Archive for September, 2014
It’s been apparent for a while that the amount of gun-related articles on this site has decreased. Part of this is because I’ve already covered a lot of topics related to firearms and I don’t like to repeat myself. But the other part is because I’m sick and tired of the fear mongering common in many firearms publications. When making an argument for self-defense you don’t need to delve into fear mongering. Statistics and human behavior provide all of the reasons for legal self-defense that you need. Yet many people in the firearms community demand boogeymen and right now, as is so often the case, that boogeyman is who our masters are telling us to fear: Muslims.
Take this story of the Oklahoma man who entered his former place of work and supposedly beheaded one employee and stabbed another before being shot dead:
Sgt. Jeremy Lewis says the alleged suspect, 30-year-old Alton Nolen had just been fired when he drove to the front of the business, hit a vehicle and walked inside.
He walked into the front office area where he met 54-year-old Colleen Hufford and began attacking her with a knife.
Sgt. Lewis confirms the type of knife used in the attack is the same kind used at the plant.
Lewis confirms that Hufford was stabbed several times and that Nolen “severed her head.”
At that point, Lewis claims Nolen met 43-year-old Traci Johnson and began attacking her with the same knife.
Officials say at that point, Mark Vaughan, an Oklahoma County reserve deputy and a former CEO of the business, shot him as he was actively stabbing Johnson.
As with any story the important part of this one are the actions that occurred during it. Details about the attacker and his history are interesting but there’s seldom irrefutable proof that those details were what lead to his actions. In this case the attacker had a criminal record and was a Muslim convert. You know what that means, make the story about the dangers of Muslims because they’re the new boogeyman. And that’s exactly what some gun publications are doing:
We warned earlier in the week about the threat of “soft target” terrorist attacks by organized terror cells sweeping over our undefended southern border. What we forgot to mention in that missive is the threat of Islamic converts on our own shores, who seem every bit as zealous and dangerous.
Emphasis mine. That’s the opening paragraph to the article. The takeaway seems to be that we, as gun owners, should be afraid of anybody who has converted to Islam, which is a stupid thing to be afraid of. Let’s look at the statistics. There are an estimated 6 to 7 million Muslims in the United States. With such a high population you would think people would be getting murdered by Muslims in this country left and right. But they’re not because Muslims, just like the rest of us, are predominantly nonviolent. Just like any other major religious group, the number of violent individuals within Islam is a minority.
What proof does anybody have that the attacker’s conversion to Islam played any part in his violent actions? Unless concrete evidence exists showing the man’s religious conversion was the reason for his attack implying that it was is speculative at best.
So what should be taken away from the actual story? That predicting when violence will occur is very difficult. This is because violence is often immediate and can happen anywhere. Just because you’re at home or at work doesn’t mean you are shielded from violence. Likewise you usually can’t predict when violence will occur. Any self-defense plan you create should taken these points into consideration. Having a self-defense plan that doesn’t rely on accurately predicting when violence occurs or where it will occur will do you far more good than a plan that relies on such predictions (and that’s why a plan based entirely around avoiding certain areas isn’t very good). Fear mongering encourages people to focus on the details that are seldom useful when developing a self-defense plan. Self-defense plans, being risk management strategies, needs to be developed around solid facts not speculation.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the gun range that decided to ban Muslims from its property. If you want a writeup that includes the names of the range and its owner you can find a good one over at Gun Nuts Media. Needless to say I’m not going to provide the name of the range because I don’t want to give free publicity to a range operated by bigots. In fact I feel kind of dirty even bringing this up because I know the owner is reveling in the publicity stemming from this stunt.
As you know I don’t really care about the legality of this or what the courts might do. The state isn’t in my pantheon of gods so what it might do is irrelevant. What I will say is that this is the kind of shit gun control advocates love to read about. Here we have a story involving a gun owner being a bigot towards and entire group of people. Besides this being a propaganda wet dream for anti-gunners it’s also an example of how fucking gullible some people are.
If you’ve been watching the daily Two Minutes Hate, and I know you are all good citizens of Oceania so you have, you know that Emmanuel Goldstein is a Muslim and therefore we must all hate Muslims. Most of us who have enough intelligence to discern propaganda from reality give little heed to the Two Minutes Hate. But a lot of people, especially self-proclaimed conservatives, lap this shit up and ask for more. They’re probably working on designs for the arm bands they’re planning on making every Muslim wear as a demonstration of their hatred of Goldstein and his religion.
But the truth is that there are roughly 7 billion people on this planet and 1.6 billion of them are Muslim. That’s right, almost a quarter of the entire population of this planet are Muslim. If Islam really was a religion of violence a huge number of us would be dead. But Islam is just like any other major religion, it has some crazies mixed in with a vast majority of good people. So when idiots ban all Muslims from their shooting range they’re really performing an act of collective punishment against a vast number of good people for the actions of a handful of assholes. I really hate bigots and that hatred makes me hope that that shooting range will go bankrupt over this.
This was a pretty hectic weekend. I attended a 3-gun competition at Pine Island on Monday and spent most of the rest of the weekend doing major server upgrades (thanks Shell Shock). Unfortunately that means I didn’t get time to write anything. It also means that this site, which runs on one of my servers, may run like shit for a day or two while I shift virtual machines from physical machine to physical machine as I do upgrades. That also means the site may go down and come back up from time to time. I’m hoping to have all of the upgrades done by Wednesday but it will depend on my available time.
The dust is beginning to settle after the Fappening. For those who haven’t been following along the Fappening involved individuals gaining unauthorized access to nude photos of celebrities stored on Apple’s iCloud service. Earlier this week the Fappeneing was looking to strike again as a website appeared with a countdown. The site claimed that when the countdown reached zero nude photos of Emma Watson would be released. As it turns out the site was a hoax and now there is a debate about whether it was a hoax created by 4chan itself or a marketing company aimed at taking down 4chan. But the mere existence of the site created a shitstorm that has fueled a lot of angry ranting. Most of the ranting can be summarized by the idea that women aren’t safe on the Internet.
First of all let me say that it’s good that people are in an uproar. Data breaches suck but all too often they raise little ire. When they do manage to piss a lot of people off resources get diverted to tighten security. But so long as people aren’t outraged companies are all too happy to let known security issues linger until somebody gets bit in the ass. While Apple has finally taken measure to fix the iCloud vulnerability the damage has been done. The images are out there and there’s no way to remove them since the Internet is forever.
But this situation got me thinking. Stunts like the Fappening are all too easy to pull off because the minor risks involved are seldom dissuasive. To prevent thing like the Fappening from occurring again the risks need to be increased. Most people seem to be aware of this and they have been demanding stronger laws against unauthorized computer access and other state interventions. Let me say that demanding state intervention is pointless. The state doesn’t give a fuck about anybody but itself and its cronies. It will only exploit these situations to gain more power for itself over the Internet without actually address the issue.
What we really need are hackers. As an anarchist I’m a proponent of a compensatory justice system, social ostracization, and outlawry. Suffice to say when it is possible to compensate somebody for a wrong then they should be compensated. If an individual or individuals have a habit of shitty behavior then the community should ostracize them. And if somebody refuses to abide by the laws of society (the natural laws created through spontaneous order, not the decrees issued by the state) they should not receive the protection of the law. For any of this to be possible the identity of the bad actors must be uncovered.
My proposal is complex and revolutionary since it works outside of the state (in fact by the state’s very laws it is illegal as hell). But I put forth that hackers should form organizations with the purpose of identifying bad actors and seeking justice against them. This obviously requires a lot of investigative work and either cooperation from organizations that have suffered data breaches or gaining unauthorized access to their systems to collect forensic information. Once the bad actors have been uncovered justice can be sought. Depending on the severity of the offense justice may entail something as simple as compensation paid to the victim or as complex as attacking any system in that person’s possession with the express purpose of preventing them from gaining access to the Internet. In especially egregious circumstance destruction of their data, credit ratings, and identity may be called for.
In other words I propose we create our own justice system just as stateless societies have in the past. I subscribe to the ideas expressed in the Crypto Anarchist Manifesto. The Internet is the realm of those who use it, not the state. To borrow a page from agorism we need to create our own goods and services and utilize the market to determine where resources should be prioritized. Seeking justice against those who gain unauthorized access to other people’s personal data sounds like a good place to put some resources. And it’s something that people can do. Most of the electrons spilled over the Fappening have been in the form of impotent bitching. Take the article I linked to that claimed women aren’t safe on the Internet. A group of feminist hackers coming together to seek justice against those who wrong women online could create a safer Internet for women. It certainly would accomplish more than complaining has.
Remember the old days when George W. Bush was in office and the anti-war “left” was demonstrating against his war mongering ass? Remember how concerned they were about ending the wars during the 2008 presidential elections? What the fuck happened? After Obama assumed office and proved his war mongering credentials the anti-war “left” didn’t say a peep. In fact many of the people who were demonstrating against Bush’s wars are now supporting Obama’s wars. Salon has turned into one of the biggest war apologist rags out there. For example, it has an article discussion how the neocons have it all wrong about the war against the Islamic State (IS) and that a different approach to murdering Middle Easterners is needed. And, of course, it has an article talking about who profits from the new war. You would think the anti-war “left” would be looking for ways to starve those who profit from the war of resources. But instead of advocating tax protests against the war it annoyed electrons to complain about companies not paying taxes.
These self-proclaimed progressives are a bunch of fucking hypocrites. When the neocons are in power they’re anti-war through and through. But once thier guy is ordering the bombings they become a bunch of apologists. And then when their ideology gets caught between two of their pet issues, opposing war and demanding everybody pay taxes, they always side with whatever will benefit the state even if it means more people dying.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the anti-war “left” and self-proclaimed progressives aren’t leftists. In the traditional left-right political paradigm the people on the left opposed the king while the people on the right supported him. Well if you’re demanding people pay taxes knowing damn well that that money will be used to fund a major surveillance apparatus, a police state, and war efforts then you’re supporting the king and can’t very well call yourself a leftist. If a future election results in a Republican president I don’t want to hear any of these hypocritical fuckwits suddenly protesting the country’s wars. They had their chance when Bush was in office and blew it when they started supporting the wars under Obama. Now we know their true faces, which are dyed in the wool supporters of the king.
Can you guess what I was doing last night? If you guessed upgrading my servers you’re correct. The hits just keep on coming this year. Earlier there was a nasty exploit in the OpenSSL library, which a huge amount of software relies on, that allowed attackers to read arbitrary chunks of memory from a targeted server. Now a vulnerability in the Bourne Again Shell (Bash) has tossed a monkey wrench into the works as it allows the remote execute of commands:
Let me start with the CVE from NIST vulnerability database because it gives a good sense of the severity (highlight mine):
GNU Bash through 4.3 processes trailing strings after function definitions in the values of environment variables, which allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted environment, as demonstrated by vectors involving the ForceCommand feature in OpenSSH sshd, the mod_cgi and mod_cgid modules in the Apache HTTP Server, scripts executed by unspecified DHCP clients, and other situations in which setting the environment occurs across a privilege boundary from Bash execution.
They go on to rate it a “10 out of 10” for severity or in other words, as bad as it gets. This is compounded by the fact that it’s easy to execute the attack (access complexity is low) and perhaps most significantly, there is no authentication required when exploiting Bash via CGI scripts. The summary above is a little convoluted though so let’s boil it down to the mechanics of the bug.
In the industry that is what we call bad news. So who’s vulnerable? Anybody using a system with a vulnerable version of Bash installed. Since Bash is an extremely popular shell amongst UNIX systems, including being the default shell in many Linux distributions and Apple OS X, there’s a lot of exploitable systems out there. But Microsoft users get to sit this one out.
If you run Linux updates Bash immediately. Apple hasn’t released a fix for this exploit yet but if you have Xcode installed you can compile a patched version of Bash or you can use Homebrew or Macports to install a newer version of Bash. And if you run a UNIX server and haven’t upgraded your system yet you better get your ass in gear.
If there’s one thing to say about Obama it’s that his legacy will go down in the history books. Specifically it will go down in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most countries bombed by a Nobel Peace Prize recipient:
The U.S. today began bombing targets inside Syria, in concert with its lovely and inspiring group of five allied regimes: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan.
I think it’s going to be a while before another person is able to beat this world record. Speaking of Obama’s pre-presidential anti-war legacy, he has also been urging people to support war:
On the eve of Sept. 11, President Barack Obama on Wednesday made a prime-time plea for Americans to support an open-ended war on the brutal fighters of the Islamic State — an escalating Middle East campaign with ill-defined conditions for victory and a timetable that will likely take it into his successor’s term.
This is what happens when you hand a Nobel Peace Prize to somebody who didn’t actually do anything to further peace. If you remember Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for not being Bush. How ironic that Obama has turned out to be George W. Bush II.
Just because some assholes was inconsiderate of your feelings and assaults you doesn’t mean you have to be inconsiderate to them. Old Hickory, Tennessee is home to an individual who knows how to let bygones be bygones after the dust settles:
The man, identified as Joshua Dobson, apparently got into an argument with his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, identified as Michael Young over the well being of the girlfriend’s child, of whom Young is the father.
That escalated into Young coming to Dobson’s home, with another man, identified as Troy Weiss. Weiss and Young assaulted Dobson. Fortunately, Dobson was armed and able to open fire on the pair of suspects, striking Weiss twice.
Dobson then grabbed a medical kit from his home and began performing first aid on Weiss. Once he was stabilized, Dobson drove him to the hospital.
Now that’s a great example of not letting your anger get the best of you. And rendering first aid to an aggressor would be interesting from a judicial standpoint. I’m curious if it would help you case since one could argue that you were likely a reluctant participant on account of your lack of desire to see the guy dead. Obviously I’m not a lawyer and don’t even play one on TV, I’m just tossing the thought out there.
Either way it was very kind of Mr. Dobson to get his attackers to the hospital. I commend those who show great mercy to their foes after the threat has ceased.
Apple made a major design oversight with its latest iPhone. It seems that the phone does not get along with skinny jeans:
It was only a matter of time before the monstrosity known as the iPhone 6 Plus started causing problems. Today, word is getting out that the 5.5-inch phone may be vulnerable to unplanned situational curvature.
In other words, the phones are bending, and they’re not supposed to bend. They bend because people are putting them in their pockets, then sitting down, which is a reasonable thing to do. Call it Apple’s #Bendghazi, if you will. Or #Bendgate
This entire fiasco is pretty funny to me because I wear tactical mall ninja pants. My pockets are literally large enough to stuff .308 magazines into. There’s so much extra room in most of my pockets that I can sit down comfortably with .308 magazines stuffed into them. Nothing presses tightly against my skin and therefore isn’t likely to bend. But the trend today seems to be tighter and tighter pants with vestigial pockets that, like the front limbs on a Tyrannosaurs Rex, are technically there but functionally useless.
OK, I’m half joking there. I’m sure many of the iPhone 6s that have been bent weren’t left half hanging out of a vestigial pocket on a pair of skinny jeans. The real problem here is that people got exactly what they wished for. That is to say people have been demanding thinner phones with larger displays. While this sounds like a great combination you run into the real structural limitations. Namely the materials that make up a phone; glass, plastic, and aluminum; aren’t flexible but if you make them too thin they also aren’t strong enough to resist much force. Combine that with a larger surface area to exert force against and you have the recipe for a pretty flimsy piece of shit.
Be careful what you wish for because you may just get it.
When you discuss self-defense tools it’s inevitable that what you use is wrong. There is only one valid set of self-defense tools and that’s the set I personally use! At least that’s how the conversation usually goes whenever I see it crop up. A recent blog post explaining why the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) chose the 9mm has rekindled the defensive caliber wars. Once again we have the “Why carry anything other than 9mm” crowd arguing with the “Everybody should carry a caliber that starts with .4” crowd.
I got drawn into this conversation because, well, I like to troll. My daily carry gun is a Glock 30SF, which is Glock’s sub-compact .45 for those who don’t know. When I mentioned this in the conversation somebody asked why I’m stupid enough to “carry a 100 year-old round?” Setting aside the fact that the 9mm is older than the .45 I fully admit that my choice of defensive rounds is anachronistic. Resources for handgun ammunition research and development is predominantly going towards making a better 9mm. If you want the best modern research can provide in your handgun then you should go with 9mm. Combine this with the fact that handgun ballistics suck regardless of the caliber you use and it’s much smarter to have more small rounds in the gun than fewer larger rounds (to a point obviously, a .22 wouldn’t be my go-to defensive caliber).
So why do I carry a .45 when I admit that a 9mm would be a better choice? Because I like the .45. It’s that simple. And since I’m not constantly involved in gunfights or am likely to be in a situation where having 16 rounds instead of 11 rounds will be the defining factor in whether or not I survive I feel as though I can choose my caliber based heavily on personal preference. While the 9mm is a great handgun cartridge, one that I would argue is superior to the .45, it just doesn’t have that timeless feel, at least for an American like myself, as the .45.
The bottom line is I like anachronisms and combining old with new. I wear mechanical wristwatches, my go-to rifle is an AR chambered in .308, most of my code is written with command line tools, and my toothbrush isn’t electric. On the other hand my wristwatches are made of superior modern materials, go-to rifle is chambered in .308 but based on a more modern platform, code is written using a modern computer with a modern operating system, and manually operated toothbrush has been designed for superior plaque removal. Likewise I choose to carry a .45 but have it loaded in a more modern tactical Tupperware pistol (I like the 1911 but it’s heavier, more expensive, and has more sharp angles to dig into my side).
This justification throws most tactical Tommies into a fit of impotent Internet rage and that amuses me. I guess the fact that my defensive plan doesn’t revolve around what is objectively best and instead takes into consideration what I personally prefer is some kind of mortal sin. And admittedly my plan is unlikely to save my life if the Golden Horde invades the Twin Cities. But I’m happy with what I carry, like to shoot it and therefore practice with it regularly (huge plus side to carrying what I personally prefer), and am covered for a vast majority of defensive situations I’m likely to encounter. Life is too short to throw personal preference to the wind and one can strike a balance between the bestest tools evar and the tools they prefer for reasons unrelated to self-defense.
I also realize that this post, along with other self-defense posts I’ve written, will been seen as bad self-defense advise by many others. Let me make a preemptive rebuttal to those people. Nowhere have I ever claimed to be a good source of self-defense advice. I’m not a certified anything outside of the computer industry and have never claimed to be. The number of defensive situations I’ve been involved in can be counted on the fingers of a double arm amputee. And I’ve never claimed this blog to be anything other than a giant opinion piece. What I offer here is an insight into my thought process when developing a defensive plan in the hopes it helps others think about their defensive plan from a different angle (because the more angles you approach something from the better the overall plan is likely to be).