Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rehashing Gun Control

There has been a lot of rehashed discussion about gun control in light of the recent school massacre. My libertarian philosophy leans toward less power in the hands of Government, which puts more power in the hands of individuals, but we need a strong military, and we don't need unstable individuals with the power to kill large numbers of innocent people.

However, as recently confirmed by the US Supreme Court (Solum, 2009), one of the original purposes for the second amendment was to insure that citizens could take a stand against an out-of-control Government. It is difficult to imagine how that could work today with modern military capability.

Science Fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke said it is not the power of weaponry that makes military might effective. It is the precision of weaponry that wins wars. (Clarke, 1953)

Clarke illustrated his idea with a story about an alien invasion that depended on mosquito-like devices that gently distracted and influenced humans into submission to their alien overlords. The power of the aliens was in their ability to precisely direct the smallest intervention at the most opportune moments. (Clarke, 1953)

Maybe the answer to the gun control issue is to focus on precision in the development of weaponry used by the Government, and to focus on effective use of weapons (including training) rather than the development of ever-more-powerful weapons. I think we could meet our military objectives more effectively by focusing on greater precision and less destruction. In recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have demonstrated that "shock and awe" can be accomplished with ultrasonic weapons that do minimal permanent damage to the enemy. (Leventhall, 2005)

Make weapons that are more precise and less lethal, and we won't have to argue over the meaning of the second amendment.


Clarke, A. C. (1953). Childhood's End. Del Rey Books. ISBN 0-345-34795-1.

Leventhall, G. (2005-10-01). Big noise in baghdad. Noise Notes, 4(4), 11-14. doi: 10.1260/147547306777009238

Solum, L. B. (2009). District of columbia v. heller and originalism. Northwestern University Law Review,103(2), 924-957. Retrieved from

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Infoworld: Open sources blog: Samba 4 threatens Microsoft's enterprise lock-in

Infoworld: Open sources blog: Samba 4 threatens Microsoft's enterprise lock-in

'via Blog this'

Thanks to significant cooperation by Microsoft, an open-source alternative to Active Directory now exists, providing the ability for Linux Servers to provide Active Directory resources to Microsoft networks.
Notably, this includes the first open source implementation of Microsoft's Active Directory protocols; Samba previously only offered Windows NT domain controller functions. According to their press release, "Samba 4.0 provides everything needed to serve as an Active Directory Compatible Domain Controller for all versions of Microsoft Windows clients currently supported by Microsoft, including the recently released Windows 8." (Phipps, 2012)
Samba 4 can join existing Active Directory domains and also provides all necessary function to host a domain that can be joined by Microsoft Active Directory servers. It is provides all the services needed by Microsoft Exchange, as well as opening up the possibility of fully open source alternatives to Exchange such as the OpenChange project  (Phipps, 2012)


Phipps, S. (2012, December 12).  Samba 4 threatens Microsoft's enterprise lock-in.
          [Web log message]. Infoworld: Open sources blog. Retrieved from


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Outlawed by ... DRM « Martin Bekkelund

All files are provided without restrictive techologies
Since I highlighted Bekkelund's blog post (2012, October 22) about a particularly offensive abuse of DRM, Amazon corrected the problem that prompted the post, and they have posted the following statement with regard to this incident:
"We would like to clarify our policy on this topic. Account status should not affect any customer's ability to access their library. 
If any customer has trouble accessing their content, he or she should contact customer service for help. 

Thank you for your interest in Kindle."

Amazon's responsiveness to customer issues makes me confident to continue shopping with Amazon; however, Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) in many cases has proven itself to be a means to circumvent the constitutionally protected rights of individuals by enabling the confiscation of property without explanation, and without the constitutionally required due process of law. DRM's preemptive penalties assume guilt and assess penalties, violating the constitutional principle of "innocent until proven guilty." DRM is unconstitutional  and it is the duty of all citizens to challenge DRM everywhere it is found until this dangerous and illegal intrusion on freedom is eliminated. Perpetrators must be required to repay every dollar confiscated through this illegal ruse, and should be assessed additional punitive damages to ensure no further attempts to create automated law enforcement are ever attempted in the future.

As documented in previous posts, I personally have suddenly lost material I loved and owned with no explanation, and no apparent reason or recourse. It is time to put an end to Digital Restrictions Management (DRM).
Reining In Big Media »
As a student in the '70's, I eagerly awaited the expiration of copyright-protection on works published in the 1920's, 30's and 40's. At the time, copyright law protected works for 28 years, with the o...
Big Media's Continuing War Against Free Expression »
In response to an article I read today about yet another encroachment on our rights, I decided to revisit my complaints about unreasonable changes to copyright laws over the last 25 years, and the eve...
The free software foundation has published an action plan for the elimination of DRM, but I have been unable to locate a citable source* of their recommended steps, however these common-sense steps would fit in their list, which I will cite when I am able to relocate my sources:

1) Demand that retailers provide warnings when use of material is restricted after sale via DRM.
2) Make the choice and sacrifice to only purchase DRM-free material.
3) Demand that legislators restrict use of DRM for use as a reporting tool, only to be accessed with a court-issued warrant, as is necessary in all other cases in which the needs of law enforcement conflict with personal rights of privacy.
4) Demand that legislators stop automated theft of digital rights, and provide clear guidelines for prosecuting those existing thefts that were perpetrated by DRM automation, including criminal penalties for those who have purposely used DRM to force resale of material already owned by victims.

As cases come up in the news or on blogs, such as in the case of the Outlawed by Amazon DRM article, write to the perpetrator of DRM theft, and demand an explanation. Big media will never be bigger than its audience. Ultimately it is up to us to stop this abuse by big media. Together, WE are bigger.

More information about fighting DRM:
     Defective by Design . org
     Is It Time to Occupy Big Media? @DustinSlaughter
     Opposing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM)
     Outlawed by Amazon DRM « Martin Bekkelund
     Readers Bill of Rights

'via Blog this'


Bekkelund, M. (2012, October 22). En blogg om IT: Outlawed by Amazon DRM.[Web log message].
          Retrieved from

* I was able to locate a European action plan published by the European version of the Free Software Foundation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

EZ-IZE Button-board

↖ Don't click that button!
The "y" kee on my kee-board has stopped working. Fortunatlee, I know how to use alt-121 to fix missing wise. I can also use alternate words to avoid that particular letter, but it makes the writing difficult to read.

(Be thankful I did not go with alternate spellings through the entire post.)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I was just thinking...

I was just thinking 
back to "another life" years ago when I supported my family by running a financial services business out of my home. 

My mission at the time was to find young families who had not yet considered their financial futures, and to make it easy for them to begin establishing a financial plan through periodic investments and dollar-cost averaging in investments in primarily growth-oriented mutual funds.

By that time, I was already a competent self-taught programmer, and I wrote software that allowed me to enter numbers into a self-designed one-page spreadsheet. My laptop had two floppy drives, and no hard drive. Data was kept only in the form of printed reports, but with the use of macros and some electrical circuits I designed myself, I used that antique (by today's standards) much the same way I use my computer today.

In some ways, my system was more 
efficient then. I used a relational database with only a few records to pull up information about each customer before I spoke with them on the phone. The program would create a combination script and outline with prompts to help me start a phone conversation, and outlined topics of interest to the customer, as well as summaries of quoted prices and dates. I had paper files I could grab at a moment's notice. I would enter (or upload) a list of phone numbers into a specialized telemarketing computer that would dial the phone and find people for me to talk with. Then I would pick up the phone, which caused a timer circuit I designed and soldered together to halt the telemarketing computer while I spoke with the customer up to five minutes. The computer would detect early hangups, but I had to manually disconnect the telemarketing computer if the time went over five minutes, which I avoided, since the lack of memory meant having to reboot the computer and re-upload an adjusted list of telephone numbers. Worse, sometimes the numbers had to be entered by hand each time, depending on the source of the list. 

Each morning I spent the first several hours on the phone setting appointments to meet with people in the afternoons.

One day I showed up for what appeared to be a very promising appointment only to find a strange young man in a dark house with trash bags taped over all the windows. The man told me he was schizophrenic, so he would understand if I wanted to "run now." I asked him if I was in danger. He said, "no." I asked, "why would I run?" He said, "because crazy people are scary." I said, "the fact that you live in an altered reality may make you LOOK crazy, but it does not make you crazy. Smiling, I said, tell me about your reality, and THEN I'll tell you if I think you are crazy.

He liked that answer. He said you are good. I asked him why he had set an appointment. He apologized. He said, "because I'm lonely." I looked at my watch. I said, you are in luck. I don't have another appointment for two hours. I can stay as long or as you want me to stay up to two hours. He asked, can I get you some water. I said, thank you. That would be nice. 

I asked why all the windows were darkened with trash bags. He said, because the shades weren't dark enough. I asked why he needed darkness. He said because bright light is distracting. I can see well enough in dim light, and I find it soothing. I feel as if I can think better in dim light. I don't have to have it so dim. I can turn on a light if you like. I said however you like it is fine. I'm just here to take a break and share my time with you before I go on with my day. I don't really need much light to do that. 

He seemed to enjoy the visit. We talked about a lot of subjects, but I noticed he never brought up people. I thought things were going well for him, but suddenly, after about a half-hour, he said "you have to go now." I looked at my watch. I said I'll go if you want me to, but I don't HAVE to go now. He said, "You should go." Then he said, "can you come back?" I said, I wish I could, but I cannot justify scheduling time during my work day. 

I asked, Do you have places you can go where you can talk with other people? He mentioned some place where they do arts and crafts all day. He said he goes there occasionally if he is desperate enough for company, but he really doesn't like it there. "It's too bright." 

As I walked out the door, he thanked me for coming, and he apologized for fooling me into thinking I had an appointment. I said, you fooled me. I thought you were a potential client, and under other circumstances, you might have become a client. I told him he handled himself well over the phone. "Have you ever thought of telemarketing?" He laughed. He said, on a good day, but not all days are like today. That would NOT be a good idea! He was laughing as I left, in a somewhat disturbing way. I prayed for him, and I never saw him again.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Value of Arguement

Initially I thought of this post as extolling the value of social interaction to healing of the brain. I still suspect there is a connection, but reviewed what I had written, the post seemed to lack continuity, and it seemed to be more about relating essay writing (blogging) and aesthetic principles. So I decided to move the post to a more appropriate venue and simplify it at the same time. 

I love arguing with my 18-year-old daughter. Since she is “officially” an adult, she feels free to express her disagreements with me, but she does it respectfully, and I make sure the respect goes both directions. When we argue I can feel something waking in the back of my brain that I think needs to be awakened more often. I’m not sure what that spark is, but I have no doubt this gentle father-daughter sparring is exactly the kind of therapy my healing brain needs.

Yesterday’s argument was about my daughter’s English class. I insisted that a well written essay has a thesis that explores opposing views on a topic and then states and defends an opinion. She felt my view was too narrow, and more specifically, she felt a short essay cannot effectively cover opposing  views on a topic, because a short essay should be more limited. I responded that a controversy can be stated and resolved in a single sentence. She finally had enough. She said she needed to leave the room to avoid getting upset.

It was a minor clash. Her tone was respectful. I think an eighteen-year-old adult needs to establish her own boundaries, and the parent of an eighteen year old adult needs to gracefully accept healthy expressions of independence as a GOOD thing; although, sometimes it is hard to let go of the former parent-child relationship and to embrace the new adult-adult relationship that must replace it.

Initially, I asked my daughter about how school has been going for her recently. As we discussed various classes she is taking, She mentioned that her English class is writing daily essays. That struck my interest, because as a home-schooling parent, I had taken pride in the writing guidance I provided to my students. We used the textbook “The Lively Art of Writing” (Payne, 1965which teaches that a well-written essay explores its topic by comparing and contrasting two sides of a “controversy” expressed in the thesis sentence. I won't try to represent my daughter’s view because it is likely I did not fully understand  her view well. and I don’t want to misrepresent her perspective. I’ll stick with what I know, which is my OWN view. 

First, there are multiple valid ways to write an essay, just there are multiple styles of music. The chromatic structure of Wagner or Debussy is as valid as Bach’s strict adherence to forms and scales. These structures each work to form the backdrop of their respective compositions, and while Bach might call Debussy “wrong” for his anarchical tendencies, I believe he would have been as enchanted by Debussy’s art as Debussy was, no doubt, envious and respectful of Bach’s mathematical precision. Today it would be wrong to judge either composer’s work on the basis of the other's perspective.

Essays are as much an art as music. They are aesthetic expressions, and as such, their value is found in how successfully they draw the reader into the writer's contextual backdrop to identify with the thesis or to reject it. A great writer makes the reader see new perspectives. A balanced presentation of facts creates the aesthetic backdrop of the  essay, and the opinions that are expressed, compared, and contrasted create the tension and release that makes the writing interesting and worthwhile.

(For more about my aesthetic ideas, see my previous essay on aesthetic meaning and value at


Payne, L. V. (1965). The lively art of writing. Chicago: Follett Pub. Co.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

aesthetic meaning and value in the arts

A recent discussion of whether taste in music can be judged brought these previously written paragraphs to mind, in which I talked about the aesthetic meaning and value in various arts.
"reddle" by Klaus Leontjew
Great art establishes a background which can be self-defined, or more commonly is derived from the styles, trends, and historical context of the culture. Having established a background, art builds meaning through imitation, repetition, and contrast with the background. Meaning is constructed by each person who experiences the art as they apply their own unique perspective to the background, and to the similarities and differences of the art with its background. In each person who constructs meaning in the experience, they align themselves with some elements and disassociate themselves from other elements, creating the emotional equivalence of life experiences in a safe context. This individual interaction with art enables people to find meaning in various aspects of their lives that they would have otherwise missed, so art provides an emotional mirror that individuals use to see themselves and their circumstances from a new perspective. 

Art without contrast would have no meaning, as life without pain has no joy, and perfect equality offers no beauty, no life, and no reason for the change that defines and motivates us.

Beauty does not depend solely on contrast, but rather it depends on the relationship between the contrast, the background, and the cultural context. Some of the most awe-inspiring art is very plain and simple. However, subtle meaning can be lost in a loud crass environment where sharper contrasts are generally necessary.

Examine the photograph above. What similarities do you observe in the photo? What contrasts do you observe? Did you mentally "push away" an element of the photo? What did you reject? Why did you reject it? What element did you most connect with? What message may the artist have wanted to convey? Did you connect with the author's aesthetic idea on some level? How do YOU feel?

If you learned something from this blog about the meaning in art, please make a comment so I can also learn from you. Now listen to your favorite music, and ask yourself these same questions.


Leontjew, K. (2009). Reddle. [Web Photo]. Retrieved from

Resources for Traumatic Brain Injury: Why yes, I AM brain-damaged! How astute of you to notice!

Resources for Traumatic Brain Injury: Why yes, I AM brain-damaged! How astute of you to notice!:

'via Blog this'

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The decline of American values

While I believe our Government had a moral duty to destroy Bin Laden for spilling innocent blood, I am sympathetic with his concern that the decline of Western culture was poisoning his culture. It was poisoning our own culture first, and continues to do so, relatively unchallenged.

When we put up with entertainment that tears at the family structure by devaluing marriage, or making fathers seem superfluous, or devaluing humanity in general by depicting disrespect of others without showing the devastating consequences that disrespect causes in individual lives, or when we show excessive violence, especially violence that depicts a cheap regard for human life, we poison our own culture, and it is no wonder that others don't value our culture when we don't value it ourselves.

Our culture was founded on moral principles that were derived from the Bible. It was also founded on a revolutionary kind of freedom provided by a Government that respects God, but distinguishes itself and its interests from those of religion. Our new kind of freedom allows and encourages people to choose their own values freely, making those values personal. Hard work, celebration of the rewards of hard work, self reliance with neighbors helping neighbors apart from Government are all traditional American values that we have allowed to erode. Our traditional American values stem from the fact that we are ALL descendants of immigrants, with the exception of descendants of native Americans, (a majority of whom speak Spanish). As a nation of immigrants we owe to other immigrants at least the same welcome that was offered to our ancestors, and to the descendants of native Americans, that responsibility is greater.

Possibly the best way to end the threat of terrorists (our enemies are people, not an impersonal "ism.") is to return to our own values, and uphold them as an encouragement to others, but without offering unwanted "help" so others may obtain what they may not actually want.

What is your opinion of the relationship between the decline of American values and the threat of Islamist terrorists?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What is this?

Obviously there is not a licensing issue with this photo of my grandmother that I've been working on restoring, but the last time I ignored a message like this on a computer, my entire MP3 collection that I had been building over several years at a cost of about $10 per weekend (I estimated about $300 worth of properly purchased songs from MusicMatch) were all marked as illegal copies and I was unable to play them. I had no backups of those files. Music Match never answered my requests to fix the problem. Now I feel as if it may be about to happen again!

(Any questions about why I distrust big media and big Government?)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


SHAME on NBC for airing a commercial during the minute of silence to remember the slaughter of Israeli Olympians 40 years ago. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm making a point of not watching NBC for the foreseeable future. (I still avoid purchasing Nestle products since as a college student in the 1970's I became aware of their African baby formula scandal. When I boycott, I boycott.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Morgan Freeman: Stop Talking About It

Morgan Freeman's comment about racism makes sense to me. When our speech relegates skin color to the same level of importance as hair color, then we are probably not profiling people. On the other hand, when we see injustice, and especially if the injustice is racially motivated, we HAVE to speak up.

I used to believe that racism was dead except in the minds of people who were paranoid about discrimination. Then my family drove through South Carolina on a trip to Disney World, and I saw the ugliest form of racism I have ever seen face-to-face, as a black Walmart employee was scolded in front of me, and in front of all the other (white) employees for speaking to a white man. I was so shocked I'm ashamed to say I was dumbstruck. The white woman had taken over the sale and had the gall to apologize to me for the black employee's behavior. Then I recovered somewhat, and I said it was HER behavior that offended me. Then I apologized to the original sales person, who was obviously afraid to acknowledge my apology. After our vacation, I wrote a lengthy email to Walmart about the incident. I do not recall seeing a response...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Brain Injury

Location of accident
There is a reason this blog has been inactive. Last June (2011) I was hit by a car while I was bicycling for exercise. Initially it seemed I was fine other than suffering from severe vertigo and the nausea that comes with vertigo, but over time, my abilities have progressively continued to decline, or so others tell me. I still hope for eventual recovery.  For every new symptom that appears, older symptoms seem to gradually improve. An example of improvement is my ability to write this post without having to correct severe grammatical errors caused by dropped words and phrases. (I will grammar-check this post before publishing it just in case.)

As I recover, I am building a new blog entitled Resources for Traumatic Brain Injury in which I am building a journal of my experiences. Eventually, I plan for this journal to become part of a larger website that will help others work through the kinds of difficulties I have faced.

Grammar checking for this post was provided by SpellCheckPlus (2012).


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Give it Up: Lent 2012

Lent Calendar (UCCGU, 2012)

The following Bible verse was copied from the New King James version of the Bible. The words “Jacob” and “Israel” were replaced with “(insert name)” as suggested in an article I read on a United Church of Christ resources website (Robinson, 2010).

Isaiah 43:1-7

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Redeemer of Israel (Isaiah 43:1) 
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O (insert name),
And He who formed you, O (insert name):
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I gave Egypt for your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4 Since you were precious in My sight,
You have been honored,
And I have loved you;
Therefore I will give men for you,
And people for your life.
5 Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your descendants from the east,
And gather you from the west;
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’
Bring My sons from afar,
And My daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 Everyone who is called by My name,
Whom I have created for My glory;
I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”

Originally, I planned to blatantly copy all of the material from this page of the UCC website and republish it, but when I attempted to get permission, I was asked to pay a small and reasonable fee for the privilege, which I’m too cheap to do, so instead of republishing their material, I will just provide links to their website. (Notice the calendar image and its caption link to the full calendar, and the credited references below.)

(Use of this material should not be understood as a general endorsement of the United Church of Christ denomination.)


Robinson, Anthony B. (2010, March 5). Give up emptiness [Web log post].

UCCGU. (2012). Give it up: Lent devotional 2012. The Pilgrim Press: UCC Resources. Retrieved from

Friday, February 17, 2012


Wow! I LOVE Santorum's line in the sand. What a way to distinguish himself from Obama! 

Inequality is as essential to life as pain. We might win votes by promising to eliminate pain, but we would be lying if we promised we could do it, and to what ever extent we DID eliminate pain, we would be creating useless junkies who have no reason to live. Embrace the pain! 

Love economic inequality. It is the air, food, and water that lets us live! Inequality enables motivation; it is the music and soul that makes life worth-while. Join Santurom, and declare your love for economic inequality!