Archive for the ‘Guns’ Category

DEFCON 25: 0 day notes.

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

I’m not going again this year. Maybe next year, if things hold together. But if I were going, what on the schedule excites me? What would I go to if I were there?

Thursday: neither of the 10:00 panels really grab me. At 11:00, maybe “From Box to Backdoor: Using Old School Tools and Techniques to Discover Backdoors in Modern Devices” but I’m at best 50/50 on that. At 12:00, I feel like I have to hit the “Jailbreaking Apple Watch” talk. “Amateur Digital Archeology” at 13:00 sounds mildly interesting.

Not really exited by anything at 14:00. At 15:00, I suspect I would end up at “Real-time RFID Cloning in the Field” and “Exploiting 0ld Mag-stripe information with New technology“. And 16:00 is probably when I’d check out the dealer’s room again, or start getting ready for an earlyish dinner.

Friday: 10:00 is sort of a toss-up. THE Garry Kasparov is giving a talk on
The Brain’s Last Stand” and as you know, Bob, chess is one of my interests. On the other hand, there’s also two Mac specific talks, and Kasparov’s talk is probably going to be packed: I suspect I’d hit “macOS/iOS Kernel Debugging and Heap Feng Shui” followed by “Hacking travel routers like it’s 1999” (because I’m all about router hacking, babe). Nothing grabs me at 11:00, but I do want to see “Open Source Safe Cracking Robots – Combinations Under 1 Hour!” at 12:00:

By using a motor with a high count encoder we can take measurements of the internal bits of a combination safe while it remains closed. These measurements expose one of the digits of the combination needed to open a standard fire safe. Additionally, ‘set testing’ is a new method we created to decrease the time between combination attempts. With some 3D printing, Arduino, and some strong magnets we can crack almost any fire safe.

13:00: “Controlling IoT devices with crafted radio signals“, and “Using GPS Spoofing to control time” at 14:00. (I do want to give a shout-out to the Elie Bursztein talk, “How we created the first SHA-1 collision and what it means for hash security“, though.)

Do I want to go to “Phone system testing and other fun tricks” at 15:00? Or do I want to take a break before “Radio Exploitation 101: Characterizing, Contextualizing, and Applying Wireless Attack Methods“:

As we introduce each new attack, we will draw parallels to similar wired network exploits, and highlight attack primitives that are unique to RF. To illustrate these concepts, we will show each attack in practice with a series of live demos built on software-defined and hardware radios.

And then at 17:00, “Cisco Catalyst Exploitation” is relevant to my interests. However, I don’t want to dismiss “The Internet Already Knows I’m Pregnant“:

…EFF and Journalist Kashmir Hill have taken a look at some of the privacy and security properties of over a dozen different fertility and pregnancy tracking apps. Through our research we have uncovered several privacy issues in many of the applications as well as some notable security flaws as well as a couple of interesting security features.

Saturday: Nothing at 10:00. At 10:30, maybe “Breaking Wind: Adventures in Hacking Wind Farm Control Networks” because why not?

I have to give another shout-out to “If You Give a Mouse a Microchip… It will execute a payload and cheat at your high-stakes video game tournament” but I’m personally more interested in “Secure Tokin’ and Doobiekeys: How to Roll Your Own Counterfeit Hardware Security Devices” at 11:00. (“All Your Things Are Belong To Us” sounds pretty cool, too, but I’d probably wait for the notes/repos/etc. to be released rather than attending in person.)

Oddly, there’s really nothing that grabs me between 12:00 and 15:00. At 15:00, “Tracking Spies in the Skies” mildly intrigues me (mostly for the ADS-B aspect), while at 16:00 I’m really excited by “CableTap: Wirelessly Tapping Your Home Network” (more home router hacking! Hurrah!)

At 17:00:

In this talk, we explore the security of one of the only smart guns available for sale in the world. Three vulnerabilities will be demonstrated. First, we will show how to make the weapon fire even when separated from its owner by a considerable distance. Second, we will show how to prevent the weapon from firing even when authorized by its owner. Third, we will show how to fire the weapon even when not authorized by its owner, with no prior contact with the specific weapon, and with no modifications to the weapon.

You have my attention.

(Related article from Wired. Presenter’s Twitter feed.)

Sunday: “I Know What You Are by the Smell of Your Wifi“, followed a little later by “Backdooring the Lottery and Other Security Tales in Gaming over the Past 25 Years“.

Weirdly, after that, there’s nothing that interests me until the closing ceremonies at 16:00. (Though I might go to “Man in the NFC” if I was there.)

This seems like a very low-key year, and I’m not sure why. I don’t see any Bluetooth related stuff, and very little lock related. Perhaps I should be glad I’m skipping this year.

Anyway, you guys know the drill: if you see a talk you’re interested in, leave a comment and I’ll try to run it down. If you’re a presenter who wants to promote your talk, leave a comment and I’ll try to give you some love.

Reptile cults. Why did it have to be reptile cults?

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Today’s headline of the day:

Police: Woman kills boyfriend after spat with reptilian cult

More:

She said her boyfriend believed the cult’s leader to be a “reptilian” pretending to be a human, a police affidavit said.

And:

Online postings associated with the cult detail a theory that a group of alien reptiles is subverting the human race through mind control.

Sounds like David Icke, but the linked article doesn’t specify. Are there other reptile-based conspiracy theorists out there?

More book stuff.

Monday, July 17th, 2017

I’m a sucker for those “collector’s” reprints of various firearms related books, like the stuff in the Palladium Press Firearms Classics Library. I’m not a total sucker: Half-Price Books gets these in every once in a while, and while I’m generally not willing to pay their marked price ($30-$35), if there’s a sale or a coupon, I’m there.

I know they generally don’t have a lot of value to book collectors, but that’s fine: I think they look nice on the shelves. Plus, to take one example, I think I paid $15 for Ordnance Went Up Front. Amazon has a Kindle edition for $9, but I’d rather pay the extra few dollars for a nice physical copy. And there’s a lot of that stuff that doesn’t have a Kindle edition.

This is a different publisher, and a little more expensive, but there’s a catch:

Capstick, Peter Hathaway. Death In a Lonely Land: More Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting on Five Continents. Derrydale Press, 1990.

Yes, it’s a reprint. A “limited” edition reprint of 2,500 numbered copies, which makes it almost certainly worthless to collectors and anybody who doesn’t have the word “sucker” stamped on their forehead.

(looks in mirror)

Well, I’ll be darned. Where did that come from?

But I digress.

I don’t remember exactly how I first came into possession of Death in the Long Grass: I want to say I was a teenager (or pre-teen?) visiting my maternal grandmother, we went by a bookstore on one of our rare ventures out of the house, either I talked her into buying it for her grandchild or I had some pocket money of my own, and…

…I was already kind of gun-crazy at the time, but that book was a revelation to me. It wasn’t just that the whole “let’s go hunting elephants in Africa” thing appealed to me as I was straining the bounds of my existence: it was also that the guy could write. The young me found him sometimes screamingly funny. The old me still does. I think sometimes I even try a little too hard to emulate Capstick’s prose style, the end result being something like if you left my prose next to a complete collection of Capstick books and a gallon of milk for a week in a non-working refrigerator outside in a Texas July.

Point being, I didn’t just want to hunt lions and tigers and buffalo like Capstick, I wanted to write like him as well. At least back in those days. These days, I’m working on developing my own style, but Capstick is still an influence.

This was $75, marked down by 50% because of the coupon. It was still a little more than I would usually have paid, but this book has one great advantage that my other Capstick books don’t:

Capstick died in 1996 of complications from, of all things, heart bypass surgery. I never met him – I don’t think he did a lot of book tours, and I don’t move in Safari Club circles – so this is the only signed Capstick in my library right now. It was worth it to me, and to that small boy inside me.

Close call.

Monday, July 17th, 2017

The last sentence would have made me snort coffee out of my nose, if I had actually been drinking it at the time.

(Obits to come.)

Recent aquisitions.

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

I’ve been a little off my feed recently (for reasons that are not open to discussion), but I’m starting to feel a little better. And Half-Price Books sent out another batch of coupons: I wasn’t able to use them Monday or Wednesday because reasons, but I have picked up a few mildly interesting things the rest of the week that I figured I’d share:

I have one more book on hold waiting for tomorrow’s 50% off coupon, and that may be the subject of a separate post. It combines one of my interests – African hunting – with childhood nostalgia and one of my favorite writers. No, not Ruark: the other guy.

Memo from the police blotter.

Friday, July 14th, 2017

I don’t write about this story lightly. I’m blogging it because I think it brings up some things that need to be discussed.

An APD detective is being sued in Bastrop County. Specifically, the complaint against her is that she was negligent in securing her duty weapon: a child stole it from her and committed suicide with it.

[Defense attorneys] say that [the detective] had kept the gun in her purse in a locked safe, and there was no way for her to know that [the victim] could have gained access to it. Furthermore, they said it would be unreasonable to expect that every gun owner in Texas should be responsible to keep their weapons under lock and key, where they aren’t accessible during an emergency, according to the motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff’s side:

But [victim’s mother] claims that [defendant] violated Section 46.13 of the Texas Penal Code, which states that “a person commits an offense if a child gains access to a readily dischargeable firearm” and the person is criminally negligent if she “failed to secure the firearm or left the firearm in a place to which the person knew or should have known the child would gain access.”

Plaintiff’s side also claims that the defendant didn’t actually have the weapon in a locked safe.

It does seem kind of callous and cruel to say “there’s no duty to lock up your guns away from kids”. Responsible people are going to do this anyway, duty or no duty.

But there’s a twist: the child in this case was actually 16 years old. Maybe I am jaded, but it seems to me like a 16-year-old is going to be highly motivated to find the forbidden, if they really want it: drugs, booze, porn…or even a gun. Even a gun in a “locked safe” beside a bed. And I really do wonder what kind of “locked safe” that was: as we all know, Bob, many “gun safes” are actually insecure and can easily be opened by a five-year-old who thinks there’s candy inside. How good does a gun safe have to be to stand up against a 16-year-old?

Especially a motivated one.

According to court documents, [the victim] was sent to stay with her aunt and [the defendant] after her father was convicted of molesting her. Her mother allowed him back in the home, though he was not allowed to be around his daughter. [Victim]’s mother claims there was reason to believe that her daughter was a risk to herself or others because of the abuse and that [defendant] should have been extra cautious to secure the weapons in the home.

“[defendant] should have been extra cautious to secure the weapons in the home…” Or, you know, maybe victim’s mom could have done something else here…trying to think of what that could be…oh, yeah, that’s right.

Did you try not letting the guy who was convicted of raping your daughter back into the house? Instead of sending of sending your kid off to live with other people? Doesn’t that send a pretty clear message: Mom values the man who hurt me more than she does me?

(And I know it seems kind of dismissive, but: what if the victim had taken a whole bottle of Tylenol instead? Or used Google to look up “Japanese cleaning product suicides”?)

This whole thing is just so messed up, I don’t even know where to begin thinking about it.

(In case you need it.)

Rhesus pieces.

Monday, July 10th, 2017

Semi-serious question for the huddled masses yearning to breathe free that are my readers:

What gun for aggressive monkeys with Herpes B?

(An AR in .223, maybe? Or a high-capacity 9mm, if you’re worried about bullet travel?)

(I’m not suggesting that he sit on the back porch and pick off monkeys at a distance. I like monkeys. But if the kids are in the backyard on their swing set, and a swarm of aggressive virus-carrying monkeys shows up, what’s the best response?)

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have…

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

…baseball bats and machetes.

(Also: “We were looking for ‘knife’ violence. ‘Knife’.”)

(Do I need a “machete” subcategory of “knives”?)

(Well, that guy thinks so.)

Random notes: June 1, 2017.

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

The NYT is offering buyouts to some of the staff.

In a memo to the newsroom, Dean Baquet, the executive editor, and Joseph Kahn, the managing editor, said the current system of copy editors and “backfielders” who assign and shape articles would be replaced with a single group of editors who would be responsible for all aspects of an article. Another editor would be “looking over their shoulders before publication.”

I probably would not have noted this story if it wasn’t for another aspect of it: the paper of record is also eliminating the “public editor” position.

Mr. Sulzberger, in a newsroom memo, said the public editor’s role had become outdated.
“Our followers on social media and our readers across the internet have come together to collectively serve as a modern watchdog, more vigilant and forceful than one person could ever be,” he wrote. “Our responsibility is to empower all of those watchdogs, and to listen to them, rather than to channel their voice through a single office.”

Am I reading this right? Is Sulzberger basically saying he plans to turn the role of the public editor over to the screaming mob – you know, the screaming mob that threatened to cancel their subscriptions because the paper published views by someone they disagreed with?

On Tuesday, The Times announced the creation of the Reader Center, an initiative that appeared to overlap somewhat with the public editor’s role. The center will be responsible for responding directly to readers, explaining coverage decisions and inviting readers to contribute their voices.

Or am I reading this wrong?

Speaking of “reading this wrong”, there has to be more to this story than meets the eye:

A New York City police sergeant who fatally shot a mentally ill woman in her Bronx apartment in October was charged on Wednesday with murder in the woman’s death.

The charges are “second-degree murder, first- and second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide”. He’s already been suspended without pay, and was “stripped of his badge and gun and placed on modified duty” after the shooting.

Initially, the police said that Sergeant Barry persuaded Ms. Danner to drop a pair of scissors, but that she picked up a bat and tried to swing at him. Only Sergeant Barry was in the bedroom with Ms. Danner.

Some people might say that I’m a cop groupie, and that I want to make excuses for cops. It’s true that I’ve been through two citizen’s police academy classes. I think I have an informed perspective on how the police work. But I also think I’m a rational and reasonable person. I’m a lot more sympathetic to the views of people like Grits and Radley Balko than I probably let on (though a lot of that has to do more with the courts and jails than boots-on-the-ground police work).

I wish we did a better job of handling mental illness in this country. I think the APD, in particular, is making great efforts in this area. But a lot of their recent shootings have been of emotionally disturbed/mentally ill people. I wish that wasn’t the case. But in all the recent cases I know about, unless new evidence has emerged, these were emergent situations where either an officer or a bystander was in immediate danger and the police officers didn’t have a choice on how to respond.

Someone in one of my CPA classes made the point: we expect the police to solve, in 30 minutes, family and social problems that have taken years – even generations – to emerge.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, said Sergeant Barry had not followed police protocol for dealing with people with mental illness. Specifically, he did not use his stun gun to try to subdue Ms. Danner, and he did not wait for a specialized Emergency Service Unit to arrive.

I quoted Tam back in October when this happened, and I’ll borrow from her again:

A baseball bat to the cranium is lethal force and don’t kid yourself otherwise. You start lethal forcing at me and I’m gonna lethal force right back at you to make you stop.

And if Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill don’t believe a baseball bat is lethal force, I invite them to join me in Times Square and let me swing baseball bats at their heads.

The “didn’t wait for ESU” thing may be more defensible, but that’s a policy violation, not a murder charge. And if he believed someone was being carved up with scissors, or was doing themselves harm, was he supposed to wait for ESU to arrive, whenever that was? I’ll also concede the point that the officer may have lied about the circumstances: I hope not, but if that is the basis for the prosecution, it should come out at trial. Meanwhile: body cameras.

And finally, speaking of “lethal force right back at you”, I should have noted this story last night. But it was still kind of emergent, and I had a bad day yesterday.

Two bounty hunters show up at a car dealership because they believe a wanted fugitive may make an appearance. They may, or may not, have identified themselves as “federal agents”.

After several hours, bad guy shows up. Bounty hunters corner him in an office. Bad guy goes for his gun, apparently drops it on the desk, goes to retrieve it. There’s a scuffle.

And when it is all over, both bounty hunters and the bad guy are dead.

I don’t know what lessons can be learned from this. Maybe “don’t drop your gun”? Or “if you have the tactical advantage, press it”? It just seems bizarre and worth noting.

Small updates and notes.

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Noted here because:

1) His conviction was for lying to investigators. What did someone once say? Trying to remember, on the tip of my tongue…Oh, yeah:

Really, seriously, just shut the fuck up.

2) This is more fallout from the “Fat Leonard” scandal, covered both here and on Battleswarm.

For the record, I don’t have a damn thing to say about Roger Ailes: I don’t watch the news, on any network, unless I’m someplace where I don’t control the means of video reproduction.

In case you haven’t had enough of the Moors Murders, the NYT has chosen to publish a nice historical retrospective. I say that with only a small amount of sarcasm: it’s probably useful if you are a true crime buff who doesn’t have children and won’t lose sleep over the details. For the rest of you, well, content warning.

After a tense nine hours of deliberations, a jury acquitted Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby of a first-degree manslaughter charge in the death of Terence Crutcher.

Andrew Branca at Legal Insurrection.

Obit watch: May 9, 2017.

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

Bob Owens of Bearing Arms died yesterday. Tam. Andrew Branca at Legal Insurrection. (Hattip: Lawrence.)

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

Richard Basciano, noted Times Square pornography impresario.

This doesn’t quite qualify as an obit, but I think I’m justified in putting it here.

The photo above was taken by US Army Spc. Hilda I. Clayton on July 2, 2013 in Langham province, Afghanistan. Spc. Clayton was photographing live fire training when a mortar tube exploded. Four Afghan soldiers were killed.

So was Spc. Clayton. This is the last photo she ever took. It was released (with the permission of her family) and published in the current issue of Military Review.

She was 22.

(Hattip: the “On Taking Pictures” podcast.)

Recommended reading: May 7, 2017.

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

I’ve stumbled across two articles in the past couple of days that I commend to your attention. At least, if you’re as fascinated with this kind of thing as I am.

1) If you own a Patek Philippe Caliber 89 watch (I know many of my readers do: if you happen to be one of the unfortunate ones who does not, Sotheby’s is auctioning one soon), you’re going to have to get it serviced.

Why? The Caliber 89 has a unique feature (or, as high-end watch folks call it, “complication”): it will tell you what day Easter falls on each year.

It turns out that computing the date Easter falls on is simultaneously two things:

a) Relatively hard to do.

Easter is one of the “moveable feasts” of the Christian calendar; it falls on a different date every year. The reason is this: the basic rule for Easter is that it falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring (that is, the first full moon after the Spring Equinox) and because both astronomical events are variable, the Easter date changes every year. (As with any calendrical irregularity, there have been various proposals over the centuries to just pick a single date, but so far nothing has stuck). For this reason, Easter can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25.

b) Relatively easy to do for a digital computer. I think you could probably fit a program to do this in 4K of BASIC, or even run it on a good programmable calculator.

But the Caliber 89 is a totally mechanical watch. How does it calculate the date of Easter? There’s the problem:

A method for calculating the Easter date is called a computus; is it possible to make a true mechanical computus, rather than relying on a program disk? The answer is, “sort of.” The first true mechanical computus appears to have been made not long after Gauss came up with his algorithm, and it currently resides in a place more horological enthusiasts should know about: the great astronomical clock in the cathedral at Strasbourg, in Alsace, France. There have actually been three successive astronomical clocks there since about 1354, but the most recent was completed in 1843. Designed by Jean-Baptiste Schwilgué, it has a true mechanical computus – probably the first ever constructed. It’s not the only mechanical computus, but I haven’t been able to find anything in English on other computus devices (although a reprint of a review of a book on the Strasbourg computus mentions at least two other “similar” mechanisms).

Even if you are not a high-end watch person, there’s still a lot in this article that I think is interesting: mostly the discussion of how Easter calculations work, and of the Strasbourg clock (which I’d really like to see one of these days).

(Hattip: The YCombinator Twitter.)

2) I’m a fan of Stephen Hunter’s work, and one who wishes he had time to write more non-fiction. I enjoy his novels, but I also think he’s an outstanding non-fiction essayist and writer. (Mr. Hunter, if you’re out there: I’d buy a hardback collection of your shorter works.)

The most recent American Rifleman has a Hunter article that pushes several of my buttons at once: “A Battle At Barrington: The Men & The Guns”.

You may have heard of the “Battle of Barrington”, though not under that name. It is also covered in Bryan Burrough’s Public Enemies, a book both Hunter and I like a lot. This was the famous shootout between agents of what became the FBI and Lester Gillis, aka “Baby Face” Nelson. Gillis, his wife, and his partner John Chase were being pursued by (and shooting it out with) FBI agents when their vehicle was disabled: they were cornered by agents Samuel Cowley and Herman Hollis. In the ensuing shootout, Gillis killed Cowley and Hollis, and fled in their car: however, Gillis himself was mortally wounded by the agent’s gunfire and bled to death. (Chase and Mrs. Gillis were captured later: Chase spent 33 years in prison, and Mrs. Gillis served one year.)

The nice thing about Hunter’s article is that he addresses the firearms and tactics used by both sides. This sort of analysis is not a strong point of Burrough’s book: Hunter and his researcher actually went back to the old FBI files and turned up some new information.

The FBI’s records are full of fascinating facts about the event. For one thing: these guys weren’t just loaded for bear, they were loaded for bears, a lot of them. Found in the abandoned Model A: three bulletproof vests, five empty magazines for .38 Super automatics; two filled machine gun magazines (presumably Thompson 20 rounders); 200 rounds of loose .45 ammunition, three empty .351 magazines, three boxes of .30-’06 Sprg. soft-nose ammunition; one box of Springfield boattailed ammunition, five boxes, .45 Colt automatic ammunition, two boxes of Springfield bronze-pointed ammunition. One tan briefcase containing one loaded 100-round drum for the Thompson submachine gun; 10 boxes .22 Long Rifle; one Colt Ace .22 Long Rifle pistol and magazine. The last is a revelation: Chase had bought the M1911 variant with a lightweight .22 slide and barrel. Perhaps he and Les used it for low-cost practice on their various travels.

And, as you know, Bob, I love me some Thompsons. My one complaint about Hunter’s article, though, is that he consistently places the Miami Dade FBI shootout in 1987: it actually took place April 11, 1986.

This quote is for Karl (wink wink nudge nudge):

[Hollis] should have used his Super .38, firing prone, two handed, as that round’s velocity and straight-line trajectory could have gotten the job done, ending up center mass in Les. But he hadn’t been trained to two-handed prone shooting. In fact he hadn’t been trained to anything! The soon-to-be Bureau’s firearm training program didn’t begin until 1935!