Shuttersparks

Welcome to my musings on whatever topic catches my eye, plus stories, recipes, handyman tips, welding, photography, and what have you. Oh, and analog/digital hardware design, and software. Please comment on the blog post so everyone who visits can see your comments.

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Some Realities About Laws and Contraband

This could also be titled “Human Nature Strikes Again”.

Every time a physical thing is outlawed, two things happen.

The first thing that happens is a new class of criminals is created, many of whom were not criminals before. Those who were not criminals before will lose respect for government.

The second thing that happens is that government inadvertently creates a business opportunity for entrepreneurs to supply the thing that was outlawed. Often, the outlawed thing becomes more popular than before it was outlawed. The result is that criminals end up making a lot of money.

If people want something, they will find a way to get it. If people want something, someone will jump in and provide it.

This reality drove the Soviets nuts — especially those who truly believed in communism. On the streets of Moscow, you could buy all the stuff that was outlawed — rock and roll music albums, genuine Levi blue jeans, makeup from Europe, western books and magazines, you name it. How was this possible in the most tightly controlled police state in the world? And remember that Moscow is in the middle of a large country, not a seaport or border city where smuggling is easy. Yet, there it was on the streets of Moscow.

Some of these things are hard concepts for many United Statesians to accept. Most believe in the idea of “the rule of law” and that people behave because of the threat of legal consequences. Most Americans believe, and I used to believe, that if laws and police disappeared overnight, there would be total chaos and mayhem. That’s not true. I’ve witnessed this exact thing happen in a much “rougher” country than the USA: Guatemala. The entire national police force was disbanded and for several months there were no police at all. We’re all gonna die, right? Well, exactly nothing happened. In fact, the crime rate dropped slightly.

How is this possible? The reason is that people obey laws because they want to, not because of the threat of punishment. People do what they want, regardless of laws. The majority of people in a society are nice people, who want to peacefully get on with their lives. Civil order continues with or without police. Leading a society to believe the myth that their safety, from moment to moment, depends on police is advantageous to government and the police. But, it’s a myth.

Conversely, if people don’t want to obey a law, they won’t. This means that government should not make poorly designed laws or too many laws. The Chinese wrote about this a thousand years ago. Governments should not create laws that people will not obey. If you do, it gradually weakens the force of all laws, including good ones. Each time a person disobeys or circumvents a law, their overall respect for government and all law diminishes.

If government wishes to retain the support of the people, it must also adapt to changing behaviors. One example of this is marijuana laws. For the past 40 years, just about everyone I know smokes pot. (Unfortunately, I’m strongly allergic to it.) This means that every one of those people knows they’re breaking the law constantly. They’re constantly aware that the government makes stupid laws that nobody obeys. They’re constantly aware that, under the law, they’re criminals — unprosecuted felons, and the government would love to throw them in prison. This has strong negative effects. It has the subconscious effect of weakening respect for all laws and government in general. It also turns police into adversaries.

Advice from the ancient Chinese to all governments:

1. Don’t make stupid laws.
2. Don’t make lots of laws or complicated laws so that people are confused.
3. If times change or you discover a stupid law, fix it immediately, lest you lose the respect of the people.

Blogger Export Broken

Hmm. There’s a WordPress plugin that makes transferring a blog from Google’s Blogger to WordPress quite easy. I’ve used it before. Unfortunately, this plugin does not work with WordPress MultiSite. So, I decided to use the manual method of using Blogger’s export function to export to a file, then import the file into WordPress. This is very straightforward. Whereupon, I discovered that Blogger’s export function has been broken for several months with no apparent effort on Google’s part to fix it. Isn’t that oddly interesting?

A Walk Down Memory Lane

For Google Plussers Only

Once in a great while, I have a good idea at the right time. (Happens about once every ten years.) Thank goodness I had this one on April 1st, before Google+ started shutting down. I thought, hmm, I should take some screenshots so I can remember what G+ looked like — what it looked like, exactly.  Several times already, I have patted myself on the back for thinking of this and realized how angry I’d be if it had occurred to me after it was too late.

I did this with myself in mind, so in the future I can look at them and remember what was. Then I realized, if these are so important to me, I should publish them.

The work of the Archive Team rescued 98 percent of G+ profiles, which is fantastic. All this will be on the Wayback Machine in a few months. However, my experience is that material on the Wayback Machine doesn’t look exactly like the original. Everything is there, but for various reasons, the appearance is slightly “off”. I don’t mean this as a criticism. It is what it is and it’s wonderful. These screen captures below are not slightly off. They are exact.

For each thumbnail that you wish to view, click the thumbnail. It should open the image. Then click again on the image to increase it to original size.

Trigger warning: Google Plussers may find these images disturbing. They may make you cry and collapse in a quivering heap. Proceed at your own risk.

My Profile Page

Profile Page 2

Profile Page 3

Notifications 1

Notifications 2

Contacts 1

Contacts 2

Contacts 3

Circles

Collections 1

Collections 2

Collections 3

Collections 4

Browser Icon

#SignalFlare 1 on Android Mobile

#SignalFlare 2 on Android Mobile

Android Mobile Notifications

Android Mobile Contacts

And then…
“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”
— Obi-Wan Kenobi

The End

My Recent Absence

I apologize for my recent absence. Most of you can probably guess the reason. The death of Google+ has weighed heavily on me since October, both dealing with the horror of losing G+ but then desperately, relentlessly, trying platforms, chasing friends and followers, and connecting with as many as possible. People I deal with in person here probably don’t even know that they were only dealing with my “autopilot personality”. I wasn’t even there, as my mind was on other things.

The past three weeks have been consumed by the Archive Team project to capture all of G+ for the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Google+ is the biggest project the team has ever undertaken and it was on a tight deadline. Early on, things were obviously going too slowly. Fortunately, many people volunteered to help in the final few days and we nearly completed the project. We got 98% of all G+ profiles and over 90% of communities.

During the final two days, Google was throttling our access, else we would have gotten 100%. It would be a lie to say that it wasn’t exciting. We were driven like madmen, 24/7. A lot of brains and money donations were put together, and the Archive Team repeatedly, many times, pulled off heroic exploits to get it all done despite the obstacles and with limited funding. 1.43 petabytes (1.43 million gigabytes) is A LOT of data to find storage for on fast machines with fast 10G connections, and do it with almost no money. At times, the data rate reached 50 gigabits per second, which is also a tribute to Google’s impressive infrastructure.

The final few days were pretty much hell, combined with the grief of losing G+. I completely lost my appetite for food. I normally listen to a wide range of music, especially classical. The past few days, the only music I could tolerate was mindless Chill Wave. Hah.

Some efforts to save remaining communities is underway but the window is rapidly closing. Google is deleting everything very quickly. One of the major communities that was missed was NASA. A short while ago, just as the URL list was ready and it was about to be rescued, Google deleted the community. Gone.

My G+ account was shut down about ten hours ago, and I’m finally coming back to life. Appetite for food has returned. Now begins, for me, a new form of social networking, without G+.

If you didn’t catch it on the once great G+, I can be found here:

Friendica (Federated): shuttersparks@social.isurf.ca

MeWe: mewe.com/i/phillandmeier

Twitter: @KW2P

Does Salt Raise the Boiling Point of Water?

I love cooking, I love eating, I hang around with foodies, and I work as a sous chef at a local restaurant. As a result, I’m tired of hearing that salt raises the boiling point of water.

Technically, yes. If you’re in a chemistry lab with precision instruments for measuring temperature, there is a small measurable effect. Any liquid’s boiling point will be affected by molecules dissolved in that liquid. In the case of salt and water in the kitchen, the effect is microscopic — smaller than the effect from changing your elevation above sea level by a couple hundred feet.

If you add a half pound of salt to a quart of water, you’ll raise its boiling point by 2 degrees C. If you add one tablespoon of salt to one quart of water, you raise the boiling point by 0.16 degrees.

Will that have any effect on cooking? No. So, please, just stop. Thanks.  😉

Robocall Observation

My mobile number has been on the National Don’t Call Registry since forever. When I first registered my number, spam calls stopped completely for years. It was great. I recommended it to others and it worked well.

Around the middle of 2018, I started getting spam calls again, despite the registry. Most of the calls were from my own area code. It got worse and worse until I decided to install a whitelist/blacklist call blocker. This is completely effective. I put my contacts in the whitelist, my own number on the blacklist, and no more unwanted calls.

The call blocker maintains a log file. It was interesting and satisfying to see the calls that were blocked. Some spam callers would hit my phone six times in 30 seconds trying to get through. I wanted the blocker to play the sound of raucous laughter each time it blocked a call, but, alas, it doesn’t have that capability.

The weird thing is that the spam calls continued for about two weeks and then abruptly stopped. I haven’t logged a spam call now in two months. What’s going on here? It makes me wonder if these robocall operations are a lot more organized than I thought. Maybe they share information — share lists of numbers to avoid because it wastes their time. If that’s true, there might be a larger organization that could more easily be prosecuted for conspiracy than lots of small operators. I dunno.

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