A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

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

Preventing Death with Death

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It’s no secret that certain drugs can kill you if you use too high of a dose. This problem has been made worse with drugs that the State has declared illegal because their prohibition has motivated manufacturers to increase the potency so more can be smuggled in smaller packages. Opiates have increased in potency significantly and therefore have lead to greater deaths related to overdoses. Even I know somebody who died of an opiate overdose not too long ago. However, I fail to see the logic in how killing more people is going to improve the situation:

This unfortunate reality raises a very uncomfortable question: Do we need to go to war with Mexico to ultimately win the war against opioids and other death drugs? By “go to war,” I mean a formal declaration of war by Congress against Mexico in which we use the full force of our military might to destroy the cartels, the poppy fields and all elements of the drug trade. Ideally, as our fight is not with the Mexican government, its military or its people, which try to weaken the cartels, we would try to partner with those entities against the cartels, much as we partnered with the South Vietnamese government and military against the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese Army.

It sounds crazy, I know – unless you acknowledge we are already fighting a war with Mexico.

This guy’s logic is batshit insane. Yes, people are dying from opium overdoses. But the reason they’re dying from opium overdoses is because of prohibition, not because of anything the Mexican government or people have done. Moreover, the Mexican government is fighting the drug cartels so shouldn’t it be considered an ally in this fight? At the end of the day though, the real insanity is believing that the solution to people dying from their own actions is killing a bunch more. Opium users are dying because of their own actions, they’re not being killed by other people (although the actions of the United States government have certainly increased their risks of dying), so the usual justification for war, national self-defense (which is absurd as well since a “nation” is an abstraction and therefore cannot be aggressed against), doesn’t even apply here. The author’s entire argument is stupid and he should feel bad for writing it.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 19th, 2017 at 10:30 am

What the NAP Is, What the NAP Isn’t

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The non-aggression principle (NAP) is a pretty straight forward ethical guideline that states that the initiation of force is unethical. It’s basically a rewording of the Golden Rule and forms the foundation of libertarianism. However, there seems to be some confusion regarding what the NAP is and isn’t. Most of this confusion originates from the “libertarian” nationalists who, for whatever reason, want to associate themselves with libertarianism but don’t want to actually abide by libertarian principles.

“Libertarian” nationalists have been saying that the NAP doesn’t apply to non-libertarians. If somebody, for example, espouses communist ideals then, according to these individuals, you can initiate as much aggression against them as possible. Leave it to nationalists to espouse collectivist ideals while simultaneously claiming that they oppose collectivism.

The NAP, like all ethical systems, applies only to the individuals practicing it. If you practice the NAP then it applies to you. If you don’t practice the NAP then it doesn’t apply to you. While there is some disagreement about what exactly constitutes aggression, in general libertarians tend to believe that if everybody abided by the NAP then the world would be a better place. To that end many libertarians have formed relationships with others who abide by the NAP. In such cases the NAP applies to each individual in those relationships because they all choose to abide by it.

In addition to being simple, the NAP is also philosophically neutral. Libertarians aren’t the only individuals who can abide by the NAP. Anybody who practices voluntary association can abide by the NAP. That means somebody who doesn’t believe in private property but believes in voluntary association, such as voluntary socialists, can abide by the NAP. If they do, then the NAP applies to them. If a libertarian chooses to aggress against them then it is the libertarian who the NAP cease to apply to since through their act of initiating aggression they demonstrated that they do not abide by it (moreover, the voluntary socialist being aggressed against is well within their rights under the NAP to defend themselves aggressively).

“Libertarian” nationalism is an oxymoronic philosophy because it claims to be both individualist and collectivist in nature. This nonsensical combination of philosophies leads its proponents to make rather absurd statements such as claiming that the NAP applies to collectives instead of individuals who choose practice it.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 13th, 2017 at 11:00 am

The Freest Country on Earth

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A lot of people in the United States mistakenly believe that peacekeeper and law enforcer are interchangeable terms. In a nation where the only laws on the books were laws against harming others that could be true. But a vast majority of the laws in the United States have nothing to do with harming others, which is what a vast majority of prisoners are being held for victimless crimes:

In light of that, let us review some statistics which demonstrate just how destructive the mass incarceration of victimless criminals has become to our society. The 2009 federal prison population consisted of criminals who committed these crimes:

Drugs 50.7%

Public-order 35.0%,

Violent 7.9%

Property 5.8%

Other .7%

Drug offenses are self-explanatory as being victimless, but so too are public-order offenses, which also fall under the victimless crimes category. Public order offenses include such things as immigration, weapons charges, public drunkenness, selling lemonade without a license, dancing in public, feeding the homeless without a permit. etc….

86 percent of prisoners in the United States are incarcerated even though they didn’t harm anybody. In other words, the officers who arrested them weren’t keeping the peace but were disrupting it.

Cop apologists are quick to claim that without police officers society would deteriorate into Mad Max. Again, this argument might carry some weight if police officers were peacekeepers but they’re not. The job of a police officer is to enforce the law as it is written. Since a majority of laws create victimless crimes that means the majority of police interactions involve individuals who haven’t disrupted the peace in any way. In order to do their jobs police officers necessarily have to be the initiators of aggression in the majority of interactions.

Without law enforcers the United States would actually be more peaceful since less people would be aggressed against for perpetrating victimless crimes.

To Server and Protect, Just Not Too Often

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One claim statists continue to make is that the government is necessary to provide for those in need. They claim that in a world absent of government the most vulnerable people in our society would starve to death, be tossed off of cliffs by family members who are tired of caring for them, or thrown into cages and forced to fight to the death for the amusement of the mob. But in a society with a government all of their needs will be provided for… unless, of course, they need too much:

West St. Paul and South St. Paul have taken steps to restrict housing options for people who receive state assistance for being both low-income and disabled, despite Dakota County’s misgivings.

City officials say such residents call police too often and that their communities have more than their fair share of rental properties catering to their needs.

“We have enough of these properties in the community,” said Tom Seaberg, a South St. Paul City Council member. “It’s not a discriminatory thing, it’s an economic issue.”

It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.

The statists’ claims fall apart once you analyze the nature of government. Government isn’t some benevolent entity that can triumph over human greed. Government is simply the largest criminal gang in a territory. Like any other criminal gang a government is interested in gaining at least some approval from the community since an approving community makes its job of expropriating wealth easier. To this end it offers people within its territory the option to buy protection from it… to protect against it, provides jobs by hiring people within its territory to perform menial tasks, and diverts some of its loot to people within its territory. However, as with any other criminal gang, when an individual becomes too bothersome to the government it will either cut them off or execute them.

Governments don’t provide welfare for altruistic reasons, they provide welfare to buy the acceptance of at least some of the people they’re exploiting. But if the welfare starts eating into the politicians’ profits they cut it off. The municipal governments of West and South St. Paul have made a simple business decision by telling people who use “too much” of their services to buzz off. By doing so those two municipal governments should be able to increase their profits by both immediately cutting the amount of services provided and creating an atmosphere where residents avoid using their services for fear of being the next individuals run out of town.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 7th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Deescalating the Police

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Cop apologists love to point out that police officers are trained professionals and that their training makes them more trustworthy than the people who complain about their actions. Why is it then that untrained civilians are expected to deescalate the police:

The system is designed to exonerate police officers, not provide justice for their victims. My incident, however, gives me new insight into just how much the law values police lives over the citizens they are supposed to protect.

Chief Rausch said that when investigating complaints, it is essential to understand an officer’s mindset to determine the facts. A mindset is not a fact.

Here are the facts that Janish appeared to focus on – the unmarked cab, a black person, the duffel bag and the license plate.

Then here are other facts that he ignored – he knew his mother-in-law was selling the car, it was broad daylight, and I knew her first name, but not her last name. I offered to show him the keys, registration and bill of sale signed by his mother-in-law.

Those are the actual facts. Officer Janish’s mindset was the scenario he created in his head. His fears weren’t facts.

The moment I arrived at Officer Janish’s mother-in-law’s house I became a suspect, and under the law, it seems that Officer Janish became a victim. He could have stayed at his house, called 911 and waited for the sheriff’s department to arrive. Instead he grabbed his weapon and came outside to confront me.

Had I not reacted calmly, Officer Janish likely would have been within his legal rights to shoot me although I wasn’t doing anything illegal. My mere presence with a duffel bag was deemed a threat.

Had the author, Tonya Jameson, not reacted calmly he could have been another Philando Castile and it’s likely Officer Janish would have suffered no consequences. This is yet another situation where an untrained civilian was required to deescalate a supposed trained law enforcer.

Cop apologists have a lengthy list of appropriate responses during police encounters. If it’s a traffic stop make sure to have your proof of insurance and drivers license in hand before the officer gets to your vehicle. Make sure both of your hands are firmly placed on the steering wheel. Ask the officer how he wants you to proceed and follow his instructions to the letter. Don’t make any sudden movements. If you’re stopped by an officer on foot make sure your hands are visible and nowhere near your pockets. As with during a traffic stop, ask the officer how he wants you to proceed and follow his instructions to the letter and avoid sudden movements. Oh, and remember that if an officer is abusing their authority or using unnecessary violence against you that you must shut up and take it. The only appropriate place to deal with that kind of situation is in the courts.

According to cop apologists law enforcers are trained professionals but must be treated in a similar manner to wild animals. This attitude is nonsense. Since law enforcers are trained professionals the burden of deescalating situations should be on them. However, the legal system is setup to require the opposite, which is one of the reasons why police remain mostly unaccountable for their actions.

Colorado Initiative to Hinder Education

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Why are there so many people who believe that everything they don’t like should be illegal? There’s an initiative in Colorado to prohibit children under the age of 13 from using portable electronic devices:

If a Colorado initiative gets its way 49 other states are going to be looking like anarcho-capitalist havens. Initiative 29 or the “Preservation of a Natural childhood” could make selling smartphones, tablets, and any sort of handheld wireless technology to anyone aged 13 and younger illegal which is anything but natural.

A group of concerned parents decided that since they didn’t have such wonderful tools growing up they are “unnatural” and therefore bad for children. Parents not wanting their children to have portable electronic devices isn’t bad in of itself. But these concerned parents aren’t keeping their rule within their own homes. They’re demanding that the State enforce their household rules throughout Colorado.

Their claim is also fucking stupid. Children using portable electronics is unnatural? I wonder if parents who were born immediately before the invention of the printing press tried to prohibit children from acquiring books because they believed books were unnatural. If technology is unnatural then we’ve all been deprived of a “natural” childhood because we’ve all grown up in an era where technology is pervasive.

Not only is their claim stupid but they are also advocating that children throughout Colorado be deprived of incredible educational tools. Smartphones, tablets, and other portable electronic devices offer direct access to mankind’s greatest collection of knowledge, the Internet. There is also a plethora of education apps available for these platforms. I frequently use several foreign language apps such as Duolingo and Memrise on my iPhone. Apps exist for teaching children mathematics, how to read, how to code, about science, and many other valuable skills. To deprive children of these tools just needlessly handicaps their education.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 6th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

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Many people like to divide science into hard and soft. Hard sciences are the ones where you can directly apply the scientific method whereas soft sciences don’t lend themselves well to the scientific method. For example, physics is generally considered a hard science since you can replicate the results of previous experiments with new experiments. Sociology, on the other hand, doesn’t lend itself well to the scientific method because the results of previous experiments often can’t be replicated by new experiments. As if to acknowledge that fact sociologists tend to rely heavily on statistics.

In our modern world where science is the new god you can’t make an argument without somebody demanding to see your scientific evidence. While such demands make perfect sense in debates about, say, physics, they don’t make much sense when it comes to social issues because you can create statistics that prove whatever you want. Case in point, a research project found that one in every 24 kids in the United States has witnessed a shooting. However, the statistic was created through a survey with a question worded in such a way to guarantee a predetermined result:

It all started in 2015, when University of New Hampshire sociology professor David Finkelhor and two colleagues published a study called “Prevalence of Childhood Exposure to Violence, Crime, and Abuse.” They gathered data by conducting phone interviews with parents and kids around the country.

The Finkelhor study included a table showing the percentage of kids “witnessing or having indirect exposure” to different kinds of violence in the past year. The figure under “exposure to shooting” was 4 percent.

[…]

According to Finkelhor, the actual question the researchers asked was, “At any time in (your child’s/your) life, (was your child/were you) in any place in real life where (he/she/you) could see or hear people being shot, bombs going off, or street riots?”

So the question was about much more than just shootings. But you never would have known from looking at the table.

That survey was then picked up by the Center for Disease Control (CDC( and the University of Texas (UT) who further twisted the research:

Earlier this month, researchers from the CDC and the University of Texas published a nationwide study of gun violence in the journal Pediatrics. They reported that, on average, 7,100 children under 18 were shot each year from 2012 to 2014, and that about 1,300 a year died. No one has questioned those stats.

This is how statistics is often used to create a predetermined result. First a statistic is created, oftentimes via a survey. The first problem with this methodology is that surveys rely on answers given from individuals and there is no way to know whether or not the people being surveyed are being truthful. The second problem is that survey questions can be worded in such a way as to all but guarantee a desired result. Once the results from the survey have been published then other researchers often take them and use them inappropriately to make whatever point they want, which is what happened in the case of the CDC and UT. Finally, you have a bunch of people making arguments based on those questionable statistics used erroneously by organizations that share their agenda.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 5th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Defending Against Propaganda

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Fake news and propaganda are still hot issues for a lot of people. Why? Most likely because they’re products of the public schooling government indoctrination system and are therefore unable to differentiate between facts and fiction when they’re being reported by a respected authority figure. When you can’t tell the difference between the two the fact that some of what you’re being told is factual while the other is fictional probably seems very scary.

But that’s OK because there are some solutions that will fix everything:

In a sense, social media audiences need basic “stranger danger” lessons. Every kid knows that the nice person offering candy and a ride might actually be trying to kidnap them. We need the same instincts in online public spaces, too. The friendly person tweeting at you from Georgia might actually be a bot under the control of Russian hackers. Don’t trust Internet people until you know them.

One of the most hopeful responses I’ve seen to these problems has come from an unlikely place: the Girl Scouts of America. The group has just created a cybersecurity badge that girls can earn alongside more traditional badges for skills like camping, first aid, and music (apparently the “whittling” badge I was so proud of as a kid is no longer offered).

It’s encouraging to see the Girl Scouts teaching cybersecurity to children, because this is the kind of basic skill that people will need more than ever in years to come.

Perhaps the next step will be encouraging teachers and librarians to teach kids defensive social-media skills. Lessons would start with the basics, like how to find the sources for an article and how to understand who has made edits on Wikipedia. More advanced students could be trained to recognize the kinds of bots that are used in propaganda campaigns. Eventually, students could learn to build tools that block known sources of malicious information, much the way Block Together works to prevent the spread of trolling and sockpuppet armies on Twitter.

While education about computer security is extremely beneficial, the flaw of the above proposals is that they rely too much on domain specific knowledge and dictation from authority.

The greatest defense against propaganda is an educated populace. A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that an educated populace is one where a large percentage hold college degrees of some sort. The fact that people often exclusively tie education and college together is a good example of how bad the government indoctrination system is in this country.

Whether a population is education or not has nothing to do with pieces of paper. The ultimate determining factor is whether or not the overwhelming majority of the populace is capable of independent thought. That is to say, an educated populace is one where critical thinking is in abundance and reliance on authority figures for knowledge is at a minimum. An uneducated individual is willing to accept any knowledge provided to them by an authority figure whereas an educated individual will be skeptical of any knowledge provided by an authority figure and attempt to verify it through personal investigation.

Propaganda becomes less effective when individuals default to a state of skepticism. Therefore the most effective tool for fighting against propaganda is teaching individuals how to think for themselves. Once they can do that they can seek out the knowledge they need to further guard themselves. Having authority figures dictate to individuals what is or isn’t propaganda and what they should or should not do to guard against it only exacerbates the problem because it keeps those individuals in a state of mind where they seek knowledge from authority, which is what propagandists rely on.

Unfortunately, the State relies on propaganda and therefore has a vested interest in teaching people to blindly accept knowledge from authority instead of seeking it out themselves. That being the case, the government indoctrination system will continue doing its damnedest to prevent students from thinking for themselves. Until parents stop sending their children to these indoctrination centers propaganda will continue being effective.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

It’s a Cyberpocalypse

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Have you ever had a sneaking suspicion that an author of an article was given a keyword and paid based on the number of times they managed to insert that keyword into their article? I’m fairly certain that’s what precipitated this article. Doing a page search for “cyber” resulted in 29 hits.

If you can overcome the tedium of reading the word “cyber” every other sentence, you’ll find an article discussing the difficult the United States is having with fighting the Islamic State. It turns out that treating a decentralized organization like a centralized organization results in bad tactics. Who could have guessed that?

What’s even funnier though is the little tidbit the author snuck in that is supposed to justify the United State’s prohibition on carry-on electronics on flights originating from certain airports:

Even one of the rare successes against the Islamic State belongs at least in part to Israel, which was America’s partner in the attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago, the officials said. That was how the United States learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers.

Those must be some fantastically shitty x-ray scanners if they can’t actually tell the difference between legitimate laptop parts and bombs.

That tidbit might justify the carry-on electronics ban if it was in any way uniform. But the ban targeted specific airports, which means any terrorist with one of these highly advanced laptop bombs could get around the prohibition by flying to another airport, perhaps one in Europe, first and then flying to the United States from there. In other words, the “solution” to this threat wouldn’t have protected anybody and was therefore implemented for other reasons or was nothing more than security theater.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 13th, 2017 at 10:30 am

I Don’t Think Theresa May Understand How Networks Work

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Politicians never let a tragedy go to waste. After another attack in London Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was quick to exploit the tragedy by using it to call for restricting the Internet:

The Prime Minister said introducing new rules for cyberspace would “deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online” and that technology firms were not currently doing enough.

[…]

London attack shows too much tolerance for extremism in UK, May says
“We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed – yet that is precisely what the internet, and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide,” Ms May said.

“We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements to regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.”

She obviously doesn’t understand how networks works.

Networks are groups of interconnected people or computers. While the Internet is the largest network in the world it is not the only network, which is what Theresa’s proposal fails to address. She seems to think that restricting the Internet, a proposal which is absurd by itself, would silence the forces her government is at war with. It wouldn’t. Even if there was a way to effectively restrict what kind of content is posted on the Internet it would simply cause those being restricted to create a separate network.

What shape would such a network take? While predicting the future is impossible there are some precedences that could give us an idea. Guifi.net, for example, is a mesh network that spans most of Catalonia. Even if every Internet connection to Guifi.net was severed the nodes on the network would still be able to communicate with one another. Drug cartels also built their own large scale network in Mexico.

Humans are social creatures and therefore strive to build networks. Every attempt to interfere with this drive has failed. Even the mighty Roman Empire, despite its best efforts, was unable to stop early Christians from networking. Eventually they networked to such a scale that they Christianized the empire. Theresa May can make whatever proposal she desires but even if it is implemented it will fail because it’s attempting to interfere with one of humanity’s most basic drives.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 6th, 2017 at 10:30 am