Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tether Bawl?


I thought Tether sounded like a dumb idea in the first place even if it was honest (and it sounded kinda scammy). Why the hell would I want to peg my crypto to a fiat currency?

Well, now the company's claim to have 100% reserves -- that is, for every supposed fiat-unit-worth of crypto, an actual fiat unit in the bank available for redemption on demand -- look like they may be moonshine:

Critics on Twitter, Reddit, in blog posts, and at a recent bitcoin conference have been demanding that the company prove its reserves through external audits. Not only has Tether failed to do so, last week it confirmed rumors that it had severed ties with Friedman LLP, the accounting firm on tap to perform those audits. On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission had sent subpoenas to Tether.

As the linked story indicates, this could end up in the crypto equivalent of "bank runs" as people try to get out of Tether and into real crypto ASAP.

But the line about it "potentially undoing much of the public’s growing interest in new technologies like bitcoin" reminds me of how the Office of National Drug Control Policy used to pay the television networks to slip anti-drug messaging into their programs. Crypto is here to stay, even if Tether breaks some banks. The concept is solid enough that bad ideas and scams are inevitably going to rise and fall on top of it.

Wow, the Republican Congress is a Train Wreck.


Literally.

One fatality so far. Unfortunately, it appears to have been a member of the productive class rather than a politician.

Another Reason to Use Earn.com ...


I've flogged Earn.com before as a way to pay to communicate with me, and a few of you have chosen to do that (so far as I know, that link is not an "affiliate link," nor as I understand it am I compensated in any way if you join -- which you can do for free).

But of course there are other reasons to use Earn.com, and I've actually made more money on those other reasons than I have on valued messages from my dear readers. Unfortunately they in Bitcoin, so the high fees and long wait times make it impractical to withdraw four bucks or so I have in my account at the moment, but I expect one of two things to happen: Either Bitcoin will get better, or Earn.com will go with a different cryptocurrency in the near future.

In Earn.com you can add yourself to "lists" corresponding to your interests. At present there are 93 such lists, ranging from "C++ Programmers" to "Stanford students" to buyers of, or people involved with, particular cryptocurrencies.

When you add yourself to a list, you are saying that people can pay to contact you about the topic of that list. This has happened to me several times, and I've made a few bucks each time.

Now, there's something new: Ethereum token "air drops." The shortest primer I can come up with:

Ethereum is a cryptocurrency.

ERC20 Tokens are little bits of Ethereum split out for specific purposes. I'm not going to go into "Digital Autonomous Organizations" and "Smart Contracts" and so forth, but think of them like arcade tokens. For a certain amount of Ethereum, you get a certain number of tokens that can be used for a specific purpose.

An Air Drop is when a token start-up company gets together a group of people it expects will use, evangelize for, or help it improve, its product and showers them with some free tokens to get them interested.

I've been invited to two "air drops" so far this week. To qualify, you answer a few questions (including giving them an Ethereum address to send your tokens to) and join a focus/discussion group, and you're in.

I'm going to start in with a limited evangelist bit on those two air drops. I am NOT (yet) endorsing these startups. I'm just telling you about the two so that you'll know what kind of thing you can get into via Earn.com. I am not overly familiar with them, and you shouldn't consider this investment advice.

CanYa started up in 2015 and is building a "blockchain-powered marketplace of services." What does that mean? As I understand it, it means that if I want to hire a web developer in Mumbai, Moscow or Marseille, I don't have to find a way to get rupees, rubles or euros. I just transfer CanYa tokens (fee-free and peer-to-peer) via the app, which will also help me find that web developer, etc. The developer can in turn use those CanYa tokens to get his yard mowed or whatever, or exchange them out for crypto or fiat.

SKRAPS is a "spare change" app. There are others out there, and I am not going to try to tell you which one is best. The way SKRAPS works is that whenever you make a purchase using a debit card that you link to the app, the purchase is rounded up to the nearest dollar, and that "spare change" is invested in a cryptocurrency portfolio of your choice "based on your risk aversion" (sort of like how some mutual funds invest only in stocks that seem "safe," while others go looking for hungry startups and hope for a much higher return). Presumably the token here is an intermediary instrument, i.e. it represents a certain amount of that "spare change" and can be used to purchase a share in the chosen portfolio.

Once the "air drops" actually happen and I see token balances in my wallet, I'll explore their use further and if they're interesting I'm sure I'll blog about them. In any case, if you are involved in, or interested in, cryptocurrency, I suggest you hit Earn.com and start getting some of this cool stuff for yourself.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Why is This Even a Thing?


From The Hill:

The House Intelligence Committee on Monday evening voted to make public a GOP-crafted memo alleging what some Republicans say are "shocking" surveillance abuses at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

At the same time, the committee voted against making public a Democrat-drafted countermemo.

Why would there even need to be votes on this?

Who the hell are these people who think they're entitled to keep their memos, their work product, secret from the people they claim are their employers, until and unless they just happen to decide that they'd like to share?

Even assuming that the government should be allowed to keep secrets at all (when they start picking up the check for their hijinks themselves instead of expecting everyone else to cover their tab, we'll talk), "'shocking' surveillance abuses" implies crimes ... and it's illegal under the government's own rules to classify information for the purpose of covering up crimes.

If we're going to let these jokers continue to play their games, I'm for some kind of citizen ombudsman program. Like this:

Every time there's a "closed" congressional hearing, three names are drawn by lottery from a pool of present volunteers who are not government employees. Anyone who wants to can show up and sit in the volunteer room any time. If there aren't at least three volunteers present, the meeting gets postponed until there are at least three available to supervise the meeting.

Those three ombudsmen sit in on the meeting, with total access to all memos, submissions, etc., and their unanimous consent is required to stop publication of the entire transcript/video of the meeting, including all reports and exhibits, or any part thereof, within one hour of the meeting's adjournment. Absent that consent it is automatic with failure to so publish or obstruction of publication punishable as a felony.

That would be a start, anyway.

Well, It Happens


I just had a note from a newspaper editor whom I will not name regarding today's Garrison Center op-eds (here's a link to the Steemit version because I like sending people to Steemit):

"I can't remember EVER reading one of your columns and feeling confused by what you wrote. [But this column IS confusing."

A partial quote of my reply:

"I try to stick to a standard of 'if the reader is confused, it's the writer who isn't communicating clearly.' That may not be the case with EVERY reader, but it seems like a sound rule of thumb ... especially if the reader is a newspaper editor."

So I guess I may have dropped the ball. If so, I apologize to my readers, and to the increasing number of editors who run my columns in their publications.

On the up side, that number of editors is increasing (I haven't announced the final number of pickups for 2017 yet, for the perfectly good reason that I just provisionally finished counting a few minutes ago, but that number is in excess of my goal of 1000). I'm coming up on 500 Garrison Center op-eds in three years, so I hope the occasional fail is forgivable.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Oh, the Hypocrisy


It ought not to be -- and it has never before been -- that those who have lived without incident in this country for years are subjected to treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust, regimes where those who have long lived in a country may be taken without notice from streets, home, and work. And sent away. We are not that country; and woe be the day that we become that country under a fiction that laws allow it. The Constitution commands better.

Nicely said ... by the same judge who sentenced political prisoner Ross Ulbricht to two life terms without the possibility of parole for the "crime" of operating a web site the regime she serves didn't approve of.

Thinking About a Blockchain Future


I just noticed a press release over at Bitcoin.com for something called Propy, " a pilot project to develop a global real estate conveyance management system and global real estate data model as a blockchain." Two of the company's prospective products:


  • a transaction recorder, and
  • a global land records registry that [is] free of jurisdiction

I have no opinion on Propy itself except to say that it's early days and that a lot of these startups will come up with some very good ideas and then fail to execute those ideas in a sustainably profitable way and disappear, leaving only the very good ideas as evidence that they existed.

A "jurisdiction-free" -- that is, non-state-dependent -- global land records registry is one of those very good ideas provided that it can gain widespread adoption and that it has a sound underlying model for confirming the veracity of claims to property in land.

Assuming survival of technological society, in the future we might have hard, unmodifiable evidence of prior ownership of, and the nature of transfers of, particular parcels, removing one dimension of historical argumentation in conflicts like those between displaced Palestinian Arabs who once lived on, and the Israelis now living on, particular parcels.

Not that it would necessarily bring such conflicts to an end, but it would reduce the ability to game their history.

Of course, there still remains the root issue of how one would establish a rightful initial claim to ownership in land. The Georgists say it can't be done, and the Lockean formula is vague as to just how much, and what kind of, labor has to be mixed with land to establish ownership. But establishing legitimate title and recording title and transfer under some accepted scheme of legitimacy  are separate problems. A blockchain does indeed sound like a nice solution to the latter.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Today in Paris ...


... sounds a lot like every day in the US Capitol building.

A Note Apropos of "The Next Thing?"


In a previous post discussing the possibility of setting up a Discord server, I noted that the younger generation seems to like Discord. It also seems to like Twitter and a whole bunch of dedicated apps for talking with each other.

I've noticed that my own kids (19 and 16) don't like email.

Recently, I got added to a Yahoo! group/email list for a committee I'm serving on, and some of the younger members seem confused as to how email discussion lists and web-based "group" fora like Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups work.

Are email discussion lists and bulletin-board style web-based "groups" going away?

That is, if snail mail and print publications were the horses and buggies to email and web being the Model T, are email and web the Model T to Twitter/Slack/Discord, etc. being the '57 Chevys, 1977 Trans Ams, and 2019 Mustang Bullitts?

Wondering.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Next Thing?


I've still got most of a year remaining on my Soundcloud hosting account. I haven't done a podcast in a couple of months, and I'm not sure when or if I will get back to that and if I do what the format will be.

I definitely miss certain aspects of the podcasting, especially the "Thanks For Asking!" AMA threads.

I'm considering setting up a KN@PPSTER Discord server. If you don't know what Discord is, the short version is that it's an online chat app that supports both text and voice chat. All the whippersnappers have been using it lately. On my lawn. I wish they'd get off my damn lawn.

The server would have a sort of general chat channel for KN@PPSTER readers, a running or episodic AMA channel, and probably channels for Rational Review News Digest and other projects of mine and/or Steve Trinward's.

But I'm not going to bother if nobody's interested.

So, is anyone interested?

Citing a Century of Intensive Regulation as an Argument Against Intensive Regulation


From an interesting piece at The Heartland Institute -- "Today's Food: A Modern Agricultural Miracle," by Steve Goreham:


Agriculture is under attack. Environmentalists label modern farming as unsustainable, blaming farming for polluting the planet and destroying the climate. But today’s food is abundant and nutritious — a modern agricultural miracle.

...

An astounding improvement in agricultural yields provides rising output without the need for additional land. Gains in US corn yield are a remarkable example. US land employed to harvest corn peaked in 1918. Today, US farmers produce five times more corn on 11 percent less area than 100 years ago.

Hmm. Since 1918. That is, since right before the 1921 Packers and Stockyards Act, 1922 Capper–Volstead Act, the 1922 Grain Futures Act, the 1929 Agricultural Marketing Act, the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act and, basically, a century of increaingly intensive government regulation (and subsidy) of every aspect of agriculture.

Don't get me wrong. I oppose both regulation and subsidy. But "hey, look how much things improved over the course of an era of unprecedented regulation and subsidy, those guys who advocate more regulation and subsidy must be wrong" doesn't strike me as the soundest argument.

Rather Funny Set of Standards


The UK's Presidents Club is shutting down after 33 years of holding an annual fundraising dinner for chldren's charities, in the wake of reports that that dinner was rather misogynistic both in pre-arranged theme and in guest behavior:

Financial Times journalist Madison Marriage, one of two FT reporters who worked undercover as hostesses at the event, described being groped multiple times by guests. Many other hostesses among the 130 women hired for the night had told her of similar behavior and worse, she said.

"It was hands up skirts, hands on bums but also hands on hips, hands on stomachs, arms going around your waist unexpectedly," she told the BBC's Newsnight program.

...

According to the FT report, the women hired as hostesses were told to wear "BLACK sexy shoes" and black underwear. Short, tight, black dresses were provided, the FT said. At the start of the event, the hostesses were paraded on stage, the report said.


The thing that strikes me is the response of from one of the charities who have benefited, to the tune of $28 million, from these charity dinners over the years.

Great Ormond Street Hospital in London said it was shocked by the reported behavior and would return any past donations. "We would never knowingly accept donations raised in this way. We have had no involvement in the organization of this event, nor did we attend and we were never due to receive any money from it," a spokeswoman said.

The hospital told CNN that it received £530,000 (about $753,000) in three separate donations in 2009 and 2016, and would give the money back.

This is the same hospital that went to court to prevent Charlie Gard's parents from getting treatment for their dying son, at their own expense, lest other parents start making their own decisions too instead of just doing whatever the doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital tell them to do.

A "children's charity" that will go to court to protect its ability kill a kid, but sanctimoniously return money intended to help children to a bunch of alleged gropers because those gropers might have groped while raising it for them, doesn't sound like much of a children's charity to me. Just sayin' ...

Here We Go Again With the "Veterans" Stuff


Ronald Brownstein at The Atlantic reports:

Enter a new organization called With Honor.

The group, which is announcing its first campaign endorsements Thursday, has launched a major effort to elect to the House more recent military veterans who commit to working across party lines. The aim is to create a bipartisan core of House Members who are inclined to seek common ground, whatever their personal views.

The only "common ground" that veterans share is that they're former government employees.

Back in the 1990s, one of my online haunts was a local Unix shell service with a discussion forum. The four most frequent participants were four veterans: A former Marine Corps infantry grunt (me), a former Navy submariner, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, and a former Army aircraft crewman.

The political distribution was: Hardcore libertarian, hardcore conservative, thoughtful progressive, hardcore partisan Democrat.

There's no correlation between being a veteran and having any particular set of political views. Or, for that matter, between being a veteran and treasuring any great commitment to "public service" or whatever. Some people join the military because there aren't good jobs to be had in their towns, some to get money for college, some to learn a skill they can make bank with later, and yes, some from this or that (highly variable from person to person) conception of duty, patriotism, etc.

Forming a political organization around veterans is like forming a political organization around restaurant workers, stamp collectors, or avid kayakers. That is, the shared characteristic is not a set of political beliefs, either specific or general.

Furthermore, being a veteran just isn't the credential it used to be where the voters are concerned.

From 1952 until 1992, there was no point in bothering to run for president unless you were a World War II veteran (the semi-exceptions were Jimmy Carter, who graduated the US Naval Academy just as the war ended, and Ronald Reagan, who got stuck making military training films instead of actually hitting beaches).

In 1992, a non-veteran, even slammed as a draft-dodger, beat WWII veteran George H.W. Bush.

In 1996, that same non-veteran beat WWII veteran Bob Dole.

In 2000, an alleged veteran, but plausibly described as a deserter, beat an actual Vietnam veteran.

In 2004, that same likely deserter beat another actual Vietnam veteran.

In 2008, a non-veteran (although possibly a former US intel operative) beat not just a Vietnam veteran, but a former POW.

In 2012 and 2016, neither major party bothered to run a veteran for president. And why would they have, after five elections in which the "credible veteran" candidate lost?

Reorganizing American politics around veterans is a dumb idea. Moreover, given the last quarter century of history, it's a losing idea.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

No, Wrecked Bitcoin (BTC) Isn't "Digital Gold"


I've been hearing that reference lately, and it seems to be aimed at the difficulty of getting in and out of Wrecked Bitcoin (BTC) -- high transaction fees, long wait times. Or maybe some BTC supporters are coming at it from the more positive side, i.e. "it's more a store of wealth than a medium of exchange."

But I don't see that the comparison runs either way.

On the "store of wealth" side, it's not obvious that Bitcoin has great use value as opposed exchange value. I can't make a piece of jewelry out of it or use it in circuitry or whatever. I guess I can use it to store information on the blockchain, but there are much cheaper, and just as indelible/unmodifiable, blockchain ledgers I can do that on.

And on the high transaction fee/long wait time side, I don't see the comparison either.

I don't have a lot of metal, and I don't trade in it, but last time I did, I could walk into just about any coin shop and buy silver at 10% above spot or sell it at 10% below spot in a hot minute. That is, when silver was $17 an ounce back in the '90s, I could drop by a little coin/metal kiosk in a building on my way home from work and buy one-ounce rounds for $18.70 or sell them for $15.30 all day long. It was about a minute out of my way and took about 30 seconds (not counting the time I spent shooting the shit with the guy who ran the kiosk).

It looks like Bitcoin fees have been dropping hard the last little while, but according to bitinfocharts.com, the average transaction fee is still north of $10 (down from a high of $55 or so). Likewise, transaction wait times have also been dropping, but they're still more than an hour (down from more than a day) according to blockchain.info. So if I'm moving an amount of Bitcoin equivalent to that $17 ounce of silver, it's costing me about six times as much and taking me maybe 50 times as long.

Note: I was surprised to see that steep drop in wait times and transaction fees this morning. I know that the BTC "Lightning Network" had its first live transaction yesterday. Is that possibly responsible? If so, maybe BTC is getting its shit together such that it will be able to get back in the game versus Real Bitcoin, aka Bitcoin Cash. But I wouldn't bet the ranch on it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Duckworth on the Chickenhawk's Squawk: "I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger."


No, I don't have a duck in the government spending fight -- a pox on both their houses. And yeah, that it includes the military. Shut it all down and the world certainly won't end.

No, I don't go for a bunch of "veterans are speeeeeeeeesssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhul" stuff, either. We're just a bunch of former government employees, way too many of us with an over-developed and annoying sense of entitlement.

And no, I certainly don't support conscription.



But I do enjoy it when one of those former government employees puts a guy who likes to play "Commander in Chief" now, but who hauled ass away from the sound of the guns as fast as he could go when he had his chance to do the real thing, in his place.

The embed above isn't working for me. If it isn't working for you, here's the article w/ video.

I Hate "the Common Cold"


For one thing, it makes me not feel like blogging. So I guess you'll just have to settle for my latest Garrison column. Between that and RRND, I'm worn out. OK, time for more zinc and Vitamin C ...

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Question Concerning Privacy


Wendy McElroy's new book, The Satoshi Revolution: A Revolution of Rising Expectations, is rolling out as a weekly serial at Bitcoin.com. Very interesting and worthwhile. Chapter 4, part 3 is out this week. I'm going to jump right to the end of it for a teaser because the last two sentences are the most concise passage from which to jump to a question I have:

Privacy is a human right, but it is a right you can surrender in the much the same manner as you can surrender your claim to a pile of cash by throwing it into the wind. In a word: don't.

Although I dispute the notion that privacy is a "right," I agree that it's a good thing, value tools that facilitate it, etc. My question isn't really about that argument. Here it is:

In addition to becoming both more (e.g. encryption) and less (e.g. the surveillance state) available, is privacy becoming, by most people in the current technologically advancing society, less valued?

It seems to me that it is, with social media as cause, symptom, or both.

I see people posting details of their personal lives on Facebook these days that 20 years ago they probably wouldn't have said to their neighbors, or maybe even to their spouses, let alone put in a letter to the editor or otherwise attempt to achieve broad notice of. Heck, I'm probably one of those people.

It's not just that the sphere of privacy which can be claimed is diminishing (that sphere, as mentioned above, seems to be diminishing in some respects and growing in others -- thankfully, the latter includes financial matters if you're willing to learn how).

It's that the sphere of privacy which people choose to claim is diminishing. A lot of stuff that previous generations would have kept to themselves, we don't.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

In Which I Agree That Trump is Not a Racist


Quite a bit of back and forth the last few days (since the "shithole countries" thing) about whether or not US president Donald Trump is a racist. Some say he is, some -- including people who know him -- say he isn't.

I agree that he isn't.

Why? Because his personality seems to be fairly evenly split between narcissism and solipsism. That is, pretty much everything is all about him, one way or another.

Which means that he's unlikely to spend much time thinking about other people at all, let alone waste his energy on worrying about other people's skin color.

Pretty much the only way into his consciousness is for him to notice you either praising him (in which case he thinks you're great, no matter your skin color) or condemning him (in which case he thinks you're bad, no matter your skin color).

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Lesson of Hawaii ...


... is not that Hawaiians need to be "better prepared" for a missile strike.

It's that when the government tells you to panic, the odds are better than even that you shouldn't.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Much Ado About Nothing


Corey Lewandowski doesn't see why reports that the Trump campaign paid porn star "Stormy Daniels" to keep quiet about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Orange Casanova are news. Lewandowski's reasoning:

Lewandowski pointed to denials by both the film star, Stephanie Clifford, and a White House lawyer after The Wall Street Journal reported that the attorney arranged a $130,000 payment for Clifford as part of a nondisclosure agreement before the 2016 election. ... Lewandowski said that in "normal journalism world" a story with denials by two key sources would not be reported.

Yes, we all know that in "normal journalism world," if a mob boss/escort denies bribing/sleeping with a politician and the politician denies being bribed/slept with, that's be the end of the matter, right? Apparently "normal journalism world" is in an alternate universe.

Lewandowski is right that this isn't really news, though.

Everyone who cared one way or another knew that Trump was a lying, faithless horndog before he was elected ("I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it, you can do anything ... grab them by the pussy.") Maybe it made them less -- or more! -- likely to vote for him, but either way that all got settled up on election day. There's no one on the face of the Earth who can believably throw a "but I didn't know he was like that, or I wouldn't have voted for him" tantrum.

If there's anything newsworthy at all here, it's that some idiot on Team Trump thought they needed to shell out $130k to keep it quiet.

Friday, January 12, 2018

An Odd Glitch (Perhaps in Wordpress) That Maybe Someone Can Explain


Over the last two or three days, one of my Wordpress sites has gone berserk vis a vis what time it is.

I schedule most  of the posts at Rational Review News Digest ahead of time so as to spread them out over the day without me having to be at the computer pressing "publish."

In Wordpress preferences, I have the time zone set to US Eastern Time. The server's default time zone is US Central, but Wordpress overrides that.

Thing is, now it's jumping around. I'll put in a post, go to schedule it, and my screen may tell me it's the time it is (say, 1pm Eastern), or it may tell me that it is 3pm, or 5pm.

Even if the time it says is correct, a few minutes later I may find that my post scheduled to publish an hour or three hours later has already published, as have all the intervening posts, and maybe some after that one ... and it will say it was published at the time I specified, and when I go back to the post entry form, it will now be telling me that it's four hours later than it is. And a few minutes after that, the time it reflects will be accurate again.

I've checked the server time in my hosting control panel, and it seems to remain the same, accurate to its own set time zone.

I haven't added any new plug-ins lately.

So instead of RRND's content rolling out in an orderly way, it's posting in big chunks all at once (and auto-posting to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus in the same disorderly manner).

It's pissing me off.

Is anyone reading this having this same problem, or perhaps has had it before and figured out how to fix it?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

My Latest Garrison Column ...


Teaser:

America's fifty governors and 535 members of Congress seem to constitute the worst possible pool from which to select a president. Their collective record of corruption, incompetence, scandal, etc. is probably an order of magnitude worse than the record of any 585 randomly selected regular Americans. Seldom a day goes by without some politician getting caught with his hand in the till, or texting photos of his junk to random women, while passing monumentally stupid laws and running up $20 trillion in debt.

Secondly, if you think American government is moving in the wrong direction, well, guess who’s been moving it that way? These are the people trying to run our lives, and doing a terrible job of it. Political power attracts narcissists, sociopaths and megalomaniacs.

So, why not change the way we pick the president? I have two ideas, either one or both of which would improve the situation.

Read it at Steemit

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

More on the Virtues of Steemit


I was skeptical of the Steemit platform and the Steem cryptocurrency when they first came out in 2016. I messed with the whole thing a little bit, then stopped bothering. I came back to it a few months ago ... and it's very, very nice, as I've mentioned recently. I guess I'd better get a link in to my Steemit blog before going any further, but the short version is that if you blog, tweet, etc., you should be doing so on Steemit.

The whole thing seems very complicated, which is one thing that put me off at first. I'll explain a little bit, but first another short version:

Steemit is a social blogging platform and you get paid for posting content there and for voting and commenting on other people's content.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Yes, when I say you get paid, I mean that I have personally converted my earnings there out of the platform's currency (Steem) and into a more widely accepted "mainstream" cryptocurrency (in my case, Ethereum), to the tune of high two-digit or maybe low three-digit US dollars.

There's no reason you can't do that yourself. It's free to join, it's not hard to learn to post content, and the more complicated aspects of the cryptocurrency are something I'll be glad to help you with if you run into problems.

Side note: This isn't just for political bloggers. I've made money by posting pictures of my pets there. Just about any subject, from pizza to porn, can be a money-maker and also hook you up with other people who are interested in the same things you are.

Some easy steps to get yourself started:

1) Go to Steemit.com
2) Sign up.
3) Create a short blog post about yourself and your interests, put the string introduceyourself in the spot for "tags," and post it.
4) Look around the place and click "follow" some other users who are posting content you like (three to get you started -- me, Kent McManigal, and Ian Freeman from Free Talk Live).
5) Post YOUR Steemit username in comments here -- if I'm not already following you, I will.
6) Likewise, post any questions you have about the platform here and I'll do my best to answer them. I expect you'll find the three faces of the cryptocurrency (Steem, Steem Power and Steem Dollars) confusing at first. I did. But I can explain it reasonably well and non-technically and help you start making money.

See you there.



Monday, January 08, 2018

Oprah for President? Why Not?


Teaser:


Just a few short years ago, the idea of a president without prior experience in political office was nearly unthinkable. Prior to 2016, the last major party nominee, let alone president, with no political resume was Dwight D. Eisenhower, who, you may remember, whipped Hitler in World War Two.

And then came Donald Trump.

That's my Garrison column for today, but if it's all the same to you I'd rather you read (and upvoted) the Steemit version.

They Say it Like it's a Bad Thing


Jonathan Swan reports at Axios:


President Trump is starting his official day much later than he did in the early days of his presidency, often around 11am, and holding far fewer meetings, according to copies of his private schedule shown to Axios. This is largely to meet Trump's demands for more "Executive Time," which almost always means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence, officials tell us.

The way I see it, there are two ways to view this, both of them positive.


  • After a year in office, Trump has delegated tasks to subordinates and no longer has to ride herd quite as closely on those subordinates. He sets the policy, he makes sure they're implementing the policy, and when he's sure they're implementing the policy he cuts out some of the micro-managing in favor of more "me time." Nicely done, Donald. And/or ...
  • Well, if the guy really is crazy as a shithouse rat, why the hell would anyone want him actually doing chief executive stuff? Let him go watch TV and rage on Twitter while John Kelly takes care of business. He can hit pause on the DVR when it's time to sign a bill or whatever, but otherwise leave the adults in charge.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Ineligible, IMO


As I write this, The Golden Globes are starting.

Michelle Williams (Actress in a Motion Picture -- Drama), Christopher Plummer (Actor in a Supporting Role), and Ridley Scott (Director -- Motion Picture) are all up for awards for "All the Money in the World."

But that movie shouldn't be up for an award, because that movie was never released. What was released was the movie that USED TO BE "All the Money in the World." After the movie was in the can, they cut Kevin Spacey out of it and re-shot his scenes with Christopher Plummer.

No, I don't hate Williams, Plummer or Scott. But Plummer wasn't in the movie. He was in an on-the-fly remake of the movie.

I don't know what the rules are for nominating remakes, but there should be a rule against pretending to nominate participants in one movie while actually nominating participants in a different movie.

Kind of a Weird Lie, even for Trump ...


Quoth Cheeto Mussolini:







Why lie about something like that?

In 1999, Trump switched to the Reform Party and ran a presidential exploratory campaign for its nomination.

Trump sought the Reform Party's 2000 presidential nomination, but dropped out early. Maybe he figured that Pat Buchanan would beat him like a drum (he did spend the next 16 years trying to become, um, Pat Buchana), or maybe there was some other reason, but 2016 was not his "first try."

Lately it Occurs to Me ...


... that most of the ethno-nationalists in America who refer to themselves as "European" are about as "European" as Rachel Dolezal is "African American."

That is, they want to be "European" and they think of themselves as "European," but they're not "European."

They were born in America, not in Europe (less than 14% of Americans were born abroad, let alone in Europe, and it's likely that a lower percentage of those are "European ethno-nationalists" than is the case in the general population).

There's a very good chance that their parents were born in America, not in Europe.

There's a reasonably good chance that their grandparents were born in America, not in Europe.

Sure, some of their genes may trace back to European ancestors. But all of their genes trace back to African ancestors, and they're not running around calling themselves "African."

If you were born in America, likely to American parents, and raised to adulthood in America, you're not "European," you're "American."

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Jeff Sessions is Picking a Fight ...


... with marijuana.

Anyone know what the Vegas line is on this? I'd like to put a few bucks down on marijuana giving him an ass-whipping of epic proportions.

An Interesting Take on the ol' "Nigerian Prince" Email Scam


Usually the "Nigerian Prince" poses as the child or widow of a general who was killed in an auto accident, or something along those lines. I have to give the one I found in my spam folder this morning bonus points for brass ...

Because I'm really into Steemit at the moment, I'm posting the rest of this bit there. If you're interested (and you should be), give it a look. If you're a member of Steemit (and you should be -- this should be the join link), your upvote and comments are much appreciated.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Florida Winters are Different


In Missouri, if the government schools close due to weather it's typically because:


  • The temperatures are in the below zero fahrenheit range; and/or
  • The roads are extremely dangerous because of ice and snow cover.

And even then, not necessarily. I remember a bus ride in high school that included suddenly going down the street while perpendicular to the street and nearly running over a motorcyclist who had wiped out in front of us on the same patch of ice.

Yesterday, Tamara got an email informing her that the University of Florida would not shut down today. Kind of strange. Why would it? It shut down, grudgingly, for Hurricane Irma (they were going to have their football game right before the storm arrived, until the governor ordered every government entity in Florida to close). Then I saw this:


So, what's the weather forecast for today and tomorrow?

Today: High of 41, low of 26, rain. I'm guessing that low of 26 will be tonight, because it didn't get down to freezing last night and the precipitation this morning was liquid, not ice.

Tomorrow: High of 47, low of 24, sunny. It looks like the chances of precipitation decrease steeply after noon today, down to 0% by midnight. So the roads shouldn't be icy tomorrow morning.

The only thing I can think of that might make this understandable is that perhaps some of the kids down here don't have heavy coats for weather quite this cold.

But I wonder about even that. We usually have a few days of lows in the low 20s or even teens each winter, and I see people bundled up like they're preparing for the Iditarod any time the temperature falls below 60 (I'm turning into one of those people myself after only five years here).

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

My 2018 Crypto Plans


Note: This post is NOT intended as investment advice. I do NOT have any kind of inside line to where cryptocurrencies are going to go this year. I just have opinions, which you are free to accept or reject, and other than a referral link to a crypto mining outfit where you can choose from a number of currencies, and my intention to re-post this to Steemit and possibly collect some rewards, I don't expect to directly financially benefit from this post - KN@PPSTER


A brief recap of KN@PPSTER's 2017 crypto experience with future intentions:

- I gave up on BTC, aka Bitcoin Core, aka Wrecked Bitcoin after real Bitcoin became Bitcoin Cash and Wrecked Bitcoin became, well, wrecked (last time I heard the average transaction fee came to something like $15 US, with long wait times; "bubble" doesn't even begin to describe this train wreck).

- I invested what little Bitcoin I had in Ethereum mining at HashFlare (yes, that is an affiliate link -- you can buy mining power for several cryptocurrencies there, and if you do so via my link I get a taste). I've continued to throw $5 and $10 into that on a sort of "mad money" basis. That is, whenever I catch myself thinking about buying something for $5 or $10, and judge that I can afford it, I ask myself whether I'd rather have that thing, or some more hashing power. When the answer is the latter, I go for it. I'm into the low three digits invested now, and unless Ethereum collapses in some catastrophic manner, I expect to turn a profit.

- I've had 0.19 Monero trapped in my Monero wallet for some time, with it telling me I needed 0.3 to send it anywhere. This morning, I tried, and it supposedly sent me Ethereum in an exchange ... but the transaction hasn't hit my wallet yet hit my Ethereum wallet. Since the amount involved is about $70 US, I'm going to be pissed if it just disappears. Although Monero seems to remain the golden crypto for people who want privacy (here's Bloomberg getting the vapors about it), I've decided to stop messing with it.

- I have to say that I am bullish on Steem. When the Steemit site rolled out, I was skeptical of its "by your bootstraps, your writing earns you crypto" model, messed with it a bit, then forgot about it for several months. I went back a few months ago, and without a whole lot of work on my part -- mostly reposting stuff from elsewhere -- the value of my account has grown to more than $100 US. Is it real value? This morning I tested the proposition by selling 2 Steem for Ethereum, and yes, the Ethereum DID hit my wallet ($11.40 US worth). Color me convinced. I'm even mulling the idea of moving this blog off of Blogspot and onto my Steemit presence.

So: At the moment, my three-digit crypto holdings are in Ethereum and Steem, with a few bucks in Bitcoin Cash and a tiny Dash mining contract.

I find Bitcoin Cash and Dash interesting, but my prediction is that Ethereum will replace Bitcoin and its variants as the dominant crypto in 2018. It's not geared so much as a medium of exchange as it is a foundation for investments in enterprises ("Initial Coin Offerings" and pre-buying of goods with digital tokens. I suspect that this year we will see some major enterprises (even Amazon, maybe?) do token sales that allow customers to take a discount on future purchases and the enterprise to take a prospective profit on the rise in Ethereum value. For example, you buy tokens that, in commerce with the seller, are as good as cash of $1 each, but you only pay 90 cents each (in current Ethereum) for them. So when you go back to buy stuff from the merchant, you're getting 10% off. But if Ethereum goes up, the merchant profits on that end.

As for Steem, it's been around for a year-and-a-half or so and it's still trucking along. I know that there are people profiting handsomely from their writing on Steemit. Having just taken my first payout into something other than Steem itself, I think I might be able to as well. What do you think? Should I just move KN@PPSTER to Steemit entirely? Let me know in comments.

Side Note: I've changed my crypto contribution options in the sidebar to reflect my 2018 priorities. If you're want to support my work with some other kind of crypto, I suggest either using ShapeShift to send me Ethereum, or hitting the contact form to ask for an address on the crypto you have in mind.



Don't Move Along, Our F**kups Are Your Problem


Some headlines:

A US customs computer snafu caused major airport delays
US Customs computers outage causes delays for airport travelers
Computer outage leaves international travelers stranded at US airports on New Year's Day

Of course, it wasn't the computer outage that caused the delays. What caused the delays was the decision by customs/immigration bureaucrats to hold everyone up while they enforced bad laws manually instead of saying "OK, computer's down -- to keep things moving, we'll just enforce the full set of bad laws against, say, every sixth or seventh traveler. The rest will just get cursory passport looks and holiday best wishes and be sent on their way."

Some of the stories describe the delays as "service disruptions." They weren't.

"Service" is "[t]he act of serving; the occupation of a servant; the performance of labor for the benefit of another, or at another's command; attendance of an inferior, hired helper, slave, etc., on a superior, employer, master, or the like; also, spiritual obedience and love."

The airport customs bureaucrats' "performance" of labor is not "for the benefit" of travelers. It is security theater and make-work for the purpose of displaying and justifying the authoritah of the state. Those "services" weren't disrupted at all. All that was disrupted was the travel of mere mundanes, who pay not only through the nose for said "services" but are also expected to genuflect and pretend that they're receiving something of value.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year!


Yes, I've been mostly gone for the last week. Early on in what most people seem to think of as the "Christmas break" period, I decided to, well, take a break.

Other than short editions of Rational Review News Digest, I relaxed, which frankly I don't do very often. My "time off" this last year has been for political activities, or for travel (mostly related to my father's final illness and death).

I watched movies.

I played online poker (yesterday I played in four tournaments at the Steem Poker League (not an affiliate link) --  took first place in an Omaha tournament and placed in two Texas Hold'em tournaements and crapped out quickly in the third).

I noodled with my musical instruments -- got a shiny new (to me) guitar amplifier for Christmas and enrolled in two Udemy courses (not an affiliate link), one on rockabilly guitar (started that one) and one on harmonica (haven't started yet).

I spent one evening visiting with one of Albert Hofmann's gifts to the world for the first time in a decade.

That kind of thing. It was a nice end to the year, and I expect to re-attack all my usual projects, including this blog and a re-vamped podcast, in 2018.

I hope that 2017 was good to you, and that 2018 is even better. Happy New Year!

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