On the Second Amendment

The US Constitution is an amazing document, but like all things made by men, it is flawed. One of those flaws is the overbroad authority given in the second amendment.

I agree with the majority of Americans who believe in a loose construction of the constitution, meaning that one must take into account what the founders were thinking when they wrote sections as opposed to just subscribing to the letter of the constituion. If they had intented Americans to follow the constitution to the letter, and had they had the time, I’m sure the country’s founders would have codified a huge document similar to the US Civil Code to guide us. Instead they chose simplicity, knowing that excess “thought,” as it is, leads simply to more misunderstandings and confusion. Frankly, they didn’t have the time to worry about verbal nuances — they had a country to fight for.

The second amendment guarantees the right of the people to maintain arms. By arms it is meant weapons. In the days of the revolution the only weapons in general circulation were rifles and pistols and the like. No machine guns, no tanks, no grenades, no TNT or explosives (at least not in wide supply), and certainly no Apache helicopters, landmines, or nuclear weapons. In those days war was much simpler, and many less people died and much more slowly. The right of the responsible citizenry of the United States, the majority of whom lived in or at the edge of rugged frontier, to own weapons for self-defense did not seem at all odd. Additionally, allowing the populance to own weapons was a good check against the power of a broad federal government and the tyranny it might bring. That doesn’t mean that people kept weapons in their homes.

A well regulated militia, the constitution states, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed. I believe this was perfectly justified at the time. By “the people” the founders were clearly referring to the citizenry, and by well-regulated miltia they were clearly referring to the state and local militas that were prevalent in the day. In short, if the states don’t agree with the feds, they organize their militias and duke it out. It happened during the Civil War.

Where in there does it say that indivudials have the right to bear incredibly powerful weapons of destruction? I don’t think it does. I agree with the NRA and other organizations that believe people should be allowed to own guns for their own protection from tyranny. But not for personal defense. It doesn’t say that! Loose constructionists should see what the Constitution says, and what it implies. It says that state miltias cannot be outlawed, and in fact should be encouraged. It says that the people have the right to arm themselves. But in context, it does not say individuals should posess hand grenades. The founders saw how the system was being set up, and that is what they believed should continue: weapons arsenals controlled by state authorities, well-regulated militias run by states, and the security of the people in their homes protected by both the state and federal governments.

My point is simple: people have the right to own guns for a specific purpose, but beyond that purpose, even loose constructionists cannot argue for the right to bear arms. If you want a gun for hunting, for robbing, or simply for staring at, that is all well and good, but the federal government has the power to regulate and even outlaw such usage. Just as state governments have the power to regulate all aspects of gun ownership. I encourage states to keep militias, to keep their local national guard, to keep their local police forces and rangers and patrols. Should the federal government have its own military seperate from the states? That question is open to debate, it was not well addressed in the constitution nor in any of its amendments. But one thing should be clear: when Charlton Heston gets mad that people aren’t allowed to carry concealed handguns, his argument, while possibly valid, it certainly not based on constitutional grounds. The constitution does not say anything about grannies carrying handguns, and the constitution offers no support for weapons on our streets.

Just to Show Len…

To show my new roommate the power of the Ag…er…whatever, I might as well post an update immediately after talking to him.

Today is Tuesday, and today was a stay at home day, a day for coding (badly), a day for watching televison (ick) and a day for reading Caucasia for Brandeis. Temperatures of 87 without being allowed to use the air condition (power crisis coupled with “endurance training,” thanks Dad) soured my mood, but Len (“Lenny!” “It’s Len.”) assures me it is far hotten in the tristate area and thus, by extension, in the great city of Boston. Well cheers to that.

I still can’t believe we don’t get comedy central and sci-fi at brandeis. My first political act will be talking with someone important about that. Or at least complaining loudly.

Finally, I had ThinkGeek ship my latest order direct-to-Brandeis, forgetting that they don’t accept packages any more than 2 weeks prior to opening. Oops! Ah, well.

Television Sucks

Over the summer I’ve basically narrowed down what I watch to a few networks. That’s all I want on TV, and that’s all I want to pay for. Now, Brandeis dorms have a lot of crap in their lineup, but I’m only going to watch maybe six of their channels. Of course it is free, but that’s not the point: I want to watch what I like. I like Farscape and The Invisible Man and The Daily Show. I Like The West Wing and Six Feet Under. I like Sports Night and The Simpsons. I like Junkyard Wars. I don’t like much else.

I don’t want your ESPN, I don’t want your Fox News, I don’t want QVC. I certainly don’t want the E! network. So here is the deal I propose: give me the big three, Fox, HBO, SciFi, and Comedy Central, and I’ll give you $10 a month. That is a buck a channel plus three for the cable box. If I want more channels I’ll call you, but don’t you be putting your garbage on my set and making me pay for it!


Don’t you hate those days that just seem to rush by so fast with so little accomplished? I feel like life is short enough already without having to completely “lose” days. So today I wake up 10-ish, I get the urge for a walk, I travel the neighborhood, come back, do some computing, respond to some old e-mails (and lots more of those from way back when my article came out), read some of my summer reading book (Caucasia), and then spend 2.5 hours assembling my mom’s anniversary present, namely a ping pong table. Now, the German manufacturer calls it a “tt table,” and some people call it a tennis table or table tennis board, but i guess they’re going for the whole alliteration thing with the “table tennis table,” only abbreviated to tt for size. Kinda like the Audi tt. Guess those Germans like their “t”s.

Kinda reminds me of our current US President, who likes to have fun alliteration in all his programs, like the “Charge to Keep” (yeah, its a K, deal) and the “Communities of Character” and the “Reformer with Results.” Yeah, whatever.

On the same vein (and from the same Salon story I stole the alliteration thing from) comes this great quote from Bush on his first six months in office. Are you ready? Okay, here goes: “I know what I believe. I will continue to articulate what I believe and what I believe — I believe what I believe is right.” Well that just sums it up spot on, Georgie Boy!

Shift to third

We held a “fiesta” event on Saturday. Now I always find it funny when people of different cultures attempt to have celebrations of another culture thinking it would make a good party. I say go for it, its fun and no one really seems to mind. But I wonder how many people would turn up if we had a Swedish party, or perhaps an Australian romp. I guess there is a line of taste you have to be careful not to cross, to stay away from any ethnic stereotypes or blatant untruths. I think it would be cool to go to an Italian-themed party or one of many other cultures, but I wouldn’t want to go to a party that disparages that culture. Then again, I’m not a stuck-up loser, I think that poking fun at yourself and others is healthy, and there is nothing wrong with a fiesta. Ours was fine, the food was good, the music was nice, and the company was fun. I’m just saying that there is a history in the United States of stupid parties where you do things like dress up as a poor immigrant or a Jew in the Holocaust. I don’t really get the humor and excitment in this. Now, as far as I know this doesn’t really happen any more today, but to reemphasise for the fortieth time: its something to be watchful of. Keep it fun, keep it free, keep it non-discriminatory.

By the way, I got some nice pictures of our party that I hope to have up in the media section soon. Our guacamole and salsa competition was a great success and there were some excellent entries, not to mention a really good seven-layer dip.

Second reverse item…

Moving on (backwards), I picked up an iBook on Saturday at about 9:00 PM. I’ve wanted a laptop for a while and known that when I get to college I’m going to buy one. I’d held off because I was unsure: PowerBook G4 is awesome but expensive, iBook is slick but the screen is small, PCs are faster and cheaper but a real pain to get working right (and yes, I have tried them. I’ve done Windows sysadmin stuff for a while and I got to tell you, that stuff is a *(&#@ to work with). So I decide on an iBook because the 12.1″ screen, while small, is crisp and clear, bright and high contrast, and hey, AirPort wireless networking is awesome. Then I stumble upon this iBook on sale at Circuit City. Now I was holding off thinking that at Macworld they might announce some price cut or something and I wouldn’t want to be the idiot who buys the thing the week before the prices are slashed. So I wait, nothing happens, and I decide that, since Brandeis gives me only a max of $50 off, I might as well shop around. Well, everyone has the same price until I see Circuit City (in the store but not online) offers the iBook at $100 off and – get this – the promotion ends TODAY (well, on the 28th). So what was I going to do? Buy it of course, at least as soon as my dad gave me permission. Well, around 8:50 he decided that if I had to have it I might as well get it cheap, and I got to the store at 9:01, a minute after closing time. I got in anyway, I grabbed the ‘book, I popped out the checkbook, and the computer didn’t approve it. WHAT??? Okay, no problem, credit. Nope, doesn’t work. College students on their first MasterCard don’t usually get $2100 credit limits. Okay, check card! Nope, that has a limit per transaction….

Long story longer, I split the payment across multiple “platforms” as it were, and got the darn thing taken care of and was home in time for dessert. Hooray! Now to go balance the darn checkbook…

Don’t get all verklept!

Okay, okay, so I didn’t write, not a big deal! Really, don’t get all exc-ah-ted! I’m gonna try to recall things in reverse-chronological ardor because that’s how I remember it. First off in reverse, some re-tah-ded people at Verizon (can you believe those guys?) completely ruined my day today by making me stay on the phone for a small eternity while they went through processing all of my transfer forms to: get this: move my cell phone to Bah-stun. I mean, getting into college there in the first place was easier than this! So anyway, after three phone calls to three different operators in three different time zones, and after repeating the same information three times, faxing the same authorization letter to three places, and spouting Tax ID and social security numbers like crazy, I finally got my new phone number. And then the re-tahds went and cut off my old phone number without so much as a peep. No redirect, no message, no voice mail, just *poof* and its gone. So now 714-504-3003 is defunct, and my new number, which I won’t reveal here, is active. Really buddy, if you want it, you have to work a little harder then this. I mean, I don’t want random people calling me, but its not like my number is hidden. In fact it is present in at least one page of AgBlog! So with that I leave you to search.

Lots to write

There is a lot of stuff I should be writing but I’m not. Why? Apathy, perhaps, combined with that huge fiesta party we had last night (pictures coming online shortly). In other news, for some reason I randomly picked up an iBook last night at 9:00PM. More to come.

“I Shall Return!”

And I did. Here I am, back from the lake with lots of stories to tell. Wow, that was fun and wild and we even made a stop at the Grand Canyon and looked at it in all of its grandness. While some family members neglected to bring my favorite digital camera, we were able to take some old-fashioned film shots which I hope to get around to scanning and adding to my gallery as soon as I get around to a lot of things I should get around to. That said, more on this tomorrow (err…well…today, only later in the day.) For now…

I was looking back through my high school’s web site and recollecting on all the fond memories I have of the school, and of course all of the not-so-fond ones. I happened to stumble across an article I wrote earlier in my senior year, before all of the controversy, and I guess that looking at it now you can realize that I am a troublemaker, or just funny, take your pick. I think it was a decent bit of satire for being written over the course of one 56 minute class period and being posted the same day, along with freshly taken pictures and such! Without further ado, read proof that even Foothill High School can have a pleasant side. (Hurry and read it while you can, who knows what they will do with it once 2001-2002 school year begins and I’m not there to control what goes out on the web!

Leaving for the river

I am leaving tomorrow with the immediate family for a five day stint in Lake Havasu. So if you want to rob the house, now is a good time. Wait…what? Anyway, we have alarms, locks, neighborhood watch, and two vicious guard cats, so you don’t stand a chance.

You don’t get it, do you?

I’m thinking you probably don’t get it, not that there is much to get, but I will be dumb and petty and explain. EOF symbolizes end of file or the conclusion of the transmission. There, better? Okay, now clean your room and drink your milk before I…EOF

Proof Positive

Just to prove that my life is not all glitz and glamour, I’m writing from Maintex where I am waiting for some files to download so that I can do some more coding on their new website. Basically the setup is this:

  1. They have an okay server from Compaq that is not top of the line but not too bad.
  2. Said server reaches constant loads over 3 when fun stuff like inventory programs are running. For you non-UNIX geeks, that means that basically the processor is totally maxed out and the computer has the equivelant of 3 processors worth of instructions backed up that it would like to be running. Now this is not terrible for short periods, but prolonged 3s are no good.
  3. All Maintex stuff is running on one server, so the whole company is basically running with a single point of failure. They really don’t need incredible redundant servers and the like yet, but it would be nice to have the web and e-mail stuff seperated from the legacy system.
  4. We’re getting a new server, some no-name job with redundant power supplies and RAID 5 on Ultra3 SCSI and the like. Yeah, big words, basically means kick ass server. Now we could have gotten a nice server at a similar price from Dell, but our outsourced tech guru recommended this and hey, he deserves to make money once in a while!
  5. Once said new server arrives (and I’m trying to think of a good nickname for it as I sit here…) we’ll switch it over to the production environment and move the other server over to me. Then I get to figure out how to install Linux on it (woohoo, my first Linux install!) and get PHP, MySQL, and Apache running, along with Sendmail and whatever else we may need. If I can’t figure this one out I’ll have to get someone to help me.
  6. Server 2 becomes the web server, MSDS and image host, e-mail, and all that fun stuff. Server 1 stays supreme keeping up the legacy stuff as Maintex expands.

So right now I’m figuring out how to code this parsing and display stuff in PHP. That warrants another entry later, but for the time being suffice to say its not difficult, but it requires some foresight and planning, so that’s what I’m doing now.

In closing, I hope I have proven (proved? Apparently both work. No bother.) that my life in glitzy Hollywood…err…Orange County does have some normal parts. Yes, I am one of you! I am just like you poor workers! Isn’t that quaint! Okay, enough. No, really Danny, stop. EOF

Kay-Eww-Key Wants Me!

It is official, this Friday at 5:00PM – 6:00 PM I will be on the show “Subversity” at KUCI radio. I’m thinking this show will be a bit more…how do I say this…intelligent than the last one. Audio will be online shortly after. Just a heads up to all of you 3 people in range of 88.9 FM.

Rebellion Redux

Today I was (finally) interviewed on KFI Los Angeles. The recording is in the media section for your listening pleasure, I think it went quite well. We missed a slew of issues and it wasn’t really a half-hour, but I was pretty happy with the result. Tim & Neil are cool guys and everyone at KFI was nice. They even gave me a t-shirt! Hey, you gotta live a station with a promo saying: “We founded this station based on one idea: that everyone who calls us is a moron.”

Tim told me this philosophy on callers. “They just slow me down.” However, because of my questioning, they did have one caller on my segment. They just happened to pick the guy with the hardest question. Well, anyway, listen for yourself.

AP Scores

Today my Advanced Placement scores arrived in the mail. For once I got something school-related before everyone else! I got my hoped-for 5 in English Literature, but in US Government I got only a 4, when I hoped for (and expected) a 5. Still, considering that I did very little studying, not to mention not taking the class, I guess a 4 score (out of 5) is pretty good. I also got my Calculus BC score, and was not surprised to find that I got a remarkable score of 1, which means basically a total and complete failure. Guess that’s what happens when you go to sleep during the test.

So my total scores thus far are:

  • Eng Lit/Comp 5
  • Govt & Pol US 4
  • Calculus BC 1
  • US History 4
  • Comp Sci A 4 (my school doesn’t offer AB)
  • Biology 4

So not to shabby in whole, in fact pretty good. Oh, did I mention that Brandeis does not really count AP scores for anything? Yeah, so the above numerical representation of years of incredibly hard work means absolutely diddly. Sigh.


My freshman first semester classes are in, at least in preliminary form. Next I go back to Brandeis, hopefully talk to a counselor of some kind, see if I can get some signatures, and switch things around. But if I get stuck with this, I won’t be too disappointed at all, I just wanted to get a Legal Studies class in. So anyway, here it is:

USEM 25A Reading Between the Lines: Freedom of Conscience and Persecution

Traces different cases of intellectual expression exercised under illiberal conditions of censorship and persecutions. Organized chronologically, beginning with Plato’s account of his teacher’s execution under Athenian democracy, and closing with 20th century reassessments of the freedoms of conscience and expression.

Mr. Sheppard
AMST 114B American Individualism

Through various major works, central dilemmas of the American experience will be examined: the ambition to transcend social and individual limitations and the tension between demands of self and the hunger for community. Usually offered every second year. Will be offered in the fall of 2001.

Mr. Whitfield
PHIL 1A Introduction to Philosophy

A general course presenting the problems of philosophy, especially in the areas of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and social and political philosophy. Texts will include works of selected philosophers of various historical periods from antiquity to the present. Usually offered every semester.

Messrs. Berger, Greenberg, Hirsch, Makridis, Samet, Teuber, and Yourgrau
COSI 21AM Data Structures and the Fundamentals of Computing

An introduction to the fundamental concepts of computation: discrete structures (sets, relations, functions, sequences, graphs), the fundamental data structures and algorithms for sorting and searching (lists, queues, dequeues, heaps, hashing, binary trees, tries), and the analysis of algorithms (predicate logic, termination and correctness proofs, computational complexity). The associated laboratory course is COSI 22a. Usually offered every year.

Mr. Storer
COSI 22A Fundamentals of Programming
An introduction to the tools and techniques needed to design, construct, verify, analyze, and maintain programs. One afternoon a week and one, one-hour lecture a week. Usually offered every year.

Mr. Storer
PE 33A Walking for Fitness
This course is designed to improve your overall fitness level through walking. Emphasis will be on improving cardiovascular endurance level. Instruction will be given on how to develop a personal fitness program. Usually offered every semester.


So maybe the fitness walks in the 15 degree…uh…heat will keep me in shape. Yeah, thats fahrenheit. Or maybe its on their big indoor track. Ya know, Brandeis has a pretty awesome sports facility, so maybe I’ll actually take up some sort of something sport-ational in the future. Or not. We’ll see.


Who says its hard to get classes in college? My grandpa tells me that every class he took was required and he had no electives to speak of. My dad talks of a punch card system and an order or priority with freshmen dead last. I see an online form where I type in the course number, click confirm, and get my courses. Of course, it could be that Grandpa went to Queens and Dad went to UCLA, while I’m going to little old Brandeis, but still! In an age of rash consumerism, when you’re paying $35,000 a year for an education, you have a right to an education, dammit! I should get the classes I want or close to it. No BS shuffling around and treating kids like numbers without faces. We shouldn’t have to pay for bad service.

Of course, I knew what was going on when I chose Brandeis – I decided to not go to UC Berkeley precisely because of this trend: Every student with whom I talked at Berkeley could not recall a single class with under 100 students. Terrible! I’m a first-year at Brandeis and none of my classes are over 100. That is the way a college should be.