A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for July, 2017

Attacking Sacred Cows

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Those of you who have been reading my blog for even a short time probably realize that I enjoy shitting all over people’s sacred cows. My current favorite sacred cows to shit all over are, in no particular order, democracy, nationalism, and national heroes (groups of people blindly worshiped as heroes such as the police). While I’m not unique in this, I believe that my motivations differ from many of those who also enjoy defecating on people’s sacred objects. I don’t do is for shock value or to piss of people. The reason I go after idols so fervently is because I’m trying to help people become self-aware.

Most of us have a head full of programming that was instilled in us at a young age. I like to refer to behavior that results from this programming as automaton behavior although an equally accurate term is probably unconscious behavior. Regardless of what you want to call it, it’s performed without thinking. A lot of this programming is legitimately useful. For example, programming that makes you automatically look both ways before crossing a street can save your life. But a lot of this programming is unnecessary or even detrimental.

Nationalism is a good example of programming that is certainly unnecessary and oftentimes detrimental. What value does one actually derive from acting on the belief that their nation is better than any other nation on the planet? With the exception of monetary gain derived from appealing to other people who blindly act on their nationalism programming, very little. But the costs of acting on this belief can be very high. For example, people frequently join the military because of their nationalism programming, which often results in them being killed in a far off country. Another example of detrimental automaton behavior is national hero worship. When a police officer kills somebody under questionable circumstances many people’s national hero worship programming causes them to defend the officer’s actions regardless of how egregious they were. When this programming exists on a sufficiently large scale it shields such officers from the consequences of their actions and teaches other officers that they can get away with such behavior. I’m sure you can see how this kind of automaton behavior, when practiced on a large scale, makes any reformation of policing difficult if not impossible.

Overcoming automaton behavior requires one to first identify the programming. This is where attacking sacred cows comes in. While one simple attack against a sacred cow is seldom effective at helping an individual identify the programming that causes their automaton behavior, enough successive attacks often are. Case in point, I’ve seen several people who have long been acting on their national hero worship programming to defend every egregious action taken by a cop finally admit that there might be a problem with modern policing after the recent shooting in Minneapolis. This admission usually comes in the form of advising people not to call 911. While that isn’t a solution likely to result in fix the problem it is the beginning of overcoming the national hero worship programming.

Until an individual begins to act consciously it’s difficult for me to call them self-aware. I want a world full of self-aware individuals. While a self-aware individual is not guaranteed to agree with my views, and most likely will disagree with many if not most of my views, they will at least came to their conclusions by their own actions instead of having their beliefs instilled in them by others. That, in my book as a radical individualist, is a significant victory.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 21st, 2017 at 11:00 am

The Dark Web’s Fight Against Gun Control

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The Dark Web, which is a sinister sounding label given to hidden services usually available through Tor or I2P, has become a major thorn in the side of the State. By combining technologies that allow users to interact anonymously with cryptocurrencies that allow transactions to be complete anonymously, the Dark Web has established a peaceful marketplace for goods and services declared illegal by the State. For example, a recent study, which is likely bullshit but I digress, found that the Dark Web has allowed people in repressive countries to acquire firearms:

Another revelation is that the weapons available are far newer, and are of a far higher quality, than would have been available on the analog black market. As New Scientist points out, “lax gun laws in the US are undermining stricter rules elsewhere,” especially in Europe. In addition to guns and ammunition, people can buy tutorials explaining how to make bombs or convert or reactivate replica and deactivated firearms.

What they really should have said is that lax gun laws in the US are undermining efforts to more thoroughly disarm serfs elsewhere. And, of course, the article should point out that those tutorials explaining how to make bombs can be found in even basic chemistry books (fun fact, making bombs is little more than combining chemistry with a small amount of mechanical or electronic engineering).

Of course, the article tries to drum up fear of the Dark Web by saying that, queue the sinister music, terrorists are using it to acquire weapons. They can only point to a single incident of this happening but facts are unimportant when writing propaganda. The point is that you’re supposed to be scared of the Dark Web and be thankful to your government for defending you against it even though, at least if you live in the United States, your government is one of the biggest arms dealers to terrorist organizations in the world. Moreover, the effectiveness of terrorist attacks is reduced if the population they’re targeted at is able to defend itself. Since the Dark Web enables people living in repressive regimes, such as many of the countries in Europe, to arm themselves in spite of the law it is actually offers to increase the cost of perpetrating terrorist attacks against civilian populations.

We should all take a moment to thank the Dark Web for its effectiveness against gun control and for offering a mechanism to make it costlier for terrorists to perpetrate attacks against civilian populations.

Body Camera Footage of an MPD Officer Trying to Murder Two Dogs

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Remember the story from last week about a Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer who tried to murder two dogs when responding to a burglar alarm? The entire mess was captured by the family’s security camera but the officer tried to lie by claiming the dogs were acting aggressively anyways. Yesterday the officer’s flimsy excuse was thrown out of the window because the footage from his body camera was released and it clearly shows that the dogs were not acting aggressively:

Mays’ initial report filed that same night contended that the dogs, which he described as large pit bulls, “charged at” him. The police union defended Mays, contending that the first dog growled as it advanced toward him.

LeMay and her attorney, Mike Padden, have scoffed at that version of events, and have called for Mays to be prosecuted for filing a false report. They also suggested Mays be disciplined, possibly even fired.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon in north Minneapolis, where Padden made the officer’s body camera video available to other media outlets, the attorney said the imagery makes it obvious that Mays shot with the intention to kill.

Fortunately for the two dogs and their owners, Officer Mays was a poor shot and failed to kill the dogs. However, that left the family, not Officer Mays, with medical bills. The family was able to crowdsource those funds and hopefully with the release of this video will be able to bring a civil case against Officer Mays and make him or his employer pay for the medical bills.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 21st, 2017 at 10:00 am

Radical Individualism

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As I get older I identify myself more as a radical individualist. This is because all of the other terms that might describe my philosophy carry too much baggage. Anarchist is a vast term that can cover a spectrum so wide that is encompasses everything from anarcho-communism to anarcho-capitalism. Anarcho-capitalism has been so thoroughly infested with alt-right loonies that the term has become poison. Libertarianism can mean either minarchists or anarchists. Basically, whenever I look at the people who also fall under a particular label I’m reminded of a line from the leftist song The Ultimate Sectarian, “Yes, you may be a comrade to all of these folks, but you ain’t no Comrade of mine.”

Admittedly, the term radical individualist can also encompasses a lot of trash, such as objectivists, but it at least more narrowly defines my belief that the individual is all and clearly denotes my opposition of collectivism in any form.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 20th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Bypassing Taxes

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One of the most heroic things any company can do is find exploits in the State’s tax code that allow it to provide a product to consumers for less. This both benefits the consumers and is detrimental to the government. I recently came across an article discussing how Converse, the maker of sneakers, bypasses an idiotic tax (a redundant term, I know) to bring its customers a more affordable product:

Have you ever noticed that thin layer of felt on the bottom of a pair of Converse sneakers? It gets torn up almost immediately, of course, as you walk on the shoes. So, why is it there in the first place? It turns out that that felt is there not for functional reasons, but for economic ones—shoes with fuzzy soles are taxed less when imported than those with rubber ones.

Jeff Steck writes on Gazetc that the difference between importing a fuzzy shoe—like a house slipper—and a rubber one—like a sneaker—can be huge. Changing the shoe material can decrease the tariff from 37.5 percent down to just 3 percent. Steck writes:

To benefit from a lower tariff, it isn’t necessary to cover the entire sole with fabric. According to the inventors, “a classification may be based on the type of material that is present on 50% or more of the bottom surface.” (6,471,491) This explains why the “fabric” fuzz extends mostly around the edges of my shoes, where it can take up a lot of area without interfering too much with the traction of the bare-rubber centers.

Why would the United States government put a 37.5 percent tariff on sneakers? Because doing so both enriches it and provides protection to local producers by artificially increasing the price of foreign sneakers. Of course, the tax code is ridiculously complex so any company willing to fund a decent accountant is usually able to find creative ways to either avoid tariffs completely or at least reduce the amount of tariff they have to pay.

While I’ve never had an interest in Converse sneakers, or sneakers in general, I almost want to buy a pair just to support this company’s actions. It’s always nice when a producer is willing to go to bat for consumers living in cesspools of socialist economic policy.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 20th, 2017 at 10:30 am

To Protect and Serve

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People often think that I’m being hyperbolic when I say that law enforcers will escalate even petty infractions into violence but we continue to see examples of them doing so. The latest example comes from California. A 52-year-old woman was selling flowers without a permit and found out how even minor disobedience is treated by the brave men and women of law enforcement:

A California woman found herself subject to a brutal takedown by a police officer who spotted her attempting to sell flowers without a permit.

Juanita Mendez-Medrano, 52, was arrested after working a sidewalk in Perris near to where a high school graduation ceremony was being held last month.

In an unsettling cell phone video, which surfaced on Monday, Mendez-Medrano is seen holding the flowers in her hands just before an officer is seen grabbing her by the arms, grasping her neck and tackling her to the ground in the violent arrest.

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‘Unlike the other vendors, Ms. Mendez-Medrano refused to cooperate as necessary to allow our officer to issue her a citation. She refused to provide her name, and attempted to walk away,’ the police news release said.

Because she refused to give her name so that the officer could issue her a bullshit citation the officer felt that it was appropriate to smash her into the concrete sidewalk.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 20th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Remember That Officers are Easily Spooked

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A few days have passed since an innocent woman was gunned down by a rabid Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officer. Conveniently both officers’ body cameras and the car’s dashboard camera were turned off and the only other witness is dead so the only account we can get is that given to us by the officers. Now that a few days have passed the officers have had a chance to get their stories straight and their excuse for this shooting is even more feeble than most excuses given to us by cops who gunned down a person under extremely questionable circumstances:

As they reached West 51st Street, Officer Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the squad. Immediately afterward Ruszczyk approached the driver’s side window of the squad. Harrity indicated that Officer Noor discharged his weapon, striking Ruszczyk through the open driver’s side window.

Much like a wild animal, police are apparently easily startled by loud noises. Unlike a wild animal though, when a police officer becomes startled they apparently shoot the first person they see who isn’t also a cop.

This excuse is ridiculous and the fact that it’s the best that they could come up with shows that they aren’t worried about even appearing legitimate. I’m guessing the fact that Yanez got away with murder has emboldened police officers to the point where they no longer feel the need to bother justifying their acts of murder. They know that the chances of them being punished in any meaningful way are roughly equal to those of winning the Powerball lottery.

My hope is that the State sees this situation as egregious enough to toss us lowly serfs a bone and actually punish this officer for his misdeeds. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Preventing Death with Death

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It’s no secret that certain drugs can kill you if you use too high of a dose. This problem has been made worse with drugs that the State has declared illegal because their prohibition has motivated manufacturers to increase the potency so more can be smuggled in smaller packages. Opiates have increased in potency significantly and therefore have lead to greater deaths related to overdoses. Even I know somebody who died of an opiate overdose not too long ago. However, I fail to see the logic in how killing more people is going to improve the situation:

This unfortunate reality raises a very uncomfortable question: Do we need to go to war with Mexico to ultimately win the war against opioids and other death drugs? By “go to war,” I mean a formal declaration of war by Congress against Mexico in which we use the full force of our military might to destroy the cartels, the poppy fields and all elements of the drug trade. Ideally, as our fight is not with the Mexican government, its military or its people, which try to weaken the cartels, we would try to partner with those entities against the cartels, much as we partnered with the South Vietnamese government and military against the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese Army.

It sounds crazy, I know – unless you acknowledge we are already fighting a war with Mexico.

This guy’s logic is batshit insane. Yes, people are dying from opium overdoses. But the reason they’re dying from opium overdoses is because of prohibition, not because of anything the Mexican government or people have done. Moreover, the Mexican government is fighting the drug cartels so shouldn’t it be considered an ally in this fight? At the end of the day though, the real insanity is believing that the solution to people dying from their own actions is killing a bunch more. Opium users are dying because of their own actions, they’re not being killed by other people (although the actions of the United States government have certainly increased their risks of dying), so the usual justification for war, national self-defense (which is absurd as well since a “nation” is an abstraction and therefore cannot be aggressed against), doesn’t even apply here. The author’s entire argument is stupid and he should feel bad for writing it.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 19th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Jeff Sessions Announces Justice Department Will Increase Theft

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Jeff Sessions apparently came to Minneapolis (nobody told me, not that I would have cared). Fortunately, being a government employee, he didn’t have to worry about being murdered by Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers but I digress. During his trip to the Twin Cities he announced that his department is planning to steal more property from innocent people:

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department will issue new directives to increase the federal govenment’s use of civil asset forfeiture, a controversial practice that allows law enforcement to seize property from suspected criminals without charging them with a crime.

[…]

“[W]e hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture—especially for drug traffickers,” Sessions said. “With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime. Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners.”

Some people might claim that the people being robbed aren’t innocent because they’ve been accused of a crime but civil asset forfeiture occurs before somebody has been found guilty of a crime, which is the problem. Under a justice system where one is supposedly innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt there is no justification for stealing an accused individual’s property. So, yes, Jeff Sessions announced that his department is going to be stealing from innocent people and that should have everybody up in arms.

What makes civil asset forfeiture more egregious is that the loot is shared with municipal and state police departments (the “partners” Sessions mentioned), which means their officers are motivated to perpetrate more thefts. The practice also skews the focus of police departments. As I’ve pointed out before, police departments make no additional money by solving burglaries, armed robberies, assaults, rapes, and murders. Departments do, however, make additional money by accusing individuals of violating federal drug prohibitions. Since departments are rewarded for focusing on drug-related crimes that is where they invest their resources. Meanwhile people who have actually been victimized are left with little chance of seeing justice served.

When you pay taxes to fund your local police department you’re actually funding the thieves who are motivated to rob you and their motivation comes from the practices being encouraged by government goons like Jess Sessions.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 19th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Your Internet Sucks Because of Government

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When it comes to Internet access parts of the United States often feel like a third world country. If you live in a small town you may be lucky if you can even get digital subscriber line (DSL) service. Those living in larger cities often have access to high speed cable Internet but that is far from the blazing fast fiber connections that people in other parts of the world and a handful of lucky denizens in the United States enjoy. But why does Internet access in the United States suck? Is it due to a failure of capitalism or market forces? No. As it turns out, the reason Internet access sucks in the United States is the same reason so many things suck, government:

Deploying broadband infrastructure isn’t as simple as merely laying wires underground: that’s the easy part. The hard part — and the reason it often doesn’t happen — is the pre-deployment barriers, which local governments and public utilities make unnecessarily expensive and difficult.

Before building out new networks, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must negotiate with local governments for access to publicly owned “rights of way” so they can place their wires above and below both public and private property. ISPs also need “pole attachment” contracts with public utilities so they can rent space on utility poles for above-ground wires, or in ducts and conduits for wires laid underground.

The problem? Local governments and their public utilities charge ISPs far more than these things actually cost. For example, rights of way and pole attachments fees can double the cost of network construction.

So the real bottleneck isn’t incumbent providers of broadband, but incumbent providers of rights-of-way. These incumbents — the real monopolists — also have the final say on whether an ISP can build a network. They determine what hoops an ISP must jump through to get approval.

Starting an Internet service provider (ISP) or expanding an existing one normally wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Digging trenches and laying cable isn’t exactly rocket science nor is it exorbitant expensive. But receiving permission from municipal governments and their utility companies doesn’t come cheap because they have a monopoly.

If a free market existed in utility provision, ISPs would be able to negotiate cheaper right-of-way agreements when they were needed because most companies would be happy to receive a little extra for letting an ISP utilize already existing infrastructure. And if one utility company didn’t want to lease the use of its infrastructure, an ISP could negotiate a contract with one of that company’s competitors. Another possibility under a free market would be utility companies not even bothering to build infrastructure but leasing the use of infrastructure built by companies that specialize in building and leasing it to utility providers, including ISPs.

However, many municipal governments have granted themselves a monopoly on both utilities and the infrastructure. Without any competition these municipal governments can charge ISPs whatever they want for access to their infrastructure. This ends up hurting the people living in the municipality but municipal governments, like all governments, don’t care about the people they claim dominion over.

If Americans want better Internet they need to either take control of their municipal governments’ infrastructure (which was built with money stolen from taxpayers anyways) or bypass it entirely.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 18th, 2017 at 11:00 am