Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Foreign felony convictions don't bar gun ownership in the USA

So says the United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision. I haven't read the case yet but it appears that the Court reached its decision on the grounds that an act that's a felony in another country might actually be behavior encourage here, or vice-versa. Also, other countries may not have the same procedural safeguards as our legal system.

Strangely, two of the dissenters were Scalia and Thomas (joined by Kennedy), both of whom are on record as recognizing that the Second Amendment recognizes an individual right. Their line of reasoning is that Congress barred gun ownership for persons convicted in "any" court of a felony, and they saw nothing to indicate that "any" is limited to US courts. Thus, they are being consistent in their method of interpreting legislation, i.e., appplying textualism.

After some consideration I have to conclude that while Scalia and Thomas (whose opinions I generally respect more than the other justices') missed the point. The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental individual right, as recognized by the Second Amendment. It's bad enough when American laws infringe upon it, but it would be worse if we allowed decisions made in foreign jurisdictions, many of whom have little respect for individual rights of any kind, to serve as the basis for denial of a fundamental right.

If we frame the question as, "Should rights recognized under the Bill of Rights be abridged due to felony convictions rendered in any foreign court," the answer has to be a resounding no. If not, then they aren't rights, just priviledges, subject to revocation at the whim of those in power.

Edited at 19:58 to correct the numbers on the Court's split, and to fix a spelling error in the title.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fugu - SFTP and SCP for OS-X

I've been looking for a good GPLed GUI to SFTP and SCP that I can run on my iBook. It looks like I found it: Fugu. I installed it last night and it seems to work OK. If I run into any issues I'll report them here.

Installation could hardly be simpler: download the compressed archive, decompress it, and drag the Fugu app from the opened archive into your Applications folder. I also added it to my Dock but that of course isn't required.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Mozilla, SUSE, AFU

SUSE's YaST Online Update has now hosed Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird on two machines: Bagend and my Dell D600 at work. If I launch them from the command line like "firefox &" I see that Gecko is segfaulting. I need to do some more googling to see if I can find a fix.

On Bagend, the Mozilla Suite 1.7.4 still seems to work ok but I'll have to verify that. I upgrade the suite to 1.7.7 via RPMs downloaded from, and now it's hosed, too.


I will note that this is the first time I've had any app stop working after running SUSE YOU. That said, it is a major problem when security updates kill your web browser or email client, much less both at the same time.

The GeekWithA45 rants, then get lucky

GeekWithA.45 has a must-read rant about a recent experience at Worst Best Buy. I've disliked Best buy for quite some time and this just reinforces my feeling.

He follows up his rant with some good news, though. He scored a Marlin Camp .45 last week.

Like the Geek, I got my Camp .45 last year at Seneca Arms. Mine wears a cheapo BSA red dot (got it for free). It's quite accurate -- 25 yard groups are one hole slightly larger than a .45 bullet. The furthest I've shot it is 50 yards, and there's a perceptible lag between the time you pull the trigger and you hear the SMACK of the bullet hitting the target.

If you pick up a Camp .45, definitely replace the OEM recoil spring, which at 11 lbs. is way too light. I'm running a 16 Lb. Wolff spring in mine and considering the 22 lb. spring. Also, keep the screws holding the gun in the stock tight so that you don't crack the wood under recoil. One of these days I plan to pick up an extra bolt buffer as well.

Do a search on THR and you'll turn up some good info on the Marlin Camp Carbines, which are unfortunately no longer made.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Tonight is the first night of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew), during which Jews remember the events leading up to and including the Exodus from Egypt. (Yet another Jewish holiday which basically goes, "They oppressed us, they're dead, let's eat!)

The name Pesach is derived from the sacrificial paschal lamb, whose blood was smeared over the doors of the Israelite slaves, so that the Angel of Death would pass over their homes and smite the first born sons of only Yul Brynner, umm, I mean the Egyptians.

This afternoon we're heading down to my uncle's place in Arlington, VA to get together with my mom's side of the family for our Passover seder.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

10/22 gunsmithing

I did a little gunsmithing on my Ruger 10/22 tonight.

Sometime last year I installed a Power Custom hammer and sear to reduce the godawful factory trigger pull to something manageable. It resulted in a very nice pull, but I needed to do some tweaking so that the safety could be engaged. So tonight I pulled the rifle out of the closet, took down the trigger mechanism, and stoned/filed the end of the sear that bears on the safety catch. It took a couple of tries, but I was taking it slow. It's a lot easier to take metal off than to put it back.

For guidance on how to take apart the trigger mechanism on a 10/22, see here and here.

One the action was finished I mounted a Nikon Pro Staff 4x32mm rimfire scope. The rifle had been sans glass, and when the latest Natchez Shooters Supply flyer came, I saw that they were selling factory-refurbished Nikons for about $30 off. That brought this scope down to $69 + S&H, which I couldn't resist.

I used to have a Weaver 4x28mm rimfire scope on the Ruger, but have since migrated it over to my Savage Mark IIGL. Compared with the Weaver, the Nikon has a longer eye relief and larger exit pupil, which are good. I think it's a bit brighter, too, but I'll need to take both outside at the same time and compare them side by side to be sure. Both scopes normally go for about $100 or a little more.

Now all I need is a free afternoon some weekend to get to the range!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

New Pope

So the Roman Catholic Church has a new Pope, and already some people are claiming that he might be an antisemite due to his teen membership in the Hitler Youth. This is ridiculous.

Maybe he is an antisemite. Hell, I can't read his mind. Somehow I think this would've come to light in the intervening six decades. But to make a big deal about his membership in the Hitler Youth or his subsequent conscription into the German military during WW2, things in which he had no choice and which occured 60 years ago is absurd. There are plenty of real antisemites out there without having to conjur up false ones.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

In class today

Today was spent attending the PBI's 2005 Internet Law Update downtown in the Wannamaker Building, a block from my office. The course was worth 5 substantive and 1 ethics credit, so I'm now up-to-date for my annual CLE requirement. (I'm in the compliance group whose year ends April 30th.)

Overall, the course was excellent.

During the lunch break I hung out a Love Park at 15th & JFK, since the weather was nice and there's free wifi. Unfortunately, while I my iBook's Airport card was able to associate with the WLAN I didn't pull an IP. I suspect the DHCP scope was exhausted. I was able to associate with a WLAN having the SSID "linksys," yes, some dufus had hooked up a Linksys wireless router and done squat to secure it. I figured, "WTF," and did a quick check of my email. The connection was dog slow, so I figure that I wasn't the only freeloader.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Arpil 19th

Tomorrow, April 19th is a significant day. On the downside, it's the anniversary of the Fed's BBQ at Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing.

But it's also the anniversary of the Minutemen's stand at Lexington & Concord, where "the shot heard 'round the world" started the American Revolution. Finally, it's also the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. As one of my online friends (M.S.) said today:

Tomorrow is resistance day, where we remember everybody who stood up, and looked tyranny in the eye and didn't blink. If it gives em nightmares, well and good.

A Message from the Ghost of General Patton

Here. Needs Flash.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

A Productive Weekend

Yesterday I paid a visit to one of my clients, a custom printing/blueprinting shop. This is the same client for whom a partner and I installed Ethernet and telephone cabling in their new office back in the Fall.

Anyway, yesteday's visit had two purposes: first, my normal monthly maintenance on their file and mailservers. Second, to limit Internet access for some of the workstations on their LAN. A number of the PCs are hooked up to large printers and used to control them, and nobody should ever be using them for anything else. Likewise there are two PCs used strictly for shipping items, one for UPS and one for FedEx. These need limited access. About a half dozen PCs need full Internet access.

Since they are on a budget, the way I created different levels of access was to use access control lists (ACLs) on their SMC 8013 cable modem/router. The PCs with full access were assigned static IPs in a particular range, while the boxes with no access were left as DHCP clients. I changed the DHCP scope, cutting it in half, and created an ACL which denies Internet access to those PCs within the range of IPs handed out by the router.

The UPS and FedEx PCs were special cases. We downloaded and instaleld Norton Internet Security on the FedEx box, and one of their employess who's pretty savvy will configure it so that the only website the user can go to is FedEx's. We tried the same thing for the UPS box, but this one was acutally supplied by UPS and NIS wouldn't install. So, the company's owner is just going to have to put her foot down with repsect to misuse of that PC in particular.

Finally, I also got the mail users migrated to Mozilla Thunderbird, off of Outlook Express. The main reason for doing so was to minimize their exposure to malware.

Today my electrician friend who helped me out on the big cabling job with this client came over and did some work at my house. We got most of the remaining two prong outlets replaced with properly grounded three prong outlets, got our doorbell fixed, a couple of outside floodlights upgraded, and checked out attic fans at Lowe's. He'll probably come back out next month to do the attic fan, which should save us some money during the summer.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Online Freedom of Speech Act

Found via InstaPundit:

Today in the House of Representatives, Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) introduced a companion piece of legislation to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's bill (S.678) to exclude the Internet from the definition of "public communication" in the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002.

Read the rest of this short article, here.
Looks good to me.

A bit of a scare, but back to normal now

We had a bit of a scare yesterday but things turned out OK.

At about 1100 the daycare called Judith and told her that Alexandra had fallen, banged her head, and they were concerned that she might have a concussion. Aside from a cut on the back of her head, her pupils were dilated.(*) Needless to say, we both left work. Since Judith drives and I had to wait for the next train she got to Alexandra before I did and had her checked over by our pediatrician. It turned out that she's OK, that the fall just rung her bell, so to speak. But as you can imagine I didn't get anything productive done yesterday afternoon. She was fine this morning.

Today I've been working on a white paper discussing the efficient use of a limited number of public, routable IPs. Its intended audience is our customers, since we're rolling out a static IP offering for our commercial cable modem service, as well as our salespeople, so that they get a better understanding of the tech they're selling.

This afternoon I have a phone call scheduled with one of our vendors of new network management system used for some of the RF-to-Ethernet gateways that we use in our hospitality product.

* - One dilated pupil is a good indicator of a concussion. If only one is dilated, something ain't right.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Road trip

We took a road trip up to Orange County, NY this weekend for my grandmither's 90th birthday. I hadn't seen my dad's side of the family in awhile so it was nice to go. Also, this was the first time any of them had seen Amanda except in pictures so that was another reason to go.

The trip was about 3-1/4 hours each way. A good part of the drive is off the major interstates, taking US-209 through the Delware Water Gap National Recreation Area. It's beautiful country and we may take the kids camping there in a couple of years once they're a little older.

We got home at about 1400 yesterday and sat outdside to enjoy the nice Spring weather. Judith's aunt and grandmother stopped by for a little while. After they left, I cut down some bushes which were beyond the point of trimming back so they'd look neat, along the front of the house. I'm thinking that after I cut the stumps flush with the ground, I'll build a raised bed and put in some flowers to spruce up the place.

I'm still tired from the weekend. :-)

Today I plan to do some more work with the WatchGuard Firebox X2500 demo unit that I got in last week, and this afternoon I have a meeting about an ongoing wifi hotspot project.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Fun fun fun

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the Earth, I've just been preoccupied and haven't had much worth posting lately.

The other day I completed my in-depth eval of an Astaro ASG 120 security appliance. I have a call later today with them to get a couple of questions answered, and then I anticipate sending the demo unit back.

I received a demo Watchguard Firebox X to check out, also for possible use as a replacement for our Qube/IGear content filtering boxes. I should be setting it up later today. I've also had some discussions with SonicWALL and will probably be getting a demo from them, too.

This morning I wrapped up T&V of a new firmware release for our SMC8013 gateways. I ran into a couple of glitches, but no show-stoppers.

A private client of mine needs to limit Internet access for some of the PCs on his network, but is on a very limited budget. They have cable modem service from my dayjob, so what we're going to do is to use the SMC's ability to block Internet access from specified internal IPs. Their LAN is such that it won't be too onerous to switch all the PCs to static IPs, turn off the router's DHCP server, and then put all the PCs which need to be isolated from the Internet into a range with no outside access. I'm looking at a site visit on the 16th to implement this.

Monday, April 04, 2005

SF Wants to Regulate Bloggers

It's not just the Feds. Found via Mad Ogre:

Just when you thought the Federal Election Commission had it out for the blogosphere, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors took it up a notch and announced yesterday that it will soon vote on a city ordinance that would require local bloggers to register with the city Ethics Commission and report all blog-related costs that exceed $1,000 in the aggregate.

Original article here.

Tar. Feathers. Rope. Some assembly required.