Thursday, October 12, 2017

Who Knew Cultural Appropriation Could be so Comfortable?

Those Thai fishermen know how to do pants (not an affiliate link, nor am I being compensated for talking about how great they are).

Less than $10 (with free shipping for Prime members, of course).


Light fabric, 100% cotton, great for Florida. They seem to be reasonably well-made. I wouldn't want to slide into second base in them or anything like that, but remember, I work sitting in a chair all day.

Waist size, 56 inches. Yes, you read that correctly. The thing is, they are designed to be multi-size. You fold over the slack to your comfortable tightness and tie two strings (sewn on at the rear). Which means that my clothes don't stop fitting every time I lose or gain weight (the last few years I range from a tight 34-inch to a loose 40-inch waist size and that can change pretty suddenly when I start or stop exercising regularly).

Just got my second pair (as pictured; the first pair is black and gray instead of black and red). I expect to get three more, and make them my usual casual go-to.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On Decapitation, Literal and Figurative

CNBC (citing state-funded South Korean news agency Yonhap) reports that "North Korean hackers are believed to have stolen a large amount of classified military documents, including a South Korean and U.S. plan to 'decapitate' North Korea's leadership ..."

That's somewhat different than the headline: "North Korea hackers believed to have stolen US-South Korea plans to kill Kim Jong Un."

Of course, we don't get to see the content of those documents -- we are just supposed to pick up the check and STFU.

In military terms, "decapitating North Korea's leadership" does not necessarily translate to "killing Kim Jong Un." It merely means cutting off communication between strategic decisionmakers (including top military HQs and regime figures) and on-the-ground actors (troops in the field and the infrastructure supporting the movement, feeding, etc. of said troops).

In my opinion, actually killing Kim Jong Un if war breaks out would be a strategic mistake.

For as long as he can exercise power and communicate orders, he's likely to be a poor decisionmaker.

Once his ability to exercise power and communicate orders has been degraded (which will be very quickly, almost certainly within 24 hours and probably much less), it's better if "his own people" (read: ambitious or desperate generals) kill him so that what follows (as I've previously predicted, probably an invitation for Chinese "peacekeepers" to come in with the US party to a ceasefire agreement) can be embraced by North Koreans as "we deposed Kim" rather than resented by North Koreans as "the US killed Kim."

Personal Cryptocurrency Update

I had high hopes for Bitcoin Cash, but after one spike it seems to have settled/flattened in value -- and, more importantly, to not be getting a lot of adoption as a medium of exchange. It seems that places that are spoken of as "accepting" it mostly really just accept Old Bitcoin -- in order to spend your Bitcoin Cash (BCH) at those places, you have to use e.g. to convert/deposit it as Old Bitcoin (BTC), which defeats the whole purpose. You still get the Old Bitcoin fees. You still get the Old Bitcoin confirmation wait times. And you pay a fee to convert them as well.

What I want out of a cryptocurrency is something that I can use to buy a soda and hot dog at a convenience store in roughly the same time it would take to use a debit card, and with lower transaction costs. That utility, of course, lying atop some measure of anonymity and resistance to state seizure.

Maybe I'll get that at some point -- I'm keeping my eyes on e.g. Dash, ZCash, Monero and so forth to see if there's a breakout crypto that gains enough user adoption, merchant acceptance, etc. to move in that direction.

But with regard to Bitcoin Cash, I'm definitely out of "holding my breath" mode. I just converted my tiny (mid-double-digit in US dollars) holdings to Bitcoin (at a loss due to fees, of course) and spent all but a few cents worth on a 1-year Ether mining contract at HashFlare (yes, that is a referral link).

Why HashFlare, and why Ether?

HashFlare: I looked at several cloud mining services, read a few reviews, etc., and HashFlare looked like a reasonably reputable, not fly-by-night outfit. Also, unlike most pool/cloud mining outfits, HashFlare lets you buy lower amounts of "hash rate" so that you don't have to jump in at a minimum mid-three-figures like some places require. In fact, you can get in for a couple of bucks.

Ether: I might have stuck with Bitcoin Cash, but mining that was not one of HashFlare's offerings. I am skeptical of Bitcoin's future. The big players seem to be reneging on the "2x" part of the "Segwit 2x" agreement. There's another hard fork coming and it looks like Old Bitcoin is going to continue refusing to get back to the idea of being a usable cryptocurrency on the "common man's medium of exchange" front.

I thought about going with Monero (especially since I have a bit in a wallet that's just a little too small to move OUT of the wallet), but since I'm doing something that's "fire and forget" for a year, I decided to go with the second biggest cryptocurrency by market cap and hope that a year from now it will have returned more in actual market value than I put into it. Maybe by then the real players will have been winnowed down and there will be a real "common man's medium of exchange" winner that I can convert to and use to, you know, BUY STUFF.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

FreedomPop Seems Pretty Cool

Tamara's employer decided she needs a smart phone (or at least something better than the circa 2010 phone she's been using since, well, circa 2010), and authorized $X per month, first year paid in advance, for her to get cell and data service.

After some research, we decided that FreedomPop (yes, that's an affiliate link) made the most sense.

For less than the amount she received to cover the first year of service, she was able to get a pretty decent phone (a refurbished Samsung S5) and a year of one of their premium service tiers (unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1gb data). I expect that's going to be plenty of data for her needs, since she can just hook to wifi at home and work if necessary.

FreedomPop also has a free plan with 500 texts, 200 minutes of talk and 500mb of data. They sell phones for as little as $39.99, or for $1.99 you can get a FreedomPop SIM card and move any unlocked phone to their service. On top of the data that comes with whatever plan you choose, you can earn more by referring friends (there's that affiliate link) or completing offers.

So far, so good -- making and receiving calls and texts, downloading and installing apps over a wifi connection, etc. Tamara is traveling at the moment, so I haven't heard whether or not she's had occasion to really put cellular data to the test.

She wanted to keep the phone number she's had for more than 20 years. Instead of porting it from her previous carrier to FreedomPop, I am in the process of porting it to Google Voice. That way she never has to mess with porting  it again. When she changes carriers or phones she can just change the forwarding.

Absent some horrifying as yet unseen development (I'll update this post in that case), I'm sold on FreedomPop. If I'm in a future position where a client isn't keeping me on their cell plan, that's where I'll plan on going. Maybe you should consider it too. One tip: Don't go for their cheapest phones. Old Android rigs are, so far as I can tell, slow and cranky.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 10/05/17

This week's AMA thread is brought to you by whomever I designate, and I again tag Rodger Paxton's new project, Essential Libertarianism -- Selected Readings from Tag, Rodger, you're it. Don't miss Rodger's LAVA Flow/LAVA Spurt Podcasts or any of the other Pax Libertas Productions podcasts either!




Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 138: What Happens in Vegas Slays in Vegas (Too Soon?)

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by an anonymous sponsor who lets me promote whatever I want, which this week is Essential Libertarianism. Check out Rodger Paxton's new podcast-format readings of seminal libertarian material from The Voluntaryist.

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (candidates and foreign policy; three chords and the truth; military sci-fi) :: Feinstein does the Bump-Stock Boogie on the graves of the Vegas dead.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Yes, There is a Podcast Coming.

In fact, it's partially recorded, dated today in the intro, etc. But I can't finish it tonight due to temporarily irremediable environmental conditions, also known as some kind of gigantic ongoing noise activity in the neighborhood. I'll try to get it to you tomorrow morning, with other wondrous blogstuff to follow ASAP.

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