Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Florida Libertarians Nominate Stanton for US Senate

Congratulations to Paul Stanton, who won the Libertarian Party's nomination for US Senate from Florida in yesterday's primary. As my readers/listeners know, I supported Paul in the primary.

Congratulations also to Augustus Invictus, who ran an ... interesting ... campaign. As my readers/listeners know, I opposed Invictus in the primary.

Now is not the time to pick on Invictus, and I'm not going to. But a couple of thoughts on what happened and why:

About 4,000 people voted in Florida's first-ever statewide Libertarian primary.

As much as those of us who are involved in the LP would like to think that they all looked closely at the candidates, carefully weighed those candidates' qualifications and positions, and did their best to "pick the best man," that's almost certainly not what happened.

I would be surprised if as many as 500 of those voters could identify either of the candidates in a lineup or state their mutual positions on so much as a single issue, and those 500 made up their minds early and stuck with their decisions.

Augustus did not lose the primary because of his philosophy or his political positions. He lost the primary because for his particular branding strategy to succeed, he would have needed at least a full order of magnitude more media attention than he got. He would have also had to do certain things with that attention, but the first step was getting the attention. And he made a damn good effort at getting it. I don't know that anyone could have succeeded where he failed given the same playing field and set of facts.

So, 7/8ths of the Libertarian primary voters went to the polls not knowing either of the candidates from Adam.

Those voters saw two names: Paul Stanton and Augustus Invictus. Or, rather, they saw two implied descriptors: Normal and weird.

Most of them voted for normal because most people, ceteris paribus, prefer normal to weird.

A few voted for weird because, ceteris paribus, they prefer weird to normal.

The people who had a strong preference for Invictus's particular brand of weird were among the 500 who actually followed the primary race and formed strong, at least somewhat informed, opinions of the candidates.

Personally, I could see myself having voted for Invictus if the weirdness branding (and the procured publicity for the weirdness branding) had been a lot more LSD Journals/strip club threesomes and a lot less Huey Long meets Benito Mussolini.

Or, to put a finer point on it -- and I am talking presentation, not content, here -- a lot more Hunter S. Thompson/Freak Power and a lot less David Duke/National Association for the Advancement of White People.

But, of course, that's because I'm pretty weird myself. Weirdness of any type wouldn't have carried the general election for a third party candidate, although it might have made the general election fun and interesting. Vis a vis major party weirdness, I was rooting for Alan Grayson in the Democratic primary -- he would have whipped Marco Rubio's ass in November and the next 60-odd days would have been great fun.

I am not trying to take anything away from either of these gentlemen. They both worked hard. Mr. Stanton deserves his victory and I'm glad he won. I'm glad Invictus lost, but am grateful to him for making things VERY interesting.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Comment of the Week

The story:

Police arrested Juanita Gomez, 49, of Oklahoma City on charges of killing her daughter, Geneva, whose body was found by authorities stretched out on the floor with a large crucifix resting on her chest. "Blood was visible, and she had suffered severe trauma around her head and face," said court documents filed on Monday, according to Tribune Media. After placing the body in a cross position, the court document show, Juanita cleaned her daughter's dead body. Her mother told investigators that she believed her daughter, 33, who was living with her, had demons inside.

The comment, from Mary-Anne Wolf:

Does it seem reasonable to ask all Christians to distance themselves from this religiously motivated action? Could we argue based on this crime that Christianity is not a peaceful religion? Or is it only Islamic people who are held responsible for actions by a minority of those who claim to follow their faith?

Facebook version for those who prefer to discuss it there ...

The libertarian case for immigration restrictions

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Monday, August 29, 2016

The Latest New KN@PPSTER Joint

As long-time readers know, every so often I come up with an idea that seems easy to implement, cheaply or freely implementable, fits into the stuff I do already, and just might be a money-maker. So I try it out and see what happens.

I was thinking the other day about the weekly newspapers I've come across in almost every city of any size that I've ever spent time in: The crime tabloid. The one I happened to be thinking about was the St. Louis Metro Evening Whirl.

Crime sells newspapers. The "police blotter" section is a popular feature even in papers that aren't centered entirely around crime. And I've noticed that "mug shot" database sites seem to be popular as well.

I spend a lot of time each day -- for, among other things, the freedom movement's daily newspaper -- on content curation ("the process of gathering information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest").

Crime stories have a tendency to pop out at me even though they aren't really my primary interest in other curation roles. Giving them the quick blurb/link treatment does not consume a great deal of additional time.

I already own the domain name (because I've always intended for it to encompass multiple publications).

So, enter Crime News Digest. I should be able to do it in 15-20 minutes a day (additional, beyond time sunk anyway) for 5-15 stories. If it monetizes well, I keep doing it. If it doesn't, I don't. Enjoy.

Yes, I Know the Podcast is Late

Not sure how late it will end up being. I was under the weather yesterday with, among other things, bad sneezy allergy stuff (pollen, I guess). Took to bed early intending to get up and record the podcast in the late evening, ended up sleeping all night. Sorry about that. It may be mid-week, as I expect to have something on my mind about Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Thanks For Asking! -- 08/24/16

This week's AMA thread, and the episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

How it works ...

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Спасибо, товарищи!

I was interviewed by Russian state media earlier today. Not in Russian, though. In English -- Matt Ayton of Sputnik Radio UK.

Subject: Pay for play at the Clinton foundation.

Not sure if it's aired yet, or if so whether or not there's an archival link. If one turns up I'll update this post with it.

No, I have no idea where or why they came up with my name as someone to talk about that issue with. But pretty cool, IMO.

Monday, August 22, 2016


On August 3rd, Edward Snowden (or someone using Snowden's Twitter account) tweeted the message "Did you work with me? Have we talked since 2013? Please recontact me securely. It’s time."

On August 5th, Snowden (or someone using Snowdent's Twitter account) tweeted the message "ffdae96f8dd292374a966ec8b57d9cc680ce1d23cb7072c522efe32a1a7e34b0" (which some sources say is a private Bitcoin hash for the amount BTC 0.000911, boosting the theory that the tweet was a "dead man's switch" message and meant Snowden had some kind of emergency going).

Then both tweets were deleted.

Ten days later, a group calling itself the "Shadow Brokers" announced an online auction of  hacking tools allegedly copied from The Equation Group, an NSA-associated hacker outfit.

Then Snowden released information tending to confirm the authenticity of the Shadow Brokers offering.

I guess those first two events and those last two events could be entirely unrelated to each other.

But I wouldn't want to bet money on that proposition.

Grinds My Gears, Louisiana Flooding Edition

Unless he or she actually lives there, there is one, and only one, reason for a politician to visit a disaster area. That reason is to be seen visiting a disaster area.

And every time a politician visits a disaster area, that politician and his or her security/campaign/personal entourage, plus whatever media crews show up for the visit (but didn't show up for the disaster) are hogging up valuable resources (plane seats that could be bringing actual emergency workers in, bottles of water that people who belong there could be drinking, etc.).

He or she is also causing local police, emergency workers, etc. to stop working on actual disaster relief stuff and waste their time escorting his or her dumb ass around while cameras shoot video of everyone gesticulating wildly as if they're conferring on important things.

I won't say it's a litmus test, exactly, but whenever I see a politician pulling that kind of crap, I make a little mark in my brain on the "don't vote for this grandstanding idiot" side of the ledger. Just sayin'.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Hadn't Really Thought About it, But Yeah

Over at, Brad points out that the latest Clinton campaign announcement is really just an ad for an influence-peddling fire sale.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 93: The Short End

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

Another Conversation Starter ...

... from the same thing as this one.

Most political parties begin as small groups of people. There are exceptions -- for example, the Republican Party became large almost instantly because it was formed from the remnants of one failed major party (the Whigs) and several failed minor parties (Free Soil, Liberty, etc.) and counted federal officeholders among its members from the very beginning -- but starting small is the rule.

Remaining small is also, unfortunately, the rule, and most exceptions to that rule are temporary. The political landscape is littered with the remnants of parties that started small, became large, and today are mere shadows of their former selves. The Prohibition Party is America’s oldest continuously existing third party. At one time it elected governors and bludgeoned the major parties into amending the Constitution. These days its national conventions can comfortably meet in the back room of a restaurant. In fact, they can share that room with the Reform Party, which knocked down 8 million votes in the 1996 presidential election but only about a thousand votes in 2012.

Most new political parties never reach, let alone maintain, such  heights of popularity or power. Why?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

An If/Then on Intellectual Property


That if there are taxpayer-funded universities (there shouldn't be, but if there are);

and that if the US government is gives its special friends special monopolies on information such as patent and copyright (it shouldn't, but if it does); then

all information products created by taxpayer-funded universities should fall under their own class of said recognition,  the sole purpose of which shall be to legally prevent anyone else from claiming copyright or patent on said information such that said information instantly effectively enters, and forever effectively remains in, the public domain.

Instead of, for example,  taxpayer-funded universities patenting stuff, then selling or licensing those patents to patent trolls. I mean, what in the blue fuck?

I guess I probably shouldn't  be even a little surprised that this is an issue, but yes, I really am.

"[T]here has been no challenge to the authenticity of the material in question"

I think this is a key point that needs to be hit over and over again, and Naomi LaChance brings it up in a piece at The Intercept about a National Public Radio host leaning on Julian Assange to reveal Wikileaks's source for a load of Democratic National Committee emails.

Assange, as he usually does, handled the pressure with aplomb:

Greene asked again: "Do you know where these emails came from?"

Assange replied: "Yes, I know where they came from. They came from the DNC."

They did come from the DNC, and they do reveal that the allegedly neutral organization was in the tank for Hillary Clinton and did everything in its power to ensure that she, and no other, procured the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nomination, and there has been "no challenge to the authenticity of the material in question."

But neither the DNC nor the Clinton campaign want to talk -- or want anyone else to talk -- about the material in question.

All Clinton and the DNC want to talk about is Them Russians.

I can't imagine why.

5 Libertarian Podcasts (or Podcastish Hangamajiggers) I Try Not to Miss

If I was Greek, I guess it would be about time to change my name to Listicles. Once again, blame Thane.

Until I started podcasting myself, I really didn't listen to a lot of podcastish hangamajiggers. Not that I didn't like them, but the thing about audio is that it's easy for my attention to wander and hard to remember to press "pause" when that begins to happen. When I'm reading something, I can stop and pick it back up a few minutes later. Audio, harder to do that with. At least for me.

But I'm getting better at adding "listen to audio" to my multi-tasking abilities. In fact, right now I am listening to the first podcastish hangamajigger on my list:

Free Talk Live -- FTL is a podcastish hangamajigger rather than a podcast because it's a real live radio show, too. In fact, a Talkers Magazine top 50 real live radio show that runs on more than 170 real live radio stations. I listen to Free Talk Live every day. But usually not live (its 7-10pm timeframe isn't best for me; I catch the archived recording on SoundCloud the morning after each show). It's the one daily news show in any format that I don't miss. Very libertarian, but also geared to a general audience.

The LAVA Flow Podcast -- I don't miss an episode of The LAVA Flow (or its new, shorter offshoot, The Lava Spurt), either, but that's easier because it's not a daily production. The Flow arrives fortnightly, the Spurt whenever host  Rodger Paxton decides it's time. Both are specifically aimed at libertarians and deliver hardcore, but well-spoken and well-framed, analysis. I am also likely prejudiced toward the Flow/Spurt as a listener not only because I've known Rodger and Jessica Paxton for years and consider them among the finest people on Earth, but because they are from northwestern Arkansas (although they live in New Hampshire now) and I'm from southwestern Missouri (although I live in Florida now), which means Rodger's accent sounds like home.

The Jason Stapleton Program -- I'd have to classify Jason Stapleton as a right-leaning libertarian with radical instincts who knows how to talk about it like a reasonable person. I don't really know Stapleton personally -- I think we've communicated twice, maybe three times -- but he seems like a good egg. US Marine Corps background (IIRC he was Force Recon -- what the Navy's SEALs want to be when they grow up) and apparently he became financially successful as a currencies trader so now he can afford to put on a very well-produced daily show (not saying he doesn't want it to make money -- he obviously does -- but it takes some up-front investment to run the kind of setup and keep the kind of daily routine he seems to manage). I don't manage to catch this one every day, but I do try.

The Beer and Bullshit Show -- I've known and loved Chris and Evonne Bennett since ... heck, 2003? We met because of Aaron Russo's 2004 presidential campaign. The Beer and Bullshit Show -- put on as a Google Hangout that gets archived to YouTube, so definitely podcastish hangamajigger rather than podcast proper -- is, as you might imagine, about beer and bullshit and hanging with friends and talking about stuff. Everyone brings some of their favorite beverages to talk about. Great basis for a show and always fun. I don't catch every episode live or right away (because I miss notifications and only just now thought to, you know, SUBSCRIBE TO THE YOUTUBE CHANNEL) and haven't been on it as a participant yet despite multiple invitations (because I am a lamer who can't seem to get a cam working right with my Chromebox and no longer really drinks beer but does miss it). But it's on my list of shows I try not to miss. And I know Chris is completely awed by my mad rap skillz and wants me on the show for that reason.

Johnny Rocket Launch Pad -- How did I not know about this show until I noticed a group of people who looked like the greatest psychobilly combo since The Cramps (yes, I still mourn Lux) hanging out at the Libertarian National Convention in Orlando, decided that if I stood near them I might enjoy some reflected coolness myself, and discovered they were the JRLP crew? I have no idea. They just put on their 100th episode and I should have discovered them about 99 episodes ago. The show's a guest-centered riot (with a surprisingly high-powered guest list) and you shouldn't miss it like I did.

I decided to save the disclaimer for the end:

No, these are not the only libertarian podcasts or podcastish hangamajiggers I listen to, or even the only ones I listen to regularly or try not to miss. They're just the first five that that popped into my head when I thought "hey, maybe I should do a listicle about five libertarian podcasts or podcastish hangamajiggers that I try not to miss." I could think of five more right now. In fact I am thinking of five more right now. So maybe at some point you will see "5 More Libertarian Podcasts (or Podcastish Hangamajiggers) I try not to miss."

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thanks For Asking! -- 08/17/16

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

Ask (in the comment thread for this post) and it shall be answered (in comments, on this weekend's podcast, or both).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Two Ways of Thinking ...

... about the weighting of a political party's various aspects and assets ...



Pop Quiz:

Which one of these structures is more likely, and which one less likely, to fall over the first time something gives it a good shove?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Never Know What You're Gonna Hear ...

... but you just might want to listen to America's favorite redneck Muslim, Will Coley, tonight. His show, The Call to Freedom, runs from 10pm to midnight (Eastern time) on Sunday evenings. You can listen live at

Who's gonna be on there? I'm not telling.

In related news, I was proud to vote for Will Coley for the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential nomination on the first ballot in Orlando. I would have voted for him on the second ballot, too, but he asked his supporters to throw in with Larry Sharpe, and I did. Unfortunately, William Weld managed to slither in under the door, so to speak.

Hmmm, I wonder what tonight's show could possibly be about?

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 92: Never Get Off The Boat

This week's episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

Five ChromeOS Extensions I Wouldn't Want to Live Without

Yes, I am going to become a "listicle" terror. Blame Thane.

As a user of (almost exclusively) Chromebooks and Chromeboxes since 2012, I've used quite a few extensions. Some I've discarded or at least disabled. Others make my life better and/or easier and I'd hate not to have them. Here (in no particular order) are five of the latter kind.

The Great Suspender -- This extension "suspends" tabs that haven't been visited for a certain (user-set) amount of time to cut back on memory usage. You can whitelist sites that you never want suspended, and when you go back to a suspended tab, you can click on a link and reload the web site that was running in that tab. The Great Suspender was my first solution to the slowdown phenomenon that comes with running lots of browser tabs on a machine with only 2Gb of RAM (my Asus M004U Chromebox, which I upgraded to 4Gb last week), and it helped. A lot.

uBlock Origin -- Yes, I finally went over to the dark side and started using an ad blocker, for the same reason I use The Great Suspender. That is, to not have my RAM eaten up by a bunch of extraneous crap. Yes, I still feel guilty sometimes. No, not really. uBlock Origin was the extension I settled on after trying several, and I'm quite satisfied with it.

Keep Awake -- The Chromebox doesn't come with user-adjustable power management settings. You can get around that by going to command line in Chrome Shell ("crosh") and directly editing crap. But then you'd have to remember what you edited and how if you wanted to change or undo it. Keep Awake gives you three convenient settings to switch between with a click. Normal (after a certain amount of time, the machine goes into sleep mode and the displays go dark), a setting that keeps the system awake (and doing stuff if you have something running) even when the displays shut down, and a setting that doesn't even let the displays shut down. When I have the Chromebox web mining cryptocurrency overnight while I sleep, I use that middle setting.

Screen Shader --  A Chrome extension take on f.lux, a program that adjusts the color tone of your computer screen to "to decrease eye-strain, eye fatigue and to appease your brain's day/night cycle." I've only recently started using it, but it feels easier on the eyes. I suppose I might come back later and deprecate it. But I doubt it.

File System for Dropbox -- On most operating systems, if you want to use Dropbox you install some software that creates a Dropbox folder where you save the stuff you want synchronized/backed up to cloud storage. ChromeOS isn't most operating systems. Until this extension came along, if I wanted to store a file in Dropbox I had to go to the web site, log in, and upload the file. File System for Dropbox appears in my file manager as an additional drive, and acts like one. I can save to it, load from it, copy files to and from it, etc.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Self Steem

I ain't got much. Steem for myself, that is. No, that's not an affiliate link. At least I don't think it is. If you join, you get some "Steem Power" to get you started -- see below -- but I don't think I get anything just for bringing you.

Steem is a cryptocurrency, supposedly with the third largest market cap of any cryptocurrency, behind Bitcoin and Ether, even though it's very new.

The gimmick is that this cryptocurrency is linked to a Reddit-style social network/blogging venue where people are rewarde in it for writing content (if the content becomes popular) and for curating content (deciding what's popular).

I'm a combination of interested, skeptical and confused. I've posted a few things over there, but they haven't been well-regarded enough to produce noticeable accrual of any of the three token types of the cryptocurrency ("Steem,"  "Steem Power,"  or "Steem Dollars").

Greatest idea ever? Valueless scam? Something in between? Discuss, please, especially if you know whereof you speak and/or are very good at communicating the details in basic English to those of us who don't get it (I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that said population encompasses more than just me).

Ten Political Commentary Web Sites I Visit Every Day

Reader Thane Eichenauer suggested that I do something similar to (or opposite of) what Tom Woods does here.

Well, OK. First, a couple of disclaimers:

  1. Every day, I visit a lot more than ten web sites. But I don't visit all the same web sites every day. It's not that the sites I don't visit every day aren't good. It's that they don't necessarily have significant new content every day (I use Digg Reader to keep track of what's new; nothing new, no visit). These ten sites, I visit at least five, and often seven, days a week because there's almost always new stuff.
  2. These sites are sites which feature political commentary. I visit lots of news sites, social networks, what have you, too. But they're not on this list.
  3. Speaking of other kinds of political commentary sites I visit, I'm leaving out podcasts. That will be another "listicle."
  4. Back to (1) above, because I just feel like it's important: These are not my "10 most favoritest web sites." I love a lot of sites. These are 10 of my favorites that post new content every day or nearly every day and therefore get a visit every day or nearly every day.
OK, are we all set? The list, in alphabetical order: -- OK, so I also work there. But I don't run it, so it's still a site I visit every day, day in, day out, no matter what. It really is, as advertised, "your best source for antiwar news, viewpoints, and activities." New commentary every day, but the highlights are Lucy Steigerwald's irregular columns and Justin Raimondo's thrice-weekly offerings.

The Atlantic -- No, not a libertarian site per se, although there's some content libertarians should like (e.g. Conor Friedersdorf's stuff). Libertarian or not, there's always something interesting. And when it's mainstream left instead of libertarian, it's the kind of mainstream left that Salon and HuffPo would be if Salon and HuffPo weren't a gaggle of worn-out douchenozzle hacks.

Common Sense -- Paul Jacob is an authentic freedom movement hero. He went to jail for resisting draft registration. And while I don't agree with him 100% of the time (by which I mean he is occasionally wrong), his background in time-limited radio commentaries means his stuff is pure educational gold for those of us who need to learn to write well to limited length (like me with my op-eds).

EconLog -- Yes, I'm sure my Austrian friends will be scandalized that the only especially economics-oriented blog on this listicle traffics in heretical public choice and monetarist stuff. Sorry, can't help it. Bryan Caplan is probably the most interesting economist in the blogosphere.

Foundation for Economic Education -- Since emerging from the Dark Ages Skousen era, FEE has been very cool. There's been a recent change-up there that seems to have involved the departure of Max Borders and BK Marcus (both of whom I thought were great) and the arrival of Jeffrey Tucker and Dan Sanchez and others (I like them, too). Anyway, every day, like clockwork. Count on it.

Future of Freedom Foundation
 -- I don't ever miss Jacob Hornberger's blog, which runs new posts daily unless he's traveling or something. The general "articles" page has new content most days as well, on an eclectic mix of subjects by an eclectic mix of authors. Back in the day, FFF's site kept a running list of where its house-produced op-eds had been published. I adapted that idea to set up my own op-ed operations, first at the Center for a Stateless Society and now at the Garrison Center.

Kent's "Hooligan Libertarian" Blog -- Kent McManigal posts new, thoroughly libertarian, and usually thought-provoking, material every day. He also writes a weekly column for the Clovis, New Mexico News Journal.

Living Freedom -- Claire Wolfe recently moved her blog away from Backwoods Home magazine (where it ran for many years and by which she was presumably paid to blog) to its own site and ran a fundraiser to keep it going. Thankfully the fundraiser succeeded. I don't know what the hell I'd do without it. I've been a Claire fan for 20 years.

The Price of Liberty -- Comment kibbitzers here at KN@PPSTER know and love MamaLiberty. TPoL is her blog. When she posts there herself it's usually either fiction or commentaries on self-defense. Good stuff. In between, Nathan Barton (who I actually met once at a Libertarian Party convention) posts daily commentaries on the news. He falls somewhat to my socially conservative side but is always worth a read, so he always gets one.

Reason -- Well, duh. On a good day there will be stuff by JD Tuccille (who's obviously gone much further than I have since we both worked at Free-Market.Net back in the old days), Jesse Walker, Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Scott Shackford, et. al. And while I like to poke at Nick Gillespie, him too. And others. Sometimes I love Reason. Sometimes I love to hate Reason. Either way I never miss a day.

So there you go, Thane. I hope you're pleased with yourself. You may have unleashed a listicle monster.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Cheap at Twice the Price

Christopher Burg (I read his blog every day and so should you) writes:

Anybody who isn't mathematically challenged knows that playing the Powerball is an exercise in throwing money away. The chances of winning are infinitesimal. You'd be better off putting the money for a ticket into buying a coffee at Starbucks since you at least receive something for your money then.

He's on his way to something else, but that's the part I wanted comment on (and I've blogged about it before). My comment as written at his blog:

You DO receive something for your money (above and beyond the infinitesimal chance of winning).

You receive the pleasure of THINKING about winning.

Where will you build your dream house? What places will you travel to that you never could before? How much will the first REALLY realistic sex robot cost and how many will you be able to afford?

The lottery's product is fantasy facilitation. That chance of winning may be infinitesimal, but it's a hook to hang dreams on.

Slight extension:

I don't know how much it costs to go to a movie around the country, but in my area a ticket is $12.50 and the food prices are equally outrageous. You're talking at least $20-25 per person by the time it's all said and done.

I can buy a Powerball ticket and serve popcorn and soda to my family of four, while we talk about what we'll do if we get rich, for five bucks or so. Taking them out to a movie, or an amusement park, or whatever would end up costing 20 times that, maybe more.

I don't do it often. But I do it occasionally (usually when the jackpot is more than $200 million; the bigger the jackpot, the more dream for your dollar, see?).

Thanks For Asking! -- 08/10/16

This week's AMA thread -- and the attendant coming episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast -- are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

Concise tutorial:

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

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Frankly, I'm Relieved

[Note: I am writing this post at about 6am on Tuesday morning, but don't plan to actually publish it until after the Reform Party announces the outcome of its presidential nomination process; it would be rude to preempt them with hints as to what it is that I'm led to believe they're going to announce - TLK]

[Additional Note: Well, once again my assumption that anything would happen in a timely manner has been deflated; my information is that the Reform Party chose its presidential/vice-presidential nominees late last night ... but so far as I can tell they still haven't gotten round to, you know, SAYING SO - TLK]

No, not sour grapes. Genuine relief. To explain why, here's a brief exchange I had with Red Philips on Facebook last night:

Red Phillips: Any word on the [Reform Party] nomination yet?

Thomas L. Knapp: Nope.

It was supposed to be decided on July 29th.

Then it was supposed to be decided by email ballot and announced at 5pm today.

Then it was "we'll try to have a decision by 9pm."

9pm has come and gone.

Keep in mind that this is nine delegates voting on a single issue.

Even if it went to multiple ballots, it's something nine seventh graders who'd never had a civics class or seen a copy of Robert's could have figured out in 60-90 minutes, tops.

They've taken ten days.

Now in point of fact there still hasn't been an actual announcement 13 hours after the last projected date for one, but I am told that in the middle of the night the Reform Party's nine delegates did finally manage, after nearly two weeks, to wrap up the process of taking a vote and choosing a presidential candidate, and that that candidate was someone other than my running mate, Darcy Richardson (which presumably means the vice-presidential candidate is someone other than me).

Let me reiterate: Nearly two weeks for nine people to complete a simple process that the Libertarian Party managed to get through in a few hours a few weeks ago in Orlando with more than 1,000 delegates participating.

To the extent that I was interested in being the Reform Party's vice-presidential nominee this year, my interest was about helping the Reform Party rebuild itself organizationally (my payoff for doing so would be learning that skill).

But I have to admit, that job was probably beyond my abilities. The level of dysfunction it takes for nine people to need two weeks to take a simple vote is probably just beyond my help. Or anyone else's.

Note that I am not criticizing the content of the decision here. From what I know of who was picked, I understand the reasons even if I think they were given the wrong weight. But making the decision was a process so simple that it should have been impossible to screw up very badly.

Good luck to the Reform Party.

Let Me Defend the Johnson Campaign

You know I don't do that very often, right?

A very nice summation of the "story" here at Brand New (hat tip: Warren Redlich, publisher of Independent Political Report):

Two months ago, Tampa, FL-based SPARK published on its online quarterly publication a conceptual, speculative identity for 2016 Libertarian Party U.S. presidential nominee, Gary Johnson. In the short time since, his campaign has adopted the concept without consent (aka 'stolen the work') from Spark.

Yes, you read that right:

  • Some guys publicly, and without any solicitation from the campaign, suggested that the campaign do X;
  • The campaign did X;
  • The guys now think they were "stolen" from.

Or, as SPARK CEO Tony Miller puts it at Bay News 9 (also h/t Warren):

I think there was some surprise that they hadn't contacted us first and said "hey, do you mind if we use this" or "hey, we are going to use this" ... I think they are probably using that thinking it was out there in the public domain for them to use and probably don't have a full understanding (of what) creative license is all about ... You just can't take somebody's work without permission or without potentially paying for it.

SPARK produced a cute little video accusing the Johnson campaign of "swiping" their offering (h/t Joe Buchman, also of IPR):

So ...

Would  publicly crediting SPARK with making a useful suggestion have been the nice thing to do? Yes.

Was not doing so a dick move? Well, sort of.

But I can't really work up any tears for SPARK.

They could have waited for the campaign to come to them for a proposal before creating one (unlikely, unless there were previously existing ties between the company and the campaign, but that's how it goes).

Or they could privately have worked up the proposal on unsolicited spec and offered it to the campaign with some kind of pre-disclosure agreement that if it was liked it would be bought, and that if it was not bought it would not be used. The campaign might not have agreed to look at it under those conditions, but again, that's how it goes.

Instead, they decided to loudly, publicly shout "HEY GARY JOHNSON, WHY DON'T YOU DO THIS?" in a self-promotional venue. That is, they were using the proposal to drum up business for themselves from potential clients other than the Johnson campaign. It was advertising by hypothetical demonstration. "Here's how good we are -- see, this is what we would be doing if we were doing this guy's campaign."

Now they are bellyaching that he did what they publicly said he should do ... without their permission? What the f**k?

And keep in mind that it's about 99% likely that Gary Johnson never saw SPARK's offering or had any idea that his campaign consultants or staffers had decided to run with a very similar theme until SPARK started griping about it.

What he likely saw was the final product. He's probably very surprised to learn that he's been paying good money to one company for work that another company had already done and published.

If I was Gary, I'd probably be firing someone over this, because I wouldn't want lazy, dishonest assholes charging me for other people's work and setting me up for public embarrassment.

And I'd probably be going ahead and publicly thanking SPARK for their freely, publicly offered work because that's the nice thing to do and it would cost me nothing to do it.

But if I was SPARK, I'd consider a name change, because after the shit they just pulled their name should be mud among potential clients.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Principled Non-Voting: The Missing Element

I'm listening to Free Talk Live (and I'm listening live, so I can't just link to the episode; I'll try to remember to come back later and do that here), and there was just some talk about voting, not voting, "principled non-voting" and so forth.

One of the hosts (Mark) is apparently a little sick of "principled non-voters" belly-aching about how voting is "supporting the system" etc. He hates it -- not because he thinks it negatively affects the libertarian movement in terms of large numbers, but because he thinks it's irrational and that the irrationality is infectious.

I kind of agree, but probably not for the same reasons, at least from what I'm hearing so far. The discussion doesn't seem to have come around to what I consider the main thing:

If all you do vis a vis voting is not vote, it doesn't bother statists nor does it really negatively affect the state.  There's a certain amount of immunity there in the form of the claim/perception that people who don't vote aren't voting because they're apathetic rather than because they have a problem with the system, and that in turn buttresses the whole "if you don't vote, don't complain" / "not voting is consent to abide by whatever the people who do vote decide" consensus.

As a former and possibly future "principled non-voter" I have to say I have always agreed with what Mark seems to be getting at.

In order for not voting to be an effectual statement, or to be or become the tactic of a movement, the people who don't vote have to say why they're not voting, and some non-trivial portion of them have to agree, at least roughly, on why that is.

One of my past little projects (you know me, I start projects to see where they go and abandon them if the answer is "nowhere") was to try and get a campaign going through which non-voters could, as a group, publicly say (through a sort of public registry and communique system) "we're not voting because we don't consent to your system." I called it ⛒-VOTERS. Didn't really go anywhere, but I still think it was an interesting idea with potential.

IIRC, somewhere in the neighborhood of 22% of Americans voted for Barack Obama for president in 2012. 78% did not, and a majority of that 78% didn't vote at all.

Suppose that in addition to the ~22% of Americans who voted for Obama, ~22% or more had joined together in publicly stating "we neither want nor need a president thingie, have your little ritual if you want to but keep it to yourselves." Somewhat different perceptual story there, huh?

But absent that joining together around a message, not voting really isn't any different than not checking the mailbox or not having mayonnaise on your ham sandwich, or not watching Game of Thrones. Nobody notices that you didn't do it and nobody cares why.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 91: Kin Aye Caul Ewe?

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

[Update: People who notice things like how many time a Soundcloud episode has been listened to will notice that this one has a gigantic number of listens compared to the usual. That's artificially gigantic -- I noticed a link offering a "free sample" from a firm that provides "listens" for pay (presumably to pump up statistics for musicians who want their songs to seem more popular than they are) and decided hey, why not? I doubt that I will become a paying customer, but if I do I will disclose that as well, and on a frequent basis, so that I am not, for example, defrauding advertisers by falsifying the true likely interest level. The "natural" number of listeners for the KN@PP Stir Podcast seems, at present, to be in the 50-80 range. Before hitting that link, this episode looked set to get more like 100-125 "natural" listens -- because of its specific Florida-Libertarian-related content, I promoted it to some Facebook groups I usually don't hit with the link -- but certainly not the 400 or so that it's showing at the moment - TLK]

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Is CryptoNote the Future?

No, I don't know -- I really am asking because I don't know.

The two things that strike me as interesting about CryptoNote currencies (such as Bytecoin and Monero) are:

  • They're intended to provide untraceable payments/unlinkable transactions, unlike Bitcoin in which every transaction is publicly recorded. There are workarounds/add-ons for Bitcoin (laundries, exchanges/wallets that generate new addresses automatically or on demand, etc.), but untraceability/unlinkability were never part of the Bitcoin ethos per se. They are explicit and intentional features of CryptoNote currencies.
  • They can be mined from a normal PC. Hell, they can be mined from my Chromebox (using MinerGate's web miner) and from my phone (using MinerGate's Android app). Affiliate link time -- check out MinerGate via this link and if you do some pool mining with them I get a cut.

Why is the second feature important? Because Bitcoin requires significant resources to mine -- for it to be worth it you're going to have to have dedicated rigs using graphics cards. That's why when there's some big question or event, i.e the halving, the Bitcoin core developers huddle with a small club of VIP miners to talk things over. And if a significant chunk of heavy hitter miners should decide to drop out, verifications will slow to a crawl.

It seems to me that CryptoNote could be a lot more like torrent sharing, where lots of people are willing to maintain the block chain by mining in an extra tab and/or while they're not actually using their machines.

Not for big money, but for very small money and also very little trouble, and from the same kind of sentiments one gets from holding 1/xth of a shared file as a torrent and letting people grab it.

It's not especially CPU-intensive (I'm mining in another tab as I write this post and it doesn't seem to slow stuff down at all). No dedicated rigs needed, just a mining client or web mining tab. Anyone can do it, and it seems like lots of people might want to (and to use the currency for various things, especially things where untraceability/unlinkability are desirable.

I'm sure there are at least 50 things I don't know and/or haven't considered that will almost certainly make all of the foregoing, and me, look stupid. And some of you know what they are. So please, 50 comments explaining those 50 things.

Johnson v. Commission on Presidential Debates: Case Dismissed

Good try at forcing the CPD to stop making illegally large campaign contributions to the major party presidential candidates on the part of Gary Johnson and other candidates, but, as reported at Ballot Access News, federal judge Rosemary Collyer ruled in favor of the anti-competitive cartel's motion to dismiss (the complaint was based on anti-trust laws; Collyer ruled that if commercial actors call themselves political non-profits, they're not subject to those laws).

Personally I think the stronger case is under the legal campaign contribution limits. Collyer just ruled that what the CPD is engaged in is "political activity," and the free advertising they're giving away to the two major party candidates seems to exceed those limits.

If the major party candidates want to put on a 90-minute campaign commercial together, let them buy the time on a television station and pay for it with their campaign funds, going Dutch, instead of being given an exemption to the campaign finance laws that the other candidates don't get.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Peaceful Isn't Cops' Priority. Compliance Is.

So, more on the killing of Korryn Gaines by Baltimore County, Maryland police. In my last post I covered the double standard vis a vis cops and secrecy. To wit, if you or I act in advance to conceal actions from public view and those actions culminate in someone's death, the concealment will be treated as evidence of intent and we will almost certainly go to prison. Costumed government employees who have shiny badges, on the other hand, will be allowed to "investigate" themselves, declare that they've determined they did nothing wrong, and move on to the next violent encounter.

My friend David Klaus forwarded me this piece from Time, which includes more verbiage from Baltimore County police chief James Johnson. Quoth Johnson:

For hours, we pleaded with her to end this peacefully.

This implies that the standard of operational success, from the vantage point of the Baltimore County Police Department, was a peaceful end to the encounter.

But a peaceful end to the encounter was available to them at any time. All they had to do to achieve that was get in their cars and drive away.

No, I'm not saying that is what I would expect them to do. I'm just pointing out that a peaceful end to the encounter wasn't the priority. The apprehension of Korryn Gaines was.

How high a priority, and how far a priority from peacefully ending the encounter?

High enough and far enough that if apprehending her proved impossible, they were willing to execute her rather than leave her alone.

And yes, it was an execution. We don't know exactly what happened because the police department acted to ensure that the public couldn't see what happened, which is damning in itself. But even the official police account states that it was a police officer who fired first and that Gaines only returned fire in (not the terms the police use, of course) defense of herself and her five-year-old son.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Why Doesn't "If You've Got Nothing to Hide, You've Got Nothing to Fear" Apply to Cops?

Police -- and not just individual officers, but entire departments and apparently most of them -- don't seem to like it very much when people know who they are or what they're doing.

For decades, protesters have reported that when the riot police swoop in, they've all covered their badge numbers (in addition to their faces) so that there's no way to know which one of them did what to whom.

Nearly every time a police officer shoots someone, the department declines to name that officer unless there's severe pressure to do so.

Here's the latest, and it's pretty over the top:

Baltimore County police shot and killed Korryn Gaines, a 23-year-old black woman, after an hours-long standoff on Monday -- during which Facebook and Instagram, at police request, temporarily shut down Gaines' accounts. ... Police Chief Jim Johnson says Gaines was posting video of the standoff to social media as it was unfolding, which prompted police to request the deactivation of her accounts. ... Johnson says that as negotiations were happening, police asked social media sites to deactivate Gaines'[s] accounts to "preserve the integrity of the negotiation process" as well as the safety of officers and Gaines'[s] child.

Think about that for a minute. Here's Johnson's premise in plain English:

"She was showing people what we were doing, and we can't have that -- witnesses make it harder for us to spin our stories the way we want them spun."

Is it possible that Korryn Gaines was a bad, violent person who was shot by police while threatening them with death or grievous bodily harm? Sure, I suppose it's possible. But when someone goes out of his way to make damn sure you can't know what he's up to, then someone else ends up dead at his hands inside the time and space bubble of secrecy he just intentionally created, the default reasonable presumption is that malice aforethought was involved on his part.

If a mere mundane pulled the kind of stunt the police pulled in this instance, with the same outcome, it's unlikely that any jury or judge in the country would buy his story or show any inclination whatsoever toward mercy.

That should be the outcome in this incident as well, but we all know it won't be.  Unless there's a massive public outcry, the cops involved in the killing of Korryn Gaines will be put on paid vacation ("administrative leave") for a couple of weeks, then the department will issue a press release announcing "we investigated ourselves and decided we did nothing wrong, k thx bai."

For obvious reasons, I hope you never end up in a standoff with police and need to show the public what's going on. But just in case that does happen, don't rely on Facebook or Instagram to have your back. Download Cell 411 for your smart phone. They won't keep you from streaming video of whatever's going on around you, even if the "We're SPECIAL -- We've got BADGES" club asks them to.

The last video Korryn Gaines was able to get out to Instagram before she was killed:

A video posted by RoyalKay💋 (@shesyourmajesty) on

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

#ReformParty meets #Headtalker

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Choose Darcy Headtalker campaign!

At noon today, 53 people (actually, 53 social media accounts -- each account is treated as a different person, I've noticed) told more than 1.2 million friends/followers/connections:

@ReformParty: Revive Ross Perot's Reform Party -- nominate Darcy Richardson for president!

In the four hours since then, those social media messages have produced more than 200 visits to Darcy's campaign web site. Presumably that number will increase. The analytics are a little primitive, but it looks to me like the traffic produced has just plateaued in the last hour or so. My guess is that it will decrease fairly quickly and that 12-24 hours from now we'll have seen the last of it. But I wouldn't be surprised to hit 500 visits when it's all said and done.

This last four days has been a strange form of political campaign. Its aim is to demonstrate to nine voting delegates, who will choose the Reform Party's presidential nominee between now and next Monday, that one campaign is both serious about, and capable of, promoting the Reform Party itself.

Darcy gave me a campaign budget of $50 and permission to experiment. I personally set today as the campaign's end date -- if we haven't made our point by now, we won't, and that gives the delegates four days to cogitate.

With that $50, I:

  • Showed the Reform Party (through the lens of Darcy's campaign) to more than 4,000 people via Google Adwords, with a click thru rate to the campaign web site of about 1/2 of 1% (not terrible for Internet advertising).
  • Showed the Reform Party (through the lens of Darcy's campaign) to about 1,600 people via Twitter advertising, with a click thru rate of 2.78% (toward the top of the normal range for Twitter ads according to some of my research).
  • Deployed about 100,000 468x60 banner ad impressions (through various services) to show the Reform Party (through the lens of Darcy's campaign), as best I can tell, about 50,000 times so far (the ads will probably run out over the next few days -- they're the only part of this campaign that continues beyond now). It's hard to gauge the number of unique viewers, but it's safe to say that banner advertising is pretty dead as an effective reach tool -- the click-thru rate tops out at about 1/10th of 1%.
  • Showed the Reform Party (through the lens of Darcy's campaign) to more than 1.2 million people via Headtalker. Click-thru rate to be determined, but I expect that more people will visit Darcy's campaign web site in the 24 hour period starting at noon today than voted for the Reform Party's  presidential ticket in 2008.
So, Reform Party delegates, once again I ask:

Take a look at your web site hits. Which candidate is sending people your way today?

Take a look at social media chatter about the Reform Party. What's inspiring it today?

How do those numbers compare to a normal day?

Darcy Richardson is serious about rebuilding the Reform Party. Are you?

And Then There Was The Time ...

... that I tried to do something, failed, and everything worked out OK anyway.

My goal was to amass, from my own personal "reach" -- 5k Facebook friends, more than 2k Twitter followers, 500+ LinkedIn connections, this blog, the podcast, but not the professional/work with others stuff like RRND or the Garrison Center -- 100 supporters for a Headtalker campaign to boost Darcy Richardson's Reform Party presidential nomination campaign.

Didn't happen. I was somewhat surprised (unpleasantly as you might guess) that I couldn't get  fewer than 1/70th of the people I talk to on a regular basis to do something that cost them nothing more than a minute or so of their time. On the other hand, there was a three-day time limit. So maybe something longer-term would allow me to get better response. Anyway, I learned some stuff that should improve future efforts to mobilize people for this or that. And THANK YOU to everyone who did come through.

But I had options, and used them. I scaled back my goal to 50 supporters and paid a few bucks for a little commercial "reach" (the entirety of this week's Internet campaigning will have cost less than $50 -- that's for banner advertising, Google ads, Twitter ads and the Headtalker) to get things where they needed to be. So now it's at 53 supporters and the message will go out at noon eastern today to more than 1.2 million people.

Reaching ~1.3 million people for less than fifty bucks from a standing start within four days of deciding to do so should be a wake-up call for the Reform Party National Committee. It shows that Darcy Richardson is serious. Now they just have to decide whether or not they're serious.

Thanks For Asking! -- 08/03/16

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

So ...

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

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 90: The Race to 100!

This special superfrap extra bonus BOGO clearance edition of THE KN@PP Stir Podcast, like most episodes, is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

Monday, August 01, 2016

@ReformParty Twitter Ads Engagement -- Not Bad!

I ran a test campaign on Twitter ads with a length of one day or cost of $5, whichever it hit first. The point was to promote Darcy Richardson's campaign for the Reform Party's presidential nomination, so the tweet/ad content was "Darcy Richardson 2016 -- Reviving Ross Perot's @ReformParty," with associated graphic and link to Darcy's web site.

The engagement rate was 2.8%, which in my experience is pretty damn good for web advertising and toward the top end of usual results for Twitter ads in particular. The ad received 1,607 impressions and resulted in 45 click-thrus.

Of course, what I am really interested in is getting my "Choose Darcy" Headtalker campaign up to the 100 supporters it needs by Wednesday, which will likely result in several million exposures. Please help me out with that.

I'll probably get Google ads going later today, also on a test basis. I have two goals this week.

One is to convince the Reform Party to nominate Darcy.

The other is to demonstrate to the Reform Party what effective guerilla third party political campaigning looks like. They still seem to be in traditional campaign mode, even though the bottom fell completely out of that strategy after 2004, since when their presidential candidates have received a grand total of fewer than 2,000 votes across two presidential elections (about 500 fewer votes in two elections than the Boston Tea Party's ticket received in its single presidential outing in 2008).