December 2015

The No Fly List and Gun Control: Sounds reasonable, until it isn’t

I do plan on writing blog entries on more things than privacy and liberty soon. I’ll pick another topic for an entry soon, promise…

So, I’m a bit late to the party on this; I’m sorry…but I’d still call it relevant.
Disclaimer: keep the comments civil; no name calling of anyone.

After the San Bernardino massacre, President Obama made a statement regarding the need to extend gun control to the people on the No Fly List, one underscored by Hillary Clinton – and most people on the left, and even a decent number of the moderate-right said, “seems legit” – including myself.

Then, I thought a bit more about it: what does it take to get on and off the no-fly list? Is their oversight? Due process? Transparency? Accountability?

No, nope, nu-uh, and none.

Here is the legalese version, straight from Uncle Sam:…/march-2013-watchlisting-guidance/

And here is the fairly-bias-free article that summarizes a lot of it:

Basically, if any of the three-letter-agencies think you’re a terrorist, related to a terrorist, have the same name of a terrorist, have someone make a clerical error, or fly to Saudi Arabia on a regular basis, you can end up on the No Fly List. You won’t get a letter about it, and you’ll only find out because you’ll have to show documentation to prove you’re not the T. Kennedy they’re looking for, and produce it quickly, in order to avoid missing your flight…and getting OFF the No Fly List involves filing a lawsuit to validate your innocence, rather than a trial to prove your guilt.

Senator Ted Kennedy, Iraq-war-veteran Daniel Brown ended up on it, professor Walter Murphy (critical of the Bush administration during his term), and many children under the age of five have landed on this list.

So, the folks in Washington wish to give the No Fly List power against buying guns…when the criteria for getting on that list involves a 166-page document that was leaked (rather than formally publicized), and has no practical means of due process or accountability to get either on it or off it.

So, at least for me personally, I can’t get behind the notion of giving the No Fly List even more power. Let’s address THAT issue, then discuss whether it should be used to restrict the sales of firearms.

To those who would say, “but firearms should be banned for everyone!”, let’s roll with that for a second. My ultimate concern isn’t whether people should or shouldn’t fly on planes or buy guns. What is an even more grave danger in my mind is this: It seems equally likely that ‘No Fly List people can’t buy guns’ will extend to ‘nobody can buy guns’, as it is for ‘No Fly List people can’t buy guns’ to turn into ‘No Fly List people can’t vote’…

pfSense Adblocking tutorial

This is more a bookmark for me than anyone else. I’m torn on the topic of ad blocking. I do want to support websites that provide useful content, but at the same time, I’ve seen far too many misleading and malware-laden ads on reputable websites to not have my guard up. So, as I’ve got a pfSense box up at box up at my house, as well as my mom’s, and two parents who are far more likely to erroneously hover over a malicious ad than buy a product based on an ad (though I must say, I’ve never actually had to do a major malware cleaning on either of their computers so far), my greater concern is for them, so ad blocking is something I am okay with.


Thus, I shall implement this at my next opportunity:

I look forward to the task. Now if only I could find a tutorial for having a pfSense box create multiple isolated LANs….

pfSense > Sophos UTM

I tried out Sophos UTM as an experiment for work today. I learned something about the product: as much as I wanted to like it (and there were a number of good features to like), it’s moniker for “Home Users” was very poorly placed. Sophos UTM’s default configuration is like a Republican congress with a Democratic president – the land of ‘no’. After spending nearly two hours with it, I could not get it to let any real nonstandard traffic out the door. HTTP worked fine, but remote desktop on a nonstandard port? Nope. Getting the new replies in using Agent? Nope. Syncing my phone with my NAS? All aboard the Nope train to Nopeville! It didn’t matter what rule I put into that thing, that traffic was NOT happening. I never thought there would be a software-based firewall that would make me pine for a SonicWall, but a ‘deny any any’ rule in a default config for outbound traffic? Not fun.

pfSense? From CD to working default config in 20 minutes. I can be okay with this. I’m also looking forward to seeing what happens with my transparent proxy; hopefully it will speed up load times on my poky DSL line.

Supergirl, and nuance

Admittedly, I haven’t read the comics that inspired this CBS series, so I don’t know what is “true to the comics”, or what is “CBS doing its thing”. What I’m writing about here has a handful of spoilers regarding things that have happened in episodes up to this time (Season 1, Episode 8), so if you haven’t seen it, you may not want to click ‘Read More’…

So, throughout the series, Kara has taken Clark’s “mild mannered reporter” trend to the next level. Mild-mannered is one thing, but she’s frequently clumsy and “adorkable”. Supergirl, on the other hand, has a whole lot more poise and confidence. Kara is frequently seen being all nervous around her boss Cat Grant, the CEO of National City’s largest media conglomerate with a personality clearly inspired by Miranda Priestly, and gets doe-eyed around her crush and confidant Jimmy Olsen. (side note: “National City” has to be the laziest fictitious city name ever created)

The show has a number of references to things associated with modern feminism: in one episode, Cat makes a comment to Kara about needing to work twice as hard for half the recognition, because she’s a woman. In another, there was a discussion regarding expectations being a double standard. In the most recent episode, the ‘bad guy’ in the episode is a board member, with maybe 20 lines in the whole episode, who Cat describes as “the walking personification of white male privilege”, and those are just the references I can recall off the top of my head. Now, before my comment section blows up, I’ll make it known that I’m not saying that the series is wrong for this slant, but I am indicating that it’s present. On the contrary, I’ve got no problem with a series that depicts Supergirl’s challenges in the world, both being ‘super’, and being a girl. I’m perfectly fine with the exploration of both of these themes.

What I do find interesting is this: It takes a solid amount of confidence to fly Cat to the bluffs where the first interview is conducted, and while Kara is a bit nervous, she still retains control of the situation, despite the fact that if Cat doesn’t like what Supergirl has to say, Kara is having a bad day at work tomorrow. When Cat offers to be the bait to take down LiveWire, Kara again is able to keep it together. Void of her powers in one episode, she talks down an armed robber. Later in that episode, Cat makes an accusation that Supergirl abandoned National City, which Kara expertly deflects (interrupting her mid-sentence, might I add). Again, these are just the examples off the top of my head of Kara being resolute and confident when she’s wearing her cape, while that level of resolution and confidence seems to be absent when the cape is.

Kara is no less bulletproof when she’s wearing business casual attire. Kara is just as capable of flying, just as able to throw a punch, and just as beholden to her burden as a Kryptonian on earth when she’s in fetching Cat’s coffee and cobb salad. She’s shown no personal reason to stay at that particular job (e.g. she’s made no statement about wanting to be a reporter herself), and something tells me that she could request living wages from the DEO – she’s certainly got the clout to get a paycheck from Uncle Sam, and let’s face it – she’s presently the only one who’s working for that organization on a volunteer basis. While her secret gives her the ability to live a double life, everyone she cares about seems to know her secret and be complicit, while those characters find themselves in need of being saved by Supergirl on a regular basis – even if she went full-time Supergirl, her friends and family would be in basically the same place they are now. This raises the question: what gives Kara the confidence to speak to Cat with candor when she’s Supergirl, but not when she’s Kara?

The clothes. That’s about the only thing I can attribute it to. Supergirl can go toe to toe with Cat Grant because she’s wearing her Spandex suit and the cape. Whether it’s intentional or not, I’m hard pressed to come up with anything else that can explain why Kara can be confident, especially with Cat, as Supergirl, but not as Kara.


This saddens me.


For a show that seems to intend to extol the virtues of progressivism and female equality, what gives Kara her confidence is her clothes, rather than her training, her mind, her near-invulnerability, and her selfless concern for the citizens of National City.

I do hope that the series does a better job of addressing this as time goes on; I haven’t heard anything regarding the series’ renewal. Until then, I will remain disappointed that the writers of this series have done injustice to their cause in such a subtle way.


Then again, maybe they’re looking for an advertising deal from Nordstrom.

Amazon Searches

So, I went on Amazon to search for the track Female Heist Movie, a hilarious quip from comedian John Mulaney. Of course, in order to search that, I started to get automatic suggestions…and I don’t really know how to feel about the list of things people seem to commonly search for on Amazon that start with the word “female”…


Well then…

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