Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tolerance: a Dirty Word

Reading through an article about the ever vocal Westboro Baptist Church with their attention pandering protests, I stumbled across a word that had a cascading effect on my memory: tolerance. I vaguely recall reading a comment on one of the posts I wrote somewhere that talked about getting along with others in society. It might have been on Facebook or a dating site I was visiting at the time although the location of the post is mostly irrelevant. It was one of the comments that wedged in my memory where the one word I recall standing out was tolerance. While the cascade effect hit a brick wall in regards to the my forgotten post, it motivated me to write a new post.

As for the usage of the word tolerance in the comment, I vaguely recall the person stating they disliked the word "tolerance" when used to discuss such things as co-existence with others in a globally-connected society. Don't quote me on that thought as it truly is a lost memory. What is key is the fact that I disagree with the word tolerance being a negative word when used to discuss dealing with differences between people and cultural differences..

Like many other words, people decide to interpret its meaning. It could be negative, neutral or positive for that matter but people seem to focus on the negative. Why? And why would tolerance be a negative word? I suspect they were implying that tolerance has a begrudged feeling associated with it. We tolerate, but only because we have to. You know what again? Tolerance doesn't mean that unless you go in with a negative attitude. Tolerance means looking at something different, not necessarily agreeing with it but saying it's acceptable for the other party because everyone has a choice, everyone has free will and anyone who makes a choice deserves no less than being allowed to do so in peace.

Tolerance is not hate. Tolerance is not spiteful actions. Tolerance is not the seeds of destruction that will tear society down brick by brick.

Tolerance is a privilege we deserve. Tolerance is a respectful way to disagree but allow others to live their life they way they want to. Tolerance is an olive branch offered in peace.

I'm not intending to target the person who wrote the comment. For that matter, they may have had a totally different intention when they mentioned a dislike for the word tolerance. What I'm drawing attention to is whether we interpret situations as negative, neutral or positive. There is a time and place for each interpretation. But when possible, a half full glass makes life more enjoyable not only for the person viewing the glass, but for everyone they share their viewpoint with. The next question is what is the glass half full of?

In The News: Feb 28, 2013


From a CBS News article about how Iran dissed the film Argo:  

"Actor-director Ben Affleck "goes and shows scenes of a very violent and very angry mob throughout the film," Ebtekbar said. "It is never mentioned that these are a group of students."

And why would mentioning they are students make any difference? Oh, that's right, when would students ever become violent? Think they don't? Check out this latest piece of information in the news about the student wing Islami CChhatra Shibir going on a rampage that killed 23 people. Explain to me again Ebtekbar how student involvement makes something less violent.

Ebtekbar is trying to redefine the scenario as a kinder-gentler hostage taking. Yeah, right. Ebtekbar sounds like a typical spin doctor. While I will agree there are nasty circumstances from both sides that lead up to the hostage taking (neither side is technically innocent overall), ultimately, holding people hostage for over a year is not acceptable and Ebtekbar can put any spin he wants on it. He was involved in holding US citizens against their will and therefore is a criminal. 

This comes from a Huffy Post article about an Alslip man charged with hate crimesThe interesting thing is that part of the sentence (besides felony charges), included writing an essay about about the history of blacks being lynched in the United States. I tip my hat to the judge for doing what judges should do: provide a series of corrective actions including the requirement of the perpetrator to face the vileness of their actions. While some people will not ever see the wrong in what they do, the fact this man has to research the hatred may change his viewpoint. Even a remote possibility is worth the effort. I applaud the judge for the forward thinking.

Salon has an article with an almost laughable counter-claim from China's ministry spokesman that the majority of the cyber attacks on China's come from the US.  

From the article: a ministry spokesman, Geng Yansheng, on Thursday according to Reuters.”According to the IP addresses, the websites were, in 2012, hacked on average from overseas 144,000 times a month, of which attacks from the US accounted for 62.9 percent.”

Geng goes on the say an explanation is in order. Indeed. But not in the way Geng is demanding.  Geng needs some "schooling" on how network protocols such as TCP or UDP function. IP addresses are easy to spoof since it is in a container that can be modified relatively easily along with the fact there is no means to verify its contents are valid.. Using an IP address as a smoking gun proof of guilt is not something a technically knowledgeable person would use as evidence because it would simply say they were naive or uninformed. So to assuming Geng isn't naive, I'll consider the statement as the typical rhetoric of diversion to point the blame back onto the US.

Essentially, Geng is using IP addresses as proof of US espionage. Anyone cognizant of how networking functions will ignore such statements as pointless. Geng's response doesn't hold up against the more industrious Mandiant Intelligence report. Take a look through the pdf and you'll see a credible collection of information that points the finger at a Chinese military unit for siphoning sizable amounts of data illegally and mostly from English speaking countries.. Geng is the equivalent to a 98 pound beach weakling mouthing off to Arnold Schwarzenegger (Mandiant) how there's going to be some ass kicking coming up. Yeah, there's ass kicking all right and it's not the Mandiant data that loses out as simple political propaganda but rather the useless data Geng sited. Mandiant one! Geng... wait for it... no, not it's not even worthy of zero: minus one! 

Next up, I'm waiting for Xinhua News Agency to strongly disapprove of the Australian report about the biggest bust for a meth shipment and it came from China. You know those Aussies--stirring up trouble and being US pawns for distributing meth.

One very important thing I would like to mention. While it seems like I have a lopsided view of China, that's far from true. I visited China back around 2000. I will say I met a variety of people, some were opportunistic (trying to take advantage of a foreigner) while some were extremely decent human beings. Specifically, I recall this really big fella, a soldier in the Guangzhou airport who helped me out.  Skipping the long details, I was running late and about to miss a flight which meant a three day layover sitting in the airport. I had to go find my luggage as it had been stored in an obscure place. By the time I found it, my flight was nearly ready to take off. I wasn't going to make it on time. But the soldier recognized my face he expedited the process of me getting through the line pronto. I owe this man a huge debt of gratitude. So what i"m saying, good people are everywhere. You just have to be in trouble to sometimes notice that they are there. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Art Tools: A Paint Scraper


Clean up on aisle, er palette three please!

As anyone who uses a glass palette discovers, scraping off dried paint is a regular activity. And that leads to today's quick tip, choosing a solid scraper.

But a scraper is a scraper you say? After all, it's only a razor blade and a holder. Why even bother to talk about such a lowly thing since it's used to clean up afterward?

Well now, I think the old saying goes: the right tool for the right job. Don't be a cheapskate and try to use something too flimsy. Essentially, I'm talking about using something that has a solid handle because a flimsy scraper will flex under pressure.

To drive my point home, I'm going to give a use-case example. While sitting in class today, I watched another student trying to scrape paint from their palette using one of the thin, retractable scrapers that uses a shaving-style razor. Each time they would press, the entire scraper would bow under the pressure. They were struggling trying to remove the dried paint and weren't making much progress. After about a minute or two, I reached into my toolbox and pulled out one of my hardware store finds, a retractable scraper with a beefy handle. The solid handle on this scraper lets you apply a fair amount of pressure. Net result is that the paint comes off quicker.

I found this one at Lowes, a local hardware store. I'm not pushing their goods. The simple fact of the matter is that they had the most ergonomically built scraper I have found in my constant hunt from things to make art with. The second best part is that it uses standard utility knife blades. A bit wider than a traditional razor blade, they remove more paint with each stroke. And with a price tag around five dollars it doesn't hurt the wallet too much either. So if you want to clean up dried paints from your palette relatively quick, give one of these a try.

Why is Facebook so Invasive?

Update: I've included a note at the end of this post to tell why I was shut down even before I had a chance to get to the starting gate.

Update 2: The Times of India asked me to use my Facebook credentials when I tried to read an article about the latest outbreak of violence in Bangladesh. Why would I want to use my FB credentials for access? I ignored it, but the fact is a number of people likely accepted the prompt.

Ever notice how Facebook worms its way into everything? I've been using other means to communicate, yet certain sites and services only make use of Facebook either to log on with or for interactions. Specifically, I was looking at Shoreline Community College's student government page. I saw a request for a Prime Minister. What the heck does a Prime Minister do in student government I wondered? So I started poking around trying to find out and to even register to be involved with voting, you have to use a Facebook page. Why? Why? Why? What if I don't want to use Facebook? Shoreline is forcing me to use a social network whether I want to or not. Sigh.

I don't know about anyone else, but I have concerns when I am required to interact using my Facebook account. What if the site requires access rights of some kind? More than a few sites make you log on with Facebook or Twitter. And in the waivers we must sign to gain entry, sometimes there are notifications about how the site will require access to read posts from your timeline or possibly even make posts on your behalf. I don't want anyone making posts on my behalf regardless of whether it is benign in intent or not. Nor do I want something else reading my timeline, my tweets or anything else unless I know the exact reason the information is required. How about you? Do you feel comfortable with giving freedoms to an external party who offers little if any accountability to you for their actions because they have forced you to accept their terms of use?

This makes me angry. And when I'm angry, it's time to do something about it. Running for any of the socially influential student government positions is an option to let my voice and concerns be heard. Time to clear the cloud of dust around this matter and point out what it seems like an innocuous request, but ultimately is an unreasonable requirement for students to use Facebook for some interactions. They [Shoreline CC] has introduced a catch 22. Want to be involved to change issues? Use Facebook. Don't want to use Facebook? No obvious means to vote. Grrr. I suspect there are alternative ways for voting directly on campus, but it is evident. A Shoreline Community College website or service should be main point of focus, not Facebook.

The seemingly innocent, yet infectious quality Facebook has is not desirable. When (not if) Facebook change policies, things become problematic because they control how the data is managed, I don't. Facebook's recent proposal and subsequent vote to remove the ability for the public to be involved in some decision making process is ironically enough, limiting our say on issues of Facebook policy change. Sadly, not enough people spoke up on the issue and Facebook was able to remove a way we could have an influence on what happens to our personal data. One of my bigger concerns is what if they [Facebook] decides to lock me out (censor/ban) for saying something Facebook doesn't agree with? Then what? They maintain an ultimate form of censorship and I can't do a thing about it. No, this all wrong. A school should not be dependent in any manner upon a third party that has no accountability to the school, especially Facebook. Time for a change.

I'll register to vote at Shoreline using the Facebook page so that I can try to involve myself with the student government. I feel it is time for me to become involved and investigate the option of running for an open position. Someone has to step up and speak their mind even if it means a sacrifice on my part to cut something from my time budget.

I realize this is an uphill battle. A number of people like Facebook and some are addicted to it. So along comes this man who no one knows or cares about and he starts pontificating about the evils of Facebook. Some will simply say, "Shut up, I don't care," while others will be condescending: "Ohhh, get out your tinfoil hats. He's crazy." No one said it would be easy or even possible. But that won't stop me. I've fought plenty of Don Quixote battles before where people accuse me of charging windmills. It is not a popularity contest. It is the desire to provide fair and maintainable access along safeguarding personal information. I may find myself being the man with no country, but such is life. I have to do something and I can't take on the attitude that it's a lost cause. "Fight on" are the words of power.

Many of you have heard me advocate the need for individual involvement in society as well as listened to my pontificating about the value everyone gains from being proactive. It's time to become involved and make a difference. Becoming involved in society is like a shared umbrella; we need to look out for each other and protect ourselves from the occasional acid rain that falls upon us from an industrial complex that only sees us only as data sources.

Hopefully there are some relevant offices open for election. If not, there's always next time. The Student Advocate role looks promising as it has to do with arbitration for cases where a student believes they have not been treated fairly. I rather like the arbitration scenario, especially since I can identify with underdogs. Time to get busy, er busier.

Update Note: So sorry the governing association says. The requirements are such that I can't apply. All prospective Student Advocates must have completed no less than 15 credit hours at Shoreline as well as being enrolled for ten or more credit hours prior to the submission deadline. I do not meet either condition since this is my first quarter at Shoreline. And with expectations from my independent contract, I doubt I will ever be able to enroll in 10 credit hours for a quarter. Back to having no voice and being stuck with Facebook usage.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Punishment, Pride and America


I stumbled across a truly interesting article in Pacific Magazine that delves into an attribute I've always been curious about in regards to people from my own culture: the need to punish others which stems from a desire to experience fairness. It's a play-field leveling technique applied by an individual with the expectation that others will respond in a like manner. Interesting indeed.

Part of the article discussed a test Joe Henrich applied to various individuals. The test involved a game where two people interacted together over a financial transaction. One was given a sum of money. They were then allowed to give a portion of the money to the other party using their own digression to decide how much to give away. The receiving party could then accept or reject the offer. If they rejected the offer, neither person obtained any money. If they accepted, both parties received the decided upon split. In the case of the Americans, the tendency was to either provide a fifty-fifty split or to reject the offer. It sounds like the American test subjects made a decision on whether they thought the other person was being fair and applied a punishment when they thought their sense of fairness was violated. The receiving party was willing to sacrifice their own gain in exchange for the potential to, for lack of better terms, give karmic payback to the other person.

This might explain some of the aggressive attitudes I see people display when it comes to punishment related issues, specifically, the desire to see a perceived villain get there come uppins. As such, it gives me something to reflect upon when I encounter this type of behavior. The big question is why a person would accept loss when some form of monetary gain exists. Pride most likely plays a major role in this. Or if you want to put an anti-American spin on it, then you could say it is arrogance. It plays a big role in how I interact. I will act upon principle even when it means a major loss to my own financial resources. Why? In my mind, it is the right thing to do and I have a hard time living with myself if I don't hold up my moral beliefs. I suspect some variant of this form of thinking applies to the entire culture. It's possible it is related to Christianity but I'm not well versed in enough in religious studies to establish any defend-able connection. 

Regardless, I now have another aspect of cultural characteristics I need to explore in order to better understand myself and society.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Radioactive Color Wheel

The latest project from the art class I'm taking involves working with acrylic paints to learn about mixing colors. Initially we worked to create secondary and tertiary colors using the three primaries. We then painted a series of swatches on a work sheet that made us exercise our abilities to compare the mixed colors against the color wheel for a visual match. My results weren't all that great but for a beginner, I'm not expecting too much. Everything takes practice, especially for me.

The next phase of the assignment involved sketching up thumbnails for an alternative format to the traditional circular color wheel. I sketched out a few basic ideas, the two most promising having different formats. One has a radiation sign feel to it with triangular format while the other used an implied 3D layout looking like an overview of a Rubik's Cube. I opted for the radiation sign format but  would have liked to pursued the Rubik's cube further. With time is running out as the assignment is due on Tuesday and considering the fact I still need to read three chapters, exploring my Rubik's cube format probably won't happen.

After completing the sketches, it was time to scale up to the full sized image. I grabbed my handy new set of dividers and went to work transferring the thumbnail sketch to a larger format. After some trial and error adjustments, I stood back and looked at my completed piece. I realized I hadn't scale up my thumbnail enough so I decided I would add a border to finalized piece to help balance out the negative space. Time to march forward regardless of the mistake.

Out came the paints, the palette knife along with a lot more trial and error. My work table became far more cluttered as the color wheel alternative started to take shape. Mixing wasn't straight forward because it isn't  always easy to recognize what needs to be added to a mixture to alter its tint or shade to the desired outcome. To complicate the matter, I'm still struggling with streaking issues during painting. Finding the proper amount of water to add to the acrylics is clearly another experience issue that requires practice.

Okay, so my results weren't anything I would call  spectacular but it is a functional color wheel. Next step was to read through the assignment sheet a second time to see if I needed to create a write up about the project. And that's when the "Oh oh!" moment struck. I had misread the instructions and thought the entire piece had to be mounted on a background of no less than eight inches. Wrong. The color wheel had to be no less than eight inches on at least one dimension. Considering my longest dimension was about 5 1/4 inches, I had a problem that wasn't going to meet the given requirements.

Hmm, that leaves me with a problem. The piece is already glued down with rubber cement and I don't want to go through the entire process again to scale everything up in size. So, what's a person to do? Think like MacGyver and improvise, that's what. I thought about the problem and the objectives for a while. We were to give primary colors the most weight while secondary and tertiary colors were to be of lesser prominence. Well, my primaries are in the center which is the main point of focus but they could use something to bolster their presence. Time to add a triad of extensions and bingo-bango-bongo, we meet the requirements. The extensions have the additional benefit of giving more weight to the primary colors too.

Are my extensions a perfect solution? Nope. But sometimes good enough is acceptable when striving for perfection is too cost prohibitive. Some might note that I have larger elements for the yellow and red extensions. True, but my work around is to place the heavier, smaller element on the bottom of the drawing. It helps balance out the larger, lighter elements at the top. That's the story I'm giving and I'm sticking with it. Design around those mistakes and keep moving forward, that's my motto.

In the News - Feb 24, 2013

Using a recognizable  title as well as a set of keywords, "In the News" will be a re-occurring post where I pick articles from the news to talk about. I may occasionally update a post throughout the day as noteworthy events happen. What's the reason? Just because I feel like it, that's why. Onward with today's banter:

The Guardian published an article about civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

From the article:
"People have been complaining about US special forces units torturing people, killing people in that province, and nine individuals were taken from their homes recently and they have just disappeared and [no one knows where they have gone]," Faizi said.
Faizi then goes on to say:
"These individuals in the US special forces, [who are behind these crimes like murdering and torturing people and harassing people], this is in itself an elemental factor in the deteriorating security situation."
The way I see  it, either someone has conclusive evidence or they don't. Faizi lost any credibility in my opinion by making the second accusation while fundamentally claiming in the first there is question about who did what.

One thing I observed after reader several different articles, depending upon the point of origin, the bias changes dramatically. When there is considerable variation, closer attention is warranted because agendas are at work such as cultural bias, propaganda or other such things. As for myself, I have insufficient access to details to make any conclusive judgment. But I also believe there are more things involved than are being presented including additional role players in the situation. At least the UK article provided some additional perspective, even if it does feel biased. 

US Today published an article about Gun Manufacturers Considering Move to Different States.

From the article:
"The enemies of freedom are waging an all-out assault on the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which we have sworn to protect and defend,"
and
"This isn't about deer hunting," he said. "The Second Amendment is about our right to keep and bear arms to defend ourselves."
To this I respond: Rep. Jeff Duncan, now there's a representative who thinks! Good on ya sir for doing your part to uphold the Constitution and all it stands for.

Z is For Zebras Pwned by Zilog

My day usually starts with reading the news. I like to know what's happening in the world so I visit a few different sites to obtain a cross section of information. One of my haunts includes SlashDot. While looking through the various submissions, I stumbled across a link to this article that talks about how congresswoman Judy Chu is promoting a Creative Rights CaucusFrom the article: 

"American innovation hinges on creativity – it is what allows our kids to dream big and our artists to create works that inspire us all,"

I wonder, who does Congresswoman Judy Chu truly represent: those who create content or those who focus more upon property rights than the actual creation such as the MPAA?

To me, art at its core is taking existing ideas and recombining them in new ways. Creativity hinges on this ability to combine old into new. When we lock content up with IP rights for more than the lifespan of a single generation, it becomes more and more difficult to make new from old. 

In a society focused on capitalism, marketing tends to change the focus from a balance between creativity and economic reward to a lopsided profit-centric approach. Bottom dollar economics dominate. This can be seen in in businesses like Disney. They created what I consider a monstrosity under the guise of a mouse who needs to meet an IP demise  in a mouse trap to stop this endless cycle of pushing for more and longer IP protection rights. 

Copyright trolls and the likes rise from the muck to demonstrate how the system has tendacy to allow abuse where an entity can lock something down for their profit only. Zilog was a prime example with their failed attempt to trademake the letter "Z" back in the 1980's.  An editorial reference to the Zilog trademark scenario can be found in an Infoworld editorial section archived away by Google. Oh oh, zebras, you would have been  in serious trouble:

 Z*ebras 
(Copyright Z*ilog
((Copyright Z*ilog 
(((Copyright Z*ilog 
((((Copyright Z*ilog... 
attribution on into infinity because, well, Zilog begins with a Z doesn't it? And the usage needs to be attributed properly doesn't it? As well as some compensation being in order too ya know.  Watch out first graders, no more zebras in your books. Too expensive you know. Zebras aren't computer related you say? Wrong. They're a biological computer so Zilog would have the right to drag those striped asses into court.

The core point is that artists need the ability to focus on creation rather than on determining if a work potentially violates an ever-growing pool of protected materials. Try to create something like a collage and it becomes evident what kind of a slippery slope art intermingled with IP rights becomes.  Thankfully, many of the early  creations of art from periods like the Renaissance served as models for others rather than being locked down so tightly that no one could create works inspired by their greatness. Sadly, we can't enjoy the same creative freedoms exercised by generations past thanks to the likes of the Disney's of the world. That loss applies not only to artists, but to the public who views the artworks. We are deprived of the potential which exists but can't be tapped due to lengthy and extensive IP rights.

IP has value that is temporal in nature. An artist or creator who earns a reward by creating something society takes notice of deserves compensation for their effort but for a limited time frame. Generation after generation of Disney clones should not reap the benefit of prior work. Make it, get rewarded financially for a single digit span of years, then create the next thing society can enjoy. But as it stands, we're moving towards stifling creativity and Judy Chu wants to place a positive spin on it. Just great.

Perhaps one day I will receive a take down notice for my photo: The Color Purple is a trademarked movie title and is protected IP via copyright law. This symbolic usage of purple colors is therefore not allowed without compensating the original rights owner. Remove all uses of the color purple from this site immediately. Our law dogs are on their way to jack boot your door down, haul you away  and seize your assets. All your property belong to us.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

DIY Project: A Light Box for Tracing

Update Note: on July 4, 2013. I wrote a semi-detailed set of instructions for building the light box including a list of materials required at the link provided in this paragraph.

Here's a video for those who would rather watch instead of reading: Building a DIY Light Box for Tracing.

After reading this post, if you want to read about the construction as it progresses, here's the next post in the series showing the light box frame.


It's 6:30 AM on a Saturday. No rest for the wicked so I'm up and moving about. I have nearly a full day of contract work in front of me. After that, I have school work to dive into with learning how to mix colored paints. Mixing paint might sound easy but when you have to match it to a color wheel, it's not so easy at all. Net result is a long day in front of me.


My current light box which is too small.
But in between when I transition from contract work to school work, I'll sneak in an hour to visit a hardware store. I need to find some parts for a light box.

The unit I have is one of the more valuable tools in my art work area but it's way too small. The picture shows the little light box. I found this unit at a thrift store and bought it for a few dollars. The power supply was missing so I had to rig up something. To make matters worse, it used an unusual connection jack for the power which meant I wasn't going to find anything off the shelf that worked. So I dug  through the storage crate that has the wall-wart style power transformers in it and found two different supplies that had what I needed. One transformer had the right voltage and amperage while the other transformer had the correct connection jack. With some wire cutters, a soldering iron and some electrical tape (I didn't have any heat shrink tubing), I put together a temporary solution. It's not great but it works.

The biggest problem is that the light box is not big enough to place a full sized sheet of paper on which makes it difficult when tracing. I constantly have to shift the paper around while trying to keep everything aligned. So I've decided to build a light box from scratch. I could buy a professionally made light box for around a one hundred to one hundred and fifty dollars but I'd rather make my own.

What I'll look for today is a piece of acrylic or plexiglass for diffusing the light. Hardware stores usually sell diffusing plexiglass in their lighting departments. While I'm there, I look at light sources too. Possibly a pair of white LED strip lights might work. Then a quick trip over to the wood area to find some materials to make a box from. The frame should be fairly low profile and I want to make it at least 24 inches in one dimension so that I can work on the tracing surface easily without needing to constantly shift the work around.

The next post in the series talks about how I'm building the the light box frame.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Resilience aka Desperation, a Catch 22

Today's mood? Partly cloudy with some storm clouds still hanging out. So the topic on tap is another post about life and thriving/failing in the competitive dating world that is to some extent, based on a form of genetic currency: DNA.

Hey, art topics will get their turn again too. Simply put, emotional turmoil is sometimes where expressive art comes from so there is value in diving into it. And now is a time of turmoil of me.

So there I was, reading an article over on Jezebel. Yeah, I know, if I had a doctor they would lecture me for reading articles that can potentially raise my blood pressure from pre-hypertension levels to above the high water mark. But I'm sluggish today and I'm not in the mood to start work just yet.

I stumbled across an article about dating and why people should accept experiencing rejections during the dating process. The basic idea to the article is that if we ask enough people out, eventually someone will be a winner we want to stay with. Reasonable logic. In fact I rather liked the article as the author had a good grasp on social interactions and presented a gender friendly approach that didn't push any "Men are the scourge of the universe," mentality. So where's the problem you ask? The problem is not with the article or the author, but more about a statement from the article and it's relevance to me specifically. From Terri Trespicio's dating article on Jezebel:

"I knew a guy like this in college. He was nothing to look at, truly, but a fun, personable guy. He was never the hottest guy in the room. But he asked out EVERYONE. And the man always had a date. It's not magic. It's numbers."

With the exception of the success part mentioned in the last sentence where it talks about the man always having a date, I tried this strategy during my early 30's. You know what happened? I found out through the grape vine that many of the women who were aware of this held a negative view of me personally. In other words, welcome to catch 22 where Resilience becomes an alias for desperation. Rather than view my approach as confident or resilient (Trespicio implies it is resilience), the women around me at the time grasped onto a negative interpretation and I was classified as a carpet bomber. To some extent, because no one was dating me, I was considered unwanted merchandise. And because I would get back up on my feet after someone said no and go on to ask another girl out on a date later, I was viewed as desperate. To further complicate the matter, it seems as if there was an implication I should hide the fact I was dating which seems totally counter-intuitive and self-defeating. If I had kept it hidden that I was asking different women out (not at the same time obviously), I might of at least avoided the carpet bomber label.

On the topic of how I learned about the grape-vine viewpoints, at the time, by chance, I became associated (not romantically) with female workout partner who knew some of the women I had asked out in the past. Because we went to one of the moderately popular gyms, it was public knowledge we were around each other so her friends ended up talking about me. Turns out I had a terrible reputation. I was considered the equivalent to desperate person who wasn't going for a romantic connection. The pre-Internet grape vine network of the early 90's shut me down cold. Sigh.

Some will argue it's a fine line or probably about secrecy. Learn the balance point of where people form a bad opinion or don't let one woman know that you've asked out another woman she might know or eventually meet. Sheesh. Sounds like double standard garbage to me. Whatever approach a person uses is fine. It's their approach, that's why. If someone wants to ask dozens of women out in a month, more power to them. If they want to ask one person out a year, fantastic too. It's not my business what they do. But people like to make it their business and people like to talk nasty.

I don't see how I could win at the game because I was to some extent, viewed as an outsider/enemy by a segment of the population. Ask someone out, fail, get classified as a loser. Ask another out, get classified as desperate  Ask again, classified as sleaze. Essentially, a person like myself was undesirable DNA (backed up by the fact I was told I was trying to date outside of my class). Herd mentality is another way of stating it. And yes, DNA driven instinct does drive some to seek out different at times, but not for traits that are considered weak in terms of survival (too small, too large and so on) unless the seeker is differently-classified and less able to snag the more desirable DNA. How's that for a stark and bitter outlook on life? Or as some will interpret, a negative view on women. True, I do hold a bitter outlook on life and women. No surprise and I won't hide that. It is part of my experiences and I'm not going to sugar coat it or lie just to fake a nice guy look. These are my views. Don't like them, too bad. Of course I don't view all women as evil, bad or whatever. Women in relation to this topic, are like myself: we are competitive and are trying to obtain the best possible scenario. I can't fault others for doing the same that I am trying to do to.

The way I see it, society tends to use a herd mentality. Either you fit in to some extent and you are allowed to play in the reindeer games with all the other reindeer or you're an undesirable who is driven away as an outsider. I've trailed around the outside edges for ages. Heard the comments about date within your own class, and other such garbage. Pretty people should date pretty people, society seconds can't. Now, just because someone says it doesn't mean I have to abide by it. But it does create a barrier and that barrier has been pretty effective. I realize everyone faces hurdles in life and my scenario is only one of many obstacles. But it doesn't make it any easier to deal with.

I do acknowledge I carry much of the responsibility for what happens in my life. I did really stupid things socially back then. I made huge mistakes because I didn't know any better at the time and was trying to use what I knew which wasn't at all useful. So don't view this as me saying women are the root of all evil. It comes down to the fact some women agitate me just like some guys irritate me too. As for me, I probably have more issues from some form of autism in that my social interactions aren't always what is expected and sometimes get me into trouble. Simply put, we're all unique and I struggle with trying to figure out how to interact with those unique qualities in others.

Over the years, my strategy has evolved to include what I have learned. I still ask out whoever it is I take a liking too locally. It's just that I don't find many women I'm interested in so it's an infrequent event as I age. And considering I'm still angry over several recent conflicts with the opposite sex, I'm not really that interested in interacting with people as of current. More so, I've formed a negative attitude in general towards women in regards to dating. Sure, I'm generalizing which is always a bad thing. Letting a couple rotten apples spoil my view towards nearly everyone is unfair, but hey, stuff happens. I never said I was reasonable in the first place. If someone changes my mind, fantastic. If not, things wont be much different from what they've been for the lost 20+ years anyway so no big deal. And it's not like I don't have enough projects to work on. Ultimately, I never sit still for long and nothing bothers me for too long. Motivation, it does a body good.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Details about CSR Racing Wheel DIY Mount

Normally I blog about life, art or politics, but today I'm going to answer a question someone asked. Recently on YouTube, someone wanted to know details about mounting a CSR racing wheel to a Playseat Evolution racing chair. For those who don't know what this is, its a racing wheel, pedal assembly and bucket seat for gaming with the Xbox360 or the Playstation 3. Fundamentally, the arrangement provides a more enjoyable experience when playing racing games like Forza.

The question asked by Mauricio was about how I placed the clutch pedal. To determine placement, I thought about how my foot pedals are set up in my GTI and 4x4.  While the place is relatively centered, there is a bias given towards the left foot being over the clutch while the right foot has equal domain of usage over the brake and accelerator pedals.

To accomplish the same feeling, I found the center line of the foot pedal assembly and then shifted it to the right (when looking down on the pedals from above) by about 7/8ths of an inch. This allows my left foot to find the clutch easier than if the assembly was in the exact center. To look at it from edge to edge, the entire foot pedal assembly is 12 1/4 inches (31.115 cm) wide. I marked an adjusted center line on the mounting board at about 7 inches in from the gas pedal side of the foot pedal assembly. And from the other side, this is 5 1/4 inches from the clutch side of the foot pedal assembly. The picture shows the pedal assembly flipped over upside down. The accelerator pedal is visible on the bottom right side of the plywood board. And the mount point for the Evolution pedal holder is at the center-rear part of the photo. The two bolts going through the steel plate attach to foot pedal assembly to the Evolution pedal holder. By the way, that steel plate is about 1/4 inch steel to withstand the pressure of the occasional pedal stomp.

For anyone interested, the video sequence is here:

Video 1: Fitting CSR foot pedals to the Playseat Evolution, 1 of 5
Video 2: Fitting CSR foot pedals to the Playseat Evolution, 2 of 5
Video 3: Fitting CSR foot pedals to the Playseat Evolution, 3 of 5
Video 4: Fitting CSR foot pedals to the Playseat Evolution, 4 of 5
Video 5: Fitting CSR foot pedals to the Playseat Evolution, 5 of 5

I hope the post or the videos were helpful.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Negativity and How It Poisons Life

While I'm on a roll with writing posts, I'm going to be somewhat of a dickweed. Well, okay, maybe more than somewhat.

Mockery as well as a negative spin on words: they're easy to slip into our daily conversations. They're easily sluffed off as meaning nothing. Aftere all, they're simply words. No harm in that ay? And we sometimes aren't thinking about the fact we are doing it.

I'm well aware of the fact I am guilty of this. I watch my speech carefully but things still slip through. For instance, the other day at school, I caught myself after the fact when I meant to compliment another student's work. The young fella could use interaction as I think it helps him to think about the work he is involved with. Interact with someone and it does wonders. Well, I made a critique comment during our group session. My choice of words were not terrible, but they reflected the fact I was in a foul mood. I said something along the lines of, "His usage of blah blah blah was kind of nice." Uh, what does kind of nice mean? Talk about wishy washy words. Worse yet, I emphasized the phrase "kind of" rather than nice. I wasn't the only one to notice as there was silence afterward. Trying to recover is pointless. The damage is done and diving back into it with different words makes it worse usually. While this is a trivial example, it shows how pervasive negative attitudes can be. They seep into everything. For the record, everyone was in a bad mood as the instructor made some commentary that indicated she, too, was aware of the lethargic or negative energy permeating the room. She took positive steps by making everyone stand and move around. Anyone sitting was asked to stand and told there was a reason for it. I understand this principle. Keep the blood moving.

A little more background before I get to core of my point: I'm enthusiastic. Not only am I'm enthusiastic, but I'm pumped up about art. I talk about being an artist, yet I'm creating very little so why do I seem to make a constant point of identifying myself as an artist? Well, if you don't think you're an artist, you aren't. As someone else said, don't say "I'm going to be an artist". I'm an artist here and now. I might not be experienced or even creating anything anyone cares about yet. But the point is, our state of mind controls how we react. Think positive, think progressive and take action.

So, now comes the dickweed part. With all my talk about being an artist, I sometimes hear others respond in ways that make me feel like there is a condescending attitude being directed at me for my positive attitude about being an artist. When I hear things that make me feel as if I'm being mocked, I'm going to think long and hard about the person's overall attitude. Do they positively influence my life or do they generate enough grief to warrant limiting my communication with them? I also understand there is a difference between communicating in a way that you think the other person can relate and the act of being rude to poke fun at someone. I can tell when a person is trying to relate something to me terms I understand so no offense is taken as it is not mockery.

Keep in mind, I'm not saying other people need to change. People are free to say whatever they like. And some people won't give a damn. I've encountered the "I'll say what I want to say and if you don't like it... tough." Well, so be it. People like that will not be a part of my life as I have no time for rude or selfish people. To me, community is about co-existing. It means not just thinking about myself (or you thinking about yourself). It also means being responsible for our own words. I'll do the changing if necessary and they may included making room for positive, healthy influences.

I intend to confront people on what they mean when I hear or see comments that make me feel as if there is some condescending attitude present. And that means I may ask long after the fact. I'm not always that quick at feeling an insult. Lots of times my mind glazes a statement over and it isn't until a day, a week or a month later my mind says, "Hey wait, that pisses me off." Such is life. Regardless, if people make remarks I don't like, expect a direct confrontation from me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Anger: Viral Style

Ugh, I'm full of venom today. I'm going to rant about numerous issues so you've been warned. Logic exists in my words but it's intermingled with my frustration.

What a shitty start to the day. First I get a warm up kidney punch from someone blasting liberals, clean energy research and whatever else they didn't like. Okay, my mistake. I read the post. I shouldn't have as my mood isn't great today because I feel off. I take responsibility for setting myself into a downward spiral but I wanted to fully understand the context of the conversation rather than walk away making a false judgment. Sigh.

Oh, but we have to have more than that. I'm about to be reminded of how nasty people can be. So over to Facebook I go and I'm hit with the double-barrel shotgun blast of a "Crikey, this is disgusting" moment. I'm greeted with a posting of a fight video on my news feed. Oh for crying out loud, why do people want to watch someone get beat up? There's a sickness in that. Go watch something sanctioned like UFC if you want competition that's hardcore. With UFC, it's a sport where everyone involved wants to compete. I have no problem with boxing, wrestling or any of the full contact, aggressive sports. But they are sports. There's a big difference.

On an abstract level, I believe the desire to see someone "get theirs" leads to horrible incidents like the witch burning murder in New Guinea. People stand around morbidly and watch or get excited seeing blood or violence: "Oh boy! Let's hurt someone or watch the mayhem because, well, they deserve it. They're a butt-head you know so it's okay to get excited as they get their ass kicked."

Okay, so the message from the person who reposted the video was trying to make is don't mess with me or my culture ay? Very well then, does don't mess with my culture translate into don't trust, don't turn your back on and don't associate with anyone from that culture too? Tell ya what, I'd get along just fine as I am without having to worry about whether or not I can trust a given culture. Considering how recently I've had a series of rude interactions from several different unrelated females from that culture, perhaps I would be better off avoiding the entire culture. Just saying, if the image being presented is about how bad-@ss they are and the fact some of the women have been insulting my physical attributes, why would I want to interact with anyone like that? Simply put, I don't. And that, boys and girls, is how bigotry emerges and thrives: through the arrogant projection of a supposed superior nature. Get over it. You're just as flawed as the rest of us.

Furthermore, I see an attempt at putting a positive spin on a toughness stereotype which is no more useful than any of the other generalizations. These assumptions don't uniquely associate an individual with their actions but instead says they apply it to an entire culture. That's useless in my opinion. Individuals are unique even though they may share some characteristics in common with one or more groups. There's usually someone that comes along who is a bigger or crazier bad-@ss so don't get flippant unless you can truly take fists pummeling your face as hard as you think you can dish it out. After a verbal conflict, I had one big fella send me flying about six feet away from where I stood when he flat-palmed me square in the chest with both his hands. Nothing funny about that. He was a 275 pounds football player who could have destroyed me if he put some real muscle into it against my mere 110 pound frame. Keep that in mind before talking trash about being the b!tches other cultures shouldn't mess with.

As for Facebook, I don't like looking at my news feed and seeing postings that I think applaud a form of violence. But then I'm alone in this since society seems to be hell bent on revenge. Why? Maybe it makes us feel some sense of moral justice exists to balance out all the things that have happened to us. Or maybe it makes us feel powerful. In my opinion, it makes us feel pathetic, petty and miserable.

Let me be perfectly clear: promoting violence through sharing a video or watching it and commenting positively is still promoting violence. And yes, I did watch the video so I can be accused of being a part of the problem. I will say I held off and didn't watch it until I decided I wanted to avoid making a blanket assumption about why people were giving the video a symbolic thumbs up. It was clear I did not make a blanket assumption about what the video portrayed or what the comments were saying.

Not a great way to start the day with the second negative "in your face" presentation. It is true, I choose what to view. In my case, I hid the Facebook posting so I don't have to see a reminder of how mean spirited people are. But in my opinion, the comments were probably the most disgusting part of the entire thing. In my opinion, I even saw racial hatred emerging where one person was identifying the combatants not by aggressor or victim but by race. Yeah, I get it. Using race is easy to help indicate who we are talking about. But in the context, I believe this was about claiming one race (as well as gender) as superior so I believe I am correct in my assessment that it is racially targeted. Heavy sarcasm mode tainted with my hatred switches on: Fa-sucking yanks, ya knows we're all bad. And apparently the white yank men got nothing of "real" substance hanging between our legs neither from what I've been told in a recent, brief conversation I had with one woman. My thoughts to her implication is that assumptions tend to make a fool of an individual. I did not respond to her implication, but I should have because sometimes voicing my opinion has immense internal value even if it pegs me as antagonistic or rude. If I'm rude, so be it. So is implying things about a person you know nothing about. Evil angry sarcasm mode is now off.

With the above contextual information in mind, perhaps we should think about our violent tendencies when we talk about banning guns, knives or other weapons. The weapons are a tool, the desire for violence comes from within. Take away one tool and another takes its place. Deal with reducing the desire to physically hurt people or extract revenge, then maybe 30 round clips and assault rifles won't be considered as much of a threat.

Since I'm totally pissed, here's a post I didn't make earlier but I think it is appropriate to connect with the preceding paragraphs. The connection I would like to establish with the upcoming paragraphs, is that when I watched the video of the fight posted on Facebook, I saw the similarity to the picture present in the "2 Charged" link. Both scenes had people standing about watching the mayhem take place. It's a rather grim and disturbing similarity if you ask me.


The Evil of Taking No Action

On Feb 6, a crowd attacked, tortured and murdered a 20 year old woman in Papua New Guinea over accusations of witchcraft. The crowd, numbering in the hundreds supposedly prevented police and firefighters from intervening.

An article about "2 Charged In Papau New Guinea 'Witch' Killing" published bythe AP says an investigation is underway, only two people have been charged with murder from a group of more than 40 people who were detained for questioning. The remaining detainees were released because of lack of evidence. Oh, but the police say more arrests are coming. Well, not enough by any stretch of the means.

But the dumbfounding statement I can't get beyond is how the police claimed the mob prevented them from intervening. For those willing to look at the scene of the crime, take a look at this photo in the AP story and tell me how out of control this mob looks. Do you see any blur form people running, fighting or pushing? I don't. Notice the mostly static poses of nearly everyone as the woman burns. How can the police even possibly try to claim they tried to intervene? The police officers who were at the scene should questioned and if found to be negligent in their actions, should face accessory to murder charges for failing to protect the individual. If you stand by and watch, you are guilty regardless of the scenario. Fight the crowd, flee the scene to get help, or face the consequences of being an observer.

The people in the crowd are savages, plain and simple. Not because of where they are from, but because of their morbid curiosity and willingness to stand and watch as someone is tortured. Looking at the photo that shows them standing around with their hands slack at their side, I can only wonder what kind of sick minds allow people to watch a horrible act unfold. I have no mercy, compassion or understanding for any in the crowd except the victim.

Perhaps I am hypocritical in that I have never witnessed a torture scenario. I witnessed first-hand an armed robbery with a knife from several feet away but took no action. I recall a woman saying "a real man would take action". Funny how others judge you when they weren't in the scenario isn't it? Personally, I made a conscious decision to not antagonize the robber. He and his two accomplices did not harm anyone and the police even indicated afterward that when a crime involves robbery for money, it is always best to hand it over without conflict. Let them take the money because, unlike a life, money can be replaced. Had the robber stabbed the cash register operator, I don't know what would have unfolded as I can only speculate. But at the same point, I've put myself in potential danger in other cases such as the fire that started next to a gas pump in a gas station. I burned up my coat trying to put the fire out after the attendant refused to give me a fire extinguisher  Did I think about being blown up or burned alive when volatile gas fumes are present? No, I thought about helping the person who's vehicle was starting to burn. Oh, but wait, a real man would have put out the fire with his bare hands. I guess I'm not a real man. My apologies, my anger is getting the best of me as other issues arise such as my unresolved issue with the woman who made the snide and very stupid "real men" remark to me. I'm minimizing the real tragedy because of my anger which is unfortunate in all cases.

Sarcasm aside, what I'm trying to say is that adrenaline can make a person forget about being in harms way. And when a person is being tortured in front of a crowd, I would hope humanity thinks about how to stop the suffering.

One last thing: the more you care about things, the more you will be hurt. The world is a messed up place where you usually can't fix what is broken. But don't give up, even when facing astronomical odds. Do what you think is right. In the end, you'll have respect for yourself if nothing else.

Destroy That Which is Different


Everyone deserves to voice their opinion. But even though I support voicing opinions, there are some I totally disagree with and think are close minded: especially the ones that negatively target specific group(s) or ideas. I just read a journal post on DeviantArt by someone who basically blasted renewable energy and liberals. Yeehaw, a two for one dissing. Not exactly my favorite type of piece to read as I see it as a close minded "It's my way and that's the way it's going to be" approach.

Frequently, I notice how people who want renewable energy research to go away tend to allow little, if any room for compromise. Blaming renewable energy research or liberals for costs related to developing new concepts seems short sighted to me. Fundamentally, everything new has a learning curve as well as associated costs. It seems to be a common North American viewpoint that I think has been profoundly shaped by our disposable approach to life. Use up whatever is cheapest, discard it then move on to the next cheapest resource to exhaust. Repeat process as long as possible until threats of extinction loom. Mind you, I'm not saying objections to renewable energy are inappropriate. But weighing in the factors related to sustainability and long term environmental impact are sometimes overlooked.

I agree that renewable energy is expensive now as it is actively being developed. But alternatives are necessary to study and explore as our existing dependence upon petroleum is wasting a valuable resource in an inefficient way. Just because it seems relatively cheap now doesn't mean it actually is long term. If we simply looked at things from a short-term cost perspective or rejected anything that s it going to impact the environment then nothing would ever get done, including the development of petroleum, coal or nuclear energy sources.

I also understand that some energy sources such as wind do have considerable negatives. We shouldn't indiscriminately deploy resources. Return on investment won't be immediate either. The initial research usually leads to financial loss for those involved. That is a part of development. If something proves effective, it's costs eventually drop due to mass adoption. And if it proves to be a wrong turn, stop, backup to another point and take another approach. Learn from the mistakes and move forward. Don't just cry, "it's all shit!" and declare it as worthless forever there after. We need to be critical in positive manner but should keep an open mind as well as trying to think beyond our own immediate needs. For seven billion plus people, the planet is not so big. Rather than fight about who is right (and viewed as the hero) or who is wrong (and viewed as the villain), let's cooperate. We would accomplish far more than we are doing now with our petty bickering.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Project Weasel: The Work Piece Clamps

For those who prefer a video to see how the easel works, I have a Youtube demonstration video of Project Weasel.

Project Weasel is coming to its conclusion. While I should have been doing other things like homework, cleaning and maybe even relaxing yesterday, I spent the day working on the easel. With the brake/locking mechanisms in place, I started work on mounting the work surface clamps.

Several days earlier, I stopped by Harbor Freight and found a pair of clamping saw guides that looked like they would work nicely as clamps. With a capacity of 50 inches, it met my 48 inch height requirements for being able to hold a 36 x 48 inch piece. I might be easy, but I ain't cheap so I'm not like some of the typical [dating site] females who are demanding 6 foot plus merchandise. Hey, I'm allowed to get a dig in here and there am I not?

Back on track, I drilled four holes through the back sides of the clamp. I made sure I drilled close to each end such that I didn't noticeably diminish the travel of the movable clamps. I lost about an inch of 50 inch clamp travel by doing this which is acceptable since I can still clamp a 48 inch piece. The picture shows what the slide assembly looks like with the work piece clamps and brakes attached.

With everything ready, I set the sliding assembly in place then added a counterweight to the rope and pulley arrangement. The weight was a circular metal removable dumbbell five pound weight I found at a Goodwill thrift shop for a dollar. Unfortunately, it isn't heavy enough to effectively counterbalance the 30+ pounds of the sliding assembly. It took more effort than I liked to push the sliding assembly to the highest point of travel so I'll have to find another circular dumbbell to add to the counterweight.

Not satisfied with the overall weight problem, I tore the assembly apart again and put it on a diet. I had hacked a few things together for temporary solutions. Specifically, I had added some shims for the braking system as well as shimming beneath the surface clamps. Both of these were adding unnecessary weight so I made the necessary adjustments to remove as much of the shims as I could. While disassembling the sliding frame, I discovered I had used the stock screws supplied with the drawer sliders. These screws were way too small and one of them popped out when I twisted the slide too much to the side during removal. Out came the smaller screws and in went some beefy one inch grabbers.

It took from noon until around 7:00 PM before I finally wrapped up with the second iteration. Everything looked good so I set up a video camera and filmed a quick demonstration of how the easel works. It's easier to see the various moving parts with a video. The link is at the top of the post.

The easel is now functional with the exception of not having a mechanism to limit the forward/backward travel for the tilting scissor arm. I'll deal with the limit stop eventually. But for now, the easel will work sufficiently since I'll only be working with acrylics for classes.

It's been an interesting experience. Some of my ideas worked as expected, while others required rethinking. While the easel is not going to win any prizes for aesthetic qualities, it is functional. I exceeded the initial budget of 125 dollars but that's to be expected on a learning project. The final costs were around 165 dollars. Not cheap by any standard but certainly less costly than a 700 dollar commercially built easel. Most of the cost went into the clamps at 40 dollars and the wood which was premium quality 2x4s. Using non-premium wood had the problem of introducing too many alignment issues from warped wood. Here's a estimate of construction costs:

Work surface clamps: Quantity (2) at 20 dollars each. 40 dollars total.
Wood: 50 dollars total.
Mounting hardware (screws, bolts, reinforcement plates): 30 dollars total.
Drawer slides: Quantity (2) at 18 dollars each. Total 36 dollars
Pulleys, rope, dumbell: 9 dollars.

Grand total around 165 dollars.

So what's up next? I'm thinking a light-box would be pretty handy. When I have time, maybe I'll put one together.

Ready to read more about project weasel? Here's the next post for the easel construction project. If you want, you can read about the project from the start at this link: Project Weasel.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Old Age and Treachery


Hacking? So what is it? According to Mark Zuckerberg:

“In reality, hacking just means building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done.”

I don't like or agree with Zuckerberg's definition. I get the connection he's trying to establish about taking chances by moving fast and being willing to go down many avenues of exploration. And I even embrace the risk taking when it comes to trying different solutions. But the problem is his statement wreaks of the underlying attitude he projects that youth is more valuable than experience. Regardless of the intent, that type of mentality effectively downplays gray engineers like myself who have been in the trenches for ages. To some extent, he demonizes people like myself as the destroyers of innovation. Well, at least I'm good at something. Thanks Zuckerberg, now I feel accomplished.

And more importantly, why does speed take such an important role in Zuckerberg's definition? Ah, my aging brain forgot what we just talked about with gray engineers  Evidently, Zuckerberg believes young people move quickly and old goats like myself destroy businesses with our grizzled attitudes. I call bull. To understand why I call bull, let's take a step back in time.

To truly grok the roots of hacking, experiencing the 70's was key. Pushing boundaries was a part of it, but so was re-purposing devices to do things they were never intended to do and that's the real core of hacking. We always kept an eye out for useful parts to use when hacking. It didn't matter where it came from, just so long as it could be use.

When you look at it from the original hacker perspective, it's more about DIY than anything else. DIY means figuring out how to solve problems with whatever you have access to. Ask the astronauts of Apollo 13. Have an C02 problem? Time to build a scrubber. Take a look at this article about what saved Apollo 13 for some details. Talk about innovative!

Back closer to earth, for mere mortals like myself hacking meant having fun as well as solving problems. Want to play pinball but don't have massive amounts of cash to buy a machine? Time to start bending heavy gauge wire for guides and use large rubber bands with solenoids that drive a lever arm to bounce the ball after it hits the rubber band and stretches it enough to trip a cherry switch. Bumpers? Large washer embedded in the plywood play-field by using a (woodworking) router to route out enough wood so that the washer is level with the play-field surface.. The steel ball (a ball bearing) makes electrical contact between the embedded washer and another washer that is brazed on top of several rods that travel through to the underside of the playfield to another washing machine solenoid. Safe? Heck no. It could shock you to death if you touched it. But talk about fun for a kid who had no money to speak of.

But that's how it was in the 70's. We built stuff which, at times, might be considered by some as pointless. I built a mechanical toad robot. While it would be laughable to anyone else, it was an achievement for me. I even nicknamed my project: the Super Toad. Heavy gauge wire, a solenoid and brazing does wonders. I'm fortunate as my sister found and saved the toad which I had carefully stored away in a box back on the farm. I'll take a picture of my Frankentoad and upload to this post at a later point.

In regards to DIY, well, the idea of "recycling" runs deep in my veins. My DIY art easel is a good example of how I will build versus buy. For me, a lot of it stems from the fact I grew up in poverty. We didn't always have money to buy things. That meant re-purposing and salvaging to create things. It also makes me somewhat biased against someone like Zuckerberg who has mountains of cash to play with. Mind you, he earned it but I wonder if he would be willing to crawl through a heap of old machinery to salvage parts. Me, my curiosity overwhelms me and I frequently look at things from a perspective of "how can I use that?" What I'm saying is that you can't take the hack out of hacker even if he or she becomes wealthy. It's a mindset as well a way of life. Wait and see. I hope that my hacker mentality will show in my artwork as well since I like to create with my hands. Heck, my Alone in the Dark post is a trivial example of hacking too. Even though it was simple, I jammed an electrical light socket into an egg carton to achieve the results. Expect more artwork in that style in the future.

I don't mean to downplay Zuckerberg's abilities or his intelligence. Clearly, to create an empire requires talent, persistence  timing and luck. But the man is equally jaded as the old goats he thinks so little of. Even a billionaire can learn a thing or two if he listens. Hacking is more than speed. But he did get it right about pushing boundaries in the sense of re-purposing devices to do things they weren't originally intended to do. Consider it as an entertaining and useful form of recycling.

The Best Offense is a Good Defense


From the article about “Rising Voices in S. Korea, Japan AdvocateNuclear Weapons” and a quote from South Korean lawmaker Chung Mong-joon drove home a point many, including myself, have been trying to make about why the concept of trying to outlaw most weapons is detrimental to the wrong parties.

Chung Mong-joon was comparing the situation in North Korea to “a gangster in the neighborhood buying a brand-new machine gun” and trying to defend oneself with merely a pebble.

Exactly! Man, I couldn't have found a better quote if I wanted. Outlaw weapons and guess what... only the law abiding citizens will honor the restrictions. Those with their own agenda's, which North Korea has demonstrated repeatedly, will obtain heavy-duty weapons and those without will be at a severe disadvantage. Hmm, sort of like a citizen of the US who, if they have their ability to buy firepower taken away will be at the mercy of the thug who buys weapons through the black market. Don't think that simply “drying up the source of weapons” will work. Criminals can find access to anything if they want it bad enough. And when you have anything of value, you can bet someone else will want to take it, including your life.

Yeah, I get the point about proliferation of weapons. But human nature is human nature. We need to not only feel safe, we need the ability to take an active role personally in establishing that sense of well being. Do you think the South Koreans feel safe relying on the US to respond with appropriate force should North Korea take action against them? On principle, we effectively let South Korea out to dry in at least one situation in the past so I can easily understand any trepidation.

So let me ask my readers this, when have you ever known villains to play by the rules? I, for one, won't be caught with my pants down because somebody deems I have no need for weapons be it rifles with high capacity clips or long kitchen knives (no thank you merry old England). I'm the one who should and will decide those factors.

Let me close with a quote from Syed Abbas Naqvi who directly experienced the devastation and carnage from the recent bombing in the city of Quetta (Pakistan):

"A person who is extremely helpless, vulnerable and powerless is always made the target of barbarity whereas all brutal people like the terrorists, Taliban and others who carry out these merciless acts...roam free all over the country."

And we here in the US want to ban guns? Go back and reread the quote above.