A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Rough Weekend

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This was a rough weekend. It opened with a blizzard, struck in the middle with the death of Art Bell, and finished with the death of R. Lee Ermey. Hopefully the universe got all of its terrible shit out of its system for a while.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 16th, 2018 at 10:30 am

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Monday Metal: In the Name of Odin by Spellblast

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Written by Christopher Burg

April 16th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Posted in Media

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It’s Scientifically Proven

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I find myself ranting more and more about modern practices in scientific communities. I don’t do this because I think science is a bad thing. The scientific method, after all, is just a tool and tools lack morality. I do this because scientism, treating science as a religion, has increasingly replaced science. It seems that many people have forgotten that science also requires a healthy dose of skepticism. Without skepticism, one can publish any old paper and people will believe its findings without question. This is rather worrisome when there are so many ways for bad or at least questionable science to get published:

This has huge implications. Evidence based medicine is completely worthless if the evidence base is false or corrupted. It’s like building a wooden house knowing the wood is termite infested. What caused this sorry state of affairs? Well, Dr. Relman another former editor in chief of the NEJM said this in 2002

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful”

This article discusses a great deal of corruption in the scientific medical community. It turns out that much of the medical science that we take for granted is tainted. One of the most interesting forms of chicanery, at least in my opinion, is selective publishing:

Selective Publication — Negative trials (those that show no benefit for the drugs) are likely to be suppressed. For example, in the case of antidepressants, 36/37 studies that were favourable to drugs were published. But of the studies not favorable to drugs, a paltry 3/36 were published. Selective publication of positive (for the drug company) results means that a review of the literature would suggest that 94% of studies favor drugs where in truth, only 51% were actually positive.

End users, like doctors, often go by published studies. If 94 percent of published studies indicate that a drug is effective, doctors are more likely to prescribe that drug. However, if the 94 percent only exists because the large number of studies that indicated that the drug was ineffective weren’t published, the end user is often unaware. Moreover, if they are aware, they generally don’t know why the studies showing the drug to be ineffective weren’t published. Was it due to methodological failures on the part of the individuals performing the study or was it because an executive for the drug manufacturer is also on the board that decides what does and doesn’t get published? And to make matters even more difficult, just because a study was published doesn’t necessarily mean that the findings in the study are reproducible. The findings of many studies cannot be reproduced.

This wouldn’t be as big of a problem if so many people didn’t treat published research as holy scripture. But a lot of people do. Like a Christian who flips through the Bible searching for a line that supports their agenda, many people today will search for scientific papers that support their agenda. When they find it, they will throw it down as a trump card and act as if their agenda is unassailable because it’s “backed by science.” But is their agenda backed by science? Are the findings in the paper they threw down reproducible? Were several studies refuting the study they threw down rejected from publication by somebody who shares their agenda? There really is no way for you to know.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 13th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Science

Three May Keep a Secret, If Two of Them Are Dead

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Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanack wrote, “Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.” This quote rings true time and time again. The most recent example is the legal mess surrounding the now shuttered website Backpage:

Carl Ferrer, the co-founder of Backpage, the notorious and now-shuttered site that once hosted a vast quantity of prostitution-related ads, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges.

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Ferrer agreed, in combined plea deals with both Texas and California authorities, where he faced outstanding charges, that he will shut down Backpage “throughout the world,” will aid authorities in ongoing prosecutions of his co-conspirators, and will make all Backpage data available to authorities.

This outcome is very common in cases involving multiple suspects. The first suspect to offer their services as a snitch against the others is usually handed a sweetheart deal.

Benjamin Franklin’s point should be taken to heart by anybody performing illegal activities. For example, if you’re an agorist who is selling cannabis, you probably don’t want to enter a partnership with another cannabis dealer. You can’t control the actions of another person. Even if you take every precaution to avoid being caught by the authorities, you can’t guarantee that a partner will do the same. And if their mistake causes them to be arrested, there’s a good chance that they’ll offer you up in exchange for a sweetheart deal.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 13th, 2018 at 10:30 am

It’s All a Dog and Pony Show

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Do you watch the news? If so, do you believe that you’re well informed because of it? If you do, I have some bad news for you. The news you’re watching is nothing more than a dog and pony show:

Earlier this month, CNN’s Brian Stelter broke the news that Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner or operator of nearly 200 television stations in the U.S., would be forcing its news anchors to record a promo about “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.” The script, which parrots Donald Trump’s oft-declarations of developments negative to his presidency as “fake news,” brought upheaval to newsrooms already dismayed with Sinclair’s consistent interference to bring right-wing propaganda to local television broadcasts.

The funniest part about this story is that CNN, which is one of the most blatantly biased stations out there, brought this up.

What the Sinclair Broadcast Group is doing isn’t unique. It’s not uncommon for broadcasters to require their on-air personalities to record various promotions. Oftentimes the promotions are for the station’s advertisers but sometimes the promotions are to push an agenda for the higher ups of the station.

The fact that the news is a dog and pony show is best illustrated by how people tend to choose their preferred sources. A self-declared conservative will generally choose Fox News whereas a self-declared liberal will generally choose CNN and MSNBC. Their choices are dependent on their personal beliefs. If a station agrees with their beliefs, they will accept what the station feeds them. If a station disagrees with their beliefs, they will reject what the station feeds them. In either case, they aren’t seeking to be well informed, they’re seeking confirmation bias.

What can you do? My advice is to assume that everybody is lying to you. Yes, you should even assume that I’m lying to you. Keep a skeptical eye and try to dig into matters you care about yourself. Unless you do that, you will not be well informed about anything.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 13th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Regulations Make Medical Tourism a Necessity

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The United States was once a leader in medical technology. However, increases in bureaucracy have pulled back that lead. Many new and experimental medial treatments remain illegal in the United States, which has created a significant medical tourism industry. Every year numerous Americans travel to foreign lands to seek treatment for their ailments. The latest example of this is opioid addicts traveling to Mexico to seek treatment:

As America’s opioid and heroin crisis rages, some struggling with addiction are turning to a drug illegal in the US. Jonathan Levinson went to one clinic offering the treatment in Mexico.

At the end of a dead end street in a town near the US-Mexico border, Emily Albert is in the basement of a drug treatment clinic, hallucinating about her son as a heroin addict. She imagines him going through rehab and desperately trying to get clean.

But Albert is the one with the addiction. She’s in the middle of a psychedelic treatment for opioid addiction.

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The drug is illegal in the US, but several studies have suggested it is effective in alleviating opioid withdrawals and curbing addiction.

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Ibogaine, along with other hallucinogenics, such as LSD and psilocybin (magic mushrooms), are schedule I substances in the US – drugs which have no medical application and are not safe for use, even under medical supervision.

The medical potential of psychedelics has been known for decades. Timothy Leary performed research on their psychological benefits in the ’50’s and ’60’s. His research discovered that psychedelics did have a lot of positive aspects. Modern research has shown that psychedelics offer a lot of potential for people suffering from depression. And now clinics in Mexico are using psychedelics to help people kick their opioid addiction.

But even with all of this information at hand, the United States government continues to claim that psychedelics have no medial application whatsoever. So long as they maintain that attitude, it is mostly illegal to experiment with psychedelics for medical purposes in the United States, which creates an impasse. A researcher can’t experiment with psychedelics to determine if they can be used in medical applications so they continue to have no medial applications, which prevents researchers from determining if they can have medical applications.

Because of this impasse, the only way to gain access to psychedelics for medical use is to travel to a country less burdened by such regulations.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 12th, 2018 at 11:00 am

You Can’t Take the Sky from Me

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The United States government suffers from delusions of grandeur. The latest of these delusions is the belief that it owns space:

The story behind the missing live feed is a muddy bureaucratic affair. It appears that NOAA has recently decided to start interpreting or enforcing a decades-old law in a new way. The agency says SpaceX and other commercial space companies must apply for a license to broadcast video from orbit.

“The National and Commercial Space Program Act requires a commercial remote sensing license for companies having the capacity to take an image of Earth while on orbit,” NOAA said in a statement last week. “Now that launch companies are putting video cameras on stage 2 rockets that reach an on-orbit status, all such launches will be held to the requirements of the law and its conditions.”

If you launch something into orbit with the ability to broadcast a signal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, perhaps the agency with the title containing the most hubris considering it states that the agency can administer nature) believes that you have to pay it for a license. Apparently it’s position as an agency of the United States government gives it command over all of space.

This decree would be irrelevant except the individuals who are launching payload into orbit are stuck on the ground where government goons can get them. Fortunately, there are tracts of land run by goons who are less deluded. Were I interested in launching rockets into space, I’d do so from one of those tracts of land. While NOAA might be able to enforce it’s delusion in the United States, it would have a harder time enforcing it in, say, India.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 12th, 2018 at 10:30 am

The Delusions I Suffer

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I had hoped that all of the outrage over Facebook doing exactly what it said it would do in its license agreement would have encouraged people to read the license agreements to which they agree.

Then I was snapped back to reality when I remembered that I live in a society that is rapidly approaching post-literacy so I can’t expect anybody to read anything.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 12th, 2018 at 10:00 am

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Misplacing Firearms, Ammunition, and Explosives

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Civilians cannot be trusted with firearms and ammunition, only responsible and accountable government agencies can be:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) does not have the best reputation vis-à-vis guns, and a new internal audit finds the agency has a record of carelessness with its own weapons.

Though the ATF does not lose guns at the rate it once did, it had “26 instances of lost, stolen, or missing firearms” in the fiscal years 2014 to 2017, and at least one of those weapons is known to have been used in commission of a crime. Some of these guns were lost in diners or on the Washington Metro system. One was discovered by an agent’s neighbor, who found it sitting on the roof of the agent’s car.

Perhaps more troubling given the sheer scale of the problem is ATF’s missing ammunition. The report found “several significant deficiencies related to tracking and inventory of ammunition. For example, ammunition tracking records were understated by almost 31,000 rounds at the 13 sites we audited.” Extrapolated across the agency’s 275 offices, that comes out to about 650,000 missing rounds. Explosives were also not correctly inventoried in some offices and may be lost or stolen as well.

26 lost firearms, 650,000 missing rounds of ammunition, and a probability that some explosives were lost? So responsible!

This story is a good reminder that government agents aren’t the most responsible individuals. And why should anybody expect them to be? They’re not handling their own gear, they’re handling gear that was paid for by tax payers. If they lose or damage something, tax payers will be forced to buy a replacement. Furthermore, irresponsible government agents are seldom punished for their irresponsibility. If they lose or damage something, not only will they receive a replacement courtesy of the tax payers, but they also won’t be reprimanded in any meaningful way.

The findings of this report aren’t unique. Every year we see reports about government agents losing equipment. So why do statists continue to believe that the government is more responsible and trustworthy than civilians? I’m left to believe that it’s due to a gold-medal-worthy mental gymnastics performance. There is no way that somebody could comprehend this report and conclude that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is more trustworthy with firearms and ammunition than the average civilian.

Reinforcing the Status Quo

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Cop apologists are quick to say that the time to resist a “bad apple” isn’t when they’re violating your so-called rights or curb stomping your face, but in the courtroom after the interaction is concluded. Were the courts just, such advice may be valid. However, the courts are not just and more often than not affirm that heinous acts performed by law enforcers are legal:

The Supreme Court just ruled that a police officer could not be sued for gunning down Amy Hughes. This has vast implications for law enforcement accountability. The details of the case are as damning as the decision. Hughes was not suspected of a crime. She was simply standing still, holding a kitchen knife at her side. The officer gave no warning that he was going to shoot her if she did not comply with his commands. Moments later, the officer shot her four times.

[…]

As Sotomayor argued in dissent, the court’s decision means that such “palpably unreason­able conduct will go unpunished.” According to seven of the nine Justices, Hughes’ Fourth Amendment right to not be shot four times in this situation is less protected than the officer’s interest in escaping accountability for his brazen abuse of authority. According to Justice Sotomayor, “If this account of [the officer’s] conduct sounds unreasonable, that is because it was. And yet, the Court [] insulates that conduct from liability under the doctrine of qualified immunity.”

Worse yet, this decision wasn’t a surprise. And it certainly isn’t an aberration.

This is yet another in a long list of Supreme Court cases that affirm that officers have the privilege to shoot whomever they want for whatever reason they want. This is also why I call bullshit on the earlier mentioned argument commonly made by cop apologists.

If you wait to resist a “bad apple” until a later court case, you may be permanently disabled or even dead. To make matters worse, the court will be more likely side with the “bad apple” than you. Of course fighting with a “bad apple” carries its own risks. The “bad apple’s” buddies will likely join their comrade in beating your ass or summarily executing you. Furthermore, if you do survive, you will likely be tossed into a cage by a court. When you’re so-called rights are being violated by a law enforcer, you’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place and have to decide how to proceed based on the information at hand at the time. However, your list of options shouldn’t consist solely of rolling over and letting a man in a muumuu later affirm that what the officer did to you was perfectly legal.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 11th, 2018 at 10:30 am