A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

The Last Time the United States and Russia Were Friendly

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A lot of Democrats are furious that the United States and Russia may be becoming friendlier towards each other. I prefer peace over war so my initial reaction to any prospect of peace is usually positive. However, after giving it some thought, I can see why people are angry at the prospect of the United States and Russia developing a friendship.

Every time the two countries have become friends in the last 100 years millions of Jews died and two Japanese cities were nuked.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 18th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Humor

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Whoopsie

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There are some jobs that are so critical that many people believe they must be performed by government agents. One of those jobs is protecting radioactive material. But what happens when you give an important job to an organization that historically sucks at everything? Exactly what you expect:

Two workers from the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory lost an undisclosed amount of plutonium and cesium from a rental car parked overnight in a San Antonio, Texas, hotel parking lot in a neighborhood known for car break-ins and other crimes, according to an article published Monday by the Center for Public Integrity.

The loss of the highly radioactive material occurred in March 2017 and was discovered when the two workers awoke the next morning to find the window of their Ford Expedition had been smashed. Missing were radiation detectors and small samples of plutonium and cesium used to calibrate them.

The best part? This isn’t the first time government agents have lost plutonium:

The missing plutonium and cesium join the ever-growing amount of MUF—short for material unaccounted for—that has resulted from thefts or losses over the years. In 2009, the Energy Department’s inspector general took account of radioactive materials the military loaned to US academic researchers, government agencies, or commercial firms. The conclusion: despite being listed until 2004 as securely stored, one pound of plutonium and 45 pounds of highly enriched uranium were missing.

Who needs a uranium enrichment program when you can just take what the United States has already produced?

This news shouldn’t surprise anybody. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has a history of losing guns, the Pentagon has a history of losing money, and the Department of Health and Human Service has a history of losing children. The federal government flat out sucks at keeping track of anything left in its care.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 18th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Public Relations Nightmare

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I imagine that MGM’s public relations people are having a rough day:

The owner of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas has filed a lawsuit against more than 1,000 victims of a mass shooting that killed 58 people in 2017.

It turns out that MGM Resorts International is being sued by groups of victims of the Las Vegas shooter and this lawsuit is an attempt to establish that it is not liable for the harm caused by the shooter. Good luck to MGM’s public relations people on explaining that though.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 18th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Posted in Side Notes

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Grandstanding Is Easier When You’re Shielded from Consequences

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Advocates for gun control are in a virtuousness competition. This competition has lead to some rather hilarious moments. For example, the Eden Prairie City Council here in Minnesota attempted to demonstration its virtuousness by proposing a resolution that would ask firearm sellers in the city to not sell ascetically offensive firearms. The entire debate was meaningless because of state preemption, which prevents municipalities from passing their own gun control laws, but it allowed the city council to broadcast to the world how virtuous they are.

Now the St. Louis Park City Council, also here in Minnesota, is considering stepping up the game by outright violating state preemption:

Some St. Louis Park City Council members have set their sights on a state law that limits cities from creating gun restrictions.

After discussing gun laws with students from St. Louis Park High School at a May 21 study session, Mayor Jake Spano said, “We’re openly discussing flouting state law and getting sued. I’m not interested in picking fights for no reason, but at the same time this has got to stop.”

They realize that doing so would get them sued so why would they even consider such action? Because if they go through with their plan and they are inevitably sued, they don’t have to suffer the consequences. The St. Louis Park City Council members won’t have to payout if they lose such a lawsuit, the tax payers in St. Louis Park will.

Grandstanding is easier when you’re shielded from consequences. When city council members do something that gets the city sued, they get to sit back and relax while the city pays for lawyers and, if the city loses the court case, pays out the fine. The icing on the cake is that while the city is paying out for the members’ grandstanding, it is also still paying their salaries.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 17th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Moving in the Correct Direction

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Sometimes it seems like the United States is the sole remaining country that at least has its head somewhat screwed on straight when it comes to gun laws (and considering how restrictive the gun laws in the United States are, the bar is set absurdly low). Fortunately, there are signs of improvement in other countries from time to time. The Czech Republic, for example, is moving in the correct direction:

The lower house of the Czech parliament has agreed to alter the constitution so that firearms can be held legally when national security is threatened.

The amendment gives Czechs the right to use firearms during terrorist attacks.

It was passed by the lower house by a big majority, and is likewise expected to be approved by the upper house.

The move by parliament is a challenge to EU gun control rules which restrict civilians from possessing certain kinds of semi-automatic weapons.

Moving gun laws in a sensible direction and telling the European Union to go pound sand? Double win!

Governments throughout history have tried to varying degrees to monopolize violence. Not once has this strategy succeeded. Every time it has been attempted the result has been that the government and those willing to ignore the law have enjoyed a duopoly on violence. That means that the fools who abide by the law are easy prey for the duopolists and, predictably, end up being preyed upon. Usually the fools who abide by the law eventually tire of being preyed upon and decide to ignore the law, which sometimes even results in the overthrow of the government (but then the revolutionaries once again demonstrate their foolishness by establishing another government so that the vicious cycle can be repeated). Perhaps the Czech Republic can avoid that situation by giving the law abiding fools the option to defend themselves.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 17th, 2018 at 10:30 am

How Tariffs Work

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People who subscribe to mercantilism tend to favor internal trading over external trading. If external trading is to occur, they prefer that their nation only export goods while the other nations of the world only import goods. But that ideal is difficult to realize because people in one nation are often interested in the goods and services provided by people of other nations and that interest leads to mutual trade. How can a mercantilist thwart this mutual trade? By imposing artificial barriers on international economic activity. While there are many such barriers that can be raised, the most popular barrier today is the tariff. The Mercantilists imagine that implementing tariffs means that its people will develop a preference for domestic products over foreign products while foreigners will still prefer importing the goods of their nation. Nobody likes an unfair deal so in actuality all that happens is that the nation implementing the tariffs is bypassed:

The European Union and Japan have signed one of the world’s biggest free trade deals, covering nearly a third of the world’s GDP and 600 million people.

One of the biggest EU exports to Japan is dairy goods, while cars are one of Japan’s biggest exports.

The move contrasts sharply with actions by the US Trump administration, which has introduced steep import tariffs.

If the United States won’t play fair, then it won’t get to play at all.

The current administration is playing a stupid game. It’s trying to develop domestic economic activity by artificially raising the price of imported goods even though the United States doesn’t have the experience or capacity to manufacture many imported goods on a scale that can satisfy demands. The result of this game is that consumers in the United States will be forced to pay more for their goods while the rest of the world bypasses the United States.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 17th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Monday Metal: The Tower by Ancient Empire

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Written by Christopher Burg

July 16th, 2018 at 10:00 am

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It’s Good to Be the King

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It’s good to be the king. When you’re the king, you don’t have to put up with insults from your subjects:

When body-camera footage of an aggressive or abusive police officer goes viral, the response from law enforcement groups is often to caution that we shouldn’t judge the entire system based on actions of a few bad apples. That’s fair enough. But what does it say about the system when the cops gets away with their bad behavior? What if, despite video footage clearly showing that the cops are in the wrong, sheriffs and police chiefs cover for them, anyway? What if local prosecutors do, too? What if even mayors and city attorneys get into the act?

Adam Finley had such an interaction with a bad cop. He was roughed up, sworn at and handcuffed. When he tried to file a complaint, he was hit with criminal charges. The local police chief turned Finley’s wife against him, which (according to both Finley and her) eventually ended their marriage. The fact that video of the incident should have vindicated him didn’t seem to matter.

This is a really good story to read because it illustrates a lot of facts about modern law enforcement, the power of authority, and local government. Even though body camera footage clearly showed the officer was abusing his authority, Finley had his life ruined because the people tasked with overseeing the law enforcer covered for him. This shouldn’t be surprisingly since all of the people tasked with overseeing the law enforcer work for the same government as the law enforcer. But many people still make the mistake of believing that government oversight of law enforcement is an effective check against abuse when, in fact, government oversight of law enforcement is merely the government overseeing itself. Whenever you give an entity the power to oversee itself, it has a strong tendency to find that it did nothing wrong.

Mr. Musk’s Greater South Africa

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Elon Musk has two transportation programs, as space program, and now he’s working on a utilities program. At this point he has enough traditionally government programs to basically be a government:

For around four years now, the water supply to the city of Flint, Michigan, has been contaminated with lead. Now, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has promised to help. Replying to a request on Twitter, Musk pledged to fund remediation work to houses with contaminated water supplies.

Snowcrash’s future is actually one of the more pleasant ones and I don’t think that I’d mind being a citizen of Mr. Musk’s Greater South Africa. At least it’ll have a space presence, high-speed underground transportation, and clean drinking water.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 13th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Cody Wilson: 1, Department of Justice: 0

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When Cody Wilson demonstrated the futility of gun control once and for all but publishing specifications for a 3D printable handgun, the United States government was displeased. It didn’t like the idea that the language of the Second Amendment, namely the part that says “shall not be infringed,” might actually be enforceable by its subjects. In response to Wilson’s antics, the federal government tried to censor him. Wilson decided to sue on the argument that censoring 3D printer specifications was an infringement of his First Amendment rights. The Department of Justice (DoJ), the body of the government that tried to censor Wilson and got sued for its shenanigans, finally gave up:

Two months ago, the Department of Justice quietly offered Wilson a settlement to end a lawsuit he and a group of co-plaintiffs have pursued since 2015 against the United States government. Wilson and his team of lawyers focused their legal argument on a free speech claim: They pointed out that by forbidding Wilson from posting his 3-D-printable data, the State Department was not only violating his right to bear arms but his right to freely share information. By blurring the line between a gun and a digital file, Wilson had also successfully blurred the lines between the Second Amendment and the First.

“If code is speech, the constitutional contradictions are evident,” Wilson explained to WIRED when he first launched the lawsuit in 2015. “So what if this code is a gun?”

The Department of Justice’s surprising settlement, confirmed in court documents earlier this month, essentially surrenders to that argument. It promises to change the export control rules surrounding any firearm below .50 caliber—with a few exceptions like fully automatic weapons and rare gun designs that use caseless ammunition—and move their regulation to the Commerce Department, which won’t try to police technical data about the guns posted on the public internet. In the meantime, it gives Wilson a unique license to publish data about those weapons anywhere he chooses.

Realistically, the DoJ had no choice by to relent. As soon as it tried to censor Wilson’s 3D printer designs, the Streisand effect kicked and ensured that the files were obtained by so many people that censorship became impossible. Beyond Wilson’s case, the DoJ was also fighting a losing battle because even if it managed to censor his designs, anybody with an Internet connection could upload their own designs. The DoJ is one agency that only has authority here in the United States. The Internet is a global communication network. The odds of a single agency winning against a global network are pretty much zilch.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 12th, 2018 at 11:00 am