Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"My" State Senator is an Idiot

Last year, the idiot got caught on video slapping a constituent for no longer wanting a "Keith Perry for State Senate" sign in his yard.

Now the idiot wants to re-name a section of 13th Street in Gainesville "Tom Petty Memorial Highway."

I'm a big Tom Petty fan.

And of course Petty is a Favorite Son here in Gainesville.

But I'm guessing that even Petty would oppose re-naming "Martin Luther King Jr. Highway" after himself.


Linus Polling

A Halloween Treat: @Walmart's Creepy Customer Tracking Smarm

Yes, I know that when I go to a web site and look at stuff, I'm almost certainly being tracked by the site or by the advertising service, or by both, plus presumably by the NSA and all sorts of other nefarious characters. And the people trying to sell me the stuff I'm looking at, or stuff like it, will want to follow up by showing me targeted ads or sending me emails about the same or similar products.

But really, Walmart, sending me email with the subject line "Caught ya lookin’ 😉" is NOT the way to make me feel all warm, fuzzy, and comfortable with shopping at Walmart.com.

Some Questions for the "Every Mass Shooting is a False Flag" Crowd

Suppose the US government really IS behind every mass shooting -- Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, all the way back to Columbine and even before -- and that it's some kind of plot to desensitize us to "gun control" or whatever other draconian measure they have in mind to enslave us all.

Why in God's name would the conspirators bus in "crisis actors" and fake it all up? Why not just actually kill a bunch of people? They evince a truly bizarre design to reduce us under absolute despotism, but they're also so morally upright that they'll go out of their way, at great risk of detection, to avoid any real deaths in implementing their plans?

Also, what's with this?

Per the US Centers for Disease Control, the US death rate (for 2015) is 823.7 deaths per 100,000 population.

Ceteris paribus -- I've seen no close demographic breakdowns of the Vegas concert audience -- given the reported crowd size in Vegas of more than 20,000, we'd expect 165 people from that audience to die in the year following the concert, or about 14 in the month since the incident.*

Have there been that many deaths or more? And if what's so "mysterious" about them? Do the causes of death vary statistically in some way from the usual? And if so, why? After all, a giant conspiracy to fake a bunch of mass shootings would presumably also pay attention to the post-shooting cover-up and try not to create a bunch of "mysterious" statistical outliers, wouldn't it?

And why would the conspirators go out of their way to not kill anyone in the shootings themselves, then go around killing people "mysteriously" afterward?

Is there any evidence for the "all mass shootings are fake" claims beyond "out of thousands of people I see in crowd shots, a couple look sort of a little bit kinda like people I once saw in breakfast cereal commercials?"

* OK, so ceteris is probably not wholly paribus. The top two causes of death being heart disease and cancer, one could make the case that the crowd was weighted against those since they were at a concert and not in the hospital, and that the number of deaths closely following the event should be lower. Then again, a giant conspiracy that could do a Broadway mass shooting production could presumably fake heart attacks and such as well, right?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Because I Always Forget to Mention Quora Here at the Blog ...

... I'll mention Quora here at the blog while I'm thinking about it, because I just answered a question there (that's what Quora is -- people ask questions, and people answer questions).

In addition to asking questions at Quora, you can direct those questions at particular people whom you expect might have good answers. Sometimes I get emails asking me to answer questions because those questions are about something Quora expects me to know about, and sometimes I get emails telling me that some individual wants an answer from me specifically. According to their stats, my answers have received 43,000 views since I started there, which seems to have been in late 2014.

It's pretty fun. Give it a try (no, not a referral link, I don't think there is any such thing, or any financial angle to participating).

"If it's not a currency, it is nothing else"

That's Mark Edge (quote from memory, but I think I got it right) talking about the Bitcoin/Segwit/2x controversy on last night's Free Talk Live. Mark and Ian Freeman did their weekend broadcasts from the Texas Bitcoin Conference.

Mark's statement refers back to Saturday night's show, on which John Sacco defended the current track of Bitcoin, asserting that Bitcoin will never be able to scale up to handle the volume of e.g. Visa and that we might as well just accept that it's going to become and remain a low-transaction-volume, high-transaction-fee "settlement layer" and store of value.

Of course, Mark is saying exactly what I've been saying for some time as well. If Bitcoin is not an increasingly going concern as a cryptocurrency that normal people can buy normal things at normal places with, where's the real value in a large network of expensive graphics processors tossing around bits as "proof of work?"

Let's talk about scaling.

When I was in high school, I worked at a gas station. My guess is that 95% of customers paid cash for their gas.

When one of the 5% pulled out a credit card, I in turn pulled out a bulky analog machine, stuck the credit card on it, filled out two slips of paper (one original, the other one a copy made with a piece of carbon paper between the two slips) with the transaction details by hand with a pen, put the paper on top of the card, slid the machine (KA-CHUNK) to make an impression of the physical card, then went in the back room where I punched the transaction information into a little terminal that took over the phone line (MODEM NOISE) for about two minutes and then let me know whether or not the card was any good.

32 years later, most people use credit or debit cards for most transactions in most stores. There's little or no interaction required by store personnel. See the total, slide the card, hit OK (enter PIN if it's a debit transaction), wait a few seconds, done.

I wonder how many transactions per day Visa handles now versus in 1985?

Better computers, better networks, cheaper bandwidth, cheaper storage ... the wheels may come off Moore's Law at some point, but there doesn't seem to be any particular reason why the Bitcoin network can't scale up well into the future instead of pulling over to the side of the road like it has an empty gas tank and four flat tires as soon as it starts getting popular and its network starts getting congested. Increase the block size and keep on truckin'.

Which, of course, is what Bitcoin Cash is doing, just as envisioned in Satoshi Nakamoto's inaugural white paper. And that's why Bitcoin Cash is "real" Bitcoin and the impostor still calling itself "Bitcoin" and forking off into Segwit, 2x, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Silver, Bitcoin WTF is well on its way to becoming a has-been altcoin.

I do wish that my cloud mining service of choice, HashFlare.io (yes, that's a referral link -- buy some hashrate -- you can get in for single-digit USD, and use code Halloween holiday code HF17HLWN10ALL for 10% off!), would hurry up and start offering Bitcoin Cash mining. It hasn't yet, so for the nonce I'm mining Ethereum and Dash.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Word PSA

succession, n. A series of persons or things according to some established rule of precedence; as, a succession of kings, or of bishops; a succession of events in chronology. [1913 Webster]

Example: The War of the Spanish Succession

secession, n. The act of seceding; separation from fellowship or association with others, as in a religious or political organization; withdrawal. [1913 Webster]

Example: The Referendum on Catalonian Secession

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 10/26/17

Three words from our sponsor, Paul Stanton:





Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Two Things That Are Related Even Though They May Not Seem Like It at First

Thing One:

I don't think anyone is likely to mistake me for a Hillary Clinton supporter. There's not much I agree with her on, most of the things I do agree with her own I suspect she's lying about agreeing with me on, and I think she's both unduly authoritarian and thoroughly corrupt.

However, my response to the latest "news" about Clinton -- that her campaign and the Democratic National Committee were among the persons/parties who paid a British former spook to compile the infamous "pee dossier" on then-presidential-candidate Donald Trump -- is a giant yawn.

Candidates and campaigns do opposition research. They do it on opponents (to dig up surprises), and the smart ones do it on themselves (to ensure that there are no surprises). If you're not doing oppo research, you're not running a very good campaign.

So I just don't see any "there" there to slam Clinton on.

Thing Two:

Based on a recent column concerning other aspects of Clinton's evil ways, I was contacted earlier today concerning a prospective interview (by a Very Prestigious Media Organization) to share my opinions on the "pee dossier" topic. I declined for two reasons.

The first reason, you see above. I just don't really have anything controversial to say about it.

The second reason is that, like many media organizations which may be Very Prestigious but don't have studios located conveniently near Gainesville, this one uses Skype to interview people who are Far Away. The web version of Skype sucks, and there's not a native Skype client for ChromeOS. Furthermore, all the machines I own that I might install Linux or Windoze on are circa a decade old or more (I've been ChromeOS all the way since 2012 and none of my non-Chrome computers back then were particularly new).

This is not the first time I've missed out on a chance to take my bloviations more highly public for lack of a decent Windows machine with a decent web cam. "Decent" not meaning especially high-powered, just enough to run Skype.

So, I've placed a webcam (first priority -- maybe web Skype has improved lately?) and an el cheapo Windows mini PC (second priority -- I'll keep trying other options if it doesn't show up) on my Amazon Wish List. If you'd like to possibly see me on TV or think that it's important that I do so, this is how to make it happen.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 139: Nazi Punks F**ked Off at UF (But Not at LPF)

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Paul Stanton, whose message to you is:


In this episode: Need to work on that blues scale :: Thanks For Asking! (Spencer Comes to Gainesville; Opera v. Gay Right-Wing Troll v. Country & Western; Rasslin'; Prohibition wishes) :: The LPF Won't Have Stanton to Kick Around Any More.

Flaky. Whiggy?

US Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) just became the latest Republican congresscritter to announce he won't be seeking re-election in 2018:

He told The Arizona Republic ahead of his announcement that he has become convinced "there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party."

Flake, 54, said he has not "soured on the Senate" and loves the institution. But as a traditional, libertarian-leaning conservative Republican, he is out of step with today's Trump-dominated GOP.

Is it possible that there's a plan (or that there will emerge one) over on the Never Trump side of the party to let Republicans take a big ass-whipping in the 2018 elections, then launch a new party (composed, at the candidate level, of old faces) to contest congressional seats and possibly the presidency in 2020?

Mere opposition to one individual doesn't seem quite as durable or weighty as slavery, the issue that broke the Whigs and created the Republicans back in the 1850s. On the other hand, the individual in question is Trump. He seems to have a talent for creating the kind of chaos that permanently breaks organizations. So I'm wondering.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

This is supposed to be arriving today:

It's a present to myself for finally having buckled down and started working on blues scales, etc. (trying to turn writer's/podcaster's block into something productive). The only amp I have is one that I got as part of a $10 package at a garage sale including a cheap Stratocaster clone. The guitar is a much better instrument than you'd expect to find at a garage sale for $10, but if I'd known how crackly the amp was I would have thrown it in the trash. I'll probably mostly play one of my flat-top acoustics through this using a transducer pickup. Maybe with it clipped to my belt while I walk around.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Couple of Late Thoughts on Yesterday's Nuremberg Rally

There were casualties at yesterday's event. I was one of them. My feet are blistered from walking about 11 miles, looking in vain for a Nazi presence in Gainesville, in boots that didn't fit as well as I thought they fit.

This morning, I see that there actually were a few Nazis present and that one of them even got punched, but the two biggest unified group presences at the counter-demonstration consisted of 1) police and 2) the press. Dozens of camera trucks, several hundred reporters, camera operators, etc., and the press I talked with were all doing the same thing I was -- wandering around asking if anyone had seen any Nazis.

I think I can tease a story with a couple of morals out of this thing, and I'll be trying to later. But the immediate takeaway is that the whole thing was kind of boring and stupid.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Couple of Early Thoughts on Tomorrow's Nuremberg Rally

So, as you may have heard, Richard Spencer (one of the architects of the Charlottesville white nationalist riot) is coming to the University of Florida to tomorrow.

Who else is going to be there? Well, me. But I only live 8 1/2 miles away from campus and I fall into a couple of the general categories of people I expect to see there.

Remember, Charlottesville took place on a summer weekend. This is a fall weekday. That probably means different crowd composition.

On a summer weekend, a lot more amateur activists from around the country were likely to be able to show up, on all sides.

On a fall weekday, I expect that "outside agitators" will be fewer, and of the more professional variety.  People who have regular jobs are more likely to be working on a Thursday than on a Saturday. Students who actually study are in school now.

Obviously the University of Florida student body (about 55,000) will field contingents, presumably weighted heavily toward the anti-Nazi side of things. But I'd expect to see fewer student activists from other schools than might have been able to make it to Charlottesville.

There will be plenty of police, naturally (the number I've heard is 500).

My "in case of CS attack" getup
There will be plenty of press, naturally (I have press credentials myself).

And there will be the professional activists.

By "professional," I do not necessarily mean "paid." I mean people for whom politics is their central personal daily activity (in addition to be being "press," I fall into this category). I know quite a few "professional activists" who make little if any money for their work. Some of them have taken an effective vow of poverty so that they can devote their time to it. At least a few have sources of income -- inheritances/trust funds, investment earnings, retirement income) that don't require them to work a "day job."

The governor has declared a "state of emergency." Yes, a "state of emergency" -- because some knothead is going to speechify. That's pathetic. If I had to bet on when was the last time that happened, my bet would be that the speaker in question was Martin Luther King, Jr.  If Spencer is as much a challenge to the existing system as King was ... well, let's be clear on that, he isn't. The "state of emergency" is security theater.

A certain amount of any writing I do about, but from or after, the event is pre-promised to the publication that gave me press credentials, but I'm sure I'll have some things to say here as well, once I get home (hopefully without stops at the hospital or county jail). See you on the flip side.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Who Knew Cultural Appropriation Could be so Comfortable?

Those Thai fishermen know how to do pants (not an affiliate link, nor am I being compensated for talking about how great they are).

Less than $10 (with free shipping for Prime members, of course).


Light fabric, 100% cotton, great for Florida. They seem to be reasonably well-made. I wouldn't want to slide into second base in them or anything like that, but remember, I work sitting in a chair all day.

Waist size, 56 inches. Yes, you read that correctly. The thing is, they are designed to be multi-size. You fold over the slack to your comfortable tightness and tie two strings (sewn on at the rear). Which means that my clothes don't stop fitting every time I lose or gain weight (the last few years I range from a tight 34-inch to a loose 40-inch waist size and that can change pretty suddenly when I start or stop exercising regularly).

Just got my second pair (as pictured; the first pair is black and gray instead of black and red). I expect to get three more, and make them my usual casual go-to.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On Decapitation, Literal and Figurative

CNBC (citing state-funded South Korean news agency Yonhap) reports that "North Korean hackers are believed to have stolen a large amount of classified military documents, including a South Korean and U.S. plan to 'decapitate' North Korea's leadership ..."

That's somewhat different than the headline: "North Korea hackers believed to have stolen US-South Korea plans to kill Kim Jong Un."

Of course, we don't get to see the content of those documents -- we are just supposed to pick up the check and STFU.

In military terms, "decapitating North Korea's leadership" does not necessarily translate to "killing Kim Jong Un." It merely means cutting off communication between strategic decisionmakers (including top military HQs and regime figures) and on-the-ground actors (troops in the field and the infrastructure supporting the movement, feeding, etc. of said troops).

In my opinion, actually killing Kim Jong Un if war breaks out would be a strategic mistake.

For as long as he can exercise power and communicate orders, he's likely to be a poor decisionmaker.

Once his ability to exercise power and communicate orders has been degraded (which will be very quickly, almost certainly within 24 hours and probably much less), it's better if "his own people" (read: ambitious or desperate generals) kill him so that what follows (as I've previously predicted, probably an invitation for Chinese "peacekeepers" to come in with the US party to a ceasefire agreement) can be embraced by North Koreans as "we deposed Kim" rather than resented by North Koreans as "the US killed Kim."

Personal Cryptocurrency Update

I had high hopes for Bitcoin Cash, but after one spike it seems to have settled/flattened in value -- and, more importantly, to not be getting a lot of adoption as a medium of exchange. It seems that places that are spoken of as "accepting" it mostly really just accept Old Bitcoin -- in order to spend your Bitcoin Cash (BCH) at those places, you have to use e.g. ShapeShift.io to convert/deposit it as Old Bitcoin (BTC), which defeats the whole purpose. You still get the Old Bitcoin fees. You still get the Old Bitcoin confirmation wait times. And you pay a fee to convert them as well.

What I want out of a cryptocurrency is something that I can use to buy a soda and hot dog at a convenience store in roughly the same time it would take to use a debit card, and with lower transaction costs. That utility, of course, lying atop some measure of anonymity and resistance to state seizure.

Maybe I'll get that at some point -- I'm keeping my eyes on e.g. Dash, ZCash, Monero and so forth to see if there's a breakout crypto that gains enough user adoption, merchant acceptance, etc. to move in that direction.

But with regard to Bitcoin Cash, I'm definitely out of "holding my breath" mode. I just converted my tiny (mid-double-digit in US dollars) holdings to Bitcoin (at a loss due to fees, of course) and spent all but a few cents worth on a 1-year Ether mining contract at HashFlare (yes, that is a referral link).

Why HashFlare, and why Ether?

HashFlare: I looked at several cloud mining services, read a few reviews, etc., and HashFlare looked like a reasonably reputable, not fly-by-night outfit. Also, unlike most pool/cloud mining outfits, HashFlare lets you buy lower amounts of "hash rate" so that you don't have to jump in at a minimum mid-three-figures like some places require. In fact, you can get in for a couple of bucks.

Ether: I might have stuck with Bitcoin Cash, but mining that was not one of HashFlare's offerings. I am skeptical of Bitcoin's future. The big players seem to be reneging on the "2x" part of the "Segwit 2x" agreement. There's another hard fork coming and it looks like Old Bitcoin is going to continue refusing to get back to the idea of being a usable cryptocurrency on the "common man's medium of exchange" front.

I thought about going with Monero (especially since I have a bit in a wallet that's just a little too small to move OUT of the wallet), but since I'm doing something that's "fire and forget" for a year, I decided to go with the second biggest cryptocurrency by market cap and hope that a year from now it will have returned more in actual market value than I put into it. Maybe by then the real players will have been winnowed down and there will be a real "common man's medium of exchange" winner that I can convert to and use to, you know, BUY STUFF.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

FreedomPop Seems Pretty Cool

Tamara's employer decided she needs a smart phone (or at least something better than the circa 2010 phone she's been using since, well, circa 2010), and authorized $X per month, first year paid in advance, for her to get cell and data service.

After some research, we decided that FreedomPop (yes, that's an affiliate link) made the most sense.

For less than the amount she received to cover the first year of service, she was able to get a pretty decent phone (a refurbished Samsung S5) and a year of one of their premium service tiers (unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1gb data). I expect that's going to be plenty of data for her needs, since she can just hook to wifi at home and work if necessary.

FreedomPop also has a free plan with 500 texts, 200 minutes of talk and 500mb of data. They sell phones for as little as $39.99, or for $1.99 you can get a FreedomPop SIM card and move any unlocked phone to their service. On top of the data that comes with whatever plan you choose, you can earn more by referring friends (there's that affiliate link) or completing offers.

So far, so good -- making and receiving calls and texts, downloading and installing apps over a wifi connection, etc. Tamara is traveling at the moment, so I haven't heard whether or not she's had occasion to really put cellular data to the test.

She wanted to keep the phone number she's had for more than 20 years. Instead of porting it from her previous carrier to FreedomPop, I am in the process of porting it to Google Voice. That way she never has to mess with porting  it again. When she changes carriers or phones she can just change the forwarding.

Absent some horrifying as yet unseen development (I'll update this post in that case), I'm sold on FreedomPop. If I'm in a future position where a client isn't keeping me on their cell plan, that's where I'll plan on going. Maybe you should consider it too. One tip: Don't go for their cheapest phones. Old Android rigs are, so far as I can tell, slow and cranky.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 10/05/17

This week's AMA thread is brought to you by whomever I designate, and I again tag Rodger Paxton's new project, Essential Libertarianism -- Selected Readings from Voluntaryist.com. Tag, Rodger, you're it. Don't miss Rodger's LAVA Flow/LAVA Spurt Podcasts or any of the other Pax Libertas Productions podcasts either!




Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 138: What Happens in Vegas Slays in Vegas (Too Soon?)

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by an anonymous sponsor who lets me promote whatever I want, which this week is Essential Libertarianism. Check out Rodger Paxton's new podcast-format readings of seminal libertarian material from The Voluntaryist.

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (candidates and foreign policy; three chords and the truth; military sci-fi) :: Feinstein does the Bump-Stock Boogie on the graves of the Vegas dead.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Yes, There is a Podcast Coming.

In fact, it's partially recorded, dated today in the intro, etc. But I can't finish it tonight due to temporarily irremediable environmental conditions, also known as some kind of gigantic ongoing noise activity in the neighborhood. I'll try to get it to you tomorrow morning, with other wondrous blogstuff to follow ASAP.