Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Brief Explanation of my Seeming Absence

I've been busy list-cleaning.

In 2010, I started building a list of newspapers worldwide for the Center for a Stateless Society. That was a loooooong process of working through a paid subscription to a directory and resulted in, IIRC, email addresses for about 1,500 US newspapers and another 1,000 foreign newspapers.

I tried to make time to keep that list updated (removing defunct publications, correcting changing editor addresses -- you might be surprised at how many papers want op-eds sent to a particular editor who may leave and be replaced rather than to an address that remains stable -- adding the occasional newly detected publication, etc.), but that can be a pretty intensive process and over time the list began generating a lot of bounced emails.

When I started the Garrison Center, I left the existing list with them ... and retained a copy for myself. Since then, I've slowly continued the process. But recent developments add urgency to it.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a bunch of emails from several addresses (I do that because Gmail has daily sending limits). I got the usual bounces ("the address does not exist"), but I also got a number of blocks. One of my addresses had made it onto a spam list, even though I don't send commercial email and even though I promptly and politely remove newspapers from my list on request.

So, it became time to start using a paid service. I've been using Sendgrid's free version for quite some time, always sending to the same subset of my list and trying to keep that portion fairly clean. Now I'm paying them about $10 a month to handle all of my op-ed submissions.

Advantage: When Sendgrid gets spam blocks that aren't true, they actually contact the spam list maintainers and work it out.

Disadvantage: Sendgrid has a "reputation" system based on how many bounces/unsubscribe requests/blocks/invalid domains (e.g. the publication closed or changed its web site URL) your mails generate. If your "reputation" falls below 80%, they want to know why, and if it falls below 70% you're likely to get the ax.

So, each time I send out a Garrison column, I'm going through the bounces/invalid domains (haven't seen any blocks or spam complaints yet) and either finding new, working addresses or deleting the publications from my list.

It takes time, but it's necessary. And at the end of the process, I will have a clean list of working addresses. And that list will be a different enough product far from both the paid directory I started from and the C4SS list circa 2015 that I see no ownership/IP problems with sharing it with others who want to do mass submissions of op-eds.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Cool New Way to Support KN@PPSTER!

I mentioned on the last episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast that I might try to implement this -- and it's done.

Short version: If you'd like to support my work without any real effort or great cost on your party, you can go here to lend me your CPU time to mine Monero (a popular cryptocurrency).

Slightly longer version:

The page (here's the link again) contains a Javascript Monero miner. Whenever you're thinking about how much you'd like to support KN@PPSTER (I know you think that, a lot), and also happen to be planning to be away from your computer for a bit, just click that link (it's also over in the sidebar!), start the miner, and go get yourself a drink, catch a movie, whatever. While you're away, your computer will be earning a little cryptocurrency for yours truly.

If you'd rather just mine for yourself in the same way, you can grab the miner from Coin Hive, and here's a YouTube video with helpful instructions and a simple template for setting stuff up (the Coin Hive site made it kind of complicated).

Thanks For Asking! -- 09/19/17

This week's AMA thread is brought to you by the anonymous sponsor who lets me promote anything I want to promote, and this week I'd like to promote Scott Horton's new book, Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. No, I haven't actually read it yet, but I will soon and you should too.

Procedure recap:

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 137: OK, Irmageddon Over it Now

This week's podcast is brought to you by my anonymous sponsor who lets me promote whatever I want. Which, this week, is Minds.com, a social media site that I think you'll like (yes, it's a referral link). Check it out.

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (climate change, to the moon Alice, groups that aren't libertarian but that I like anyway) :: EFF leaves W3C over EME/DRM (see here for the referenced letter).

Friday, September 15, 2017

Home Again, Home Again ...

Post-hurricane update ...

We're back in the house. Power has been restored, there's a tarp over the damaged roof, contractors will be in tomorrow to start fixing stuff. We don't have water at the moment because something caused a controller/pressure unit to burn up, but we do have electricity. The landlord's property manager is acting with alacrity to get things done, for which I am grateful.

Last week, I mentioned that I hadn't seen any "price-gouging" going on around Gainesville in the run-up to the hurricane. This morning, I ran up against a bit of what I would call "price-gouging." It was, unsurprisingly, driven by government. Specifically, the University of Florida's athletics program. Here's the rundown:

After several days of sheltering at our church, we were able to find a hotel room for two nights at a reasonable price (less than $100 per night -- there are cheaper places in Gainesville, but they were full up; a lot of people wanted to vacate them, but until Wednesday couldn't find gas to get out of town).

As of last night, we weren't certain whether we would need, or be able to get, a room for tonight. We had a text message from a neighbor letting us know that the power was back on, but we weren't certain if OUR wiring had been damaged (doesn't seem to have been -- or at least the trailer hasn't burned down around me since turning things back on).

So anyway, this morning, Tamara went down to the desk to see if a room would be available tonight. The answer: Maybe, maybe not, but if so it would be about $250 per night rather than less than $100 per night. Because ...

... the University of Florida Gators have a football game tomorrow.

Whenever that happens, every hotel in town sells out at inflated prices because the whole city is full of fans, alumni, etc. The campus is filled with alumni RVs, and the people without RVs rent hotel rooms.

I can't blame the hoteliers for pricing accordingly. And fortunately we were able to get back into our home. But I know there were people staying in the same hotel as us from Miami, Naples, Tampa, etc. -- people whose homes may be inaccessible or even destroyed and who will be either unable to find a room or be charged twice as much for tonight as they were for last night.

UF is not taking cognizance of a continuing situation which is an emergency for at least some people. And they are actually hurting those hoteliers, who could be sold out at regular rates to hurricane-displaced people right now and sell out at the higher rates for a re-scheduled football game.

Here's the letter I just sent to the editor of the Gainesville Sun (conforming to their length limit of 150 words):

It's awe-inspiring to see how people can come together to help each other in the wake of a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma.

It's less awe-inspiring to watch the University of Florida insist on an immediate return to its high financial ritual of having students toss a piece of pigskin around a pasture.

I saw no storm-related "price-gouging" in Gainesville's private sector, but in the public sector, UF's actions encourage local hotels to jack up their rates and evict non-recreational guests for the express purpose of parting alumni and other fans from their money.

The University could have exercised some simple civic virtue and common sense. Waiting a week would have made a big difference to storm survivors who are on the road back south or whose homes in this area are damaged/uninhabitable. But with UF, the almighty dollar apparently comes first.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Word PSA

Two signs I've seen in the last two days:

Store close -- no electricity

Pool close until further notice

If something is not open -- that is, if it is shut -- it is closed, not close.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

After the Storm ...

... we're still sheltering at our church (where, thanks to helpful people, there's a generator for recharging phones, running hot spots, etc.).

Irma remodeled our kitchen via the roof with a pine tree:

Looks like it damaged two trusses on its way in. You can't really see in this picture, but in the very upper left hand corner there's actually a limb poking through the ceiling. Another limb looks like it fell on our central air/heat unit and bounced off. Because I can't be certain there wasn't any electrical damage (e.g. wires stripped and crushed together that might short and cause a fire), I have the master breaker turned off (no telling when power will be restored to the neighborhood -- there are lines down all over).

Hopefully we'll hear about repair ETAs from the landlord in the next day or two. We'll probably go looking for an extended stay hotel situation today and plan on being there for up to a week in any case. Once we get settled in somewhere with real electricity and wi-fi instead of a generator powering a phone hot spot, I'll be full-on back at work and posting regularly.

Hey, if you're a reader who was in the storm's path, let everyone know you made it OK!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Plan -- Final Version

Well, this morning was our go/no-go time for evacuation, but we made our decision last night -- we're staying and riding Irma out at our church, which is open and outfitted as a shelter. It's a sturdy Quonset hut with lots of windbreak (also known as seven acres of jungle) around it. I spent part of yesterday afternoon nailing plywood over its windows and we moved some of our supplies into the common pool there last night.

Main contributing factor to the decision: We still don't know where the storm is going to go, or how strong it's going to be when it gets there, but as commenter mrjarrell pointed out in comments on another post, our planned evac destination -- Tupelo, Mississippi -- was actually in the storm's late "probability cone," and even though it would be weaker by the time it got there, we would be trading hurricane conditions for tornado conditions. We thought about making a boogie more due west for Gulfport, Biloxi, New Orleans or Baton Rouge ...

... but, you know, screw it. We've got reliable shelter and good friends available here, versus harried travel with no certainty that trading one location for another would end up being an improvement. Also, we would have been leaving about now if we were evacuating. Staying, we've got another good eight hours to continue prepping the house for a hit, and then a three-minute drive to get to the shelter well before even the outer edges of Irma start approaching.

So: I will be online, here or at the shelter, as time allows and until after power goes out, cell towers go down, whatever, and back on as soon as humanly possible after that. All of you who are also in the storm's path, here's hoping you make it through in safety and in health.

Thanks For Asking! -- 09/10/17

This week's AMA and the podcast to follow are brought to you by Paul Stanton, who's still hung up on peace. Check out Antiwar.com, the Libertarians For Peace Facebook group, and Veterans For Peace.

Ask me anything in comments -- I'll answer in comments, on a future podcast, or both

Saturday, September 09, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 136: Irmageddon a Little Nervous ...

This week's podcast is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who's all about peace at the moment. Check out Antiwar.com, the Libertarians For Peace Facebook group, and Veterans For Peace.

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! [amnesty for immigrants is not enough] :: Hurricane Prep (surge pricing and responsible conduct -- based on a column by Skyler J. Collins).

No "Price Gouging" in the Gainesville Area Yet ...

... at least that I can see.

Some items are in short supply. The shelves everywhere are empty of bread, and it's hard to find batteries or bottled water.

But yesterday evening we visited the Save-A-Lot in Archer.

One of the items on our list was "more water, if we see any" (we thought we could use one more case, wanted one to give our older neighbor who insists on weathering the storm in situ, and any more could be dropped off at our church, which is operating as a shelter). We didn't expect to find any water, but we were keeping an eye out for it.

The store is located on a small highway that runs north out of Tampa. Lots of traffic, and probably 100 vehicles lined up for gas at the convenience store next door. But when we walked in, there were pallets of bottled water ... priced at $2.50 cents per case of 24 16.9 oz. bottles. Limit two cases per customer, but certainly not any "price gouging" going on.

Same thing in Gainesville -- if you can find the things you're looking for, the stores aren't doing disaster pricing. But they are closing down. Some today, most starting tomorrow.

Our plans are still contingent on the forecasts.

As of tomorrow morning, if it looks like Irma will hit Gainesville as a Category 3 storm or higher, we plan to head for northern Mississippi using back roads (the freeways are pretty much parking lots; the smaller roads look busy, but not nearly as bad). I'll be packing today with that in mind.

If it looks like we'll get by with Category 2, we'll go to our church, which is a nice stout building and pet friendly.

If Category 1, we'll either ride it out at the house or go to the church.

I'll try to get a podcast out some time today, because I don't want to break my new weekly streak. If you've got any questions for Thanks For Asking!, get them in ASAP.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Request to @Amazon and @Google: Play Nice, Please

I love my Amazon Fire TV Stick, especially now that they've updated its operating system to let me limit the bandwidth/resolution so that I'm not eating up gigabytes watching HD video when SD is just peachy.

I also love Google Play, mostly for the apps for my Android phone, but also for its book and movie stores. I rack up Google Play credit using the Google Opinion Rewards app, and spend that credit on stuff, including movies. So far so good.

Amazon Fire TV does not offer a Google Play app. I understand there are ways to "sideload" unapproved apps onto the device, but I'm not big on the idea. I also understand that for the most part, Amazon would prefer to sell movies itself rather than route you to another seller (there's not a Vudu app for Fire TV either, for example). OK, fine. If I want to watch a movie from Google Play on my TV, I can just plug the old original ChromeCast in and mirror it from my computer screen. Pain in the ass, but whatever.

But earlier today, I noticed that my Google Play movies show up in my YouTube account and that I can watch them on YouTube. Hey, there is a YouTube app for Fire TV!

Run the app. Activate my YouTube account on the app. Hey, there are my Google Play movies! Huzzah!

This video cannot be played on this device.

Now, to be fair, I have no way of knowing whether Amazon is refusing to let its device play a Google Play movie, or whether Google Play is refusing to let an Amazon device play its movies. I suspect the former, but that's just a suspicion.

Hey, guys, why don't you work things out? I know that each of you wants to dominate the various device/app spaces, but your customers are going to want to mix and match.

Because There's No "Public Comment" Section on @Amazon's RFP Page ...

I guess I'll just blog mine. From said page:

Amazon HQ2 will be Amazon’s second headquarters in North America. We expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs – it will be a full equal to our current campus in Seattle. In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.


Hear me out.

Levy County is convenient to a university city (Gainesville) full of prospective "you need a degree for this job" hires, as well as the college dropouts who actually get things done while the people with degrees wave their degrees around and yell about how qualified they are. It's also within a few hours of Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Miami. There are a range of living prices/lifestyles within commuting distance of, say, Bronson.

The area is economically depressed by comparison to much of the country (the turpentine industry died out and the nuclear power plants got canceled). That means cheap land and competitive bidding by contractors for a campus, as well as lots of people looking for the kind of work that doesn't require suit and tie (you're going to need janitors, cafeteria employees, security, etc.).

Aside from the opportunity to work at Amazon, what would attract the people you're looking for? To start with, how about no income tax and pretty low property taxes? Plus being within a few hours of the best schools and the best vacation spots in the country (or out -- quick flights to the Bahamas)? If people will live in a hell-hole like California for the opportunity to work for companies like Google, presumably they'll be willing to live in a nice place to work for Amazon.

Instead of trying to fit into an already heavily populated area, Amazon should do its own thing. Like the man said, build it (YOUR way) and they will come.

This is something of an admission against interest in that I'd love to buy some property and build a house out in Levy County before it gets discovered and becomes expensive. Maybe you'll hire me as a location scout or something so I can afford to do that.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Regarding Disaster Preparedness, Part 2

Money helps. This morning, I placed an order at Amazon for one-day shipping on a few sundries -- a solar charger for phones, a fresnel lens for heating stuff up, a pack of those "emergency blanket" thingies in case there's a wetness event bringing on a need to conserve body heat. I placed that order using cash I earned from apps I flog here at KN@PPSTER (referral links ahead):

S'More is an app that runs ads on your Android phone's lock screen. Not very intrusive. All it means is that when you go to unlock your phone there's an extra swipe involved. For which you earn 10 cents a day, redeemable in the form of "gift cards" for Amazon and a bunch of other places. IIRC, the redemption minimum is $3.00, or one month of letting the app run. I've successfully redeemed for Amazon cards several times.

Ibotta is a "cash back" app that works at a whole bunch of stores (I usually use it at my local Walmart, Publix, Sam's Club or Dollar General). Look up the kinds of things you're shopping for, choose your rebates, go shopping, then take a picture of your receipt and, in some cases, scan bar codes. Your cash back gets credited to your account and once you're racked up $20 or more you can redeem it as cash (via PayPal or Venmo) or for gift cards (Amazon, etc.).  I've successfully redeemed for Amazon cards twice now.

Neither of these apps is a lot of work, and both generate a little extra money -- money which came in handy when I realized I'd like to have a few things around the house for Irmageddon. Check them out.

Regarding Disaster Preparedness

Several people joined the Gainesville Mutual Aid public cell today on Cell 411.

If you have a smart phone (Android or iOS) and you don't have Cell 411, you should get it. You can form private or public "cells" to easily let people know what's going on -- anything from a flat tire to an unexpected police encounter (you can stream that live so that confiscating your phone won't erase the evidence) to coordinating ride-sharing.

Obviously this could come in handy during Irma.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Looks Like It's On ...

"Mandatory evacuation order" for the Florida Keys starting tomorrow morning. Irma has strengthened into a Category 5 storm. Its most likely predicted paths seem to be:

  1. Up the Atlantic Coast of Florida;
  2. Up the Gulf Coast of Florida; or
  3. Straight up the middle of Florida

Which, any way you cut it, probably means us (we're in north central Florida, about 50 miles from the Gulf Coast, 80 or so from the Atlantic, and it's going to be a big, wide storm). So we're stocking up on water and canned goods and food that doesn't have to be cooked in the expectation that we may spend a few days without electricity (I'm all for taking off on a quickie vacation to, say, Montana, but that doesn't really seem to be in the cards and I expect northbound I-75 to be clogged by tomorrow if it's not already).

Speaking of stocking up, I decided to do some of that via InstaCart. You order (from local stores), they deliver. The prices are a little higher than at the store, but I had a coupon for $50 off an order of $50 or more, plus free delivery, so it came out pretty nicely, and saved us part of the water toting (part of my order was five cases of 24 16.9-oz. bottles). By the time I post this, the delivery will have arrived (placed it around 4pm and scheduled delivery for between 8pm and 9pm), so if you see this it means I was happy with the service.* Yes, you guessed it, referral link time. The first five people I refer each get a $10 credit toward their first order, and I get a $10 credit toward my next order.

If I should suddenly disappear from Internet view this weekend, you'll know why -- expect me back when power is restored and so forth. If you're in this storm's path, or any other, or have been recently (yes, I'm talking to you readers in Texas), best wishes.

* I'm VERY happy with the service. The stores are already madhouses and the InstaCart lady said she had gone to four different stores to fill orders. She made some (good and proper) substitutions for items that were out of stock, and I got a refund for the five cases of bottled water I had ordered as there was none to be found. Gonna be out looking for some tomorrow (we've got SOME, but I want MORE).

Thanks For Asking! -- 09/05/17

This week's AMA thread is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who's all about peace at the moment. Check out Antiwar.com, the Libertarians For Peace Facebook group, and Veterans For Peace. Selah.


  1. Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post
  2. Await my answer in comments, on the next episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast, or both
  3. (Optional) Ask via my 21.co profile in the hope that paying me the princely sum of $1 will cause me to look upon your question with special favor:

KN@PPSTER's Books For Inmates Project ...

Letters and books (but only if they are softcover and come directly from a commercial vendor) can be sent to Christopher Cantwell at:

Christopher Cantwell Inmate #631424
Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail
160 Peregory Lane
Charlottesville, VA 22902

I just sent him this ...

Suggestions for others who might want to participate in Cantwell's re-education:

Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,by Hannah Arendt
Mila 18, by Leon Uris
Darkness at Noon, by Arthur Koestler
Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman and Laura Cornell
New Libertarian Manifesto, by Samuel Edward Konkin III
KN@PPSTER's Big Freakin' Book of Stuff, by Thomas L. Knapp

If you send him any of the above -- or for that matter anything else -- it might be nice to mention it in comments, so he doesn't get multiple copies of anything.

About That Pardon Power ...

Many of the same people who are (correctly) pointing out that US president Donald Trump was constitutionally empowered to pardon terror kingpin Joe Arpaio continue to whine about "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," former US president Barack Obama's reprieve of punishment (deportation) for immigrants who came to the US as children with parents who didn't get the (unconstitutionally) required permission slip.

So, recap:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. -- Article II, Section 2, US Constitution (emphasis mine)

Any questions?

Monday, September 04, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 135: Now We're Not Cooking With Gas

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who wants me to throw some peace at ya. So, OK, I encourage you to check out Antiwar.com, the Libertarians For Peace Facebook group, and Veterans For Peace.

In this episode: A bunch of digression concerning the fine art of slow-smoking ribs :: Thanks For Asking! (El Caudillo del Maricopa; Trust not in antitrust litigation; It's my party and I'll cry if I want to) :: The Lollipop Guild wants its credit limit increased.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Meeting of the Minds ...

For various reasons (including work for clients), I'm always keeping an eye on new social media outlets. Lately I've been using Minds. (yes, that's a referral link -- they have reward/affiliate mojo, although I haven't signed up for the financial affiliate part; you can accumulate "points" with which to "boost" your posts, that is, have them displayed on timelines of people you aren't connected to yet).

Minds has been around for a couple of years (in public release, but it had a lengthy development period). It's trending lately (meaning I finally noticed it) as one of the "free speech alternatives" for various types of posters/content becoming less and less welcome at e.g. Facebook and Twitter. That means everything from open racism to porn (or at least porn-ish stuff). Lots of "regular" content as well for those who aren't comfortable with the uglier or racier stuff (I've done a bit of blocking myself).

I like the format at Minds. The timelines are somewhat like Twitter without the 140-character limit. Not a lot of formatting flexibility, but you can post full articles. There are also interest "groups" a la Facebook.

If social media's your thing, it's worth checking out. So far I'm liking it better than most of the "alternatives to the big dogs" that I've seen.