Right to Boycott

Part of my Google news feed today included a disturbing story.  Just Google, “congress to make boycott of Israel illegal.”  This is a direct attack on the first amendment and freedom of speech.  Freedom of speech is the most important of our fundamental rights.  It has to be exercised, or it has no value.  And here is the thing, freedom of speech is the two edged sword.  You have the right to express your opinion no matter who disagrees.  But that also means that everybody else gets to express their opinions, no matter how offensive you find what they say.  Here is the text of the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Emphasis mine)

I believe it is reprehensible to boycott Israel.  I believe that Israel has every right to all of the land currently occupied by the Palestinians.  And I have the right to say as much.  This also means that people with anti-Israel sentiments have every right to boycott Israel.  They have every right to speak whatever antisemitic ideas that occur to them.  The KKK has every right to speak whatever racist ideas they wish.  Pedophiles have the right to advocate adult child sexual relations.  Everybody has the right to argue pro-life, or pro choice, whichever they believe.  No matter what the topic, you have the right to voice your opinion.  No person, no matter what their political position, has the right to dictate what you can or cannot say, discuss, advocate, or condemn, no matter how offensive they believe your words are.

No matter how much I disagree with their ideology, opponents of Israel have the right to boycott, to organize boycotts, to discuss their reasons for the boycott, to come together in their mission.  I, nor any other person, has the right to obstruct them.  The second amendment clearly states above that, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.  So let them pass their law.  I wager it will be contested to the supreme court where it will be struck down as unconstitutional.

Facebook Rant

I honestly do not understand how Facebook has grown to be what it is.  I’m good with tech stuff in general, but I cannot figure out how Facebook works to save my life.  I mean, what the hell is my Facebook Wall anyway?  It’s not really a blog, because all kinds of stuff keeps showing up on it I did not post.  And where does all that stuff come from anyway?  I thought it was supposed to be MY wall.  How do other people post to it?  It’s not really a message board, I don’t think.  I think you’re supposed to be able to reply to stuff, but for the life of me I don’t know how.  I never can tell where something I write is going to end up.  Will it post to my wall, to my friend’s wall, or to the ether?  It feels very random.  Is what I am writing a post, a comment, a reply, etc?  I never know how Facebook will treat what I am writing.

Then, a friend of mine texted me a screen capture from his phone of a Jeep for sale on the Facebook Marketplace.  I spent hours trying to find that Jeep.  The Facebook Marketplace is the most retarded and unsearchable site I’ve ever tried to use.  I can’t find anything on it.  I can’t even find the marketplace at all on my computer.  Tonight I decided to search for a motorcycle.  I got nothing for my hour of just trying to find the marketplace, never mind anything on the marketplace.  I never found the Marketplace itself.  Google sent me to http://www.facebook.com/fbmarketplace.  From there I entered the model of bike I want and the results were not Marketplace ads.  All of the results were basic Facebook pages, or posts, or blogs, or comments, or whatever the hell they are, but not For Sale ads.  It is not a marketplace if no commerce is being conducted.

Go to hell Facebook.  You’re retarded.

Another Bone to Pick with Microsoft

Back in August Microsoft deployed their Anniversary Update for Windows 10.  I learned my lesson on early adopting anything coming out of Redmund, so I have my Professional copies set to defer feature updates.  I do not intend to take on those updates unless I absolutely have to.  Well, yesterday Microsoft forced my hand and jammed the Anniversary Update down my throat, like it or not.  I did everything I could to stop it, even editing the registry to make my ethernet connection register as a metered service.  It still downloaded it.  I unplugged the cable from the back of the machine which stopped the download midstream and frantically Googled for a way to stop it.  Not finding one, I phoned Microsoft for a solution.  The tech I finally spoke to told me there were two solutions they could offer.  1) Let the update finish and then use the recovery option to go back to an earlier build.  2) Stop all updates completely.  So, I had to choose between a bad option and a bad option.

I understand that security updates are important, so I went with bad option number one.  Now I get to the bone I am picking.  I have my computer encrypted with Bitlocker, and other stuff.  In process of installing this rather large update, Windows required a few reboots.  During the first reboot, I unlocked my encrypted thumb drive that contains the key file required for my computer to boot, and I prepared to enter the password also required to boot, and watched in amazement as it simply continued on with the install without any input from me.

Let’s put this into perspective.  I have configured Bitlocker to require a key stored on a TPM chip installed on the motherboard, a key file stored on the above-mentioned hardware encrypted thumb drive, and a twenty character alpha-numeric pin (the maximum length Bitlocker supports).  My computer, while installing the update, rebooted.  The screen showed the video card post screen, the raid post screen, and the motherboard post screen that handed the process over to the Windows boot loader.  At that point, with only the TPM portion of the process fulfilled, the Windows Update process continued to write to an encrypted file system.  How?

I presume that the RAM was cleared, so the encryption key shouldn’t have been stored there.  The file system is encrypted, so it could not have been stored there as the update process would not have the key to read the key.  So the only place left is the unencrypted boot sectors of the system drive.  That is a massive security hole that completely destroys the point of encryption.  If the key was written to an unencrypted portion of the system drive, that key is now recoverable by a hacker or other threat to my digital security.

The other possible explanation, Windows temporarily disabled Bitlocker for the duration of the update process.  This is an equally bad situation.  It took hours to fully encrypt the 930GB of usable space on my system drive, despite that fact that it’s four striped SSD’s.  How then, can the update process, in a matter of minutes, circumvent that encryption?

This whole post boils down to one thing.  What little faith I had in Bitlocker is gone.  At great expense and with much effort, I have switched to other solutions.  Thank you, Microsoft for costing my hundreds of dollars and many hours to fix your gaping security holes.

Basket of Deplorables Rejoice

Even now, months after Hillary Clinton called half of Donald Trump’s supporters a “Basket of Deplorables,” (read the story) I am amazed that she actually said the words out loud.  But she did, and I doubt that it had the intended effect.  I know that what I am about to write might not strengthen my case, but here goes anyway.

After the election, I went to the liquor store to purchase a bottle of Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum.  I’m earning my Deplorable Badge, I know.  I informed the lady at checkout that I was buying my celebratory bottle of rum.  She inquired to what I was celebrating.  When I told her I was one of the Irredeemable Deplorables that is happy that Donald Trump won the presidency, she grinned, shook my hand and proudly proclaimed to be a Deplorable herself.  It would appear, according to my very small sample of two, a very scientific survey if there has ever been one, being a member of Donald Trump’s Basket of Deplorables has become a badge of honor.  Take that Crooked Hillary.

If you would like to proudly proclaim being a Deplorable, please feel free to do so in the comments below.  I would love to hear from you.

Police Lives Matter

If the title of this post got you excited, hold that thought.  This post is about to take a left turn.

One of the news articles that popped up on my phone today was an article on DailyMail.com written by Todd Starnes.  The article is about some Walmart employees refusing to make a Police Lives Matter cake for a police officer’s retirement party.  If you would like, you can read the story here.  I gathered from the article that the employees refused on the grounds that they found the concept to be racist.  From that, I will operate under the assumption that the employees are likely black.  I could be wrong, but that seems a safe bet.  If I am wrong, I apologize for being a racist and insensitive white guy from middle America.  Sue me.

Mr. Starnes wrote of being surprised that the employees were not fired for refusing to make the cake.  So he is obviously taking the side of the daughter trying to get a cake for her retiring father.  That seems to be a sensible position, because how could someone be against an assertion that Police Lives Matter.  I mean, police lives really do matter.  But here’s the thing.  The phrase Police Lives Matter is a direct challenge to the Black Lives Matter organization.  It trivializes a movement that aims to protect the lives of a minority group.  While I understand the sentiment behind the phrase Police Lives Matter, I cannot help but to say those Walmart employees are absolutely correct.  They had every right to refuse to make that cake.  I applaud them for standing up for their convictions.  It takes courage to stand up to your boss and say no when there is a real possibility of being fired for it.  Kudos to the Walmart employees.

That being said, Walmart should have fired them on the spot.  Walmart is a huge corporation, and they cannot have employees dragging their name and brand into political issues that they cannot win.  No matter which side Walmart takes, they alienate some segment of society that are potential customers.  Once those employees made that decision and it hit the news, Walmart could not win no matter what they did.  In this case, they tried very hard to take care of the customer and make the cake.  In the process, they possibly angered everybody that is sympathetic to Black Lives Matter.  They appear to be siding with a woman that some people will view as racist.  They could not win.

So, what about Black Lives Matter?  The news has been constant lately.  It seems that every week another story breaks that follows the same theme.  An unarmed black man is shot and killed by police officers.  These incidents are the reason the Black Lives Matter group exists.  All police agencies in this country need to understand something.  If you want the Black Lives Matter group to go away, stop killing unarmed black men.  It really is that simple.  It has gotten so bad that according to a Huffington Post article, three countries have issued warnings about travel to the United States.  This country is supposed to be a welcoming environment that is safe for all people.  That is no longer the perception some people have of us.

One thing I will not do in this post is list stories about unarmed, black men who have been killed by police.  Even if I limited the list to those that occurred in 2016, it would be too long for this post.  And that’s only part of the problem.  There is another side to the problem, and could be argued is much more important.  For so many years there has been an attitude within law enforcement that “We protect our own.”  It is important to know that you have backup in a stressful situation.  I understand that, but there needs to be a reasonable limit to that.  Covering for criminal activity is in itself a crime.  This Good ol’ Boy atmosphere in the police ranks no longer has any place in our society.  It is sad that the reason it is being challenged now is only because of squad car dash cams and officer body cams.  Until now there has never been proof when an officer acted outside the law and killed an unarmed person with no provocation.  Now we are seeing it weekly.  And much to the horror of the black community, the powers that be keep sweeping it under the rug.  They take a very long time to come to the decision that the officer acted appropriately when all the video evidence tells a completely different story.  What do you expect the black community to do when this happens.  They are the underdogs.  They are the marginalized.  They are  the powerless victims.  They are the ones that die.  Don’t be surprised when they stand up en mass and fight back the only way they know how.  This is the only way they can effect change in a broken system.  Who will listen to them if they petition lawmakers?  Who will take them seriously if they speak out?  It is only through the actions they are taking that they bring attention to the issue that is most important to them.  This is the only way they know to defend themselves from an armed adversary.So, what should the police do about this?

There is a good example of what not to do.  According to this article from CNN, North Carolina enacted a new law removing squad car dash cam footage from the public record.  In North Carolina, dash cam footage was considered public record, so it was available for scrutiny.  Not anymore.  This sends exactly the wrong message to these groups protesting police shootings.  If you do not have anything to hide, stop hiding the evidence.  The solution to the violent protests that are happening after the police shoot an unarmed, black man is not to hide the evidence behind some new law.  The solution is to STOP SHOOTING UNARMED, BLACK MEN!  Why is this so difficult to understand?  If you hide the video footage behind this new law, the black community will assume that you are guilty, and they will riot.  This law is not fixing anything.  It is perpetuating the Good ol’ Boy mentality that I wrote of earlier.

The best way to end this Black Lives Matter movement is to stop hiding the evidence.  Stop defending obviously guilty officers that kill any person without cause.  Release the unedited video in a timely manner so everyone can see what really happened.  Put the officers that are guilty of killing any person without just cause in prison.  The only thing that will end the Black Lives Matter movement is complete, honest, transparency.  Until that happens, they have every right to rise up against you.  Don’t act surprised when they do.

PS: I find it odd that I wrote such a liberal piece.  I mean, I am likely to anger more Republicans with this post than Democrats.  I don’t know that I like that, but it is what it is.  I created the Politically Incorrect category with the expressed goal of pissing off the Liberals and Democrats.  Unfortunately, with this post, I likely failed.  But stay tuned.  I’ll get back to my vast right wing conspiracies soon enough.