Saturday, November 18, 2017

Yet Another Peril of Shared Hosting: Process Limits

So: I've been using Hostgator (not a referral link, I just like them) as my web host for lo on 15 years now, and occasionally blog about problems that come up and how to solve them. I think I've solved a new set of them after an informative chat with their tech support.

For the last several months (at least), the admin sections of my Wordpress sites have slowed down and started throwing off an unusual number of 500 server errors. It wasn't that bad for me, but it seemed to be really bad for Steve when he was trying to enter content for Rational Review News Digest, and it would be worse for both of us when I was online at the same time, proofing and scheduling items as quick as he entered them.

So, Hostgator (and lots of other hosts) like to advertise "unlimited storage" and "unlimited bandwidth" for shared hosting accounts, and that much is true. A little less well known is the limit on CPU capacity. That is, your sites are on one computer with several other people's sites, and your site can't be allowed to hog the resources in terms of CPU capacity. If I recall correctly, the user limit is 20%. That is, if your sites are using more than 20% of the CPU's available cycles for more than a short time, Hostgator is going to come down on you. It usually starts with a warning message letting you know there's a problem, and shortly thereafter people visiting your sites get a "suspended" message instead of the sites themselves.

A pat on the back to Hostgator: The last time the above happened to me, it was obvious that I was under a DDoS attack or the equivalent. There were suddenly thousands of content requests coming in (direct to the server, not through my Cloudflare DNS proxies) for no apparent reason. The database queries hogged up processor cycles. I got the warning message, took a look, got on support chat, and within minutes Hostgator agreed that that was the problem and did something about it instead of shutting down my sites and expecting me to deal with it.

That wasn't the problem this time. In tech support chat I learned about another limit that you don't see in the big up-front "unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth" promotional language. That's a limit on the number of processes that can be going on at a time, each "process" being whenever one of your programs is doing something that talks to the CPU.

This isn't a limit on how much of the CPU's power is being used, it's a limit on how many things can be using that power at one time. At Hostgator (and at a couple of other hosts I was able to find information on this from), the "process limit" is 20-25. Go above a "soft limit" of 20 and weird stuff starts happening. Things slow down. Users start seeing "500 Server Error" messages.

The biggest culprit for bloated process numbers in Wordpress sites, my Googling told me, are the "plug-ins" that do various things. Every one of those plug-ins that does something every time a page is displayed will create additional processes. I spent quite a bit of time yesterday going through various plug-ins, thinking about how resource-intensive they might be in terms of processes, and ditching the likely resource hogs I could live without.

In particular, I ditched a really cool plug-in that I suspected was using all kinds of resources and that hadn't produced results I had hoped for -- not because it didn't do what it does, but because apparently nobody cares. That plug-in is called Transposh. Every time I wrote an article at The Garrison Center, it would automatically create versions of that article in a crap ton of other languages. Looking through my stats, I didn't see any people visiting the versions of my articles that were in Tagalog or Hungarian or whatever, so I axed it ... and suddenly my process count was way down and all of my sites were running the way they should be.

So: If you're noticing slow Wordpress site behavior or getting 500 errors, check out your "processes" and look at your plug-ins. There are lots of neat plug-ins that do lots of neat things, but they don't do those things with magic, they do them by acting as processes that use CPU power. If your web hosting uses the popular cPanel admin tool, you can find your process usage over in the left sidebar:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"For the want of cheap aluminum foil, your burrito was not lost exactly, but made more expensive for no good goddamn reason."

"Other than political pull and the economically illiterate policy decisions of President Donald Trump." -- Reason's Nick Gillespie on the latest tariff idiocy

The Only Place Where You're Entitled to a "Presumption of Innocence" is in Court

I've been seeing a lot of the following lately, and I know MamaLiberty won't take it personally that I'm using her version of it. I'm singling her out solely because it's an opportunity to send people to her excellent blog, The Price of Liberty. At which she says, in the customary "Mama's Note" on a post by Nathan Barton about "dealing with predators":

Innocent until proven guilty, by a jury of one's peers. Too much of this sexual "scandal" is built on unproven accusations, especially those being made after decades.

People accused of crimes are entitled to a presumption of innocence 1) in court, 2) by the judge for procedural purposes, and 3) by the jury until they've heard the evidence.

Nobody else is entitled to a presumption of innocence anywhere else or by anyone else.

Nobody else is entitled to "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" to shatter any such presumption anywhere else or by anyone else, either.

Most people, I suspect, make snap judgments about the guilt or innocence, the rectitude or reprobateness, the purity or evil of other people all the time, all day long. Those snap judgments may or may not be correct. They may or may not be well-informed. But they, and the other judgments we make as we learn more following our first reactions, are natural and necessary.

If I'm told that someone I know or know of is a thief, I may want to know more before fully believing or fully dismissing the accusation, but deep down I'll almost certainly do one or the other, at least provisionally, based on my experiences with and observations of that person, based on my perception of the accuser's credibility, etc. It's good to be as certain as possible, but I don't owe the accused any presumptions unless I'm wearing a black robe or a a juror's badge.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Am I The Only One Seeing This?

The Atlantic's Julia Ioffe broke the story of Twitter messages that WikiLeaks sent to Donald Trump, Jr.

This set everyone all a-twitter (yes, it's a bad pun, but I like bad puns).

At Reason, Brian Doherty looks at the matter from the perspective of the question "Did The Atlantic Prove WikiLeaks Considered Itself 'Pro-Trump, Pro-Russia?'" He notices two things:

1) "[Y]ou could easily read what WikiLeaks is doing as a rather transparent attempt to trick someone they think is sort of dumb (Donald Trump Jr.) into leaking things to them;" and

2) That read in context, the messages are evidence that WikiLeaks is appalled at being considered "pro-Trump" and "pro-Russia," referring to those claims as "slander."

My question beyond those two things is: "Am I the only person who recognizes continuous trolling when I see it?"

The first message mentioned in Ioffe's piece: "A PAC run anti-Trump site is about to launch. The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is 'putintrump.'"

Some others:

"Hey Don. We have an unusual idea. Leak us one or more of your father's tax returns. ... If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality. ... The same for any other negative stuff (documents, recordings) that you think has a decent chance of coming out."

"Hi Don. Hope you’re doing well! In relation to Mr. Assange: Obama/Clinton placed pressure on Sweden, UK and Australia (his home country) to illicitly go after Mr. Assange. It would be real easy and helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to [Washington,] DC."

"Hi Don. Sorry to hear about your problems. We have an idea that may help a little. We are VERY interested in confidentially obtaining and publishing a copy of the email(s) cited in the New York Times today."

WikiLeaks yanked this guy's chain over and over for months. It's telling that the people who want to see admissions of "collusion with the Russians" by WikiLeaks and/or the Trump campaign are seeing that instead of the epic trolling campaign that actually happened.

Monday, November 13, 2017

"I'm running for public office since 2004. It's just that I never had a chance to develop my campaign."

That's Jose Vasquez, the Democratic Party's special election nominee for state representative in Florida's 58th district. Vasquez was also the Democratic nominee in 2012 and 2016, and ran as an independent write-in in 2008 and 2014.

Maryam Saleh, writing for The Intercept, isn't covering Vasquez's campaign so much as the campaign of "progressive Muslim" Ahmad Hussam Saadaldin, an independent candidate trying to stir up some Bernie Sanders style mojo in a district the Republican Party has owned for years. At a recent meeting, each candidate (or at least each candidate's supporters) suggested that the other should drop out of the race. And of course both candidates declined to do so.

Which is neither here nor there to me -- I don't live in that district, and I doubt that I could in good conscience support any of the three candidates in the coming election.

But that quote caught my eye.

When you've run for the same office four times, "I never had a chance to develop my campaign" doesn't seem like a very good excuse for four losses or very good justification for a fifth shot. How many campaigns does this guy have to run before he "has a chance to develop" one of them?

Yet Another "Fundamental Right" That Doesn't Exist

Writing at The Daily Beast, Karen Hobert Flynn flogs the "Honest Ads Act":

[T]he bill would require Facebook and other website companies to maintain a searchable, sortable, online database of people and groups that purchase political ads. The database would include a digital copy of each ad, the targeted audience and number of views, and the rate charged, as well as information about the purchasers.

Ads that run online close to an election would be required to include a disclaimer identifying who is paying for the ad, just as television and radio ads that air in the same window of time before an election must identify their sponsors.

These are sensible requirements that advance our fundamental right to know who is trying to influence our votes and our views on public policy.

There is a fundamental right at stake here, that being the fundamental right to communicate in any way one damn well pleases, including anonymously.

If you don't know who's telling you something, your rights include:

  1. To believe or to not believe what you're being told;
  2. To peacefully inquire as to the identity of the source; and
  3. To condition your belief or non-belief, in part or entirely, on whether or not you recognize or can identify the source.
There is no "right," fundamental or otherwise, to know who's trying to influence your votes and views.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

An Obvious Line that Google Says No One Has Used Yet ...

... so I'm just gonna throw it out there before someone who writes comedy for a living does. Don't worry, this blog is public domain, so if it works in your act, grab it.

Show me on the doll where Louis CK touched himself

It is Obvious and it Should be Simple, Part 9,364,585

OK, it's one thing that Amazon and Google are both angling for dominance in the world of streaming video and that therefore I can't just easily use my Fire TV stick to watch movies rented or purchased via Google Play. I get it. Both companies want me to buy my device from them, and then buy the content I stream over the device from them as well.

I'm given to believe that Google is the more aggressive party here, i.e. that Amazon would let me stream Google content over Fire TV if Google wasn't being dumb about it. But Google IS being dumb about it. Even though I can access YouTube (owned by Google) on the Fire TV, and even though I can access the movies I rent or buy from Google over YouTube, I can't access them over YouTube on the Fire TV YouTube app.

All of that is very annoying, but like I say, I get it.

What I don't get is this:

Early on, the Google Chromecast worked with a Chrome extension, and within that extension there were user-controllable settings. Which meant that if I didn't want to stream at HD quality, I could set the thing to 480p.*

But then, Google decided to do away with the extension business and just back "casting" into Chrome itself. And I cannot find a settings panel in Chrome to control stuff.

So now, Chromecast (at least the original Chromecast -- I haven't bought the newer model) does what Amazon Fire TV used to do**, which is detect what kind of device it's connected to and stream at the highest quality that device can handle.

Some Google Play movies can be purchased in SD quality (that is, 480p) video, but others are only available in HD, which was the case with a movie I bought yesterday.*** So if I want to watch it in SD, I have to find a display that will only handle that video quality.

When Google changed "casting" from an extension to a a built-in capability, they should have created a user-accessible settings panel in Chrome for stuff like this. Since they didn't, they should go back in and take care of that now.

* I prefer 480p because it uses much less bandwidth than 720p or 1080p. If my family watched all our stuff in HD, we'd bust our ISP's bandwidth cap halfway through the month.

** I complained about that some time back here on the blog in a post that I won't bother to link to. Shortly after I did -- I'm sure it was coincidental -- Amazon updated its Fire TV OS to include user control of video bandwidth levels, which correlate to video quality. I set mine to SD. Problem solved.

*** So why buy movies from Google instead of from Amazon, meaning I have to switch sources to Chromecast (or mess around with weird un-supported sideloading schemes on the Fire TV)? Simple: I buy them for "free." There's a little app on my Android phone that lets Google hit me up to complete short surveys, for which I am paid in Google Play credit. I can buy apps, books, songs, movies, etc. with that credit. I decided I'd rather spend $4.99 in Google Play credit to buy Lawless from Google than spend $4.99 in cash to buy it from Amazon.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

99 Years Later ...

I read this poem every Armistice Day (now known in the US as "Veterans Day"), and when I remember to, I post it here as well. Wilfred Owen is, I think, still the poetic authority on war:

Dulce et Decorum est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind; 
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. -- 
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -- 
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

PS: There's a Garrison Center column for the occasion as well.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Here's What's Different about Louis C.K.

And no, it's not that instead of being accused of groping/assaulting people, he's accused of wanting to masturbate in front of them.

Vulture's Matt Zoller Seitz says "Louis C.K. is done." His distributor, The Orchard, canceled last night's scheduled premier of his new film, I Love You, Daddy. Shades of erasing Kevin Spacey from a film he's appeared in, maybe not releasing his new flick, etc.


Louis C.K. maintains a direct commercial connection with his fans. I've purchased a couple of his comedy specials via direct download from his web site. Not from Amazon. Not from Netflix. From Louis C.K. When he's got something new coming (a comedy special, a tour, whatever), he sends email to a whole lot of people, including me, explaining what it is and how to get it.

Here's an excerpt from the email I got the other day about I Love You, Daddy:

A lot of you might remember that about two years ago, I created a series called Horace and Pete (still available at I paid for that show myself. When I did it, I told myself that I was parting with the money forever. It wasn’t an investment. It was a 4.5 million dollar grant to the "Make whatever the fuck I want" Foundation.

By that approach, I was able to make and roll out the show exactly the way I saw it, the way I wanted the audience (you) to see it, without any concern for commerce or profit.

In the end, the show made all the money back and more (with zero advertising) through website sales, and through licensing it to HULU, I was able to actually make a sizable profit for me and the actors and some of the crew, who own a piece of the show. That was a pretty good result.

So this year, I decided, I got the money back, I can throw it away again. This time to the "Make a Black and White Movie about a Shitty Father foundation."

All that to say, that I want to really thank all of you who bought Horace and Pete because you gave me the freedom to make this movie.

Did he make more money by licensing Horace and Pete to Hulu than just by selling it direct, and might that be a possibility that's disappeared with all the masturbation talk? Sure.

But The Orchard is just the distributor he got together with to put the movie in theaters. He produced the movie on his own dime and if The Orchard doesn't want to make money putting asses in theater seats to watch it, Louis C.K. is presumably still free to make money selling it directly to those of us who want to see it.

While I'm not interested in watching Louis C.K. masturbate (that's just not my thing), I'm very interested in seeing this movie. I was thinking of popping for a theater ticket to see it (something I don't do very often at all), and I'll certainly pop for a download if he wants to do it that way.

Because he's taken the time to connect directly with his fans and push his creations directly to them instead of working through intermediaries every time, there's a degree to which he has the freedom to say "well, fuck you then" to those intermediaries without it being a career ender. Here's the trailer for I Love You, Daddy:

PS: You know who I bet will stick with a friend instead of throwing him to the wolves? Doug Stanhope. He didn't roll over and join in the Johnny Depp bashing and I don't think he'll play any of this bullshit with Louis C.K. either. Just sayin' ...

Thursday, November 09, 2017

To Avoid "Gross Injustice," Eschew Gross Stupidity

There's a new movie coming out soon -- All the Money in the World. Kevin Spacey was in it, but the filmmakers are replacing him with Christopher Plummer.

When I say "new movie coming out," I don't mean the movie is being made. The movie has already been made. It's listed on IMDb as "completed." They're taking a movie that's done, yanking an actor from it, and re-shooting his scenes.

Not because Spacey didn't do a good job.

Not because Spacey turned out to have poor chemistry with the rest of the cast.

Not because the movie will be better with Plummer than with Spacey.

Because Spacey is accused (credibly) of doing Bad Things off-screen.

From TriStar's statement:

There are over 800 other actors, writers, artists, craftspeople and crew who worked tirelessly and ethically on this film, some for years, including one of cinema's master directors. It would be a gross injustice to punish all of them for the wrongdoings of one supporting actor in the film.

Yes, it would be. So why is TriStar doing it?

A whole bunch of people worked very hard to make a film, and now instead of releasing the film they made, TriStar is turning it into a different film, fucking around with a very expensive piece of art for cheap virtue signaling purposes.

It's not just Sony/TriStar. Netflix has a biopic of Gore Vidal in post-production. Starring, you guessed it, Kevin Spacey.  I don't walk the floor at night waiting for movies, but this happens to be one I've vaguely remembered and looked forward to since hearing about it. And now they're publicly wringing their hands about whether or not to release it.

I've been a Netflix customer for pretty much as long as there's been a Netflix, and I think the other day was the first time I've ever contacted them directly about a non-technical issue (for that matter, I don't recall any technical issues, either). Summarized content:


If Kevin Spacey is a problem for people to work with because he won't keep his hands to himself and his pecker in his pants, fine, let this be the end of his career as an actor.

If some movie fans base their ticket-buying and viewing habits on their judgment of an actor's moral fitness rather than on the quality of the product, well, okay, that's the market speaking in the form of social preferencing.

But re-shooting scenes to remove him from completed films, and not releasing films because he's in them? That's stupid.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Black Friday / Cyber Monday Are Running Early This Year

I've noticed a couple of news stories in the last few days along the lines of "[insert online retailer here] starts its Black Friday sales early." Cool. Didn't see anything I couldn't live without.

But then yesterday I got an email from Musician's Friend (not an affiliate link, but I do recommend them -- I've ordered several things from them over the years with a uniformly good customer experience): "Shop Our Holiday Doorbusters."

So I did.

I've had my heart set on a Les Paul type guitar for some time. My current "everyday play" electric is a Stratocaster clone that I got for $10 (including amp) at a garage sale. Worth every penny ... but not much more. My other electric is the Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II that I inherited from my dad. A beautiful instrument. It only comes out of the case on special occasions, and that will remain the case until and unless I feel like I'm good enough to do it justice.

Hard to beat $95 (with free shipping) on an Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90.

Happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 11/07/17

This installment of The KN@PP Stir Podcast's perpetual AMA thread is brought to you by the anonymous supporter who lets me promote anything I want to promote, which at the moment is:

Up above the main title, you may notice the words "Volume II." That's correct, and you really should read the whole series, but I picked this volume because I consider it particularly applicable in a "history doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes" kind of way. I almost picked Volume I because it includes a likely rhyming situation (in 1872, Horace Greeley ran as the candidate of the Liberal Republican Party against the sitting Republican president, Ulysses S. Grant). But the fascination with populism seems like a more over-arching historical rhyme, so Volume II it is. But again, read all of them. Darcy Richardson is to the history of "third parties" as Shelby Foote is to the history of the Civil War. He misses few details and keeps it fascinating.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for ...




A Tale of Two Deserters

At CounterPunch, John Grant asks the question "Whose Decision Was a Greater Threat to Soldiers' Lives: President Bush’s or Bowe Bergdahl's?"

Obviously, to ask who endangered soldiers more, President George W. Bush or Bowe Bergdahl, is a rhetorical question. The real issue is whether a Dishonorable Discharge, a demotion and a fine is enough punishment for Bo Bergdahl. It's clear by now it's out-of-bounds (poor etiquette) to suggest our major leaders should be held accountable for bad military decisions that put soldiers in harms way and cost lives. It's a variant of the bumper sticker, 'Kill one person, it’s murder; kill 100,000, it’s foreign policy.'"

Well worth a read (and I'll take this opportunity to plug my Garrison op-ed on Trump v. Bergdahl as well).

I do notice, however, that Grant leaves out an important element of the Bush/Bergdahl comparison.

Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, for which he was sentenced to -- in addition to his five years of imprisonment by the Taliban -- reduction in rank from E-5 to E-1, a dishonorable discharge, and a $10,000 fine.

For George W. Bush, misbehavior before the enemy was never a potential offense. He didn't desert in Vietnam and spend five years in the Hanoi Hilton. He deserted from the relatively safe stateside Air National Guard billet Daddy secured for him. Instead of imprisonment, he got notes pleading for him to return and all would be forgiven. Instead of a dishonorable discharge, he got assigned to non-flight duties so as not to have to undergo the flight physical (including drug test) that seems to have prompted his desertion. Instead of reduction in rank and a $10,000 fine, he got a promotion to an eight-year tour as Commander in Chief.

Some military personnel whose last names begin with "B" are more equal than others.

Monday, November 06, 2017

F**k Art, Let's Dance

Scott Lemieux wants the US Supreme Court to "tell anti-gay baker his cakes aren't art" (hat tip -- Steve Trinward). Why?

The shop is arguing that, given the artistry involved in creating a custom wedding cake, compelling it to create a cake for a ceremony it morally disapproves of would violate its rights to freedom of speech and expression.


[A]s the libertarian legal scholars Dale Carpenter and Eugene Volokh argue in their persuasive amicus brief on behalf of Colorado, if Masterpiece's free speech claim were accepted by the Court, it would 'apply to a vast range of conduct.' Many of the activities employees and their supervisors engage in on the job have elements as potentially 'expressive' as baking a cake, and this is true of both tiny storefronts and Fortune 500 corporations.

In other words, if something that clearly is art is recognized as art,  "public accommodations" laws are going to come apart at the seams and everyone's going to just start associating or not associating as they damn well please rather than buckling down and doing as they're told by their betters.

I don't agree with Lemieux on whether or not that outcome is desirable, but I do hope he's right about the stakes.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 140: Special Broadcast from Area 51

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by, um, you -- at least those of you who have made it possible for me to pay Soundcloud another $120 for another year of hosting tomorrow. Thanks for your support, and for those of you who have been meaning to kick in, see the sidebar for options.

In This Episode: Thanks For Asking! [Secession, Florida LP's Ethno-Nationalist Tumor, New York Con-Con, Operating Systems, Mises Caucus] :: Who Expects a Killer to Hold on to a Smoking Gun for 54 Years?

"[O]ften a short-sighted and toxic little man"

That's L. Neil Smith on Murray N. Rothbard. In passing, but an interesting evaluation.

Sunday, November 05, 2017 is Now

After I went to all that trouble making a link graphic, they changed their name. That's OK, though. It's not like the link graphic was that great. Got a new one, over in the sidebar.

It still works the same way. For the princely sum of $1, you can contact me and get a response. Of course, I'm promoting this as a way to participate in the Thanks For Asking! feature of The KN@PP Stir Podcast that supports said podcast financially, so you should let me know whether you want a public answer for that forum, or a private answer to whatever it is your contacting me about.

You should also join yourself (no, that's not an affiliate link, just a recommendation) and monetize your expertise in various areas (you can join lists of e.g. Bitcoin buyers, college students, whatever so that people targeting certain demographics for surveys, proposals and such can hit a bunch of people up in one fell swoop). The pay comes in Bitcoin, and yes I have in fact withdrawn my earnings (amounting to a little over $20 in USD total as of the time of each withdrawal, although of course the Bitcoin they represent has varied in value since withdrawal).

Strict Constructionism vs. Original Intent, Libertarian Party Edition

When it comes to the Libertarian Party's Statement of Principles and platform, I am a strict constructionist. That is, they mean what they say and say what they mean within reasonable understandings of language. Anything outside reasonable construction of actual language is both highly interpretable and subject to new understanding.

Caryn Ann Harlos is an original intentist, where the Statement of Principles in particular, and the platform to the extent that it flows from the former document, are all to be understood in terms of what the few dozen founders of the LP believed about issues (and the philosophical depths of issues), beliefs that neither they nor the SoP/platform may have even explicitly mentioned.

Unsurprisingly, on the issue that brings out this difference of approach at the moment, Harlos believes that the unstated position of the party's founders just happens to be Harlos's own position. Imagine that.

UPDATE: Caryn Ann informs me that I'm incorrect on the point of her claims as to the founders' positions agreeing with her own. She claims to be defending the historicity of a position, not the position itself. Fair enough.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

J. Neil Schulman is Brave

I thought it, but he wrote it. Why didn't I write it? Because if you say it, people who don't understand the meaning of the word "pedophilia" will accuse you of supporting pedophiles. Schulman:

Kevin Spacey has lost his Netflix series House of Cards and future Netflix production relationship because of decades-old gossip that he made homosexual advances toward a biologically post-pubescent man. Fourteen isn’t a man? Tell that to Blaize Teague, a 14-year-old being tried as an adult for murder in Oklahoma.

I'm kind of embarrassed that I didn't have the guts to write it myself instead of just agreeing with it once someone else stuck his neck out.

Yes, I know there's more to it than the above. Not all of the claims are old -- some of them are from staff/crew on House of Cards itself -- and not all of them are as trite as "he made a pass at me and I didn't like it so I got out of there."

One of them is from another guy who claims he engaged in a consensual relationship with Spacey, who was then in his early 20s, as a 14 and 15 year old. Now the guy has decided that he was being manipulated by a predator. Then, he apparently didn't think so.

Personally, I find the idea of sex, or a romantic relationship, with a teenager to get creepier and creepier as the age of the other party increases. That is, a 20-year-old and a 17-year-old, no biggie. A 24 year-old and a 16-year-old, not quite kosher. A 30-year-old and a 14-year-old, creep alert. Any adult and someone 12 or under and I'm throwing the "not capable of meaning consent" flag on the play and asking a jury to sort it out ("age of consent" laws are BS, as individuals differ as to when they can meaningfully consent; I've written at more length on that before).

But that's just me. At a remove of decades, there's plenty of he said / he said factor as to the facts, and there's also a "changed my mind over the years" factor as to whether the alleged victim was willing or unwilling and able or unable to consent. So I'm content to just say "well, that sounds like it was pretty creepy, not sure I like Kevin Spacey very much" and get on with my life instead of calling for the guy's head on a platter.

I can't say I agree with Schulman entirely. For one thing, no, it is not libel to state something not yet proven. For another, no, we don't all owe everyone a presumption of innocence until proof of guilt is established beyond reasonable doubt. That's a worthy standard for criminal prosecutions, but not for personal opinions.

The witch hunt metaphor is well done, but my preferred metaphor is a more genteel (so far) version of China's Cultural Revolution, starting on American college campuses and  now ramifying through society in "show me on the doll where Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey touched you" form.

But it's still a good piece, so go read it. And thanks for saying what others were afraid to say, Neil.

Some Twitter Accounts are More Equal Than Others

Garrison Bleg

The mission of The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism is to get libertarian op-eds published in mainstream newspapers and non-libertarian political publications.

That happened 545 times in 2015. In 2016, I set a goal of 750 such pickups and ended up with 913. This year, I set a goal of 1,000 pickups and things are looking pretty good (844 for the year, 82 in October, that I know of  -- based on experience, I expect to find more when I spend a whole day at the end of the year going back and aggressively Googling).

You can help keep things building, and all it will cost you is a few minutes of your time.

Your town probably has one or more newspapers.

Your town's newspapers probably don't carry the Garrison Center's op-eds.

But if you ask, they might.

There's a good chance that I'm already sending those op-eds to your local paper and that they're just ignored and thrown in the trash folder. If so, a word from you might cause the editor to take a closer look.

And it's always possible that I'm not hitting your paper's inbox. I submit (three times a week) to about 1,500 newspapers in the US and, when appropriate, another thousand or so abroad, but I may have missed yours, or removed it from my mailings because the emails bounce and I can't find a good address, or because they've asked me to stop bothering them.

If you have a moment sometime soon, why not jot off a note to your local paper telling them you'd like to see my columns? Or, if you actually personally know someone who works for the paper, chat him or her up about it? That's thegarrisoncenter dot org on the web, media at the by email.

Big daily papers or small town weekly papers or anything in between. I'm not picky. Thanks in advance.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

It Looks Like Democrats May be Ready to Take Up a Republican Slogan

"Hillary For Prison," that is.

Prediction 1: The Democratic Party will be in better shape by 2020 than the GOP.

Prediction 2: But probably not by 2018. The party that holds the White House usually loses seats in Congress during the mid-term elections. Some particularly ebullient anti-Trump people expect the GOP to lose its majorities in both the Senate and the House. Unless something changes (and things do change), I'd say there's a 10% chance of the Democrats taking a Senate majority and a less than 1% chance of them taking a House majority.

Saipov Should Get the Death Penalty ...

... says the head of the largest terrorist organization on the planet, who has himself supervised thousands of terror killings.

Well, I guess he's an expert on the subject, then, isn't he?

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