A Geek With Guns

Discount security adviser to the proles.

Banning The Boogeyman

with one comment

Does the boogeyman exist? Most people would say he doesn’t. But some might point out that there’s no way to prove with absolute certainty that he doesn’t exist. Technically that would be a true statement. However, few people would change the way they live their lives based on the infinitesimal possibility that the boogeyman may exist.

The arguments in favor of these bathroom restriction bills sounds an awful lot like arguments in favor of creating laws to ban the boogeyman. Most of the arguments in favor of these bills are based on the hypothetical threat that a cisgender male will pretend to be a transwoman to gain entry into the women’s restroom for the purpose of committing sexual assault.

I call the threat hypothetical because there hasn’t been a notable number of such crimes being perpetrated. In fact I’ve only found one instance of such a crime and it occurred in Canada and only after this debate started making headlines (which is important to note because it’s quite possible the perpetrator wouldn’t have attempted to use such an excuse had the politicians not been waging this war). That’s two less incidents than the number of Republicans arrested for misconduct in bathrooms.

The arguments in favor of these bathroom bills are no more valid than arguments in favor of passing legislation to ban the boogeyman. Both are built on a foundation of unfounded fear mongering.

What gets me is the hypocrisy of some of the proponents of these bills. Some of the people supporting these bathroom bills on the grounds of a hypothetical threat were also the ones arguing against restricting people from carrying firearms on the grounds that the anti-gunners’ hypothetical threats were never been realized. If hypothetical threats aren’t a valid foundation to build laws off of for one thing then they shouldn’t be valid for anything.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 21st, 2016 at 10:30 am

Cultural Libertarianism

without comments

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, one of the few remaining writers at Reason worth reading, wrote an article discussing a particular pebble that has been in my shoe as of late — cultural libertarianism:

Today’s “cultural libertarians” claim to be concerned, first and foremost, with free speech and fending off the “illiberal” or “regressive left.” Where they succeed, from a libertarian-no-qualifier perspective, is in igniting the passions of young people toward the protection of civil liberties. Where they fail is by turning off more people in the process than they win over, delighting in the kinds of tactics and stunts that provoke but little else. Going to a feminist rally and holding up signs saying “there is no rape culture” may seem edgy when you’re 20, but most people realize that intruding on private events just to throw shade simply makes you an asshole, not a radical for free expression.

That paragraph sums up my feels quite concisely. While libertarianism certainly allows for individuals to make complete asses of themselves and I would never use coercive force to stop somebody from making an ass of themselves, I do get tired of these libertarians who seem hellbent on making asses of themselves.

Whenever a feminist, social justice advocate, or any other person these libertarian reactionaries have deemed leftists make a statement they are quick to respond. And by respond I mean with as offensive of statements as possible, not anything that would lead to constructive conversation. In addition to make these reactionaries look like asses their behavior is also counterproductive. There is a lot of common ground between libertarianism and feminism, social justice advocacy, and other so-called leftist philosophies.

Consider racism. If you try to discuss the issue of racism you’ll inevitably have one of these reactionaries calling you a social justice warrior and saying various racial slurs over and over in a pathetic attempt to be edgier than my Benchmade. But the fact of the matter is, many laws in the United States do institutionalize racism even though they claim to be neutral on the matter of race. This is a topic libertarians and advocates of social justice could work together against the State.

An important question to ask yourself, if you’re a libertarian, is whether you actually want to move society towards libertarianism. If you do then being edgy isn’t going to cut it (I’m not apologizing for that pun, it’s a damn good pun). The only way we’ll move society towards libertarianism is by making libertarianism appealing (it’s that damn market rearing its head again). This is where socialists tend to succeed over libertarians. A socialist can tell somebody facing oppression that their oppression will be a thing of the past because the socialist government will come down on their oppressors like a bag of hammers… and sickles (seriously, these are good puns, don’t try to tell me otherwise). Libertarians needs to explain how the State, by legislating oppression, is the biggest enabler of oppression. That requires actually listening to people’s stories and working with them to figure out a way libertarian principles can solve or at least reduce their problems.

I, like many libertarians, am a contrarian by nature so I understand that telling a group of feminists discussing rape culture that rape culture isn’t a real thing can sound amusing. But it’s also counterproductive (and a really shitty thing to do). What is far more productive, and I know this because it’s what I’ve done, is to listen to them and try to work with them to achieve mutual goals (which is why I invest so much time in advocating self-defense, because rape is a real problem and everybody should be able to defend themselves against rapists).

Written by Christopher Burg

April 21st, 2016 at 10:00 am

The Only Argument In Favor Of A Cruz Nomination

without comments

I find almost nothing redeemable about Ted Cruz. The same goes for his competitors — and his party — and the opposing party — and its candidates. But somebody has finally given a valid reason to support Cruz as the Republican nominee:

Just when it seems that Rep. Peter King must have exhausted his venom for Ted Cruz, he fires off another poisoned dart.

“I hate Ted Cruz, and I think I’ll take cyanide if he ever got the nomination,” the New York Republican told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday, as voters prepared to cast ballots in the state’s primary.

I admit that the thought of Peter King voluntarily consuming cyanide fills my heart with joy.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 20th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

Loyalty To The Party

without comments

Politics is a necessarily collectivist activity. This is why I find the Libertarian Party amusing. Admittedly, of all the political parties out there — with the exception of the Guns and Dope Party — I hate the Libertarian Party the least. But the fact that it must constantly be at odds with itself makes for some top tier comedy.

I was at the Minnesota Libertarian Party Convention this weekend, helping run the Agorist Suite (I wasn’t part of the convention itself outside of giving a security talk), and the topic of John McAfee stating he would not vote for Gary Johnson came up a few times. What I found most interesting is that a lot of libertarians were very upside by McAfee’s statement. Apparently the most important aspect of being a Libertarian Party candidate is loyalty to the party.

These are the kinds of collectivist traps one finds themselves in when claiming to be an individualist but participating in the political process. McAfee’s personal choice to not support Gary Johnson shouldn’t be an issue. He shouldn’t be expected to provide active support to a party that nominates a candidate he doesn’t approve of. Yet his announcement is being treated like high treason by some. Many have even said his statement has convinced them not to support him any longer.

One of the reasons I don’t involve myself in the political process is because I’m not willing to set aside my individualist principles. If somebody says they won’t support a party because of personal objections I’m not willing to harangue them over it. In fact such an action would demonstrate to me that the person is more of an individualist than the people criticizing them.

I can’t help but doubt the feasibility of any means the requires compromising expressed philosophical beliefs.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 20th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Some Inspiration For You

without comments

Those of us living under the boot of the State — which is to say almost all of us — need a little inspiration from time to time. Fortunately, many animals seem less willing to accept their chains that humans. Last week two heroic animals reminded us that freedom is something to always be strived for.

First up was Inky the octopus:

By the time the staff at New Zealand’s National Aquarium noticed that he was missing, telltale suction cup prints were the main clue to an easily solved mystery.

Inky had said see ya to his tank-mate, slipped through a gap left by maintenance workers at the top of his enclosure and, as evidenced by the tracks, made his way across the floor to a six-inch-wide drain. He squeezed his football-sized body in — octopuses are very malleable, aquarium manager Rob Yarrall told the New Zealand website Stuff — and made a break for the Pacific.

Next up was Cha Cha the chimpanzee:

A chimpanzee named Cha Cha escaped from a zoo in Sendai, Japan, and led police and zoo staff on a dramatic two-hour chase through a residential neighborhood, according to NHK, Japan’s largest broadcaster.

cha-cha-vs-the-man

I have a similar reaction when somebody tries to cage me.

Unfortunately Cha Cha was recaptured. But failure usually precedes success so there’s still hope.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 20th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Simulation Of The Titanic Sinking

without comments

I spent the evening working on my submission for the Agorist Writers Workshop so there isn’t much in the way of content today. One thing that I did come across that was rather neat though was a realtime simulation of the sinking of the Titanic. I admit that I jumped around as I didn’t have two hours and forty minutes to watch a ship sink but it was still neat.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 19th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Posted in Media

Tagged with

Monday Metal: Crying of the Sun By METALWINGS

without comments

METALWINGS is a song I came across accidentally when looking for this week’s Monday Metal entry. I know nothing about the bad but I really enjoyed this song so I’ll be looking into more of their music when I have time:

Written by Christopher Burg

April 18th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Posted in Media

Tagged with

FBI Found Nothing Significant On Farook’s iPhone

without comments

After all that fuss over Farook’s iPhone the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) finally managed to unlock it without conscripting Apple. So did the agency find information that will allow them to arrest the next terrorists before they can attack? Did the phone contain the secret to destroying the Islamic State? No and no. It turns out, as most people expected, there wasn’t anything significant on the phone:

A law enforcement source tells CBS News that so far nothing of real significance has been found on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone, which was unlocked by the FBI last month without the help of Apple.

It was stressed that the FBI continues to analyze the information on the cellphone seized in the investigation, senior investigative producer Pat Milton reports.

All that hullabaloo over nothing. This is a reoccurring trend with the State. It makes a big stink about something to justify a demand for additional powers. Eventually it’s revealed that reason it needed the additional power was nothing more than fear mongering. Why anybody takes the State seriously is beyond me.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 15th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Mind Blowing Research

with one comment

Sometimes I wonder about the average intelligence of our society:

One finding that really surprised us is that a good deal of the potential for miscommunication may come from different interpretations of the exact same emoji rendering.

They were “really surprised” that a system of communication based on subjectively interpreted symbols was confusing?

Cripes. That shouldn’t have been surprising to anybody. Especially not to aspiring Ph.D.s.

I’m fascinated by languages. When I was in high school I studied German, in college I studied Japanese. Last year I learned Esperanto and this year I’m studying Latin. What fascinates me about languages is that they all accomplish the same basic thing, communicating ideas between individuals, but with vastly different rulesets. German uses pronouns where Latin uses conjugations. Esperanto uses a Latin alphabet where Japanese uses a writing system adapted from the Chinese writing system. Since the rules are well defined (even though they don’t necessarily have to be strictly abided by) anybody who understand a set of rules can communicate with anybody else that understands those same rules.

There are no well defined rules surrounding the usage of emojis. Each symbol doesn’t have a specific well known meaning like the symbols used in English or Chinese do. So it should be obvious that using emojis to communicate is going to be more confusing than using languages with well defined rules. Apparently it’s not obvious and resources had to be invested into researching whether the use of emojis is confusing or not. To make matters worse the researchers were “really surprised” that their research showed that using emojis is confusing.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 15th, 2016 at 10:00 am

This Is Why I Try To Wait For Proof

with 2 comments

I’m fortunate in that I follow a lot of intelligent security professionals. When it was first announced that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) had hired a partner to break into Farook’s iPhone 5C the speculation was that the partner was Cellebrite. Note the key word, speculation. Most of the people initially speculating on the topic were careful to couch their terms as hypothetical but that didn’t stop media outlets from reporting speculation as fact. The problem with reporting speculation as fact is that it’s often wrong:

The FBI cracked a San Bernardino terrorist’s phone with the help of professional hackers who discovered and brought to the bureau at least one previously unknown software flaw, according to people familiar with the matter.

[…]

The bureau in this case did not need the services of the Israeli firm Cellebrite, as some earlier reports had suggested, people familiar with the matter said.

When the media reports something as fact do yourself a favor and dig into the story. You may find out that the fact is actually speculation.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 14th, 2016 at 10:30 am