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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