researched facts

Facts, backed by evidence, about popular topics

Month: July, 2013

Ubuntu 13.04 Rocks

I decided, after a great experience with Linux Mint, to put a Linux distro on my laptop. Given its age, I had a few installation problems and finally decided to go straight to Ubuntu without any flavoring and hope for the best. It wasn’t a perfect install, but it was far easier to fix than any other and so I was up and running in no time.

Let me just say that Ubuntu 13.04 absolutely rocks. It is fast, easy-to-use, and clean. It is the best OS I have used and if more people start using it, then more vendors will start supporting it. In fact, the only thing lacking in Ubuntu is strong support from third parties like graphics card makers, game makers, etc. If those groups would come on board, then there would be no stopping Ubuntu. Hopefully Android will help push the adoption of Linux distros, but we’ll see.

In the interim. If you want to try Ubuntu, all you need is a USB drive. You can boot from the USB and try Ubuntu without ever installing it. If you love it, you can either install it over your existing OS or install it so that you can dual boot. Linux makes it easy to dual boot, so that is what I do for those moments when Windows is just an absolute necessity.

That’s all, just wanted to give a shout out to Ubuntu 13. Hopefully I’ll have time to come back and write about all of the great features.

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Getting it Right – The George Zimmerman Trial

I have listened to a lot of media coverage, read a lot of blogs, and debated with people on forums regarding the outcome of the Zimmerman trial. Now, the first juror has spoken and has confirmed everything that I have been saying. However, before we get to the reasons George Zimmerman is not guilty of anything more than self-defense, let’s consider the Stand Your Ground law in Florida.

 

Stand Your Ground (SYG henceforth) does not GIVE you a right to defend yourself. It is designed to PROTECT your right to defend yourself. The law was enacted the very type of situation Zimmerman found himself in. You are being threatened with bodily injury or death and you defend yourself. Zimmerman never intended his defense to be lethal, but it turned out that way. The SYG law protects people in just such a situation from bullshit prosecution and imprisonment. The jurors understood that clearly and calling them “confused” is both condescending and wrong. In fact, calling the jurors “confused” only makes the media look:

A. Stupid and confused themselves

B. Biased

C. Racist

Now, let’s briefly (in bullet points) go over the EVIDENCE in the trial.

  • Trayvon Martin was acting suspiciously and George Zimmerman called 911 to report this activity. Zimmerman was on the citizen’s watch and there had been a rash of break-ins, so this would not have been an unusual action in any way, shape, or form.
  • Zimmerman followed Martin to ensure he knew where he was so that he could inform the police when they arrived (which took far too long). He says as much on the 911, lamenting the fact that the police never arrive swiftly and that “these assholes always get away.” Despite the doctoring my the media, this is what the tape actually says. The medial who doctored the tape should absolutely be brought up on charges of tampering with evidence, attempting to incite a riot, and hate crimes. I hope George Zimmerman sues and wins.
  • Zimmerman was ASKED by the 911 operator to identify Martin’s race as part of the overall description. He said nothing about race prior to that point, only that someone was acting suspiciously and appeared to be on drugs (the second point we now know to be completely accurate – Martin was one drugs).
  • The 911 operator never told Zimmerman to stop following Martin, only that they “don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman indicated he wanted to be able to tell police where Martin was when they arrived and was concerned that he was walking not on the sidewalk, but through yards and nearer to houses than necessary.
  • Zimmerman, at some point, was attacked by Martin who punched Zimmerman in the face and then began to slam his head into the pavement. This alone is bodily injury and falls under the SYG law. For the idiots who think Zimmerman had to be sure that Martin was reaching for Zimmerman’s gun before SYG applies, you are dead wrong and stupid to boot. When you attempt to beat someone, expect to suffer the consequences.
  • Zimmerman fired ONCE, indicating no anger or hatred, but only a desire to protect his life.
  • Police testified that Zimmerman seemed surprised that Martin was dead, suggesting he had no intention of killing him.
  • Race never entered into this until the media started calling Zimmerman a “White Hispanic,” a label he has never been asked about and which has never before been used by the media until it became a convenient way of inflaming a race issue.
  • Martin uttered racists comments on the phone, which were repeated in court, including phrases like “nigga” and “cracker.” Both were used by Martin in reference to Zimmerman, suggesting the only racist in this whole situation was Martin himself.

To add to all of this, the FBI investigated and found no evidence of racial motivation on the part of Zimmerman and no indication that he is or ever has been racist. In fact, the only race issues in this case have been people like Al Sharpton insisting that it is about race. My take on that is that Mr. Sharpton is racist himself if he insists that any time a person defends himself or herself against a black person that is must be racially motivated.

Think about it this way. You or your son or daughter follows a person through your own neighborhood while waiting for police to show up and do their job. The person being followed decides to attack you or your son or daughter and is slamming that person’s head into the ground, which can potentially kill. You have a gun and a clear shot. What do you do? Do you let yourself, your son, your daughter die? Do you care, in that moment, about the race of the person who is slamming said head into the concrete?

The story is tragic and so is the loss of life, but two things should be abundantly clear. Martin initiated the violent encounter and Zimmerman only drew and fired when he was being beaten. That is the bottom line and anything in addition to that is just hype. The jury came to the same conclusion, based on all the evidence presented to them. For once, justice has been done.

 

P.S. – To those rioting in the streets: If you attack my car, I will run you over. If you threaten my life, I will respond with force (lethal if necessary). I don’t care how angry you are. You have no right to threaten or intimidate others, especially those who had nothing to do with the trial.

P.P.S. – Threatening to kill white people is racist and should be treated as a hate crime.

 

P.P.P.S. – Any threats of violence against a person should be taken seriously. If you threaten George Zimmerman, his family, the jurors, anyone who testified, the defense team, etc. – you will likely be investigated by the FBI and I hope, beyond all hope, that you spend some time in prison and learn a little something about how a civilized citizen should act.

P.P.P.P.S – One last question. Assume for a moment that Zimmerman was unarmed and that Martin had continued to beat him. What then? Would that be racist on Martin’s part? What if Zimmerman had died? Is Martin then a murderer? Is it only racist if he had killed Zimmerman? Why can’t Zimmerman defend himself, regardless of the color of skin of his attacker?

Did Death Valley Break a Heat Record?

There has been a lot of press coverage about the heatwave in the Southwestern United States with a great deal of emphasis on Death Valley and whether or not it has broken a heat record. This all plays well into the general consensus that the globe is warming, but me thinks there is something more to the media bullshit hype.

The first thing that should impress anyone about the current “heat” is that it isn’t that unusual for Death Valley. It is, after all, the hottest place on the planet. Thanks to its unique geography and topography, Death Valley routinely breaks through the 120 F mark every July. Is there something special about this July?

The answer is Yes. This July 10th will mark the 100th anniversary since the world record temperature of 134 F (for Death Vally – this is still 2 F below the world record set in Libya) was set in Death Vally in 1913. Wouldn’t it be a great story to be able to say “thanks to global warming, heat records in Death Valley have been smashed” on the 100th anniversary that the records were set? What a great story that would be and it would go a long way to propping up the idea that global warming is real and severe. Too bad the whole story is bullshit.

First of all, how does one measure a heat wave? Is it just a single high temperature? What about low temperatures and stretches of high temperature? As it turns out, there is no pattern whatsoever when you start looking at these trends. Here are some examples:

1. Most days over 100 F: Summer 2001

2. Most consecutive days over 120 F: Summer 1917

3. Most consecutive days over 90 F: Summer 1992

4. Hottest April Temperature: 2012

5. Longest string of lows above 100 F: 1959

The list goes on, but the obvious conclusion one should draw from this is that extremes of weather in Death Valley have been recorded throughout the 20th century, including well before carbon levels were high enough to have an impact. But this still isn’t the whole story.

The weather station used in 1913 was located in Furnace Creek. The new instrument is located 20 miles south of that in Badwater (installed late 1990s, which is convenient for some of the records listed above). Why is this significant? Well, Badwater is hotter than Furnace Creek and the particular location of the new instrument almost guarantees that it will record higher temperatures in every instance because it is located in a depression (low elevation than Furnace Creek) and because it is protected from the winds that help to cool the Furnace Creek instrument. In fact, the new instrument may be the hottest part of the valley and thus the temperatures recorded there are not directly comparable to temperatures recorded at Furnace Creek. In other words, we aren’t comparing apples to apples here. A great map and more detailed explanation can be found at (http://www.john-daly.com/stations/badwater.htm).

The bottom line is that we still haven’t gotten close to the record of 134 F and even if we do break it, that doesn’t mean much. It is too bad the media looks to sensationalize information and can’t cover these topics accurately. Always be skeptical of extremes. Their ability to capture our attention makes them all too prone to manipulation, fudging, and good old yellow journalism.