Examining society, religion, and politics from the most objective point of view possible. Success varies.

How Does a Staunch Atheist Turn Catholic?

Updated: 2013-06-29

Leah Libresco is a fairly well-known blogger and self-identified geek, and the reason I'm paying attention is because she was an outspoken Atheist discussing religion, and now she's an outspoken Catholic discussing religion.

November 6, 2012 California Proposition Voting Guide

Mailing in a Ballot

If you are a mail voter, the rule is that your ballot has to be received on or before election day. Postmarks do not count. This effectively means do not mail your ballot any later than Saturday from within San Diego. If you still have your mail ballot on Monday I would drop it off in person.

Where you can drop off your mail-in ballot

Either at any polling location on Tuesday.

-or-

Why We Should Vote Obama, Again

So Obama's Presidency thus far has been less substantive than the "Hope and Change" that we had been promised. Why am I voting for him, again?

Well, the GOP made the choice easy. "Not the Republican" is the obvious choice, again.

Republicans Wrecked the Economy

W says: Thanks for Blaming the Black Guy

Under George W Bush and a Republican controlled Congress (until 2007), banks were encouraged to make lending easier while W put lobbyists in charge of regulatory bodies (since he couldn't change the laws, he'd just stop enforcing them). Republicans believed that the free market would smoothly regulate itself and that government need not interfere. The market did what poorly regulated markets always do - it crashed. Curious and curiouser, the GOP cites too much regulation as the cause of the crash. Because these days, being a Republican means turning a blind eye to evidence (also see: global warming, rising sea levels, evolution, women's reproductive systems...). Democrats deserve serious demerits too: they either were ignorant of what was happening or they had too little backbone to stop it. But the point is Republicans crashed the economy, and they weren't courageous enough, or were perhaps too ideological, to admit or recognize what went wrong.

Why We Need Surcharges on Credit Card Transactions

I've learned about credit cards recently and I've found something disturbing. gasp Credit card companies are taking advantage of people! But seriously, we can help stop it.

Visa and Mastercard recently settled a lawsuit; now merchants are allowed to surcharge credit card paying customers. Before they were not.

Elephants Do Forget: What the GOP Isn't Telling You About the Deficit

GOP Fiscal Strategy
shamelessly "borrowed" from here

Hint: the GOP doesn't really care about the deficit; if you are skeptical please hear me out. The USA is only 7 days away from a crippled-economy-crippling default. I'd think that the "fiscally responsible" GOP would be willing to go to great lengths to ensure there is no default. Of course, I'd be wrong. Instead the new GOP motto is becoming "Party above Country" but let me explain why.

The GOP is practicing opportunistic politicking and little more. Whereas Republican individuals do, rightfully, care about the deficit, the GOP leadership is manipulating that feeling into something I only assume they hope will lead to a Republican victory in 2012. In that vein, the GOP leadership is attempting to shift blame for the deficit to the Democrats. If they are against the deficit, then the Democrats must be for the deficit, right? It makes it appear as if the GOP is not responsible for it. Let me point out some contradictory facts.

How To Create An Internet Kiosk with Kubuntu (again)

Kubuntu LogoThis article is an udpated version of my previous article on the same topic. The reason being because Ubuntu/Kubuntu changed enough recently, the old configuration no longer worked and this warranted a new write-up. This howto was tested in Kubuntu 10.04 (lucid).

How To Detect Successful SSH Bruteforce Break-Ins with SEC (Simple Event Correlator)

OpenSSH BlowfishSEC is an amazingly powerful yet simple tool. It works best when coupled with centralized logging, such as a syslog server. It lets you correlate events from multiple hosts and take actions based on those events.

Adobe Flash 10.1 in 64-bit Debian (Lenny)

Debian Linux

Update 9-16-2010: Adobe has released another preview release for 64-bit flash, version 10.2. For most cases I would recommend 64-bit systems try that instead of using this outdated and annoying hack.

This is a copy pasta from my email to the debian-user mailing list.

Because Adobe left us high and dry (and vulnerable) by dropping beta support for 64-bit flash, I cobbled together a solution that seemed simpler to me (at first glance) than the official Debian solution of running chrooted 32-bit browsers with 32-bit flash (howto). Reason being, I need to be able to easily roll out flash 10.1 to multiple systems, and any changes should be transparent to my users. schroot looks like it also fits the bill, but I have not tried it yet. schroot is probably a better solution in the longrun since you can use apt to upgrade all the dependencies without repackaging flash. Hopefully Adobe adds 64-bit linux support soon so that doesn't become an issue.

Another Family Values Republican Caught Using a Corporate Prostitute

Michael Duvall
Michael Duvall (R), former California Assemblyman and bad girl spanker

Accepting a Right Wing award, California Assemblyman Michael Duvall remarked in a press release that as long as he is in office, he would work to protect "California families" from "constant assault in Sacramento."1

But yet another Family Values Republican® was not simply caught cheating on his wife. Arguably more important than this all too predictable hypocrisy is that while he was Vice Chairman of the California Utilities & Commerce Committee, he was shtooping an energy corporation's lobbyist - in his own words "a lot".

Health Insurance Reform: A Town Hall Meeting with Susan Davis

Or why the Democrats are losing this fight. And what they can do, if anything, to win.

Susan Davis Speaks on Health Insurance Reform

I went to a local town-hall meeting run by Susan Davis (D-CA) to show my support for Health Insurance / Health Care reform and what I learned about the vast majority of the opposition was surprising.

Howto: Automatic OS X Leopard ssh-agent

Update: March 9, 2010

Somehow I failed to notice that since 10.5 ssh agent is automatically started by OS X. My script just duplicated work that was already built-in to the OS.

To add a passphrase for a private key just type:

ssh-add -K keyfile_rsa

After this, ssh-agent is started automatically whenever ssh needs it. No extra work needed.

How To Create An Internet Kiosk with Kubuntu

kubuntu.pngI help run a medium-sized scientific conference annually. We have an internet cafe / registration room where our attendees may pay for the conference or just surf the web. We used to run WinXP with the hive cleanup tool and a lockdown utility probably created by a Microsoft intern. It worked fairly well. Then Windows released SteadyState, which we tried last year. SteadyState worked as advertised on my test machine, but failed spectacularly at the conference on 80% of the kiosk machines - I'm still not sure why. So on the spot we developed a Kubuntu alternative, which turned out to be better.

Send Obama a Void Check

Send Obama a Blank Void Check

Overland Neo 2000 Tape Drives and Linux

At work I was tasked with upgrading our tape backup system, from old hardware running Veritas 5 to new hardware running Symantec (Veritas) NetBackup 6.5. The new server is running RedHat EL 4 and we bought it a QLogic QLE2460 Fibre Channel card for the tape drive communication. This was a horribly long, drawn out, unnecessarily complicated project. Symantec tech support is mostly outsourced to India, and mostly useless. It's nothing against Indians, it's just that they were obviously working from a script and poorly trained.

Are Atheists Buddhas?

Buddhism is a very old and expansive religion - there are many teachings and behavior prescriptions. It's also one of the few religions that doesn't give me the heeby geebies because the main tenents tend to be along the lines of being nice to everyone and leaving a small environmental footprint (in my limited exposure). The ultimate goal of every Buddhist is to become a Buddha.

Letting the Fox Design the Henhouse

There has been a debate about browser version targeting for some time.

California Election: February 5, 2008

My ballot picks and reasoning thereof for the February 5, 2008 election in California:

Howto: Wake on LAN with ASUS P5WDG2 WS Pro in Debian/Ubuntu

This article from Lifehacker: Access Your Computer Anytime and Save Energy with Wake-on-LAN reminded me that I've been meaning to write this up for a long time.

Most Needed Government Reforms

Over a dinner conversation tonight I started to come up with various reforms to make this country a better place. These are in no particular order and there are undoubtedly many others which I haven't though of yet. Feel free to post your wishlist in the comments.

YouBoob: The Republican Debate

I watched many clips of the youtube Republican Debate. It amazed me - the debate was a scramble for the Crown of Crazy.

Watch them for yourself:  http://youtube.com/republicandebate

Do you really want another 4 years living under loonies? Then make sure you vote.  Not only that, but make sure everyone you know votes too.

Stop Getting Spammed by the ACLU

I've been a member of the ACLU for a while and while I believe they are vital to our nation's future, I can't stand all the spam (snail mail) that I get from them; usually asking for more money. I understand that paying lots of lawyer's salaries gets expensive - but come on! I've already donated. Please don't ask for more money than I've donated (for an annual membership) more than once or twice per year! I hate to imagine just how much of my donation is going towards spamming people and filling landfills with wasted paper.

The USA Lost the War on Terror

The USA lost the War on Terror the day it started. The fact that there is a "War on Terror" means that we lose. It bears repeating that Terrorism is a tactic. This so-called "War on Terror" is just an excuse for an endless war entailing increased government powers, spending, opaqueness, and tabling other "less important" issues.

Francis Collins: Genome Researcher, Theological Ninkumpoop?

Listening to the Point of Inquiry podcast with Francis Collins was a little bit frustrating. Francis Collins is a world renowned researcher - one might say one of the most important scientists in the world - yet he's a Theist. I'm convinced that having the skepticism and critical thinking skills that make a good scientist leads to agnosticism/atheism. When Dr. Joe Shmoe preaches something crazy about God, it's easy to think, "Anyone can get a PhD these days!" But when it's a top scientist it makes you wonder what's going on.

Best Debian Anonymous FTP Server

After attempting to configure pureftp, I gave up. The configuration is ridiculous and even after hours of monkeying I could not get it to behave as I wanted.

Then I tried vsftpd. After 20 minutes, the server is up and running just the way I want it. From what I can tell (no debian security advisories in the recent past) vsftpd lives up to its name, very secure.

Why Agnosticism Results In Atheism

Atheism is the logical conclusion of Agnosticism. If you don't believe me please read on.

USA the Sovereignest!

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that his country will have nuclear power by February. In a related story, the IAEA has found traces of plutonium and uranium in a nuclear waste plant in Iran. Ahmandinejad is naturally a thorn in the side of the Bush Administration - which tries to enforce its worldview through intimidation.

Farenotwell, Republican Congressmen

Amazing things happened yesterday in the polls. Most of all, and I hope I'm not being naive, some hope has been restored in me. After the 2004 election I lost all faith in the American voter. The idea that Bush could be re-elected after all the havoc he caused (not even including the Iraq war) was unfathomable to me. The day after election day 2004 was the most depressing day of my life.

The Religion of Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan died in 1996, and shortly thereafter so did his religion, if you use modern politics as a gauge.

Bush's Speech on Immigration Reform

In a desperate bid to seem sane, effective, and in a desperate bid to appear like he's still the decider George W. Bush gave a speech today detailing his hopes for immigration reform.

Dianne Feinstein Sends Me A Personal Message

This post is to show you naysayers that when you speak your mind to politicians, your voice is heard. If you are lucky your voice resonates strongly with the politician as it did in my case. Was it my articulate prose, or my concise argument that moved Diane Feinstein to such a response? I may never know, but I am proud to show the world that my political concerns matter, and that Diane Feinstein truly cares about Californians. My emphasis has been added.

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