Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Concerning press releases


It's campaign season again. That means it's press release season again, too, and a lot of them are crossing my (virtual) desk via various lists and such.

Some of them are good.

A few are fantastic.

Most of them suck.

Herewith, a (very) brief primer on campaign press releases:

The press doesn't care what you think. They care what you do.

OK, it's not quite that simple, but close. "News" is generally about action, not ideas.

The candidate supports an audit of the Federal Reserve? Not news (unless the candidate is someone you'd expect not to support an audit of the Fed).

The candidate addresses a crowd of 2,000 at an "Audit the Fed" rally? News.

If you want to get your policy positions covered by the media, do something newsworthy and fold those positions into that action. Don't send out a press release saying what you think. Send out a press release saying what you did, are doing, or are about to do.

Shorter is almost always better. Shoot for a target length of 300 words.

An editor doesn't have all day to read your release. He wants the five Ws (Who, What, Where, When and Why) and some supporting material (a couple of good quotes and basic bio information on the person and organization issuing the release).

Give an editor those things, and he may write a story, call you for an interview, or even just run your release verbatim if he needs filler.

Give an editor a thousand words of argument and he probably won't bother to wade through it. It will go in the recycle bin, or perhaps in that stack of paper he takes home at night for his kids to color on.

Do, however, go with the catchy headline.

Compare and contrast:

"Candidate speaks on VA problems at VFW meeting"

vs.

"Smith to veterans: You got hosed"

Which title would catch your eye?

There's no guarantee that even the best press release will result in coverage for your campaign -- but the better the release, the more likely it is to get you the attention your'e seeking.

For the record, yes, I write press releases on demand, and that demand has been brisk enough that I've decided to monetize it. Click here to find out more.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hardware update


Thanks to MS and DS, both of whom responded to my premature obituary for the Mac.

After a few frustrating days of trying to work on an 8.x" netbook, I hauled the Mac back out. It worked, and it's still working. I think it was a heat problem, even though I kept a dual-fan cooling pad running beneath it at all times. I'm babying it along -- using it for shorter lengths of time and actually shutting it down instead of just letting it suspend after an idle while, etc.

But, backup is paramount. I can't afford to be offline for even a day -- it's where I work!

MS sent me a desktop that had some problems (a tendency to reboot for unknown reasons). It's a great computer. Unfortunately, UPS banged it around so much in shipping that (despite an abundance of bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and even some oranges from the S family's own tree) the bay covers were all knocked loose ... and the thing won't power up. Not to worry -- there's enough good stuff in it, including 2Gb of RAM and two large hard drives, that I think I'll be able to cobble a working desktop PC together with some stuff I have here.

I'm writing this blog post on the HP laptop DS sent me. His description of it was: Wireless had stopped working at some point in a Ubuntu upgrade (more on that in a minute), and he didn't think the optical drive worked.

The optical drive did work. Because I had Xubuntu lying around, I went with that. Mistake. Wireless indeed did not work, so I plugged it in via Ethernet ... until the third boot when Xubuntu finally said "you know, there's a driver that will enable wireless" or something to that effect. And it worked. But after futzing around with packages trying to get Firefox from 3.0.x to 3.6.x, I gave up.

The thing is, every time I try to use Ubuntu (regular, K, X) it's just a huge pain in the ass. It's a solid distro underneath. I love several distros based on it (and perforce on Debian). Jolicloud (Ubuntu-based) is great, and I'd be using it if it supported this laptop, but it doesn't. I'm using another Ubuntu-based distro, Linux Mint, and it's fantastic. Easy install, easy upgrades/updates, detected my need for a proprietary wireless driver on the first boot. Love it, but I don't ever plan to bother with a distro ending in "buntu" again.

Sweet machine. AMD 64 dual core, NVidia graphics card, LightScribe optical drive. I could get used to this! Thanks, guys! Computer emergency over.

Friday, June 25, 2010

(Everyone Except) The (New York) Times, They Are a'Changin'


What if, 15 years after Johannes Gutenberg assembled and deployed the first modern printing press, every other house in Europe had hosted such a press in its living room, with an unlimited supply of paper and ink moving continuously through the kitchen to feed it?

That's what the first 15 years of widely available and accessible Internet access has wrought with respect not only to the printed word and still images, but audio and video as well. A solid majority of the populations of western industrial nations have the Internet and its effectively limitless publishing capabilities at their fingertips. Outside the "first world," access statistics range from a low of 8.7% in Africa to nearly one in three in Latin America and the Caribbean [Source: Internet World Stats].

The spread of printing technology was obviously much slower, and the average person's access to it much more limited, than that ... and look at the political, economic and cultural changes which can be traced to it.

The freedoms secured by that first technological revolution serve, to some degree, as guardians of the freedoms opened up by the second. From 1483 to 1729, the use of a press to print Arabic script was prohibited in the Ottoman Empire "on pain of death." But modern Turkey got widely available Internet access about the same time as everyone else (1993), and today 26 million of its 72 million citizens are Internet users.

The reactions of the politically connected and the state-privileged to the second revolution seem to differ in degree rather than in kind.

Just as 15th century clerics cried foul on the idea of a Bible in every home, to be read by the masses instead of selectively quoted to them by approved religious authorities, today's "professional" journalists howl against the proliferation of bloggers and citizen journalists ... and for the same reasons. How dare the unwashed seek truth along any pathway that doesn't lead through the toll booth of the authoritative?

And just as the printers (and to a lesser degree, the authors and composers) of yore turned to the emerging state to protect what they deemed a new, "intellectual" class of property, today's publishers (and, to a lesser degree, content creators of all kinds) seek coercive recourse through government to maintain their ever more tenous control of "intellectual property."

Frankly, it's getting almost embarrassing to watch.

I cannot, in the space of a column, cover all the theoretical ground over which the subject of "intellectual property" is scattered. That's a book-length topic, and there are libraries full of books on it. Instead, I'm going to just jump straight to the consequential, and I'm going to start with a quote from Jefferson Davis, first and only president of the Confederate States of America:

If the Confederacy fails, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a Theory.

In the case of the late Confederacy, the theory is that one commonly referred to as "states rights" -- the context of the quote above was his concern over his national government's inability to enforce various taxation, conscription and other laws on its member state governments in support of its war effort to tear itself away from the United States.

In the case of "intellectual property," the fatal theory is an illusion, false on its face, of control.

"As a professional writer whose name is his commercial brand," writes J. Neil Schulman in a piece published right before I began writing this one, "I can no more allow someone else to rewrite me as they like and put my byline on it than the Walt Disney Corporation can allow someone else to publish cartoons of Mickey Mouse buggering Donald Duck."

The problem with Schulman's claims as to what he can or cannot "allow" is that he has about as much control over what's done with his work -- or with his name -- as I have over the orbital characteristics of the moon. And, as the long, storied, pre-Internet history of Disney porn demonstrates, he never really did have much control over those things (for what it's worth, it took me about two minutes on Google Images to turn up a cartoon conforming precisely to Schulman's description of that which Disney can't allow).

The current situation of those attempting to protect "intellectual property" claims resembles that of the Dutch boy with his finger in a dike (yes, I know, you're off to Google Images to look that one up too, you naughty, naughty thing, you).

The state's never been very good at protecting "intellectual property," and technology has finally and forever outstripped its ability to do so by any means short of imposing totalitarian controls on all information exchange (and that probably wouldn't work either, but they'd love to try it).

Content creators and distributors who don't adapt to this simple fact of life are going to die of their theory. Let's hope they don't drag the rest of us down with them into yet another dark age of state terror by courting those totalitarian controls in defense of a lost cause.

Empty Nest


David Weigel has -- especially during his short time at the Washington Post -- served as the American right's version of Valentine Michael Smith: He tells them the things they don't want to hear but probably need to know.

For that, they've killed and eaten him.

The fact that WaPo itself played Brutus in the assassination plot should be the first clue for those who mistakenly think it's the right which benefits from this development.

Weigel's big mistake, the manner in which he handed his enemies the sword with which they dismembered him, was letting his hair down and trusting other journalists to honor their commitments to keep comments on an "off the record" discussion list off the record.

My guess, though, is that he'll have the last laugh. He's better than the snakepit he fell into.

A brief review of the history of US immigration law


Smitty detects a "dissonance ... when the word 'illegal' is used with respect to immigrants."

As well he should, since there's no such thing as an "illegal immigrant."

A law repugnant to the Constitution is void, the Constitution reserves powers not delegated to the United States to the states or to the people, and the Constitution delegates no power to the United States whatsoever to regulate immigration.

None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Bupkus. It ain't there.

The anti-Federalists noticed it wasn't there and bitched about it (citing the lax moral climate of immigration-unrestricted Pennsylvania -- see the letters of "Agrippa," a/k/a John Winthrop) before the Constitution was ratified. The Federalists, favoring large-scale immigration from Europe, had no answer for them.

Congress operated for the first 89 years of the Republic on the assumption that since the framers hadn't seen fit to write such a power into the Constitution, they hadn't intended for Congress to exercise that power.

They passed naturalization laws, which the Constitution provided for.

They also passed a few laws which had the effect of making state immigration laws binding on ships entering federal ports in said states (and assessing fees/fines for enforcing those laws on behalf of those states).

But federal regulation of immigration as such was non-existent.

It wasn't until 1875 that an activist Reconstruction-era Supreme Court utilized its magical powers to "discover" a federal power to regulate immigration (a power that Madison, Hamilton, Jay et al had apparently somehow put in there without knowing it or noticing it or ever even once mentioning it), and it wasn't until 1882 that Congress exercised that newly discovered power with the Chinese Exclusion Act.

The subsequent 128 years of American history have been a living demonstration of why the framers left a federal power to regulate immigration out of the Constitution -- because it was, and remains, one of the fucking stupidest, most destructive ideas imaginable.

Update: I see this article is being discussed over at the Indiana Gun Owners forum. Cool! One of the participants asks:

If the authors thought that Congress did not have an inherent power to regulate migration, why would they put in a temporary limit?

Referring, of course, to the Article I, Section 9 prohibition on Congress interfering with the slave trade between ratification of the Constitution and 1808. "The Monster" brings up the same question over at The Other McCain, where this very article started off as a comment.

It's a good question -- but it answers itself.

There are not one, but two, "time-limit prohibitions" in the Constitution. Per Article V:

no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article

The first clause in Article I, Section 9 is the aforementioned prohibition on regulating the slave trade (which was really "migration" in the same sense that a slave was really 3/5ths of a person, which is to say not at all except for purposes of immediate political expediency in getting the slave South to join the non-slave North in the compact).

The fourth clause in I/9, also protected from amendment until 1808, is the prohibition on direct taxes.

I'm unaware that anyone seriously argued that an inherent power of direct taxation existed in the Constitution and could be exercised without amendment once 1808 arrived. Lincoln tried it in the Civil War, and I think there may have been another brief attempt in the 1890s, but ultimately pretty much everyone accepted that it took the 16th Amendment (ratified in 1913) to make an income tax constitutional.

Ditto immigration: Congress, including some Congresses in which original framers of the Constitution served, refrained from regulating immigration until 1882 because they didn't think the Constitution allowed them to do so until the Supreme Court told them otherwise in 1875.

An explicit prohibition does not an implicit general power automatically affirm.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Agora! Anarchy! Action!


Or, some things I had reason to be thinking about today and decided to paste up and link up.

First, an interview that I either inexplicably missed or inexplicably forgot about:



Which in turn gives me reason to mention:

- Pete Eyre and Adam Mueller of Motorhome Diaries are doing it again later this summer as Liberty on Tour. Don't miss it!

- J. Neil Schulman just published an interesting new article on freedom movement inclusionism/exclusionism -- "Mere Anarchy."

- Schulman also just joined the advisory board of the Center for a Stateless Society.

- If you haven't read Alongside Night yet, WTF? You can get it in various formats and price ranges, ranging from free PDF to Kindle to autographed trade paperback, at AlongsideNight.Com.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What do you do with emerging political threats?


If you're President Barack Obama, you maneuver them into no-win situations.

Well played, Mr. President!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The power of Crist compels you


Back on April 19th, The Other McCain asked "how stupid is Charlie Crist?"

And, as booze-addled Peckerwood Populist pundits are wont to do, he answered his own question: "Stupid enough to think he can get elected as an independent ... my own opinion is that it would be a very good thing for Crist to run as an independent and get his ass kicked nine ways to Sunday by Marco Rubio."

My reply at the time (see comments on post linked above) was seemingly wrong also, but not quite as wrong as Stacy's take -- I predicted a Crist win, but consigned Rubio to third, not second, place.

Right now, Crist is up on Rubio by 11 points, but Rubio leads Democrat Kendrick Meek by 17.

I'm going to stand by my prediction though -- I expect to see Rubio come in below 20% in November. We haven't heard the last of his personal financial imbroglios or his alleged abuses of GOP credit cards, nor does the current polling capture the likely positive (for Meek) Election Day effect of Democratic GOTV ops.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Obligatory "Perez Hilton Posts a Miley Cyrus Pic" Post


Here's the definition of "child pornography":

(8) "child pornography" means any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where —

(A) the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;

(B) such visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or

(C) such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Last time I noticed, getting out of a car couldn't reasonably be described as “sexually explicit conduct” unless you were like, getting out of a car while having sex at the same time or something.

For those of you daydreaming of Perez Hilton in orange coveralls and leg-irons, sorry -- it probably just ain't gonna happen. If a judge was too stupid or camera-happy to laugh the charge out of court, a jury would.

I suppose a really stupid prosecutor might decide that risking a few days in the jug on contempt charges for wasting the court's time is a small price to pay for 15 minutes of fame at Hilton's expense, but that seems like a long shot. Then again, never underestimate the stupidity of prosecutors. They all dream of being governors some day and that ambition does tend to produce sudden, sometimes catastrophic, drops in IQ.

Not all conduct which some might find offensive is illegal. Getting out of a car isn't illegal. Neither is taking a picture of someone getting out of a car, or posting that picture on the Internet. Get over it.

As for Miley and the pic, there seems to be some dispute over whether or not she was ... um, going commando ... at the time (see video below, or this Hilton post linking to contemporaneous pix of Cyrus with panties on). If she was, well, she's Miley Cyrus. She knows damn well that every time she gets out of a car there are going to be 50 cameras pointed at her crotch. If she doesn't want that vajayjay peering out of 50 million monitors at the wide eyes of 50 million monkey-spanking pubescent boys, I'm guessing she can afford a pair of squirrel-covers.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Fat-Free Guide to SEO Copywriting


You know you want it, so click the pic and buy it already!


Yes, this is an affiliate link.

Yes, I will make money if you buy the book.

Yes, I have read the book.

Yes, I recommend the book for writers/bloggers who don't want to spend lots of time (it's a short book) and lots of money (The Fat-Free Guide to SEO Copywriting will only set you back $7) learning how to get their sites to perform better in the search engine rankings.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two things I learned from "Scarface"


Heckuva movie.

Lesson Number One: Don't underestimate the other guy's greed!

Lesson Number Two: Don't get high on your own supply.

Steve Kubby learned Lesson Number One the hard way.

Cannabis Science apparently still hasn't learned Lesson Number Two.

Before I go any further, disclaimer time: I did some contract writing work for Cannex Therapeutics before it entered into its ill-advised -- and now canceled nunc pro tunc (remember that term, it's important) -- deal with Cannabis Science, Inc. I intend, or at least hope, to be involved in future projects with Steve Kubby*. I am not a disinterested party here.

On the other side of the ledger, this post is not a sponsored post. It's my opinion, for which I take sole responsibility, and I'm not being paid by Kubby or by anyone else to write it except to the extent that I may move some DVDs on affiliate commission or collect some advertising revenues for page views, etc. I do not own, nor have I ever owned, any shares in Cannabis Science, Inc., nor do I hold any "short positions" or other tools for profiting through manipulation of CBIS's stock value. Nor, frankly, would I want to unless, as seems increasingly likely, CBIS stock certificates at some point become cheaper than retail-price toilet paper.

Just so we get both viewpoints in, let me link to this morning's CBIS press release for a second time. You really need to read it, if you can stand to.

It's ponderous, poorly written and topped with what may be the longest headline I've ever seen -- a headline apparently written for the express purpose of creating a patently false impression. That false impression is the notion that Steve Kubby ever "controlled" any shares of Cannabis Science. He was contractually entitled to shares in CBIS for the purchase of Cannex Therapeutics, LLC, but he never actually received those shares, as the referenced US District Court ruling [PDF] makes abundantly clear.

And that's just the sound of the CBIS lie engine turning over. It really gets started and starts clocking high RPMs with the following statement from CBIS CFO Richard Cowan:

It is important to reiterate that Cannabis Science is a fully reporting audited company, complying in every way with SEC regulations. Further, Cannabis Science fired Steve Kubby ...

Two sentences, two lies.

First, compliance "in every way" with SEC regulations would entail compliance with Item 5.02, "Departure of Directors or Principal Officers; Election of Directors; Appointment of Principal Officers" [PDF]. As of the last time I checked, CBIS has yet to file an amended 8K report for July of 2009 including, as Item 5.02 requires, Kubby's "written correspondence concerning the circumstances surrounding his or her resignation, refusal or removal."

Secondly, Kubby wasn't fired, he quit. Which, of course, is the reason for the first lie -- CBIS doesn't want any version of the story but its own to pass before the eyes of prospective or actual investors.

Cowan allows a paragraph break to separate the first two lies from the third:

Under the court order, Kubby was forced to give all of his shares in Cannabis Science to K&D and in return he is to be released from further actions against him from K&D on that matter.

In point of fact, the court order notes that Kubby never received any shares, cancels the purchase of Cannex by CBIS nunc pro tunc (there's that term again -- we'll get to it, I promise), and binds K&D to finance Cannex/Kubby's defense if CBIS attempts to challenge the agreed judgment.

Wait ... "agreed judgment?" Yep -- what CBIS desperately hopes you won't notice is that the court order is a judge's ratification of an agreement reached between K&D on the one hand and Cannex/Kubby on the other, with CBIS "odd man out." That agreement was reached because K&D wanted to regain control of its stock, and because Kubby wanted to regain control of the property he sold but was never paid for.

What does that agreement do? Nunc pro tunc is Latin for "now for then." It indicates a retroactive action. The court, at the request of both parties, canceled the acquisition of Cannex (and its associated intellectual properties) by CBIS as if it had never happened.

Here's where prospective investors should start taking careful notes.

Do two searches -- one on Google, one on the CBIS press release.

On Google, search for the phrase (in quotes) "whole-cannabis lozenge."

In the press release, search for the word "lozenge."

On the Google search, you'll find a bunch of results referring to Cannabis Science as the owner of the product/process in question and characterizing it as the company's flagship product.

In the press release, all you'll find is a brief dismissal of "any single lozenge" as "a minimal part of the Cannabis Science big picture."

That dismissal is lie number four. The lozenge isn't any part of the Cannabis Science big picture any more, because Cannabis Science doesn't own it. Steve Kubby does. That lozenge was the reason CBIS bought Cannex -- and that lozenge was the big thing that CBIS lost when the court retroactively canceled the purchase.

Has CBIS developed, or is it developing, any new products/processes since Kubby left the company? Maybe so, and if so, good luck to them in promoting those products/processes to prospective investors. But if you're considering investing in CBIS, be very clear on this: Anything you see advertised as in development by CBIS prior to July of 2009, or which relies on those previous developments, isn't CBIS's any more. That is the elephant in the room that CBIS is trying to distract your attention from with its garbage press release.

-----
* Subsequent to this post (but in no way in payment for it), I did, in fact, assume a partial ownership position (1/2 of 1%) in Steve Kubby's new company, Kubby Patents and Licenses, LLC, a/k/a "KPAL."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jimmy Dean, 1928-2010


Laugh all you want about the sausage jokes, etc. How many Bond flicks have you been in?


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lamo: Do it to Julia


SITREP: Adrian Lamo alleges that Bradley Manning claims to have liberated the full texts of 260,000 diplomatic cables and that said intel treasure trove is about to be publicly scattered (probably by Wikileaks) across the playing field of the New Great Game like so much Pepsi® spilled on a Risk® board.

So, why did Lamo roll over on Manning? He's actually offered two explanations. The first one I noticed just doesn't wash:

I turned him in to protect lives and to protect information that's essential for the U.S. to be able to effectively carry out foreign policy abroad ...

My response to that line of justification, cribbed from my own comment on a Facebook discussion thread:

That narrative breaks down under even the mildest scrutiny.

At the time that Lamo informed on him, Manning's alleged disclosures of classified information were in the past. He was no longer working as an intelligence analyst. He was working as a supply clerk while awaiting discharge from the Army on "unsuitability" grounds.

If there was a "threat," that threat was no longer manifest in Manning. If the alleged 260k diplomatic cables were the "threat," then Lamo could have easily and conveniently (and for that matter anonymously) notified THE AUTHORITAH that there was reason to believe those cables were in the possession of Wikileaks.

The only real effects of Lamo's decision to turn in Manning are: 1) Manning gets incarcerated and 2) Lamo gets another 15 minutes of public attention. Solve for cui bono.

So, file Adrian Lamo under Assclown (3), right?

Well, maybe. Or maybe not. Here's another explanation, published elsewhere (and actually earlier on the same day):

At the moment he gave me the information, it was basically a suicide pact. ... I was worried for my family --- that if I were obstructing justice that they could be caught up in any investigation .... I wanted to do this one by the book, by the numbers. I didn't want any more FBI agents knocking at the door.

Which, given Lamo's past encounters with The Authoritahs, makes perfect sense. Winston Smith, anyone?

As does his decision to riff on the less, um, explanatory explanation. If you can't successfully pull off the Emmanuel Goldstein act, re-fashioning the narrative to turn yourself into a Comrade Ogilvy may be preferable to continuing the stations of Smith's cross in infinite loop.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thanks!


To everyone who came through to get the Center for a Stateless Society's monthly fundraiser to its goal!

Notice to the state: No other terms than unconditional and immediate surrender. I propose to move immediately upon your works.

More on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"


Yes, I know it's strange for an anarchist to write in detail about needed changes to the internal policies of state agencies. I'm doing so not because I support the existence of those agencies or of the state itself, but for two other reasons:

First, I find the topic interesting.

Secondly, I've still got some personal/social investment in the Libertarian Party, and some Missouri Libertarian candidates are currently discussing their answers to the prospective question "where you do stand on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell?'"

I've addressed one very narrow anti-national-security aspect of DADT in another post, but let's take a broader look at the policy and why it's bad.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the United States managed to live without any policy prohibiting homosexuality in its armed forces for 172 years -- from the formation of the Continental Army in 1775, until 1947.1

Somehow the US managed to win the Revolution, the Indian wars, the Mexican War, the War Between the States, the Spanish-American War, the banana wars, World War I, World War II and a load of other minor skirmishes during that period. The only war during that period that can really be called a US loss was the War of 1812, and I've never seen any literature purporting to tie that loss to an anomalous surge of homosexual enlistees. There's even an argument to be made that the Continental Army would have disintegrated with the Revolution un-won had not a flaming German queen, Baron von Steuben, arrived to teach it close order drill and other basic tasks of a real army.

The record of US military prowess since 1947 isn't nearly as shiny -- losses in Korea and Vietnam, quagmires-cum-losses in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pyrrhic victory in the first Gulf War, a mixed record in smaller conflicts (wins in Grenada and Panama, loss in Somalia, etc.).

US military readiness and capability have deteriorated, not improved, in the era of "no homosexuals in the US military." Correlation is not necessarily causation, but we can say for sure that the "no homosexuals" policies have -- at best -- not made up for other anti-readiness/preparedness factors (the main one being the placement of military readiness at the service of the military-industrial complex, such that the main purpose of the armed forces is to transfer as much money as possible from your wallet to Lockheed-Martin's bottom line).

Let's think about the mission of the US armed forces for a moment. I'm going to go with the most basic mission, that of the Marine Rifle Squad:

The mission of the Marine Rifle Squad is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or to repel the enemy's assault by fire and close combat.

The mission of every military unit is either something like that, or something supporting that.

Any military rule which doesn't directly contribute to the accomplishment of that mission is, to use a term that most conservatives love to apply to "liberal" policies, social engineering. It's the expenditure of taxpayer dollars for the purpose of achieving social outcomes which would not take place in the absence of coercive intervention.

To paraphrase a well-known conservative radio host, the purpose of the military is to kill people and blow things up -- not to provide your son or daughter with a paycheck, educational benefits, healthcare, etc., and all in an environment in which he or she can be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone else's son or daughter isn't staring at his or her ass in the shower.

If you're in the military, or thinking of joining the military, and you're concerned that you might find yourself serving next to a homosexual ... get over it. There are homosexuals in the military. There always have been homosexuals in the military, and there always will be homosexuals in the military. If the US government has a legitimate purpose -- and I'm not saying it does, but if it does -- that purpose is most manifestly not to "protect" you from being admired by people of the same sex while you collect a government paycheck.

If you're not in the military but you're paying taxes that support the military, then if the government owes you anything for your money -- it will insist that it doesn't and I think you're a sucker for thinking you'll ever collect, but whatever -- what it owes you in military terms is defense against attack or invasion from abroad, not the enforcement of your prejudices regarding sexual orientation in the provision of that defense. So, like I told the prospective recruit above: Get over it.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a particularly weak, ineffectual and arbitrary instance of a bad, anti-national-defense policy. It's just as silly and useless -- except as a convenient hook to hang demagoguery on -- as the instances that preceded it from 1947-1993, and it needs to go.

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Honorably discharged US Marine infantry NCO

-----
1. At this point, someone is going to pop up with a "nosirreebob -- sodomy has always been against regulations in the US armed forces." And that someone is right. Sodomy and homosexuality are not the same thing. Adultery has always been against regulations in the US armed forces, too -- does that equate to a ban on heterosexuality? The sodomy provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice do need to be updated to apply only to forcible acts or acts with a provable negative impact on unit cohesion/morale, but that's a different subject entirely. Orientation and action are two different things.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Mac is dead, long live the Mac


The Mac Powerbook G4 that Morey Straus sent me about a year ago finally bit the dust about an hour ago. I'm missing it already.

A month or so ago, my mouse and keyboard (the machine was set up for desktop use, plugged into a monitor and set atop a pair of cooling fans) started acting up. They'd stop working for no apparent reason.

I quickly realized that it wasn't the mouse and keyboard themselves, but the USB hub they were plugged into that was the problem. Unplug the hub and plug it back in, things were back to normal. So, I bought a new USB hub.

But, it wasn't the hub. The problem continued, and got worse. It was the USB port the hub was plugged into.

Well, no. It wasn't just the USB port, it was either of the machine's two USB ports.

The problem arose more and more frequently, until it seemed like I was unplugging the hub and plugging it back in every 5 or 10 minutes.

Then unplugging it and plugging it back in stopped working, too. I had to re-start the computer to get another few minutes of use out of it. The computer didn't know that it had a USB port problem -- the ports showed up as operational in hardware information.

I'm not writing the machine off completely -- maybe something can be done with it -- but it's six years old, used when I got it for rock-bottom price (a commitment to do a little writing/proofing for Morey and it was mine, complete with still-working flat-screen external monitor), and I've used it an average of 10-12 hours a day for the last year. So I can't complain. But I can mourn.

Right now I'm working in JoliCloud on the ASUS EEE netbook, on the tiny screen while I wait for Tamara to get home with a DVI-to-VGA adaptor so I can plug the monitor into it. A couple of things are saving my bacon with respect to work stuff. Those two things are Dropbox (which allows me to keep important files synced between machines) and Firefox Sync (formerly Sync Weave -- like Dropbox, only specific to browser stuff like bookmarks, history, etc.).

Time will tell whether the netbook has enough horsepower to keep me happy on a regular basis -- it's been a joy for working outside, checking in from the road, etc., but I put a lot of wear and tear on a machine. In the meantime, I'll be keeping my eye out for a good deal on another Mac.

Update: After having used it quite a bit without a hitch or problem that I can remember, I finally found the first problem with Jolicloud: It doesn't want to detect and add my external monitor. From what I can tell they're working on that, and hey, the OS is in beta, so I can't complain.

Well, yes, I can complain -- I'm working on an 8.9" netbook screen instead of my 17" screen. I can complain a lot. But I can't really blame Jolicloud for not having known that some guy would be needing to get an Asus EEE PC to work with a Hanns-G 17" flatscreen ASAP. I'll be looking for a machine that can support the big screen, and straining my eyes until I find it.

Update, 06/15/10: There's good news, and there's ... more good news!

First good news: It looks like I have two computers -- a desktop from MS and a laptop from DS -- on the way. They're used and they have specific problems, but I suspect they'll both be great for my needs, and that they'll put me back in the position of not being royally screwed if something breaks.

Second good news: The Mac isn't dead after all. Apparently it was just pining for the fjords. After putting it away for what I thought was good and trying to make do with the 8" netbook for several days, I thought "hey, why not give it another shot?" and got the Mac back out yesterday.

My guess is that what was at play was a heat problem, even though I kept the top open and ran a cooling fan under the unit. When I started it back up after several days cold, the thing ran like a top. I'm keeping my fingers crossed -- and shutting the machine completely down any time I plan on being away from it for more than 15-30 minutes instead of just letting it go into "sleep" mode -- and so far, so good.

Not sure what scheme of use I'll come up with. I'm thinking of Linux Mint for the laptop that's on its way, and probably Puppy for the desktop ... but I may go Hackintosh with one or the other if it's not too terribly complicated. In any case, I will get both machines 100% up to usability before I relax.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The blegging will continue until morale improves


I see that with two days to go, the Center for a Stateless Society's May fundraiser remains far short of meeting its goal.

A few months ago, the Center changed fundraising tacks: Instead of raising funds each quarter in advance for what it intended to do, it began raising funds each month for what it had actually done.

In May, the Center published 29 commentaries and seven feature articles. These weren't random blog posts, they were commissioned pieces keyed to current events and written for the purpose of building public awareness of, and support for, market anarchism.

In May, the Center also increased its investment in developing the Stateless University program. That program's pilot session began in March. Its second, expanded session starts in July. Stateless University will culminate in a certificate program including six required classes and a variety of electives.

Finally in May, the Center promoted me from within to spearhead a media outreach program. Writing the articles isn't enough. We have to take a serious approach to getting those articles published in "mainstream media" -- newspapers, magazines, etc. -- and getting our people onto talk radio and news television to discuss the issues the articles address.

My new job and its new pay didn't start until June 1st, but the Center paid up-front for two essential tools: A "pro" membership with a media list provider, and a phone for me to answer "Center for a Stateless Society, this is Tom, how may I help you" when the media responds to our op-ed submissions, guest pitches, etc.

To see the results of my new work so far, read my first report to the Center's supporters.

The Center's May fundraising goal, exclusive of recurring pledges, is $1,235 by June 9th. Next month it will be more, but still probably less than $2,000.

I cringe every time I make cross-institution comparisons, but they're worth making:

Last time I noticed, the Cato Institute's budget was about $18 million per year.

AntiWar.Com asks its supporters for $70,000 per quarter.

Both of those institutions do good and important work. C4SS is doing good and important work, too, and we're doing it on, by comparison, a shoestring. Please help us tie that shoestring.


Saturday, June 05, 2010

My latest at C4SS


I'm not a fan of the state -- any state.

I do agree, however, that there are "better" states and "worse" states, in the same sense that the common cold is "better" than, say Ebolavirus ... and for most of my life I've put the state of Israel closer to the "common cold" end of that scale, even to the point of holding out that state as worthy of defense against more evil states, existing and nascent (see here and here for examples).

I'm beginning to re-think my position. The agonizing reappraisal begins with my latest column at the Center for a Stateless Society, "Awake, O Zion."

The establishment of the state of Israel was Zionism’s downfall. For more than 60 years, that state has drawn on a balance of credit built up by others. It has claimed the accomplishments of the "practical" Zionists and accepted reparations for the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust by a state the pre-Likud Stern Gang attempted to make common cause with, a state based on tenets the "revisionists" openly admired! It has long since exhausted those accounts. Anything good and righteous remaining in Zionism exists outside the context of the state of Israel, and suffers that state at its existential peril.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Making myself scarce around here ...


... and I'm sorry about that, but it's been a busy week.

I spent last weekend (Friday thru Monday) at the Libertarian National Convention. I mostly mo/micro/phone-blogged (with the occasional assist from an Asus EEE PC netbook) from there as "The National Desk" (Tumblr | Twitter). Should have done more photography, but I tend to get caught up in things and forget that.

On Tuesday, I began my new job as media coordinator at the Center for a Stateless Society.

In theory, this will be a 20 hour per week position, but I'm trying to hit the ground running and have spent closer to 40 (in four days!). I'm building media lists, working old (and trying to develop new) radio and TV contacts, making unreasonable demands on the Center's fine people, etc. The idea is to turn the Center into a media resource that gets noticed -- Center op-eds in newspapers, Center talking heads on talk radio and cable news, etc.

Results so far this week include one radio booking and one newspaper pickup of a Center op-ed. A month from now, I hope to be able to report the same results on a daily basis and then some.

Yeah, you knew this would turn into a bleg, didn't you? The Center is doing a lot of work on a very small budget. That budget just went up some. Since the Center is transparent with its supporters, I'll be equally transparent with my readers.

C4SS put out $275 to get me started -- that went for a "professional" membership in a media contact service, and for purchase of a cell phone which I'll answer professionally on C4SS's behalf 8 hours a day in theory and 24/7 in practice.

They'll also be paying me $640 a month for that 20 (in theory) hours per week. I'm retaining the title of "Senior News Analyst" as well at my request, but I'll be writing at least one column a week (gratis, off the clock) instead of at least two (at $25 each).

I'd appreciate your support for the Center. Not just because I like groceries and beer (although I do, indeed, like groceries and beer), but because we're doing the important stuff and I want us to succeed at it.

There are various ways to support the Center, from a one-time donation to various levels of monthly contribution. And of course there's the monthly goal-meeting fundraiser:



Thanks in advance for your help. I hope to get back on a reasonably frequent blogging schedule here at KN@PPSTER starting next week.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Notes from left field


The new issue of ALLiance Journal is out. Because I am vain and given to self-promotion, I'm linking directly to page 30, which is where my contribution, "Wobbly, and I won't fall down," begins. Teaser:

Two things I heartily agree with IWW on:

First, the state must go!

Secondly, the most likely way to successfully rid ourselves of it is through non-political, even anti-political, means -- the IWW's tools of preference are "building the new society in the shell of the old," a phrase which adherents of Samuel E. Konkin's agorism/counter-economics/Movement of the Libertarian Left will surely recognize, and the general strike.

Speaking of ALLiance, it was great to get to spend some time (not nearly enough time, but some) with Chris Lempa, James Tuttle, Gary Chartier and other left-libertarian luminaries at the Libertarian National Convention over the weekend.

After putting out the Facebook announcement for the "Radicals Luncheon" on Saturday, I got more and more worried about attendance. I was hoping for 30, but I was afraid it would be ten. Shouldn't have worried -- I stopped counting when I reached 50. It was an entirely social event, no presentations, etc., just fellowship and socializing.

The turnout put a spring in my (backache-plagued) step when I left the luncheon to attend the organizational meeting of the Libertarian Non-Intervention Caucus. Within 24 hours of our formation, we had not only successfully lobbied for the defeat of a mildly hawkish change to the LP's platform, but saw the existing plank replaced with an even stronger non-intervention statement written by Rebecca Sink-Burris (who won my vote for at-large LNC with her proposal -- so far as I know she is not affiliated with the caucus, btw). Thanks to George Phillies for bringing the caucus together.

Tomorrow ... er, today ... I start a new job with the Center For a Stateless Society. See the Center's May Fundraiser pitch for details, and pitch in if you like what we're doing.

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