A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Wall of Fame Assholes’ Category

War Is Good

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Remember the aftermath of 9/11 when Bush entangled the United States in several Middle Eastern conflicts? It lead to the rise of a very fervent anti-war left.

Then Obama came into power. The anti-war left fell silent. I guess they were on vacation or something.

Now Trump has undone one of the products of Bush’s legacy and announced that the United States is pulling out of Syria, which has cause the anti-war left to not only decide that Bush’s wars were OK but that his wars were absolutely necessary!

I have to assume that during its mysterious eight year disappearance, the anti-war left was taken away to Room 101 and taught the importance of Big Brother’s wars. Either that or the anti-war left was never actually against war and merely exploited Bush’s war in order to criticize somebody who worshiped the wrong political god.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 21st, 2018 at 10:00 am

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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What happens if you witness a bad crash in front of you and stop to help the injured parties? You get detained and have to pay to get your vehicle out of the impound lot:

Davis managed to get the survivor out of the car, but the second person in the car, 21-year-old Kyree Payne of Northeast D.C., died.

Davis, who lives in Baltimore and was on his way to work, says he told D.C. Police everything he witnessed and was allowed to leave. But when he was just a block away, he was pulled over by a D.C. Police officer – and that’s when his nightmare began.

“He said, ‘You’re being detained because you were a witness to a vehicle where someone died in an accident,'” Davis said.

Davis said he was made to wait for about two hours and was harshly questioned, before he claims a police supervisor told him because he witnessed a fatal crash, his car was being towed.

Davis also said that he was not involved in the crash and that his driver’s license is active and his car is registered and insured — as police gave him no citations. Unfortunately for Davis, he will have to find a way to work as his car is still impounded.

That’ll teach him for being a good Samaritan!

Of course the officer is claiming that Davis’s car was impounded because Davis refused to show a valid driver’s license. Davis refutes the officer’s claim and since the story points out that he does have a valid driver’s license, I’m inclined to side with Davis. However, a more important question is, so what if Davis didn’t have a valid driver’s license? He pulled a survivor out of a car wreck that was bad enough to leave the other occupant dead. I think a scene like that has far more important issues to address than the validity of anybody’s driver’s license. And the fact that he stopped to help people should have at least netted him a get out of a petty offense card.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 14th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Never Trust a Surveillance Company

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The parliament of the United Kingdom (UK) decided to pull a Facebook on Facebook by collecting the company’s personal information. Not only did the parliament collect Facebook’s personal information but it’s now airing the company’s dirty laundry. There are a lot of interesting tidbits to be found within the documents posted by the parliament but one in particular shows Facebook’s ruthlessness when it comes to collecting your personal information:

The emails show Facebook’s growth team looking to call log data as a way to improve Facebook’s algorithms as well as to locate new contacts through the “People You May Know” feature. Notably, the project manager recognized it as “a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective,” but that risk seems to have been overwhelmed by the potential user growth.

Initially, the feature was intended to require users to opt in, typically through an in-app pop-up dialog box. But as developers looked for ways to get users signed up, it became clear that Android’s data permissions could be manipulated to automatically enroll users if the new feature was deployed in a certain way.

In another email chain, the group developing the feature seems to see the Android permissions screen as a point of unnecessary friction, to be avoided if possible. When testing revealed that call logs could be collected without a permissions dialog, that option seems to have been obviously preferable to developers.

“Based on our initial testing,” one developer wrote, “it seems that this would allow us to upgrade users without subjecting them to an Android permissions dialog at all.”

If you’re using Facebook on a Google operating system, you’re in the center of a surveillance Eiffel Tower, and I’m not talking about the monument!

The history of Android’s permission system has not been a happy one. Until fairly recently Android had an all or nothing model where you either had to grant an application all the permissions it asked for or you couldn’t use it. Not surprisingly this resulted in almost every app requesting every possible permission, which turned the permissions dialog into a formality. Android 6.0 changed the permission system to mirror iOS’s. When an app running on Android 6.0 or later wants to access a protected feature such as text messages, the user is presented with a dialog alerting them to the attempted access and asks if they want to allow it.

If you read the excerpts, you’ll see that Facebook was concerned about the kind of public relations nightmare asking for permission to access call and text message logs could bring. At first the company was planning to only request permission to access call logs, hoping it wouldn’t cause a ruckus. However, once somebody figured out a way to add the additional capabilities without triggering any new permission requests, Facebook moved forward with the plan. So we know for a fact that Facebook knew what it was doing was likely to piss off its users and was willing to use underhanded tactics to do it without getting caught.

You should never trust a company that profits by collecting your personal information to respect your privacy. In light of the information released by the UK’s parliament, this goes double for Facebook.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 7th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Weaponizing Dependencies

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How I miss the halcyon days of the Internet when perceived slights were commonly forgotten after a short period of inconsequential shitposting. Today perceived slights often result in real-world consequences. The most recent example of this is ThotAudit, the result of a bunch of pathetic sexless whiners perceiving women slighting them. In response to their inability to get laid, they have decided to sic the Internal Revenue Service (IRC) and third-part payment processors on online sex workers:

The campaign is called the “ThotAudit,” in reference to the derogatory term “thot,” which stands for “that ho over there.” It began over the Thanksgiving holiday as a grassroots effort to intimidate sex workers and women who sell access to private pornographic social media accounts by reporting them to the Internal Revenue Service for tax evasion—without evidence of wrongdoing. But it quickly morphed into a battle over who has the right to make money on the internet.

The harassers are taking advantage of user reporting tools made available by companies like PayPal, Venmo, and CirclePay, in an attempt to force their targets offline and freeze their finances. The tactic has far-reaching implications beyond adult entertainment. Foreign governments and other groups have abused the policies to silence opponents on platforms like Twitter and Facebook for years. Attacking through the payment processors is a new wrinkle on that approach.

What kind of lowlife piece of shit sics revenuers on people? I mean, come on! That’s below the belt, guys!

Back to the story at hand. There are two aspects that I want to discuss in this post.

The first is the extent individuals will go to avoid acknowledging and accepting their faults. When I was young, I wasn’t exactly drowning in pussy. I didn’t blame women for that though. I acknowledged and accepted my faults, namely my socially awkward nature. I worked to overcome those faults. By the time I hit my mid 20’s, I was still socially awkward but I was at least capable of schmoozing a room full of people and was capable of gaining the attention of members of the opposite sex. While I’m still a bit socially awkward today, I have a smoking hot wife and have little trouble meeting new people and entertaining people at a party (entertaining people is commonly seen as an attractive quality and thus a skill worth cultivating).

The key to my transformation was accepting my flaws and working to overcome them. Most people who call themselves incels suffer from a lack of self-awareness and an unwillingness to overcome their faults. The reason they’re not getting laid isn’t because women are conspiring against them, it’s because they have a number of flaws that make them unattractive. Instead of working to improve themselves, they’re taking actions that make them even less attractive. They’re actually going so far as to exacerbate their faults to avoid acknowledging their faults.

The second thing I want to discuss is something I harp on a lot, the dangers of being dependent on third-parties. Those making themselves part of ThotAudit are trying to convince third-party payment processors to stop processing payments for targeted online sex workers. By doing this, they’re destroying the livelihood of those workers. However, this tactic is only feasible because those workers are dependent on third-party payment processors. The fewer third-parties you depend on, the fewer dependencies exist that can be weaponized against you. While it’s trendy to recommend cryptocurrencies for sex workers, that’s not the only option. Online sex workers could try pooling their resources and establishing a payment processor for their industry, which is a suggestion I made to gun stores that were being blacklisted by third-party payment processors. You might not be able to control the infrastructure yourself but if you have to rely on a third-party, it’s better to rely on one that specifically caters to your industry. After all, if your business is porn, Tumblr might cast you overboard but Pornhub probably won’t.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 5th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Intellectual Property Means Not Owning Property

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I make no secret of the fact that I don’t subscribe to the concept of intellectual property. The biggest reason I don’t subscribe to the concept is because the concept itself is an oxymoron. Property implies ownership and ownership implies absolute control. Intellectual property takes the form of copyrights, trademarks, and patents. If you create a song and are granted a copyright, does that mean you own it? No. The copyright is granted by a government agency. The agency dictates the terms of the copyright. Usually it dictates limitations such as a time frame (for example, your copyright is only valid for so many years). The same is true of trademarks and patents. Receiving a copyright does not grant absolute control, it grants limited controls. Under the concept of intellectual property the only ownership that can be said to exist is government ownership over all creative works.

Things are even worse for consumers. Consider Nintendo’s recent announcement:

For nearly three years now, creators who wanted to make money from videos that included footage of Nintendo games had to go through the onerous approval and content requirements of the Nintendo Creators Program, which also gave Nintendo a 30 percent cut of any ad revenues. Today, Nintendo announced it would be halting that program at the end of the year, in favor of a new set of “basic rules” for video creators. If those rules are followed, Nintendo now says, “we will not object to your use of gameplay footage and/or screenshots captured from games for which Nintendo owns the copyright.”

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In addition, Nintendo says video creators can only monetize these videos through a number of official partner programs on a handful of platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook.

When you pay for a Nintendo game, you’re only paying for the privilege of playing it as far as Nintendo is concerned. If you dared to record yourself enjoying “your” game and clicked the monetize button on YouTube, you could expect a take down notice from Nintendo’s legal department because, as far as the company was concerned, it owned any footage made of its games and determined that it wouldn’t allow anybody to profit from “its” footage. Nintendo eventually eased up a bit and announced that it would allow you to profit from “its” footage so long as you gave Nintendo a 30 percent cut of the profits. Now it’s changing the rules again because as the owner of the games and, according to it at least, all footage of the games, it has the legal authority to do so. While you don’t have to become part of Nintendo’s Partner Program, you are restricted on where you can post footage from which you want to profit.

Imagine if these restrictions allowed under the concept of intellectual property were expanded to actual property. The construction company that built your home might be able to restrict you from monetizing any footage you made of the house. The manufacturer that built your vehicle might not allow you to post pictures of it on Instagram but only on Flickr. The manufacturer that built your computer might prohibit you from making an unboxing video. If any of the rules that apply to the concept of intellectual property were applied to actual property, most people would probably recognize how ridiculous the situation is.

In my opinion if you purchase a copy of a game, you should own that copy. You should be allowed to do whatever you want with it. If you want to record yourself playing it while you’re snorting coke off of a hooker’s ass and monetize that video, you should be allowed to do so (I also believe that you should be allowed to snort coke off of a hooker’s ass). There shouldn’t be a loophole that says any footage of that game is owned by the developer nor should there be any restriction preventing you from profiting from the game you purchased.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 30th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Worst Parents of the Year Award

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There are a lot of ways that parents can make the lives of their children miserable. One way for parents to start early down this path is to give their child a stupid name:

A Southwest Airlines gate agent at John Wayne Airport is accused of being awful in front of a five-year old girl – and on social media – because of her unique name.

The girl’s mother says the agent made fun of the name and even posted a photo of her boarding pass on social media for others to chime in.

Five-year-old Abcde Redford pronounces her name “ab-city.”

I guess some points go to the parents for at least getting five letters of the alphabet in the correct order.

Granted, I don’t think that the gate agent should have made fun of the child because the child was innocent. They should have ridiculed the parents for picking a name that would so inevitably cause their child to be picked on. If you want to give your child a unique name, there are a lot of excellent choices that aren’t as likely to result in ridicule from schoolmates (and gate attendants) as Abcde.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 30th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Using Approved Forms of Violence

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A college in Michigan has announced that it has developed a plan to defend against shooters. Faculty and students will be given hockey pucks:

Oakland University, a public school in Rochester Hills, near Detroit, is distributing thousands of 94-cent hockey pucks for just that reason.

The distribution, which began earlier this month, stemmed from a March faculty active-shooter training session, which followed February’s shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school that left 17 dead.

A participant at the training asked Oakland University Police Chief Mark Gordon what items people could use to defend themselves on the campus, which has a no-weapons policy, the Detroit Free Press reports.

There are so many levels of hypocrisy here that I’m not even sure where to begin.

I guess I’ll start with the layer that seems to me to be the most obvious. The school has a no-weapons policy. It is providing faculty and students with hockey pucks for the express purpose of hurling them at an active shooter. In other words the hockey pucks are meant to be used to hurt people. A common word to describe a tool that is meant to hurt somebody is “weapon.” So the school no longer has a no-weapons policy. What it really has is a prohibition against unapproved weapons.

Now that the school no longer has a no-weapons policy, I think that it’s fair to ask what the purpose of the previous no-weapons policy was. If it was protection, the school has admitted that its no-weapons policy was incapable of fulfilling that purpose by distributing weapons. If it was meant to be a moral statement about the superiority of nonviolence, the school can no longer claim any moral high ground since it is now encouraging faculty and students to use violence. The only possible purpose that is left is that the policy is meant to conceal from faculty and students the fact that certain types of weapons exist. The only thing this accomplishes is prohibiting faculty and students from having a more effective means of self-defense if they want to stay within the rules.

This policy is a demonstration of pure cognitive dissonance. The school doesn’t want to admit that it’s no-weapons policy doesn’t provide any protection against weapons. In order to avoid admitting that it has attempted to equip faculty and students with “totally not weapons” to give them the illusion that they might survive when a bad person violates the no-weapons policy. The bureaucrats who administer the school know there is a threat but are unwilling to give faculty and students sanction to effectively defend themselves. In other words they are knowingly putting the people under their authority in danger.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 29th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Comcast Hell

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If I were tasked with rewriting Dante’s Inferno to reflect the modern day, I would make dealing with Comcast technical support a punishment for one of the levels of Hell. As a Comcast Business customer with a static IP address I’m required to rent a model. It’s a stupid requirement. There is absolutely no technical reason why this requirement exists. But it’s there and I have to deal with it.

Over the last several days the modem Comcast requires me to rent became flaky. At first it would go offline around midnight or 01:00. Restarting it would bring my Internet back online. Then it started going offline several times a day, which meant I had to make a dreaded call to Comcast.

Us Comcast Business customers can’t use niceties like the online chat system. We have to call 1-800-391-3000. That number puts you into contact with the most infuriating automated “assistant” that I’ve ever head the displeasure of dealing with. The only thing I can compare it to is Siri with a lobotomy (which is saying something since Siri is none too smart). No matter what I said the automated “assistant” would send a restart signal to my unresponsive modem and, shockingly, nothing would come of it. After five or six times of hanging up and calling back I learned that saying “human” when the “assistant” asked for a brief description of the problem would coax it into connecting me with a human operator. After I finally got a hold of a human being, I was told that a technician would arrive at my place in two hours (two hours specifically, not the usual bullshit of a block of time between 07:00 and 12:00 the next day).

I got a hold of a human being about roughly 8:45 so the technician was scheduled to arrive at 11:00. I got home before that and waited. And waited. And waited. Noon rolled around and the technician still hadn’t shown up. I other things that I had to do so I told my wife what needed to be done and told her to have the technician call me when he arrived. When I got home around 16:00, the technician still hadn’t arrived. So I had to call Comcast again.

My previous trick of telling the “assistant” “human” when it asked for a brief description of my problem didn’t work the second time. However, I did get it to put me into contact with a human by saying “ticket number.” I then proceeded to have a very blunt and stern conversation with the technical support person about my dislike of being lied to and was informed that a technician would arrive within two hours. Marvelously a technician did arrive with half and hour and withing 20 minutes or so after his arrival I had a new modem. Since the modem ran overnight without becoming unresponsive, it appears that the problem has been resolved.

In summary I would just like to say fuck Comcast. Of course the Internet is awash with stories of Comcast’s incompetency so this post is little more than a drop in an ocean. But now you know what I was doing with my time instead of writing posts.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 27th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Posted in Wall of Fame Assholes

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Not Enough Slaves

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Senator Tom Cotton has a reputation for saying incredibly stupid shit. However, I think he may have outdone himself:

Sen. Tom Cotton on Thursday slammed his colleagues’ efforts to pass sweeping criminal justice reforms, saying the United States is actually suffering from an “under-incarceration problem.”

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“Take a look at the facts. First, the claim that too many criminals are being jailed, that there is over-incarceration, ignores an unfortunate fact: for the vast majority of crimes, a perpetrator is never identified or arrested, let alone prosecuted, convicted, and jailed,” Cotton said during a speech at The Hudson Institute, according to his prepared remarks. “Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem.”

The country with the highest incarceration rate in the world has an under-incarceration problem?

Moreover, Cotton’s statements about the inadequacies of law enforcers doesn’t add any weight to his argument. Assuming Cotton’s statistics are correct (which they probably aren’t), why do law enforcers only identify perpetrators in 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes? Could it be that instead of focusing their efforts on crimes where individuals were actually wronged they are focusing their efforts on victimless crimes that are profitable for the department like drug crimes?

Moreover, even if law enforcers were able to identify perpetrators in a majority of property and violent crimes, why should that increase the incarceration rate? The purpose of justice is supposed to be to make a victim as whole again as possible. For example, if somebody steals a $400 television, justice would be for the criminal to repay that $400 value to the victim as well as any expenses incurred (including personal time invested) for finding the thief and bringing them to justice. If that happens, the victim is back to where they were before the theft and thus is as whole again as reasonably possible.

Incarceration doesn’t make victims whole, it merely locks a criminal away so they can become a slave laborer for the state or one of its cronies. So what Cotton is really saying is that there aren’t enough slaves to work the prison plantations and he believes that any form of prison reform will only worsen the situation. If his concern was actually justice, he would still seek a reduction in incarceration rates.

The Human Capacity for Self-Deception

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It’s common upon hearing news of an individual committing some kind of atrocity to wonder how they ever brought themselves to do it. It’s also common to act rather indignant when that individual argues that their heinous act was actually for the great good because it’s automatically assumed that they’re lying to protect their own skin. However, humans have a marvelous capacity for self-deception as demonstrated by classified documents revealed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):

One of the most important lessons of the CIA’s torture program is the way it corrupted virtually every individual and institution associated with it. Over the years, we have learned how lawyers twisted the law and psychologists betrayed their ethical obligations in order to enable the brutal and unlawful torture of prisoners.

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Perhaps the most striking element of the document is the CIA doctors’ willful blindness to the truth of what they were doing. CIA doctors decided that waterboarding actually “provided periodic relief” to a prisoner because it was a break from days of standing sleep deprivation. Similarly, CIA doctors decided that when a different prisoner was stuffed into a coffin-sized box, this provided a “relatively benign sanctuary” from other torture methods. CIA doctors described yet another prisoner — who cried, begged, pleaded, vomited, and required medical resuscitation after being waterboarded — as “amazingly resistant to the waterboard.” Incredibly, CIA doctors concluded that the torture program was “reassuringly free of enduring physical or psychological effects.”

This reminds me of a quote from Rudolf Diels, Himmler’s predecessor:

The infliction of physical punishment is not every man’s job, and naturally we were only too glad to recruit men who were prepared to show no squeamishness at their task. Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the Freudian side of the business, and it was only after a number of instances of unnecessary flogging and meaningless cruelty that I tumbled to the fact that my organization had been attracting all the sadists in Germany and Austria without my knowledge for some time past. It had also been attracting unconscious sadists, i.e. men who did not know themselves that they had sadist leanings until they took part in a flogging. And finally it had actually been creating sadists. For it seems that corporal chastisement ultimately arouses sadistic leanings in apparently normal men and women. Freud might explain it.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was likely looking for particular sorts of individuals to staff its prison camps. Namely individuals who weren’t squeamish in the presence of torture. Moreover, the CIA likely attracted many unconscious sadists who didn’t really know why they found the job description appealing. And the agency was almost certainly creating sadists by putting individuals in increasingly more sadistic positions that eventually desensitized them to the jobs that they were doing.

People who like to inflict physical pain generally don’t need to justify their actions to themselves. But what about the unconscious sadists and those who were perfectly normal before taking a job at a CIA prison camp? They likely had some difficulty sleeping at night… at first. Oftentimes when an individual’s actions bother their conscious they try to justify their actions to themselves. “I wasn’t torturing him, I as providing periodic relief by giving him a break from forced sleep deprivation!” “The methods used to interrogate these individuals don’t leave enduring physical or psychological effects so is it really that harmful?” “If we don’t use these methods, we won’t be able to find out the information we need in time to save lives!” Eventually most people are able to convince themselves that what they did was good and they are able to sleep soundly at night. Through this method a seemingly well adjusted individual can perform heinous acts and truly believe that what they’re doing is actually a good thing.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 15th, 2018 at 11:00 am