Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/29/15


No AMA thread last week, but it's back. This week's Thanks For Asking!, and the podcast(s) to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:


You probably know the routine by now, but in case you don't ...


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


Sunday, December 27, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 60: ... And a Happy New Year!


This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast -- and all episodes through 2016 -- are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:



In this episode: In this episode: Merry Christmas, happy New Year, and John McAfee declares ...

Show links:



Friday, December 25, 2015

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 59: The Force Dozes, Rolls Over, Wishes You Merry Christmas


This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast -- and all episodes through 2016 -- are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:



In this episode:


  • Hey, what's that beautiful noise?;
  • Thanks For Asking! (Paranoia and Star Wars);
  • My Open Letter to the Libertarian Party on Immigration;
  • The Week in Stupid (More Star Wars Goodness!)

Show links:

  • If you like the new opening jingle and the DJ drops, you can get similar stuff from, respectively, Rob Morris and 10th Tier Media, both accessible via Fiverr (if you sign up with Fiverr via that last link, you get a free $5 "gig" and I get $5 in credit once you've spent $10 ... if you do, of course).
  • If you missed this week's Thanks For Asking! thread, here it is.
  • My "open letter" to the Libertarian Party on immigration is also a petition to the platform committee and delegates. If you agree with me (you can read the whole thing here), why not sign that petition?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Libertarian National Convention 2016: An Open Letter on Borders and Immigration


To: Members of the Platform Committee
CC: Delegates to the 2016 Libertarian National Convention

Dear platform committee members and prospective 2016 national convention delegates:

Plank 3.4 of the party's national platform, titled "Free Trade and Migration," reads:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.

I urge the platform committee to recommend, and the delegates to adopt, an amended version of this plank. In this letter, I will first offer arguments regarding the need for amendment, then possible ways of constructively amending the plank.

Argument #1: The current plank is susceptible to authoritarian misinterpretations

Recently I have encountered party members who interpret the final clause of the existing plank -- "[W]e support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property" -- to countenance collectivist authoritarian measures relating to immigration and "border security."

On a plain reading, that interpretation seems perverse and perhaps even willfully abusive of the language. The clause is clearly intended to refer to individual "foreign nationals" who are known to be criminals or terrorists or to carry infectious diseases. Nonetheless, there are those who believe that the clause can be used to justify policies the Libertarian clearly does not support, such as the mass exclusion of entire national, ethnic or religious groups, on the claim that some non-trivial percentage of people answering to those broad descriptions support e.g. the Islamic State.

The language of the party's platform should be as clear, unambiguous, and immune to misinterpretation as possible. The current plank fails on that count.

Argument #2: The current plank is less libertarian than many actually existing state systems

The current LP platform plank on immigration calls for a system that is less libertarian than the actually existing border systems of the European Union's Schengen Agreement area, the United Kingdom's Common Travel area, the CA4 Border Control Agreement area, the Russia/Belarus border and the India/Nepal Border. All of these areas boast, both de facto and de jure, "open borders."

The Libertarian Party should never find itself in the position of demanding that the the US government act so as to keep America less free than other countries.

Argument #3: It is not the job of the Libertarian Party to propose exceptions to its own principles

The purpose of the Libertarian Party, as listed in its bylaws, is "to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles." The bylaws also offer several examples of how the party might go about accomplishing that purpose.

Neither the Statement of Principles nor the laundry list of possible activities includes "proposing the kind of authoritarian policies that America's non-libertarian parties already do a fine job of proposing, passing and implementing."

Even accepting, purely for the sake of argument, that some authoritarian policies could be justifiable, it is not the job of the Libertarian Party to propose or support those policies. That's what we have Republicans and Democrats for.

Conclusion: The current plank on immigration is clearly broken and must be amended or discarded. Fortunately, a number of plausible paths forward are available for the platform committee to recommend and the convention delegates to adopt. Here are four possibilities:

Possible Solutions

The quickest and easiest fix to the problem with the current immigration plank would be to amend its final sentence out of the current plank, which was adopted in 2006:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.

Alternatively, we might reinstate one of the previous two platform planks.

The 2002 and 2004 platform plank on immigration reads:

We hold that human rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of nationality and welcome all refugees to our country.

Prior to that, going at least as far back as 1996 (I cut my research off at the 20-year point), the party's platform plank on immigration reads as follows:

We hold that human rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of nationality. We condemn massive roundups of Hispanic Americans and others by the federal government in its hunt for individuals not possessing required government documents. We strongly oppose all measures that punish employers who hire undocumented workers. Such measures repress free enterprise, harass workers, and systematically discourage employers from hiring Hispanics.

We welcome all refugees to our country and condemn the efforts of U.S. officials to create a new "Berlin Wall" which would keep them captive. We condemn the U.S. government's policy of barring those refugees from our country and preventing Americans from assisting their passage to help them escape tyranny or improve their economic prospects.

Undocumented non-citizens should not be denied the fundamental freedom to labor and to move about unmolested. Furthermore, immigration must not be restricted for reasons of race, religion, political creed, age, or sexual preference.

We therefore call for the elimination of all restrictions on immigration, the abolition of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol, and a declaration of full amnesty for all people who have entered the country illegally. We oppose government welfare and resettlement payments to non-citizens just as we oppose government welfare payments to all other persons.

Finally, the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus's draft immigration plank (which is still in committee and may change by convention time) reads:

We hold that one of the basic core principles of a free market, is the freedom to move about voluntarily, as such borders are artificial barriers to trade and movement. You cannot have a free market with a closed or restricted border.

We welcome all refugees to our country and condemn the efforts of U.S. officials to create a new "Iron Curtain" which would keep them captive. We condemn the U.S. government's policy of barring those refugees from our country and preventing Americans from assisting their passage to help them escape tyranny or improve their economic prospects.

Undocumented non-citizens should not be denied the fundamental freedom to labor and to move about unmolested. Furthermore, immigration must not be restricted for reasons of nationality, race, religion, political creed, age, or sexual preference.

We therefore call for the elimination of all restrictions on immigration, the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol, and declare a full pardon for all people who are in the country without government permission.

There might be other suggestions worthy of consideration, but any of these four would address the problem of the existing plank and return the Libertarian Party to a clear, unequivocal and most importantly libertarian immigration position. Again, I urge the platform committee to recommend, and the convention delegates to adopt, new and non-defective language for this plank.

Yours in liberty,
Thomas L. Knapp

NOTE: IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO "SIGN" THE ABOVE LETTER YOURSELF AS A SUPPORTER, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/16/15


This week's AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:



How it works:


  • Ask me anything -- yes, anything -- in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer in the comment thread, on the weekend podcast, or both.



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

No, I am not in Attendance at the GOP Debate in Las Vegas ...


... but someone who annoyingly coughs into a microphone every minute and a half or so is. So now I am feeling the pain that my podcast listeners sometimes feel. Just sayin'.

Addendum: Hugh Hewitt is an idiot. But then you already knew that, right?

Another Addendum, But No, I Am Not Going to Try to Turn This Into a LiveBlog: Kasich just made his play for "serious" status on foreign policy. He thinks Russia "has been getting away with too much" and wants to (superhero fist gesture) "punch Russia in the nose." I'd say he's just about done.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 58: The Case for NOTA, Part 2


This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast, like EVERY episode through the end of 2016, is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:




In this episode:


  • Fiverr f**ed me again;
  • Thanks For Asking! (guns, Julian Assange and Rush Limbaugh);
  • The Case for NOTA, part 2.
Note: Yes, I see that the final portion of "The Case for NOTA, part 2" got doubled up. Entirely my fault -- I recorded it as two separate segments, spliced those two segments together, and forgot to delete the extra file of the tail end segment. I'd go back and fixed that, but I'm not sure how things would work vis a vis Soundcloud's upload procedure (i.e. would it replace the previous one or create a new "episode?"). So there's an extra minute and a half or so of duplicate content. Sorry about that! That kind of problem should disappear once the new machine arrives and I don't have a five-minute recording limit, as I do with Twisted Wave.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Review: The Miskatonic Manuscript, by Vin Suprynowicz


I'm writing this review the day before Vin Suprynowicz's new novel, The Miskatonic Manuscript, hits the shelves ... but unless you're one of my financial supporters (see the right sidebar!), you won't be able to read it until a minute or so after midnight on December 11th, its official release date.


Before getting into the review proper, let me hit you with a link and possibly bore you with encomia.


The link:

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?kn=Suprynowicz&sortby=0&vci=51238921

That link should take you to Vin Suprynowicz's preferred bookseller, AbeBooks, and more importantly to a list of all the books by Vin Suprynowicz that you can get there (including, as of some time on the 11th, the new book).

Updated links, later in the morning:

Click here for the hardcover limited edition of The Miskatonic Manuscript at AbeBooks
Click Here for the ebook edition of The Miskatonic Manuscript at Amazon

The encomia:

I can't brag that I've read every word ever written for publication by Vin, but I've tried. I've read the collections of his print essays (Send in the Waco Killers and The Ballad of Carl Drega). I've read his doorstop of a first novel, The Black Arrow. I've read the first two novels in his current series centering on rare book sellers/hunters Matthew Hunter and Chantal Stevens (The Testament of James and now The Miskatonic Manuscript). And I've followed his editorial career at the Las Vegas Review-Journal and later on his blog.

Every time Vin writes and I read, whether the material is fiction or non-fiction, I come away an edified and improved individual ... and I also come away hungry for more. Oh, and angry, and occasionally moved to tears ... nobody tears the state a new asshole, or sympathetically portrays its victims, quite the way Vin does. So in advance of the review, just know that I encourage you to read this book and every other thing you can find by the guy.

OK, the review, with spoilers kept as minimal as I can keep them:

The Miskatonic Manuscript is the second volume (following The Testament of James) in a continuing series (with a third story advertised as on the way!) featuring the crew at Providence, Rhode Island's Books on Benefit. The main characters are owner Matthew Hunter, his mate Chantal Stevens, and (in my opinion) the store itself. Books on Benefit is no ordinary bookstore and its crew are no ordinary booksellers. In addition to selling musty old paperbacks to walk-ins, they deal in rare and collectible books. The entire crew, human and feline alike, are more than cardboard cutouts -- they do play key roles. And I don't think it a stretch to infer that Hunter and Stevens bear some resemblances to the author and his mate, The Brunette.

In The Miskatonic Manuscript, as in the previous novel, the MacGuffin is a lost manuscript -- this time a notebook rumored to have been kept by HP Lovecraft, relating to one of his early stories (that story is included as an appendix to the novel) but perhaps holding the key to a distinctively non-fictional device and what that device can do.

Another resemblance between the two novels: The characters clearly hate -- at least as much as Suprynowicz himself does -- the "war on drugs." In a very big way. They also clearly love, and are clearly familiar with, the class of "drugs" known to their devotees as entheogens and to their state detractors as "hallucinogens." I am not going to infer from the text that Suprynowicz himself has a lot of experience with those substances, for the simple reason that doing so might be dangerous to him ... but I do have some such experience myself. Let's just assume he's a damn good researcher and leave it at that, OK?

One key question posed in The Miskatonic Manuscript is: "What if you fought a War on Drugs, and someone fought back?" The answer is laid out in a style tactically reminiscent both of Suprynowicz's own The Black Arrow and Bill Brannon's Let Us Prey. Those segments, and the careful explanation of the rationale, are worth the price of this book all by themselves. At some point in the probably not-too-distant future, I expect -- and hope -- they'll be cited as prescient.

But there's more! This is not just a polemic disguised as a story. I don't want to do a bunch of spoiling here, but there are otherworldly creatures, and other worlds, and a storyline that stands up well next to the best of a broad genre that I'd classify as beginning with H Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines and running through the adventures of Doc Savage by Lester Dent, aka Kenneth Robeson. "Adventure tales," more or less, with a strong flavor of the supernatural as super-science. Great stuff!

If you grew up devouring the re-published (and sometimes re-created, for better or worse) "pulp" adventure, science fiction and swords and sorcery tales of an era that straddled World War II, the Hunter/Stevens stories are going to take you back, in a good way.

For the story, and the storycraft, read this book.

But, again, there's more! My copy of The Miskatonic Manuscript is copy number 19 of a numbered, signed, hardcover first edition of 650 (and yes, it was a "free" review copy -- there's my interest disclosure). There's an ebook version available ... but you will want the physical version on your home's most prominent book shelf, so you might want to order ASAP. When Vin puts out a novel, he also puts out a product of superb physical quality. There was a leather-bound edition of The Black Arrow. These limited editions of The Testament of James and The Miskatonic Manuscript aren't leather-bound, but they are beautifully produced, obviously printed on high quality paper stock and come with library-quality dust jackets. Jacket design by Carl Bussjaeger on both volumes ... and on The Miskatonic Manuscript, cover art by Boris Vallejo!

I could probably keep yelling "but there's more!" for quite awhile, but I'm going to simmer down. The next book Vin writes that I can't recommend will be the first book Vin writes that I can't recommend. And I don't expect to ever see that book.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Somewhat Delayed Experiment


I love Doug Scribner's Watch My Bit site. It connects content creators with paying viewers/listeners via Bitcoin micropayments.

My first attempt to publish an episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast on Watch My Bit failed due to some kind of file compatibility problem. Then I got busy with other things, and only just now got around to a second try, this time converting the MP3 to FLV video and putting the podcast logo in as a thumbnail and video placeholder.

If it's worth 11 cents US in Bitcoin to you, check out Episode 57 of the podcast there. Of course you can always find it free via various services from the podcast's home page. This paid version is for those who want to financially support my work and would rather do so 11 cents at a time, in Bitcoin, rather than through any of the options over in the sidebar.

If the Watch My Bit version gets a paying audience, I'll start posting every episode there. But yes, it will continue to be "free content" for those who don't want to pay, or prefer not to pay in that particular manner.

Treat Yourself, Treat Me!


A couple of affiliate links, with explanations as to how using them will benefit you and support my work here at KN@PPSTER, at the Garrison Center, and on the KN@PP Stir Podcast ...

At Fiverr, you can get all kinds of things done for $5 (or more -- most "gigs" come with a basic $5 version and "extras" available for additional increments of $5). I've used Fiverr for various things, including the podcast logo and closing credits for audio versions of Garrison Center op-eds. Right now I have two pieces of audio on the way for use on the podcast.

When you join Fiverr via my affiliate link, you get a free $5 gig. And if you eventually spend $10 with them, I get $5 in credit too. Which means I can get more stuff done. Stuff that improves the content I create. [addendum, a couple of hours after posting: I forgot to mention that Fiverr accepts Bitcoin!]

At Purse, you can use Bitcoin to order stuff from Amazon at a discount of 5% (or more!) and get free two-day shipping. I've now placed three orders through Purse, including an order for the pop filter I've used to improve the podcast's sound quality. It works and it works well (Purse, that is, not the pop filter, although that seems to work well too). If you like using Bitcoin and like getting your stuff cheaper and faster, Purse is for you.

When you join through my affiliate link, you get an instant bonus of 10mBTC in your Purse account. And once you've spent Bitcoin through Purse corresponding to $50 USD, I get a 10mBTC bonus, too.

If either of these things meet a need of yours, and if you're not signed up with them yet, I'd much appreciate the opportunity to be your referrer.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

More Wordpress GAAAAAAH!


The gripe, in extremely general terms:

Yes, I know that things change, and that Wordpress is one of those things which necessarily changes continuously. With each new version there's new stuff under the hood to make it more secure, to let it conform itself to new display requirements (e.g. mobile), to integrate cool new stuff, etc.

But every time a major release comes out, I lose some piece of functionality, at least temporarily.

The extended gripe:

I think it was 4.0 that broke "autocomplete" in the post editor, and I never have figured out a way to restore that. At Rational Review News Digest, we excerpt and link Other People's Content, and to do that we use custom fields for source, author and URL, e.g. --

Autonomous terrorism calls for autonomous defense
Source: Reason
by Jacob Sullum

"There is not much the government can do about the sort of terrorist threat that President Obama described in his speech on Sunday. It will always be difficult to stop self-radicalized jihadists, operating under no one's instructions, from carrying out attacks on soft targets too scattered and numerous to secure. The only viable alternative, self-help, is one that Obama seems ideologically incapable of considering. His proposals for new restrictions on firearms move in the opposite direction, based on the assumption that the problem is too many guns in too many hands." (12/09/15)

https://reason.com/archives/2015/12/09/autonomous-terrorism-calls-for-autonomou

Now it's a good bet that we'll blurb and link 5-10 pieces from Reason in any given week, and probably one from Jacob Sullum at least once a week or so. Now, extend that to maybe 30 "usual haunt" content sources and at least as many "usual suspects" authors from those sources. So autocomplete in those custom fields saved me a LOT of typing. And now it's gone.

So this morning, I saw the update notice on RRND's dashboard. Time to update to Wordpress 4.4, "Clifford." And I did.

With this update, the custom field input forms just disappeared entirely from the post editor. There's no longer a separate set of fields for me and my fellow editors to enter "source," "author" and "URL."

Wordpress can still address and pull custom field content for its display within posts. But we can't input that content for Wordpress to address and pull, because something in Wordpress 4.4. apparently doesn't like the existing version of the Custom Field Template plugin.

Which means that as of today, we're having to manually format all that stuff into the main body of the post. And which means that as of today's content, our old post/page templates are going to have some extraneous visual garbage because they are formatted to pull that stuff from custom fields.

The quick fix would be to say "OK, I guess we're going to switch to hand-formatting that stuff, and I'll go through and remove the post/page template hooks for grabbing custom fields." That would get rid of the visual garbage problem and would actually solve another problem that I'm not going to go into here.

But that quick fix would also create more work for all three editors going forward.

And it would cause the existing posts -- about 65,500 of them -- to no longer show the reader the source, author or link. Which, among other things, would be a disservice to the sites and authors where the excerpted content was originally published, and might even create a bad legal situation vis a vis copyright such that the wisest course would be to simply delete all those old posts.

So for the moment, what we're going to do is put up with the visual garbage problem and hope that the wonderful Custom Field Template plugin's author, Hiroaki Miyashita, sees fit to update the plugin very soon, and that the new "under the hood" stuff doesn't make that impossible in some way.

Update, 12/10/15: Looks like Hiroaki Miyashita pulled an all-nighter -- the Custom Field Template plugin has now been updated and site functionality is back to normal!

Best Thing I've Read Online This Week


Well, it is only Wednesday. But still, this is pretty sweet. It's Bryan Caplan at EconLog, from the speech he wished he'd given at the Open Borders Meetup:

While every existing government mandates discrimination against foreigners, they're wrong to do so. Mandatory discrimination against foreigners is morally no better than mandatory discrimination against blacks, women, Jews, or gays. And economically, it's folly. Mass production is the secret to mass consumption. Trapping most of the world's talent in less-productive regions of the world impoverishes us all. Immigration restrictions are a grave injustice that does great harm, holding much of the world in poverty while keeping the full fruits of human talent off the world market.

Preach it, brother!

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/09/15


This AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:



RTFM:

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


Monday, December 07, 2015

Wordpress Bleg


I'm looking for a Wordpress plugin that certainly should exist, but doesn't seem to exist. By which I mean I've searchws high and low on various likely terms and phrases and haven't found anything like it. Maybe one of y'all can help.

The plugin I'm looking for would let me preview pages on my Wordpress site as they will look at some future point in time. So suppose it's 11:30 pm and I have a number of posts scheduled to publish between now and 7am tomorrow. This plugin would let me look at e.g. the front page, the category pages, custom pages I've created, whatever as they will look at 7am tomorrow when those scheduled posts have published.

Or perhaps instead of a plugin, a snippet of PHP I could stick in a page template to fool Wordpress (only for purposes of that page, which wouldn't be publicly visible, rather than site-wide) into thinking that it is a different, later time when it pulls posts to display?

Whether plugin or PHP kludge, this is something I would find very useful and that I suspect other Wordpress site owners would as well. And while I'm obviously not an expert on plugin coding or PHP, it doesn't seem like it should be especially complicated or difficult to create.

Anyone know of anything resembling this?

Bullet Points (Pun Intended) on Obama's San Bernardino Speech


I riffed on the speech a bit during last night's podcast, but hey, how about some of the ol' "extend and revise?"

Full text here for those who want to read it, and here's the video for those who can stand to watch:




Obama's speech vs. fact, truth and reality:

Obama: "As we've become better at preventing complex multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turn to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009, in Chattanooga earlier this year, and now in San Bernardino."

Fact, Truth and Reality: The 2009 attack at Fort Hood and the attack on US military facilities in Chattanooga last July were not "terrorism." Terrorism involves attacks on civilian non-combatants, not military personnel and facilities. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize populations, not to kill military personnel. Fort Hood and Chattanooga were acts of war.

Obama: "There are several steps that Congress should take right away. To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon? This is a matter of national security."

Fact, Truth and Reality: As Christopher Burg points out over at A Geek With Guns, this is among other things a big Fifth Amendment no-no. In theory -- theory that Obama should know quite well as a former "constitutional law professor" -- the government does not get to deprive people of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The "no-fly" list already violates that constitutional prohibition. It's nothing more and nothing less than a secret enemies list. We have no way of knowing who's on the list, why they're on it, how they got on it, who gets to put people on it. Even the people who are on it don't know they're on it until they try to board planes. In any sane society, the people responsible for the existence and maintenance of the "no-fly list" would quickly be imprisoned or exiled. Obama wants to extend that secret enemies list's power such that instead of merely infringing on the right to travel, it also infringes on the right to keep and bear arms. Fvck that noise.

Obama: "We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons, like the ones that were used in San Bernardino."

Fact, Truth and Reality: Semi-automatic rifle actions have been around since 1885 and are quite common in hunting/sporting rifles. The only noticeable difference between those hunting/sporting rifles and the AR-15s used by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik is cosmetic appearance. The AR-15 and other "assault weapons" look mean, military and scary. Really. That's the difference.

As I note above, terrorism involves using attacks on civilians to terrorize. Every time some victim disarmament advocate jumps up and down about "assault weapons" in reference to a terror attack they are, at the very least, aiding and abetting the attackers in achieving the desired effect of scaring the bejabbers out of people who don't know the facts. Or, to put it a different way, victim disarmament advocates like Obama are terrorists.

Obama: "I know there are some who reject any gun-safety measures"

Fact, Truth and Reality: Victim disarmament, aka "gun control," isn't a "gun-safety measure." It's an attempt to deprive Americans of the means of self-defense, making them less safe. Why would an American politician want to make Americans less safe? I'll let L. Neil Smith explain: "The one and only reason politicians, bureaucrats, and policemen want to take your weapons away from you is so that they can do things to you that they couldn't do if you still had your weapons."

Obama: "The strategy that we are using now -- air strikes, special forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country -- that is how we'll achieve a more sustainable victory, and it won't require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil."

Fact, Truth and Reality: That strategy has never worked anywhere the US has tried it before.  Obama is old enough to just barely remember Vietnam, so he presumably knows that it has never worked anywhere the US has tried it before. What reason does he have to believe, and why should we believe with him, that it's going to magically start working now?

Obama could have saved time with his speech by cutting out the details and keeping it to maybe 30 seconds: "The San Bernardino attack was awful. I'm working 24/7 to exploit that attack for the purpose of making things even worse. Good night, and good luck."

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 57: The Case for NOTA


All episodes of The KN@PP Stir Podcast through the end of 2016 are brought to you by my sponsor, Darryl W. Perry:



In This Episode: Thanks For Asking! (Libertarian Party stuff, heavy metal guitar musings, cutting taxes from the bottom up and welfare from the top down, who's Gregg Swann?; Hey, gettin' a Mac!); Libertarian Party 2016 Presidential Nomination: The Case for NOTA, Part 1; Closing Rant (Obama versus gun rights -- due process and secret government enemies lists).

Show Notes



Saturday, December 05, 2015

Renewed Recommendation


A few years ago, I recommended a piece of software for Mac users: CleanMyMac. By way of revising and extending my remarks, I want to RE-recommend not just the software, but the company. Not an affiliate link. I'm recommending because I like, not because it will get me paid.

Yesterday, after learning that I have a new (to me) Mac on the way, my brain spewed up the memory that I had purchased a "lifetime license" for CleanMyMac back in 2012, not long before retiring my old Mac Mini over problems definitely NOT related to it being unclean. So I searched my email archive, found the license acknowledgement, and emailed MacPaw support to find out if that license extended to the later version for the newer machine.

I just had a nice email from Yaroslav Kopylov at MacPaw, with a download link and activation code. So in addition to making great software, MacPaw gives great customer service. They have a variety of offerings, including CleanMyPC for those of you who remain trapped in Windoze hell. I assume it's just as good as CleanMyMac. And CleanMyMac is very good.

Friday, December 04, 2015

"Suspicious Activity?" Really?


Maybe the outlets I'm seeing this stuff at aren't telling the whole story. As reported by Mia de Graaf and Snejana Farberov at the Daily Mail:

Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, were apparently working late at night in their garage and receiving numerous packages to their home in Redlands, California.

But according to nearby residents, they did not report them for fear of [being accused of?] racial profiling.

Katie Pavlich at Town Hall reports similarly, embedding a tweet from @WillCarrFNC:

Neighbors: 3-4 "middle easterners" had recently moved into the apt of interest. getting a lots of package deliveries

Pavlich compares said tinkering and package receipts to Nidal Hassan "spouting violent Islamic propaganda to neighbors." WTF?

News flash:

If you think your neighbors tinkering in their garage at night and receiving lots of packages is "suspicious," you're paranoid (which, as this case establishes, doesn't necessarily mean they aren't out to get you ... or to get someone, anyway ... but you're paranoid nonetheless).

And if your reason for thinking that it's "suspicious" to tinker in the garage at night and receive lots of package is that they look like "middle easterners," then yes, what you are doing is racial profiling (or at least ethnic profiling).

My household receives lots of packages. I'm always getting books, etc. in the mail; the kids have bank accounts and their meager allowances are automagically deposited in same, accessible by debit card, so they're always ordering crap from Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc.

We don't have a garage. The guy across the street does, though, and he's always tinkering in it because he's a mechanic and he's always working on one of his cars or one of his friends' cars.

Of course, none of the parties mentioned look like "middle easterners," so I guess none of us are "suspicious."

It's bad enough that these neighbor are guilt-tripping themselves after the fact for not being suspicious of un-suspicious activities (or, if they were suspicious, dismissing those suspicions for the well-founded reason that the suspicions amounted to racial profiling and were therefore irrational, even if correct).

It's worse that a bunch of idiots seem to be actively encouraging that false kind of guilt and implicitly encouraging everyone else to go batsh*t insane if a swarthy new neighbor orders too much stuff from Fingerhut and changes his own oil.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas


Thanks to an org I've been working with for a number of years, I have a new computer coming.

I ask them for a piece of gear every couple of years. As obsessive KN@PPSTER readers know, I've been mulling one of those Intel HDMI sticks with Windoze (shudder) on it. I try to keep my biennial requests below $200, and I figured I could come in under that price point for the stick, a bluetooth keyboard/mouse, etc. The idea being something that could go mobile when needed, that would be a nice little backup or at least temporary replacement should one of my ChromeOS devices happen to sh*t the bed, etc., and that I could do some things on that are hard in ChromeOS, e.g. editing audio (N.B. I've owned two Chromeboxes and one Chromebook; all of them continue to hum right along; they may be limited, but they're reliable).

The work I do for this org is something I can do from any decent web browser and text editor, so it's not like I need a Cray or anything. My main rationale for asking them for anything is that I work cheaply so I figure I rack up a few brownie points, and since the work I do for them is daily, seven days a week, they have a stake in me NEVER BEING DOWN WITH COMPUTER PROBLEMS. So it works out.

Now it just so happens that they occasionally get equipment donations from supporters, that they pass those donations on to their workers, and that they probably expected me to come calling some time soon. So when I started to ask them about the cheap HDMI thingamabob, they asked me if I'd be interested in this instead. And not just the basic model, but one built out to maximum RAM and so forth initially, with all the luxury options, and with a new 500Gb SSD drive installed last year.

"MacBook Pros" by Benjamin Nagel.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Hmmm, let me think about this ... do I want them to spend $200 on a brokedick Windoze stick, or would I prefer a Mac that originally cost more than any car I have ever owned, but that they don't have to shell out cash for, and that can, even at five years old, run the newest version of Mac OS X?

Yeah, that didn't take long. Thanks, guys!

I've used a number of Macs over the years -- an original Mac, an SE/30, a IIci, a Performa, a PPC G2 or G3 laptop donated by a reader (pre-KN@PPSTER, I think, but I used it for some time), a headless G4 laptop given to me by KN@PPSTER reader Morey Straus, and finally a 2006 Mac Mini that I retired in favor of my first Chromebox in 2012. With the exception of the original Mac, which was 10 years old when I bought it at a junk shop, I've always considered them superior machines to newer Windoze equivalents that I had to use at work, or that were being used around me at home. I've become very accustomed to Linux and then ChromeOS over the years, but I'm very happy about my impending return to Mac heaven.

So, Mac users who are KN@PPSTER readers, let me bleg you for some advice in comments:

  • This machine should be able to run Yosemite, but should I upgrade that far on the OS? Or would one of the previous OS X versions be better, performance-wise?
  • Any recommendations for the best (hopefully free) audio editing software? Audacity? Garage Band? Something else?
  • Any general recommendations for programs/apps that I won't want to live without?

Thanks in advance!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/03/15


This week's Ask Me Anything Thread -- and the podcast to follow -- are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:


Handy-dandy instructions:


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


Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A Brief Tutorial on Phone Etiquette for Collection Agencies, Part 2


Wow ... it's been more than a decade since I wrote Part 1. To this very day, that post brings in a little search engine traffic on a regular basis, so I thought I'd follow up with another tutorial.

In Part 1, I went through what happens when you call my phone number and think it's my job to help you track down someone who doesn't live at that address / have that phone number any more. But over the years, I've also experienced something that goes like this:

Ring. Ring.

Me: Hello?

Caller: Hello, is this Thomas Knapp at [address]?

Me: Who wants to know?

Caller: Well, this is Bob at [meaningless but official-sounding name]. I've been trying to reach your neighbor, Betty, and haven't been able to get in touch. You live just a couple of doors down from her, and I was hoping you could help me get a message to her.

Me: What's the message?

Caller: Could you ask her to call me at 1-800-XXX-XXXX in reference to File Number BR-549?

Me: That's not a very detailed message. What's this about?

Caller: It's a personal business matter.

Me: In other words, you're a collection agency and even though I don't work for you, you expect me to go knocking on my neighbor's door as your proxy to harangue her about a bill you claim she owes.

Caller: Well, we just really need to get in touch with her ...

Me: Calm down. I'm willing to do this for you, I just think we need to talk about our relationship first. My consulting rate is $25 an hour and I bill for a minimum of four hours at a time. If you want me to walk around my neighborhood pissing off people whom I may live within small arms range of, I suggest we assume 30 minutes per visit -- it may take a little less time than that, but remember I'm also burning shoe leather or gas, not just sitting here consulting with you. So what I need you to do is get a contract to me in the mail agreeing to my rates, with a four-hour advance check enclosed, and start aggregating the names and addresses of the people you want me to visit for you. At 30 minutes per visit, that works out to eight names per list, and I'll be glad to complete one list per week for you to start, provided the payment arrives in a timely manner. Do those terms sound acceptable?

Caller: Hey, look, we were just hoping you could do your neighbor a favor ...

Me: No, you were hoping you could get me to do your dirty work for you at no charge. No dice, freeloader.

Click.

Feel free to adapt and use this technique in your own similar interactions.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 56: Tom Got Documented!


This episode (like all episodes for 2015-2016) is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:



In this episode:


  • Thanks For Asking! (Bond, James Bond);
  • Tom Got Documented!

As always -- but especially lately -- I'd appreciate comments on both the production values (audio quality, etc.) and content of this episode. As you can see, I've taken Lance Brown's advice (offered on Facebook) to change the way I title the episodes, so that the title offers at least a hint as to content.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Now Actually Working: Moar KN@PPSTER


Awhile back, I joined Liberty.me. I really love the service, the price is right ($5/month for all the benefits, including the ability to maintain two blogs), I publish the daily edition of Rational Review News Digest there every morning, and I had intended to port each post here at KN@PPSTER over to a KN@PPSTER @ Liberty.me blog.

Had intended means that my plan was, every time I posted here, I'd just manually copy/paste the content over there. I'd was a concept operating on the tenuous assumption that I would remember to do so. And I very seldom did.

BUT!

Turns out there's an "autoblog" feature that lets me have KN@PPSTER @ Liberty.me check the RSS feed for KN@PPSTER proper every hour and import any new posts. So that's set up and hopefully you'll be able to read everything that appears here, there within an hour and without me having to remember to. Enjoy, if you want to read it there instead of here.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast -- Thanksgiving Weekend Special


This episode (like all episodes for 2015-2016) is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:



In this episode:


  • Thanks For Asking! (Thanksgiving foods; really stupid assertions that we live in a libertarian pacificist era that's about to end);
  • Where this podcast is at, where it's going, and a request for comments on quality, etc.;
  • What/who I'm thankful for.
Some links mentioned in the episode:


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 11/25/15


This week's AMA thread and the podcast to follow are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:


The easy-peasy process:


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


Bada-bing, bada-boom, and so on and so forth.



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I Have to Admit, Donald Trump is Making Me Re-Think the Whole "Deportation" Issue


In fact, I'm leaning toward the idea that all Trump supporters should be deported to North Korea where things will be more to their liking.

But I'm also kind of Romneyish on it. I'm cool with "self-deportation."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why I Love Hostgator, Redux


I'm sure I've mentioned this before -- if not, I certainly should have -- but I love Hostgator. No, that's not an affiliate link. But I do recommend them.

I didn't love them this morning, but that was a temporary thing that was, as always, resolved by their excellent customer service once the matter got to a live person. And that's been the case over and over in the eleven years or so that I've been a customer.

It started with a clearly automated email this morning, right after I put out the day's edition of Rational Review News Digest. An excerpted/redacted digest of the email:

Unfortunately, we have been forced to temporarily restrict access to MySQL for knapp on [nameserver redacted]. Please take a moment to review this email in full as it contains important information and resources to assist you in resolving this issue. ... Why did this happen? Per our terms of service (http://www.hostgator.com/tos) a single hosting account may use no more than 25% of the entire server's resources. Accounts are typically not actively restricted until they exceed those resource limitations exceptionally. Unfortunately, in this instance, we were forced to place a temporary restriction on your user to prevent service issues with the server's over-all system performance.

Accompanying the message were some logs, which told the story: One of my sites (RRND, actually) was under attack, with bazillions of MySQL queries coming in, many of them for stuff that didn't actually exist (the small number of valid ones were presumably real visitors). The message didn't include any IP information on where these queries were coming from, and as part of the lockdown, when I went to "raw logs" in my cPanel dashboard there was no information there, either.

So I was under attack, Hostgator had shut me down through automation rather than human examination, and I had no way of just blocking the attackers by IP (assuming there were limited IPs they were coming from -- if it was a botnet, I was screwed on that anyway).

I got real hot under the collar, real quick, not just at the attackers but at Hostgator. Let's just say that I was looking at other web hosts while I waited for my a response to my multiple nastygrams in reply to what became multiple instances of the above.

But then the sun peeked out from behind the clouds ... as soon as a human being at Hostgator got my nastygrams, I got this response:

This does appear to be a directed attack against your site. Unfortunately this was caught by they automated system which is simply unable to make that distinction. I have lifted the restrictions on your site and [redacted -- he did some stuff that I won't reveal because why give the bad guys information that might help them next time?] to prevent these from being a continuous issue ...

That's customer service, folks. Yes, it took a few hours, but then again the whole thing started at oh-dark-thirty and I'm sure there were plenty of other customers with similar things going on. They got to me pretty quickly, and resolved the issue perfectly as soon as they did.

It's also a wake-up call in one respect. I try to run clean sites in terms of not being a resource hog (e.g. W3 Total Cache), but RRND isn't on CloudFlare yet. I tried Cloudflare a few years ago when it was brand new and had some problems. Since then, I've successfully implemented it with a different site, but hadn't gotten round to trying with RRND again. I'll be doing that over the long weekend. Cloudflare will be yet another layer of caching and security to minimize my load on the server and help stop attacks before they really get going.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 11/22/15


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:



In this episode:

In this episode:


  • Thanks For Asking! (What if Hitler ..."; Tom is a Wobbly; Bernie WTF);
  • Garrison Center update (50 pickups this month already, three top-50 US newspaper pickups in the last month!).
Bleg: This episode was recorded using the Spreaker "dashboard." Please let me know in comments how you think it sounds versus other episodes (volume, distortion -- sound quality).

Scott Cleland Says "defend the Internet digital commons from the reach of sovereign authority and accountability" Like It's a Bad Thing


It's only Sunday, but there's already a strong contender for Dumbest Thing I'll Read This Week.

Yes, he actually seems to really think ubiquitous strong encryption is a bad and dangerous thing, apparently on the basis of a bizarre and completely evidenceless belief that the purpose and/or effect of "sovereign nations' law-enforcement and intelligence capabilities" is to "investigate and prevent terrorism and crime."

I'm wondering if maybe an April Fool's Day post got put up early by accident or something. Nobody's really that naive, right?

Chrome Extension Recommendation: The Great Suspender


One recurring problem I've experienced with my Chromebook and Chromebox -- and have heard others complain of as well -- is low memory. Not surprising. Most ChromeOS devices come with only 2 gigabytes of RAM (I get a weird feeling any time I use that "only," given that my first computer, a Commodore VIC 20, came with 4.5 KILObytes, and I experienced an embarrassment of riches when I got the 16k expansion card). So of course, what happens when you have a whole bunch of tabs open is that all those tabs consume a bunch of RAM and things slow down.

The Great Suspender addresses this problem quite nicely. When you have tabs open that you haven't actually looked at for awhile, the tabs automatically "suspend" and release your RAM back to you. When you come back to one of those tabs, you can click to reload it. You can set the wait time before suspension manually, and you can "whitelist" domains so that important tabs that you use a lot never suspend.

In the week or so that I've been using The Great Suspender, the slowdown problem has pretty much gone completely away for me. Highly recommended for ChromeOS devices. I expect I'll keep it even when I get around to expanding my Chromebox to its maximum 8 gigabytes of RAM. Assuming (I can't tell for sure) that the extension is also available for the Chrome browser for Windows and Mac, you might want to try it on those platforms as well. I've never known anyone, no matter how powerful his or her machine, who didn't occasionally complain about memory-hogging apps slowing the thing down.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Garrison Center: More Cool Numbers


Tonight's numbers are: 50, 3 and 50 again.

50:

So far in November, I've identified 50 reprints or citations of Garrison Center op-eds in "mainstream" newspapers and non-libertarian political media. Fifty happens to be my baseline goal for the entire month, so it's really nice to hit that goal only 2/3 of the way through the month.

3 and 50 again:

One month ago, on October 21st, my Garrison Center op-ed on Julian Assange ran in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Then on November 5th, the Dallas, Texas Morning News ran my "'Papers, please' demand is un-American."

And this morning, my op-ed on Florida's "campus carry" bill appeared in the Miami, Florida Herald.

What do these three newspapers have in common? Two things:

They've all run a Garrison Center op-ed in the last month.

And they're all among the top 50 daily newspapers in the United States as ranked by circulation.

The Garrison Center is libertarian outreach that works. It deserves your support, and since it's not really an organization as such, the way you support it is by supporting me. Which you can do from over in the sidebar using Patreon, PayPal, Bitcoin or Litecoin.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Concerning Trump


Specifically his "not ruling out" required registration of Muslims in a special government database and noting their religion on their government IDs ...

There's an app for that! It's actually a fictional app, but a stirring story, attributed to King Christian X of Denmark.

It's really simple: If the government of the United States orders all Muslims to register as such and to carry special IDs, we should -- all of us who don't hate America -- put the kibosh on that fascist idiocy by reporting for registration as Muslims whether we are Muslims or not.

Quick Recommendation: I'm Saying no to the Asus Chromebit


Hat tip to David Klaus for calling the new ChromeOS offering to my attention on Facebook ...

The Asus Chromebit is a new take on the "tiny computer on a stick" phenomenon. It plugs into the HDMI port of a monitor or television and runs ChromeOS, just like a Chromebook laptop or Chromebox desktop machine. The retail price runs to ~$85 USD.

I'm still a ChromeOS fanboy, but I don't even need to try the Chromebit to reject it and to explain to you why it's not a good deal.

The Chromebit comes with 2Gb of RAM and 16Gb of flash storage. That's the baseline configuration for most Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, too (you can get models with more RAM or storage, and you can upgrade both, but the minimal model is 2/16). No problem there, really, except that you probably can't upgrade.

But here's the thing: You can get an Asus Chromebox for about $150 or an Asus Chromebook for about $200. Both are superior machines for not much more money.

The Chromebook includes its own display and touchpad. The Chromebook and the Chromebox include multiple USB ports and headphone jacks. The Chromebox comes with two display ports (they vary from machine to machine; my Asus Chromebox has a DVI port and an HDMI port), allowing the user to run two monitors (I started doing that last year and it is nice).

The Chromebit plugs into an HDMI port at one end and has a single USB port at the other end. That USB port isn't something you can use for whatever you want -- it has to be used to power the Chromebit. So no peripherals. You're going to have to use a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. If you want headphone audio, I guess you'll have to hope your display device has a jack for that.

Why would I pay $85 for a gimpy thing like the Chromebit when I can get a full-blown ChromeOS machine for $150-$200? The only way that would make sense to me is if I wanted to use ChromeOS as a second system and run the Chromebit from my other computer through a remote desktop app or whatever.

But ChromeOS isn't something I'd use as a secondary system. A decent Windows or Mac machine already does everything the Chromebit can do, including running Chrome.

To me, the "secondary system" thing runs the other way:  I've considered getting a "Windows machine on a stick" and accessing it via a remote desktop from my Chromebox to do things that ChromeOS can't do (like play Starcraft).

I guess if I try really hard, I can come up with a reason to run the Chromebit as a secondary system. Maybe I don't want to browse using my PC because I fear malware or whatever, but I really need that Windows machine to run proprietary software for my work or whatever. But that seems like a pretty narrow demand niche to me.

The Chromebit just doesn't make sense to me. If you're looking to get into ChromeOS, I recommend shelling out a little more for Chromebook or Chromebox.

[Update: Over at Google+, Michael Dopp corrects me on an important technical point. The Chromebit DOES have a regular USB port that is not used to power the device (it has a dedicated power port). You might want to read the rest of his counterpoint as well (he considers the device more potentially useful than I do, and the price difference to be less negligible than I do). Thanks, Michael!]

Thanks For Asking! -- 11/19/15


This week's AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:




As always, here's how it works:


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


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Quickie Review: WatchMyBit


I heard about WatchMyBit on last night's episode of Free Talk Live (CEO Doug Scribner called in and talked a bit about it). No referral/affiliate link here, just a recommendation, based on four suppositions:


  • You like to watch videos;
  • You hate having the videos you watch prefaced by, interrupted by, or visually cluttered with, ads;
  • You're willing to pay something for the content you consume; and
  • You use Bitcoin.
You can probably figure out what WatchMyBit is from those suppositions. Creators upload content. Users pay for that content using Bitcoin instead of putting up with ads.

One of the nice things about Bitcoin is that it makes micropayments practical. In my own case, I had to create a new wallet at blockchain.info and move a little coin out of BTC-E, which has a minimum withdrawal transaction amount that's too high for this purpose, but if you're a regular Bitcoin user who has a smartphone, you probably use a phone-based wallet that handles small amounts (I'm a cell phone Luddite at the moment). But once you can send tiny amounts, you can spend tiny amounts at e.g. WatchMyBit.

As a test, I paid 21 cents (USD) to watch the premier episode of Scribes, a sitcom that prominently features Jane Lynch (of Glee fame) and Danny Trejo (of too many productions to list fame). Great show, but enough about the content.  Let's talk about the platform:

Clean video. No streaming lag. Very nicely done. So there's really nothing more to say about that.

Side note: WatchMyBit does also host audio, so my plan is to make episodes of The KN@PP Stir Podcast available through it for those who want to support my work but prefer to pop for ten cents an episode rather than make large contributions or sign up for a monthly subscription payment (cough ... sidebar ... cough). More on that later.

PSA: Syrian Refugees


An explanation for the War Party supporters who are always keen to bomb any time, anywhere, for any reason, but are now concerned about the possibility of the refugee situation THEY created visiting them at home:



Another Nice Number at The Garrison Center


Today's number is: 46.

My baseline goal at present is for Garrison Center op-eds to get re-printed by (or cited/responded to in, something I sometimes forget to mention) "mainstream" newspapers and non-libertarian political publications at least 50 times per month. And since hitting that mark for the first time early this year (I think it was March or April), we've only missed it once (IIRC, that was in September, with only 41 pickups).

Today is the 18th of November, and Garrison is already at 46 pickups and responses -- 45 pickups, one response. I'm guessing we'll pass 50 in the next couple of days.

Here's the part where I ask you to support this very effective (and very cost-effective) libertarian outreach program. You can do so via Patreon, PayPal, Bitcoin or Litecoin from over in the sidebar.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Bitcoin Talk You Should Really Listen To


Paul Rosenberg (of Freeman's Perspective) , speaking at the Bitcoin Investor Conference in October:


Sunday, November 15, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 11/15/15


This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:




A reverse-order, two-take episode:

  • Quick updates (send money, guns and lawyers!);
  • Thanks For Asking! (a short answer on Max Stirner, a long rant on "the paleo strategy").

Friday, November 13, 2015

Value, Again


I addressed value subjectivism awhile back in relation to Bitcoin, but I'm going to do so again, apropos of Steven Horwitz's recent takedown of the "Labor Theory of Value" and Kevin Carson's longstanding "subjective recasting" of the LTV.

Horwitz's treatment of LTV covers the basics, then goes off the rails into a set of objectifications that are opposite from, but just as problematic as those of LTV's defenders:

[T]he real Copernican revolution in economics was how the subjective theory of value related to the value of labor. Rather than seeing the value of outputs being determined by the value of the inputs like labor, the subjective theory of value showed that it's the other way around: the value of inputs like labor were determined by the value of the outputs they helped to produce.
Well, no. The value of labor is determined at the point of exchange of labor for something else. If I work for you for a dollar an hour, it means that that dollar is worth more to me than that hour and that that hour is worth more to you than that dollar at the point of exchange. And that's all it means. You might or might not make an eventual profit on my labor; your educated guess that you will do so affects your subjective valuation of my labor when we're dealing, but it doesn't magically make that valuation objective. Furthermore, the values of the outputs are also subjective.


Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Carson writes:

[T]he expenditure of labor is an absolute cost, regardless of the quantity available. Or to be more exact, the opportunity cost of an expenditure of labor is not simply the alternative uses of labor, but non-labor. The laborer is allocating his time, not just between competing forms of labor, but also between labor and non-labor.

It seems like Carson is being a little tricky here, substituting the word "absolute" for the word "objective." While it's true that labor involves the allocation of a resource that is scarce in an absolute respect (everyone has exactly the same amount of time within a given timeframe), that doesn't make the value of said time either absolute or objective. In fact, it is highly subjective.

If I can spend an hour working for you, or working for myself, or sleeping, or engaged in some kind of recreational activity, the value of that time for any of those uses is not absolute or objective. It is a matter of my subjective preferences. Maybe you're offering me a dollar for that time; maybe I know I could make two dollars doing something for myself instead of for you, or maybe I just like working for myself enough to be willing to do it for less than I'd demand to work for you. Maybe I'm tired and getting some sleep is worth more to me right now than a dollar or two dollars; likewise, maybe I want to go to the park and throw a football around with a friend and that's worth more to me right now than the dollar, or the two dollars, or the sleep. And maybe someone else, faced with the same choices, would value those options differently.

Quick note: "Objective" is not the same thing as "rational," nor is "subjective" the same thing as "irrational." Just thought I'd throw that in there for those of you who might assume otherwise. Feel free to look the terms up.

In some correspondence on this subject, Sheldon Richman brings up a distinction between "use value" and "exchange value." I don't find that distinction very useful. The only real way to determine "use" value -- how "useful" something is -- is to consider what the person possessing it would be willing to exchange it for.

Say I have a cow that I milk every morning. It has "use value" to me. Now you come along and offer me $1000 for the cow. Whether I accept or refuse the offer,  its "use value" to me is clearly the same as its "exchange value" to me. If I accept the offer, the cow's "use value" and "exchange value" -- to me -- were both "less than $1000." If I turn down the offer, the cow's "use value" and "exchange value" -- to me -- were both "more than $1000."

And there's no real way to make that value "objective." It's possible that with that $1000, I could have bought more milk than the cow would have produced over the rest of its life. But maybe I prefer milking the cow every morning to going to the store for milk every day. Or maybe I like the taste of fresh whole milk straight from the cow better than I like the taste of homogenized milk from a plastic jug. There could be any number of reasons for my decision that cannot be objectively quantified.

The value of of good or service is the value that someone who has that good/can provide that service or wants that good/service places on good or service. And that's all the value is. Factors that might contribute to someone's valuation are not always objective themselves, and never make the ultimate valuation objective.

Selah.

Quote of the Week


Quoth Kevin Carson:

When "libertarians" start talking in terms of Volk and Kulture over individual autonomy and agency, and preaching discipline as the cure for "cultural disintegration" and decadence, you can be pretty sure that the word "freedom" in their propaganda is as devoid of substance as "Freiheit" was in that of the Nazis. The Paleos are a cancer on any movement that genuinely respects human liberty and dignity.

That's the tail end two sentences of a long piece, the entirety of which deserves a careful read: "How Low Can Lew Rockwell Go?"

There's actually a question pertaining to "the paleo strategy" in this week's Thanks For Asking! thread. I haven't answered that question yet. It's somewhat different from, but definitely related to, the question in Kevin's article title.

My answer to Kevin's question is "as low as he has to go to continue dragging in money from a market niche he considers under-served due to the fact that decent human beings find that niche too sickening to serve."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Totaled


No injuries, but the car is toast. There probably would have been injuries if the car wasn't a 1989 Volvo, built like a brick sh*thouse. Tamara took a turn down an unfamiliar street at night and ... um, discovered ... a median of some sort that apparently wasn't very visible (I wasn't there, but I know her to be a careful driver and there was no alcohol or anything involved).

Screwed up the frame near the front end, broke at least one motor mount, crushed the suspension up into the oil pan, etc. We paid $1,350 for the car nine months ago. It would certainly cost more than that to repair it even assuming only the immediately visible damage, and there was no point in keeping full coverage with a $500 deductible on something that cheap. But now we're gonna have to go find another ride. So if you've been eyeballing that "support" area in the right sidebar, now would be a great time to go for it. Just sayin' ...

Purse: A Quickie Review


Disclosure: If you register with Purse using my affiliate link, and if you spend or earn more than 50USD worth of Bitcoin through Purse, I receive a 10 mBTC bonus from Purse (FWIW, you receive 10 mBTC from joining through the link as well).

I mentioned a few days ago that I was trying out Purse, a service that lets you order stuff from Amazon at a discount using Bitcoin. And I said that I'd review the service once I received the stuff I ordered (if, of course, I actually did receive the stuff I ordered).

Well, I received the stuff I ordered, and can confirm that the service works as advertised. It's really that simple. You sign up, you search for stuff you want to order and see a discounted price for it (I checked the Amazon site and yes, the price is actually discounted), you order the stuff, you pay for it with Bitcoin, and the stuff comes.

It's almost that simple. The two complexities not mentioned above are as follows:


  1. Once you receive your order, you need to return to the Purse site and confirm that it arrived. Until you do that, your Bitcoin is held in escrow. I didn't notice that until just now, which means that Purse was kept waiting a couple of days to get its Bitcoin. My bad.
  2. The regular discount is 5%, but there's an additional system through which you can "name your own discount." I haven't tried that. It looks like it may be a sort of arbitrage scheme where you pre-fund the purchase and then someone buys it for you when the amount of Bitcoin you've put in escrow for it goes up in USD value enough to cover the real price. But that's just a rough guess of how it works.
Anyway, pretty cool. It's a way to use Bitcoin in regular commerce.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 11/11/15


This AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:


The rules, as usual:

  • Ask me anything (yes, anything!) in the comment thread below this post;
  • I'll answer in the comment thread, on this weekend's podcast, or both.


A Special Midweek Episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast


This special episode is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:



In this episode:



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Parable


Once upon a time, a group of people got together to build and sell the best vehicle ever. The design they came up with seated 20 people comfortably, aced all the safety tests, cruised at a top speed of 200 miles per hour, got 500 miles per gallon of gas, and sold for half the price of other popular vehicles.

Unfortunately, Libertarian Motors performed poorly in the marketplace, selling only about 25,000 vehicles every four years versus Ford Motors' "F-Family" pickup group, which sold more than 2.5 million vehicles every four years and had been the top seller in America for decades.

Every four years, Libertarian Motors chose a new chief salesman for their cheap, durable, fast, gas-saving, safe car. One year, a group within the company brought in a new candidate for chief salesman. "He used to be one of the top salesmen at Ford -- he had a stellar record as head of their New Mexico division!" "He KNOWS how to sell cars!" "He's the guy who can take us to the top!" The candidate was obviously very popular with Libertarian Cars sales reform advocates.

A smaller group within Libertarian Cars had some questions, though. "Will you be able to do for us what you did for Ford?" "What's your plan for making Libertarian Cars competitive with Ford?"

"Not to worry," said the candidate. "I have a plan that's virtually guaranteed to increase sales. As you know, the Ford F-Family has been the best-selling vehicle in America for decades. So what I'm going to do is re-tool our factory to produce something a lot like the latest Ford F-Family truck. Not exactly the same, but close."

"What will be the difference?"

"Well, instead of saying 'Ford' on the back, it will say 'LIBERTARIAN.' I think that if we go my way -- build a car almost exactly like Ford's, market it almost exactly like Ford's, and most importantly put a face on it that people associate with Ford, we might be able to sell 50,000, even 75,000 of these things every four years!"

"But that's not what we're really about. We designed a REALLY good vehicle. It's much better than anything Ford makes. It's faster, it's safer, it uses less gas and it's cheaper. We want to promote THAT vehicle, and we don't want to just sell two or three times as many vehicles every four years as we sell now. We want to sell 2.5 million or more every four years and beat Ford. It may take awhile, but we think our superior product can eventually out-sell Ford's F-Family if we concentrate on continuing to improve both the product and the marketing."

The man and his supporters among Libertarian Cars sales reform advocates shook their heads sadly. "You guys ... you need to get off this Libertarian Cars purity thing that's been holding us back. You're just not BEING PRACTICAL."

A couple of changes at KN@PPSTER and the Garrison Center


Thanks to Thane Eichenauer for pointing out two problems. Sorry it took so long to actually get them fixed after you took the time/trouble to mention them to me, Thane! They were:

Problem: The "use our image for your Facebook page link" site from which I was using an image to link to KN@PPSTER's Facebook page over in the sidebar went defunct, so there was just one of those error icons where the image used to be.

Solution: I found a suitable image, customized it, uploaded it to my Google/Blogger storage, and linked it up.

Problem: The ad broker I've been using, Qadabra, seems to have some kind of problem. Its ads haven't been showing either at KN@PPSTER or the Garrison Center. The ad SPACE popped up at the bottom of the screen, with a little "close" link, but no actual ad.

My first thought was that the code base had changed or something, so I went over to Qadabra and yes, the code to insert on my end had changed. But the new code didn't work either. The ads haven't been showing, nor have any impressions been recorded by Qadabra, nor have any revenues accrued to me, for some time. It just seems to be a dead stick.

Solution: I thought about examining other ad brokers, and I guess I might do that at some point, but probably not. Frankly, they're not worth the trouble for the low-single-digit revenues they bring in each month, especially if they require bulky scripts that slow down the site for readers. So ...

Over at Rational Review News Digest, part of the revenue split between myself and the other editors is that I get a little piece of ad space that's all mine to use, sell or whatever. For the last few years, an anonymous benefactor (of both myself in particular and the liberty movement in general) has purchased that ad space at a very nice (for me) price, and allowed me to rotate my choice of "cool libertarian stuff" through it. Every couple of months, we discuss cool new things that might fit there.

I've gone ahead and installed the exact same ad code (it's simple HTML that shouldn't slow the site down at all) here at KN@PPSTER and over at Garrison. That gives the aforementioned benefactor a little more bang for his buck, and exposes readers at both sites to cool stuff I think they should see. And the revenue loss is so small that not having to mess around with complicated ad broker stuff is really a net plus as far as I'm concerned.

So, a couple of minor fixes. Enjoy.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Rand Paul Accuses Rubio, Clinton and Schumer of Being Too Libertarian


That's not how the Breitbart headline puts it, of course, but that's the gist of the story.

When I hear someone complaining about those damn libertarians Marco Rubio(!), Hillary Clinton(!) and Chuckie Schumer(!), my off-the-cuff snap opinion has to be that the complainant is probably not a libertarian himself. And given that Paul has publicly stated he's not a libertarian, that off-the-cuff estimate seems to just be confirmation of something we already knew.

And yet I still come across people -- libertarians and non-libertarians alike -- asserting that Paul is 2016's Great White Libertarian Electoral Hope. WTF?

Sunday, November 08, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 11/08/15


This week's episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:






In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (off-year election results in the US -- marijuana legalization loses in Ohio; anti-discrimination ordinance overturned in Houston, Texas; Muslim city council majority elected in Hamtramck, Michigan);
  • Garrison Center update (we made the Dallas Morning News!);
  • Hey, I've been podcasting for more than a year now and just got a hefty bill for NEXT year!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Keystone XL is Dead


Not for the right reasons, but it's still a good outcome. Keystone was an eminent-domain-powered big-government boondoggle of the type that Republicans would have been wailing and gnashing their teeth against if Democrats had backed it. Good riddance.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Things I Used Bitcoin For Today


I got a nice Bitcoin donation the other day.

When it comes to Bitcoin, I'm about half and half, split between "customer" (who wants to USE the stuff in commerce, because duh, that's what it's for) and "speculator" (when I buy, as opposed to receiving as a donation, I do so when it's a low point versus the US dollar; I spend it when it's high). Today was a pretty happy medium; Bitcoin was doing pretty well in terms of USD exchange, and there were some things I wanted that I could spend it on. So I did:


  • I purchased my 2016 Libertarian National Convention package. Thanks to the LNC's director of Operations, Robert Kraus, for explaining to me how to get that done (there isn't a Bitcoin option on the convention package ordering page, but you can make a Bitcoin donation in the appropriate amount, put the name of the package you are ordering in the "employer" blank on the form, and then LPHQ staff will know that's what the money is for).
  • I tested Purse, an online service that lets you order stuff from Amazon at a discount. Yes, that link IS an affiliate link -- if you join through it, you get 10 mBTC to spend and if you spend more than $50 worth of Bitcoin through Purse I get 10 mBTC as well. But since the stuff I ordered (a harmonica holder and a guitar gig bag) hasn't actually arrived yet, don't consider this an endorsement.
  • I donated Bitcoin to Darryl W. Perry's campaign for the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination.
  • I donated Bitcoin to Antiwar.com.

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