Older blog entries for ztf (starting at number 23)

Keeping And Arming Bears

bcully, I think the argument for The Right To Keep and Bear Arms(TRTKBA) is a bit more subtle than "we might need to overthrow the government again" (not that the founders shied away from that, having been successful revolutionaries themselves).

As I understand it, the reason that TRTKBA is enshrined in the Constitution is that it offends the dignity of a free people to be kept disarmed. In other words, it's a matter of liberty. Free men and women should be free to publish, worship, and be armed as they will. If people can't be trusted with force themselves, how in the world will they be able to elect those to government who can use force wisely?

As for nukes, a good explaination that I've seen is that the intent behind the "keep and bear" shows a practical limit. Citizens have a right to personal arms, something that an individual person in their private live might reasonably expect to wield and maintain. Handguns, rifles, and katanas obviously pass this test. M1A1 Abrams tanks, F-16 fighter jets, and tactical or stragetic nukes obviously fail this test. And of course we can find gray areas somewhere in between...

So cheer up. There's absolutely no way that the Constitution protects large evil corporations from becoming nuclear powers.</a>

More Thoughts

Why am I bothering arguing about TRTKBA when we have more urgent issues? I finally stopped procrastinating and wrote a dead trees letter to my congresscritter about the current crop of human cloning bills about to hit the floor of the House. Bottom line: I do not wish to live in a Brave New World. It is even more of an affront to human dignity and freedom to make persons into an industrial byproduct than to deny them TRTKBA. I'm urging Rep. Rivers to vote for the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001 (H.R. 2505, the Weldon bill) and to defeat the Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001 (H.R. 2608, the Greenwood bill). H.R. 2505 actually prohibits human cloning. H.R. 2608 allows the creation of cloned human embryos, but forbids allowing them to develop to term. In other words, "it's OK to clone people as long as you kill the clones before they get cute." It even goes to the trouble of forbidding states to pass alternative legislation, so that it would also mandate that all 50 states permit human embryo cloning. This is monstrous, and I hope that you all contact your congresscritters as well. This week. Even if you don't agree about banning human cloning entirely, at least urge them to defeat the Greenwood "clone-and-kill" bill.

Thoughts

Telsa, there's something you need to understand about the American experiment: the founders intended to trust common people with dangerous things. This includes presses, property, and yes, deadly weapons. While this is (ahem) not entirely problem-free, I don't really see that trusting the gov't. to have a monopoly on the use of deadly force is problem-free either.

While it's not as common as it used to be, I remember growing up in a rural area where it was assumed that every household had at least one gun. Surprise: we didn't run around shooting each other.

But I expect that's hard to understand if you haven't seen it close up (which you wouldn't have on your side of the Pond).


If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns.
-- Edward Abbey

Life:

Andrew James Frey is here! (And there was much rejoicing ...)

Work:

Perl is fun. :^)

Hacking:

Still nonexistant, although hopefuly this will pick up now that I get my cable ISP hookup today and now that Andrew is here.

The death of Eazel is very sad.

Life:

New baby almost here!

New job is going well. It looks like I'm going to have to become a Perl Guru sometime soon, though.

And I really need to get an ISP hookup to the new house.

I REALLY REALLY need to sell the old house. Make me an offer, it's nice.

Hacking:

Nonexistant. See above. :^(

Thoughts:

Depressed by a recent newspaper series about travel packages to Cancun, other spots, targeted at high school kids. Packages include huge alcohol allowances and inducements to parties far wilder than I remember from college. Somehow, I just can't see encouraging binge drinking and irresponsible sexuality in 17 and 18 year olds as a good thing, and Nancy and I wonder where the situation will be at this progression in ten years when Josh gets close to that age. Very worrying as a parent; I hope we haven't quite reached the "bread, circuses, and orgies" stage of society by that time.

Life:

In process of buying a new house, now we just need to close and move in the next two weeks(!!!). And get the new job insurance stuff done in time to preregister Nancy before the new baby gets here. Commuting >3hrs/day in the meantime. :^(

Selling the current house would be A Good Thing(tm). It's a nice house, make an offer.

Hacking:

Nonexistant. See above.

Life:

The hunt for a dream free software telecommute is over, at least for now. Without success. :( I guess that's what comes of being merely very good, instead of "we must hire this person whatever it takes" good.

Instead, I'm moving back into a cubicle farm, this time for Bell & Howell in Ann Arbor. (It's not free software, but at least it's Unix.) Which means I need to wrap up my current job, find a house, sell our house, and move. Now. Ideally, to be complete before early May and the new baby arrive. Did I mention that this would be exactly the time for all of the kids, Nancy, and myself to get hit by the winter cold epidemic?

Hacking:

See above. The sudden attack of Real Life(tm) has left precious little hacking time. I did get started on the goat book ("GNU Autoconf, Automake, and Libtool"), which is a fantastic resource for what is truly a black art. Now I just need to finish and get my hands dirty doing some autoconfiscating/libtoolizing.

Hacking:

Well, "this week" for the new gCAD homepage was a bit optimistic, given that my attempted upgrade from RedHat 6.2 to 7.0 managed to trash LILO and my root partition. :^( Note to self: having /home on a seperate partition was A Good Thing(tm); must make sure to use clever partitioning on future systems. Note to Red Hat: "upgrades" that fail to detect a filled disk partition and leave a system unbootable are A Bad Thing(tm).

Life:

Well, no advogato reader has yes taken me up on my offer of free beer and friendship for helping me find that dream free software telecommute job. Maybe I'll have to throw a bottle of Glenfiddich into the deal. :^)

Work:

Some progress on our company computing infrastructure. I got mod_dav set up and tested with Windows Web Folders; now my users can create and upload their own web documents, in Word 2000 (shudder) if necessary. And NTP is working now and happily keeping server time in synch. On to trying to beat HylaFAX into submission, and finally getting Samba and printing set up propely. Oh, and actually do some engineering while I'm at it too.

Life:

If anyone knows of a Free | Open Source software company looking for a senior (10+ years) C/Unix hacker with a myriad of software engineering talents and is willing to deal with telecommuting, please point them at my resume. If anything comes of it, I'll owe you lifelong friendship and a beer. Or two. Heck, a whole case.

Work:

I really wish OpenCASCADE had more fit and polish, and the ability to work with AutoCAD .DWG files. We are going ahead and licensing Solid Edge, but our joy at getting modern 3D MCAD software is rapidly being tempered, nay extinguished, as the bug-ridden nature of it becomes obvious. I know, it probably Serves Us Right for trying to run Serious Software on Windows 98, but sometimes one makes do with limited resources. :^(

Hacking:

miguel gave me the go-ahead to practice maintainership of gCAD since Iñigo seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. I've got a SourceForge project set up for it; I hope to have the web page transferred over and GNOME CVS updated this week.

Snow!

We're up to about 16 inches (that's 40.6cm for the rest of the world) in just the last two weeks. Just north of here, Ann Arbor has over 2 feet (61cm).

What that number doesn't reflect is drift. After the blowing and drifting, I had a 4 1/2 ft. (1.4m) wall of snow in front of my garage to get rid of Monday. With no power tools. The bright side is that I got some much-needed exercise. :^/

ObTech:

I realized that good old fashioned horse transportation has an advantage in this kind of weather. It's modular -- when the snow gets like this, you just leave the buggy at home and hitch up the sleigh instead. This eliminates the need to keep the entire road infrastructure clear of snow and ice, something we need with our wheeled automobiles and that represents a considerable recurring expense (paid via taxes, so it's invisible but still there).

So, the Amish are on to something here. And, of course, horse-powered transportation is much much more environmentally friendly, having a positive rather than a negative effect on greenhouse gas emissions. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for USDOT to advocate more horse-and-[buggy|sleigh] use as a means of complying with the Kyoto Protocol, though. The buggy-whip manufacturers don't have a rich enough PAC.

Hacking:

The search for Iñigo Serna continues -- while my email to him doesn't bounce, it doesn't get answered either, and all of his listed co-collaborators on gCAD say he hasn't been heard from for at least six months.

When exactly is a project considered abandoned? And what's the protocol for trying to hack on it when the maintainer isn't reachable?

Work:

It looks like we're close to a decision on 3D MCAD software, and it will probably be Solid Edge. A pity it's proprietary and Windows-based, but this is one of those areas (like raph said ) where free software just hasn't entered with workable results. (Anyone who knows of a free 3D modeller usable for Real World(tm) engineering work, please let me know ASAP.)

Life:

I hate the Christmas rush.

Snow and ice storms are incredibly beautiful. Until you have to drive to work through the aftermath.

I just finished reading Wendell Berry's Fidelity: Five Stories. It's fantastic. I love Berry's essays and poetry, but these are the first short stories of his that I've read. Great stuff, a good stretch of the literary muscles after many, many O'Reilly books, and wonderfully angst-free. :^)

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