Posted by: The Lazy Admin | April 15, 2013

“Rape Culture” is a Red Herring

There, I said it.

I know quite a few of you armchair activists out there with more internet rage than you know what to do with are going to instantly go from zero-to-batshit but you know what?  Tough.

I’m as appalled as the next regular, mostly sane person when it comes to seeing all the stories of teenage girls lately, going to parties where they get liquored up, raped, and later publicly humiliated.  My reaction though is less bleeding-heart and more pent-up anger at how, in general, parents who have been having children since the 90’s have been dropping the ball.  I don’t mean in a way such as specifically parenting their children, but since we’re on the topic…

We’re not facing a ‘rape culture’.  The more you want to talk about it like it is (just like the gun debate) the less you’re actually going to accomplish.  Though, I’m guessing for many of you, it’s only the good feeling of acting like you’re standing on the right side of the issue that attracts many of you even to this blog post.

Now I’m going to tell you why you’re dead wrong for thinking of it as ‘rape culture’, and what you can actually do to make a difference.

Rape culture, as a term, alludes that there’s a prevailing sentiment in our society that encourages and condones sexual assault and rape.  If that’s so, then why are there so many people outspoken against it?  Why are people livid when a girl commits suicide as a result of one of these tragic occurrences rather than cheering for the rapists?

When an individual feels as passionately (and as unwavering in their beliefs, e.g. feminists, opponents of evolution theory, etc.) as the most outspoken on the topic seem to do, the idea is to make the issue as a big and scary as possible.  They want more support, and they want it however they can get it.  Hey, I get it.  Nobody wants to be wrong, but I’m not going to sit here and apologize to you, reader, if you are one of these people.  You’ve got an issue and it’s important to you.  Not me.

If you are flying your banner on rape culture as a thing, and that’s your issue, then friend you need to be aware of something:  you’re grandstanding.  According to Merriam-Webster, that is, you “Seek to attract applause or favorable attention from spectators or the media.”

Not to mention you are, like so many others like you, trying to put a band-aid on the bleeding when there’s a deeper, darker, worse problem here.  Ever wonder what actually causes your ‘rape culture’?  Let’s take a look.

The case of Rehtaeh Parsons is a great example here.  The media pastes the picture as being some sick conspiracy between the police, the school, and the community who all apparently didn’t want this girl’s attackers to come to justice.  How much more crazy is that than saying the JFK assassination was a government plot?  You’re taking a lack of evidence as your proof when you haven’t actually proven anything.

You ever stop to think about the boys who did this and how they were raised?  What about their community?  Their friends?  How did any of these boys make it to that age without understanding the repercussions of doing what they did?  You want to find and fight a real battle?  Tell me how these boys grew up with a blatant disregard for law, personal boundaries, and responsibility.

It’s not just boys!  Girls are just as guilty of this as boys are, so you feminists can stop your war chants.

Just a few weeks ago I read an article about a group of girls who were coercing, threatening, and assaulting girls into basically being their sex slaves, pimping them out to men so they could earn money.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/08/teen-prostitution-ring-trial-ottawa_n_3036892.html

You want some uncomfortable discussion?  Let’s talk about just how much of this ‘rape culture’ is perpetuated by women.  Yeah, light that torch now…

So if boys and girls alike are equally as likely to commit sex crimes, where is the problem?  Still think it’s rape culture?  What if I told you it’s a gradual apathy and lack of responsibility on part of the parents and the support system that should be there for these kids?  We can see this at least twice in cases like Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrie Potts.  The kids went through a terrible, traumatic event made even worse by the brashness of their attackers, and ultimately killed themselves.  Where were the parents?

This is happening to kids… OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

We have several generations of children being raised by absentee parents and learning their morals from pop culture.  We have parents allowing kids to go to parties, like where Rehtaeh Parsons was raped, without verifying the nature of the event or checking up on their daughter.  We have parents who sign off on their kids the moment they can feed and clothe themselves.  You want to know where the ‘rape culture’ came from?  Worthless mommies and daddies.

More and more in US culture is the lack of taking responsibility.  Even our largest businesses no longer accept responsibility for their mistakes.  And why should they?  There’s no repercussions for breaking laws, ruining people’s lives, and then sitting on the curb crying about how they need someone to help them out.  You’re teaching our kids that. YOU!  

There are *no* consequences for all the most ancient and universally ‘bad’ things anymore like murder, and even then someone just wants to hug the murderer because it’s not ‘their fault’ that daddy beat them.  It’s not their fault mommy was mean.

I’m not old by any stretch, but I am observant.  I grew up the mid 80’s when most of this nonsense was really starting to get rolling.  My parents were raised to respect adults and follow the rules.  Breaking rules or doing something bad meant pain, or some other unpleasant result that most sensible kids wanted to avoid.  If you look back across past generations of kids, they tended to learn how the world worked by these examples.

Nowadays it feels like you can’t even spank your kids for fear of having the government up in your house, or going to jail.  If you want kids to learn some morals, social responsibility, and respect for others then they need to be afraid of what happens.  What happens when a grown-up is “bad”?   They go to jail usually, right?  What about when you do the right thing?  Does someone take you out for ice cream?  Do you get a new toy for doing what you’re supposed to do?  Why do we continually treat children like this, only to set them up for a horrible life where our only hope is they’re smart enough to figure it out on their own what happens as an adult?  Bad parenting.

There is no incentive to do the right thing as an adult.  Only disincentives.  Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer of those all the time.

In Rehtaeh’s case, her parents in my opinion are the main cause and responsible party to the girl’s death.

1)  They let this girl attend a party where there would be alcohol?
2)  This girl didn’t know what *might* happen if she drank too much and passed out, having apparently little fear for her own safety?
3)  Her parents didn’t impart that fear into her??
4)  DOES NOBODY WATCH THE NEWS OR READ THE INTERNET and see the same thing happening to other girls and think, “Gosh, I better be careful or that could happen to me!”
5)  Why did it take her death before people elicited a single iota of empathy or sympathy towards her?

Lack of Responsibility

Pardon me for saying so, but I’m not blaming the victim here.  Detailing where things went wrong for Rehtaeh in a meaningful context is not “blaming the victim” so once again, we have another group of people who are unwilling to come to grips with how the world actually works and actually try to make things better.

It is not blaming the victim to point out that Rehtaeh’s judgment in choosing to ingest possibly dangerous amounts of alcohol, whether at the behest of her ‘friends’ or of her own free will, was stupid.  It is not blaming the victim to point out that underage drinking is not only illegal but is dangerous.

“Stop blaming the victim” is another red herring for a culture that doesn’t want to address problems.  It’s a statement for a culture who only want the problems to go away.  If you have ever uttered those words in real life or on the Internet, I have bad news:  you may be part of the real problem.

We have built such a culture that people always have someone else to blame.  If I crash my car, it was a mechanical fault.  It was the weather conditions.  It was the other driver.  Let’s completely ignore just what was within my own power to protect myself and my vehicle.  Notice I didn’t mention if I was driving too fast, or talking on the cell phone, or eating while I was driving.  Why would I mention any of that?  Then it looks like it could have been my fault.

If a teenage girl goes to a party, gets drunk, passes out, and it’s around some of these sociopaths created by a society bent on protecting children from everything including accepting responsibility and penalties for their actions, it’s not entirely the girl’s fault… but stop acting like she had no responsibility for what happened.

We live in an information age.  It’s ridiculous to think that her parents nor herself would have at least known that those activities were dangerous, especially if you are not experienced with drinking and know when you’ve had “too much”.  It’s ridiculous to think the parties involved never heard of any case where this happened to a girl.

It’s ridiculous to think, in this day and age, that it couldn’t happen to them.  Their health and well-being, if interpreted through their actions, says “I’m not responsible for what happens.”

Personal responsibility has all but disappeared in Western society.  We don’t teach kids anymore that there are serious, damning, life-changing repercussions not only when we make serious errors in judgment, but when we affect others with our actions.

The boys in Rehtaeh’s case were brazen and unabashedly proud of their actions.  Do you think they were taught that rape is okay?  Do you think they were taught that drinking alcohol and destroying someone’s life was okay?  Chances are, they were simply not taught about consequences.

And there’s nothing you can do about it.  We’ve already been damaged, as a whole, by the individuals who think their way of thinking and doing with our children is best.  We’ve been told we’re wrong for spanking and punishing our children, and instead carry a proverbial bag of treats with us and simply become observers in our children’s lives to hand out rewards when they do as we expect.  Once they realize that only rewards come for expected behavior they do the behavior when they will get the reward and then do as they please.  No responsibility, no consequences.

You have got to stop being part of the problem.  Gun control people, you have got to stop being part of the problem.  Rape culture herd-mentality activists, you have got to stop being part of the problem.  The more you put your problems into a little box because you are so worked up and want your rewards now, the worse you’re making it.

You see a problem, but don’t have the critical thinking skills required to figure out how it became a problem.  Then you become part of the problem.  Stop being part of the problem.

There is no “rape culture”.  There are sick, twisted, undisciplined, unfeeling, uncaring, disconnected, remorseless, self-centered, reward-driven, under-educated, unbalanced, apathetic, uninterested, socially irresponsible, ticking time bombs waiting up and down your street.  The sad part is, most of them are children.

It’s your responsibility to learn to recognize that’s where the problem starts.  It’s your responsibility to learn how to not be like that.  It’s your responsibility to teach your kids to not be like that.

If you don’t want the responsibility, there’s good news.  You can be another statistic, and might serve as a warning to others with better sense.

Posted by: The Lazy Admin | March 28, 2013

Some Christians Have It All Wrong

Okay, I’ve had enough.

The Supreme Court is deliberating the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and will likely find that it should be struck down.  I’m not affected by this one way or another except that as a Christian, laws like these make little to no sense and are not in line with scriptural doctrine.

Oh, I’ve heard all of the arguments.  I’ve heard fellow Christians rallying cries of “marriage is a man and a woman” and “it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”  It’s one thing to feel like you’re a Christian who knows the Scripture, and what God wants.  We all want to be the very best Christian we can be, right?  It’s another thing though to try and act on those ideas when we aren’t sure just how righteous our actions are.  It’s not how Jesus taught people to behave and to approach sin while he was on Earth.  He never advocated forcing people to rally against sin in such a way, nor to protect other people from sin through any means.  Christians seem to entirely miss the point of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ:  humans can’t save anyone else from sin, much less themselves.  Laws based on misguided Christian ideas do not fulfill God’s plan.  However, rather than base an argument on extrapolation and conjecture, we’re going to look at scripture and see what is truly wrong with this behavior and ideology, and hopefully remind some people as to why Christ’s sacrifice was needed.

Matthew 19 opens with Jesus being tested by the Pharisees.  In verse 3 they begin by testing Jesus’s knowledge of Judaic law versus his teachings.

Matthew 19:3 NIV:  Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

Notice what the Pharisee did?  He asked Jesus if, based on the law, he would condone a man and a woman to get a divorce.  The trick here is that these Pharisees believed they were the righteous ones because they acted within the law.  So how did Jesus reply?  Look at verse 4:

Matthew 19:4 NIV:  “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Let’s look at what Jesus told them.  He references the word of God that had already been written, as God enacted it.  Two were joined *by God* and no act of man can undo it.  Human beings have no power in matters such as these and we cannot undo what God has done.  This prompts the Pharisees further to ask in verse 7 about why Moses, a holy man, would condone acts that go against God’s intentions.  Jesus has the answer ready for them in verse 8 and 9.

Matthew 19:8-9 NIV:  Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.  I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

I feel like this is an important distinction to make here.  First of all, Jesus teaches us that Moses allowed it for the sole reason that people were going to do it anyway.  Think about the meaning of having a hardened heart.  Does this mean you’re mean, unruly, disobedient?  No!  When your heart is hard, it doesn’t change and doesn’t give up on what it wants.  The followers of Moses wanted this so badly that they simply weren’t going to let the issue go.  They looked to Moses as a prophet, seeking answers, but the answers he gave them weren’t what they wanted.  Eventually, because he wasn’t infallible, he gave in and allowed them an earthly means to “undo” what God had done.  But Jesus tells us that from the very beginning God told people that marriage couldn’t be undone very plainly in verse 9.

You might think, “Well, God condemned homosexuality.  So isn’t it a ‘hard heart’ that keeps people wanting to allow something that goes against things that God Himself has condemned?”  It’s easy to think, as a Christian, we’re performing God’s will.  It’s a great thought, an honor, to think God is acting through us.  Most of us should be so lucky.  But, let’s look further into chapter 19 and see what else is said here.

Verse 16 starts with the story of the rich man asking Jesus how he might gain eternal life.  Jesus cites the Law of Israel here in verses 17, 18, and 19 which is generally accepted as the means to enter Heaven.  The rich man confesses in verse 20 that he had met all of those requirements but still asked what more he could do, to which Jesus replies in verse 21, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

This surprises even Jesus’s disciples, who started to question their own salvation at that point despite following Jesus around all this time.  In verse 25 they ask, after hearing the very sobering words they had been told just moments ago, “Then who can be saved?”  Once again, Jesus has the truth for them in verse 26:

Matthew 19:26 NIV:  “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Let that sink in for just a moment.  There is nothing, *absolutely nothing*, that a man can do for another man, or for himself, to bring about salvation.  Jesus makes that very clear to his disciples.

So what does this have to do with laws forbidding homosexual marriage?  It’s man taking action to try and help save another sinner.  Jesus himself told believers that there was absolutely nothing they could do to be saved.  Nothing!  Why are Christians then so preoccupied with waging these legal wars against people consumed by sinful acts if, based on the word of God, there’s nothing they can do to save these people?   Two homosexuals who want to be joined legally and inherit the benefits under current law are beyond our power to reach and to save.  Why should we be so proud and rebellious as to think that we can save someone like this when we can’t even save ourselves from judgment?

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 1, Paul testifies that nobody will escape God’s judgment.  In chapter 1, he sets the scene for us by describing how humans have been since the very beginning: rebellious against God.  People have rejected Him and his commandments.  They are murderers, liars, gossipers, thieves, idolaters, the arrogant, the boastful, disobedient of their parents.  In a modern sense, they’re drug addicts.  They’re alcoholics.  They’re child molesters.  Adulterers.  Pornography watchers.  Body piercers and those who get tattoos.  They’re everyone.  They’re you.  Yes, you.  And God was tired of it.  So what did God do about it?  Look at what Paul says in chapter 1 verse 26:

Romans 1:26 NIV:  “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. “

What’s even worse is that Paul testifies in verse 32 that, despite knowing what the consequences were we do these things anyway!

Romans 1:32 NIV:  “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

Every one of these acts deserves death.  We have nothing to justify ourselves.  Each sin, as great and small as the next, all deserve death.  And God was going to let us have it. As Jesus told us before in Matthew, there’s nothing we can do about it.  I can’t save you anymore than I can save myself.  You, reader, certainly can’t save anyone.

Paul drives this point home at the beginning of chapter 2 in verse 1.

Romans 2:1 NIV:  “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”  We have no hope even among ourselves!

Paul is once again going to crush us here.  Look at what he has to say about our situation in chapter 3 starting at verse 9:

Romans 3:9 NIV:  “What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”

Again, let that sink in for a minute.  *Nobody seeks God.*   *There is no one who understands.*  *There is no one righteous, not even one.*   Not even you.  That’s pretty damning.

So if none of us are righteous, how can we feel justified that our actions are righteous?  Realistically, we can’t.  We can’t trust our own judgment about what’s right and wrong.  If we could, would we still deserve God’s wrath?  Would we be consumed by our sinful nature as we all are today?  Would Jesus’s blood sacrifice as payment for our sins have even been necessary?

The scripture warns us against pursuing law as a means towards righteousness.  The ruling law of the day was handed down and built upon from the Old Testament, and one of the recurring themes throughout the New Testament is that those who live by the law will die by the law, but those who live their lives through faith in Christ will receive eternal life.  In fact, we are told in Romans chapter 4 that what Abraham discovered was that none of his works were righteous in the eyes of God.  His faith, however, made him righteous.

What can we call the attempt to legislate against things we believe are sinful other than imperfect works to earn favor for a perfect, just, eternal God?  Look at Romans 4 verse  2 and verse 5:

Romans 4:2 NIV:  “If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.  What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Romans 4:5 NIV:  “However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”

All that is required of us is to trust in God in order to be proved righteous in His eyes.  Imagine that!

So what are we actually accomplishing by trying to enact law based on what we believe God wants?  Did it work for the Israelites?  No!   Without faith in Christ, their law was their doom.   Failing to adhere to even one of the laws brought to bear the full punishment for violating all of them, and ultimately death and eternal separation from God.  Back in the book of Matthew, Jesus brings down woe on those who cling to the law as a means of salvation:

Matthew 23:13 NIV:  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”

This is not all Jesus had to say about the teachers of the law, but get this:  Using law to try and bring about righteousness will only ultimately condemn those you’re trying to save!

Matthew 23:15 NIV:  ““Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”

That’s the insidious nature of sin, though.  You do realize that, reader, correct?  Sin will justify your actions for you.  Sin will tell you, “This is for the best.”  Sin will tell you, “It has to be done to save them.”   Sin will tell you, “This is what God wants.”  And you will listen, if you trust in yourself to judge what is righteous.

I don’t agree with homosexual marriage, but based on my understanding of scripture I feel it is not only a horrible idea  to enact legislation to prohibit individuals of the same sex from entering a legal marriage, but is counterproductive to God’s plan of salvation for all those who still have not accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.  If you are for prohibiting these actions through law, I feel you are directly negating the entire reason for Christ’s sacrifice, in that we cannot save ourselves and that only through God’s divine grace and forgiveness through the blood of Christ will we ever achieve salvation.

And if your actions as a Christian deters even one individual from turning towards Christ you are not only unrighteous, you have stolen the gift that was given freely to all of us from a person who’s eternal soul is in danger of separation from God.  You can’t save anyone from sin; only God can do that.

Now let that sink in.

Posted by: The Lazy Admin | May 22, 2012

Diablo 3 Will Prove A Bitter Lesson For Blizzard-Activision

I will not buy Diablo 3.  Here’s my opinion and perspective on why that’s the case for me.  Your mileage may vary, and you may totally love Diablo 3.  That’s cool, and I’m glad you enjoy it if so.

I’ve followed Diablo 3 in gaming news through beta and up til its horribly planned release date.  A game that has been worked on as hard and as long as Diablo 3 has should be, without a doubt, the pinnacle of perfection.  The launch should have been flawless.  It wasn’t, and I knew better than to expect otherwise.

What should we expect out of a company who wants folks to believe they are on the side of the fans?  Perhaps some effective stress testing and capacity planning from a company who’s consistently failed their customers on most of the launches they’ve had since Warcraft 3.  If anything, the embarrassing launches they have had in the past with upset fans should have garnered more thorough testing, but as it stands Blizzard’s beta testing program is a raucous joke.  The vast majority of people who get into the beta seem to do so only for the purpose of bragging rights and accessing content for free prior to the inevitable launch date.  The fact that Blizzard’s beta testing is so vast makes the horrible launches of their online games an even larger embarrassment and fans have every right to be upset that their play experience is anything else than optimal in the face of increasing restrictions on their ability to play games and the rising retail cost of their products.  Why do fans continually sign up for and agree with blatant disregard for their interests?

Diablo 3 is a game created to do one thing:  turn humans into cash cows.  And what of the long-term viability of Diablo 3?

The magical thing about shucking real-world dollars for in-game items is you’ve basically thrown money away.  At some point, which it may be far in in the future but still indefinite, Blizzard will shut down their game servers due to lack of use.  Diablo 3 seems to have sacrificed longevity for being lucrative, and gamers would do well to make a note of this trend.  You’re getting less and less, dollar for dollar, and you’re getting less all the time, folks.  For someone to have reached max level within 12 hours of playing Diablo 3 when people have spent months and months building up their character in Diablo 2 is a bit sobering to think about.

The critiques of the auction house system in Diablo 3 are valid.  Most gamers I know seem to feel that the whole experience and drive for repeatedly plumbing the depths of the game are gone now.  You can always buy better items than you will find as loot, or at the very least will have that option when you’re down on your loot luck.  So how long will it take to completely ruin the economy?  Apparently not very long.  Diablo 2 was a community built on gamers sharing their loot, powering through dungeons over and over to get good loot, and that thrill that comes from never knowing what’s going to drop.  Diablo 2 players took real pride in their characters, but when you can buck that system and just drop cash for your items, who’s going to work for their characters?

The single-player online system is just as big of a joke.  Fans, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if you’ve bought into the idea that the forced online play is for your benefit then you’ve accepted a lie.  Diablo 2 had the problem of overpowered characters being hacked together and given souped-up gear through trainers and the like.  That facet has been replaced instead with the auction house system where now instead of being able to create a character of an appropriate level and gear to use for play with friends, you will either have to invest the time to dig for loot and level up your character or pony up your hard-earned cash to get what you need.  Is that really being friendly to your fans and fostering a sense of community?

Strange thing though, is that there is still no draw to keep playing Diablo 3 in the long term.  Blizzard has somehow managed to tombstone everything that built up a thriving community in Diablo 2 by attempting to foster a similar environment for-profit.  I’m not so sure this isn’t a Blizzard thing as much as it is an attempt by Activision to continually push the profit margin up.  However, if all of this is a solely a money-making venture for the company then why would they not measure the longevity by Diablo 2’s standards?

Then I think back to the success of World of Warcraft: a game that stands as a monumental tribute to the hard-headedness and singular drive of the modern online gamer.  People are emotionally bound to their time investments and will keep returning to them regardless of their hatred for the system, their common sense, and will continue to keep paying long after the enjoyment of the game has gone.  MMOs like World of Warcraft and even online games like Diablo 2 only serve to prove that, at least, American gamers have no focus on the future, and are only interested in what slakes their thirst for entertainment here and now.

So, in that respect Diablo 3 will be a success.  Many will buy the game, a few will play it over and over, some will forego families and life responsibility to invest time and money into a game that will never give them back anything tangible, and Blizzard will laugh all the way to the bank.  But ultimately it’s the gamers who will suffer.  The more people that just accept it when companies consistently spit in the face of the gaming communities yet open their arms and offer forgiveness and excuses for a company that already has their money will only foster this and worse treatment of gamers in the future.  And I’d hope that folks would learn to start speaking with their dollars but… WoW was launched in 2004 and 10 million people who are still subscribed after 8 years can only say one thing to Blizzard:

Gamer abuse is the business, and business is good.

Posted by: The Lazy Admin | January 13, 2012

Apparently I’ve grown. Thbbft.

I’ve been having some big “WTF” moments recently where suddenly I’m thrown backwards from my life, and looking at it all invokes a sense of awe and mystery.  It doesn’t help to realize my birthday’s approaching again and soon I go wandering through my head, contemplating life, humanity, and experience.

I reflect on my life a lot.  Daily almost.  The series of events that led to who I am at this point in my life couldn’t have even been designed by Rube Goldberg.  It’s when I start really digging deep and remembering events and people from the most chaotic period of my life (mostly the college years) that I start feeling like Bill the Cat of Bloom County fame.

Oooh baby.

Maybe not quite like this Bill. But close.

Everyone I’ve met has changed me in some way.  Some good ways, but there are some bad ways.  I’m nowhere near the nice person I think I used to be, but maybe that’s not totally because of the people.  I digress.

I’ve got a better sense of humor about things, developed some tolerance for certain things and a complete intolerance for other things.  One thing that surprises me is when I think about the women I’ve dated in the past (especially in college) and some interesting trends start to appear.  It starts making me go slack-jawed and then “thbbft”.

The evolution of relationships that led to me marrying my wife reads almost like a series of unfortunate events.  I took away a little bit of important knowledge from each one and a realization of what works for me and what doesn’t.  That’s how it works, right?

I dated one girl who was really into me but was then led astray by a guy who, as she found out, only wanted to get her in bed.  When she realized her mistake she felt like she should tell me she ditched him. I guess she had hoped for reconciliation, but I was done with that.  There was the girl who confided in her best friend she “hoped she could find a guy just like” me when she was ready to settle down.  Imagine my surprise when I learned I had all the qualifications for the position, but apparently didn’t submit an application or something.  Or maybe she was just broken from a previous bad experience.

Don't try to propose to your girlfriend with this.

Not quite the "round, shiny" object someone was led to expect for Christmas apparently. I was not the douchebag in question.

There was the freshman virgin who’s legs apparently spread like peanut butter and the whole campus was loaf bread, and who can forget the the extended stay in CrazyTown that was ‘dating She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’ (but now has at least one suicide credited to her and at least a half dozen broken men in her wake.  You go girl.)   Maybe I’ll start referring to her as Volde-whore.

"Let's watch Will and Grace and listen to Tori Amos. Not like you have any balls anyway."

There was the rape victim, the abuse victim, the nympho, the party girl, the girl with too many guy friends, and at least one or two other scary people I’ve apparently blocked out.  The pattern though?  Once I hit that pocket of mentally ill or otherwise broken set, the severity eventually started decreasing.  Now I’m married to an amazing woman who, despite her flaws, is the best thing that’ll ever happen to me.  Thbbft!

Posted by: The Lazy Admin | October 10, 2011

The Calm, The Storm, and the Dance They Do

The past year has been extremely trying to say the very least about it.  I’ve endured the stress of a marriage, my father’s failing health and then death, job stress, broken friendships, financial hardships, and finally loss of control of my own ability to handle my emotions and the guilt of seeing everyone I care about suffering and hurt as a result.  I’ve tried all sorts of ways to relieve the burden and found no solace, but it’s something I have been used to for quite a many years of my life.  I’ve been inconsolable, unable to find comfort in the words or actions of anyone.  It’s not surprising, because I’ve felt that way since my teenage years.

The social pressure in high school, along with the bullying and rejection, left me feeling powerless.  Hopeless.  Fearful.  Anxious.  This followed me into my adult years, and I finally found myself getting explosive anger at what most people would find irrational.  In fact, I found it irrational.  The senselessness of it all added to the aforementioned emotions but I found myself unable to break away from the patterns of thought and defensive behaviors that had protected me from perceived harm.  I was afraid, all of the time, of making a mistake…  Of looking awkward or inept.

I hope I’ve found some relief now.  I’ve never been a fan or advocate of modern medicine’s solution to these types of problems, I must admit:  I’ve tried anti-depressants, and the side effects were at times worse than the illness itself.  Luckily I have an MD now that I feel I can trust, and so far I feel better now that I’m on a different medicine that’s not in that class of drugs.

It’s strange, feeling a sense of peace and inner calm I haven’t felt in a long time.  Even if it lasts for only a short time, I feel like I’ve had a small awakening.  I can enjoy things again; I see and can appreciate what life has to offer even though it saddens me to see so many people fighting for control that, like I discovered, is incorporeal.  Control always has been an illusion. The Phrygian king stuck in the mire, always reaching for the unattainable if only at the prospect of tasting its sweetness for but a brief time.  Yet people use religion, politics, fear… all attempting to control the human soul, which was made free by our Creator even at the risk of our own annihilation.

Posted by: The Lazy Admin | October 4, 2010

It’s Not Your Internet Anymore

Sitting at work, I’m watching the bits fly by and get a query from someone about their inability to get some stock quotes from CNN Money.  I look, and the widget on the page that he’s wanting to get quotes from has a click-thru link that, regardless of whether you wanna do it or not, you get redirected to an ad server and are forced to suck up yet another dose of blatant commercialism.

Seriously?  People so freakin’ averse to actually clicking on advertisements on the internet that companies have to now  resort to what basically equates to click fraud in my mind.  They’re getting advertising revenue whether you actually click on their stupid ads or not, and you have no recourse.  Want to block ads?  Too bad, that means the content you want is blocked too.

It’s a silly situation, but there’s little we can do about it.  Hey, it sucks for them that legitimate clicks on their products’ ads just sit there without any action, but to force people to “click” the ads to get anywhere?  Seriously?  It’s like a bad form of capitalistic terrorism.  We see pop-up ads everywhere (adopted early on by some of the most dubious businesses on the internet), on many pages there are more advertisements than actual content, the usability of these ad-laden sites is mediocre at best (and confusing), and what’s worse is that people *SHOULD* be afraid to click on advertisements!  There’s so much malware and software exploits out there that clicking on the wrong albeit-harmless-enough-looking advertisement can result in the loss of personal information including but not limited to the theft of passwords, account information, real time, and real money as you try to repair the damage that whatever junk has caused.

We can assume security companies are all trying to keep us safe like with Microsoft Security Essentials but as the almighty dollar continues to be easily obtained and the internet continues to provide unscrupulous companies with the possibility of earn tens of thousands of “pennies” per day on click through revenue we’ll continue to be subject to the rules of the people with the money.

Posted by: The Lazy Admin | August 10, 2010

Country Based Blocking Using GeoIP and IPTables on CentOS

UPDATED:   2/16/2012 –   If you’ve upgraded to CentOS 6, XTables will provide you a much easier way of doing the same thing described in this article.  When I get around to writing a work-up on it I’ll post it but for now you can find instructions on it over at HowToForge:   http://www.howtoforge.com/xtables-addons-on-centos-6-and-iptables-geoip-filtering

Spammers, brute force attacks, malicious packets… none of these things you want on your network if you can avoid it. Unfortunately a good portion of this comes from countries without the computer crime laws that the United States has implemented. Granted, the US’s laws aren’t the greatest in the world but it’s better than nothing.

I’m going to show you how to implement a little hack I found that will let you drop traffic from specific countries using their two-letter country code in iptables. It should in theory work on most Linux distros but more specifically I’ll be guiding you through doing this on CentOS.

The first two things you’re going to need to make this work: your current kernel’s source code, and the source for the version of iptables you’re using. No worries, we just need them to compile modules and we’re not actually going to update the kernel nor iptables.

Unfortunately I found that getting the source RPMs through the CentOS Yum repositories *sucks* so we’ll just get the tarballs for each of them. We’ll also have to get the GeoIP stuff.

1. Find out what kernel version you have

uname -r

2. Check and see if you’ve got your kernel source. In CentOS you can look under /usr/src/kernels/ and see if there’s a directory in there that matches what you saw in step 1. If not, check out the code block. For the sake of organization, all the downloads are gonna go under /root.

yum install kernel-devel

3. Go out and get the GeoIP tarball from the netfilter website.

wget http://people.netfilter.org/peejix/patchlets/geoip.tar.gz

4. Get your iptables source code downloaded. This example uses IPTables 1.3.5, so modify it according to whatever your version of iptables is using. If you’re not sure, just stick a -h at the end of your iptables command. Don’t worry about a minor version difference. As long as you’re on the same major release you should be alright.

wget http://www.netfilter.org/projects/iptables/files/iptables-1.3.5.tar.bz2

5. Go get patch-o-matic-ng from the Netfilter website too while we’re at it.

wget http://ftp.netfilter.org/pub/patch-o-matic-ng/snapshot/patch-o-matic-ng-20070414.tar.bz2

6. Let’s get all of this stuff extracted, organized, and ready to hopefully not break anything.

cd /root
mkdir geoip

And…. extract

cd /root
tar xjf iptables-1.3.5.tar.bz2
tar xjf patch-o-matic-ng-20070414.tar.bz2
tar xzf geoip.tar.gz -C patch-o-matic-ng-20070414/patchlets/

Now here’s where it can get a little hairy. I’m assuming you already have all the stuff you need to compile code. If you don’t, then Google it for your distro.

We’re going to use patch-o-matic-ng to patch the source code for the kernel and iptables. Don’t worry, it’s not going to modify your kernel and when you update it using Yum.

cd patch-o-matic-ng-20070414
./runme geoip

It’s going to ask you for the paths to your kernel source, and then your iptables source. Just give it the information of where we extracted the iptables source, and where our kernel source is located. The following has examples of how I accomplished it on my CentOS box:

Hey! KERNEL_DIR is not set.
Where is your kernel source directory? [/usr/src/linux] /usr/src/kernels/2.6.18-194.8.1.el5-i686
Hey! IPTABLES_DIR is not set.
Where is your iptables source code directory? [/usr/src/iptables] /root/iptables-1.3.5

It’ll go through a bunch of stuff, I’ll let you read it if you so desire but it’s just debugging information and an explanation of the geoip patch. It’ll come to a line that looks like this… hit y to apply the patch:

------------------------------------------
do you want to apply this patch [N/y/t/f/a/r/b/w/q/?] y

You can ignore the messages about recompiling the kernel and iptables. This is a lazy admin blog isn’t it? 🙂 However, we’ve got to build the module to install via modprobe, and then build the shared object for iptables. We’re gonna do a little trickery so it doesn’t recompile all the modules though.

cd /usr/src/kernels/2.6.18-194.8.1.el5-i686
make oldconfig

It’ll scroll a bunch of stuff you probably won’t find important, then it’ll come to this line, to which you’ll want to answer “m”:

geoip match support (IP_NF_MATCH_GEOIP) [N/m/?] (NEW)

Now we’re going to modify the makefile for the netfilter modules. Make a backup of the Makefile in /usr/src/kernels/2.6.18-194.8.1.el5-i686/net/ipv4/netfilter because we might want it someday. Then use vi to create a new makefile and paste the following into it…

obj-m = ipt_geoip.o
KVERSION = $(shell uname -r)
all:
make -C /lib/modules/$(KVERSION)/build M=$(PWD) modules
clean:
make -C /lib/modules/$(KVERSION)/build M=$(PWD) clean

Now it’s building time…

cd /usr/src/kernels/2.6.18-194.8.1.el5-i686
make -C $(pwd) M=net/ipv4/netfilter modules

Unless something was broken or otherwise went horribly wrong, you should now have the file ipt_geoip.ko sitting in /usr/src/kernels/2.6.18-194.8.1.el5-i686/net/ipv4/netfilter/ and we want to copy it to where all your other libraries are:

cp /usr/src/kernels/2.6.18-194.8.1.el5-i686/net/ipv4/netfilter/ipt_geoip.ko /lib/modules/2.6.18-194.8.1.el5-i686/kernel/net/ipv4/netfilter/

Now… to build the shared library for it…

cd /root/iptables-1.3.5
make KERNEL_DIR=/usr/src/kernels/2.6.18-194.8.1.el5-i686/ extensions/libipt_geoip.so

Again, if everything was happy and it didn’t blow up… you should have a file called libipt_geoip.so sitting in /root/iptables-1.3.5/extensions/
so copy it to where iptables is going to be looking for it.

cp extensions/libipt_geoip.so /lib/iptables/

Now all we have to do is modprobe the module into kernelspace and then we’re ready to use it.

depmod
modprobe ipt_geoip

Lastly, we have to have a working database file for the iptables country lookups, so off we go to do two more downloads…

cd /root
wget http://www.maxmind.com/download/geoip/database/GeoIPCountryCSV.zip
unzip GeoIPCountryCSV.zip

Now we need a utility to convert this wonderfully huge text file into a binary file:

wget http://people.netfilter.org/peejix/geoip/tools/csv2bin-20041103.tar.gz
tar xzf csv2bin-20041103.tar.gz
cd csv2bin/
make
./csv2bin ../GeoIPCountryWhois.csv

Now to put things where they need to be…

mkdir /var/geoip
mv geoipdb.* /var/geoip/

If everything worked up til now, you just need to write iptables rules using the GeoIP module… here’s an example:

/sbin/iptables -A INPUT -m geoip --src-cc CN -j DROP

Have fun!

Posted by: The Lazy Admin | April 28, 2010

Sign of a Generation?

I had a moment of reflection and thought for a moment about the years following my birth into the electronic generation of the 80’s-90’s. Is it really a sign of something bigger when people have more memories of chat text on a screen or interface behind a keyboard, or of more conversations and ideas passed through reading it in an IRC chat room than by live social interaction?

I thought of my years between 16 and 18, and then between 19 and 22. I have no tangible memories I can associate with those periods of my life that don’t involve interacting with someone only through a computer.

Weird.

Posted by: The Lazy Admin | September 29, 2009

Fun with jQuery and the DOM

In a dream, I was a web application developer.  Okay, so it’s not really a dream but sort of a renewed hobby of mine.  Many years ago I was interested in developing web content before the days of dynamic content, but some free time at work and some interest in creating some useful apps in PHP to help me out at work have spurred a new drive to learn.

PHP isn’t something I’m a master at by any shot, but I know enough to be dangerous.  In addition, I’ve taken to learning jQuery so I can add some neat features to my app.

However, I’ve found an interesting effect of using XHTML tags with jQuery… apparently it doesn’t like it.  In a few places I’ve got some append() functions to stick text into several <DIV> sections with various IDs and strangely they hadn’t been working.  I thought there was something I was missing (apparently so!) and tried various other code examples and variants in trying to make it work.  Then I had an idea.

Instead of closing my DIV tags with <DIV /> I changed it to </DIV>.  The result?  My appends were working correctly.  I’ll have to do some Googling to find out what the reason for this is, but it certainly had my hands tied for a while.  I can only hope some other novice doesn’t get snagged on this like I did…

Posted by: The Lazy Admin | August 3, 2009

Dodge Annoying DNS Redirection

Lots of stuff’s been going on since the last time I made a post, but here’s a little tip for anyone else who’s using an ISP who has decided to implement an advertising saturated “URL helper” which redirects you to an annoying “did you mean this?” page.  Apparently it’s all the rage now to generate ad-based revenue for ISPs, but it can break things for geeks and just generally be annoying.

The answer is simple really:  manually set your DNS entries, flush your DNS cache, and clear your browser cache.  I use the DNS servers at 4.2.2.2 and 4.2.2.1 and never seem to have a problem with them.  That’ll teach these overbearing ISP bastards for forcing their idiotic improvements on everyone!

BTW if you don’t know how, just Google your OS and “DNS settings” and I’m sure something will pop up.  Good luck!

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