So the NSA knows exactly where I am right now, and you too if you’re on Verizon.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/06/06/nsa-collecting-phone-records-for-millions-verizon-customers-report-says/

Ok, so according to this article, the NSA has obtained a warrantless wiretap on all Verizon customers, with no known time limit.  In other words, that call that I got from my wife this morning, the NSA now knows when she called, how long the call lasted; and even more frightening, due to the metadata all carriers append to their call records, WHERE both me and my wife were at the time.  I don’t know about you, but that scares the bajeebies out of me!

Think about it for a moment.  If you’re on Verizon, the NSA knows where you are, every time you make a phone call.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve done anything wrong, they’re watching you anyway.  Law enforcement agencies nowadays like to say “if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”  That’s bullcrap!  My family hasn’t done anything wrong, but I STILL don’t want someone coming into my house to watch me take a shower!  At what point does it stop helping us catch bad guys, and start becoming creepy?  I’d say…about frickin’ now!

Look, I know law enforcement has a hard job.  They look for ways to make it easier to catch bad guys.  But look, it’s not SUPPOSED to be easy.  It’s SUPPOSED to be difficult.  Because anything easier means it’s easier to put away someone you just don’t like, or don’t agree with.  Sure, YOU wouldn’t do that, but how about the guy down the line?  Can you say for certain he won’t?  Politicians notoriously take the short-term path.  Do you actually trust a politician not to throw you in jail because you did something he didn’t like, like maybe let a dog chew up his gardenia?  How many people can truly say they trust the federal government?  And yet, we let them do something like this?

Sometimes I wonder about us.

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Sequestration…huh.

Sooo, Sequestration came…and went. Nothing. The world did not end. Thousands of people did not lose their jobs, and the Government just sent $250,000,000 to Egypt. Enough money to pay for 5,000 jobs at $50,000/year. Huh. Business as usual, I guess.

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On ink pens

Ok, I’m a pretty weird character.  I geek out on the strangest things.  Flashlights.  Radios.  Ink Pens.  Specifically, fountain pens.  I know, I’m weird, but they’re so neat!  I’ve been fascinated for years, but the most I ever did was buy a Sheaffer school fountain pen at Wal-Mart a couple decades ago for like $6.  It’s a cartridge pen (it takes cartridges instead of using ink out of the bottle), and it writes really well…for a $6 pen.  That was the first fountain pen I ever bought.  I still have it, in fact, and use it regularly.  The second thing I bought was a calligraphy set.  Don’t remember how much it was, or where I got it, but I guarantee it wasn’t much.  I played around with calligraphy a little, but to be honest, my hand isn’t steady enough for that.  And any case, I’ve since lost that pen set.

Fast forward a decade and a half.  I’m in Office Depot, and see a Yafa fountain pen.  I say to myself, “Well, it’s about $13, but that’s cheap for a fountain pen.”  It is, indeed, very inexpensive, but here’s the problem with impulse purchases…you have no idea what you’re buying until you get it home.  I take it out, and it feels really good in the hand.  It’s larger round, pretty hefty, and looks good.  But the pen simply doesn’t write well.  It takes forever for ink to get from the cartridge to the nib (the tip of the pen), and when it the ink finally does get there, it skips, and has trouble starting. I put the pen in my pencil cup, and basically ignored it.

So a couple weeks ago, I was looking through my pencil cup looking for a working pen, and found the Sheaffer and Yafa pens.  So I readied my Google-Fu, and came across John Morgan’s oPENions site.  He has a very good beginner’s guide, and a several good reviews on inexpensive yet good writing pens.  Using those reviews, I made additional Google Searches, and hit several forums on those pens and others, eventually coming across mention of the Jinhao pens.  Inexpensive Chinese-made pens that write fairly well, and are only about $10.  So I went to ISellPens.com, and found everything I needed.  I bought a Jinhao medium nib pen, which came with a converter for bottle ink, a bottle of black Noodler’s Ink, and a Sheaffer converter (I wanted to try to convert that old school pen to bottle ink).  I had the stuff in about four days, and immediately cleaned out the pen for its first inking.

So far, I’ve been very happy with the Jinhao.  It’s heavy, and has a large diameter, so it feels very significant in your hand.  It writes fairly well, with very little skipping, and starts right away, even after a weekend of non-use.  Unfortunately, the Sheaffer converter didn’t work, as the school pen I have is only for cartridges.  Still, it can be used for something else.  I’m finding that fountain pens are wonderful to make you really WANT to write better.  To concentrate not only on what you write, but HOW you write it.  Next time I get a few dollars, I’m going to get one of those Lamy Safari pens, and maybe some blue ink.  It’s a hobby that can be really expensive, but not necessarily so.  And like flashlights and radios, it can be endlessly interesting.

…I still don’t use the Yafa.  Bad writing is just bad writing.

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Climategate?

http://business.theatlantic.com/2009/12/climategate_iii_the_mystery_of_the_missing_data.php

Ran across another “Climategate” (silly name) article on the net.  This one written by someone who believes in the consensus that global warming is man-made.  However, there are some really good points that the author (Megan McArdle) makes in her post.

Basically, these emails point out flaws not necessarily in the conclusion, but that the road to that conclusion was flawed in a way that makes the conclusion untrustworthy.

To convince someone that you are right, you don’t go around beating up anyone who says you’re wrong.  You convince them you are right by showing your conclusion, the base facts, and how you used those facts to create your conclusion.  Even an idiot like me can see that.  Deleting your source data (or losing it), and obscuring how you reached your conclusions would have gotten at most a “C” grade in my high school geometry class.  My geometry teacher was all about “show me how you got your answer, not just the answer”.  If a high school math teacher doesn’t accept the method, why should we?

As a U.S. taxpayer watching our national debt skyrocket (and my pocketbook shrink), I’m appalled that we’re using these seemingly unsupported answers to force possibly economically devastating laws such as cap-and-trade through congress.  Even worse, it seems that we’ve spent millions or billions (I never seem to see the same answer twice) of dollars funding those very same conclusions, and maybe spending billions more in the future.

I don’t know.  All I know is that these scientists don’t seem to have a clue, and I’m not sure we can trust any of them anymore.

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Hole in ozone layer was a good thing after all

Hole in ozone layer was a good thing after all.

Oh my, did I get a laugh out of this.  I’ve been quietly steaming over the whole “Man-Causing-Global-Warming” thing for a while now anyway, and the released emails and documents from East Anglia have just added fuel to the fire.  But this…it takes the cake, eats all of it in front of you, and burps in your face.

I hope I can find some more articles written by this Andrew Thomas.  Very funny read…unless you’re French.

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