Saturday, January 19, 2019

This is What the Cult of the Omnipotent State Looks Like


From The Hill:

The FDA has the ability to stop e-cigarette sales

Not in a million years will the FDA ever have that ability.

For evidence of my claim, hit Wikipedia and read up on the history of "attempts to stop sales of" cannabis, cocaine, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, etc.

E-cigarettes are batteries that power a heating element to vaporize common food ingredients (propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine) with nicotine (which can be extracted from a number of plants in the nightshade family, or synthesized in a lab).

I'm not saying we won't see a war on batteries, food additives, and common plants. I'm just pointing out that in any such war the batteries, food additives, and common plants (or, rather the people who want and use them) will win hands down.

But what struck me vis a vis the quoted statement was arguments I've had over the years with people who claim there is no "Cult of the Omnipotent State."

What would you call someone who just assumes, in the face of millennia of evidence that runs without exception to the contrary, that the state has the magical power to make batteries, food additives, and common plants disappear from the market?

I'd call that person a cultist in the grip of a bizarre superstition that the state can do anything its priests decide should be done.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hi, @ScottAdamsSays, I'm Tom Knapp


I'm the guy you don't believe exists -- the one who wants open borders even if the welfare state continues to exist (I don't do Stockholm Syndrome), even if you tell me scary stories about sharia law, even if the possibility exists that the immediate economic fallout might not be to my benefit, etc.

Nice to "meet" you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Stacking Privacy-Friendly Tech on Top of Privacy-Questionable Tech


As reported at The Verge:

The gadget, called Alias, is an always-listening speaker, but it only connects to the internet during the initial setup process. That way, Alias stays 'off the grid' while you’re using it, preventing your conversations from leaving the device, Bjørn Karmann, one of the developers, told The Verge. When the Alias hears its own wake word, it’ll stop broadcasting white noise [into the Alexa or Google speaker to cover your conversations] and wake up Alexa or Google Assistant so you can use them as normal.

It's not a product for sale, it's a DIY project at Github. requiring a 3-D printer, a Raspberry Pi, two speakers, and code that's still in development.

If I ran Amazon's or Google's home speaker program, I'd be racing to incorporate both the "listen for wake word offline, white noise to the Internet-connected part when it's not being used" and the "choose any wake word you want" features into the existing products.

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