Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/29/15

No AMA thread last week, but it's back. This week's Thanks For Asking!, and the podcast(s) to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

You probably know the routine by now, but in case you don't ...

  • Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post;
  • I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 60: ... And a Happy New Year!

This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast -- and all episodes through 2016 -- are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode: In this episode: Merry Christmas, happy New Year, and John McAfee declares ...

Show links:

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 59: The Force Dozes, Rolls Over, Wishes You Merry Christmas

This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast -- and all episodes through 2016 -- are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Hey, what's that beautiful noise?;
  • Thanks For Asking! (Paranoia and Star Wars);
  • My Open Letter to the Libertarian Party on Immigration;
  • The Week in Stupid (More Star Wars Goodness!)

Show links:

  • If you like the new opening jingle and the DJ drops, you can get similar stuff from, respectively, Rob Morris and 10th Tier Media, both accessible via Fiverr (if you sign up with Fiverr via that last link, you get a free $5 "gig" and I get $5 in credit once you've spent $10 ... if you do, of course).
  • If you missed this week's Thanks For Asking! thread, here it is.
  • My "open letter" to the Libertarian Party on immigration is also a petition to the platform committee and delegates. If you agree with me (you can read the whole thing here), why not sign that petition?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Libertarian National Convention 2016: An Open Letter on Borders and Immigration

To: Members of the Platform Committee
CC: Delegates to the 2016 Libertarian National Convention

Dear platform committee members and prospective 2016 national convention delegates:

Plank 3.4 of the party's national platform, titled "Free Trade and Migration," reads:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.

I urge the platform committee to recommend, and the delegates to adopt, an amended version of this plank. In this letter, I will first offer arguments regarding the need for amendment, then possible ways of constructively amending the plank.

Argument #1: The current plank is susceptible to authoritarian misinterpretations

Recently I have encountered party members who interpret the final clause of the existing plank -- "[W]e support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property" -- to countenance collectivist authoritarian measures relating to immigration and "border security."

On a plain reading, that interpretation seems perverse and perhaps even willfully abusive of the language. The clause is clearly intended to refer to individual "foreign nationals" who are known to be criminals or terrorists or to carry infectious diseases. Nonetheless, there are those who believe that the clause can be used to justify policies the Libertarian clearly does not support, such as the mass exclusion of entire national, ethnic or religious groups, on the claim that some non-trivial percentage of people answering to those broad descriptions support e.g. the Islamic State.

The language of the party's platform should be as clear, unambiguous, and immune to misinterpretation as possible. The current plank fails on that count.

Argument #2: The current plank is less libertarian than many actually existing state systems

The current LP platform plank on immigration calls for a system that is less libertarian than the actually existing border systems of the European Union's Schengen Agreement area, the United Kingdom's Common Travel area, the CA4 Border Control Agreement area, the Russia/Belarus border and the India/Nepal Border. All of these areas boast, both de facto and de jure, "open borders."

The Libertarian Party should never find itself in the position of demanding that the the US government act so as to keep America less free than other countries.

Argument #3: It is not the job of the Libertarian Party to propose exceptions to its own principles

The purpose of the Libertarian Party, as listed in its bylaws, is "to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles." The bylaws also offer several examples of how the party might go about accomplishing that purpose.

Neither the Statement of Principles nor the laundry list of possible activities includes "proposing the kind of authoritarian policies that America's non-libertarian parties already do a fine job of proposing, passing and implementing."

Even accepting, purely for the sake of argument, that some authoritarian policies could be justifiable, it is not the job of the Libertarian Party to propose or support those policies. That's what we have Republicans and Democrats for.

Conclusion: The current plank on immigration is clearly broken and must be amended or discarded. Fortunately, a number of plausible paths forward are available for the platform committee to recommend and the convention delegates to adopt. Here are four possibilities:

Possible Solutions

The quickest and easiest fix to the problem with the current immigration plank would be to amend its final sentence out of the current plank, which was adopted in 2006:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.

Alternatively, we might reinstate one of the previous two platform planks.

The 2002 and 2004 platform plank on immigration reads:

We hold that human rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of nationality and welcome all refugees to our country.

Prior to that, going at least as far back as 1996 (I cut my research off at the 20-year point), the party's platform plank on immigration reads as follows:

We hold that human rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of nationality. We condemn massive roundups of Hispanic Americans and others by the federal government in its hunt for individuals not possessing required government documents. We strongly oppose all measures that punish employers who hire undocumented workers. Such measures repress free enterprise, harass workers, and systematically discourage employers from hiring Hispanics.

We welcome all refugees to our country and condemn the efforts of U.S. officials to create a new "Berlin Wall" which would keep them captive. We condemn the U.S. government's policy of barring those refugees from our country and preventing Americans from assisting their passage to help them escape tyranny or improve their economic prospects.

Undocumented non-citizens should not be denied the fundamental freedom to labor and to move about unmolested. Furthermore, immigration must not be restricted for reasons of race, religion, political creed, age, or sexual preference.

We therefore call for the elimination of all restrictions on immigration, the abolition of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol, and a declaration of full amnesty for all people who have entered the country illegally. We oppose government welfare and resettlement payments to non-citizens just as we oppose government welfare payments to all other persons.

Finally, the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus's draft immigration plank (which is still in committee and may change by convention time) reads:

We hold that one of the basic core principles of a free market, is the freedom to move about voluntarily, as such borders are artificial barriers to trade and movement. You cannot have a free market with a closed or restricted border.

We welcome all refugees to our country and condemn the efforts of U.S. officials to create a new "Iron Curtain" which would keep them captive. We condemn the U.S. government's policy of barring those refugees from our country and preventing Americans from assisting their passage to help them escape tyranny or improve their economic prospects.

Undocumented non-citizens should not be denied the fundamental freedom to labor and to move about unmolested. Furthermore, immigration must not be restricted for reasons of nationality, race, religion, political creed, age, or sexual preference.

We therefore call for the elimination of all restrictions on immigration, the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol, and declare a full pardon for all people who are in the country without government permission.

There might be other suggestions worthy of consideration, but any of these four would address the problem of the existing plank and return the Libertarian Party to a clear, unequivocal and most importantly libertarian immigration position. Again, I urge the platform committee to recommend, and the convention delegates to adopt, new and non-defective language for this plank.

Yours in liberty,
Thomas L. Knapp


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/16/15

This week's AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

How it works:

  • Ask me anything -- yes, anything -- in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer in the comment thread, on the weekend podcast, or both.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

No, I am not in Attendance at the GOP Debate in Las Vegas ...

... but someone who annoyingly coughs into a microphone every minute and a half or so is. So now I am feeling the pain that my podcast listeners sometimes feel. Just sayin'.

Addendum: Hugh Hewitt is an idiot. But then you already knew that, right?

Another Addendum, But No, I Am Not Going to Try to Turn This Into a LiveBlog: Kasich just made his play for "serious" status on foreign policy. He thinks Russia "has been getting away with too much" and wants to (superhero fist gesture) "punch Russia in the nose." I'd say he's just about done.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 58: The Case for NOTA, Part 2

This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast, like EVERY episode through the end of 2016, is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Fiverr f**ed me again;
  • Thanks For Asking! (guns, Julian Assange and Rush Limbaugh);
  • The Case for NOTA, part 2.
Note: Yes, I see that the final portion of "The Case for NOTA, part 2" got doubled up. Entirely my fault -- I recorded it as two separate segments, spliced those two segments together, and forgot to delete the extra file of the tail end segment. I'd go back and fixed that, but I'm not sure how things would work vis a vis Soundcloud's upload procedure (i.e. would it replace the previous one or create a new "episode?"). So there's an extra minute and a half or so of duplicate content. Sorry about that! That kind of problem should disappear once the new machine arrives and I don't have a five-minute recording limit, as I do with Twisted Wave.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Review: The Miskatonic Manuscript, by Vin Suprynowicz

I'm writing this review the day before Vin Suprynowicz's new novel, The Miskatonic Manuscript, hits the shelves ... but unless you're one of my financial supporters (see the right sidebar!), you won't be able to read it until a minute or so after midnight on December 11th, its official release date.

Before getting into the review proper, let me hit you with a link and possibly bore you with encomia.

The link:


That link should take you to Vin Suprynowicz's preferred bookseller, AbeBooks, and more importantly to a list of all the books by Vin Suprynowicz that you can get there (including, as of some time on the 11th, the new book).

Updated links, later in the morning:

Click here for the hardcover limited edition of The Miskatonic Manuscript at AbeBooks
Click Here for the ebook edition of The Miskatonic Manuscript at Amazon

The encomia:

I can't brag that I've read every word ever written for publication by Vin, but I've tried. I've read the collections of his print essays (Send in the Waco Killers and The Ballad of Carl Drega). I've read his doorstop of a first novel, The Black Arrow. I've read the first two novels in his current series centering on rare book sellers/hunters Matthew Hunter and Chantal Stevens (The Testament of James and now The Miskatonic Manuscript). And I've followed his editorial career at the Las Vegas Review-Journal and later on his blog.

Every time Vin writes and I read, whether the material is fiction or non-fiction, I come away an edified and improved individual ... and I also come away hungry for more. Oh, and angry, and occasionally moved to tears ... nobody tears the state a new asshole, or sympathetically portrays its victims, quite the way Vin does. So in advance of the review, just know that I encourage you to read this book and every other thing you can find by the guy.

OK, the review, with spoilers kept as minimal as I can keep them:

The Miskatonic Manuscript is the second volume (following The Testament of James) in a continuing series (with a third story advertised as on the way!) featuring the crew at Providence, Rhode Island's Books on Benefit. The main characters are owner Matthew Hunter, his mate Chantal Stevens, and (in my opinion) the store itself. Books on Benefit is no ordinary bookstore and its crew are no ordinary booksellers. In addition to selling musty old paperbacks to walk-ins, they deal in rare and collectible books. The entire crew, human and feline alike, are more than cardboard cutouts -- they do play key roles. And I don't think it a stretch to infer that Hunter and Stevens bear some resemblances to the author and his mate, The Brunette.

In The Miskatonic Manuscript, as in the previous novel, the MacGuffin is a lost manuscript -- this time a notebook rumored to have been kept by HP Lovecraft, relating to one of his early stories (that story is included as an appendix to the novel) but perhaps holding the key to a distinctively non-fictional device and what that device can do.

Another resemblance between the two novels: The characters clearly hate -- at least as much as Suprynowicz himself does -- the "war on drugs." In a very big way. They also clearly love, and are clearly familiar with, the class of "drugs" known to their devotees as entheogens and to their state detractors as "hallucinogens." I am not going to infer from the text that Suprynowicz himself has a lot of experience with those substances, for the simple reason that doing so might be dangerous to him ... but I do have some such experience myself. Let's just assume he's a damn good researcher and leave it at that, OK?

One key question posed in The Miskatonic Manuscript is: "What if you fought a War on Drugs, and someone fought back?" The answer is laid out in a style tactically reminiscent both of Suprynowicz's own The Black Arrow and Bill Brannon's Let Us Prey. Those segments, and the careful explanation of the rationale, are worth the price of this book all by themselves. At some point in the probably not-too-distant future, I expect -- and hope -- they'll be cited as prescient.

But there's more! This is not just a polemic disguised as a story. I don't want to do a bunch of spoiling here, but there are otherworldly creatures, and other worlds, and a storyline that stands up well next to the best of a broad genre that I'd classify as beginning with H Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines and running through the adventures of Doc Savage by Lester Dent, aka Kenneth Robeson. "Adventure tales," more or less, with a strong flavor of the supernatural as super-science. Great stuff!

If you grew up devouring the re-published (and sometimes re-created, for better or worse) "pulp" adventure, science fiction and swords and sorcery tales of an era that straddled World War II, the Hunter/Stevens stories are going to take you back, in a good way.

For the story, and the storycraft, read this book.

But, again, there's more! My copy of The Miskatonic Manuscript is copy number 19 of a numbered, signed, hardcover first edition of 650 (and yes, it was a "free" review copy -- there's my interest disclosure). There's an ebook version available ... but you will want the physical version on your home's most prominent book shelf, so you might want to order ASAP. When Vin puts out a novel, he also puts out a product of superb physical quality. There was a leather-bound edition of The Black Arrow. These limited editions of The Testament of James and The Miskatonic Manuscript aren't leather-bound, but they are beautifully produced, obviously printed on high quality paper stock and come with library-quality dust jackets. Jacket design by Carl Bussjaeger on both volumes ... and on The Miskatonic Manuscript, cover art by Boris Vallejo!

I could probably keep yelling "but there's more!" for quite awhile, but I'm going to simmer down. The next book Vin writes that I can't recommend will be the first book Vin writes that I can't recommend. And I don't expect to ever see that book.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Somewhat Delayed Experiment

I love Doug Scribner's Watch My Bit site. It connects content creators with paying viewers/listeners via Bitcoin micropayments.

My first attempt to publish an episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast on Watch My Bit failed due to some kind of file compatibility problem. Then I got busy with other things, and only just now got around to a second try, this time converting the MP3 to FLV video and putting the podcast logo in as a thumbnail and video placeholder.

If it's worth 11 cents US in Bitcoin to you, check out Episode 57 of the podcast there. Of course you can always find it free via various services from the podcast's home page. This paid version is for those who want to financially support my work and would rather do so 11 cents at a time, in Bitcoin, rather than through any of the options over in the sidebar.

If the Watch My Bit version gets a paying audience, I'll start posting every episode there. But yes, it will continue to be "free content" for those who don't want to pay, or prefer not to pay in that particular manner.

Treat Yourself, Treat Me!

A couple of affiliate links, with explanations as to how using them will benefit you and support my work here at KN@PPSTER, at the Garrison Center, and on the KN@PP Stir Podcast ...

At Fiverr, you can get all kinds of things done for $5 (or more -- most "gigs" come with a basic $5 version and "extras" available for additional increments of $5). I've used Fiverr for various things, including the podcast logo and closing credits for audio versions of Garrison Center op-eds. Right now I have two pieces of audio on the way for use on the podcast.

When you join Fiverr via my affiliate link, you get a free $5 gig. And if you eventually spend $10 with them, I get $5 in credit too. Which means I can get more stuff done. Stuff that improves the content I create. [addendum, a couple of hours after posting: I forgot to mention that Fiverr accepts Bitcoin!]

At Purse, you can use Bitcoin to order stuff from Amazon at a discount of 5% (or more!) and get free two-day shipping. I've now placed three orders through Purse, including an order for the pop filter I've used to improve the podcast's sound quality. It works and it works well (Purse, that is, not the pop filter, although that seems to work well too). If you like using Bitcoin and like getting your stuff cheaper and faster, Purse is for you.

When you join through my affiliate link, you get an instant bonus of 10mBTC in your Purse account. And once you've spent Bitcoin through Purse corresponding to $50 USD, I get a 10mBTC bonus, too.

If either of these things meet a need of yours, and if you're not signed up with them yet, I'd much appreciate the opportunity to be your referrer.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

More Wordpress GAAAAAAH!

The gripe, in extremely general terms:

Yes, I know that things change, and that Wordpress is one of those things which necessarily changes continuously. With each new version there's new stuff under the hood to make it more secure, to let it conform itself to new display requirements (e.g. mobile), to integrate cool new stuff, etc.

But every time a major release comes out, I lose some piece of functionality, at least temporarily.

The extended gripe:

I think it was 4.0 that broke "autocomplete" in the post editor, and I never have figured out a way to restore that. At Rational Review News Digest, we excerpt and link Other People's Content, and to do that we use custom fields for source, author and URL, e.g. --

Autonomous terrorism calls for autonomous defense
Source: Reason
by Jacob Sullum

"There is not much the government can do about the sort of terrorist threat that President Obama described in his speech on Sunday. It will always be difficult to stop self-radicalized jihadists, operating under no one's instructions, from carrying out attacks on soft targets too scattered and numerous to secure. The only viable alternative, self-help, is one that Obama seems ideologically incapable of considering. His proposals for new restrictions on firearms move in the opposite direction, based on the assumption that the problem is too many guns in too many hands." (12/09/15)


Now it's a good bet that we'll blurb and link 5-10 pieces from Reason in any given week, and probably one from Jacob Sullum at least once a week or so. Now, extend that to maybe 30 "usual haunt" content sources and at least as many "usual suspects" authors from those sources. So autocomplete in those custom fields saved me a LOT of typing. And now it's gone.

So this morning, I saw the update notice on RRND's dashboard. Time to update to Wordpress 4.4, "Clifford." And I did.

With this update, the custom field input forms just disappeared entirely from the post editor. There's no longer a separate set of fields for me and my fellow editors to enter "source," "author" and "URL."

Wordpress can still address and pull custom field content for its display within posts. But we can't input that content for Wordpress to address and pull, because something in Wordpress 4.4. apparently doesn't like the existing version of the Custom Field Template plugin.

Which means that as of today, we're having to manually format all that stuff into the main body of the post. And which means that as of today's content, our old post/page templates are going to have some extraneous visual garbage because they are formatted to pull that stuff from custom fields.

The quick fix would be to say "OK, I guess we're going to switch to hand-formatting that stuff, and I'll go through and remove the post/page template hooks for grabbing custom fields." That would get rid of the visual garbage problem and would actually solve another problem that I'm not going to go into here.

But that quick fix would also create more work for all three editors going forward.

And it would cause the existing posts -- about 65,500 of them -- to no longer show the reader the source, author or link. Which, among other things, would be a disservice to the sites and authors where the excerpted content was originally published, and might even create a bad legal situation vis a vis copyright such that the wisest course would be to simply delete all those old posts.

So for the moment, what we're going to do is put up with the visual garbage problem and hope that the wonderful Custom Field Template plugin's author, Hiroaki Miyashita, sees fit to update the plugin very soon, and that the new "under the hood" stuff doesn't make that impossible in some way.

Update, 12/10/15: Looks like Hiroaki Miyashita pulled an all-nighter -- the Custom Field Template plugin has now been updated and site functionality is back to normal!

Best Thing I've Read Online This Week

Well, it is only Wednesday. But still, this is pretty sweet. It's Bryan Caplan at EconLog, from the speech he wished he'd given at the Open Borders Meetup:

While every existing government mandates discrimination against foreigners, they're wrong to do so. Mandatory discrimination against foreigners is morally no better than mandatory discrimination against blacks, women, Jews, or gays. And economically, it's folly. Mass production is the secret to mass consumption. Trapping most of the world's talent in less-productive regions of the world impoverishes us all. Immigration restrictions are a grave injustice that does great harm, holding much of the world in poverty while keeping the full fruits of human talent off the world market.

Preach it, brother!

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/09/15

This AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:


  • Ask me anything (anything) in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer your question in the comment thread, on this weekend's podcast, or both.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Wordpress Bleg

I'm looking for a Wordpress plugin that certainly should exist, but doesn't seem to exist. By which I mean I've searchws high and low on various likely terms and phrases and haven't found anything like it. Maybe one of y'all can help.

The plugin I'm looking for would let me preview pages on my Wordpress site as they will look at some future point in time. So suppose it's 11:30 pm and I have a number of posts scheduled to publish between now and 7am tomorrow. This plugin would let me look at e.g. the front page, the category pages, custom pages I've created, whatever as they will look at 7am tomorrow when those scheduled posts have published.

Or perhaps instead of a plugin, a snippet of PHP I could stick in a page template to fool Wordpress (only for purposes of that page, which wouldn't be publicly visible, rather than site-wide) into thinking that it is a different, later time when it pulls posts to display?

Whether plugin or PHP kludge, this is something I would find very useful and that I suspect other Wordpress site owners would as well. And while I'm obviously not an expert on plugin coding or PHP, it doesn't seem like it should be especially complicated or difficult to create.

Anyone know of anything resembling this?

Bullet Points (Pun Intended) on Obama's San Bernardino Speech

I riffed on the speech a bit during last night's podcast, but hey, how about some of the ol' "extend and revise?"

Full text here for those who want to read it, and here's the video for those who can stand to watch:

Obama's speech vs. fact, truth and reality:

Obama: "As we've become better at preventing complex multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists turn to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society. It is this type of attack that we saw at Fort Hood in 2009, in Chattanooga earlier this year, and now in San Bernardino."

Fact, Truth and Reality: The 2009 attack at Fort Hood and the attack on US military facilities in Chattanooga last July were not "terrorism." Terrorism involves attacks on civilian non-combatants, not military personnel and facilities. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize populations, not to kill military personnel. Fort Hood and Chattanooga were acts of war.

Obama: "There are several steps that Congress should take right away. To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon? This is a matter of national security."

Fact, Truth and Reality: As Christopher Burg points out over at A Geek With Guns, this is among other things a big Fifth Amendment no-no. In theory -- theory that Obama should know quite well as a former "constitutional law professor" -- the government does not get to deprive people of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The "no-fly" list already violates that constitutional prohibition. It's nothing more and nothing less than a secret enemies list. We have no way of knowing who's on the list, why they're on it, how they got on it, who gets to put people on it. Even the people who are on it don't know they're on it until they try to board planes. In any sane society, the people responsible for the existence and maintenance of the "no-fly list" would quickly be imprisoned or exiled. Obama wants to extend that secret enemies list's power such that instead of merely infringing on the right to travel, it also infringes on the right to keep and bear arms. Fvck that noise.

Obama: "We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons, like the ones that were used in San Bernardino."

Fact, Truth and Reality: Semi-automatic rifle actions have been around since 1885 and are quite common in hunting/sporting rifles. The only noticeable difference between those hunting/sporting rifles and the AR-15s used by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik is cosmetic appearance. The AR-15 and other "assault weapons" look mean, military and scary. Really. That's the difference.

As I note above, terrorism involves using attacks on civilians to terrorize. Every time some victim disarmament advocate jumps up and down about "assault weapons" in reference to a terror attack they are, at the very least, aiding and abetting the attackers in achieving the desired effect of scaring the bejabbers out of people who don't know the facts. Or, to put it a different way, victim disarmament advocates like Obama are terrorists.

Obama: "I know there are some who reject any gun-safety measures"

Fact, Truth and Reality: Victim disarmament, aka "gun control," isn't a "gun-safety measure." It's an attempt to deprive Americans of the means of self-defense, making them less safe. Why would an American politician want to make Americans less safe? I'll let L. Neil Smith explain: "The one and only reason politicians, bureaucrats, and policemen want to take your weapons away from you is so that they can do things to you that they couldn't do if you still had your weapons."

Obama: "The strategy that we are using now -- air strikes, special forces, and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country -- that is how we'll achieve a more sustainable victory, and it won't require us sending a new generation of Americans overseas to fight and die for another decade on foreign soil."

Fact, Truth and Reality: That strategy has never worked anywhere the US has tried it before.  Obama is old enough to just barely remember Vietnam, so he presumably knows that it has never worked anywhere the US has tried it before. What reason does he have to believe, and why should we believe with him, that it's going to magically start working now?

Obama could have saved time with his speech by cutting out the details and keeping it to maybe 30 seconds: "The San Bernardino attack was awful. I'm working 24/7 to exploit that attack for the purpose of making things even worse. Good night, and good luck."

Sunday, December 06, 2015

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 57: The Case for NOTA

All episodes of The KN@PP Stir Podcast through the end of 2016 are brought to you by my sponsor, Darryl W. Perry:

In This Episode: Thanks For Asking! (Libertarian Party stuff, heavy metal guitar musings, cutting taxes from the bottom up and welfare from the top down, who's Gregg Swann?; Hey, gettin' a Mac!); Libertarian Party 2016 Presidential Nomination: The Case for NOTA, Part 1; Closing Rant (Obama versus gun rights -- due process and secret government enemies lists).

Show Notes

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Renewed Recommendation

A few years ago, I recommended a piece of software for Mac users: CleanMyMac. By way of revising and extending my remarks, I want to RE-recommend not just the software, but the company. Not an affiliate link. I'm recommending because I like, not because it will get me paid.

Yesterday, after learning that I have a new (to me) Mac on the way, my brain spewed up the memory that I had purchased a "lifetime license" for CleanMyMac back in 2012, not long before retiring my old Mac Mini over problems definitely NOT related to it being unclean. So I searched my email archive, found the license acknowledgement, and emailed MacPaw support to find out if that license extended to the later version for the newer machine.

I just had a nice email from Yaroslav Kopylov at MacPaw, with a download link and activation code. So in addition to making great software, MacPaw gives great customer service. They have a variety of offerings, including CleanMyPC for those of you who remain trapped in Windoze hell. I assume it's just as good as CleanMyMac. And CleanMyMac is very good.

Friday, December 04, 2015

"Suspicious Activity?" Really?

Maybe the outlets I'm seeing this stuff at aren't telling the whole story. As reported by Mia de Graaf and Snejana Farberov at the Daily Mail:

Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, were apparently working late at night in their garage and receiving numerous packages to their home in Redlands, California.

But according to nearby residents, they did not report them for fear of [being accused of?] racial profiling.

Katie Pavlich at Town Hall reports similarly, embedding a tweet from @WillCarrFNC:

Neighbors: 3-4 "middle easterners" had recently moved into the apt of interest. getting a lots of package deliveries

Pavlich compares said tinkering and package receipts to Nidal Hassan "spouting violent Islamic propaganda to neighbors." WTF?

News flash:

If you think your neighbors tinkering in their garage at night and receiving lots of packages is "suspicious," you're paranoid (which, as this case establishes, doesn't necessarily mean they aren't out to get you ... or to get someone, anyway ... but you're paranoid nonetheless).

And if your reason for thinking that it's "suspicious" to tinker in the garage at night and receive lots of package is that they look like "middle easterners," then yes, what you are doing is racial profiling (or at least ethnic profiling).

My household receives lots of packages. I'm always getting books, etc. in the mail; the kids have bank accounts and their meager allowances are automagically deposited in same, accessible by debit card, so they're always ordering crap from Amazon, eBay, Etsy, etc.

We don't have a garage. The guy across the street does, though, and he's always tinkering in it because he's a mechanic and he's always working on one of his cars or one of his friends' cars.

Of course, none of the parties mentioned look like "middle easterners," so I guess none of us are "suspicious."

It's bad enough that these neighbor are guilt-tripping themselves after the fact for not being suspicious of un-suspicious activities (or, if they were suspicious, dismissing those suspicions for the well-founded reason that the suspicions amounted to racial profiling and were therefore irrational, even if correct).

It's worse that a bunch of idiots seem to be actively encouraging that false kind of guilt and implicitly encouraging everyone else to go batsh*t insane if a swarthy new neighbor orders too much stuff from Fingerhut and changes his own oil.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Thanks to an org I've been working with for a number of years, I have a new computer coming.

I ask them for a piece of gear every couple of years. As obsessive KN@PPSTER readers know, I've been mulling one of those Intel HDMI sticks with Windoze (shudder) on it. I try to keep my biennial requests below $200, and I figured I could come in under that price point for the stick, a bluetooth keyboard/mouse, etc. The idea being something that could go mobile when needed, that would be a nice little backup or at least temporary replacement should one of my ChromeOS devices happen to sh*t the bed, etc., and that I could do some things on that are hard in ChromeOS, e.g. editing audio (N.B. I've owned two Chromeboxes and one Chromebook; all of them continue to hum right along; they may be limited, but they're reliable).

The work I do for this org is something I can do from any decent web browser and text editor, so it's not like I need a Cray or anything. My main rationale for asking them for anything is that I work cheaply so I figure I rack up a few brownie points, and since the work I do for them is daily, seven days a week, they have a stake in me NEVER BEING DOWN WITH COMPUTER PROBLEMS. So it works out.

Now it just so happens that they occasionally get equipment donations from supporters, that they pass those donations on to their workers, and that they probably expected me to come calling some time soon. So when I started to ask them about the cheap HDMI thingamabob, they asked me if I'd be interested in this instead. And not just the basic model, but one built out to maximum RAM and so forth initially, with all the luxury options, and with a new 500Gb SSD drive installed last year.

"MacBook Pros" by Benjamin Nagel.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
via Wikimedia Commons
Hmmm, let me think about this ... do I want them to spend $200 on a brokedick Windoze stick, or would I prefer a Mac that originally cost more than any car I have ever owned, but that they don't have to shell out cash for, and that can, even at five years old, run the newest version of Mac OS X?

Yeah, that didn't take long. Thanks, guys!

I've used a number of Macs over the years -- an original Mac, an SE/30, a IIci, a Performa, a PPC G2 or G3 laptop donated by a reader (pre-KN@PPSTER, I think, but I used it for some time), a headless G4 laptop given to me by KN@PPSTER reader Morey Straus, and finally a 2006 Mac Mini that I retired in favor of my first Chromebox in 2012. With the exception of the original Mac, which was 10 years old when I bought it at a junk shop, I've always considered them superior machines to newer Windoze equivalents that I had to use at work, or that were being used around me at home. I've become very accustomed to Linux and then ChromeOS over the years, but I'm very happy about my impending return to Mac heaven.

So, Mac users who are KN@PPSTER readers, let me bleg you for some advice in comments:

  • This machine should be able to run Yosemite, but should I upgrade that far on the OS? Or would one of the previous OS X versions be better, performance-wise?
  • Any recommendations for the best (hopefully free) audio editing software? Audacity? Garage Band? Something else?
  • Any general recommendations for programs/apps that I won't want to live without?

Thanks in advance!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/03/15

This week's Ask Me Anything Thread -- and the podcast to follow -- are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

Handy-dandy instructions:

  • Ask me anything (anything!) in the comment thread below this post;
  • I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A Brief Tutorial on Phone Etiquette for Collection Agencies, Part 2

Wow ... it's been more than a decade since I wrote Part 1. To this very day, that post brings in a little search engine traffic on a regular basis, so I thought I'd follow up with another tutorial.

In Part 1, I went through what happens when you call my phone number and think it's my job to help you track down someone who doesn't live at that address / have that phone number any more. But over the years, I've also experienced something that goes like this:

Ring. Ring.

Me: Hello?

Caller: Hello, is this Thomas Knapp at [address]?

Me: Who wants to know?

Caller: Well, this is Bob at [meaningless but official-sounding name]. I've been trying to reach your neighbor, Betty, and haven't been able to get in touch. You live just a couple of doors down from her, and I was hoping you could help me get a message to her.

Me: What's the message?

Caller: Could you ask her to call me at 1-800-XXX-XXXX in reference to File Number BR-549?

Me: That's not a very detailed message. What's this about?

Caller: It's a personal business matter.

Me: In other words, you're a collection agency and even though I don't work for you, you expect me to go knocking on my neighbor's door as your proxy to harangue her about a bill you claim she owes.

Caller: Well, we just really need to get in touch with her ...

Me: Calm down. I'm willing to do this for you, I just think we need to talk about our relationship first. My consulting rate is $25 an hour and I bill for a minimum of four hours at a time. If you want me to walk around my neighborhood pissing off people whom I may live within small arms range of, I suggest we assume 30 minutes per visit -- it may take a little less time than that, but remember I'm also burning shoe leather or gas, not just sitting here consulting with you. So what I need you to do is get a contract to me in the mail agreeing to my rates, with a four-hour advance check enclosed, and start aggregating the names and addresses of the people you want me to visit for you. At 30 minutes per visit, that works out to eight names per list, and I'll be glad to complete one list per week for you to start, provided the payment arrives in a timely manner. Do those terms sound acceptable?

Caller: Hey, look, we were just hoping you could do your neighbor a favor ...

Me: No, you were hoping you could get me to do your dirty work for you at no charge. No dice, freeloader.


Feel free to adapt and use this technique in your own similar interactions.