A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘You Can’t Cure Stupid’ tag

Where Criminals Get Their Guns

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Where do criminals get their guns? From other criminals:

Police are searching for the person who broke into an unmarked Ramsey County, Minn., sheriff’s car and stole an AR-15 rifle with a loaded magazine.

St. Louis Park police and the Ramsey County sheriff’s office are both very tight lipped about this unusual theft, executed Friday night by someone who seems to have known exactly what they were after and just how to steal it.

It amuses me that either the police or the author of this story saw fit to make the crime look more complex than it was. By “…someone who seems to have known exactly what they were after and just how to steal it.” the author means that the thief knew how to break open a car door and pry a firearm from a cheap locking mount. When criminals do that to a nongovernment car it’s usually referred to as a smash and grab. When criminals do that to a government car it’s referred to as an unusual theft executed by a highly cunning individual.

I know two people who have had firearms stolen from their vehicles (ironically, in both cases, the guns were in their vehicles because they had to enter a gun-free zone). In both cases the individuals did their due diligence to secure the gun but one can only do so much when it comes to securing something in an automobile. And in both cases the individuals called the police who showed up and spent most of their time giving a sermon about not leaving valuable items in plain site (which they hadn’t done). It amuses me that the police don’t appear to be giving themselves a stern talking to about leaving valuables in plain sight.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 19th, 2017 at 10:00 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

The No Win Situation of Politics

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More and more people seem to be realizing that all available political options are no win situations:

Establishment political parties have been playing a dangerous game — contriving situations in which the only acceptable choice happens to be one favored by elites, and hoping that voters will choose it under duress.

Voters have been revolting against no-choice politics by choosing the unthinkable: Brexit, fringe political parties, rejecting the Italian reform referendum, Trump.

You should be mad at voters for the alarming choices they are making. I certainly am. But you should also be mad at the establishment leaders and political parties who put voters in the position of choosing between the unpalatable and the absurd.

I often compare candidate choices to the choice of either colon cancer or lung cancer. While arguments can be made in favor of one over the other the end result of both if left untreated is death.

What amuses me is that the absurdity of our “choices” is becoming so obvious that even mainstream media outlets are having a difficult time ignoring it. Just look at the last presidential election. The choice was between a male fascist or a female fascist. The media pushed for the female fascist but the difference between the two was so insignificant that it had a difficult time finding a characteristic to sell her on. In the end the male fascist won because votes basically flipped a coin.

If you’re a student of history you’ve read about how this plays out. Things will continue to deteriorate. The “choices” will become worse. At some point the system will collapse in on itself like a massive star at the end of its life.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 17th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Welcome to Costco, I love you.

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Our future, ladies and gentlemen, is looking bleak. It’s not simply because of rampant statism but also because of rampant stupidity.

I make plenty of grammatical mistakes on this site. When somebody is gracious enough to point them out to me I thanks them and correct the mistake(s) they alerted me to. Apparently this isn’t the case with most people:

Scientists have found that people who constantly get bothered by grammatical errors online have “less agreeable” personalities than those who just let them slide.

And those friends who are super-sensitive to typos on your Facebook page? Psychological testing reveals they’re generally less open, and are also more likely to be judging you for your mistakes than everyone else. In other words, they’re exactly who you thought they were. That sounds pretty obvious, but this is actually the first time researchers have been able to show that a person’s personality traits can actually determine how they respond to typos and grammatical errors, and it could teach us a lot about how people communicate (or miscommunicate) online.

As somebody who prides himself on constantly improving I appreciate when people point out my mistakes so that I can correct them. It seems most people don’t have an interest in improving their grammar and instead get angry that somebody would dare point out their error.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 12th, 2017 at 10:00 am

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Dropping Bombs for Mother Gaia

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When people think about big polluters they usually imagine strip mines or coal burning power plants. Seldom do they imagine the United States military, which is one of the largest polluters in the world. However, Uncle Sam wants to mend his ways. He no longer wants to leave ruined cities in his wake. Now he wants to leave ruined cities covered in plant life in his wake:

The military fires hundreds of thousands of rounds during training, ranging from bullets to 155mm artillery shells. While casings are collected, and often recycled, the bullets themselves generally aren’t, and can take “hundreds of years” to break down in the environment. That can pollute the soil and water supply, harm animals, and generally look like crap if you stumble upon them.

To tackle the problem, the DoDo has made a proposal call for a biodegradable composite bullet impregnated with seeds that will survive the initial blast and searing velocities. The seeds should only sprout after being in the ground for several months and be safe for animals to consume.

I’m sure that’ll make all of the civilians Uncle Sam is blowing up feel better. Sure, little Achmed may be gone but there’s a tree growing where he was blown up so all is forgiven!

I’m really at a loss on this one. What the Department of Defense is asking for is ridiculous. Finding seeds capable of surviving a point blank explosion is already a tall order. But even if somebody can create such seeds what will be the point? People aren’t going to feel better about being bombed just because some trees grow out of the ruins of their cities. Trees aren’t going to offset the environmental destruction of artillery fire. This proposal seems like a tone deaf attempt to appeal to environmentalists.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 11th, 2017 at 10:30 am

How Fake News Happens

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Fake news has remained one of the big boogeyman ever since Hillary Clinton failed to win the presidential election. But what is fake news? At one time fake news was referred to as tabloids. Then fake news became known as Onion articles. Now fake news seems to mean whatever news one disagrees with. But there is actual fake news and it usually stems from so-called legitimate media outlets:

The original article was posted online on the Washington Post’s website at 7:55PM EST. Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, we can see that sometime between 9:24PM and 10:06PM the Post updated the article to indicate that multiple computer systems at the utility had been breached (“computers” plural), but that further data was still being collected: “Officials said that it is unclear when the code entered the Vermont utility’s computers, and that an investigation will attempt to determine the timing and nature of the intrusion.” Several paragraphs of additional material were added between 8PM and 10PM, claiming and contextualizing the breach as part of a broader campaign of Russian hacking against the US, including the DNC and Podesta email breaches.

Despite the article ballooning from 8 to 18 paragraphs, the publication date of the article remained unchanged and no editorial note was appended, meaning that a reader being forwarded a link to the article would have no way of knowing the article they were seeing was in any way changed from the original version published 2 hours prior.

Yet, as the Post’s story ricocheted through the politically charged environment, other media outlets and technology experts began questioning the Post’s claims and the utility company itself finally issued a formal statement at 9:37PM EST, just an hour and a half after the Post’s publication, pushing back on the Post’s claims: “We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems. We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding.”

Fake news tends to be the result of journalists jumping the gun instead of performing a investigation. In this case a journalist or journalists at the Washington Post received information about malware being found on a laptop at a power station. Instead of investigating the story further the journalist(s) wove a story about Russian hackers attacking the United States’ power grid. Had they waited for a response from the power company they would have known that the laptop wasn’t even connected to the network and was therefore a nonissue.

We see this happen with every breaking story. In fact it happens so often that I now consider the term “break story” to mean “incoming bullshit.” The talking heads on your moving picture boxes, the writers for news websites, and your friends on Facebook all crave attention. In the case of the former two attention equals money and in the case of the latter attention equals an ego boost. Either way, the people reporting about a breaking story have no information to go on so they’re just speculating. Furthermore, because journalists are often ignorant about the technical matters surrounding the story they’re reporting on, their speculations tend to be fantastical.

While tabloids are often advertised by their creators as real news almost everybody with the ability to think critically knows they’re bullshit. The Onion straight up admits to being a satire site. So-called legitimate journalists don’t have an excuse to be propagating false information. In fact, the job of journalism once involved investigating stories so true information could be reported. Yet they end up being the biggest propagators of false information time and again.

If you really despise fake news you should be demanding that journalists do their job by waiting until they have some factual information to report before reporting.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 10th, 2017 at 10:30 am

It’s Checkpoints All the Way Down

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The shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport last week has the media once again asking the wrong questions. Take this moron for example. His little article is asking whether or not air travelers should still be allowed to have declared firearms in their checked luggage. What would a prohibition against firearms in checked luggage accomplish? It would serve to punish people like myself who often have firearms in their checked luggage but it would do absolutely nothing to enhance security (since, if you want to attack an airport, you can still drive to it with your personal vehicle).

This is the trend amongst the media. Since most reports are clueless about the topics they’re reporting on they ask idiotic questions and make equally idiotic suggestions. I’ve heard a lot of people suggest establishing security checkpoints to get into the airport so you can go through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint. Of course, when somebody shoots up the checkpoint to get into the airport there will be demands for a checkpoint to get near the airport so you can go through the checkpoint to get into the airport so you can go through the TSA checkpoint. If we listened to these yokels it would be checkpoints all the way down.

If you haven’t already, the next time you go through a TSA checkpoint pay attention to how many people are in line with you and how tightly packed together you all are. You’ll probably notice that there are quite a few people packed into a small space. Concentrations of people are a byproduct of security checkpoints and concentrations of people are tempting targets. There’s always going to be a beginning checkpoint where the line of people remain in an insecure area and that line will be vulnerable.

Adding a checkpoint to guard a checkpoint just moves the vulnerability to a different location. What’s needed to guard against threats like the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting is a decentralized force in the insecure area of the airport. Yes, I’m talking about armed personnel. An important part of any security model is an ability to respond to a failure. Insecure areas are always a problem in a security model but even a secure area needs personnel able to respond to a checkpoint failure. So long as the nearest force able to respond to an attack are minutes away an attacker will have a period of free reign. If people really want to harden airports they need to look at both allowing staff members to carry concealed weapons and/or hiring armed private security personnel.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 9th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Toothless Ethics Body Rendered… Toothless

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Today’s Two Minutes Outrage is brought to you by the United States House of Representatives. Two days ago the House voted to “gut” the Office of Congressional Ethics:

Republicans in the US House of Representatives have voted to weaken the body that investigates claims of misconduct against members of Congress.

The independent Office of Congressional Ethics would come under control of a House committee, if it goes ahead.

And the Two Minutes Outrage commenced. As it common, public outrage was quickly followed by a return to the status quo.

I put the word “gut” in quotes for a reason. When I saw the Two Minutes Outrage begin I asked a question that seemed obvious to me, what exactly has the Office of Congressional Ethics accomplished. Nobody who was flipping out about the vote seemed to be able to answer my straight forward question, which lead me to believe they were only flipping out because the office had “ethics” in the name.

Wikipedia is usually a good source for finding an organization’s accomplishments so I headed there. Did I find a long list of cases where the Office of Congressional Ethics punished members of Congress for acting unethically? No. But I did find a possible reason why the office didn’t have a long list of accomplishments to its name:

The OCE lacks subpoena power and must complete each review in a relatively short period of time—approximately three months at most. The OCE review process requires approval of the board at each step. In order to open a preliminary review, lasting no longer than 30 days, there must be “reasonable cause to believe allegations,” according to the OCE.[3] In order to proceed to a second phase, or further review, there must be “probable cause to believe allegations.”[3] The second phase must be completed within 45 days, with the possibility of a 14-day extension.[4] Following completion of the second-phase review, the OCE board votes to refer a matter to the House Ethics Committee with a recommendation for or against further review by the committee. The recommendation comes in the form of a report which must be released to the public, unless the OCE recommendation was against further review.

No subpoena power, a short period of time to perform a full investigation, and no power to punish those found to be acting unethically? It’s almost like Congress made this office!

Oh, that’s right, it did.

The office was created in March 2008, supposedly as a response to what Nancy Pelosi (and she would know) called a “culture of corruption.” In other words, the Office of Congressional Ethics was created by the House of Representatives in response to a previous Two Minutes Outrage. The House of Representatives created a toothless office and told the public that the new office would fight corruption in Washington. For some reason the public believed the politicians when they said that they would police themselves.

In conclusion, everybody who flipped out about this was doing so because the word “ethics” in the title of the Office of Congressional Ethics gave them the warm fuzzies. Had the office been gutted nothing would have changed because the office didn’t actually have any power to change anything.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 4th, 2017 at 11:00 am

CNN and Hackers

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The media’s portrayal of hackers is never accurate but almost always amusing. From hooded figures stooping over keyboards and looking at green ones and zeros on a black screen to balaclava clad individuals holding a laptop in one hand while they furiously type with the other hand, the creative minds behind the scenes at major media outlets always have a way to make hackers appear far more sinister than they really are.

CNN recently aired a segment about Russian hackers. How did the creative minds at CNN portray hackers to the viewing public? By showing a mini-game from a game you may have heard of:

In a recent story about President Obama proposing sanctions against Russia for its role in cyberattacks targeting the United States, CNN grabbed a screenshot of the hacking mini-game from the extremely popular RPG Fallout 4. First spotted by Reddit, the screenshot shows the menacing neon green letters that gamers will instantly recognize as being from the game.

Personally, I would have lifted a screenshot from the hacking mini-game in Deus Ex, it looks far more futuristic.

A lot of electrons have been annoyed by all of the people flipping out about fake news. But almost no attention has been paid to uninformed news. Most major media outlets are woefully uninformed about many (most?) of the subjects they report on. If you know anything about guns or technology you’re familiar with the amount of inaccurate reporting that occurs because of the media’s lack of understanding. When the outlet reporting on a subject doesn’t know anything about the subject the information they provide is worthless. Why aren’t people flipping out about that?

Written by Christopher Burg

January 4th, 2017 at 10:00 am

The Return of the Anti-War Left

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After eight years of unexplained absence the anti-war left is slowly creeping out of the woodwork!

Three days before Christmas, President-elect Trump tweeted (yes, tweeted) that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and enhance its nuclear capability” until the world “comes to its senses regarding nukes.” The world, for its part, blinked in astonishment, wondering once again what Mr. Trump might mean, and why such a momentous announcement appeared via social media. Prior presidents generally undertook any shift in nuclear policy with care, and with the advice of experts in arms control and proliferation who have made keeping us safe their life’s mission. After all, when a single person has the power to rain down nuclear fire across the world, caution might not only be warranted, but expected.

As a quick aside, I think Trump’s attempt to take credit for Obama’s $1 trillion revamp of the United States’ nuclear arsenal is pathetic.

George Takei, who was a much more pleasant fellow to follow on social media when he wasn’t championing that butcher Hillary Clinton, took Trump’s tweet about expanding the United States’ nuclear arsenal personally and penned a scathing piece on nuclear weapons in general. Let me say that I appreciate Takei’s rant against nuclear weapons and wish more people would do the same. I also appreciate the handful of other articles penned by the anti-war left in recent times. But I’m forced to ask why these article are appearing again after eight years of silence.

During the George W. Bush’s presidency there was a strong anti-war sentiment coming from the left. Neoliberals, socialists, communists, and leftist anarchists all came together to hold protests against the United States’ wars throughout the country. When Obama first ran for president he did so on an anti-war platform, which gained him the support of the anti-war left. Once he won the election he continued Bush’s reign of terror but did so without protest from the supposedly anti-war left. In fact, they stayed mostly silent for all eight years of Obama’s presidency.

Now that a Republican has regained the presidency the anti-war left is suddenly making noise again. Unfortunately, for them, they lost all legitimacy after Obama took office. By only protesting the wars when Bush was in charge the anti-war left demonstrated that they weren’t anti-war at all. They were just anti-Republican-lead-war. Once a Democrat was ordering the slaughter they were silent. Now that a Republican will be ordering the slaughter again they are suddenly making some noise.

In other words, they’re a bunch of liars. But, hey, at least we can enjoy four years of public outrage over the wars even if that outrage isn’t actually because of the wars.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 3rd, 2017 at 11:00 am