Saturday, December 31, 2016


162 is the difference between The William Lloyd Garrison Center's op-ed "pickup" goal for 2016 and the actual number of "pickups" (instances of a Garrison op-ed being published or cited in a mainstream newspaper or non-libertarian political publication).

The goal was 750. That means the actual number of pickups was either 588 or 912. Feel free to guess which.

Well, okay, actually the number was probably neither 588 or 912, because there were almost certainly pickups that I never identified through Google searches or notifications from editors or readers.

But I'm gonna go with the best number I have, which happens to be the larger of the two possible numbers.

A Question For Death Penalty Supporters of a Particular Variety

Whenever I write about the death penalty, at least a few of those who disagree with me fall into this sort of language (I'm not quoting any of them verbatim, but I think I'm accurately characterizing their argument):

"Society has a right to defend itself from e.g. murderers and to retaliate against them. The judge, jury, executioner et al. are acting as society's defensive/retaliatory proxies when they convict and execute a murderer."

My question:

Bob (a member of "society") is duly convicted of, and sentenced to death for, the murder of another member of "society." He is later executed. Still later, new evidence arises establishing his innocence. Since the judge, jury and executioner, acting on behalf of "society," killed an innocent man, should a random member of "society" be executed as a defensive/retaliatory measure?

I've only asked that question, in anything resembling that manner, once so far. The person I asked it of did not answer.

My own thoughts:

Some libertarians deny the existence of "society." I disagree on that specific denial, but not on what it implies.

"Society" isn't a particular thing. It's just a word used to describe an aggregate of human beings who share (or, if no longer among us shared), universally or nearly universally, some particular characteristic or characteristics such as speaking the same language, living on the same land mass, or being ruled by the same state.

"Society" isn't a person, or even a real thing. It's just a loose descriptor.

It's not something that can have "rights" apart from the individual rights of the individual people who fit the description. Nor is it something that can, itself, act.

Those who claim to be acting as proxies for "society" in ordering or carrying out executions are trying to evade culpability for their own actions. That excuse -- "society made me what I am, society made me do it" -- that doesn't seem to fly very well when it comes from the defense at trial. And it doesn't fly very well going in the other direction either.

Friday, December 30, 2016

I Just Watched a Movie

It opened with the now-standard warning notice from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security that I can be prosecuted for unauthorized reproduction and distribution of stuff.

Normally I just roll my eyes at such notices. But this one I had a good laugh over.

The movie was Snowden.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Professor Plum in the Conservatory With The Wrench!

"GRIZZLY STEPPE – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity" [PDF] was promoted in advance of its release along these lines by the media (example is from Bloomberg):

The FBI and Homeland Security Department will release a report Thursday with technical evidence intended to prove Russia's military and civilian intelligence services were behind hacking attacks during this year's presidential campaign, according to a U.S. official.

I just spent a little time reading the report. Interesting, but they seem to have left the "evidence" part out, unless "evidence" now means "the same assertions we've been making, but this time with diagrams asserting the same thing."

Is there something I'm missing here? Is there anything at all in the report that could be plausibly construed as evidence of anything?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Grndz Mah Grz ...

... when an online retailer advertises arrival in x days, then changes that to x+1 days as soon as the thing is marked "shipped."

Don't get me wrong. I know that sh*t happens, that there will be times a package doesn't arrive on time due to unforeseen delays, etc.

But this seems more along the lines of policy: "When the item is being displayed, or is in the customer's cart, or has just been ordered, display the most optimistic arrival date that's even remotely possible -- then after it's ordered, change the projected arrival date to something more realistic."

It's not just one retailer, but this week it is, you guessed it, Wal-Mart. I was looking at similar items for similar prices at different places, and one of the deciding factors was that this product from this place was advertised as arriving on the 29th (tomorrow). That's what it said on the site. That's what it said in the cart. That's what it said in the "thanks for your order" confirmation email. And I was glad, because I had plans to be using it by, say, noon on the 30th.

Then I got the "it's shipped" notice, with a projected arrival date of the 30th. Based on usual carrier delivery times in my neighborhood, I'm expecting it on the afternoon of the 30th, after the time I had hoped to begin using it.

Another angle that doesn't apply in this particular case: In the past, I've ordered items that were advertised as arriving on a Friday, when I would be home, but then were subsequently re-designated as arriving on Saturday, when I planned to be out. Even though I live in a decent neighborhood, I don't just assume that something big and expensive won't disappear if it's left on the porch for three hours. Which means I get stuck recombobulating my plans for the day so that I can be home awaiting a delivery.

Two outfits this complaint does not describe:

  • I've only had similar problems with them twice in 20 years. Once was not their fault -- the item was shown as "out for delivery" but the USPS carrier just drove on by the house, presumably forgetting there was a package in the back. The other time, I ordered an item advertised as coming with one-day shipping; later that day, I ordered an item advertised as coming with two-day shipping; both items got stuck in one box with two-day shipping. When I mentioned this as a Bad Thing that they shouldn't do again, without asking for any compensation, they immediately apologized and  threw me a free month of Prime service (which sells for more than I paid for the one-day item).
  • eBay. Normally things ordered on eBay come with a stated shipping time frame, not a date certain for arrival. And even when those things are shipped from Hong Kong or China, they generally arrive by the end of the timeframe (in feedback, eBay asks if they arrived within the timeframe).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/27/16

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

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

Kent McManigal on "Free Riders"

Here. Good stuff.

I haven't done a lot of writing on "public goods" and "free riders," but I recall one piece that I think is worth reading as a companion to Kent's thoughts.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 110: Six Miles Uphill Both Ways to School

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

In this episode:

The Five Words That Win Elections

Even if you never hear a particular politician say these exact five words, they're the five words that get candidates elected to office.

These five words function at a more primal level than any particular policy proposal or ideological proclamation. In fact, the politician's task (if he wants to win) is to translate those policy proposals and ideological proclamations into convincing versions of these five simple words.

Translated into different slogans or campaign promises, these five words can appeal to a range of emotions from hope ("Yes we can! Si se puede!") to fear ("segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!").

These are the five words voters want to hear from a political candidate. And even more than wanting to hear them, voters want to believe them whether they're true or not.

Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election by saying these five words or their equivalent louder and more convincingly than Hillary Clinton said them to a key demographic -- the "Rust Belt" working class in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

These are the five words:

"I am on YOUR side."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Gitmo Nuclear Option

In 2008, one of US president Barack Obama's campaign promises was to close the US government's prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It's still open. He blames congressional (and sometimes specifically Republican) obstructionism for that. But now that he's on the way out, there's a nuclear option.

It is possible that he does not have the executive authority to close the prison against the will of Congress.

It is possible that he does not have the executive authority to move the prisoners at Gitmo to other facilities (facilities actually in the US, where the fiction that constitutional protections don't apply to them would be less tenable) against the will of Congress.

But Congress has no say whatsoever regarding who he might choose to pardon.

If I was Obama and I really wanted to shut down the place, I'd invite Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan over for a chat. And that chat would be an ultimatum:

"You can let me close the place, and the people you consider most dangerous will be transferred to mainland facilities. Or I can just pardon every last prisoner there and you can continue to run an empty prison and take the blame for the guys you could have kept behind bars walking free instead. Let me know. You have 72 hours."

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/21/16

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

* There may be extra/bonus podcasts over the "holiday break" period between now and the new year. Or maybe not.

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

And now some Christmas cheer at my favorite time of year:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"As long as our brothers are not safe, none of you, the guilties, should be safe."

That's a translation (courtesy of Will Coley of Muslims4Liberty, via last night's episode of Free Talk Live) of part of this speech:

The guy hadn't stopped yelling before various governments and various news broadcasters started calling this "terrorism." Is it?
Well, it's certainly "blowback." Russia went to war in Syria against the Islamic State and other forces arrayed in rebellion against the Assad regime. This guy specifically cited Syria in general and Aleppo in particular as reasons for his assassination of Andrei Karlov, Russian ambassador to Turkey.
Karlov was a government official, not a civilian non-combatant.
Just like Aslan Mashkadov, president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. The Russian government paid a $10 million bounty for his killing.
And just like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, caliph of the Islamic State. The US government recently upped its bounty on his head to $25 million (the same amount it offered for the capture or killing of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein).
The international political class is a big club whose members kill anyone they want, assuming their own immunity. But when someone who's not in the club decides that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, all of a sudden it stops being officially sanctioned "war" and starts being criminal "terrorism."
Words mean things. "Terrorism" consists of attacks on civilian non-combatants for the purpose of creating a climate of terror that the terrorists hope will result in popular pressure on a state to act a certain way. Officials/employees of warring states are not civilian non-combatants. Even if the general goal is the same, state officials are fair game in war.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 109: Clowed CoupCoup Land

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

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Ralph Raico RIP, Keith Olbermann is Depraved in a Boring Sort of Way; Electoral Coup Likelihood; Attack of the Annoying Alt-Right SJWs; Secession -- there's more, read the thread!);
  • This Election Makes Me Feel Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

You Know, Maybe We're Kind of Dodging a Bullet Here

It's one of those things that we sort of know intellectually in general but that's really a cold blast of water in the face in each specific case:

I guaran-damn-tee that if we ever decide to trace the origins of the "dog ate my homework" excuse, we'll eventually find ourselves in Park Ridge, Illinois, listening to Maine Township High School East alumni and retired faculty dish on Hillary Rodham.

The former first lady and US Secretary of State never takes responsibility for anything negative.

When she and Bill were in the White House, each and every foul-up or ethical failing, major or minor, was the work of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" or Linda Tripp or gremlins in the West Wing stenography pool or whatever.

When she lost the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nomination race to upstart Barack Obama, it was because the media (especially MSNBC/Chris Matthews) weren't nice enough to her.

Now it's all the fault of James Comey and !THEM RUSSIANS! that she ran such a crappy 2016 presidential campaign that she got beat like a drum by an orange-haired pussy-grabbing welfare queen with a bad case of Tourette's.

So much so that right now she has the Democratic Party flirting with coup d'etat and the CIA and the sitting president toying with world war just to make sure she doesn't have to admit "yeah, I blew that one, big-time."

I'm just spit-balling here, but doesn't that attitude seem a teensy-weensy bit at odds with "I'm the cool, commanding leadership presence America needs to guide it through the next four to eight years of an uncertain future?"

Friday, December 16, 2016

CoupCoup Clock

Cuckoo Clock by rones from

* Electors meet in their respective state capitals on Monday, December 19, at various times, beginning with Vermont and perhaps Maryland at 10am Eastern (here's the list).

The final set of electors don't meet until 7pm in the Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone (three guesses which state we're talking about there) -- midnight Eastern.

For obvious reasons it will be some time Tuesday before all elector votes have been cast and the totals are known. But we'll probably have a pretty good idea much earlier as to whether or not there's a coup attempt under way in the electoral college.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

WTF, Dropbox?

With only one exception I can think of (their decision to appoint Condoleezza Rice to their board of directors), I've been a huge fan of Dropbox over the years. Great service for syncing files, backing up files, sharing files ...

... well, strike that last. I just got an email from Dropbox:

We'll soon be ending support for the Public folder. Dropbox Basic users will be able to use the Public folder until March 15, 2017. After that date the files in your Public folder will become private, and links to these files will be deactivated.

The only two descriptors I can think of for this are "dumb" and "evil."

Dropbox isn't just planning to make itself less useful in the future (dumb), it's planning to intentionally strike dead God only knows how many millions of links that users, including me, have used to share files with readers for years (evil).

This isn't "hey, sorry, we're going out of business" or something along those lines. That would be understandable.

No, it's "hey, sorry, you trusted us and we're screwing you."

So now I get to pencil in time over the next three months to track down all the links that I trusted Dropbox to preserve and find some other way to deliver the linked content. How did Santa know that was exactly what I wanted for Christmas?

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/15/16

This week's 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. I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Kristen Wyatt is Deficient in English, Logic or Both

From an Associated Press report by Wyatt:

Buying things online could get pricier after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a case Monday that could ultimately lead to states collecting billions of dollars in sales taxes lost to increasingly popular internet retailers.

A mugger doesn't "lose" any ill-gotten gain when the victim gets away instead of handing over her purse. He never had the receipts of the robbery to lose.

Online shoppers always have owed state sales taxes on their purchases, but the rule has been widely ignored.

States have always demanded the money. That doesn't mean they're owed the money. Yo, Wyatt, I demand the keys to your car. Does that mean you owe them to me?

And back to the "lost" stuff again:

States have spent years examining ways to capture those lost tax dollars, but their options are limited when the retailers are not based in the state.

Why shouldn't the claims of states to be "owed" money and to have "lost" money be treated at least as skeptically by journalists as the similar claims of similar organizations like the Gambino family and MS13? This piece isn't reporting, it's free stenography for state departments of revenue.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 108: Attack of the Killer Wordpress Update

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

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Planned Parenthood funding; naming some master debaters; Trump's general nuisances);
  • My terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Wordpress update experience.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Another Wordpress Update Disaster Tip

As I mentioned the other day, disaster ensued when I hit the "update to Wordpress 4.7" button on one of my sites. Hostgator (not a referral/commission link, I am just a customer who loves them) was able to get me out of that mess by turning off an incompatible plug-in.

Well, we thought they got me out of that mess by turning off the plug-in. The site seemed to work fine from my end. I could put new content in and, when logged in, the site looked fine. But visitors who weren't logged in didn't see updates for three days and some of them (thanks, Mama! Thanks Aria! Thanks, Timothy) wrote to let me know about it.

I futzed around with various possibilities and finally tuned back to Hostgator. It took them a few minutes to find the problem -- something wrong with the .htaccess file, presumably created by the Wordpress update fiasco. Deleted .htaccess (Wordpress re-creates it if it's not there, although if you have customizations you will want to hand edit instead of delete) and things went back to normal.

So, if you had the initial update problem and are now having a "site doesn't update for not-logged-in visitors" problem, try that.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

About That "War on Christmas"

I have yet to see any evidence that it exists ... but if it did exist, I can't for the life of me understand why advocates of "America as a Christian nation" would have a problem with it.*

War on poverty, war on drugs, war on terror -- pretty much every "war" we see that isn't, you know, an actual international military conflict and solely such a conflict, results in more of whatever is being warred upon.

If there's really a war on Christmas, we can expect that within a few decades at most more people than ever will be celebrating Christmas as opposed to some other holiday, or generic "happy holidays/season's greetings" or whatever.

Am I missing something?

* I exclude, of course, Christians who consider Christmas to be a thinly veiled pagan holiday rather than a genuine Christian celebration. Yes, there still are some of those around.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

That Thing I Mentioned the Other Day ...

... is here! "Approval Voting: Works Great, Less Complicated" is up at Cato Unbound.

Thanks For Asking! -- 12/07/16

This week's AMA thread, a thread which will live in infamy, is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry, as is the podcast to follow:

Ask me anything -- anything! -- in the comment thread below this post, and I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Warning to Wordpress Site Admins

If you use the W3 Total Cache plug-in -- which is a great plug-in -- DO NOT UPDATE TO WORDPRESS 4.7 WITH THE PLUG-IN ENABLED.

It took my admin area (at RRND) down completely. Fortunately, Hostgator support was able to get my ass out of the sling it was in. I've effused about Hostgator before. If you need hosting, I highly recommend them, and no, I'm not recommending them on commission or for any inducement. They just rock, that's all.

Update, a few minutes later: My experience and other people's recommendations is that W3 Total Cache is a great plug-in. But as of a few minutes ago it was indeed labeled "untested with your version of Wordpress," so I expect there are some incompatibilities and that W3 will get things fixed ASAP. Until then, I'm using a plug-in called Comet Cache which HAS been tested with Wordpress 4.7 and DOESN'T break my site (I assume it works, too, guess we'll see).

Monday, December 05, 2016

There Seems to be Renewed Interest Lately in How American Elections Are Done

Unsurprising, given the electoral vote / popular vote disparity in the presidential election, and passage of an initiative in Maine to switch from plurality first-past-the-post voting to Ranked Choice Voting for governor, US Senate, US House and state legislature.

This month's Cato Unbound delves into the topic, starting with a lead essay by Rob Richie of FairVote. As the month goes on, there will be response essays from Free State Project founder Jason Sorens, San Francisco State University political science professor Jason McDaniel ...

... and me!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 107: Nobody Here But Me And My Barbed Wire Sideburns

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

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (Walter Block, David Bowie, Taoism, COINTELPRO, newspapers, flag-burning and Weld 2020);
  • Split rant (the Dakota Access Pipeline/Free Ross Ulbricht -- please hit, check out the Free-Ross-A-Thon, and match my $10 donation!).