Angry Libertarian Rants


The other night I needed to get some work done. Work that required access to my employer’s network. Access that required me to install the VPN software on my new laptop. And that’s when things started to go wrong.

You have to register with the VPN provider before can dowmload their VPN client. And it’s not just any registration process — it is a highly secure one that looks like some command and control freak setup the process. First you have to give them everything from your phone number to your job title. Then you have to come up with a password that has not only letters and numbers — get this — but mixed case. Because I’m sure crackers are getting into the provider’s web site to download this free software via exhaustive password guessing instead of just registering for free on the site. Happens all the time.

But just in case I forgot the password to download free software I got to pick not one, but two security questions. And oh — my login name has to have between 9 and 50 characters, with no spaces, at least one letter, and may contain numbers. I couldn’t make something up this silly.

So, I registered. Eventually. After going through maybe 200 “errors” presented by the regristration page screen was…. another page that said “Your session is no longer active.”

The second sign that something was wrong was… it didn’t actually work. Yep, every time I entered in a new user id it was … simply forgotten at the login screen. And the password reset screen.

One more point of joy — clicking on the “Log in” link at the web site’s home page gives you “The page you have requested is not available.” I’ll bet.

So I try copying over the MacOS application directory from my old laptop. And this is when I realized that the VPN provider folks are fools. It looks like the installation sprays its contents over a wide variety of directories, like some kind of … Windows install. If you just copy over the Application directory you find out that the crapware expects to find a library installed in /Library/Frameworks/.

Around the time I realize that this resembles a Windows install, I realize that most Mac OS users would never put up with this — Steve Jobs would have someone executed before putting up with this. The distinguishing difference between Windows users and Mac OS users is that one wants to use a computer and that the other wants to get work done — so there must be a Mac OS solution to this.

It turns out that Mac OS has the VPN built in. But wait… it requires a shared secret, which it is very careful to not let you see. However, it is stored in an encrypted form. Thinking once again that most people wouldn’t put up with this I start googling for a solution — and find a web site that will decrypt it for you. And possibly harvest it as well.

So, as a result of wanting to get work done, and school boy security engineering, I’m sending the shared secret over the Internet to a site I’ve never heard of to decrypt it.

Awesome!

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After reading Bang Bank you’re safe I thought it would be interesting to produce a graph of the Brady Gun score against the gun homicide rate per 100,000.

2009 Brady State Score vs Gun homicide rate

2009 Brady Score vs. Gun homicide rate

No real surprise: the gun score doesn’t seem to have much to do with your chance of being killed with a gun.

There are a lot of problems with this graph; correlation is not causation, the scale is a bit off, and California tends to dominate the eye, being all the way on the right.

But the biggest problem is that the underlying Brady score is measuring inputs instead of outputs. It is like trying to figure out if a school is any good by looking at how much money it spends instead of how well the students learn.

The folks over at Slate have written up a history of holding your gun sideways. As you might have expected, the Angry Men added some interesting commentary.

Angry Military Man
Unprofessional jackasses. This is one cultural trend that seriously pisses me off, I had a devil of a time trying to teach people how to properly hold a fucking pistol. They were always trying to be gangsta.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
But AMM why does this annoy you? I mean, I understand that this idiocy by your students annoyed you, sure. But how is this outcome anything but welcome:

As police chased Raymond “Ready” Martinez through Times Square on Thursday, the street hustler and aspiring rapper fired two shots, holding the gun sideways “like a character out of a rap video.” According to the New York Post, Martinez’s side grip caused the gun to jam, enabling police to shoot and kill the suspect.

By all means, let’s do whatever we can to encourage this sort of poor gun control by our criminal classes. If they’re going to abuse their rights, at least let them abuse them in a way that minimizes their danger to others and maximizes their danger to themselves.

I want a lack of professionalism in my would-be professional criminals!

Angry Immigrant
In that case…

I would like to propose a new gangsta style grip that involves holding the pistol upside down next to the head, barrel pointing forward. This would allow the spent casing to bounce “awesomely” off of the temple of the shooter, signifying toughness and promote true “def” style hearing loss.

Sighting the barrel directly next to the eyes should maximize the shooter’s conception of aiming accuracy, as it brings a point-and-shoot cyborg mentality for the shooter.

This new all-def method makes no claims of actual accuracy improvement. In case of a gun jamming, this may cause grievous explosive injury to the shooter, but that’s the risk of being tru-4-life.

Angry Libertarian
We can do better and have.

A suspect in the rape and armed robbery of several woman in River Forest accidentally shot himself in the head during a police chase Monday night in Oak Park. The suspect died several hours later.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Well, yes, but of course in this case do we have any certain knowledge that he was in fact holding his gun when he shot himself in the head? There may have been a little officer-assisted suicide going on…this is River Forest we’re talking about.

On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that this guy was one of the dullest knives in the drawer. Of course there’s the inevitable tagline in modern America:

Patillo had convictions for aggravated unlawful use of a fire arm and drugs. He was paroled April 25 from the Sheridan Correctional Center.

Gosh, a parolee is released and within a year escalates to even more dangerous and violent offenses? What a shocker!*

Be interesting to find out whether this guy was off as part of Governor Quinn’s early release programs to save money…apparently they’re quietly releasing increasingly dangerous types because of funding issues.

Yippee!

*Note that this crap also makes the lives of actual reformed ex-cons even harder. Now that everyone knows that parole is a “get out of jail to rape and murder for free” card, there’s even less chance given to actual honest parolees who earned their parole through actual reform. When you make an earned privilege a natural right, you cheapen it 9 times out of 10.

Women pay more for health insurance than men, have more extensive health needs than men, and suffer unique forms of discrimination in their coverage.

Unbelievable. Women have more health needs…. and that drives up their health insurance? Call me crazy, but discrimination might not be the reason.

In a desperate move akin to Britain’s imperial expansion in search of good food, Pope Benedict today opened the door to the wholesale importation of Anglicans to expand the pool of singing Catholics.

While in public Vatican officials still toe the line that they are re-integrating lost members of the flock with Catholic Church and “the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion.” and noting that there “have been groups of Anglicans who have entered while preserving some ‘corporate’ structure”, in private officials were more forthcoming.

In one off the record conversation one Cardinal was quite blunt: “Listen, we’ve been trying to get Catholics in the Latin rite to sing well for almost 50 years. It hasn’t worked. It’s time for some fresh blood. Desperately bad music calls for desperate measures.”

Another official explained that “while we’ve had some success in the past with retail level conversions, moving to the next level requires us to go ‘corporate’. Otherwise we just won’t make any real progress over the next one hundred years.” When pressed on any confusion to the faithful that might result from the wholesale conversion of Anglican parishes the official replied that “we expect any hearing person to be able to tell the difference when the entrance hymn begins, although it might take the tone deaf a little bit longer.”

Chicago’s Metra “On The Bi-Level” newsletter had an inadvertent doozy this month. Normally I’m not one to read too much into word selection, but in this case it is warranted. First, we have a complaint about a sidewalk:

I was told by a Berwyn alderman that it is Metra’s decision to close the crosswalk on the BNSD that’s two blocks east of Harlem for “safety reasons.” … I have already seen four instances of people running and crossing at Harlem with gates down and in front of express trains! Yes, you are actually endangering people.

Here is the newsletter’s response:

It is for safety reasons. And we can hardly be blamed for endangering people who willfully go around crossing gates.

When you’re designing a safety feature, be it for an air traffic control system, a financial web site, or the layout of a train station, it is best to design for people as they actually are, not the way you wish they were. Design is a series of trade offs, and the proper way to evaluate closing a crosswalk is “how many people die with the cross walk” vs. “how many people die without the cross walk”.

Of course, that’s if you are interested in keeping people safe, not avoiding blame.

Real men only talk when they really need to. I have a true story that demonstrates this.

Several years ago while on vacation my family stopped at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. My small children were easily distracted by a couple of other male vactioners who were flying a kite around the rest area. They were doing some impressive stunts, and got awfully close to a large pine tree. Eventually they got too close and the kite was stuck in the tree.

Over the next ten minutes they were unable to extract the kite from the tree.

Then some men (yes, all) in a truck with a cherry picker pulled up at the rest stop. They got out of the car, looked at the kite, looked at the tree, and drove right up to the tree. Out came the stabilizers from the truck. Up went the cherry picker. Down came the kite.

And they never said a word.

Real men only talk when they need to.

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