Archive for June, 2014
It’s time again to point out how futile the concept of gun control really is. I’ve discussed 3D printed firearms because they’re a neat demonstration of how manufacturing technology is advancing. But guns have been around for hundreds of years so it’s safe to say that manufacturing them isn’t too difficult. The Firearm Blog has a post about a semi-automatic pistol made from sheet metal. It’s an ugly looking thing but it supposedly works and the blueprints are available [PDF] for download.
What’s nice about this design is the simplicity of manufacture. Sheet metal can for the most part be shaped with hand tools. Although I doubt that this gun is terribly accurate it doesn’t have to be if used correctly (as in used at short ranges).
One of my favorite folk metal bands, Eluveitie, is cooking up a new album. To signify this the band has released a new single, King. I’m digging it. King seems to emphasize the folk instruments and death metal vocals. Needless to say I dig it:
I’m a fan of wrist-mounted time measuring devices (commonly referred to as watches). Although my true passion lies in mechanical watches I do have a great deal of interest in smartwatches. I own a Pebble and find it to be surprisingly useful. It’s obviously a first generation (at least this time around, I did have a watch made by Fossil that ran PalmOS back in the day) device and I’ve been looking forward to seeing where the market heads to next. Of all the newly announced smartwatches Google’s Moto 360 is the most interesting to me. It seems to be a well thought out design and I was thinking about picking one up but Google, in my opinion, failed in one department: size:
The round watch is about 46 mm in diameter. That sounds big — I have a 42 millimeter watch that I consider large — but Wicks made a good point. If the watch was rectangular, it would feel and be even bigger with a 46 millimeter face, with the corners cutting into wrists
46mm? Wow! That’s way too large for my girl-ass wrists. Big watches are all the craze today, which can make finding a watch difficult for me since anything over 40mm begins to look stupid, but it would be nice if Google made the Moto 360 in a more reasonable size. According to the article Google believes women will be willing to buy a 46mm watch but I’m not so sure. Some women do buy larger watches but from what I’ve seen most continue to wear small watches.
One of the things Pebble got right was the form factor. The Pebble isn’t overly large. It uses a display that sips power so the small battery can still provide between five and seven days of juice. With a color touchscreen I believe Google had to increase the Moto 360’s overall size to get a battery large enough to keep the display powered for an extended period of time.
It will be interesting to see if the Moto 360 takes off. I’m not sure if the gargantuan size will hurt or help sales. But I can say for certain that the technology is really cool.
I have to say that the statists over at Salon really confuse me. Via Gun Free Zone I had the opportunity to read this attempt at fear mongering by Salon. The author tries to argue that gun owners are terrorizing the nation but his opening paragraph presents a different story:
Here is a truth so fundamental that it should be self-evident: When legitimately constituted state authority stands down in the face of armed threats, the very foundation of the republic is in danger. And yet that is exactly what happened at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch this spring: An alleged criminal defeated the cops, because the forces of lawlessness came at them with guns — then Bureau of Land Management officials further surrendered by removing the government markings from their vehicles to prevent violence against them.
I’m not a big fan of Cliven Bundy. The guy comes off as a self-righteous asshole to me. But to claim he did anything wrong by trying to defend land against a marauding gang is pretty stupid. What the author claims to be a “legitimately constituted state authority”, a phrase that in of itself is oxymoronic, is nothing more than a gang of thugs roaming around claiming everything within an imaginary set of lines on a map as its own.
The author is trying to making the argument that Bundy, by managing to make the state reconsider its usual brutish tactics, terrorized America. But the “legitimately constituted state authority” has been terrorizing America, and the rest of the world, for over 250 years. George Washington himself marched an armed force against a handful of whiskey producers because they failed to pay Washington’s gang protection money. Today the tradition continues. If you do something the state doesn’t like it sends armed thugs after you in an attempt to intimidate you. Growing a little cannabis? You may find your home being raided by armed thugs at two in the morning who start by burning your child with a flashbang (an article in Salon about real terrorism) and shooting your dog. Exceeding the arbitrarily posted maximum speed? Expect a road pirate to pull you over, walk up to your car, and demand you pay his gang protection money or face potential kidnapping and imprisonment. And God help you if you’re homeless because the state is going to make your life even more of a living hell.
This is the problem with statists. They claim that the gang they support is legitimate. Anybody who crosses their preferred gang is terrorizing “the people”. It’s one of the most idiotic arguments that has ever been muttered because “the people” are being terrorized by the statist’s preferred gang.
The Red Cross is a popular charity but I won’t give a dime to the organization. There are just too many red flags indicating that the Red Cross is a nothing more than a money making scam for the people at the top. But the most recent information to come to light really demonstrates how much of a scam the organization is:
The documents include “internal and proprietary methodology and procedures for fundraising, confidential information about its internal operations, and confidential financial information,” wrote Gabrielle Levin of Gibson Dunn in a letter to the attorney general’s office.
If those details were disclosed, “the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross’s business model for an increased competitive advantage,” Levin wrote.
I’m curious who the Red Cross considers its competitors. Supposedly its purpose is to help those in need. That would indicate that its competitors are other organizations whose purpose is to help those in need. In other words the Red Cross doesn’t want other organizations helping those in need. All of this indicates to me that the Red Cross is primarily worried about raking in as much money as possible.
Talk about an organization run by assholes. You have to be a special kind of dick to sucker people into giving you money under the belief you are going to use it to help people.
Do you have $600,000 a month to burn? Do you hate children or the homeless too much to use it to help them? Do you like to give money to former government goods? If you answered yes to all three I have a deal for you. Keith Alexander, the former head of the National Security Agency (NSA), has a cybersecurity consulting company called IronNet Cybersecurity Incorporated:
Alexander offered to provide advice to Sifma for $1 million a month, according to two people briefed on the talks. The asking price later dropped to $600,000, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiation was private.
$600,000 a month to get security advice from a man who couldn’t stop one consultant from walking off with his agency’s secrets on a thumb driver. Sounds like a good bargain to me!
But Keith’s position is an example of an all too common phenomenon among former government goons. After leaving his post with the state he returns to the private sector to use the knowledge and contacts to rake in massive amounts of cash. It’s why threats to dismiss state goons is so ineffective. They know once they are kicked out of their position they can use the contacts they made while working for the state to become wealthy.
The different tricks and tactics used by law enforcement agencies to bypass data access laws are always amusing to read about. But the recent trick used by Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams in Massachusetts deserves special recognition:
As it turns out, a number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board, which is usually made up of police chiefs from member police departments.
Some of these LECs have also apparently incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations. And it’s here that we run into problems. According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that the 501(c)(3) status means that they’re private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they’re immune from open records requests.
My favorite part about government transparency laws getting passed isn’t the laws got passed but the scams developed by the government to ignore them. This particular scam is especially clever. By being private organizations these SWAT teams are immune from any and all government transparency laws.
Fans of history will likely have a long list of scams developed by individuals, corporations, and non-governmental organized crime syndicates. But time and time again the state manages to outdo all of those other petty scam artists. I guess having a monopoly on both writing and enforcing laws helps.
Hear ye, hear ye, all subjects of the realm. His majesty, our king, Barack Obama will be here in Minnesota for two days. In recognition of his gloriousness both parks that he’s speaking at will be entirely shutdown in addition to the roads he will grace with his presence:
For starters, access to the boat launch was shut down at 10 p.m. Wednesday. And starting early Friday, no boats will be allowed on the lake. That means people who have sailboats there won’t be allowed to access them.
A playground, a beach, the rose garden and trails will be closed, as well as the restaurant next to the Band Shell.
Obama arrives in the Twin Cities early Thursday afternoon and will take part in an invitation-only town hall about 2 p.m. at Minnehaha Park, which will also be essentially shut down. Several roads near both parks also will be closed.
That was me trying to poke a little fun at the fact that one man has the power to shutdown entire parks and inconvenience the people who are forced to pay for them. It’s annoying but not the end of the world. This part, well, this part crosses the line:
People who live near the Band Shell, where Obama will speak Friday, will have to be escorted to and from their homes that morning.
On Friday, police will escort homeowners on Queen Avenue S. between 40th Street and 42nd Street to and from their homes from early morning through the end of the event.
Every reader knows how I feel about violence. I abhor it. But if some piece of shit in a cheap suit thinks they are going to escort me to and from my home they’re going to get a rude awakening when my fist makes contact with their face. There are some lines you do not cross. Making me a prisoner in my own home and requiring me to beg for permission to come and go as I please is one of them. I will not tolerate such bullshit. Fortunately for the Secret Service I don’t live there because if I did I would make it a point to walk around my neighborhood without permission or an escort.
Welcome to the freest country on Earth.
There are approximately five billion different branches of anarchism. I can find some kind of common ground with most of them but one branch that I do not understand is anarcho-primitivism. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, anarcho-primitivism advocates the abandonment of all technology. In other words they want a massive amount of starvation and disease. In fact it’s such a shitty philosophy that its own proponents don’t live by it:
VICE: You advocate for all of civilization to abandon technology and return to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. How do you feel about the Skype call that we’re having right now?
John Zerzan: I was on the Art Bell show years ago and he kept saying that to be consistent with my philosophy, I should live in a cave. I said, “Yeah, you’re right, but then this conversation wouldn’t be possible.” You have to try to connect with people. You have to be part of the conversation in society or else you’re not serious.
So, is that the only reason that you don’t go live in the wilderness?
Well, I guess so, although I would have to say that, like most people, I’m pretty damned domesticated. I enjoy when I’m out there, but I’m not as equipped as some people.
Have you had periods where you have lived off the grid?
Not really, though I’ve gone to the mountains for a few days at a time.
That last answer really gets me. Mr. Zerzan believes that we should all abandon technology and live off of the grid. But he admittedly has never done any such thing. If you’re going to advocate for something you should probably try to abide by it. The irony of most self-proclaimed anarcho-primitivists is that they spend a lot of time online instead of hunting and gathering food and sleeping in a cave.
As I’m a fan of saying, this new future we live in is awesome. Prosthetics have always been limited by the fact that they couldn’t actually be controlled by our brain like natural limbs can be. Many different mechanisms have been designed to allow prosthetics to mimic much of the utility of our natural limbs but in the arm and hand department these mechanisms have always been limited. But the future is now and prosthetics capable of being controlled by the brain are making their way to market:
So a Maple Grove clinic, Advanced Arm Dynamics, reached out and helped him get a surgery that would change his life once more.
It works by re-energizing the nerves in Jirak’s shoulder to send messages to electrodes in the prosthesis, letting his brain tell his arm how to move.
Pat Prigge is a prosthetist with Advance Arm Dynamics.
“So, when Mike is thinking about opening and closing his hand, his brain is sending signals down the right pathway, and he’s opening and closing his hand in his brain, too. So, that’s a big deal,” Prigge said.
After a fifteen and a half hour surgery at Mayo, Prigge helped prep Jirak for his new arm.
“It’s not for the faint at heart. He’s been doing rehab now with us for a year,” Prigge said. And it’s working.
That’s really cool. It will probably take some time before we can create prosthetics that have the same capabilities as our natural limbs but we’re on the correct path. After we master that we can make prosthetics that exceed our natural limbs and then we’ll have full-blown Deus Ex, which will be awesome!