Blast from the past

Well, not that far past. October 2001, to be exact, but rather timely since there is new gun regulation being discussed in the wake of the DC metro serial sniper attacks:

“There are so many laws concerning the purchase and use of guns, including background checks, that it is hard to understand why any more are needed. Guns will always fall into the wrong hands, and criminals are not going to be governed by any of the gun laws. The gun laws have but one purpose: to discourage honest citizens from purchasing and owning firearms. No amount of laws will ever prevent someone intent on getting a gun from doing so.” –Dick Boland, nationally syndicated columnist

Yes, Virginia, lie detectors are fallible

“After 19 months of study, experts convened by the National Research Council, an arm of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, concluded that ‘national security is too important to be left to such a blunt instrument,’ and noted pointedly that ‘no spy has ever been caught [by] using the polygraph.'”

You can read more in William Safire’s outstanding editorial. (free registration required)

English, the de facto official language

“If I were Hispanic, I would be ashamed that so many American institutions take it for granted that people like me can’t understand English. I would notice that there were never any telephone prompts or hyperlinks for Italian or Hindi or Japanese. I would realize that no one assumes that German-, Arab-, or Vietnamese-Americans are unable to communicate in English.

“I don’t know which would depress me more: the knowledge that my fellow citizens feel obliged to condescend to Hispanics or my sense that so many Hispanics prefer it that way…. I am the son of a Jewish refugee from Czechoslovakia who immigrated to America in 1948. … My father was forced to learn English; it was the prerequisite to American life…. Not learning English was not an option. My father had to acquire the common American tongue. His life has been better for it.” –Jeff Jacob

Living in Texas, where too much of this sort of thing goes on, I have to say amen, and amen! Lefty multiculturalists love to remind us that the United States is a melting pot of different cultures and that we should respect all for our diversity. What these historically-ignorant windbags fail to grasp, however, is that for us to be Americans, we have to have a common identity. That identity incorporates the diversity we all bring to the pot, yet is distinct from them all.

Part of that distinction is our language. Like it or not, English has been the dominant language throughout the United States since the mid 1800s. It is the de facto official language of this country, even if there is no law stating as such (and there should be).
By all means, speak Spanish, German, Russian, whatever, amongst yourselves and in your homes. Hold on to and cherish your heritage, but integrate your heritage with that of America itself. Be prepared to interact with the rest of us in English, the tongue of Americans.

PGP 8.0 Public Beta

Earlier this year, the email encryption system known as Pretty Good Privacy was rescued from the nincompoops at Network Associates, and will soon be available from the PGP corporation.

The best news is that we will finally have an OS X-native version. You can try it out now through PGP’s public beta program. Highlights include: Full support for Mac OS X 10.2; full PGP Disk interoperability with PGP Disks created by all prior PGP Disk products for Mac OS, as well as with PGP Disks created with PGP Disk for Windows 7.0 and later; AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) support in PGP Disk; significantly expanded Unicode support; built-in support for Apple Mail and Microsoft Entourage X; PGP encryption and digital signature features are accessible as a Mac OS X service from Cocoa applications and Carbon applications that support services; PGP features are also accessible from the PGP’s Dock menu, providing a second ubiquitous method for accessing PGP.

This may actually get me back into the crypto game. You may very well have to finger me for my public key soon!