Archive for December, 2016
Everybody loves freedom so long as it’s the right kind of freedom. Neoconservatives love freedom right up until somebody wants to marry somebody of the same sex. Neoliberals love freedom right up until somebody wants to buy a firearm. Statist libertarians love freedom right up until somebody wants to opt out of paying taxes to fund the
military national defense force appointed by the duly elected representatives of the Very Small Government. Likewise, a lot of people love free markets until they fail to serve the market. When that happens those people turn into big government twats:
With competition so fierce and profit margins so small — roughly 2.7 per cent on average — the role Quebec’s highly interventionist government should play in one of the province’s most dynamic industries remains a source of contention.
The debate is not new and was rekindled earlier this year when Carlos Ferreira, owner of a well-known eatery, said Montreal should impose quotas in neighbourhoods to limit competition and help struggling legacy restaurants stay in business.
“I don’t believe in the free market anymore,” Ferreira said at the time. “We have to protect the good restaurants.”
And by “good restaurants” he means his restaurant.
Although I won’t claim that Quebec’s restaurant scene is currently a free market, the market was free enough that the barrier to entry was low enough for Ferreira to enter. Now, like most established corporations, he’s finding that the pressures of continuously appealing to the market tiresome and wants the State to step in to protect him and his interest at the expense of everybody.
I say the expense of everybody because as things currently stand consumers have all of the power. If a restaurant starts serving shitty food consumers can go to a competing restaurant. New restaurants have to attract customers and that means appealing to consumers. What Ferreira wants is to restrict those consumer’s choices and therefore limit the power they have.
This is nothing new. The biggest threat to free markets are successful entrepreneurs because they’re the ones that throw money at politicians to get laws passed that hinder their competitors.
Most Americans, if asked, would probably say that they oppose discrimination. But deep down inside most Americans love discrimination, so long as it’s their form of discrimination.
Those who identify as political leftists have been very vocal about their opposition to discrimination. They’ve been taking every opportunity to state their objection to discrimination against non-whites, homosexuals, transgender individuals, poor individuals, and the mentally disabled. However, they seems to be perfectly fine with politically motivated discrimination.
Imagine if the restaurant owner from the first link put up a sign that read “If you’re black you can not eat here!” or if the person from the second link refused to help the stuck motorist because they had a gay pride bumper sticker. Most self-identified leftists would be up in arms. But the two individuals mentioned in those two links are being cheered by many of those same self-identified leftists. Why? Because those two individuals are discriminating in an approved manner.
Every one of us discriminates. When you cross the street to avoid the suspicious looking individual walking down the sidewalk you’re discriminating. When you avoid talking to your racist uncle at Christmas you’re discriminating. When you avoid the really drunk guy that won’t stop grabbing your ass at the bar you’re discriminating. Some forms of discrimination, such as the three I just mentioned, make sense. In those cases you’re discriminating to protect yourself, avoid starting a family fight, or avoid being sexually molested. But those forms of discrimination are also based on specific signals being produced by specific individuals.
Racially, sexually, and politically motivated forms of discrimination aren’t based on specific signals produced by specific individuals. They’re forms of collective discrimination where the only signal is membership in a group. Of course, everybody who discriminates against groups has a long list of reasons why their form of discrimination is proper even if they find other forms of group discrimination unacceptable.
I personally find collective discrimination, like all forms of collectivism, distasteful but fear that I’m in the minority because even the loudest opponents of collective discrimination seem to only oppose discrimination against groups that they like. When challenged they will have a long list of reasons why they’re not actually discriminating but all they’re doing is performing an act of cognitive dissonance.
The State has many redundancies to protect its people from justice. Take police unions, for example. When a police officer steps out of line so egregiously that their department actually fires them the police unions are quick to move in and get the officer reinstated:
A Richfield police officer who was seen on video striking a Somali-American teenager in the fall of 2015 must be reinstated to the force, an independent arbitrator said Wednesday, and police officials in the first-ring suburb aren’t happy about that.
Officer Nate Kinsey had been fired by the city of Richfield. Instead, the arbitrator said, he will serve a three-day suspension and again be a member of the department.
And what was the union’s justification for pushing for the officer’s reinstatement? Well, you see, he was such a good boy:
“[He] is held in high regard by his fellow officers and supervisors and is known for his honesty, commitment, and dedication,” said Sean Gormley, executive director of Law Enforcement Labor Services. “The incident in question demonstrates the challenges officers face on a regular basis. [It] also illustrates the pitfalls of jumping to conclusions based on partial video and audio recordings.
Challenges officers face on a regular basis, like having to ask the union to get them reinstated after getting caught on camera striking somebody without cause.
The people of Richfield can look forward to this officer protecting and serving the shit out of them again.
Cop apologists often say that the proper place to fight back against a bad officer is in a court. But what if the bad officer is threatening to put two bullets in the back of your skull? That’s a question the people of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota should be asking themselves right now:
In a three-paragraph statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Gannon said his department was alerted to the Facebook video capturing the Tuesday encounter between the officer and the suspect in the parking lot of Wal-Mart at 1200 Shingle Creek Crossing.
In the 61-second video, shot about 2:20 p.m. from behind a car in the lot, the officer approached a vehicle and ordered Foye-Finch to get down on the ground as he exited out a passenger-side door.
“Don’t move,” the officer told Foye-Finch, who appears to be facedown on the pavement.
“Don’t reach for anything!” the officer yelled, his gun still trained on the man, who appeared compliant during the entire time of the video being record. “You wanna get shot? Don’t reach for anything. Don’t move. I’ll put two in the back of your head if you move again, you understand me? Don’t move.”
According to Chief Tim Gannon the suspect had been evading law enforcers. This is probably the part cop apologists will latch onto but they’ll then ignore the part where Gannon said that “threatening language is never appropriate or acceptable.”
In the video the suspect seems to be lying facedown on the pavement. Even though he appears to be complying with the officer the officer doesn’t appear to be entirely satisfied and is threatening to perform a summary execution. My question is whether or not one should consider this a self-defense situation.
While the aggressor had a badge he was expressing a willingness to exceed his authority by murdering the suspect. The officer also had the means to go through with his threat. In this case the officer didn’t go through with the threat but there was no way for the suspect to know that he wouldn’t. I would argue that had the suspect defended himself he would have been well within his rights. I’m sure somebody will accuse me of simply hating cops but I believe I justified my conclusion in a way that would still show the situation to be self-defense if the aggressor wasn’t a cop. There’s little ground, regardless of who the aggressor was, to claim that the suspect didn’t have a reasonable belief that his life was in immediate danger.
If a law enforcer is beating you to death or threatening to kill you even if you complied with their commands, you may not live long enough to face them in court. That being the case, telling people that the proper place to deal with a bad officer is in a court is often not realistic advice.
“Hey, Chris, don’t you carry a Glock?”
You shut your goddamn whore mouth!
Voice activated assistances such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home are becoming popular household devices. With a simple voice command these devices can allow you to do anything from turning on your smart lightbulbs to playing music. However, any voice activated device must necessarily be listening at all times and law enforcers know that:
Amazon’s Echo devices and its virtual assistant are meant to help find answers by listening for your voice commands. However, police in Arkansas want to know if one of the gadgets overheard something that can help with a murder case. According to The Information, authorities in Bentonville issued a warrant for Amazon to hand over any audio or records from an Echo belonging to James Andrew Bates. Bates is set to go to trial for first-degree murder for the death of Victor Collins next year.
Amazon declined to give police any of the information that the Echo logged on its servers, but it did hand over Bates’ account details and purchases. Police say they were able to pull data off of the speaker, but it’s unclear what info they were able to access.
While Amazon declined to provide any server side information logged by the Echo there’s no reason a court order couldn’t compel Amazon to provide such information. In addition to that, law enforcers also managed to pull some unknown data locally from the Echo. Those two points raise questions about what kind of information devices like the Echo and Home collect as they’re passively sitting on your counter awaiting your command.
As with much of the Internet of Things, I haven’t purchased one of these voice activated assistances yet and have no plans to buy one anytime in the near future. They’re too big of a privacy risk for my tastes since I don’t even know what kind of information they’re collecting as they sit there listening.
Here’s an easy thing you can do to make yourself safer: don’t go to malls around Christmas. When American shoppers come together near Christmas weird shit starts happening:
A series of apparently unconnected fights and disturbances broke out at malls across the country the day after Christmas, leaving shoppers desperate for an exit and authorities struggling to wrangle unruly crowds.
Several arrests and multiple injuries were reported — including an assault on an officer — and authorities and witnesses described panic-stricken scenes from Aurora, Colo. to East Garden City, N.Y.
Some of the videos are interesting to watch because they show shoppers trying to flee out of the main entrances, which results in too many people trying to cram through too little space. So here’s another thing you can do to make yourself safer: if you are in a mall when a brawl breaks out make a beeline for an emergency exit. Yes, it will probably set off an alarm but you’ll be out of the confined space with the psychopaths.
What happens when a business makes more monetary promises than it can fulfill? Its assets are liquidated so that the proceeds can go towards paying off some of those promises. What happens when a government makes more monetary promises than it can fulfill? That seems like an important question to ask right now:
You can look at the financial health of Social Security in many ways.
Despite the huge numbers, there’s even a less generous way of looking at the fiscal shortfall.
A projection, known as the “infinite horizon,” takes into account all the program’s future liabilities, even those beyond the 75-year period that Social Security actuaries typically use in their calculations.
Under the infinite horizon, Social Security will have $32.1 trillion in unfunded liabilities by 2090, $6.3 trillion more than last year’s projection. (See the chart below.)
Social Security was sold as a safety net that would guarantee that retirees would have money even after they were no longer working. But like all government schemes, Social Security was just another mechanism to expropriate wealth from the people for the benefit of the State. The scheme was originally quite simple. Today’s valued dollars would be taken by the State so it could use them as it pleased and then returned at a future date after inflation had devalued those dollars significantly. But the scheme quickly became more complicated.
Since 1982 Social Security has been paying out more than it has been bringing in. This deficit, often referred to by cute names such as unfunded obligations or unfunded liabilities, is slated to ballon to $32.1 trillion by 2090. To put that in perspective, the current national debt is hovering near $20 trillion.
If Social Security (or the United States government for that matter) was a business it would be forced to file bankruptcy as there is no realistic way that it will ever be able to repay its debts.
What happens when a government attempts to censor people who are using a secure mode of communication? The censorship is bypassed:
Over the weekend, we heard reports that Signal was not functioning reliably in Egypt or the United Arab Emirates. We investigated with the help of Signal users in those areas, and found that several ISPs were blocking communication with the Signal service and our website. It turns out that when some states can’t snoop, they censor.
Today’s Signal release uses a technique known as domain fronting. Many popular services and CDNs, such as Google, Amazon Cloudfront, Amazon S3, Azure, CloudFlare, Fastly, and Akamai can be used to access Signal in ways that look indistinguishable from other uncensored traffic. The idea is that to block the target traffic, the censor would also have to block those entire services. With enough large scale services acting as domain fronts, disabling Signal starts to look like disabling the internet.
Censorship is an arms race between the censors and the people trying to communicate freely. When one side finds a way to bypass the other then the other side responds. Fortunately, each individual government is up against the entire world. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates only have control over their own territories but the people in those territories can access knowledge from anywhere in the world. With odds like that, the State is bound to fail every time.
This is also why any plans to compromise secure means of communication are doomed to fail. Let’s say the United States passes a law that requires all encryption software used within its borders to include a government backdoor. That isn’t the end of secure communications in the United States. It merely means that people wanting to communicate securely need to obtain tools developed in nations where such rules don’t exist. Since the Internet is global access to the goods and services of other nations is at your fingertips.