A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Debating the Important Issues

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The politicians in Minnesota always prioritize the important issues. While this fine state is facing several minor issues such as skyrocketing health insurance costs, stupidly high taxes, and the idiocy of the medical cannabis law that was written in a way that ensures the continuation of the drug war there is a very sinister issue facing us: senators can’t drink water on the floor:

Early in the upcoming legislative session, the Minnesota Senate will again take up an issue sure to spark debate and division among its members: whether to allow senators to drink water while on the Senate floor.

The upper chamber of the Legislature has long prided itself on tradition and a particular view of decorum. Senators are banned from looking at each other during debates, and are required to instead look only at the president of the Senate while speaking. Men — including both senators and members of the press — are required to wear a jacket and tie on the Senate floor, while women have less specific rules but are expected to dress professionally. Anyone on the Senate floor is banned from bringing in food or beverages, including water.

Supporters of the rules, who have continually voted down attempts to change them, say they are needed to enforce order — and protect the Senate’s antique desks from water damage.

I hope these senators come to their sense and realize that the wisdom of the no water rule is so self-evident that the only sensible choice is to expand it beyond the floor. The no water for senators rule should be expanded to encompass the entire state. Imagine how much better this state would be if elected senators were never allowed to drink water. Minnesota’s most significant problems would be solved in approximately three days!

Written by Christopher Burg

December 2nd, 2016 at 10:00 am

Paving the Way for Trump

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The once positive aspect of Trump being elected, other than the fact that I can actually still find standard capacity magazines, is that self-identified leftists are learning the value of limited government (don’t worry, I’m sure this will pass when their guys gets in just like last time). They’re finally understanding some of the threats that libertarians have been warning about for decades. Adding insult to injury, their guy that currently occupies the Oval Office is busy paving the way for Trump:

For years now, we’ve written about how the Obama administration has regularly rewritten the dictionary in order to pretend that the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) hastily granted by Congress in the wake of 9/11 enabled him to go to war with basically anyone. If you don’t recall, the AUMF granted the President the power to use “all necessary and appropriate force” to go after those who “planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” That’s already fairly broad, but over the years basically our entire government has pretended that (1) the AUMF included the ability to also target “associated forces” (even though it does not) and (2) it allowed the President to simply lump in anyone he wanted as an “associated force” allowing him to bomb them without any Congressional authorization. This is how you get a war without end, in which the explicit authorization to go after Al Qaeda is now being used on a surprisingly long list of groups that didn’t even exist in 2001.

And, just a few days ago, President Obama expanded the list yet again, allowing himself to go after yet another group: Shabab. Now, no one is trying to claim that Shabab, or ISIS or any other group that has been added to the list aren’t out to do serious harm to the US. But, this seems to go way beyond the basic functions of the office of the President and the simple Constitutional requirement for Congress to declare war.

If you mistakenly believe that the Democratic and Republican parties are opponents then you may find Obama’s actions a bit confusing. After all, why would he further expand presidential powers if he knew somebody like Trump was going to take the office in a month? The fact is that both parties are on the same side, which is a fact missed by self-identified leftists.

Remember when George Bush Jr. was in office? As he declared war on Iraq, signed the PATRIOT Act, and otherwise expanded the State’s power the anti-war left was having fits. They were actively out protesting. In fact public opinion was enough against Bush’s actions that Obama was able to openly campaign against those powers. During his first presidential run Obama promised to end the wars, curtail the State’s war powers, close Guantanamo Bay, and much more. Then he was elected. He followed through with none of his promises. In fact, he expanded the number of countries that the United States was bombing and further expanded the powers that Bush’s started implementing. Unfortunately, because their guy was in office, the anti-war left vanished. And now their guy is further expanding the powers of his office even though it will soon be occupied by somebody from the other team.

The anti-war left starting to come out of the woodwork again because their guy won’t be in power for much longer. But they’ll vanish again when their guy gets back in the White House. So long as you allow yourself to believe that the Democratic and Republican parties are opponents you’ll be suckered into a vicious cycle that requires willfully ignoring horrendous acts when somebody you side with is performing them and strongly protesting the very same acts when somebody you don’t side with is in power. If you have any principles at all you need to abandon this infantile notion that there are two major political parties in this country and accept the fact that both parties are working together to solidify their power.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 1st, 2016 at 11:00 am

Jurisdiction is Dead

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It seems like every cop show or movie involves the protagonist’s very competent and morally upstanding department fighting with an incompetent immoral law enforcement agency over jurisdiction. Eventually this fight is taken before a judge who rules in favor of the protagonist’s department.

Jurisdiction is supposed to curtail the power of any single agency by only granting them a specific area in which they are allowed to operate. That concept has been dying as the federal government has continuously expanded its jurisdiction. But today that concept of jurisdiction died completely:

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden attempted three times to delay the changes, which will take effect on Thursday and allow U.S. judges will be able to issue search warrants that give the FBI the authority to remotely access computers in any jurisdiction, potentially even overseas. His efforts were blocked by Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican.

The changes will allow judges to issue warrants in cases when a suspect uses anonymizing technology to conceal the location of his or her computer or for an investigation into a network of hacked or infected computers, such as a botnet.

Magistrate judges can currently only order searches within the jurisdiction of their court, which is typically limited to a few counties.

This rule change, as most expansions of governmental power are, was ultimately justified by a crime that almost everybody agrees is heinous. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), using a child pornography site it was hosting, ended up hacking computers in 120 countries off of a single warrant so the question of jurisdiction came up. Instead of slapping the FBI down to protect everybody’s civil rights (because these powers start with heinous crimes but end up being using for petty crimes such as cannabis usage) the rules were changed to make any future shenanigans like this completely legal.

Of course, this is nothing new. The State always rewrites rules that it finds inconvenient. This is the reason why the idea of a limited government is a fairytale.

Revenge is Sweet

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Once in a while karma or the universe or the gods or whatever see fit to teach us a lesson. Take Howard Brookins Jr., a petty elected official in Chicago. He has been waging a verbal war against Chicago’s squirrel population:

Howard Brookins Jr. is the alderman for Chicago’s 21st ward, and one thing he isn’t a large fan of is the city’s “urban squirrels.” Brookins is known to speak out against the “aggresive” creatures for their destruction of the garbage bins around the city.

Tired on his blaspheming against their kind a self-radicalized extremist squirrel decided to take matters into his own hands:

Apparently the squirrels were not going to take that lying down, as WaPo reports.

While he was biking down the Cal-Sag Trail on the 13th of November, one squirrel ran out in front of him and wrapped itself in the spoke of Brookins bicycle. This caused Brookins to flip over his handlebars and land on his head, fracturing his skull, breaking his nose, and knocking out a few teeth.

Today’s lesson is don’t be a politician. Animals won’t like you and they’ll go so far as to sacrifice themselves to strike against you.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 1st, 2016 at 10:00 am

Posted in Humor

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Layers of Protection

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I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this but the political process is not an effective means of changing the system. Welcome to the universe, it’s a harsh place that doesn’t care about your hopes and dreams.

Politicos mistakenly believe that if they can get the right person in the right office that the system can be changed for the better (here “better” means whatever political aspirations the politico has, not what is actually better by any sane definition). But it’s a naive belief. Politicians are only one layer in a multi-layer system that has been built up over the centuries to protect and expand the State.

Take something as simple as a sheriff’s office. You might think that electing the right sheriff will get all of the bad apples in that department fired. Were the sheriff the only layer of protection that could be the case but even a county sheriff’s office has multiple layers of protection that ensure the State’s expropriators are protected against the consequences of their actions:

A northern Minnesota sheriff’s office has been ordered by a labor arbitrator to reinstate a deputy back to the force after being fired for a 2015 DUI conviction, according to public records.

Mahnomen Count Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Ohren and his union, Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc., successfully fought the firing, leaving county officials angered and forcing the sheriff to find a non-investigative role for him.

Today, despite his driving record, Ohren is transporting jail inmates around northern Minnesota in a sheriff’s vehicle, not being assigned to respond to 911 calls or crimes due to his credibility being subject to question should he ever have to testify in court.

While Ohren must blow into a breathalyzer before he can start his car going to and from work, the deputy doesn’t have to when he is driving on county time.

In this case a sheriff’s office fired a bad apple but Minnesota’s law enforcer’s union stepped in, fought the firing, and managed to get the bad apple reinstated. Here the union acted as a second layer of protection for the officer.

This complexity is rampant within the State. It ensures that no single individual within the system can make any meaningful changes. It also means that electing the right person to the right office won’t accomplish anything unless that person intends to expand the State (because then they’re working with the various layers of protection, not against them).

When people hear the phrase “A system of checks and balances.” they believe that those checks and balances are meant to limit the power any politician has. In reality those checks and balances are against any forces that would threaten the State’s power.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 30th, 2016 at 11:00 am

The Hierarchy of Symbols

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Another day, another stupid political controversy. This time the controversy involves that symbol everybody loves to lose their shit over, the flag of the United States of America. Donald Trump tweeted that he thinks flag burners should be punished, which is yet another position he shares with Hillary Clinton. As expected, neocons have been jumping for joy at his proposal.

The nation’s skycloth is a symbol and as George Carlin once said, “I leave symbols to the symbol minded.” I’ve never burned a flag nor do I worship it. Another symbol of the United States of America is the Bill of Rights, which is a list of amendments that granted temporary privileges. The very first amendment states that freedom of expression is a protected right. So what we have here is an argument over which symbol sits higher on the Hierarchy of Symbols.

What takes precedence, the nation’s skycloth or the list of temporary privileges? I don’t really care what anybody’s answer to that question is but I feel that it’s important to clarify what people are actually arguing about.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 30th, 2016 at 10:30 am

A Vision of the Future

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If you want a vision of the future, imagine a greeter at Costco saying “Welcome to Costco, I love you.” — forever.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 30th, 2016 at 10:00 am

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It was Going to Happen Eventually

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Whenever there is an attack on a school or college campus most people tend to focus on the tool used by the attacker. So far we’ve been fortunate that a majority of these attackers have preferred firearms to explosives, which have the potential to cause far more damage and are only addressed in a limited capacity by current security measures. Unfortunately, yesterday an attacker decided to utilize an automobile and knife to attack the Ohio State University:

Police are investigating whether an attack at Ohio State University which left 11 injured was an act of terror.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 18, rammed his car into a group of pedestrians at the college and then began stabbing people before police shot him dead on Monday.

This is the second major incident where a knife was one of the weapons used by the attacker. A few months ago a guy went on a rampage with a knife in St. Cloud (and the police were good enough to lockdown the mall so people were trapped inside with the attacker). But this is the first time, at least in recent history, that this type of attack was perpetrated in part with one of the most dangerous commonly available weapons, an automobile.

The amount of energy something has is based on its mass and velocity. A 230 grain .45 bullet traveling at 900 feet per second will give you 414 foot pounds of energy. A 124 grain 9mm bullet traveling at 1,200 feet per second will give you 384 foot pounds of energy. A 1.5 ton vehicle moving at 30 miles per hour will give you 90,259 foot pounds of energy. As you can see, a vehicle can deliver a tremendous amount of energy and therefore can deliver a tremendous amount of damage. On top of that a vehicle provides the driver with some amount of protection against police weapons (in part because it’s capable of moving fast, in part because part of the driver is concealed, and in part because the engine block can protect the driver from a lot of types of commonly used ammunition). And then there’s the fact that an automobile contains combustable fuel.

So far people have been fortune that most of these attackers have opted for firearms on foot rather than using a vehicle. Even in this case the amount of damage the attacker could have caused was reduced because he opted to exit the vehicle and continue is rampage on foot with a knife.

Fortunately, it doesn’t appear as though the attacker had much success. He did manage to injure 11 people but so far it appears that he didn’t kill anybody. However, if the next attacker decides to study previous attacks to learn from them they could leave a bodycount in their wake. So the big question is, what can be done?

Of course colleges can try to hinder automobiles from entering the campus by erecting concrete pillars akin to those in front of many stores. But maintenance and delivery people often need to get vehicles on campus so some means of access has to remain. And blocking vehicle traffic will only cause an attacker to seek another tool. The only real defense against these kinds of attacks is a decentralized response system. One of the biggest weaknesses that allows these attacks to meet a high degree of success is the highly centralized security measures currently in place. When one of these attacks starts an alert is sent to the police. The police then need to get to the location of the attack, find the attacker, and engage them. This usually means that the attacker has several minutes of free reign. The faster the attacker can be engaged the less time they have to perpetuate their indiscriminate attack. Any further centralized security measures will meet with limited success. At most they will force an attacker to change their strategy to something not addressed by the centralized system.

Obviously legalizing the carrying of firearms on campus is a good start. Permit holders add a great deal of uncertainty for attackers because anybody could potentially engage them. Since permit holders don’t wear obvious uniforms an attacker also can’t know which individuals to take out first (and by surprise so the unformed security person doesn’t have a chance to respond). Another thing that can be done to make these attacks more difficult is getting rid of the shelter in place concept. Sheltering in place can be an effective defensive strategy if the people sheltering have a means of defending themselves. If they don’t then they’re basically fish in a barrel if the attacker finds them and gains entry to their shelter (although in the case of a vehicle sheltering in place can be effective, especially in a relatively hardened building like those on many college campuses).

Written by Christopher Burg

November 29th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Who Would Have Guessed

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Americans love torture. Republicans are at least honest about this as they campaign to bring back waterboarding but the Democrats love it as well so long as their guy is in charge of it. During the campaign Donald Trump stated that he wanted to bring waterboarding back. Hopefully he changed his mind about that though. Waterboarding was one of the things discussed in Trumps meeting with James Mattis and Mattis pointed out the bloody obvious:

Trump said that the advice from Mattis, a front-runner for the defense secretary post in a Trump administration, would weigh heavily on whether he will go forward with campaign pledges to bring back waterboarding and torture in interrogations by the military and the CIA.

In his meeting last week with the man he calls “Mad Dog Mattis,” Trump said he asked, “What do you think of waterboarding? He said — I was surprised — he said, ‘I’ve never found it to be useful.’ ”

Trump said Mattis told him, ” ‘I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.’ “

Who would have guessed that treating somebody at least somewhat decently would net you more reliable information than beating them until they told you what they thought you wanted to hear in the hopes that you’d stop beating them?

Statists seem to believe that if violence isn’t solving your problem then you’re not using enough of it. But violence doesn’t solve all problems. For example, if you want to get reliable information out of somebody beating it out of them isn’t the way to go. When you start beating them they will simply tell you what they think you want to hear, not what is truthful. On the other hand, if you build a relationship with them that makes them feel positive about you then they’re more apt to give you reliable information because they like you and want to make you happy. It’s the same reason why bombing a people until they like you is much more difficult than establishing positive business relationships with them via trade.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 29th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Cognitive Dissonance

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Fidel Castro’s death really brought out the cognitive dissonance.

He was a communist so the leftists love him even though he rounded up homosexuals for “reeducation” and had a very iron fist attitude when it came to crime in that he liked to execute “criminals” in mass.

He was a communist so the rightists hate him even though he rounded up homosexuals for “reeducation” and had a very iron fist attitude when it came to crime in that he liked to execute “criminals” in mass.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 29th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Posted in Politics

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