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Week of 17 May 2010


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Monday, 17 May 2010
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10:11 - I've been thinking about unquestioned assumptions and how easy it is to win a debate if one is permitted to define those assumptions. You can find an example of one of these unquestioned assumptions in nearly any political debate nowadays.

For example, the global warming crowd have somehow convinced nearly everyone to accept unquestioningly their assumption that global warming is a Bad Thing. In fact, we don't know what the ideal temperature is for the planet, and what evidence we do have suggests that the ideal would be somewhat warmer than we have now. Warmer periods historically have been good for humanity, and colder periods very bad for humanity.

Another of these unquestioned assumptions is that "profiling" is a Very Bad Thing. I don't buy it. Cops of all races use profiling every day, and they use it for our benefit. For example, any cop--black, white, or hispanic--who spots a car full of young white men one night cruising a predominantly black area knows immediately that they're probably there to find prostitutes or to buy drugs. Or perhaps they're skinheads out looking for trouble. Now, I can think of many innocent reasons why those young white men might be there, and so can the cop, but the fact is that they're out of place, which is reasonable cause for suspicion. So the cop pulls the young white guys over, purely because of their race (and, if they're skinheads, because of their hair length and tattoos.) If they have a reasonable explanation for why they're there, the cop kicks them loose. Otherwise, he lets them know that they're being watched, perhaps preventing a crime by doing so.

There's an old saying in med school: when you hear thundering hooves, don't think about zebras. The lesson is, rule out common things before you start worrying about uncommon things. If there were a medical school in the Serengeti, the saying would probably change to: when you hear thundering hooves, don't think about horses. In other words, things are situationally dependent. So, while there may be an occasional illegal Swedish immigrant in Arizona, the obvious fact is that the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona are Mexican. If you want to round up illegal immigrants, it makes no sense to question people who appear to be Swedish. It makes a great deal of sense to question people who appear to be Mexican.

But what about American citizens of Mexican heritage? It isn't fair to them, right? Wrong. If a bank is robbed by someone fitting my description and the cops stop me to question me in connection with that crime, I'm not going to be upset. Well, I might be initially, but not after I find out why they stopped and questioned me. They were behaving reasonably, just as a cop who stops and questions someone they reasonably suspect of being an illegal immigrant are behaving reasonably.

Cops are not stupid, and they don't like wasting their time any more than anyone else does. Nor do they enjoy harassing upstanding civilians. Even without the restrictions present in the new law, Arizona cops would not be stopping people randomly just because those people appeared to be Mexican. They would obviously question people they'd stopped or arrested for other reasons, and that's perfectly reasonable. They would also use profiling to stop and question people of Mexican appearance who were, for example, hanging out around Home Depot looking for day work. Again, that's perfectly reasonable.

Speaking of illegal immigrants, am I the only one who has no sympathy for that young woman college student who's run afoul of the immigration authorities? She's been in the country illegally since she was 11, consuming services paid for by US taxpayers. Not least of those is a college education at a state university, again paid for by taxpayers. It's so unfair, she says. If she's sent back where she came from, she'll have to start all over. So, she's already stolen 10 years of taxpayer-funded services, including three years of college, and she's the victim? Give me a break.


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Tuesday, 18 May 2010
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10:29 - I'm working on the text for the Extreme System chapter right now, and just put in a NewEgg order for the final components I need for it. After I'd clicked submit, I realized I'd also meant to order a few things I forgot to order earlier, so I put in a second order for those.

Among the forgotten items were an HDMI cable for the media center system--why isn't an HDMI cable included with motherboards, displays, or video adapters?--and a Logitech Harmony remote control. Barbara's old universal remote controls some functions of the new HDTV--including power on/off, volume up/down, channels by entering the numbers (but without a dash for DTV channels), and return to previous channel--but it's missing a lot of the functions we need. I decided to order the Harmony 300, the cheapest Harmony, because it also controls the Logitech speaker system. I'll keep the new Harmony and give her the factory remotes for the HDTV and DVD player.

I'm really looking forward to building the extreme system, which will end up as my new office system. It'll be wicked fast, with a $1,000 Intel Core i7-980X six-core processor, 6 GB of Crucial Ballistix memory, a 128 GB SSD for the boot drive, and a RAID 0+1 array of four 2 TB Seagate hard drives. All in a beautiful Antec case that hasn't been announced yet. Or at least so I hope. Antec may or may not be able to get a pre-production sample of that case to me in time for the book deadline.

The only non-extreme part in the system will be the video adapter, a $25 RADEON HD 4350. That's because I have no need of fast 3D graphics in this system. I'll use it for video production, which is extremely demanding, but even integrated video would have done the job. Of course, the motherboard and power supply are fully capable of supporting an extreme video setup, such as a pair of RADEON HD 5970 cards. Anyone who wants to build this configuration modified for gaming can spend the $1,500 for a pair of those cards. I have no intention of doing so.


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Wednesday, 19 May 2010
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09:02 - When I read this article last night, I just started laughing. I had this mental image of one of those cheesy late-night telemarketing TV ads with the multi-purpose devices: "It slices! It dices! But wait! It does more!" ... with modified video and narration for the device shown in the article. Who says modern technology is always better than 30,000 year old technology? Try finding a modern dildo that can also be used to light a campfire.


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Thursday, 20 May 2010
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08:13 - Today is the First International Draw Mohammed Day. I feel left out, because I have no artistic ability. I wanted to make a drawing of this scumbag holding his six-year-old "wife" with one hand and the rod he used to beat her in the other, but it came out looking like a stick figure. Fortunately, there'll be many thousands of better drawings posted on the Internet today, including many of professional quality.


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Friday, 21 May 2010
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08:01 - Nothing is ever easy. The Logitech Harmony 300 remote arrived yesterday, so I unboxed it and prepared to set it up. I can't say they didn't warn me. The requirements list mentioned Windows or OS X, but since the remote is programmed via web browser I figured I'd be fine with Linux. Nope. As soon as I visited myharmony.com, created an account, and told it to start the programming procedure, it told me I was using an unsupported OS. Rats.

So I took the remote down to Kim's house and asked to use the Windows system in her basement. I pointed Firefox to myharmony.com, logged in to my new account, and ran setup. It downloaded, installed, and ran a Windows .exe file. I had only three devices to set up for now: the HDTV, the DVD player, and our old Logitech Z-640 speaker system. The latter two were no problem, but the web site didn't recognize the model number of the HDTV. It asked if I had the original remote, which of course was still sitting on my end table at our house. So I told it I didn't have the remote, hoping that it would offer a list of similar models. No such luck. It simply ignored the TV and set up the new remote to control the DVD player and speakers.

Kim was getting ready to leave with Jasmine to attend a Crosby Scholarship event, so I left with my partially-programmed remote. When I get a chance, I'll go back with both remotes and program the new one using the original remote for the HDTV. Either that, or maybe I'll grab a copy of the install .exe file and install it here under WINE. If that doesn't work, I'll just install Windows in a virtual machine under Linux. Nothing is ever easy.


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Saturday, 22 May 2010
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Sunday, 23 May 2010
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