Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thanks For Asking! 04/30/15

This week's AMA thread (and podcast, coming Friday or Saturday) brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

Yes, I got the thread posted late again. Sorry about that. I've been busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest all week, although you couldn't tell by looking at the blog. Hopefully things will be more in hand after tomorrow (a day dedicated to medical stuff).

So, the usual: You ask (in the comment thread), I answer (in the comment thread, on the podcast, or both). Have at!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Nice Score

Gainesville's "Friends of the Library" has the best semi-annual book sale I've ever seen. Today was the first day of the spring sale. I think I spent a total of six bucks, for which I got:

  • All three volumes of Neal Stephenson's Baroque trilogy (Quicksilver, The Confusion and The System of the World) -- the first volume in very nice trade paperback format, the other two in hardcover;
  • J. Neil Schulman's The Rainbow Cadenza;
  • L. Sprague de Camp's Lovecraft: A Biography; and
  • The 2013 edition of the Associated Press style guide.
I've been wanting to re-read the Stephenson and Schulman works for awhile. I didn't know the Lovecraft bio existed until I came across it. And the style guide always comes in handy (my most recent copy was the 2004 edition, so it seemed reasonable to update for $1.25).

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 04/25/15

This episode brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks for asking! (Taco Bell and Gene Callahan);
  • Quick Garrison Center update;
  • Bad Florida Internet Speech-Chilling Bill.

Friday, April 24, 2015

I Don't Do Beer Reviews

But I do occasionally comment. And right now, I'm doing so while slightly buzzed (which, as you'll see downblog, establishes that I've become a lightweight). So bear with.

As I've mentioned before on this blog, I'm trying to pay due attention my health. Among the activities I've undertaken with that in mind is consuming a minimum of two (and a maximum of six) alcoholic drinks per week. I don't have a link handy, but that's one of the things recommended in an article I read on minimizing my risk of sudden cardiac death as I approach 50 (another is making sure I get plenty of magnesium -- I've added a magnesium supplement to my daily "stack").

Usually, my two drinks per week (I seldom have more, and never hit the maximum six) are taken in the form of an ounce of Old Crow Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey with some diet cola.

This week I decided to deviate from that and go with my favorite beer type, India Pale Ale, usually referred to as "IPA."

What makes a beer an IPA? Beer aficionados will offer different explanations concerning attenuation, gravity, etc. and explain that it's not all about the hops, but let's not go down the beer aficionado road. It's pretty much all about the hops. IPAs are hoppy beers. That, to me, is their defining characteristic. I'm not one of those beer people who can tell you that something is cherry on the nose with rumors of lilac and deep emphases of birch and all that dumb stuff. Hops = IPA.

And I like hops. I lived half-way across St. Louis County, Missouri from the original Anheuser-Busch brewery, but on certain days, I could smell it. And you know what I smelled? Hops. Only decent thing about the watered-down pilsner abominations they try to pass off as "beer."

So anyway, Tamara and I were at Trader Joe's last weekend. Yeah, I know, yuppy stuff. But she got a gift card awhile back, and some of the things they sell are quite tasty (their peanut butter is the best available; so are their fig bars, which are branded "This Fig Walks Into a Bar ..."). I wandered over into the beer aisle and picked out two.

On Monday, I drank the Terrapin Hopsecutioner longneck. Good stuff. As you can tell from the name, it's heavier on the hops even than most IPAs. And I like it that way. Alcohol content, 7.3%. More than I'm used to in a beer, but quite nice. A beer from Athens, Georgia (just like REM and the B-52s!). If this beer was a woman, I'd marry it. Or at least sleep with it on the side. OK, maybe not sleep with it, but at least wake up to it six days a week (six drinks a week, right?).

Over the course of the last hour or so, I drank the much larger (22 ounces) Boatswain American IPA. Lower alcohol content (6.7%). Brewed and bottled in Monroe, Wisconsin. Not as hoppy as the Hopsecutioner. Didn't expect it to be. That's why they called the Hopsecutioner the Hopsecutioner, right? Still, pretty damn good (if you want the beer aficionado stuff, I guess I'd say that the Boatswain didn't drop the little hints of citrus afterglow that the Hopsecutioner did). Anyway, if 22 ounces of beer gets me a wee bit lit, it's by definition good beer.

Rankings: The Hopsecutioner isn't quite as good as my local micro-brewery's IPA -- Swamp Head Big Nose. On the other hand, I rank it slightly ahead of my go-to broad-availability IPA, Red Hook Longhammer. And the Boatswain comes in fourth, but not so far back that I won't be having it again.

So I guess I do do beer reviews. But if you want the real lowdown on beer, you'll want to follow Chris Bennett on Facebook. He hosts the Beer and Bullshit Show. Which I'll be on, some time. Maybe after I get more beer.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thanks For Asking! 04/23/15

This week's "Thanks For Asking!" -- and the podcast to follow -- are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

Yep, running late this week. It's been one of those weeks -- I kept remembering to put up the weekly AMA thread, then something would happen and I'd get distracted and forget. But here it is. Ask me anything in the comment thread, and I'll answer in the comment thread, on the podcast, or both.

Monday, April 20, 2015

"The Sunshine State"

Average annual precipitation in Seattle, Washington: 38.25 inches

Average annual precipitation in Gainesville, Florida: 48.36 inches

Now, granted, Seattle gets its precipitation over an average of 154 days per year, while Gainesville gets its precipitation in larger but less frequent doses (116 days per year).

But, then again, close to a third of Seattle's precipitation is snow, it has 1/10th as many thunderstorm days as Gainesville and severe thunderstorms seem to be unknown in Seattle while Gainesville averages seven severe thunderstorm watches per year.

So I'd say "The Sunshine State" -- or at least this part of it -- qualifies as objectively rainier than Seattle, which has a reputation for being rainy.

No, I'm not complaining. I love Florida, and I love the rain in Florida. It's coming down outside right now. Not cats and dogs, but a steady, fairly heavy drizzle. Very nice indeed.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 04/18/15

This week's episode brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Experimenting with bumper music, audio stingers, etc.;
  • Thanks for Asking! (presidential candidates and Pomplamoose);
  • more about the sound editing experiment;
  • Garrison Center update;
  • the lowdown on the Iran negotiations.

Quick Garrison Center Update

Since I've asked KN@PPSTER's readers to support my work for (as?) The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism, and since you've done so, I'm trying to be fairly regular with updates on what I do with that support.

The first big result of that support is the center's actual "product" -- publication of libertarian op-eds in mainstream and/or non-political media. I'm pleased to report that that's going pretty darn well. In March, we averaged one media pickup of a Garrison op-ed per day, for a total of 31. I just did a quick count for April. It's only the 18th of the month and already I count 25 pickups. My goal by year-end is to be averaging 50 per month, so I'm pleased with the progress.

I've started recording each op-ed as an audio commentary as well. I initially chose to host those at a free Podcast Garden account, but as of today I've moved things over to, which offers free hosting for public domain material (I made a small donation to this wonderful public service -- not for the first time if I recall correctly -- and encourage anyone who cares about preservation of digital material to donate too).

After my first appeal for support for the Garrison Center, someone made a donation in Bitcoin, which came in handy today -- I used it at Fiverr to get a professional "outro" done by Drew Schroeder that I can tack on to the end of each audio reading. This will hopefully also satisfy one commenter (on Facebook, IIRC), who didn't like my little trick of closing out the readings with the Sputnik beeping noise to fix a problem with audio cutoff :D

So, here's what a Garrison audio reading looks/sounds like now:

Thanks to everyone for the moral and financial support -- the Garrison Center seems to be off to a running start!

UN Surrenders to Daesh

Per Reuters:

'Isis' has been removed from the official list of names of future hurricanes as it was now deemed inappropriate because of the eponymous militant group, the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday.

As the name of an ancient goddess of Egypt, Isis had been on the WMO list of names for hurricanes in the eastern North Pacific in 2016, WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis said.

But ISIS is also used to describe the Islamic State militant group, whose forces have captured large swathes of Iraq and Syria and which stands accused by U.N. war crimes investigators of committing brutal atrocities against civilians.

Why let a gaggle of thugs have a perfectly good name? The only reason Daesh (ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fīl-ʿIrāq wash-Shām), aka the Islamic State, has ever been referred to as "Isis" is because some western reporters thought it sounded cool and were too lazy to learn to pronounce the real name. The gang is not, nor has it ever been, "Isis."

Ditto ISIL. That's been the International Society for Individual Liberty for decades. "The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant" doesn't rate to take over a perfectly respectable acronym.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 04/15/15

This week's "ask me anything" thread -- and the podcast to follow on Friday or Saturday -- brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

How it works:

  1. You ask (in the comment thread below this post);
  2. I answer (also in the comment thread, or on the podcast, or both).

My question for YOU this week: Why'd you leave the keys upon the table?

How Widespread is the Problem of Tax-Related Identity Theft?

While Googling the question in the title this morning, I found answers  ranging from "hundreds of thousands of returns per year" to "19 million returns over three years." If that latter number is correct, that's one of every 50 US citizens -- and not all US citizens file returns. Pretty big stuff.

I had noticed some stories about it out the corner of my eye, but hadn't thought much about it. Then the other day, my significant other got the following message when she tried to file her return as usual through the online tax preparation she uses:

We could not e-file your return for the following reason ... Duplicate Social Security Number: A tax return with the same Social Security number has already been submitted -- in other words, it appears you're trying to e-file the same return twice. If you need to change this return, you'll need to file an amended return on paper, by mail.

So it looks like some identity thief filed a fake return in her name. Not sure how that wouldn't have been flagged from the beginning. She has the PIN thing, and presumably any fake return would have featured a new address, new bank routing numbers for refund deposit, etc. that would have aroused suspicion.

So anyway, she had to file the old-style paper return instead, and now she'll have to wait awhile (some news stories indicate up to nine months!) for her refund. The latter is no huge deal (it's a small refund and after having to send them additional money last year she was just relieved to not have to do so this year). But filling out the paper returns is a big huge hassle, as anyone who's ever had to do it that way no doubt remembers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Everything Old Is New Again

Earlier today, I was thinking about the fact that there are American kids fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and God only knows where else today, who hadn't even been born yet when I shipped out for Saudi Arabia in December 1990 (I arrived there about 15 minutes after midnight on January 1st, 1991). In fact, that's been the case since at least, what, 2008?

I was thinking about it because I just finished reading Douglas Brinkley's biography of Walter Cronkite, which had me thinking about events of my youth.

I barely remember the Vietnam War. In fact, my sole contemporaneous memory of that war is asking my mom at the grocery store if there was a war going on (right before leaving I had taken in an episode of Combat, I think). She said that yes there was, in a place called Vietnam. In that same conversation, I learned that the president was Richard Nixon and that the war had started under the last president, Lyndon Johnson. I'm guessing I was four, maybe five.

Nixon came back to haunt me a few years later when his resignation pre-empted Captain Kangaroo. Consequently, I didn't like Richard Nixon much. Whatever "Watergate" was, it couldn't possibly be as important as Captain Kangaroo.

I certainly remember Cronkite. He's the only news anchor I really do remember from my childhood. I remember John Chancellor and David Brinkley, but I don't remember watching them as nightly news anchors in my pre-teen years, just from their later stuff. Chet Huntley? Complete blank. Cronkite was the man, man.

So anyway, I was feeling pretty old. Then I dropped by Reason, as I do daily, and Jesse Walker made me feel young again:

Turns Out the Soviet Union was Good for Something After All!

I've been struggling with the audio renditions of my Garrison Center commentaries. For some reason, every host I try wants to cut them a fraction of a second short, clipping off the last syllable or two.

While writing this morning's piece -- on the nanny state versus "free-range kids" -- it occurred to me that ending the audio version with some kind of neutral noise might fix the problem. I thought about using the old, familiar TV "test tone," but I couldn't find it in the frequency I wanted. And then I came across something better. The reading closes with the beep produced by the old Sputnik satellite. Thanks, Nikita!

powered by podcast garden

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Eyes Have It, Part 2

A little over a week ago, I mentioned I had purchased new glasses from Eye Buy Direct and that a mini-review would be forthcoming. Well, the glasses are here and I'm a happy camper.

The prescription appears to be correct. The glasses seem to be well made. They fit comfortably, even absent a personal custom fitting. Total cost, including shipping: $11.95 -- and they came in a very nice plastic case, wrapped in a microfiber cleaning cloth.

I've always been a budget-conscious shopper with respect to glasses. Back in St. Louis I went to America's Contacts and Eyeglasses, where an eye exam plus two pairs of basic glasses came to $70 or so. They don't have a location nearby, so now I've found my new provider. I've already ordered a second pair (even cheaper than the first pair by nearly a buck, because I got a coupon code!). I'm sold.

Disclosure: Eye Buy Direct has a referral program. If you buy your glasses from them using my personal coupon code -- IF8W3WE7A1 -- you get 5% off your first purchase and I earn points toward discounts of my own.

Yes, I recommend them. I've already purchased two pairs of glasses from them, so I'm not pitching a pig in a poke at you. If you're a regular KN@PPSTER reader, you probably understand by now that I don't throw stuff at you just for the money; I try to be honest about these things. Eye Buy Direct didn't offer me "review glasses" -- I found themEye Buy Direct didn't give me any kind of special discount that you couldn't have got yourself under the same circumstances -- I just did my research and chose them to try out. I'm glad I did.

BUT! You may not be ready to throw your vision needs at such an inexpensive option without backup, and I understand. But at these prices, why not order your "extra, put'em in the desk in case I lose my main pair" glasses as a way to give Eye Buy Direct a try? I think you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Beta Test: Wiring the Garrison Center for Sound

Q: How do you get better at something?

A: By doing more of it.

I've always found audio (in particular live radio) very scary, even though I've probably done a hundred radio interviews, podcast guest appearances, etc. One reason I started The KN@PP Stir Podcast was to help me get over that fear. And of course another reason was to get better at doing voice work.

I've had it my head for awhile to take the next step and start producing audio versions of Garrison Center op-eds. Here's the first one, a reading of "Constitutional Convention: A Dangerous and Unnecessary Game" --

powered by podcast garden

My plan is to throw in the audio version at the bottom of each Garrison op-ed from here on out, at least for awhile to see if anyone likes it.

Same terms as the text, of course -- public domain, free for any and all uses by any and all users. Feel free to embed them on your blog, excerpt them in your own podcasts ... heck, if you do "real" radio, grab a snippet or even a whole reading if you need to fill some dead air.

Of course the readers here at KN@PPSTER are my sounding boards, beta testers, etc. Please let me know what you think. About the idea. About the execution. About any of it!

Update: Thane Eichenauer noted in comments that the audio cuts off a fraction of a second early. I had planned on re-recording the episode, but now I've recorded the SECOND one, and it does the same thing. On review, I see that the recording/file does not cut off, but rather the podcast host (Podcast Garden) is the culprit. I'll be looking into why, and possibly changing hosts.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 04/11/15

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

In this episode:

  • Thanks for Asking! (victim disarmament, Jesus v. Mike Pence, and;
  • Brief Garrison Center round up (brief because the first take of this podcast got caught in SoundCloud processing hell, the second got eaten by a web-based recorder with an unmentioned time limit, and I'm sick of re-recording this stuff).
Note regarding the reference to possible sound editing in this podcast: No dice. Turns out Twisted Wave has a length limit of five minutes on files that can be edited unless I purchase a premium account ... which I won't do until I've investigated it a little more. So no editing out of e.g. coughs. Yet.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Catching Up ...

Yes, I've been remiss. I've been missing my goal of at least one blog post per day in April. It's the 9th and this is only the month's seventh post. I'll get right on that.

In the meantime, here's a rundown of goings-on at The Garrison Center:

Today is the 9th of April and so far I count nine "pickups" of Garrison op-eds (and I happen to know a tenth [update, a few minutes after posting -- and an eleventh, in a midwestern state's second largest paper!] is on the way), so we're still on track to match last month's "one pickup per day" average, or maybe even beat it.

If you use Flipboard, you can now grab the Center's op-eds via our Flipboard "magazine."

This month's material so far:

Today's piece is "Constitutional Convention: A Dangerous and Unnecessary Game."

Tuesday's "Note to Media: Please Stop Calling Rand Paul a Libertarian" may have garnered me my biggest US newspaper pickup ever. It's a big one, anyway -- the Des Moines Register. It's not just big because the Register is an objectively pretty big deal as newspapers go, although it is -- daily circulation of about 100k, 200k on Sundays. It's big because the op-ed is about Republican presidential primary politics, because Iowa is Ground Zero for that topic, and because the Register is the de facto state newspaper. But my old friend Jake Porter is trying to change that with his own Iowa Free Press ... and the article is there, too!

Last Sunday's "Trigger Warnings and Safe Spaces: The Campus Counter-Revolution" was one of my first uses of my new freedom to gallivant out far to the left of the Center for a Stateless Society's right-deviationist line on those topics.

And then there was April 2nd's "Yes, Mr. Waldman, the Iran Nuclear Negotiations ARE Munich in 1938." No newspaper pickups there yet, but ran it and from there it seems to have done very well in the antiwar blogosphere.

I plan on knocking out an "exclusive" submission today or tomorrow. If the target publication bites, I'm sure I'll share the link with you. If not, it may pop up as a non-exclusive on the Garrison site.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

No Thanks For Not Asking! (This is Next Week's Thanks For Asking Thread)

As I mention on today's podcast, there were no takers on this week's "Thanks For Asking!" thread. Which, of course, forced me to wing it a little on the podcast. So I'm taking a couple of remedial measures.

The first is to, as suggested by Thane Eichenauer in a "Thanks For Asking!" thread a couple of weeks ago, move the thread up. This week, instead of waiting until next Wednesday to post the thread, I'm posting it now. So I guess the first thing to do is mention that both "Thanks For Asking!" and The KN@PP Stir Podcast are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

Ask me anything -- anything! -- in the comment thread on this post, and I will answer. I may answer in the comment thread. I may answer on the next podcast. I may do a little of both.

The second measure is to ask the 25-30 of you who listen to the podcast regularly, and the five or so of you who occasionally ask questions, some questions of my own:

How am I doing?

Is the podcast interesting?

Is the podcast getting better as new episodes roll out?

I'm committed to at least one podcast per month through 2015. I'm actually producing one podcast per week right now. I'm trying to get more professional in my presentation, to develop a more pleasing "radio voice," etc. (one listener told me last week that my voice is reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart's; I'm not hearing it, but I'm flattered).

I want the podcast to be more than a waste of my time and yours. I also want more listeners. So I'm seeking y'all's advice.

Oh, one more question: What is love?

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, 04/04/15

Brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this week's episode:

  • Thanks for Asking! (Special Guest: Jules Pitt);
  • Promoting the Garrison Center as usual;
  • Libertarians and Indiana's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act"

The Eyes Have It

Not glaucoma as I had worried for a couple of years without doing anything about other than taking ginkgo biloba. At least seemingly not.  Intraocular pressure in the "high normal" range and no apparent damage, but I'm going back in four months for a re-test to make sure that the pressure results weren't running temporarily low or something.

Nor is there any sign of the other problem I was worried about: Diabetic retinopathy.

What I do have is an additional risk factor (beyond family history) for glaucoma: Pigment dispersion syndrome.

Oh, and I also have a freckle in one eye. Yes, a freckle. Which, like any other freckle, entails some small risk of becoming a melanoma. But this one shows no signs of doing so.

So it's all good. Or at least as good as I could reasonably expect.

Got my new eyeglass prescription.

I could go with bifocals, but I don't have to and I'm not going to (my near vision happens to be exactly perfect for reading and/or staring at a computer screen, which is what I do most of the time, and which I just take the damn glasses off to do).

I ordered my first pair of glasses for the new prescription last night. I've been hearing about these inexpensive online places and decided to give one -- Eye Buy Direct -- a try. Since I went with a pair of frames that are on clearance, and since I didn't purchase any of the extras (scratch protection, etc.), the total cost came to $11.95. Yep -- that does include shipping.

Once the new glasses arrive, you can probably expect a review. If the bare basics pair works out, I'll probably order some more expensive ones. But from the look of it, it would be hard to pay more than $50 or so for a pair of glasses there unless you wanted "progressive" lenses. Even regular bifocals are only $19.95 above frame cost, and most of the frames seem to run $30 or less.

Friday, April 03, 2015

If I'd Only Known ...

... of the $400k per day market demand for not making pizzas for same-sex nuptials, I'd have gone into the business of not making pizzas for same-sex nuptials a long time ago.

But I'm guessing that it's a short-term fad and that the Memories crew has already nailed down near-100% market share and customer loyalty. Probably not something I want to launch now.

Back to the entrepreneurial drawing board.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Elizabeth Warren Waxes Reasonably Shermanesque

"No. I'm not running and I’m not going to run."

I suppose there's a tiny sliver of a chance that she'll change her tune when it becomes obvious that Hillary Clinton isn't going to be the next president, or even the next Democratic nominee for president.

But I'd say that tiny sliver is very tiny, because the last couple of weeks would have been the perfect time for a prominent Democrat to display some leadership and say that out loud. Maybe she doesn't want to be the one to say it and is waiting for someone else to. But I'm guessing she just doesn't want to run this time.

So, who will the Democrats go with?

True, at this point, it looks like they could win with just about anyone other than Richard Milhous Nix ... er, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But things can change, and in a race that gets closer I just don't see the two big names getting thrown around other than Warren's -- vice-president Joe Biden and former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley -- as strong candidates.

If I were the Democrats, I'd be looking at Jim Webb for president. And if I was Jim Webb, I'd be looking at Russ Feingold for veep.

Thanks for Asking! -- 04/01/15

This week's "ask me anything" thread (and podcast on Friday or Saturday) brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

How it works: Ask me anything in the comment thread below this post. I'll answer in the thread, on the podcast, or both.