Charlie Hadbo, Islam and Racism

Dear redditor,

I’m writing this in response to the senseless events of the past 2 days.

First, a brief bio:

I used to be a Muslim of over 20 years. My parents come from a country where insulting Islam is punishable by flogging, and leaving it is punishable by death. Though always a skeptic at heart, questioning Islam in my country of origin meant facing persecution at best, and the death penalty at worst.

I’ve seen beheadings, floggings and beatings in the name of protecting the sanctity of Islam. They’re not impressive in the least, and you don’t want any of them to transpire a few feet away from you at an impressionable young age. I’ve seen the effects of Islamic fundamentalism first hand, and how extremely effective it is at stifling an entire civilization from developing into a society that favors reason, rationality and the basic, axiomatic right to express your thoughts and ideas freely, even if they are perceived to be disrespectful, offensive or tasteless.

Through a series of unfortunate events that included loss and bereavement, I’ve come to terms with calling myself an atheist. I have an Islamic first name, yet I’m as godless as a bagful of decapitated puppies.

The reason why it’s frustratingly hard to come out as an atheist and share my identity with the world is the following:

If word goes out and reaches my country of origin that I’m an atheist, I would place my family in harm’s way. The reason for this is that even though I’m no longer physically located in the country in question, the government of said country will employ an Italian-mob like strategy wherein they would harass and even harm my family in an attempt to goad me into going back to face the music.

In addition, I’m not even as vocal a critic of Islam as I used to be, because doing so meant adopting a toxic, neurotic mindset wherein I’m constantly looking for things to complain about my former religion, however trivial they may be. I’ve found this to be a decidedly substandard approach to living, and that it is far more conducive to my well-being to light my past with a torch and move on with my life, rigorously pursuing my own educational and professional aspirations, Islam-free.

In the wake of what happened in France, however, I’ll make an exception.

I would like to emphasize the following crucial point that is the reason why I’m making this post:

What the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo attack are trying to do is not just stifle freedom of speech, or force an entire continent into a state of terror and trepidation. What they are truly aiming for is far more sinister and diabolical:

They want to make it infinitely, ineffably and irrevocably harder for both Muslims and ex-Muslims to go about their lives peacefully in the countries that they have immigrated to.

They aim to foster an environment that has its foundations firmly rooted in fear and confusion. They hope that such an environment will make for fertile ground for prejudice, bigotry and intolerance to manifest and fester.

Muslims of all walks of life, be they Middle-Eastern, South-East Asian or otherwise, are deathly afraid of the blowback that they might experience through no fault of their own.

I implore you to not give in to the mindset that these fundamentalist thugs want you to succumb to.

If you see a girl wearing a hijab, instead of going “What the hell is she doing in my country? Why won’t she go back?”, buy her a cup of coffee. Perhaps a slice of cake. Watch what happens.

Do not be surprised if the girl bursts into tears –
because your out-of-left-field act of compassion and kindness will be an overwhelming reassurance that she is not subject to misplaced prejudice and unfair bigotry.

If the two schmucks who attacked the Charlie Hebdo HQ were subjected to the sonic barrage of a Ramones tune at an early age, I’d wager that many lives will have been spared, and that we would all go back to extolling the virtues of Pastafarianism instead. Obviously, it’s much too late for that. So what am I asking you to do?

This is not an appeal to emotion and compassion for the mere sake of being nice to your fellow human being.

Rather, I’m desperately appealing to reason and civility, concepts that are woefully alien to the perpetrators of the heinous acts of the past 55 hours.

I’m rather short on time, so please feel free to crosspost this to wherever you deem this to be relevant.

Thank you for your time.

- – -

I think part of the problem with your mentality, as someone who once held it, is that it blinds you to the fact that people will do crazy shit for almost any kind of ideology, belief system, or structure, whether it is empirically backed or not, if they are furthering a pursuit of power.

I used to agree with statements like “religion is a mental illness” and “religion is responsible for these atrocities,” etc. etc. Then I got older and saw that economic problems exist all over the world, people are killing each other for stated reasons that are too stupid for words all over the world, and people holding virtually every kind of belief in human history have been crazy killers.

Buddhists can be serial murdering gangs driven by religion. Did you know that? In Southeast Asia there are bands of Buddhist monks that are murdering people. In the name of their religion. Same with Christian tribal groups in Africa. We waste all this time talking about how the Koran has special violence-supporting text in it that some religions also have (Judaism and Christianity, for starters) and some other religions don’t have (Buddhism); the reality is it doesn’t fucking matter. If you swapped out Islam for Christianity, made Islam the dominant religion of Western culture, and put Christianity into the minds of all the backwater tribal structures in the Middle East, the situation would look almost identical to how it looks now.

ISIS is using religion to inspire and control people. Religion itself has always been a social fiber, a way for society to impose rules and hierarchies. It’s one reason almost every society on Earth grew out of religious tribes — it’s such a convenient way to control people. But we don’t need religion to have that kind of control over people anymore. Hitler, Stalin and Mao all killed tens of millions of people using fairly boring, nuanced ideology about how the government and economy should relate to each other. Mao used one of the stalest books in the Great Book Collection, Das Kapital by Karl Marx, in the place of the Bible. Marx talks about supply and demand, production versus labor; the Bible tells us to stone people to death for doing weird things with our genitals. And using the former of those two books, Mao was able to control a massive population and kill approximately 50 million people. Did the book or its beliefs cause those people to die? Hardly. That book was just in the wrong place at the wrong time — it was yet another convenient excuse a power structure used to justify its existence to masses of people too uneducated to think otherwise and escape their society’s prisoner’s dilemma: Do I cooperate with all these nuts and possibly stay safe, or do I verge from them for what is right and risk everything?

The point is that it doesn’t matter why the terrorists say they are doing what they are doing. If it wasn’t cherry-picked Koran passages, it would be something else. Talking about religion as if it is the key problem will solve nothing, because dumb people are always going to believe and follow religion just like they’re always going to follow whatever other kind of shit a leader they trust tells them to do. If we want to solve problems in areas like the Middle East, economic and diplomatic solutions need to take the wheel.

Government spending

This article contains language that is not recommended for younger audiences.

Often times, people bitch and moan about the over-spending of governments in more affluent countries. 

Here is one post on Reddit explaining the cost of road amenities in the U.S.


In the US, signalization for a small intersection is about $100,000. 

[–]Kerdek 1 point  

Now I know how I’m going to make my fortune. Do it for a quarter the price, twice as fast, with a high profit margin. I guarantee the waste there is beyond reason.

[–]avoiding_politics 2 points  

Where do you figure the waste is? Where would you save money for profit?

[–]Kerdek -1 points  

Everywhere. The government builds them, after all. Of course, there is not much to be saved on pavement and such, but whatever underground piping is in use can surely be replaced by sealed pvc. There is no reason for a controller box to contain sophisticated equipment like they do. The reason they do is because the people who design them seem to go with the piss-poor electrical engineering paradigm of “put together generic devices until you have something that works”. You could slash the cost of the box in a tenth by hiring one guy with a little expertise in digital electronics. When designing a light, it is straightforward to determine every state the signals will be in. Simply design a minimal relay network and a digital stator to operate the lamps. Operate this stator with a z-80 board not larger than a TI calculator. The stator and board can be standard eqipment that is mass-manufactured. The board must have a service port to configure it and software can be written for quick intuitive configuration. The relay network would have to be designed per-light but this task could be done by a computer as well. You could probably pay one engineer per state in the U.S. to do that job about 40k yearly if that is not an option. The PSU for such a unit would be no larger than your typical brick since the lights could run directly on mains power. Using a typical security system for the box, the whole unit could be no larger than a typical PC tower, although this means that a tent would be required for mid-storm service. Not a problem. Lamp cables could be connected to relays with PowerCon connectors. If signals need to be coordinated, this could be accomplished using telegraph wire as the communications needed to coordinate even millions of signals are unsophisticated. I estimate the whole cost of such a control rig would be no worse than $700 per intersection. Take a look at this picture and tell me there isn’t sophisticated equipment here that could easily be replaced by something with the power of a handheld calculator. They have screens, knobs, buttons, connector arrays, and all sorts of things that are totally replaceable by a little planning and a handheld service device which could be produced cheaply enough to outfit every police vehicle with one ($300 per unit at the very worst).

Once you’re done with that, the rest can all be designed to use standard equipment and simple devices can certainly be designed to make set-up less complicated. Knowing how construction crews work here in the states, there are certainly some huge advantages to utilizing best practices which are totally overlooked due to bureaucratic technical incompetence.

[–]avoiding_politics 3 points x7 

I can speak to your points with a fair amount of knowledge actually, as I have worked in the Traffic Ops section of my state’s DOT and even the electrical research division, with light controllers and census detectors.

whatever underground piping is in use can surely be replaced by sealed pvc

Not really; PVC has less than 140 PSI maximum operating pressure in a 12″ main, is prone to cracking during earthquakes, is highly flammable (PVC is literally used for amateur rocket fuel when coupled with an oxidizer), is prone to cracking under freezing temperatures, is UV sensitive (cannot be stored outside for long periods of time, unlike metal/concrete pipe), and can contaminate drinking water and other materials it carries with VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Engineers don’t sit around bored and try to come up with the most ridiculous, bullshit solution to a problem just for shits and giggles. Construction standards are set in place by local, regional, state, and federal mandates and they weren’t just thought up while buzzed off a few beers snuck in at lunch.

There is no reason for a controller box to contain sophisticated equipment like they do.

I’d love for you to explain to me what is “sophisticated” about a traffic controller. The McCain controller used by Caltrans as a standard controller throughout the state uses a Motorola 6800 processor as a controller; no, I didn’t mean a 68000, I mean a 6800. That’s a chip that started production in 1974. The box requires such a strong level of C programming that only a few people in the state really know what’s going on inside of it. But we still use them because they’re workhorses, and vetted, and dependable. I’ll get to these points later.

The reason they do is because the people who design them seem to go with the piss-poor electrical engineering paradigm of “put together generic devices until you have something that works”.

Please provide your evidence for knowing how this worked. I guarantee you pulled it out of your ass because that’s an absolute load of horseshit. In CA we have a state standard, signed off by a Professional Engineer, that is used as a standard plan for every electrical installation in the state. If the plan was half-assed and not well thought out, that P.E.’s license would be on the line, the state’s controllers would be unreliable and in shambles, and we’d have insurmountable traffic problems every day on state routes because of electrical failures. We don’t, and that very fact is testament to fully deny your assumption that these boxes are just thrown together with no forethought.

You could slash the cost of the box in a tenth by hiring one guy with a little expertise in digital electronics

So you’re willing to put your entire state’s traffic control on the line of some guy with “a little experience”? Enjoy being the singled out person in charge of dealing with all the tort lawsuits because some signal had a bug, caused a fatal car accident, and you’re facing involuntary manslaughter charges. You wouldn’t be facing those charges if you had, say, a licensed and experienced P.E. come up with a standard plan for the whole state, so if anything did happen the State would be responsible, not you or your idea of an independent contractor.

The board must have a service port to configure it and software can be written for quick intuitive configuration.

Oh, so now you want to broaden the scope of your guy with a little experience to now come up with a controller that has a custom interface for “quick and intuitive” operation? That will require an OS to be designed, a development workstation to be designed, unit and integration testing, and then deployment, plus someone who is either willing to travel throughout the State to deal with maintenance and failures, or training enough people to allow each area of the State to have someone on call, for when the inevitable happens. Have you ever seen a traffic light blinking red? That means the controller crashed and it needs to be reset. Every time that happens throughout the State, you’re going to need to have a technician come out and fix it, someone with enough experience to know the system and get it working, on call 24/7/365. This plan for you to cheapen things up seems to be getting a little more expensive…but let’s go on.

The relay network would have to be designed per-light but this task could be done by a computer as well.

So now you want to custom design each controller for EVERY CONTROLLER in the State? And somehow, a magical computer is going to do this for you? So now you have to unit and integration test every controller for every possible contingency before it’s vetted enough to be put to use in the State, and when it fails you can prove that it wasn’t just some random bug your guy with “a little experience” didn’t see, or some bug your magical designer computer had? And you want to put the safety of the public, and your tort lawyers on guard against that? I’m thinking your job and experience doesn’t involve a product that goes to public market that if it malfunctioned, could bring tort cases if you’re lucky and manslaughter cases if you weren’t so lucky. And don’t think I’m being extreme; every quarter or so Caltrans puts out a Tort case newsletter, examining the various lawsuits filed against the State for negligent construction site safety or road design, etc. It’s a continuous process.

You could probably pay one engineer per state in the U.S. to do that job about 40k yearly

You clearly do not understand engineer salaries. Electrical engineers start at $60K+, more based on where you live. Absolutely NO ONE is going to put themselves at risk for designing traffic controllers for $40-fucking-thousand a year, you are nuts.

The PSU for such a unit would be no larger than your typical brick since the lights could run directly on mains power

Sure, if it was in a shirt sleeve environment without freeze/thaw cycles and extreme heat and cold. Traffic controllers have to endure the freezing temps of Sierra Nevada passes, and the baking Death Valley; many of them will be that cold in the winter, and that warm in the summer. That’s beyond industrial level hardiness, that’s military grade weather temps right there.

Lamp cables could be connected to relays with PowerCon connectors.

Great, so now any dipshit that wants to steal the copper since it’s apparently not in a conduit can shock himself, and if he doesn’t die, sue the State for not protecting him from AC mains. Or some dumb fucking kids who didn’t know better. Plus, powerCON connectors are NOT designed for connections that are meant to stand up to aforementioned temp and weather conditions. The minimum connector that could withstand such punishment would probably be a MIL_DTL-38999 or -26482, but here in the real world we make those connection in conduit so that the public is protected and our cables are protected.

Take a look at this picture and tell me there isn’t sophisticated equipment here that could easily be replaced by something with the power of a handheld calculator.

Dude, you don’t even know what you’re looking at! Sophisticated?! There’s a basic user control panel at the top, below that is a controller with an 8 line LCD display with a hex keypad, a secondary controller box, then a big connection panel, the light controllers, and then an AC mains circuit breaker and a line conditioner. THAT’S IT!!! How the fuck is an 8 line LCD display and “knobs” fucking sophisticated?! If you opened up the box and saw a bunch of blade servers and a NAS that’s one thing, fucking a, man, you really don’t know just so unbelievably simple this box really is. How is that connection panel so ridiculous to you? Do you even know how many connections there can be for one intersection? At a four lane stop with controlled left turns, I just counted at a well known intersection that I happen to know is a State route and there are nearly 70 inputs and outputs; how else would you manually hook all those up? That includes street lamps, lighted signs, census loops for traffic detection, signals, crosswalk buttons, and crosswalk indicators. Many intersections use cameras for traffic detection, how do you think those systems work? That’s an honest to God computer running, with a “sophisticated screen” so that technicians can work on it.

What I can tell you is this: engineers aren’t here to think up the most ridiculous way to solve a problem. We work hard to make things work, and the vast majority of us take personal pride in that. If there was a cheaper, better way to do things, don’t you think we’d be just as interested as you? What crazy world do you think practicing engineers live in where we have no interest in clever, useful solutions that are simple to implement and are as maintenance free as possible? Don’t you think engineers who work for the State are also tax payers and don’t like seeing their money wasted? Don’t you think we’d jump on any chance to make things better? How can you elevate yourself so high above an entire workforce, nay, an entire industry?

My MOLESKINE ® GTD implementation

Over the last week or so, I’ve read the book “GTD/ Getting Things Done: art of stress free Productivity” and have been taking notes, and making an implementation of it.

I saw some people’s versions of GTD, but found one really valuable suggestion saying that the 1st step is to READ THE BOOK – not just copy someone elses implementation.
2nd step – no really.. read the book…

I found it really inspiring, and i guess each person will naturally make their own methods, but its a strong foundation.

The sections I have are:

  • Intro, checklists, notes to self, ongoing tasks, weekly activities, daily morning timetable
  • Project List
  • Waiting for others
  • Someday/ maybe
  • Next Actions (with the different contexts, HQ, To call, To buy, Errands, People)
  • Project information

I got the inverted tab idea from This lifehacker entry

So a week into setting everything up, after collecting everything in my house, parents house, cupboard, shelves, draws etc. – I threw out about 3 storage boxes of stuff, recycled another 3, and have one box to donate to an op shop or give away.

Then I collected:

  • 4 projects (9 or more business related projects)
  • 5 things waiting for others
  • 13 Someday/ Maybe items
  • 36 Next actions
  • And a few pages of project info

And am ready for anything life can throw at me ~ mind is clear, I can focus on completing those things, and can relax and forget about it all when I’m not working, because it’s all secure in the system.

So this is the System:

  • Inbox: My MOLESKINE ® Wallet, eMail inbox
  • Project list, project details, waiting for, someday/ maybe, ongoing, next actions: MOLESKINE ® GTD Book
  • Non actionable things need to consider in the future, to do in the future, events: Google Calendar
  • Important things that need to be done on a certain day/ time: MOLESKINE ® Wallet (diary)
  • Document/Info archive for reference: Google Docs

Android Lollipop WiFi NFC connection tags

When you are in your WiFi settings, you can long press on the current active WiFi network and select “Write to NFC tag” to make a tag that other people can scan to connect to the current network.

They may be able to get the password, but it isn’t immediately obvious – and there’s no typing.

You can use this Android/ NFC/ WiFi icon to print, put an NFC tag under it, and share your WiFi.


Australia: Pay with Android NFC HCE Credit Card

CUA – Credit Union Australia is the first bank in the Asia-Pacific region to offer Credit Card payments with any Android Phone with NFC and 4.4 KitKat enabled Host Card Emulation (HCE.)

Commonwealth bank and Westpac had NFC PayPass and PayWave payments enabled on their Android apps, but you needed to have specific Samsung phones.

I have tested this app on a Nexus 4 running 4.4.4 KitKat flavour of Andorid and it works well.

I had a hacked Android L Lollipop Preview and it didn’t want to add the card. (L preview was only released for Nexus 5 and 7)

I have tried a westpac scanner, a keyboard enclosed in a walled area with scanner on the side – they worked well. (Book shop, sandwich shop, petrol station etc.) 

I tried and failed 3 times scanning inside Woolworths Town Hall – but I’ll test more.. I’m not sure where exactly the NFC chip is and what best way it would be to scan it.


CUA is a bank owned by members, so the profits apparently go back to members in lower fees and better rates, but they have few branches and are very busy at lunch time. You can use RediATMs for free if you withdraw more than $50. (I use BankWest for withdrawals – free for BankWest, CommBank, ANZ, NAB, Westpac) 


UBank money transfer error transfer limit

I tried transferring $2 to another account, and it said that $20,000 was the limit.. 

“Online daily transfer limit is $20,000 to any account or up to $40,000 to any verified linked account.”

To fix this – add the contact’s bank details to your saved list in browser, then shift funds in app.


Rotring New Newton 2005 not actually series 600 top screw cap fell off

I just took my pen out of my pocket this morning, and the screw cap which is on the bottom of the pen just came clean off, with no way to screw it on again (it usually acts in a screwing motion, but it moves an inner tube which connects to the large plastic nib+ink+case section of the pen.

There was a slight panic, but nothing looked like it had cracked in half – it is all metal and solid. (I want to use these pens forever – and I’m guessing the first thing that will disintegrate will be the clipping action of the caps… )

It was hard to see what to do – and for the first time I saw the long silver tube which is usually on the inside of the main part of the pen, but this is how I fixed it:

  1. Remove the sections: cap, nib, metal tube, main body of pen, little screw nobule which is usually on the top.
  2. place the silver inner tube into the body, and then slip the little twist cap onto the end of it
     ~ The way it is held in place is that it is wedged into it, and then the whole mechanism rotates freely inside the body of the pen.
  3. put the body of the pen, screw-cap facing down, onto a table, then use a solid long object to apply small, steadily growing amounts of pressure onto the edge of the silver inner tube down into the screw cap – thereby wedging the two into one.
     ~ I was just a bit paranoid of damaging or warping the inner tube, so I didn’t want to just push it down by adding a lot of pressure to one point – so I was working my way around the circumference. 
     ~ When it is wedged together a small amount, you can lift the pen up, and test to see your progress by observing the gap between the screw cap, and small silver section it connects to. The two should be flush together with no gap.

Here is a video of the type of pen I am talking about:


WordPress only show content for logged in admin user

Sometimes one might only want to show some content for logged in admin users, or a specific admin user – for testing purposes etc.

you can use this code:

$current_user = wp_get_current_user();
if($current_user->user_email == "")
  function(); // this function will only happen when this one admin user is logged in.
<p>This HTML will only show when the user is logged in</p>

For content to be shown when a user is logged in as an admin in general, this can be used:

<?php if ( is_user_logged_in() ) {
  echo "This will be shown if a user is logged into the admin section.";
} ?> 

Google Algorithm Change – Penguin 2.1

Valuing non-standard words and longer sentences?~ sounds like a recipe for long windedness and interesting language ~ may be more fun to read – but not the best when you want answers fast.

My reply:

It would quite undoubtedly be gained, by reading this masterous literary piece, which has given me some informational enlightenment on the collection of thoughts at hand, that the discourse which is brought to publication on the interconnected systems which erect the Internet’s structures will move in the trajectory of loquaciousness and heterogeneousness alike.