Saturday, June 24, 2017

Seems to Me That Ship Already Sailed


Time relates the story of a teenager who engaged in a publicity stunt at her local church:

Her mother, Heather Kester, said Friday that her daughter was passionate about coming out in church to be a voice and example for other LGBT children who struggle for acceptance within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She asked that Savannah's full name be withheld to protect her privacy.

No, I'm not putting her down. She strikes me as rather brave and I don't see any reason to condemn her for pressing her church on the subject, but yes, it was a publicity stunt. A couple of other quotes from the story:

The video, which Kester says was taken by a friend of Savannah who came to support her ...

[The congregation's bishop] called problematic the unauthorized recording and the "disruptive demonstration" by a group of non-Mormon adults who were there.

IMO, making an announcement of that sort at a public function, having it recorded and putting the video out for public consumption, and bringing in supporters to use the announcement as the cue for a public demonstration puts one well across the line at which one retains any reasonable expectation of privacy.

Two Items Relating to Paleoconservatism versus Libertarianism


Thing one is a headline at LewRockwell.com, by none other than Rockwell himself:

Mises Was a Nationalist

Thing two is a name change. Sean Gabb recently abdicated as head of the UK's Libertarian Alliance. His successor, Keir Martland, writes:


the organisation I now own will not be called the Libertarian Alliance, but the Ludwig von Mises Centre (or Mises UK)

The splintering of the paleoconservative movement away from libertarianism seems to be complete, or at least very near completion. That final break has been a long time coming.

I suspect it became inevitable when Murray Rothbard died with head still fully jammed up anus vis a vis the "paleo strategy." He was always mercurial with respect to strategy. If he had lived longer he almost certainly would have done a 180 at some point. But he didn't live long enough to extract cranium from rectum.

In his absence, the lesser lights who took over his work were in various ways unwilling1 or unable2 to do so either. Like a rocket in deep space that runs out of fuel for maneuver, they just kept going straight in the direction he had most recently pointed them. And when the tether connecting the paleo strategy to libertarian ideology (which led in a very different direction) got too taut, they decided to start sawing through that tether rather than let it drag them back toward sanity.

On the one hand, I'm a bit sad to see some seemingly good people floating rudderless off into the darkness on Spaceship Paleo. Fortunately quite a few have launched their escape pods from, or were made to walk the plank off of, that ship in recent years and returned to libertarianism where they are back to making positive contributions (two that come to mind are Sheldon Richman and Jeffrey Tucker), and others may yet do so.

I also wish that the paleos had listened to MacBeth -- "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly" -- rather than try to drag libertarianism along behind them for more than two decades.

But better late than never.

-----

1. Hoppe wasn't just whistling Dixie (pun intended) when he framed his approach as an attempt to put libertarianism on the rails of Marx's theory of history. His class theory is "race realism," his class war is bordertarianism, his revolutionary method is "physical removal," and his dictatorship of the proletariat is the construction of faux "private property societies" as a proliferation of Hoxha-style mini-Albanias.

2. Rockwell isn't a system-builder or an ideologue. He's a salesman. When Rothbard died, Rockwell just kept selling what Rothbard had most recently sent him out to sell while looking for new faces to put on it. Once the Ron Paul presidential campaigns were done, that model started to go sour on him. Then Trump came along. I think we have the results of the 2016 presidential election to thank for the paleos' decision to finally and forever cut their tether to libertarianism.

Friday, June 23, 2017

@AmazonHelp, This Should Not Be a Hard Thing to Do


My cable Internet provider, Cox, has a bandwidth cap. A fairly generous one -- 1,024 Gb per month before I have to purchase additional bandwidth -- but a cap nonetheless. I've never come anywhere close to busting that cap, but I see that this month I'm on track to come in not very far under it.

The reason: Amazon Prime video.

For whatever reason, this month most of my household's video streaming has been over Amazon rather than e.g. Netflix, and a lot of it has been over an Amazon Fire TV stick and/or one of the kids' game consoles.

Netflix and Sling both allow me to set video quality according to my own desire, e.g. high definition, standard definition or even low quality.

Amazon lets me do that if I'm watching video from my computer desktop, but for those other devices it insists on streaming video at the highest quality my television will handle. And that means that an hour of viewing will consume 3Gb of bandwidth instead of the 800Mb of bandwidth it would consume at standard quality.

This is a simple fix, guys. Just update your other device apps to let the user choose the video quality, or even let the user set it in his or her Amazon.com account settings.

I cannot for the life of me figure out why that wasn't one of the first features Amazon put into its streaming service. Why would they want to spend extra money on bandwidth from their end when many of their customers would probably be at least as happy (in my case happier) to stream in SD as in HD most of the time?

I wonder if it's costing them any customers. It hasn't cost them me and my $10.xx monthly Prime fee.

Yet.

Yes, I've Continued to be Somewhat Absent


Sorry about that. May was one of those months, June has turned into another one, and I'm preparing for a trip from the 1st through the 4th of July. A combination of family medical situations, writer's block, etc. has had me working as hard as usual (actually harder) but getting less done. That's how it goes.

On the other hand, once one of those periods ends, I usually make up for it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

I'm Reconsidering My Position That Vigilante Justice is Impractical


There's absolutely zero reasonable doubt that Jeronimo Yanez murdered Philando Castile.  Not a crumb, not an ort, not an iota. None.

And yet a jury declined to convict the killer even on reduced charges (one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm).

Three guesses why. You'll only need one.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Couple of Notes on the Great Virginia Congressional Baseball Massacree of 2017


From this month's "open thread" at Independent Political Report:

Robert Capozzi: I'm curious what reaction the abolitionist anarchists here had to the shooting of Rep. Scalise and others?

KN@PPSTER: A supporter of one of the two most prominent street gangs in the US took some shots at prominent members of the other one. That's life in the big city.* Can't say I like it, but when you choose the thug life it comes with potential consequences of that kind. I'm glad no innocent bystanders were killed in the crossfire. But of course all the innocent bystanders will pay in the form of being expected to pay for and put up with additional security theater and police statism.

Silver lining: The House canceled all votes and hearings for the day. That's not much, but it's something, I guess.

* Addendum not appearing at IPR: If this had happened in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or even St. Louis, and if the gangs involved had been e.g. Bloods, Crips, Latin Lords, MS-13 or whatever instead of Democrats and Republicans, it would likely have not made the front page of the following day's newspaper even in the city where it occurred.

Robert Capozzi: Is this an issue you’d like to see L[ibertarian]s run for office on?

KN@PPSTER: Of course not. For one thing, it's not an "issue." It's an incident. A week from now 75% of the public won't remember it and 23% of the remaining 25% won't give a shit about it, unless you consider meme-making to be giving a shit. That might change if there are copycat attacks or if Scalise actually croaks, but in the usual course of things it's impossible to get the public upset about that stuff no matter how hard they try.

And they do try. Every time some mere mundane touches the White House fence and gets tackled lest his peasant feet profane the sacred White House lawn, or the Capitol Police gun down a woman who gets confused by the security theatrics on Pennsylvania Avenue and makes a wrong turn, there are a couple of days of ritual sackcloth-and-ashes yap-fests about the horrors of our poor oppressed public servants having to mingle with the rabble. Then when they realize everyone has clicked off to watch Seinfeld re-runs instead of breaking out a string quartet to accompany weeping on their behalf, they introduce a couple of new measures to hassle the public some more and go back to their normal routine of thieving and whoring.

If it did become an actual issue that candidates have to address, I'd recommend going with Paulie's line or some other variant of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes."

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 06/14/17


While I'm waiting for multi-episode sponsor Paul Stanton's next public service announcement, I'm going to bounce back to my other, anonymous multi-episode sponsor who has me promoting anything I want to promote ... so this AMA thread and the podcast to follow are brought to you by Rational Review News Digest!




  1. Ask me anything in the comment thread below this post;
  2. I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Swords Into Plowshares: Maybe Not as Cool as it Sounds


In Massachusetts, as elsewhere, former drug warriors are becoming enthusiastic tax farmers.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 131: Like a Fidget Spinner But for Your Ears


This episode is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who wants to know ...

In tiny Deland, Florida, the city commission wants to give half a million dollars to a private developer to renovate a bad investment. Do you know which cronies your city commission is giving your money to?



In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (Listertarianism; Cuenca; We'll Always Have Paris; Blogging; Field Expedient Quick Meme Vivisection); The Alt-Right Are Marxists (in which I riff on this episode of Freedom Feens).





Teapot, Meet Tempest, Education Edition


As JD Tuccille mentions at Reason ...

[T]he Trump administration has proposed (don't hold your breath for it to happen) to cut the Department of Education's budget by 13 percent and slightly reduce the federal role in education.

Even supposing the cut actually happens -- I predict that the US Department of Education's budget will actually end up being increased -- how big is it, really?

I don't want to waste a lot of time on it, but I did a bit of quick Googling:


  • "Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States in 2013–14 amounted to $634 billion" (source: National Center for Education Statistics)
  • "In academic year 2013–14, postsecondary institutions in the United States spent approximately $517 billion" (source: Ibid.)
  • The 13% cut in Trump's budget request comes to $9 billion (source: US Department of Education)
So while the cut amounts to 13% of one agency's budget, it represents only about eight tenths of one percent of actual US spending on education -- as of four years ago. Such spending  has almost certainly gone up by more than that since then, and it's likely still going up virtually everywhere outside us DOE.

Calling Trump's proposal a tempest in a teapot is actually kind of grandiose. More like a slight perturbation in a shot glass.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Case for Retrograde Tradecraft Pollution


In a recent post, I talked up the idea of using "retrograde tradecraft" -- that is, taking clandestine activities like leaking government information offline. Doing things on computers and via the Internet is easier, but it's also far more vulnerable to surveillance. The final paragraph:

There's substantial literature out there on the subject. But of course finding it without it ever being noticed that you went looking for it might be tricky.

If dL feels like it, I'll leave it to him to explain the whole idea of the "social graph" in comments. The simple version is that unless you are very careful (and probably even then), everything you do online leaves traces. Even if you didn't use the Internet to get that secret NSA document to that reporter, there's a good chance that things you did online would constitute "tells" that you were interested in doing something of the sort.

So, to protect people who are thinking about doing things that should be done but that could get them in trouble, the information on how to do those things needs to become so ubiquitous that seeing them won't produce a blip on the "social graph." That is, it needs to become difficult to AVOID learning how to set up a dead drop, hand something over with a brush pass, or create a one-time pad without using a computer. The blogosphere, forumsphere, etc., needs to be positively dripping -- polluted -- with that information, such that someone does not automatically become a "person of interest" for having been exposed to it.

Today's retrograde tradecraft tip: Start making a habit of forgetting your phone when you go out. Not every time, just fairly often. Create some ... randomness ... in your social graph. Think of it this way: If you religiously carry your phone -- which is a tracking device that keeps track of where it is at all times -- then leaving it at home the one time you'd rather not be tracked might be the equivalent of sending up a flare. "Alice is gone from home from 1-5pm every day without fail -- except the one day that this suspicious thing happened, her phone says she never left the house." But if she forgets it once or twice a week, well, hey, Alice just has a tendency to forget her phone sometimes and there's nothing suspicious about her doing so on a particular day.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Non-State v. Anti-State: Sound Point from comrade hermit


Comrade hermit, in response to my recent post on retrograde tradecraft, comments:

Non-state intelligence agencies are OK. Anti-state intelligence agencies are the proverbial tits. I like to think Wikileaks is one of the latter.

I agree.

Michael Moore's new "TrumpiLeaks" is project is a stab at a non-state intelligence agency, but not an anti-state intelligence agency.  Its goal is to "get" one particular figure or regime, but not on behalf of dismantling, or even limiting or trimming, state power as such.

As I'm sure someone will note if we keep discussing this stuff, simply setting up pipelines through which sources (government employees, government contracts, et al.) can (hopefully safely) route information to the public via the media is only one aspect of one variety intelligence, the equivalent of the state intelligence apparatus hoping that someone will walk into its embassy in [insert exotic city here] and spill the beans on an adversary state. Human intelligence a la carte, so to speak.

What we need is a decentralized network of anti-state intel cells that develop human intelligence and signals/surveillance intelligence of all sorts, using all kinds of techniques, and get that information to the public.

Resolved, that the state should not be able to keep secrets.

A Gilmoreization


The gig/sharing economy interprets government regulation as damage and routes around it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Doing My Part for Historical Revisionism


I was born in late 1966 into an age of electric and electronic wonder for which I am very grateful. It was a close-run thing, though. Electricity was for so long a mere novelty and might have become just another not very well remembered fad if someone hadn't found a viable and important use for it only a year and a bit before I was born.



The Case for Retrograde Tradecraft


Thanks to dL, who pointed me to this story on how the NSA busted a leaker yesterday.

A brief disclaimer: We don't yet know the full story on the leak. What it facially looks like is that a well-intentioned employee of a government contractor leaked a secret report that NSA didn't want anyone to see. But it could be something else, e.g. NSA wanting that information made public (perhaps to affect the ongoing "Russia probe") with plausible deniability, in which case the leaker could either be in on the thing, or have been manipulated into leaking it (with the arrest aiding the plausible deniability angle).

But anyway: The leaker got caught because modern printers encode certain information, as nearly invisible yellow dots, on every document they print. Since The Intercept put actual images of the actual printouts online, it was trivial for NSA to discover that the document was printed on a particular printer at a particular time, and from there figure out who might have printed it.

Modern technology is useful, but also problematic from the perspective of someone wanting to not be surveilled, tracked, or discovered in this or that activity. And not just directly, as above. As dL is also fond of pointing out, one's "social graph" (basically the sum of a person's online activities) can reveal a lot about the person absent any specific smoking gun.

If non-state intelligence agencies -- that's the term Mike Pompeo used for WikiLeaks, and while he said it like it's a bad thing, I think the whole idea rocks -- want to operate successfully, I think they're going to need to go back to Cold War espionage tradecraft. One-time pads that are NEVER, in ANY way, involved with electronics. Brush passes. Dead drops. "Chance" meetings in areas that just happen to (hopefully) not be under video surveillance. That kind of thing.

Those things are harder than mouse/keyboard/send. But that works both ways. One guy at Langley or Fort Meade can track/surveil the activities of bazillions of people from a single computer terminal. The reverse is true to the advantage of surveillance targets. It takes multiple people to follow one guy around and notice if he leaves a mark on a mailbox or happens to pass close by someone else who might or might not be a person of interest.

There's substantial literature out there on the subject. But of course finding it without it ever being noticed that you went looking for it might be tricky.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Worst Thing About the "Basic Income Guarantee" Scheme ...


... and may have said this before, and at some point plan to write a pro-con piece on it with Steve Trinward ... is:

What if it "works?"


Jesse Walker does a bit of an historical survey on the idea for next month's Reason:

Andy Stern is a former president of the Service Employees International Union. Charles Murray may be America's most prominent right-wing critic of the welfare state. So when they appeared onstage together in Washington, D.C., last fall to discuss the basic income -- the idea of keeping people out of poverty by giving them regular unconditional cash payments -- the most striking thing about the event was that they kept agreeing with each other. ... This isn't the first time the basic income or an idea like it has edged its way onto the agenda. It isn't even the first time we've seemed to see an ideological convergence. This patchwork of sometimes-overlapping movements with sometimes-overlapping proposals has a history that stretches back centuries.

Very interesting, and well worth reading. But once again, while my ideological opposition to it is pretty simple to explain my main practical problem with it is:

What if it "works?"

And by this, I mean:

Suppose a Basic Income Guarantee / Universal Basic Income gets implemented and the world doesn't come to an end? What if it turns out that it IS actually possible for the state to replace all existing welfare programs with an income guarantee without collapsing? Life goes on. Everyone gets "a check in the mail" every month, some people choose to work for more, others to sit on their asses and watch TV, still others to take off on flights of creative and/or entrepreneurial fancy and see what happens?

If that happens, something else happens too: Forget any substantial, organized, effective resistance to the idea of the welfare state, or for that matter of the state itself. How is that going to happen when everyone -- EVERYONE -- is effectively a government employee, counting on a monthly top-up of the old debit card from his favorite Uncle to keep milk in the fridge and Netflix streaming in to the tube?

It's not that I don't want people to be able to live, or that I think it would be a bad thing if everyone on the planet had a cushion that covered the basics. But getting there by having the state fluff that cushion is basically a dead end for any attempt to limit, reduce or eliminate the state if it works. If it doesn't work, the best thing that could be said for it would be that it was one of those Hegelian "collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions" advances. Which might be good or bad, but I don't think it's worth risking that dead end to find out.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 06/03/17


This AMA thread (yeah, yeah, I know it's late -- how about YOU hurry a little to make up the time?) and the podcast to follow are brought to you by Paul Stanton, who wants to know:

In tiny Deland, Florida, the city commission wants to give half a million dollars to a private developer to renovate a bad investment. Do you know which cronies your city commission is giving your money to?

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


Thursday, June 01, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 130: Yes, the Pundits' Guild Requires Me to Use the Word "Covfefe"


A message from episode sponsor Paul Stanton:

In tiny Deland, Florida, the city commission wants to give half a million dollars to a private developer to renovate a bad investment. Do you know which cronies your city commission is giving your money to?


In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (Gonna Soil Myself; WTF GOP; The Diet of Suck; read the full thread); Electoral Politics as a Market and the Overton Window (based on this piece at Independent Political Report).



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