Aw, Shaddup

October 17th, 2017

WASHINGTON – A group of House Democrats announced their support for a bill that would outlaw magazines that hold “more than 10 rounds of ammunition” as a way to prevent mass shootings.

When nearly the first thing out of your mouth is a lie, you might as well sit down and shut your piehole.

The proposed legislation would renew the prohibition of “the transfer, importation, or possession of magazines able to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.” The original ban lapsed in 2004.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Kihuen also said the Las Vegas shooting could probably have been prevented if the suspect was not able to “obtain thousands and thousands of rounds of ammunition.”

There has to be some anti-gun comedy school someplace.

“High-capacity magazines have no practical purpose for hunting or self-defense,” she said. “Gun violence has become a public health crisis.”

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said the bill banning high-capacity magazines would benefit U.S. national security as well as the country’s public health, adding that Congress has refused to act on gun-violence prevention for too long.

“High-capacity magazines are not needed for hunting. They are not needed for self-defense. They aren’t designed to be a useful tool for the millions of smart and safe and responsible gun owners in America,” he said. “Their only use and the way they have been used time and time again is to kill on a mass scale – dozens of people on one go.”

Stumping for the Fudd vote, I see.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said a third of the crimes involving firearms use large-capacity magazines.

Why not? You all started off by lying, why stop at just one whopper? And making up statistics as you go? Pure gold.

Except no. Try and argue your way past no.


October 16th, 2017

A security protocol at the heart of most modern Wi-Fi devices, including computers, phones, and routers, has been broken, putting almost every wireless-enabled device at risk of attack.

The bug, known as “KRACK” for Key Reinstallation Attack, exposes a fundamental flaw in WPA2, a common protocol used in securing most modern wireless networks. Mathy Vanhoef, a computer security academic, who found the flaw, said the weakness lies in the protocol’s four-way handshake, which securely allows new devices with a pre-shared password to join the network.

That weakness can, at its worst, allow an attacker to decrypt network traffic from a WPA2-enabled device, hijack connections, and inject content into the traffic stream.

In other words: This flaw, if exploited, gives an attacker a skeleton key to access any WPA2 network without a password. Once they’re in, they can eavesdrop on your network traffic.

The bug represents a complete breakdown of the WPA2 protocol, for both personal and enterprise devices — putting every supported device at risk.

A number of you reading this will immediately start to worry about the stuff you’ve got on your ‘pooter. Relax, boys and girls: the NSA already knows. And as for me, I don’t make any secret about my distrust of government, my sci-fi geekdom, nor my opinion that the way we treat the police being a direct violation of the Constitutional ban on Titles Of Nobility.

What I want to point out is this Internet Of Things some people are touting. Not so much the stuff the internet companies advertise about, because let’s face it, we all have an unpleasant neighbor, and what could be more fun than to turn his lights on and off randomly? No, I’m talking about much further upstream: power companies and their distribution networks, municipal water works, city gas grids, that stuff.

And to bring you even more good cheer, it doesn’t have to be Achmed in a cave somewhere with a smartphone. Recall 9/11, if you would. By the end of 2001, we were hip-deep in the Middle East and we got saddled with the odious Department of Homeland Security. I’m not saying the Gummint had anything to do with 9/11; what I am saying is that the Gummint exploited the hell out of 9/11 once it happened. And having the power, water and LNG go out for a week in the coastal cities (need I remind you that these are the sorts of people who tend to think that more Government is better?), and you’re going to have a tidal wave of folks demanding that somebody do something. And that “something” won’t be good.

Back to the article:

Windows and latest versions of Apple’s iOS are largely immune from the flaws, according to security researcher Kevin Beaumont, in a blog post.

However, Vanhoef said the security issue is “exceptionally devastating” for Android 6.0 Marshmallow and above.

Notice what wasn’t mentioned? Yep, Linux. And guess what is used to run most of the servers out there? Swell, just swell.

“Life Imitates Art”

October 16th, 2017

…is an observation, not an instruction, nor is it encouragement.

It’s bad enough that there are a pile of people who think that 1984, The Time Machine, Animal Farm, The Things to Come, and Brave New World are some sort of instruction manuals, but apparently there’s someone who thinks that Inspector Clouseau is a role model:

A member of the French intelligence services has landed himself in hot water after sending a text message containing information on a radical Islamist he was spying on, to the target himself.



October 15th, 2017

In which we find the young Lord decorating and embellishing the porch while he waits for something to wander by that he might kill and eat:


October 15th, 2017

…a Hall thruster — a system that propels spacecraft by accelerating a stream of electrically charged atoms, known as ions. In the recent demonstration conducted at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio, the X3 broke records for the maximum power output, thrust and operating current achieved by a Hall thruster to date, according to the research team at the University of Michigan and representatives from NASA.

* X3 can operate at over 100 kW of power
* operated at a huge range of power from 5 kW to 102 kW, with electrical current of up to 260 amperes.
* It generated 5.4 Newtons of thrust, which is the highest level of thrust achieved by any plasma thruster to date. The previous record was 3.3 Newtons

This is by no means a warp engine or some other form of FTL drive, which is frankly handwavium given our current understanding of physics, but this is an important step.

Not only that, this illustrates one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time: to invent something new is genius, making it work is engineering. You can expect to see a Hall drive on SpaceX’s Mars rocket, or at least the expedition to Titan.

A bit of perspective: 102 kW is between seven and eight times what my giant generator puts out at peak power, so we’re not talking about a huge amount of oomph. Just constant acceleration, which makes the Hall drive especially suitable for long-distance flights.

Better Than Nothing

October 11th, 2017

…but not nearly enough:

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A Utah police officer was fired Tuesday after being seen on video roughly handcuffing a nurse because she refused to allow a blood draw in an incident that became a flashpoint in the national conversation about use of force.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown made the decision to fire Detective Jeff Payne after an internal investigation found he violated department policies when he arrested nurse Alex Wubbels and dragged her screaming from the hospital, department spokesman Sgt. Brandon Shearer said.

Brown said in a disciplinary letter that he was “deeply troubled” by Payne’s conduct, which he described as “inappropriate, unreasonable, unwarranted, discourteous, disrespectful” and said brought “significant disrepute” on the department.

“You demonstrated extremely poor professional judgment (especially for an officer with 27 years of experience), which calls into question your ability to effectively serve the public and the department,” Brown wrote.

And in yet another example of why most people hate lawyers:

Attorney Greg Skordas, who represents Payne, has said his client served the department well for nearly three decades and questioned whether his behavior warranted termination. Skordas couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Wanna bet he was hiding behind something bullet resistant? Yeah, I wouldn’t take that bet either.

Payne’s supervisor, Lt. James Tracy, was demoted to officer.

Given the number of times that we’ve heard of actions that would land you or me behind bars justified as “being within Departmental protocols, I suppose I should be happy, but I’m not.

Where is the arrest? The indictment? You’re never going to get the police to act like the rest of us until you start treating them like the rest of us. And what we all saw on that video was illegal detention, assault, and an unlawful arrest, clear felonies. Firing Officer Friendly just so he can surface in some other department is hardly a punishment.


October 9th, 2017

Kalashnikov, you know, the guys who make the Other Black Rifle, are prototyping a one man hovercraft for battlefield applications. Here are a coupla vidyas:

(The narration is in Russian, and the closed captioning translation is both incomplete and at time hilarious. The pictures however, tell the whole story.)

Also, this time in English:

The problem, as with all of these things (no matter the size/payload) are the batteries. The thing is certainly quieter than the internal combustion engine ones, like the HoverBike. Still you only get 30 minutes of flight time. And that’s with just the pilot. It’s set up for one passenger, but you and I both know that in combat, somebody is going to try to get a wounded soldier back to the aid station with one of these. Only time and experience will see if that works.

And now for the obligatory AK joke: since we all “know” that you cannot hit the side of a barn from the inside with an AKM, do you think that the hovercraft version will fare any better?

I’ll be here all week, folks.

A Refreshing Shot of Reality, Part I

October 9th, 2017

The author here is no friend of ours:

Alert readers (and listeners) will know that on a philosophical level, I’m a squish on the gun stuff. I find it embarrassing that the United States is “exceptional” in the amount of violence its people inflict on one another, and themselves, with handguns. And I’m skeptical about the utility of an unqualified right to acquire weapons of such lethality. My colleague Kevin Williamson says that the right to bear arms makes us citizens and not subjects. And I agree, up to a point. I just wouldn’t assume that any adult U.S. national is a good citizen. .In an ideal world, a man like Stephen Paddock, who spent his time and money getting perks at Vegas casinos would be disqualified from this burden of citizenship, on account of his manifestly dissolute and aimless life.

Acolytes of The Prophet will recognize Heinlein’s theory of linking service to voting rights. Those same acolytes will also note that the author doesn’t quite get there. And also note that he qualifies this “with handguns”, and completely ignores the violence our fellow humans wreak upon one another with knives, clubs, etc. Another idiot who grants some sort of agency to an inanimate object. If we were to apply his stated views on what makes a “good citizen” we’d have to conclude that his inability to distinguish between anthropomorphism and reality would certainly keep him out of the voting booth.

Onto the good stuff:

The author is taking to task one Michael Schermer, writing in the odious and execrable New York Times. Nope, no link for you, NYT.

Gun-rights advocates also make the grandiose claim that gun ownership is a deterrent against tyrannical governments. Indeed, the wording of the Second Amendment makes this point explicitly: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” That may have made sense in the 1770s, when breech-loading flintlock muskets were the primary weapons tyrants used to conquer other peoples and subdue their own citizens who could, in turn, equalize the power equation by arming themselves with equivalent firepower. But that is no longer true.

If you think stock piling firearms from the local Guns and Guitars store, where the Las Vegas shooter purchased some of his many weapons, and dressing up in camouflage and body armor is going to protect you from an American military capable of delivering tanks and armored vehicles full of Navy SEALs to your door, you’re delusional.

Gee, when have we heard that one before? Oh, yeah: for decades. You gotta love their consistency. If nothing else, it saves us from wasting the time needed to rebut some other idiocy, so there’s that.

The author continues:

Schermer invokes the massacres at Ruby Ridge and at Waco, Texas, as further evidence that guns are not sufficient to protect you from a determined government. He offers instead for protection the rule of law, and a good lawyer to defend you. He concludes that these are far superior defenses against the government than guns.

The concluding note is obviously correct. Everyone here much prefers to have a functioning civil society, and a government that honors our God-given rights. But, Schermer has avoided the real argument. The “defense against tyranny” claim does not hold that any one individual, or a tiny group, can defend any claim against the government with the force of arms. And, of course, equal firepower was never the issue. Even in the 1770s, an American government could raise a larger and better-outfitted force than what was present at Ruby Ridge or Waco Texas. Civil society and good lawyers are all the defense you need against a non-tyrannical government. But a tyranny, an invader, or a pretender-government are more effectively resisted with guns.

Sometimes people put Schermer’s argument more baldly. They ask something like this: “Do you really think Bubba in camo gear hiding in the forest is going to take on the U.S. military? The U.S. military has nuclear weapons!”

Who exactly do you think has stymied the U.S. in Afghanistan for 16 years? The Taliban is made up of Afghan Bubbas. The Taliban doesn’t need to defeat nuclear weapons, though they are humiliating a nuclear power for the second time in history. They use a mix of Kalashnikovs and WWII-era bolt-action rifles. Determined insurgencies are really difficult to fight, even if they are only armed with Enfield rifles and you can target them with a TOW missiles system that can spot a cat in the dark from two miles away. In Iraq, expensive tanks were destroyed with simple improvised explosives.

If the U.S. government (and the American people behind them) doesn’t want to use nuclear weapons on foreign fundamentalists in Afghanistan, why does anyone presume they’d use them against Americans in Idaho?

Not quite the way I’d put it, but it’s certainly refreshing to see this in a mainstream publication, even though I’d shudder to find out that this guy got elected to Congress. I cannot count the amount of time and breath I’ve wasted explaining to these sorts of dolts that shooting at an armored vehicle is a waste of time, effort, and ammunition; that one waits for the crews to take a smoke break or you target the fuel trucks. After all, even a main battle tank is pretty useless without fuel or a crew to run it.

He concludes:

You can acknowledge this and still deplore America’s gun violence, as I do. You can wish and even work for an American future where there are fewer weapons in untrained and unsteady American hands. And, we all should wish to maintain a law-governed and orderly society that doesn’t inspire thousands or millions of Americans to resist its government in an insurgency. But in the meantime, don’t do violence to history itself. With just the moral support of the society they are living in, and a number of rifles, a small group of men can make it impossible for tyrants to rule.

(Again with that crazy fetishization of a lump of wood, plastic, and steel: “gun violence”. NB: if you start using OPFOR’s terminology, nobody will be surprised when you surrender. There also that “untrained and unsteady American hands” part. If you really believe that, you can start with access to the voting booth, but we all know you’re not going to go anywhere near that.)

Still, it’s nice to see someone “respectable” saying the things that we deplorable gun nuts have been saying for years. Maybe it’ll prevent us from having to demonstrate it.

A Refreshing Shot of Reality, Part II

October 9th, 2017

Anti-Second Amendment crusader Senator Dianne Feinstein admitted on a Sunday spin show that no law could have stopped the maniac who massacred 58 people and injured almost 500 in Las Vegas last week.

“No, he passed background checks registering for handguns and other weapons on multiple occasions,” Feinstein told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

But there is one law he definitely broke, which is the law against murder. Criminals don’t follow the law. Nevertheless, she persisted.

“Regulations aren’t going to do it,” Feinstein said on the need for a law over an ATF rule. “We need a law. It can’t be changed by another president.”

Feinstein is referring to the “bump stock,” a firearm modification originally created to assist disabled shooters. Last week, the National Rifle Association suggested the ATF review its original finding that the device was a “firearm part” and not an actual modification to the firearm action. The bump stock was approved for sale by the Obama administration.

“I think you want to tell ATF to do its job. It’s an interpretive issue and they need to get the job done,” the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre said on “Face the Nation.”

“America is a gun-happy country. And I think there are many of us in growing numbers that don’t want a gun-happy country,” said DiFi.

(Quick aside: she doesn’t realize it, but Senator Feinstein is a living, breathing endorsement for CalExit. Not just herself personally, but also for the people who have elected her again and again. Does this country need people like this having a say in how we govern ourselves? I would say no.)

At least she’s consistent. It’s well known that she supports total confiscation, and knowing that she cannot get that done, is falling back on the tried and true tactic of salami slicing. Even though I, and many of you, think that bump-fire stocks are just plain silly, we need to oppose any law and/or regulation that would restrict or ban them. Because FTFY.

(Another aside: “a firearm modification originally created to assist disabled shooters”? In what universe was that? Certainly not in the one that I live in. But whatever.)

Unfortunately, I also note the squishiness of the Lairds of Fairfax. Not only is the NRA prepared to fold on this, Mr. LaPierre seeks to not only cooperate with our political enemies, but also would have the baby-killing, kitten-stomping thugs of the BATFE going out to enforce this travesty.

All that having been said, the highlight of this is DiFi actually telling the truth for a change:

“…he passed background checks registering for handguns and other weapons on multiple occasions”

I’ll leave you with the words of Col. Cooper:

The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.

And no amount of gun control will ever change that.

Life in the 21st Century

October 9th, 2017

As I look around, deep into the second decade of the Third Millennium, I cannot help but notice that the world we were all promised is a bit different than the world we have.

Flying cars? Nope.

Rocket belts/ jet packs? Nope.

Luna Colony? Nope.

Mars? Double nope.

Instead we got other things that nobody bothered to tell us about. I could list some things, but it would be woefully incomplete, and besides, you can do that just as well as I can. Along with the positive stuff, such as the Internet, the PC, and 3D printing, we also got the negative. Rather than citing everything, I’ll just highlight something I tripped over this weekend.

When’s the last time we actually had any good news to report on one of America’s college campuses? Don’t think about that one for too long or blood will probably start shooting out of your nose. But today is the exception to the rule, as word reaches us that the University of Wisconsin is taking steps to crack down on protesters who push their right to free speech and protest to the point where they shout down or entirely shut out speakers with whom they disagree.


University of Wisconsin System leaders approved a policy Friday that calls for suspending and expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations, saying students need to listen to all sides of issues and arguments.

The Board of Regents adopted the language on a voice vote during a meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. The policy states that students found to have twice engaged in violence or other disorderly conduct that disrupts others’ free speech would be suspended. Students found to have disrupted others’ free expression three times would be expelled.

Two things:

It’s telling, and not in a good way, that a college or university (you know, an Institution of Higher Learning [/sarc]) would see the need to impose a rule like this. I’m so old that I remember when people could disagree, even to the point of arm-waving and spittle-flecked cheeks, without shouting them down or resorting to violence (at least for the most part).

Secondly, isn’t it interesting how opposing political philosophies can draw such starkly different lessons from the same set of events? I’m referring to the so-called McCarthy Era. The Right, even they knew old Joe was right, decided that doing business in that fashion was a bad idea and to not do that anymore. The Left, on the other hand, despite literally decades of decrying Senator McCarthy, have embraced those behaviors almost without reservation.