A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘1984 was a Warning not a Blueprint’ tag

Rules are for Thee, Not for Me

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The State makes hypocrites of everybody involved in it. At some point even the most principled individual will have to compromise those principles. Take Representative Devin Nunes, for example. He strongly supports the National Security Agency’s (NSA) widespread surveillance program when it’s used against you and me. But when surveillance is used against him and his ilk he suddenly hates it:

Back then there was a bipartisan push to try to require some more due process in National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance of Americans. Nunes used the deadly attack on the nightclub in Orlando to argue against it, claiming it would hamper the government in its fight against the war on terror.

But while he was opposed to protecting you and me from unwarranted government surveillance, apparently Nunes does think that the feds recording a call between ex-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and a Russian ambassador in December is beyond the pale. From The Washington Post:

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that the most significant question posed by the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn is why intelligence officials eavesdropped on his calls with the Russian ambassador and later leaked information on those calls to the press.

“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is conducting a review of Russian activities to influence the election. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”

The ability of politicians to hold two mutually exclusive beliefs simultaneously never ceases to amaze me. Usually their cognitive dissonance comes out when discussing so-called rights. Most politicians seem to believe that the State has unlimited rights whereas the people have no rights.

The right to free speech? The State can say whatever it wants, even if it’s false, but the people should have certain restrictions placed upon what they can say. The right to bear arms? The people should be heavily restricted in what they are allowed to possess while the State should be allowed to have an unlimited number of goddamn nuclear weapons. The right to privacy? As Mr. Nunes demonstrated, the State should enjoy an expectation of privacy while the people should be surveilled at all times.

The politicians espousing their cognitive dissonance always have a convenient excuse. The right to free speech is dangerous when that speech is seditious, hateful, untrue, etc. The right to bear arms is dangerous in general because people use weapons to kill other people. The right to privacy is a direct threat to national security because it makes it more difficult for the State to find terrorists. All of these excuses would apply equally to the State but the politicians never mention that.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 15th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Your Browser is a Snitch

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The privacy-surveillance arms race will likely be waged eternally. The State wants to spy on people so it can better expropriate their wealth. Private companies want to spy on people so they can collect data to better serve them and better target ads at them. The State wants the private companies to spy on their users because it can get that information via a subpoena. Meanwhile, users are stuck being constantly watched.

Browser fingerprinting is one of the more effective tools in the private companies’ arsenal. Without having to store data on users’ systems, private companies are able to use the data surrendered by browsers to track users with a surprising degree of accuracy. But fingerprinting has been limited to individual browsers. If a user switches browsers their old fingerprint is no longer valid… until now:

The new technique relies on code that instructs browsers to perform a variety of tasks. Those tasks, in turn, draw on operating-system and hardware resources—including graphics cards, multiple CPU cores, audio cards, and installed fonts—that are slightly different for each computer. For instance, the cross-browser fingerprinting carries out 20 carefully selected tasks that use the WebGL standard for rendering 3D graphics in browsers. In all, 36 new features work independently of a specific browser.

New browser features are commonly used for tracking users. In time those features are usually improved in such a way that tracking becomes more difficult. I have no doubts that WebGL will follow this path as well. Until it is improved through, it wouldn’t be dumb to disable it if you’re trying to avoid being tracked.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 15th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Tips for Getting Past Customs

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Customs in the United States have become nosier every year. It makes one wonder how they can enter the country without surrendering their life by granting access to their digital devices. Wired put together a decent guide for dealing with customs. Of the tips there is one that I highly recommend:

Make a Travel Kit

For the most vulnerable travelers, the best way to keep customs away from your data is simply not to carry it. Instead, like Lackey, set up travel devices that store the minimum of sensitive data. Don’t link those “dirty” devices to your personal accounts, and when you do have to create a linked account—as with iTunes for iOS devices—create fresh ones with unique usernames and passwords. “If they ask for access and you can’t refuse, you want to be able to give them access without losing any sensitive information,” says Lackey.

Social media accounts, admittedly, can’t be so easily ditched. Some security experts recommend creating secondary personas that can be offered up to customs officials while keeping a more sensitive account secret. But if CBP agents do link your identity with an account you tried to hide, the result could be longer detention and, for non-citizens, even denial of entry.

I believe that I first came across this advice on Bruce Schneier’s blog. Instead of traveling with a device that contains all of your information you should consider traveling with a completely clean device and accessing the information you need via a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when you reach your destination. When you’re ready to return home wipe all of the data.

The most effective way to defend against the snoops at the border is to not have any data for them to snoop.

The other tips are good to follow as well but aren’t as effective as simply not having any data in the first place. But I understand that isn’t always feasible. In cases where you’re traveling somewhere that has unreliable Internet connectivity, for example, you will need to bring the data you need with you. If you’re in such a situation I recommend only brining the data you absolutely need.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 15th, 2017 at 10:00 am

He Had Won the Victory Over Himself

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I admit that the aftermath of this election has been fascinating. While the current occupant of the White House means almost nothing to me (it means a little bit to me simply because the occupant gives me a lot of blogging material) I do enjoy seeing people’s reactions to the election.

The political left has been entertaining because they suddenly found a love of firearms, suppressing free speech, limiting the State, opposing war, and other political positions that they were entirely against during Obama’s reign. Likewise, the political right has been busy throwing out their supposed principles by finding a love of executive orders and suppressing sedition.

But the most entertaining crowds, in my opinion, are self-proclaimed libertarians an anarchists. It has been fun watching Stefan Molyneux transform from a minor cult leader with anarchist leanings into a full blown statist with a huge chubby for keeping foreigners out of his beloved fatherland. Christopher Cantwell has gone from a loud and obnoxious but mostly harmless libertarian to total fascist with a fetish for helicopters. But nobody has provided me with more entertainment for my buck than Alex Jones. Alex Jones, a humble water filter salesman, was once obsessed with the idea that the governments of the world were creating a new world order that had the express purpose of enslaving all of humanity. Now? Now he’s willing to lay down his life for his reptilian shape shifting overlords:

ALEX JONES (HOST): Trump is so fire-breathing, so energetic, so cunning, so real, and he’s having results so amazing that it just makes me endeared to Trump – I’m ready to die for Trump, at this point. And I’m already ready to die for America, it’s the same feeling I have for America, because he is America, you’re America.

But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 9th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Yellow Badges are Passé

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Germany has a dark and sordid history of tagging those it deems to be undesirable. In the past it relied on badges. The most famous badges, the yellow Star of David, was used to mark Jews. But the Nazis also had other symbols such as pink triangles for homosexuals.

In this day and age tagging people for their religious beliefs or sexual orientation is frowned upon through most of Europe and the United States. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people deemed undesirable. In many European countries and the United States the governments have implemented a new list of undesirables. They usually refer to these lists as terrorist watch lists. The names that appear on these lists aren’t people who have been found guilty of anything, the governments that created and are maintaining these lists merely suspect that the people on them might do something… possibly… maybe. Or at least that’s what they claim. But even that much cannot be determined since the criteria for appearing on these lists is usually secret.

Now that Germany has a list of undesirables again it has decided to modernize its old trick. Instead of making people on the terrorist watch list wear badges they’ll be required to wear GPS anklets:

The German government will electronically tag all people on the country’s terror watchlist even if they have committed no crime, reflecting a tougher approach in the wake of December’s terror attack in Berlin.

[…]

The tagging proposal had been agreed by justice minister Heiko Maas and interior minister Thomas de Maizière last month as part of a package of measures to beef up security.

Mr de Maizière said tags were “no silver bullet” but were an “important instrument, to make it easier to monitor people”.

The tag is a GPS transmitter attached to the leg which emits a signal when a suspect approaches a prohibited zone.

The Nazis claimed those badges were an important instrument to make Germany safe as well. But this has nothing to do with safety. It’s about creating an enemy for Germans to fear. So long as the German people are afraid the State is able to grab more power for itself with little resistance.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 2nd, 2017 at 11:00 am

We’ve Always Been at War with Eastasia

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The hits seem to keep coming. First Trump issued an executive order to build a multi-billion dollar wall that will serve no meaningful purpose. Then he issued an execute order banning people from victims nations the United States is bombing from traveling to their tormentor’s realm. Now it appears that he’s planning to issue an executive order to boot out poor legal immigrants:

Now, with the huddled masses yearning to breathe free taken care of, the Trump administration is coming for your tired and your poor. Or so a draft executive order obtained by Vox and the Washington Post seems to suggest.

[…]

But the Trump administration’s draft order would change that, by instructing the Department of Homeland Security to bar immigrants from the U.S. if they are likely to receive any means-tested benefit at all.

More radically, the order would subject visa holders who are already in the U.S. to deportation, if they use public benefits above a certain threshold. And — just in case that isn’t enough to keep non-wealthy foreigners away from our shores — the order would require the friend or family member who sponsored the deported immigrant to reimburse the federal government for the cost of the benefits he or she used.

While opponents of Trump flip out about is executive orders anybody who is well read on history or has ready Nineteen Eighty-Four knows exactly what’s going on here. The health of the State is fear. Fear is what allows the State to continuously expand its power. Without an enemy there is no fear. What Trump and his administration are doing is the same thing previous administrations have done, they’re creating an enemy.

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union the enemy was always communists. Before the enemy was communists it was always the Jews. Before it was the Jews it was always the Chinese. United States history, and the history of almost every nation on Earth, is a constantly changing stage of boogeymen.

I doubt Trump or anybody in his administration has any real feelings about immigrants one way or another. All they know is that immigrants are outsiders and outsiders always make a good enemy.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 1st, 2017 at 11:00 am

Finishing the Job

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The Obama administration had a hard-on for bombing people with drones. Its fetish was so strong that it even went so far as to assassinate an American citizen and his 16-year-old son with a drone. Although Hillary made it clear that she planned to continue Obama’s reign of terror, Trump didn’t make his position as well known. This caused some suckers to believe that he might curtail the war a bit. Not only has he continued bombing people, he’s trying to finish what Obama started:

In a hideous symbol of the bipartisan continuity of U.S. barbarism, Nasser al-Awlaki just lost another one of his young grandchildren to U.S. violence. On Sunday, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, using armed Reaper drones for cover, carried out a commando raid on what it said was a compound harboring officials of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A statement issued by President Trump lamented the death of an American service member and several others who were wounded, but made no mention of any civilian deaths. U.S. military officials initially denied any civilian deaths, and (therefore) the CNN report on the raid said nothing about any civilians being killed.

But reports from Yemen quickly surfaced that 30 people were killed, including 10 women and children. Among the dead: the 8-year-old granddaughter of Nasser al-Awlaki, Nawar, who was also the daughter of Anwar Awlaki.

Every despot knows that if you don’t take out you opponent’s entire family they’ll just grow up and seek revenge on you!

Nawar wasn’t even the first 8-year-old murdered by the United States and almost certainly won’t be the last. And that pisses me off. What pisses me off even more is that those hypocrites who call themselves the anti-war left didn’t give a shit about dead children until now. For four years the children of the Middle East can enjoy the fact that when they’re murdered some Americans will at least pretend to give a damn. After that, whether they’re remembered or not will depend on who wins the election because most people in this country don’t have principles.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 1st, 2017 at 10:30 am

Freedom of the Press

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Ever since the various governments within the United States declared that it was okay for them to keep secrets the freedom of the press has been eroding. In recent years that steady erosion has turned into a complete collapse. Now we live in a world where journalists face felony charges for covering events:

Four more journalists have been charged with felonies after being arrested while covering the unrest around Donald Trump’s inauguration, meaning that at least six media workers are facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

A documentary producer, a photojournalist, a live-streamer and a freelance reporter were each charged with the most serious level of offense under Washington DC’s law against rioting, after being caught up in the police action against demonstrators.

Notice how the journalists are being charged under the rioting laws? If they were being charged for covering the event that would be an overt suppression of the press. As anybody who has lived in this country long enough will tell you, the politicians here prefer covert suppression over overt suppression. Charging the journalists with covering the wrong event would raise a bunch of questions about the First Amendment. But charging them for participating in a riot avoids those questions and gives a reason for the tough on crime crowd to support the suppression.

Trump’s Plan to Increase Literacy

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I was helping host a CryptoParty last night so I didn’t have a chance to dig through much news. But I did see one story that gives me hope. Donald Trump’s election has resulted in massive protests, executive orders flying out of the Oval Office as fast as they can be signed, and a whole lot of Godwin’s Law (of which I’m guilty but I’m not sorry). However, it appears that one good thing has happened due to the election, an increase in literacy:

George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” is surging in popularity in the days since President Trump’s inauguration.

The iconic book, published nearly 70 years ago, is the sixth best-selling book on Amazon as of Tuesday morning.

Top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway on Sunday defended the White House’s statements about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration by referring to it “alternative facts.”

She was referring to White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s insistence that Friday’s swearing-in was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” despite photos and videos showing that former President Obama’s 2009 inauguration clearly had a bigger crowd on the National Mall.

Many on social media compared “alternative facts” to the use of “newspeak,” a type of rhetoric in “1984” where the government lies to citizens and insists its lies are the only acceptable truth.

I commend Trump and his administration for their efforts to bolster literacy in this age of idiocy.

What makes me sad is that sales of 1984 go up whenever the surveillance state becomes prevalent in the news but either people aren’t reading the book or aren’t comprehending what they’re reading because nothing ever changes. Oh well, if people at least read the first chapter I’ll consider it a huge win for literacy. Yes, my standards have been lowered that far. That’s what happens when almost everybody around you was “educated” in a government indoctrination center.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 25th, 2017 at 10:00 am

The Most Joyous Holiday

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It is tradition for a new Führer to issue a series of decrees when they take office. Our new Führer wasted no time brining his vision to the Fatherland by issuing a decree to create a new holiday. From now on January 20th will be known as the National Day of Patriotic Devotion!

Our Constitution is written on parchment, but it lives in the hearts of the American people. There is no freedom where the people do not believe in it; no law where the people do not follow it; and no peace where the people do not pray for it.

There are no greater people than the American citizenry, and as long as we believe in ourselves, and our country, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

There is no freedom where the people don’t believe in the United States Constitution? There are no greater people than the American citizenry? I can feel the nationalism and it makes me want to seig heil so hard!

After eight years of international socialism the American people spoken and they said that they wanted international socialism this time around. While there isn’t a bit of meaningful difference between the two sects, at least we’ll have some new punchlines for our jokes!

Written by Christopher Burg

January 24th, 2017 at 10:00 am