Saturday, January 31, 2015

That New Thing I Mentioned

In today's podcast, I kind of non-specifically teased a new project I've been mulling and messing around with for awhile. After I wrapped up the podcast (the recording of which curiously ends abruptly a few seconds before I stopped talking), I stopped mulling and messing around and got down to business. Web site. Facebook page. Twitter account. First piece of content. And here we go ...

Check out The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

Over there is where the action is. Over here is where I explain myself and maybe toot my own horn a little.

First, a little about the things I do and why I do them. Some of my projects blossom and survive, maybe even thrive. Rational Review News Digest is now in its 13th year of continuous publication and I went to work for its predecessor publication ... wow, about 19 years ago. I've been at the Center for a Stateless Society for awhile now (coming up on five years as media coordinator and I wrote there for awhile before that), although strictly speaking it isn't a "Tom Knapp project" (Brad Spangler and Roderick Long started it in 2004, I think). Other projects, well, I throw them at the wall, see if they stick, move on if they don't. Or if they require the cooperation of other people, I just let them hang there to see if anyone shows up to make things happen. For example, NOTA 2016 (jury's still out on that one, but it's looking better than you might think). I expect, and hope, that this one will be of the surviving/thriving/long-term variety because it's right in my wheelhouse. Which brings me to ...

My "skill set." I got my start in journalism 36 years ago writing club notices for my small town's local newspaper and it kind of went from there. Starting in the early 1990s, I became a fairly prolific author of letters to editors and op-eds. I promised myself I'd stop counting when my 100th such piece got published and I did. I know the total was around 150 when I self-published Writing the Libertarian Op-Ed in 2002. I'm still not keeping a careful count, but my reasonably well-educated guess is that to date my op-eds have been published in newspapers and other "mainstream media" outlets more than 500 times. And I also help the other writers at C4SS get their work published.

The upshot: I'm probably at least as well-equipped for the job as most people operating and working in libertarian op-ed shops and more so than most. Call that vanity if you want, but I think that I can make The Garrison Center go.

No, I'm not leaving any of my other jobs, duties or projects to do this, at least for now. I plan to die at my desk getting RRND ready one morning. C4SS has first mortgage on my time (and on any of my writing that fits their specific content needs). But readers of this blog know that I like to noodle around with policy pieces and other things that don't scream "left market anarchism." Might as well put that stuff in harness.

The Garrison Center is not an "organization," really. At least not yet. It's me, the mission and hopefully some other writers as time goes on. The Center neither seeks nor accepts donations. I do. See the sidebar for Patreon, PayPal and cryptocurrency options, and thanks in advance.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 01/31/15

Brought to you by:

In this episode: AMA answers on professional wrestling, my reading/writing influences, my historical interests, where I'd like to eat, and Nietzsche. Also, muh $$$.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

When I Get Tired of Complaining, I Usually Stop for Awhile

When Lindsey Graham gets tired of complaining, he decides to travel around the country complaining for, oh, a year or so (my guess on the end point is "when he finds out he can't break 5% for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination even in the state that keeps sending him to the US Senate").

The GOP really ought to change its symbol to a little car with clowns spilling out of it.

Sheldon Richman Nails It, Ginormous Butthurt Ensues at Breitbart

Here and here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Brought to you by:

Yes, it's that time of week again already: "Ask Me Anything" for this week's episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast, to be recorded/released on Friday or Saturday. Just toss your question into the comments and I'll answer it in comments as well, or on the podcast, or both.

Waze and Meanies

Breaking out the world's smallest violin here:

Law enforcement is concerned that the popular Waze mobile traffic app by Google Inc., which provides real-time road conditions, can also be used to hunt and harm police.


Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck complained in a letter to Google's chief executive on Dec. 30 that Waze could be "misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community."

Hmmm ... anyone got a counter-argument handy? Hey, how about "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear?" I'm sure I've heard that one somewhere before.

It's Hard to Resist the Urge to Punch Down

I'm not going to pretend this kept me up all night or anything, but I guess it's worth addressing if for no other reason than that one of my readers took the time to call it to my attention.

In one of his typical diatribes -- this one on what I'm sure will in the future occasionally be recalled as "the Brad Spangler affair" and referring to a statement published by the victim in said matter -- Christopher Cantwell writes that he doesn't "for a second think it below [George] Donnelly or Knapp, much less any of the other liberal propagandists Spangler allied himself with, to fake such a thing."

My response:

First off, I see no need to spill a lot of ink defending George Donnelly. He's quite capable of defending himself, and has done so. All I really have to say about the role he's played in this round of movement theater is that he pretty much limited himself to condemning Brad Spangler's actions and urging people not to publicly identify the victim  at a time when she had not yet chosen to participate in the public discussion. As an ultra-thin libertarian, I don't consider that a matter of ideology, but of manners. Good ones in George's case, not so good on the part of some others, Cantwell included.

Secondly, no, I didn't fake up a public statement on behalf of the victim. You're free to believe that or not, but I know it beyond a shadow of doubt.

I personally believe the statement is genuine -- I saw it firsthand on the victim's Facebook page, because we are Facebook "friends," rather than learning of it at second hand -- but frankly can't say for certain (stranger things than Facebook accounts being hacked have happened). I haven't communicated with the victim since this shitstorm broke and don't intend to talk with her about it unless she communicates an urge to talk with me about it, which I don't expect to happen.

As to the content of the statement, I find it strange that Cantwell would even consider the possibility that it originated with me, given that I publicly denounced the same sort of identity politics rhetoric in the Center for a Stateless Society's statement on the matter and that I have a long record of opposing that kind of stuff. But really the only conclusion I can draw from his apparent lack of knowledge on the subject of little old me is that Cantwell doesn't pay little old me much attention. Which is fine.

Ultimately, in looking for anything accurate in Cantwell's post, the only thing I find credible in it is his admission that he doesn't, even for a second, think. Perhaps he should give it a try some time. But I advise his readers not to hold breath waiting for that to happen.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Social Sidebar Update

I was skeptical of "Tsu" -- a social network with a business plan that ran to paying its members from ad revenues when they shared content -- but ran it in the social sidebar at KN@PPSTER for a bit. Sorry, it's just ... meh. And it's outta there.

I've replaced it with a real social network that's actually libertarian -- That is NOT an "affiliate link." I won't be collecting a commission if you join. I'm promoting it because I like it. It's a paid service but they've brought their price down to a pretty damn reasonable $5 a month and I highly recommend it.

I'd call the libertarian version of Facebook, but it's actually more than that. In addition to the usual social network stuff (a profile, messaging/chat, etc.) you get your own Wordpress blog space and there are live events and so forth. And of course it's full of libertarians. But unlike a convention or whatever, when you get tired of a bunch of libertarians you can just open another browser tab instead of having to check out of your hotel and go somewhere else, if you know what I mean (and I think you do).

So There's a Difference Between Bush and Obama After All ...

One's wife kow-towed to Muslim sensibilities and covered her head in Saudi Arabia. And one's wife didn't.

Monday, January 26, 2015

"Intellectual Property" WTF ...

I'm a huge Tom Petty fan. I've never heard of Sam Smith. And frankly I'm embarrassed for Petty and Jeff Lynne that they would even try to pull this kind of thing and surprised that Smith would just roll over for it.

The piece says that Petty and Lynne "noticed a likeness" between Smith's "Stay With Me" and Petty/Lynne's "I Won't Back Down."

If there's a likeness, it must take the original songwriters to detect it. I guess if I strain really hard I can detect a very slight melodic resemblance in the chorus. But I do have to strain really hard. Otherwise, it's one really good song from circa 1990 and one completely unremarkable tune from ... well, some time recently, I guess. But just because it's completely unremarkable doesn't mean he owes royalties to the authors of a song it bears almost no discernible resemblance to even if the whole idea of "intellectual property" wasn't complete bullshit.

What do you think?

Camera One:

Camera Two:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 01/25/15

Brought to you by:

In this episode: Fifteen minutes of discussion of "The Brad Spangler Affair" by a guy who's had maybe eight hours of sleep in the last 60 hours. You won't enjoy this podcast, so feel free to not listen to it. Trigger warning: Non-graphic discussion of child molestation.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Freedom of Disassociation, Sort of Annotated

The Center for a Stateless Society just published its organizational statement on "the Brad Spangler affair" under the title Freedom of Disassociation: Regarding Brad Spangler. In the vein of that title, I'm republishing it here with the parts that I decline to support or to associate myself with noted. The parts I decline to support or associate myself with are printed with strike-thrus and annotated with italicized notes. The parts that are not so struck-thru and annotated, I endorse.

Freedom of Disassociation: Regarding Brad Spangler

At roughly 5 pm CST (January 22, 2015), Brad Spangler confessed in a Facebook post to the 2004 molestation of a child and expressed his intention to turn himself in to the police. He has not posted anything, nor, so far as we know, otherwise communicated — to the contrary, or for that matter at all — in the intervening time. No other evidence or circumstances have come to light to suggest that his confession was false, fake or coerced.

The Center For A Stateless Society (C4SS) finds his monstrous actions and the way in which he admitted them utterly abhorrent and completely counter to the values C4SS stands for.

There is absolutely no avoiding the elephant in the room: Spangler co-founded C4SS. He was a key builder of its infrastructure. But he has not been a part of C4SS for a long time, either publicly or behind the scenes. His biography on the website erroneously listed him as a Senior Fellow until yesterday; that description should have been changed long ago simply for accuracy’s sake. Due to this oversight, C4SS is working on approving a proposal for identifying and removing associates who have “abandoned” C4SS due to lack of communication or participation.

C4SS has changed substantially over the years as we’ve grown and Spangler does not represent us. Rather than continue to host the writing of a child molester and to make clear our strenuous disassociation we’ve removed his historical posts from our site. At the same time we do not mean to disingenuously “memoryhole” Spangler’s unfortunate legacy and will be archiving his historical content on another site, the Spangler Pensieve.

Explanation of disassociation from the preceding: Brad Spangler was, indeed, a founder of the Center for a Stateless Society. The content he wrote in that role either had value or it didn't. If it did have value, it still does and should be kept published in situ where it has resided -- and been linked to externally from -- for years. If it doesn't have value, it never did and the Center itself, being in non-trivial measure built on that content, is a sham. This Solomon and the Baby attempt to memory-hole Brad Spangler while pretending not to do so should be embarrassing to those who advocated for it and succeeded in making it the Center's policy. I fought against that, but it is certainly embarrassing to me.

Spangler’s admission was a heavy blow to us, but whatever discomfort our organization experiences over the coming months is nothing in comparison to the pain the survivor of Spangler’s actions has suffered for a decade, nor the pain that survivor is surely being forced to relive as a result of his selfishness. The survivor deserves the chance to heal. We will respect the survivor’s space, and offer our assistance should it ever be needed or wanted. To further this end, C4SS will be donating $200 from our Entrepreneurial Anti-capitalism fund to generationFive. [G]enerationFive “works to interrupt and mend the intergenerational impact of child sexual abuse on individuals, families, and communities. It is our belief that meaningful community response is the key to effective prevention.”

Explanation of personal disassociation from the preceding: I don't have a problem with the donation as such. But at this time and in this context it strike me as a theatrical gesture along the same lines as those situations where a politician forwards money from embarrassing donors "to charity." Conspicuous alms-giving as a response to this situation is not something I'm down with.

Explanation of personal disassociation from the following: The Center for a Stateless Society is "left-libertarian" in orientation, but that covers a lot of ground. I am not among those who throw in with the postmodern / Critical Theory identity politics cancer that has infected right-deviationists from original leftism, also known as "libertarianism." Nor do I find it seemly to treat this sad occasion as an opportunity for the melodramatic burnishing of red rhetoric credentials.

Time and again heterosexual men in radical movements have been allowed to assert their privilege and subordinate others. Despite all that we say to the contrary, the fact is that radical social movements and organizations in the United States have refused to seriously address gender violence [1] as a threat to the survival of our struggles. We’ve treated misogyny, homophobia, and heterosexism as lesser evils—secondary issues—that will eventually take care of themselves or fade into the background once the “real” issues—racism, the police, class inequality, U.S. wars of aggression—are resolved. There are serious consequences for choosing ignorance. Misogyny and homophobia are central to the reproduction of violence in radical activist communities. Scratch a misogynist and you’ll find a homophobe. Scratch a little deeper and you might find the makings of a future informant (or someone who just destabilizes movements like informants do). …
As angry as gender violence on the Left makes me, I am hopeful. I believe we have the capacity to change and create more justice in our movements. We don’t have to start witch hunts to reveal misogynists and informants. They out themselves every time they refuse to apologize, take ownership of their actions, start conflicts and refuse to work them out through consensus, mistreat their compaƱer@s. We don’t have to look for them, but when we are presented with their destructive behaviors we have to hold them accountable. Our strategies don’t have to be punitive; people are entitled to their mistakes. But we should expect that people will own those actions and not allow them to become a pattern.
We have a right to be angry when the communities we build that are supposed to be the model for a better, more just world harbor the same kinds of antiqueer, antiwoman, racist violence that pervades society. As radical organizers we must hold each other accountable and not enable misogynists to assert so much power in these spaces. Not allow them to be the faces, voices, and leaders of these movements. Not allow them to rape a compaƱera and then be on the fucking five o’ clock news. […] By not allowing misogyny to take root in our communities and movements, we not only protect ourselves from the efforts of the state to destroy our work but also create stronger movements that cannot be destroyed from within.
[1] I use the term gender violence to refer to the ways in which homophobia and misogyny are rooted in heteronormative understandings of gender identity and gender roles. Heterosexism not only polices non-normative sexualities but also reproduces normative gender roles and identities that reinforce the logic of patriarchy and male privilege.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Overnight Thoughts on a FUBAR Situation

There's a short message at the Center for a Stateless Society on this subject, and the Center will certainly elaborate on that message as the facts emerge. In this post, here at KN@PPSTER, I am not speaking for the Center in any way, shape, manner or form. I am the sole author of this post and am speaking on no one else's behalf. Just so we're clear.

So, the nutshell version: In a post on Facebook yesterday evening, my long-time friend and comrade Brad Spangler appeared to confess to having sexually molested a young relative a decade ago.

Further thoughts:

  • I say "appeared" because I do not and cannot know, at this point, whether or not Brad actually authored that post. I certainly hope that his Facebook account was hacked and that this is all just one really bad, really sick joke.
  • Since I've seen nothing since the post to corroborate its content -- for example, a media report of his surrender to police, which was mentioned in the post as being Brad's next step, or a response from anyone even claiming, let alone plausibly claiming, to have personal knowledge of the claims in the post -- I'm going to hold on to that hope for the moment.
  • Naturally, my counsel/position of "wait and see, this may not be what it seems" as opposed to "throw the bastard under the bus, NOW!" elicited reactions from some quarters along the lines of "you rotten son of a bitch, I bet you're a pedophile yourself and I am going to give your name to the police." For the record, I have never molested a child, nor would I ever dream of defending such actions. I suspect the people making such threats are typical keyboard war heroes who are too lazy to actually research my name, location, etc. and make a phone call to file a false report, but if it happens, consider yourself forewarned that that is what is happening.
  • Insofar as the confession itself is concerned, if it is real and true, then yes, of course I condemn his actions. That's wrong and evil. The victim necessarily enjoys first mortgage on my sympathy and assistance. Any sympathy I might muster up for the perpetrator, e.g. "mental illness" considerations or whatever, has to come in a distant second.
So, it's coming up on four in the morning. I've been tussling with this subject all night, both in conversation with others and in solitary thought. To those who "think" I should just abandon a friend the instant I see some words on a screen, without further investigation and without waiting to ensure that I have the whole story (or as much as possible, anyway), well, that thing you're doing isn't "thinking." It's emoting. Which is fine in its own way, but don't mistake the one for the other.

Addendum, approximately 12pm Eastern Time, January 23: I've known Brad for close to 20 years. I've talked with a number of people over the last 12 hours who also know him, some for longer, and some better. I started this process hoping that it was indeed some kind of malicious hack and slander thing. At this point I am past a tipping point and I sincerely believe that Brad authored the post and that the confession in it is true. I still hope I'm wrong -- and make no mistake, I strongly condemn the actions described in the post -- but that's my opinion.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Late, Late, for a Very Important Da ... er, AMA Thread

Sorry, y'all. I completely forgot to post the weekly AMA thread noonish yesterday. If you have any questions for this week's podcast (to be recorded/released Friday or Saturday), please post them in comments and I will answer them in comments, or on the podcast, or both.

And of course, we mustn't forget our sponsor, Darryl W Perry:

Man Bites Dog!

Or something like that.

Sen. John McCain is proposing an amendment that could have a tremendous impact on the First Coast's multi-million dollar shipbuilding and repair industry that employs 10,000 here.

McCain is trying to attach his amendment, which would do away with the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 also known as the Jones Act, to the Senate's bill to permit the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Jones Act dictates that all ships operating within the U.S. and between U.S. ports be American built, owned and operated.

Of course the main bill is bad (it's a giant corporate welfare boondoggle enabled by land theft through "eminent domain"), but the amendment would repeal another, nearly century-old, corporate welfare boondoggle that costs American consumers bazillions of dollars in order to prop up the profit margins of its beneficiaries.

John McCain opposing corporate welfare for the military-industrial complex? What's next? Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies? Rivers and seas boiling? Forty years of darkness? Earthquakes, volcanoes ... The dead rising from the grave? Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together ... mass hysteria?

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Word of the month: "Coward."

Earlier this month, US president Barack Obama condemned the attacks on Charlie Hebdo's offices as "cowardly."

Earlier this week, filmmaker Michael Moore, responding to the film American Sniper, similarly condemned snipers in a tweet:

I don't often quote comedian Bill Maher approvingly, but let me take you back to the days of yesteryear -- just after 9/11, when Maher responded to the silly claim that the hijackers were "cowards":

We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly.

"Cowardice" is not a term which describes the good or evil of a particular action. It is a term which describes the absence of physical or moral courage.

The Charlie Hebdo attackers could not have expected anything but that they would be hunted down like dogs and killed (or, at best, caged) after their attack and did it anyway. They did it because they believed in something -- and whether or not what they believed in is evil is irrelevant to whether or not they were courageous or cowardly. Whatever else one might say about them, "cowards" is just not an applicable descriptor. By definition, believing in something strongly enough to give up your life for it is the opposite of cowardice.

Chris Kyle crawled into "enemy territory" with one comrade, carrying a bolt-action rifle. Yes, Iraq was dangerous for every invading/occupying American troop, but in most cases the danger was pseudo-random (you might or might not happen to be in a vehicle that hit a mine, etc.). In Kyle's case that danger was very particular to him personally. Whatever else one might say about him, "coward" just doesn't work on the level of physical courage.

Nor does "moral cowardice" work there. One does not become a US military sniper (or a Navy SEAL) by accident. It's not that he was chosen for the job and was too scared or felt too much peer pressure to say "no." He voluntarily joined the Navy and then he actively worked his way through the most rigorous training and selection process in the Navy (SEAL training is one of the few Navy schools you're allowed to just drop out of) to get one of the most dangerous jobs it had to offer.

I haven't seen the movie (I will later, I'm sure). I've heard conflicting opinions on it. But right up front, the "cowardice" accusation just plain doesn't work.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm Shocked ... Shocked! ...

... that new Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones thinks the answer to her department's problems is "more money."

Glancing at DOC's budgets since 2009, yes, there's been a slight drawdown. But that drawdown doesn't just include dollars, it includes inmate numbers. And if you look at the expenditures, they've gone down in every category ... except "administration." That number keeps creeping up.

I'm not too terribly inclined to sympathize with a bureaucrat who gets to spend more than $2 billion per year in an enterprise fielding 20,000 employees when she says she needs more money to keep 90,000 people in cages. How about getting all those numbers down? Preferably to zero?

Hat tip -- Sayfie Review.

My Response to #sotu

Uh, yeah ... well, it's like this: Spike TV was showing re-runs of Bar Rescue, so I watched that instead. Sure, they were re-runs, but so was the speech, and these re-runs were interesting.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Some Conspiracy Theory For Ya ...

Earlier this week, one person died and a number were hospitalized after an "electrical malfunction" filled a DC Metro train with smoke.

This morning, BBC reports that the Channel Tunnel is closed after a "lorry fire" filled one of its bores with smoke.

If I was the kind of person keeping an eye out for Islamist attacks and suspecting that governments might cover up such attacks to prevent panic, I think I might take notice of these two similar incidents occurring so closely in time to each other.

Just sayin'.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 11/17/15

Brought to you by Darryl W Perry:

In this episode: Uncle Sam Wants You ... Do You Want Him?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wednesday AMA Thread

This AMA thread (and the podcast to follow) is brought to you by Darryl W Perry:

You know the drill -- "ask me anything" in the comment section of this post and I'll do my best to answer in the thread, on the podcast, or both.

A Delayed Response to MK Lords

[Note: If you're one of my Patreon supporters, you saw this post yesterday; if you're not, you didn't -- KN@PPSTER]

On Christmas Eve 2014, MK Lords posted an article on Attack The System titled "Libertarian Welfare Queens."

My reaction to that article was immediate and visceral and I intended to respond to it immediately. In fact, I began writing my response within minutes of reading the piece. But a few sentences into the response, I decided I should wait a couple of weeks and think carefully before addressing the topic. Three weeks later, I'm ready to take on Lords's argument.

Lords's definition of a "libertarian welfare queen" is "a prominent libertarian who lives off the donations of other libertarians but produces content that is factually incorrect, manipulative, embarrassing, threatening, and oftentimes ineffective or counterproductive."

Lords offers three exemplars of libertarian welfare queendom: Stefan Molyneux, Christopher Cantwell and Adam Kokesh, and I'd like to preface my remarks on the whole topic with two disclaimers:

1) I neither personally know, nor have I ever (to the best of my recollection) directly financially contributed to, any of these three individuals; and

2) Based on what I know of these three individuals, my opinion of Molyneux is negative, while my opinions of Cantwell and Kokesh are mixed.

To summarize the import of those two disclaimers, I don't believe I have any kind of personal vested interest in defending them, or conflict of interest causing me to defend them.

My visceral reaction to Lords's piece remains unchanged: I think "welfare queens" is a poorly chosen descriptor.

To the best of my knowledge, every dime received by Molyneux, Cantwell and Kokesh is given voluntarily by people who approve of what they've done or support what they claim to intend to do. I don't have to support any of the three people, or their work, myself to understand that in the marketplace of ideas, earning voluntary support from donors is as far as it gets from welfare queenism.

But of course "to the best of my knowledge" is an important distinction. I suppose it's possible that any or all of the three have engaged in fraud -- that is, that one, two or all of them have promised people X in return for Y and then, Y in hand, intentionally or negligently failed to return X. But I don't have any firsthand knowledge of such a thing, so I don't consider it especially relevant to Lords's piece.

That piece does imply fraud in a couple of places, but let's go back to the gravamen of Lords's complaint: Material that is "factually incorrect, manipulative, embarrassing, threatening, and oftentimes ineffective or counterproductive."

Six elements, the first of which is usually disputable and the remaining five of which are entirely or nearly entirely subjective. And all six seem to be very well-addressed by the market aspect of seeking donations for support.

If you don't believe the person making the claims, don't donate.

If you feel manipulated, embarrassed or threatened by the person asking you for money, don't fork over any.
If you view the approach or project of the donation solicitor as ineffective or counter-productive, put your checkbook back in your pocket.

It's really just that simple. And in fact, in at least one case -- Christopher Cantwell's -- it's even simpler than that, because it's not really "donations" he's seeking.

I'm not singling out Cantwell here because I think, believe or know that he's somehow "better" than the other two people mentioned in Lords's article. I'm singling him out because I've paid more attention to him than to the others, at least lately, so I have a better idea of what he's up to.

Cantwell creates content (blog posts, podcasts, etc.) and attempts to make money by selling advertising and by accepting after the fact payment from those who appreciate the content.

This is the model we've followed at Rational Review News Digest for more than 12 years now. We produce a daily newsletter. We give it away "free." We ask our readers to pay us what they think it's worth.

I'm not going to claim that that business model has been a smashing success. I can't even say that I know whether it would have been more or less lucrative to charge some set amount up front. But I can say that saying "here's X, give us whatever $Y it's worth to you" is simply not "welfare queen" approach in any meaningful sense of the term.

It also happens to be the model that almost every non-state political/ideological/philosophical institution runs on, from the smallest libertarian project (like, for example, my personal blog, which knocks down a few bucks a month) to the largest (like, for example, the Cato Institute, which operates on a multi-million dollar annual budget generated by solicited donations) and everything in between (small-budget think tanks/media centers like the Center for a Stateless Society, medium-budget media sites like, etc.).

So far as I can tell, in MK Lords's perfect world everyone who creates libertarian content, does libertarian activism, etc. would do so in spare time after working some other kind of job, and shower that content, activism, etc. on her as a gift. Which sounds a lot more like welfare queenism to me than do the activities of those she's criticizing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I am Frosty Hebdo!

Per Reuters:

A prominent Saudi Arabian cleric has whipped up controversy by issuing a religious ruling forbidding the building of snowmen, described them as anti-Islamic.

Asked on a religious website if it was permissible for fathers to build snowmen for their children after a snowstorm in the country's north, Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid replied: "It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun."

Note to Sheikh Mohammed: Go eat a bag of dicks.

Chromecast: OK, Now It's a Review, Sort of

About a month and a half ago, I bought a Google Chromecast and then found out that my particular router didn't play well with it. So I put it away, expecting to pick up a new router in the spring or summer. If I hadto shell out more money to use it anyway, I figured I might as well go the whole nine yards and get a "rangemax" (is that trademarked?) router with dual wi-fi capabilities, which looked like it would set me back $150 or so. Save my pennies and all that.

Salvation Army thrift store to the rescue! I found a "longer range" D-Link router, newer than my existing router, still in the box with all its accessories, for four bucks. It's not dual wi-fi. But four bucks. Worth a try.

A certain amount of setup and jiggery-pokery later, I have a new wireless network and a working Chromecast.

It's pretty cool. A number of popular web video sites (YouTube, Netflix and Crackle to name the three I've tried out) have built-in "cast" buttons. Start a video or movie, press "cast" and BAM -- it's on the big screen. And if I want to "cast" something that doesn't have the built-in button, I can just tell the "Cast" app I installed in Chrome to send whatever's running in the tab I have open to the TV.

Not much more to review -- yet. Right now I "cast" from my Chromebox, which entails certain inconveniences. If I want to pause a movie I have to run to my computer instead of just using the remote, that kind of thing. But I understand that I can use an Android device both to "cast" and have it right there on the couch with me to use as a remote (including an overall remote for the TV if my TV has the right hardware, which it may). So I'll check that out at some point. Or maybe I'll just keep the Chromebook in the living room and use it for that ... but I doubt it. The Chromebook is for travel, not for everyday use.

So anyway, for $25 (I got the Chromecast on sale $10 off), the device is a definite deal. For several years, when Tamara and I want to watch something on Netflix or whatever, it's a question of whether or not one of the kids has a compatible game console hooked up to the TV. And usually they don't (they keep their consoles in their rooms, hooked up to their TVs) and it's a big old pain in the ass to drag one out to the living room, hook it up, etc. So now the Chromecast just stays plugged into one of the TV's HDMI ports and we're good to go without a bunch of messing around.

If you watch video on your computer and would prefer to watch the same video on your television, it's $25-$35 well spent.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Phone Number Pollution ...

[Note: If you're one of my Patreon supporters, you saw this post yesterday; if you're not, you didn't -- KN@PPSTER]

Is it worse now than it used to be?

A few months ago, I bought a new cell phone. I'd gone without one for a year or so (I dislike phones as communications devices in general and a land line seemed like the most I needed), but once I started bicycling a lot it made sense to have one for emergencies, quick comms from the road, etc.

The calls and texts started almost immediately.

Text spam and telemarketing calls, of course (I don't like government programs of any type, but I did go ahead and register my number with the Federal Trade Commission's "do not call" list), but also personal texts presumably intended for a previous owner of my number that required replies along the lines of "I'm not who you think I am" (a couple of the incoming texts seemed to be of an amorous nature; I refrained from playing along).

And then there were the legal/debt collections calls, for no fewer than three different individuals who apparently had the number before I did. Those seem to have wrapped up now, following some conversations ranging from "cordial" to "pretty nasty" (see my brief tutorial on phone etiquette for collection agencies, from way back in 2005).

Since I use the phone only for emergency calls or for quick calls from the road ("I'll be home in about half an hour, do I need to pick up anything at the store as I bike by?"), I go with the absolute bare minimum plan. I use a cheap Tracfone flip phone with "lifetime double minutes," so I spend $20 every 90 days and get 120 minutes.

All of this stuff really eats up my cell phone minutes. Half a minute per text received, plus however much time is consumed taking voice calls or checking voice messages. I'm buying 120 minutes every three months, and So far I've been using about half those minutes on calls and texts that aren't for me (fortunately my REAL calls/texts generally run along the lines of 5-10 minutes per month).

It doesn't feel like it used to be this way. Not on land lines, not on previous cell phones. I'm not saying I never got telemarketing calls or "so and so's old number that he had when he maxed out his Visa and then stopped paying" calls. But they used to be rare. And I still get occasional calls for a previous holder of my land line number too, even though I've had that number for two years.

Are numbers getting recycled at a much faster rate these days?

Are people with debt/credit problems intentionally and specifically using pay-as-you-go cell phone plans so that they can ditch their numbers when the bill collectors start calling (and leave others with the annoyance)?

What's your experience in this area?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Some More Thoughts on "Free" Community College

It should go without saying -- but of course it can never go without saying -- that I oppose any and all government involvement in education.

That said, I do find US president Barack Obama's "free" community college proposal interesting and I suspect that if the state is going to heavily subsidize college educations, this may actually end up being a money-saver.

I thought I'd do some cost comparisons, but the numbers are hard to find (it took me about 15 minutes just to find a raw annual state funding number for the University of Florida) and even harder to do the possible cost-saving math on (because not all of that funding actually has to do with educating or otherwise subsidizing students per se, and then there would need to be a breakdown of the subsidies by year -- e.g. a graduate student in physics is probably more subsidized than a freshman student in English literature). But here's my very, very rough analysis of it as policy:

- Last time I checked, which was 20 years or so ago and only relating to one university (Southwest Missouri State University), if a student showed up to SMSU with no student loans, no government financial aid, no scholarships, etc. -- that is, if the student paid all the demanded tuition and fees entirely out of pocket -- the state of Missouri was still subsidizing that student's education to the tune of 2/3 of total cost.

- State universities are huge money pits. They aren't just buildings with classrooms and teachers. They're small cities. They have their own power plants. They have their own streets. They have their own police departments. They have their own hospitals, or at least clinics. They house most of their students in dorms. They feed most of their students at cafeterias. Any given faculty member is likely to spend at least some time doing research and such rather than only teaching. They have sports programs (some of the most successful ones, in men's football and basketball in particular, may make rather than lose money for the school, but probably not most of them).

- Community colleges don't require nearly as much infrastructure. They don't house their students. They don't feed their students. Their teachers teach full-time rather than splitting their salaried hours between teaching and research. They may have a security guard or three but for the most part their police service is the local police department. The electricity, etc. they buy may be more expensive per kilowatt hour than generating themselves, but they don't have the costs of power plant construction and maintenance to worry about. They have some parking lots to maintain, but not an extensive internal street system.

So when you look at state/taxpayer subsidies to education, it may actually be cheaper to tell a student "if you go to community college and maintain a 2.5 GPA, you don't have to pay anything" than to tell a student "come to this public university and shell out big bucks -- but not nearly big enough bucks to even come close to covering what we're spending."

Then again, it may be a wash. It's vanishingly unlikely that state university budgets will capture 100% of any overall cost savings. Their power plants may not have to burn as much coal, but they'll still be staffed. Their streets may not be as heavily trafficked, but there will be a base cost of maintenance. They may not maintain their faculty sizes, but university staffing won't go down in direct proportion to the decreases in student body size. And so on and so forth.

I suspect that there will be more Republican buy-in to this than you might expect. A long time ago, my late ex-father-in-law told me (I never checked) that Ronald Reagan, as governor of California, proposed something that sounds a lot like this. The model state Obama rolled his plan out in is Tennessee, where Republican governor Bill Haslam oversaw something similar.

My guess is that Obama's proposal will result in something that looks like what he proposed. It may take a couple of years (while the two parties' politicians jockey for position on taking credit for it, etc.), but if I had to bet, I'd bet that by 2020, community college will be "free."

I doubt that anyone has to wonder why I keep putting scare quotes around "free," but just in case: There ain't no such thing as a free education. Someone has to pay for it. What Obama is proposing is a 100% taxpayer subsidy. That's not "free." But you knew that already, didn't you?

Friday, January 09, 2015

Thursday, January 08, 2015

A Question for Those More Familiar Than I ...

... with nail salons.

When I went into Gainesville for lunch with friends today, I had a few minutes to kill before they arrived, so I walked down the strip mall in which the restaurant is located, looking into the shops.

One of the shops was a nail salon. On the wall was a board listing the prices of various services. Some of the services listed two prices. For example, "manicure, $23" in print and then, hand-written next to it, "men, $25."

Is this kind of open and blatant sex discrimination usual and normal in that particular service industry, or is it some kind of aberration peculiar to that shop?

Brrrrr ...

Not sure what the temperature was at noon today, but it got down to 26 degrees (Fahrenheit) overnight.

Riding the bicycle 6.x miles into Gainesville, it was colder than a well-digger's ass even wearing multiple layers of clothing (including a merino wool union suit). Riding back, though, it was pretty nice. I see it's 43 degrees right now, so I'm guessing it was in the low 30s earlier (it was overcast and windy; on the way back it was calm and sunny).

The 12.x mile round trip was for the purpose of meeting up with Eric Dondero and his lovely wife for lunch as they passed through Gville on their way back to Texas from visiting his parents down south. Great time -- hadn't seen Eric in several years.

Arthur Caplan, the State of Connecticut and "Cassandra C" Have a Lot in Common ...

All three want to run her life.

Je ne suis pas Charlie

"Je suis Charlie" -- "I am Charlie" -- is the phrase of the day, uttered by (if the media coverage is any indication) millions in solidarity with French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

I'm not going to join that phrasing, because to me it's not really about what we should be for, but rather what we should be against.

To put it a different way, I don't have to like Charlie Hebdo's content to be against the idea that it's OK to go around killing people you disagree with or whose writings or drawings offend you.

I've never read Charlie Hebdo and have only a vague idea of what kind of content is published in it. I know they've published content that's "offensive to Muslims." I also read that they've published content that's "offensive to Catholics."

I'm neither Muslim nor Catholic, but for all I know Charlie Hebdo has published content that, if I read it, would be offensive to me. It's very possible that if I read the publication I wouldn't like it. I might even actively dislike it.

But there is no "right to not be offended." And there's certainly no right to murder people who offend me.

I find the whole idea particularly weird when it comes to "Abrahamic" religions, especially Islam. You claim to have an omnipotent, omniscient deity who created everything and rules in all matters ... but he can't tend to business without you and your AK-47? He's so weak and disabled that he needs a caliphate or an al Qaeda cell to get the job done?

If you think so little of your deity, you really have no business accusing others of blasphemy for drawing "disrespectful" cartoons of his prophet. You're already far more disrespectful of said deity and prophet than a Charlie Hebdo writer or cartoonist ever dreamed of being.

Ditto Bill Donohoe and the Catholic League as linked above. His church, when it enjoyed sufficient temporal power to do so, lustily murdered any and all who "offended" it by daring to say or believe anything not approved of by its officials.

I'm not Charlie. I don't harbor any ambition to be Charlie. But I'll side with Charlie every time versus those who think their status as "the offended" entitles them to suppress "the offenders."

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Wednesday AMA Thread

Well, back to the ol' grind -- I wasn't exactly on a break, it's just that there were a few days where KN@PPSTER had to take the back seat to some other writing that needed to get done. So, time to kick off the new year with an AMA thread for the podcast. Which, of course, will be brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

I'll record/release the podcast some time Friday, probably. Start asking in 3, 2, 1 ...

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Another New Year Resolution

A sort of golden age is coming to an end at the Center for a Stateless Society.

In the "old days," those of us who work with C4SS were paid according to a fee schedule that was pro-rated to match revenues. For example, if the work someone did was, per the fee schedule, worth $100, but the Center only took in 60% of the amount necessary to pay everyone, the $100 writer received $60. Nothing wrong with that: We all knew up front that that was how things worked.

Then came a substantial Bitcoin donation that changed everything (you can read about it on this blog and elsewhere; by way of minimal description, a gentleman who had treated us wrongly -- with threatened litigation and that sort of thing -- had a sudden change of heart and decided to support us in a big way instead). For quite some time now, everyone working at C4SS has received his or her pay "in full." Nothing wrong with that, either.

But that substantial and much-appreciated donation has, over time, been drawn down because subsequent revenues have not kept up with expenses. And for the third time, nothing wrong with that per se ... but naturally we'd rather not go back to the lower pay.

So, here's the thing. If you're a regular reader here at KN@PPSTER, you've noticed the Patreon button in the sidebar and perhaps read some notes I've made on it in blog posts. One of my goals with Patreon is to let supporters, um, SUPPORT my work. Another is to give supporters who support both the Center and myself maximize the effect of their contributions. It works like this:

Every time I hit a $100 per month mark on Patreon, I'll cut my own pay somewhere else (starting with the Center) by $50*. So a $100 Patreon donation to me is really a $150 donation -- $100 to me, $50 to the Center.

I'd like to hit that first $100 per month mark in January. Right now I'm at $7 per month. So there's quite a bit of distance to cover.

As a side note, at the $50 per month mark, I will randomly select a Patreon supporter to receive a print copy of KN@PPSTER's Big Freakin' Book of Stuff.

On your marks, get set, go support me at Patreon!

* I've already cut my own pay at the Center over time by, if my math is right, about 22%. I try not to be too greedy. But I'd like to cut it even more so that we can pay more people -- op-ed writers, interns, etc. -- to do more stuff.