Monday, May 31, 2010

I Volunteer

Left (your left, not mine): Kelly Wall, editor, Voice of Freedom (Libertarian Party of Tennessee newsletter).

Right: Two-term Wilson County (Tennessee) Commissioner and 2010 state legislative candidate Heather Scott.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Libertarian National Convention coverage

Not saying I won't blog here at KN@PPSTER this weekend, but my main plan is to concentrate on "raw coverage" -- photography, microblogging, etc. -- and let others (this means you) grab/adapt/use what I originate.

Tumblr is set up nicely for quick posting of photos, video and audio, so look for that kind of thing at The National Desk. Its associated Twitter feed and my personal Facebook profile are the places to find quick microblog updates.

If I do any long form stuff of my own, it will appear here or, more likely, at Independent Political Report (where you should consider yourself pointed for the best coverage by others as well).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quote of the Day

Brian Holtz at Independent Political Report:

Sorry, but your ability to generate a light cone does not give you the right to control all cameras within it.

Tangentially related, recently re-posted oldie but goodie from Roderick T. Long:

You cannot own information without owning other people.

This, too, shall pass

Do I give a tinker's damn about the outcome of the GOP's South Carolina gubernatorial primary? I do not. Matter of fact, the only reason it's even on my radar is because I can't resist dropping in on a daily basis to see what The Other McCain is talking about.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Stacy's a Peckerwood Populist who rolls around on the floor of the Augean stable of irredentist Confedero-sentimentalism and neo-Dixecratism instead of getting with the cleanup, but by gum he's never boring.

And what he's talking about a lot right now is a blogger/political consultant's claim to have had an "inappropriate physical relationship" with GOP candidate Nikki Haley.

What's interesting to me about McCain's writing on the topic is that he's looking at it as a case study in how the blogosphere has changed political journalism and the dynamic of campaigns, and he's doing so from the perspective of someone who, as he puts it, has "been on both sides of the Old Media/New Media divide."

I'm a little bit, but not much, younger than Robert Stacy McCain. I've never been an editor at the Washington Times, but I've been doing "real journalism" on and off for more than 30 years, since I was 12 (I started off writing local beekeeper club meeting reports for my town's daily newspaper; sneer if you want, but I knew what a five-point lede was by the time I started on my junior high school newspaper, and had been published in a print magazine with a worldwide subscribership by the time I got my driver's license), and what he says rings true:

[W]hen I worked at The Washington Times, there were people whose job it was to say, "Hey, maybe we shouldn't publish that." ... Wes Pruden’s motto was always, "Get it first and get it right." The Lewinksy scandal was a case where we weren't first because to have published a thinly-source[d] article about such a major scandal would have been short of the "get it right" standard.

Over the course of the decade and change since the Lewinsky scandal broke, the blogosphere has completely pranged the "get it right" standard both on the Internet and, bleeding over, in the "mainstream media." Tabloid TV was already eroding the standard, but the blogosphere was its death.

These days, the "get it first and get it right" standard in the MSM has been replaced by the "get it first and cover it as an 'if these allegations are true' story instead of a 'we have learned and can truthfully tell you' story; that way if it's wrong, most of the mud flies clear of us" standard.

I don't think that's going to last, though.


Because this kind of journalism has accomplished that which we once believed impossible: It's made sex, marital infidelity, etc. boring.

Every other week, some politician trots out to do the obligatory "I betrayed my family" press conference, after which he/she either exits the political stage or dons an electric chastity belt, hands out remote activators to the assembled press (really -- every MSM reporter carries a keychain full of'em) and limps valiantly forward to face defeat or redemption at the next election.


Hell, the only reason the Nikki Haley story has legs is that she's still denying it. If she'd called a press conference, admitted it, maybe flashed her rack for the cameras, everyone outside of South Carolina (and most people in South Carolina) would have already forgotten her name, not to mention the name of the blogger/consultant who claimed to have got him summathat, by now. Which, as a side note, makes me think that she's probably telling the truth.

At one time, the sex scandal story was a guaranteed way to move papers off newsstands. That's because no journalist would put his name on such a story unless he had the used condom and lab results on the DNA therein. If that particular kind of thing was reported, you could bet money that it was true.

Now that it's "anything goes as long as we can deny we outright lied," it's been overdone. It's the same story over and over, with the names (usually) changed. And face it, nobody really wants to think about Eliot Spitzer or Mark Sanford or John Ensign or John Edwards in bed with anyone or anything. I mean, eeewwwww. It's creepy, and it's unimportant.

At some point, this kind of "news" will stop driving newsstand sales and web site traffic, and then it will become a curious historical artifact. As far as I'm concerned, that moment can't come too soon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Corresponding with a friend today over the possibility that Wayne Allyn Root and Co. will run the table at the Libertarian National Convention in St. Louis this weekend. His reply:

Could be worse. It could be Rand Paul.

Jesus. He has to know that here in about three hours or so, I'm going to wake up screaming and it's going to be his fault for putting that image in my head.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Handicapping the LNC chair election

General Predictions:

- The final ballot will be Wayne Allyn Root vs. ???

- On all ballots prior to that final ballot, Root will place first among all contenders.

- If Root isn't within a short distance of a majority (40-45% minimum) on the first ballot, he won't win. He commands a plurality for first choice, but is hardly anyone's second or even third choice. For the most part, either you're for Root or you're for Anyone But Root (including None of the Above). As candidates are eliminated from the running, his gains will be small. He may even lose some votes as one or more of his remaining opponents start to look like viable choices instead of long shots.

- Of course, there's a chance that he'll manage a majority on the first ballot, which will make it the last ballot, too.

My guess is that either Root will win a surprise first-ballot majority, or that it it will go to four or more ballots, and that Myers will be eliminated on the first ballot and Hancock on the second.

First Ballot

Root: ~40%
Phillies: ~20%
Hancock: ~20%
Hinkle: ~12%
Myers: ~8%

Second Ballot

Root: ~41%
Phillies: ~21%
Hinkle: ~20%
Hancock: ~18%

Third Ballot

Root: ~44%
Phillies and Hinkle: ??%
NOTA: ~5%

What happens next depends on whether Hancock's non-NOTA voters go to Phillies or Hinkle. My guess is Phillies, but it's nothing like a sure thing.

If Hinkle manages to get it down to Hinkle v. Root, Hinkle will ride the "emerging consensus wave" all the way to a fourth-ballot majority.

If Phillies manages to get it down to Phillies v. Root, we may go several ballots with a stubborn NOTA vote keeping either from winning a majority. When that deadlock breaks, I don't think it will break to Root's benefit.

As always, take my predictions with a grain of salt. When I'm on, I'm usually dead on. When I'm not, I'm usually so far off it's silly.

Monday, May 24, 2010

And another quote for the day ...

... from Decca Aitkenhead's interview with Christopher Hitchens, published this weekend in the Guardian:

Where's the point in engaging in a battle of ideas if you have no interest in being persuasive? "That seems like an invitation to soften the tone and be more agreeable." Doesn't he want to win the battle? "Sure." Why, then, did he tell an interviewer in 2001: "I don't really care whether people agree with me?" He looks momentarily surprised. "Oh, that's too bald. What I mean is that I'm not going to soften a case in order to make it more presentable. When I've flung down the pen, I want to be sure that I've made the strongest possible case I can make -- and also," he adds tellingly, "really had fun doing it."

The occasion for the interview is the publication of his new memoir, Hitch-22, which is definitely going on my Amazon Powell's Wish List.

I've never been able to work up anything like true hatred for the drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay. Although I frequently (and usually vehemently) disagree with him nobody, and I mean nobody, does polemic better. He's like some kind of mutant bastard child (and child prodigy) of William F. Buckley, Jr. and Gore Vidal.

Quote of the Day

Anna Morgenstern at the Center for a Stateless Society:

Libertarians who believe that the government can be used to protect freedom and who believe in the current regime of private property as it has evolved under the state, are indeed caught in a sort of set of contradictions. Where does the money come from to pay the police officer or soldier? How did the current legal boundaries of what is property come to exist?

Speaking of which, I've been lax in self-promotion of my own C4SS columns. My most recent piece is about former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon's campaign for US Senate. Check it out. Maybe you'll like it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Liveblogging: Lost series finale

6:05 pm Central: No promises. I may get caught up and forget to blog. I may throw in some spoilers, intentionally or unintentionally. Watching the pre-show now.

6:20 pm Central: I've avoided most of the podcasts and featurettes and such, so this is the first time I'm "meeting" the actors and hearing what they think about the show. Cognitive dissonance listening to Daniel Dae Kim ("Jin Kwon") speak perfect unaccented English. It's been easy to achieve suspension of disbelief vis a vis the characters as "real people" with this show.

6:30 pm Central: My "Lost experience" has been much more compressed than most. I cheated -- I watched the first five seasons for the first time right before Season Six started. Now I'm re-watching them with Tamara.

6:50 pm Central: I've been re-watching on Netflix (streaming) -- all these commercials really crush the buzz. And just as a side note, I still predict that Hurley or Ben will end up as the "guardian." Jack as Da Man is just too predictable.

7:02 pm Central: NOT PENNY'S BOAT. Still the most heartbreaking moment of the show, even given the Jin/Sun exit in Season Six.

7:13 pm Central: And as another side note (they just showed the freigher explosion clip), I think that Yunjin Kim ("Sun Kwon") may be the best ACTOR on the show. Toss-up between her, Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") and Josh Holloway ("James Ford, a/k/a Sawyer").

7:53 pm Central: They just showed the Jin/Sun death scene. I cried. Again.

8:00 pm Central: OK, main event beginning -- "previously on Lost ..."

8:12 pm Central: So, is this concert going to be Charlie Pace at Eloise Hawking's event, Jack's son's piano recital, or Tom Petty live?

8:20 pm Central: Okay, so it's the Hawking soiree. Always good to see Rose and Bernard again. Why so serious, FLocke? Hopefully Sideways Locke's awakening will put some doubt in that bald grape of yours.

8:26 pm Central: Son of a bitch. Jin and Sun got me bawling AGAIN.

8:36 pm Central: Hmm ... FLocke also thinks that Jack as Guardian is too obvious. Will it be Hurley running down FLocke with the Dharma van, or Ben calling up the spirits of Alex and Allison Janney?

8:45 pm Central: Those Target commercials are SOOOOOOO wrong.

9:03 pm Central: Come on, Desmond, the rock isn't that heavy. Used to bullseye womp rats no bigger than that rock all the time back home.

9:14 pm Central: All teary-eyed. Charlie's fully back in the loop again.

9:18 pm Central: Sorry, but the fake-Matrix "Jack and FLocke race toward each other" thing was just ... cheesy. I'm starting to think that Sideways Hurley acting as sort of consigliere in the Desmond Conspiracy is confirmation of my prediction. He becomes the Guardian, Desmond becomes the Island itself.

9:25 pm Central: FLocke is FUBAR. Real Locke is coming out of surgery and feels his legs. Satori! Convergence!

9:37 pm Central: Kate and Jack last kiss time. Meh. Kate always belonged with Sawyer.

9:42 pm Central: Miles: "I don't believe in a lot of things, but I do believe in duct tape."

9:47 pm Central: Okay, I take that back about Kate and Sawyer. Never saw the Juliet connection as so permanent before. Sweet.

10:06 pm Central: Told you it would be Hurley! Ha! Next prediction: Jack becomes White Smokey.

10:30 pm Central: They give us that for finis? Weak, dudes. I want some more Hurley and Ben Island-Guarding Action! I want Jack as White Smokey, a la Gandalf!

OK, OK, not so bad, I guess. But I didn't expect them to turn it into What Dreams May Come redux, and it grates. Well, that wraps up the liveblog. Niters, and I'm back to the day job.

Update, after sleeping on it, watching part of the Kimmel take, etc.: There was no way the producers were going to make everyone happy with the ending, or even come close. There was also no damn way I could be fair to them a minute after the screen went black for the final time. Good job, guys. Sorry I didn't say that last night. I'm sure my rudeness left you crying. Hopefully, crying all the way to First National Dharma Initiative Bank.

They managed a nice symmetry. IIRC, the pilot began with Jack's eye opening as he came to consciousness in the jungle with Vincent (the dog) looking at him; got up, walked past a tennis shoe hanging from a tree. The series finale ended with him packing past the now-decayed tennis shoe, lying down, the dog coming up and nuzzling and lying down with him, his eye closing.

They did change it up some -- faked left with Jack accepting the guardianship, then ran right, gave him a different job and left Hurley in charge, with Ben as consigliere. The "redemption of Ben" bit was particularly nice.

The more I think about my comments vis a vis the actors, the more I think I gave a bunch of them short shrift because I didn't particularly like their characters (the fact that Kate and Jack tended to piss me off doesn't mean Evangeline Lilly and Matthew Fox didn't do a great job), or because their characters were no longer at the forefront screentime-wise (I'll gladly watch Dominic Monaghan in anything), or just maybe because their portrayals were so well done and I was so involved with the characters that it never occurred to me that they were, um, acting (maybe the highest compliment you can pay an actor, and I'm thinking in particular of Terry O'Quinn and Jorge Garcia).

Bottom line on the actors: There's not a single cast member of Lost whose name on a movie or show won't at least make me give it a look. Thinking that over, I'm thinking that this is especially true of Jorge Garcia and Michael Emerson.

Biggest disappointment which I can only reveal now that it's over (except, hopefully, for a Hurley/Linus big screen movie: Lost: Return of Smokey): I kind of hoped the show would end with God walking out of the Island Light Cave ... in the form of Bob Denver.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Trivia Question

Q: You purchase a house for $400,000. Four years later, the appraised value of that house has fallen to $200,000. How much money have you lost?

A: Not a red cent.

At least that's the way I see it, as I explain in comments on this post by Jonathan Wilde at the Distributed Republic. My most recent comment there either got eaten or is still in an approval queue, so I'm going to reproduce the key points here:

You bought the house for $400k. Maybe you paid cash for it, maybe you took out a mortgage. That's not especially relevant to my point, as I'm not arguing for or against "strategic default" just this instant.

You have the house.

If the price at which the house will sell has gone down from $400k to $200k, you've lost nothing -- unless you sell the house.

Even then, your loss is mitigated by the equivalent rent you'd have paid if you hadn't bought a house, less the expenses you pay that a landlord would have paid if you were a renter. The "Bruce Williams Standard Rent Formula" is 1% of the purchase price of the house per month (that's what Williams tells landlords to charge). So, four years at $4000 per month (this assumes you'd have rented something equivalent to what you bought). That's $192,000 you've saved, less property taxes and improvements/repairs that you'd have expected the landlord to make. Call it $100k, which reduces your purely hypothetical (unless you sell the house) loss by half.

If the price at which the house will sell has gone down from $400k to $200k, something else has gone down, too: Your property taxes. (Assuming that your local government appraises with reasonable frequency and accuracy; not a safe assumption, of course, but anyhoo ...)

Now, about "strategic default" ... even if you consider the house an "investment" rather than a "domicile," and even if you take a bath on that investment, the bank didn't sign on to be your co-investor and take your loss with you. They just lent you the money to make the investment yourself. Your obligation to repay the loan is, it seems to me, independent of whether or not the investment turns out to have been wise.

I can understand defaulting on a mortgage if you just have no other choice -- you're broke, busted, can't make the payments -- and if that happens, then the bank's recourse is to take the house from you, make as much of their money back as they can from it, and put a king-hell dent in your credit score.

But walking away from a mortgage that you voluntarily entered into, that you can pay, on a house that you decided to buy and that you do in fact do have possession and use of? Guys, that's just bullshit.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In other news, Roman Polanski is still one creepy dude ...

... but I don't place a lot of stock in Charlotte Lewis's allegations.

First, contra some of the headlines, there's no question of "child molestation" here. Lewis was 16 at the time she alleges the incident occurred. The "age of consent" in France is 15.

Photo from fOTOGLIF
Secondly, even Lewis and her lawyer (the omnipresent-in-this-sort-of-case Gloria Allred) stop short of using the term "rape," which to me suggests that there was probably at least formal consent. Per AFP:

Although Polanski, 76, was accused of "forcing himself" upon Lewis, the actress pointedly did not use the word "rape." "The words we used are the words we used," Allred said when asked about the actress's allegations.

Thirdly, Lewis was so traumatized by the incident that she pressed charges, attempted suicide several times and eventually entered a convent accepted the lead female role in a Polanski movie (Pirates) released four years later, then waited 24 more years after that to come out all "J'Accuse!"

This pretty much screams "casting couch sex" rather than "rape" (a word which Lewis declined to use) or "child molestation" (for purposes of sexual consent, she was legally an adult at the time).

For the record, I am not, repeat not, saying that's not a bad thing. A powerful older film director abusing his possible ability to make or break careers to intimidate his way into a 16-year-old actor's panties is indeed a bad thing. But it's not the same kind of bad thing as drugging and raping a 13-year-old.

So, why come out with it now instead of 28 years ago?

It isn't for the purpose of pressing charges. The statute of limitations in France is 10 years for child sexual assault; I doubt that it's as long, or at least any longer, for rape of a putative adult.

It's obviously not because she wants to protect prospective future victims of the Evil Polanski. Everybody already knows about him and has for a long time, and if you're trying to stop a victimizer from victimizing you don't give him a 28-year head start.

The idea that she wants Polanski's "additional history" taken into consideration at sentencing rings hollow. If she'd come out with her story earlier, it would have had the same effect -- and it might well have deprived him of his 32 years of refuge in France.

That leaves the two obvious things:

1) Money. If Polanski goes down and is incarcerated, he can be served, compelled to appear, and will be in no position to move his wealth around to protect it. Expect a number of actual or alleged victims to pop up with civil suits aimed at getting a piece of his fortune. Who wouldn't expect to see Allred jockeying for pole position in that litigation queue?

2) Buzz. Lewis hasn't racked an IMDB-worthy acting credit since 2003. Now she's in the headlines and possibly on tap to come to California to give high-profile testimony.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Renting to Own

[Disclosure: This is a sponsored post -- I'm being paid to write and publish it. I always identify sponsored posts at KN@PPSTER; I also decline opportunities which don't meet my personal standards of honesty/ethics and usefulness to my readers]

I've never gone the "rent to own" route before, but that's because I never found the right house at the right price when I was on the market for one.

Phoenix Rent To Own Homes is the kind of search engine I'd have used to find a good "rent to own" opportunity if it had been around when I was looking for one (note: The URL is specific to the Phoenix, Arizona area, but the search engine behind it returns nationwide results; I've just been looking at homes in my own home area of St. Louis, MO).

What is "rent to own?" It's pretty simple, really. It's just like renting a home, only the tenant has an option, built into the rental or lease contract, to buy that home for a specified price. Usually that option will also include putting some portion of the rent you paid before you make your decision toward the purchase price.

Example: You find home priced to sell for $100,000 and enter into a one-year "rent to own" lease on it, with 100% rent application.

Your rent is $1,000 per month.

At any time before that one-year lease expires, you can notify the owner that you've decided to buy the property. The rent you've paid ($12,000 if you make your decision right before the lease expires) is deducted from the purchase price.

That's the basic outline, anyway. There are variables. For example, some "rent to own" contracts don't apply 100% of rent.

Some "rent to own" sellers will carry the paper themselves (i.e. you make "mortgage payments" to the seller), others will require you to get a mortgage elsewhere so that they get their full purchase price up front.

Some "rent to own" leases are renewable (i.e. at the end of the first year, you can renew the lease on the same terms for another year, with rent continuing to accrue toward the purchase price), some of them aren't (i.e. at the end of the year if you don't buy the house, the rent you've paid disappears, just like regular rent).

The up side to "rent to own" is that if you decide to buy, you're effectively converting some or all of your previously paid rent into home equity.

If there's a down side, it's that the rent rate may be slightly higher than you'd pay for the place without the purchase option.

In today's housing market, "rent to own" has distinct advantages.

The number of unsold properties on the market, including properties that the current owners are looking for a way to make their own mortgage payments with, makes it more likely that you'll find a very good deal.

Going "rent to own" gives you more time to decide if this is the home you want.

It also lets you build effective equity in that home without being trapped in it by a disadvantageous mortgage from the very beginning.

Of course, it all starts with finding the home you want, and that's where Phoenix Rent To Own Homes comes in.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Crowdsourcing my home wiring problem

I'm sure someone has run into this problem before, or one like it, but Google isn't sending me where I want to go on it.

The situation:

In our master bedroom, there was an old ceiling fan with a three-bulb light fixture below it, pre-dating our ownership of the home. In addition to the fan switch (on the fan) and the light switch (an on-off "pull the string" affair), there was a wall knob to dim or brighten the lights.

The fan stopped working awhile back, and replacing it was on my "to-do" list. Then last week the lights stopped working too, making it a priority.

We decided to go with a new light fixture rather than a new ceiling fan, and found a nice one at Home Depot.

Installation was a breeze: Turn off the breaker, dismount the fan fixture, disconnect it from the wiring, connect the new light fixture to the wiring, mount the fixture to the ceiling, turn on the breaker. Let there be light! And there was light, and it was good, etc.

Except that there's no way to, um, turn it off.

My first assumption was that that dimmer switch was stuck "on" (it had been acting hinky for awhile too). And in fact I had an old-fashioned "on/off" switch ready to go.

Turn off the breaker, disconnect the old switch, connect the new switch (in "off" position), turn on the breaker. Hey ... there's light even though the switch is in "off" position ... and if I turn the switch "on," it throws the breaker.

Hmmm. I'm not an electrician, not even an especially crafty home remodeling type, but I'm not completely stupid. Obviously there's direct wiring to the ceiling fan/light node.

I'm guessing there's what, a second circuit, running through the switch box, that pours more wattage into that first one? If the "dimmer" is on off, regular power. Turn it up, it sends more juice through that other circuit?

Right now, I'm leaning toward getting a replacement ceiling fan/light kit that's pretty much like the old one, and a new dimmer switch. That's option one. Just go back to the way things were, only with working equipment. I've got another light fixture in another room that I'd like to replace, so the one I just bought won't go to waste.

Option two is getting just a plain light fixture, but one with a pull chain/string switch built in, and capping off the wires to the old dimmer switch.

Option three is pulling out that extra circuit and pulling new wire for a wall switch for the light fixture I just put in, or else finding a way to recombobulate all that stuff to make the thing operate from the wall.

Like I said, I'm not an electrician, and so option three doesn't sound too good to me, especially in this old house. We're talking plaster and lath here; I don't even like trying to snake wire through two-by-four framing behind drywall. I also don't like getting electrocuted and that kind of stuff.

Oh, I forgot to mention something: This house was previously owned by an electrician who apparently wired things up with whatever he had left over from the day job, and didn't care about color coding because he knew what he'd done and nobody else needed to. So, when I'm wiring new stuff in, I always have to make notes on the old stuff, because there's no telling which wire is hot, ground, etc. without looking at the existing connections.

So, weigh in if you know more about this stuff than I do:

Question #1: Does option #1 (just going back to a ceiling fan with light kit, switches all on board, and putting in a new dimmer) sound sensible?

Question #2: If I go with option #2 (going light only, once again with switch onboard, and getting rid of the wall rig altogether), as long as I'm careful to cap the wires off properly, am I good to go, or am I missing something that will end with the house on fire?

Let's not talk about option #3 (wiring a whole new setup from breaker to wall switch box to light fixture). I'm just not going to go there.

I'm going to do one of these things this weekend. For the moment, the only way to turn the damn light on or off is to either screw the bulbs in or out, or to throw the breaker (which affects a couple of outlets and everything plugged into them, too).

Update, Friday May 14th

Thanks for all the assistance here and on Facebook, guys!

Got it figured out: The wires in the ceiling were a hot for the fan, hot for the light, and a common neutral for both. No ground.

One of those hots came through the wall switch. No ground there, either -- I don't like this but it doesn't especially surprise me, as some of the outlets in that area of the house are the old two-prong with no ground plug. My guess is that even on the newer outlets, the ground wire behind is just taped/capped off. On my to-do list: Either grounding, or putting GFI boxes in, every circuit in the house.

This afternoon, I installed a new ceiling fan w/light kit.

I initially installed it with the fan circuit running through that wall switch circuit, and a dimmer switch in that circuit, for two reasons: One, I didn't know which hot was which until I got them hooked up, and two, I wanted to know that that circuit was functional (see below -- no way to test it with the light yet).

Once I established that the wall circuit worked, I reversed things -- ran the wall-switched circuit to the light fixture, replaced the dimmer with a simple on-off switch, and ran the "always-on" circuit to the fan.

Since the fan works with the "always-on" circuit, I now know that both circuits work. I can turn the fan on/off with the pull-chain switch on the fan unit itself; the light I'll keep "on" at the fan switch, and turn on or off from the wall.

Why can't I test the light yet? Because, silly me, I didn't notice that the light fixture is for one of those small-base 40-watt "candelabra" bulbs until I actually had the thing bolted to the ceiling, and I don't have one of those bulbs yet. I was tempted to take the unit down and go exchange it for something more robust, but I'm tired of dicking around with this. I'll get a floor lamp or something for additional light.

Anyway, apart from screwing in the light bulb and making sure that's all good, I think this job is done. Thanks for all the advice.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lost blogging: Across the Sea

Not entirely satisfying, but absolutely necessary: The episode which explains (sort of) the origins of Jacob and the Man in Black.

I'm apparently not the only one who thinks it would have been better to pair it with "Ab Aeterno," which explained where Richard Alpert came from.

The only major problem I have with the episode is that the camera never panned down to show us Allison Janney's feet, and I'm not just saying that because I worship Allison Janney's feet. How many toes?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's not very often ...

... that someone implicitly places me in the same class of thinker-primacy as Roderick Long, let alone gives me top billing. It would be churlish of me not to thank Gene Callahan for doing both those things, so consider that done.

It would also be mean not to respond at reasonable length to Callahan's arguments, which he obviously put significant time and effort into -- and I'll do that too, but not just now. It's a beautiful day outside and I'm sipping whiskey and working from the netbook; I'm not yet comfortable enough with it to start in on long-form pieces (I'm using a full-size keyboard, but I'm going to need reading glasses for this 8.x" screen).

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The browser saga continues

In an ongoing low-participation, un-scientific poll in a previous post, 80% of KN@PPSTER readers pick Firefox as the best Mac browser.

I personally prefer Camino as a Mac browser proper. But like that 80%, I'm finding myself drawn back to Firefox. Here's why:

Summer is here, and I'm running a second machine -- an Asus EEE 900 netbook that the family bought as a "backup/loaner" machine when Liam's laptop was in the shop.*

The Asus is already effectively my second computer, because I like to work outside in nice weather -- set up my gear on the family "patio" table in the back yard, kick back with a cold drink, connect to our household network, and do the same things I do in my "office" inside.

The Mac is a headless laptop. Moving the laptop, monitor, external keyboard and mouse, etc., in and out of the house on a daily basis would be a Pain In The Ass. The 8.x-inch netbook with a roll-up waterproof USB keyboard and USB optical mini-mouse is very portable.

I'm running JoliCloud (a netbook-optimized, cloud-centric gloss on Debian/Ubuntu Linux) on the Asus. As a matter of fact, yesterday I went ahead and re-installed it, removing the Windows XP installation entirely (I never used it, and found out that none of the other family members were using it either, and the machine only has a 16Gb solid state drive internally, so ZAP, free up the space).

The easily available browsers (e.g. pre-installed or installable from the apps cloud) include Firefox, Seamonkey, Opera, Chrome and Chromium.

What sets Firefox above those other browsers is Mozilla Weave.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Endorsement: George Phillies for LNC Chair

In endorsing George Phillies for chair of the Libertarian National Committee, I should probably first explain why I did not support his campaign for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination.

Ideologically speaking, George and I are very different creatures. I'm a radical libertarian. He's a moderate libertarian. We disagree in significant respects on important issues, and I believe the party's presidential candidate should be a bold standard-bearer for my take on most issues.

Furthermore, I viewed the party's nomination contest as a two-way race between its "right/conservative" faction (Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root) and its "left/libertarian" faction (Steve Kubby, Mary Ruwart and Mike Gravel) in which no significant "movement to the center" -- i.e., Phillies or Mike Jingozian -- was either likely or desirable.

So, for both ideological and tactical reasons, I just couldn't support George.

However, his presidential campaign was confirmatory evidence of the wisdom of supporting him for chair, as I did in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006, and as I do this year.

From a technical standpoint, George ran the best of the 2008 pre-nomination presidential campaigns -- and I say that as the manager of one of his opponents.

He produced and distributed real campaign literature.

He produced and aired well-made radio campaign ads. He produced television ads for airing in the general election campaign if he was nominated -- and not just for himself, but for other candidates to insert their own "paid for by" blurbs in, free of charge. He pushed those video ads over the Internet, and also served up nearly 3.6 million text ads through Google.

He conducted an active and well-crafted internal campaign of delegate contact, appearances at state conventions, etc.

With the New Hampshire Libertarian Party's nomination in hand, he did the work to get his name on the ballot.

George is a can-do kind of guy.

Throughout the entire time that I've known him -- more than a decade now -- he's been a doer, not just a talker.

When he concluded that the LP suffered from systemic problems in the manner in which it is organized, he didn't just complain. He conceived and fully explained (in Stand Up for Liberty) an alternative organizational strategy and went to work to implement it.

When he felt that the national LP was doing a poor job on ballot access, he didn't just complain. He founded a real PAC (Freedom Ballot Access) which raised and spent real money to put real third party candidates on real ballots (disclosure: I sit on the board of Freedom Ballot Access).

He's also been a mentor to numerous Libertarians, encouraging them to become involved in party work and helping them to do successful nuts and bolts politics.

I was one of those young Libertarians in 2000, when I worked with him on Don Gorman's presidential campaign and on his own first campaign for chair, and ran for LNC as part of his local-organization-oriented "Clean Slate."

I remain grateful to George for everything that I learned from him back then, and have learned from him since. I welcome the opportunity to work with him to this very day, and was thrilled to be able to assist in some voter database work for Joe Kennedy's US Senate campaign under his supervision in late 2009 and early 2010.

Finally, George is a partisan Libertarian who understands that the Libertarian Party is, and should be, "a libertarian political entity separate and distinct from all other political parties or movements."

This is something which should be a hard line that no candidate for chair dare cross. Instead, it's become a "gray zone" in which one of his opponents actively attempts to blur the distinction between libertarianism and conservativism, while anothers comes to the race directly from an active role in the most recent Republican presidential primary contests.

I'll be the last person to tell you that George Phillies is perfect. I've had significant ideological, political and personal disagreements with him in the past, and I expect that I will in the future as well.

For the office of chair, however, I'm looking for a candidate who will exercise fiscal and managerial prudence, address and mend the party's structural/organizational flaws, and put our party's feet on a path to success through practical politics and positive public engagement.

That man is George Phillies. I hope you'll join me in supporting his candidacy.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Two clues

In "Knight Fall," Wilson's ex-wife comes back into his life ... and ... wait a minute ... hey, that's Libby!

Then, in "Open and Shut,", we get the tell from House: "Namaste."

You heard it here first: The entire story arc of Lost is actually the story of one of House's elaborate screw jobs. He's trying to recruit Jack Shephard (who, like and possibly even with Wilson, attended Columbia University) as the newest member of Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital's rockstar diagnostic team.

Supporting Evidence:

- Richard Alpert is a financial backer of Princeton-Plainsboro. He has an obvious interest in stellar staffing there.

- Juliet Burke is a former patient who apparently gave up the cloistered life to become a doctor herself after her encounter with House. He must have hired her as a recruiter.

- Benjamin Linus has been sending patients to House since way back when.

"Wear a cup," indeed.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Note to the producers of Lost

Re: "The Candidate," 05/04/10

You bastards. Why'd you have to go and do something like that?

I'll give the show a few more weeks, but if things don't improve by the end of May, I'm taking it off my viewing schedule.