Friday, August 14, 2020

So, a new thing ...


 I used to really, really, really, love Purse. A lot. I could use real Bitcoin (BCH, aka Bitcoin Cash) or old/wrecked Bitcoin (BTC, aka Bitcoin) to make purchases at Amazon, with an automatic 5% discount, or a larger discount if I was willing to wait a little while for a buyer to accept less crypto for more cash.

Then Purse kinda went to shit. I hate to say that, but things just ain't right over there any more.

An order with the automatic 5% discount used to get placed at Amazon within minutes after being accepted at Purse. Now the time to Amazon order placement usually ends up being measured in days, not minutes.

So, I went looking for an alternative, and found Bitrefill (yes, that is an affiliate link, and if you spend more than $50 after signing up through it, I get five bucks).

They only accept BTC, not BCH, but they do accept BTC via both on-chain and Lightning Network, if you're into that kind of thing.

After depositing crypto, you can use it to buy gift cards for a crap ton of places, including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, etc. (I stopped counting at 30, and I think I was still in the "B"s by alphabetical listing).

One cool thing is that you can maintain your balance in crypto OR in fiat. If you prefer non-volatility, you can know that the $50 worth of BTC you deposited yesterday will be usable as $50 tomorrow, next week, etc. regardless of what the price of BTC does. Or if you expect crypto prices in USD to go up, keep your balance in BTC.

I just bought, and successfully redeemed, an Amazon gift card, so I'm confident that Bitrefill does deliver the goods. Pick your gift card, choose the amount, pay for it, get a code instantly.

OK, well, there are two exceptions to the "instantly." One is the obvious: When you send BTC on-chain, it won't show up in your balance until the transaction has some confirmations. The other is that if you choose to have deposits immediately converted to dollar balances, that seems to take a few minutes in addition to the crypto transaction process. But once you have a dollar balance showing, yes, pretty much instant.


Thursday, August 06, 2020

How Common IS COVID-19?


I've had two close relatives test positive for it in the last couple of months, and a third who had symptoms and was tentatively diagnosed with it at a point in time when there was a test shortage.

That's two known and one likely cases out of a grand total of 15 living people composing three linear generations of my family (my parents, me and my siblings and our spouses, our children). One case per generation -- 100% of one generation, 20% of the second generation, and 11% of the third generation.

That I know of.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Ted Cruz is a Gulf Coast Multi-Millionaire ...


... but today I had a fundraising email from him complaining about the Democratic base consisting of "coastal elites."

Per Google, "coastal elites" seems to be one of Ted "Coastal Elite" Cruz's go-to attack phrases.

Monday, July 27, 2020

For Those Who Are Convinced That Trump Has "Slashed Regulations" ...


Number of federal regulations as of January 12, 2017 (one week prior to Donald Trump's inauguration as president): 1,079,601

Number of federal regulations as of July 20, 2020: 1,083,225

Source: RegData U.S. Regulation Tracker




Friday, July 24, 2020

Finally, After All These Years ...


... I'm in Facebook Jail for the first time. Got a 24-hour sentence.

My offense: Posting "false information about cures, treatments, and tests for COVID-19."

By linking to this podcast on Rational Review News Digest's Facebook page.

Yes, really.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Kind of a Bizarre Claim ...


Melanie on last night's Free Talk Live muses that the federal abductions in Portland might be a way of collecting/debriefing plants and confidential informants, because:

If you're doing undercover work in a Black Bloc, you can't be like "I gotta go home and cook some spaghetti, I'll be back in three hours. Like, you can't just leave ... you can't be like oh, I got a doctor appointment."

In my limited experience with Black Bloc types, au contraire. They're a semi-spontaneous aggregation of people with similar motives, not a highly organized cult with every member required to account for every second of time. Most of them are upper class or upper middle class high school/college age kids who do in fact go to doctors, at least occasionally go home for meals with family even if they theoretically live in a communal flop with a bunch of roomies (although it's probably their mothers doing the actual cooking), etc.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Contra Schneier


Bruce Schneier, at The Atlantic:

Internet communications platforms -- such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube -- are crucial in today’s society. They’re how we communicate with one another. They’re how our elected leaders communicate with us. They are essential infrastructure. Yet they are run by for-profit companies with little government oversight. This is simply no longer sustainable. Twitter and companies like it are essential to our national dialogue, to our economy, and to our democracy. We need to start treating them that way, and that means both requiring them to do a better job on security and breaking them up.
Emphasis mine, on the only part that refers to any conceivably "legitimate" government interest whatsoever in how these platforms operate.

The fix for that is not government regulation of the platform, or "breaking up" the platforms.

The fix for that is restricting government actors' use of the platforms.

Create a government-financed, government-operated, and government-secured platform that 1) may only be published to by government officials, and 2) is the only platform government officials may publish to, with 3) harsh criminal penalties for e.g. presidents who get caught tweeting while in office.

The rest of us can read it, if we want to. And when it's not being brought down by hackers, as will be a frequent occurrence with any government-secured platform (which is one of a number of reasons to keep government's incompetent hands of the platforms Schneier wants those hands to fondle).

Friday, July 17, 2020

Separation of Church and Walmart?


There's a word for believing something despite a dearth of evidence that what you believe is true.

That word is "religion."

And just to be clear, I'm fine with religion. I have religious beliefs myself, and I support the free exercise of religion.

If Walmart's directors decide to put a cross in front of every store and require me to kneel, genuflect, and say five Hail Marys before entering, I'll either kneel, genuflect, and say five Hail Marys before entering or not enter.

Ditto wearing a mask.

If Walmart's directors really, truly believe that masks magically ward off COVID-19 and care sooooooooo much about my health that they require me to wear a mask or not enter their stores, I'll wear a mask or not enter their stores.

But if they're doing so because that belief is part of an official state establishment of religion, that's a different matter. See Amendment One.

I don't support forcible separation of church and Walmart, but I do support separation of church and state.

Or, at the very least, treating Walmart as a tax exempt institution like other churches.

Monday, July 13, 2020

OK, It's Suggestion Time


With YOUR support and financial assistance, I've completed two terms on the Libertarian Party's national Platform Committee.

I think two terms -- at least in a row -- is enough.

When I look around this party, I see many of the same faces, doing many of the same things, as when I joined the party in 1996.

For example, offhand, I noticed no fewer than three former chairs of the Libertarian National Committee, dating back as far as that year of 1996, running for LNC positions this year.

There's something to be said for institutional memory.

There's also something to be said for getting the hell out of the way and newer/younger activists take the wheel.

I'm not saying I'll never, ever, ever seek to serve on the platform committee again, but it seems like a break is in order.

I've been a regional alternate on the LNC. I've served on the Judicial Committee. I've served on the Platform Committee. I've also been a county committee member, county committee vice-chair, county committee chair, state executive committee member, and state rules committee member. I think I may have served a term as a county secretary, too, but I honestly don't remember. That's not counting the number of times I've been a candidate for public office, or a volunteer or staffer on a campaign for same.

National committees I haven't served on include: Bylaws and Rules, Advertising & Publication Review, Affiliate Support, Audit, Awards, Ballot Access, Candidate Support, Convention Oversight, Employment Policy & Compensation, Historical Preservation, Information Technology, Blockchain, Convention Voting Process, Membership Support, and Youth Engagement.

Some of those committees I'm more interested in, some less so. Some of those committees I'm more qualified for, some less so.

I'm going to go ahead and veto Audit, Employment Policy & Compensation, Blockchain, and Youth Engagement. None of those play to any particular strengths I have.

I'm not an IT expert, but I'm not sure how much of one I'd NEED to be to serve on the Information Technology Committee. I may ask one of the current members about that.

I've bellyached about Convention Oversight enough that I feel obligated to help do the work at some point ... but that work involves some significant financial commitment, since it involves visits to potential convention sites, etc.

Since you guys are my party activism financiers, I'm asking ... what do YOU think I should do? The national committees above are not my only options. I might do something with my state or local party, or non-party movement stuff. I'm interested in your opinions.

Is It Just Me, Or ...


... was it only a few months ago that Republicans were posturing as favoring "choice" and "local control," and even, to some degree, encouraging homeschooling vis a vis education?


Not that the educrats are any more sympathy-inspiring. They don't want the schools they work at to open, but they don't want to go get other jobs, either. We're supposed to just keep the lights on at the schools, keep paying them their salaries, etc. because REASONS.

2022 Libertarian National Convention Bleg


At some point during this convention cycle, a delegate list that included email addresses got out into the wild. There was some controversy over it.

I'd like to have a copy of that list, and I'll tell you why in advance:

Last Thursday was supposed to be the first day of the Libertarian National Convention.

But an in-person minority hijacked the event, disenfranchised the online delegate majority, and conducted fake convention business for a full day before straightening up, flying right, and letting the convention get started on Friday morning.

What should have happened is this:

The instant the minority bullied the chair into silencing -- and refusing to count the votes of -- the majority, the majority should have called the coup ringleaders' bluff, constituted itself as the 2020 Libertarian National Convention, and proceeded, online, to adopt the credentials report and start doing business.

If that had happened, the ringleaders would have likely knocked their bullshit off most ricky-tick, as they probably wouldn't have relished an extended battle in the government courts over who the party's officers were, who got the bank accounts and the building, etc.

But realistically, in order for that to have happened there would have needed to be a certain amount of pre-built infrastructure ... including a way to quickly contact as many delegates as possible, then get them through a credentials process and into a virtual room.

Hopefully we will not have these kinds of problems in the future. But instead of just hoping it doesn't happen, I'd like to be prepared in case it does happen. So if anyone has that list and is willing to provide me with a copy of it, I'd appreciate it (there's a contact form link at the top of this site).

If I get a copy of the list, I promise not to abuse it. I won't spam anyone, or try to sell anyone anything, or use it to solicit subscribers to my newsletter, or anything but archive a copy of it so that if delegates need to be contacted for convention purposes as described above, they can be.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

A Very Brief Recap of the 2020 Libertarian National Convention ...


... specifically my tiny part in it.

First, THANK YOU to everyone who supported my efforts to serve on the Libertarian Party's 2020 platform committee.

I tried to do a good job for you. I think I made it to every electronic meeting, but I was late to at least one (road work on my route home delayed me -- my fault).

Here's our final report.

I think it's some damn good work, which is not the same thing as saying that I agree with every comma in it. I'm proud to have been involved in its creation, and I hope it lives up to any expectations you had of me performance-wise. Now ...

Its contents were not heard/considered/voted on by the national convention delegates.


Why? Because at least one third plus one of those delegates resolutely refused to do their fucking jobs, that's why.

In most years, at least some work remains undone when the national convention adjourns. We have hard deadlines for getting out of the meeting facilities, some delegates have planes to catch, etc.

This year, for the first time ever, such problems were irrelevant. We have electronic participation, so we could have added additional working sessions to the agenda on weekends to come and finished every bit of the party's business -- not just platform, but bylaws as well (some of that did get done).

But when the time came to suspend the rules to so amend the agenda, at least 1/3+1 delegates effectively announced that they had lied when they told their state parties that they were willing to buckle down and actually do the work.

Those delegates squatted over, and took a giant shit on, a whole bunch of work done well and in good faith by tens of their fellow party members on the platform and bylaws committees.

Not only would they not do the job they promised to do, they wouldn't let anyone else do it either.

If they had any integrity, they'd never ask to be selected as national convention delegates again.

But, then, if they had any integrity, they wouldn't have pulled this shit, would they?

Or the shit that some of them pulled on Thursday, when 1/5th of the delegates bullied the convention chair into silencing and ignoring the other 80% of the delegates for nine fucking hours of fake convention business before pretending they were doing to body a favor by magnanimously "allowing" that other 80% of the body to exercise its clear and unambiguous rights per the call to convention.

Did some good stuff happen? Sure. The officer and at-large LNC elections didn't turn out too badly. I haven't seen Judicial Committee results yet, but I'm hopeful they'll be nice as well.

I'm grateful to the Libertarian Party of Florida for selecting me as an alternate to the convention, and for seating me as a delegate on Sunday. This was my eighth national convention as (at some point) a delegate.

Really, the event wasn't more than 85%, maybe 90%, raging dumpster fire.

But it might have only been 50% raging dumpster fire if the online delegates had constituted themselves as, and started doing business as, the real convention the instant they got muted on Thursday. The in-person mutineers should have quickly been informed that they were headed down a road that ended in litigation over the party's assets, and invited to hit the brakes ASAP.

One of my priorities for the future is making damn sure that that can easily and seamlessly happen in any future such situation.

See you in Reno in 2022!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The 2020 Libertarian National Convention is currently set to adjourn at 1pm tomorrow.


That would mean not getting the convention's business done.

And it is COMPLETELY unnecessary, unlike past conventions when we had facilities rental expiration to worry about and most delegates had planes to catch.

THIS year, 80% of the delegates are online, most of the rest COULD be online, and even if NONE of the rest CHOSE to join the online delegates there would still be a quorum.

So instead of adjourning at 1pm tomorrow, we should finish our business.

ALL of our business.

EVERY election. EVERY bylaws proposal. EVERY platform proposal.

If it takes until August 1st, it takes until August 1st.

But if we stop messing around and get to work, realistically we can be done by Monday evening or Tuesday noon.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

If You Are a Libertarian National Convention Alternate, PLEASE SHOW UP!


Susan Hogarth was just explaining the voting procedure:

Everyone, including delegates AND alternates, gets to vote.

If all the delegates from a state vote, then the alternates' votes don't count.

But if not all the delegates from a state vote, then the alternates' votes count in one of two ways:

1) If the state chose a "ranking" scheme, then the ranking alternates' votes count (i.e. two delegates don't vote; the top two ranked alternates' votes count); OR

2) Random alternates' votes are selected by the app for missing delegate votes.

As the convention drags on, there will likely be a number of delegates who get tired, or need a break, or whatever, and who miss votes.

So your alternate vote may very well make the difference. And you can do it from your computer/phone at home.

Brief Platform Committee / National Convention Update


In a few hours, the second "sitting" of the 2020 Libertarian National Convention will gavel to order, both in Orlando and online.

The party's platform committee had its final meeting yesterday. It was a bit of a technical clusterfuck insofar as it was similarly "hybrid" (some participants in a room in Orlando, some online), and fortunately nothing got done.

I say "fortunately" because the last couple of meetings have been all about attempts to get the committee to undo its own previously passed proposals based on "OH MY GOD, NO, WE CAN"T BE QUITE THAT LIBERTARIAN, SOMEONE MIGHT GET THE VAPORS!" responses to the member survey on those proposals.

That undoing actually got accomplished with respect to a proposal on doing away with government law enforcement. As of yesterday, I've signed onto a minority report on that proposal, the entire content of which is:


Why? Because stupidity and cowardice should incur costs that erase their perceived benefits.

Neutering a well-written, carefully crafted, thoroughly debated original proposal on the subject, just because some people might find it upsetting for the party to openly debate prospectively getting too libertarian, was stupid and cowardly.

So now there's a minority report to get announced from the stage, presumably upsetting the same people the proposal wreckers were trying to appease and therefore at least partially undoing the perceived benefit of the stupidity and cowardice.

Will future platform committees pay heed to that lesson and resist the temptation to become stupid and cowardly near the ends of their terms? I don't know. But hopefully that will be the case.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

I Wonder ...


... how much paid-for travel demand is on the airlines' books, and what the effect of that will be on seat availability when most people decide that they need to -- and that it's safe to -- travel by air again?

When one airline canceled my May flight to Austin (for what was supposed to be the 2020 Libertarian National Convention) and I canceled the return flight with another airline (no need to fly back if I wasn't flying there), I ended up with some future flight credit (maybe not enough to ever redeem -- the flights were insanely cheap, and on airlines I don't normally use).

Tamara and the kids were going to fly this week, but decided at the last minute to drive instead, to make it less likely that they'll get caught up in some sudden and stupid interstate quarantine change. So now we've got a nice balance with the airline I usually fly on from that cancellation.

Public panics tend to end as suddenly as they begin. When this one ends, I expect that seat demand will quickly outstrip seat supply, meaning my credited balances won't go as far, if I can find a seat at all. For a little while, anyway.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Two Terms That Sometimes Get Conflated or Confused


"Epidemiology" is the study of the incidence/distribution/spread of disease, with an eye toward finding (usually statistical) correlations that might aid in containing disease.

"Public health" is a political movement advocating for technocratic rule by, among others, epidemiologists.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

A Brief Platform Committee (and Convention) Update


In my last post on these subjects, I noted that I was getting iffy on attending the "second sitting" of the Libertarian National Convention for several reasons.

At some point I stopped being iffy and decided that no, I'm not going to Orlando. I'm something like 29th alternate for my state, so it's not like I'm desperately needed. My family will be traveling, which means that if I was traveling too there would be a bunch of pet care nonsense to make arrangements for, etc. And so on and so forth.

And now there seems to be a pretty good chance that the Orlando event won't happen (if you're not up on that situation, hit me in the comments).

BUT: The platform committee will be meeting both electronically and physically if the Orlando event does happen. So I can participate that way.

We had a meeting last night, with basically a two-part agenda:


  1. Deciding whether to modify some of our already passed proposals to appease the "oh dear god, no -- the party can't be libertarian on that, what will Fox and Friends think?" crowd who responded negatively to them in the delegate/member survey (offhand, police abolition, gender identity, and intellectual property were the big ones); and
  2. Formally adopting our report for publication (deadline -- today), which we didn't really need to do, since each element of the report has been formally adopted.
By the end of a 3 1/2-hour 2-hour meeting, we had managed to

  1. Amend the previously passed police abolition plank into something I guess is still pretty decent;
  2. Become thoroughly enraged with each other to a degree that might have entailed physical violence if the meeting itself had been physical.
  3. Adjourn.
So yeah, the usual ;-)

Just because the report is being published today, that doesn't mean there won't be any more work by the committe, on the proposals. You can keep up with everything at the committee email reflector.

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/01/20


Because they sent me a free t-shirt and I really like it, I hereby declare Libertas Bella the sponsors of this month's Ask Me Anything thread:


  1. Ask Me Anything (yes, anything) in the comment section below this post!
  2. I'll answer in comments (or in some other format and point to that format in comments)!
  3. Bonus/Gratuitous/Extraneous Exclamation Marks!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Some Barrators and Conspirators Against Rights


Some Barrators and Conspirators Against Rights, openly acting in violation of Code of Virginia § 18.2-452, and US Code 18 § 241, and operating under color of law in violation of US Code 18 § 242:

G. Zachary Terwilliger, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
Tracy Doherty-McCormick, First Assistant US Attorney
Kellen S. Dwyer, Assistant United States Attorney
Thomas W. Traxler, Assistant United States Attorney
Gordon D. Kromberg, Assistant United States Attorney
Alexander P. Berrang, Assistant United States Attorney
Adam Small, Trial Attorney, National Security Division, US Department of Justice
Nicholas Hunter, Trial Attorney, National Security Division, US Department of Justice

WARNING!

It's important to remember that while the people above are cowards who generally conduct their violent crimes through proxies, they are violent, dishonest criminals and are therefore potentially dangerous to all honest persons.

Negatively socially preferencing -- shunning, ostracizing, refusing to do business with, etc. -- them isn't just a punishment they deserve, it's a defensive measure for your protection.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Could the 2020 Republican National Convention Cost Trump Florida's Electoral Votes?


In 2016, Donald Trump carried Florida by 1.3% over Hillary Clinton. He carried Duval County by a slightly larger margin than that.

Current polling has Joe Biden carrying Duval County in November, and the county's residents opposing a Jacksonville show by the Great Traveling Republican National Convention Circus.

If the numbers of votes cast are similar this time, only about 60,000 votes out of 9.4 million cast have to go the other way to change the outcome. So if the sentiments that seem to be playing in Duval County are radiating out into other Trump 2016 territory, it may be the ballgame.

Friday, June 19, 2020

This Will Not Stand, This Aggression Against the Gator Nation


Easily the dumbest goddamn thing I've read this week.

If you don't believe me, ask Lawrence Wright.

Note to University of Florida president Kent Fuchs: That thing you're doing that you think is thinking isn't.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Survey Says ...


Well, I don't know what it says. Nobody will know what it says until y'all take it.

If you're interested in what the Libertarian Party's 2020 platform committee is recommending this year, please do so!

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

The Good News and the Bad News


Got the results of my chest X-ray. Straight paste from the online chart:

-----
EXAM: XR CHEST 2 VIEWS

INDICATION: 53 years Male Dyspnea, unspecified type

COMPARISON: None

INTERPRETATION:

MONITORING DEVICES: None.

CARDIOVASCULAR: Normal heart size. Normal central pulmonary vessels.
PULMONARY: Normal lung volumes. Lungs are clear of consolidation. No pleural effusion or
pneumothorax.
UPPER ABDOMEN: Normal.
MUSCULOSKELETAL: Normal.

IMPRESSION:
NORMAL CHEST.

ACUITY LEVEL: 1. Routine: A normal examination or findings that are inconsequential.
-----

All of that looks good vis a vis lung cancer or congestive heart failure. I had a "good result" stress test and echocardiogram a couple of years ago as well. My pulse ox runs about 97.

That's all good news.

But I've felt slightly short of breath, all the time, for several months now, ever since a two-week bout of really difficult breathing and terrible cough in January that I considered the "come to Jesus" moment on smoking (I quit doing that on February 15, with the assistance of Chantix, and was off all nicotine sources -- lozenges and patches and vapes, oh my -- by February 20).

Hopefully I'll get the breathing figured out soon.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Libertarian Party Platform Committee Update


Hey, everyone ...

The platform committee's report is in version 4 of draft. I'd say it's fairly well complete. Whether this link to that draft works for the general public, I don't know. It's the link from the "Draft Committee Report" thread on the publicly viewable committee discussion group, so hopefully it does.

Per the current draft, the committee has passed 21 proposals for consideration by delegates to the 2020 Libertarian National Convention.

In my opinion most, maybe even all, of the proposals would bring the party's platform more into line with its Statement of Principles.

Also in my opinion most, maybe even all, of the proposals would make the party's platform more relevant to political and policy discussions in America circa 2020.

Since those are the effects I think the platform committee's proposals should seek, I'm happy with, and proud of, our work and hope that my contributions to that work were helpful.

So, what happens next?

In theory, the 2020 Libertarian National Convention is in hiatus until early July, after a "virtual" session (in which the party's presidential ticket was nominated) and before a "physical" session in Orlando, Florida.

In fact, I think there's some chance (call it 25%) that the Orlando event won't happen at all, or that if it does happen it will lack the necessary quorum, or the credentialing legitimacy, or both, to do business* (call that chance 50% if the event happens).

My initial plans to attend the event were pretty firm regardless of those possibilities, because if nothing else, there are a lot of old friends I'd like to visit with and I've already got some sunk costs (the bare-basics convention "package" and $100 in donations toward rental of a suite where I planned to crash on the floor).

At the moment, my plans are becoming somewhat more tentative, for several reasons:


  1. The rest of my family will be traveling at the same time, to my mother-in-law's memorial service/celebration of life in Illinois (originally scheduled for June, then re-scheduled due to continuing COVID-19-related statism). That makes travel on my  part a little less convenient and more expensive, and also represents some problems and/or expenses vis a vis making sure pets are cared for.
  2. I am not a delegate. I'm an alternate from Florida. Due to a clerical error, it may be difficult for me to get credentialed even as an alternate, and since the event is in Florida, it's unlikely I'd end up with a voting delegate seat. My attendance would therefore be more along the lines of a social outing than a working trip.
  3. I have a chest X-ray to get next week and an appointment near the end of June to learn what the doctor thinks about the results of that and some other stuff (I had blood drawn this morning). My guess is that I'm in the early stages of congestive heart failure, but "quit smoking too late -- lung cancer" seems like a dark horse contender as well. Either one would presumably be yet another co-morbidity that might make me want to avoid likely COVID-19 hot-spots (although I think a third possibility is that I already had it and got some lasting lung damage out of it).
  4. I'm not very happy with the current direction of the party, so it may be time to go do other things instead (and again).
We'll see.

Thanks to all of you who've made it possible for me to serve a second stint on the platform committee.

* The "virtual session" adjourned on a motion that automatically "checked out" all the delegates. If that motion was valid, the convention is over and no business can legitimately be conducted. If it was invalid, the convention can continue, but only if a quorum of 40% of the delegates who registered at the "virtual" convention are present.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

The Main Battle Rifle of the Next Revolution ...


... won't actually be a particular rifle. Rather, it will be a particular ammunition type: .22 Long Rifle.

The ammo is cheap and plentiful, and comes in a variety of configurations for different uses. Easy to stockpile.

The weapons that fire the ammo are cheap and reliable and come in a variety of configurations for different uses.

Wounding an enemy soldier is usually better than killing an enemy soldier because a wounded enemy soldier has to be cared for instead of just buried or left to rot. That forces your enemy to divert people and resources away from fighting you. Smaller-caliber ammo like .22LR is more likely to wound than to kill.

But it can kill, so if you decide you need something heavier, you can kill one enemy with your .22, take his weapon and ammo, and go to town.

The foregoing sermon was not specifically intended to promote the purchase of ammo in a way that generates ammo-buying power on my part too, but now that I think of it ...

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

A Corollary to "Don't Steal -- the Government Hates Competition"


"Law enforcement" is shorthand for "the officially approved versions of looting and rioting."

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Thanks For Asking! -- 06/02/20


Oh yeah? Really?

Yes, really.

Ask Me Anything in the comments below this post and I'll answer in comments, in a separate blog post, or maybe even by secret carrier spy pigeon.


Monday, May 18, 2020

Why I'm Not Blogging Much


I don't know, really. The spirit just ain't been moving.

Part of it is being busy with silly internal Libertarian Party stuff, which mostly but not always manifests via Facebook.

For example, yesterday, the platform committee had an online meeting.

There was a motion (in effect, not in these words) for the committee to re-constitute itself as a party caucus for the purpose of promoting the committee chair's view on particular issues of internal party governance.

I objected that the motion was out of order (it was).

The chair ruled that it was in order (she was wrong).

I appealed the ruling of the chair.

The body (incorrectly) upheld the chair's ruling.

But then the body voted against the motion to abandon its job and re-launch itself as a party governance caucus.

So it's all good, I guess.

But yeah, that kind of thing has been using up a lot of my time.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Platform Committee -- and National Convention -- Update


Earlier today, the Libertarian National Committee voted to:


  1. Invoke the "impossibility" clause in its convention contract with the JW Marriott in Austin Texas; and
  2. Postpone the 2020 Libertarian National Convention to a place to be determined, and an opening date no later than July 15; and
  3. Adjourn their e-meeting to next Saturday to consider options for that move.
It is my opinion that the LNC had no authority to do (2) above, and that it is now operating outside the scope of its bylaws. Others disagree, but that IS my opinion.

It is my further opinion that a bylaws-compliant 2020 Libertarian National Convention could not plausibly take place in meatspace by July 15, or for that matter by the bylaws deadline of August 31, even if the LNC did have the authority to reschedule.

That leaves two options:

  1. Call the whole thing off and let the LNC nominate a presidential ticket (and itself serve for another two years apart from resignations or, in the case of regional reps, replacement by the state parties in their regions); or
  2. Hold some kind of "online convention."
In a previous post, I supported option (1) and explained why I think option (2) would be a train wreck.

I won't say I have changed my mind exactly, but I'm leaning more and more toward (2) on both practical grounds and for reasons of "legitimacy" considerations.

Since we are operating beyond the scope of the bylaws already,  I'm not that worried about bylaws considerations.

But I do think we should get a presidential ticket nominated ASAP -- around the time the original convention was scheduled to take place -- rather than continue to kick the can down the road pretending that a "meatspace" convention is likely.

And I also think the party's members would be happier if they saw that nomination take place by delegate vote rather than by LNC "vacancy-filling."

Just to be clear, this is an advocacy AGAINST INTEREST:

If we have a "meatspace" convention, I plan to go, and although I am only a lowly alternate, I expect that attendance will be low enough that I will end up being seated as a full delegate.

If we have an "online" convention, there's no damn way I get a delegate seat.

Furthermore, an "online" convention is much less likely to get any platform work done. It will be removed from the agenda in favor of doing nominations/elections and getting things over with. I think the platform committee has done really good work, I am proud of my part in that work, and I would prefer to see that work considered by delegates in convention assembled.

But I don't think we should continue fucking around pretending that a "meatspace" convention is likely to happen.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I'm Pretty Sure I've Pledged Before to Never Run for Vice-President Again ...


But I'm doing it anyway, for REASONS. Wouldn't be much of a politician if I didn't lie now and again, would I?

Some people announce their political candidacies with tweets, but I aspire to a higher standard of professionalism. I announced my candidacy for the Libertarian Party's 2020 vice-presidential nomination in a Facebook post that's too boring to even bother linking to.

So far the only campaign promise I have made is to demand a recount if nominated.

I have expressly REFUSED to promise not to use mescaline while on duty if nominated and elected.

My campaign platform is Guns and Dope Party Position Paper #23.

Guinness Book of World Records busk: So far as I know, I'm the first person to seek the vice-presidential nominations of three different political parties (exclusively, as opposed to fusion propositions) in three different election cycles.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Folk Songs Evolve


In 1931, the Carter Family recorded "Can't Feel at Home":


Not finding any claim to the contrary on a quick search, I'm going to assume that this is one of A.P Carter's "found songs," a traditional hymn that was made famous by, but not written by, the Carters.

Close to a decade later, Woody Guthrie offered his take on the song, "Ain't Got No Home," on the Dust Bowl Ballads album:


It's been 80 years, so I'd say about time for an update! Same simple chord progression as its two predecessors. I might get around to recording it myself at some point, and if so I know the results will be as lo-fi as the preceding versions.

CAN'T LEAVE MY HOME
by Thomas L. Knapp
CC0 Public Domain Dedication, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be might good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern.

We've been ordered to stay in and to stop a-roamin' round
It's not like there's much open if we make it into town
Can't go to see a movie, a barber, or a whore,
No, we can't leave our homes in this world anymore

We've had to give up working except for the essential
Like busting up block parties or play-acting presidential
Turns out that unemployment is really quite a chore
But we can't leave our homes in this world anymore

When my hometown re-opens I'm heading for the bar
To suck down sudsy beverages and hear some folk guitar
The politicians say they saved our lives but I'm not sure
And I will not let them keep me in my home anymore

A Brief Platform Committee Update


Hey, everyone ...

I've lost track of what I've kept y'all informed of and what I haven't, BUT:


The big question at the moment is "will we even be having a convention this year, and if so will that convention take up platform committee proposals.

The Libertarian National Committee will meet on May 2nd to discuss options, which I'm given to believe include:

  1. Having the convention as scheduled, Memorial Day weekend, in Austin;
  2. Pushing the convention back to the 4th of July time frame, and possibly moving it (Vegas sounds like the strongest candidate for that option)
  3. Having a "virtual" convention of some kind; or
  4. Not having the convention at all -- the LNC picks a presidential ticket and its members serve until the 2022 convention (unless, as seems likely, some of them choose to resign and the body fills its own vacancies)
My preference is for #1; failing that, I support #4. We can talk about why in the comments if anyone is interested, but the short version is that #2 looks just as likely to get pranged as #1, and that an online convention with 1,046 delegates would be a technical nightmare, especially in the absence of bylaws written specifically to enable one. So my attitude is either "do it as planned if possible; otherwise, don't fuck around, just cancel."

A few days ago, my flight to Austin was canceled by the airline. It had already been bumped once and that bump would have caused me to miss the one physical meeting the platform committee had planned. If we do try to meet in Austin, I'll do my best to find a way there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A Couple of Opinions About Movies


Opinion One: Movie theaters were dying before the COVID-19 panic, and they're probably dead now. I'm not happy about that, but I think it's true.

Opinion Two: Since Opinion One means streaming is going to be the new default release model, it's time to talk about prices. In my view, the highest reasonable price is $10 to rent a new release movie. I'm not saying that's what the market will settle on, just that I think it's what's reasonable.

Thus endeth the two opinions, but here's the TL:DR on my $10 price assertion:

The average price of a movie theater ticket as of mid-2019 was a little under $10.

The studio/theater split of ticket revenues is about 60/40.

I wasn't able to (easily) find a statistic on the average theater viewing group size, but I think two is a reasonable assumption. That is, there are some individuals who go to movies at a theater, and there are some families, school groups, etc., who go to movies at a theater, but on average, it's probably two people (married or dating couples, etc.) who go to see a movie together.

I also wasn't able to find any stats on the average streaming group size, but I'm going to assert that it's probably lower. Still lots of couples and a certain amount of family/friend-group streaming, but the the single-viewer component is probably higher.

So, if we want the studio to gross as much on a movie at home as it did at the theater, $12 sounds about right. That's the equivalent of two ticket sales.

BUT: There's probably a lot less overhead of various kinds with release-to-stream than with release-to-theater.

AND: If everything is direct to stream, there's a lot more competition. Instead of "there are 4/8/16 films playing here, which one do we want to watch?" it's "there are 50 new releases this week and the entire catalog of past releases to choose from, which one do we want to watch." And competition should drive prices down.

So I think $10 to rent a new release is about right.

What I've seen so far in the COVID-19 panic is studios renting new releases for $20 a pop when they normally sell for that three months after release. I don't think that's going to fly in the market for very long. People will just wait and spend the same $20 for a keeper instead of a loaner.

Friday, April 10, 2020

About That There Acumen for Predictions ...


Me on March 20th: "The number of dead [in the US from COVID-19] will be closer to 200 than to 200,000." I was responding to a guy who was predicting a minimum of 200,000 and possibly as many as 2 million. I think the discussion is pretty interesting.

In order for me to be correct, there would have to be fewer than 100,100 COVID-19 deaths.

Now, there's one easy way for me to be wrong on this, and that way is by assuming that the prediction is not limited in time. Which you're free to do, because I was not careful in stating the claim. And my guess is that COVID-19 will be killing people for years to come and eventually pass the 200k mark in the US.

In MOST places where I've discussed COVID-19 fatalities in the US, I have been more specific, and time-limited my predictions to the period between January 21, 2020 (the official "first case" finding) and December 31, 2020.

Anyway, the DC set have been substantially walking back their own predictions, while trying to take credit for the numbers being lower than their predictions. And as of today, the word is "Trump says US headed to death toll 'substantially below' 100k."

Note: I did make an early bet that the US death toll in that time frame would be less than 10k. I was obviously wrong on that one.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

As Surely as the Sun Rises in the East ...


... the politicians and bureaucrats who neither anticipated nor responded in a non-brain-damaged way to the COVID-19 pandemic will afterward congratulate themselves on how essential they are and assure us that given more money and power, they won't blow it nearly as badly next time.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Geez, What a Bunch of Whiners


All kinds of "essential" workers -- everyone from medical personnel to truck drivers to grocery store cashiers to fast food cooks -- are going to work every day while the politicians and media scream at them that THEY'RE ALL GONNA DIE unless the politicians "do something."

But when it comes to doing something -- something abysmally stupid, but something, namely the biggest single welfare handout in human history -- those same politicians consider it some kind of rude imposition to insist that they follow their own quorum rules, and those same media are calling Thomas Massie's stated intention to require them to do so (by forcing a roll call vote instead of a voice vote) a "threat."

Yo, congresscritters:

You claim this is an emergency of epic proportions that only you in your wisdom and holiness can address. So why aren't you already in Washington addressing it, then?

Are you not as "essential" as all those other people who are doing their fucking jobs?*

If you don't want to be members of Congress anymore, stop whining and resign. That way your states' governors can appoint replacements who may not be any better but who are at least won't throw a hissy fit about having to, you know, show up for work.

*:



Monday, March 23, 2020

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/23/20


It's been longer than it should have been. Hi-o Silver, away.


Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post, and I'll answer in comments, in a stand-alone post, or in some other format. If COVID-19 doesn't get me first, that is.

Why I'm Not Blogging THAT Much This Month


COVID-19.

No, not because I have it. I don't know if I have it or not, or if I've already had it. Since 80% of cases are asymptomatic and 15% are sub-clinical (i.e. not bad enough that a normal person would go to the doctor over it), I don't really have any way of knowing absent a test that's not easily available to me and that I'm not particularly interested in taking.

COVID-19 is responsible due to the fact that it's crowded almost everything else out of the news and just isn't that interesting for this format.

It's OK for instant-outraged-response social media talk.

If I'm going to keep writing three op-eds a week, they're mostly going to be that for a little while since there's not much else on the news radar.

But here, it would mostly just be boring filler. And I try to avoid that.

The Politicians Keep Saying We Need to Move Faster Than Italy Did. I Agree.


Mussolini e Petacci a Piazzale Loreto, 1945
Benito Mussolini and friends

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Hmm -- Apparently GEICO Got the Results of My Brother's Ancestry.com Test ...


... which says we have some Ashkenazi Jewish DNA in our family tree.

Email subject line:

((Kubby.communications)): Check to see if you qualify for better car insurance

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

John Yoo, as Usual, is Wrong


Yoo at National Review:

Last week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized an investigation of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by U.S., Afghan, and Taliban troops in Afghanistan, as well as by CIA black sites operated in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania. While the prosecution will likely fail, it represents another effort by a global elite -- consisting of European governments, international organizations, and their supporting interest groups, academics, and activists -- to threaten American sovereignty.

Exactly backward.

The decision by a government to ratify (or not ratify) the Rome Statute and put its territory and its people under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (or not do so) is an exercise of "national sovereignty."

For the US to send personnel into Afghanistan, Poland, Lithuania, or Romania, and to deny that those countries' rules, including ICC jurisdiction, apply to those personnel, is a denial of those countries' "national sovereignties."

The ICC has no jurisdiction over US personnel in the US. If it claims such jurisdiction absent US ratification of the Rome Statute, then there will be a "US national sovereignty" issue. Investigating the actions of US actors in ICC jurisdictions is no more at threat to "US national sovereignty" than is an Egyptian cop arresting an American tourist for drunk and disorderly at the Great Pyramid.

Monday, March 16, 2020

A Little More Perspective


As of today, CDC reports that the COVID-19 virus has killed 68 Americans (since January 21 when a case was first noticed in the US).

Also according to CDC, that's fewer Americans than heart disease and cancer each kill every hour of every day all year long.

Funny, thing though: I never see news stories about people rushing the stores to empty the shelves of Metamucil and nicotine patches.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Little Perspective


As I write this, Bing's "COVID-19 Tracker" says there are 3,324 total confirmed cases in the United States.

The population of the United States is 327.17 million.

So the confirmed total case count in the US comes to just a smidgen more than one one thousandth of one percent.

Yes, the actual infection rate is certainly higher than the confirmed case rate.

But part of the reason for that is that there are a crap ton of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases that never get reported. The "not bad enough to bother seeing a doctor about and getting confirmed" rate may be as high as 80%.

The actual mortality rate is probably a full order of magnitude lower than the 2.x%-3.x% claim being thrown around.

As of Friday, there had been a total of 41 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the US according to CDC.

Influenza kills 60 people every day (more, actually -- 22,000 is the CDC's low-end estimate for deaths during the 2019-2020 flu season, and I'm pretending the season is a whole year long instead of just a few months long).

COVID-19 is nothing to sneeze at -- really, sneezing isn't one of the symptoms -- but it's nothing to panic about either.

Interesting


I'm cited right next to Alan Dershowitz in an Albany Law Review article. I'll have to remember that next time someone asks me what my qualification is to argue with Dershowitz's claims.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Non Sequitur


Someone told me today that the COVID-19 epidemic proves the US needs some form of universal socialized healthcare -- "Medicare For All," or single payer,  or whatever.

Hmm.

Q: In what countries is the outbreak seemingly doing the most damage?

A: China, Iran, and Italy.

Q: What kinds of healthcare systems do those countries have?

A: Highly socialized healthcare systems.

It seems to me that things would have to get a lot worse here than they are in China, Iran, and Italy before we could consider the outbreak to constitute evidence that the US needs to make its healthcare system even more like the healthcare systems of China, Iran, and Italy than it already is.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Online Convention? Not So Fast ...


Given the COVID-19 hysteria, and especially government moves to limit travel, ban large events, etc., I've heard a number of people suggest that instead of convening in Austin, Texas over Memorial Day weekend, the Libertarian Party should hold its 2020 national convention online.

I'm not against the idea of online conventions in general, or on principle. In fact, I organized and chaired the first (so far as I know) entirely online gavel-to-gavel national convention of a political party in history.

But let's compare that convention and a prospective online Libertarian National Convention.

The Boston Tea Party's 2006 convention ended up having 30 delegates. The Libertarian Party's national conventions have more than a thousand (and an equal number of alternates).

The Boston Tea Party's 2006 convention was conducted ... asynchronously ... via text posting and simple online polling. The Libertarian Party's national conventions, if held online, would more likely take place in real time with extensive use of live video conferencing and frequent, immediate voting.

The Boston Tea Party's original interim bylaws were written with online conventions in mind. The Libertarian Party's bylaws were written for, and have continuously evolved to facilitate, meatspace conventions, and its parliamentary authority, Robert's, is still pretty much stuck in the meatspace paradigm as well.

And even the tiny Boston Tea Party convention had credentialing/voting security problems. For example, we detected individuals creating multiple memberships from the same IP address and trying to cast multiple votes in polls.

Any transition from meatspace to electronic conventions is going to take quite a while to get right, and it's going to depend on meatspace conventions to pass the bylaws/rules changes required to get it right.

Any transition from meatspace to electronic conventions is also going to require careful consideration of what conferencing and voting software to use. LP committees currently use Zoom, which is proprietary and which might, just barely, be able to handle the number of participants in question. The open source offerings I've found so far don't come close to accommodating 1,000+ delegates, and open source software is preferable since you can't really trust code that can onlyy be examined by its seller.

Neither Zoom nor those open source offerings seem to be set up to facilitate secure identification/credentialing of delegates, or secure, verifiable voting. That's just not what they're FOR.

And the bylaws deadline for the convention is the end of August.

Without the bylaws provisions and technical infrastructure already in place, any attempt to move the convention online is almost certain to be a fiasco.

I suggest we muddle through this as best we can. Try to have the convention as planned; if it's just not physically possible, forgo a 2020 convention entirely, let the Libertarian National Committee fill the "vacancies" in the presidential slate, re-boot in 2022, and get to work on how to do online conventions and do them right.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Update -- My Libertarian National Convention Plans


Hey, everyone ...

I hope you've noticed that I haven't hit you up for as much help, or done so as often, this year as I did in 2018 vis a vis serving on the Libertarian Party's platform committee and attending its national convention.

That doesn't mean I don't want your help, it just means I've been economizing as best possible and haven't HAD to ask yet. Here's an update:

- I purchased the lowest level of convention package this year ($79).

- The platform committee voted NOT to have a physical meeting before the convention, which would have entailed ~$500 in travel and lodging costs. Pursuant to my pledge to do so, I donated $100 to the Libertarian Party in lieu of said costs.

- I just booked my flights. Sort of. The devil is in the details.

- THE DETAILS: So far, I've spent $90.35 for the bare-bones round-trip flying experience. Flying out of Orlando to Austin on JetBlue the evening of May 20th (the platform committee meeting meets the morning of the 21st as the convention opens), flying back on American the morning of May 26th (the convention ends on the 25th, but no telling how late). That was the combination of "best timing for the lowest price" that I found.

- THE DEVIL: Because I booked through a third party site (Priceline), the fare didn't include any carry-on or checked baggage other than a "personal item." You're supposed to add that via the airline after booking. And oh, how I have tried. Apparently I'm going to have to wait until 24 hours before each flight and add bags when "checking in" via phone. And if that doesn't work, they'll presumably rape me for extra "adding a bag at the airport" fees. IF adding bags at check-in works (or if either airline replies to my "WTF, little help here" messages, the baggage total should be about $70 (one checked bag each way; I probably need more than a carry-on, but I don't need both). I would have flown Allegiant -- avoiding this aggravation AND getting my bags for free as a "veterans' benefit" -- but their flight days from Tampa to Austin just didn't fit the schedule.

- Once I get to Austin, I'll be winging it on lodging. I've been donating $25 a month to the Povertarian Caucus so that I won't feel like I'm taking advantage of anyone if I crash in the caucus suite because I don't run into any other roommmate opportunities.

By my reckoning, all of the above comes in at well under $500. Of course, I expect $100 in Uber/Lyft costs, and I intend to eat while I'm in Austin, and I may be forgetting a thing or two.

I think the whole shebang is going to run $600-$700, $800 if I really treat myself luxuriously (I've always wondered how much hotel room service would charge to fill a bathtub with ice cream and hot fudge ...),  quite a bit of which has already been covered by a generous cryptocurrency donor and by my decision to stop smoking. But I do appreciate any help you might want to sent my way -- see the sidebar for support links!

I am Not an Investment Advisor and This is Not Investment Advice


But if I was an investment advisor, and if I was offering investment advice, my advice would be to buy stocks  (in a diversified way, e.g. index funds) right now while the general market is down and in panic.

Ain't rocket science:

If civilization collapses your cash isn't worth anything anyway, so why bother holding it tightly? (Yes, having some gold and silver put back is a good idea too).

If civilization doesn't collapse, the market will come back, and when it does most of those stocks will sell for more than they did a week ago and a damn sight more than they're selling for today.

I'm not a big investor myself, but I've deposited a few extra tens of dollars above and beyond the usual in a retirement investment account this week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Libertarian Party Platform Committee Electronic Meeting Tonight



More information on the agenda, and details on how to watch or listen to the meeting, here.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Notes to Ronan Farrow and Hachette Book Group


To Farrow: This is not the correct meaning of the expression "bury the Hachette," you back-stabbing sociopath.

To HBG: You're a book publisher. The employees who walked out to protest against you publishing a book ought to be sent off to find jobs they're better suited to, and you should publish the damn book.

One Way to Tell ...


... that something is almost certain to be among the dumbest things I've read this week is when a site that normally allows commenting decides to not allow comments on that particular thing.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

A Sixth Theory


"What Happened to Elizabeth Warren?" Elaine Godfrey asks at The Atlantic, before offering five different theories explained/supported by five different public figures.

Here's the one they left out:

6. The longer her campaign dragged on, the more apparent it became to everyone watching that everything Elizabeth Warren says or does is only and entirely for the benefit of Elizabeth Warren. Stories not being true, numbers not adding up, etc., don't matter as long as the lies advance Elizabeth Warren's  career or political aspirations or pad her checking account. At some point, enough voters caught on to her self-serving authoritarian dishonesty that they went looking for someone else -- at the very least a better liar -- to believe in.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Q: Who Won the Democratic Party's Super Tuesday Primaries?


A: Donald Trump.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Post-November-2020 To-Write-or-Build List


Declaration of Pan-Independence
Constitution (Global Transitional Administration/Global Basic Law)
Registry of Unanimous Consent Polities
Registry of Political Membership Bureaus
Registry of Arbitration and Mediation Providers

Anything I'm missing vis a vis the documentation framework for dissolution of the Westphalian Model in favor of de Puydt style panarchy?

Monday, March 02, 2020

In a Sane, but Polite, Society ...


People like Christian Klossner would be given a few days' notice to leave town, change their names, find productive employment, etc., before sanctions ascending over time from mere ostracism to serious and substantial bounties on their scalps started getting promulgated.

A very few days' notice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Quick Libertarian Platform Committee Update


The Libertarian Party's platform committee recently passed (by email ballot) this recommendation, which I supported but initially considered doomed to fail:

Add new Plank 2.5 as follows:

As we oppose all government intervention in marketplaces, we favor the repeal of intellectual property laws. Disputes between inventors, creators, authors, artists, businesses and other such entities should be resolved without government intervention.

My similar initial view is that the convention delegates are unlikely to pass the committee's recommendation. But I'm glad the LP is finally starting to wrestle with the notion of "intellectual property." We'll get to discuss it on the floor, assuming it's early enough in the committee's report for the delegates to actually get to (at present, the convention agenda only allows two hours for platform business, because non-business dog and pony shows take priority over the party's actual work with the convention committee).

The committee has its first electronic meeting tonight from 7pm-9pm Mountain Time (yes, you're all invited to watch if you're really that hard up for entertainment). The information, not all of which I understand:

https://zoom.us/j/307741855
Meeting ID: 307 741 855

One tap mobile
+16465588656,,307741855# US (New York)
+16699009128,,307741855# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 307 741 855

Hard to Believe ...


... how little I've blogged this month.

For that matter, I basically took a week off of doing anything but the absolute minimum.

Got a painful ear infection that made it difficult to concentrate (the antibiotics haven't finished it off yet, but they're working on it).

Also, I quit smoking at right about the same time (ten days ago).

I'm not sure what the ear infection / non-smoking ratio of grouchiness and complete exhaustion is, but I do think I'm starting to come out of it.

NB: I don't know if Chantix works for everyone, but it's working for me. Except for the vivid dreams part. I was hoping for vivid dreams, but if I'm having them I'm not remembering them. On the "suppresses nicotine cravings" end, it's great stuff. I used a patch for the first couple of days, and have had a nicotine lozenge every day or two, but 90%+ of the time, I don't even miss the cancer sticks.

Hopefully I'll be completely back in the saddle by the end of the week.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Oren Cass Gets It


Via James Hohmann at WaPo:

"When you had a situation where the free market was delivering the social outcomes that conservatives most prized, libertarians and conservatives tended to agree,” [Cass] said. “What we've seen more recently is a growing understanding that the market does not necessarily in all cases deliver a set of social outcomes that conservatives prize.”

Or, to put it a different way, libertarianism and conservatism are not and never have been allies as such.

Libertarianism is a river that always flows in a particular direction (toward a future of freedom) on principle.

Conservatism is an improvised beaver dam of pragmatism built to block/contain that river.

Every so often, the dam breaks and conservatives yell "see, we're going in the same direction!" as they float down the river helplessly until they can get their acts together to start their blocking operation again.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

"Fractured and divisive contest for the nomination"


That's WaPo for "Bernie's winning."

The results in Iowa and New Hampshire aren't that dissimilar from 2008 or 2004.

The difference is that in 2004 and 2008, only reasonably party-establishment-approved candidates were putting up the winning or near-winning numbers.

If the vote totals for Sanders and Buttigieg in New Hampshire were reversed, WaPo would be crowing about how Buttigieg is "uniting the party."

Brief Platform Committee Update


The Libertarian Party's platform committee has finished voting by email ballot and the following proposal has passed:

Amend Plank 3.4 as follows:

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.

The committee is currently voting on the following proposal, and it looks pretty good for passage:

Add new Plank 2.5 as follows:

As we oppose all government intervention in marketplaces, we favor the repeal of intellectual property laws. Disputes between inventors, creators, authors, artists, businesses and other such entities should be resolved without government intervention.

Looks like we've got a nicely radical committee this year! Of course, passage of these proposals is up to the larger body of delegates to the national convention, but we're certainly going to be giving them some things to discuss.

We STILL haven't decided on whether to have a meatspace meeting between now and national convention time (I'd like to get that settled one way or the other ASAP -- if the answer is "yes," air fare and lodging costs go up every day we delay setting a time/place).

In fact, we haven't even scheduled our first "e-meeting" yet.

My personal opinion is that almost all of our work could be done more efficiently by email, but I'm in the minority on that. Most people want at LEAST some Internet-based conferencing.

Monday, February 10, 2020

OK, Time for an Either an Oscar Consolidation or an Oscar Exclusion


Last night, Parasite became the first non-English-language film to win the "Best Picture" Academy Award.

It also won several other Oscars, including "Best International Feature Film," the award for "a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue track." That Oscar used to be called "Best Foreign Language Film."

The awards should either be consolidated or exclude each other.

That is, now that it's been established that a foreign-language and/or foreign-produced film can win "Best Picture," the academy could get rid of the "Best International Feature Film" category as redundant.

Or, if Parasite is consider an outlier and it really isn't time to get rid of a special category for "foreign films," it could allow a film to be nominated for one or the other, but not both.

I haven't seen Parasite, so I don't know if it really was the best picture in either category. But if e.g. The Irishman and Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood weren't eligible for both categories, Parasite shouldn't have been either.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Blog Bleg


I don't recall making any big changes to this blog lately, but all of a sudden it loads verrrrrrrrrrry slowly for me (in multiple browsers, on multiple OSes).

Anyone else having the same problem? Anyone have an idea as to why?

FreedomPop is Dead, Long Live Ting


A couple of years ago, we got Tamara signed up with FreedomPop, which seemed like a pretty good cell phone deal ($79 per year of phone/text/limited data, decent price on a refurbished Samsung S5 phone).

It turned out to be kinda crappy -- the "phone/text" part of the deal was actually VOIP, which used your data unless you were connected to Wi-Fi, etc. Tamara usually ended up spending another $10 a month on data because of that, and half the time the damn thing didn't seem to be able to find a tower or whatever.

A few months ago, we received notice that her service was being transferred from FreedomPop to a company called Ting (yes, that is a referral link, and if you're looking for inexpensive cell/data, I suggest you use it see below).

Now she's paying $10 a month plus tax ($11.74 total) for real cell phone/text and a gigabyte of data (she hasn't had to buy additional data yet). The service always seems to work and she's had no complaints.

Well, one complaint, but not with Ting -- her S5 took a dirt nap, and she has to get a new phone. She's getting a Motorola Moto G6 from Ting for a hundred bucks.

If you use that there referral link to go with Ting, you get $25 credit and she gets a referral spiff.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

I Can Name that GOP Impeachment "Trial" Tune in One Word


Führerprinzip.

Friday, January 31, 2020

The Libertarian Party's Platform Committee is Voting ...


... by email ballot on its first recommendation, to amend platform plank 3.4 (Free Trade and Migration) as follows:

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.


Current wording of the plank is in plain text. Words proposed for removal are in red with a strike-thru. There aren't any proposed additions or other modifications on this ballot.

Other, possibly repetitious, updates (aka things I don't remember if I mentioned before):


  • Caryn Ann Harlos was elected permanent chair of the committee by email ballot.
  • We're in the process of nominations for secretary.
  • We're still discussing whether to have a pre-convention meatspace meeting. Sentiment seems to be running against, with something like $1,300 pledged by committee members as donations to the LP if we don't have such  meeting. I'm in for $100 of that, as it would probably save me (and, therefore, those of you who support my work on this) at least $500.
You can follow the committee's email deliberations here.

Cross-Platform Coolness and Difficult Decisions


I'm still messing around trying to get Linux to support my preferred dual monitor setup.

In Linux Mint, switching from USB --> DVI to straight VGA gets that second monitor running, but it just mirrors the first one and the OS doesn't detect two monitors. That may be my fault: I screwed around with proprietary drivers and messed something up (Linux Mint keeps telling me that there's a problem, that hardware graphics handling has been turned off, to check the driver manager ... and the driver manager tells me there's no problem, round and round we go). So ...

... as I write this post, I'm burning an ISO of Kubuntu to a USB drive to see if that will work out better (or at least more easily).

But what I'm actually thinking about while that ISO burns (actually, it just got done), is a secondary consideration I had in getting a new machine.

The primary consideration was that a dual core processor and 4Gb of RAM was starting to feel insufficient based on a silly benchmark of mine: If the web-based game "Forge of Empires" strains my resources, time to upgrade. So I did, and going straight PC made more sense (both financially and in terms of CPU/RAM available) than sticking with the Chromebooks/Chromeboxes I've been using exclusively for eight years now.

The secondary consideration was "maybe I should seize the opportunity to get away from relying on Google."

When I became a ChromeOS fanboy, "cross-platform" seemed mostly notional, except maybe for Java apps.

But now, web-based apps make it all easy. And Google Chrome makes web-based apps easy.

To put it a different way, back in the old days if I switched platforms, I needed to choose, install, configure, and learn to properly use new text editors and such. Now I can use my preferred apps (in text editors, those would be Writebox and Caret) on any machine that runs Chrome or Chromium. The last few days, I've been doing that in Windows 10. Once I get Linux running, I can do it there, too.

Not having to change things up is easy!

But I kind of wanted to change things up. Dump Gmail. Dump Google Drive. Dump Chrome. Goodbye Google. Etc.

And I still may do that, if the utter convenience doesn't seduce me.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

So the New Computer Arrived ...


... and I'm blogging atcha from it.

Unfortunately, I'm doing so on Windows 10. Linux Mint doesn't like my "run the second monitor via USB and a DVI adapter" setup. So I'm going to have to get a VGA cable, etc. and get that taken care of.

But a very nice machine!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Brief Libertarian Party Platform Committee Update


Election of the permanent committee chair (by email ballot) is ongoing.

So is discussion of whether to hold a physical meeting prior to the party's national convention in May.

Here's a publicly viewable archive of the committee's email discussions.

And here's an email I just sent pursuant to that discussion:


I've seen two main arguments offered for an in-person meeting.

The first is that more can get done in a shorter period of time because of time limits built into the agenda (and into venue reservation times, people's travel plans, etc.) and a hypothetical sense of urgency created by those time limits.

While e-meetings do lack the sense of urgency because no one is going to miss a plane and the venue isn't going to kick us out, they do have agenda-based time limit functions which the chair enforces unless the body chooses to extend time.

Email work has a hard time limit once email balloting begins, and both prior to and during the balloting, each member is free to spend as much or as little time as he or she wants considering or debating the proposal.

So I don't find that argument persuasive.

The second is a more motivational/personal kind of thing -- that in-person meetings are conducive to the members "gelling" as a working group, learning to work and play well together.

I DO find that argument persuasive as far as it goes, but I'd offer two counter-arguments to consider:

1) We are not a long-term body. About four months from now, we will cease to exist as a group. It's not like we have to get along for the next 20 years to get our job done. I'm as irascible as anyone "in this room," and I'm pretty sure that I can get through the next four months without killing any of my fellow committee members.I'm also pretty sure that any work-related conflicts are going to happen whether we have a physical meeting or not. The only difference there is that in email or e-meetings, any of you with a sudden and uncontrollable committee-work-related urge to throw a cup of hot Starbucks at someone or something won't be able to throw it at ME.

2) While I do love you all, even the ones I don't know well yet, a physical meeting entails considerable expense, including but not limited to possible venue rental, document printing, etc. (does LPHQ cover that?), and probably at LEAST several hundred dollars in personal travel/lodging/food spending, not to mention time wasted getting from Point A to Point B and back, by most or all members of the committee. I knew that such an expense was a possibility when I applied for the committee. I managed that expense last time, and if necessary I'll do it this time. But as a matter of costs versus benefits, I just don't consider it a wise use of either party or individual resources.

So, Who Do I Call to Arrange My Surrender?


I encourage anyone and everyone who wants to come to the United States in search of work and/or safety to do so, and to stay in/reside here for however long they might damn well please, whether the US government says they can or not.

According to 8 U.S. Code § 1324, saying the above puts me on the hook for five years in prison.

Actually, ten years, because part of my purpose for offering such encouragement is "commercial advantage or private financial gain" -- immigration improves the economy in general, and thus supports my own prosperity.

In theory, I could even be imprisoned for life or executed if a death is somehow linked to my encouragement of immigration. For example, if an ICE/Border Patrol gang member murders an immigrant who was encouraged by me to come here, or if one of the ICE/Border Patrol thugs is killed in self-defense by one of his or her victims.

The Ninth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals rightly struck down the "encouragement" provision on First Amendment grounds, but I live outside the Ninth Circuit, and the Trump regime is appealing that correct ruling to the US Supreme Court anyway.

I'm far from confident that SCOTUS will uphold the First Amendment -- let alone Article I, Section 9, Article V, and the Tenth Amendment, which would make the case moot since they combine to forbid federal regulation of immigration -- so I may be looking at some hard time here.

No problem, but can we do this arrest thing in an orderly manner, sans snipers, helicopters, dogs, etc.? I'll peacefully bring myself to any reasonably convenient surrender point on demand and save y'all the trip.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Hillary Clinton on Bernie Sanders, Wrong and Right


Wrong: "Nobody likes him."

Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in 23 of 57 Democratic presidential primaries, knocking down 43.1% of the total national Democratic primary vote, in 2016. Apparently some people like him.


Right: "He was a career politician."

He's spent the last 38 years in, or briefly out of while running for, political office -- the last 28 of them in Congress. So yeah, he's the very definition of a career politician.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Yep, BTC is Still a Train Wreck


I've had a "standard fee" transaction sitting in mempool for more than four hours.

Yeah, I know that BCH has fewer transactions to handle on its blockchain. And that BTC actually seems to be running a slightly lower average block time. But anecdotally, I haven't had a BCH transaction take more than a few minutes, ever, that I can remember.

Crypto needs to be finding ways to confirm in seconds, not minutes, to fill a "medium of exchange" function.

Without that function (in addition to "store of value" and "unit of account"), there's no use case for regular people doing regular commerce. And that's the use case I want.

This Morning's Ridiculous Impeachment Claim


Per CNN:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to give House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump's legal team each 24 hours divided over two days for their opening arguments in the Senate's impeachment trial, a move that indicates Senate Republicans are pushing to finish the trial as quickly as possible ...

Emphasis mine.

The purpose of "opening arguments" -- actually "opening statements" -- in a trial is for the prosecution to describe what they're accusing the defendant of and summarize how they intend to prove it, and for the defense to describe why the prosecution is full of beans and summarize how they plan to show that.

One hour for each side might be a little short. Much more than that -- more than, say, splitting one eight-hour work day between the two sides -- isn't about opening statements, it's about intentionally dragging things out.

If the Democratic impeachment managers are smart, they'll wrap their opening statement up in less than two hours, making it clear that they have a slam-dunk case that they don't need 24 hours to summarize, then let the Republicans be the ones who bore America to death with two 12-hour days full of nothing but whining about how unfair it all is.


Monday, January 20, 2020

Linux Distro Bleg


The new computer is on the way.

I may keep Windoze 10 on it just so I can play some old games (I miss Starcraft now and again), but I'll certainly want to turn it into a dual-boot box and do most things in Linux.

But it's been ages since I've had to choose a Linux distribution, and never for a PC this loaded. So I'm looking for recommendations.

The CPU is a quad-core AMD 5500B, operating at up to 3.7GHz. It's got 16Gb of RAM, and I'm pretty sure it can support up to 32Gb if I ever want to buy more.

One possible fly in the ointment: I'm pretty sure this machine comes with something called the "Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip." I recall hearing complaints -- or at least fears -- in the past that this and other "secure boot" schemes might not work and play well with some Linux distributions.

I've always preferred the KDE desktop to Gnome and other GUIs, but I'm not unwilling to abandon KDE if necessary to get a Linux installation that meets my needs in other respects. Which are, pretty much, browsing the web and editing text and support for at least two monitors (my current configuration is HDMI direct to one monitor, USB adapted to DVI on the other; I'll be trying to get the new one to work that way but with the HDMI adapted from DisplayPort); everything else optional.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Platform Committee and Libertarian National Convention Update


Hey, everyone -- I'm trying to get in the habit of updating y'all whenever there have been significant developments, and there have. Here they are:


  • The Libertarian Party's platform committee is beginning the process of electing its permanent chair by email ballot. The candidates are Caryn Ann Harlos of Colorado (who chaired the 2018 committee), former state legislator Laura Ebke of Nebraska, and Libertarian Party of Florida member (and former state vice-chair) Omar Recuero. I think any of these three would do a great job as chair, and will be happy to work with any of them, but I've endorsed Ms. Harlos for the simple reason that I've actually seen how she chairs platform committees and know she does a great job.
  • A straw poll of the committee on whether or not to hold an in-person meeting between now and the party's national convention went ever so slightly in favor of "no." That doesn't mean there won't be such a meeting, and if there is I plan to attend (and to request your financial assistance to do so).
  • Until today, when she finally made up her mind for certain not to, I was hoping that my wife, Tamara, would attend the national convention in Austin with me. That's bad, but it does have up sides, one of them being that instead of finding a distant and cheaper hotel room for two, I'll either find equally budget-conscious roommates or impose myself on the Povertarian Caucus's "hospitality suite," saving some money and some daily commute time (I've set up a $20 per month donation to the Povertarian Caucus with the latter eventuality in mind).
  • I haven't purchased my convention package ... yet. But I have cryptocurrency set aside to buy the $79 "training only" package, and plan to do so in the next few days. I always try to buy a package (unless the LNC decides to impose a "floor fee," in which case that's all they get out of me). Last time, a donor made it possible for me to by a "bronze" (I think) package, but this time I'm going the cheaper route simply because a reception and a breakfast don't strike me as worth an additional $100 given my likely busy schedule.
  • I won't be able to attend the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania's state convention, but if they have any unfilled seats, hopefully an LPPA member "living abroad" and there anyway for platform committee will be welcomed. Otherwise, I'll ask around. I've never attended a national convention and not found a seat.
Hey -- I'm not hitting y'all up for assistance yet!

That doesn't mean I won't break out the begging bowl. There will be air fare and Uber costs for the convention, and of course travel and lodging costs if the platform committee does meet in the flesh before the convention. But, as I did last time, I will keep costs to an absolute minimum and only ask for the help I really, really need.

And that's your update.


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