fighting the lack of good ideas

how do you negotiate a ceasefire with terorists?

This question has finally started dawning on the unwashed liberal masses. For the past almost 5 years, the United States has been directly confronting terrorism in several different global locations. And in the past several days, Hezbollah has finally reared its ugly head and given up on sporadic attacks against Israel and has instead launched an all-out war.

Every news network I have seen in the past several days has been asking this question, which is good – it means they’re starting to think, always a big plus.

Unfortunately, they haven’t yet gotten to the only possible answer: you can’t. They are not driven by a lust for land, power, resources, or people. Terrorists, especially of the muslim extraction, are driven by violence – seeing violence executed on those they disagree with, or just dislike this week.

There is only one way of negotiating with terrorists: you kill them. A ceasefire only occurs when they are shot – then they cease firing.

It may not be a popular response to the question, but it’s the only one that works.

what rights?

More proof the American Civil Liberties Union is on crack: they are supporting a lawsuit filed by inmates to revert a recent decision made by Indiana’s Department of Corrections to ban sexually explicit magazines, letters, etc (CNN story).

Fortunately Java Ahmed from the IDoC isn’t just bowing to the lawsuit: “We don’t have any current plans to make any changes. If throughout the process the court says it’s constitutionally inappropriate, we would do so, but we don’t think it’s unconstitutional.”

Criminals voluntarily give up lots of rights the rest of us have guaranteed to us by the very act of committing their crime. People in jail for murder, rape, theft, drug possession, or anything else, have no reasonable, definable need to have access to pornography. They’re supposed to be paying back society in some fashion for their crimes, not sitting in a health spa fantasizing about Miss November or Pet of the Year – at least not with those pictures in front of them.

I have a problem with prisons providing anything beyond basic living needs to inmates: they don’t need a gym, cable TV, special catering, or girlie magazines. They need to sit in their cell and think about what they’ve done. They should perhaps be put to work doing useful things in their area (North Carolina utilizes lower-risk inmates to clean up the highways). I also think they should be allowed to read novels, historical accounts, biographies, religious works, etc. Low-risk inmates could be encouraged to take distance education classes, hopefully to help them stay out the system in the future.

There is no reason to make life easy on inmates: they are convicted felons, and need to be punished – not rewarded. Chain gangs were great ways to get work done basically for free. Outside of a given warden’s abuse of his authority, there is no better way to utilize otherwise waste time of those criminals than by making them do real work.

Imbibing pornography is not punishment. Criminals who are focusing time and energy on porn are probably also fantasizing about doing something to those girls (or guys). Rapists, murderers, and other criminals don’t need extra fuel for their minds to work on while they’re in prison. They need to be punished.

oh vista, vista, whyfore art thou vista?

I’ve been playing with Windows Vista Beta 2 recently on my home computer, and my overall impression is pretty blah. I must agree with many other reviews I’ve read that it’s really XP SP3. The eye candy is nice (taken from Apple and the OSS world), but nothing worth upgrading over. The new Start menu is better laid out, but again – not worth upgrading for. User management is a bit better, and the side bar is a spiffy feature – but you can already get that for free with either Google Desktop or Konfabulator.

I kinda feel sorry for the engineers at Microsoft who’ve poured millions of man hours and years of effort individually into this new edition of Windows – there’s no compelling reason for anyone I know to buy it.

When you factor in the minimum system requirements (and you lose a lot of eye candy if you go with the minimums) – 1.5G CPU, 512M RAM, 64M video card, 16G free drive space – the system is hogging all the basic resources of any new computer. Budget-minded consumers who snag Dell’s latest weekend special won’t have enough oomph to run Vista. XP Pro runs fine on a system with 256M RAM and a 1G CPU (I should know – one of my home boxes is such a beast). I do not see any reason why this “upgrade” has to be such a resource hog.

Sure, power users, gamers, and businesses will buy machines that can run Vista well – but Vista is going to be sucking the life out of those systems so those self-same buyers will end up needing even beefier hardware to get the “most” from their computing experience.

It’s sad when I can install any other desktop OS (distros of Linux with heavy or light window managers, XP Pro, OS X, Zeta, etc) on a system with 256M or 512M of RAM and expect it to run acceptably – along with all the apps I need to use – but Microsoft has to push its customers into machines formerly relegated to true heavy users (gamers, developers, etc).

Maybe some miracle will happen in the next several months and Vista won’t demand so many resources – but I’m not holding out for one.

a kinder, gentler HRT

As much fun as it would be to be a part of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, what I’m thinking about now is a Hurricane Response Team.

Any church, charitable group, or even a business that wanted to engender some positive community goodwill could assemble a disaster team – volunteers and equipment that could be deployed to damaged areas easily, and self-sufficiently.

I envision such a group having a cargo van and a personnel van. Inside the cargo van could be stowed a gas grill, food, camp stoves, propane tanks, chain saws, wrecking bars, work gloves, and other ancillary safety equipment and tools. A 15 passenger van can comfortably accommodate 10-12 people, their extra clothes, beverages, a couple spare fuel cans, and personal items.

What else am I missing?