A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for July, 2015

Monday Metal: Warriors Revenge By Grave Digger

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There’s no school like old school so here’s some Grave Digger:

Written by Christopher Burg

July 27th, 2015 at 10:00 am

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Bring Back Trials By Ordeal And Trials By Combat

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Jeffry Tucker wrote an entertaining piece advocating for different ways to judge political candidates. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to find new ways of judging political candidates because rhetoric and philosophy are so lacking in the modern political sphere that using them as judging metrics is futile. Us Americans can’t even enjoy the witty banter people in Britain are fortunate enough to experience.

Because Ticker is nice he proposed things like spelling bees, Mario Kart competitions, beer pong, and hackathons. I, on the other hand, am a bit more ruthless. Here’s a question for everybody reading this, did any of you watch Thunderdome, The Running Man, or Death Race and think the bloody competitions they portrayed would make excellent alternatives to voting for selecting politicians? I did, which is why I propose bringing back trail by ordeal for judging politicians and trial by combat for choosing which ones get put into office.

Let’s face it, elections are pointless this day and age, especially for the presidential election. Look at all of the currently announced presidential candidates. They’re shit. Not one of them is fit to lead a lemming over a cliff (that’s not to say I wouldn’t like to see them try) let alone a nation. Is anybody excited about heading to the polls to cast a vote for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, or Hillary Clinton? I’m sure somebody is but almost everybody I have talked to has aligned themselves with the candidate they think sucks slightly less than the others.

Now ask yourself, would you like to see each candidate be submitted to a trial of boiling water, where they must each reach into a kettle of boiling water to retrieve a stone? How about an ordeal of fire where each candidate is required to walk, say, 100 yards (because no other country uses the length of a football field as a standard unit of measurement) over hot coals? If you answered “No,” I know you’re either the candidates themselves or you’re lying. Screw the caucus system. Trail by ordeal would be the perfect way to select each party’s presidential nominee.

After the nominees have been selected we could move to trail by combat. Who wouldn’t want to see Ted Cruz or Donald Trump in a cage match against Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton? Maybe we could setup a Thunderdome and give supporters one final chance to support their preferred candidate by handing them weapons. We could even pay-per-view the event to help pay down the national deficit!

I honestly see no reason trials by ordeal and trials by combat wouldn’t work just as well as elections for choosing politicians. In fact it’s a far superior method since we wouldn’t subjected to losers constantly trying to run again (who isn’t sick of seeing Huckabee run). And third parties would stand a fair chance of winning. See? It’s a win-win.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 24th, 2015 at 11:00 am

Verification Is The Reason Why Random People Standing In Front Of Recruitment Centers Isn’t A Viable Security Model

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Yesterday I noted that even an imbecile with a sightless AR-pattern pistol is an effective response to an active shooter situation. Less somebody mistake that statement as a blanket approval of armed individuals taking it upon themselves to stand guard uninvited over military recruitment centers let me discuss why such a security model isn’t viable. The Army has been telling its recruiters to treat random armed watchmen as potential threats and its right to do so:

WASHINGTON — The Army has warned its recruiters to treat the gun-toting civilians gathering at centers across the country in the wake of the Chattanooga, Tenn., shooting as a security threat.

Soldiers should avoid anyone standing outside the recruiting centers attempting to offer protection and report them to local law enforcement and the command if they feel threatened, according to a U.S. Army Recruiting Command policy letter issued Monday.

Effective security relies on effective threat modeling. When the threat model is an active shooter the most effective response is an armed individual able to provide resistance. Before an active shooting begins the threat model is different because the potential attacker still isn’t known. Under that model you must assume everybody who isn’t trusted is a potential attacker (trusted individuals could be potential attackers as well, which is why you need redundancies). How do the recruiters know that the person who took it upon themselves to stand watch isn’t actually planning to shoot the place up? They don’t.

This is why nobody, whether they be tasked with securing a top secret military facility or a bar, puts any random schmuck who volunteers on guard duty. Verification is required before somebody can be trusted to provide security services. Bars need to know that their bouncers are going to verify patrons’ ages instead of take payouts to let high school students in. Businesses need to know the person at the front desk isn’t a member of a gang of thieves planning to rob the place. Military recruiters need to know that the person at the front isn’t a copycat wanting to take out some military personnel.

The most effective defense against a potential shooter is arming the individuals you trust to be on your property. As I stated in yesterday’s article, responding to an active shooter doesn’t require training beyond being able to send rounds towards the shooter. Response time is the critical factor so the more armed individuals on site the faster the situation will likely be resolved. But the armed individuals must be trusted to be a viable part of your security model otherwise you can’t know if they’re going to be a defender or aggressor until the attack is underway.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 24th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Rand Paul Supports Having A Powerful Federal Government

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It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Rand Paul. Unlike his father, Rand is an inconsistent man that sways whatever way the political winds are blowing. His supporters, or the Rand Rapid Response Team as I like to call them, are always quick to claim he is just playing politics to win the presidency so he can beat Americans in the head with liberty. They never seem to have an answer as to why Rand, upon winning office (which he’ll never do), don’t continue to play politics to get a second term but I digress. From an anarchist point of view Rand is a tyrant through and through. But even from a small government point of view Rand is a tyrant. For example, his latest tirade was against so-called sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities, for those who don’t follow the neocon news cycle, are supposed cities that refuse to enforce immigration laws. Neocons, Rand Paul included, really hate them:

Among those jumping on the anti-sanctuary-city bandwagon was presidential candidate and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Paul proudly introduced the PACT Act (“Protecting American Citizens Together,” ugh), because, as he states in his office’s emailed press release, “Our nation now has whole cities and states who stand up and willingly defy federal immigration laws in order to protect illegal immigrants who have broken our nation’s laws. This must end and it must end now. My bill makes it clear, the American people will not stand for cities harboring violent criminals.”

The bill would cut off a range of federal law enforcement grants to localities from any city daring to go its own way on enforcing federal immigration law. This, from a politician who generally sells himself as a strong federalist welcoming local experimentation, especially when, as with marijuana law, respect for local decisions might halt government interference with people’s lives for no good reason. Medical marijuana states are themselves “defying” federal laws, yet that doesn’t bother Paul on principle.

Kudos on the name. The PACT Act not only rhymes but it’s a backronym! Obviously my anarchist perspective doesn’t give any value to the imaginary lines that separate one tyrannical regime from another but even if I channel my long-dead small government memory Rand’s actions are inconsistent with liberty.

Anybody who believes in decentralizing power, which is what small government advocates claim to believe, should approve of an individual state or city deciding who they want to let live there. What business is it of the federal government who an individual state or city chooses to allow in?

Neocons have a hard-on for hating “illegal” immigrants. Rand Paul is a candidate for the Republican Party and therefore has to appeal to neocons. Time and again he has showing a willingness to do whatever is necessary to please is neocon base, which will always hate him because of who his father is, and even go so far as to introduce legislation to push the neocon agenda forward. If Rand merely pandered to the neocons then the Rand Rapid Response Team may have some grounds on which to claim their messiah was just playing politics. But the guy is introducing anti-liberty legislation in addition to pandering.

Obviously I’m not going to tell you what to do, especially when it comes to politics since I don’t play that game anymore. But I will severely judge anybody who claims to be an advocate of liberty and a supporter of Rand Paul. The two things are not equivalent.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 24th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Stopping Active Shooters Is About Armed Resistance, Not Special Training

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The Trace, an anti-self-defense rag masquerading as a news source, posted what may be one of the dumbest arguments against arming, well, anybody but soldiers at recruitment centers specifically:

Most armed service members are not trained to neutralize active shooters, and putting more loaded guns in their hands creates its own risks.

[…]

Most service members — 99 percent of airmen, 88 percent of sailors, and about two-thirds of soldiers and Marines — are not in direct combat roles, but instead are technical workers whose specialties support those “tip of the spear” troops. These include navigators, supply clerks, water purification specialists, and camera crews. Roughly the same breakdown applies to the backgrounds of recruiters and reservists. Practically speaking, this means that your average military member’s firearms experience may only go as far as some boot camp familiarization with a service rifle on a “static range,” plinking at paper targets to qualify for a marksmanship ribbon.

I’ll be sure to tell my friend who was a helicopter mechanic in the Marines that his firearms training amounted to little more than plinking at paper on a range. Less I digress further into the firearm training military personnel receive let me make my point. Stopping an active shooter, in most cases, doesn’t require any special training. All that’s required are bullets moving towards the shooter. As it turns out most active shooters commit suicide upon meeting armed resistance:

But as much as we would like to confront the active shooter with multiple officers, the reality is that we are almost always in a reactive posture, and time is working in favor of the shooter. More often than not, we must wait for the incident to unfold before we are able to interject ourselves into the fray. Depending on the venue, whether it occurs in a big city or an isolated rural community, that response with well-trained responders may be a while in arriving.

Therefore, the individual officer becomes our best asset. Ideally, we’d like to have a response in which we send in several similarly trained officers, but that may not always be possible. Thus, the responsibility rests with the first car on the scene, and in these types of incidents it’s important to get inside and act quickly. By doing this, we interrupt the killer’s plan and his activity. This rapid interdiction is critical to saving lives.

However, quickly inserting oneself into the active shooter situation does not mean running blindly into a gun battle. Rather, it simply means stopping the shooter as fast as possible, either by lethal means or by the mere fact that he knows law enforcement is present. That knowledge alone, that cops are on scene, has ended the carnage in many instances and caused the gunman to commit suicide.

Therefore, the key to reacting to an active shooter situation is rapid response – get on scene and inside as quickly as possible.

Police “training” for active shooter responses is for the first officer on the scene to move in and start sending bullets at the shooter. That’s because response time is the key factor for how long an active shooter scenario will play out. The sooner somebody is able to provide armed resistance to an active shooter the sooner the situation stops in a vast majority of cases. The “training” that is supposedly absent from boot camp is having a gun and using it to shoot at the active shooter. Anybody who has gone through basic training in any branch of the military can handle that. Hell, I can handle that.

There isn’t a good argument against armed individuals at the scene being the most effective way to resolve active shootings. An active shooting is a scenario where, in the vast majority of cases, accuracy and tactics aren’t the primary deciding factors in how quickly it stops. Even a man at the scene wearing a stylish tactical neon shirt and camouflage Crocs armed with a potentially felonious foregrip equipped sightless AR-pattern pistol would be more effective against an active shooter than waiting for police to respond.

i-hear-sights-are-niceStill more effective than waiting for police to respond.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 23rd, 2015 at 10:30 am

There Shouldn’t Be A Law

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If I received a dime every time somebody said, “There ought to be a law,” I would be sitting on my mega yacht in some tropical location drinking expensive booze and watching the world lose its collective shit from my overpriced satellite Internet connection. But I don’t so it’s an entirely worthless phrase. I know somebody is out there right now saying that phrase in the sincere hope some political body will pass some law in a futile attempt to fix some perceived problem and it pisses me off. Why? Because legislation doesn’t accomplish anything other than wasting time and resources that could be put towards far better things.

Let’s consider what a law is. Unlike physics, where the term refers to an immutable rule, a law in regards to American politics is nothing more than words that have been written and voted on by a body of politicians. That’s it. And that’s the problem.

Laws are usually written and passed in response to a perceived problem. But that very fact creates a major problem in of itself. People believe laws fix problems but in reality they do nothing of the sort. Words written on paper are impotent. That goes double for words that have been voted on. Even after a law is passed the perceived problem still exists. The only difference is a large number of people no longer believe the problem exists.

Laws create a false sense of security. Consider the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). It was passed in 1984 when people first started realizing how important computer security is. The bill criminalized unauthorized access to protected systems. After the passage was everybody able to sleep soundly? Did unauthorized access to protected systems suddenly stop? No. Computers considered protected systems still had to be secured. The only difference between the time before the law was passed and after was that a bunch of politicians received paychecks and benefits for writing, debating, and ultimately passing the CFAA. Besides that it was business as usual and everybody had to continue implementing, maintaining, and improving security strategies.

And therein lies the problem. Laws are worthless. They don’t actually solve anything. People still have to operate under the assumption somebody will break the law. Assault is illegal but people still need to have a means of defending themselves because somebody may assault them. Theft is illegal but people still need to secure their property because somebody may try to steal it. Hacking into a bank computer is illegal but information technology employees still have to secure computers at every bank because somebody may try to hack into them.

When there’s a problem don’t say, “There ought to be a law.” Say, “We need to solve this problem.” Those two phrases have entirely different meanings. The first means a problem exists, needs to be solved, and involves politicians not solving it. The second means a problem exists, needs to be solved, and implores individuals to act directly towards solving it. Don’t write to some politician asking them to solve a problem with legislation. Roll up your sleeves and start working to actually solve the problem. Doing the former still requires you to do the latter but wastes resources, especially time, by involving middleman who don’t actually do anything.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 23rd, 2015 at 10:30 am

Nothing To See Here

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Last night’s CryptoPartyMN meeting, as is usually the case, ran late. I didn’t get a chance to write anything for you dear readers but I can tell you that the next CryptoParty is likely to be on either the second or third weekend in August. It will depend on venue availability though.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 22nd, 2015 at 10:00 am

Posted in Side Notes

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Situational Awareness Is Equally Important Offline And Online

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Defending yourself online isn’t dissimilar to defending yourself offline. The tools do change. Instead of relying on tools such as physical fitness, weapons, and martial arts online defense relies on encryption, anonymity, and credential management. Even though online and offline self-defense utilize different tools both rely first and foremost on situational awareness. For example, in regards to offline defense it’s wise to avoid going down dark alleys that have reputations for being places of violence at night by yourself. Situation awareness should lead you to recognize that putting yourself in that situation greatly increases your risk of being the target of a violent crime. Likewise, when you’re online it’s wise not to submit personally identifiable information to websites that offer services that are either illegal or could be used to blackmail users.

37 million people failed the online situational awareness test and are now facing the very real prospect of being blackmailed:

Hackers claim to have personal details of more than 37 million cheating spouses on dating website Ashley Madison and have threatened to release nude photos and sexual fantasies of the site’s clients unless it is shut down, blog KrebsOnSecurity reported.

Ashley Madison’s Canadian parent, Avid Life Media, confirmed the breach on its systems and said it had since secured its site and was working with law enforcement agencies to try to trace those behind the attack.

Let’s consider the situation. The Ashley Madison website specifically specializes in helping married individuals have an affair. Since knowledge of affairs are often used as blackmail signing up for this website has pretty notable risks. The first risk is that the owners of the site will use the existence of your account to blackmail you. Another risk is exactly what happened, malicious hackers breaching the network and acquiring your personal information.

The latter risk is one faced whenever you sign up for any website. But the risks involved in your personal information from, say, Reddit being leaked is likely far less than those involved in a website that specifically advertises services to help married individuals commit adultery. That’s an important part of the situation to consider.

Another part of the situation that’s important to note is the site didn’t put any measures in place to protect your privacy in the event a breach occurred. Had the website been a hidden service that used Bitcoin as payment the ability to anonymize yourself, or at least offer plausible deniability by claiming somebody else created and maintained the account to sully your reputation, would exist. That’s exactly why Silk Road, which offered illegal services, opted for the hidden service using Bitcoin route. This website wasn’t a hidden service and, as far as I know, used credit cards, which are strongly tied to your real-life identity, for payments.

Be aware of the situation before you involve yourself in it. Failing to do so could put you in a bad situation that you could have otherwise avoided.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 21st, 2015 at 11:00 am

I’m Available For Performing Electronic Exorcisms

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As many of you know I’m a discordian pope. In addition to that I’m also an ordained minister by the Universal Life Church Monastery. With rock solid credentials like that I’m totally getting into the electronic exorcism business:

But if you truly think your electronics have been invaded by an evil spirit, there’s someone who will take your call — Reverend Joey Talley — a Wiccan witch from the San Francisco Bay Area who claims to solve supernatural issues for techies.

[…]

“Most people want me to protect their computers from viruses and hacks,” she told SF Weekly. “So I’ll make charms for them. I like to use flora.” And when there are problems in office hardware, Talley turns to “Jet,” a black stone that serves to block energy. In extreme cases, she casts protection spells of her own over the entire company.

[…]

Talley’s services do not come cheap. She charges $200 an hour (though a phone consultation is free).

For $200.00 per hour — hell, for $100.00 per hour I’ll exorcise the daemons from your systems (at least the daemons that aren’t supposed to be there). My e-mail address is to the right of this post, feel free to contact me for your free exorcism estimate!

Written by Christopher Burg

July 21st, 2015 at 10:30 am

CryptoPartyMN Meeting Tonight

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For those of you in the Twin Cities who are interested in learning about cryptography CryptoPartyMN is going to have a meeting tonight at The Wedge Table (it’s not The Wedge but the clientele are surprisingly similar so you’ll probably have to dodge at least one hipster on a fixie to get there) start at 18:30. Details about the meeting are at the link.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 21st, 2015 at 10:00 am

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