Thursday, August 17, 2017

Three Things (or, WTF, @jaxx_io?)

Thing One: On July 29, Jaxx released a "Statement on Bitcoin Cash" via the Decentral Blog. Money quote:

As a multi-platform, multi-currency blockchain wallet, over the past many days, we have been flooded with requests to support Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Yesterday, we officially made the decision to work towards full integration.

Since Jaxx users are always in control of their private keys, corresponding Bitcoin Cash (BCH) will be safe in your Jaxx wallet. However, please know that you will not be able to access/send/receive your Bitcoin Cash (BCH) until the integration takes place.

The process of downloading and indexing the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain is lengthy. We are currently downloading the blockchain and expect indexing to start shortly. The indexing of a blockchain as big as Bitcoin’s has an unknown duration and could take anywhere from a few days to 1 to 2 weeks. You will be then able to claim them once Jaxx fully integrates Bitcoin Cash (BCH) into the wallet.

Thing Two: Yesterday, Jamie Redman of reported:

On August 16 at approximately 8 am EDT the mining pool Bitclub Network mined an 8MB block on the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain. Block #479469 cleared over 37,000 transactions from the mempool making it the largest block found so far on the BCH chain. Meanwhile, the BCH network continues to capture infrastructure development and industry support.

Thing Three: As of now, I'm still waiting on Jaxx to "fully integrate Bitcoin Cash into the wallet." Presumably I'm not some outlier awaiting a wallet update that others have already received -- as of three hours ago, the Jaxx area on Reddit had a comment titled "Any ETA on bitcoin cash support?"

A Brief Note on Philosophical Debate versus Marketing Practice

One line I hear frequently in internal libertarian movement debate is that it's entirely possible to be both a bigot and a libertarian. That is, one could conceivably have an aversion to some group (racial, gender/sexual minority, whatever) without advocating for the initiation of force against that group.

True as far as it goes, I guess. And it could also be said that it's entirely possible to be a libertarian and also to really like goat feces, diesel fuel, and fire.

But I'm betting that if there are media and public inquiries to the Libertarian Party after some idiot rolls around in a mixture of goat feces and diesel fuel, then sets himself on fire in his front yard while screaming "LIBERTARIAN! LIBERTARIAN!" the response is going to be "yeah, that's not us."

What do You Want, Erick Erickson, Egg in Your Beer?

Short version of his latest:

Nationalism through and through, but

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I Dreamed I Saw Heather Heyer Last Night

Seems she was a Wobbly.

H/t Steve Trinward.

Breaking: UF Says No to Richard Spencer Speech

Just forwarded to me:

Dear Campus Community:

Amid serious concerns for safety, we have decided to deny the National Policy Institute's request to rent event space at the University of Florida.

This decision was made after assessing potential risks with campus, community, state and federal law enforcement officials following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., and continued calls online and in social media for similar violence in Gainesville such as those decreeing: "The Next Battlefield is in Florida."

I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for.

That said, the University of Florida remains unwaveringly dedicated to free speech and the spirit of public discourse. However, the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others.

The likelihood of violence and potential injury - not the words or ideas - has caused us to take this action.

Warm Regards,
W. Kent Fuchs
University of Florida

I do not expect that this will stop Spencer from coming to Gainesville and speaking, and he probably has good grounds for a 1st Amendment suit if UF is departing from normal policy here.

I expect Spencer to come, and I expect his thug army to arrive with him. In other words, I don't think the situation has really changed.

OK, My @YesYoureRacist Reveal

A couple of days ago, I put up a reader poll on "Using Twitter to crowdsource identification of the Charlottesville white nationalists with the intention of getting them fired from their jobs," with a promise to come back later and offer my own response to that poll. Current results:

  • 1 vote (4%): Yeah, they're fair game, but only because they're racist scumbags.
  • 16 votes (64%): Yeah, anyone who takes part in a public political action is fair game for being publicly identified with possible negative consequences.
  • 6 votes (24%): No, that's not cool. You should be able to participate in public life without risking your job, even if you're on the side of evil.
  • 1 vote (4%): Who cares?
  • 1 vote (4%): Other, user-created -- "Raise the hate on both sides so that Civil War becomes inevitable."
I'm personally with the 64% -- anyone who takes part in a public political action is fair game for being publicly identified with possible negative consequences. And as I explain in my latest Garrison Center column, I find the whole @YesYoureRacist project to be a really cool example of how to crowdsource negative social preferencing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Here's Trump's Chance to be a Hero

From Al Jazeera:

The Taliban called on President Donald Trump on Tuesday to review the strategy for the war in Afghanistan and to hold peaceful dialogue directly with Afghans instead of engaging "corrupt" politicians.

Written in a tone of negotiation, the Taliban asked Trump to study the "historical mistakes" of his predecessors and to withdraw troops from Afghanistan completely.

The letter urged the US to interact with Afghans "generously" instead of imposing war.


In a press conference on Monday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said all options for Afghanistan remained on the table, and a full withdrawal of troops is one of them.

Trump has yet to announce a strategy for Afghanistan, but Mattis said one is "very, very close."

Like Colonel Kilgore said, "someday this war's gonna end."

Mattis is wrong on one thing. It's not going to end in anything resembling "victory" for the US. That option is not on the table.

The best-case scenario is for the US to exit Afghanistan on its feet rather than on its knees.

If Trump just comes out soon and says "that was a 16-year clusterfuck and I'm putting an end to it," he secures at least one positive legacy.

Or, he and/or his successors can keep messing around until it turns into something like this:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reader Poll: @YesYoureRacist

So, there's this. The idea is to identify the white nationalists from Charlottesville and make sure e.g. their employers know what they're up to when they're not mopping floors, servicing septic tanks or designing particle accelerators. What do you think? I'll tell you what I think ... later, in a separate post, so as not to press my own biases.

I Think I May be Due for a Climbdown ...

... on the whole "punch a Nazi" thing.

Disclaimer: I'm still a free speech fundamentalist. If some idiot racist knothead wants to get up on a soapbox or a stage and preach his nonsense, I believe he has a right to do just that and that anyone who attempts to forcibly stop him is at least as much an enemy of humanity as he is. On the other hand, there's a good chance I will be found standing nearby with a sign pointing out that he's an idiot, racist, and knothead, which I also have a right to do.

Over the last few months I've been told by some -- including some I respect -- that the above position is too lenient, and that to the extent that these idiot racist knotheads are allowed to organize unmolested, they are being empowered to actually pursue their actual goals, e.g. boxcars and gas chambers.

There's a respect in which I'm beginning to come around to the possibility that the people telling me that are at least partially right and that I've been at least partially wrong. Here's my current thinking:

In February, Augustus Invictus publicly threatened to murder his political opponents (between the 7 and 8 minute mark in this video):

A few weeks ago, Augustus Invictus announced, in conspiracy with others, a "March on Charlottesville" to "Unite The Right":

The night before the scheduled march, Augustus Invictus announced, in words and graphics, that his intention was no longer just to hold a "march on" Charlottesville but to fight "The Battle of" Charlottesville:

You've probably heard about what went down in Charlottesville the next day, so I won't belabor it at length. Summary:

The people named on the poster above, including Augustus Invictus, came to Charlottesville with an army, looking for a fight, and they got one. One of them even strapped on some testosterone and actually did what Augustus Invictus and his co-conspirators have been threatening, both explicitly and implicitly, to do, murdering a 32-year-old woman in the street. Of course, now they're pulling their typical identity politics schtick about how they're really the victims in all this, but the record is pretty clear.

Now, one of of Augustus Invictus's co-conspirators, Richard Spencer, is coming to my town (I'll be surprised if Augustus doesn't show up as well).

I remain a free speech fundamentalist. I respect Spencer's right to babble nonsense in public and will, to the extent I'm able, defend that right.

But I rather expect that he's going to show up with a gaggle of morons in tow, sporting their gang colors and implements -- helmets, baseball bats, swastika flags, etc. -- and looking for a fight.

I plan to be among the natives waiting here to greet said gaggle of morons. And based on what happened in Charlottesville, I'm of the eminently reasonable belief that they intend to engage in the use of unlawful force and the commission of forcible felonies, and that they represent a threat of imminent death or great bodily harm to others present.

Gee, that language sounds familiar. I wonder where I've heard it before?

Florida Statute 776.012: Use or threatened use of force in defense of person

(1) A person is justified in using or threatening to use force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.

(2) A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.

If it's trouble they're looking for, they probably shouldn't expect to get off quite so smart and easy in Gainesville as they did in Charlottesville.

Note: I'm told that the word "climbdown" in the title may be unfamiliar or, due to multiple definitions, confusing. I'm using it to mean "a retraction of a previously held position."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Congratulations to Christopher Cantwell

He finally made the Washington Post! Photo 6 of 9 up top. Caption: "An officer helps a white nationalist after tear gas was sprayed." I'm sure several friends of mine will enjoy seeing that (not that they would likely look any better after going unmasked in a cloud of CS -- I've had that pleasure many times).  Face crop:

In photo 3 of 9, is that Ryan Ramsey of Florida taking a selfie there on the left? [Update: Ramsey says it's not him and that he wouldn't treat a tiki torch that way] I can't tell and I'm thinking probably not (he and his wife just had a new baby a couple of days ago), but inquiring minds do want to know:

Update --Hat tip to the aforementioned Ryan Ramsey (who doesn't seem to be in Virginia) for  this ...

Friday, August 11, 2017

I Wonder ...

I don't have my copy of Frederick Pohl's autobiography The Way The Future Was handy (I assume it's still packed away from the move nearly five years ago as many, many, many books are), so I have to relate this from memory and it may not completely correct:

During World War Two, before Pohl managed to get into the military (he started trying right after Pearl Harbor, kept getting turned down, then got drafted and became an Army Air Corps meteorologist in Italy), he was working for one of the big editors (probably John W. Campbell) on one of the pulp magazines (probably Astounding), and ran a story featuring an atomic bomb.

Most ricky-tick, FBI agents showed up to find out who knew what, and how they'd found it out. Of course, no one knew anything. It was just science fiction, for the love of Pete. So the feds grumbled and demanded to be contacted before any more of this atomic bomb stuff got published and went away.

If the atomic bomb was just being invented today, right now, and a story like that got published, would the author/editor/publisher end up wearing a hood and shackles en route to some black site, or would FDR/Trump have a public meltdown about treasonous leaks, or would the whole thing just get ignored and/or dismissed as bizarre fiction and/or conspiracy theory?

FYI, Pohl's book is a great memoir  both of early science fiction fandom and of being a Depression-era rank and file American member of the Communist Party.

Nothing New Under The Sun?

I'm reading Bruce Cook's biography of Dalton Trumbo (which formed the basis for, and was re-released as a tie-in for, the superb eponymous film starring Bryan Cranston). This morning, while reading over the day's second cup of coffee, I came across this:

[Trumbo, as editor of the Screen Writer] insisted, perhaps a little disingenuously, that his only standards were literary quality, general relevance, and respect for the [Screen Writers] Guild and its policies and objectives. Richard Macaulay, a screenwriter of conservative leanings and a vigorous anti-Communist, put him to the test with an article, "Who Censors What?" on movie content which was in rebuttal to an earlier piece by Alvah Bessie. As editor, Trumbo rejected Macaulay's article, taking the same shaky position that Herbert Marcuse would two decades later, as he argued, "It is difficult to support your belief in the 'inalienable right' of man's mind to be exposed to any thought whatever, however intolerable that thought might be to 'anyone else.' Frequently such a right encroaches upon the right of others to their lives. It was this 'inalienable right' in Fascist countries which directly resulted in the slaughter of five million Jews.'"

Sounds a lot like the same action/justification as the formal "no platform" policies popular on what's passed for "the left" since the 1970s (once they'd taken full advantage of the '60s Free Speech Movement, etc. to firmly establish their own platform access) and at present by e.g. Antifa groups, doesn't it?

Of course, the right-wing blacklist campaign that hit Trumbo and many of his friends a few years after the incident above was a variation on the same theme -- a variation that seems to be popping up again in tech and other fields, albeit from the putative "left" and without the HUAC-style fireworks (to the extent that there's government influence, it's mostly in the use of general federal equal opportunity regulations as cover for sanctions and dismissals a la James Damore at Google).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Apropos of Nothing in Particular ...

Anecdotally, it seems to me that whenever I come across the word "discourse" near the beginning of an essay, there's a far better than even chance that I'm about to read some bullshit.

They Keep Using That Phrase, "Net Neutrality." I do Not Think it Means What They Think it Means.

I'm not quite sure how I got on Demand Progress's email list. Maybe I subscribed to it to track this or that political issue, or maybe someone subscribed me to it without my knowledge. Either way, while I don't mind getting their emails, I can pretty reliably predict that those emails will be full of fail. Like this:

Dear Thomas,

Verizon Wireless was just caught in the act of what looks like a blatant violation net neutrality.

Last week, without warning or permission from its customers, Verizon throttled bandwidth speeds down to 10Mbs. Users trying to stream video or use certain apps were caught in an internet slow lane and couldn't do anything about it.

This doesn't look like a violation of "Net Neutrality" to me. In fact, it looks like an implementation of "Net Neutrality." Per Wikipedia:

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating the Internet must treat all data on the Internet the same, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.

If Verizon had reduced its speeds only for particular content -- say, Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video only got 10Mbs speeds while Bing, Gmail,  and the Hamster Dance got 20Mbs speeds -- well, that would be a violation of "Net Neutrality."

But simply moving all data from all sources in the same way and presumptively at the same speeds is precisely what "Net Neutrality" calls for. And if that means that someone streaming Rogue One in high definition gets a choppy picture? Well, that's how it goes -- their data got treated exactly like the data going to the user checking her email and the junior high kid spanking the monkey to Chelsea Manning's Vogue swimsuit pic (not being a junior high kid, I actually read the accompanying article, of course).

So suck it, "Net Neutrality" megalomaniacs. You demanded it, you got it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A Fairly Safe Prediction, I Think ...

Open US military operations versus North Korea within ~30 days.

Why I think so:

First, while it's easy to discount Trump's outbursts, his "fire and fury and frankly power" "if [North Korea] does not stop threatening the United States"* statement yesterday is coupled with the leaking of "intelligence" -- actually preparatory propaganda -- intended to justify just that. From the WaPo story linked above:

Trump's statement also followed a report in The Washington Post that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its ballistic missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power. The report quoted a confidential assessment by U.S. intelligence officials.

In actuality, 1) North Korea still seems to be at the stage of producing bulky fission weapons; 2) the recent claims (from both Pyongyang and DC) that the North has developed an ICBM capable of reaching US targets seem pretty sketchy; and 3) even if the North has produced real nukes (fusion weapons) and even if the North does now theoretically have the capacity to hit the US with missiles, miniaturizing those hypothetical nukes and mating them with those hypothetical missiles and expecting them to detonate at the far end of an arc taking them to the edge of space is another giant leap.

Secondly, I've previously predicted that in the event of such a conflict, the Chinese regime will be tuned up and ready for an invitation from the North's military to intervene as "peacekeepers" after a brief US air war and the collapse of the Kim regime. They seem to be rattling sabers as prelude to such a scheme.

As I've previously predicted, I don't think a US ground invasion of the North is part of the plan. For one thing, that would take a major, highly visible, time-consuming ramp-up. The North would likely decide to kick things off themselves long before the US gets its ginormous mass of troops, tanks, etc. landed and in position.

What US ground combat there is will take place along the 38th parallel "demilitarized zone" (which of course means the opposite of what its name implies). That will get ugly, and there will be casualties, but I don't expect the North to be able to wreck, let alone occupy, Seoul as some people like to predict -- some artillery/rocket fire at extreme range in the first hours, trailing off as the North's guns are turned into twisted piles of metal by US air and artillery, if they don't run out of ammunition first (resupply won't be happening).

The US, from the air, will first of all destroy any and all ballistic missile and/or atomic sites it knows of (and it knows of most, if not all, of them), followed by C3I (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence) targets and road/transportation targets. The first objective will be to make it impossible for the North's military to function as an offensive force at the DMZ or outside the Korean peninsula. The second will be to make the North's military come apart at the seams in general. And the third will be to ensure that the Kim regime loses any ability to direct its military forces, presumably culminating in one or more generals deciding that it's time to march Kim Jong Un and friends around back for a bullet party right before asking Beijing to come in and restore order.

Obviously, the more detailed predictions above are more risky than the one in the first sentence. But I think it's coming soon, and I do think that's how it will go ... now let's see whether or not I'm right so I can either crow or eat crow (frankly I'd much rather do the latter on this one).

* It's worth noting the content of the "threats" Trump cites as reason for his own threats. To wit (WaPo op. cit.):

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told diplomats that his country will never negotiate away what he called a rational "strategic option" against the threat of attack from the United States.

Bombast notwithstanding, the North's "threat" is that it will defend itself if attacked and that it will build and maintain a nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to attack.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Everything Old is New Again

OK, so maybe not everything. But for the first time, KN@PPSTER's Big Freakin' Book of Stuff is available in an Amazon Kindle edition, thanks to one of the early pioneers of e-books, J Neil Schulman.

When I first published the book in print/epub/mobi/PDF versions, I tried to tickle the funny bones of would-be entrepreneurs by noting that it was in the public domain, that anyone could do anything they liked with it, and that it was not available on Amazon. Nobody took the bait. I finally talked Neil into it, and thank him for making it happen.

If you haven't read the book, or if you have read it but would like it for your Kindle, hey, it's only $1.99, and I'm aware that Neil could use the money. So read a pretty good book and help a movement hero out at the same time.

The User Activated Hard Fork is About to Happen ...

... here in a couple of hours, although there will be dislocations/issues early on. Bitcoin is going to split into BTC (Bitcoin) and BCC (Bitcoin Cash).

To the extent that I "go long" (I have very little cryptocurrency), my plan is to probably do so on BCC. Here's why:

Regular old Bitcoin is going to implement a "solution" (Segregated Witness) to a problem that's entirely artificial, created by "Big Mining" to preserve its big take at the expense of the cryptocurrency becoming slower and more expensive to use than it should have become.

Bitcoin Cash is going to solve that "problem" by doing exactly what its creator envisioned (increasing the block size so that transactions can get back to being processed quickly and cheaply).

It's not so much that I expect Bitcoin Cash to "win" as that I want it to, because I want a working cryptocurrency -- something I'll eventually be able to use to buy a Coke at a convenience store. If either of these two currencies might become that, I think Bitcoin Cash is the one to bet on.

I do expect BCC to almost immediately crash in price and BTC to gain -- and if I can move fast enough and predict the equation well enough to take advantage of that, I will be exchanging my BTC for BCC. Because in the long term, I expect BCC to do well, regardless of how BTC does.

If you think BCC is crap and is going to quickly become worthless, I encourage you to donate yours to me -- as soon as my preferred wallet starts taking BCC, I'll get a QR code up for you to do so :) You can, of course, send me regular old BTC via the right sidebar already.

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