Thursday, 29 September 2011

09:04 – If you’ve been having trouble getting to this site, you’re not alone. Apparently, there are some network issues. I did a traceroute this morning and was able to get to Dreamhost, after which the pings disappeared into a black hole. I have no idea how long this has been going on, other than that everything was working as of about 2200 ET last night. I checked the Dreamhost status page, which mentions no problems.

This is not the first time this has happened. I’m not particularly happy with Dreamhost, but I suspect they’re probably as good as most commercial hosting services and better than most. It’s just hard to get used to this much lower level of service and reliability after having been hosted for a decade by Greg and Brian, who often went from one year to the next without even a minor glitch. Or at least none that I could see; I suspect Greg and Brian spent lots of time and effort dealing with problems behind the scenes so they didn’t turn into our problems.

11:53 – Another word for zero-tolerance is zero-judgment. As we increasingly become a zero-judgment society, the gross injustices become increasingly clear.

Here we have a case where several Georgia boys are to be changed with multiple felonies: manufacturing and possessing destructive devices. Their parents are being charged with Georgia’s equivalent of disorderly conduct because the parents knew what the boys were doing but considered it just “harmless fun”.

Which it was. These boys had no intention of harming anyone, and what they were producing were not destructive devices by any meaningful definition of that term. They were putting aluminum foil and sodium hydroxide (lye) solution in plastic water bottles. The reaction of the hydroxide and aluminum produces hydrogen gas, which eventually reaches a pressure sufficient to rupture the plastic bottle with a loud bang. In other words, these kids were just messing around, having fun.

I’ve written about these hydroxide-aluminum “bombs” before. A year or so ago, someone in this area was leaving these “bombs” for people to find and pick up. It’s quite possible that they could have caused severe injuries or even deaths, not just from the high-pressure rupture of the bottle, but from sodium hydroxide solution spattering all over the place. (Even relatively dilute sodium hydroxide solutions can permanently blind someone in literally seconds.) But that was an entirely different situation. Someone who was literally a terrorist was placing devices intended to hurt or kill people. What these kids were doing in their backyard was stupid and dangerous to themselves, but there was no intent to commit a crime. It used to be that actions were only criminal if they were performed with criminal intent. We no longer make that distinction, because that would require someone to make a judgment, and making judgments is not Politically Correct. The result is that some innocent teenage boys may be convicted of violent felonies, possibly face jail time and certainly have their lives ruined. All because they were having some innocent fun.

This has to stop. When I was a teenager, the cop who showed up would have told me to knock it off and told me that what I was doing was extremely dangerous to myself. But it wouldn’t even have occurred to him to charge me, let alone my parents, with a crime. (Conversely, being a sensible cop, if he’d caught terrorist punks leaving these things for people to find, he’d have arrested the punks and probably beaten the shit out of them before he hauled them down to jail.) That’s the difference between now and 40 years ago. Back then, people (including government employees) were generally sensible. Nowadays, they’re not allowed to be.