A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for August, 2017

They Came for Violence

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If you listen to self-identified national socialists, you would be lead to believe that they had no violent intentions in Charlottesville and that they only resorted to violence to defend themselves against the international socialists. However, material posted in chats for organizing the event indicate that those claims of self-defense are spurious at best:

Unicorn Riot has so far published roughly 1,000 screenshots of chats, and the recording, conducted through the app Discord, from a source. A march organizer says the documents he has seen appear to be authentic. Transcripts show participants openly planning violence while organizers instruct them to obey the law. Participants on one call debated when it would be permissible to use riot shields as weapons. “Some screaming little Latina bitch comes at you and knocks your teeth on your riot shield, that means you hit her, and you’re going to get in trouble for the weapons,” one participant says.

Timothy Litzenburg represents two women injured in the melee who last week sued 28 groups and individuals, including the alleged organizers of the Unite the Right march. He says the documents could be “the crux of the case,” because they show “a little flavor of how [organizers] totally intended on violence and mayhem.”

While Unicorn Riot cannot be called an impartial source (it’s a hardcore leftist media collective), it did provide screenshots from the organizer’s Discord server that have so far been undisputed. Moreover, it’s no surprise that a bunch of national socialists planned to perpetrate violence since national and international socialists have been killing each other for a long time now. But this information does lend itself to a more interesting topic: self-defense.

In Minnesota, one of the requirements for legally using deadly force in self-defense is that you must be a reluctant participant. That is to say, you must not have willfully entered yourself into the violent situation. I personally think that it’s a good principle.

So the question here is, can the national socialists claim self-defense in this situation? Obviously that question can only be answered on an individual by individual basis. However, the material released by Unicorn Riot shows that at least some of the individuals who went to Charlottesville did so seeking violence. They knowingly put themselves into a situation that was all but guaranteed to turn violent (violating the “Don’t go stupid places,” principle of self-defense) and specifically expressed a purpose to perform violence.

I know there will be some debate about whether or not one can claim self-defense if they knowingly went somewhere that they reasonably believed would turn violence, however, one thing is certain: prosecutors eat up material like this. And that is another important point. While situations that qualify as self-defense can be debated, what you post online can and will be used against you if you are ever in a situation where you claim self-defense. Protecting yourself doesn’t stop after the situation itself, it starts before that situation and ends after that situation. Before you get into a self-defense situation, you should take care of how you portray yourself because a prosecutor will use your character against you after the situation.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 31st, 2017 at 11:00 am

Just a Few Purges Away from Utopia

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Comrades, I have great news from the front line of the war against capitalism! Our glorious leader, President Nicolás Maduro, has seized control of the government of Venezuela and is now using his power to purge the counterrevolutionaries from that most prosperous of countries:

Venezuela’s new constituent assembly has unanimously voted to put opposition leaders on trial for treason.

The assembly said it would pursue those it accuses of supporting US economic sanctions against the country.

I’m sure this will fix Venezuela’s failed economy. Once the purges are complete food will return to the tables of Venezuelans, toilet paper will appear on store shelves again, and utopia will rise from the ashes. Socialism, after all, is always just a few purges away from bringing prosperity and equality to all.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 31st, 2017 at 10:30 am

Free Akkadian Dictionary

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It probably won’t surprise anybody to find out that I’m a language nerd. Although I’m only fluent in English at this point and have a decent understanding of both Esperanto and Latin, I love to learn about all of the different mechanisms that humans have developed to communicate with one another. I especially love learning about ancient languages. Earlier this year I read a book on cuneiform, the earliest known writing system, and was fascinated by how the systems worked (it’s a real hodgepodge compared to the written alphabet we use for English today).

For the last 90 years scholars at the University of Chicago have been compiling an Akkadian dictionary. That near century of effort has finally bore fruit. The University of Chicago has released its 21 volume Akkadian dictionary and best of all the PDFs are free (buying the physical volumes will set you back over $1,000). If you have any interest in learning about Akkadian, head over to the University of Chicago’s website and start downloading all of the volumes.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 31st, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Science

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All Hail Hurricane Harvey, Savior of Our Economy

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A lot of people like to write off the Austrian school of economics as lunacy. Those same people usually cite mainstream economics as the right and true school of thought. However, I have a difficult time taking their opinions seriously when they believe shit like this:

Devastating Hurricane Harvey, unprecedented in its rainfall, could be a slight negative for U.S. growth in the third quarter, but economists say it may ultimately provide a tiny boost to the national economy because of the rebuilding in the Houston area.

Goldman Sachs economists estimate a very preliminary impact of the storm to be $30 billion in property damages, making it the ninth largest since World War II in terms of domestic property damage. Goldman economists say, in a note, the storm could take 0.2 points off of growth in third quarter because of the impact to the energy sector.

The problem with mainstream economics is its reliance on activity. So long as money is changing hands mainstream economists see a strong economy. If $30 billion of property is destroyed, they see $30 billion of activity and therefore a stronger activity. What totally flies over their head is the fact that that $30 billion isn’t producing new wealth, it’s merely replacing lost wealth. The Austrian school of economics is at least intelligent enough to address this fact.

What’s especially bad about the viewpoint that destruction is good for the economy is that it was refuted by Frédéric Bastiat way back in 1850:

Have you ever witnessed the anger of the good shopkeeper, James Goodfellow, when his careless son has happened to break a pane of glass? If you have been present at such a scene, you will most assuredly bear witness to the fact that every one of the spectators, were there even thirty of them, by common consent apparently, offered the unfortunate owner this invariable consolation – “It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Everybody must live, and what would become of the glaziers if panes of glass were never broken?”

Now, this form of condolence contains an entire theory, which it will be well to show up in this simple case, seeing that it is precisely the same as that which, unhappily, regulates the greater part of our economical institutions.

Suppose it cost six francs to repair the damage, and you say that the accident brings six francs to the glazier’s trade – that it encourages that trade to the amount of six francs – I grant it; I have not a word to say against it; you reason justly. The glazier comes, performs his task, receives his six francs, rubs his hands, and, in his heart, blesses the careless child. All this is that which is seen.

But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”

It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented.

Resources spent on rebuilding lost wealth cannot be used on creating new wealth. The rate of creation of new wealth is a far better indicator of the strength of an economy that simple economic activity.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 30th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Might as Well Have the Army Perform Domestic Policing

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The 1033 program, which allows government agencies to acquire surplus military equipment either for free or damn cheap, has become more controversial as the public’s trust in domestic law enforcement has dwindled. Obama, to his credit, attempted to curtail the program. But his efforts were undone by the new administration:

Mr. Sessions said that President Trump would sign an executive order on Monday fully restoring the military program, called 1033, and that the president was doing “all he can to restore law and order and support our police across America.”

Mr. Sessions has rolled back a number of Obama-era efforts toward police reform. In April, he ordered a sweeping review of federal agreements with dozens of law enforcement agencies, including consent decrees with troubled police departments nationwide.

Mr. Obama ordered a review of the Pentagon program in late 2014 after the police responded to protests with armored vehicles, snipers and riot gear. The images of police officers with military gear squaring off against protesters around the country angered community activists who said law enforcement agencies were reacting disproportionately.

In addition to the prohibitions on certain military surplus gear, he added restrictions on transferring some weapons and devices, including explosives, battering rams, riot helmets and shields.

The Pentagon said 126 tracked armored vehicles, 138 grenade launchers and 1,623 bayonets had been returned since Mr. Obama prohibited their transfer.

Not surprisingly, opinions on Trump’s decision are split down party lines. His opponents are up in arms over the return of militarization of law enforcement while his supporters are cheering the restoration to law and order that they perceive will come from this. But granting access to surplus military hardware isn’t the problem in of itself and this decision won’t restore law and order.

The motto commonly attribute to law enforcement is to serve and protect. Granted, the job of law enforcement is to enforce the law, not serve or protect, but let’s consider that motto. The ability to serve and protect members of a community depends heavily on those members trust in their protectors. If they don’t trust their protector, they are going to go out of their way to avoid them, which makes their protector’s task difficult.

Obama’s decision to curtail the 1033 program was more about signaling than anything else. It signaled the fact that he acknowledge the widening gap of mistrust between law enforcers and the communities they operate in. Demilitarizing law enforcers would likely go a long ways towards reducing that gap since part of the distrust people have in law enforcement is their heavy reliance on violence. While Obama’s order wasn’t enough to restore the public’s trust in law enforcement, it could have saved as the beginning of a strategy to do so. Trump’s decision to reverse Obama’s order eliminated that strategy altogether.

At this rate the public is going to see less and less of a difference between the police and military. At some point there really will be no difference except the military generally has more restrictions when it comes to utilizing violence.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 30th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Pieces of Paper Are Just Pieces of Paper

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There appears to have been an honest to goodness axe murder in the Twin Cities:

Gallagher’s wife told police that she had been lying on the couch in the living room when she heard a noise at the front door and saw Hoogenakker breaking into the house. She ran to call 911 and saw Hoogenakker pull her husband into the living room and onto the floor, where he hit Gallagher, swinging the tool with both arms, before pulling him outside.

A man who is a renter in the Gallagher home said he heard a fight downstairs that then spilled outside. The renter told police he saw the attacker walking away from the house. Police used a dog to track the man to a house a few blocks away, in the 300 block of Ninth Avenue.

Hoogenakker came outside and was arrested by police, who found the ax-like tool in a closet. ” Hoogenakker” was etched into the handle. Hoogenakker also admitted that he attacked Gallagher, who had an active harassment restraining order in effect against the suspect.

There are two important points to take away from this story. First, a restraining order is not a self-defense tool, it’s a legal tool. While a restraining order grants certain legal benefits that can make them a valuable tool in the courtroom, it is entirely incapable of actually protecting anybody.

Second, the police are more often than not cleanup and retribution, not protectors. When you call 911 a police officer doesn’t immediately teleport to your location. You have to wait for an officer to get from wherever they are to wherever you are, which generally takes minutes. When you’re being attacked by somebody, you usually don’t have minutes. Oftentimes, as in this case, when the police do arrive the attack has already concluded so their job is to find the perpetrator so vengeance can be had. While vengeance may have a certain appeal, it’s not as appealing as still being alive.

When you’re being attacked you’re usually on your own. That being the case, it would be wise to invest in some self-defense training as well as tools to better enable you to defend yourself.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 30th, 2017 at 10:00 am

The Best Option for You

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A lot of electrons have been annoyed by people writing scathing diatribes because the various governmental bodies responsible for Houston, Texas didn’t issue an evacuation order. I think that this article did a good job of pointing out just how much of a clusterfuck planning and responding to disasters on this scale are.

There was obviously disagreement between the various governmental bodies responsible for Houston. Some bodies wanted to perform an evacuation, other bodies didn’t. As with most things in our modern age, the disagreement was taken to the Internet. Governor Greg Abbott advised people in the lower areas of Houston to get the fuck out. Meanwhile, the local and country government officials were telling residents to shelter in place. Who was right? With the 20/20 vision offered by hindsight, a lot of people are saying that evacuating would have been the correct choice. But they are missing a critical piece of information. When Hurricane Rita was making a beeline for Houston in 2005, the order to evacuate was given. More than 100 people died in that evacuation. As of this writing, five people are known to have died in the aftermath of Harvey. If we judge results by death toll, the decision to not evacuate Houston is still significantly ahead of the decision to evacuate the city in 2005.

Realistically, evacuating a city the size (in both geographic area and number of people) of Houston isn’t feasible. There are too many people and too few exits to get everybody out at the same time. Neither the roadways or public transit systems are designed to handle everybody using them simultaneously. If you’re in an area that is about to be nailed by a natural disaster and an evacuation order is given, it’s already too late to get out.

Instead of arguing about whether or not Houston should have been evacuated, you might want to consider, if you haven’t already, developing your own disaster survival plan and begin implementing it. Having a plan head of time makes surviving much easier. Furthermore, you shouldn’t rely on the orders issued by government bodies to decide whether or not you’re going to evacuate an area. They’re (assuming their intentions are good, which may not be the case but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt here) going to look at the big picture. Their concern is going to be what’s the best option for the largest number of people. You should be concerned about you and yours. An evacuation may not be the best option for the largest number of people, but it might very well be the best option for you.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 29th, 2017 at 11:00 am

There’s No Honor Among Thieves

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There’s no honor among thieves so this story shouldn’t surprise anybody:

Apparently, nobody’s exempt from the CIA’s intelligence gathering, not even its own intelligence partners. According to a set of documents published by WikiLeaks, the CIA uses a tool called “ExpressLane” that hides behind a fake software update to collect information from agencies around the world that use its biometric collection system. In the US, the list includes fellow government agencies like the FBI, the NSA and Homeland Security. These partners are supposed to share data with the CIA, but clearly, the intelligence service wants to make sure they’re not keeping anything from the agency.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are all tasked with spying. In the case of the FBI, it is tasked with spying on domestic individuals. Both the NSA and CIA are supposed to spy on foreign individuals but they always seem to get caught spying on domestic individuals as well. Since those two agencies are willing to violate the rules that are supposed to govern their behavior, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that they’re both violating those rules by spying on each other.

Now the question is, what will happen with this revelation? Will Congress hold a hearing and punish the CIA for surveilling other agencies? It’s a possibility since the State generally doesn’t take transgressions against it kindly. Then again, Congress has been happy to stand idly by as agencies within the executive branch violate every rule written to govern their power. And since the CIA is spying on everybody, it’s quite possible that the agency has some good dirt on some of the members of Congress (and if you’ve read anything on the history of the CIA, you know that the agency wouldn’t be above using blackmail against members of Congress). If Congress ignores this transgression like it has ignored the NSA’s transgressions, it will further embolden government agencies to violate further rules governing their behavior and the vicious cycle will continue on its merry way.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 29th, 2017 at 10:30 am

A Return to Normal

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I wasn’t surprised when I read this:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is preparing to restore the flow of surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies under a program that had been sharply curtailed amid an outcry over police use of armored vehicles and other war-fighting gear to confront protesters.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press indicate President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order undoing an Obama administration directive that restricted police agencies’ access to the gear that includes grenade launchers, bullet-proof vests, riot shields, firearms and ammunition.

Both political parties are in favor of expanding the power of government but the Democratic Party is at least honest about its intentions. The Republican Party likes to market itself as the party of smaller government but every time it gets into power its people find ways to expand government power further.

Reopening the floodgates of surplus military equipment to domestic law enforcement is only going to further expand the already expanding rift between them and the people living here. When you have forces that are widely seen as abusing the large amount of power they already possess, giving them even more power to abuse isn’t going to sit terribly well. Unfortunately, the State requires a strong force to subjugate the people it claims as citizens so any action taken to curtail that force will be temporary at best.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 29th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Monday Metal: Wisdom Eyes by Nine Treasures

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I’m a huge fan of Mongolian history and folk metal so any band that combines those two interests competently becomes a favorite in my book. Nine Treasures manages to do exactly that. The bands latest album, Wisdom Eyes, dropped last week so this week we’re going to listen to the title track off of that album:

Written by Christopher Burg

August 28th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Posted in Media

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