POTUS Wants To Continue Spying Program

In what can only be described as the perfect summation of President Obama’s legacy, after Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act expired, and the US Freedom Act then said that it was OK to spy on citizens, so long as the government wasn’t collecting the data directly, legal advisors for the POTUS asked the FISA court to ignore both situations and let them carry on doing what they’re doing.

The legal request, filed nearly four hours after Barack Obama vowed to sign a new law banning precisely the bulk collection he asks the secret court to approve, also suggests that the administration may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop.

US officials confirmed last week that they would ask the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court – better known as the Fisa court, a panel that meets in secret as a step in the surveillance process and thus far has only ever had the government argue before it – to turn the domestic bulk collection spigot back on.

Obama lawyers asked secret court to ignore public court's decision on spying - The Guardian

It amazes me how blasé the US is from the situation it is facing. Few people in the US have even heard the name Edward Snowden, let alone know and understand what he has done. More confusing to me is just how ignorant people are about what the government is actually doing. They assume that it must be alright because otherwise their government wouldn’t be doing it. It is like they are completely disconnected from the situation they face. Or they are relying on US News Media to inform them, which is worse. It’s patently obvious the media in the US will never hold the government to account.

One day I truly hope the US people wake up and pay attention to what their government is actually doing. I’m so sick of the partisanship that exists there. People put misguided ideology over common sense based on some imaginary difference between the Democrats and Republicans. People need to stop voting for a party and start voting for candidates based on their record. More over, get the lobbying industry out of the damn game. Lobbyists are only their to protect their employer’s interests. The politicians are supposed to be protecting the people first. Not chasing the damn money. It’s not like they don’t get paid enough as a politician without needing the extra money from lobbyists.


Spain protests against reducing debt

Spain, your country is broke, in a cycle of debt it is likely to never recover from without defaulting, and the government has no choice but to reduce its expenditure….

So a bunch of you think “lets all take to the streets to protest the fact the Government is reducing spending to try and mitigate the effects of the debt. Lets protest because we won’t get the free stuff any more…” The free stuff that got you in the damned situation in the first place!

And while we’re at it, lets completely ignore how money works and pretend it magically grows out of thin air. That banks can just snap their fingers and create more money (ie, more debt) without there being any consequences to such actions.

But to top it all off, why don’t you continue to ignore the fact that your lazy asses got into this situation because instead of working like the Germans did, you took stupid siestas and decided that working for a living was beneath you and the government should just give you money taken from the “rich” through taxes.

So the rich take their money and move overseas to places like the Caribbean and other tax safe harbours, and the poor that actually do the work suddenly find they have to do more work to pay more taxes to try and make up the loss from the missing “rich.” And the lazy asses that created the whole situation in the first place suddenly find that not only has their free money dried up, they no longer have a scapegoat to blame for their own stupidity and financial illiteracy.

Now, the poor will start protesting against “inhumane working conditions” and “excessive taxes” while the middle class will complain that things aren’t getting done any more. And the “rich” don’t give a shit because they’ve taken a day trip and are on the beach in Aruba laughing as their kids play in the surf before heading back to the Bahamas in the evening on their private yacht.

So yeah… Sure… Protest in the streets that the government can’t hand out free money any more. Its great… All its doing is proving to the rest of us that you don’t care about debt and that your country is not a safe place to invest. Its proving that any money that goes into your country will vanish into the black hole of social welfare and handouts, *IF* it manages to get avoid getting lost in the minefield of corruption that surrounds your bureaucracy.

That you seem to want the rest of the world to pay for your lifestyle is telling. That you expect the rest of the world to just roll over and forgive your debt is even more so.

The southern European nations need to start standing on their own two feet and actually paying their way in this world. Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain… PIGS is an apt acronym. Forever at the trough of social handouts and welfare, wallowing in their own greedy filth, but never actually doing anything for themselves to improve their own lives or get out of the situation they’re in.

Unfortunately, no matter how much you protest, the butcher will come and you will have to pay your dues. One way or another.

A simple man

Been listening to this song a fair bit lately. I think its one of those songs that everyone should listen to. Not just hear it, but listen to it.

Maybe one day I will be able to say I was a simple man. But right now I’m still a work in progress.

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Its been a while

Well now… Its been a while since I posted anything here. Its not that I’ve forgotten the blog, far from it. Rather that I’m posting most of it at Steves Geek Speak instead. At the beginning of 2010 I set up the new blog as a place for my more technical or geeky subjects. The intention was to keep this blog as my more generic ramblings.

Thing is, there hasn’t been a lot that really gets me in the mood to blog lately.

So what do I do with the blog? Well, I have a few things that are in my mind for it. Its going to take a bit of time to get it to a useful point. I’ve been spending all my time on skcservices.com lately. And there is a huge amount of work still to be done, both as the company and the website. Its not helped by the fact the end of the financial year is upon us in NZ (April 1 till March 31) and so I have a lot of book keeping to do on top of everything else.

Good times all round huh? :-)

So we’ll see. Hopefully I’ll get motivated to post here more often again soon.

500 unionists destroy rail yard property, take hostages

And people wonder why I’m so concerned about what Jimmy Hoffa Jr said at the Labor Day rally.

Hundreds of Longshoremen stormed the Port of Longview early Thursday, overpowered and held security guards, damaged railroad cars, and dumped grain that is the center of a labor dispute, said Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha.

Six guards were held hostage for a couple of hours after 500 or more Longshoremen broke down gates about 4:30 a.m. and smashed windows in the guard shack, he said.

No one was hurt, and nobody has been arrested. Most of the protesters returned to their union hall after cutting brake lines and spilling grain from car at the EGT terminal, Duscha said.
Longshoremen storm Wash. state port, damage RR

So a mob of 500+ union thugs illegally stormed a yard in the middle of the night, held hostages for several hours, damaged buildings they do not own, destroyed grain they do not own, and damaged rail cars they do not own. They then returned to their union hall.


They were at their union hall? Why wasn’t the union hall surrounded by armed police and the whole lot of them arrested? Why hasn’t this been plastered all over the media as an example of how unions behave. Why are people still not making a big deal about this?

Violence of any kind is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be acceptable. But by not arresting those people, even though it is evident who they are, the authorities are explicitly condoning their behaviour.

Police from several agencies in southwest Washington, the Washington State Patrol and Burlington Northern Santa Fe responded to the violence to secure the scene that followed a demonstration Wednesday.

“We’re not surprised,” Duscha said. “A lot of the protesters were telling us this in only the start.”

One sergeant was threatened with baseball bats and retreated, Duscha said. “One officer with hundreds of Longshoremen? He used the better part of discretion.”

The train was the first grain shipment to arrive at Longview. It arrived Wednesday night after police arrested 19 demonstrators who tried to block the tracks. They were led by ILWU International President Robert McEllrath, who said they would return.

The blockade appeared to defy a federal restraining order issued last week against the union after it was accused of assaults and death threats.
Longshoremen storm Wash. state port, damage RR

People were quick to defend that Jimmy Hoffa Jr was only talking about an army of voters and using votes to “take these sons-of-bitches out.” However this is evidence that the unions are quite happy to resort to physical violence and destructive behaviour any opportunity they feel like it. That they did all this in front of the police, defying a federal restraining order and without any repercussions beggars belief. That they were literally threatening officers with weapons and still didn’t have SWAT come put an end to it is simply beyond amazing. Especially given the restraining order accuses the union members of “assaults and death threats.”

So why aren’t the media covering this the way they did the Tea Party rallys? The media aren’t covering this story because the unions support Obama. The man the media fought very hard and spent many millions to get in there in the first place. Pointing out the violence of the unions would mean the Administration would require damage control after the very well publicised union rallys.

And the collective “we” allow these people to get away with it.

Time NZ followed Wisconsin, Ohio and New Jersey’s lead

Looks like the backlash against unions is spreading.

Republicans saw it as a big win for Gov. Scott Walker and a confirmation of his conservative agenda, the hallmark of which was a polarizing proposal taking away most collective bargaining rights from public workers.

“Republicans are going to continue doing what we promised the people of Wisconsin – improve the economy and get Wisconsin moving back in the right direction,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a prepared statement after the victory.

Walker attempted to strike a bipartisan tone in victory, saying that he reached out to leaders in both parties.

“In the days ahead I look forward to working with legislators of all parties to grow jobs for Wisconsin and move our state forward,” Walker said in a prepared statement.

Democrats and union leaders tried to make the best of the historic GOP wins. There had been only 13 other successful recalls of state-level office holders nationwide since 1913.
Wis. GOP holds off Democrats in recall elections

Unions take your money and use it against you unless you give them more of your money. People are sick of being told what to do and how to do it.
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Good things

This will sound weird, but good things have been happening lately. My life is on a bit of an up swing, and part of the reason is simply that I have started being online less. Well… a lot less.

Dont get me wrong. I’m still a recluse and a hermit, but not as bad as I was. I just finally decided that the only way things will improve for me is if I make them improve myself. I needed to stop wallowing in self pity and stop hating myself.

In a way, my niece is a bit of a catalyst for that. Right now she’s still too little and protected for me to have too much of a role in her life, but that wont always be the case. I came to the realisation that I didnt want to be the fat uncle that never played games with her as she grew up. I wanted to be the uncle that could play any game she makes up, for as long as she wanted to play it.

And not just her. My brothers are all married so its highly likely I’ll have more nieces and nephews in the future. And being able to participate with them is also important.

So I’ve started walking again. And have the blisters to prove it. Four times a week for now. I’ll increase that over time. I’m doing laps around One Tree Hill at the moment. Currennt goal is to be able to do the laps and climb the hill after each lap. Then move on to running the laps. Then I’ll take on Mt Eden. Then the world! ;)

For now its only about 25km a week, but that will grow. I’m averaging 11 mins per km, but I want to try and get that down to 8 mins within a few months. Hopefully my feet will have stopped blistering by then ;)

Knocking 3 minutes off doesnt sound like much, but I’m short and slow. And extremely unfit. An 8 minute kilometre is a jog by most standards. Its practically a sprint for me ;)

Still… Thats the current goal.

Anyway, while there is a lot more to say I am going to leave it there for now. Sleep is calling.

Till next time.

I did it.

I am so sorry, Nokia. I know I said I’d give it a year. After 15 years of loyalty, I didn’t think it would be difficult. Use Android for a year and then re evaluate then.

Unfortunately, even after only a few hours, I already know the answer. It’s over.

Unless by some miracle your first Meego device is amazing, and the next major Symbian upgrade is soon and so paradigm changing as to make the same sort of splash as the first iPhone; I’m sorry, but Android 2.2 has won me over. It’s just easier and just works intuitively.

HTC Sense deserves a lot of credit too.

I is learning again. School are online.

Its not something thats too important now days, but a lot of people don’t know this about me. I never finished high school. At the end of my 6th form year I’d basically had such a horrible year with the school that I was extremely dejected and feeling pretty crap about the whole situation.

My chemistry and physics teacher and I clashed pretty severely. To the point where I spent the last half of the year for both of her classes in he dean’s office (who happened to be my math teacher) basically having to teach myself those lessons. What pissed them all off significantly was that even sitting in the dean’s office with no assistance, I still aced all the exams and tests. But because I had done none of the course work over that period I failed those classes regardless. There was a similar issue the year prior where I had the highest exam marks of the whole 5th form physics, but because I hadn’t turned in all the papers required, they refused to acknowledge the grade, despite the exam proving that I knew the material. I would read the entire course material for the whole year at the beginning of the year and then just do nothing the rest of the year and still pass the exams and tests throughout the year.

That had always been the way I worked. Don’t make me fit in with some schedule. If I know, don’t make me go over it ad nauseum because you’re not doing anything except boring me. Give me a challenge and we’re on good terms. Its the way I work now. Give me a challenge about a problem I don’t know, then give me the time and resources to figure it out on my own.

Anyway… at the end of 6th form I’d basically had enough of being bullied by my teachers in the science department and decided that I’d rather go spend time doing whatever I wanted for a while. I basically went off the rails and spent the next few years doing SFA instead of actually making an effort to be useful. Not an excuse, just the way it happened.

Looking back now, as much as I hated the school and the teachers and the fact that I was bored the majority of the year, I really do feel like I missed out on a lot by not seeing through the last year of high school. Most notably, that was when the subjects that I was good at got interesting. Math (algebra and its friends) turned into Calculus and Statistics. Physics built upon that math and you got into some real theory beyond just Ohms law and the charge of an electron and all the other boring crap that most people seem to instinctively know. You started dealing with real topics such as the various Newtonian Laws and beyond.

Its difficult for me though. Because these subjects are boring for so many people, its hard to express why those sorts of things actually excite me. In the same way that economics excites a lot of my friends today. But where I’m different from many people is that I will never persue these as a career. That opportunity left me the moment I walked away from high school and turned my back on university. Today I do not remember much of what I learned in school and so I doubt I could cope with these subjects at a university level unless I had the ability to do them at my own pace, in my own time. Worse still, today I struggle to do even the most basic of math without pen and paper or a calculator of some kind. Simple things that I used to do in my head with ease are now pretty difficult for me.

So my first thought is that maybe I need to change that.

Browsing around on Youtube as one does, looking for lectures about Astronomy and the like (yes, my head is often in the stars, but I do still manage to think about them too) I stumbled upon Yale University’s Open Courses for their many departments. Entire years worth of lecture series about all sorts of subjects. And to my delight, PHYS 200: Fundamentals of Physics is in there! Thats basically the lowest level of physics I can find that actually makes any sense to me.

So I’ve started working my way through those lectures. Taking notes, working out the problems myself in my own head and generally trying to keep up. I have to say that the best thing about those courses on Youtube verses downloading them directly is the closed captions. The ability to pause the lecture at any time I like is also a huge benefit for a guy like me. Trying to keep up and take notes if I were actually in that lecture would be a nightmare for me today. I’m definitely not as mentally agile as I once was. Being able to pause the lecture and work stuff out for myself as we go is an amazing way to learn.

The down side is that a lot of what is covered in that course requires some understanding of calculus. Problem. I left school before learning calculus and I have never knowingly used it in my life. So next task, figure out how the hell to learn calculus. And what do you know, MIT comes to the party with the MIT OpenCourseWare program. By making quite a few of their courses available online, and under a Creative Commons License no less, I have a new place to go looking. And they do not disappoint.

MIT has a massive number of their courses available online. And the MIT mathematics department has a very large selection available as part of the OCW program too. Including several calculus courses. Perfect! Even better, they too put the lectures on Youtube. So I can get the closed captions I don’t get when downloading direct from MIT’s servers.

So now I can learn the physics I missed out on because I made the stupid decision to leave school. And I can learn the calculus I need to know for the physics to make sense. All for free, at my own pace, in my own time. I can make sure I learn it and understand it and I can do most of the course work because its all available. The only difficulty will be getting the books the courses use, but I am sure I’ll find a way around that too without spending a fortune.

Hopefully this will help my brain start working properly again and I can start to get some of that mental agility back that over 15 years of avoiding thinking has squandered away.