A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Shut Up Slave’ tag

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

In Order to Save the Children We Must Damn the Children

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People love to bitch about the government indoctrination centers public education system. And with good cause. If you believe that the purpose of public schools is to educate children then you can’t help but admit that they’re doing an abysmal job. When I see people bitching about public schools I sometimes like to amuse myself by asking them what the solution is. Unless the person I’m asking is a libertarian the solutions proposed are almost always some variant of “We need to provide more funding to public schools!” While I find the idea of throwing even more money into the pit to fix a fundamental failure absurd, I at least understand why somebody might come to that conclusion. However, I came across a proposed solution that is so absurd that I can’t fathom how the proposer came up with it:

For Hannah-Jones, sending Najya to the neighborhood school was a moral issue. “It is important to understand that the inequality we see, school segregation, is both structural, it is systemic, but it’s also upheld by individual choices,” she says. “As long as individual parents continue to make choices that only benefit their own children … we’re not going to see a change.”

The only way to fix public schools is to damn every child to them!

This proposal is nothing less than collective punishment. Collective punishment is a statist belief that I find especially heinous. But in this case it’s more heinous than usual because the people being punished, children, had no involvement in creating the problem whatsoever. Why should every child be condemned to a poor education when it was adults that created the horrible public education system in the first place? If you’re going to punish somebody, why not punish those adults instead?

I consider myself an open minded person. But collective punishment and collective suicide, which is what dumbing down every child in the nation is, are two beliefs I cannot bring myself to even entertain.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 18th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Just a Few Bad Apples

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Chicago is an interesting case study. In addition to being proof that gun control laws don’t reduce gun violence, the city also manages to having increasing levels of violent crime at a time when violent crime as a whole is going down. But wait, there’s more! Not only is violence performed by nongovernmental entities up in Chicago, but violence performed by government entities is also up:

CHICAGO ― The Chicago Police Department regularly violates citizens’ civil rights, routinely fails to hold officers accountable for misconduct and poorly trained officers at all levels, according to a sweeping Justice Department probe of the nation’s second-largest police department.

The findings echo those of an April 2016 report released by Chicago’s then-new Police Accountability Task Force, which emphasized that the police department must face a “painful but necessary reckoning” that includes acknowledging its racist history and its consequent legacy of corruption and mistrust ― particularly between the department and the minority communities it polices.

What else could we expect from a police department that operates its own black sites?

Chicago may have the honors of being the first city with a police department that is so corrupt that even the Department of Justice can cover it up anymore. There’s also a good chance that it will enjoy the honors of being the second city to join Detroit in complete collapse.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 18th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Thanks, Obama

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I’m sure that’s what Trump’s administration said as Obama’s administration expanded its power:

WASHINGTON — In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

[…]

Previously, the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The N.S.A.’s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information.

Now, other intelligence agencies will be able to search directly through raw repositories of communications intercepted by the N.S.A. and then apply such rules for “minimizing” privacy intrusions.

I’m sure the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are going to have a field day with it.

Initially the National Security Agency (NSA) was tasked with surveilling foreign entities but not domestic entities. That mandate changed over time. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know that the NSA is now surveilling people domestically. However, the agency itself has no enforcement powers. But the FBI and DEA do! And that’s why this rule change should be concerning.

There’s a world of difference between having access to filtered data and raw data. Presumably, the NSA’s goons were feeding other intelligence agencies data that it thought was pertinent to its mission. Even if the NSA was feeding other intelligence agencies more than that it still had access to limited manpower, which meant the amount of data it was handing over was necessarily limited. With access to the raw data agencies like the FBI and DEA can now comb through it for their purposes. There will be more eyes looking at the data and those eyes won’t be restricted to what the NSA considers important.

We know that the NSA surveils domestic Internet and phone communications. Since so many illegal transactions (not criminal, since a vast majority of these transactions don’t involve victims) take place over the Internet or through phone calls the FBI and DEA now have access to data that gives them a potentially rich target environment. Even if agencies like the FBI and DEA are legally restricted from using data acquired by the NSA to prosecute domestic individuals the law enforcement community has already created a workaround to such limitations.

When Obama took office his administration was given control of the vast surveillance apparatus that Bush’s administration had expanded. Under his tenure as president those apparatuses expanded further. Now Trump’s administration is receiving control of that expanded surveillance apparatus. To all of the people who didn’t give a shit about those expanding powers under Obama but are now flipping out about Trump having those powers, this is why us libertarians are against expanding the State’s powers. You never know who will be given those powers after your guy leaves office.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 13th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Disloyalty to the Fatherland Will Not be Tolerated

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The religion of statism loves its rituals. Stand and remove your hat when you sing the national anthem, Rockets and Bombs. Stand, remove your hat, and put your hand over your heart when you pledge your allegiance to the skycloth. Don’t burn the skycloth that you have no issue wiping your mouth with on July 4th. The list of rules go on and on.

But for some it’s not enough just to have these religious rituals. They want these rituals to be mandatory:

A Mississippi legislator has sponsored a bill that levies a $1,500 fine on any school that doesn’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag within the first hour of class each school day.

Rep. William Shirley, a Republican whose District 84 covers Clark, Jasper and Newton counties, wants to amend Section 37-13-6 of the Mississippi Code of 1972. The code provides stipulations on the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools and when, where and how to present the flag on school grounds.

All schools will lead the children in pledging their allegiance to the Fatherland!

When I was in elementary school we recited the Pledge of Allegiance every morning. Do you know what school children use that time for? Coming up with funnier words, usually involving fart jokes, to say loudly enough for nearby students to hear yet quietly enough so the teacher doesn’t hear. All the Pledge of Allegiance is to school children is a bunch of meaningless words they’re made to recite. As it turns out, concepts like patriotism are a bit beyond the mental capacity of most children (more accurately, school children aren’t yet dumb enough to be brainwashed by patriotism).

Written by Christopher Burg

January 13th, 2017 at 10:00 am

It’s Good to be the King’s Men

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Life can be difficult down here in the trenches. For example, when somebody dies due to our misdeeds or negligence we usually end up facing criminal charges and being sentences to rot in a cage for years. Not so for the king’s men. The Supreme Court once again ruled in favor of protecting police from their negligence:

The case revolved around the fatal police shooting of Samuel Paulie in New Mexico. Police officers arrived at the Paulie brothers’ home after two women called police to report one of the Paulies allegedly driving drunk. According to the facts presented in the ruling, police determined after talking to the women that they did not have probable cause to arrest Paulie but wanted to go to his house anyway to “get his side of the story,” to see if he was drunk, and to see if there was anything else going on. The officers went separately. The first two officers to arrive didn’t identify themselves as police, instead telling the Paulies they were surrounded and to come out or they would come in, causing the Paulies to believe they were being targeted for a home invasion and to arm themselves.

That’s when the third officer, Ray White, the plaintiff of the case that made it to the Supreme Court, arrived, just in time to hear the Paulies yell “we have guns.” He took cover behind a wall. Sam Paulie then exited his house with a shotgun, firing one shot that didn’t hit anyone. One of the officers shot at Paulie but missed. Then White left his cover and fired at Paulie, killing him.

The Supreme Court ruled that White deserved qualified immunity (a concept that, in essence, protects government employees from liability and civil damages so long as “their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known,” as the Supreme Court decided in the 1982 case Harlow v. Fitzgerald.

This is an example of police negligence leading to death. The police didn’t announce themselves but threatened Mr. Paulie. Under such circumstances it’s easy to see to see why Mr. Paulie might think his home was being invaded by a nongovernmental gang. Office White arrived on the scene after his cohorts had already made a mess of things but he didn’t bother alerting Mr. Paulie that he was in office either. Apparently the department doesn’t train its office to say, “We’re the police.”

Some people will likely side with Officer White by claiming he acting in self-defense. But such a defense generally requires that one demonstrate that they didn’t create the situation. In Minnesota we call this being a reluctant participant. If you created the situation then you generally can’t claim self-defense. Unless, of course, you have a badge.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 12th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Crime Pays

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That’s a nice piece of property you have there. It would be a same if anything were to happen to it.

We usually associate such extortion with the mafia or other nongovernment gangs but they’re petty crooks when compared to local municipalities. The City of Minneapolis raked in over $1.7 billion with this scheme:

The city of Minneapolis issued more than $1.7 billion in building permits last year, the fifth year in a row that the city has burst the billion-dollar bubble.

The 2016 tally, announced Friday, is the second highest Minneapolis has seen since 2000. The only year to dwarf it was 2014, when the city issued $2 billion in permits with the construction of the new U.S. Bank Stadium and surrounding development.

Who says crime doesn’t pay?

Building permits are useful for illustrating two things. First, that local municipalities can make a killing on permit fees even though each individual permit may seem fairly cheap. Second, that you can’t own property in this country. You can rent it from the State, which will allow you to use it in approved manners so long as your rent is paid up. But if you fail to pay your rent or seek the landlord’s blessing anytime you want to use it you may find yourself facing a man in a muumuu who will either send you to a cage or extort more money out of you (or both).

Written by Christopher Burg

January 11th, 2017 at 10:00 am

To Serve and Protect

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It’s winter, which means Mother Nature is doing her best to kill us in even more brutal ways than normal. One of her favorite weapons is snow. Snow can turn a smoothly operating highway into a parking lot. Some brave humans attempt to defend us against her frozen water by removing it from our roads. However, their job is rather difficult to do when America’s heroes are out punishing them:

Whenever it snows, Mitch Fisher is ready to help his neighbors, whether it’s clearing the sidewalks or trying to clear the street. When the area’s Christmas storm hit, he was out plowing his street with his ATV.

“I take care of the neighbors. They’re all elderly and I like to help them out,” Fisher said.

On Wednesday, however, a Pocatello police officer cited Fisher for an infraction — placing or depositing material on a public right of way. It carries a cost of more than $200.

As usual, the police are claiming it was a safety issue. Either snow on the road isn’t a safety issue or the police are trying to justify extortion. Take your pick.

I’m quite familiar with what Mr. Fisher was doing because my father does the same thing whenever it snows. Since he has a tractor with a bucket on the front he can move a lot of snow quickly. Because of that he often plows his driveway and the neighbors’ driveways. All of the snow is dumped on his or the neighbors’ lawns so it’s out of the way. By doing this his neighbor’s are happy. However, it’s an example of somebody voluntarily acting to make lives better and we know that the State doesn’t want that.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 10th, 2017 at 10:00 am

What Do You Do for Money, Honey

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How far would you go to make a buck? Would you be willing to put lives at risk for personal gain? Fortunately, most people aren’t in a position where they have to ask themselves these questions. But politicians are.

Let’s consider the ride sharing industry. Uber and Lyft allow people with cars to make a little extra cash by providing taxi services. Having this option available has been a boon for passengers as they are no longer restricted to the taxi cartels. However, the taxi cartels have been petitioning their protectors, municipal governments, to stifle their ride sharing competitors. Several major cities have responded by passing regulations that are too burdensome for Uber and Lyft.

In addition to increasing the costs for passengers, kicking Uber and Lyft out of cities has had another side effect. Incidents of drunk driving have increased:

However, after the city of Austin passed new burdensome regulations on the ridesharing economy last summer, Uber and Lyft both decided to cease operating within city limits. In the several months since their departure, driving under the influence (DUI or DWI) arrests have already spiked according to the Austin Police Department’s own data.

Before Uber came to town in 2014, Austin Police Department’s data showed that the city had an average of 525 drunk driving arrests per month. When these numbers were revisited a year after ridesharing came to Austin, drunk driving arrests had dropped by five percent. This trend continued the following year when the number of drunk driving arrests dropped by an additional 12 percent, bringing the average number of arrests to about 438 per month.

In May of 2016, the same month Uber and Lyft made the decision to leave Austin, the monthly rate of drunk driving incidents was down to an average of 358. However, within the first few months of Uber and Lyft’s absence, the number of DUI arrests increased by 7.5 percent from the previous year. In the month of July alone, the city had 476 drunk driving arrests.

This puts the city politicians in a position where they have to ask themselves if they’re willing to put lives at risk for personal profit. Drunk driving citations are big money for cities. Cartelizing the taxi business also makes cities a decent chunk of change. Providing protection to the taxi cartels can also lead to lucrative campaign contributions. But it all comes at the expense of putting motorists on the road at risk of being killed by a drunk driver.

Part of the reason I despise politicians so much is because they are in a position to profit off of our misery and often take opportunities to do so. Although I won’t go so far as to say the politicians in Austin, Texas were purposely being malicious when they passed regulations against Uber and Lyft (I can’t read minds, after all), I will say that they are in a position to ease people’s misery by removing those regulations. The question now that we have data showing the consequences of booting Uber and Lyft out of the city is whether or not Austin’s politicians are willing to forgo the money they’re making off of the regulations they passed. Needless to say, I’m not optimistic.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 6th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Streisand Effect

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The Internet doesn’t lend itself well to censorship. In fact, attempts to censor information usually lead to a great deal of public scrutiny. Take Ham Radio Deluxe, for example. Until a few days ago I hadn’t heard of the software or the company that creates it. But then the company tried to make a negative review posted by a user go away. Now I’ve not only heard of the company but I know that it’s a company that I won’t ever do business with:

This tactic, however, is a new twist on the old “punish customers for negative reviews” game. A user of Ham Radio Deluxe wasn’t too happy with its apparent incompatibility with Windows 10. He posted a negative review of the software at eHam.net, calling out the company for its seeming unwillingness to fix the underlying issue.

[…]

The “customer support” at HRD Software then pointed the user to its terms of service, stating that it had the right to do what it had just done. HRD Software reserves the “right” to “disable a customer’s key at any time for any reason.” Then it told him the blacklisting would be revoked if he removed his negative review. Bonus: mention of a capital-A “Attorney” for added seriousness, I guess.

If you remove the eHam review, which was blatantly false, we will remove the blacklist from you call. You are not buying software, you are buying your callsign’s access to the software. the so called bug you reported is not one in HRD, but one in the CAT commands of the FT­3000 radio, which have been verified with yaesu. Again refer to section 8 of the TOS, which was written by our Attorney.

There are many ways to deal with negative reviews. Usually the best option is to ignore them. Not everybody is going to have a good experience with your product so you need to accept that some users will give negative reviews. If a particular negative review is hurting business you can either act on that review by improving your product or you can issue a rebuttal if the review is based on false information. What you should never do is try to coerce the reviewer into deleting their review. That looks scummy to everybody watching.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 6th, 2017 at 10:00 am