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The MO Colossus

Not like the brazen machine of Chicago fame,
With conquering laws astride from boundary to boundary;
Here at our river-crossed, westerward gate shall stand
A mighty state with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MO of Ex-IL-es. From her beacon-hand
Glows nation-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The river-bridged land that two cities frame.
“Keep, Progressive lands, your gangster pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your energetic, your wealthy,
Your middle classes yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your oppressive Lakeshore.
Send these, the employers, taxation-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the gateway door!”

(inspired by this article and the original poem “The New Colossus”)

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Take a look at this picture and tell me what you see:

Is it something good?  Is it evil?  Neither? What does it mean?

Well, maybe it will help if we take a look at the bigger picture:

Did the bigger picture change your perspective?  If it didn’t, maybe a little more information about that symbol will prove enlightening.  As you’ll see, the mental associations that people ascribe to the symbol has changed through the course of history but, for most of that course, the associated meaning was pretty benign.

So, what is the meaning of the symbol?  That’s up to you..it’s just a symbol.

symbol
–noun

  1. something used for or regarded as representing something else; a material object representing something, often something immaterial; emblem, token, or sign.
  2. a letter, figure, or other character or mark or a combination of letters or the like used to designate something: the algebraic symbol x; the chemical symbol Au.
  3. a word, phrase, image, or the like having a complex of associated meanings and perceived as having inherent value separable from that which is symbolized, as being part of that which is symbolized, and as performing its normal function of standing for or representing that which is symbolized: usually conceived as deriving its meaning chiefly from the structure in which it appears, and generally distinguished from a sign.

Depending on your experience and frame of reference, the meaning you assign to the symbol may be (and probably is) different than someone else’s.  Is one meaning better or worst than another?  Not really…it just depends on how you act upon the meaning that you ascribe to it.  And that’s the key: it’s not the symbol, it’s how a person individually acts upon it.

One of the strengths of the human mind is it’s ability to create and synthesize symbols.  Even if we don’t consciously realize it, most of our thoughts consist of a series of symbols.  Symbology is highly efficient…a mental short-hand of complex thoughts and reasoning that, rather than having to reprocess and combine several complex thoughts in order to make decisions, allow us to take two or more symbols, combine them, and create new, more complex thoughts that may then be mentally retained within another symbol.

But this symbolic nature of the human mind is also a weakness.  Namely, the assigning of an imprecise meaning to a symbol (i.e., a wrong or imperfect conclusion) means that we need to periodically re-examine our conclusions/symbols and improve upon them if necessary.  Unfortunately, most people seldom (if ever) re-examine their symbols and, when precision of their symbol is challenged, can become quite irate.  Just look for the person in a discussion that suddenly jumps off the point, especially if they start making appeals to emotion.  That’s a big tell that the person’s symbol has proven to them to be imprecise…and the more emotionally charged they are about it, the bigger the degree of imprecision you’ve probably exposed.  Conversely, a person who can have their symbols challenged and precisely define their symbols is a person worth listening to.  You may not agree with them but they’re probably further along on the road to self-actualization and should be able to at least hold a decent and civilized conversation (a rare trait, indeed).

So, now, let’s make a jump and apply this information.

What do you think or feel about this symbol?

Is it something good?  Is it evil?  Neither? What does it mean?

I’ll let you decide.  As for me, I think I’ll judge a person who ascribes to it based upon their individual actions.  So far, I’m not liking much of what I see being done under this banner but I don’t blame the symbol.  I don’t condemn the artist that created it.  And I don’t prejudge a person for using it.  It’s just a symbol.

Here come the ghouls

Apparently the Westboro (NOT) Baptist Church intends to picket the funeral of Christina Taylor Greene, the 9-year old victim of the AZ shooter.  To anyone that cares to counter-protest, please do so…PEACEFULLY.  These ghouls are cowards (they’ve shown up in my neck of the woods a few times) and are just after another fix of 15-minutes-of-fame.  It goes without saying but I’m saying it anyway: Respect Christina and the other victims and keep the peace.

Sources:

(h/t Asia “Diesel Lady” Reeves)

 

My prior post (“Cross-hairs, targets, and surveyor symbols…”) has generated a bit of interest.  I originally started composing that post on my Facebook account and parts of it got picked up by Dana Loesch and pushed up to Big Journalism.  (That was cool!)

Blogging for me is just a way to let me record thoughts that I suspect I may want to refer to in future conversations because I dislike repeating myself.  It’s easier to throw a link at someone and let them read what I’ve written previously.  Regardless, I don’t expect my posts to go anywhere but I’m amused that this one did because many people have fallen into a logic trap in it.  And I REALLY love it when that happens…especially when they trap up the faux-intellectual like this one did.  This trap wasn’t intentionally set…this time…but originated from my desire to keep the post brief.

Here’s the trap: Cross-hairs are a component of surveyor symbols.  Now that the trap has been set…albeit, unintentionally…let’s spring it.

What this all comes down to may be summed up in a phrase that faux-intellectuals like to quote frequently: “Correlation does not imply Causation”.  You see, it’s a matter of which came first: cross-hairs in surveying or cross-hairs on weapons?

Surveying has been around since at least as long as recorded history…more than 5,000 years…and cross-hairs (more precisely, Reticles) have been used in surveying for some time as well.  I believe the origin of Reticles comes from an instrument known as a Theodolite, which itself dates back to at least A.D. 1512.  The Theodolite itself owes it’s existence to instruments such as the Astrolabe (150 B.C.).  So, when were Reticles first used on firearms?  That would be sometime between 1835 and 1840 when the telescopic sight (a.k.a., Scope) was invented for the rifle.

So what we have here is an instance of cross-application of technology.  Cross-hairs are not violent, they’re just cross-hairs.  So where does this association with cross-hairs and violence come from?  Well, let’s look to Hollywood where the use of a view through a scope has been used as a dramatic device for some time.  The leap from cinematic device to symbol of violence, however, exists only in the mind of the individual.  History doesn’t make that connection.

So what’s the bottom-line here?  The bottom-line is that how a person reacts to a symbol is a view into the mind of the person and not a commentary on the value of the symbol, nor the use of the symbol, nor on the state of mind of the person who utilizes the symbol.  If you look upon a symbol and see violence, then the violence is in your mind…not in the symbol or the person who used it.  This is a Rorschach Test and a lot of people failed it.

**UPDATE**  Oh, and for those who still disagree, please uninstall any graphics programs you may have on your computer, such as Paint.  Scary cross-hairs are frequently used for things such as the Select tool.

…because some people are too stupid to know the difference.  Therefore I’m having to waste time on providing remedial education for people who should have known such things as this before exiting primary school.

THESE are cross-hair symbols:

They represent the optical aiming system of a ballistic weapon, such as a gun.  That image comes from the Wikipedia entry for “Reticle” in case you wish to learn more.

THIS is a target symbol:

It represents the destination or objective to which a projectile will travel.  Said projectile is understood to be launched from a ballistic weapon of some sort.

THESE are surveyor symbols:

These represent points of interest, typically on a geographic map.

Now, let’s take these facts and practice a little applied knowledge.  Check out this screen shot:

That is the Democratic Leadership Committee’s targeting strategy map from 2004.  Please note that they are using ‘target’ symbols.

Now looks at this screen shot:

That is the map from Sarah Palin’s Facebook page.   It shows the locations of politically vulnerable Democrats that voted in favor of the 2008 Health Care legislation.  Please note that it uses a ‘surveyor’ symbol.  If you don’t believe this, please further note that the “cross-hairs” extend OUTSIDE of the circle.  Cross-hairs DON’T extend outside of the circle.  Anyone who has used an optical sighting system knows this.  If you still don’t understand the differences, please scroll back to the top of this post and start again.

(h/t to John at VerumSerum for his article that inspired me to put this post together.)

Actually, I’m just posting these so that I can find them in the future.  These are some of those topics that just come up every so often that leaves me looking for where I found them in the first place.

“Cain And Abel routing”: How to use Cain & Abel for DNS poisoning and hacking

“SQL Injection – Walking through walls.”: Techniques for doing SQL injection

The night before Christmas is a magical time for me most years. The holidays are typically a mad rush of preparations, parties, and activities up until Christmas Eve. But on this night, after a candlelight service with the church, the festive foods from a late dinner are put away, when the kids are in bed and the wife is winding down her last minute wrapping of gifts and stuffing the stockings, everything slows down and I can just reflect.  (A rare luxury for me indeed.)  Tonight, my reflections are on ghosts and spirits of Christmases past.

Ghosts of Christmases Past

The Daily Mail out of the UK had an interesting article today about photos just released of Christmas celebrations on December 18, 1941, by Hitler and members of his SS officers and Nazi party.  This may seem like an odd item of reflection on this night but read the article and bear with me…I’ll explain my musings.

The Nazis were pretenders…usurpers more precisely…and ironically that hasn’t changed when it comes to how they’re thought of in the public consciousness today.  Hitler brought his Nazi party into power by promising great things without explaining how these things would be achieved and the German people, hungry for relief from tough economic times, didn’t really ask any questions: neither when power was being seized nor when their government was transformed to Socialism.  Yes, Nazis are Socialists and therefore kin to Communists.  The word ‘Nazi’ is a German abbreviation of ‘National Socialists’.  (There are some well-researched and documented videos online that can give you a much further explanation if you’re interested, so I won’t reinvent the wheel in this post.)  But today most people associate Nazism and Fascism with right-wing ideology.  The truth is, they’re actually leftist ideologically…the other side of the leaf with Communism on the same branch of the tree of governmental systems.

So, what does this have to do with Christmases past?  Easy…Hitler and the Nazis stole (or, rather, attempted to steal) Christmas.  The meaning of Christmas was incompatible with their ideology, as was Christianity in general.  (No, John Q. Public, the Nazis and Hitler were not Christians.  A cursory examination of history makes that quite apparent.)  But it’s rarely possible to suddenly change a culture so they donned the sheep’s clothing, went through the motions, and injected their own symbology, meanings, and traditions to usurp it.  So read the article, look at the pictures, and see what’s in their faces.  If you see anything familiar in the faces, take a look at yourself and then determine if your Christmas has been usurped.

Spirits of Christmases Past

The best defense against a lie is the truth.  But truth isn’t always easily found and proofs for those truths can be elusive.  The ultimate truth, in fact, isn’t really provable.  For those who are scientifically-minded like myself, this fact can be nearly insurmountable.  Faith and logic aren’t incompatible…actually, they’re quite compatible…but the process of becoming an adult typically sees the individual finding a means of ordering their world and, fallible as we are, we usually end up focusing on one or a few characteristics/abilities and structuring our world around them.  The unfortunate part of this is that the things upon which we order our life frequently blind us to other possibilities.  But at times a light shines brightly enough to allow us to see around our blind spots.

Perhaps my favorite bright light is the proofs around the star of Bethlehem.  The explanation in the article is long but well-documented and a worthy read.  Scientifically and historically, it’s quite compelling. But even a message written with the celestial bodies of the heavens themselves won’t be sufficient proof of any ultimate truth; that still takes faith, which you may or may not find.

So, in the spirit of Christmases past, I leave this bright light as a gift for you.  Do with it as you please.

Merry Christmas!

The last year has been quite a roller coaster ride for me. The biggest hills have come about due to a change in how I view the world and making decisions about what to do about it. This blog is a result of a few of those decisions, ones that revolve around getting involved and getting vocal. But these were not the only life-changing/modifying decisions.

So let’s do a little baseline check here of who’s reading this blog and see what decisions you’ve made this past year. What are you doing differently these days? What big decisions (ones you’ve actually acted on) have you made this year?

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is one of my favorite freebies. It scans your computer for installed programs and notifies you when they are out of date. This makes keeping your computer FULLY patched much easier and greatly reduces the opportunity for malware to take over your computer.

Well, a new version just came out on Monday (12/20/2010) with a nice new look and the ability for Secunia PSI to automatically update that out-of-date software…you don’t even have to update the software yourself. Previously, this was pretty much a manual process, albeit the fact that it at least TOLD you that you were running out-of-date software was a fantastic leap forward.

Free to use, easy to use, and something I highly recommend running on your computer.

In other forums I’ve had posts and discussions about Net Neutrality. Originally, it was being pushed through Legislation but, now that this route has failed, the Administration is pushing for it through Regulation directly from the FCC. Much has been said about Net Neutrality so many are confused. To help clear up the confusion, I’m posting the following video that explains the major concerns about it in easy to understand terms and examples.

(And a quick note to those of you who consider yourself religious and/or are in the ministry: You need to get off the sidelines because this is aimed directly at YOU.)

(**UPDATE** The FCC approved the Net Neutrality rules on 12/21/2010 along a 3-2 split decision that divided along corresponding Democrat-Republican lines. On the plus side, Congress has stated that they will oppose the new rules and seek to defund the FCC if necessary.)