A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for December, 2016

Denial of Service Attacks are Cheap to Perform

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How expensive is it to perform a denial of service attack in the real world? More often than not the cost is nearly free. The trick is to exploit the target’s own security concerns:

A flight in America was delayed and almost diverted on Tuesday after a passenger changed the name of their wi-fi device to ‘Samsung Galaxy Note 7’.

An entire flight was screwed up by simply changing the SSID of a device.

Why did this simply trick cause any trouble whatsoever? Because the flight crew was more concerned about enforcing the rules than actual security. There was no evidence of a Galaxy Note 7 being onboard. Since anybody can change their device’s SSID to anything they want the presence of the SSID “Samsung Galaxy Note 7” shouldn’t have been enough to cause any issues. But the flight crew allowed that, at best, flimsy evidence to spur them into a hunt for the device.

This is why performing denial of service attacks in the real world is often very cheap. Staffers, such as flight crew, seldom have any real security training so they tend to overreact. They’re trying to cover their asses (and I don’t mean that as an insult, if they don’t cover their asses they very well could lose their job), which means you have an easy exploit sitting there for you.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 23rd, 2016 at 10:30 am

Without Government Who Would Punish Those Who Help the Homeless

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The State continues its war against the homeless. Again the State is targeting those who dare to help them:

DUNDALK, Md. – Patapsco United Methodist Church is in Dundalk, Maryland, not far from Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay. Sometimes, at night, homeless people with nowhere else to go will sleep on church grounds, taking advantage of the promise of safety that a church often represents.

But in the future, those people may have to find another place to sleep, because the church may be fined out of existence by local government.

According to Yahoo News, Rev. Katie Grover found a $12,000 citation attached to a church door when she went to the church one morning recently.

The citation said that the church had violated a county regulation that prohibits “non-permitted rooming and boarding” and that the church failed to “cease exterior use of property as housing units.” An inspector’s comments noted that “People (were) still living in (the) rear of (the) property under tarped area.”

Whether its food safety, nutrition, or boarding regulations, local municipalities always have a law to cite at hand when they want to punish somebody who is trying to help the homeless.

Statists like to claim that the State is necessary to help those who have nothing. But time and again the State demonstrates that it has no interest in helping those who have nothing. In fact, it’s overtly hostile to those individuals. How could this be? It’s because the State wants to steal wealth from people. If somebody has nothing for the State to take then the State sees them as a burden that must be dealt with as one would deal with a spider in their home.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 23rd, 2016 at 10:00 am

Dire Straits

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In Finland the jobless can get their money for nothing and they don’t have to install microwave ovens:

Finland will soon hand out cash to 2,000 jobless people, free of bureaucracy or limits on side earnings. The idea, universal basic income, is gaining traction worldwide.

The computer graphics in that video are almost as bad as this idea!

Before any advocates of universal basic income start creaming their pants over this let me point out that this is a solution to a problem that was, not surprisingly, created by the government in the first place:

While entrepreneurs are eager to put these people to work, the rules of Finland’s generous social safety net effectively discourage this. Jobless people generally cannot earn additional income while collecting unemployment benefits or they risk losing that assistance. For laid-off workers from Nokia, simply collecting a guaranteed unemployment check often presents a better financial proposition than taking a leap with a start-up in Finland, where a shaky technology industry is trying to find its footing again.

The problem isn’t that there aren’t jobs available. The problem is that the Finnish government has created a system that discouraged unemployed individuals from seeking another job. Instead of fixing that problem the Finnish government has decided to exacerbate the problem by giving unemployed individuals money for being unemployed. How will that encourage them to seek a new job? It won’t.

I’m sure a bunch of advocates of universal basic income are ready to accuse me of hating workers because I’m not onboard with their little scheme. But I don’t hate workers. In fact, I am a worker. But universal basic income is an unsustainable idea because it relies on taxes and taxes only exist if there is wealth to steal. Ask yourself this, without employees motivated to work how can employers create the goods and services that create the wealth that supports universal basic income? Without employers wealth isn’t created. Without employees the employers can’t create wealth. This means that eventually the supposedly guaranteed income is no longer guaranteed because there is no money to pay it with.

TANSTAAFL, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, is the rule that the universe runs by. A few words written by some bureaucrats in a marble building can’t make that rule go away.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 22nd, 2016 at 11:00 am

License to Kill

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Law enforcers in the United States have a strange fetish for gunning down family pets. This fetish has become so widespread that there’s a term for it, puppycide, and there’s adatabase that attempts to track incidents of it. Fortunately, the courts work as a check and balance against bad law enforcement behavior

“The standard we set out today is that a police officer’s use of deadly force against a dog while executing a warrant to search a home for illegal drug activity is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment when, given the totality of the circumstances and viewed from the perspective of an objectively reasonable officer, the dog poses an imminent threat to the officer’s safety,” Judge Eric Clay wrote in the court’s opinion.

In the case of the Browns’ two pit bulls, the imminent threat came from the dogs barking and moving around. One officer shot the first pit bull after he said it “had only moved a few inches” in a movement that he considered to be a “lunge.” The injured dog retreated to the basement, where the officer shot and killed it as well as the second dog while conducting a sweep of the residence.

Or, you know, the courts don’t act as a check and balance against law enforcement.

I often laugh when cop apologists use the phrase “totality of the circumstances” because of situations like this. In this case the dogs barked and moved a few inches so the officer shot it. It then retreated to the basement so the officer followed it down there and executed it along with another dog. How is a retreating dog an imminent threat given the “totality of the circumstances?” It’s not.

Once again I feel the need to point out that trust in law enforcement isn’t low because of propaganda by the mainstream media. It’s low because of situations, like this one, where officers obviously overstepped their bounds and weren’t reprimanded for it. When you have people in positions of authority constantly abusing that authority any trust the public has in those people quickly goes away.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 22nd, 2016 at 10:30 am

Christmas Gift Ideas for Libertarians

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Christmas is only a few days away. If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for the libertarians in your life here’s a good guide:

Written by Christopher Burg

December 22nd, 2016 at 10:00 am

The New Face of Gun Ownership

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If you listened to gun control advocates you’d believe that all gun owners are middle aged fat white guys who want to killed anybody who is political liberal or has dark skin. The reality is quite different. Gun owners are a diverse bunch and are becoming more diverse every day. Some people joined the ranks of gun owners because they enjoy the sports, some became interested through the video games they played, and some joined because they realized they needed a means of defending themselves. Now people are joining the ranks of gun owners because they are concerned about the direction the United States government is going:

But instead FBI background checks for gun transactions soared to a new record for a single day – 185,713 – during the Black Friday sales on 25 November, according to gun control news site The Trace.

Some of this has been put down to gun retailers selling off stock at reduced prices, but there have also been reports of more “non-traditional” buyers, such as African Americans and other minorities, turning up at gun shops and shooting ranges.

Lara Smith, national spokesperson for the Liberal Gun Club, says her organisation has seen a “huge” rise in enquiries since November’s election and a 10% increase in paid members.

Some of the new members are reluctant first-time gun owners, says Smith, concerned that isolated acts of aggression against minorities could escalate into something more violent and that a Trump administration will dismantle key constitutional rights, leading to a “more fascist rule than the US has ever had”.

The club, which has nine chapters and members in all 50 states, aims to provide a forum for people whose political beliefs do not fit the traditional right-wing gun enthusiast stereotype.

This is great news in my opinion. I believe the mantra that an armed society is a polite society so expanding the ranks of gun owners can only help make our society more peaceful. I also believe that the best way to maintain and expand gun rights is to expand the demographics of gun owners. Historically gun control advocates have had a great deal of success in more politically liberal areas such as New York and California. If more political liberal individuals become gun owners then gun control will become a toxic issue for the politicians they give money to, campaign for, and vote for.

There are many good arguments for owning firearms. Barring personal preference or issues such as a mental disposition that may lead you to harm yourself or others there are few good arguments against owning firearms.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 21st, 2016 at 11:00 am

Speaking of Venezuela

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Written by Christopher Burg

December 21st, 2016 at 10:30 am

Posted in Humor

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Using Bitcoin in Venezuela

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State socialism is quickly reaching its inevitable conclusion in Venezuela. The economy is in shambles. The nation’s currency, the bolivar, is in a state of hyperinflation, which makes buying even a loaf a bread with it difficult. While the Venezuelan government scrambles to maintain its control over the people the people are adapting. One of the adaptions they’re making is using an alternative currency, one that is effectively impossible for the Venezuelan government to control. That currency is, of course, Bitcoin:

Amid growing economic chaos, and the highest inflation rate in the world, some Venezuelans are swapping bolivars for bitcoins in order to buy basic necessities or pay their employees

The digital currency is free from central bank or government controls, and users in Venezuela see it as a safe alternative in an economy where the government has enforced strict foreign exchange controls, and inflation is running at an estimated 500%.

This week, Venezuelans rushed to unload 100-bolivar bills – the largest denomination – after the government announced that it would be withdrawn from circulation on Wednesday in what it described as a move against profiteering.

Mainstream economists have been decrying Bitcoin since it started becoming popular. Since the currency isn’t issued by a central bank the mainstream economists have declared it worthless. But the value of Bitcoin continues to rise. When I last checked it was around $800 per Bitcoin. Why does Bitcoin continue to succeed in spite of mainstream economists? Because mainstream economists are fools.

All of the things mainstream economists criticize Bitcoin for are actually important features. Not being controlled by a central bank means that a government can control it. Venezuela can’t just decide to withdraw Bitcoin or print more of it. The fact that there is a cap on the total amount of Bitcoin that will ever exist is also an important feature. Without the ability to print an infinite amount of Bitcoin no government can inflate it. The lack of inflation means that Bitcoin can be a safe method of preserving one’s purchasing power over time (a fancy way of saying savings). Bitcoin’s pseudoanonymity can protect users from the prying eyes of the State, which means it can be used in countries where the State would rather see people starve to death than utilize a currency it isn’t issuing.

Bitcoin’s popularity will likely continue to increase as more national currencies collapse. As its popularity continues to increase the technical limitations, the only valid criticisms against Bitcoin, will continue to be addressed and addressed more rapidly.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 21st, 2016 at 10:00 am

Cultivate the Ego, Spread Freedom

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What is the most effective method of spreading the ideas of freedom? Many ideas have been put forward but few have met with much success. I won’t go so far as to claim that I know the answer but I will submit an idea for consideration. Before I being I wholly admit that this idea isn’t entirely fleshed out in this blog post. There’s a lot to it and I’ve only been considering it in depth in the last few months. Nevertheless, it’s always good to get public input on an idea earlier rather than later. Therefore, this is as much a request for comment as it is a proposal.

The primary tool of libertarians has been logical deduction (I know a bunch of statists are laughing about this but in this case logical is in the eyes of libertarians, not you guys). Libertarians, myself included, have tried to point out the bloody history of statism, economic consequences of central banking, terrible toll of the drug wars, and other pitfalls of centralized power. What has this gotten us? Jack shit.

I would submit that logical deduction doesn’t work, at least not initially, to spread the message of freedom. Why? Since I cannot read another person’s mind I cannot provide a definitive answer. However, I can offer speculation based on experience and observation. In my experience, the biggest thing statism has going for it is that it preys on fear. Fear is a powerful tool. If you can wield it successfully you can influence people’s actions.

Therefore, I would submit that the first step in spreading the message of freedom is helping people overcome their fears. The first step in accomplish this, in my experience, is cultivating the ego.

If you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which I feel is a good general model to work from (note, I said general model, not a perfectly accurate account of human behavior), there are a lot of requirements before one can begin to address self-actualization. In fact, if you look at the lower layers you’ll notice that they’re all things that statist try to drum up fear of. Access to food, water, and shelter are all necessary for survival and, coincidentally, are all things that statists claim the State is necessary for. They tell us that the State distributes food in times of shortage so that everybody has enough, ensures we have clean drinking water, and provides shelter for the homeless. None of these things are actually true but they don’t need to be. The only thing that’s necessary is tying people’s fear of not being able to meet their physiological needs with the idea that the State can guarantee plenty.

Safety, the next layer of the hierarchy, is another prime example. How many times have you heard a statist claim that without the State the strong would prey upon the weak and that the person with the most guns would rule the roost? Again, if we look at the history of stateless societies, of which there is much since the Westphalian supremacy that we understand to be statism is a fairly new concept in human history, we see that this isn’t the case. In fact, even a bad analysis of statism would lead one to realize that the State is the person with the most guns ruling the roost. But statists have convinced a great many people that their safety is provided by the State.

Where does the ego come into play here? I’m glad you asked! People with big egos, such as yours truly, are confident in themselves (or people who are confident in themselves have big egos, either way works). I know that I can provide for my own needs. I can provide my own food, water, shelter, and personal protection even in emergency situations. I’m not in a state of constant worry for my lower order needs, which means I can address my higher order need of self-actualization.

I believe that is the trick. We must first help people overcome their fears before they’ll become open to the message of freedom. In order to do that we must teach people to be confident in their own abilities. This doesn’t necessarily mean teaching them how to store food for long periods of time, use a firearm defensively, or survive in the wilderness for weeks on end. Accomplishing anything can boost a person’s ego, which in turn can increase their self-confidence.

I’ve explored this idea through practice. Namely, when people have asked me for advice I have given advice that I felt would be most empowering to them. I’ve been encouraging friends to seek new jobs when they’ve expressed dissatisfaction with their current job. That encouragement included both helping them understand that they were more skilled than they believed (and therefore qualified for a better job) and that life is too short to spend 40 or more hours per week at a place they hated. When my friends have followed my advice the results have been great. Not only did they end up making more money and being happier overall but they also became more confident in themselves and through that confidence seemingly less fearful of uncertainties.

In addition to provide empowering advice I’ve also been encouraging people to develop new skills. I’ve started and am currently still running a workout group (to admittedly minor success but I’ve encouraged at least two individuals to take better care of themselves and it has boosted their egos just as working out has boosted my ego) and have been encouraging people to learn another language as I continue my language studies. While working out and languages may not seem useful in regards to spreading the message of liberty they do require individuals to pursue and attain goals, which gives a huge confidence boost when accomplished. The few who have pursued these goals have come out being more confident in themselves and less susceptible to fear based manipulation.

In my experience my friends who have bolstered their egos didn’t need to hear the message of freedom, they started developing an understanding of freedom themselves. There was less talk about somebody needing to do something and far more talk about their capacity for accomplishing things. Although it may seem minor on the surface it seems to have gotten their brains working in a more independent fashion, which is really what freedom is all about.

So my proposal is this: if you wish to spread the message of freedom start by encouraging your friends to improve their self-confidence and ego. If you have a skill that a friend expresses interest in then teach it to them or at least act as a guide. Pick up a new goal based hobby with some of your friends to encourage them to pursue and attain goals. Encourage your friends to pursue any goals they’ve expressed interest in. As their skills improve and their confidence increases you may find that their susceptibility to fear based manipulation decreases. If that doesn’t seem to be the case then let me know so I can establish some kind of trend and decide whether my proposal is misguided or not.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 20th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Be Careful What You Wish For

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Yesterday the electoral college held its official vote. Leading up to that vote opponents of Donald Trump were urging electoral college voters to go against their pledge. In several cases they ended up getting what they wanted but, as is often the case when you wish for something, not in the way they wanted it.

In Washington four electors broke away from their pledged vote:

In acts of symbolic protest, three voted instead for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, while one voted for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American elder and activist from South Dakota.

Here in Minnesota one elector broke away from their pledged vote and instead voted for Bernie Sanders. As this is The People’s Republic of Minnesota, the renegade voter was immediately replaced with somebody who voted for the party line:

Clinton, also as expected, was awarded Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes after she won the popular tally in the state by a margin of 44,765 votes. Muhammud Abdurrahman, one of the 10 electors, broke ranks to vote for Sanders; by law, he was replaced by an alternate who voted for Clinton.

We don’t tollerate any of that free thinking bullshit here!

The only so-called faithless electors that weren’t Hillary supporters appear to have been in Texas. And, of course…

All but two of Texas’ 38 electors voted Monday to officially put Donald Trump in the White House, with one elector casting a ballot for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and another casting a ballot for a fellow Texan, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

Emphasis mine.

So there you have it. Yesterday’s lesson was, be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 20th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Posted in Politics

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