Monday, April 30, 2018

Note to Roy Moore


Of course there was a "political conspiracy" against you.

There was also a "political conspiracy" for you.

Different groups of voters and "concerned citizens" conspired to send different candidates to the US Senate.

In this case, the other candidate got more conspirators to the polls than you did.

It's called an election, you whiny, entitled, ephebophile snowflake.

Want!


Bob Dylan is going into the whiskey business.

At $60 a bottle, I doubt I'll be buying. And I do wish he was making the bourbon in Kentucky, where great bourbons are made, instead of in Tennessee where that Daniels fellow's rotgut comes from. But maybe I'll put on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, have some Old Crow, and pretend.

About That Michelle Wolf Monologue


One might think, from the news reports, that all she did was make Sarah Huckabee Sanders feel bad. That was about one minute out of nearly 20 minutes, and if you've ever watched a real celebrity roast (I've seen that comparison) she was actually fairly gentle by comparison.

I won't say her monologue was necessarily balanced evenly between pokes toward left versus right, but she did manage to spread the mockery around quite a bit. All the heartburn I'm seeing seems to boil down to "slow news day, what can we drum up to feign outrage over?"

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Disclosure


After being leaned on heavily by both Thane Eichenauer and Steve Trinward, I've slowly become a bit of a Scott Adams fan.

Immediate effects of that have been that I occasionally mention him here or there, and usually cover his daily Periscope videocasts in Rational Review News Digest.

Now, however, there is a financial relationship that I think bears disclosure. Not because I think that it will necessarily affect the way in which, or the frequency with which, I mention Adams to y'all*, but because I think that should be something you know about and judge rather than me just not mentioning it. So anyway ...

I'm investing $10 or so (the "or so" involving transaction fees and any slight price moves in Ethereum -- the transaction is confirming on the blockchain now) in the Initial Coin Offering for WhenHub Interface, a company/app for which Adams is Chief Strategy Officer. It's an interesting "connect people to 'experts'" idea, and the first ICO in which I've invested personal funds (as opposed to accepting airdrops and such).

There being a referral bounty, please feel free to download the Interface beta app and receive 500 WHEN Tokens (part of this disclosure is that I'll get 3% of that amount as a referral bounty) for trying it out. You can use the app to find an expert or to be an expert who gets found and paid for his or her time in those tokens) by people wanting to talk with you.


* Nor because of what any idiot FTC bureaucrat might think. Screw them. I disclose what I think is important, not what they order me to disclose.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

I Still Think Kim Should Try This


Kim Jong Un has declared a moratorium on new nuclear weapons testing. The public pretext seems to be "hey, we've got working nukes, we don't need to test anymore." The obvious message to the US is "OK, we're giving you something as a prelude to these coming negotiations."

Of course, the US goal is for Kim to give up his existing nukes, not just to stop making and testing new ones. Most of the commentators I'm reading predict that that proposal will be received with words along the lines of "it will cold day in hell ..."

But I think Kim should go big in a way that leaves the US in a "put up or shut up" position.

He should offer to get rid of his nukes at the same time as, and at the same percentage rate as, the US.

If he has 10 nukes and the US has 1,000 nukes, he'll decommission one nuke for every 100 the the US decommissions. With mutual inspections for verifying both the declarations of numbers and the decommissionings, of course.

If the US negotiators don't just harumph and ostentatiously walk away from the table -- making the US look like a douche nozzle rogue state to the rest of the world -- their obvious objection will be "but all these other countries have nukes, and we can't get rid of ours until they get rid of theirs."

To which the obvious North Korean counter is "well, let's get them in here around the table and get this whole thing done, then."

Of course the US negotiators would just harumph and ostentatiously walk away from the table. Getting rid of weapons of mass destruction is always for those other regimes. And we'd be right back to the status quo ante.

But I still think that's the way Kim should go.

Suicide Squad: Not Really a Review


I've been wanting to see Suicide Squad ever since it came out, and unsuccessfully tried to talk the family into catching it on the big screen. I finally rented it on Friday (my "day off" as such things go).

Lots of fun. I'll try to avoid spoilers and this isn't rally a review, just some thoughts.

Reasonably good actors doing reasonably good acting, especially Margot Robbie. The film does visually (and promotionally in trailers, etc.) rely quite a bit on her physical assets, emphasis on the first three letters there, which might cause some to misunderestimate her acting ability. She makes the movie in a lot of ways. I've never been a huge Jared Leto fan, but I thought he did pretty well, especially in a role where he was expected to fill the shoes of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. Will Smith is always a pleasure. And so on, and so forth.

The film is obviously the latest attempt at putting together a DC ensemble that can compete with Marvel's Avengers and X-Men. Fantastic 4 was apparently a commercial calamity (still haven't seen it).

I think it works, and hope for sequels. Of course, they openly cribbing from the Avengers template in certain ways:

The Avengers are recruited/assigned by former S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury. The Suicide Squad is recruited/assigned by another black character, Amanda Waller -- they just made Nick Fury female and her position a little more ambiguous (no formal agency for the sole purpose of the project).

Instead of having the straight arrow military guy be a superhero type (Captain America), they go with a regular human (Colonel Rick Flagg -- I wonder if he's related to Randall?) who happens to be in love with one of the "meta-humans" -- June Moone/Enchantress). But they still have the straight arrow military guy.

Instead of Hawkeye with his ever-ready bow, they have Deadshot who can't miss with a firearm.

I'm not saying that there's nothing original about the film. It certainly stands on its own. But it's pretty obvious, once again, that DC is tired of only being able to do stand-alone superhero flicks (Batman) and wants one of those big group deals. I think they got it right with Suicide Squad.

I Really Don't Say This Often Enough


F**k Coinbase.

They're the answer to the question "if cryptocurrency could get cancer, what would it look like?"

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Some Housekeeping


Thing One:

Yes, I know I've been lax in updating the warrant canaries here at KN@PPSTER and over at the Garrison Center. They are now updated and valid through May 31.

Thing Two:

It's been nearly two years since I revoked my PGP key pair and created a new one. Done. Here's the new one:

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Thing Three:

I just donated about $5 USD worth of Bitcoin to the WikiLeaks legal defense fund. If you are so moved please match my donation!


Thursday, April 19, 2018

From 1999: The Other House on Garibaldi Street


Some pieces age better than others. Unfortunately, the evil-doer featured in this one -- originally published in 1999 at the now-defunct SpinTech web zine -- died of natural causes before she could be brought to justice. And it was written before I went full-on anarchist, when I still had some misplaced faith in the possibility of "reforming the system." But, seeing as how it's the 25th anniversary of the Waco massacre (and, to the minute, the time the first flames became visible from outside), I'm still going to re-post it. Enjoy.

The Other House on Garibaldi Street

The Israeli government took sixteen years to track down Adolph Eichman at the little house in Buenos Aires where he had retired from a long and productive career of burning, gassing and machine-gunning Jews. How long will it take us to put U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno behind bars where she belongs?

Six years after the literal holocaust at Waco, Reno remains at large. When Hezbollah or Hammas claim responsibility for an act of terrorism, our officials piously vow to track them down and exact retribution, whatever the cost. When one of those same officials claims responsibility for the fiery deaths of 80 people, including twice as many children as Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold murdered at Columbine High School, she goes on to become the longest-serving Attorney General in the history of our nation.

But the times, they are-a-changin'.

In July, after documentary researcher Michael McNulty (a producer of the Oscar-nominated Waco: The Rules of Engagement) received permission to examine the evidence gathered by the Texas rangers in the wake of the conflagration, four incendiary devices -- commonly referred to as "flash-bangs" -- surfaced. They had originally been misidentified as homemade silencers, presumably in order to substantiate the ATF's oft-stated (and, as yet, wholly unproved) claims that the Branch Davidians were stockpiling "illegal" armaments. What's more, the evidence mapping reveals that these devices were recovered from the parts of the Mount Carmel building where the fatal fires started.

Naturally, Reno denied any knowledge of the incendiaries and continued attempting to shove the responsibility that she originally claimed off onto her victims, who, being dead, can't answer. But her case was horribly weak to begin with: it's hard to establish to the satisfaction of any neutral panel that cutting off the power to a building, waiting until the tenants resort to kerosene lamps for lighting, then assaulting the building with tanks and pumping flammable gas into the place doesn't constitute an attempt at murder. Especially when your own cameras show your own people herding the victims back into the fire with the aid of automatic weapons. Especially when many of the victims are women and children. And, most especially, when the whole mess is the result of an unprovoked attack by your own people.

"Flash-bangs" are designed to stun and immobilize their targets. Being trapped in a burning building does not combine well with having one detonated next to you. Furthermore, the primer charges in the devices are known to start fires in small, enclosed spaces. Spaces like the rooms at Mount Carmel, where kerosene lamps were tumbling over and spilling as the tanks rammed the walls. There, the atmosphere was full of CS, a "riot agent" that produces potassium cyanide when ignited, suspended in a flammable delivery solution.

As I write this, the FBI has finally admitted to using incendiaries on the morning of the fatal fire. Reno is back-pedaling for all she's worth, announcing a new investigation into the siege and how it ended. One wonders if the "lost" evidence from the first Congressional hearings into the matter -- things like the ATF's videotape of the initial raid, the door from Mount Carmel Center, and other conveniently missing items -- will resurface this time around. Do the calls for another round of hearings in Congress portend a satisfactory resolution of the case (i.e. are the murderers going to stand trial, be rightly convicted by a jury of their peers, and be led away in manacles)?

Somehow, I doubt it. The Clinton administration has invested far too much capital in protecting Reno from the consequences of its policies and her actions. Clinton will never admit that his troops fired the first unprovoked shots in a war that has so far claimed the lives of over 200 people, including the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, which supposedly took place as retribution for the events at Waco.

Reno would be an international fugitive if she was the Attorney General of Yugoslavia. She would be on death row if she had thrown a CS grenade into someone's kerosene-lit house and then rammed it with her pickup truck after beating them unconscious. But since she committed her crimes using the surrogate agents of the BATF and FBI, and since those crimes reflected the official policy of a government run amuck, she has her freedom. For now.

But what happens when and if those who value human life and human freedom assume the place in government that rightfully belongs only to them? What is Ms. Reno going to do when we elect an administration predicated on Bill of Rights Enforcement?

Will Janet Reno, former Attorney General of the United States and proud recipient of the (no joke) Torchbearer Award, flee the country and attempt to live out her natural life in the relative, if limited, freedom of an exile and a fugitive from justice? Will she descend into the underground, adopting a new name and pretending to be an old retired female impersonator, passing unrecognized on the streets except by fellow fugitives like Larry Potts and Lon Horiuchi?

Is there a Garibaldi Street in Miami?

And if there is, would she be welcome there?

Reno's claim to fame, before her elevation to national power under the aegis of the newly elected Bill Clinton, was her penchant subjecting children to everything short of the rack to get them to fabricate stories of molestation. A number of her victims are back on the streets, having served years in prison for crimes they didn't commit before their convictions were overturned. No, I don't think she'll find hospitality forthcoming on her old stomping grounds. After next year, she'll be out there somewhere, nervously waiting for the other shoe to drop.

And it will.

You can run, but you can't hide, Ms. Reno. The wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, especially when happenstance puts someone like yourself temporarily in the driver's seat. But turn they must. Even a corrupt machine like the current one-party state can't afford to have its legitimacy undermined to the extent that the actions of ATF and FBI have undermined it on your watch.

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will -- sooner or later -- be used against you in a court of law.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Second Application of an Important Truth


L. Neil Smith:

"[T]he one and only reason politicians, bureaucrats, and policemen want to take your weapons away from you is so that they can do things to you that they couldn't do if you still had your weapons."

Me:

"The one and only reason politicians, bureaucrats, and policemen want to hobble encryption and cryptocurrency is so that they can find out things about, and steal wealth from, you that they couldn't find out and steal if you still had strong encryption."

Monday, April 16, 2018

Um, No


Nobody who pays attention to trivia like relationships within the anarchist and libertarian movements will mistake me for a fan of William Gillis or vice versa. In my opinion he's either one of the dumbest guys on the planet or an infiltrator/agent provocateur, as evidenced by his advocacy of piss-poor decision-making and/or downright evil posturing at the Center for a Stateless Society, where he is now director.

Of course, as a former media director and fellow at the Center, I do try to keep up with their content and do what I can to promote the good stuff (occasionally some good stuff slips past Gillis and gets published). So I had a look at his "Director's Report: Spring 2018," which opens with this:

At its inception C4SS focused on getting timely editorials with an anarchist focus published in newspapers around the world. However, with the slow decline of print media, many of the community newspapers that served as our bread and butter have dried up.

It's true that the number of traditional newspapers in the US continues to shrink. Some are going out of business and some are moving to a web-only format.

But that's not why the Center has trouble getting its op-eds published.

One reason the Center has trouble getting its op-eds published is that the op-eds are overtly anarchist. That's a feature, not a bug, and certainly nothing to blame anyone over. The further from the "mainstream" an op-ed is, the fewer editors are likely to run it. Editors like their radicalism a little less radical. That is, just radical enough to get readers thinking, but not so radical that bricks might get thrown through newsroom windows.

Nonetheless, when I worked as the Center's media coordinator, its op-eds were published hundreds of (my recollection is more than a thousand) times in newspapers around the US and around the world.

When I left, two things observably happened.

One was that the Center couldn't seem to find someone who would a) do the media coordinator job, and b) stick with the job. Again, not especially the Center's fault. Frankly, it was a hard job that I created from scratch in 2010 and that I understand could burn someone out quickly unless that someone is, well, me.

Another was that the quality of the op-eds dropped:

Length constraints (I always insisted on a maximum of 800 words, but urged writers to aim for 400-500) got relaxed. Some papers will run longer op-eds, but 400-500 words seems to be the "sweet spot" for getting the most newspaper op-ed action. I just took a quick sampling of the most recently cataloged pickups (from 2016 -- I don't know if they stopped cataloging pickups or stopped getting pickups). Minimum length was more than 700 words and one went to almost 2400 words. That's not op-ed length, that's feature length.

Another thing that went out the window was the notion that op-eds had should be written with news hooks appropriate to general circulation publications in mind rather than addressing "inside baseball" issues -- that is, hacking on divisions within the libertarian and anarchist movements. The general public doesn't (and newspaper editors catering to the general public don't) give a rat's ass about that stuff. For that matter, most non-libertarian political publications don't either.

Last year, the Garrison Center had 1,139 op-ed pickups by mainstream newspapers and non-libertarian political publications.

As the main writer for Garrison, I enjoy one natural advantage over C4SS, and that is that every op-ed does not have to be specifically anarchist in character.

The other advantages I enjoy versus C4SS are entirely of my doing and of C4SS's not-doing:

- I submit op-eds (to the same list that I originally developed for C4SS) often and regularly (three a week).

- Those op-eds are written to current affairs news hooks of interest to the general public rather than to "inside baseball" topics of interest only to people involved in the libertarian/anarchist movements.

- Those op-eds are written to a minimum length of 400 words and a maximum length of 500 words.

C4SS didn't go into failure as an op-ed mill because papers are disappearing. C4SS went into failure as an op-ed mill because C4SS didn't find someone who would and could require C4SS op-ed authors to adhere to some fairly simple rules regarding what op-eds are.

The Population of Newnan, Georgia is Somewhere Around 35,000


One group of enemies of freedom -- likely a few dozen racist idiots -- intends to hold a rally there on April 21st. I'll be greatly surprised if they number as many as 1% of the town's population.

I'm more concerned by the size and agenda of another group of enemies of freedom: So far, nearly 50,000 people (more people than actually live in Newnan!) have signed a petition demanding that the city government of Newnan ignore the First Amendment and suppress the rally because they don't want racist idiots to be allowed to spout racist idiocy.

The only difference between these groups of enemies of freedom is that one of them admits to being a bunch of fascists.

I don't like fascism, even when it masquerades as anti-fascism.

The Missing Element in the "Doubling Every Day" Story


You've probably heard the old legend about the invention of chess: A king was so impressed with it that he offered its inventor anything he wanted, and the inventor said he wanted a grain of wheat on one square of the board, doubled on the second square, and doubled each square until all 64 squares were filled.

In some versions of the story, the king does the math, tells the inventor he can't do that but makes him a trusted advisor, etc. In other versions, the king starts having the request fulfilled and, when he realizes where it's heading (all the grain in the kingdom belonging to the inventor), he has the inventor beheaded instead.

The modern marketing version of that, emphasizing the power of "compounding" or whatever, is something like:

"Would you rather have a million dollars, or a penny doubled each day for a month?"

The "right" answer in the marketing scheme is the penny doubled each day for a month, which would come to more than $5 million.

But that scheme leaves one thing out: Risk that the scheme is a con or that it will fail.

If you hand me a million dollars, I have a million dollars.

If you give me a penny doubled every day for a month, I have $5 million.

But suppose that whatever your scheme is, it falls apart or turns out to have been a con after 15 days and I stop getting paid. My take that day is $163.84, and my total take is about twice that. In fact, it wouldn't be until day 27 of the scheme that my total take would come to more than a million bucks.

So unless I am very confident that your proposition will hold up for 30 days, I'm better off just taking the million bucks.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Understanding the Problem


I've been (alliteration alert!) commenting on the cluelessness of congresscritters concerning Facebook a bit. Christopher Burg has as well. Reading his comments finally switched on the light bulb in my head that should have been burning bright the whole time.

Burg: "This is part of the reason why political solutions always fail. There is no requirement that the politicians understand the problem to which they’re providing a solution."

Me:

Oh, but the politicians do understand the problem.

The problem is always that the politicians don’t have enough power.

And the solution is always the politicians awarding themselves some more power.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Donald Hohenzitler?


Wilhelm Hohenzollern II let himself believe that Russia wouldn't go to war for Serbia, that Belgium wouldn't go to war for its neutrality, and that England wouldn't go to war for France, and we got World War One.

Adolf Hitler let himself believe that France and England wouldn't go to war for Poland, and we got World War Two.

Donald Trump seems to be letting himself believe that Russia won't go to war for Syria.

I'd be inclined to suggest that it's 25th Amendment time, if not for the fact that he's surrounded himself with VP, staff, and cabinet seemingly as divorced from reality as he is.

Two Things About Zuckerberg's Testimony


Thing One

Several times (to the best of my recollection) during yesterday's Senate hearings, Senators asked Mark Zuckerberg questions pertaining to how Facebook sells user data to advertisers.

Each time, Zuckerberg was very careful to include in his answer a claim that Facebook doesn't sell user data to advertisers.

Which, unless Facebook has been lying all along, to everyone, about everything, is true.

Facebook sells targeted advertising. An advertiser tells Facebook "I want to reach males in Maine who are interested in magic," and Facebook shows that advertiser's ads to (as best it can tell from the user data it gathers) males in Maine who are interested in magic.

Facebook does not send the advertiser a list of people and their information.  "Mike in Mapleton is interested in magic, and so is Malachi in Mars Hill, and Matthew in Mattawamkeag ..." Facebook just shows the ads to Mike and Malachi and Matthew.

Thing Two

Several Senators seemed genuinely confused by the claim above versus the fact that Cambridge Analytica had a bunch of data concerning Facebook users. They couldn't quite get their head around the idea that Cambridge Analytica could get Facebook user data due to the actions of anyone or anything other than Facebook. And Zuckerberg kept not explaining it very well. I was yelling at the live feed:

"EXPLAIN TO THEM THAT THE USERS GAVE THEIR DATA AWAY, DUDE!"

Which is exactly what happened. There was an app. Facebook users saw the app, downloaded the app, installed/opened the app, and upon the app's request gave the app permission to access their Facebook data.

It appears that the app developer violated Facebook's guidelines pertaining to how much data could be taken and/or how it could be used and/or whether or not (and if so for how long) it could be retained. 

And perhaps Facebook didn't respond quickly or strongly enough. One complaint, which seems just a little bit over the top to me, was that Facebook didn't notify users immediately that data those users had given to someone other than Facebook might have been misused by someone other than Facebook.

None of the above is intended as a "defense" of Facebook, by the way. It's just that the Senators who were so eager to grill Zuckerberg about Facebook seemed woefully unable to grasp even the basics of what they were asking about.

Facebook's business model isn't about selling your data to advertisers. It's about selling your eyeballs to advertisers. Your data is just what they use to sell particular pairs of eyeballs to particular advertisers so that the advertisers are reaching the potential customers they want to reach instead of, say, paying to show air conditioner ads to residents of the Arctic Circle.

Word PSA


Over the last few months, I've noticed a trend on e.g. talk radio. Many people are beginning every (or nearly every) answer to any (or almost any) question with the word "so."

Q: What's your name?

A: So, it's Bob.

Q: What do you do for a living?

A: So, I am an Uber driver.

Q: What kind of car do you drive?

A: So, I have a Mazda.

If this took place in my physical presence, I would have to mightily resist an urge to start slapping the "every answer must start with so" person around the room.

Usually in Word PSA posts, I include the relevant dictionary definition of the word in question. This time, I am stumped. At dict.org I find 11 definitions for "so," none of which resembles "a word intended for meaningless insertion at the beginning of every answer to any question."

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About the Coming US Strike on Syria








The AUMF we're operating under now passed the week after September 11 ... No amount of creative lawyering, in my view, can stretch it to cover intervention in Syria. -- US Senator Angus King (I-ME)


To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole. -- Robert H. Jackson, chief US prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal

Any questions?

Way to go, Senator Markey!


US Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) is very clear in the Zuckerberg hearing that affirmative consent should be required before gathering or using any information about anyone. He has a bill in process with just such a requirement.

So there goes the NSA, CIA, IRS, Social Security System, Census Bureau, TSA ... heck, pretty much the entire federal government.

Yes, I'm kidding. I'm sure he plans to exempt himself and his cronies. Laws are just for the productive class, not the political class.

Mid-Stream Impressions of Zuckerberg's Senate Testimony


Virtually every Senator questioning Mark Zuckerberg so far is going through a sort of smirky "we'd hate to have to order you to suppress content we don't like, so you probably ought to voluntarily suppress content we don't like (wink, wink)."

The ones who aren't taking that tack are just coming right out and saying "we're going to regulate you, how about you tell us what kind of regulation you'd like" (Lindsey Graham appears to like the EU model of time-sensitive censorship and got Zuck to admit to kind of liking it too).

One of "my" Senators, Bill Nelson, seemed gobsmacked by the bizarre idea that if Facebook couldn't sell advertising it would have to find another way to make money, like charging users. Of course, Nelson usually does sound like a senile idiot, so that's not especially surprising.

And of course the Democrats are all pretending that Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, and !Them Russians! are to blame for Hillary Clinton's disaster of a losing presidential campaign.

Nothing good is going to come of this. But you didn't need me to tell you that.

Is It Possible ...


... to enable publishing that cannot be taken down, and to do so in a way that is easily accessed by the public and does not leave anyone in control of what is published?

I'm asking because of FOSTA/SESTA, the continuing federal witch hunt versus Backpage, etc.

I'm thinking in terms of e.g. P2P file sharing, torrents, blockchains and so forth.

What I would like to see is a "classified ads site" that can't be stopped, blocked, frozen, taken down, seized, etc., and that in fact, once set in motion is not under anyone's control in the sense of "being a publisher." And one more accessible without special software and such, than "dark web"/onion sites.

That would at least put the state's thugs back into the position of chasing after individual victimless "criminals" (drug dealers, sex workers, et al.) instead of having a visible, high-profile, single target to harass.

Just asking.

What the Cohen Raids Mean


Just my opinion, of course, but I think this is the important part (per WaPo):

The raids [on Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's office, home, and hotel room] -- part of an investigation referred by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III to federal prosecutors in New York ...

Like WC Fields said, "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."

Mueller keeps coming up empty-handed on the former vis a vis the subject of "collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian regime to screw up the 2016 presidential election," so he has to constantly resort to the latter (taking down Paul Manafort over pre-campaign money laundering accusations, trying to turn the Russian troll farm/Facebook ads thing into more than a teapot tempest, etc.).

With this move, he's hoping to either "get" Trump on something other than the obviously dead "collusion" issue, or else bait Trump into firing him so that he can get a new wave of indignation going over "obstruction."

You'll have to take my word that I haven't watched Scott Adams Says since the raids (I haven't been able to get the videos to play on my Chromebox since the last ChromeOS update), but I see he has something up about the raids and I bet that his thoughts include something like the above.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Just Because Something's Irrational Doesn't Mean it Didn't Happen


Thing One:

It would have been completely irrational for Vladimir Putin (or one of his underlings in Russian intelligence) to order the assassination of Sergei Skripal using novichok.

For one thing, Skripal was part of a sort of protected class: A spy for the west who was caught, tried, and sentenced to prison in Russia, then exchanged for Russian spies who had been caught, tried, and sentenced to prison in the US. The thing about prison exchanges is that if one of the exchanging parties comes back and starts killing the spies they exchanged, such exchanges will grind to a halt.

Which means any such killing would not have been for the purpose of "sending a message," since that's not a message Putin would want to send. Which in turn means that even if the Russian state was behind the attack, it wouldn't have been carried out using a weapon that would make everyone say "ah, the Russians must have done it." The attack would have been made to look like an accident, or a burglary gone wrong, or whatever.

Thing Two:

It would be completely irrational for Bashar al-Assad to piss off the world with a chemical attack every time his regime was having some success putting down the rebellion in Syria.

For one thing, each of the chemical attacks he's been accused of has occurred after a significant line of military success has been crossed, not at a time when such an attack might have made a material difference to the outcome.

For another, he can't help but know by now that such attacks are treated as a "red line" by his enemies from abroad and are likely to result in attacks on his own forces which would not otherwise have happened.

So, extreme skepticism is warranted when assessing claims that the Putin regime had Skripal attacked with novichok and that the Assad regime had Douma attacked with chlorine.

BUT!

Just because something is completely irrational, that doesn't mean a government generally, or a particular government employee, wouldn't do it. Governments and their employees do irrational crap all the time.

Travel Plans ...


... in case anyone wants to hook up.

I'll be arriving in Springfield, Missouri on the afternoon of Thursday, May 10. That gives me not quite a day and a half in town. Of course, I will be wanting to spend most of that with family, but I can probably shake an hour free to meet with a friend.

At 12:01 am on May 12, I'll be getting on a Greyhound in Springfield. There's a half-hour layover in St. Louis from 3:30 to 4am, when you should be asleep and not at a bus station, then it's on to ...

Columbus, Ohio, arriving on the afternoon of May 12 and leaving on the afternoon of May 14, with a Libertarian Party platform committee meeting on Sunday and Monday but presumably free on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

The travel is all booked -- St. Petersburg to Springfield via Allegiant air, then Greyhound to Columbus, then Allegiant back to St. Pete.

I Didn't Leave Facebook. Facebook Left Me.


That's how it feels, anyway.

A few months ago, I stopped getting most updates on e.g. most groups I belonged to, discussion threads I was participating in, etc. So far as I can tell, I didn't change any settings. Facebook notifications just suddenly dwindled from hundreds a day to near zero.

Simultaneously with that, I noticed that I wasn't getting as many likes, shares, etc. of my posts. I assumed that this was because the same thing was happening to other people as was happening to me. That is, they weren't getting SHOWN my posts, by email notifications or in their timelines.

 I wondered if I was "shadow-banned" or something. Maybe, but in any case out of sight, out of mind. Other than posting my Garrison Center columns, and automated posting of Rational Review News Digest items, I hardly ever drop in there anymore.

Since all that started, a lot more people have become perturbed enough by Facebook for various reasons that there seems to be a real exodus going on. I've been getting lots of friend requests at MeWe, a social network I had joined and promptly forgot about. I just went there to accept requests and so forth. I'll give it a harder look as I can, especially if I see real activity there. I'm also on Minds.com, which has IMO been going downhill the last couple of months in terms of user experience as it tries to remake its "points" system into a cryptocurrency and stuff like that.

I have to wonder: Is it possible that "social media," as we've understood it since Twitter and Facebook took off, is just dying? And if so, what's next?

A Long Early April


Yes, I was AWOL for the whole first week of April. It was one of those weeks.

On March 31st, Tamara's car took a sh*t and died.

There's actually a silver lining.

The car was a 2001 Subaru Forester that she paid $1500 for. She loved the car. I had been hectoring her to put some money into it if she really liked it and planned to keep it. The seller had cautioned her that it would need wheel bearings in the not too distant future, the CV joint was popping, and new tires would have been a smart buy.

She put those things off, which was fortunate because the transmission suddenly went. It hadn't been slipping or anything. Just boom, "if you put it in gear it makes a horrible noise, if you try to put it back into park it grinds for about a minute before locking in."

Replacing it would be $2100. For a $1500 car. In addition to those aforementioned things. So that was the end of the Subaru.

Which meant a week of getting around being difficult, and of car shopping, which is something I have to leave the house and participate in.

So anyway, she bought a car yesterday. Or, rather, a truck -- a 1999 Toyota 4Runner SUV. A little bigger than the Subaru, but she's comfortable driving it.

That was the big time consumer and the main reason you haven't seen much of me, but there were other things too (for example, spending 24 hours at a friend's house as "watch person" after a medical procedure).

Anyway, I'm back and will try to get with the blogging.

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