Freedom of Religion, and what people totally forget mentioning.

24. May 2009

Now for the most part of the world, freedom of religion is believed to be a human right, and in a whole lot of countries it is granted as fundamental right in national laws. Yay. Good.

There is something wrong with it, though.

Everybody feels good about claiming this right for themselves: “I can choose to believe in whatever I want, and its nobody’s business.” And they are right, but thats just half the truth. The other half is respecting the others’ Freedom of Religion. And that is where the trouble comes in, as that seems to be ignored by the same people that claim it for themselves.

The Principle of Missioning – What is called “missioning” is effectively ignoring the another person’s current faith (because it is so obviously wrong) and trying to convince them that there is only one true religion. It ignores that the missioning victim is already pursuing his right to freedom of religion by believing a) in something else or b) that all religions are crap. Allowing missioning in your religion provides the moral basis to deny others of their fundamental right, until they believe in the same thing as you are. Even if you put a sign at your door saying “I don’t want to be bothered with your nonsense”, you can be sure that some Mormon is gonna ring the bell. This is totally not what was meant by Freedom of Religion.

Soaring above Others – I cannot tell you how often I’ve heard somebody preach how much more valueable and great the followers of the true religion are, because they believe. Well? Totally unlike the non-believers, who aren’t worth as much because they don’t happen to believe in the same crap as you? I’ve heard preachers comparing the non-believers (or whoever happens not to believe in their truth) to frogs, because their lives are as meaningless as that of frogs. Okay – “Ribbit”. Now what? I’m not even getting into how important frogs are to nature, but I am totally objecting to the principle of The Chosen People. And I’m totally objecting preaching that, because – just think about it once – if one is chosen to be more valuable than the other, it makes the other worth less. Duh! That is the foundation to slavery and genocide. If your preacher tells you that you’re worth more than others, he’s not only wrong, he’s also making way for mass murder – that totally is not Freedom of Religion.

Entitlement – Again and again religious leaders claim that their religion entitles them to certain privileges, state funding, the right to build temples on public grounds, influence laws and media and whatnot. The answer is: No it does not! The fact that you believe in something entitles you to big fat nothing. I’ll give you that for free, you can pick it up at my house. If you want to believe in something, go ahead, but don’t expect others to support you! Just because you believe your temple should be built in the center of your town, does not entitle you to that property. If the property you have does not allow for a building with more than three stories to be built, then you cannot build a church tower there – your beliefs don’t change that, okay? Just because you believe there shouldn’t be topless women in public TV does not give you the right to enforce that on the media – the only thing you’re entitled to is to switch the damn thing off. And if you’re preacher is on TV, I am so entitled to switch channels, you wouldn’t believe it. What seems so simple still doesn’t get into peoples heads. It is called Freedom of Religion, not Entitlement to Dictatorship.

I know that according to Martin Luther, reason is the devil’s bride, so I have probably lost a number of readers half way through. But fundamental rights apply to everyone, thats what makes them fundamental. That includes you, but that also includes me, and mind you, I am going to claim my Freedom from Religion.

So keep your beliefs out of my life, will ya?

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Uncybilized Introduction

22. May 2009

Hi there

I still don’t know why we do this. Doesn’t matter, since I don’t know so many things …

But, while in ‚my room’ stirring soup, I keep wondering what’s stirring us into action, my Binary Grunt and his Cybil Unrest. I mean, let’s face it, it’s not going to make any difference if we share our thoughts or not. On the other hand, so many things have changed because people were sharing thoughts…

In the worst case, sharing thoughts may start a new era. That’s, if your name is Jesus or Mohammed. You had the best intentions while babbling words of wisdom and what happens? Dang, all of a sudden you’re a prophet. That’s pretty tough, especially when it comes to the crucifixion part. The real mess starts when you’re gone. Miraculous tales will be spread, until some disciples  have finished scribbling this book. Draughty temples will be erected on the best properties  and you’re  to blame for sending  people through the troubles of adapting to a new calendar. I know, Binary Grunt’s gonna like this. Not the crucifixion part, but the dawning of the Binary Grunts Age, tata! Forget Aquarius. I’ll not imagine what that era is going to be like, not now. But, this is what unsolicited ranting can do, worst case scenario of course. I think it’s scary. Just a wee bit.

Comforting to know that the world doesn’t listen to women, hardly ever it does. Unless she answers questions like ‚your place or mine?’ Phew, I can’t really do much of a damage then. I can simply jabber on about all sorts of things crossing my mind, when in ‚my room’ or elsewhere and nothing’s going to happen. All as it ever was, apart from one thing: It’s gonna be fun (and girls just wanna have fun)

So, thanks to my Binary Grunt for setting this up. He’s hopelessly chauvinistic (just a man <shrug>) but he’s right – he’s the one with the binary stuff, the techie-stuff and in charge of all the other, oh so masculine duties, including plumbing. We live in two separate worlds but that’s so helpful sometimes! He’s the nerd (cruel people call him ‚geek’) addicted to electric smog while I’m in charge of all the quaint things, such as breathing oxygen.

This means, he’s going to tell you a lot about cyber space, outer space and other distant worlds while I’ll be on about planet earth and the wondrous species inhabiting it. Needless to say that both of us experience close encounters of the peculiar kind.

I’m afraid, we’re going to tell you about it…. 

Cybil


Why child porn filters are nonsense

16. May 2009

We are all against child pornography, right? So if a politician does something against child pornography, that is good, right? And there’s nothing you can say against that, right?

True, unless it is Ursula von der Leyen and her party trying to filter the web.

Now what exactly is wrong with that?

Before I get into that, lets see what she proposes to do: She wants to have a blacklist of pages that will be filtered by the internet access providers. If you try to go to one of the pages on that blacklist, you will get a red STOPP-sign (yes, with double P, and it has german text on it) instead. Technically this will be done by manipulating the DNS-servers of your internet access provider.

So far, so hoopy. If I accidentally click on such a link, I won’t be bothered to see the dirt. This is how far people (and our minister) think. And this is exactly the only positive thing that it will do: keeping people who do not want child porn away from it.

Now the alleged purpose is not to keep your grandma away from that dirt, so for those who wanted to get to child porn, how hard would it be to overcome that filter?

Surpassing that filter is trivial.

All you need to do is use a DNS-server that is not located in Germany. Since neither german legislation nor the blacklist apply there, it will let you get to the page. Changing your DNS server is a matter of 5 minutes, no computer expert needed. Once you changed that setting in your computer, the child pornography will be accessible to you just like nothing ever happened.

Okay. So the filter protects me and your grandma from seeing stuff, but not the consumers of child porn. Thats not a lot, but there still is some good in it, right?

No. Putting on sunglasses was never a solution to a real problem, and it sure ain’t this time around.

Here’s a list of problems caused by this:

Problem #1: The Blacklist

The blacklist has to remain secret, mainly because it is so easy to circumvent the filter. It is important for that blacklist not to be published. So the minister decided it would be best to keep courts out of the process, and that the law enforcement agencies manage it.

That means the jurisdiction is not involved. There is no judge banning a site, there is no way to find out if your site is on the list, and there is no way of filing a case to have your website to be removed from that list, if should it ever be included accidentally. And don’t think that hasn’t all happened yet! There was a dutch forwarding company on the norwegian blacklist and a dentist on the australian, neither one had anything to do with child pornography. Imagine your business site on that blacklist! BAD, mkay?

The examples of other countries (most recently: Australian Blacklist leak) shows, that such hardly ever is kept secret, and is the perfect users manual for pedophile. Since they are not affected by the filters, they can easily use that blacklist to get what they want: child porn. This was certainly not intended, but is the ultimate outcome. BAD, mkay?

Problem #2: Creating censorship infrastructure

Once the blacklist is in place, there will be a number of other interest groups who want stuff blocked from access. The communists want the nazi-stuff removed, the nazis want the communist stuff removed. Copyright holders want illegal copys made inaccessible, and on and on and on ….

Youre opening pandora’s box here. BAD, mkay?

Problem #3: Logging

I already explained how easy it is to surpass the filter, and that child porn consumers will not see the STOPP-sign, but there is the (albeit very slight)chance of YOU accidentally visiting such a page. Now the minister wants to log access to that STOPP-sign, and pass the data on for further investigation.

This means: Police will stand in front of your door with a search warrant, while the child porn consumer remains unmolested. BAD, mkay?

Problem #4: Distraction from the effective measures

To make things worse, somebody took one of the leaked blacklists from other countries and checked where the sites where hosted. 90% of those sites were hosted in Europe or North-America, but seemingly no effort had been made to shut those sites down. They just put it on the blacklist, and thats it. Trying to take the sites down or finding out who is behind it would actually help fighting child porn, but once its on the blacklist, why bother?

Now what again was that blacklist supposed to be doing? Ah, yer, fight child pornography. Cool. Totally cool. Lets put sunglasses on, so that we dont see it. Sure helps… NOT! Its BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, DO YOU HEAR ME?

Conclusion

Child porn internet filters are complete nonsense. Whoever comes up with that is a complete moron, has no idea how the net works, and certainly doesn’t care to listen to the experts.

In short: Ursula von der Leyen, you are as thick as two short planks.

If you are searching for a country with intelligent politicians, look elsewhere. Ours certainly ain’t.

The Binary Grunt.


A binary introduction.

16. May 2009

A/S/L ? zOMG, do I h8 that. Anyways, here it goes.

Age: Perfect for a 633k. (for the unititiated, that is supposed to mean “geek” in 13375p34k) Don’t even bother getting me a birthday present that doesn’t have a USB-plug.

Sex: Yes, please. We’re not british.

Location: You haven’t read my previous post, huh? You are at an intersection. To the north you see a flat country with vikings, the south has mountains, chocolate and pizza. To the west you’ll find some more chocolate and people who are decided that moving from the waters onto land was not a good idea of evolution, so they’re trying to reverse that. The east is where your farm workers come from. Where do you want to go? Its Krautland, duh!

Phew, that got the ASL out of the way.

Likes: Programming, a bit of gaming (mostly a geek-MMO called Eve-Online), and generally playing with stuff that has USB plugs. Ah, and ranting about the same subjects again and again. I’m not too sure if that is to be counted as an actual hobby, but since I tend to do it a lot, I included it anyways.

Dislikes: religious fanatism (any kind, and yes, that includes the pope), big brother (I couldnt care less about tv series, I’m talking the 1984 kind here) and the general tendency of stupid people with a loud voice and no bleedin’ clue clustering in great numbers, often wrongly referred to as ‘politics’.

Because speaking ones mind freely is likely to set somebody’s world on fire, I have decided to blog anonymously. There’s probably a billion people out there already (thats about the number of catholics) who don’t like me calling their religious leader a fanatist, so there’s only 5.5 billion left to affront. I’m not paranoid about it, but a bit of safety can’t hurt, can it?

Binary Grunt

P.S. This post was supposed to be the second, but Wolfram Alpha was way more important, so it had to wait.


What a great moment of geekdom.

16. May 2009

wolframalpha1Yes! I was there when it went live the first time!

Its gonna be off and on over the weekend according to their Twitter feed. So at least starting on Monday, March 18th you should be able to access the system as well. In the mean time, here are the answers to my previous questions

Afghanistan GDP per capita 217.79 USD (2005 estimate, about 1/200th of the US)

Afghanistan life expectancy 44.6 years.

AIDS infection rate in Africa 4.17%. more than a fourth of the population of Swaziland is infected. 2.261 million deaths per year, but sure, condoms are a bad idea.

Rwanda deaths unfornunately did not show a diagram, and did not distinguish how people died, but here’s the number anyways136,853 (2008 estimate)

wolframalpha2The actual launch did resemble WarGames a bit though. Lets hope its not SkyNet 🙂

In any case: More data available to the public, and making them accessible is a Good Thing(TM).

And just because people will insist asking that question over and over: No, it is not going to make people dumb!

How availability of information could possibly make people dumb is beyond me.


Wolfram Alpha going live

15. May 2009

A ranting blog, and I start with news… probably not a good idea, but this one is such a biggy that I had to do it anyway:

Tonight at 12am UTC, Wolfram Alpha will be connected to the internet.

Now whats the big deal? Thousands of websites are put online every day, so what? Now Wolfram Alpha might become the third source of reference to a lot of you. Google, Wikipedia, Wolfram Alpha. But then again, it might be one of the greatest internet failures of all times. Here is a screencast showing what it is said to be doing.

And since you’re probably reading this when it already has gone online, you can go ahead and test it yourself. Supposedly, it will answer questions like

Whats the GDP of Afghanistan, and what is the average life expectancy of a new born child there?

Now that is pretty cool, right? Yes, it is. The power of a huge database (and I do mean HUGE) is at your fingertips, and 10,000 processors to compute your answer. Deep Thought, anyone?

It will not, however make you ask that question in the first place. And this is where the ranting comes back in. I sure hope it’s as easy to use as that screencast suggests, but even if that is true, and if it had all the data you wanted, will people start putting the right questions in?

What is the AIDS infection rate in Africa? How many people are killed every day in Rwanda?

While politicians and the press totally freak out over swine flu it seems questions are not en vogue. Have questions ever been? At least recently, people have chosen quick answers over tough questions. And more people than you’d imagine will put “Am I sexy?” inYer. Sure. You’re so totally hot and sexy that you can now safely go away, stop using precious CPU cycles,  and lead your life of ignorance happily ever after, mkay?

For the rest of us, may be its time to ask questions again, and may be this time you have a better chance for answers. I for one thing would love to see our federal government spendings in that database, but hey, that might be a bit too dangerous.

The Binary Grunt.

P.S. And by the way, Wolfram Alpha is totally not a Google rival, just like Wikipedia isnt. It’s not even a search engine! Sorry, folks, you’re totally not getting it. Google is about searching the net, not about finding answers to questions. If you must compare WA to something, compare it to ask.com pwleeeze?

P.P.S. and H1N1 is not more dangerous to you than “regular” flu – but panicking is so much more fun, right?


Hello world!

14. May 2009

mkay. So this’ll be it. We’ve decided to blog, and me being binary I had to set the thing up.

Not that it is hard to setup a blog these days, but … well, ya know… wimmenz. I get to do the techie-stuff, and yes, if there’s a problem with the plumbing, it sure as hell calls for a man as well. I get my revenge though by calling the kitchen “her room” 😛

Now who are we, and what is this blog going to be all about?

To be honest, were not sure. We are sure who we are, just not on the “what this is all about” part, so I guess I’ll start off with the who bit.

Were a German couple, living in Germany. Okay, enough of the bad news.

The good news: we’re both bilingual. Well, kinda… sorta… like: I got this bad humiliation of the English language that stuck with me ever since I lived in the US for a while, and she’s got the spoon up her nose and talks with a british accent. So I get to write “gonna” and “kinda” and stuff, and she has to stick to proper grammar and spelling… mkay? We might put a post on here in german every once in a while, but thats just another subject we havent decided upon yet.

We have an oppinion. Sometimes we have more than one, then of cause my point of view is utterly wrong and her’s is totally right. Sound familiar? Anyways, after a number of discussions with friends, family and people I’m not sure what they count as we finally concluded that some of those oppinions should be put out there on the interwebs.

Oh well. I ran outa time for tonight – not a good sign for a first post, huh? But, man, did I looooove writing outa 🙂

Over and out, your Binary Grunt.