Monday, June 17, 2019

Ah, a Referral Compensation Bump!

Yes, I'm still a Dollar Shave Club member.

Yes, I'm still loving their products, their prices, and their delivery scheme.

And right now I get $15 instead of $5 in credit for every referral I make.

So if you've been considering the possibility of getting great razor blades much cheaper than you'd get them at the store, now would be a good time for both you and me for you to act on the idea here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Election 2020: How One Measly Dollar Could Make a Difference

I've only donated to one 2020 presidential campaign -- Mike Gravel's.

He's already missed the cut for the first Democratic presidential primary debate, but as of today he's at about 47,500 donors of the 65,000 he needs to get into the second debate.

I want to see him in that second debate not because I agree with him on everything but because I believe his voice in the debate would be disruptive, in a positive way, of the American political conversation.

Yes, Gravel's a Democrat -- a Democrat unlike the current herd of cowards.

A Democrat who helped end the draft and who read the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record.

A Democrat who's stood up in defense of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Julian Assange for years.

A Democrat who's been antiwar for more than half a century (unlike Tulsi Gabbard, who spent several years as a darling of Republican hawks before suddenly deciding that "antiwar" might be a politically profitable market niche).

Will he win the Democratic nomination? Unlikely. Will he ever be president? Even more unlikely.

But he can affect the process and the discussion, and you can help him do so with a donation of as little as one dollar.

Friday, June 14, 2019

It's That Time of Year ...

... when the weather alternates between "nearly 100 degrees" and "pouring rain."

Not the best cycling weather.

But my tires are holding air and I've got a working pump, a tool kit (the wrench on it sucks, but I have one around here somewhere), and a patch kit, so I'm taking short rides down the street to get, well, back on the bicycle. I'll start going further when I get a spare tube Real Soon Now.

On the way (from China): Rear pannier bags that are big enough for e.g. grocery shopping, ultralight camping, etc.

Still to get (hint: My Amazon wish list is linked in the sidebar): A couple of new tubes and tires; not an emergency but definitely needed soon.

I'm hoping to be back up to riding into town and back (15-20 miles) occasionally by late July (when I hope to get OUT of town for a few days to visit my mother, finances allowing).

And by the fall, logging 50 miles a week minimum. I don't plan to get back to routine 100-mile-plus weeks until next spring, if ever. Until score an electric bike, of course. Once that happens, hell, I might do the occasional hundred-mile-plus DAY for a trip to the beach, Jacksonville, wherever.

More Musings on Election 2020

In a recent post, I made three predictions:

  1. Donald Trump won't win any states in 2020 that he didn't win in 2016 (current confidence: 100%).
  2. Wisconsin goes blue in 2020 (current confidence: 99.x%).
  3. Florida goes blue in 2020 (current confidence: Higher than 50%; the X factor on that is whether or not the Republicans can mount a successful voter suppression campaign against e.g. the constitutional amendment passed by voters last year restoring former felons' voting rights).
I'm going to set the second and third predictions aside for a moment and come at it from a different angle based on the first one.

In 2016, Trump knocked down 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton's 232. Or, to put it a different way, Clinton came up 38 electoral votes short of victory.

Trump's absolute ceiling, according to my prediction, is 306. If he didn't win a state in 2016, he's not going to win it in 2020 either. He has nowhere to go but down in the Electoral College.

Where is a Democrat most likely to pick up electoral votes from Trump next year?

In my opinion the places to look are states where Trump won by less than 5% in 2016, and the places to look hardest are the states where he won by less than 5%  and a third party candidate or candidates polled 5% or better.


In 2016, Trump won with an energized base versus a demoralized base. His turnout was at the top of its potential; Clinton's wasn't. I expect that he will do as well or nearly as well at turning out his base this time as last time -- but that the Democrats won't do as badly at that next time as they did last time.

2016 was a very good year for third party candidates. Not because those candidates were better candidates than third party candidates usually are, but because both the "major" party candidates were so awful. "Wasted vote" PTSD from 2016 is probably going to cost third party candidates votes in 2020, and those votes are going to go disproportionately to the Democratic candidate (especially, but not only, if the Libertarians nominate a "second Republican ticket" for the fourth time in a row).

Arizona -- Trump margin of victory, 4.1%, third party total 5.1%, 11 electoral votes
Florida -- Trump margin of victory 1.3%, third party total 3.2%, 29 electoral votes
Michigan -- Trump margin of victory 0.3%, third party total 5.1%, 16 electoral votes
North Carolina -- Trump margin of victory 3.8%, third party total 2.8%, 15 electoral votes
Pennsylvania -- Trump margin of victory 1.2%, third party total 3.6%, 20 electoral votes
Wisconsin -- Trump margin of victory 1%, third party total 5.2%, 10 electoral votes

That's 101 electoral votes in play according to my theory. The 2020 Democratic nominee only needs 38 of them.

The closer and the longer I look, the more difficult Trump's path to re-election looks.

On the other hand, experience tells me that if the Democratic Party can find a way to lose an election, it will find a way to lose that election.

But at the moment, I have to add Michigan to Wisconsin as a "VERY confident Trump will not win" state. Those two and Florida come to 55 electoral votes, bringing the as-yet-unidentified Democratic nominee to 287 and victory.

No, that's not my final prediction. You'll see that in October or early November of 2020. But that's how it looks to me right now.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Domain For Sale!

I started the site Who Is Bill Weld? at for the express purpose of shedding light on Weld in the event that he sought the Libertarian Party's 2020 presidential nomination.

He decided to return to the Republican Party instead.

So I don't see the need for the site anymore and don't plan to pay to renew that domain.

It expires in a few days.

Anyone want it? I'm willing to let it go for "best offer" (including "I'll [insert something cool you'd do with it], but am unwilling to pay more than the transfer/renewal fees." Hit the contact form and let me know.

Sweetener: If you just want to maintain/improve the site as it currently exists, I'll continue hosting it and give you Wordpress access to admin it.

Oh, Spare Us The Hypocrisy

In 2015, the Washington Free Beacon hired Fusion GPS, which in turn hired Christopher Steele, to tap foreign sources for opposition research material on several Republican candidates, including Donald Trump.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign hired Fusion GPS and Steele to tap foreign sources for opposition research material on Donald Trump.

Also in 2016, individuals associated with Donald Trump's campaign met with foreign sources for the purpose of tapping them for opposition research material on Hillary Clinton.

Now Trump admits that he'd do again what he did last time (something which, by the by, the Mueller report did not deem to have constituted anything illegal), and the same people whose only interest in the Steel Dossier back then was in whether the material in it was helpful to them, not in where it came from or even whether it was true, are publicly losing their damn minds.

CORRECTION, 06/14/19: The Washington Free Beacon did indeed hire Fusion GPS to do oppo research in 2015, but on further research, I find that the newspaper claims that Christopher Steele was not involved at that time, and that none of the material gathered on their behalf would have appeared in the "Steele Dossier." Sorry, I got that part wrong.

Cui Bono?/Occam's Razor -- Gulf of Oman Edition

Not every attack is a "false flag" event. Most attacks almost certainly aren't.

But they do happen. And the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman last month and today seem to me pass two screening criteria for thinking there might well be "false flag" fuckery afoot.

  1. Cui Bono? That is, who benefits? The Iranian regime doesn't seem to want war with the US, Saudi Arabia, and friends. The Trump regime keeps pushing for war with Iran, then backing off. The Saudi regime might suffer temporarily in such a war, but if the US "won" the war that would likely take Iranian oil off the world market for longer than Saudi oil, and reduce Iran's influence in the region, both of which the Saudi regime wants. And the Israeli regime has a continuing interest in seeing Muslim regimes fight each other rather than gang up on it.

  2. Occam's Razor. That is, the explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct. So, is there some deep, complex Iranian plan in which bringing down the military ire of the US and its allies on its own head by ineffectually attacking tankers then denying it somehow produces an as yet unknown victory condition? Or is this exactly what it looks like -- an attempt by the US and/or the Saudis and/or the Israelis to manufacture an excuse for war?

How long until we're presented with some bodies conveniently found lying outside Sender Gleiwitz in Polish Army uniforms? And will those bodies turn out to have come to Sender Gleiwitz alive from Poland or dead from Dachau?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

I'm a Cord-Cutter ...

... so no cable, nor do I pay for any Internet sports packages, because I'm so rarely interested in sports that it just wouldn't make any sense to.

I do kind of wish I was watching the Blues pound the Bruins in game seven of the Stanley Cup final live instead of just following updates.

Just not badly enough to pay for the privilege.

Textured Vegetable Protein and the 2020 Presidential Election

Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Wisconsin have the largest soybean plantations in size. The states that produce the highest yields are Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Indiana. [Source: The Daily Records]

Trump's trade wars are socking it to soybean farmers.

In the 2016 presidential election, he won Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, and Indiana.

He won Pennsylvania and Wisconsin pretty damn narrowly, and Iowa by not that much.

Those three states have a combined 36 electoral votes.

Winning those three states in 2016 would have put Hillary Clinton within five electoral votes of Trump.

Prediction #1: Trump won't win any states in 2020 that he didn't win in 2016.

The question is not whether he can pick up any new states. He can't.

The question is how many of (and which) states he won't win a second time.

Prediction #2: Wisconsin goes blue in 2020.
Prediction #3: Florida goes blue in 2020.

Could I be wrong? Yes. But I don't think I am. Wisconsin I am 99.x% sure on, and it will take one king-hell voter suppression effort (definitely possible!) for the GOP to hold onto Florida.

Wisconsin and Florida would get the Democratic nominee to 266 electoral votes. Pennsylvania OR Iowa (OR Michigan OR Ohio) would put that nominee over the top.

Trump seems to be doing his damnedest to drive farm states into the Democratic column. Some of them are probably just too GOP-"safe" for that to happen. But some aren't.

Why I Don't Listen to @ScottAdamsSays as Much Anymore

I still pull up his Periscope video podcast each day, and watch/listen -- until and unless he tries to put over the Charlottesville Hoax Hoax, at which point I click off.

And the last month or so, he seems to spend at least half a minute or so trying to keep the hoax going damn near every day.

At some point, I'll probably decide he's never going to drop it, and act accordingly. But I do hope that he lets it go before that, because he's otherwise occasionally interesting.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Something I was Thinking About ...

Q: To the extent that sexual orientation is an innate characteristic rather than an action or a choice, what is there about it to be "proud" of?

Saturday, June 08, 2019

An Odd Piece of Morning Trivia

Nikita Krushchev was removed as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union / Chairman of the Council of Ministers in 1964 under accusations of supporting "voluntarism" and being "in contempt of the party's collective ideals."

Friday, June 07, 2019

Say it Ain't So, @JoeBiden!

On Wednesday, I wrote:

The center isn’t always the best place to be, especially in a party primary cycle. Nor, says my most cynical self, is Joe Biden especially well-known for clinging to principle over party. But in this case that’s exactly what he’s doing … and in this case he’s absolutely right.

So naturally, on Thursday, Biden turned, tucked tail, and ran.

Oh, well -- that's the danger of the news cycle. Any op-ed piece can become completely irrelevant within days, hours, or even as it's written. I'll be OK :)

Biden, on the other hand, just inflicted major damage on himself. It's one thing to throw chum in the water and get the sharks circling your boat. It's another thing entirely to strip naked and dive in after the chum when the inevitable feeding frenzy ensues.

He had a correct position.

He had a position most Americans seem to agree with.

He had a position that further distinguished him from the Democratic primary pack (who were all polling well behind him already).

He had a position that at least seemed to be a matter of long-held principle.

And he folded like a cheap tent after 48 hours of whining from the very people he was beating like red-headed step-children.

Now, to be clear, I was never going to vote for Joe Biden. I'm not a Democrat and among other deal-breakers I know (not well) and like someone who spent years in prison for putting on a concert because of Biden's evil brainchild, the RAVE Act.

But if I was a Democrat, and if I had been leaning toward Biden, I'd be looking for someone else to lean toward now. Someone with a spine, perhaps.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

The Derp is Strong with These "Officials"

Staggering homeless count stuns LA officials

The stunning increase in homelessness announced in Los Angeles this week -- up 16% over last year citywide -- was an almost incomprehensible conundrum given the nation's booming economy and the hundreds of millions of dollars that city, county and state officials have directed toward the problem.


Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who campaigned intensively for the city initiative known as Proposition HHH that designated $1.2 billion over the next 10 years for units to house the homeless, described homelessness in an interview with CNN as "the biggest heartbreak for me and my city."

statistics showed that the better-equipped city/county homeless crisis response system helped move 21,631 people into permanent housing last year.

Hmm ...

  1. Take a city that's already attractive to the homeless for several reasons.
  2. Add (and apparently keep) a promise to spend $120 million per year putting the homeless into homes.
  3. ???
  4. Wonder why homeless people flock to that city "despite" the promise.
Yes, I know that there are many reasons for homelessness that aren't an uninterrupted straight-line conclusion from unemployment. Mental problems. Substance abuse problems. Other personal problems.

But it's silly to assume that homeless people don't act rationally based on circumstance and incentive.

If I was homeless on the west coast, I'd probably make a beeline for LA. The climate is nicer year-round than most places. There's cheap or even "free" (at the rider boarding point) mass transit. It's the second biggest metro in the US, so there are more and bigger agencies (government and private) doling out food, shelter beds, etc., and in a "booming economy" I'd expect job prospects ("legit" or otherwise) to be decent there.

Adding a promised $120 million per year in housing aid to that, however good the intention, is like pouring gasoline on an already existing fire. Of course you're going to get burnt.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

OK, I'm Getting the Biking Bug Again ...

... and since nobody seems to racing to the ATM to charitably purchase an electric bicycle for me, it'll have to be manual labor I guess.

Dragged out my Critical Harper single-speed road bike yesterday to see what it needs to be road-worthy again. Best-case scenario: Nothing much.

It sat unattended (even after a tarp blew off it) for more than a year, but the tires have held air for more than 24 hours now. Good sign. Oiled the chain and took a spin down the street and back. No immediate problems that I can see.

I've ordered a cheap bike-mountable air pump (with gauge built in) and a cheap "all-in-one" bike tool kit (to replace the assorted tools that have become scattered for other uses since the last time I rode much). Don't know if I'll need new lights or if I've got something around the house. When it's all said and done, I may spend as much as $20 on that kind of stuff, but I'm guessing a little less.

Spare tubes are essential, and I expect new tires will be a near-future need (I've added both of those to my Amazon wish list in case someone who doesn't love me enough to spring for a $650 electric bike might love me a good deal less).

Now I just need to avoid blowing my knees out.

I think part of the problem is that when I start cycling, I kind of push myself, and within a month or two I'm riding 20+ miles per day five or six days a week. My plan this time is to ride for exercise a maximum of ten miles a day, not push it as hard, and only do more miles than that for "gotta be some place" purposes. But I expect to have to be some places :)

Old pic of the bike:

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Thanks For Asking!, 06/04/19

Political opinions? Learned disquisitions on the up and down sides of choosing to reside in ChromeOS hell? Parenting tips? Example limericks? If you've got questions, I've got answers. This "Ask Me Anything" thread is brought to you by Free Pony Express!

Long-time readers probably have this encoded in muscle memory by now, but for the newcomers and slow learners:

  • Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer in comments, or maybe in a stand-alone blog post, or maybe even on a podcast.

Monday, June 03, 2019

It Could be Locality-Induced Myopia ...

... but I believe several things are coming together in ways that will fundamentally change the way Americans get around.

Three of those things are ride-sharing, self-driving cars, and electric bicycles.

When I was a kid in the government schools, I remember everyone laughing at a film of those backward Chinese using their bicycles as primary transportation. Almost every American family seemed to have at least one car, probably two.

These days, I see lots of people riding bicycles to work, and not just in town but from the countryside, ten or more miles out. As electric bikes get cheaper and bike lanes get more common, I expect that trend to continue.

Could that be locality-induced myopia on my part? Gainesville is an atypical locality. Big university, lots of students, lightly left-leaning especially vis a vis things like ecology, green space, etc. Weather and distance can be a limiting factor -- less so in Florida than, say, North Dakota.

On the other hand, when I say I see people using bikes as primary transportation from out of town, I'm talking about rural white working class types with lunch-boxes and tool belts in front baskets or on rear racks. A bike is cheaper to buy than a car. It's also cheaper to operate than a car (no gas, no insurance required, etc.). And a DUI might get your license to drive a car suspended, but you don't need a license to ride a bike. Throw in ever-cheapening electrical bikes and more people who aren't necessarily in great physical shape can opt in.

Of course, there are times when a car is either necessary or very desirable. But it's probably cheaper to use Uber several times a month than it is to take on a car payment, insurance premiums, and gas costs. Especially if you live within easy walk or bike distance of your work, your usual shopping haunts, etc. Self-driving vehicles are probably going to make ride-sharing cheaper over time, too.

Am I missing some factor that militates toward the post-WW2 "two cars in every garage" paradigm continuing to prevail?

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Entertainment Event Decisions ...

Tamara and I  usually make it out to a few local music shows a year -- Jonathan Richman when he comes through, Grass is Dead when they come through, sometimes a "Food Truck Rally" with local bands at our favorite local venue (The High Dive).

We hadn't been to a "big show" in more than a decade, but as you may recall last year we made the effort to go see Bob Dylan in St. Augustine, and I resolved at that point to try to make it to a "big show" once a year.

My plan for this year was to probably see Dylan again.

But then I got more fascinated with stand-up comedy than I used to be (I've always loved it going back to Steve Martin's early albums/specials when I was in elementary and junior high school, but actually writing/performing it replaced building/playing cigar box guitars as my Obsession of the Year).

So, contingent on Tamara agreeing, I plan to see Doug Stanhope (no date/venue yet, but he's mentioned a tour probably including Florida on his podcast), or Gilbert Gottfried (playing Tampa in December), or both, and/or one or more other "big name" comedians (Bill Burr? Ron White? Joe Rogan? Luis J. Gomez? Tom Segura? Anthony Jeselnick? Maybe even Louis CK if it's possible to get tickets at all, since he sells out shows in like 37 minutes after announcing them the day before he performs?)

Of the options, Stanhope tops the list. I've met him, but I've never made it to one of his shows. And based on literally hundreds of hours of watching stand-up specials, listening to albums, etc., I don't think there's a funnier comedian alive. Or, hell, maybe even dead (yes, I love Bill Hicks; yes, I love George Carlin; yes, I appreciate Lenny Bruce, although his stuff is from far enough before my time that it's not always easy to ... well, get; but I'll put Stanhope up against any of those guys on a laugh meter and in particular the intelligent laugh meter and expect him to at least hold his own and probably win).

I've been to local comedy gigs lately, but not to a dedicated comedy club with a "name" comedian (whose name I can't even remember -- he was pretty good but never got and stayed wildly famous) since the 1990s. It's time.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Among Things I Miss ...

Sony MDR-W08 headphones.

They were hands-down my favorites. They cost less than $10.

Then Sony discontinued them.

Now if you can find a new set, or a set in new condition, they go for ten times as much.

I've tried other vertical in-the-ear headphones, but they're 1) unimpressive and 2) more expensive than the MDR-W08s used to be.

Anyone know of a good, inexpensive vertical in-the-ear front-facing set of phones?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Have You Ever Noticed?

If regular people want to directly change a law, it's usually expensive and difficult to put a voter initiative on the ballot (if it's even possible at all; in many places it isn't). And if voters don't approve that initiative, it's either over for good or it takes years to raise the money, gather the signatures, etc., to do the whole thing over again.

But if it's something government officials want that requires voter approval -- like a sales or property tax increase for this or that purpose -- they just put the thing up for a vote over and over again (with scarier stories about the consequences of not giving them their way each time) until they get the result they want (after which, see the first paragraph for what it takes to undo that result).

I'm not necessarily sure it should be easier than it is to do "voter initiatives." But it should certainly be harder than it is to do "government officials' initiatives."

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Ah, a Clue to my Exercise-Related Knee Pain ...

One of my assumptions about why my knees go to shit when I bicycle daily or near-daily for very long has been that it's related to an accident in boot camp.

My platoon was moving out for infantry basic training at Camp Pendleton. We were carrying heavy packs. The column came to a halt in front of me. I came to a halt too. Several people behind me kept going, and I was knocked down -- onto my knees -- on pavement with a lot of weight on my back. No biggie.

Two weeks later, back at MCRD San Diego, I ran my best three miles ever (a little over 20 minutes -- I'm not the fastest man on Earth). As I crossed the finish line there was a sudden sound like a rifle shot from one of my knees and I went down on the ground again, then immediately to sick bay (with assistance). I had hairline cracks in both my kneecaps and spent a couple of weeks on crutches, on "light duty," with the worse leg in a brace.

So I figured my knees were just screwed up from that and that it was starting to show with age. Which may in fact be part of the problem.  But then I saw a link that led to this article at WebMD:

Ahhh ... it lists five tendon-related problems that tend to come with diabetes, three of which I've had (rotator cuff tears, frozen shoulder, and Dupuytren's contracture). It doesn't mention the knees, but adding patellar tendinitis to the list doesn't seem like a stretch (pun intended).

Some Things I Need (and am Willing to Earn)

I've really got some nerve, don't I? This is only my 10th blog post for the month when it should be (at least) my 29th. Yes, I've got all kinds of excuses.* Yes, I intend to do better. Yes, as I occasionally do, I'm coming to my readers and supporters about some things I need ("want" if you insist, but I consider them reasonably necessary), in the hope that some of you might feel like helping out (either as a contribution or by throwing some work my way).

Two of the three things I'm looking for are on my Amazon Wish List, but if you have something similar lying around, want to use a vendor rather than Amazon, etc., that's fine too. Just hit the contact form and we can figure out how to get it done.

Thing #1: Nakto 26" City Adult Electric Bicycle

How necessary? Well, bicycling is my preferred mode of transportation, but my knees are shot and I can't pedal like I used to (in fact, I used to be able to pedal quite a bit, for a couple of months, after which my knees would be swollen and painful all the time until I stopped cycling).

This or something like this is the difference between going where I want, when I want, and going where I want if my wife or daughter happen to feel like driving me there. I find it preferable to getting a driver's license and paying as much or more for a gas-engine scooter that I'd also have to insure.

If you hit the wish list link, you'll see that I've selected the "women's" version of the Nakto City bike. I don't consider myself a sissy, but I think a step-through makes more sense, especially in town where there are frequent stops. I like the idea of being able to step forward off the seat and put my feet on the ground without crushing my testicles.

I selected the Nakto based on price, reviews, battery size and configuration. I looked at another brand's "mountain bike" priced $15 cheaper including shipping, but:

1) The other bike had an 8-amp-hour battery while the Nakto has a 10-amp-hour battery (both 36 volts, both pushing a 250-watt motor);

2) The other bike was a "men's" model with that testicle-crushing top bar;

3) The other bike had the battery placed on the front diagonal bar, right below said testicles, while the Nakto's battery is mounted behind the upright below the seat post. If a battery explodes, I'd rather have it pointing slightly away from my ass than directly toward my balls when it does so; and

4) The other bike is sold by numerous vendors and reviews indicated poor (in fact, non-existent) customer service from those vendors; the Nakto comes directly from Nakto itself, and I was able to find a fairly thorough YouTube review that made it look like a pretty solid bike.

BUT: If someone has an electric bike that doesn't get used, or a conversion kit that never got used, that could work too.

Thing 2: ASUS Chromebook C523NA-DH02

My last Chromebook shit the bed (bad screen). I need a laptop for when I travel (in fact, that's one of my "light blogging" excuses, see the TL;DR at the bottom of this post), and I prefer a Chromebook. They're cheap, they're reliable, and no matter how many times you tell me (or I think) I should extricate myself from the Google ecosystem, I'm still in it and preferring it.

This Chromebook was the best machine I could find at a reasonable price that met my minimum specifications (at least a 14" screen -- this is a 15.6" screen -- an Intel or AMD processor, at least 4Gb of RAM, and not an Acer -- I've had bad experiences with Acer computers, while ASUS is my my preferred hardware brand).

BUT: If someone has a reasonably modern Chromebook (or another laptop that I could put Chromium on) lying around, that could work too.

Thing 3: Money

I've been saving up for a trip "home" -- Springfield, Missouri, to visit my mom who moved into a nursing home about six months ago. I figure the trip is going to come to $500, give or take. My Trip Home Travel Fund is at about $350.

So ... every little bit helps, and if you have a writing job or something of the sort that you're willing to trade or pay for, I'm up for that. Or if it's a goodness of your heart kind of thing, that works too.

* My 74-year-old neighbor has been through a rough couple of years -- two kinds of cancer and circulation problems requiring two surgeries. This last month included one of those surgeries and an extended period of being near-completely unable to get around. For the last few weeks, I've probably averaged eight hours a day at her house assisting with various things. And without a laptop, I can't plop down and whip out a blog post when there's a break. When I get home, my priorities are the Garrison Center and Rational Review News Digest. That situation is improving now (she's finally able to get up and down and tend to her own household chores without constant assistance), so regular blogging should resume starting today.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Notice to @USAttorneys G. Zachary Terwilliger (@USATerwilliger) and John Demers (of @EDVAnews), and as Yet Unknown/Un-Named Co-Conspirators

Re: Julian Assange

18 U.S. Code § 241. Conspiracy against rights

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured --

They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

You are conspiring to kidnap Julian Assange for the purpose of injuring/oppression him in the free exercise and enjoyment of the constitutionally secured rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

That makes you criminals.

It's probably not the first such incident, either. It just happens to be the first one to come to my attention.

You may or may not ever be legally held to account for your open and flagrant violations of the law cited above, but all decent human beings can and should shun you, decline you service at their places of business, deny you communion or other religious rites intended for the upstanding and/or penitent, urge your significant others to separate from and/or divorce you and seek honest, non-abusive partners (and custody of any children, to cut off your ability to corrupt them), etc., until and unless you give up the thug life and make restitution to your victims.

Consider this a call on you to do the latter and, until and unless you do, all decent human beings to do the former.

That is all.

Well, the Damage is Done

The US government "blacklisted" Huawei Technologies, a Chinese company selling products and services in more than 170 countries and to 45 of the world's 50 largest telecom operators, with networks used by 1/3 of the world's population, last week. The excuse: "National security." The real reason: Economic protectionism.

Obviously the "blacklisting" hurts Huawei. But it hurts US companies worse, and even if it was reversed today the damage would already be done and at least partially irreversible.

Google revoked Huawei's access to Android software (and Google-provided hardware). That decision was reversed after the US regime gave Huawei 90 days to do, well, something (no matter what Huawei does, the regime will likely say that it didn't get done).

Qualcomm stopped selling chips to Huawei. So did Intel. And Arm.

Panasonic and Vodafone and EE and Microsoft are dumping Huawei as well.

(Above list from Business Insider)

OK, so let's assume the matter gets "resolved."

If you ran Huawei, would you just blithely return to doing business with the companies above and hope this doesn't happen again?

Hell, no.  Huawei has been working on its own phone OS for some time, and certainly cultivating, or at least keeping an eye on, potential alternative hardware suppliers and such. Even if the US regime says "OK, just kidding, you can go back to doing business with all the companies we just bullied into dumping you," Huawei is going amp up its efforts to make itself immune to this kind of thing.

Which means that even if Huawei is only temporarily cut off from the US market, US companies are probably going to be permanently cut off from Huawei. They're going to become entirely its competitor instead of it remaining one of their biggest customers.

And every other non-US company (and consumer) in the world is watching this happen. Are they going to trust Google, Qualcomm, Intel, Arm et al. to fill their future needs? Or are they going to assume that this could happen to them next and act accordingly by dealing with companies in countries whose governments they think they can trust not to screw them in this way?

How much of the future global technology/telecom market did the US just cost American companies?

Donald Trump, and whoever advised him to pull this bullshit caper, are fucking idiots.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Reducing the Increase in the Thing Isn't Reducing the Thing, Regulation Edition

You're familiar with the usual legerdemain:

One party brags that it's cutting spending on X.

The other party screams about the draconian cuts to X.

The first party then "defends" itself by admitting that it's not really cutting spending on X, just cutting previously projected future increases in spending on X.

I suspected that the same would be the case with Donald Trump's executive order on regulatory measures:

Unless prohibited by law, whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.

Emphases mine. The order doesn't require actual repeal of two regulations for each new regulation. It merely requires regulatory agencies to point to two regulations and say "OK, those" any time a new regulation is added. What happens after that is anyone's guess, and the best guess is that most of "those" will quickly be forgotten about and remain in place.

A piece by Craig Eyermann today at the Independent Institute, which discusses "President Trump’s initiative to reduce the burden of federal regulations on Americans," includes this chart from the Mercatus Center:

That federal regulatory burden, at least along the metrics measured by Mercatus, continued to rise after he issued the order, and is only just now back down to about where it was when he was inaugurated.

It will be interesting to see if the burden continues to decrease to pre-Trump levels, or if we'll end up with bragging about "a reduction of the increase we would otherwise have seen" when it's all said and done. If I had to bet, I'd bet on the latter outcome.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

What I've Been Watching ...

... and why I haven't been blogging much:

Roderick Long recommended The Expanse in a recent blog post.

Shortly thereafter, I ran into a personal situation that required me to spend considerable time away from my computer* (hence the minimal blogging -- I got home to write columns and edit RRND, but not much time beyond that), in a place where I could use my Amazon Fire TV Stick to stream stuff, so I binged all three seasons.

That happens to have been a fortunate situation in terms of being able and willing to stick through two or three episodes before the show really started making sense. After which, it became a great ride. Thanks for that recommendation, Dr. Long!

The end of the third season is a pretty satisfying series finale -- but Amazon picked up the show when Syfy dropped it, and there's at least one more season coming. I'll be interested to see where they take a story line with lots of options created by the previous finale.

Rumor has it that Amazon's pickup of the show was specifically related to Jeff Bezos himself liking it. You know, the guy who runs another company (Blue Origin) focused on human space travel and who recently talked at length about his personal vision of a future featuring O'Neill cylinders, etc.

* I recently took out my Chromebook to use while away from home and the screen is f**ked. I don't know if it "went bad" in some way, or if someone in the household stomped on it, or what. Gonna have to get a new laptop, probably another Chromebook. Having a new screen put in this one would cost half as much as the machine itself did. I may turn it into a "headless" machine and run it as a desktop or something. It's  a step up from my current desktop Chromebox in terms of specs.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Oh, How Cute -- They're Trying to Humanize the Tyrant

Jacinta Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, hopped right on the Christchurch mosque shootings as an excuse to jump-start her regime's victim disarmament and censorship/political imprisonment agenda.

Cue charm offensive.

She'd been with her partner for six years and had a kid with him, but hey, better announce an engagement.

And make a big to-do about returning a schoolgirl's "bribe" with a cute note about research on dragons and telepathy.

And so on and so forth.

Oh, look, cute, cuddly, friendly Aunt Jacinda. Just give your guns to Jacinda and shut the fuck up when Jacinda tells you to and everything will be just fine.

If she doesn't want to be seen as New Zealand's version of Stalin, wouldn't it be easier to just, you know, quit acting like New Zealand's version of Stalin?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Thinking About Going Electric ...

Not electric guitar, or electric car. Electric bicycle.

I loved cycling for both exercise and transportation, but my knees just can't take it for more than a few weeks (yes, I've tried glucosamine supplements, etc., and they didn't help much -- I think it probably has something to do with having broken both of my kneecaps in the distant past).

I don't really need a car. Or, rather, if I did, I could just share one with Tamara. Transport-wise, I'm interested in having something to get around town on when she and/or the car aren't available, and it doesn't need to have huge cargo capacity.

I thought about a motorcycle, but I'd probably kill myself on one of those. A scooter is more attractive ...

... but either one would mean getting a driver's license (I think my last one expired in 2004 and I haven't bothered since because I stopped driving around that time due to a hand tremor which has long since disappeared) and paying for insurance, which seems like it's going overboard to dispose of an inconvenience rather than fill a dire need.

An electric bicycle wouldn't entail a driver's license or insurance payments.

It looks like the current "reasonable price" crop (if you consider $500-600 "reasonable") can hit 20 miles per hour and have about a 20-mile range on one battery if you're not doing any pedaling at all.

My plan would be to carry an extra battery. A 40-mile battery range would presumably be plenty to get me all over the Gainesville area and around the parts of the countryside I like to visit, even if I didn't want to do some actual pedaling myself (and I would want to do as much as I could, just not so much that I start having knee problems again).

When there's substantial traffic, that 20mph will stand me in better stead in bike lanes and on bike trails than a car will on the street. I've biked from my rural digs into town and found myself seeing the same car at each stoplight, until that car stopped catching up with me. And IN town, a bike ride is often a straight shot with few stops while a car ride is almost always bunch of detours with lights at each intersection.

So: Cheaper to buy than even an old beater of a car, especially since I wouldn't be making monthly insurance payments. Faster transportation than a car to many of the places I go. Maintenance, probably mostly stuff I could do myself rather than having to hire a mechanic for.

Other than it kind of sucking to bike in the rain (I can deal with that), seems like the winning solution. So now I just have to locate an extra $600 or so and I'm off to the (20 mph or less) races.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Some Thoughts on Comedic "Originality"

Conan O'Brien just settled a lawsuit with a fellow who claims that O'Brien's writers "stole" several jokes from his Twitter feed. Here's his explanation of why he settled. I kind of wish he hadn't, because he was pretty clearly in the right.

I'm enjoying the process of writing stand-up bits. I've done two short public sets now, and both of them got laughs from the audience (the first one more so than the second one, possibly because I inadvertently over-did the booze just a little before the second one -- hey, it was Tankard Night at The Midnight! -- and may have slurred a bit, etc.).

Every time I think I have a bit starting to get into shape, I Google some of my text to see if I'm doing something that's been done before.

I've yet to find a word-for-word match of any substantial bit of content, but if I did I'd make changes or abandon the bit, even though I would know that I came up with the joke independently.


While I don't consider "intellectual property" to be a valid concept, I understand why comics (and audiences) disdain a copycat.

When I tell a joke, the first and most important goal is to get a laugh (or multiple laughs out of a longer bit). The second goal is to do so in a way that the audience finds unique or close to unique -- that makes them consider the joke mine, something I brought them.

As with other types of stories, there are really only so many possible joke plots. Joke plotting works a little differently than most story plotting, but there are still only so many interesting topics and so many takes the basic formulas for jokes lead to on those topics. But you still need to find a way to be "original." That's what I'm working on now.

Songs are stories, too, and the same plot constraints apply, but there's still a difference between "covers" and "originals," and between cover bands and bands doing their own things. One of those differences is audience expectation. If you pay a five dollar cover charge to see a local cover band doing a bunch of Lynyrd Skynrd songs at the local bar, you're probably going to be OK with the deal. If you pay 20 times as much to see an "original" arena act, and that act isn't Lynyrd Skynyrd, you're probably gonna be pissed if the whole show is Skynyrd covers.

So I'm doing my best to make sure that the great bit I came up with isn't something uncomfortably close to something Bill Hicks did in 1992, or Bill Burr did last week, or someone else named Bill did some other time. And if I don't think I get over that bar, you're not going to see or hear me performing it.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Debate Proposition

Resolved, that there is no difference in principle between sticking a needle in someone's body without his or her permission and sticking a penis in someone's body without his or her permission.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Thanks For Asking!, 05/07/19

Yes, I dropped the ball on daily blogging in late April and early May. And yes, it's been quite some time since an AMA thread. By way of fixing both -- and of keeping my horsewhip-bearing sponsor, Free Pony Express, happy, let's do this!

Ask me anything -- yes, anything -- in the comment thread below this post. I'll answer in comments, in a stand-alone post, on a podcast, or in some other way.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The other side of the Wright/Satoshi matter

Craig Wright claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto. He hasn't proven that claim. He tried to pass off an old Satoshi transaction signature as "proof" in 2016, but got caught.

That doesn't prove Wright isn't Satoshi. All it proves is that Wright hasn't proven he's Satoshi. Perhaps Satoshi lost his wallet keys, etc., and simply has no way of proving his identity.

If Wright is not Satoshi, and if Satoshi does still have control of his wallets, there's a way for Satoshi to prove that Wright isn't Satoshi without exposing Satoshi's true identity.

That way is this:

  1. Pick a time when Wright is in public, on camera, observable to the public, and visibly not using a phone or computer.
  2. Send BTC -- any amount will do -- from Satoshi's wallet to some other wallet during that time.
That wouldn't settle the question of who Satoshi is, but it would eliminate one suspect/claimant.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Rate My Bit #1: My Acting Career

No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to record stand-up material (or a speech, or whatever) at a desk and have it sound the way it sounds on a stage. It sounds more like what it is, me at my desk doing a read.

But I have to sit at my desk and do a read, and I have to record it by way of rehearsal (repetition, playing with the timing, tweaking the content, etc.), so I might as well share it with y'all and see what you think. Here's one I'm working on at the moment. Be gentle. Or not.

What a Country!

In any other context, publicly calling for charges to be filed against someone would preclude you from serving on the jury if they were. But when it comes to this ...

Kamala Harris joins Elizabeth Warren in advocating for President Trump's impeachment

Thursday, April 18, 2019

US Government Murders 30,000 Americans Per Year

That's the more sensation, but just as accurate, takeaway from this column by Hans Bader at FEE.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

New Resume Item

Did my first stand-up comedy set last night. Or my first stand-up comedy set in front of a live audience composed of people outside my immediate household, anyway.

Of the three minute set, only 13 words were even remotely political. The rest was about dogs and sex. But not like that.

People laughed, and they did so at the points where I had hoped they would, so hopefully I did OK.

It was supposed to be three minutes anyway. I don't know if I ran long, went short, or nailed the time. I was the show closer (it was "established local comedians first, short set open mic after"), so I probably got a bit of leniency on the time limit if I needed it. The guy running the pre-show workshop for beginners told me "those two bits you tested out on us, plus one more, should get you to three minutes if you don't rush it." I wasn't happy enough with anything else I had been working on to show it off just yet, so I came up with a couple of one-liners contextual to the specific show, while watching it, and threw them in. They got laughs too, so I guess it all worked out.

There was also supposed to be video -- for me to watch/self-evaluate with, and to share if I decided it was good enough -- but something went wrong on that end of things.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

But Seriously, Folks ...

Ben Shapiro: "[Ilhan Omar] has a long history of not taking terrorism particularly seriously ..."

Unlike Shapiro, who took 9/11 so seriously that he spent the next several years yelling for war (from as far away as it was humanly possible to stay from military recruiting offices).

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Finest One-Sentence Description I've Read of the Establishment Media Response to the Mueller Report

"It was like the last scene of the Sopranos."

Sunday, April 14, 2019

As a Resident of a "Sanctuary County" ...

I fully support US president Donald Trump's proposal to send abducted migrants here.

I'd rather they weren't abducted in the first place and simply left unmolested in their right to travel where they damn well please.

But if not, sure, send them our way in Alachua County, Florida. By the truck load. By the plane load.  As many as you please, as many as possible.

Immigration benefits its destinations and the people living in those destinations. It boosts their economies and lowers their crime rates.

Let cities, counties, and states where the governments and  large segments of the people perpetually bellyache about "illegal immigration" while enjoying its benefits be relieved of those benefits, and see how they like it.

I'm guessing they'll respond the same way Chicago's politicians respond to the failures of their victim disarmament ("gun control") schemes.

They won't blame themselves for denying themselves the benefits (of gun rights or of immigration).

They'll blame the cities, counties, and states that accept the benefits for the problems that come with not accepting the benefits, rather than deigning to accept the benefits themselves.

A Quick Quiz to Make a Point

Not everyone's a history buff. Not everyone's even heard of the Dreyfuss affair of 1894-1906.

But of those who have heard of the Dreyfuss affair, most can probably identify at least one of two, and perhaps both, figures involved.

Figure One: Albert Dreyfuss, the French soldier accused of spying for Germany; and

Figure Two: Emile Zola, a French writer who was prosecuted for "defamation of a public authority" over his open  letter on the matter (J'Accuse ... !)

Quiz: Name any of the Presidents of the Council of Ministers of France (the rough equivalent, at the time, of Prime Ministers in parliamentary systems or presidents in the US system) during the period.

Offhand, I was able to name a grand total of one of them, out of several. But that one came to the position at the very end of the affair, and was previously Zola's publisher and co-defendant, Georges Clemenceau.

The Point: 120 years from now, it may be that not a whole lot of people will know much about the Manning affair. But of those who do, I bet more people will be able to name Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, the equivalents of Dreyfuss and Zola, than will be able to name any of the US presidents in office at the times of their persecutions.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Yes, I Think USC 18 § 241 / § 242 Apply

18 U.S. Code § 241. Conspiracy against rights

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or

If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

18 U.S. Code § 242. Deprivation of rights under color of law

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or to different punishments, pains, or penalties, on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

While Julian Assange is not an inhabitant of the United States, or a person in the United States, yet, prosecutors in the US are clearly conspiring to make him an inhabitant of the United States and a person in the United States, by asking the British police to kidnap him and turn him over to the United States.

After which, they intend to injure/oppress him (§ 241), and deprive him of his rights under color of law (§ 242), for his exercise and enjoyment of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

So prosecution of the criminals who are after Assange -- or pre-prosecution intervention in defense of Assange -- on violation of  § 241 and § 242 is clearly warranted. The conspiracy to kidnap Assange is probable cause to suspect the rest of the elements.

The code provisions themselves provide for capital punishment where kidnapping is involved, so I see no problem at all with the pre-prosecution intervention involving summary execution of the perpetrators if they resist arrest.

Including arrest by citizens.

Yes, I am advocating precisely what it sounds like I'm advocating.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I Just Made My First Presidential Campaign Contribution for 2020 ...

... and it was to a Democrat. I don't think I've nominated to a partisan candidate who wasn't a Libertarian since prior to 1996.

Mike Gravel is trying to get 65,000 donations to qualify for participation in the Democratic Party's presidential nomination debates.

If you're a partisan Libertarian, you may remember that the former Senator sought our party's presidential nomination in 2008.

I did not support Gravel for the nomination (I was a Kubby and Ruwart guy), but I did like him (I got to spend some time with him in multi-campaign "how do we stop Barr" strategy sessions) and his campaign staff (at least one of whom, Christopher Thrasher, has been a valuable LP activist ever since).

And let's face it, Gravel was a better candidate, by at least a full order of magnitude, than the screw-job fakeatarians we chose for both slots on the ticket that year (Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root).

So I threw five bucks his way specifically to help him get into those debates, where he plans to pitch a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Any donation, any amount, will help him reach that goal (I think he's about a quarter of the way there). I hope you'll shake loose a couple of bucks for him, too.

Monday, April 08, 2019

The Porn Ransom Email Thing ...

From my inbox, in an email supposedly from one of my own addresses ...

This account has been infected! Renew your pswd this time!
You might not know me me and you are probably wanting to know why you're receiving this e-mail, is it right?
I am ahacker who burstyour emailand devicesnot so long ago.
It will be a time wasting to try out to msg me or alternatively try to find me, in fact it's not possible, considering that I directed you an email from YOUR own hacked account.

Yes, because it's SO complicated to make it look like a message originating from is actually from another address. Didn't even do a very good job of covering your tracks.

I have installed malware soft on the adult videos (porn) website and suppose that you have enjoyed this website to have fun (you understand what I mean).
When you have been keeping an eye on content, your internet browser started out functioning as a RDP (Remote Control) with a keylogger that granted me access to your monitor and web camera.
Consequently, my softwareaquiredall information.
You wrote passcodes on the web services you visited, and I caught them.
Needless to say, it's possible to modify them, or perhaps already modified them.
But it really doesn't matter, my spyware renews it regularly.
What I have done?
I generated a reserve copy of your system. Of all files and contact lists.
I got a dual-screen movie. The first screen shows the film that you were observing (you've an interesting preferences, wow...), the second screen reveals the recording from your web camera.
What do you have to do?
Clearly, in my view, 1000 USD is basically a inexpensive amount of money for this little riddle. You will make your deposit by bitcoins (if you do not know this, try to find “how to purchase bitcoin” in any search engine).
My bitcoin wallet address:
(It is cAsE sensitive, so copy and paste it).
You have 2 days in order to make the payment. (I built in an unique pixel to this email, and at this moment I know that you have read this email).
To monitorthe reading of a messageand the activityin it, I set upa Facebook pixel. Thanks to them. (The stuff thatis appliedfor the authorities can helpus.)

In the event I fail to get bitcoins, I'll immediately send your recording to each of your contacts, along with family members, co-workers, etcetera?

The sad part ... looks like this idiot has received three bites on the scam and knocked down about $4,000 US.

Of course, I don't have a web cam, and I don't really care if someone finds out my porn preferences anyway.  But if you receive one of these emails, rest assured it's completely fake. The nitwit didn't hack your computer. The nitwit doesn't have your files, your history, or footage from your webcam. All he has is your email address.

Wow, I See a Long Ago Promise Unkept

When I initially offered the World's Smallest Political Platform, I also promised to write a Statement of Principles in limerick form. That was 13 years ago, and I forgot all about it until the subject of the WSPP came up in a F******k thread. So:

The reason this party's in session
Is to advocate for non-aggression
That may sound a bit dry
But we won't tell a lie
It's our purest, most perfect confession

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Well, That Was Quite a Night

Scored free tickets to catch a Grateful Dead tribute act at my favorite local venue.

Headed for the show, right after dropping my last lovingly hoarded hit of blotter, and ...

Ended up watching a flautist and pianist at Gainesville's premier LGBTQ-friendly bar then coming home and listening to some Jethro Tull.

Not bad, I guess, but not exactly what I was expecting of the evening either and kind of a waste of decent acid.

Friday, April 05, 2019


So the tweet embedded below is a "re-tweet for entry in a drawing for free tickets" thing. Cool. I'm going to the show. So I re-tweeted.

Then I looked at the other re-tweets. Looks like all or almost all of them are people who just scan Twitter for "this is a giveaway, re-tweet to enter" stuff, even if they don't live anywhere in the neighborhood.

I wonder if the giveaway folks for local gigs look at that when drawing?

Looks like it's gonna be a good show. Even if I have to pay to get in.

Update: W00T! Winner winner chicken dinner! See y'all at the show if you're cool like that.

Things Progressives Hate

There's a pretty cool progressive site that publishes almost all of my Garrison columns. Just not the ones that pick at modern American progressivism's conservatism.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Commenting: Everything Old is New Again

Quite some time ago -- maybe as long ago as the late 1990s, but I don't remember for sure -- I came across several sites/browser plug-ins/apps that amounted to "universal commenting." That is, you could go to any web page, click a bookmarklet or browser button, and comment "on" (actually, about) that page, without the owners of the page itself having any say in the matter.

I thought the idea was really cool, but it never caught on. Site commenting got done in-house or via third-party commenting providers that gave site owners moderation control, if it got done at all.

Gab's new site/app/browser extension set, Dissenter, brings back that old idea and seems to be doing better than the old similar models because it's leveraging the same user base that powers Gab itself: People who want to say what they want to say at any site without the site owner being able to set guidelines or just stop them entirely.

Pretty cool.

The next step, which I'm not seeing yet but which seems pretty simple, is a tool set (e.g. Wordpress plug-in) that lets site owners themselves easily opt in by making Dissenter their sites' "official" commenting system. That should already be doable with template edits or whatever. It's just a matter of making it easier.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Five Items of Clothing I Never Find at Thrift Stores

Yes, I do most of my clothes shopping at thrift stores. They have lots of nearly new -- or sometimes, really old and cool -- stuff at a fraction of the price you'd pay elsewhere.

Both of my suits (one a standard light/summer business/wedding/funeral suit, the other a vintage linen suit that a freaking fashion reporter asked me about at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention)  fit like they were tailored for me. Each of them cost less less than ten bucks. They cost to buy less than they cost to have dry-cleaned.

I keep a couple of pairs of "bought new" shoes around, but pick up old Nikes and such when I see them really cheap at the thrift stores. They're for wearing when I mow the yard or lounge around the house or whatever. The "new" stuff is for going out or, occasionally, when I get the "get in shape" bug and don't want to destroy my feet walking or biking.

I buy cheap or cool shirts for a buck or three apiece and don't worry about wearing them out. In fact, once I get too many, I impose a "cut up two for rags for every one you buy" rule so that my wardrobe doesn't get out of control (Tamara always has enough clothing on hand to cover a mid-size city of petite women -- a city I'd very much like to visit).

But here are five things I never seem to find at thrift stores:

  1. Levi Strauss 501 button fly jeans. 550 zipper fly Levis I can find all day long. Dockers? Whole racks of them in every size. 501s, no dice. And have you seen what they cost new these days? Back when I worked for Tracker Boats, I got a 20% discount at Bass Pro Shops and the 501s were less than $20 before the discount. Nowadays you're talking $50 or more. Screw that. I got lucky a little while back and found a pair of 501s at a garage sale. My size. New! They hadn't even been washed yet, the store tags were still on them. One. Freakin'. Dollar. SCORE.
  2. String ties, bolo ties, and bow ties. I don't like regular neckties very much. I don't like tying them, I don't like wearing them, and I don't like looking like every other dick in a suit wherever I'm going that I need to wear a suit. I usually have to get online to find those things, although I did pick up a cool little brass alligator bolo at a yard sale a couple of weeks ago.
  3. White, "buff," or ivory dress shoes. I've been looking for a pair to go with the aforementioned linen suit. I'm simply not willing to spend ten times as much on the shoes as I spent on the suit.
  4. Band/concert shirts. It's easy to understand why. People collect those and either wear them until they rot (that's me) or carefully preserve them in boxes (that's not me). If I ever come across, say, a 1993 Grateful Dead at [insert venue here] concert shirt at a thrift store, and I never have, I'll know that either a hippie died or it's a Walmart reproduction.
  5. Men's belts that actually fit. If I see a men's belt at a thrift store, chances are it's either for a guy with a 70" waist or a guy with a 24" waist. My theory is that the guys with 70" waists keeled over in the Golden Corral buffet line and their families donated the stuff (there's always plenty of Very Very Large pants and shirts, too), and that the guys with 24" waists gained weight. All the belt sizes in between get worn out, not donated to thrift stores. I finally gave in and paid Amazon $12 for two decent belts recently (I often wear suspenders, and there are always plenty of those at thrift stores).

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Not a Review, Just a Musing

Watched The Highwaymen on Netflix last night.

I liked it. The actors involved all turned in strong performances. Everyone (OK, everyone who bothers much with history) knows how the story ends, but the movie gets there well, and from a different viewpoint than previous Bonnie and Clyde pics that I've seen.

But the most enjoyable part for me was ... nostalgia.

Not for the events, really, since Bonnie and Clyde took their dirt naps 32 years before I was born.

Nostalgia for an American terrain that was fast disappearing when I was a kid and is all but gone now.

When I was a kid, growing up astride what was left of Route 66 halfway between St. Louis and Joplin, the Interstate Highway System was still a big freakin' deal. Four lanes of freeway. If you weren't on that, pretty much everything was two lanes. With pavement and ditches if you were lucky, but not always either of the two.

There's a particular gas station in the movie that I remember several of in out-of-the-way locations from my childhood. Not the brand, although the one I remember offhand was a Skelly Oil station. Not the pumps -- I remember seeing some of the older style pumps, no longer in operation, but still rusting on the islands next to the pre-digital "rolling analog numbers" pumps. But the building itself,  maybe 10' x 15', with a gable held up by two square pillars extending out over one side of the two pumps.

One of the cars in the movie has an AM radio in it. I guess having a radio at all was pretty high-end circa 1934. By the time I started driving, AM/FM and maybe a cassette player was standard (CDs as a general commercial proposition were still a couple of years away). But my first car was a year old than I was, and had just an AM radio in it (I wired up an old 8-track tape player I got for a buck at a garage sale).

In most respects, tooling around the southern Missouri countryside by car in the mid-1980s wasn't so wildly different from doing so in the 1930s that either would have been unrecognizable as an experience to someone yanked out of one end of the timeline and plopped down in the other end. Two-lane roads, country general stores and tiny gas stations with their owners' names on them, etc. Cell phones? Hah. If you were lucky, there might be a pay phone within 20 miles.

These days it seems like it's hard (or maybe not so hard, you could ask that there Internet to do it for you) to find 20 miles of two-lane road in a row, and the gas stations, stores, and restaurants at each end of that 20-mile stretch will be mostly national or regional chains.

Which is not to say that I want to go back to those old days. But I do like to visit what's left of them when I can, in real life or on the screen.

As for actual Bonnie and Clyde nostalgia, I've really only got a few bits.

When I was a kid, there was an exhibit that toured the country, claiming to be the car they got shot in. It would pull up in a town, semi-trailer with the car in it, some steps to walk in and out on, and I think it may have been a buck to get in. Was it the real car? I don't know. Looks like the pictures I've seen, complete with bullet holes, shattered windows, and blood all over the place.

Of course, I had to ask my mom about them. Bad people, she said, they shouldn't have made such heroes out of them. She was an infant herself when they got shot, but I guess people were still talking about it years later.

Later I lived in a tiny town -- Reeds Spring, Missouri -- where one of their famous shoot-outs with cops took place (there's still an annual festival celebrating that, I guess, although I never noticed it when I was there).

Friday, March 29, 2019

I Have No Pony and I Must Scream

I finished Vermin Supreme's campaign book, i PONY: Blueprint for a New America yesterday (not an affiliate link).

Watch for my review on Free Pony Express. I'm not sure you'll see it there, but watch for it anyway.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

I've Held My Tongue on Jussie Smollett Until Now ...

... for several reasons. I neither believed nor disbelieved his initial story until the narrative started to go south on him and he ended up charged with filing a false police report and such -- after which I just didn't find the whole thing especially interesting. Hate crime hoax stories are pretty common and the only thing distinguishing this alleged hate crime hoax story from most was that it involved an actor I'd never heard of who starred on a show I don't watch.

So now, the charges have been dismissed and the case has been sealed. Meanwhile, Smollett agreed to forfeit his bail and had apparently already done some community service.

I agree that that sounds pretty fishy, and of course it has a bunch of people -- including some Big Names -- upset. Here's the summary I'm hearing from commentators high and low:

"If you're rich and famous, the price of getting off for a felony offense in Chicago is ten grand."

And that just might be the case. But let me offer another possibility:

You haven't really got the goods. You've got a case, but not an airtight case. I'm not pleading. Want to roll the dice with a jury? Fine.


Every cop involved, from the officers who initially responded to the scene, to the investigators who drummed up the false police report against me, to the police chief who decided to flap his yap about it in public, is going to go on the stand.

And each and every one of those cops is going to get grilled about each and every episode in his or her career where he or she was accused of false arrest of a black citizen, or of a gay citizen, or of disbelieving a black citizen's complaint or a gay citizen's complaint that turned out to be true.

Did any of those cops ever shoot a black "suspect" who turned out to be an innocent bystander?

Did any of those cops ever decide a domestic dispute wasn't as one-sided as the complainant claimed, tell everyone to calm down and leave, then have to come back a few hours later to process a murder scene?

By the time my lawyer gets done with those cops, the jury will believe they think every black citizen and gay citizen in Chicago is blowing smoke up their asses when a crime gets reported, and that they wouldn't recognize a real criminal if one snuck up behind them and whacked them across their asses with a bass fiddle.

Or you can keep that ten thousand dollars and let it go.

Your call.

Not saying that's how it went down, but I think it's at least as likely as "he's rich and famous, give him a pass."

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

One of Many Ways to Know You're About to Hear Something That's Completely Wrong

When someone says (or writes) "libertarians and conservatives" or "conservatism and libertarianism" as if the two were similar, you know you're about to be sucked down a rabbit hole of egregious error.

It's not that conservatives and libertarians never agree on anything.

It's that their philosophical groundings are different -- in fact, mutually exclusive -- making any such agreements mere temporary coincidence.

Even a home invasion robber and a home invasion robbery victim might happen to agree that it's better for the victim to hand over the jewelry than be killed. But they're operating from two very different desires.

The robber wants the jewelry and prefers to not have murder charges added to his tab if he's caught.

The victim doesn't want to give up the jewelry and would probably like to see the robber go down as hard as possible if caught.

But the victim wants to live, and the robber happens to have reasons to want to let him live. That's their only commonality.

They're not friends. They're not "kissing cousins." They're not aligned toward the same general goals.

Neither are libertarians and conservatives.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Mueller's Handicap

I've been calling the "Russiagate" "scandal" BS since pretty much the beginning, but I expected Mueller to find some way to assert collusion. I think I've figured out why he didn't, and I can name the tune in two words:

Hillary Clinton.

"Russiagate" was always about finding an excuse, some excuse, any excuse for Clinton's election loss that made it not her fault. Mueller's record is that of a guy who makes sure the establishment always gets what it wants. But in this case, he also had to carefully avoid giving the establishment what it didn't want, which was anything that made Clinton continue to look just as dirty as Trump on the same issues.

There WAS collusion between the Trump campaign and "Kremlin-connected Russians."

But there was ALSO collusion between the Clinton campaign and "Kremlin-connected Russians."

That is, both campaigns tried to tap "Kremlin-connected Russian" sources for dirt on their opponent. Trump campaign people met with a "Kremlin-connected lawyer." Clinton campaign people outsourced their Russian collusion to Fusion GPS and British MI6 agent Christopher Steele.

The only way Mueller could assert collusion without damaging Clinton just as badly as he damaged Trump would be if he found collusion of a very different type or on a vastly larger scale. Calling the collusion he did find "collusion" would just bring Clinton right back into things. It would be a worse problem for the establishment than just saying there was no collusion at all.

Likewise, indicting any Americans with real political clout (as opposed to Russians who'll never see the inside of a US courtroom) on those specific charges (as opposed to hiding money from the tax man and so forth), absent proof of different/worse collusion, would bring us to  another one of those "we can't go after Hillary Clinton because she's Hillary Clinton -- but yeah, anyone else who pulls that kind of shit goes under the jail" moments a la James Comey on Clinton's grossly negligent handling of classified information. Which, really, was the beginning of the end for Clinton in 2016.

Basically, Mueller would have had to catch Trump putting a piece of tape on a telephone pole, then leaving the nuclear launch codes in an envelope under a park bench for an SVR agent to pick up, to "get" him without "getting" Clinton too.

Friday, March 22, 2019

If You Were on @DougStanhope's Email List ...

... you would know what I know. So you should really sign up for that.

Note to Doug: I got married at that very hotel once. Hopefully things will work out better for you.

Second note to Doug: Stop being a primitive troglodyte asshole and get an RSS feed for your podcast, dude.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Missing Factor

From the St. Louis, Missouri Post-Dispatch:

For the 14th time this year, an Illinois trooper is struck by passing motorist

Authorities say the factors for other crashes involving parked police cars can include people driving too fast, being distracted or not being aware of the law that requires them to move over.

Here's another factor that nobody seems to mention:

Even a few years ago, when a cop pulled a motorist over, the cop then pulled in behind the motorist on the shoulder of the road.

These days, every time I see a cop-stop, the police vehicle is parked catawampus across the right traffic lane of the road, just waiting to be t-boned by someone who didn't notice the flashing lights. At which point physics gets to work and suddenly you have two large pieces of metal flying uncontrolled around the roadway where either or both are likely to hit the cop who's outside writing a ticket, or the parked car on the shoulder, or oncoming traffic, or some combination of those things.

Which seems to be what happened here -- the "passing motorist" also hit the trooper's car, and at the moment they don't know (or aren't admitting they know) whether it was the trooper or his car that got hit first.

I understand the theory -- the cop standing next to the pulled-over car is vulnerable, and if he parks his car catawampus across the road maybe it gives him some protection from that inattentive motorist. On the other hand, there's still some risk to the cop, and there's dramatically increased risk to everyone else on the damn road.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

RIP Dick Dale, 1937-2019

I could have sworn I posted this the day he died, but a reader asked me why I hadn't mentioned it, and ... well, obviously I didn't. He was one of the great ones. Here, have a video reminder of why.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Serendipitous Coincidence

That cheap k-cup type single cup coffee maker I bought around Christmas time gave up the ghost today.

I can't really blame it. We used the hell out of that thing, to the tune of usually at least 4 or 5 cups a day. It started brewing half cups a few days ago. I de-scaled it, cleaned the needle, etc., per instructions. That didn't seem to help. The instructions also noted the reservoir could be cleaned by putting water in it and shaking it. After I did that, it stopped working entirely. Probably a thermostat or sensor  stopped working right and then the shaking tore something else loose.

But like I said, we used the hell out of it, and we're not going back to brewing a full pot. We don't normally use pre-bought "k-cups," but rather little "k-cup"-shaped filter baskets that we just put coffee in before brewing. That way, instead of me brewing a full pot, drinking aging coffee all day, probably brewing a second post, etc., we just make a cup when one of us wants a cup. Less coffee wasted, and it's fresh, and I get the kind/strength of coffee I want while Tamara gets the kind/strength of coffee she wants.

The serendipitous coincidence: I happened to get about $80 worth of Bitcoin Cash earlier today. And what do you know, there's an actual Keurig at Amazon for about $80 (not an affiliate link). Has a 52-ounce reservoir so we don't have to add water each time we brew a cup. And comes with a "variety pack" of coffee too. So I headed over to Purse (yes, an affiliate link). Should be here by the end of the week. I'll use the French press until then.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Wanna Hear Me Badmouth the Trump Administration on Russian State Media?

If so, tune in to Sputnik Radio at 6:40pm Eastern.

Sorry for the short notice, but the interview didn't get arranged until about 3:30pm and we taped at 4pm.

Update: You can find the interview here, starting at about 47:20.

Wow, That Was Quick

I reported for jury duty this morning. Lady took my summons and told me all the cases for the day had been resolved (plea bargains, I presume) and that they wouldn't be needing any jurors.

With a population of more than 250,000, I have to think quite a few cases must come through Alachua County's court system. It's depressing, although not surprising, that few of them ever get to a jury.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Well, That About Wraps it up for Beto

I'm sure that many, perhaps even most, presidential candidates have never taken LSD.

But damned if I'll vote for one who admits it.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Song You Should Listen to ...

... because it's a great song. And because A Picture Made is one of my favorite bands, and the more listens they get, the better it looks for them. It's an old song, re-recorded for their upcoming first album (they released an EP, Past, back in the '80s and it's still one of my favorite listens).

Friday, March 15, 2019

They've Got a Lotta Nerve

Some selected tweets:

The New Zealand attacker(s ?) killed 49 innocent Muslims. That's a rounding error in stats relating to the number of innocent Muslims killed in air strikes, drone strikes, SEAL raids, etc. ordered by these two.

Says the vile creature who chortled "we came, we saw, he died" when Muammar Gadaffi was brutally killed on video while around him thousands of innocent Muslims also died in a civil war she cultivated and cheered on, and who inquired as to whether she could have Julian Assange assassinated for exposing her own crimes.

Suggested response from innocent Muslims:

When Social Media Choose to be Part of the Problem ...

Per CNN:

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are struggling to halt the spread of horrific footage that appears to show a massacre at a mosque in New Zealand as it was taking place.

If Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had been around in 1963, they'd have been "struggling to deal with" -- that is to suppress -- the Zapruder film.

If they'd been around in 2001, they'd have been trying to make sure we never saw the second plane hitting the World Trade Center towers.

And that there is a bunch of bullshit.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

This post is about SlackSocial, which didn't seem to initially allow me the option of titling it. Just sayin' ...

This is a test post using SlackSocial, a service I just discovered for drafting, scheduling, and publishing posts to Facebook and/or Twitter and/or LinkedIn and/or Tumblr and/or here at Blogspot.

So far I like SlackSocial better than Hootsuite, which wouldn't leave me the hell alone when I had its Chrome app installed -- instead of waiting for me to invoke it when I wanted it, it would cover up important buttons with its own "hootlet" link on various sites. Since I only used Hootsuite for specific scheduling tasks on Google Plus, I ditched it when the API for that stopped working. I've tested SlackSocial on Twitter and LinkedIn. As you may have noticed if you're into it, Facebook has been down much of the day, so no joy there. If it works and plays well with Blogspot, I'll probably use it as my preferred scheduling app when I'm handling social media for clients, etc.

Anyway, if this is the kind of thing you use, feel free to check it out via my affiliate link (here -- and hmm, it's already having its first malfunction, "insert link" doesn't seem to work in its rich text editor, so I may have to edit the post when it publishes -- anyway, There's a "free" level (that's what I'm using). If you join through me and decide you like it and need one of their premium levels, I get a 10% cut of your payments to them.

Let's see how this works out.

Update: Yeah, a couple of problems. The "insert link" function did something, but it wasn't visible and wasn't right. Might be something I can look up and find a solution to that I should have known all along. Also, there doesn't appear to be a way to title a Blogspot post within SlackSocial. But it does seem to work great on Twitter and LinkedIn, so there's that.

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