Saturday, September 26, 2009

Liberal Misrepresentation of the Tea Party events (smear tactics) -- what are the Tea Parties really about?

I found this statement in a community college newspaper (Hutchinson Community College in Kansas) the other day --

People aren’t willing to find out facts behind their beliefs, instead blindly accepting whatever they hear or read as fact, or fiction depending on said beliefs.

Take a look at the people that are involved in the Tea Party movement, an organization filled with angry people who believe that their disparaging comments and actions are going to bring about change in America. Simply reading some of their signs shows their lack of reasoning and information. These slogans range from “Abort Obama”, “F@#$ The Poor” and the classy “I’m not your ATM Obama.”

I was a little teed off after reading this because I have personally attended Tea Party events, and I know they are not "full" of fringe, radical right-wing crazies trying to push their ideology of religion, anti-abortionism, etc down people's throats with violence and hateful signs. Yes, there are some isolated instances of this, but that is hardly the entire story, as anyone who rises above the cable chatter knows. I tried to make this clear to the author. Here is my response --


I find this article highly offensive and ignorant on several levels. However, for how, I just want to focus on the comment ___ made about the Tea Party movement. Let me address several of his ideas about the movement point by point –

I want to discuss a) my personal experience with the tea parties, b) the actual principles of the tea party movement, d) the cause of the limited extremism at the tea parties, and d) the reality of what goes on at the vast majority of the tea parties.

a) My personal experience: I have personally attended a Tea Party event (the 4th of July Dallas Tea Party event, specifically), and I did not find the people to be "angry" in the slightest, or their comments to be negatively "disparaging" in the least (there is a difference between constructive criticism and pure disparagement). The Dallas Tea Party event on the 4th of July of this year was a calm, docile event filled with reasoned (and enthusiastic) participants standing for what they believe. Your disparaging comments about the character and disposition of the people at these events are typical of the blatantly misrepresentative smear tactics that have been used by far-left persons even since the Tea Parties began. You have gone too far when you begin maligning the thousands of responsible, average citizens involved in grass-roots small-government activism with some of the more radical, unrepresentative instances you cited (such as the signs with “Abort Obama”, etc). Your generalization (events being “filled” with radical people) personally offends me as I was a part of one of these events, and I believe myself to be an open-minded and civil person, not a racist, ignorant, and narrow-minded one. Not only does it offend me because it’s not true of me, but it’s not true in general. What you have claimed is blatantly contradicted by what actually happens at these events. I will get back to that after discussing the principles of the tea party.

b) The actual principles of the tea party movement: The Dallas Tea Party and the majority of the other tea Parties (nearly all of them, I dare say) stand for the same basic principles – limited government, fiscal responsibility, personal responsibility, the rule of law, and national sovereignty. For example, the platform for the Dallas Tea Party as of a few months ago (was on their website) were as follows --

1. Limited Government – As our Founding Fathers recognized, restraint of government is necessary to protect the liberties of the people.
2. Fiscal Responsibility – Government at all levels must learn to live within its means. To saddle future generations with the crushing burden of our excess spending is unconscionable.
3. Personal Responsibility – Liberty is unsustainable without responsibility. Each citizen must take responsibility for the consequences of his or her own actions while respecting the rights and dignity of others.
4. The Rule of Law – Consistent, independent and uniform application of the law is critical to a free and prosperous society.
5. National Sovereignty – We must maintain a strong national defense, effective security for our borders, and sole control over our land and our laws.

These principles are what the Tea Party movement is really about. There are radical extremes in every movement, and these surely must be contained – but it is not useful, instructive, or fair to focus on the excessively negative examples and ignore the positive aspects of the movement. Yes, there have been crazy people touting crazy signs at some limited number of Tea Party events, but as a recent opinion article in the Dallas Morning news said, the reality is that that the events are filled with a wide variety of people espousing different points of view, “united in their fear of the future and bedrock belief that Washington is not to be trusted”, not a “rabble-rousing mob of right-wing hotheads and religious nuts”.

The Humble Libertarian website summarizes some reasonable Teabagger principles on their website – which are –

* Voting out each and every single incumbent up for re-election in 2010 who voted for the Stimulus Package and/or the 2008 Wall Street Bailout.
* Electing to office only candidates who promise to support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (without any exceptions -e.g. in the case of war, emergency, or a 3/5ths vote in Congress) in an act that also requires spending reductions only (no raising taxes) for the first four years to balance the budget, as well as:
* The transition of Social Security from a mandatory pay-as-you go system to an optional system of private pensions.
* A permanent repeal of the payroll tax.

c) The repugnant signs you mention are the result of a lack of leadership in the Tea Party movement -- as the Dallas Morning news opinion article says, “the tea partiers' main problem is lack of responsible leadership to bring focus, coherence and moderation to their movement.” The policing of the radical fringes of the movement is not something that is really being taken seriously at the moment, and this is why some have gotten a skewed perspective about what we are all about (the media misrepresentation does not help, either). Yes, the Tea Parties have leadership issues that need to be addressed, but this does not imply the issues being discussed at the events are irrelevant or should be completely dismissed. Liberals have every right to recognize and be outraged at the problem with the Tea Parties (fringe protestors touting repugnant signs), but they do not have the right to ignore the actual substantive issues the Tea Party wants addressed.

d) What really happens at the tea parties: I have already given you anecdotal evidence about what goes on at the Tea Parties from my own personal experience. The same experience I mentioned has been repeated at thousands of other events as well. Bryon York describes a Tea Party event in Virginia as follows – “If you listened to the speeches at the Tax Day tea party held in the courthouse square of this northern Virginia town, population 25,733, you might not have caught the name of the man in the White House. Among many denunciations of high taxes and out-of-control government spending, there were just a couple of mentions of Barack Obama -- one when a local activist criticized the administration's cap-and-trade energy plan, and the other when a city businessman said he prays for the president … Here in Winchester, Tax Day was a serious and well-meaning affair. For the people here, there are principles at stake in this fight, and, as much as they can, they intend to stand up for what they believe.” Instances like this reinforce the notion that this movement is not based out of ignorance and racism – but people shocked at the expansion of the role of government in our daily lives (runaway federal spending, etc).

Conclusion: Your view of the Tea Party is misrepresentative of reality. The events have problems with fringe protestors, but this does not mean you can dismiss the thousands of reasoned, principled citizens participating in acceptable ways and trying to change their country for the better.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Internet Sharing fix for Sprint HTC devices (HTC Snap, etc) -- resolve error code 67

Are you getting error code 67 when you try to share the Sprint Vision network on your phone with your computer (via USB or Bluetooth?) Here is the fix that actually works (tested on HTC Snap).

1) Download and install CE Registry Editor at
2) Connect your phone to your computer via USB.
3) Run CE Registry Editor. In the top menu, click Connection -> Connect.
4) Navigate to the key "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Comm\InternetSharing\Settings"
5) The key "ForceCellConnection" should be set to "Phone as Modem". That is bad. Right click on the key, click "edit", and change the value to "Sprint PCS" (no quotes).
6) Click OK.
7) On the top menu, select File -> Save.

This should allow you to tether your HTC devices to your computer (like I said, tested on HTC Snap)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

PHP - Get a list of a particular day of the week between two dates

This is a modified version of function in the previous post. I had to modify it for a project I was doing.


function dayOfWeekListDateRange($start, $end, $day_of_week)

$range = array();

if (is_string($start) === true) $start = strtotime($start);
if (is_string($end) === true ) $end = strtotime($end);

if(strcmp(strtolower(strftime("%A",$start)),strtolower($day_of_week)) == 0)
$range[] = date('Y-m-d', $start);
$start = strtotime("+ 1 day", $start);

else $start = strtotime("+ 1 day", $start);


while($start <= $end);



$range[] = date('Y-m-d', $start);
$start = strtotime("+ 1 day", $start);


while($start <= $end);

return $range;

PHP - Get a range of dates between two dates

function dateRangeArray($start, $end)
$range = array();

if (is_string($start) === true) $start = strtotime($start);
if (is_string($end) === true ) $end = strtotime($end);

do {
$range[] = date('Y-m-d', $start);
$start = strtotime("+ 1 day", $start);
} while($start <= $end);

return $range;


PHP - Serialize an array for use in a MySQL table

This is the function I made to "serialize" a PHP array for dumping into a MySQL table into a readable, searchable format. It separates each value with an uncommon character , "|".

When you grab the "serialized" data out of the DB later, you should run the following to convert it back to an array --

$values_array = explode("|", $seralizedValues);

I'm aware that there is a PHP function to serialize data, but I wanted to make my own simpler, easier version that did not insert the array keys or any other junk into the array. Take it to leave it.


function serializeArray($arr)
$temp = "";

$iter = 0;
$arr_size = count($arr);

foreach ($arr as $item)
if($iter!==$arr_size) $temp.="|";


return $temp;

PHP - Format a variable for a MySQL query

This is my personal, very simple function I use to get a variable ready for use in a MySQL query.


function sqlformat($var)
return "'".addslashes(trim($var))."'";

PHP - Find min and max values in an array

array getMinMax( array )

returns an associative array with:
'min' -> smallest value in the given array
'max' -> greatest value in the given array

if the array is empty both fields are NULL
function getMinMax($array)

FALSE === key($array))
return array(
'min' => NULL, 'max' => NULL);

$min = $max = current($array);
$val = next($array);

NULL !== key($array))
$val > $max)
$max = $val;
$val < $min)
$min = $val;
$val = next($array);
return array(
'min' => $min, 'max' => $max);


$min_max_arr = getMinMax($myarray);

$min_val = $min_max_arr['min'];
$max_val = $min_max_arr['max'];

(found here --

Example application -- If you had an array of dates, you could turn each entry into a timestamp, run the array of timestamps through this function, and get the minimum and maximum timestamps. Then you could simply convert the min and max timestamps back to a string (using something like strftime).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why the Swine Flu is more dangerous than the regular flu

Why is this strain dangerous?

There are three reasons why this issue is more serious than the regular flu.

a) The main issue with this strain is that no one has a natural immunity to it, because it has never really been seen before this point in time in it's current genetic form. And a vaccine can take months to develop. Vaccines generally take at least 9 months to develop under normal conditions, and even the accelerated development of the vaccines for this strain will take until at least September to develop. You can see where problems are going to arise. People are just going to keep on catching it and not fighting it of effectively, and then pass it on to others, because we have nothing to fight it off completely yet. To be more specific, this new strain has taken on genetic elements from animal viruses, potentially making it (genetically) unique enough to pose a pandemic threat. Experts say that our current seasonal flu vaccines are not going to be effective against this strain at all.

b) This particular strain seems to attack the young and healthy, rather than the sickly, old, or extremely young. The people who died in Mexico were younger (healthy people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s). The problem with this is that when a virus attacks healthy people preferentially, it suggests that the strain is completely new and is causing overreactions in the immune system. Basically, the logic is that this strain is causing the body to create abnormally large numbers of normally helpful inflammatory antibodies, which are so abundant that they actually end up causing more harm than good. This is exactly what happened with the bird flu fairly recently.

c) It's all about the potential ... it's not about what's happening right now. Even though most of the cases so far in the United States have not been very serious (except for that one kid who died), the virus spreading across the U.S. is identical to the strain of the virus that is killing people in Mexico (genetically speaking), meaning that the possibility that there could be similar deaths in the U.S. is not completely unfathomable.

What is the main alarm bell?

Sudden onset fever. Watch out for this in particular.

Are there are signs of hope?

Influenza strains don't like the heat of summer. So this issue is going to die out somewhat (or significantly) during the summer months. This gives us a short window of a few months to develop a vaccine as rapidly as possible.

What's the best way to prevent getting this?

All we can really do is use hand sanitizers and wash our hands with soap whenever we touch a public surface. Also, if you suspect someone has the flu around you, get at least 3 - 6 feet the heck away from them.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Creating Samba shares with no username or password in Ubuntu Linux

Samba sometimes frustrates me. It seems to be very picky about under what circumstances it will actually let you broadcast the existence of your Linux machine on your LAN, and share a folder with read and write permissions for other Linux or Windows users to see.

After a little tinkering, here's how I went about doing just that.

(thanks to for most of the tips)


(1) Make sure you have Samba installed. As far as I remember, it is included with most distributions, but just in case, try this --

sudo apt-get install samba

(2) Now you need to modify the Samba configuration file located at /etc/samba/smb.conf and make some changes to remove the necessity to type in a username and password every time you wish to access a share. Run --

sudo gedit /etc/samba/smb.conf

(3) At some point, you might want to share a folder that does not belong to you on the network. To allow this, under the [global] section of this file, add (copy + paste) the following line --

usershare owner only = False

(4) Find the variable "security" (in the global section) and ensure that it is set to "share". The security line should look like this --

security = share

(if you absolutely can't find the security variable anywhere, add it to the file under the global section)

(5) Find the variable "guest account" (in the global section) and ensure that is set to "nobody". The guest account line should look like this --

guest account = nobody

(if you absolutely can't find the guest account variable anywhere, add it to the file under the global section)

(6) One guide I found said that since you are making Samba security insecure, you should ensure that only your local network can access the Samba service. I personally did not end up keeping this line in my smb.conf, because I did not seem to have any success getting Samba up and running by adding this to the config file, but you can (and probably should) at least try this to make sure it works. So go ahead and add this in, and if you can't access Samba/any shares after finishing the guide, remove the line altogether (or make sure you have permitted the right interface to bind).

To try this, you need to set the interfaces variable to lo and your local network interface (e.g eth0, eth1, wlan0) and you need to specify that only these interfaces can bind

interfaces = lo eth0
bind interfaces only = true

(7) Now, smb.conf should be set. Restart the samba daemon like this --

sudo service samba restart

(8) At this point, you have two options to add a shared folder on your machine. There's the easy way, that actually seems to work, and there's the hard, theoretical way, that I havn't had any sucess why. I'll go over the easy way first.

The easy way to share a folder is similar to the way you share a folder in Windows. All you need to do is right click on the folder in the question, press "Sharing Options", and fill out the resulting dialog. I recommend the following options --

At this point, you should be done. Congratulations. You should be able to access your shared folder by browsing your workgroup from another machine (Windows or Linux-based).

As far as I know, the name of your server is the host name of your computer, truncated to 15 characters. For example, the host name of my computer is andrew-laptop-mint. I can access my samba shares from Windows, for example, with \\andrew-laptop-m\Share (for example). You can get your host name by simply opening up a terminal and typing in hostname.

EXTRA: Here's the hard, theoretical way to add a shared folder in Samba --

(1) Run the following --

sudo gedit /etc/samba/smb.conf

(2) Near the bottom of the file, or where the other entires of this sort seem to be, add the following text (replacing generic items I've written in with your own variables, of course)

path = /folder/to/share
comment = Insert comment here
read only = no
available = yes
browseable = yes
writable = yes
guest ok = yes
public = yes
printable = no
share modes = no
locking = no

(3) Run this --

sudo service samba restart

(4) You should have a shared folder now, although I can't say I've had any success with this. What's even more interesting is that the "Sharing options" method I described above doesn't seem to add anything of this sort to smb.conf. I don't know what's going on, maybe someone can enlighten me.

Good luck!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

News Summary: Israel tells Gazans to brace for war escalation

Israel tells Gazans to brace for war escalation

Basically, Israel is warning the people of Gaza to brace for more bloodshed in Gaza. The Israelis issued this note to the Gazans --

"The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is not working against the people of Gaza but against Hamas and the terrorists only," the leaflets said in Arabic. "Stay safe by following our orders."

Meanwhile many are protesting Israel's increasing violence against the region.

The other side of the story? Some say that Hamas is doing everything in its power to provoke Israel into killing as many Palestinian civilians as possible, in order to generate condemnation against the Jewish state. (

Friday, January 2, 2009

How to recover most/all of your JournalSpace posts/images using Google Cache

Hey all --

I just read on Slashdot how has had a serious database issue, resulting in the loss of all their users posts, images, personal data, and more.

Immediately, I thought, "Google cache probably took snapshots of may users posts, and maybe even some of their images. It's worth a shot running a sample query..."

So I ran a sample Google query on someone's JournalSpace username, and I was correct. It looks like all, if not most of your posts and maybe even images have been preserved by our big brother Google. For one sample query I did on a user, I got pages and pages of results!

Unfortunately, this method only works for people who did not have their blogs/journals set to be viewable only by other JournalSpace members, or set to Friends &/or Favorites only, and for other entries that were not set to private. Also, if people configured their blogs so that the googlebot, or other bots were blocked, they may have limited success in resurrecting old entries from the cache (thanks Charm for this info). So a lot of people may have limited or no success with these methods. For that group, I extend my sympathies. I know the feeling of losing so much personal data.

Assuming you didn't do any of the things above, try running a Google search like so --

Then, look for the link labeled "Cached" under any particular result, and you'll get Google's cached version.

For example, if I had a JournalSpace, I'd simply type in Google --

Other ideas for Google searches:
  • Get a particular post from an entryid (thanks Class Factotum)--
  • Get posts by date (examples) "m=12" "y=2008"
site: "y=2008"
  • Get comments from cached entries (thanks Charm) --
"" displaycomments
  • Get any page on JournalSpace with a reference to your name (may not work as intended/expected) --

There may be better ways to search Google for your cached posts. Experiment a bit and post your results here.

Some have also recommended using the Web Archive to look up old posts (thanks Frederick and Anon) -- I tried using this, but it appears like the webmaster has blocked access to JournalSpace archives (at least temporarily). Maybe they couldn't handle the traffic. Give it a shot anyway.

You may want to try the Google cache trick quickly. I have a sinking suspicion Google may not like all this traffic.

You saw it here first. Good luck.