Thursday, November 29, 2007

My GPG / PGP public key

If you know what this is, here it is.

If not, I suggest a bit of reading.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.1 (Darwin)


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An 8 year old with an AR

Nice to see people getting into shooting...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Abandoned Homes and Arson

Recent discussions on ZS dealt with abandoned homes in Cleveland. Vacant foreclosed homes are stripped by looters for their plumbing and wiring, destroying their value.

Today, this story caught my eye. Apparently there are some 4,100 vacant homes in Columbus.

While I don't know of any reports of looting in Columbus similar to Cleveland, there are some reports that the abandoned homes are targets for arson.

From the first link:

"It's that time of year when squatters will take refuge inside some of these vacant homes to stay warm and maybe the arsonist doesn't know there's someone upstairs or in the basement when they start the fire," said Columbus fire Battalion Chief Doug Smith. "We still have to make an aggressive search and rescue pattern to see if anyone is in there."

Obviously this is pure speculation, but I have to wonder if the fires are being set by neighborhood residents as a way to keep squatters away. I could understand that... homes become vacant eye sores, boarded up, lawns go to hell. Then the squatters move in.

Perhaps it's just me, but I think of squatters I don't think of people down on their luck, but of the mentally ill and drug addicts / alcoholics. Not the nicest people, when they're unmedicated and/or drunk/high.

Torching the vacant home gets rid of them. No one has been hurt so far, but that may be a matter of time. I can't say I agree with that, but I could understand it.

But then, with this from the second Dispatch article:

By the time she looked outside, she said, the abandoned home had been overtaken by flames, which had caught onto the house next door.

She noticed a couple of teenagers filming the scene with their cell phones. She said she doesn't know whether they started the fire, but she hopes police beef up security in the area.

Maybe it is just kids getting a thrill.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

OFF THE GRID: Life On The Mesa

From the web site:

Twenty-Five miles from town, a million miles from mainstream society, a loose-knit community of radicals live in the desert, struggling to survive with little food, less water and no electricity, as they cling to their unique vision of the American dream.

Looks interesting as hell; almost like a post apocalypse movie without the apocalypse. The bad thing with these independent documentaries seems to be distribution. Seems like we're stuck waiting for someone to put out a DVD.

Purity Balls and teen abstinence

Apparently, tis the season for follow-ups.

In this earlier post I talked about teen abstinence and how's it's not effective at preventing teen pregnancy.

This story caught my eye.

In the US, about 10% of boys and 16% of girls have taken the virginity pledge. It’s little wonder this is so popular — organisations that promote sexual abstinence get substantial funding from the government.

Not exactly high numbers. Even with Federal funding, it doesn't seem like it's that popular of a program. Still, to each their own.

So, how's that working out?

Columbia University’s Peter Bearman and Yale’s Hannah Br├╝ckner have carried out one of the largest studies on teenage sexual behaviour, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. According to this, 88% of the young people who have pledged to remain virgins until their marriage do have sex earlier.

And later in the article:

The US’s Guttmacher Institute has discovered through research that the highest percentage of teenage pregnancies occurs in Mississippi, Arizona and Arkansas — the religious states where sexual abstinence is promoted as the only option.

It seems that teenagers who have taken the virginity pledge have just as much anal and oral sex, as a means of avoiding vaginal sex, as their peers who haven’t taken the oath.

To most people, I don't think this is a shock. Humans are wired for sex as a means of propagating the species. Duh.

When we ignore that, we as a society suffer through higher rates of unplanned pregnancy among young people.

I'm old enough to remember the criticism of liberals as out of touch with human nature. It's hard, now, to not apply that same criticism to those who promote abstinence as the only means of preventing unwanted pregnancy.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

End of Thanksgiving day here; I hope everyone had a good one.

This year, I used a orange and ginger brine. Good stuff. The bird had a nice orange flavor. You'd think it would be odd, but worked out well.

However, it took overnight to brine, and about two hours to cook. These guys have it down to about 30 seconds.

Might not be very tasty, but it's fast.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Orleans, State to Pay $3.4M Judgment

As a follow up to an earlier entry I saw this story just before turkey day.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The city and the state of Louisiana will pay the bulk of a $3.4 million racial discrimination judgment against the New Orleans District Attorney's Office, officials announced Tuesday.

The judgment was awarded to 36 employees, 35 white and one Hispanic, who were fired and replaced by black employees shortly after Eddie Jordan took over as the city's first black district attorney in 2003.

From what I can tell, this didn't make any of the major media outlets. Hardly surprising I suppose. The sad thing is if the races of the parties involved had been reversed, there'd be a never ending parade of finely coiffed pundits calling for the District Attorney's head on a stick.

As it was, the judgement will be paid and Jordan resigned. Maybe things will improve down in NOLA now, but I don't think anyone is waiting with baited breath.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sesame Street ... for adults only??

This article was on Slashdot today.

"The earliest episodes of Sesame Street are being made available on DVD, but the NYT notes Volumes 1 and 2 carry a rather strange warning: 'These early 'Sesame Street' episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child.' So why are they unsuitable for toddlers in 2007? Well, in the parody 'Monsterpiece Theater,' Alistair Cookie — played by Cookie Monster — used to appear with a pipe, which he later gobbled. 'That modeled the wrong behavior,' explained a Sesame Street executive producer, adding that 'we might not be able to create a character like Oscar [the Grouch] now.'"

Cookie Monster eats cookies... and therefore is a bad example for todays corpulent precious rays of sunshine? What, the genius darlings couldn't figure out that eating a pipe was a gag? Or are they so feeble minded that they must emulate a blue furry puppet?

People have the nerve to ask why I prefer cats. If we have to sanitize Sesame Street to prevent damaging todays kids, seeing something like Wile E. Coyote would burst their heads like ripe melons in the sun.

If you want a version of Sesame Street that's not safe for kids, this guy is on the right track:

Funny as hell, but so not safe for work.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

British nukes were protected by bike locks

This story was on the BBC today:

Newsnight has discovered that until the early days of the Blair government the RAF's nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key.

There was no other security on the Bomb itself.

While American and Russian weapons were protected by tamper-proof combination locks which could only be released if the correct code was transmitted, Britain relied on a simpler technology.

And, further on:

The Bomb is actually armed by inserting a bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees. There is no code which needs to be entered or dual key system to prevent a rogue individual from arming the Bomb.

Well, that's encouraging. I wonder if they restricted pens in the area of these nukes equipped with bicycle locks, since as this video shows you can use a pen to get a bicycle lock open:


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dragonsbreath Shotgun Round

Saw this on Zombie Squad:

Some info on the vid:

Targets are pumpkins already destroyed by AK-47 fire. The shotgun used is a Mossberg 590 which the shooter mentioned he keeps around just for "experiments" like this.

The round fired is a dragonsbreath round; loaded with powdered metals, it produces a significant flash for a few seconds, but not much else. Low recoil, they're only suitable for break-open or pump shotguns as there's not enough energy to cycle the action of a semi-auto.

Not much practical use, but does make a neat video.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

UK Policing... 60% of the time they try.

Police brand four out of ten crimes 'unsolvable' just hours after they are reported

Four out of ten crimes are written off as unsolvable just a few hours after they are reported.

The two million offences are simply "screened out" - and their victims have little or no chance of seeing the culprit brought to justice.

No officer visits the scene of the crime, and no attempt is made to find a suspect.

As many as two-thirds of burglaries are not investigated in some areas, according to the police figures.

Even robberies and violent crimes can be screened out - along with fraud, theft and vandalism.

Among the 12 English and Scottish forces which released figures under Freedom of Information laws, 788,000 crimes were screened out last year.

From a total of 2,029,000 recorded offences, this means 39 per cent are written off in this way.

The findings suggest that out of 6million offences reported to forces in the UK last year, around 2.3million were not investigated.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "So-called screening can have the effect of making some crimes in effect risk-free."

Police justify the screening policy by claiming it allows them to target their resources - which they say are stretched to the limit by red tape - on investigating more serious crimes.

Veterans Day

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

If you'd like to help a veteran, there's always a need. It's not a matter of politics; more a matter of helping those who served our Nation.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

New Orleans more violent than ever

New Orleans murder rate for year will set record

The New Orleans police department's top brass tends to place the blame for all of the city's criminal justice woes on Katrina, but it's well known that New Orleans was an extraordinarily dangerous place well before the hurricane made landfall. The crack cocaine wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s that made Washington, DC and New York City such hotbeds of street violence hit a particularly bloody crescendo in New Orleans.


In recent years, the Orleans Parish district attorney's office has released hundreds of suspects under Article 701 of the Louisiana code of criminal procedure, which states that suspects cannot be held for longer than 60 days on felony arrest without an indictment. Reasons given for the lack of charges filed in 701 cases range from incomplete police reports to overburdened assistant district attorney's who were simply not able to file an indictment before the 60-day period expired. Unsurprisingly, the city's drug business began getting the message that felony crimes-even murder-would most likely end in a 701 release.

Pre-Katrina, there were a few hundred 701 releases per year. But after the storm, the trickle of 701 releases became a flood. In 2006 alone, there were nearly 3,000 such releases, a five- or six-fold increase over pre-flood levels.

Gee, really? The NOLA district attorney isn't effective? Wow. Who'da thunk a racist bigot would be incompetent?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Report: Abstinence Not Curbing Teen Sex

This was on the AP wire today:

Report: Abstinence Not Curbing Teen Sex

By H. JOSEF HEBERT – 22 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Programs that focus exclusively on abstinence have not been shown to affect teenager sexual behavior, although they are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in federal grants, according to a study released by a nonpartisan group that seeks to reduce teen pregnancies.

"At present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners" among teenagers, the study concluded.

The report, which was based on a review of research into teenager sexual behavior, was being released Wednesday by the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

The study found that while abstinence-only efforts appear to have little positive impact, more comprehensive sex education programs were having "positive outcomes" including teenagers "delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use."

"Two-thirds of the 48 comprehensive programs that supported both abstinence and the use of condoms and contraceptives for sexually active teens had positive behavior effect," said the report.

A spending bill before Congress for the Department of Health and Human Services would provide $141 million in assistance for community-based, abstinence-only sex education programs, $4 million more than what President Bush had requested.

The study, conducted by Douglas Kirby, a senior research scientist at ETR Associates, also sought to debunk what the report called "myths propagated by abstinence-only advocates" including: that comprehensive sex education promotes promiscuity, hastens the initiative of sex or increases its frequency, and sends a confusing message to adolescents.

None of these was found to be accurate, Kirby wrote.

Instead, he wrote, such programs improved teens' knowledge about the risks and consequences of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and gave them greater "confidence in their ability to say 'no' to unwanted sex."

The sponsors of the study praised Kirby for his "thorough research" and for being "fair and evenhanded," but they also acknowledged that ETR Associates developed and markets several of the sex education curricula reviewed in the report. Several of the previous studies that were reviewed also were written by Kirby.

The report noted that there continues to be "too high levels of sexual risk-taking among teens" with 47 percent of all high schools students reporting having sex at least once and 63 percent saying they have engaged in sex by the spring semester of their senior year.

"Many teenagers do not use contraceptives carefully and consistently," said the report. About 40 of every 1,000 girls age 15 to 19 gave birth in 2005, the last year for which data was available, the report said.

I doubt that this, like earlier studies, will do much to change the debate. It's sad, really.

Just about everyone agrees that teen pregnancy is a strong indicator of poverty. Where people seem to part company is in how to get there. Some want to act in ways that measurably effect the problem, while others cling to religious tenants that don't seem to produce the results all parties desire.

not that cats ever get jealous...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Attention Whore: Thy name is also Angela Rausch

Ok, it's official. The attention whore trifecta is now in play.

From WBNS-10TV:

Police: Student Fabricated Attack Story
Nov 06 2007 12:18PM

WESTERVILLE, Ohio - An Otterbein College student was facing charges after police said she fabricated a story that she was attacked on Sunday night.

Angela Rausch (pictured, right) told police that a man grabbed her from behind in a parking lot as she was unloading a laundry basket from her car, 10TV News reported.

She also told police that she saw two men laughing near a red SUV in the area right before the attack. Rausch, 18, also told investigators that she was concerned that she was being followed over the past few months.

On Monday night, police said that Rausch confessed that the story was false.

Rausch was charged with falsification. She was scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday.

It was not immediately known why the student made up the story, 10TV News reported.

Stay with 10TV News and for more information.

Reported by Tino Ramos

Monday, November 5, 2007

Attention Whore: Thy name is Sarah Marshak

From the gwhatchet, a student run newspaper at George Washington Univercity:

The University found the student who reported several swastikas on her Mitchell Hall door was the one who drew them.

Using footage from a hidden video camera, the University Police Department linked freshman Sarah Marshak with the vandalism. She will now appear before Student Judicial Services and could face federal and District charges, a spokesperson announced Monday afternoon.

In an interview with The Hatchet Monday evening, Marshak, said she only drew the final three of six swastikas on her door in an attempt to highlight what she characterized as GW's inaction. Only hours earlier, Marshak categorically denied the charges.

"I wasn't looking to create this, sort of, insanity," Marshak said in a phone interview. "I wasn't looking to become a media darling. I was just looking for acknowledgment from University that someone drew a swastika on the door."

Marshak said Tara W. Pereira, director of SJS, informed her she would likely be expelled. Marshak said she did not want to leave GW but probably will.

Tracy Schario, a University spokesperson, said GW stands by its statement that they have a signed confession from Marshak. Schario would not comment on how many swastikas Marshak was responsible for, only saying it was "several of the incidents."

Robert Fishman, the director of Hillel, said during conversations, Marshak always came across as rational.

"This is a definite cry for help on her part," Fishman said in a phone interview Monday. "I can't imagine why anyone would do anything like this. I feel very sad for her. At the same time I am upset that she had to resort to the actions she took."

Another student was caught Saturday night in relation to the drawing of swastikas, the word "niggers" and the text "white power" in New Hall.

The University is still investigating the Potomac House incident.

Schario would not comment whether the camera was placed in Mitchell Hall by UPD or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who also was investigating the matter.

The same story is here, but with a few less details.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Mr. Brooks

Recently released on DVD, I've come to like Mr. Brooks quite a lot.

The rotten tomatoes review doesn't really do this film justice. I suspect that's because the plot doesn't fit on the back of a cocktail napkin.

The main characters are the title character, Mr. Brooks (Kevin Costner), his murderous alter ego Marshal (William Hurt), the police woman who's trying to solve a series of murders (Demi Moore) and the slacktastic Mr. Smith (Dane Cook) who witnesses Mr. Smith's handiwork and becomes a sort of avid fan.

The story centers in large part on Mr. Brooks. In almost a character study, we're shown him interacting with Marshall, attending AA meetings to stop himself from killing, dealing with a daughter ( with her own secrets ), and taking Mr. Smith out on hunting trips ( as Mr. Smith has photos from the last time Mr. Brooks "slipped" ).

What really attracts me to this movie is the interplay between Costner and Hurt. As Marshall, he's the inner voice urging Mr. Brooks on to mayhem, but also a consoling force and even at times a moral conscience.

Some have likened Marshall to the parts of ourselves we don't much care for; those things we're ashamed of about ourselves. That's a shallow view, and misses something perhaps unique to those of us who deal with addictive natures.

Marshall, as the embodiment of a darker nature, isn't completely destructive. Yes, he does drive Brooks to commit heinous crimes, but he also assists Brooks in getting away with those crimes. He serves in scenes as Brooks's memory, providing details which escape him. When things go very wrong with Brooks's daughter Marshall is there both to console and caution him.

Not entirely altruistic, of course. The most persistent virus does not kill it's host, so keeping Mr. Brooks out of trouble serves Marshall's purposes. He does enjoy life, if he does say so himself. Helping Mr. Brooks serves that end.

That duality; that darker aspect of one's inner nature which is both destructive and helpful rings true.

An obsessive compulsive type is very annoying... unless he's the one spending nights and weekends pouring through the tax codes trying to find more deductions for your income tax return.

The glib social peacock, who can change her interests and personality to match her audience is at least shallow, if not an outright lier lacking in substance, but I'll bet she's great at marketing and/or sales.

We deny our inner nature, both the good parts and the bad, at our own peril.

For most, if not all of us our Marshall isn't going away. To pretend otherwise is to forget our Marshall is there, and then when Marshall whispers an idea in our ear we can forget where that thought comes from. Might even seem like a really good idea, if we're not careful.

That said, our Marshall isn't entirely harmful. Kept in check, it can be a source of strength. If only to help people with their own Marshall.

Might as well make some sort of peace with him. He isn't going anywhere.

PS: For those of a firearms enthusiast bent, watch the gunfight between the police woman (Demi Moore) and the serial killer Meeks (Matt Schulze). Whomever did the fight choreography threw in some nice details. Note how Moore uses a proper shooting stance, cover, and some tactical consideration in taking out the overhead lights. Meeks and his silent girlfriend blaze away one handed, illustrating perfectly the adage that there's always more air than meat to hit. Nicely done.

Out of the Gutter

I've a soft spot for crime fiction of all types, and the hard boiled in particular.

Sure, you've got the hero's journey, but in the hard boiled tradition that journey is up the back side of a dark alley reeking of cat piss and stale puke. The shining light at the end of said journey is at best a street lamp, and all you win is a chance to do it all again.

Kinda like life.

Out of the gutter magazine

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Who says the UN isn't effective in Kosovo?

After all, they can come up with a stylish music video:

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007