Web boards and Usenets and the like, and for that I’m being punished by any Tom, Dick and Fuckhead who harvests my e-mail address off Websites and lists. I get over 300 pieces of spam a day (not counting the spam I get on two e-mail accounts I’ve blocked completely due to too much spam.) And all my filters can only block a portion of it. So I get REAL angry when some “legitimate marketer just trying to earn a living” uses underhanded methods to get past my filters to tell me how I can send his Nigerian ass money or how to increase the size of my breasts or view someone’s Webcam….

Any method possible to stop and if possible utterly destroy spammers gets kudos from me.

Here’s some links of interest:
For the home user, Spybot Search & Destroy has a remarkable piece of shareware well worth the purchase, which detects and removes anything on your PC that opens you up to ad and spyware.

For the server administrator, SpamAssassin. The BEST server-side spam filter software! I wouldn’t run a mail server without it.

For the Web site owner, Harvester Project. A way to help thwart spam crawlers that scan Web sites for e-mail addresses to add to their lists.

Music for some of us.

So when Apple started their iTunes program which allows you to buy single songs for .99, I was pretty excited (especially after hearing rumors that prices could start as low as .49 soon.) I mean, on the one hand I’ve found a few REALLY good songs on albums I bought for only a song or two, but then I’m REALLY sick of spending $15 or more on an album I’ll only like a song or two of most of the rest of the time.

Though, after some time searching their site, I realize you can only use the service if you have a Mac with OS X. Eliteists!

So when I saw the commercials for buytunes.com, I half ignored them because the commercials looked just like the iTunes commercials. Then I came across this MSN/Slate article on the iTunes vs. buytunes marketing.

Good thing, because buytunes is for anyone!

.99 for most songs is still pretty pricey, especially when the artist themselves still probably see a barest fraction of that, if any at all. But the selection isn’t bad. They have a lot of Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Tori Amos, and more Tea Party than I expected, so I’m not unimpressed. I’m still going to use Kazaa for the most part, but if they can get the price per song down to an average of .75 or less, I may start doing buytunes.

And if there comes a service where the ARTIST and not the label gets at least half of the sales, I’ll use that exclusively even if the price is $1 a song. I feel VERY strongly that the artist(s) should get the most from the sale of their work.
Well, except for pop music. The producers and marketing people do 90% of the work on pop artists so I guess it’s OK that the labels get most of those sales.
In my opinion, it’s fair that Brittney Spears and nSync and the like get only 5% of record proceeds since that’s about all the work they contribute to the recording, but they should get a lion’s share from concert proceeds since that’s where they really work.

But groups like Nine Inch Nails (Trent Reznor, really) and Tea Party write their music, play the music that gets recorded, generally produce their own music, and still their labels get a grossly extreme cut of the record sales. Well, Trent may be a bad example since he owns his own record label. =) But 95% of artists out there don’t.

So I don’t feel too bad when I pirate music because the people that deserve the money aren’t getting it anyway. (I’ll still buy an album if I like more than a few songs off it, though.) So I say again, if they come up with a service where the artists gets most of the money for downloaded songs, I’ll use it big time.

Oh, and back to that MSN/Slate article, hogwash. I think buytune’s use of the iTunes style is just fine. If a court sees differently, fine, whatever. But I think it’s a good marketing gimmick that gets the point across.

Schism shmism. Homophobic religiosity.

The controversy regarding the possible ordainment of the 1st gay bishop for the Episcopal Church, detailed here, is really silly.
In my opinion, at risk of insulting people who are making too big todo about it.

There’s a good NPR commentary about it. (Click the audio link at the top.)

One of the points he makes is that when you consider schism over an issue, you make that issue the most important issue in your religion. Is that the message you want to give out? That whether or not a bishop can be gay is more important than anything else that defines your faith? Seems pretty silly to me.

Let’s not forget the fact that gay relations is mentioned only once in the old testament, the same book that tells people when to stone another person or put blood on a goat and send it out of town in order to wash away infractions or how much the death of a bull is worth or that if a husband suspects a wife of having another man’s child the priest can perform an abortion against her will and that you cannot wear clothes of more than one fibers or cut the “corners of your hair” or touch a woman while she’s menstrating, and all those rules we so stringently follow.

I just love how people can thump a Bible all day long about a particular “God’s rule” (set down by priests of nomadic desert tribes 4 thousand years ago) implying the horrendousness and grievousness of breaking a rule from the Bible, when more than 90% of the other OT rules are completely ignored. Ah, the sweet smell of hypocracy. Isn’t it nice to be able to be fanatically arrogant about your religion when you decide what rules and laws are important and demand others to believe the same way as you?

Why in the name of God.com?

Interesting CNN article about a girl who changed her name, officially, to “GoVeg.com.”
That by itself is rediculous, the fact she works for PETA is annoying, the two together makes the whole thing pathetic.
In case you don’t know, I’m very anti-PETA. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m not FOR the UN-ethical treatment of animals, I’m just against PETA and their brand of fanatic zealots who care more for the treatment of non-sentient beings than their own human race.
Any group who cares nothing about promoting underage drinking in an environment that has a rediculously high rate of drunken driving, death by binge drinking, and drink assisted date rapes in order to protest milk production because it’s “exploitation of cows,” is really…well…fucked up. Let’s face it.

More blog ponderings

The whole blogging thing still confounds me. Well, not so much that I don’t understand it, but I’m simply amazed by how some people get obsessed by it. Or so it seems.

To read more on my wonderings, click somewhere around here that indicates you can read more. I dunno…I just started using this thing. =)
I guess I’ll cross-post it to my Celticbear site too, as an announcement that I’m blogging now. =)
(I feel dirty saying that. LOL)
Continue reading More blog ponderings

Posting: The First

This is my 1st Blog entry.
(I could have thought of a better beginning for this auspicious (this thing needs a spell-checker) moment…but I’m impatient.)

That’s not quite true. I do have a blog of sorts on my main page of CelticBear.com, but I’ve sort of used that for a more or less once a month article, or essay writing. Waiting until I have something vaugely interesting, at least to me, and write something long enough to make it worth the time.

Although I programmed the PHP myself to create its entry interface and posting and archival, and I’m VERY proud of it…it’s not that good for blogging as I have it display one at a time and you need to scroll through a listing to find a past one. So, I made the jump to a Blog.

And why in the name of God have I! Good question–I don’t know. I don’t read Blogs, I don’t really care for Blogs (unless I really know the person beforehand,) and even the word “Blog” is an icon of cyber-age popular trendiness. Gyack! =Þ
OK, not entirely true, I do sort of know why I started a blog. Vanity and experimentation and practice.

Vanity’s an easy one. But incongruous (did I mention the need for a spell-checker?) to who I am. I prefer to be private and quiet. Heck, I despise talking on the telephone!
There’s two concepts I try to live by: Mark Twain’s “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open your mouth and remove all doubt.” And when it comes to on-line info: “Never put anything on a Web page you wouldn’t put on a grocery store bullitinboard.”
A blog is an open door to saying too much in either aspect. Makes it easy to jot an embarassing missive or too much info. And I really don’t like telling people too much info.

But I like sharing my opinion. =)
This way, instead of sharing my opinions to someone face-to-face where a confrontation might errupt or the other person may feel obligated to comment or compliment, often faslely, a person voluntarily has the choice of reading my thoughts and opinions and may comment if they so wish with no demand on them. So, I can feel free to be a little vain thinking my thoughts matter (LOL) by sending them out into the “public”, even if no one ever reads them.
Oh, and it’s not like it’s COMPLETELY public, like anyone passing by on their way to pick up a can of beans is going to see this…pretty much only people who already know me or at least have heard of me will be by to see this.
Oh well, not like I’m going to be giving away SSN’s.

Experimentation: I like playing with toys. =) Especially Web toys. And a Blog application is kinda cool. =) ‘Nuff said.

And Practice. I like to think of myself erroneously as a writer. “Poff,” you say!
Yeah, it’s true. I’ve been wanting to write creatively since…can’t remember that far back. And yet I’ve written only maybe 5 complete short stories and about 200 useable novel pages, not counting the probably 1000 pages of unfinished stories. Not much at all for a 32 year old who wants to become a writer, huh.
There is my role-playing game modules. I’ve written probably about 50, although only a few in any real well put together form.
In any case, the one most important adadge any wanna-be writer gets from creative writting classes and book (I’ve had 4 classes and have read about 15 books) is “A writer writes.” Daily, preferably. Be it prose, poetry, essays, or…a journal.
I’ve kept a journal on paper off and on for several years…but never stuck with it for any long streatch at a time. It’s just easier for my to type at a PC since I’m at one 12 hours a day or more, than to write on paper. For one thing it’s easier to keep up with my thoughts typing than it is in longhand in any semi-legible fashion.
So, this is another tool I want to use to build up my writing chops.

And that’s it. For now. My 1st Blog post. Normally I’ll use the “Extended Entry” field for long posts like this, but since it’s the 1st one I wanted it all on one page.
So, until later, thanks for reading! =)