A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘You’re Doing it Wrong’ tag

Consumers Always Lose Trade Wars

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Trade relations between the United States and China had been relatively smooth in recent years. Had is the keyword there. Trump decided to provide some protection to his cronies by implementing a series of tariffs to artificially raise the price of imported goods. He sold these tariffs as job creators. Not surprisingly, China retaliated with its own tariffs. Now Trump is planning to retaliate against China’s retaliation with even more tariffs:

US President Donald Trump has instructed officials to consider a further $100bn (£71.3bn) of tariffs against China, in an escalation of a tense trade stand-off.

These would be in addition to the $50bn worth of US tariffs already proposed on hundreds of Chinese imports.

China’s Ministry of Commerce responded, saying China would “not hesitate to pay any price” to defend its interests.

Tit-for-tat trade moves have unsettled global markets in recent weeks.

Governments and their cronies are the only winners in a trade war. Tariff profits go into government coffers while domestic cronies can increase their prices since goods from their imported competitors are now artificially higher. Meanwhile, consumers are forced to pay artificially higher prices for goods. If, for example, a $100 tariff is put on all imported cell phones, the government pockets an extra $100 and you pay $600 for a cell phone that used to only cost $500.

As this trade war wages, consumers are going to get raked over the coals. The only upside is that in the end this will screw over the United States government as well since it will lose tariff profits when imported goods become so expensive that consumption drops significantly.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 6th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Teach Facebook a Lesson, Leave Facebook for Facebook

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People continue to pretend that they’re upset with Facebook. Some of the people pretending that they’re upset have decided to leave Facebook for Instagram:

Goodbye Facebook, hello Instagram.

Instagram, which Facebook bought in 2012 for $1 billion, is having a moment — and just in time to be a lone bright spot for its parent company, which is in crisis over its handling of people’s private information.

“Thank Goodness For Instagram,” said a Wall Street research note on Facebook’s mounting troubles earlier this week. “I will delete Facebook, but you can pry Instagram from my cold, dead hands,” read a headline on tech news outlet Mashable.

I say that they’re pretending to be upset with Facebook because they’re effectively leaving Facebook for Facebook. Instagram was purchased by Facebook back in 2012 for the then seemingly absurd sum of $1 billion.

If you want to disassociate with Facebook, you need to be willing to do a bit of research (literally a single search on DuckDuckGo) to avoid simply transferring yourself to one of the company’s other departments. Furthermore, you should invest some time into finding an alternative that isn’t likely to suffer the same pitfalls as Facebook. For example, any company that appears to be providing a “free” service likely has a similar business model to Facebook. If you jump ship to another company with the same business model, you’re going to suffer the same privacy violations.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 28th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Most Hated Person in America

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There are several contestants for the coveted Most Hated Person in America award. Trump has been the likely winner for 2018 but now he faces some stiff competition:

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office has identified to Fox News the captain who, according to sources, directed responding deputies and units to “stage” or form a “perimeter” outside Stoneman Douglas High School, instead of rushing immediately into the building, as the mass shooting unfolded there.

Multiple law enforcement and official sources said the commands in the initial moments after Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire would go against all training which instructs first responders to “go, go, go” until the shooter is neutralized. As law enforcement arrived, the shooter’s identity and exact location were still unknown.

Multiple sources told Fox News that Captain Jan Jordan was the commanding officer on scene. In an email responding to Fox News’ request for information, a BSO spokesperson wrote, “Capt. Jordan’s radio call sign is 17S1.”

Before giving Jan all of the blame, it should be noted that this remains an allegation. I’m sure the department is desperate to throw somebody under the bus and several officers could be trying to do that with Captain Jan. Unless more information comes to light, it’s difficult to say. But this is America so individuals are guilty until proven innocent so I’m pretty sure Jan will win that coveted award regardless.

No matter how one looks at it, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office really fucked up the handling of this shooting. While it’s easy to pin the blame on a single individual, the problems in the department likely run far deeper than just one incompetent individual.

Written by Christopher Burg

March 7th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Tossing Aside the Unwritten Rules

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I’m currently reading The Storm Before the Storm by Mike Duncan, which covers the period preceding the fall of the Roman Republic. It’s a fascinating book that covers a period of Roman history that doesn’t get enough attention. One of the reoccurring themes in the book is how long established unwritten rules were being continuously violated by ambitious politicos.

Political debate here in the United States is experiencing a similar trend. Although political matters here haven’t quite devolved to the point where politically ambitious individuals are able to raise a street gang to murder their opposition, plenty of other unwritten rules are being violated. For example, at one point there was an unwritten rule against using children as political pawns. That rule has been violated numerous times already but even by past standards the gun control advocates are being extremely blatant:

We’re seeking wisdom from the mouths of babes, these days. So I asked my 12-year-old son if the country would be a better, safer place if the government tried to disarm some or all Americans to reduce violent crime.

“I think that would have the opposite effect,” he said. “The fewer people who are armed, the fewer people there would be to fight against criminals.”

So there we have it: the launch of Pre-Teens Against Infringements of the Right to Self-Defense, right here in my living room.

If you’re less than bowled over by my son’s insights, you’re forgiven. He’s short on experience and incompletely developed in his analytic skills. He also is one person, offering an opinion heavily colored by his parents’ views and the particular American subculture in which he’s raised.

There’s no logical reason why his participation in the discussion—which his mother and I encourage as a stepping stone to full engagement in the world around him—would be more convincing than the arguments of pundits, criminologists, and philosophers, just as there’s no logical reason to pay special attention to the teens now calling for more-restrictive gun laws in the wake of the Parkland shooting. There’s no logical reason that is—but we keep conscripting the tykes into political disputes in an effort to end debate, not advance it.

It’s rather ironic that gun control advocates are, on the one hand, claiming that 18-year-olds aren’t mature enough to own a firearm but people much younger than that are mature enough to be taken with the same seriousness as adults in political debates.

My point in this post isn’t that kids should be ignored during political debates. Different people mature at different rates. Some people are incredibly mature at a young age whereas others seem to never mature. Some kids certainly do have the maturity and intelligence to discuss political matters whereas some adults do not. However, most of the gun control advocates aren’t genuinely listening to what the kids are saying. They’re using the kids as political pawns. Their participation is being pushed so their parents can claim that anybody who opposes gun control hates children. Of course, this is how children are always used in political debates, which is why there was an unwritten rule against using children in political debates.

I’m not going to go so far as to say that the United States is the same as the twilight years of the Roman Republic. History doesn’t repeat itself. It does rhyme though. And there are a lot of things that rhyme between the United States and the Roman Republic during its twilight years.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 23rd, 2018 at 11:00 am

How Compromises Work

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In the aftermath of every mass shooting perpetrated by a nongovernmental individual, gun control advocates demand new restrictions be placed on gun owners. When gun rights activists refuse to roll over, gun control advocates claim that the gun rights activists are unwilling to compromise. I’m left to believe that the gun control advocates making that claim don’t understand what the word compromise means.

According to the dictionary, compromise means, “an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.” A good example of a compromise is when one company sues another company for violating its patents and both sides resolve the dispute by agreeing to license each other patents. The suing company concedes its patents but in turn the sued company also concedes its patents. Both sides have given something up to get something.

Gun control advocates demand that gun rights activists make concessions but offer no concessions of their own so there is nothing to compromise over.

However, gun control advocates might convince a lot of gun rights activists to compromise if something were offered in return. For example, I know a lot of gun rights advocates who have stated that they would accept universal background checks if the Hughes Amendment was repealed in return. I also know gun rights advocates who would likely accept raising the minimum age for purchasing a firearm if suppressors were removed from the National Firearms Act in return.

Instead of offering nothing and then complaining that gun rights advocates are unwilling to compromise, gun control advocates should state what they’re willing to concede in return for what they want. If they did that, negotiations could begin.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 22nd, 2018 at 11:00 am

Laws Are Irrelevant

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When you allow yourself to succumb to magical thinking, such as believing that society is a thing in of itself, you leave yourself vulnerable to other magical thoughts such as believing that laws are what establish safety and stability.

Whenever an act of violence makes it to the front pages of news sites, a lot of people start demanding laws be passed to protect people. When I see such demands being made in comment sections on the websites I frequent, I like to point out that laws are just words on pieces of paper and have no power to protect anybody. The believers in law then point out, as if I was unaware, that my argument should apply to all laws. They mistakenly believe that I’m only talking about whatever law they’re proposing but their rebuttal is correct, as I point out, I am talking about all laws. After that the believers in law tend to have a psychological breakdown and start screaming about how laws are what makes society possible.

Laws are not what make society possible. First of all, society isn’t an actual thing, it’s an abstraction that lives entirely in our imaginations. What most people commonly refer to as society is actually a complex collection of human interactions. And therein lies the truth of the matter. Laws aren’t what make those interactions possible. The will of the individuals is. The reason these complex collections of human interactions don’t regularly devolve into mass murder is because the individuals will it not to. It is you and your neighbor deciding not to kill each other that prevents either from being murdered at the hands of the other.

The impotency of laws is demonstrated every time a murder is committed. Murder has been declared illegal in pretty much every nation on Earth. But words on pieces of paper can’t interfere with an individual’s will. If an individual wills an act of murder, a murder will be attempted. I say attempted because realizing on a subconscious level that the law is incapable of protecting them the intended murder victim will likely attempt to defend themselves. Again, the law doesn’t offer them protection, their will to act does.

Even if every law were repealed tomorrow, people would still choose to act against those who act against them or others. That is what establishes safety and stability.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Investigating Potential Mass Murderers Isn’t Profitable

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One of the thing we learned about the shooter in Florida is that he was brought to the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ (FBI) attention but the agency did nothing:

The F.B.I. received a tip last month from someone close to Nikolas Cruz that he owned a gun and had talked of committing a school shooting, the bureau revealed Friday, but it acknowledged that it had failed to investigate.

The tipster, who called an F.B.I. hotline on Jan. 5, told the bureau that Mr. Cruz had a “desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts,” the F.B.I. said.

The information should have been assessed and forwarded to the Miami F.B.I. field office, the bureau said. But that never happened. On Wednesday, Mr. Cruz, 19, killed 17 students and teachers at his former high school in Parkland, Fla., law enforcement officials said.

Several theories to explain the FBI’s lack of followup have been put forward. Most of the theories, in my opinion, give the FBI too much credit by either coloring the agency as a bumbling fool or the perpetrator of a sinister conspiracy. I’m guessing the FBI’s failure to followup was about money. Murder isn’t a crime that allows an agency to rake in cash through civil forfeiture. If somebody had called in a tip claiming that the shooter was in possession of a great deal of heroine, the FBI would have probably been kicking the guys door in at oh dark thirty and executed any pets in the household. Why? Because drug crimes are profitable to enforce since they allow an agency to seize property without even having to prove the suspect guilty in court.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Mental Illness Is a Meaningless Definition

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Now that I’ve skewered the vultures exploiting the Florida school shooting to forward their gun control agenda, it’s time for me to skewer my fellow advocates of gun rights.

Gun control advocates are quick to lump all gun owners, both those who have committed violent crimes with guns and those who haven’t, together and demand they all be punished. All too often gun rights advocates fall for the same collectivist nonsense. They’ll label the shooter mentally ill and by doing so throw individuals with mental illnesses under the bus.

Saying the shooter belonged to the collective of mentally ill individuals is, like all forms of collectivism, meaningless. Mental illness is such a broad term that saying somebody suffers from a mental illness says nothing specific. What kind of mental illness did the shooter suffer from? Were they schizophrenic? Were they autistic? Were they bipolar? Were they senile? There are a lot of recognized mental illnesses and only a handful of them carry any risk of instilling violent behavior in the sufferer.

I know, I know, anybody who is willing to kill innocent people is obviously mentally ill, right? If so, that means drone pilots and many law enforcers are mentally ill. Strangely enough, I generally don’t hear gun rights activists who label mass shooters as mentally ill apply the same label to drone pilots or law enforcers. It seems like the label of mentally ill is a euphemism for individuals they don’t like.

As tempting as it is, fighting fire with fire isn’t the best way to prevent a house from burning down. If a gun control advocate tries to use nonsensical collectivization to make their case, responding with your own flavor of nonsensical collectivization isn’t productive. It’s far more productive to call out their nonsense while simultaneously analyzing the problems that can be acted on (i.e. the real problems). There is no way to act on an individual belonging to an arbitrarily defined group. There are a ways to improve school security, response times, etc.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 16th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Objective Truths

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Should books on a bookshelf have their spines facing out or in? I never realized that this was even a debate but apparently it is:

“Man, do people hate it,” she says, talking about the way she stacked her books. “It’s silly that I have to say this, but I do read and I like books, too.”

Why might anyone wonder? Maybe because Ms. Meininger, 33, who lives in Hannibal, Mo., had arranged her books backward, with the spines facing the wall.

The minimalist look has caught on in certain design circles. By turning books around, the taupe and white page edges are shown on a shelf instead of book spines that often don’t match the rest of the décor.

Much like the use of the Oxford comma, this seemingly subjective debate actually has an objectively correct answer: spine out.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 6th, 2018 at 10:00 am

People Are Going Batshit for Crypto

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People are going batshit for crypto. When the Long Island Iced Tea Company changed its name to Long Blockchain its stock jumped by 50 percent. Similarly Hooters’s stock jumped by 50 percent when it announced its blockchain rewards program and Kodak, which I didn’t realize was even still around, enjoyed a stock increase of 60 percent when it announced its blockchain-based currency. It seems like the mere whisper of the word blockchain is enough to get investors excited.

Let us return to Long Blockchain though. When the company announced its name change it justified it by claiming that it was going to buy cryptocurrency mining hardware. After baiting investors Long Blockchain announced that while it was still planning to invest in cryptocurrency mining hardware it didn’t have a definite timeline:

But today Long Blockchain announced it was scrapping the stock offering. The company says that it’s still planning to buy bitcoin-mining hardware. However, Long Blockchain says that it “can make no assurances that it will be able to finance the purchase of the mining equipment.”

Every time Bitcoin’s price increases detractors claim that it’s a bubble that will soon burst and leave everybody who invested penniless. Little did they know that Bitcoin itself wasn’t the real bubble but the technology it’s based on, blockchains, was. And yes, when the mere whisper of adopting a technology causes your stock to significantly jump in value, you’re operating in a bubble.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 10th, 2018 at 11:00 am