Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Couple of Early Thoughts on Tomorrow's Nuremberg Rally


So, as you may have heard, Richard Spencer (one of the architects of the Charlottesville white nationalist riot) is coming to the University of Florida to tomorrow.

Who else is going to be there? Well, me. But I only live 8 1/2 miles away from campus and I fall into a couple of the general categories of people I expect to see there.

Remember, Charlottesville took place on a summer weekend. This is a fall weekday. That probably means different crowd composition.

On a summer weekend, a lot more amateur activists from around the country were likely to be able to show up, on all sides.

On a fall weekday, I expect that "outside agitators" will be fewer, and of the more professional variety.  People who have regular jobs are more likely to be working on a Thursday than on a Saturday. Students who actually study are in school now.

Obviously the University of Florida student body (about 55,000) will field contingents, presumably weighted heavily toward the anti-Nazi side of things. But I'd expect to see fewer student activists from other schools than might have been able to make it to Charlottesville.

There will be plenty of police, naturally (the number I've heard is 500).

My "in case of CS attack" getup
There will be plenty of press, naturally (I have press credentials myself).

And there will be the professional activists.

By "professional," I do not necessarily mean "paid." I mean people for whom politics is their central personal daily activity (in addition to be being "press," I fall into this category). I know quite a few "professional activists" who make little if any money for their work. Some of them have taken an effective vow of poverty so that they can devote their time to it. At least a few have sources of income -- inheritances/trust funds, investment earnings, retirement income) that don't require them to work a "day job."

The governor has declared a "state of emergency." Yes, a "state of emergency" -- because some knothead is going to speechify. That's pathetic. If I had to bet on when was the last time that happened, my bet would be that the speaker in question was Martin Luther King, Jr.  If Spencer is as much a challenge to the existing system as King was ... well, let's be clear on that, he isn't. The "state of emergency" is security theater.

A certain amount of any writing I do about, but from or after, the event is pre-promised to the publication that gave me press credentials, but I'm sure I'll have some things to say here as well, once I get home (hopefully without stops at the hospital or county jail). See you on the flip side.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Who Knew Cultural Appropriation Could be so Comfortable?


Those Thai fishermen know how to do pants (not an affiliate link, nor am I being compensated for talking about how great they are).

Less than $10 (with free shipping for Prime members, of course).

Comfy.

Light fabric, 100% cotton, great for Florida. They seem to be reasonably well-made. I wouldn't want to slide into second base in them or anything like that, but remember, I work sitting in a chair all day.

Waist size, 56 inches. Yes, you read that correctly. The thing is, they are designed to be multi-size. You fold over the slack to your comfortable tightness and tie two strings (sewn on at the rear). Which means that my clothes don't stop fitting every time I lose or gain weight (the last few years I range from a tight 34-inch to a loose 40-inch waist size and that can change pretty suddenly when I start or stop exercising regularly).

Just got my second pair (as pictured; the first pair is black and gray instead of black and red). I expect to get three more, and make them my usual casual go-to.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On Decapitation, Literal and Figurative


CNBC (citing state-funded South Korean news agency Yonhap) reports that "North Korean hackers are believed to have stolen a large amount of classified military documents, including a South Korean and U.S. plan to 'decapitate' North Korea's leadership ..."

That's somewhat different than the headline: "North Korea hackers believed to have stolen US-South Korea plans to kill Kim Jong Un."

Of course, we don't get to see the content of those documents -- we are just supposed to pick up the check and STFU.

In military terms, "decapitating North Korea's leadership" does not necessarily translate to "killing Kim Jong Un." It merely means cutting off communication between strategic decisionmakers (including top military HQs and regime figures) and on-the-ground actors (troops in the field and the infrastructure supporting the movement, feeding, etc. of said troops).

In my opinion, actually killing Kim Jong Un if war breaks out would be a strategic mistake.

For as long as he can exercise power and communicate orders, he's likely to be a poor decisionmaker.

Once his ability to exercise power and communicate orders has been degraded (which will be very quickly, almost certainly within 24 hours and probably much less), it's better if "his own people" (read: ambitious or desperate generals) kill him so that what follows (as I've previously predicted, probably an invitation for Chinese "peacekeepers" to come in with the US party to a ceasefire agreement) can be embraced by North Koreans as "we deposed Kim" rather than resented by North Koreans as "the US killed Kim."

Personal Cryptocurrency Update


I had high hopes for Bitcoin Cash, but after one spike it seems to have settled/flattened in value -- and, more importantly, to not be getting a lot of adoption as a medium of exchange. It seems that places that are spoken of as "accepting" it mostly really just accept Old Bitcoin -- in order to spend your Bitcoin Cash (BCH) at those places, you have to use e.g. ShapeShift.io to convert/deposit it as Old Bitcoin (BTC), which defeats the whole purpose. You still get the Old Bitcoin fees. You still get the Old Bitcoin confirmation wait times. And you pay a fee to convert them as well.

What I want out of a cryptocurrency is something that I can use to buy a soda and hot dog at a convenience store in roughly the same time it would take to use a debit card, and with lower transaction costs. That utility, of course, lying atop some measure of anonymity and resistance to state seizure.

Maybe I'll get that at some point -- I'm keeping my eyes on e.g. Dash, ZCash, Monero and so forth to see if there's a breakout crypto that gains enough user adoption, merchant acceptance, etc. to move in that direction.

But with regard to Bitcoin Cash, I'm definitely out of "holding my breath" mode. I just converted my tiny (mid-double-digit in US dollars) holdings to Bitcoin (at a loss due to fees, of course) and spent all but a few cents worth on a 1-year Ether mining contract at HashFlare (yes, that is a referral link).

Why HashFlare, and why Ether?

HashFlare: I looked at several cloud mining services, read a few reviews, etc., and HashFlare looked like a reasonably reputable, not fly-by-night outfit. Also, unlike most pool/cloud mining outfits, HashFlare lets you buy lower amounts of "hash rate" so that you don't have to jump in at a minimum mid-three-figures like some places require. In fact, you can get in for a couple of bucks.

Ether: I might have stuck with Bitcoin Cash, but mining that was not one of HashFlare's offerings. I am skeptical of Bitcoin's future. The big players seem to be reneging on the "2x" part of the "Segwit 2x" agreement. There's another hard fork coming and it looks like Old Bitcoin is going to continue refusing to get back to the idea of being a usable cryptocurrency on the "common man's medium of exchange" front.

I thought about going with Monero (especially since I have a bit in a wallet that's just a little too small to move OUT of the wallet), but since I'm doing something that's "fire and forget" for a year, I decided to go with the second biggest cryptocurrency by market cap and hope that a year from now it will have returned more in actual market value than I put into it. Maybe by then the real players will have been winnowed down and there will be a real "common man's medium of exchange" winner that I can convert to and use to, you know, BUY STUFF.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

FreedomPop Seems Pretty Cool


Tamara's employer decided she needs a smart phone (or at least something better than the circa 2010 phone she's been using since, well, circa 2010), and authorized $X per month, first year paid in advance, for her to get cell and data service.

After some research, we decided that FreedomPop (yes, that's an affiliate link) made the most sense.

For less than the amount she received to cover the first year of service, she was able to get a pretty decent phone (a refurbished Samsung S5) and a year of one of their premium service tiers (unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1gb data). I expect that's going to be plenty of data for her needs, since she can just hook to wifi at home and work if necessary.

FreedomPop also has a free plan with 500 texts, 200 minutes of talk and 500mb of data. They sell phones for as little as $39.99, or for $1.99 you can get a FreedomPop SIM card and move any unlocked phone to their service. On top of the data that comes with whatever plan you choose, you can earn more by referring friends (there's that affiliate link) or completing offers.

So far, so good -- making and receiving calls and texts, downloading and installing apps over a wifi connection, etc. Tamara is traveling at the moment, so I haven't heard whether or not she's had occasion to really put cellular data to the test.

She wanted to keep the phone number she's had for more than 20 years. Instead of porting it from her previous carrier to FreedomPop, I am in the process of porting it to Google Voice. That way she never has to mess with porting  it again. When she changes carriers or phones she can just change the forwarding.

Absent some horrifying as yet unseen development (I'll update this post in that case), I'm sold on FreedomPop. If I'm in a future position where a client isn't keeping me on their cell plan, that's where I'll plan on going. Maybe you should consider it too. One tip: Don't go for their cheapest phones. Old Android rigs are, so far as I can tell, slow and cranky.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 10/05/17


This week's AMA thread is brought to you by whomever I designate, and I again tag Rodger Paxton's new project, Essential Libertarianism -- Selected Readings from Voluntaryist.com. Tag, Rodger, you're it. Don't miss Rodger's LAVA Flow/LAVA Spurt Podcasts or any of the other Pax Libertas Productions podcasts either!

ASK ME ANYTHING IN COMMENTS FOR $0

I'LL ANSWER (IN COMMENTS OR ON THE KN@PP STIR PODCAST)

ASK ME VIA 21.CO FOR $1 (ANSWER CAN BE PRIVATE OR PUBLICLY PODCAST, JUST SPECIFY WHICH)




Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 138: What Happens in Vegas Slays in Vegas (Too Soon?)


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by an anonymous sponsor who lets me promote whatever I want, which this week is Essential Libertarianism. Check out Rodger Paxton's new podcast-format readings of seminal libertarian material from The Voluntaryist.




In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (candidates and foreign policy; three chords and the truth; military sci-fi) :: Feinstein does the Bump-Stock Boogie on the graves of the Vegas dead.




Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Yes, There is a Podcast Coming.


In fact, it's partially recorded, dated today in the intro, etc. But I can't finish it tonight due to temporarily irremediable environmental conditions, also known as some kind of gigantic ongoing noise activity in the neighborhood. I'll try to get it to you tomorrow morning, with other wondrous blogstuff to follow ASAP.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Brief Explanation of my Seeming Absence


I've been busy list-cleaning.

In 2010, I started building a list of newspapers worldwide for the Center for a Stateless Society. That was a loooooong process of working through a paid subscription to a directory and resulted in, IIRC, email addresses for about 1,500 US newspapers and another 1,000 foreign newspapers.

I tried to make time to keep that list updated (removing defunct publications, correcting changing editor addresses -- you might be surprised at how many papers want op-eds sent to a particular editor who may leave and be replaced rather than to an address that remains stable -- adding the occasional newly detected publication, etc.), but that can be a pretty intensive process and over time the list began generating a lot of bounced emails.

When I started the Garrison Center, I left the existing list with them ... and retained a copy for myself. Since then, I've slowly continued the process. But recent developments add urgency to it.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a bunch of emails from several addresses (I do that because Gmail has daily sending limits). I got the usual bounces ("the address does not exist"), but I also got a number of blocks. One of my addresses had made it onto a spam list, even though I don't send commercial email and even though I promptly and politely remove newspapers from my list on request.

So, it became time to start using a paid service. I've been using Sendgrid's free version for quite some time, always sending to the same subset of my list and trying to keep that portion fairly clean. Now I'm paying them about $10 a month to handle all of my op-ed submissions.

Advantage: When Sendgrid gets spam blocks that aren't true, they actually contact the spam list maintainers and work it out.

Disadvantage: Sendgrid has a "reputation" system based on how many bounces/unsubscribe requests/blocks/invalid domains (e.g. the publication closed or changed its web site URL) your mails generate. If your "reputation" falls below 80%, they want to know why, and if it falls below 70% you're likely to get the ax.

So, each time I send out a Garrison column, I'm going through the bounces/invalid domains (haven't seen any blocks or spam complaints yet) and either finding new, working addresses or deleting the publications from my list.

It takes time, but it's necessary. And at the end of the process, I will have a clean list of working addresses. And that list will be a different enough product far from both the paid directory I started from and the C4SS list circa 2015 that I see no ownership/IP problems with sharing it with others who want to do mass submissions of op-eds.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Cool New Way to Support KN@PPSTER!


I mentioned on the last episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast that I might try to implement this -- and it's done.

Short version: If you'd like to support my work without any real effort or great cost on your party, you can go here to lend me your CPU time to mine Monero (a popular cryptocurrency).

Slightly longer version:

The page (here's the link again) contains a Javascript Monero miner. Whenever you're thinking about how much you'd like to support KN@PPSTER (I know you think that, a lot), and also happen to be planning to be away from your computer for a bit, just click that link (it's also over in the sidebar!), start the miner, and go get yourself a drink, catch a movie, whatever. While you're away, your computer will be earning a little cryptocurrency for yours truly.

If you'd rather just mine for yourself in the same way, you can grab the miner from Coin Hive, and here's a YouTube video with helpful instructions and a simple template for setting stuff up (the Coin Hive site made it kind of complicated).

Thanks For Asking! -- 09/19/17


This week's AMA thread is brought to you by the anonymous sponsor who lets me promote anything I want to promote, and this week I'd like to promote Scott Horton's new book, Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. No, I haven't actually read it yet, but I will soon and you should too.

Procedure recap:


  • Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer your question in comments, on a future podcast, or both.



Monday, September 18, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 137: OK, Irmageddon Over it Now


This week's podcast is brought to you by my anonymous sponsor who lets me promote whatever I want. Which, this week, is Minds.com, a social media site that I think you'll like (yes, it's a referral link). Check it out.



In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (climate change, to the moon Alice, groups that aren't libertarian but that I like anyway) :: EFF leaves W3C over EME/DRM (see here for the referenced letter).



Friday, September 15, 2017

Home Again, Home Again ...


Post-hurricane update ...

We're back in the house. Power has been restored, there's a tarp over the damaged roof, contractors will be in tomorrow to start fixing stuff. We don't have water at the moment because something caused a controller/pressure unit to burn up, but we do have electricity. The landlord's property manager is acting with alacrity to get things done, for which I am grateful.

Last week, I mentioned that I hadn't seen any "price-gouging" going on around Gainesville in the run-up to the hurricane. This morning, I ran up against a bit of what I would call "price-gouging." It was, unsurprisingly, driven by government. Specifically, the University of Florida's athletics program. Here's the rundown:

After several days of sheltering at our church, we were able to find a hotel room for two nights at a reasonable price (less than $100 per night -- there are cheaper places in Gainesville, but they were full up; a lot of people wanted to vacate them, but until Wednesday couldn't find gas to get out of town).

As of last night, we weren't certain whether we would need, or be able to get, a room for tonight. We had a text message from a neighbor letting us know that the power was back on, but we weren't certain if OUR wiring had been damaged (doesn't seem to have been -- or at least the trailer hasn't burned down around me since turning things back on).

So anyway, this morning, Tamara went down to the desk to see if a room would be available tonight. The answer: Maybe, maybe not, but if so it would be about $250 per night rather than less than $100 per night. Because ...

... the University of Florida Gators have a football game tomorrow.

Whenever that happens, every hotel in town sells out at inflated prices because the whole city is full of fans, alumni, etc. The campus is filled with alumni RVs, and the people without RVs rent hotel rooms.

I can't blame the hoteliers for pricing accordingly. And fortunately we were able to get back into our home. But I know there were people staying in the same hotel as us from Miami, Naples, Tampa, etc. -- people whose homes may be inaccessible or even destroyed and who will be either unable to find a room or be charged twice as much for tonight as they were for last night.

UF is not taking cognizance of a continuing situation which is an emergency for at least some people. And they are actually hurting those hoteliers, who could be sold out at regular rates to hurricane-displaced people right now and sell out at the higher rates for a re-scheduled football game.

Here's the letter I just sent to the editor of the Gainesville Sun (conforming to their length limit of 150 words):

It's awe-inspiring to see how people can come together to help each other in the wake of a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma.

It's less awe-inspiring to watch the University of Florida insist on an immediate return to its high financial ritual of having students toss a piece of pigskin around a pasture.

I saw no storm-related "price-gouging" in Gainesville's private sector, but in the public sector, UF's actions encourage local hotels to jack up their rates and evict non-recreational guests for the express purpose of parting alumni and other fans from their money.

The University could have exercised some simple civic virtue and common sense. Waiting a week would have made a big difference to storm survivors who are on the road back south or whose homes in this area are damaged/uninhabitable. But with UF, the almighty dollar apparently comes first.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Word PSA


Two signs I've seen in the last two days:

Store close -- no electricity

Pool close until further notice

If something is not open -- that is, if it is shut -- it is closed, not close.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

After the Storm ...


... we're still sheltering at our church (where, thanks to helpful people, there's a generator for recharging phones, running hot spots, etc.).

Irma remodeled our kitchen via the roof with a pine tree:


Looks like it damaged two trusses on its way in. You can't really see in this picture, but in the very upper left hand corner there's actually a limb poking through the ceiling. Another limb looks like it fell on our central air/heat unit and bounced off. Because I can't be certain there wasn't any electrical damage (e.g. wires stripped and crushed together that might short and cause a fire), I have the master breaker turned off (no telling when power will be restored to the neighborhood -- there are lines down all over).

Hopefully we'll hear about repair ETAs from the landlord in the next day or two. We'll probably go looking for an extended stay hotel situation today and plan on being there for up to a week in any case. Once we get settled in somewhere with real electricity and wi-fi instead of a generator powering a phone hot spot, I'll be full-on back at work and posting regularly.

Hey, if you're a reader who was in the storm's path, let everyone know you made it OK!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Plan -- Final Version


Well, this morning was our go/no-go time for evacuation, but we made our decision last night -- we're staying and riding Irma out at our church, which is open and outfitted as a shelter. It's a sturdy Quonset hut with lots of windbreak (also known as seven acres of jungle) around it. I spent part of yesterday afternoon nailing plywood over its windows and we moved some of our supplies into the common pool there last night.

Main contributing factor to the decision: We still don't know where the storm is going to go, or how strong it's going to be when it gets there, but as commenter mrjarrell pointed out in comments on another post, our planned evac destination -- Tupelo, Mississippi -- was actually in the storm's late "probability cone," and even though it would be weaker by the time it got there, we would be trading hurricane conditions for tornado conditions. We thought about making a boogie more due west for Gulfport, Biloxi, New Orleans or Baton Rouge ...

... but, you know, screw it. We've got reliable shelter and good friends available here, versus harried travel with no certainty that trading one location for another would end up being an improvement. Also, we would have been leaving about now if we were evacuating. Staying, we've got another good eight hours to continue prepping the house for a hit, and then a three-minute drive to get to the shelter well before even the outer edges of Irma start approaching.

So: I will be online, here or at the shelter, as time allows and until after power goes out, cell towers go down, whatever, and back on as soon as humanly possible after that. All of you who are also in the storm's path, here's hoping you make it through in safety and in health.

Thanks For Asking! -- 09/10/17


This week's AMA and the podcast to follow are brought to you by Paul Stanton, who's still hung up on peace. Check out Antiwar.com, the Libertarians For Peace Facebook group, and Veterans For Peace.

Ask me anything in comments -- I'll answer in comments, on a future podcast, or both


Saturday, September 09, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 136: Irmageddon a Little Nervous ...


This week's podcast is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who's all about peace at the moment. Check out Antiwar.com, the Libertarians For Peace Facebook group, and Veterans For Peace.



In this episode: Thanks For Asking! [amnesty for immigrants is not enough] :: Hurricane Prep (surge pricing and responsible conduct -- based on a column by Skyler J. Collins).



No "Price Gouging" in the Gainesville Area Yet ...


... at least that I can see.

Some items are in short supply. The shelves everywhere are empty of bread, and it's hard to find batteries or bottled water.

But yesterday evening we visited the Save-A-Lot in Archer.

One of the items on our list was "more water, if we see any" (we thought we could use one more case, wanted one to give our older neighbor who insists on weathering the storm in situ, and any more could be dropped off at our church, which is operating as a shelter). We didn't expect to find any water, but we were keeping an eye out for it.

The store is located on a small highway that runs north out of Tampa. Lots of traffic, and probably 100 vehicles lined up for gas at the convenience store next door. But when we walked in, there were pallets of bottled water ... priced at $2.50 cents per case of 24 16.9 oz. bottles. Limit two cases per customer, but certainly not any "price gouging" going on.

Same thing in Gainesville -- if you can find the things you're looking for, the stores aren't doing disaster pricing. But they are closing down. Some today, most starting tomorrow.

Our plans are still contingent on the forecasts.

As of tomorrow morning, if it looks like Irma will hit Gainesville as a Category 3 storm or higher, we plan to head for northern Mississippi using back roads (the freeways are pretty much parking lots; the smaller roads look busy, but not nearly as bad). I'll be packing today with that in mind.

If it looks like we'll get by with Category 2, we'll go to our church, which is a nice stout building and pet friendly.

If Category 1, we'll either ride it out at the house or go to the church.

I'll try to get a podcast out some time today, because I don't want to break my new weekly streak. If you've got any questions for Thanks For Asking!, get them in ASAP.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Request to @Amazon and @Google: Play Nice, Please


I love my Amazon Fire TV Stick, especially now that they've updated its operating system to let me limit the bandwidth/resolution so that I'm not eating up gigabytes watching HD video when SD is just peachy.

I also love Google Play, mostly for the apps for my Android phone, but also for its book and movie stores. I rack up Google Play credit using the Google Opinion Rewards app, and spend that credit on stuff, including movies. So far so good.

Amazon Fire TV does not offer a Google Play app. I understand there are ways to "sideload" unapproved apps onto the device, but I'm not big on the idea. I also understand that for the most part, Amazon would prefer to sell movies itself rather than route you to another seller (there's not a Vudu app for Fire TV either, for example). OK, fine. If I want to watch a movie from Google Play on my TV, I can just plug the old original ChromeCast in and mirror it from my computer screen. Pain in the ass, but whatever.

But earlier today, I noticed that my Google Play movies show up in my YouTube account and that I can watch them on YouTube. Hey, there is a YouTube app for Fire TV!

Run the app. Activate my YouTube account on the app. Hey, there are my Google Play movies! Huzzah!

This video cannot be played on this device.

Now, to be fair, I have no way of knowing whether Amazon is refusing to let its device play a Google Play movie, or whether Google Play is refusing to let an Amazon device play its movies. I suspect the former, but that's just a suspicion.

Hey, guys, why don't you work things out? I know that each of you wants to dominate the various device/app spaces, but your customers are going to want to mix and match.

Because There's No "Public Comment" Section on @Amazon's RFP Page ...


I guess I'll just blog mine. From said page:


Amazon HQ2 will be Amazon’s second headquarters in North America. We expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs – it will be a full equal to our current campus in Seattle. In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.

LEVY COUNTY, FLORIDA, PLZ 

Hear me out.

Levy County is convenient to a university city (Gainesville) full of prospective "you need a degree for this job" hires, as well as the college dropouts who actually get things done while the people with degrees wave their degrees around and yell about how qualified they are. It's also within a few hours of Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Miami. There are a range of living prices/lifestyles within commuting distance of, say, Bronson.

The area is economically depressed by comparison to much of the country (the turpentine industry died out and the nuclear power plants got canceled). That means cheap land and competitive bidding by contractors for a campus, as well as lots of people looking for the kind of work that doesn't require suit and tie (you're going to need janitors, cafeteria employees, security, etc.).

Aside from the opportunity to work at Amazon, what would attract the people you're looking for? To start with, how about no income tax and pretty low property taxes? Plus being within a few hours of the best schools and the best vacation spots in the country (or out -- quick flights to the Bahamas)? If people will live in a hell-hole like California for the opportunity to work for companies like Google, presumably they'll be willing to live in a nice place to work for Amazon.

Instead of trying to fit into an already heavily populated area, Amazon should do its own thing. Like the man said, build it (YOUR way) and they will come.

This is something of an admission against interest in that I'd love to buy some property and build a house out in Levy County before it gets discovered and becomes expensive. Maybe you'll hire me as a location scout or something so I can afford to do that.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Regarding Disaster Preparedness, Part 2


Money helps. This morning, I placed an order at Amazon for one-day shipping on a few sundries -- a solar charger for phones, a fresnel lens for heating stuff up, a pack of those "emergency blanket" thingies in case there's a wetness event bringing on a need to conserve body heat. I placed that order using cash I earned from apps I flog here at KN@PPSTER (referral links ahead):

S'More is an app that runs ads on your Android phone's lock screen. Not very intrusive. All it means is that when you go to unlock your phone there's an extra swipe involved. For which you earn 10 cents a day, redeemable in the form of "gift cards" for Amazon and a bunch of other places. IIRC, the redemption minimum is $3.00, or one month of letting the app run. I've successfully redeemed for Amazon cards several times.

Ibotta is a "cash back" app that works at a whole bunch of stores (I usually use it at my local Walmart, Publix, Sam's Club or Dollar General). Look up the kinds of things you're shopping for, choose your rebates, go shopping, then take a picture of your receipt and, in some cases, scan bar codes. Your cash back gets credited to your account and once you're racked up $20 or more you can redeem it as cash (via PayPal or Venmo) or for gift cards (Amazon, etc.).  I've successfully redeemed for Amazon cards twice now.

Neither of these apps is a lot of work, and both generate a little extra money -- money which came in handy when I realized I'd like to have a few things around the house for Irmageddon. Check them out.

Regarding Disaster Preparedness


Several people joined the Gainesville Mutual Aid public cell today on Cell 411.

If you have a smart phone (Android or iOS) and you don't have Cell 411, you should get it. You can form private or public "cells" to easily let people know what's going on -- anything from a flat tire to an unexpected police encounter (you can stream that live so that confiscating your phone won't erase the evidence) to coordinating ride-sharing.

Obviously this could come in handy during Irma.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Looks Like It's On ...


"Mandatory evacuation order" for the Florida Keys starting tomorrow morning. Irma has strengthened into a Category 5 storm. Its most likely predicted paths seem to be:


  1. Up the Atlantic Coast of Florida;
  2. Up the Gulf Coast of Florida; or
  3. Straight up the middle of Florida


Which, any way you cut it, probably means us (we're in north central Florida, about 50 miles from the Gulf Coast, 80 or so from the Atlantic, and it's going to be a big, wide storm). So we're stocking up on water and canned goods and food that doesn't have to be cooked in the expectation that we may spend a few days without electricity (I'm all for taking off on a quickie vacation to, say, Montana, but that doesn't really seem to be in the cards and I expect northbound I-75 to be clogged by tomorrow if it's not already).

Speaking of stocking up, I decided to do some of that via InstaCart. You order (from local stores), they deliver. The prices are a little higher than at the store, but I had a coupon for $50 off an order of $50 or more, plus free delivery, so it came out pretty nicely, and saved us part of the water toting (part of my order was five cases of 24 16.9-oz. bottles). By the time I post this, the delivery will have arrived (placed it around 4pm and scheduled delivery for between 8pm and 9pm), so if you see this it means I was happy with the service.* Yes, you guessed it, referral link time. The first five people I refer each get a $10 credit toward their first order, and I get a $10 credit toward my next order.

If I should suddenly disappear from Internet view this weekend, you'll know why -- expect me back when power is restored and so forth. If you're in this storm's path, or any other, or have been recently (yes, I'm talking to you readers in Texas), best wishes.



* I'm VERY happy with the service. The stores are already madhouses and the InstaCart lady said she had gone to four different stores to fill orders. She made some (good and proper) substitutions for items that were out of stock, and I got a refund for the five cases of bottled water I had ordered as there was none to be found. Gonna be out looking for some tomorrow (we've got SOME, but I want MORE).

Thanks For Asking! -- 09/05/17


This week's AMA thread is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who's all about peace at the moment. Check out Antiwar.com, the Libertarians For Peace Facebook group, and Veterans For Peace. Selah.

TO DO LIST

  1. Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post
  2. Await my answer in comments, on the next episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast, or both
  3. (Optional) Ask via my 21.co profile in the hope that paying me the princely sum of $1 will cause me to look upon your question with special favor:



KN@PPSTER's Books For Inmates Project ...


Letters and books (but only if they are softcover and come directly from a commercial vendor) can be sent to Christopher Cantwell at:

Christopher Cantwell Inmate #631424
Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail
160 Peregory Lane
Charlottesville, VA 22902

I just sent him this ...



Suggestions for others who might want to participate in Cantwell's re-education:

Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,by Hannah Arendt
Mila 18, by Leon Uris
Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler
Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman and Laura Cornell
New Libertarian Manifesto, by Samuel Edward Konkin III
KN@PPSTER's Big Freakin' Book of Stuff, by Thomas L. Knapp

If you send him any of the above -- or for that matter anything else -- it might be nice to mention it in comments, so he doesn't get multiple copies of anything.

About That Pardon Power ...


Many of the same people who are (correctly) pointing out that US president Donald Trump was constitutionally empowered to pardon terror kingpin Joe Arpaio continue to whine about "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," former US president Barack Obama's reprieve of punishment (deportation) for immigrants who came to the US as children with parents who didn't get the (unconstitutionally) required permission slip.

So, recap:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. -- Article II, Section 2, US Constitution (emphasis mine)

Any questions?

Monday, September 04, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 135: Now We're Not Cooking With Gas


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who wants me to throw some peace at ya. So, OK, I encourage you to check out Antiwar.com, the Libertarians For Peace Facebook group, and Veterans For Peace.





In this episode: A bunch of digression concerning the fine art of slow-smoking ribs :: Thanks For Asking! (El Caudillo del Maricopa; Trust not in antitrust litigation; It's my party and I'll cry if I want to) :: The Lollipop Guild wants its credit limit increased.



Friday, September 01, 2017

Meeting of the Minds ...


For various reasons (including work for clients), I'm always keeping an eye on new social media outlets. Lately I've been using Minds. (yes, that's a referral link -- they have reward/affiliate mojo, although I haven't signed up for the financial affiliate part; you can accumulate "points" with which to "boost" your posts, that is, have them displayed on timelines of people you aren't connected to yet).

Minds has been around for a couple of years (in public release, but it had a lengthy development period). It's trending lately (meaning I finally noticed it) as one of the "free speech alternatives" for various types of posters/content becoming less and less welcome at e.g. Facebook and Twitter. That means everything from open racism to porn (or at least porn-ish stuff). Lots of "regular" content as well for those who aren't comfortable with the uglier or racier stuff (I've done a bit of blocking myself).

I like the format at Minds. The timelines are somewhat like Twitter without the 140-character limit. Not a lot of formatting flexibility, but you can post full articles. There are also interest "groups" a la Facebook.

If social media's your thing, it's worth checking out. So far I'm liking it better than most of the "alternatives to the big dogs" that I've seen.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Less Than Two Weeks Away ...



I've updated my Amazon Wish List to include some gear that would come in handy for self-preservation, video coverage of events, etc. Nothing I can't get by without if necessary, but it's stuff I'd like to have.

Live blogging/podcasting is probably just not going to be feasible, but I'll try to get as much worthwhile material up as soon as possible after the fact (assuming none of the various more dire possible outcomes, e.g. jail, hospital, morgue ...).

My guess is that unless the university either folds or gets ordered by a court to provide the requested rental venue, things will go down outdoors on Turlington Plaza. But that guess could be wrong. I'll be watching for more info as Der Tag approaches.

A Reminder and a Request


Reminder: KN@PPSTER's Big Freaking Book of Stuff is now available for Amazon Kindle. It's only $1.99, and it's made available by libertarian e-publishing pioneer J. Neil Schulman.

Request: Hey, how about posting a review of the book at Amazon? Positive, negative, your call, but it would be nice to see some opinions there. If you don't want to pop $1.99 for the Kindle version to read it for review purposes, there are other versions, including a free PDF (see here).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Moving from @Jaxx_io to @CoinomiWallet ...


... turned out to be pretty easy. Here's a quick tutorial for those considering it.

Why move? Well, a month after saying they were going to support Bitcoin Cash, Jaxx still isn't supporting Bitcoin Cash. If you had Bitcoin in your Jaxx wallet as of the "user-activated hard fork," you own the same amount of Bitcoin Cash. You just can't get to it, or spend it, or receive more of it, in Jaxx. That was understandable for a few days. Now it's just getting dumb. So ...



Coinomi does support Bitcoin Cash, and with a little work (not much work, and there are tutorials) you can get your balance out of Jaxx hell and into usable form.

Not that my travails are over.

If I had my druthers, I'd exchange my measly Bitcoin balance (about $20 worth at the moment) for Bitcoin Cash. But at the moment the miner and ShapeShift fees for doing that would run about $12, meaning I'd only actually get about $8 worth of Bitcoin Cash at the other end.

But I may go ahead and do that, because I expect Bitcoin proper to start falling, sharply and soon. At least one big dog has already announced it plans to renege on the New York Agreement, specifically the "2x" part of "Segwit2x." The 2x part is doubling the block size to make the network usable again.

I doubt that Bitwala will turn out to be the only lying turd in the Segwit2x pile of feces, and Bitcoin can only remain a speculation toy / high-redemption-cost bearer bond for so long before the market migrates away from it and toward a real cryptocurrency. I don't know if that real cryptocurrency will be Bitcoin Cash, Dash, ZCash or something else, but the Segwit2x people -- especially the ones who won't even keep their word on half of that deal -- are inflating a bubble that has to pop sooner or later.

Side Addendum: I've updated the sidebar addresses/QR codes to direct Bitcoin, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash donations to my Coinomi wallet. Hint, hint.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 08/29/17


This week's AMA thread is brought to you by whatever it pleases me to promote -- and that is The Lowest Ebb: Norman Thomas & America's Minor Parties in 1944, by Darcy Richardson.

Here's how it works ...


  • Ask me anything (anything) in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer in comments, on a coming podcast, or both.

Now in beta: Make it worth my while -- $1 gets you a guaranteed reply by email. I haven't decided yet whether this will eventually be a requirement, or even whether popping for a buck will increase the likelihood that your question will be ... "featured." Mainly I'm just testing the idea as an application for 21.co's offering of a "pay to email" service. Click the graphic for more info.



The Horror ... The Horror ...


Some animals I love, some not so much. But I hate fire ants with great passion. Because of diabetic neuropathy that has left my lower legs fairly numb, if I get into a mess of them (it happens once or twice a year when I'm doing yard work -- did I mention screw lawns?) I may not notice for a couple of minutes. That is, until the venom from, say, 50-100 bites gets far enough into my compromised nerve network to find pain receptors. And then it's ... bad.

Now I learn, per Sarah Zhang at The Atlantic, that when it floods, they:

  1. Get more venomous;
  2. Get more aggressive;
  3. Form themselves into giant rafts to ride the water until they can find dry land
If you've never experienced them, trust me when I tell you that you do not want to see a giant mass of fire ants coming your way.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 134: Free Christopher Cantwell! (Yes, Really)


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by an anonymous sponsor who lets me promote whatever I want to promote. What I want to promote right now is a book -- The Lowest Ebb: Norman Thomas & America's Minor Parties in 1944, by Darcy Richardson. Check it out.



In this episode: Free Christopher Cantwell! (Yes, Really)

Check out last night's episode of Free Talk Live, which I mention in the podcast.



Monday, August 28, 2017

Will Hurricane Harvey Help Jorge?


A few years ago, a contractor friend of mine who went down to the Gulf coast -- New Orleans, and also Mississippi -- to get houses built/rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina told me that he would never have been able to keep up with demand (I think his words were "we would STILL be trying to get shit done") had it not been for the thousands of undocumented (mostly Mexican) laborers who showed up and busted their asses for very reasonable wages. He had trouble getting workers who were used to going home every night to relocate from Missouri for several months, and the ones who did commanded premium money.

I wonder if Texans will be as supportive of Trump's border wall fantasy a few weeks from now as they were a few weeks ago?

A Question to Kick Off The Week


After more than two decades of lawlessness, the most the "justice" system was able bring itself to give terror kingpin Joe Arpaio was a six-month slap on the wrist for contempt of court.

Actual justice would have involved, at a bare minimum, confiscating every dollar he had and every possession he owned and garnishing any and all future income until such time as restitution had been made to his victims.

But okay, six months.

Except that Trump pardoned him.

So, question:

If one of his past or potential victims takes matters into his or her own hands to correct the "justice" system's failure and reverse Trump's evil abuse of his pardon power, should we think of the end of Joe Arpaio as freelance capital punishment, or, given that he's already threatening to find a way back into the reign of terror biz, as self-defense?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Second Question About a Letter


So yesterday, I asked my first question in response to Brad's "The Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade": Did anyone feel pressured or bullied to sign the open letter "Restating the Obvious: An Open Letter from the Libertarian Movement?"

I already had a follow-up in mind, and as it happens Brad himself provided the perfect text for that follow-up in an email exchange so I will just use that text:

Has anyone been denounced, or even criticized, for not signing it?

The Book of 0 For 3


On yesterday's episode of Electric Libertyland, Remso W. Martinez asserts that "Antifa is by the book a domestic terrorist organization."

Antifa is international, not domestic.

Antifa isn't an organization. It's a word that a number of completely autonomous organizations of varying compositions, characters and activity types, connected only by the general descriptor "anti-fascist," use to describe themselves.

As for "terrorist," that word has been so loosely and wildly interpreted for the last couple of decades as to effectively lost any meaning it might once have had, but with respect to Antifa it's a looooooong stretch for any meaning other than "a bunch of people I don't like, some of whom occasionally use violence that I consider unjustified."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Question About a Letter


So, there's this thing, "Restating the Obvious: An Open Letter from the Libertarian Movement."

I don't remember how it came to my attention, nor do I recall anyone asking me to sign it, let alone demanding that I do so. When I found out about it, I read it, I agreed with it, I decided I wanted to add my voice to it, and I used the contact form at that site to do so.

Now I hear that it's a "loyalty oath" of some kind, so I have to ask:

Is there anyone out there who has been, in any way, shape, manner or form, pressured or bullied to sign it?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Greitens Stays the Execution of Marcellus Williams!


So says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Thanks to those who signed the petition I asked you to sign. It may have helped.

A Notable Omission


On an episode of The Jason Stapleton Program today, Tom Woods explains why he declined to sign Liberty Against Fascism's "open letter" from libertarians who wanted to clearly distinguish themselves from the Charlottesville thugs:

When it comes to this whole, I have to get on the Internet and tell everybody how much I'm against the Nazis thing, I just, I don't go for that. ... The whole thing is so ridiculous, it's an insult to ask libertarians in effect to sign a petition saying "we're against fascism." Obviously we're against fascism, and if you're dealing with people who are so vacant that they can't see that, then get away from those people, there's no helping those people.

What he doesn't mention is that he's a founding member of one of the groups marching for fascism in Charlottesville. He was one of the few people known as libertarians who would really have benefited from a chance to disassociate himself from that shit. But it turns out that those of us who signed it were, in part, disassociating ourselves from him.

He obviously doesn't want to openly own his associations, but neither does he want to openly repudiate those associations. There's a word for that kind of thing. No, the word isn't "principle." It's "cowardice."

Update: The paleos, as they usually do when confronted with inconvenient facts, immediately start whining about how anyone who criticizes any of them for anything is engaged in "character assassination" (or, better, a "smear"). @AfroLibertarian links to this piece by Woods from 12 years ago, presumably by way of proving ... well, something. Summary: "It's not fair to mention anything I wrote in the past or to assume that my associations actually mean anything."

Monday, August 21, 2017

Net of the Long Knives, Continued? (@Cloudflare, @NameCheap)


h/t Brad at WendyMcElroy.com: Cloudflare has seemingly escalated from cutting off a hate site to cutting off a libertarian site.

I'll be interested to see whether or not this is true. At the Activist Post story Brad links to, the screen shot of the email from Cloudflare is from their billing department and just indicates that ghostrunner.net's subscription to a pro plan is ending, not that Cloudflare is cutting the site off for ideological reasons. So there may be some jumping to conclusions going on here.

The situation with Namecheap, on the other hand, is not at all unclear. Read their CEO's lame-ass "we find ourselves in a difficult situation, so FUCK our customers" post regarding its cancellation of a duly purchased domain name.

Well, That Argument Went South Right Away


In a column at LewRockwell.com this morning, Walter Block takes up the question of "which side is most blameworthy for the fighting" in Charlottesville:

That is an easy one: it is the alt-left. Proof? Once upon a time, a long time ago (1977) there was a neo-Nazi march in Skokie, IL. That town was comprised to a large extent not only by people of the Jewish faith, but many who had personally experienced the horrors of the Holocaust. Was there any violence on that occasion? To ask this is to answer it: there was not. Why not? Because in them thar far away days, the alt-left had not yet begun their pattern of intimidation of the sort suffered by Charles Murray, Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos and other conservatives and libertarians.

Actually, the reason there was no violence during the neo-Nazi march in Skokie is that there was no neo-Nazi march in Skokie.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Execution Bleg


If you're against the death penalty as all decent human beings should be, here's a petition you should sign.

If you support the death penalty, but prefer a reasonably high, rather than abysmally low, standard of proof before having someone killed, here's a petition you should sign.

If you just like signing petitions, here's a petition you should sign.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Some of These Make Sense


At least one of them most manifestly does not.




The above, according to my Blogger stats, are search terms that led people to click through to KN@PPSTER.

The Lawn is a Tax


Discuss.

Christopher Cantwell Died for Your Sins


Well, OK, not exactly. But he's becoming the poster boy for a kind of Internet martyrdom. More at the Garrison Center.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Three Things (or, WTF, @jaxx_io?)


Thing One: On July 29, Jaxx released a "Statement on Bitcoin Cash" via the Decentral Blog. Money quote:

As a multi-platform, multi-currency blockchain wallet, over the past many days, we have been flooded with requests to support Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Yesterday, we officially made the decision to work towards full integration.

Since Jaxx users are always in control of their private keys, corresponding Bitcoin Cash (BCH) will be safe in your Jaxx wallet. However, please know that you will not be able to access/send/receive your Bitcoin Cash (BCH) until the integration takes place.

The process of downloading and indexing the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain is lengthy. We are currently downloading the blockchain and expect indexing to start shortly. The indexing of a blockchain as big as Bitcoin’s has an unknown duration and could take anywhere from a few days to 1 to 2 weeks. You will be then able to claim them once Jaxx fully integrates Bitcoin Cash (BCH) into the wallet.

Thing Two: Yesterday, Jamie Redman of Bitcoin.com reported:

On August 16 at approximately 8 am EDT the mining pool Bitclub Network mined an 8MB block on the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain. Block #479469 cleared over 37,000 transactions from the mempool making it the largest block found so far on the BCH chain. Meanwhile, the BCH network continues to capture infrastructure development and industry support.

Thing Three: As of now, I'm still waiting on Jaxx to "fully integrate Bitcoin Cash into the wallet." Presumably I'm not some outlier awaiting a wallet update that others have already received -- as of three hours ago, the Jaxx area on Reddit had a comment titled "Any ETA on bitcoin cash support?"

A Brief Note on Philosophical Debate versus Marketing Practice


One line I hear frequently in internal libertarian movement debate is that it's entirely possible to be both a bigot and a libertarian. That is, one could conceivably have an aversion to some group (racial, gender/sexual minority, whatever) without advocating for the initiation of force against that group.

True as far as it goes, I guess. And it could also be said that it's entirely possible to be a libertarian and also to really like goat feces, diesel fuel, and fire.

But I'm betting that if there are media and public inquiries to the Libertarian Party after some idiot rolls around in a mixture of goat feces and diesel fuel, then sets himself on fire in his front yard while screaming "LIBERTARIAN! LIBERTARIAN!" the response is going to be "yeah, that's not us."

What do You Want, Erick Erickson, Egg in Your Beer?


Short version of his latest:

Nationalism through and through, but


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I Dreamed I Saw Heather Heyer Last Night


Seems she was a Wobbly.

H/t Steve Trinward.


Breaking: UF Says No to Richard Spencer Speech


Just forwarded to me:

Dear Campus Community:

Amid serious concerns for safety, we have decided to deny the National Policy Institute's request to rent event space at the University of Florida.

This decision was made after assessing potential risks with campus, community, state and federal law enforcement officials following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., and continued calls online and in social media for similar violence in Gainesville such as those decreeing: "The Next Battlefield is in Florida."

I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for.

That said, the University of Florida remains unwaveringly dedicated to free speech and the spirit of public discourse. However, the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others.

The likelihood of violence and potential injury - not the words or ideas - has caused us to take this action.

Warm Regards,
W. Kent Fuchs
President
University of Florida


I do not expect that this will stop Spencer from coming to Gainesville and speaking, and he probably has good grounds for a 1st Amendment suit if UF is departing from normal policy here.

I expect Spencer to come, and I expect his thug army to arrive with him. In other words, I don't think the situation has really changed.

OK, My @YesYoureRacist Reveal


A couple of days ago, I put up a reader poll on "Using Twitter to crowdsource identification of the Charlottesville white nationalists with the intention of getting them fired from their jobs," with a promise to come back later and offer my own response to that poll. Current results:


  • 1 vote (4%): Yeah, they're fair game, but only because they're racist scumbags.
  • 16 votes (64%): Yeah, anyone who takes part in a public political action is fair game for being publicly identified with possible negative consequences.
  • 6 votes (24%): No, that's not cool. You should be able to participate in public life without risking your job, even if you're on the side of evil.
  • 1 vote (4%): Who cares?
  • 1 vote (4%): Other, user-created -- "Raise the hate on both sides so that Civil War becomes inevitable."
I'm personally with the 64% -- anyone who takes part in a public political action is fair game for being publicly identified with possible negative consequences. And as I explain in my latest Garrison Center column, I find the whole @YesYoureRacist project to be a really cool example of how to crowdsource negative social preferencing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Here's Trump's Chance to be a Hero


From Al Jazeera:

The Taliban called on President Donald Trump on Tuesday to review the strategy for the war in Afghanistan and to hold peaceful dialogue directly with Afghans instead of engaging "corrupt" politicians.

Written in a tone of negotiation, the Taliban asked Trump to study the "historical mistakes" of his predecessors and to withdraw troops from Afghanistan completely.

The letter urged the US to interact with Afghans "generously" instead of imposing war.

...

In a press conference on Monday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said all options for Afghanistan remained on the table, and a full withdrawal of troops is one of them.

Trump has yet to announce a strategy for Afghanistan, but Mattis said one is "very, very close."

Like Colonel Kilgore said, "someday this war's gonna end."




Mattis is wrong on one thing. It's not going to end in anything resembling "victory" for the US. That option is not on the table.

The best-case scenario is for the US to exit Afghanistan on its feet rather than on its knees.

If Trump just comes out soon and says "that was a 16-year clusterfuck and I'm putting an end to it," he secures at least one positive legacy.

Or, he and/or his successors can keep messing around until it turns into something like this:



Monday, August 14, 2017

Reader Poll: @YesYoureRacist


So, there's this. The idea is to identify the white nationalists from Charlottesville and make sure e.g. their employers know what they're up to when they're not mopping floors, servicing septic tanks or designing particle accelerators. What do you think? I'll tell you what I think ... later, in a separate post, so as not to press my own biases.



I Think I May be Due for a Climbdown ...


... on the whole "punch a Nazi" thing.

Disclaimer: I'm still a free speech fundamentalist. If some idiot racist knothead wants to get up on a soapbox or a stage and preach his nonsense, I believe he has a right to do just that and that anyone who attempts to forcibly stop him is at least as much an enemy of humanity as he is. On the other hand, there's a good chance I will be found standing nearby with a sign pointing out that he's an idiot, racist, and knothead, which I also have a right to do.

Over the last few months I've been told by some -- including some I respect -- that the above position is too lenient, and that to the extent that these idiot racist knotheads are allowed to organize unmolested, they are being empowered to actually pursue their actual goals, e.g. boxcars and gas chambers.

There's a respect in which I'm beginning to come around to the possibility that the people telling me that are at least partially right and that I've been at least partially wrong. Here's my current thinking:

In February, Augustus Invictus publicly threatened to murder his political opponents (between the 7 and 8 minute mark in this video):


A few weeks ago, Augustus Invictus announced, in conspiracy with others, a "March on Charlottesville" to "Unite The Right":


The night before the scheduled march, Augustus Invictus announced, in words and graphics, that his intention was no longer just to hold a "march on" Charlottesville but to fight "The Battle of" Charlottesville:


You've probably heard about what went down in Charlottesville the next day, so I won't belabor it at length. Summary:

The people named on the poster above, including Augustus Invictus, came to Charlottesville with an army, looking for a fight, and they got one. One of them even strapped on some testosterone and actually did what Augustus Invictus and his co-conspirators have been threatening, both explicitly and implicitly, to do, murdering a 32-year-old woman in the street. Of course, now they're pulling their typical identity politics schtick about how they're really the victims in all this, but the record is pretty clear.

Now, one of of Augustus Invictus's co-conspirators, Richard Spencer, is coming to my town (I'll be surprised if Augustus doesn't show up as well).

I remain a free speech fundamentalist. I respect Spencer's right to babble nonsense in public and will, to the extent I'm able, defend that right.

But I rather expect that he's going to show up with a gaggle of morons in tow, sporting their gang colors and implements -- helmets, baseball bats, swastika flags, etc. -- and looking for a fight.

I plan to be among the natives waiting here to greet said gaggle of morons. And based on what happened in Charlottesville, I'm of the eminently reasonable belief that they intend to engage in the use of unlawful force and the commission of forcible felonies, and that they represent a threat of imminent death or great bodily harm to others present.

Gee, that language sounds familiar. I wonder where I've heard it before?

Florida Statute 776.012: Use or threatened use of force in defense of person

(1) A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.

(2) A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.

If it's trouble they're looking for, they probably shouldn't expect to get off quite so smart and easy in Gainesville as they did in Charlottesville.

Note: I'm told that the word "climbdown" in the title may be unfamiliar or, due to multiple definitions, confusing. I'm using it to mean "a retraction of a previously held position."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Congratulations to Christopher Cantwell


He finally made the Washington Post! Photo 6 of 9 up top. Caption: "An officer helps a white nationalist after tear gas was sprayed." I'm sure several friends of mine will enjoy seeing that (not that they would likely look any better after going unmasked in a cloud of CS -- I've had that pleasure many times).  Face crop:




In photo 3 of 9, is that Ryan Ramsey of Florida taking a selfie there on the left? [Update: Ramsey says it's not him and that he wouldn't treat a tiki torch that way] I can't tell and I'm thinking probably not (he and his wife just had a new baby a couple of days ago), but inquiring minds do want to know:



Update --Hat tip to the aforementioned Ryan Ramsey (who doesn't seem to be in Virginia) for  this ...


Friday, August 11, 2017

I Wonder ...


I don't have my copy of Frederick Pohl's autobiography The Way The Future Was handy (I assume it's still packed away from the move nearly five years ago as many, many, many books are), so I have to relate this from memory and it may not completely correct:

During World War Two, before Pohl managed to get into the military (he started trying right after Pearl Harbor, kept getting turned down, then got drafted and became an Army Air Corps meteorologist in Italy), he was working for one of the big editors (probably John W. Campbell) on one of the pulp magazines (probably Astounding), and ran a story featuring an atomic bomb.

Most ricky-tick, FBI agents showed up to find out who knew what, and how they'd found it out. Of course, no one knew anything. It was just science fiction, for the love of Pete. So the feds grumbled and demanded to be contacted before any more of this atomic bomb stuff got published and went away.

If the atomic bomb was just being invented today, right now, and a story like that got published, would the author/editor/publisher end up wearing a hood and shackles en route to some black site, or would FDR/Trump have a public meltdown about treasonous leaks, or would the whole thing just get ignored and/or dismissed as bizarre fiction and/or conspiracy theory?

FYI, Pohl's book is a great memoir  both of early science fiction fandom and of being a Depression-era rank and file American member of the Communist Party.

Nothing New Under The Sun?


I'm reading Bruce Cook's biography of Dalton Trumbo (which formed the basis for, and was re-released as a tie-in for, the superb eponymous film starring Bryan Cranston). This morning, while reading over the day's second cup of coffee, I came across this:

[Trumbo, as editor of the Screen Writer] insisted, perhaps a little disingenuously, that his only standards were literary quality, general relevance, and respect for the [Screen Writers] Guild and its policies and objectives. Richard Macaulay, a screenwriter of conservative leanings and a vigorous anti-Communist, put him to the test with an article, "Who Censors What?" on movie content which was in rebuttal to an earlier piece by Alvah Bessie. As editor, Trumbo rejected Macaulay's article, taking the same shaky position that Herbert Marcuse would two decades later, as he argued, "It is difficult to support your belief in the 'inalienable right' of man's mind to be exposed to any thought whatever, however intolerable that thought might be to 'anyone else.' Frequently such a right encroaches upon the right of others to their lives. It was this 'inalienable right' in Fascist countries which directly resulted in the slaughter of five million Jews.'"

Sounds a lot like the same action/justification as the formal "no platform" policies popular on what's passed for "the left" since the 1970s (once they'd taken full advantage of the '60s Free Speech Movement, etc. to firmly establish their own platform access) and at present by e.g. Antifa groups, doesn't it?

Of course, the right-wing blacklist campaign that hit Trumbo and many of his friends a few years after the incident above was a variation on the same theme -- a variation that seems to be popping up again in tech and other fields, albeit from the putative "left" and without the HUAC-style fireworks (to the extent that there's government influence, it's mostly in the use of general federal equal opportunity regulations as cover for sanctions and dismissals a la James Damore at Google).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Apropos of Nothing in Particular ...


Anecdotally, it seems to me that whenever I come across the word "discourse" near the beginning of an essay, there's a far better than even chance that I'm about to read some bullshit.

They Keep Using That Phrase, "Net Neutrality." I do Not Think it Means What They Think it Means.


I'm not quite sure how I got on Demand Progress's email list. Maybe I subscribed to it to track this or that political issue, or maybe someone subscribed me to it without my knowledge. Either way, while I don't mind getting their emails, I can pretty reliably predict that those emails will be full of fail. Like this:

Dear Thomas,

Verizon Wireless was just caught in the act of what looks like a blatant violation net neutrality.

Last week, without warning or permission from its customers, Verizon throttled bandwidth speeds down to 10Mbs. Users trying to stream video or use certain apps were caught in an internet slow lane and couldn't do anything about it.

This doesn't look like a violation of "Net Neutrality" to me. In fact, it looks like an implementation of "Net Neutrality." Per Wikipedia:

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet must treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.

If Verizon had reduced its speeds only for particular content -- say, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video only got 10Mbs speeds while Bing, Gmail,  and the Hamster Dance got 20Mbs speeds -- well, that would be a violation of "Net Neutrality."

But simply moving all data from all sources in the same way and presumptively at the same speeds is precisely what "Net Neutrality" calls for. And if that means that someone streaming Rogue One in high definition gets a choppy picture? Well, that's how it goes -- their data got treated exactly like the data going to the user checking her email and the junior high kid spanking the monkey to Chelsea Manning's Vogue swimsuit pic (not being a junior high kid, I actually read the accompanying article, of course).

So suck it, "Net Neutrality" megalomaniacs. You demanded it, you got it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A Fairly Safe Prediction, I Think ...


Open US military operations versus North Korea within ~30 days.

Why I think so:

First, while it's easy to discount Trump's outbursts, his "fire and fury and frankly power" "if [North Korea] does not stop threatening the United States"* statement yesterday is coupled with the leaking of "intelligence" -- actually preparatory propaganda -- intended to justify just that. From the WaPo story linked above:

Trump's statement also followed a report in The Washington Post that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its ballistic missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power. The report quoted a confidential assessment by U.S. intelligence officials.

In actuality, 1) North Korea still seems to be at the stage of producing bulky fission weapons; 2) the recent claims (from both Pyongyang and DC) that the North has developed an ICBM capable of reaching US targets seem pretty sketchy; and 3) even if the North has produced real nukes (fusion weapons) and even if the North does now theoretically have the capacity to hit the US with missiles, miniaturizing those hypothetical nukes and mating them with those hypothetical missiles and expecting them to detonate at the far end of an arc taking them to the edge of space is another giant leap.

Secondly, I've previously predicted that in the event of such a conflict, the Chinese regime will be tuned up and ready for an invitation from the North's military to intervene as "peacekeepers" after a brief US air war and the collapse of the Kim regime. They seem to be rattling sabers as prelude to such a scheme.

As I've previously predicted, I don't think a US ground invasion of the North is part of the plan. For one thing, that would take a major, highly visible, time-consuming ramp-up. The North would likely decide to kick things off themselves long before the US gets its ginormous mass of troops, tanks, etc. landed and in position.

What US ground combat there is will take place along the 38th parallel "demilitarized zone" (which of course means the opposite of what its name implies). That will get ugly, and there will be casualties, but I don't expect the North to be able to wreck, let alone occupy, Seoul as some people like to predict -- some artillery/rocket fire at extreme range in the first hours, trailing off as the North's guns are turned into twisted piles of metal by US air and artillery, if they don't run out of ammunition first (resupply won't be happening).

The US, from the air, will first of all destroy any and all ballistic missile and/or atomic sites it knows of (and it knows of most, if not all, of them), followed by C3I (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence) targets and road/transportation targets. The first objective will be to make it impossible for the North's military to function as an offensive force at the DMZ or outside the Korean peninsula. The second will be to make the North's military come apart at the seams in general. And the third will be to ensure that the Kim regime loses any ability to direct its military forces, presumably culminating in one or more generals deciding that it's time to march Kim Jong Un and friends around back for a bullet party right before asking Beijing to come in and restore order.

Obviously, the more detailed predictions above are more risky than the one in the first sentence. But I think it's coming soon, and I do think that's how it will go ... now let's see whether or not I'm right so I can either crow or eat crow (frankly I'd much rather do the latter on this one).

* It's worth noting the content of the "threats" Trump cites as reason for his own threats. To wit (WaPo op. cit.):

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told diplomats that his country will never negotiate away what he called a rational "strategic option" against the threat of attack from the United States.

Bombast notwithstanding, the North's "threat" is that it will defend itself if attacked and that it will build and maintain a nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to attack.

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