A Geek With Guns

Discount security adviser to the proles.

Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ tag

TANSTAAFL

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Free K-12 schooling! Free college! Free healthcare! The State sure is magnanimous!

Unfortunately, to the chagrin of utopians, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch:

WILLOW RIVER — Scott Killerud was about to throw away a mailing about the 2016 enrollment period for MNsure last November when something caught his eye.

“Just as I was going to drop it in the trash, I was like — wait a second. What did I just read?” the Pine County farmer said.

What caught his eye was a notification that if you’re 55 or older and on Medical Assistance — Minnesota’s version of Medicaid — the state places an estate claim with which to recover its costs after you and your spouse have died.

Killerud was younger than 55, but his wife, Ellen, had reached that age the previous September. The couple, who supplement their farm income with part-time jobs, were told when they signed up for insurance through MNsure in 2014 that their income level qualified them for Medical Assistance.

But they didn’t know about the estate claim until Scott saw that mailing.

The State is in the business of stealing wealth, not handing it out. Whenever it claims to be giving something out for free you can be assured it’s part of a scam that is actually granting it further power to plunder the people.

Health insurance is the peak of the latest pyramid scheme. Acknowledging the fact that income taxes offer little in the way of plunder from people with little income, the State has created a program that allows it to take assets instead. This is especially important because it’s not unusual for retired individuals to have little in the way of income but a sizable sum in assets. By getting these individuals to sign up with MNsure, the State of Minnesota can give itself access to wealth that was previously outside of its grasps.

There is a lengthy list of things you should always be wary off. At the top of that list should people offering free stuff.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 18th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

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Do you know why we can’t have nice things? It’s because there are quisling out there ready and willing to cooperate with their oppressors:

MINNEAPOLIS – A Maple Grove bar owner and manager have been charged after being caught illegally importing Spotted Cow beer that they then sold at their establishment.

The two men, Brandon Hlavka, 37, of St. Michael and David Lantos, 28, of Brooklyn Park, were charged with a single felony of transporting alcohol into Minnesota for resale on Feb. 4.

Lantos, the bar manager, and Hlavka, the owner, of Maple Tavern were busted in April of last year after someone reported they were selling the Wisconsin beer on tap.

The New Glarus Brewing Co. beer is not a licensed manufacturer in Minnesota and its beer cannot be sold in the state.

Alcohol laws here in Minnesota are, well, really fucking stupid. There are different rules for alcohol that is sold only for on site consumption, referred to as on sale liquor, and alcohol sold only for off site consumption, referred to as off sale liquor. You can only buy on sale liquor at bars and restaurants and off sale liquor at liquor stores. Grocery stores can only sell liquor if they have a store separate from the grocery section. And the list goes on and on.

In this case the bar owners were importing beer from a company that isn’t licensed here in Minnesota. Here in Minnesota that’s a felony. You read that right, selling beer from an unlicensed manufacturer is a fucking felony.

These laws wouldn’t be as big of a deal if it wasn’t for quisling like the one who turned these bar owners over. If nobody cooperated with the laws the laws would be much harder to enforce. Unfortunately there are people who are willing to ruin the lives of others because their religion of statism mandates that individual humans are of less value than the arbitrary decrees issued by the political clergy. It’s fucking sick.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 12th, 2016 at 10:00 am

Petty Tyrant Syndrome Leads To Gentrification

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I’ve found another outbreak of Petty Tyrant Syndrome. This time it’s happening right here in the Twin Cities. The overlords of Columbia Heights are tired of all the blue collar workers on Central Avenue. Why? Apparently blue collar workers give off the wrong image. Instead of having the street populated with productive people the overlords wants people unproductively sipping lattes in coffee shops. In order to bring up this unproductive utopian vision the overlords have banned any new automobile related business from opening on the street:

Columbia Heights residents can buy an oil filter on nearly every corner of Central Avenue. But there’s no coffee shop where they can linger over a newspaper and sip a latte.

That’s a problem, city leaders say.

Fearful that a glut of mechanics, auto-parts stores and gas stations along Columbia Heights’ main drag is pulling down the city’s image and muscling out other businesses, the City Council is banning new auto-related businesses for up to six months.

City leaders figure that will be enough time to tighten up zoning regulations and set more design controls with an eye toward attracting a more eclectic mix of restaurants, shops and small service businesses along Central Avenue.

You thought I was joking about that sipping lattes remark, didn’t you? Here again we have a handful of people using their power to force everybody to comply with their vision of what is best. Because they’re unproductive bureaucrats who have time to sip lattes in a coffee shop for hours they are forcing everybody else to go along with their plan. I can’t help but think that there’s also a desire to see auto shops booted from the street because they’re run by people who get dirty doing their job. As we all know, people who get dirty are better heard, not seen, at least when you’re a petty bureaucrat trying to foster an image of sterile sameness.

Even more important to the overlords than their vision is the issue of income. Not for the businesses but for the city. Trendy hipsters with more money (technically it’s their parent’s money) than brains are cruising around on their brakeless fixies so they have no need for automobile related businesses. They’re also a major part of the group dumb enough to pay the stupidly high rental rates of high-density luxury apartments. So without them it’s hard to attract developers of said apartments, which means the city doesn’t get to collect absurd amounts of property taxes. Gentrification exists because cities want to increase their income and the easiest way of doing that is to replaces the lower and lower-middle class with the upper and upper-middle class. And in the end that’s what the result of this ban and rezoning scheme will be, gentrification.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 22nd, 2015 at 10:00 am

Competing Slave Labor Organization Courts Minnesota

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I saw several of my friends excited by the fact Minnesota has, so far, not taken Corrections Corporation of American (CCA) up on its offer to reopen and operate a closed prison:

Like many states in the “tough on crime” era, Minnesota is struggling to reduce overcrowding in its prisons and jails. For now, the state’s government is paying counties to house over 500 incarcerated people that its prisons can’t hold. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the notorious private prison operator, says they have a long-term solution for Minnesota.

But Minnesotans, backed by the criminal justice reform movement sweeping the country, are responding with “No thanks!”

CCA wants to reopen the shuttered Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, MN, and lease space to the state.

My friends have attributed this to this states great progressive nature. Truthfully the reason CCA hasn’t been taken up on its offer is likely because the Minnesota government already operates a slave labor organization and CCA would just provide competition. Why would the organization that already monopolized slave labor let a third-party involve itself in the racket? Especially with CCA’s track record of charging states that fail to provide their contractual obligation of slave laborers?

CCA has made a fortune off of slave labor but their influence is waning because many state governments realize having a middleman complicates matters. Maybe CCA will find a sweetheart deal that will convince Minnesota to allow competition to MINNCOR but I doubt it.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 2nd, 2015 at 10:30 am

The Illusion Of Control

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On Friday six people were shot in Minneapolis:

Police said the incident happened around 2:30 a.m. on 5th Street between Hennepin and 1st avenues near an alley by Sneaky Pete’s.

Minneapolis police officers were nearby and took three people into custody. Two guns were recovered. The six who were shot received noncritical injuries and were treated at Hennepin County Medical Center.

“Violent acts like last night’s shootings are abhorrent and contrary to the values we hold as a city,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement.

The mayor pledged a full investigation into the circumstances leading to the incident, which occurred around the time most downtown bars close. However, in an e-mail exchange with the Warehouse District Business Association executive director obtained by the Star Tribune, First Precinct Inspector Michael Kjos said there was no evidence that the two rival groups involved in the violence came from a bar or nearby business.

Kjos said the area was “saturated with police officers” and several officers witnessed the gunfire but did not engage because there were too many pedestrians in the area. The arrests and recovery of the two handguns followed a foot chase, Kjos said.

The responses have been typical. Calls for more gun restrictions, hiring more police officers, and restrictions on establishments that serve alcohol are being made. Gun restrictions have only ever served to disarm people willing to follow the law. Officers were on the scene so having more available wouldn’t have changed anything. And there was no evidence that the perpetrators had been in an establishment serving alcohol so additional restrictions on bars wouldn’t have made any difference. What this story demonstrates better than anything is that centralized controls are ineffective.

The question still remains, what can be done to deal with situations such as this? Contrary to popular belief the solution isn’t relying on third parties to deal with the problem. As with anything else in life the only solution is to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.

You cannot control the actions of others so the first step is getting that silly notion out of your head. Once you’ve accepted that fact you need to ask what steps you can take to make yourself safer. For situations such as this the most effective option is avoidance. Our subconscious is pretty good at picking up on subtle signs of danger. Oftentimes people write off these feelings by telling themselves they’re just being paranoid. Don’t do that. If the little voice in your head is telling you something isn’t right then you should listen to it and vacate the area.

Another step would be to keep a clear head, which means not drinking. But telling people not to drink is worthless because they aren’t going to listen. Instead I will take the middle ground by pulling a page from the responsible drinker’s playbook. Every group is supposed to designate a sober driver. There’s no reason that person should only be concerned about driving. I like to think of designated drivers as designated adults. Their job is to ensure everybody gets home safely. In addition to driving that should also involved being the lookout. If their little voice is saying a situation is dangerous they should inform the group that they need to be elsewhere. Granted, herding drunks is like herding libertarians but a designated adult can only put forth their best effort and each person is ultimately responsible for themselves.

If you’re not drinking you should also carry a gun. You can’t control when you’ll find yourself in this kind of situation but you can increase your odds of survival. As with popular belief regarding centralized control the popular belief that having less armed individuals increases overall safety is bullshit. Relying on a third party for protection isn’t a solution because you can’t guarantee a third party will actually protect you. Take charge of your defense and carrying the most effective means of defending yourself when you’re responsible enough to do so (i.e. not when you’re drinking).

Stop asking what “we” can do. There is no we. There is only you so ask what you can do. Until you ask the right question it’s impossible to come up with the right answer.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 15th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Apologies

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Last weekend Black Lives Matter marched on the Minnesota State Fair and held a protest. A lot of people are very worked up about this but I wasn’t there so the event didn’t impact me in the slightest. In addition to the protest itself some people are upset that some of the protesters were chanting “Pigs in a blanket, fry ‘em like bacon.” Was that phrase a call to kill cops or a clever play on words in context of an event well known for having every food you could imagine in fried form? I don’t know and I don’t care. But representative Tony Cornish cares very much:

Representative Tony Cornish is calling for an apology from the protest group Black Lives Matter for a chant made at the State Fair.

Well since we’re on the topic of apologies, I want an apology from Tony Cornish for his active support in expanding the already pervasive police surveillance apparatus. I’m guessing we’re both going to end up disappointed.

I haven’t written much about the activities of Black Lives Matter. From my point of view the organization is an inevitable reaction to decades of abuse perpetuated by those in authority. If you keep punching somebody you can’t cry foul when they finally retaliate. Since at least (but likely well before) the war on drugs law enforcement agents have been focusing more on generating revenue than protecting and serving the people. Revenue generation, in this case, means stealing wealth in the form of both assets (fines and civil forfeiture) and labor (prison labor). Black people have been far more frequent targets of this quest for revenue. This backlash shouldn’t surprise anybody. The only thing that should surprise anybody is that it has taken so long.

If anybody is owed an apology it’s the people who have been aggressed against by the police. Every nonviolent person who has been confined, extorted, beaten, or killed by agents of the State are the real victims. They’re the ones who have been wronged by the State and left without recourse because of the State’s monopolization of justice. Cornish is a retired police officer. He was one of those responsible for victimizing nonviolent individuals. Instead of demanding an apology he should be the one apologizing.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 3rd, 2015 at 10:30 am

A Surprising Change

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It’s not often the actions of politicians surprise me but I was admittedly caught off-guard by this:

A Dakota County sheriff’s deputy allegedly caught two Minnesota lawmakers “making out” in a parked car last week, according to law enforcement reports and court records, but the lawmakers say that accusation is “completely false” and a “lie.”

State Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Red Wing, and Rep. Tara Mack, R-Apple Valley, were issued citations for causing a nuisance on Aug. 25.

The two, who are married to other people, were in Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan when they were allegedly spotted by the officer ‘making out’ in a parked car about 4:30 p.m., according to documents. The officer’s notes claim Mack was half undressed when he approached the vehicle.

I wasn’t expecting to hear about a Republican representative being caught in a park screwing around with a woman. Around these parts they’re usually caught in an airport bathroom screwing around with another man.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 3rd, 2015 at 10:00 am

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More Permit Holders, No Blood In The Streets

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When Minnesota’s permit to carry law was liberalized in 2003 the anti-self-defense crowd screamed there would be blood in the streets. Here we are 11 years latter and the number of permit holders in the state is way up but the violence permit holders were supposed to perpetuate is almost entirely nonexistent:

A gun safety instructor, shown in 2012, for a course that is required to have a concealed carry permit in Minnesota. A record 200,000 Minnesotans now have permits to carry handguns.

A record 200,000 Minnesotans now have permits to carry handguns, an increasingly diverse group that includes two men who recently made split-second, life-altering decisions to fire their weapons.

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Opponents had feared that the law would lead to a surge in shootings and gun deaths. But Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension data show that fatalities involving permit holders are rare. In the past five years, there have been five deadly or nonlethal instances of justifiable use of a firearm by permit holders.

How can this be? Simple. Most people want to carry a firearm for self-defense, not to perpetuate violence. When it comes to carrying a firearm in Minnesota there are two options: legal or illegal. Carrying a gun illegally requires nothing more than carrying a gun but carrying a gun legally requires spending money and jumping through hoops. To legally carry a gun in Minnesota you have to take a class, apply for a permit, and hand your local Sheriff a payoff (often called a fee). Permit holders jump through those hoops because they want to avoid being harassed by the police. For that same reason most permit holders go out of their way to avoid violent situations.

What we have here in Minnesota are 200,000 people who want a means to defend themselves without worrying about police harassment.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 25th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Show Some Home Team Love

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Not only does the Brady Center have to pay Lucky Gunner’s legal fees but Lucky Gunner is going to donate that money to gun rights groups:

The Brady Center predictably appealed the judge’s ruling and we are prepared to continue defending your rights and ours. While it is not yet clear when the $111,971.10 fee reimbursement will be paid, we are going to donate 100% of what is recovered to groups that support and defend the 2nd Amendment. We will fight to recover these funds from the Brady Center and to hold the Brady Center responsible for yet another frivolous lawsuit.

Please tell us where you want the recovered fees to go by voting in the form below. A number of organizations were added per shooter requests on June 23. We will end the voting on August 1, 2015. Once we have recovered the fees, we’ll cut checks to each organization receiving votes on a percentage basis. In other words, if “Organization A” gets 5% of the vote, it will receive 5% of whatever is recovered.

The Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance (GOCRA) is one of the organizations on the ballot. I’m sure our home team guys would appreciate you casting a vote for them. It would be nice to know that the Brady Center helped contribute something to whatever gun rights battle appears in this state’s future.

Contacting Lucky Gunner and expressing thanks for doing this probably wouldn’t hurt either.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 30th, 2015 at 10:30 am

Thwarting Cellular Interceptors

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The United States government has been using planes equipped with cell phone interceptors to surveil large areas. Recently planes have been spotted around the Twin Cities circling areas of interest for hours and it appears that they’re equipped with surveillance equipment:

The plane’s flight path, recorded by the website flightradar24.com, would eventually show that it circled downtown Minneapolis, the Mall of America and Southdale Center at low altitude for hours starting at 10:30 p.m., slipping off radar just after 3 a.m.

“I thought, ‘Holy crap,’ ” said Zimmerman.

Bearing the call sign N361DB, the plane is one of three Cessna 182T Skylanes registered to LCB Leasing of Bristow, Va., according to FAA records. The Virginia secretary of state has no record of an LCB Leasing. Virtually no other information could be learned about the company.

Zimmerman’s curiosity might have ended there if it weren’t for something he heard from his aviation network recently: A plane registered to NG Research — also located in Bristow — that circled Baltimore for hours after recent violent protests there was in fact an FBI plane that’s part of a widespread but little known surveillance program, according to a report by the Washington Post.

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Zimmerman, who spotted the plane over Bloomington, said he pored through FAA records to find the call letters for each plane and then searched for images of them. He found photographs that show the planes outfitted with “external pods” that could house imagery equipment. He also found some of the planes modified with noise-muffling capability. That’s not common for a small plane, he said.

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Other devices known as “dirtboxes,” “Stingrays” or “IMSI catchers” can capture cellphone data. Stanley said it’s still unclear what technologies have been used in the surveillance flights.

It’s unknown if these planes are surveillance craft or equipped with cell phone interceptors but the evidence of the former is great and the government’s program to use such craft for cell phone interception indicates the latter is likely. That being the case I feel it’s a good time to discuss a few tools you can use to communicate more securely with your cell phone.

Modern cellular protocols utilize cryptography. What many people don’t realize is that, at least in the case of Global System for Mobile (GSM), the cryptography being used is broken, which is why cell phone interceptors work. Furthermore cryptography is only used between cell phones and towers. This means your cellular provider, and therefore law enforcement agents, can listen to and read your calls and text messages.

What you really want is end-to-end encryption for your calls. Fortunately tools that do that already exist. Three tools I highly recommend are Signal, RedPhone, and TextSecure from Open Whisper Systems. Signal is an iOS application that encrypts both voice calls and text communications. RedPhone is an Android app for encrypting calls and TextSecure is an Android app for encrypting text communications. Signal, RedPhone, and TextSecure are all compatible with one another so iOS users can securely communication with Android users. All three applications are also easy to use. When you install the applications you register your number with Open Whisper System’s servers. Anybody using the applications will be able to see you have the applications installed and can therefore communicate with you securely. Since the encryption is end-to-end your cellular provider cannot listen to or read your calls and text messages. It also means cell phone interceptors, which rely on the weak algorithms used between cell phones and towers, will be unable to surveil your communications.

As the world becomes more hostile towards unencrypted communications we must make greater use of cryptographic tools. It’s the only defense we have against the surveillance state. Fortunately secure communication tools are becoming easier to use. Communicating securely with friends using iOS and Android devices is as simple as installing an app (granted, these apps won’t protect your communications if the devices themselves are compromised but that’s outside of the threat model of planes with cell phone interceptors).

Written by Christopher Burg

June 1st, 2015 at 10:30 am