A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for May, 2014

Open Carry Texas Strikes Again

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File this under the With Friends Like This Who Needs Enemies category. Hot on the heels of convincing Chipotle to request gun owners not carry their firearms into its stores Open Carry Texas went to work convincing Chili’s to consider the same:

Chili’s is reviewing its policy on guns in its restaurants after a pro-gun group upset diners by bringing rifles to one of its Texas locations.

The restaurant chain’s statement comes just days after another cadre of Texas activists, also carrying guns, prompted Chipotle to issue a statement telling customers that guns aren’t welcome at any of its locations.

Chili’s isn’t going that far yet, but the idea is on the table. “Given the recent attention to open carry laws, we are evaluating our policy to ensure we provide a safe environment for our guests and team members,” a spokeswoman for Brinker International, Chili’s parent company, told The Huffington Post.

Although it’s futile I will point out that Chili’s, like Chipotle, is a business interested in making money. Becoming a battleground for political issues is a detrimental to that mission. If you pick a side or even appear as though you’re thinking about maybe picking a side you’re likely to piss of approximately half of your customer base.

Luckily for us gun rights activists Open Carry Texas has officially revamped its activism strategy, which means the number of incidents like this will hopefully go down. But let this be a lesson to anybody involved in a political battle, leave anybody who doesn’t ask to be involved out of it.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 28th, 2014 at 10:30 am

Net Neutrality for Libertarians

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Net neutrality is a hot topic in libertarian circles. May libertarians mistakenly see net neutrality as another unwelcome intrusion of the state into the free market. It’s not that uncommon of a trap for libertarians to fall for. When they see a battle that appears to be private enterprise versus government they instinctively side with private enterprise. But net neutrality isn’t a debate between private enterprise and government regulations. It’s merely government regulations versus government regulations.

The mistake lies in seeing businesses like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast as private enterprises. In reality they are where they are today thanks to special privileges granted to them by the state. AT&T and Verizon, for example, have government granted monopolies over a lot of wireless spectrum and Comcast enjoys near or outright monopolies in many areas thanks to government control over who can build networking infrastructure where. Many states even have restrictions against municipalities providing Internet service because of Internet service provider (ISP) lobbying efforts.

But that’s not all. At one time telephone companies were the primarily ISPs. But ISPs have become content providers and content providers have become ISPs. I believe this is what really sparked the net neutrality war. Companies with monopolies on a great deal of copyrighted material suddenly found a way to further exploit that monopoly by controlling what their ISP customers can access. Comcast can leverage its licensed monopolies on a lot of entertainment content by charging competitors such as Netflix an inflated rate that makes it untenable for Comcast customers to utilize Netflix. And if you just download the content from alternate sources (such as BitTorrent) you’re in violation of the law because you don’t have a license for that monopolized content.

What more libertarians should focus on is the fact that there is no free market in providing Internet access. Only those granted permission by the state can do so. And much of the content that makes the Internet valuable is controlled by a handful of ISPs that will happily withhold said content unless you’re getting Internet access through them.

In other words no matter who wins we lose. Losing net neutrality won’t be a win for the free market and keeping it will mean more government control over something that has had too much government control over it. What is truly needed is the destruction of the monopolies on content and infrastructure, which isn’t going to happen through the political process (since the content providers/ISPs have such effective lobbying efforts).

Written by Christopher Burg

May 28th, 2014 at 10:00 am

No Honor Amongst Thieves

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With the number of laws on the books the state has to fast track as many cases as it can. Fast track, in this instance, refers to the practice of offering lesser sentences in exchanges for a guilty plea. This is commonly referred to as a plea bargain and is often chosen by those facing prosecution because the guarantee of 18 months in a cage beats the possibility of 50 years. But there’s no honor amongst thieves so even if you take the plea bargain you may not get the lesser sentence:

A 16-year-old Utah boy was sentenced earlier this month to up to 15 years in a maximum security prison after a judge changed the terms of a plea agreement.

Cooper Van Huizen pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree felony robbery for his role in a home invasion late last year.

The teen, who had no prior criminal history, and his parents believed the plea deal would result in 180 days in jail.

But District Judge Ernie Jones told Van Huizen at the May 7 sentencing hearing he believed the terms recommended by prosecutors and the probation board were “too soft” and instead sent the boy to Utah State Prison for one to 15 years.

Never make a deal with the devil state because it, like all disreputable individuals, cannot be trusted to honor its side of the bargain. The darker part of my kind of hopes that this type of behavior becomes more common amongst judges. I feel that the plea bargaining system has put a lot of innocent people in prison and enabled the state to prosecute more people than it could if it had to bring each suspect to trail. If more judges changed the terms of plea bargains it would encourage people to take their case to trail, which would increase the state’s costs for prosecuting. On the other hand I would like to see this judge be disbarred for failing to honor his team’s side of the bargain.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 27th, 2014 at 11:00 am

The Greenwald Orbital Ion Cannon

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Depending on how comprehensive this list is this latest release by Gleen Greenwald could effectively be the orbital ion cannon strike in the war against the National Security Agency (NSA):

Glenn Greenwald, one of the reporters who chronicled the document dump by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden via the U.K. press, now said he’s set to publish his most dramatic piece yet: The names of those in the United States targeted by the NSA.

“One of the big questions when is comes to domestic spying is, ‘Who have been the NSA’s specific targets?’ Are they political critics and dissidents and activists? Are they genuinely people we’d regard as terrorists? What are the metrics and calculations that go into choosing those targets and what is done with the surveillance that is conducted? Those are the kinds of questions that I want to still answer,” Mr. Greenwald told The Sunday Times of London.

I’m imagining a list a million names long and am really hoping my name appears somewhere in it. But the list will likely be much shorter than that and may just contain the names of the “important” people the NSA is spying on. Either way it will be interesting to see who’s one it and, hopefully, determine some of the criteria the NSA uses to select targets for espionage.

Regarding the Shooting in California

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Another piece of shit decided he wanted to go out with a bang but didn’t have the common courtesy to go it alone. He took the lives of six people before taking his own and now everybody is clamoring for answers.

Predictably a lot of people are blaming America’s “weak” gun laws. The fact that this occurred in California should who how silly such arguments are. Others are blaming the lack of mental illness screenings. When somebody discovered an effective test for predicting future homicidal behavior please let me know. Until we have such tests the whole idea of mental illness screenings is pretty sketchy. I even found an article that blames the whole incident on misogyny. Because, you know, misogyny leads to murder sprees, or something.

The point is everybody is latching onto whatever piece of the puzzle be helps them push their agenda. But boiling this event down to pet issues misses the big picture, which is unfortunately so complex we’ll likely never fully understand it. All we know for certain is that the events of this murderer’s life combined with his unique mentality made for a lethal combination. I doubt any form of mental illness screening would catch somebody like this solely because the mentalities we consider to be illnesses often don’t show visible signs until a horrible deed has already been committed.

I know it’s a natural reaction to want to do something to prevent horrible deeds from happening in the future. But events perpetrated by a single individual are hard to stop because the dangerous factor is a single individual. As there are roughly seven billion individuals on this planet it’s almost impossible to create a mechanism to stop the darker inhibitions of each and every one of them. Some will claim that such a statement is defeatist in nature and it probably is. But there are things that we as a species cannot do. We cannot propel ourselves to the moon under my own power and we cannot stop individuals for doing heinous things. It sucks but it’s reality.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am

Monday Metal: Nightfall by Xandria

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Unbeknownst to me Xandria came up with a new album. Nightfall is one of the songs off of that album and it sounds like almost everything else Xandria has put out (which is a good thing):

As a side note it’s Memorial Day. I doubt anybody is actually reading this being a holiday and all. That being the case I’m just going to take the day off. Check back tomorrow for more updates.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 26th, 2014 at 10:00 am

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Stupid Questions

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The BBC has an article on so-called smart guns. Overall it’s not a bad article, it mostly covers what a smart gun is, how it works, and the political battle surrounding them. But one very stupid question is put forth:

Can it be hacked?

Yes. When the question is “Can it be hacked?” the answer is always yes. Granted the article does cover some of the ways in which radio-frequency identification (RFID) and biometric authentication systems have been hacked. But the conclusion by the BBC is that we don’t know if the iP1 authentication system can be hacked.

I’m here to tell you that it can be. We don’t know how but we do know it can be. That’s because every authentication system developed by us has been hacked because a security system can only buy time, it can’t entirely stop an unauthorized individual. Being that the RFID device used with the iP1 is new and, as the article explains, hasn’t seen much widespread use there is likely to be a plethora of bugs waiting to be discovered.

It’s likely that there will be a presentation at an upcoming security conference by a guy who figured out how to remotely enable and disable an iP1 from 100 feet away with an off the shelf RFID emulator. Authentication systems rarely survive their initial encounter with the hacker community.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am

Open Carry Texas Revamps Its Strategy

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After brining gun owners the Chipotle fiasco Open Carry Texas has decided to revamp its strategy. Thankfully the revamping looks pretty intelligent:

For all further open carry walks with long guns, we are adopting the following unified protocol and general policy to best ensure meeting our respective legislative mission to legalize open carry:

1) Always notify local law enforcement prior to the walk, especially the day of.
2) Carry Flags and signs during your walk to increase awareness.
3) Carry the long gun on a sling, not held.
4) Do not go into corporate businesses without prior permission, preferably not at all.
5) If asked to leave, do so quietly and do not make it a problem.
6) Do not post pics publicly if you do get permission and are able to OC in a cooperate business.
7) Do not go into businesses with TABC signs posted with a long gun (Ever).
8) If at all possible, keep to local small businesses that are 2A friendly.

Points four and five are the big ones in my opinion. Businesses exist to make money. Anything that potentially interferes with that goal is undesirable. Politics is bad for business. No matter what your political stance is it will probably piss off half of your customer base. That’s why most businesses avoid making political statements, posting political signs, and otherwise be overt about political issues. When gun rights activists try to use a business for political gain it will cause unwanted backlash (as we’ve learned from Starbucks, Jack In The Box, and now Chipotle). Unless specifically invited leave businesses out of politics.

Kudos to Open Carry Texas for admitting it had a problem and doing something about it. Too many political organizations refuse to accept criticism and end up doubling down on their stupidity.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 23rd, 2014 at 10:30 am

My Six Point Plan to Address America’s Political Problems

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Whenever I write something critical about playing party politics there is also some very serious person who asks some variation on “What’s the alternative?” In the past all alternatives I’ve provided have been scoffed at. If I mention voting for third-party candidates they will tell me that third-party candidates can’t win (it’s almost as if they understand the problem of oligarchy but don’t want to quite face it). They claim that agorism, the common alternative I provide, cannot topple the government or if it can the lack of government will lead to chaos. But I’ve finally come up with a six point plan to address this country’s political issues:

  1. Drink a lot of beer
  2. Start a death metal band
  3. Become famous for especially brutal music
  4. Tour the world
  5. Do a lot of hookers and blow
  6. Watch the United States suffer its inevitable collapse from Iceland

This country is fucked. We might as well have a good time and try to watch the fireworks from afar.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am

Why Voting isn’t For Me

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I’ve given up voting. The last presidential election, in which I wrote in Vermin Supreme, was the last election that I plan to vote in. When I say this I’m often met with criticisms from people who believe voting is the way to change things politically. That may be true if your idea of change is to replace a Democratic ruler with a Republican ruler of vice versa but that’s not the type of change I’m trying to accomplish. I came across an essay by one of my leftist anarchist brethren that does a good job of summarizing why I’m done with voting:

To vote is to give up your own power.

To elect a master or many, for a long or short time, is to resign one’s liberty.

Call it an absolute monarch, a constitutional king, or a simple M.P., the candidate that you raise to the throne, to the seat, or to the easy chair, he will always be your master. They are persons that you put “above” the law, since they have the power of making the laws, and because it is their mission to see that they are obeyed.

My goal, politically speaking, is to abolish masters. It’s not a matter of a neoliberal or a neoconservative ruling my life. I’m more than capable of ruling myself thank you very much. The only thing that I ask is that nobody initiate aggression against me and in return I won’t initiate aggression against anybody. We don’t need rulers to dictate this request, common sense and community outcry will do so. There doesn’t need to be men in marble buildings writing decrees against murder because targets of a murderer will defend themselves and members of the target’s family and community will rise to his defense. The same is true of theft, rape, and other acts that involve one individual aggressing against another. Rulers only need exist to write decrees prohibiting behavior that a community won’t itself enforce. In other words rulers only exist to write decrees that a community doesn’t actually want.

Truth be told I don’t care if you choose to vote. That’s your choice. But I’m not going to vote and I don’t give a damn if you think that makes me a bad person.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 22nd, 2014 at 11:30 am