A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for June, 2012

A Look at Things to Come

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Another United States city has declared bankruptcy:

The Californian city of Stockton is set to become the largest US city to declare bankruptcy.

Mayor Ann Johnston told the city council which endorsed the move it was “the most difficult and heart-wrenching decision” they had ever faced.

But she said it had to be done to begin the recovery process.

The river port city of 290,000 – which lies 90 miles (144km) east of San Francisco – suffered badly during the US housing market crash.

Filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection would allow the city to hold some of its creditors at bay while still paying for basic services like its police and fire department.

I think we’re going to see more and more cities declaring bankruptcy in the future. Cities, like the federal government and the governments of the individual states, decide it would be a good idea to give people “free” shit. What none of the mentioned governments appear to understand is that there is no such thing as “free” shit, eventually all those trains, buses, art museums, etc. have to be paid for.

Whether the work is done by private entities or state owned entities is irrelevant, employees of both want to get paid. If you don’t pay the private entities they will likely sue the city to recover the costs and if you don’t pay public employees they’re likely to stop working all together.

Isn’t everybody happy that the government listened to Paul Krugman:

To fight this recession the Fed needs more than a snapback; it needs soaring household spending to offset moribund business investment. And to do that, as Paul McCulley of Pimco put it, Alan Greenspan needs to create a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble.

Is there any wonder why I consider Krugman to be a complete idiot when it comes to economics?

Written by Christopher Burg

June 27th, 2012 at 11:30 am

Consumers Punished by Intellectual Property Again

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Are you looking to by a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1? Too bad, sales of the device have been banned in the United States because of a patent dispute between Apple and Samsung:

A court has banned sales of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in the US while it decides on the firm’s patent dispute with Apple.

Apple has claimed that Samsung infringed its design patent and copied the look of its popular device, the iPad.

The Samsung tablet is considered by most analysts as the biggest rival to Apple’s iPad.

The ban does not apply to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 II, the tablet’s new edition.

This is yet another example of consumers losing because of the patent system. While Apple attempts to extort money from Samsung over a non-scarce resource consumers are unable to purchase Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1. Somebody could probably make a little money (not much mind you, the Tab 10.1 is getting up there in age now) by doing some agorism and selling Tab 10.1s in a “black” market.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 27th, 2012 at 11:00 am

Intellectual Property is Expensive

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Intellectual property is an interesting concept to me. The state can grant a monopoly to somebody on an idea even though ideas aren’t scarce, if I tell you my idea I don’t lose it. Yet the state manages to use its violence to protect the monopolies it grants which has given rise to a whole new industry, the industry of patent trolls. Patent trolls are nothing more than companies that buy up patents for the express purpose of suing anybody violating said patents. This industry is certainly enriching lawyers:

In the past, “non-practicing entities” (NPEs), popularly known as “patent trolls,” have helped small inventors profit from their inventions. Is this true today or, given the unprecedented levels of NPE litigation, do NPEs reduce innovation incentives? Using a survey of defendants and a database of litigation, this paper estimates the direct costs to defendants arising from NPE patent assertions. We estimate that firms accrued $29 billion of direct costs in 2011. Moreover, although large firms accrued over half of direct costs, most of the defendants were small or medium-sized firms, indicating that NPEs are not just a problem for large firms.

$29 billion was completely wasted in 2011 by businesses defending themselves against patent trolls. That $29 billion could have been spent on productive endeavors, which would have given way to cheaper and better products for consumers. Instead a bunch of lawyers were enriched because the state has granted a monopoly on certain ideas to entities that exist solely to sue other entities that managed to have the same idea. When you boil it down patent violations are a form of thoughtcrime.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 27th, 2012 at 10:30 am

The Paradoxical Philosophy of Obedience

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As a general rule if your philosophy involves paradoxes then it’s not a good philosophy. Supporters of authoritarian philosophies have this problem, they preach that we must followed a strong leader in order to be free. What these people don’t see is that one cannot be free if they are following mindlessly, which is why this New York Times column is nothing but dribble:

These days many Americans seem incapable of thinking about these paradoxes. Those “Question Authority” bumper stickers no longer symbolize an attempt to distinguish just and unjust authority. They symbolize an attitude of opposing authority.

The old adversary culture of the intellectuals has turned into a mass adversarial cynicism. The common assumption is that elites are always hiding something. Public servants are in it for themselves. Those people at the top are nowhere near as smart or as wonderful as pure and all-knowing Me.

There is a reason the common assumption is that elites are always hiding something, because they are. Public “servants” are in it for themselves. All actions are based on self-interest and politics is the art of force. Politicians are people who have decided to use the means of force to achieve their end of self-interest. Since people generally respond poorly to being forced into action the politicians must hide their intentions, they must wrap their political interests in a layer of “greater good” and “public service.”

You end up with movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Parties that try to dispense with authority altogether. They reject hierarchies and leaders because they don’t believe in the concepts. The whole world should be like the Internet — a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king.

What? Both groups believe in authority. Occupy Wall Street generally believes in authority of the masses, commonly referred to as democracy. The Tea Party generally believes in the authority of the republic and representatives (otherwise they wouldn’t move to get desired representatives elected). Of course, according to the author’s beliefs, I can see why he would think both movements oppose authority altogether:

Maybe before we can build great monuments to leaders we have to relearn the art of following. Democratic followership is also built on a series of paradoxes: that we are all created equal but that we also elevate those who are extraordinary; that we choose our leaders but also have to defer to them and trust their discretion; that we’re proud individuals but only really thrive as a group, organized and led by just authority.

I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem.

In other words we should all learn to be good little slaves and shut the hell up. I’m curious what this man would have been writing before the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. It’s obvious that he would have supported the “just authority” of the British king but I’m curious how he would justify it. Now that I think about it, I’m curious how he justifies supporting “just authority” now. For all the talk the author makes about “just authority” he never actually says what kind of authority is just. Is devine authority just? Is a person elected by popular vote granted just authority? Is the most heavily armed individual a holder of just authority? The author never says, he only says that we must obey just authority.

Just authority can only be voluntarily granted on an individual basis. You can choose to delegate authority over aspects of your life to another. I cannot choose somebody to rule over your life though, just as you cannot choose somebody to rule over my life. This automatically means democracies are not just, just because the majority of people agree on something doesn’t mean it’s right (a majority of people once believed the Earth was flat after all). Likewise, just because a larger group voted to grant a man authority over a geographic region doesn’t make it right. The people of Iceland had the right idea during their 300 years of statelessness. Individuals could voluntarily agree to recognize the authority of a godi and if that godi was no longer to an individual’s liking they could seek another (and his choices weren’t restricted by geographic regions). That form of authority could be considered just as it was voluntarily granted and could be reclaimed at the granter’s choosing.

I will give the author credit on one thing, he’s one of the few authoritarians who actually admits that paradoxes exist in his philosophy. He doesn’t properly identify them or realizes that the existence of paradoxes should indicate one reexamine their beliefs, but he at least acknowledges they are there.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 27th, 2012 at 10:00 am

Yet the Anti-Gunners Continue to Claim Firearms are Always Deadly to Children

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According to gun control zealots guns actively seek out and murder children. They imply that owning a gun in a home with kids will result in those guns killing the kids. I wonder how they explain this story:

A 14-year-old boy shot an intruder at a Laveen home near 55th and Minton avenues Friday afternoon, police said.

The boy was home with his three siblings, ranging in age from 8 to 12, when he saw a woman they did not recognize at the front of the house around 4:30 p.m. She began pounding on the door, said James Holmes, a Phoenix police spokesman.

The boy went upstairs and got a handgun, police said. A man with a rifle had forced his way into the home. He aimed the gun at the boy, and the boy shot him, police said.

This story demonstrations that the property method of keeping children safe around firearms isn’t abstinence, it’s education. Because the boy was property educated on the use of firearms he was able to protect his two siblings against an armed home invader. Had there not been a gun in the house the boy and his two siblings could very well be dead right now.

Kudos to the boy for defending his family and kudos to the parents for teaching the child how to properly handle a firearm.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 26th, 2012 at 11:30 am

The FCC Just Became Obsolete

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the use of electromagnetic spectrum in the United States. One of the reasons there are so few cell phone service providers in this country is because one must first get a license for spectrum use from the FCC who sell off blocks in auctions, auctions that now end up in the billions of dollars. With spectrum costs so high it’s not surprising that new players don’t enter the market. The FCC claims this regulation is necessary because the alternative would be constant interference as wireless providers used spectrum that another company was using. While this argument isn’t true for various reasons it’s also now technologically irrelevant:

American and Israeli researchers have used twisted, vortex beams to transmit data at 2.5 terabits per second. As far as we can discern, this is the fastest wireless network ever created — by some margin. This technique is likely to be used in the next few years to vastly increase the throughput of both wireless and fiber-optic networks.

These twisted signals use orbital angular momentum (OAM) to cram much more data into a single stream. In current state-of-the-art transmission protocols (WiFi, LTE, COFDM), we only modulate the spin angular momentum (SAM) of radio waves, not the OAM. If you picture the Earth, SAM is our planet spinning on its axis, while OAM is our movement around the Sun. Basically, the breakthrough here is that researchers have created a wireless network protocol that uses both OAM and SAM.

[…]

According to Thide, OAM should allow us to twist together an “infinite number” of conventional transmission protocols without using any more spectrum. In theory, we should be able to take 10 (or 100 or 1000 or…) WiFi or LTE signals and twist them into a single beam, increasing throughput by 10 (or 100 or 1000 or…) times.

Humans have a propensity to find more efficient methods of utilizing scarce resources. That is why regulations that attempt to ration scarce resources are entirely unnecessary and even, in the case of subsidized resources, encourage consumption as current rates using current technology. This story is another demonstration of humans overcoming a limitation without needing to resort to legislative control.

Human ingenuity: 1, government control: 0.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 26th, 2012 at 11:00 am

Where do School Boards Come Up with this Stuff

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The biggest issue with central planning is the fact no person can know what another truly wants. When central planners do get their way unintended consequences are always soon to follow. Take the recent story where a school board in Buffalo, New York decided it would be a jolly good idea to ban sunscreen:

School leaders in Washington State and other parts of the country have said the regulations are needed, because kids could have an allergic reaction or other medical condition as a result of the sunscreen use.

In a little twist of irony the school board banned sunscreen over concerns of students having allergic reactions without stopping to think that some people have allergic reactions to sunlight. As one of these unfortunate soles you’ll never find me with a tan and when I am going to be exposed to sunlight for any notable length of time I always make sure I put on plenty of sunscreen. Even people who aren’t allergic to sunlight don’t tend to react well to overexposure:

There’s outrage nationwide over a school’s policy in Washington State that caused two young girls to get severely sunburned, and that could have an impact here locally.

Sisters Violet and Zoe Michener of Tacoma, Washington arrived home from school last week with severe burns, after the school denied them access to sunscreen. They were out in the blistering sun for several hours during the annual field day event.

Did this possibility never cross the minds of the school board members who banned sunscreen? You would think there would be one member with enough brains to say, “Hey guys, humans invented sunscreen because we don’t react well to sunlight. If we ban sunscreen kids are going to get severely burned and it’ll probably result in a lawsuit against the school.”

If a student is allergic to sunblock then it is up to their parents to ensure the kid doesn’t wear it. Punishing every student because there might be one that has an adverse reaction to something is idiotic.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 26th, 2012 at 10:30 am

Some Lessons are Hard to Learn

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Last month news came from Massachusetts that an attempt would be made by the local Republican Party to unseat Ron Paul delegates. They made their move:

But earlier this month, Kenney was one of 17 delegates and alternates disqualified by a Republican committee deciding who gets to represent Massachusetts Republicans at the national convention in Tampa. Kenney and others had failed to deliver in time an affidavit swearing, under the penalty of perjury, that they would support Mitt Romney’s nomination for president.

An affidavit is never mentioned in the Republican Party’s rules for selecting delegates and has never been required of delegates in the past, GOP critics say. Suspicions are steep this year because Kenney and the others are supporters of Ron Paul, the libertarian candidate whose quixotic campaign for president culminated in an effort to take over state caucuses nationwide. The delegates must vote for Romney, based on his strong primary win in Massachusetts, but Paul’s supporters hope to use the convention to draw attention to his agenda, including auditing the Federal Reserve and requiring wars to be declared by Congress.

What can I say? This was the only outcome I was expecting. The Republican Party, like any political entity, has a long list of forgotten rules that can be pulled out whenever the need to suppress an attempted party hijacking occurs. While it sounds like the signing of these affidavits hasn’t been enforced previously it was likely a convenient rule to pull out at this point in time as it stood a high likelihood of unseating some Paul delegates. Some good has come out of this, more people are starting to realize what politics really is:

“I’ve been rudely awakened to the realities of politics,” Kenney said. “I feel I’ve been cheated.”

Welcome to politics son, it’s the art of cheating, stealing, and using force. This is why libertarians suck at politics, we generally have little interest in forcing others to obey our decrees so we’re not familiar with the processes needed to accomplish such goals. Politics is similar to Global Thermonuclear War, the only winning move is not to play.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 26th, 2012 at 10:00 am

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Under the Radar Gun Control

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Perhaps there was more to Obama’s comment about working on gun control under the radar than I first thought. Fast and Furious has blown wide open and evidence shows that the operation was, at least in part, about advancing gun control. Now we have a slightly stranger story about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) moving in to attack a gun range. What’s interesting is how desperate the charges appear to be:

Among the “violations” noted in the citation: An instructor on the range wore Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Earmuffs, which allegedly provided insufficient noise protection. (p. 11). I’ve never used the Howard Leight brand, but I have used electronic muffs from Peltor and from Dillon. Electronic muffs are the perfect choice for hearing protection and range safety, especially for an instructor. When the muffs detect a sound spike, they instantly shut down, reducing the noise to a comfortable level. Unlike passive muffs, electronic muffs do not block sound at other times, so it is much easier for the instructor to communicate with students, and to hear everything going on in the area. Indeed, normal sounds (but not gunshots) can be amplified by the muff’s electronics, if the user so chooses.

I have these exact same ear muffs, as do several people I know. They are sufficient for me and I have rather sensitive hearing so I see no grounds for claiming they offer insufficient protection. The charges get even more silly from there:

Here’s another violation: “A gun range instructor conducting shooter instruction was observed reaching down on the range floor to collect a loaded handgun cartridge. The employee was not wearing any hand protection such as gloves. The gun range floor was contaminated with lead. The gun had misfired and it required manual cycling of the barrel slide to remove the defective round which then fell on the gun range floor.” (p. 22).

Umm… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up loaded cartridges from the ground without any hand protection. Unless you’re dealing with unjacketed rounds and pick up the cartridge by the bullet there is no chance of lead exposure. If the round does go off (let’s say due to a hang fire) gloves aren’t going to protect your hand from the shrapnell. The idiocy of this violation can’t even begin to be explained.

What’s more worrisome is the fact OSHA has the ability to find a workplace because of employee actions. OSHA should have no way in what an individual does. If an individual is stupid enough not to wear hearing protection (or is deaf and not in need of hearing protection) that’s their business. Even though most employers have restrictions against such actions there isn’t always a boss to watch the employees so they can violate posted safety rules, it shouldn’t fall on the shoulders of employers when that happens.

With “violations” like those mentioned above it would be a trivial matter for OSHA to shutdown any firing range. Many ranges aren’t able to eat a $111,000 fine and a return by the OSHA thug would certainly net the exact same “violations” as they are unavoidable (especially the “violation” of picking up an unfired cartridge). Of course having such actions be finable offenses is great if your goal is to shut a range down, which I’m betting is part of the motivation behind the current set of charges.

They’re the Only Ones Violent Enough to Beat Lawful Carry Permit Holders

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The state likes to protect its monopoly on violence so they periodically take it upon themselves to seek out challengers and initiate violence against them. That appears to be the motive of Minneapolis police officers in Zachary King’s case:

Zachary King says he was walking to his car when police noticed his gun in his waist band. He claims he told police he had a permit to carry, but they still attacked him.

King suffered a concussion after five officers beat him on Father’s Day night. King says video of the assault was taken by a bystander. He says it all started when police noticed a bulge near his waist band.

“I have my conceal and carry, and it’s my gun. And soon as I said that he grabbed me by my neck, slammed me against the wall, snatched my gun out the holster, started waving it in the air saying ‘gun, gun, gun,’” said King.

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King says officers eventually went for his back pocket and his wallet to get his weapons permit.

“And he goes like this to show them that I have my card and they stopped beating me,” said King.

With that said King’s past is brought up in the story as he has had previous run ins with the police:

King’s attorney, Mike Patton, says his client was arrested, jailed and not charged for recording police back in April that allegedly showed abuse of power.

Recording the police isn’t a crime in Minnesota so this is entirely irrelevant as far as King’s character is concerned.

He was also acquitted of manslaughter in 2008 after his pit bull mauled to death his 7-year-old son.

This is the more damning thing against King’s character but I believe it to be irrelevant to his current situation. King was acquitted of charges so this wasn’t a crime and we also don’t have any information to go on regarding the case. Did King’s son abuse the dog? Was King even around when it happened? Either way this isn’t relevant to his current predicament although it’s going to be used against him in all likelihood.

Speaking of pasts, let’s touch on the Minneapolis Police Department’s (MPD). MPD isn’t known for being, shall we say, upstanding. This is the same department that established a Gang Task Force that was allowed to run wild, steal private property, and extort money from individual. The main difference between King’s past and MPD’s past is the fact MPD was actually found guilty of misdeeds.

Overall, this could be an interesting case to watch.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 25th, 2012 at 11:00 am