On the toxicity of USian gun culture.

Feb 25 2018

I've been keeping quiet about the mass school shooting in Florida some weeks ago because it's such a hot-button topic, and many people speaking out are catching harrassment and death threats - even the students who survived the massacre.  Of course, the National Rifle Association went on the record as saying, quote, "The NRA doesn't back any ban."  Meaning, of course, they'll do their damndest to hamstring any new legislation that has to do with guns.  It's also worth noting that there were multiple law enforcement officers - trained and armed - at the school, and they did nothing.  Which isn't surprising to me; if they're anything like the police in the school I went to, they went out of their way to not do their jobs (the students selling both drugs and guns I graduated with did so with relative impunity).  Oh, and let's not forget what can happen if you play the part of the hero and disarm the shooter - the cops think the hero's the shooter, and open fire.  No good deed goes unpunished.

But that's not what I want to talk about.  What I want to talk about is gun culture, as someone who's part of it, but who stays as far away from it as possible.

Neologism: Platypus truther

Feb 18 2018

Platypus truther - noun - Someone who doggedly, ruthlessly, and almost to the exclusion of anything else (including good sense) espouses, defends, and picks fights over a position, idea, or hypothesis that is completely and totally around the bend.  Even taking into account the context of this person's other activities (social media history, books written, and so forth) it makes absolutely no sense why they would claim to believe such a thing, let alone fight with people over it.  There is absolutely no way of telling if they're communicating in good faith or not.  It could be trolling, it might be absurdist peformance art, it could even be software mediated madness, or some other combination of phenomena.

The term was coined as a description of a Twitter user who is adamant that platypodes do not actually exist.  The individual's claim is that all drawn depictions of the creature are fanciful, all video recordings are special effects, and all live specimens are actually mutilated creatures of other types.  Nobody knows what the hell they're on about, so all we can do is shake our collective head and close the tab.

Defcon 25.

Aug 01 2017

Well, I'm finally back from Defcon 25 and writing up my notes while in the throes of con drop before too much of the experience fades from memory.  Suffice it to say that I have opinions about last weekend, which I will attempt to write as concisely as I can.  I don't like being negative about things because my experience is my own, and I much prefer that people have their own experiences and make up their own minds about things.  However, I would be lying if I painted a rosy picture of my attendence of the largest hacker convention on the planet this year.  I did not have a good time, I was not the only one, I learned just about nothing new, and it left me with very few fun (or even good) tales to regale people with.  It also felt like the weekend flew by - three days came and went before I knew it, which is both a little disorienting and not actually a bad thing when looking at the thirty thousand foot view.

After a protracted period of getting ready, most of which involved fighting with trying to get my designated burner phone reactivated after sitting for a year in the box I was finally ready to hit the road.  You can, in fact, purchase functional SIM cards for just about any cellular provider from eBay and buy a pre-paid plan.  Upon arriving in Las Vegas and accepting the 106 degree punch in the face, I hailed a shuttle to my hotel and climbed aboard.  This year, Vlad found us lodgings within easy walking distance of Caesar's Palace, where Defcon had moved to this year.  I hauled my kit upstairs, ordered a pizza, and plopped myself down to read and relax for the first time in a couple of days.

I'd love to tell you how much fun I had at Defcon and give you detailed write-ups of all the talks I went to (taken from copious handwritten notes, of course), but I didn't make it to a single talk, and was able to visit only one village (the Biohacking Village) twice.  Mind you, this was after waiting in line for roughly two hours and not getting into the talks I'd originally come to see.  Not that the talks I wound up seeing weren't interesting, they were, but they weren't what I was trying to attend.  In addition, the Biohacking Village (that I know of) and other village rooms (that I only heard about and thus cannot confirm firsthand) have made a practice of flushing the room (throwing everybody out) to prevent camping, so as to keep the lines moving and thus making sure that most everybody in line gets into something.  The lines for just about every talk I saw were around the corner, sometimes two corners, and most of the way down the hallways.  I didn't bother trying to get into the talks in the main tracks.  Unsurprisingly, go ahead and laugh, I kept getting lost in the labyrinthine hallways of Caesar's Palace.  Possibly much to your surprise, many people who actually have a sense of direction kept getting lost there, too.  Some of the maps posted on the corners and at the infobooths gave incorrect directions to various locations.  Many of the Goons I spoke to didn't know where things were, either.  I don't blame them for it at all; a few admitted to me that they had no idea where anything was, either, so I don't feel alone in my frustration.  I can't speak to how well organized Defcon was this year because I'm not in a position to know what was going on.  What I do know is that Caesar's Palace is very difficult to navigate, and if I'd known how hard it would be I would have gone up a couple of days early specifically to sneak around and learn where everything was ahead of time.

Apropos of nothing.

Jun 08 2016

"First, stop being failures. It's absurd to judge ourselves against a scale larger than our own efforts. Do the right thing, help one another, raise the less fortunate without ulterior motives. Live simply, never lie, never steal, limit personal wealth, donate to charity, meditate, practise self-denial, live a pure life and spend some time as a monk. Above all, don't be afraid of nothingness, because the universe is full of it and therefore it must be natural and good. In this way of being 'no-mind', we escape ajiva and achieve enlightenment."

--Buckaroo Banzai