Sunday, January 20, 2019

Those Who Cannot Remember the Past are Condemned to Fall for the Same Old Military Industrial Complex Scams

Camera One, pointed at The Atlantic:

America Scrambles to Catch Up With Chinese and Russian Weapons

Camera Two, pointed at Wikipedia:

The missile gap was the Cold War term used in the US for the perceived superiority of the number and power of the USSR's missiles in comparison with its own (a lack of military parity). The gap in the ballistic missile arsenals did not exist except in exaggerated estimates, made by the Gaither Committee in 1957 and in United States Air Force (USAF) figures. Even the contradictory CIA figures for the USSR's weaponry, which showed a clear advantage for the US, were far above the actual count. Like the bomber gap of only a few years earlier, it was soon demonstrated that the gap was entirely fictional.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

This is What the Cult of the Omnipotent State Looks Like

From The Hill:

The FDA has the ability to stop e-cigarette sales

Not in a million years will the FDA ever have that ability.

For evidence of my claim, hit Wikipedia and read up on the history of "attempts to stop sales of" cannabis, cocaine, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, etc.

E-cigarettes are batteries that power a heating element to vaporize common food ingredients (propylene glycol or vegetable glycerine) with nicotine (which can be extracted from a number of plants in the nightshade family, or synthesized in a lab).

I'm not saying we won't see a war on batteries, food additives, and common plants. I'm just pointing out that in any such war the batteries, food additives, and common plants (or, rather the people who want and use them) will win hands down.

But what struck me vis a vis the quoted statement was arguments I've had over the years with people who claim there is no "Cult of the Omnipotent State."

What would you call someone who just assumes, in the face of millennia of evidence that runs without exception to the contrary, that the state has the magical power to make batteries, food additives, and common plants disappear from the market?

I'd call that person a cultist in the grip of a bizarre superstition that the state can do anything its priests decide should be done.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hi, @ScottAdamsSays, I'm Tom Knapp

I'm the guy you don't believe exists -- the one who wants open borders even if the welfare state continues to exist (I don't do Stockholm Syndrome), even if you tell me scary stories about sharia law, even if the possibility exists that the immediate economic fallout might not be to my benefit, etc.

Nice to "meet" you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Stacking Privacy-Friendly Tech on Top of Privacy-Questionable Tech

As reported at The Verge:

The gadget, called Alias, is an always-listening speaker, but it only connects to the internet during the initial setup process. That way, Alias stays 'off the grid' while you’re using it, preventing your conversations from leaving the device, Bjørn Karmann, one of the developers, told The Verge. When the Alias hears its own wake word, it’ll stop broadcasting white noise [into the Alexa or Google speaker to cover your conversations] and wake up Alexa or Google Assistant so you can use them as normal.

It's not a product for sale, it's a DIY project at Github. requiring a 3-D printer, a Raspberry Pi, two speakers, and code that's still in development.

If I ran Amazon's or Google's home speaker program, I'd be racing to incorporate both the "listen for wake word offline, white noise to the Internet-connected part when it's not being used" and the "choose any wake word you want" features into the existing products.

She Doesn't Have to Ask

Per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked President Donald Trump to postpone his State of the Union address to the nation -- set for Jan. 29 -- until the government reopens.

The White House hasn’t immediately responded to a request for comment about Pelosi’s request, which she made in a letter to the president.

This isn't something Pelosi has to "ask" for.

The president of the United States delivers the State of the Union address at the invitation of the Speaker of the House -- Nancy Pelosi. She issued that invitation on January 3, and she can withdraw it any time she likes.

That's what she should do, instead of "asking" him about rescheduling.

If the Speaker of the House doesn't invite the president of the United States to visit and address the  chamber she reigns over, the House Sergeant at Arms will (presumably politely, at least the first time) simply decline to let him in the door if he shows up.

Trivia bit: It is ritual, when the Queen of England wishes to visit and address the House of Commons, for her to be refused entrance the first time she asks.*

* Egg-on Face Update: No, it's not exactly like that. In fact, the Queen does not and may not visit the House of Commons. No monarch since Charles I has been allowed to set foot in their chamber (Charles showed up to arrest five members, thus the ban). The procedure for the State Opening of Parliament includes this, per the Telegram:

When the Queen sits down (in the House of Lords) the Lord Great Chamberlain signals to an official, known as The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod in his capacity as the Sovereign's Messenger to summon the House of Commons and demand their presence.

As he approaches the Commons, the door of the Chamber is slammed in Black Rod's face to demonstrate the supremacy of the Lower House over the Lords.

He knocks three times with his Black Rod, from which he derives his name, and is finally admitted.

He says: ''Mr Speaker. The Queen commands this Honourable House'' - bowing to the left and to the right as he does so - ''to attend Her Majesty immediately in the House of Peers.''

This tradition is a reminder of the right of the Commons to exclude everyone but the Sovereign's messengers.

GMTA Update: Kevin D. Williamson at National Review agrees.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Note from Manuel Garcia O'Kelly-Davis to L. Neil Smith ...

(In reply to this sickening garbage)

"Sovereign," like "love," means anything you want it to mean; it's a word in dictionary between "sober" and "sozzled."

Monday, January 14, 2019

I'm Launching My Campaign Early This Time ...

No, I'm not running for President or Vice-President of the United States, or for Congress, etc. I'm just getting too old, fat, ugly, and sedentary for that kind of thing.

But I think I did a good job as Florida's representative to the Libertarian Party's national platform committee in 2018, and I'd like to serve on that committee again. Consider this an announcement of my candidacy.

As you may or may not recall, I sought appointment to the platform committee by the Libertarian National Committee last time around, didn't make the cut, got selected as alternate from Florida, and became the main member when Florida's appointee to that position left the party.

Fair warning: This time, I don't intend to seek Florida's slot if I don't make the national cut. For various reasons, I'm not heavily involved in my state party. Nothing against such activity (in Missouri, I served on my party's county, state, and executive committees and ran for public office five times), but my libertarian movement work is more national in scope these days, and it takes up enough of my time and energy that I don't have much over for the kind of state and local work I used to do. I don't think it's fair to ask a state party I'm not heavily involved in to entrust its representation to me.

My national party work these days basically amounts to paying dues, serving as a national convention delegate (seven times so far, including the last two), occasionally helping out a candidate/campaign with writing, etc. ... and, in 2018 and hopefully 2020, serving on the platform committee.

If you think I'd do a good job on the committee, then when the time comes for the LNC to start considering its appointees (I'll let you know when that comes up), please contact your regional representative, the at-large representatives, and the officers and ask them to vote for me.

Discussion (on any related topics) welcome in comments. I expect to talk about this a bit over then next year and a half and will try to remember to put all such posts under the label "Knapp for Platform Committee 2020."

Hmm -- They Must Think Tulsi Gabbard is a Threat After All

I won't be voting for Tulsi Gabbard either in the Democratic primaries (I'm not a Democrat) or in the general election (or, rather, it would take a lot to get me to -- I have significant policy problems with her and am hopeful that the Libertarian Party won't shit the bed with its own nomination for the fourth time in a row).

I also don't think much of her chances. The last time the US elected a president directly out of the US House of Representatives was 1880, and the next one probably won't be a Hindu woman of ... interesting ... citizenship credentials* from the 40th most populous of the 50 states.

Apparently the Democratic establishment think she's enough of a threat to try to crush her right out of the gate, though. For example, they got CNN to rush this one out:

Her past views and activism in opposition to LGBT rights in the late 90s and early 2000s, which put her out of step with most of the Democratic Party at the time, have come under more intense scrutiny since her announcement.

The Democratic Party's platform didn't come out against marriage apartheid until 2012, shortly after president Barack Obama (and Tulsi Gabbard) did and well before 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did.

And yet I don't remember the Democratic establishment attacking Hillary Clinton for having been a knuckle-dragging troglodyte on the subject for more than a year after Gabbard got right on it.

* She was born in American Samoa, which, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, would make her a "national" but not a "citizen" of the US at birth ... except that her father (also born in American Samoa) was a US citizen by virtue of his father's US citizenship. Now, personally, I think that makes her a "natural-born citizen" under the meaning of the US Constitution, but some others, even in her own party, will likely make an issue of it.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Word PSA

de jure, adverb/adjective 1. by right; according to law (distinguished from de facto).


du jour, adjective 2. fashionable; current.

You're welcome.

I'd Just Like to Point Out an Obvious Oversight at Apple

Apparently they've never noticed that the computers they make can be used for video conferencing, etc.

Getting it Backward, as Usual

Associated Press, via ABC News:

Thousands of requests by men to bring in child and adolescent brides to live in the United States were approved over the past decade, according to government data obtained by The Associated Press. ... The data raises questions about whether the immigration system may be enabling forced marriage and about how U.S. laws may be compounding the problem despite efforts to limit child and forced marriage. ... "It indicates a problem. It indicates a loophole that we need to close," Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told the AP.

I don't see how it raises that "question" at all. In fact, quite the opposite.

So, in (for example) Pakistan, a 12-year-old girl is forced to marry a 50-year-old guy. Then he decides to move to the US and bring her with him.

Question: Where is that 12-year-old more likely to be able to get free -- get away from the guy, get a divorce, and live without fear of being e.g. burned to death? Back in Pakistan? Or here?

Not approving the guy to come to the US and bring her with him is "enabling forced marriage." Approving it is giving her a chance to escape forced marriage.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Steemit "Censorship" -- Disturbing, but Somewhat Overblown

The clue is in the headline:

Steemit Censoring Users on Immutable Social Media Blockchain’s Front-End

Short version: Steemit, a blogging/social media site operating on the Steem blockchain, banned an account associated with a person or group called The Dark Overlord, which claims to have possession of -- and, if a ransom is not paid, plans to release -- insurance files related to the 9/11 attacks.

Now, as someone who publishes on Steemit, I'm not especially happy about Steemit's decision to block users. Any users. For any reason.

But take a second look at that headline. See the words "immutable social media blockchain?"

Steemit is not Steem. Steem is not the Steem blockchain.

Steemit is just one of many ("more than 324") apps/front ends that people can use to publish stuff to, and read stuff on, the Steem blockchain.

Just as an example, here's the prettified Steemit version of an article I published earlier today, and here's the same article, not so prettified, as stored on the blockchain.

You need some kind of tool to publish to the Steem blockchain. And you need some kind of tool to read stuff on the Steem blockchain. Steemit is the easiest and most convenient way I've found to do both. I'm not sure I'd bother with Steem if not for Steemit. But there are other ways.

Not only can Steemit not stop The Dark Overlord from saying anything he, she, or they want to say, Steemit can't even stop he/she/them from saying it with Steem.

Hey, Someone Else Noticed ...

... that "borders" as we know them are less than 400 years old -- part of the Westphalian Model of "national sovereignty" that's given us two world wars and hundreds of millions murdered by "their" governments.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

One Thing Trump Got Right Last Night

Senator Chuck Schumer -- who you will be hearing from later tonight -- has repeatedly supported a physical barrier in the past, along with many other Democrats. They changed their mind only after I was elected President. -- US President Donald Trump, 01/08/19

True. Schumer (and then-US-Senator Hillary Clinton, and then-US-Senator Barack Obama, who later broke the record for deportations under a particular president) voted in favor of the "border fence" in 2006.

They "changed their mind" -- partially, temporarily, dishonestly, and opportunistically -- when it looked like that's where the votes available to them were. They'll change it "back" just as soon as the vote chase leads them in a different direction.

When Democrats tell you they're the pro-freedom party on immigration, they're blowing smoke up your ass. Here's what an actual pro-freedom party sounds like:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Things I Like to Hear ...

We can handle a month or two, but if it gets much longer than that, I’m going to look for another job -- a job in the private sector.

That's a federal prison employee in Florida. In addition to the "government shutdown" being about to affect her pay, she's been commuting seven hours each way to work (and staying there for two weeks at a time) because "her" prison sustained hurricane damage and the prisoners got moved to Mississippi.

Here's another federal tax eater, at another federal cage farm in Florida, moaning about how awful it is that the prisoners still get to eat while he may not get a paycheck on Friday.

Maybe he'll abandon the thug life for a job in the productive sector, too.

How about a mass "we saw the light, came to Jesus, and are changing our ways" walkout? Leaving the cells and gates unlocked as they leave would be a nice touch.

A Social Media Feature I'd Like to See

Most social media sites have two features that address people whose stuff you'd rather not look at:

  • "Block," which means you aren't "friends" (or whatever) any more and they can't contact you, show you stuff, etc.
  • "Mute," which allows you to remain "friends" (or whatever), but keeps their 3,000 posts a day from showing up on your timeline.

I'd like to see something in between.

I won't name the network or the poster, but there's a guy who posts interesting stuff. Problem is, he posts something like 50 items an hour.

I think it would be neat to have a per-"friend" (or per-"whatever") gizmo -- "winnow" -- that shows you posts you're specifically tagged in, but otherwise has a slider letting you set the percentage of the "friend's" (or whatever's) posts you see. So I could say I only want to see 20% of your posts, or 50%, or whatever. That way remain more "in touch" than we would if I "muted" you, but not so much "in touch" that you crowd everyone else out.

So, Will Trump ...

... use his national harangue tomorrow night to declare a "state of emergency" empowering himself to build the Berlin border wall as a military action?

If so, then impeachment at a minimum, but better yet a national uprising resulting in not one stone left atop another in Washington, DC should quickly ensue.

But of course it won't. The most we can probably hope for is a lengthy court battle and possibly freelance sabotage of the project if it does go forward.

Some Unsolicited Advice to @RealDonaldTrump on the "Shutdown"

One of the ways The Swamp acts to get people on their side during these "government shutdowns" is to raise the specter of a delay in issuing income tax refunds, because, you know, the IRS is short-handed.

Right now, about 12 percent of IRS staff are expected to continue working through a shutdown, according to the agency's plan, which means certain functions such as answering taxpayer questions would be curtailed. The IRS is still working on contingencies if the shutdown continues. ... A spokesman for the IRS would not speculate on how long the shutdown would have to last in order to result in a delay of refunds.

As chief of the executive branch -- of which the IRS is a part -- President Trump should order the IRS to have that 12% of IRS staff working on processing income tax refunds. And to free them up, he should order a stop to the "non-essential" activity of income tax collections. That is, simply stop withholding for the duration of the "shutdown."

And, instead of government employees getting paid for the time they worked (or didn't work) during the "shutdown," taxpayers should be held exempt for any and all tax liabilities supposedly accrued during said "shutdown."

I doubt that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will like the idea very much.

You're welcome, Mr. President.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

A Number That Seems Very Low to Me

Amazon says it's sold more than 100 million Alexa devices.

That's all?

There are more than 125 million households in the US, and households that have at least one Alexa device by definition average more than one (we have three, not including smart phones with the app installed).

Assuming an average of two, and assuming (very wrongly, I'm sure) that almost all Alexa devices are sold in the US, that would mean only 40% of US households had an Alexa device in them.

Even that seems low to me, but then consider that there are maybe a billion and a half households in the world, many of which have access to, and the ability to use, Amazon (Amazon Prime Video was supposedly available in more than 200 of the 241 countries/territories recognized by the UN as of late 2016).

I guess that means plenty of room for growth, anyway.

Trump Continues to Make the Case that He's a War Criminal

Back in November, I pointed out the implications of treating immigration as an "invasion," as Donald Trump has done both rhetorically and in action (by sending troops to the border with Mexico):

"Invasion" connotes war (or, in international convention terms, an "international conflict"), which means that when US forces launched a chemical weapons attack across the border into Mexico, they committed a war crime under the Chemical Weapons Convention -- and brought themselves under the Rome Statute/International Criminal Court's jurisdiction for trial on related charges.

Now Trump is doubling down -- considering declaring a national emergency so that he can use military funding to build his Berlin border wall.

I agree with Trump on this much: Forcibly impeding immigration is war.

Which means that you can be anti-war or you can be anti-immigration-freedom, but you can't be both.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

But Hey, Why NOT a Second Post for the Day ...

... because when I sat down to do the last one I was drinking a cup of coffee, and that got me thinking about one of the "for the whole family (or at least those of us who drink coffee)" Christmas presents:

That's not an affiliate link if you click through on the image, btw. I haven't been an Amazon affiliate in years.

Anyway ... I had been thinking about a K-Cup type coffee brewer for a little while. I bought one of these for my brother for Christmas. He liked it, so I got one for us as well. Much less expensive than the Keurig brand, and it works just fine.

Why a K-Cup brewer? Well, Tamara likes her coffee weaker and I like mine stronger, so one of us was always going to be unsatisfied when the other one brewed up a pot. Now we can just make our coffee one cup at a time. She can put more water in hers and I can put less in mine. Everybody wins!

We picked up some cheap pre-made K-Cups of various strengths/flavors and they're fun (Walmart has a medium dark roast with 1.75 times the normal caffeine -- hooray!), but we also got some of those little K-Cup shaped thingies that you can just put your regular old coffee in and will probably mostly just do that.

Anyway, if you've been thinking K-Cup but blanch at the name brand price, this less expensive little machine seems to be a winner.

I Hate ...

... toothaches.

Among other things, they make it hard to write because they make it hard to concentrate.

But damned if I'm gonna get behind the curve on my "average a post a day at the blog" resolution, so my post today is "I have a toothache. It sucks."

Friday, January 04, 2019

Perhaps This Will Mean Fewer Public Sexual Assaults

CNN reports: "Hundreds of TSA screeners, working without pay, calling out sick at major airports."

So sad. Because, you know, feeling up travelers and slowing their travel down to the tune of millions of hours of person-time per year is an "essential" government activity.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Only the First Week of January and a Win for Freedom Already

Voters in St. Louis County, Missouri, sent the county's Prosecuting Attorney, Robert McCulloch, packing in last August's Democratic Party primary. McCulloch, as you may remember, was the guy who, instead of either charging or clearing Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, took the case to a grand jury and then acted as Wilson's de facto defense attorney instead of doing his damn job.

The new prosecutor, Wesley Bell, promises some big changes (changing the cash bail system, opposing the death penalty, holding bad cops accountable, etc.). One that just took effect:

"Bell's office says it will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases ..."

St. Louis County has a population of about a million, with tens or even hundreds of thousands more who work in, commute through, or visit every day.

Missouri reported more than 20,000 marijuana arrests in 2016. This move effectively legalizes marijuana possession for 1/6th or more of the state's population. It will probably save more than 3,000 people per year from legal hassles and "criminal records" for possession of a common and useful plant.

Good stuff.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Word PSA

At The Intercept:


The details:

Despite pressure from progressive Democrats, the House rules package for the 116th Congress will include a pay-as-you-go provision, requiring all new spending to be offset with either budget cuts or tax increases, a conservative policy aimed at tying the hands of government.

The definition the headline implies -- but the story belies -- per Merriam-Webster:

austerity, n. 2. enforced or extreme economy especially on a national scale

Pelosi's "pay-go" rule doesn't involve any "economy" at all. It neither imposes any spending cuts nor prohibits any spending increases. It just requires Congress to either make do with the revenues it has, or openly raise taxes to cover new spending, instead of hiding its profligacy by increasing the amount of money it borrows.

Thanks For Asking!, 01/02/19

So, as I was saying earlier, Joel Schlosberg suggested that one way of naturally increasing the number of posts at KN@PPSTER would be to get back to a weekly Thanks For Asking! thread.

True. Of course, Thanks For Asking! has always been intertwined with the podcasting, which I can't seem to bring myself to get back into. But it doesn't have to be, does it? How about we try a weekly AMA thread without a promised accompanying podcast?

  1. Ask me anything (yes, anything); and
  2. I'll answer (maybe in comments, maybe in a stand-alone blog post, hell, maybe even in a surprise podcast).
I don't know if Wednesdays will be the day I permanently settle on for the weekly thread, but it's Wednesday this week, anyway.

Podcast or not, this AMA thread is brought to you by Free Pony Express

Two Days in, and Already a Day Behind ...

... is no way to keep up that "one post a day" average! But, in fairness, I didn't do much of anything else yesterday either.  I somehow managed to get the New Year's Day hangover feeling without doing the New Year's Eve drinking.

In comments on another post, Joel Schlosberg made a suggestion that sounds fun and would also naturally increase post count. I think I'm going to go with it.

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