Week of 17 May 2010
Update: Friday, 21 May 2010 08:01 -0400
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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
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
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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