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Geohashing Meets an Angry Rancher With Firearms 800

Posted by Soulskill
from the viral-marketing-for-xkcd-fps dept.
katicli writes "Geohashing, an obscure xkcd pastime which involves going to random coordinates generated by md5 hashing, the date, and the opening status of the stock market, appears to have just gotten far more interesting. The official wiki reports a warning for other geohashers intending to go to the spot designated for June 14th in the San Francisco area, as several avid fans of xkcd were met by an angry rancher and firearms."
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Geohashing Meets an Angry Rancher With Firearms

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  • Overreactions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:13PM (#23801289) Homepage Journal
    My first reaction is that the geohashing folks overreacted. I might be a little concerned and take photos of license plates if a bunch of people suddenly showed up on my property somewhere out in the boonies.

    As to the firearms, were they scared at the mere presence of firearms or did the ranchers actually point them at anyone? If they simply saw the guns in the truck, what possibly could have scared them? Ooooh, guns.... scary.

    • Re:Overreactions (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:16PM (#23801307)
      To a lot of overprotected-live-in-the-parent's-basement technojock types, a gun is scary, if nothing else because of unfamiliarity. Besides, if the ranchers were taking pictures of license plates, odds are they were planning on involving law enforcement, not gunning anyone down.
      • Re:Overreactions (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Wog (58146) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:27PM (#23801363)
        Yep.

        "Two vehicles later drove on property, first truck with two rifles or shotguns in plain sight."

        Egads, the ranchers had firearms mounted in their trucks! OH NOES, THEY MUST BE FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE OF MURDERING US, THERE IS NO OTHER POSSIBLE EXPLANATION!

        Please, PLEASE take note that nobody said that threats were ever made, or that firearms were ever presented in a menacing way. For anyone that works with livestock, having long guns mounted in vehicles and handguns on one's person is absolutely normal, routine, and safe.

        If I were running a ranch and a bunch of 20-somethings showed up on my private property, I would be taking pictures and making sure I had a weapon at hand, too.

        I'm a fan of XKCD and love the idea of Geohashing, but these folks really should make an effort to notify landowners and get permission before entering private property.
        • Re:Overreactions (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Secrity (742221) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:39PM (#23802043)
          They need to do far more than make an attempt to contact the landowner, they need to get permission from the landowner.
      • Re:Overreactions (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bsDaemon (87307) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:30PM (#23801389)
        the amount of FPSism that abounds in certain sectors of the geek community, you'd think that they'd be desensitized to guns by now.

        I grew up in the sticks and shot in rifle competitions when I was a kid. I grew up around guns and I have some now. The gun isn't the scary thing.

        The scary thing is an unknown person with one. Especially an unknown person whose private property you've just invaded without permission - and apparently in numbers.

        Why does that guy take the gun with him? Because how the hell does he know what this large group of hippies that just showed up in his property wants? They're just there for a math joke, but for all he knows they're trying to set up the next woodstock.

        The moral of the story is, don't tresspass and then bitch when the owner of the property asserts his rights. Then again, around here people root for the cracker kids and the mp3 traders, so I'm not really surprised.

        • Re:Overreactions (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:50PM (#23801537) Journal

          the amount of FPSism that abounds in certain sectors of the geek community, you'd think that they'd be desensitized to guns by now.
          FPSes tell me that headshots are easy, and that all it takes is a moment of not listening for footsteps, or a moment's hesitation with my own gun, and I'm dead. And here I am without even a knife... You'd think FPSes would make geeks even more sensitive to guns.

          They're just there for a math joke, but for all he knows they're trying to set up the next woodstock.
          I somehow doubt woodstock would be his biggest fear. For that matter, if that's what they're doing, seems like a perfect opportunity to cash in on his previously-undervalued property.
      • by bigtangringo (800328) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:04PM (#23801675) Homepage
        I think I speak for a lot of us here when I say: What a punch of pussies.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tryle (1159503)
      Maybe idiots are in season for hunting and he had his permit. I wouldn't worry though, because he probably has to take a female (doe) first, so luckily for these losers there wasn't one in their herd. In fact, they probably NEVER have women around them, ever.
    • Re:Overreactions (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MrMista_B (891430) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:03PM (#23801667)
      Overreacted?

      So, what, you think you shouldn't be more cautious than usual around people with guns, or do you think it's something that can be safely ignored without comment?

      Myself, if I go somewhere, and a guy with a couple of guns in his truck pulls up, I'm not going to be thinking he's just a cute handsome stranger. They were *right* to be concerned when guns are involved - an overreaction would be ignoring them and doing nothing.

      Also, in the future, if they go to a location and there's angry farmers with guns on location, they would be *right* to mention that, maybe, *maybe* it's not a good idea to go there. Or would that be another overreaction?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by morari (1080535)
      Does it matter either way? I always have a gun behind the door and in various drawers throughout the house. If someone is trespassing, it is best to assume that they want trouble. If not, then you are naive and that may come back to bite you one day. Your first reaction shouldn't generally be to shove a gun in someones face, but having one on hand is always for the best. Furthermore, if you want, having one on hand in in plain sight (say in a shoulder holster) is even better. That way, you don't have people
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:29PM (#23801381)
    http://wiki.xkcd.com/geohashing/Known_Issues [xkcd.com]

    "If someone says you are trespassing, it is probably best to heed them and turn back. Shotguns are a good indicator of trouble. See Template:Disclaimer."

    Sounds like that other thing where you use GPS and leave a bowl with stuff in it.
  • by Ferzerp (83619) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:29PM (#23801387)
    If these people were scared by the mere presence of a few guns, this seriously worries me about the future of the 2nd amendment. I guess there is solace to be taken in knowing that the people who would read that comic and go to that place aren't a very good representative set of the people though.

    Still it worries me.
    • Guns aren't scary: they're a predictable mechanical device. People, on the other hand, are highly unpredictable and should be treated with a certain amount of caution when they make it perfectly clear they're armed, especially if you happen to be doing something illegal at the time like tresspassing.

      Seems to me the geohashers decided to avoid turning a fun day out into a lot of hassle with either ranchers or police, and issued an appropriately detailed warning. So rather than being afraid of guns, perhaps they're just not reckless idiots.
    • by mortonda (5175) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @04:12PM (#23802889)

      If these people were scared by the mere presence of a few guns, this seriously worries me about the future of the 2nd amendment
      Yes, it is worrisome. I can't believe how much anti gun rhetoric I hear from people who don't really know anything about it. Truth is, until you actually fire a gun, you don't really understand them. I was kinda nervous around guns, until I had fired a few.

      I'm all for gun control: I've worked on my gun handling skills to make sure that I know what to do with a gun. Things like, never point a gun where you wouldn't want it to go off, always safe the gun (and unchamber it) when not in use, and always inspect the gun to verify its condition and state when you pick it up. Even when a law enforcement friend hands me a gun, I will still check the safety, clip and chamber, because I am responsible for it.

      I think if more people would do this sort of thing, they wouldn't find guns to be intimidating. The mere presence of a gun does not intimidate me, and a gun in the presence of someone who is obviously competent is a welcome sight. I only get nervous around noobs that don't have the experience in gun control.
  • by v1 (525388) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:30PM (#23801391) Homepage Journal
    Too many people wigging out nowadays with the "unattended package" scares to geocache anymore. If you go out in the woods and leave something hidden, or interact with something hidden, and someone sees you, too great of odds that they will call the bomb squad or DNR or something like that.

  • The Real World (Score:5, Insightful)

    by uspsguy (541171) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:32PM (#23801409) Homepage
    WOW! a bunch of people from San Francisco ventured out in to the real world and found that people have strange ideas like property rights and the right to bear arms. I'm glad they got an education.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by exabrial (818005)
      This is exactly what happens in Kansas during hunting season. If you hunt on someone's land without permission, the will come meet you with a gun. People don't want their land littered with trash, rutted with prints from four wheelers, illegal activity (meth labs, stealing of Anhydrous Ammonia) happening. And what people forget on the east and west coasts is that YOU are the own sheriff of your property. The USA provides protection for the rancher in this case against intruders, not the other way around.
    • by PCM2 (4486) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:37PM (#23802011) Homepage
      It took a few moments to sink in. "In the San Francisco area" ... with guns mounted on trucks? Why, unless people are using one of those really broad definitions of San Francisco, that could be nowhere else but ... yup. Upon checking the address on Google Maps, it turns out to be none other than San Ramon, California -- about 15 minutes from where I grew up.

      I know what you guys are thinking. "A bunch of uptight yuppies from San Francisco got in their cars and drove out to the wild wilderness and got a taste of the real world..." Yeah, right -- if by that you mean "took a pleasant drive out among the trees along the curves of Crow Canyon Road," just off the 580 Freeway kinda wilderness. Maybe they took the long way back and stopped off at Stoneridge Mall on their way home.

      News flash for ya, folks. The exact location where these folks went is out a long, undeveloped road, sure. But San Ramon is a suburb, people. Yeah, if you're out there you'll find that 80 percent of the people are white. But that's not "white trash missin teeth an' drinkin moonshine" white, that's "53 percent of the people in this town are college educated and 17 percent have graduate degrees" white. It's "48 percent of the families in this town have median incomes higher than $100,000" white. Look it up. [san-ramon.ca.us]

      Clearly, these "geohashers" must be even bigger peckerwoods than the people I grew up with (in neighboring Castro Valley) if that environment makes them uncomfortable. If white guys with guns mounted to pickup trucks makes them uncomfortable, I hope they had a speedy return to wherever they came from, completely bypassing Oakland, California, whose demographics are markedly different. And whatever they do, they should not wait for the bus on the streetcorner out in front of my local bar. It's gotten pretty hairy over there a couple times over the last few years.
      • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:44PM (#23802085) Homepage
        News flash for ya, folks. The exact location where these folks went is out a long, undeveloped road, sure. But San Ramon is a suburb, people. Yeah, if you're out there you'll find that 80 percent of the people are white. But that's not "white trash missin teeth an' drinkin moonshine" white, that's "53 percent of the people in this town are college educated and 17 percent have graduate degrees" white. It's "48 percent of the families in this town have median incomes higher than $100,000" white. Look it up. [san-ramon.ca.us]

        Come on, don't let facts get in the way of all the pro-gun slashdot rants. Let's take the average vocally pro-gun slashdot poster. They're geeks, so probably not especially physically imposing. Grew up into math and computers and science, and probably got picked on for it. When they grew up they picked a safe, sedentary job. The only way they can assert their masculinity is by boasting about gun ownership online, and denigrate people who treat guns with caution.
  • Darwin Awards I mean ;-)

  • And so it goes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:43PM (#23801505)
    ... people with too much time on their hands, annoying the rest of the world, calling it fun, and blaming it on the Internet [xkcd.com].

  • Why Is This News? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:04PM (#23801673) Homepage
    So a bunch of citiots tried to go onto private property without permission to have a party and got warned off. Why is this news?
  • I live close by (Score:3, Informative)

    by rossz (67331) <ogre AT geekbiker DOT net> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:19PM (#23801827) Homepage Journal
    That's real damn close to where I live. I've been up in that area on numerous occasions. In fact, I took some riding lessons at a ranch up there. My guess, the rancher has had some problems with teenagers harassing his herd. Teenagers do stupid things, like chase the steer around for the fun of it. There has also been the rare occasion of steer and horse thefts. Just a little information. A rancher with a shotgun is as common as a rancher with a nose on his face. Nothing to get excited about.
  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:35PM (#23802003)
    A bit misleading that. Article DOES mention "two very unfriendly vehicles" and "Two vehicles later drove on property, first truck with two rifles or shotguns in plain sight."

    It doesn't seem to mention an encounter with the owner of the vehicles/guns, though. Perhaps because they apparently wet themselves and fled at the sight of the gunrack in the pickup (where my family lives, gunracks in pickups are so much a part of life that the only time you notice them is when the pickup does NOT have one)/

    I do, however, agree with this statement by one of the geohashers - "in the future, we should respect property owners". A lot of trouble can be avoided by following that guideline.

  • Hello internet (Score:5, Informative)

    by Council (514577) <rmunroe AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @03:14PM (#23802329) Homepage
    Hey, Randall here (hey, my account still exists!)

    Sometimes the coordinates fall on military bases. Sometimes they're in the ocean. Sometimes they're in the middle of Bill Gates's house (when that one happens, maybe we can work something out). So even if it weren't for the legality issues, there's a big common sense element.

    The idea is that you get as close as you can to the point without going onto private property without permission. Most of the time, this means meeting on a road or cul-de-sac or whatnot. The point is just to get people close enough that they can all exchange high fives and then go to a nearby park or bar together.

    I've met unfriendly people while out hiking (both for geohashing and for fun). I've also met some astonishingly friendly people, more than you'd expect. People on the whole are decent. But if you're wandering around in strange places in the real world, there are risks inherent to that, and you do have to use your judgment. If you treat the coordinates like commands and try to get at them no matter what, you're doing it wrong.
  • by Mi5ke561 (1002900) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @03:27PM (#23802477)
    There are indeed reasons for that Rancher to be armed. First off, if you get into trouble, it can take 911 longer than the rest of your life to get there. Pretty much you're on your own. Secondly, I don't know if anybody's noticed or not, but it's spring and cows drop calves and sheep drop lambs this time of year, and Coyotes are everywhere. Worse still, coyotes have something in common with man-- they frequently kill for the hell of it. And the margins on running a ranch are close enough that you can't afford to lose livestock to random predation unless you want to go broke, so this time of year, if you see a coyote, out comes the SKS or whatever, (very popular as a ranch rifle) and the coyotes in question become fodder for vultures, magpies, ect. There are places where there is a tradition of free range. Most of Nevada outside of Clark or Washoe Counties for example, still let you roam around as long as you're not damaging anything. A lot of ranchers are looking at keep out signs though, because of idiots who do things like cut locks, cut fences and shoot at water troughs. (And in a desert, shooting a water trough is actually a crime that merits hanging, even though nobody does) and sometimes livestock. In order to prevent such things, if you're working a ranch, you pack a rifle. And it is considered good manners to ask, and if you're hunting and get lucky, a couple of cleaned birds on the way out is usually appreaciated. And I usually carry some stuff to take a few minutes to fix a downed section of fence if I find one. One makes friends that way. The bottom line is that those young idiots who seem to have gotten a case of the vapors over a rancher with a camera and guns that happen to be his working tools in the gun rack, were handled far more gently than they probably deserved and they should be thankful rather than complaining. And they do owe him an apology, so that little suggestion that was on their website is one that they should take to heart.
  • They were lucky. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davmoo (63521) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @03:56PM (#23802733)
    I live in a rural area in the Midwest. If a horde of people I didn't know suddenly descended on my property, and I don't see some badges or blue and red lights accompanying them, those people would see a gun too...and mine wouldn't be in a rack.
  • Oh boy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @06:16PM (#23803907)
    It sounds like typical media scare. Think of all of the stories you see in the paper or on the news about "man with a gun." It's as if the mere presence of a gun denotes wrong doing.

  • by serbanp (139486) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @06:48PM (#23804113)
    ... survivors will be shot again.

    Someone's sig on slashdot.

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