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Global Warming / Climate Change

4 min read

Global Warming

This morning, I read this article in the Daily Mail that is dogging the US because 23% don't believe in Climate Change (aka Man Made Global Warming).  Here's a few quotes:

'The great majority of climate scientists have concluded that global warming is happening, mostly human caused and, if left unchecked, will have serious consequences for human societies and the natural world,' the report's authors said.

'Yet, over the years, there has been considerable confusion within the American public about the level of scientific agreement on the subject.'

The study, conducted in November, found About two in three Americans (63%) believe global warming is happening.

'Relatively few – only 23 percent – believe it is not,' they said.

'The proportion who believe global warming is real has remained steady since Spring 2013.

'However, the proportion who do not believe global warming is happening has increased 7 percentage points since Spring 2013.

'The proportion of Americans who say they 'don’t know' whether or not global warming is happening has dropped 6 points – from 20 to 14 – since Spring of 2013.

The researchers also say Americans believe that even if it exists, global warming is not their problem.

One can hear the tone of the article:  we all know this is happening but these stupid American's just won't believe.  Look at them...how stupid are they.

I think most people would consider me a "climate change denier" and one of the 23%; however, that is not the case.  Is the climate changing?  Perhaps or perhaps not.  I don't really know and don't think there is enough evidence to say either (records go back to the 1800s).  I believe the earth is about 6,000 years old and records for--let's be generous--300 years mean we only know for sure what has happened for 5% of the time.  If you believe in Darwin's monkeys to man evolution, percentage wise, you know even less.

Even if the climate is changing, we don't know enough to know if it is naturally cyclical or not.  We can't say whether any change we see puts us at the top of a warming cycle only to cool back down.  Perhaps we've got another 20 degrees to go before we start.  Or, perhaps--since there has been no warming in the past 15 years--we are getting ready to head back down.  The point is we don't know.

The global warmers can't even get their story straight.  Remember the polar vortex?  In 2013, Time Magazine blamed it on Global Warming.  Did you know that in 1974, they blamed the exact same thing--the vortex--on global cooling?  Which is it?  Global Cooling?  Global Warming?

Given the fact we don't know, I--as an American--refuse to believe that I am the problem.  Even if the earth is warming.  Even if humans are responsible.  Why?  Have you seen pictures of the air in Beijing China?  The air there is so stinking polluted they have a name for it:  airpocalypse.  What about India where the Ganges is also way way polluted?  If anyone needs to worry about reducing pollution, it is them...not me and the US.

The US doesn't have a great record either.  In 1969, the Cuyahoga River caught on fire it was so polluted.  I'm sure there are many more examples; however, since then, we've cleaned things up.

In conclusion, I don't think we know enough to say for certain that the earth is warming or not.  The climate changers--just today's code word for the 1980s global warmers--can't even get their story straight (they can't even make their data work without faking it).  But even if it is happening as they claim, they come across as attacking the west and America.  The problem isn't with us...it is with China, India, and the rest of the developing world who pollute way more than we do.

Image from mark sardella via flickr

Privacy Idea -- Step 3a

13 min read

This is part of my privacy series.  Main post is here.

I haven't written about steps 1 or 2 yet.  Step 1 is fairly easy:  get a server.  Right now, I have a VPS through 1and1 (the same company that currently hosts maxsons.org)

Step 2 doesn't make sense on a vps with limited disk space.  Although, part of me says I should try.  But, it may be easier with real disks so I'm planning to wait.

This is what I did to get OpenVPN installed and working.  YMMV.

Text in the Courrier New font is what you should type in.
Text in the Comic Sans MS font is output.
Text in italics are notes.

No, I'm not going to show you how to SSH into your server, install putty, or use the command line ssh.  Go google those things. Ask if you need help (I won't not help) but I consider those things prerequisites for this howto.

  1. Since this is a new server, I ran "yum update" to make sure my server was up to date.  It was.
  2. I ran the command "passwd" and set the password for the root user to something strong
  3. run "cat /dev/net/tun" to make sure that my vps supported TUN (required for openVPN).  If this command returns "cat: /dev/net/tun: File descriptor in bad state" if TUN is supported.
  4. "yum install nano" . Yum is a text editor on linux.  You can use anything you like.  The guides I reference below do all the installs at once with a -y at the end.  I don't trust computers (and you shouldn't either).  Read the output, make sure they are doing what you want and you understand what is going on!
  5. "yum install openssl" You need this package as a prerequisite for openVPN
  6. "yum install lzo" another prerequisite for openVPN
  7.  "yum install pam" yet another prereq
  8. At this point, I thought I could find an up-to-date rpm for openVPN and install it.  I only was installing the minimum I needed (or thought I needed).  I futzed around for a while here trying to find a binary and get it installed.  No luck.  I also futzed around adding some yum repositories to my config.  I did sort of succede in getting a binary...but I kept getting an error:  Requires: libpkcs11-helper.so.1  I fiddle-farted around for a bit trying to solve that on it's own.  
  9. "yum install gcc make rpm-build autoconf.noarch zlib-devel pam-devel openssl-devel" this command installs gcc; make; rpm-build; dev tools for zlib, pam, and openssl; along with autoconf.  This is a bunch of dev tools I was trying to avoid installing by simply getting binaries
  10. "wget http://openvpn.net/release/lzo-1.08-4.rf.src.rpm" this is a binary for lzo from openVPN
  11. "wget http://pkgs.repoforge.org/rpmforge-release/rpmforge-release-0.5.2-2.el6.rf.x86_64.rpm" I have no idea but the instructions I was following said I needed it.
  12. "rpmbuild --rebuild lzo-1.08-4.rf.src.rpm" this rebuilds the lzo binary I downloaded earlier.
  13. "rpm -Uvh lzo-*.rpm" this installs the lzo binaries
  14. "rpm -Uvh rpmforge-release*" this installs the rpm downloaded from rpmforge above
  15. "yum install openvpn" -- finally we get to install openVPN
  16. I ended up and got openVPN 2.3.2 which differs from 2.2.2 and earlier in a significant way:  it doesn't include the easy-rsa application used to generate keys.
  17. "yum install easy-rsa" will install this.  If you get an error, you'll probably need to run steps 18, 19, and 20
  18. "cd /etc/yum.repos.d"
  19. "wget http://repos.openvpn.net/repos/yum/conf/repos.openvpn.net-as-stable.repo"
  20. "wget http://repos.openvpn.net/repos/yum/conf/repos.openvpn.net-CentOS6-snapshots.repo"
  21. openVPN has been "installed" into /usr/share/doc/openvpn-2.3.2/
  22. easy-rsa has been "installed" into /usr/share/easy-rsa/
  23. copy the easy-rsa files into /etc/openvpn/:  "cp -r /usr/share/easy-rsa/* /etc/openvpn/"
  24. now go into that directory:  "cd /etc/openvpn/"
  25. you can edit the vars file.  it is used to set up the defaults you need to generate your keys.  I changed a few things.  This step is optional...but if you edit it, you can just go through some future steps hitting enter.
    export KEY_SIZE=2048 (default was 1024.  Bigger is better)
    export KEY_COUNTRY="XX" (your country)
    export KEY_PROVINCE="XX" (state)
    export KEY_CITY="XXXXXXXX" (city)
    export KEY_ORG="XXXXXXXXX" (organization)
    export KEY_EMAIL="XXXXXX@XXXXXXXXX.XXX" (email)
    export KEY_EMAIL=XXXXXX@XXXXXXXXX.XXX (email again...no quotes)
  26. Now run it "./vars"
  27. Run "./clean-all" to make sure there's no junk around
  28. Run "./build-ca" to start the process of making your "master" certificate.  This will take a while since you are making a 2048 bit key.  Let it run.  Mine took about 5 min or so to finish
  29. When it finishes, build the key for your server "./build-key-server server"
  30. Build the keys for each client you want "./build-key client1"  You can replace client1 with whatever you want the client called.  It just needs to be unique
  31. Copy the sample server config file into /etc/openvpn/.  "cp /usr/share/doc/openvpn-2.3.2/sample-config-files/server.conf /etc/openvpn/server.conf"  When I did this at first, I put it into a subdirectory called conf.  Don't do this.  Just put your conf file into /etc/openvpn/.  This becomes important when it comes time to run it as a service.
  32. Now, edit the file "nano server.conf"
  33. You'll have to make some changes in the file.  Read the comments and everything should become clear.  Here's my file:
    -----

    #################################################
    # Sample OpenVPN 2.0 config file for #
    # multi-client server. #
    # #
    # This file is for the server side #
    # of a many-clients <-> one-server #
    # OpenVPN configuration. #
    # #
    # OpenVPN also supports #
    # single-machine <-> single-machine #
    # configurations (See the Examples page #
    # on the web site for more info). #
    # #
    # This config should work on Windows #
    # or Linux/BSD systems. Remember on #
    # Windows to quote pathnames and use #
    # double backslashes, e.g.: #
    # "C:\\Program Files\\OpenVPN\\config\\foo.key" #
    # #
    # Comments are preceded with '#' or ';' #
    #################################################

    # Which local IP address should OpenVPN
    # listen on? (optional)
    ;local a.b.c.d

    # Which TCP/UDP port should OpenVPN listen on?
    # If you want to run multiple OpenVPN instances
    # on the same machine, use a different port
    # number for each one. You will need to
    # open up this port on your firewall.
    port 1194

    # TCP or UDP server?
    ;proto tcp
    proto udp

    # "dev tun" will create a routed IP tunnel,
    # "dev tap" will create an ethernet tunnel.
    # Use "dev tap0" if you are ethernet bridging
    # and have precreated a tap0 virtual interface
    # and bridged it with your ethernet interface.
    # If you want to control access policies
    # over the VPN, you must create firewall
    # rules for the the TUN/TAP interface.
    # On non-Windows systems, you can give
    # an explicit unit number, such as tun0.
    # On Windows, use "dev-node" for this.
    # On most systems, the VPN will not function
    # unless you partially or fully disable
    # the firewall for the TUN/TAP interface.
    ;dev tap
    dev tun
    tun-mtu 1500
    tun-mtu-extra 32
    mssfix 1450

    # Windows needs the TAP-Win32 adapter name
    # from the Network Connections panel if you
    # have more than one. On XP SP2 or higher,
    # you may need to selectively disable the
    # Windows firewall for the TAP adapter.
    # Non-Windows systems usually don't need this.
    ;dev-node MyTap

    # SSL/TLS root certificate (ca), certificate
    # (cert), and private key (key). Each client
    # and the server must have their own cert and
    # key file. The server and all clients will
    # use the same ca file.
    #
    # See the "easy-rsa" directory for a series
    # of scripts for generating RSA certificates
    # and private keys. Remember to use
    # a unique Common Name for the server
    # and each of the client certificates.
    #
    # Any X509 key management system can be used.
    # OpenVPN can also use a PKCS #12 formatted key file
    # (see "pkcs12" directive in man page).
    ca /etc/openvpn/keys/ca.crt
    cert /etc/openvpn/keys/server.crt
    key /etc/openvpn/keys/server.key # This file should be kept secret

    # Diffie hellman parameters.
    # Generate your own with:
    # openssl dhparam -out dh1024.pem 1024
    # Substitute 2048 for 1024 if you are using
    # 2048 bit keys.
    dh /etc/openvpn/keys/dh2048.pem

    # Configure server mode and supply a VPN subnet
    # for OpenVPN to draw client addresses from.
    # The server will take 10.8.0.1 for itself,
    # the rest will be made available to clients.
    # Each client will be able to reach the server
    # on 10.8.0.1. Comment this line out if you are
    # ethernet bridging. See the man page for more info.
    10.8.0.0 255.255.255.0
    server 192.168.27.0 255.255.255.0

    # Maintain a record of client <-> virtual IP address
    # associations in this file. If OpenVPN goes down or
    # is restarted, reconnecting clients can be assigned
    # the same virtual IP address from the pool that was
    # previously assigned.
    ifconfig-pool-persist ipp.txt

    # Configure server mode for ethernet bridging.
    # You must first use your OS's bridging capability
    # to bridge the TAP interface with the ethernet
    # NIC interface. Then you must manually set the
    # IP/netmask on the bridge interface, here we
    # assume 10.8.0.4/255.255.255.0. Finally we
    # must set aside an IP range in this subnet
    # (start=10.8.0.50 end=10.8.0.100) to allocate
    # to connecting clients. Leave this line commented
    # out unless you are ethernet bridging.
    ;server-bridge 10.8.0.4 255.255.255.0 10.8.0.50 10.8.0.100

    # Configure server mode for ethernet bridging
    # using a DHCP-proxy, where clients talk
    # to the OpenVPN server-side DHCP server
    # to receive their IP address allocation
    # and DNS server addresses. You must first use
    # your OS's bridging capability to bridge the TAP
    # interface with the ethernet NIC interface.
    # Note: this mode only works on clients (such as
    # Windows), where the client-side TAP adapter is
    # bound to a DHCP client.
    ;server-bridge

    # Push routes to the client to allow it
    # to reach other private subnets behind
    # the server. Remember that these
    # private subnets will also need
    # to know to route the OpenVPN client
    # address pool (10.8.0.0/255.255.255.0)
    # back to the OpenVPN server.
    ;push "route 192.168.10.0 255.255.255.0"
    ;push "route 192.168.20.0 255.255.255.0"

    # To assign specific IP addresses to specific
    # clients or if a connecting client has a private
    # subnet behind it that should also have VPN access,
    # use the subdirectory "ccd" for client-specific
    # configuration files (see man page for more info).

    # EXAMPLE: Suppose the client
    # having the certificate common name "Thelonious"
    # also has a small subnet behind his connecting
    # machine, such as 192.168.40.128/255.255.255.248.
    # First, uncomment out these lines:
    ;client-config-dir ccd
    ;route 192.168.40.128 255.255.255.248
    # Then create a file ccd/Thelonious with this line:
    # iroute 192.168.40.128 255.255.255.248
    # This will allow Thelonious' private subnet to
    # access the VPN. This example will only work
    # if you are routing, not bridging, i.e. you are
    # using "dev tun" and "server" directives.

    # EXAMPLE: Suppose you want to give
    # Thelonious a fixed VPN IP address of 10.9.0.1.
    # First uncomment out these lines:
    ;client-config-dir ccd
    ;route 10.9.0.0 255.255.255.252
    # Then add this line to ccd/Thelonious:
    # ifconfig-push 10.9.0.1 10.9.0.2

    # Suppose that you want to enable different
    # firewall access policies for different groups
    # of clients. There are two methods:
    # (1) Run multiple OpenVPN daemons, one for each
    # group, and firewall the TUN/TAP interface
    # for each group/daemon appropriately.
    # (2) (Advanced) Create a script to dynamically
    # modify the firewall in response to access
    # from different clients. See man
    # page for more info on learn-address script.
    ;learn-address ./script

    # If enabled, this directive will configure
    # all clients to redirect their default
    # network gateway through the VPN, causing
    # all IP traffic such as web browsing and
    # and DNS lookups to go through the VPN
    # (The OpenVPN server machine may need to NAT
    # or bridge the TUN/TAP interface to the internet
    # in order for this to work properly).
    push "redirect-gateway def1"

    # Certain Windows-specific network settings
    # can be pushed to clients, such as DNS
    # or WINS server addresses. CAVEAT:
    # http://openvpn.net/faq.html#dhcpcaveats
    # The addresses below refer to the public
    # DNS servers provided by opendns.com.
    push "dhcp-option DNS 208.67.222.222"
    push "dhcp-option DNS 208.67.220.220"

    # Uncomment this directive to allow different
    # clients to be able to "see" each other.
    # By default, clients will only see the server.
    # To force clients to only see the server, you
    # will also need to appropriately firewall the
    # server's TUN/TAP interface.
    ;client-to-client

    # Uncomment this directive if multiple clients
    # might connect with the same certificate/key
    # files or common names. This is recommended
    # only for testing purposes. For production use,
    # each client should have its own certificate/key
    # pair.
    #
    # IF YOU HAVE NOT GENERATED INDIVIDUAL
    # CERTIFICATE/KEY PAIRS FOR EACH CLIENT,
    # EACH HAVING ITS OWN UNIQUE "COMMON NAME",
    # UNCOMMENT THIS LINE OUT.
    ;duplicate-cn

    # The keepalive directive causes ping-like
    # messages to be sent back and forth over
    # the link so that each side knows when
    # the other side has gone down.
    # Ping every 10 seconds, assume that remote
    # peer is down if no ping received during
    # a 120 second time period.
    keepalive 10 120

    # For extra security beyond that provided
    # by SSL/TLS, create an "HMAC firewall"
    # to help block DoS attacks and UDP port flooding.
    #
    # Generate with:
    # openvpn --genkey --secret ta.key
    #
    # The server and each client must have
    # a copy of this key.
    # The second parameter should be '0'
    # on the server and '1' on the clients.
    ;tls-auth ta.key 0 # This file is secret

    # Select a cryptographic cipher.
    # This config item must be copied to
    # the client config file as well.
    ;cipher BF-CBC # Blowfish (default)
    ;cipher AES-128-CBC # AES
    ;cipher DES-EDE3-CBC # Triple-DES

    # Enable compression on the VPN link.
    # If you enable it here, you must also
    # enable it in the client config file.
    comp-lzo

    # The maximum number of concurrently connected
    # clients we want to allow.
    max-clients 3

    # It's a good idea to reduce the OpenVPN
    # daemon's privileges after initialization.
    #
    # You can uncomment this out on
    # non-Windows systems.
    user nobody
    group nobody

    # The persist options will try to avoid
    # accessing certain resources on restart
    # that may no longer be accessible because
    # of the privilege downgrade.
    persist-key
    persist-tun

    # Output a short status file showing
    # current connections, truncated
    # and rewritten every minute.
    status openvpn-status.log

    # By default, log messages will go to the syslog (or
    # on Windows, if running as a service, they will go to
    # the "\Program Files\OpenVPN\log" directory).
    # Use log or log-append to override this default.
    # "log" will truncate the log file on OpenVPN startup,
    # while "log-append" will append to it. Use one
    # or the other (but not both).
    ;log openvpn.log
    ;log-append openvpn.log

    # Set the appropriate level of log
    # file verbosity.
    #
    # 0 is silent, except for fatal errors
    # 4 is reasonable for general usage
    # 5 and 6 can help to debug connection problems
    # 9 is extremely verbose
    verb 4

    # Silence repeating messages. At most 20
    # sequential messages of the same message
    # category will be output to the log.
    ;mute 20
    ----- 

  34. you can now run the server by "openvpn server.conf"

I'll do another post detailing firewall changes and then a third detailing client configuration.

References:

http://www.servermom.com/how-to-build-openvpn-server-on-centos-6-x/732/ -- main guide I used
http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showthread.php?t=1167872 -- another howto I used
http://openvpn.net/index.php/open-source/documentation/howto.html -- openVPN docs I referred to
http://wiki.centos.org/HowTos/Network/IPTables -- big BIG huge help with getting iptables set up right

[Update 2013-06-30 07:14:07] Edited step 34

[Update 2013-06-30 07:53:27] I've finished step 3b detailing firewall changes with iptables and starting the server as a daemon

Peppa and The Queen

1 min read

PepaPigAndTheQueen

For Christmas, we got Lydia Peppa Pig and the Queen on DVD.  We were watching it tonight.  Mrs. Rabbit gets an award as the most hard working person in all the kingdom and so Peppa and her classmates get to go see the queen.  One of the kids asks the Queen:

"Are you Queen of all the world"

The queen then replies:  "Not Quite"

Not quite....that is hilarious!

Who is to blame?

3 min read

Ted Kennedy at American University

The NRA met with VP Biden yesterday.  According to them, the NRA,

... this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment," the group said in a written statement. "While claiming that no policy proposals would be 'prejudged,' this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners -- honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans.

They went on to say that

It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen.

Quotes from this Fox News article:  NRA rips Biden task force

Exactly.  The people who commit crimes should be punished.  NOT law abiding citizens.  

See the guy in the picture of this post?  That is Sen. Ted Kennedy. His car killed more people that all of my guns, my dad's guns, my uncles guns, and grandparents guns combined.  Don't believe me, go read about Chappaquiddick.  Combine this with the fact that in NYC--New York City--you are more likley to be killed by a car than a gun.  It is clear we need to ban cars (except for licensed taxis of course) from the city.

Of course that is a stupid suggestion.  Accidents happen.  Where there are more cars and more people jammed into a small space, accidents will happen.  People will still use cars as weapons.  That is a risk that must be balanced with the needs of the many to get around.

In the same way, guns can't simply be banned.  I don't think they should be restricted for law abiding sane citizens either.  In this case though, the RIGHTS (not needs) of the public trump what small percent of bad is done.  If anything, the federal government needs to stop stupid programs like fast and furious, start putting away people who break existing laws, and enforcing existing law (I can't find the link now; however, I read an article where Biden was talking about one of his recommendations being to start enforcing existing gun laws because he's been lax).  I don't mind things like the NICS system since no records are kept of what is done:  a simple yes or no is given and the transaction happens.  

GO NRA!

[Update 2013-01-17 08:07:49I'm taking a short break from this topic.

Image from willwhitedc via flickr

Banana Republic?

1 min read

bananas

"Now, folks, you have to admit that this is the kind of stuff that banana republics do."

Exactly.  I propose spending no more next year than the treasury takes in this year.  Real, honest cuts in the US Budget.  Don't increase the debt limit.  The US won't default.  The country will have to not spend beyond what it takes in.  If you disagree with that, then real honest cuts are needed in the federal budget.  I say start with the Connie Mack Penny Plan.

[Update 2013-01-17 08:07:49I'm taking a short break from this topic.

Image from fernando stankuns via flickr

More Evidence of a Double Standard

3 min read

The Left's double standards regarding Gun Control,dictatorships,& ”concern for the innocent”

A couple of weeks ago, I made this post where I pose the question:  is there a double-standard?  Do liberals allow things done on their side to pass while criticizing those on the opposite side for the same thing?  I gave two examples:

  1. Afro Circus from Madagascar 3
  2. The use of the word niggardly in Game of Thrones book 1

I now have another, much better example:  The Des Moines Register has published a column that calls for deadly violence against the NRA and others who disagree with the author on gun control.  Arg, the goofy paper has the article behind a pay-wall.  I'm assuming the Fox News piece has the quotes correct.

Here are two quotes:

"I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control," he wrote. ... "And if that didn’t work, I’d adopt radical measures," he continued.

 Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. Hey! We did it to the Communist Party, and the NRA has led to the deaths of more of us than American Commies ever did. (I would also raze the organization’s headquarters, clear the rubble and salt the earth, but that’s optional.) Make ownership of unlicensed assault rifles a felony. If some people refused to give up their guns, that “prying the guns from their cold, dead hands” thing works for me."

If dragging them behind a truck isn't enough, then he would adopt "radical measures?"  He would pry guns from people's cold dead hands?  Wow.  This makes my point perfectly:  will Nancy Pelosi, Billary Clinton, or Barak O. condem this man for his tone?  I doubt it.  But if Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, and others are condemned for much less (heck, those who listen to Rush are already called mind-numbed robots).

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying this man can't say what he did.  I don't care what this man thinks or says.  I'll defend his right to have his opinion to the end (even though he, obviously, does not think the same about me).  My problem is with a group of people condemning others for something they themselves do.  My problem is with the double-standard.  if something is wrong, it is wrong....if it isn't then it isn't.

Oh, one last thing before I post this:  I'm sure the Republicans do this same thing.  I think it is just as bad then.  But pay attention to this next sentence:  Republican != Conservative.  I think that conservatives are much more even and intellectually honest than liberals.

Image from robert reed daily via flickr

How to Sharpen the Mind

1 min read

Scherp(er) / Sharp(er)

"A mind needs books like a sword needs a wetstone"

Image from mooste via flickr

This gets my goat every time I hear it...

1 min read

81/365 - My Trusty Hair Clipper

You go in to get a hair cut and after you try to describe what you want, they look at you blankly.  You know...you just KNOW...they want to know what number do you use?  I hate hearing that question when I get my hair cut.  If that was all I needed to know, I could flowbee my hair and be fine.  Today, I came across this article on picking a barber.  Here's what I read part way down the page:

if the first question the barber asks you is, “What number do you want on the sides?” run out of the shop immediately.

That got an arm pump YES from me.  I really dislike that question and wish I could find a barber like the one who cut my hair in Hermann MO.

Image from 0Four via flickr

The Sound of Freedom

1 min read

The Sound of Freedom

There's only one thing wrong with this image....it has USAF jets in it  :)  .

But seriously....when I grew up, USN jet noise was called the sound of freedom.  Even today, when I hear that distinctive sound, I think freedom.

Original image from xraydeltaone via flickr.  But, I mirrored it on our flickr account so I could keep a copy.

Familiar yet different

4 min read

Afghan, British and American Flags

Having spent quite a bit of time traveling, living outside the US, and working with people from other countries, I found this article looking at America and Americans rather interesting. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article:

The result of that early exposure to American culture, of course, is simple.

When you come to live in America you are shocked by the familiarity of the unfamiliar.You will know a pretzel from a bagel and a Dodger from a Met.

You know what the uniformed concierges at apartment buildings do, and you know what you must tip them at Christmas.

The answers respectively being not much, and too much.

And there is something beguiling in that easy familiarity, but something misleading about it, too. It tends to blind Europeans, and the British in particular, to any sense of just how foreign a place America can be.

...

This is, after all, a country born out of a tax-revolt during a rebellion against centralising authority, and then expanded by settlers who exchanged the comforts of the Eastern seaboard for the dangers and opportunities of the wild interior.

It is not surprising that a feisty scepticism towards government lingers in the politics here.

The Tea Party movement is successful because it taps into the deep American suspicion that all federal government apart from defence spending, is a kind of bureaucratic boondoggle, dreamed up by larcenous conspiracists in Washington to allow them to line their pockets by picking ours.

Well, It's true isn't it?

And our differences extend into this earthly realm too.

To Europeans, for example, a gun is a weapon, pure and simple.

To many, but not all Americans, it is a badge of independence, and self-reliance - the tool of the engaged citizen who does not think that either the criminal, or the forces of the state, should have a monopoly on deadly force.

Show us a gun, and we picture a muscular ne'er-do-well in a balaclava menacing an elderly sub-postmistress.

An American is more likely to visualise a plucky homesteader crouching between an overturned sofa in a burning ranch house, preparing to defend his family to the death.

Well...guns are like eggs, aren't they? Everyone should own a dozen or three!

An aversion to paying taxes and an addiction to public and private debt do not add up, and American voters may well be left to conclude that they have awarded themselves a lifestyle that they can not really afford.

That is true. But, sending more money to Washington doesn't help...those stinkin' larcenists will just spend more!

America has enormous debts but it still spends as much money on defence as all the rest of the world put together.

And if that makes you uncomfortable, it is worth remembering that wherever you are, there is a good chance that if your country is ever invaded, your leader's first phone call will be to the White House in Washington.

That's enough said

Americans could make their public spaces a little quieter, for example, if they all took one step closer to the person they are talking to.

This was terribly difficult to get used to when I left the US.

And after three years of eating steaks the size of elephant's ears off plates bigger than satellite dishes, all of our crockery back in Europe now looks like it was borrowed from a doll's house. They may take some getting used to.

I had to get used to the reverse leaving the US. It has taken some getting used to. I'll still patronize restaurants that offer free refills....it just seems cheap to not offer them. How much does it really cost? Not much!

[Update 2016-04-05 07:00:00] Added link to source article:  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9294890.stm

Image by Defense Images via flickr