A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘News You Need to Know’ Category

Looking Dumb When Trying to Look Smart

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Omnia dicta fortiora si dicta Latina. Everything sounds more impressive if said in Latin. While that’s generally true, it only applies when something is said in correct Latin. When something is said in incorrect Latin you just end up looking like a damn fool:

A development of luxury homes in Cambridge has been daubed with graffiti – written in Latin, of course.
Vandals spray-painted the new five-bedroom river-front houses with the words Locus in Domos Loci Populum.

Locals have said the messages, which appear to be a protest against the development, could “only happen” in the university city.

I’m glad that something like this could “only happen” in Cambridge. I’d hate to see a trend of vandals writing “A place on the houses of a place the people,” on houses spread any further.

Today’s lesson is not to rely on Google Translate, especially for Latin. If you really want to use Latin and are unwilling to learn the language, head over to the nearest university’s Latin department and ask for a translation.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 6th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Real American Heroes

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A lot of municipalities require residents to sign up for garbage removal service. As far as I can tell, the justification for such requirements is that residents are too lazy to haul their own trash to the dump so every one of them must pay somebody else to do it. But rules are for thee, not for me. When the State decides to leave trash on land it claims as its property what consequences befall it? Usually nothing. However, once in a while there are a handful of people who step in and take action:

Since December, clothes, syringes and other waste — remnants of a homeless camp — sat at the corner on the edge of downtown. St. Paul staff members said they repeatedly called the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the property, and asked them to clean it up. But the trash remained.

When Mische heard about the months of inaction, he rallied neighbors and family members and spent more than five hours on Saturday and Sunday cleaning it up.

On Saturday, he took about 50 bags of trash to an official dump site. The site was closed Sunday. Frustrated, he thought of an alternative for the additional two dozen bags.

“If City Hall is not going to come get it, we’ll bring it to City Hall,” he said.

He left a heap of trash bags at the doorstep of City Hall.

Personally, I’d have bypassed the dump entirely and went straight to City Hall but that’s just me nitpicking. I applaud Mr. Mische’s efforts. To add icing to the cake, the city has also decided again charging Mr. Mische with illegal dumping. I guess the city decided it would look bad if it fined somebody who did its work for it.

Little acts of civil disobedience such as this may not topple the State but they can act as a thorn in its side.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 5th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Department of Justice Drops More Child Pornography Charges

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With all of the work the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) went through, including hosting and upgrading a child pornography site, you would think that the Department of Justice (DoJ) would be eager to start the nailing suspects to the wall. But the agency has decided to drop yet more charges because it doesn’t want to explain how the FBI caught the suspect:

In Tippens, the government decided to make such a move rather than allow attorneys for the defendant to present still-classified material discovered on WikiLeaks as trial exhibits. In March, during trial, the defense attorneys told the court they wished to present exhibits showing the government’s ability to, as the judge summarized earlier this month, “hack into a computer without leaving any trace that it had been hacked or that an exploit had been placed on it.”

The result is that Tippens “would not be able to determine whether child pornography had been planted or whether security settings had been modified.”

During trial, prosecutors acknowledged that the material the defense wished to present was classified and that the materials therefore should be excluded. Because of that declaration, and the inability to present classified material that may possibly be helpful to the defense, the defense asked the judge to dismiss Counts 1 (receipt of child pornography) and 3 (transportation of child pornography).

This tendency for the DoJ to drop charges because it doesn’t want to reveal any evidence about how the FBI caught the suspects really makes me wonder what the FBI’s exploit actually did. I’m starting to wonder if it was doing something shady (as in shadier than normal for the FBI) that would prevent the evidence from holding up in court because the agency seems to be pulling out all of the stops to keep it secret.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 3rd, 2017 at 10:30 am

Living Under a Criminal Enterprise

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Will you look at that, it’s a day ending in “y.” You know what that means, right? It means another Internet scam is afoot! This time the scam involves a flaw in Mobile Safari that was just patched yesterday:

The flaw involved the way that Safari displayed JavaScript pop-up windows. In a blog post published Monday afternoon, researchers from mobile-security provider Lookout described how exploit code surreptitiously planted on multiple websites caused an endless loop of windows to be displayed in a way that prevented the browser from being used. The attacker websites posed as law-enforcement actions and falsely claimed that the only way users could regain use of their browser was to pay a fine in the form of an iTunes gift card code to be delivered by text message. In fact, recovering from the pop-up loop was as easy as going into the device settings and clearing the browser cache. This simple fix was possibly lost on some uninformed targets who were too uncomfortable to ask for outside help.

Patch your shit, folks.

I had a friend comment that he couldn’t believe that anybody would be stupid enough to fall for this since law enforcement would never highjack a phone and demand payment in iTunes gift cards. Although demanding payment in iTunes gift cards would be unusual for law enforcement, the actions being taken by the scammers aren’t that different than many actions taken by law enforcement. The scammers used a threat in order to extort wealth from their victim just as law enforcement agents do. When people have lived their entire life worrying about being pulled over and threatened with violence if they don’t pay a fine for driving too fast or, worse yet, having their vehicle and cash confiscated under civil forfeiture laws, the idea that police officers would highjack your browser and demand payment probably doesn’t seem that odd.

We all live under a massive criminal enterprise known as the State. It has taught us that being extorted is just a way of life. With that in mind, it’s not too surprising to me that there are people who fall for these kinds of scams.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 28th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Getting What You Want Good and Hard

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Stories of genies often involve a poor sap coming across a genie’s lantern, being granted three wishes, and receiving exactly what they wished for. The twist is that their wishes are usually poorly thought out and therefore the fulfillment of their wishes brings despair instead of joy. This is why when somebody expresses a poorly thought out desire I often tell them that I hope that they get everything wish for and that they get it good and hard.

At one point in time the United States government had virtually no involvement in marriage. The lack of government involvement meant practices such as polygamy were legal. This didn’t sit well with many Christians of the time. Relying on the fact that most of the people in the government were also Christians, they made a wish for the government to get involved in the institute of marriage and that wish was granted:

The idea that the Constitution protects only what happens between a person’s ears isn’t novel. It has roots in a series of laws, and the Supreme Court decisions that upheld them, from 1862 through 1890. The goal at the time was to rein in a new and dangerous-seeming religious movement called Mormonism by criminalizing its most eccentric practice: polygamy. But by claiming the right to regulate the behavior of people of faith, mainstream believers set the stage for the modern political left to step in and regulate them—and to have 150 years’ worth of precedents on their side when they did it.

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In 1852, the LDS Church began openly defending plural marriage. This is what elevated the “Mormon problem” to the national stage. Beginning in the 1850s, Eastern newspapers were rife with references to polygamy as “evil,” “licentious,” a “brutalizing practice,” “repugnant to our sentiments of morality and social order,” and “shocking to the moral sense of the world.” The New York Times editorialized repeatedly for taking direct action against the Latter-day Saints. “The fact, if it be a fact, that the women are willing to live in polygamy, is no reason for our allowing them to do so,” the editors of the paper wrote in March 1860. What had begun as rival groups skirmishing over frontier resources came to be seen as an existential conflict: The soul of the whole country seemed to be at stake if the federal government allowed such behavior to continue.

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In December 1881, Sen. George F. Edmunds of Vermont introduced a law to make anyone who accepted the Church’s teachings on polygamy ineligible to vote, hold public office, or serve on a jury. Again, the editors of the Times endorsed the act’s passage: “It must be admitted that the Edmunds bill is a harsh remedy for polygamy. But then the disease in Utah has gone beyond remedies that are not more or less heroic.”

It passed, as did another law five years later disincorporating the Church and declaring that all Church property and assets above $50,000 would be confiscated by the government.

The Christians of the day got what they wanted but they didn’t think their wish through very well. When you grant government power over something that power is almost always permanent. What happens when your group is no longer the primary influencer of the government? You suddenly find those powers you granted it being used against your wishes.

Today hardcore Christians find themselves at odds with the government when it comes to marriage. The government has become more liberal and has begun allowing same-sex marriages. This hasn’t sat well with many Christians who not only believe that marriage can only be between one man and one woman but also believe the governments should enforce their belief.

Marriage isn’t unique in this regard. Whenever a government gets involved in something the advocates of it doing so cheer… until that government no longer sides with their beliefs. Suddenly they find the power they granted to the government being used against their beliefs but are powerless to do anything about it.

Always keep in mind that granting government more power will turn out poorly in the long run.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 27th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Money Won’t Save Government Indoctrination Centers

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How many times have you heard a statist claims that government indoctrination centers, or public education to use their euphemism, don’t receive enough money? If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that I’d have enough money to fund a government indoctrination center for 15 to 20 minutes!

Statists are predictable creatures. Whenever a government programs fails to deliver expected results they resort to claiming that the program simply didn’t receive enough funding. To them government programs are furnaces. If the program isn’t delivering expected results then you need to shovel more coal into it. But how much money is needed to make the furnace of government indoctrination centers produce some heat? Apparently a lot:

There’s also lots of waste and inefficiency when Uncle Sam gets involved. With great fanfare, President Obama spent buckets of money to supposedly boost government schools. The results were predictably bad.

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The administration funneled $7 billion into the program between 2010 and 2015… Arne Duncan, Obama’s education secretary from 2009 to 2016, said his aim was to turn around 1,000 schools every year for five years. ..The school turnaround effort, he told The Washington Post days before he left office in 2016, was arguably the administration’s “biggest bet.”

It was a “bet,” but he used our money. And he lost. Or, to be more accurate, taxpayers lost. And children lost.

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Indeed, I’ve seen this movie before. Many times. Bush’s no-bureaucrat-left-behind initiative flopped. Obama’s latest initiative flopped. Common Core also failed. Various schemes at the state level to dump more money into government schools also lead to failure. Local initiatives to spend more don’t lead to good results, either.

Throwing more money into government indoctrination centers is an exercise in doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If shoveling money into the program was capable of fixing it then we’d have see at least some marginal improvement over the decades. But student performance continues to dwindle, the nation is becoming dumber.

Will statists listen to reason on this matter? Of course not. In their world all problems can only be solved by the State. If the State’s current initiatives aren’t working then it’s the fault of a hated political party, the free market, or a lack of funding. But the fault never lies with statism itself!

Written by Christopher Burg

March 23rd, 2017 at 11:00 am

Minnesota Department of Human Services Questions Whether Mayo’s Desire to Get Paid Violates the Law

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Minnesota really is a socialist shithole. The CEO of the Mayo Clinic, Dr. John Noseworthy, announced that his organization will give preference to holders of private insurance because Medicaid has a rather nasty habit of not paying for services rendered. His announcement sparked a lot of controversy because idiot socialists (a redundant term, I know) think profit is evil. The State of Minnesota is so heavily infected with this idiotic belief that it has announced that the Department of Health and Human Services will investigate the Mayo to determine whether its desire to get paid violates the law:

The Minnesota Department of Human Services is probing the Mayo Clinic for possible violations of civil- and human-rights laws by putting a higher priority on patients with commercial insurance.

The review, confirmed Thursday by DHS Commissioner Emily Piper, follows reports that Mayo will give preference to privately insured patients.

Piper’s department is also evaluating its various contracts with the Mayo Clinic system, which reaches far beyond its Rochester home base. Those contracts served over 150,000 public program enrollees last year, including lab work and pharmacy services.

What the fuck is wrong with this state? Hell, what the fuck is wrong with this country? Anybody expressing an interest in wanting to get paid for services rendered shouldn’t even merit an acknowledgement in the back page of the local section of a newspaper. It should be assumed that everybody wants to get paid for providing goods or services.

Critics have been pointing out that the Mayo Clinic made a good amount of revenue last year. It’s as if they believe there is some amount of revenue that when exceeded is too much and therefore bad. Whether the Mayo Clinic made $100 million or $100 billion is irrelevant. Okay, I lied. Revenue is relevant because the more revenue a provider makes the more it can invest in provided better services in the future. This is especially true when you look at the costs the Mayo Clinic faces. Being involved in the medical industry in the United States is damn expensive. Upgrading wings to the latest and greatest doesn’t come cheap. The more revenue Mayo makes the better equipment and services it can provide. The less revenue Mayo makes the more dilapidated its facilities become and by extension the worse its services become.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 21st, 2017 at 11:00 am

Today’s Arbitrary Rule Changes

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What’s the difference between a dictatorship and a democracy? A lot of people claim that one of the major differences is that under a dictatorship an individual ruler or their ilk can arbitrarily make new laws whereas under a democracy laws are created through a process that requires input by many. If that’s the difference then I’m sorry to inform all of you that we live under a dictatorship.

Laws in the United States are often passed by Congress and signed by the president. However, not every law passed in this country has to go through that process. Many laws are created out of thin air by regulators. In one of today’s example of this arbitrary process I bring you the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) newly declared rules:

US authorities will no longer allow travelers from 13 African and Middle Eastern countries to bring computers and laptops into airplane cabins anymore, two news agencies have reported.

The new rules were laid out in an e-mail sent to airlines today by the US Transportation Safety Administration. This is according to The Guardian, which was first to report on the matter. Cell phones will still be allowed, but anything larger—including laptops, tablets, and cameras—must be put in checked baggage. CNN, citing two unnamed “administration officials,” confirmed the report.

And as Billy Mays often said, “But wait, there’s more!”

In a decision that could have broad implications throughout the silencer industry as well as with shooters/consumers, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATFE or ATF) has notified silencer manufacturer Dead Air Armament that the wipes used in their Ghost M silencer is a silencer part.

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At this point, it is unclear why the ATF has decided to reverse their opinion on a nearly 20 year old issue. Once used in a variety of now dated silencer designs, the wipe has seen a limited resurgence as of late in modular suppressors and small silencers that require the use of an ablative media (“wet”) for increased noise reduction.

DHS and the ATF both created new rules out of thin air. In the case of ATF, the rule change contradicted previous declarations made by the agency. But it doesn’t matter because both agencies enjoy dictator-like powers over their domains and can make any arbitrary declaration they so choose.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 21st, 2017 at 10:00 am

Government Weed

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I’ve searched high and low for something government does better than private entities. So far the only thing I’ve found that the government is competent at is causing death and destruction. In fact, the government can’t even get weed right:

All federal marijuana is grown at a single facility at the University of Mississippi, overseen by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Last summer the DEA formally took steps to allow other entities to supply marijuana for research purposes. So far, none have been approved.

The problems with the Mississippi weed go well beyond aesthetics.

For instance, the pot grown there maxes out, potency-wise, at about 13 percent THC (the main chemical that gets you high). And that might be an overstatement — Sisley’s own testing found that one of NIDA’s strains purported to be 13 percent THC was actually closer to 8 percent.

By comparison, the typical commercial weed available in Colorado is at about 19 percent THC, according to a laboratory that tests commercial marijuana in the state. And that’s just the average — some of the higher-end strains are pushing 30 percent THC or more.

For a researcher, it’s difficult to assess the real-world impact of high-end pot if you only have access to the low-quality stuff. It’s akin to investigating the effects of bourbon by giving people Bud Light.

This news has some pretty significant results. The federal government continues to claim that cannabis has no medicinal uses. It may be true that the shitty cannabis the government has approved for testing has no medical uses but the government approved cannabis doesn’t reflect the cannabis people actually use.

Why would anybody trust any federally sanctioned research into cannabis knowing that such research is hampered by artificially placed restrictions that guarantee that the results won’t reflect real world usage?

Written by Christopher Burg

March 16th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Without Government, Who Will Plow the Roads

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If you live somewhere that gets hammered by frequent snow storms, you’ve probably heard some statist tell you that the government is necessary to plow the roads. After all, without government, who would plow the roads? It turns out that porn websites will:

When Boston plow truck drivers get to work clearing snow during tomorrow’s big storm, they’ll have some help—from Pornhub.

Pledging to assist anyone who “wants to get plowed,” the adult entertainment site says it is sending out a fleet of branded trucks to clean the city’s streets and parking lots for free.

“The Pornhub team understands that by this time of year, most cities have run up their budget in snow removal,” Pornhub Vice President Corey Price tells Boston, “and we thought we’d lend a hand in getting our fans plowed.”

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The trucks will also be available on demand to clear lots owned by small businesses, Price says. Requests for a plowing are being accepted via email at phubplows@gmail.com. They are not offering to plow driveways, he says.

And unlike government, Pornhub won’t force you to use its service or steal your fucking property if you refuse to pay it for services you’re not using.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 15th, 2017 at 10:00 am