Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Idiot Pol Alert

I am not an expert on kratom. I've tried it twice. I decided to try it after reading a testimonial that it produced multi-day pain relief (this was when I still had a problem with chronic back pain). The first time, it produced a short-lived and not especially wild ... well, glow. No hallucinations or anything like that. I did notice that my back stopped hurting for more than a full day. The second time I tried a different brand/concoction and didn't notice any effect at all.

I don't know that kratom is harmless, but from what I've read it's at least not particularly harmful to very many people. A few chronic users may experience some effects that aren't as bad as the effects of chronic alcohol or tobacco use.

Florida state representative Kristin Jacobs wants to ban kratom.

I have a better idea. Why don't Broward County voters ban state representative Kristin Jacobs at their next opportunity?


Per Wikipedia:

–30– has been traditionally used by journalists to indicate the end of a story. It is commonly found at the end of a press release. There are many theories about how the usage came into being, e.g. from that number's use in the 92 Code of telegraphic shorthand to signify the end of a transmission in the American Civil War era. In another theory, the "-30-" originated when stories were written in longhand; X marked the end of a sentence, XX the end of a paragraph, and XXX meant the end of a story. (The Roman numerals XXX equate to 30.)
I have two reasons to use -30- today:

[Update, 10:42pm: Make that 31 pickups -- one for every day in March! The Batesville, Arkansas Daily Guard just ran "Don't Look Ethel! (Really -- Just Don't Look)." That link is to the Garrison Center version -- the pickup is here, but it's behind a paywall]

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 03/28/15

Brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks for Asking! (David Boaz on China, comic strip preferences, and Wendy McElroy's "open letters");
  • Wrapping up as media coordinator at C4SS;
  • What's up at the Garrison Center.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Movie Recommendation

Radio Free Albemuth had me at "based on the novel by Philip K. Dick."

The critics didn't care much for it (36% critic approval v. 47% audience score at Rotten Tomatoes; critic score of 35 at Metacritic). Total box office of less than $10k, about half of that on its opening weekend on 10 screens, after an IMDB-estimated production budget of $3.6 million.

But I like it.

The word "verisimilitude" refers to "the appearance of truth; the quality of seeming to be true."

I operate on a similar concept with respect to screen adaptations of stories by Philip K. Dick. "PhilipKDickitude" refers to "the appearance of actually trying to tell the story the way Philip K. Dick was trying to tell it when he wrote it; the quality of an actual Philip K. Dick story on screen, not just a formulaic blockbuster hopeful that riffs on a few elements of said story."

Nothing against the blockbuster type movies, mind you. I enjoyed Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) and Minority ReportPaycheck and Adjustment Bureau (based on "Adjustment Team") were okay as well; the two adaptations of "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale" -- rebranded as Total Recall -- well, meh.

But my two favorite Philip K. Dick adaptations so far are this one and A Scanner Darkly.

No spoilers for those of you who haven't read the novel or seen the film yet. Cool casting, though. Alanis Morissette plays Sadassa Silvia. Scott Wilson (too many roles to go into, but young'uns will recognize him as Virgil Herschel from The Walking Dead) is President Ferris F. Fremont). Some other faces you may recognize.

Radio Free Albemuth is available on Netflix. Probably other places too, but Netflix is where I noticed it.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thanks For Asking! (AMA Thread for March 28 Podcast)

Well, it was supposed to go up on Wednesday, but it's only been Thursday for an hour or so. As usual, this week's Thanks For Asking! and the Saturday KN@PP Stir Podcast are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

Ask me anything -- yes, anything -- in the comments form below this post. I'll answer you there, or on the podcast, or both. Easy, Peasy, [ethnically insensitive term deleted].

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Well, so Much for Sitemeter

I started blogging here at KN@PPSTER in 2004, and I think I installed Sitemeter shortly thereafter (within weeks, I'm guessing). It's about to go away. More on why below, after the sentimental crap.

Between then and July 28, 2008, I racked up -- according to Sitemeter -- 559,104 visits to the site and some unknown number of page views. I know the visit number because when I switched Sitemeter accounts (the first one was linked to an ISP email address that went away, I forgot the password, etc.) I punched that number in as the starting point for the new Sitemeter account and it still mentions that at the bottom of the summary page.

Since then, Sitemeter says KN@PPSTER has climbed to a total of 906,317 visits, with about 1.15 million page views since the changeover. I was kind of looking forward to ticking over the 1 million visit mark, but it's not nearly as important to me lately. A million visits is cool but it's not like an earth-shattering number for web traffic or anything.

So anyway, I've actually made a habit of putting Sitemeter on sites I run. It's not necessarily better than e.g. Google Analytics or the stats that Wordpress has started offering lately, but it is a pretty quick and easy way to see where the last 100 hits came from and that sort of thing.

But lately I've been noticing that some of my sites are loading slowly, that after they've loaded they tend to start  "churning" again seemingly at random, with strange "connecting to" statuses regarding sites I've never heard of. In particular, x.vindicosuite.com slash yadayadayada. And sometimes I'll get a blank page with a "couldn't load" message and a vindicosuite.com URL before the page fully loads.

I was starting to worry that I had some new kind of ChromeOS malware or something going, or that it had to do with the ad broker I use to monetize some of my sites, but after a bit on the search engines, I came across this blog post by Jim McBee. And I immediately realized and quickly verified that yep, this stuff seems to be happening to me on my sites (and other people's sites) that run Sitemeter, and to not be happening on sites that don't have visible Sitemeter installations in their sidebars or footers.

Nope. Nopenopenope. I'm done with Sitemeter. If it's not gone by the time you read this, it will be gone shortly thereafter. Maybe I'll replace it with some other visible counter, maybe I won't. I wouldn't mind being able to note and celebrate one million visits. But it's not that important.

Buh-bye, Sitemeter. Sorry it didn't work out.

Woke Up This Morning and I Got Myself a ...

... couple of newspaper pickups for the Garrison Center (one from yesterday in the Batesville, Arkansas Daily Guard and one this morning in the Florence, South Carolina News Journal).

That makes 20 so far in March (that I know of), including two international ones (the Dhaka, Bangladesh New Nation and the Jamaica Observer).

[Update, 8:40am: Make that four pickups found today for a total of 22 for the month so far -- sometimes it takes awhile for stuff to work its way into Google, and I just found Garrison pieces at the University of Indiana Daily Student and the Petersburg, Virginia Progress-Index!]

As I find such pickups, I index them at the bottom of each Garrison op-ed, so you can find them there if you're interested in the particulars.

Here are some of the recent op-eds, for your convenience. Sorry I keep forgetting to link them here as they come out:

The plan is still "three op-eds a week, on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday."

I'm starting to think about regularizing the topics (a "local story" kind of thing on Sunday, a "global interest" piece on Tuesday, and something US-wide and US-based on Thursday; or something like that).

Starting next month I may up the writing quota a bit, but if so it's more likely to involve submitting "exclusives" to larger newspapers than popping more stuff up on the site and sending it every paper in the country or world.

If you're interested in supporting outreach in the form of publication of libertarian op-eds in the "mainstream" media (and non-libertarian political media), see the right sidebar for donation options.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Remembered Dreamlet

I hardly ever remember my dreams, and when I do I generally only remember fragments. This one from the other night was interesting:

I'm showing Ursula K. Le Guin my chickens. No, that's not a euphemism. We're standing next to my chicken enclosure and admiring the Buff Cochin rooster and the little black Silkie hen. There are a bunch of feathers scattered around inside the enclosure, which must mean a raccoon has got to the Red Cochin hen.

So anyway, we're looking at the chickens, and I tell Le Guin that I really, really wish she would re-issue The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction or at least release one essay from that collection, "The Stalin in the Soul," as an e-book or something. And she smiles and shakes her head in the negative and says "everyone seems to want that essay lately; I have no idea why."

Usually my remembered dream fragments aren't overtly/coherently topical to something I've been thinking about, but this one is. The other day I was wishing I still had my old paperback copy of that book, specifically for that essay, because I can't remember its contents well at all but keep thinking it might have real bearing on current "safe spaces"/"political correctness"/free speech/identity politics issues.

I may have to spring for a new (to me) copy of The Language of the Night. I bought it when it first came out, but my copy is long gone (and worn to ribbons before I lost track of it anyway). It must be fairly popular or collectible -- used copies of it go for quite a bit more than the original cover price as I remember it, at a time when many used books sell for a few cents plus "shipping and handling."

Anyway, odd dream fragment. I can't recall that I've ever before dreamed of talking with an author before. And something about this dream that I can't quite put my finger on has the quality/feeling about it of Moh Kohn's virtual reality encounter with Trotsky in Ken MacLeod's The Star Fraction. Which is both weird and cool because I tend to bundle that novel (and the others in the "Fall Revolution Cycle") into the same category and rank as Le Guin's The Dispossessed when it comes to novels that have personally/politically influenced me in particular ways.

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Like Fingernails on a Chalkboard to Me ...

... so even though I know it will likely do no good whatsoever, I'm putting out the word:

A TENANT is "someone who pays rent to use land or a building or a car that is owned by someone else."

A TENET is "Any opinion, principle, dogma, belief, or doctrine, which a person holds or maintains as true."

Please don't use the former word when you mean the latter word.


Pretty please with sugar on top.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 03/21/15

Brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks for Asking! -- Q&A on Q&A (not a typo), religion and web site advertising;
  • Google v. Antiwar.com;
  • Maybe I should just be done with Google?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Google is Beginning to Really Piss Me Off

And I'm a big-time Google fanboy. I have two Chromeboxes and a Chromebook. KN@PPSTER runs on Google's blog hosting. I use and love Gmail. And as much as I try to diversify my search engine use, it's simple fact that when I need the best and most fine-grained results, Google delivers.

But Google AdSense is messing with Antiwar.com. And having been called out on it, instead of correcting themselves they've apparently decided to double down.

Their bottom line demand seems to be for Antiwar.com to takes the rough edges off its news coverage and prettify everything so that nobody finds war, war crimes and war atrocities "disturbing." Otherwise, Google AdSense will keep the site shut out of its advertising program.

First things first: Please donate to Antiwar.com. Yes, I know they just wrapped their quarterly fundraiser, but now they've had a major revenue stream cut off and it's going to take time to replace. If nothing else, if you can, please match the $5 donation I just made.

As for second things, nothing short of unconditional surrender by Google is acceptable.

Even assuming, as I think it's safe to, that Antiwar.com won't be going back to AdSense, this is just plain wrong and evil.

Do you think AdSense would pull this kind of shit on, say, CNN or Fox News (if those networks carry Google ads -- I haven't bothered to check)? Not a chance.

In fact, when it comes to gore and "disturbing" violence, nothing on Antiwar.com can hold a candle to the stuff that regularly appears on Google's very own, heavily ad-monetized, YouTube service.

I really, really, really hate to even contemplate what it will take me to get away from Google. But I am contemplating it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Looks Like Obama Has Finally Learned ...

... that appeasement doesn't work.

On the other hand, it appears that the National Republican Congressional Committee still hasn't filed its required disclosures under  the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Yet Another Reason I Need to Visit New Orleans

I miss Schlotzky's. I ate there once as a high schooler before their Springfield, Missouri location went out of business. Later, I often got similar sandwiches from the (now also defunct, I think) Mighty Melt/Melters, which was started by former employees of that Schlotzky's location.

When we moved to Gainesville, I was overjoyed to find a Schlotzky's in town -- just far enough away that I only went past it every month or so, because I had to eat there whenever I did. Then that location went out, supposedly with plans to relocate (some kind of lease issue with the location).

I sent a note to Schlotzky's yesterday, pleading for them to get a move-on with that there re-opening. Their (very friendly) reply: The franchisee has decided not to re-open. Huge bummer. Now the nearest Schlotzky's is 150 miles away in pretty much the only Florida town I'm not particularly interested in visiting (it's infested with politicians).

So, research time:

  1. Per Wikipedia, the original Schlotzky's sammich was based on the traditional New Orleans muffuletta.
  2. Could I get a muffuletta in Gainesville?
  3. Yes, I could!
  4. So I did.

A collage of Central Grocery's Muffaletta in N...
A collage of Central Grocery's Muffaletta in New Orleans, Louisiana. Contributed by Jason Perlow of OffTheBroiler.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Turns out that McAlister's Deli serves a "New Orleans Muffuletta -- Gambino's authentic muffuletta bread with olive oil, Black Forest ham, salami, Gambino's olive salad and provolone." And McAlister's just happens to be right on the way home from work for Tamara, so she stopped in to pick one up.

In for a penny, in for a pound -- I ordered a whole $12 muffuletta, advertised to feed up to four people. The way I saw it, either I could make several meals out of it or the other people in the house could have it for dinner as well. As it happens, Liam wasn't interested and Tamara only wanted a bite out of curiosity (she's gone "close to vegetarian" lately). So it was pretty much half for me and half for Daniel. And it made a bigger than necessary or advisable meal for both of us.

Tamara thought it was interesting, but didn't care for the olive salad on it.

Daniel thought it was great, but didn't care for the olive salad on it.

I thought it was pretty damn good, olive salad and all. As good as a Schlotzky's Original? I'm not sure. But pretty damn good.

But it was not really a muffuletta. A real muffuletta has mortadella sausage and mozzarella cheese in addition to the ingredients on the McAlister's sammich. And I want a real muffuletta. Which means I need to get to New Orleans and visit Central Grocery, where the muffuletta was invented.

A trip to the Big Easy just moved up another notch on my to-do list.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- Week of 3/15-3/21

This week's AMA (and this weekend's podcast) brought to you by Darryl W Perry:

Ask me anything in the comments. I'll answer in the comments, in the upcoming KN@PP Stir Podcast, or both. Only requirement: Try to make it fun, difficult or otherwise interesting!

This week, we already have three questions, which I'll copy here from last week's comment thread, where Thane Eichenauer asked them since I hadn't got around to posting this week's thread yet:

Hello Thomas,
Given your stated desire for more questions and better questions I wonder why you don't post your ask me anything post asking for questions immediately after you post your podcast.
2nd is my question: If you were advising a young (or old) person on his or her college curricula would you generally discourage or encourage that person to take one religious studies course?

3rd: I read about the Yoruba religion in the book God is Not One by Stephen Prothero. Have you heard about it? The author included it as being among the most influential religious on earth. It even managed to score higher in his opinion than the Bahá'í Faith (the religion of both of my parents (and mine for my first two decades on planet Earth). He is the designated professor for the Bahá'í club at Boston University (per the above book).

Thanks for asking! I'll answer in the comment thread (and maybe on the podcast)!

Bad Google. BAD!

A heads-up from Antiwar.com:

This morning (3/18/15) we received a note from Google Adsense informing us that all ads for our site had been disabled. Why? Because of this page showing the horrific abuses committed by U.S. troops in Iraq at Abu Ghraib.

This page has been up for 11 years. During all that time Google Adsense has been running ads on our site -- but as Washington gets ready to re-invade Iraq, and in bombing, killing, and abusing more civilians, they suddenly decide that their "anti-violence" policy, which prohibits "disturbing material," prohibits any depiction of violence committed by the U.S. government and paid for with your tax dollars.

Whatever happened to "don't be evil," Google?

A Modest Proposal for an Addendum to "Tanja's Law"

It's a Georgia law that, as originally proposed, would have allowed for a charge of second-degree murder for killing a working police dog. The state senate toned it down a bit. Now killing a police dog is "only" punishable by imprisonment for up to five years and a fine of up to $20,000.

Well, OK, then. But if they're going to go that way, how about an addendum/amendment providing for precisely the same penalties for working police officers who kill non-police dogs?

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Tale of Two Razors (Micro Touch One Update)

I reviewed the Micro Touch One razor shortly after receiving a review unit and additionally at one year. Both reviews were positive. Now it's been 17 months ... and it's Tango Down Micro Touch One.

Last week I finished shaving and went through my usual razor maintenance routine -- I always remove the blade and thoroughly clean and dry the razor before storing it in its convenient little case. But this time when I twisted the handle to open the blade area, the handle didn't want to twist. When I applied a little force, the internal shaft that turns to open and close the blade area snapped. End of razor.

Has my opinion of the Micro Touch One gone from positive to negative? Not really. At the retail price of $19.99 (plus shipping and handling if you don't buy it at a store), the cost for the razor spread over 17 months would be about what I would have spent on disposable razors or on bi-monthly blade deliveries from Dollar Shave Club. So I can't say it's a bad deal. And who knows? Maybe the bust was my fault (maybe I shouldn't have been opening the thing up every time) or maybe this was a rare defective unit.

But a funny thing happened on my way to replacing the defunct Micro Touch One. Since I still had a nice stock of blades, I decided to look for a new handle instead of switching razor styles. I went to eBay. I found one that looked a lot like the Micro Touch One, for $6.75 including shipping (not a referral/affiliate/commision link!).

Let me emphasize: A LOT like the Micro Touch One.

No, I am not a good photographer. But you should be able to tell from this photo that even the plastic cases appear to have come from the same mold. Inside the case, the only difference is that the Micro Touch One case's plastic interior is covered with red velour.

The razors? So far as I can tell, they are identical right down to the details of the knurling and the brand of blades that came with them (Dorco) ... well, except of course for the facts that the Vincent Double Edge Shaver isn't broken yet, and that including shipping and handling, it comes to less than 1/3 the cost of a Micro Touch One. If it lasts six months it will have "paid for itself" versus the alternatives I'd likely have chosen from.

And the Engrish on the box it came in is precious: "A wonderful pair of scissors that creates a world of new expression. Centrical summit formation that prevents twisting of the blade and offers fine cutting especially for hard hair."

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 03/14/15

Brought to you by Darryl W Perry ...

In this episode:

  • Thanks for Asking! (dinner with King of All Media, or a couple of "race realists?" You won't need three guesses to figure out which one I choose);
  • Syria, Iran, the State Department, Joshua Muravchik and "objective journalism."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Thanks For Asking!

This week's AMA (and this weekend's podcast) brought to you by Darryl W Perry:

Ask me anything in the comments. I'll answer in the comments, in the upcoming KN@PP Stir Podcast, or both. Only requirement: Try to make it fun, difficult or otherwise interesting!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I'm Probably Not the First Person to Say This ...

... but I haven't noticed anyone else saying it.

If Barack Obama wants to save his party's bacon for 2016, he needs to get out in front of this Hillary Clinton email scandal and ask the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor.

And he needs to do it now so that Clinton doesn't drag out the "I'm still running for president even though I haven't got a chance in hell" business any longer.

A week ago, the Big 2016 Question was "who's going to be the GOP's sacrificial lamb?" And while Clinton was the favorite for the Democratic Party's nomination, that question remained valid even if it so happened that she wasn't destined to be the nominee after all. Just like in 2008.

Now she's like a pig that just escaped its mudhole, got into the house and is running around in a room full of would-be blushing brides all done up in their pretty new white dresses. They need to get her out of there before everyone gets covered in shit and abandoned at the altar.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

News and Stuff

A couple of big personal news items to share -- one about C4SS, one about the Garrison Center.

Those who listened to yesterday's podcast know this; those who didn't probably don't:

I'm stepping down as media coordinator at The Center for a Stateless Society effective March 31. Here's why (from my email to C4SS director James Tuttle explaining why):

I am burnt out and don't feel like I'm doing justice to the work lately. I had planned on giving [it] until May -- my fifth anniversary in the position -- to make sure it wasn't just a cycle I'm going through, but I'm convinced it's not. I'm not looking forward to, or enjoying, the work the way that I used to. And when I don't look forward to it and enjoy it, I don't do it as well as it should be done. So it's time to move on.

There's also the simple fact that the Center and I are obviously diverging ideologically. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, nor has my freedom to explore things I want to explore in the way I want to explore them been inhibited here. I would probably be interested in continuing to write material for C4SS. But from an editorial standpoint, for someone who's sort of the "final checkpoint" before publication, it's better to have someone who's more on board with the approaches that enjoy strong consensus around the table.

So I'm not going away mad or anything. Heck, I may not even be "going away" as such. I hope to write an occasional C4SS piece in the future, and I may remain on the C4SS masthead (or that of its parent organization, the The Molinari Institute) in some sort of advisory capacity. Preferably one where I'm not expected to regularly participate in internal governance issues so much, as those have been a source of tension in the past. Not my reason for leaving, though.

Now some news about The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism, where I am high muckety-muck, don't have to work and play well with others so much, and have a broader ideological playground:

If you look over in the sidebar here at KN@PPSTER (pretty quickly -- it will disappear soon), you'll see that the top of the fundraiser thermometer is busted out. No, it's not a coding error or anything.

The goal -- this was a "personal fundraiser" but intended to allow me to focus on Garrison Center work for the first quarter of 2015 -- was $500. The total, from three contributors (Stephen Meier, Rex Bell and a Californian who requests anonymity) who all have my heartfelt thanks, was $1,040. And the anonymous supporter, who wants you to know that parts of California are not San Franciso, has made an additional four-figure commitment to be fulfilled over the next six months.

That doesn't mean I get to stop raising funds, but it does constitute "seed money" that lets me worry a little bit less about doing so right this minute. My goal is to get enough money coming in regularly via Patreon and those other channels in the sidebar that, when the anonymous benefactor's commitment ends, I don't have to run desperate fundraisers to keep things going as they are going (actually, as I expect them to be going, which is even better than they're going now). So if you like what you're seeing at the Garrison Center, why not throw a buck or five a month at it?

A bit about how things are going now and how I expect them to be going later. As of now:

  • In February, Garrison Center content was picked up by "mainstream" and/or "non-libertarian political,"  media 23 times that I know of, in newspapers in most regions of the country. I was also interviewed as a "policy expert" on the Keystone XL pipeline by El Espectador, one of Colombia's largest newspapers, presumably based on the early February Garrison op-ed I wrote on the topic.
  • So far in March I've identified six such pickups of the Center's material and I suspect my two most recent columns will do quite well as such things go.
  • Using the aforementioned money raised, I've paid Joel Schlosberg for the two op-eds he's written so far for the Center, and also paid up the site's domain name several years in advance.

Coming up:

  • Yes, I was happy to get 23 pickups in February. But that's not a number I'll be happy to stay at over time. There are three ways to increase it: Putting out more material,  submitting it to more newspapers, and giving those newspapers more time to notice that they're getting good stuff. I'm already working on the first two problems; the third one I'll have no control over unless Doc Brown shows up in his DeLorean. No promises -- they're just not possible -- but I hope to be hitting the 50 pickups per month mark before the end of the year.
  • It's been nearly a decade and a half since I wrote and released Writing the Libertarian Op-Ed. Readers told me they found it useful. I've learned more about the subject since writing that little pamphlet than I knew when I wrote it. So one thing I plan to invest some time in is writing a second, expanded edition, as a Garrison Center project. Naturally it will be published under a public domain dedication and made freely available in e-format (maybe a cheap physical edition, too!).
  • I've got some ideas for content in other formats. Audio. Maybe video. I'll be looking into what it would take both to create that content in a quality way and to make it effective out in the big, wide world. Stay tuned.
And oh, before I forget, here are the Garrison Center op-eds for so far in March!

Saturday, March 07, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 03/07/15

This week's podcast is brought to you by Darryl W Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks for Asking! (Questions on nest egg savings and Burning Man);
  • I'm leaving (not on a jet plane) C4SS!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Hey, It's Getting a Little Warmer in Here!

Thanks to Stephen Meier, who drove the fundraising thermometer over in the sidebar up from $0 to $25 earlier today. The Garrison Center is rolling. Will you put a little gas in the tank?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Interesting ...

I'm definitely a fan of having most of my stuff in the cloud -- going on three years as a Chromebook/Chromebox user now and I'm very satisfied.

Paperspace proposes to take that whole idea even further. A whole, fast, constantly upgrade/updated computer (not just a web browser), running entirely in the cloud (presumably as a virtual machine on some ginormous mainframe), that you can access either via the web from your own old, slow machine (all the actual computing is at the other end -- your machine would just handle input/output and receive video) or using a little hockey-puck-looking thing called the Paperweight.

The Paperweight will cost $50. The service will start at $10 a month. I'm given to understand that the OS options are Windows and Linux.

I may have to check it out.

Thanks for Asking! Thursday

Yeah, I forgot to put it up on Wednesday, but better late than never. This AMA thread, like the weekly KN@PP Stir Podcast, is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

If you're new around KN@PPSTER, here's how it works:

  • Ask me anything, in the comment thread below this post.
  • I'll answer it in the comment thread, on this weekend's podcast, or both.

Pretty simple, isn't it? Ask away! It doesn't have to be about politics. It could be about pretty much anything. Like ...

If You're Into Electoral Politics ...

... and if you love freedom, and if you live in Colorado, Nebraska or Kansas, here's a list of politicians whose actions require your attention:

Justin E. Smith is the Sheriff for Larimer County, Colorado.
Chad Day is the Sheriff for Yuma County, Colorado.
Shayne Heap is the Sheriff for Elbert County, Colorado.
Ronald B. Bruce is the Sheriff for Hinsdale County, Colorado
Casey Sheridan is the Sheriff for Kiowa County, Colorado.
Frederick D. McKee is the Sheriff for Delta County, Colorado.
Adam J. Hayward is the Sheriff for Deuel County, Nebraska.
John D. Jenson is the Sheriff for Cheyenne County, Nebraska.
Mark L. Overman is the Sheriff for Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska.
Burton Pianalto is the Sheriff for Sherman County, Kansas.
Charles F. Moser is the County Attorney for the Counties of Sherman, Wallace,
and Greeley in Kansas.
Paul B. Schaub is the County Attorney for the County of Cheyenne, Nebraska.

They're the plaintiffs in a frivolous and malicious lawsuit filed for the purpose of re-criminalizing marijuana in Colorado (I got their names directly from the complaint).

Their decision to sue reveals one or both of two things about them. Either:

  • They don't understand the law (no, the US Constitution doesn't empower the federal government to outlaw marijuana in Colorado), in which case they're too incompetent to be entrusted with enforcement of it; or
  • They don't care about the law and just hate freedom, in which case they're too evil to be entrusted with enforcement of it; or
  • Both.

These knotheads need to be removed from office, pronto, by whatever means available (recall or failure of re-election if they're elected; firing if they're appointed). And they should never, ever, ever be entrusted with any kind of political authority again.

If the infestation is in your neck of the woods, I hope you'll see to its eradication.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Florida: Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Bills Alert

The two bills are SB 604 and HB 271. Actually they're the same bill, in House and Senate versions. It's styled "The True Origin of Digital Goods Act."

They law would prohibit those who "electronically disseminate" "commercial recordings or audiovisual works" from doing so anonymously.

The first clue that any bill is terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad is when its sponsors lie about what it's for. The sponsors of "The True Origin of Digital Goods Act" falsely label it a "consumer protection" bill. But its purpose is not to "protect consumers." Nor is its purpose to "protect producers."

Its purpose is to make it easier for those who claim "rights" in "intellectual property" to track and sue or prosecute people who use that "intellectual property" without permission.

That is, if you record a cover of "Fly Me to the Moon" without ASCAP's permission (author Bart Howard willed the "intellectual property rights" in his songs to the ASCAP Foundation) and pop it up on YouTube, the purpose of this bill is to assist ASCAP in chasing you down and shaking you down (even if you're not actually selling it, YouTube is ad-monetized and therefore commercial; the bill is clear that "[a] recording or audiovisual work may be commercial regardless of whether a person who electronically disseminates it seeks commercial advantage or private financial gain from the dissemination").

Now, I've been pretty clear about my opinion of "intellectual property" -- that it's an evil state fiction created for the purpose of establishing monopolies on information for the benefit of state-privileged rentiers -- but agree or disagree with that opinion, the point here is that that's what the law is about. It's not about "protecting consumers." So strike one against the bill is that it's being falsely advertised as to intent.

Strike two against the bill is that it effectively outlaws nearly all anonymous and pseudonymous speech in audio/video formats. Yes, I know that your anonymous anti-IRS rant in a Guy Fawkes mask isn't being sold by you, but see above. Where do people post their audio/video stuff? On commercial services. Just because you're not the one making the money, that doesn't mean it's not "commercial" by dint of its mode of publication/conveyance. And the effect of this bill is that if your rant pisses off the wrong bureaucrats, they know who and where you are if they want to mess with you (or if you just ignore it, they have a ready-made "crime" to  use as an excuse for finding out who you are and where you are).

Anonymous speech is a big deal. Everyone knows who Thomas Paine is now, but when he published Common Sense, it was anonymously.

Ditto the original publication of James Weldon Johnson's Diary of an Ex-Colored Man in 1912.

And in our own century, any number of anonymous/pseudonymous -- or "ghost-written" -- libertarian and anarchist works.

Lots and lots of political speech is moving from text to audio/video. And most publication venues for audio/video are "commercial."

And not just political speech. There was a bit of a dust-up awhile back when Facebook tried to crack down on drag queens for running accounts under their stage names. What about them? Or trans people who might be interested in "vlogging" their transitions but not really up for revealing their legal names and addresses to every potential stalker/thug out there? Or poets who prefer to give themselves pseudonyms with no capital letters and make videos of themselves in berets chattering away to finger-snaps at their local slams? Or anyone who wants to say anything without having to give a name and address?

Pre-preemptively requiring presentation of identifying information as a condition of being allowed to speak, just so Disney can more easily crack down on people who bootleg Frozen, is like preemptively requiring everyone to leave their front doors open so the local police can walk in to check for dead bodies any time they feel like it.

If you live in Florida, please contact the politicians who claim to "represent" you (find state senators here and state representatives here) with a strong "not only no but f**k no" message concerning SB 604 and HB 271.

Hat tip -- Electronic Frontier Foundation (yes, I'm pissed at them for supporting the FCC's evil Internet power grab, but they brought this to my attention, so credit where credit is due).

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The FCC Power Grab: A Ray of Hope?

Can we beat Title II "Net Neutrality" in the courts? The Heartland Institute's Scott Cleland thinks so:

The FCC's Open Internet Order, which reclassified the commercial Internet as a Title II utility, is very likely (80%) in the end, to be overturned in court -- for a third time.

The FCC's legal theory and many core assumptions are so aggressive, it's clear that the FCC expects, and needs, continual and maximal deference from the court to prevail. The FCC also requires the courts to view the FCC's most aggressive assertion of unbounded authority ever, as a mere administrative interpretation of ambiguous law, and not a political bypass of Congress and the 1996 Telecom Act.

The FCC's case also has so many serious conceptually inter-dependent flaws that it is like a fragile house-of-cards, built of flimsy definitional, precedential, and factual assumptions. This means opponents only need to knock down one of the FCC's supporting 'cards' for the entire house of cards to collapse. In contrast, the FCC needs every card in its house of cards to withstand scrutiny and remain standing.

Simply the FCC's case is politically strong, but legally weak.

Read all about it here.