A Geek With Guns

Discount security adviser to the proles.

Archive for the ‘News You Need to Know’ Category

Moral Hypocrisy

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Whenever discrimination appears to rear its ugly head a large number of people demand that the State fix it. Never letting an opportunity to expand its power to go waste the State has heeded these demands and appointed itself as the ultimate authority in dealing with discrimination.

Case in point, the United States Department of Labor (DoL) is filed a lawsuit against Palantir because the organization appears to be discriminating against Asians. The funniest part is the threat the DoL is making:

Should the suit succeed, the Labor Department has asked for an order canceling all of Palantir’s current and future government contracts, which would include those with the F.B.I. and the United States Army.

“Federal contractors have an obligation to ensure that their hiring practices and policies are free of all forms of discrimination,” said Patricia A. Shiu, who is director of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

That’s rich!

An organization that literally uses slave labor is threatening to cancel its contracts with an organization that may be discriminating against Asians in its hiring practices. How much more hypocritical can an organization get?

People turn to the State and demand that it enforce morality. But the State is an immoral creature that lies, cheats, steals, and kills. It is like hiring a fox to guard a hen house. Sure, on the surface it may appear to be doing exactly what you want it to do but if you have the guts to take a look under the surface you’ll see that it’s doing far more horrific shit than the entities it’s going after.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 28th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Have an Offsite Backup of Your Data

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It’s a good idea to have a bug out bag in case there’s an emergency such as a house fire where you have to evacuate immediately. For the same reason it’s a good idea to have an offsite backup of your important data. You don’t want to be the guy who has to run into a burning building to save the only copy of his novel:

A fire inside a blighted house in Broadmoor quickly spread to a nearby multiplex Thursday, sending residents rushing to safety and one — a novelist worried about losing his life’s work — back inside to save his laptop.

[…]

Gideon Hodge, 35, describes himself as a playwright, novelist and actor. When his fiancée told him that their apartment was on fire, he left work in Mid-City and rushed to the scene. That’s when he realized that his only copies of two completed novels were on a laptop inside.

Clad in a T-shirt that said #photobomb next to an illustration of the Joker photobombing Batman and Robin, Hodge dashed into the building. He ran past the smoke and the firefighters yelling at him to stop and managed to grab the precious laptop.

I backup my important data to Amazon Glacier with Arq. What I like about Amazon Glacier is the price: $0.007 per gigabyte in the Ireland region. What I like about Arq is that it encrypts the data before uploading it Amazon Glacier.

Amazon Glacier starts costing you real money when you want to retrieve your backups. But that’s a price I’m willing to pay because the chances of me needing those offsite backups is slim so I don’t want to pay a sizable storage fee. In addition to having cheap storage, Amazon Glacier also allows me to select the region I backup to. You probably noticed that I mentioned the Ireland region. Your offsite backups should be geographically separated from you. An earthquake that takes out your home could also take out nearby data centers. If your offsite is stored in a nearby data center you might lose both your local and offsite backups. Few things short of full scale nuclear war are likely to wipe out both my local and offsite backups and if something that bad happens I don’t think my data will be terribly important to me.

If you’re prepared enough to assemble a bug out bag you should also setup an offsite backup plane as part of your disaster preparedness.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 21st, 2016 at 10:00 am

What It Takes for a Police Officer to Be Fired

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We’ve seen numerous cases where officers used an obviously unnecessary level of force and received little more than a paid vacation as punishment. It really makes one wonder what it takes for a cop to actually get fired. Apparently it takes a cop not killing somebody:

After responding to a report of a domestic incident on May 6 in Weirton, W.Va., then-Weirton police officer Stephen Mader found himself confronting an armed man.

Immediately, the training he had undergone as a Marine to look at “the whole person” in deciding if someone was a terrorist, as well as his situational police academy training, kicked in and he did not shoot.

“I saw then he had a gun, but it was not pointed at me,” Mr. Mader recalled, noting the silver handgun was in the man’s right hand, hanging at his side and pointed at the ground.

Mr. Mader, who was standing behind Mr. Williams’ car parked on the street, said he then “began to use my calm voice.”

[…]

Mr. Mader — speaking publicly about this case for the first time — said that when he tried to return to work on May 17, following normal protocol for taking time off after an officer-involved shooting, he was told to go see Weirton Police Chief Rob Alexander.

In a meeting with the chief and City Manager Travis Blosser, Mr. Mader said Chief Alexander told him: “We’re putting you on administrative leave and we’re going to do an investigation to see if you are going to be an officer here. You put two other officers in danger.”

Mr. Mader said that “right then I said to him: ‘Look, I didn’t shoot him because he said, ‘Just shoot me.’ ”

On June 7, a Weirton officer delivered him a notice of termination letter dated June 6, which said by not shooting Mr. Williams he “failed to eliminate a threat.”

As Radley Balko noted, Mader did exactly what people expect cops to do. He put himself on the line to protect a member of the community. For doing that he was terminated. Apparently the only option allowed, at least at his former police department, is to kill anybody in crisis.

This situation speaks volumes. We’re told that the police exist to serve and protect. Hell, they even have that local splashed on their squad cars in a lot of places. But time and again we see officers who are actively attacking members of the community walk away scot-free while officers who do work to protect the community end up being punished. This really illustrates the real purpose of the police, which is to expropriate wealth from the populace for the State.

Mader should have received recognition from his department for a job well done and given the opportunity to train his fellow officers in dealing with people in crisis. Other departments should have asked him to come teach their officers as well. What Mader did is what the words protect and serve imply. But protecting and serving doesn’t generate revenue for the State so he was made an example of. This is why the number of good cops is so low, when they manage to get into a department they are quickly weeded out.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 13th, 2016 at 10:00 am

A Bit of Rare Common Sense

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Although it’s exceedingly rare these days sometimes you do see a bit of common sense show itself in the courts. Back in 2014 Alyssa Drescher was expelled from school because she had forgotten about a small pocket knife in her purse. Over two years later the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that mere possession of a weapon (except for firearms because they’re extra evil) is not enough to expel a student. For such a punishment to be delivered the school must also demonstrate that a student had malicious intent:

With school starting in many Minnesota districts Tuesday, administrators around the state are facing a new legal landscape. A Minnesota Supreme Court ruling will likely change the way administrators discipline students caught with weapons.

Under the court decision, schools will have to investigate the student’s intent when weapons that aren’t firearms show up in school.

This is the way it should always be. Weapons are inanimate objects and therefore their mere presence isn’t dangerous. What makes a weapon dangerous is the intent of the user. A good person with a gun isn’t a threat to anybody. An evil person is a just as much of a threat with a gun as with an automobile. Good people aren’t going to hurt others and evil people will find a way to hurt others.

Until today all schools were under the tyranny of zero tolerance policies. I hope this court ruling is the first step in the complete eradication of zero tolerance.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 8th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Proof that the Islamic State is a Government

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People continue to refer to the Islamic State (IS) as a terrorist group but it really should be referred to as a state at this point. Granted, there is precious little that separate a terrorist group from a state. The only appreciable differences a state manages to hold a near monopoly on violence within a controlled territory for an extended period of time. That monopoly gives the state the power to issue arbitrary and conflicting decrees. IS is now to the point where it can do exactly that:

The Islamic State group has reportedly banned women from wearing a burka, a veil that covers the entire face, as a security precaution in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The alleged new rule is striking in part because the militant group also known as ISIS has beaten and killed women in the past for refusing to wear the conservative garment.

I wonder if the French government and Gary “Ban the Burqa” Johnson will express support for IS now.

Islamophobes of all sorts but neocons especially have been jumping for joy because of this decree. In their minds it proves that the practices of Islam are so dangerous that even IS can’t live with them. In reality IS has about as much to do with Islam as most Christian kingdoms of Europe had to do with Christianity. Religion is just the justification for seizing power just as the struggle of the proletariat was the justification used by the Bolsheviks. But the justification a government uses for existing is never the actual goal. Now that power has been seized IS is acting like any other government that has obtained power by tossing aside its justification for existing and focusing on maintaining its power instead. Maintaining that power comes in the form of issuing decrees that are contradictory to is original mission statement. Anybody who believes this particular arbitrary decree invalidates IS as an organization should take a close look at their own government because it does exactly the same thing for exactly the same reason.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 7th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Simultaneously an Adult and a Minor

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The legal system we suffer under in the United States is nothing more than a long list of arbitrary decrees written by men in suits in marble buildings. There is no logic to it and it often contradicts itself. Take this case for example:

A North Carolina 17-year-old caught in a sexting scandal faces charges of sexually exploiting a minor that could land him in jail for up to 10 years, since the law considers him an adult. But one of the minors he supposedly exploited is himself­—which raises an obvious question: how can a teen be old enough to face adult felony charges, but not old enough to keep a nude picture of himself on his phone?

Unfortunately, that’s the Kafka-esque nightmare in which Fayetteville-area high schooler Cormega Copening finds himself after exchanging private nude photos with his girlfriend—with whom he is legally allowed to have sex, but not to sext.

He’s 17-years-old, which puts him in an odd gray area in regards to his status. On the one hand he’s legally considered a minor and therefore cannot possess pictures of his naked self because that’s legally child pornography. He can have sex with another minor though without it being considered statutory rape. Unfortunately for him he was in possession of pictures of his naked self and the girl he was legally having sex with and is close enough to being an adult that he can be tried as one. If you can find any logic in this paragraph please feel free to explain it to me because I can’t wrap my brain around this.

This is yet another demonstration of the fact that we don’t have a justice system, we have a legal system. Justice can only be delivered if somebody has been wronged. Possessing naked pictures of yourself wrongs nobody just as consensually exchanging naked pictures harms nobody. There is no justice to be delivered in this case because there is no victim. But the law states what he is doing is wrong and the law doesn’t give a damn if victims exist or not. The only thing that matters under a system such as ours are the words written by the politicians.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 6th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Don’t Mess with Elves

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Iceland is one of those countries on my list of places I’d consider moving to. The island has a strong history of statelessness, which still influences their society today in the fact that the Icelandic government is one of the less psychopathic governments in the world. Violent crime, whether it be perpetrated by a private or government individual, is very rare. And best of all, the elves on the island keep people in check:

Reykjavik (AFP) – Iceland has been forced to bow to pressure from elves and uncover a supposedly enchanted elfin rock after highway workers accidentally buried it — infuriating the mythical creatures, reports said Tuesday.

The angry elves were suspected of causing a series of mishaps after the rock was covered over when workers cleared away the debris from a landslide, the Morgunbladid daily reported.

This isn’t the first time elves have thrown a monkey wrench into the State’s mechanisms. The elves have been fucking with the island’s highway department since the 1930s. I have to say, living on an island where the government is actually wary of something would be pretty nice.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 1st, 2016 at 10:30 am

Why the FBI Loses Control of The People It Radicalizes

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For a long time the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has adopted a strategy where it seeks out people of lukewarm intelligence who are socially isolated and radicalizes them. Once radicalize the target is given a fake bomb and explicit plans on how to use it. When the target finally executes the FBI’s plan they are arrested and charged for terrorism related crimes. In other words the FBI has been creating criminals for it to catch and touting itself as a hero for it.

But what happens when the FBI’s target slips their leash? People die:

THE REVELATION THAT an undercover FBI agent encouraged a would-be terrorist to “Tear up Texas” shortly before he opened fire on a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, last year raises new concerns about FBI counterterrorism efforts that were already under fire for manufacturing terrorism cases rather than halting them.

According to an affidavit filed in a related case last week, Elton Simpson — one of two men who donned body armor and fired assault weapons before being shot dead by a Garland police officer — had been corresponding with an undercover FBI agent. And in a text message roughly a week before the attack, as they discussed the cartoon contest, the agent had exhorted Simpson to “Tear up Texas.”

It was only a matter of time until this happened. Only a government agency could be so idiotic as to expect that it could go around radicalizing people and not lose control over one of them eventually. Humans are creative creatures and don’t always act as expected. While a majority of the people the FBI targets are pretty dull it only takes one creative individual for the FBI’s strategy to backfire.

I’m sure the double standards of the legal system will come into play here as well. If you or I were to radicalize somebody and provide them materials and encouragement to perform a terrorist attack we’d be brought up on charges of providing material support to terrorists. So far the FBI hasn’t faced those charges when it radicalizes somebody and provides them a means to perform an attack. Since the FBI is a government agency the law doesn’t apply to it so it will likely face zero consequences for this case as well.

It’s a big club and we’re not in it.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 30th, 2016 at 10:30 am

If He Didn’t Want to Get Shot He Shouldn’t Have Gone for a Gun

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Every time an officer shoots somebody we’re bombarded with people saying we need to trust the judgement of the officer. In this case, I agree. An officer recently shot somebody who was armed. After reading the details about the case I find myself having to side with the cop apologists. If the man didn’t want to get shot he shouldn’t have gone for his gun:

A $75,000 personal injury case against Glock filed by an Arkansas policeman has been scheduled for trial in a federal court, according to the final scheduling order issued last week.

The jury trial will start Aug. 21, 2017, in a federal court in Helena, Arkansas, the order says. Final arguments and discovery exhibits are due in the beginning months of the year.

The plaintiff in the case, Larry Jones, of Cherry Valley, Arkansas, was injured when his Glock 19C pistol discharged unexpectedly at the shooting range in June 2013, the lawsuit says. At the time he was trying to attach a tactical light.

An officer managed to shoot himself in the foot because he pulled the trigger of his gun when he was trying to attach a light. Why was he trying to attach a light to a loaded gun? Why was his finger on the trigger? Why was the gun pointed at his foot? These are all very good questions but it turns out that the officer investigated himself and found that he did nothing wrong so he’s suing Glock.

I hope this case is dismissed and the officer in question is forced to pay Glock’s legal expenses.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 30th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Justice Department Announced It Will Keep All Federal Slave Laborers

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Private prisons have been controversial. A lot of people believe that for-profit prisons are evil and that all prisons should be owned and operated by the government. Somehow people think slave labor is morally superior when the government owns the slaves. I don’t understand that mentality. A cage is a cage and a slave is a slave. Regardless of my opinion, the Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that it will keep all future federal slave laborers for Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR):

The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

Since this announcement private prison stocks have fallen pretty hard even though most private prisons hold contracts with state or county governments:

While any reduction in the federal prison population will be welcomed by those released, their families, and by reform advocates, the majority of inmates reside in state or county facilities. Only one in eight federal inmates was in a private facility in 2015.

So this change doesn’t affect many prisoners and won’t put Corrections Corporation of America or GEO Group out of business. But the falling stock prices weren’t unexpected and I bet many of the higher ups in the DoJ as well as those in the know in Congress made a good deal of cash shorting those stocks.

There is also the question of how long this decision will last. In December of last year the DoJ announced that it would stop paying civil forfeiture money under the Equitable Sharing Program. A lot of people heralded the decision as a victory over civil forfeiture. Only a few months later the DoJ announced that it would resume those payments. It’s quite possible the DoJ will announce plans to continue using private prisons in a few months, perhaps around November 4th when everybody is distracted by the election.

One thing is certain, nothing meaningful has changed. The DoJ didn’t announce that it would stop enslaving people or that it would stop using private prisons and abolish UNICOR. It merely said it would stop handing out slave laborers to UNICOR’s competitors.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 19th, 2016 at 11:00 am