Archive for October, 2011
A short while ago the White House spent a fuck-ton of taxpayer money setting up the We the People Petition site. It was marketed as a website people could submit and sign petitions for government action. While the government promised to look at any petitions with an arbitrarily selected number of signatures I suspected they would simply issue easily predictable statements against taking action related to the petitions. Well, my suspicions were right. The White House responded to a handful of the petitions with the most signatures, including the petition to legalize marijuana, and the responses were exactly as expected. For instance here is part of their response to the petition asking the federal government to legalize marijuana:
When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug’s effects.
According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health– the world’s largest source of drug abuse research – marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment. We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms. Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20’s. Simply put, it is not a benign drug.
Basically the response to the petition was to link a bunch of previous studies that were performed to justify the prohibition against marijuana. While most of those studies have been proven wrong by third-party research that’s irrelevant because the government wants marijuana illegal and by Thor in Valhalla it will remain illegal!
When people kept linking to pet petitions I ignored them because I knew the federal government wasn’t going to take any of the petitions seriously. Those in office don’t give two shits what you and I think, we’re just uneducated peons who need every detail of our lives planned, managed, and controlled for our own good.
To celebrate 10 years of tyranny under the USA PATRIOT Act the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has posted an article that looks into the three most dangerous provisions of this blatant power grab of legislation:
1. SECTION 215 – “ANY TANGIBLE THING”
Under this provision, the FBI can obtain secret court orders for business records and other “tangible things” so long as the FBI says that the records are sought “for an authorized investigation . . . to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court must issue the order if the FBI so certifies, even when there are no facts to back it up. These “things” can include basically anything—driver’s license records, hotel records, car-rental records, apartment-leasing records, credit card records, books, documents, Internet history, and more. Adding insult to injury, Section 215 orders come with a “gag ” prohibiting the recipient from telling anyone, ever, that they received one.
It’s always nice when the federal government can go on a fishing expedition without even having so much as factual evidence to back up their accusation. The most egregious part of Section 215 though is that those who are targeted with the order to provide evidence are forbidden from ever telling anybody.
2. NATIONAL SECURITY LETTERS
Among the most used — and outright frightening — provisions in the PATRIOT Act are those that enhanced so-called National Security Letters (NSLs). The FBI can issue NSLs itself, without a court order, and demand a variety of records, from phone records to bank account information to Internet activity. As with 215 orders, recipients are gagged from revealing the orders to anyone.
This is another piece of the PATRIOT Act that allows the federal government to obtain personal information and gag the information provider. When the federal government wants information about you they can issue a National Security Letter, have the information provided to them, and prevent the provider from informing you that the information was handed over. For instance if the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) want any e-mail messages received by or sent from to your GMail account Google would have to provide them but would be prohibited from informing you that government agents demanded the data.
3. SNEAK AND PEEK WARRANTS
Section 213 of the PATRIOT Act normalized “sneak-and-peek” warrants. These allow law enforcement to raid a suspect’s house without notifying the recipient of the seizure for months. These orders usually don’t authorize the government to actually seize any property — but that won’t stop them from poking around your computers. Again, sneak-and-peek warrants could be used for any investigation, even if the crime was only a misdemeanor.
This provision is the reason all of my data is encrypted at all times. The drives in my computer and the external backup drives are all entirely encrypted. Data can’t be retrieved from or written to my drives without the decryption keys (technically an agent could wipe my drive, reinstall the operating system, and include key-logging software but all my data would be missing which would raise some serious red flags). I advise everybody to use disk encryption technology on their systems.
There you have it, a nice overview of three provisions of the PATRIOT Act that shit all over our supposedly Constitutionally guaranteed rights of protection.
The root factor that separates the Austrian school of economics from others such as the Keynesian and Chicago schools is the fact the Austrian school acknowledges the fact that economic models can’t actually be made. While the Keynesian and Chicago schools keep trying to model economics using mathematic formulas the Austrian school says economics can’t be studied like natural sciences because individual factors can’t be separate for study and humans are adaptable and non-passive. Instead of using mathematical models the Austrian school relies on praxeology, the study of human action, which involves using logical deductions to arrive at conclusions. While the Austrian school keeps predicting the next series of bubbles and crashes the schools depending on mathematical models continue getting their models shot to hell:
When it comes to assigning blame for the current economic doldrums, the quants who build the complicated mathematic financial risk models, and the traders who rely on them, deserve their share of the blame. [See “A Formula For Economic Calamity” in the November 2011 issue]. But what if there were a way to come up with simpler models that perfectly reflected reality? And what if we had perfect financial data to plug into them?
Incredibly, even under those utterly unrealizable conditions, we’d still get bad predictions from models.
The reason is that current methods used to “calibrate” models often render them inaccurate.
In computer science we have a phrase called “garbage in, garbage out.” Simply put if you start with garbage data you’re only going to end with garbage data. The mathematical models using by economists are garbage because humans are not passive non-adaptive subjects. As humans adapt old models are rendered useless. While the Austrian school bases their economic predictions on deductive logic the Keynesian and Chicago schools are constantly trying to rework their economic models to fit new data. Nothing thing to note is if you have to change your economic models to fix the data then your models are worthless. Models are supposed to help predict future outcomes based on current data not be formed around changed data due to failures of the previous models to predict an outcome.
The Keynesian and Chicago schools of economics would only be workable in an environment where prefect data is had. When people make criticisms about capitalism based on consumers lacking perfect data they’re correct only so far as the Keynesian and Chicago schools of thought go. The Austrian school outright acknowledges that perfect data regarding economics doesn’t exist and probably never will so planning economies is impossible meaning the hands-off approach is the only viable economic system.
Today is Halloween and I’ve found a very fitting song to celebrate the holiday. Sit back and listen to Halloween by Helloween:
There is a connection between SWAT raids and dead pets. I could never figured out the precise reason SWAT members always sought out household pets during raids and riddle them with bullets whether or not that animal posed a threat or was in a kennel minding its own business. My answer has been found:
The Army is redoubling its search for anyone who might have been bitten by a wild animal in Iraq or Afghanistan following the Aug. 31 death of a soldier from rabies, the service’s public health command stated Wednesday.
The Army is partnering with the other uniformed services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find and treat servicemembers and civilians who were bitten by stray dogs and animals while deployed, according to a command news release.
I’m guessing one of those “other uniformed services” are domestic police forces. These guys even have propaganda posters punched up and everything:
There you have it, it’s safer to riddle pets with bullets than risk it biting you and contracting rabies… even if the animal is in a kenel, had all its rabie shots, and is unable to post a threat of any kind. Better safe than sorry and all that nonsense.
Also note I’m not saying this advice is poor for soldiers deployed overseas. This rant is entirely related to the rampant string of household pets murdered by police officers for not reason whatsoever.
Uncle let us know that members of law enforcement in the United State have amped up the frequency in which they ask Google to remove videos of police brutality from YouTube:
The technology giant’s biannual transparency report shows that Google refused the demands from the unnamed authority in the first half of this year.
According to the report, Google separately declined orders by other police authorities to remove videos that allegedly defamed law enforcement officials.
The demands formed part of a 70% rise in takedown requests from the US government or police, and were revealed as part of an effort to highlight online censorship around the world.
Figures revealed for the first time show that the US demanded private information about more than 11,000 Google users between January and June this year, almost equal to the number of requests made by 25 other developed countries, including the UK and Russia.
First of all that’s one hell of an increase in takedown requests by the government. Second let us all take a second to thank Google for refusing to remove the videos. The rate of attempted government censorship and demands of customer personal information isn’t surprising but it is still depressing for those of us who would rather not live under a police state.
Just a heads up everybody, the Minnesota Weapons Collectors Association is holding a gun show at the Coliseum Building at the State Fair Grounds in St. Paul this weekend. The usual applies in that $5.00 gets you all day access to the show. The show goes from 8:00 to 17:00 on Saturday and 9:00 to 15:00 on Sunday.
As anybody who has been reading this site for a while knows I’m not the biggest fan of government. I don’t like the idea of somebody ruling over me with a gun and a threat demanding that I comply with their demands or face execution. It wouldn’t be as bad were the government not trying to regulate everything in existence but frankly the government we now have in the United States is completely out of control. Those on the right say we just need to elect the right Republican leaders and those on the left claim we just need to elect the right Democrat leaders. Truth be told the whole concept of “representatives” is outrageous when you think about it, nobody can represent the interests of many others:
Much money and attention is given to politics; so much that even standing on the sidelines to comment can generate outsized wealth and attention. Rush Limbaugh and his numerous conservative epigones have etched lucrative careers perpetuating the myth that if we just vote for the right candidates (literally, in Limbaugh’s case) the world will be set properly on its axis and the United States’ master-of-the-universe status will grow further still.
Of course, for left-liberals, the right person resides on the left. For either side, the right person is a myth — a fraud, actually. There is no right person, left or right, because the right person from any one person’s perspective will always be the wrong person from everyone else’s perspective.
If a Republican gets elected the Democrats lack representation, if a Democrat is elected the Republicans lack representation, and if either gets elected I lack representation. When you think about it the idea that one person is supposed to represent the interests of entire congressional districts is absurd. How can one man represent the views of so many others? Hell, lawyers have a hard enough time representing individual clients but as they’re paid for the job they’re more likely to do as they’re supposed to.
But politics is nothing but a giant game. Our politicians like to polarize issues into one of two camps and claim the other camp is wrong. Why should any third-party have a say in whether or not two men can marry, or if anther person can smoke pot, or if I can drive a gas guzzling truck? We are all individuals with different desires and we should be allowed to pursue those desires so long as we are not harming another or their property. Politicians telling us what to eat, drink, and say are unnecessary and exist only to take otherwise productive capital and flush it down the toilet of waste.
Instead of politicizing every topic on the planet let us depoliticize them. Let us all agree to leave one another alone in their pursuit of happiness.
The occupiers in Oakland, California were evicted a couple of days ago by the police. Say what you will about the eviction, I’m not here to talk about that. What I want to discuss is the plan put forth by some of the Oakland occupiers to take back the park:
We propose a city wide general strike and we propose we invite all students to walk out of school. Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city.
All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them.
While we are calling for a general strike, we are also calling for much more. People who organize out of their neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, affinity groups, workplaces and families are encouraged to self organize in a way that allows them to participate in shutting down the city in whatever manner they are comfortable with and capable of.
Ah yes, the call for general strike has begun. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a general strike consider yourself lucky. A general strike is a method, usually associated with collectivists, where change is obtained by everybody simply refusing to show up for work.
People participating in general strikes obviously lose money for the day and may lose their job. Needless to say the risk of participating in a general strike is high and the potential reward is oftentimes low in comparison. Those who were evicted from the park are now asking everybody to potentially risk being fired in an attempt to reclaim the park. With the way the post is written I almost think the author believes a great number of people will join his cry to join the general strike. The author actually believes this strike has a chance of shutting down the city and frankly this belief is assine.
These occupations do not have the support of a majority of the population. Because of this believing a call for a general strike by the occupiers can grind the city to a halt is delusional at best.
You know you’ve become a true anti-gun organization when you start lying about anything and everything. Miguel points out that Mayors Against
All Illegal Guns (MAIG) is lying about their membership, probably in an attempt to make themselves look larger than they really are. While Mayor Perry Knight of Bowling Green, Florida is listed as a member of MAIG he wasn’t aware of that fact:
There seems to someone outthere who just decided my name should be added to this list. I do not support anything these folks are trying to do. I have asked repeatedly to have my name removed yet they ignore me. If I could ask you for your help by clearly an plainly stating that I DO NOT SUPPORT THIS . I am a gun owner an avid hunter. thanks for your inquiry an wish you well. Perry Knight
Good on you Mayor Knight for explicitly stating you do not support this organization. Those of us in the gun community will do our best to help you clear this blatantly undeserved blemish from your record by getting the word out.