A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ tag

Your Privilege to Privacy Has a Lot of Exception

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I remember hearing a rumor that the Bill of Rights included an amendment regarding privacy. You wouldn’t know it living in our society though. Between the National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive surveillance apparatus, law enforcement’s tendency to deploy cell phone interceptors without so much as a warrant, and the recent trend of municipal governments deploying license plate scanners throughout their realm of influence it’s pretty obvious that if we had a right to privacy it’s effectively dead now. But every so often the courts find a shred of privacy remaining. When they do they work efficiently to destroy it:

It’s a case I first wrote about a year ago when the Minnesota Court of Appeals reinstated charges against a Meeker County resident after a district court threw out the case against Leona Rose deLottinville because sheriff’s deputies captured her while she was visiting a boyfriend. The lower court had also ruled that evidence seized in the arrest could not be used against her because the warrant for her arrest did not authorize police to search her boyfriend’s apartment.

In upholding that decision Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court said the woman, who was suspected of possessing meth, had no greater expectation of privacy when visiting another home than in her own home. [Updated]

[…]

“We understand that a homeowner might well be surprised and distressed to learn that police may enter at any time to arrest a guest,” he said. “But there is no indication in this case of any such abuse; deLottinville was visible to the officer before he entered the home. And the question of what rights the homeowner may have in such a situation is not before us.”

In a dissent, however, Justice Margaret Chutich said Lillehaug the majority opinion “fails to protect the right of a host from unreasonable governmental intrusion into the sanctity of her home, a right at the ‘very core’ of the Fourth Amendment.”

Of course the majority ruled based on the rights of the kidnapped individual, which completely ignored the rights of the homeowner. At least Justice Margaret Chutich understood this fact. Unfortunately, she was part of the minority and as we all know in a democracy the majority rules.

I believe the potential for abuse of this ruling is obvious. Home owners in Minnesota can now lose their privacy privileges if they invite the wrong person over. How can a homeowner decided whether or not they’re inviting the wrong person over? I guess they have to call their local police department and ask if a warrant has been issued for any guests they have over.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 17th, 2017 at 10:30 am

You Don’t Have Any Rights

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If you read the Bill of Rights; which really is a bill of temporary privileges, all of which appear to have expired; you might get the impression that you have some kind of right against self-incrimination. At least that’s what a plain reading of the Fifth Amendment would lead one to believe. But self-incrimination means whatever the man in the muumuu says it means. In Minnesota one of those muumuu clad men decided that being compelled to provide the cryptographic key that unlocks your phone isn’t protected under the Fifth Amendment:

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a judge’s order requiring a man to provide a fingerprint to unlock his cellphone was constitutional, a finding that is in line with similar rulings across the U.S.

What does this mean for us Minnesotans? It means that the first thing you should do in a police encounter is deauthorize your fingerprint reader. How do you do that? I’m not familiar enough with the various Android devices to know how they handle fingerprint readers. On the iPhone rebooting the phone will deauthorize the fingerprint reader until the password is entered. So iPhone users should hold down their home and lock buttons (or volume down and lock buttons if you’re using an iPhone 7) for a few seconds. That will cause the phone to reboot. If the phone is confiscated the fingerprint reader won’t unlock the phone so even if you’re compelled to press your finger against the sensor it won’t be an act of self-incrimination.

Why do I say deauthorize your fingerprint reader during a police encounter instead of disabled it entirely? Because disabling the fingerprint reader encourages most people to reduce their security by using a simple password or PIN to unlock their phone. And I understand that mentality. Phones are devices that get unlocked numerous times per day. Having to enter a complex password on a crappy touchscreen keyboard dozens of times per day isn’t appealing. Fingerprint readers offer a compromise. You can have a complex password but you only have to enter it after rebooting the phone or after not unlocking the phone for 48 hours. Otherwise you just press your finger to the reader to unlock your phone. So enabling the fingerprint reader is a feasible way to encourage people to use a strong password, which offers far better overall security (PINs can be brute forced with relative ease and Android’s unlock patterns aren’t all that much better).

Written by Christopher Burg

January 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Be Careful What You Wish For

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Yesterday the electoral college held its official vote. Leading up to that vote opponents of Donald Trump were urging electoral college voters to go against their pledge. In several cases they ended up getting what they wanted but, as is often the case when you wish for something, not in the way they wanted it.

In Washington four electors broke away from their pledged vote:

In acts of symbolic protest, three voted instead for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, while one voted for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American elder and activist from South Dakota.

Here in Minnesota one elector broke away from their pledged vote and instead voted for Bernie Sanders. As this is The People’s Republic of Minnesota, the renegade voter was immediately replaced with somebody who voted for the party line:

Clinton, also as expected, was awarded Minnesota’s 10 electoral votes after she won the popular tally in the state by a margin of 44,765 votes. Muhammud Abdurrahman, one of the 10 electors, broke ranks to vote for Sanders; by law, he was replaced by an alternate who voted for Clinton.

We don’t tollerate any of that free thinking bullshit here!

The only so-called faithless electors that weren’t Hillary supporters appear to have been in Texas. And, of course…

All but two of Texas’ 38 electors voted Monday to officially put Donald Trump in the White House, with one elector casting a ballot for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and another casting a ballot for a fellow Texan, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.

Emphasis mine.

So there you have it. Yesterday’s lesson was, be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 20th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Posted in Politics

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TSA Warning About Slave ID Deadline

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Minnesota is one of the few remaining states that has told the federal government where to stick its REAL Slave ID requirements. If you do live in Minnesota and you really want an official Slave ID you can pay an extra $15 and go through the additional hassle necessary to convert your drivers license but it’s not required.

While it’s been known that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would begin requiring Slave IDs to board aircraft the exact deadline has remained unknown. Soon the TSA at the Minneapolis International Airport will post signs indicating that the deadline will be January 22, 2018:

MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) – Signs will soon be posted at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with a warning that your current Minnesota driver’s license won’t be enough to pass through security in 2018.

Starting Jan. 22, 2018, you will need an alternate ID to fly if you have a standard driver’s license or ID card issued by any of the following states: Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina or Washington. Alternate forms of ID include a passport, military ID, or permanent resident card. You can find a full list of accepted ID at https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification

If you live in Minnesota and wish to travel on an airplane you should consider getting a passport. In fact, if you live in the United Police States of America you should consider getting a passport just so you have the option to leave this forsaken Orwellian nation.

I hope the Minnesota government continues to push against the Slave ID requirements but I fear that they’re going to kowtow to their federal masters before the deadline.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 16th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Be Safe Out There

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This weekend is forecast to be fucking brutal. First we’re supposed to be nailed by snow today and then Saturday and Sunday the temperatures are looking to be rather unpleasant. This kind of weather isn’t a joking matter. It kills people.

If you can avoid traveling do so. If you can’t make sure you don’t let your gas tank drop below half full. If you become stranded you can turn on the engine periodically to keep the inside temperature from dropping to lethal levels but only if you have gas in the tank (also, if you’re stuck in this situation, periodically get out and verify that the exhaust pipe is unobstructed by snow). Have a full winter survival kit in your vehicle that includes warm clothes (as in clothing appropriate for surviving this weather, not an old coat you had lying around that’s barely rated for 10 degrees, let alone -20 degrees), a heat reflective emergency blanket, a jump pack in case you need to jumpstart you vehicle, a small shovel and some kitty litter in case you need to get unstuck, and a winter rated sleeping bag in case you’re going to be stranded for a while.

This kind of weather is lethal, treat it with the seriousness it deserves.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 16th, 2016 at 10:00 am

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

I Hope the ACA Mandates the Coverage of Lube

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a massive stack of paper that no single person could ever hope to read and fully comprehend. I only hope that somewhere buried in that mountain of paper is a clause that requires insurance companies to cover lube because us Minnesotans are going to need a lot of it:

Big rate increases next year in the state’s individual market mean that Minnesotans who buy health insurance on their own will pay above-average premiums — a startling reversal from 2014 when individual market rates in much of the state were among the lowest in the nation.

A federal report this week looked at rates for “benchmark” plans across 44 states and found a family of four in Minnesota will pay $1,396 per month for the coverage. That’s about 28 percent higher than the average across most of those states at $1,090 per month.

Everybody is getting fucked in the ass by the ACA but us Minnesotans are going to get fucked a bit harder. Predictably a lot of people are upset about this and have decided that the only fix for more government is even more government. Democrats are talking more seriously about single payer while the Republicans are obsessing over what they want to replace the ACA with. With both major political parties seemingly uninterested in deregulating the healthcare market this situation is only going to get worse.

At least the universe has a sense of humor because the number of people covered by health insurance, the metric being used by proponents of the ACA to prove it has been successful, is going to dwindle as fewer and fewer people are able to afford even a basic health insurance plan. When that happens the proponents of the act will have to find a new metric to declare victory with (which won’t change anything but watching them desperately scramble to spin things into victory again will be amusing to watch).

Written by Christopher Burg

October 27th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Even the President Admits That the System is Rigged

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Two days ago was National Register to Vote Day. It amounted to the Internet asking what I was doing to encourage my friends to register to vote and me responding that I don’t encourage my friends to actively participate in their own subjugation. Voting exists to give the subjects the false belief that they have a say in the actions of their rulers. You can see this by simply looking at the ballot. For each office a ballot will list any running candidates and leave a space if you want to write somebody else in. What isn’t on the ballot is the option to abolish the office. As Noam Chomsky said, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum — even encourage the more critical and dissident views.” You are allowed, at most, to choose your master from a curated list but you can’t choose to do something radical.

The system is rigged. This fact has become so obvious that even the rulers are publicly admitting it:

President Barack Obama warned in a radio interview on Wednesday that Americans who vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein in November risk putting Donald Trump into the White House, as he sought to blunt momentum for third-party candidates.

“If you don’t vote, that’s a vote for Trump,” Obama said in an interview on the Steve Harvey Morning Show. “If you vote for a third-party candidate who’s got no chance to win, that’s a vote for Trump.”

There it is, plain as day. And you know what? He’s right. At least about third-party presidential candidates having no chance of winning (he’s still wrong about not voting or voting for a third-party candidate being a vote for Trump). Third-party candidates exist to create the illusion of choice. Their presence on the ballot legitimizes the State in the eyes of many people who are unhappy with the two major parties by creating the illusion that other alternative exist. In reality your only choice on the ballot is whether you want a republican or a democratic ruler (and in reality even that is a false choice based on how poorly Trump has been polling).

Here’s my question, if you know the game is rigged why bother playing it? You don’t have an actual choice, you have a curated list of choices deemed acceptable by the rulers. And if you don’t live in a swing state you don’t even have that. Here in Minnesota, for example, Hillary is going to win. Any vote that isn’t for her won’t count in any meaningful way. Any vote for her is merely an exercise in electoral masturbation since it serves no purpose other than increasing the magnitude of her victory.

Why waste precious minutes or hours of your life in a meaningless exercise? There are so many more productive things you could do. You could read a book, go to the range, hit the gym, smoke a joint, or trim your toenails. But you won’t gain anything by playing a rigged game.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 29th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Looks Can Be Deceiving

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Saturday evening there was a multiple stabbing incident at the St. Cloud Center here in Minnesota. Although tragic there are some lessons that can be learned these kinds of situations and this incident is no different:

In a media briefing after midnight Sunday, St. Cloud police chief William Blair Anderson said an off-duty officer from another jurisdiction confronted and killed the suspect. He said the suspect — who was dressed in a private security uniform — reportedly asked at least one victim whether they were Muslim before assaulting them, and referred to Allah during the attacks.

Here lies our most important lesson. The attacker was dressed in a security uniform. This probably allowed him to get close to his victims without raising any red flags, which is important if you’re relying a knife. So the lesson here is that not everybody is exactly as they appear. Just because somebody is dressed like a cop or a security guard doesn’t mean they actually are one. Don’t let your guard down just because somebody is in a specific uniform.

One of my friends pointed out another lesson to be learned from this:

The mall remained on lockdown after the incident, but authorities expected those remaining inside to be released early Sunday. Photos and video of the mall taken hours after the incident showed groups of shoppers waiting to be released, including some huddled together near a food court entrance.

The officers trapped people inside the mall with the attacker. When the police arrived it wasn’t yet known if there were multiple attackers so the mall goers were potentially locked in a building with multiple people meaning to cause them harm. Being confined in an area with an unknown number of assailants is not a good place to be. If you hear that there’s an attacker in the building find the nearest fire exit and go through it. If you’re luck the police won’t see you leave. If you’re unlucky they’ll catch you but in that case you’ll likely be held in the back of a squad car, which is still a safer place than being confined in an area with and unknown number of potential assailants.

Keep your guard up when you’re out and about. Listen to your gut instinct. If that little voice in the back of your head is telling you something is wrong then you should listen to it. We’ve all been doing this human thing for our entire lives so we’re pretty good at subconsciously reading very subtle signs from one another. Anybody can put on any uniform they please but a uniform isn’t going to conceal all those subtle signs we use to judge one another’s intentions. If that voice is telling you the approaching security guard means you harm take heed and book it.

Be aware of all the potential exits. Fire exits are especially good in these kinds of situations because they usually trip a fire alarm. If it’s an audible alarm it will alert other people in the building to get out. If it’s a silent alarm it will still involve a response from the local authorities.

Finally, have a plan to defend yourself if escape isn’t an option. I recommend that people carry a firearm because they give you the best fighting chance. But even if you’re not willing or are unable to carry a firearm you should have some defensive response that you’ve trained thoroughly enough to be instinctual. Be it martial arts, mace, a baton, or even a knife. While you might not win a violent encounter even if you have a means of self-defense, you will certainly lose one if your response is to freeze up.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 19th, 2016 at 10:30 am

Who’s a Good Politician

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Who’s a good politician? You are! Yes you are!

CORMORANT, Minn. —Nine-year-old Duke, a Great Pyrenees, handily won another one-year term as mayor of the small northwestern Minnesota town of Cormorant, Detroit Lakes Online reports.

“I don’t know who would run against him because he’s done such great things for the community,” Cormorant resident Karen Nelson told Detroit Lakes Online.

The locals say Duke has one of the highest approval ratings in the country.

The people of Cormorant have their heads screwed on right. They’ve corrected one of the biggest mistakes more people make, which is electing humans to political office. Not only are dogs generally loyal but they’re also unable to speak any human language so they can’t make decrees. Furthermore, their scheming consists almost entirely of getting treats, being pet, and playing fetch. If everybody political office was occupied by a dog instead of a human politician the world would be a much better place.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 25th, 2016 at 10:00 am