Monday, July 17, 2017

Donald L. Knapp, August 23, 1933 - July 17, 2017

Got the call a few minutes ago. I knew it was coming. That doesn't make it any easier.

He taught me my first guitar chords. He taught me how to change the oil in my 1966 Impala. He taught me the meaning of work, and he was an expert at that. He did whatever it took to keep a roof over my head, a shirt on my back, and food on my plate and to get me out into the world equipped to survive.

No, he wasn't perfect. But it seemed like the older I got the smarter he got, until one day he was old and not quite as tall or as strong any more as I'd once thought he was.

He was my dad.

I miss him.

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/17/17

Sponsor message from Paul Stanton:

All politics is local.  Without local organization, state and national candidates cannot be successful.

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

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 133: (Almost) On The Road Again

But first, a message from sponsor Paul Stanton:

All politics is local.  Without local organization, state and national candidates cannot be successful.

In This Episode: Thanks For Asking! (Party Loyalty; Bookwormery; Collateral Murder Viewing Break; The Shire) :: Venue Anti-Rant (for background, see here).

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I Guess I Understand The Trend Toward Soda Taxes

After all, my whole life I've had people telling me that all politics is Lo Cal.

The Two Most Prevalent Thick Libertarianisms I'm Seeing at the Moment Are ...

Bordertarianism: "We can't have freedom to travel because welfare state."

NetNeutralitytarianism: "We can't have an absence of corporate welfare for Big Content because Big Telecom monopolies."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

While Awaiting Delivery of my Echo Dot* ...

... I decided to look into creating "skills" for Amazon's line of voice-controlled devices (e.g. "Hey, Alexa, play the Grateful Dead channel on Amazon Music").

Took about 10 minutes to create my first skill, which is awaiting certification now. If it is accepted, people will be able to add Rational Review News Digest to their news/"flash briefing" options. That is, when they say "Alexa, what's the news?" or "Alexa, what's my Flash briefing?" the device's pleasant female voice will read the most recent items from RRND's RSS feed to them.

I'm not sure there's any point in doing the same thing with KN@PPSTER proper (this blog). What do you think? I am going to see if it's easy to put The KN@PP Stir Podcast available as a "skill" (it's already available over those devices indirectly, via TuneIn).

* Yes, my only Amazon Prime Day purchase was an Echo Dot. The sale price was several dollars less than their best regular price (that you had to buy a 3-pack to get), and I also got a $10 credit with Amazon as a bonus for placing my first "voice order" using Alexa (on my Fire TV stick).

A Reminder: "Net Neutrality" is Also an Internet Censorship Enabling Act

Today is the day when Big Content pretends to be "defending the free and open Internet" by protesting the possible repeal of the Federal Communications Commission's "Net Neutrality" rule.

The main -- and quite sound -- argument against Net Neutrality is that it is a subsidy to Big Content at the expense of ISP customers.

That is, Netflix and Amazon and Google don't want to pay the costs of building and maintaining fatter pipes to carry their high-bandwidth content (e.g. streaming high-definition video).

Rather than be the ones hiking subscription fees or advertising rates for their customers, they prefer to let the ISPs be the bad guys who have to put bandwidth limits on customers to reduce net congestion, and jack up the monthly ISP bill for the little old lady who checks her email twice a day and looks at some pictures of cats to cover the costs of building and maintaining the pipes for the binge-streamers.

But there's another big problem with the "Net Neutrality" rule. From Section 15 of the final rule:

Consumers who subscribe to a retail broadband Internet access service must get what they have paid for -- access to all (lawful) destinations on the Internet. ... A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management.

And from Section 113:

the no-blocking rule adopted today again applies to transmissions of lawful content and does not prevent or restrict a broadband provider from refusing to transmit unlawful material, such as child pornography or copyright-infringing materials. (Similar to the 2010 no-blocking rule, this obligation does not impose any independent legal obligation on broadband providers to be the arbiter of what is lawful.)

(Italics in the above quotes are the FCC's; emphasis by bolding is mine)

So, guess who's going to decide what content is "lawful" and what content is "unlawful?"

In the absence of specific legislation, as well as in accordance with specific legislation, the FCC will be deciding that as a matter of "administrative law." And having arrogated themselves this power over broadband Internet under a ... creative ... interpretation of Title II, they will not just tell the ISPs that they have to transmit "lawful" content neutrally, they will also tell the ISPs that they cannot transmit "unlawful content" at all.

How long before the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America come to the FCC to get an EU-style "upload filtering" rule implemented, requiring ISPs and web sites (probably with exemptions for the Big Content platforms) to actively monitor for, and block, allegedly copyright-infringing material?

Or for that matter to just deem, for example, torrent files to be "unlawful content" ("there's no need for that format, it's used almost entirely for bootlegging"). If you don't think that can happen, think of the "drug paraphernalia" laws that are used against people with certain kinds of pipes and spoons whether that stuff is actually being used to consume unapproved drugs or not.

If the war on strong crypto comes back (and the politicians keep flirting with that), perhaps the FCC will require email servers to watch for and block messages with the string "-----BEGIN PGP MESSAGE-----" in them.

Maybe the FCC will decide (at the behest of the US Treasury Department or Congress) to crack down on unapproved financial transactions by requiring the ISPs to watch for and block data bearing the "fingerprints" of cryptocurrency transactions.

"Free and open" my ass. The "Net Neutrality" rule is an Internet censorship rule merely awaiting implementation.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Nobody Knows The Topic Selection Troubles I've Seen

I write three op-eds a week. Well, usually. If I'm sick or traveling it may just be two. But usually three. Call it 150 a year. Right now, I write them at/for/under the label of The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

My theory of topic selection goes something like this:

  1. It has to be "in the news cycle." That is, it has to riff on something that I'm seeing in the news right now and expect to remain in the news for at least a few days so that people aren't bored with it (or forgetting about it) by the time a newspaper decides to run the piece.
  2. It has to be at least mildly controversial. Nobody wants to read an op-ed about an issue that pretty much everyone agrees on. I'm not going to spend 500 words explaining that lead is bad for kids and they shouldn't eat it. If I'm writing about lead being bad for kids, it's going to be for or against some approach to "the lead problem" that opinions differ on.
  3. It has to be something I can write about from a libertarian perspective, even if I don't specifically use the l-word in delivering that perspective.
One thing I don't worry about too much is whether or not the topic is, well, "taboo." But since one of my objectives is to get those op-eds picked up by mainstream newspapers and non-libertarian political publications, I guess maybe I should.

For example, in 2015, I wrote a piece on circumcision. OK, not precisely on circumcision -- it had more to do with matters of medical and parental consent in general -- but circumcision was pretty central to it.

Not a single newspaper ran that piece. It just sort of disappeared into the ether.

I thought it was a damn good piece, too -- great news hook, poignant situation, cause that many readers would find compelling. Most of the time my stuff gets grabbed by at least one or two newspapers on my worst writing days and this felt like one of my better outings. But editors wouldn't touch it.

Today's Garrison op-ed is also on circumcision. I wonder if it will do any better than the last one.

I'm not exactly an "intactivist." My writing on the subject constitutes a fraction of one percent of my overall op-ed output. It's not like I spend my time wandering around the house pining for my lost foreskin. But it's sad that the issue isn't taken up in the public square with any ... endurance.

When selecting topics for op-eds, part of the calculation has to be "will this get published so that people can read it?" I disregard that part of the calculation at my peril. But yes, sometimes I do disregard it and just hope for the best.

@amazon @netflix -- It's Dumb to Announce That You Plan to Screw Your Customers

Sky News reports that Amazon and Netflix intend to "choke their own services" tomorrow as part of a public protest campaign in support of the big-government power grab / corporate welfare scheme known as "Net Neutrality."

I'm an Amazon and Netflix customer. I pay each of these companies a monthly subscription fee (Netflix's regular service and Amazon's Prime program) for video streaming (and from Amazon, audio streaming).

And here they are just coming out and publicly saying that tomorrow, they plan to not deliver the product as advertised.

If I have trouble streaming stuff tomorrow, I'm going to expect a pro rata refund for the day.

I'm also going to start looking for a streaming service/device provider that doesn't want to stick little old ladies who check their email twice a day with higher ISP bills in order to avert the possibility that bandwidth hogs and their customers might have to pick up the check for more and fatter pipes to carry HD and 4k video.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/10/17

A message from our (that's the royal "our") sponsor, Paul Stanton ...

All politics is local.  Without local organization, state and national candidates cannot be successful.

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

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 132: The King of All Polemic Rides ... Er, Podcasts ... Again

A commercial-free episode (haven't heard from any of my sponsors with a message lately) ...

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (Qatar, Amazon, Regular Ax Grinders, Coyotes and Swanns) :: Chelsea Manning's Wrong, But Be Kind (thx to Socrates Wilde for Attempting to Educate Her).

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