Chad Perrin: SOB

12 June 2009

What do we learn from the Holocaust Museum shooting?

Filed under: Liberty — apotheon @ 06:17

On 10 June 2009, 88 year old white supremacist and convicted felon James W. von Brunn was arrested for the murder of Stephen Tyrone Johns, a black security guard working at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC at the time. Two of Johns’ fellow security guards returned fire, wounding von Brunn. The suspect allegedly (it’s “alleged” because he hasn’t been convicted of this crime yet) walked into the museum and immediately shot Johns with a .22 rifle.

Predictably, Mayor Adrian Fenty of Washington, DC chose to lay the blame for this event at the feet of the evils of inanimate objects. He said “In these days and times, you never know when someone is going to grab a gun and use it in an inappropriate way.”

DC City Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray said this incident underscores the need for strict gun laws:

It’s all the more reason why, though, District of Columbia gun legislation should be not used as a bargaining chip by those in Congress who would use our city for political gain while compromising safety, particularly when it involves our right to a vote.

The shooter violated the following laws, at least:

  • It is illegal to carry a firearm into the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.

  • It is illegal to carry a loaded rifle in public in Washington, DC.

  • It is illegal to fire a loaded rifle in public in Washington, DC.

  • It is illegal to murder someone in Washington, DC.

  • It is illegal for a convicted felon to carry a firearm of any kind in Washington, DC.

It seems to me that the problem here is not a need for stricter gun control, or stricter laws at all, and certainly not more laws. Everything relevant has already been covered by the law. The problem is not legality, but enforcement, in this case; some laws are unenforceable, and others are simply not effectively enforced. Some don’t let that stop them from using the still-warm body of security guard Stephen Johns as a soapbox, though.

Perhaps Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray should consider focusing on ensuring convicted felons don’t break the laws against carrying firearms and murdering security guards before resorting to fretting over the “need” for gun control laws that are only effective against those who voluntarily obey them — in short, law-abiding citizens who are among the least likely people to commit murder with any weapon at all.

As Professor Nicholas J. Johnson once said:

The notorious AK-47 can be assembled from a kit of roughly-machined parts using only hand tools. Gun prohibition then is not the same as banning DDT or leaded gasoline. It is more like banning fire.

I’m sure these politicians have little interest in actually preventing such acts in the future, aside from the ability to point at declining crime rates as evidence they should be reĆ«lected to office. Their interest seems to be better served by dancing on the grave of the dead victim of an event more likely to be prevented by more widespread gun ownership than facilitated by it.

Their interest seems to be better served by bowing and scraping before powerful gun control lobbies like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, whose president, Paul Helmke, offered a sound bite or two (or three) of his own:

Congress should think very hard about their responsibilities for public safety before weakening gun laws in our nation’s capital, and should rethink their decision to allow more guns in our national public areas.

It is dangerous to force more guns into places that American families expect to be gun-free and safe.

Clearly, the fact that further murders were prevented only because good people had firearms at the scene of this crime never crossed Helmke’s mind when he composed that gem. Nor, it seems, did the fact that the place was only free of legal firearms, discounting for the moment the security guards. He also seems perfectly content to ignore the fact that Congress didn’t “force” more guns anywhere by loosening restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms; it only gave people more choice whether to keep and bear arms.

. . . but what have we learned from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting?

Judging by the behavior of DC officials, all we’ve learned is how to turn yet an other tragedy into a talking point for policy that isn’t even supported by these events.


8 June 2009

new policy for trolls

Filed under: inanity,Metalog — apotheon @ 10:07

I just figured I’d announce it, make it all official-like:

When I receive a comment from what amounts to a Random Internet Stranger (RIS, because they’re RISible) that goes into moderation here, and that post contributes nothing to any discussion, and is in fact nothing but inflammatory nonsense, I’ll be inclined to delete it. If you have a genuine beef with me, real criticism — even if it’s stupid criticism — I’ll consider approving it rather than deleting it out of moderation without ever letting it see the light of day. If it’s just trollish BS, and you were to bet money on my response, I’d recommend betting on deletion.

This came up because I found some profanity-laden, totally pointless trolling in my comment moderation queue today, and figured I should leave a record of why I deleted it somewhere so that, if the person has something actually meaningful to say, he or she can try to be a bit more reasonable about it.

I have a sneaking suspicion this might just be some spillover from an IRC troll, though.

6 June 2009

Opera Sucks

Filed under: Geek,Mezilla,Review,Security — apotheon @ 04:21

I don’t like Opera as a browser. I pointed this out, very briefly, in Web browsers suck. I was recently asked in another venue why I don’t like Opera, though, and felt like it would be a waste if I let the list of critiques I provided vanish into the anonymous pile of discussion there. I’ll share them here, for the sake of posterity:

  • Default keyboard shortcut support isn’t as complete or “friendly” as that of Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer.

  • Tab placement isn’t contextually linked to displayed content very well.

  • Toolbar layout isn’t very customizable.

  • For the same display elements with default skins, Opera toolbars take up more space.

  • The text-search interface uses the same ugly-ass, inconvenient format as in most MS Windows applications.

  • It seems to focus more on ACID compliance than on implementation of (X)HTML and CSS standards that people actually use.

  • It’s closed source software, and thus less trustworthy.

I may come up with more complaints about Opera later. If so, I’ll add them to the list.

There are some positives to Opera, of course. I just don’t find them to be good enough to overcome the negatives. The examples that occur to me are:

  • It seems to be fairly quick — maybe a little quicker than Firefox, about on par with Google Chrome. I imagine I’ll see some speed improvement from Chrome in the near future, though, especially once extension support gets added (it’s already in a development version) so I can install extensions that block unwanted content.

  • It has reasonably configurable security-related preferences, maybe on par with those of Firefox. That would make it more configurable in this respect than Google Chrome, which appears to be the slow kid on the block when it comes to individual security and privacy preferences at the moment. Chrome’s Incognito mode is great, but I’d like the configurability to be able to hit a sweet spot between the normal mode and Incognito mode for most of my browsing.

I don’t know if I’ll come up with any more positives worth mentioning.

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