Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Survey Says ...


The Hill reports that "The Census Bureau's 2020 survey will not ask about respondents' sexual orientation or gender identity, dashing LGBT rights groups' hopes that the new questions would be added and raising concerns that the Trump administration may have squelched the proposal."

Good.

Let's review the constitutional authority for the census, from Article I, Section 2:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers .... The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

The purpose of the census is to determine how many US Representatives each state gets and how much of certain taxes each state pays based on population.

The method of the census is to count how many people there are. Not their races. Not their religions. Not their sexual orientations. Not their incomes. Not how many toilets they have in their houses. Just how many people there are. That's it and that's all.

Of course, the census form includes a bunch of verbiage intended to convince you that you are legally obligated to answer all of the Census Bureau's other nosy questions.

So, in 2010, I did answer all of the Census Bureau's other nosy questions. I answered the constitutionally authorized question, regarding how many people lived at my address, with the correct number. As for the others, my written answer to each one was "none of your business."

I don't recall that I ever heard anything more from them, so I guess that was good enough. And it will have to be good enough in 2020 as well.

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/29/17


Placeholder In Lieu of Sponsor Message (if you'd like to sponsor this week's episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast for $5.99, click here to talk to me about it): I am a very satisfied Dollar Shave Club customer, and if you shave you should be one too. Yes, I make money if you join through my link.



Ask Me Anything! in the comment thread below this post, and I'll answer in comments, on the next episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast, or both.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

But I Don't WANT it to Work!


"Universal healthcare access is coming. Stop fighting it and start figuring out how to make it work." That's the title of a piece by Ed Dolan at the Niskanen Center.

Of course "universal healthcare access" is a euphemism for "socialized" or "single payer" healthcare. It doesn't mean that everyone will get healthcare. It means that  people who pay more for healthcare now will get less of it so that people who pay less for healthcare now can get more of it.

But that's not the topic of this post. I'm less interested in the details of single payer healthcare than I am in this "liberaltarian" notion (as represented by Niskanen, Bleeding Heart Libertarians, et al.) that libertarians should worry less about dismantling the state and its schemes and more about making those schemes "work."

In fact, at some point I'll be doing a pro/con exchange with Steve Trinward on the "Basic Income Guarantee/Universal Basic Income" idea that's being pitched with increasing frequency these days by liberaltarians as a way to make delivering welfare state benefits less expensive and more efficient, which represents the same problem I have with Dolan's approach to healthcare.

To wit, both of those things are bad ideas both morally/ideologically and as a practical matter.

On the moral/ideological end of things, the liberaltarian case is that we should support (or at least find ways to work with) single-payer healthcare and a basic income guarantee because they can make some things better for some people.

That's true as far as it goes. But it's also true for burglary. If burglary is legal, I can go around stealing and pawning people's big-screen TVs and make good money, right? But stealing is wrong. And the only way the state can hand out free stuff -- be it healthcare or monthly checks or whatever -- to one person or group of people is to steal from, or enslave, some other person or group of people. Single payer healthcare and basic income guarantee schemes fail the most basic moral test per libertarianism.

As a practical matter, they also fail on two other metrics:


  1. Suppose the scheme "works." Congratulations. You did something immoral and got the result you wanted. But if your aim is to abolish, or at least minimize the size, scope and power of, the state, you just accomplished the opposite of your goal. Making the state's schemes "work" perpetuates the state and its schemes. Accomplishing some side goal in a way that works against your real ultimate goal is not a win, it's a loss.
  2. These schemes can only work temporarily, and the longer the sugar high lasts the harder the comedown is going to be. Ask the Venezuelans how state socialism is working out for them. Making single payer health care or a basic income guarantee "work" for now means more harm to more people later. Better to let these schemes fall apart on their own than to help the state stretch them out until the inevitable correction looks like the Holodomor.

Monday, March 27, 2017

In Which I Offer Up Rare Praise for a Democrat Politician


Namely, Sheriff Sadie Darnell of Alachua County, Florida.

On the podcast earlier, I mentioned that I wish Gainesville, the city I live near, would become a sanctuary city. Serendipitously, I just saw a tweet from the anti-immigration-freedom propaganda outfit "Center for Immigration Studies," pointing to its map of sanctuary jurisdictions. Gainesville may not be a sanctuary city, but my county is a sanctuary county.

Jurisdiction: Alachua [County], Florida
Date Enacted: September 2015
Policy: Sheriff's Decision
Criteria For Honoring Detainer: Will not honor ICE detainer without a judicial order or criminal warrant.

Thank you, Sheriff Darnell!

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 122: Guess I'll Go Eat Worms


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is not brought to you by Freedom Feens Radio per se, but I am using this episode to recommend that you give Freedom Feens Radio several listens. Worms.



In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (podcast listening routines; I've got such a headache!; pseudo-libertarian sites; border walls and spring break drunkenness) :: Does Jeff Sessions want your town to be less safe?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/21/17


This week's AMA thread and the podcast to follow do not have a sponsor yet, so as usual I'll promote things I love instead (said promotion can be retroactively pre-empted in favor of something YOU love for a mere $5.99 -- hit the contact form to work that out).

This week, one of the things I love is the Freedom Feens talk radio show. For a long time, I really didn't quite ... get ... the Feens. Then after I got some good audio advice from Boss Feen Michael Dean, I took the time to listen intently to a full episode and I've been listening daily ever since. You should too.


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



Monday, March 20, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 121: In Durance Exceptionally Vile


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is kinda sorta brought to you (which means I just wanted to promote it) by The LAVA Flow Podcast ...




In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (video games, I was probably wrong about Yemen, and superpowers) :: Four prison guards boil a prisoner alive then skate (here's the referenced news story).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/16/17


This week's Thanks For Asking! thread, and the podcast to follow, are un-sponsored -- and I'm not looking for a sponsor this week (if you'd like to sponsor next week's episode, hit me via the contact form and we'll work out the details). I don't want a sponsor because this week I want to talk up one of my favorite things: The LAVA Flow. Check out Roger Paxton's fortnightly podcast (and its shorter offshoot, The LAVA Spurt). You'll be glad you did.


So, the rules for my podcast's ask-me-anything segment go like this:


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


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Stupid is as Stupid Does


I don't have any particular opinion on the meaning or import of the "new" (to most people) footage of Michael Brown's earlier interactions with staff at a store that he was infamously portrayed as having committed a "strong-arm robbery" on shortly before he encountered and was killed by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.

Wait, I take that back. I do have an opinion on it: I do not think it would have changed the outcome if the whole affair had been handled according to Hoyle. If Wilson had been charged with a crime in the matter, as anyone on the face of the earth who didn't have a shiny badge would have been, based on the known facts, he would almost certainly have been acquitted on reasonable doubt at trial (both because there was plenty of reasonable doubt, and because something like 96% of cops who actually get charged for killing mere mundanes are acquitted regardless of the circumstances).

BUT!

St. Louis County, Missouri Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch calls the conclusions of filmmaker Jason Pollock, who included the footage in his film "Stranger Fruit," "just stupid" and "just nonsense."

McCulloch has precisely zero standing to comment on the case. He handled it in such a ham-handedly corrupt manner that he should have been removed from his position, disbarred, deemed to have forfeited any pension benefits he had coming, and maybe even run out of the county on a rail, covered with tar and feathers.

Instead of charging Wilson, or not charging Wilson, or going to the grand jury with a genuine case, he faked up the whole process, making a big show of going to the grand jury while, behind the scenes, abandoning his duties as prosecutor to act as Wilson's defense attorney (as the accused, Wilson was not entitled to counsel, let alone to have that counsel be the guy who was supposedly seeking his indictment).

McCulloch needs to have a nice hot cup of Shut The Fuck Up.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 120: Hey Candidates, Get Off My Lawn!


This episode may or may not have been brought to you by the recent anonymous sponsor (I'm absent minded and forget whether this was the fourth or fifth episode since the benefactor decided to sponsor four), but either way I get to decide what to tout, and I've decided that you really, really, really need to visit Claire Wolfe's site ...




In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (Why I Think The Switch is Nintendo's Swan Song; Nazis on the Moon With Dinosaurs; Who does WikiLeaks Work For?; Math/Science Jokes and Vault 7); a speech I gave, re-recorded at home -- local/county/state Libertarian Parties, feel free to use it if it works for you!

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Got Him!


A point of light in an otherwise very dark domestic political period:


Among many, many other crimes, Bharara bears significant responsibility in the persecution of American political prisoner Ross Ulbricht, and followed that atrocity up with a terroristic threat (framed as a secret subpoena to Reason magazine) against commenters who idly mused about what justice would look like as theoretically applied to the assistant prosecutor (posing as a judge) in Ulbricht's show trial.

Now that he's been dislodged, hopefully he'll get some firsthand experience of the orange coveralls, leg irons, small rooms with locked doors, etc. that he's so enthusiastically given to others.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

If You're in Lakeland, Florida Today ...


... I will be too. The Libertarian Party of Florida is having a "Regional Coalition Conference." I'm even scheduled to speak for a few minutes near the beginning. Hope to see you there (alternatively, there will be a live stream -- I'm not sure if it will run on the event page or on Raquel Okyay's timeline).

Friday, March 10, 2017

Streaming Video: This Should Be Standard


Inside my Netflix account, there's a screen where I can select/limit video quality:


Sling has similar controls. And in Amazon Video I can choose between HD and standard video resolution when I stream video to my computer desktop.

But when I stream Amazon Video to my television via the Amazon Fire TV Stick device or whatever, there's no such control. When I asked Amazon about that, the reply was that for devices other than computer desktop/web interface, the video will stream at, as detected by Amazon, the highest quality the device can handle. Most other streaming services also seem to lack user-accessible bandwidth/quality controls.

As far as device/hardware settings to handle this go, The Amazon Fire TV stick officially only lets the user choose between 720p and 1080p video, but there is a hidden menu where standard video resolution (480p) can be selected. Whether that works or not -- that is, whether it actually limits what Amazon sends through the pipe to my device, or whether it just sends HD no matter what and the device downgrades it -- I don't know yet (I just set it to that late yesterday; I had lost the setting in a system update). I messed with a Roku Express a few days ago and couldn't find any video quality settings.

Yesterday, before figuring out where that hidden Fire TV stick menu was, I started binge-watching a series (Justified -- quite good so far, by the way) on Amazon Video. Eleven episodes at about 40 minutes each came to about 7 hours and 20 minutes of streaming ... and just about busted my 34Gb per day average (1,024Gb per month) bandwidth cap.

I generally don't like to say what the market "should" offer, but in my opinion this is dumb from every angle. It's like selling cars (device) that run on nitrous oxide (the services), have no gas pedal and will only go at one speed, that being the fastest speed they can go.

Both the device makers and the services "should," in my opinion, give their customers the tools needed to reduce video definition and bandwidth consumption should they so desire. It might also improve their relations with ISPs who complain about congestion caused by so much streaming. I mean, if your customers can, and if many of them will, use 90% less bandwidth on your services, everyone wins, right?

In my case, I'm just fine with standard definition video and in a household of four where streaming video consumption does sometimes rise to binge-watching levels, we prefer SD so that we're not coming up on our (ample for everything except constant HD video watching) bandwidth cap.



Wednesday, March 08, 2017

I Wonder ...


Per Wikipedia:

By 1995, some 174,000 inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IMs) Stasi informants had been identified, almost 2.5% of East Germany's population between the ages of 18 and 60. 10,000 IMs were under 18 years of age. From the volume of material destroyed in the final days of the regime, the office of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records (BStU) believes that there could have been as many as 500,000 informers. A former Stasi colonel who served in the counterintelligence directorate estimated that the figure could be as high as 2 million if occasional informants were included.

Edward Snowden's disclosures and yesterday's Vault 7 release from Wikileaks show us that our own Stasi analogs have automated much of the work that used to be done by human informants. But one of these days, after the US regime goes the way of the East German regime and we learn more about what the state security organs got up to, I wonder how the informant numbers will stack up by comparison.

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/08/17


If things go as planned, I expect this coming weekend's episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast to enjoy a larger audience and offer more enduring listener value than usual. If you'd like your name all over that episode (and this AMA thread), hit the contact form and let's talk about what you get for your $5.99 sponsorship fee.

Other than that, hey, ask me anything (anything!) in the comment thread below this post and I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both.


Tuesday, March 07, 2017

I'm Shopping for Platform Shoes


To whom it may concern:

The Libertarian National Committee will soon select five members of the 2018 Platform Committee as provided for in Article 11 of the Libertarian Party's national bylaws.

There's some internal debate on the LNC as to the content of the application for that selection process, but I expect that the process will begin soon, so I'm going to go ahead and announce my interest in filling one of those committee seats and ask for the support of interested LP members in getting one of them:

Hey, everyone! I'm interested in filling one of those committee seats and request your support in getting one of them!

Q: Florida was one of the state parties entitled to appoint platform committee members. Why didn't you go for THAT seat?

A: I'm fairly new to Florida and to the Libertarian Party of Florida. I want to be a more experienced state party member with a longer and more distinguished record of uncomplaining work for the LPF that I'm asked to do before I start asking them to give me the jobs I want.

Q: What makes you think you're qualified to serve on the Platform Committee?

A: Obviously different people will have different opinions as to whether or not I am ideologically qualified, and I'll get to that below. As to qualification by experience and prior party and political work:


  • With the exception of a break I took from 2010-2014, I've been a party member, and usually a fairly active one, since 1996.
  • I've run campaigns for city council, school board, state legislature and (twice) for Congress as a Libertarian. I never won, but I did pretty well as compared to usual LP performance and my perception is that I did not embarrass the party as a candidate.
  • I served for eight years as one of a handful of Libertarian appointees to federal office (local draft board member, Selective Service System) under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. I resigned that post when I moved from Missouri to Florida.
  • I've worked as a volunteer, staffer or manager on numerous Libertarian campaigns, including everything from winning campaigns for local office (e.g. Tamara Millay, City Marshal, Greendale, Missouri) to pre- and post-nomination LP presidential campaigns (media coordinator, Badnarik for President).
  • I've served on numerous county LP committees (including as chair of the largest county LP in Missouri, 2008-2010), several terms on the Missouri LP executive committee, a term on the LP's national Judicial Committee, and a partial term as a replacement alternate on the Libertarian National Committee.
  • I am a writer by trade with several thousand published libertarian op-eds to my credit.


An additional qualification: I'm willing to do the job. My understanding is that in addition to attending the 2018 national convention (which I intend to do), I'll probably have to make at least one trip for a physical meeting of the Platform Committee. I'm not personally wealthy, but I'll find a way to make that trip.


Q: OK, but you mentioned ideology. What do you want to accomplish on the Platform Committee, and what is your position on [insert my pet issue here]?

As I've already stated elsewhere, I do intend to be the water carrier for one platform modification. I want to see Plank 3.4 of the LP's platform amended as follows, and will attempt to get the committee to recommend that amendment:

3.4 Free Trade and Migration

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

Apart from that, I consider myself fairly open-minded to any proposed changes that harmonize well with the party's Statement of Principles. I also want the party's platform to be well-written -- concise and precise on the one hand, rousing and passionate on the other. I think I can help the committee achieve that result in its recommendations.

As to your pet issue, I'll be happy to address it in comments.

Q: What do you mean when you say you want my support?

A: If you think I'd make a good platform committee member, watch this blog and when I announce that I've put in my application (which I intend to do as soon as that process actually begins), I hope you'll contact your regional LNC representative and the at-large reps and officers, respectfully ask them to vote for me from among the applicants, and explain why you think they should. Thanks in advance.

Three Worthy Streaming Apps for the Cord-Cutter


So you did away with your cable television service. If you did so because you just don't watch TV, congratulations -- you're saving yourself some money and probably some annoyance. Congratulations!

If you cut the cord to save money but still want to watch TV, chances are you've picked one or more paid replacements for cable: Netflix, Hulu (referral link!) or Amazon Video for movies and archived TV shows, Sling for live TV, and so on.

On the "free" side of things, most broadcast/cable networks and channels have their own streaming apps over which you can watch at least some live and/or archived content. But that's a hodge-podge and a mess to keep track of.

Three free stand-alone apps ( bring a lot of content under their individual umbrellas. They might even meet your needs as replacements for some of those paid services.

Pluto is a "live TV" service that I actually prefer to Sling in many ways. It's free (ad-laden, but so is Sling). Its "guide" format is more intuitive and cable-like than Sling's. It features more than 75 channels, including 10 news channels, six comedy channels and six tech/geek channels. If you're wanting more prominent cable action like AMC and Syfy, Pluto isn't a complete solution, but like I said it's free and full of good stuff.

Tubi is the poor man's Netflix -- free and featuring more than 40,000 movies and TV episodes, with studio partnerships and weekly content updates. You're generally not going to find the latest new releases on Tubi the week after they leave theaters, but there's plenty of good stuff. I discovered Tubi when I was looking for a particular movie (Suspect Zero) that wasn't available for free on any of the big three streaming services at the time. Yes, you have to put up with ads. That's why you don't have to fork over cash.

Crackle is a Sony project, but I won't hold that against them. No charge, ad-supported, a rotating mix of movies and television. Personally when I visit Crackle it's usually to watch their Seinfeld archive or catch up with Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. But they have other stuff too.

All three of these apps are available for Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as other platforms. I recommend installing them and then tracking your usage. You may find out that in addition to cutting the cable cord, these apps will let you cut one or more paid streaming services out of your monthly cost of living.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Things Are Looking Up For The Libertarian Party!


Michael Coleman of the Albuquerque, New Mexico Journal reports:

... as [Gary] Johnson and I rode the lifts between runs, we talked a little politics. He vowed to never again run for the presidency ...

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 119: The Stupid Pre-Travel Audio Tricks Edition


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by FreeRoss.org. OK, actually it is brought to you by an anonymous sponsor who told me to talk up whatever I felt like. Which is FreeRoss.org. I donated the $5.99 sponsorship fee (plus a penny) to the cause. I hope you'll match that in the cause of freeing a political prisoner.





I'm testing my travel audio rig in prep for some future roadcasting (and I had to use Audio Expert instead of Audio Joiner, which was down, for file conversion). Let me know what you think of the audio quality. In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (books on practical politics; Kellyanne Conway has never been this far before; etc.) :: My 2018 Libertarian Party Hobbyhorse.

We Cut The Cord (About in Half)


Our cable billing cycle starts/ends on the 5th of the month. On the 4th, Tamara and I marched into Cox's local "solutions store" with three boxes and three remotes and canceled our television service. We're keeping our phone and Internet with them, but we're done with cable TV, and from what I've been reading we're far from pioneers on that front.

Over the course of a year or so, I determined:


  1. That most of the stuff we watched on the television came in over streaming services rather than cable;
  2. That most of the stuff that didn't come in over streaming services could have come in over streaming services;
  3. That as long as we don't insist on high-definition video, we could watch streaming TV 16 hours a day, seven days a week and not hit our bandwidth cap; and
  4. That in addition to our main cable box, we were paying to rent boxes in each of the kids' rooms that weren't being used (they preferred to stream, and did so over their game consoles).
Even with the addition of a Sling subscription, which we may or may not keep forever (we took a two-month free trial and then pre-paid for two more months because doing so got us a Roku Express as a premium; it's a "live TV over the Internet" service from DISH Network), cutting the television out of our cable bill is going to save us about $100 a month. Which is why I've been yelling the idea for at least a year.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Why The Podcast is Late


The bicycle ride to Bronson and back (with a Libertarian Party meeting in the middle) wore me out more than I expected. It may have been the beer.

I thought I might actually record at the meeting venue, so in addition to my usual gear I carried a backpack with Chromebook, microphone, etc. which I now need to unpack and set back up.

And I have a smoke alarm chirping every couple of minutes. Doesn't seem to be the battery. Gotta figure that out. It would be the most annoying podcast background noise ever.

Probably tomorrow.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

How Madeline Albright Deployed PTSD to Make Me Antiwar


I felt like I had a pretty good Gulf War. I only got shot at a couple of times, and discovered I kind of liked it. I was in my twenties, and the phenomenon of war being "the adventure of one's life" fully applied. I mean, I got to go to the other side of the world and see things I'd never have otherwise seen, right?

Granted, I now have both documentary and symptomatic reason to believe I got a snort of sarin or something, but for several years I was not at all unhappy to have had the experience, hadn't really thought through the politics of it very much, and felt absolutely no sense of moral responsibility whatsoever for the things that had happened "over there."

Then, as Jared Labell recalls in a blog post at Antiwar.com, US Secretary of State Madeline Albright appeared on 60 Minutes to discuss the effect of post-war sanctions on Iraq:

Leslie Stahl: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it.

Right after I heard that, within a few days at most, the dream started. Not all the time. These days, not even that often. But still, to this day, occasionally.

In the dream, I'm surrounded by children, and they're all just standing there silently.

Looking at me.

Looking at me with that face.

You know the face. It's the face of someone who's been hurt and who can't understand exactly what just happened or, especially, why someone would do such a thing to him or her.

Just to be clear, I didn't shoot any kids over there. In fact, every interaction I recall with a kid over there was friendly, of the "ooh, ah, show me your M-16, can I sit in the little machine gun emplacement on top of your hummer?" variety (one kid did wander off in confusion after he used his minimal English to learn that I was neither a Muslim, nor a Christian, nor -- furrowed brow when he asked -- a Jew; at the time I was agnostic).

But it only took an iteration or two of that dream for me to start considering the possibility that when a US pilot drops a bomb on a water treatment plant and 500 kids die of cholera as a result, maybe the pilot isn't the only responsible party in their deaths. Maybe the guy guarding the runway that pilot took off from (I resemble that remark) bears some responsibility too.

And that's when I started re-thinking my whole attitude toward war.

Thanks, Madame Secretary. If you get to hell before I do, save me a seat.

Friday, March 03, 2017

In Which the Wachowskis and I Predict the Future of Nintendo ...



Thursday, March 02, 2017

Just Had to Find Out For Myself


I've been listening to the talk about problems with Bitcoin -- check out the Anarchopulco episodes of Free Talk Live a few days ago for interviews with Roger Ver and Tone Vays advocating for, respectively, the "Bitcoin Unlimited" versus "Segregated Witness" schemes to address increasing waits and increasing transaction fees -- but I hadn't really run into those problems until today.

It's now been right at 11 hours since I sent a small amount of Bitcoin (0.00489662 BTC) with the smallest acceptable miner fee my wallet allowed me to choose (0.0002 BTC). Number of confirmations: Zero.

Eleven hours. Zero confirmations.

I don't know for sure that Ver is right about the solution, but he's right about the problem: Bitcoin is not going to survive as a viable cryptocurrency if it can't be used to complete small transactions in a reasonable timeframe and at a reasonable cost. That is, to survive it must be a usable medium of exchange for regular people buying regular stuff from regular merchants.

Vays seems to think that Bitcoin could just bop on down the road as a "store of value" in which people wanting to move occasionally move large amounts of wealth around would be willing to pay high fees to do so. He doesn't necessarily want it to do that, as I understand him, but he thinks it could.

It can't. If Bitcoin becomes nothing but a wealth storage scheme dependent on paying a bunch of guys outrageous fees for updating the blockchain ledger (that's what Bitcoin mining is), a selloff will commence that will end with the value stored back down in the 10,000 Bitcoin for two pizzas range.

Time to get your shit together, miners.

Word of the Day


Nationalism, n. A lid placed atop the pot of tribalism for the purpose of boiling up a batch of statism.

The Term I've Been Looking for is "Path Dependence"


I've spilled a considerable amount of virtual ink over the years trying to explain (or sometimes just to summarize) the "paleoconservative" deviation from libertarianism. For example, yesterday in a Facebook discussion, I wrote:

I agree with Clayton Hunt that anarcho-capitalism and paleoconservatism aren't the same thing. Anarcho-capitalism is an ideology. Paleoconservatism is a cult based on an attack of explosive strategic diarrhea that Rothbard would presumably have eventually taken some Kaopectate for if he hadn't died before he could get away from the toilet for more than a few seconds.

This morning I was (actually, I still am) listening to the latest episode of Freedom Feens Radio. Good show as always, and Rothbard comes up in a discussion of the "alt-right." You should listen to the whole thing, but here's the quote that got me thinking (I'm not as good with voices as I should be, but I think it's Lousander Feen saying this):

[T]here's a special libertarian logical fallacy called appeal to Rothbard, because although he was very good on economics, and he was very good on an awful lot of things, there were some things, particularly when it came to choosing alliances, that he absolutely was as dumb as six bags of hammers.

That quote is sandwiched in between mention of Rothbard's idea to ally with the antiwar left (specifically Students For a Democratic Society) during Vietnam and mention of the fact that he died while he was still enthralled with the "paleo strategy," a plan for libertarians to achieve political victory by wading into the moral sewer of Dixiecrat/"Solid South" peckerwood populism.

Which brings me to the quite possibly apocryphal tale explaining why the Solid Rocket Boosters used to launch the old Space Shuttles were the size they were. It goes something like this:

In order to be transported from factory to launch site, the Solid Rocket Boosters were put on rail cars and therefore had to fit through train tunnels.

The width of train tunnels is dependent on the width of trains.

The width of trains is dependent on the gauge of the tracks they run on.

Standard railroad gauge (4 feet, 8.5 inches between rails) came about because the first English train builders used the same width jigs that they used to measure the axle width of the wagons they built before they built trains.

The reasons the wagon-builders used those jigs was so that their wagon wheels would fit into the ruts of the old Roman roads the wagons traveled down.

The Romans built their roads to the width required to accommodate their war chariots.

The Romans built a war chariot to be as wide as the combined rear ends of the two horses pulling it.

Which means that the size of the Space Shuttle's Solid Rocket Boosters was determined, nearly 2,000 years ago, by the width of a Roman war horse's ass.

The story may or may not be strictly true -- I've heard that it may not be -- but it's certainly illustrative of a phenomenon called "path dependence" in which the future course of a thing gets locked in by continued adherence (rational or not) to some past decision.

Paleoconservatism and libertarianism are both path-dependent to some extent.

Libertarianism is ideologically path-dependent on observance of the non-aggression constraint.

Paleoconservatism is strategically path-dependent on continued pursuit of Rothbard's insane idea that the way to get the libertarian chariot to its destination was to get a conservative horse to pull it along.

The two paths are clearly divergent. You can go down one or the other, but not both.

My preference is the path that doesn't leave me covered in, and smelling like, shit.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Planning Earlier Than I Want To But Later Than I Should


The Libertarian Party of Florida's 2017 state convention is schedule for May 5-7 in Cocoa Beach. I intend to go. It will be my first state convention in Florida. I'm not endorsing any candidates for party office because I'm still a New Guy who doesn't have the lay of the land, but this event is part of getting said lay (no, that's not intended as double entendre).

The nut:


  • There's no charge for participating in the business sessions and I am registered as a delegate already. However, the business sessions are spread over two days (Saturday and Sunday) and starting fairly early on Saturday. So at least one, probably two hotel nights. Estimated total cost with taxes, etc., $200 (I plan to talk to my daughter, also a registered LPF voter, about being a delegate, and my wife will be coming to socialize, maybe hit the beach, etc., so the room would not just be fore me).
  • I'm not planning to buy any of the full meal/event "packages." When I go to a convention, I almost always find it more productive -- and more fun -- to hang out with people between business sessions. However, since part of my purpose in going is to network and since I'm looking at a Friday hotel stay anyway, I do want to attend the Friday evening reception. Cost is variable. If it's just me, $60. Me and Astel, $120. Me, Astel and Tamara, $180.
  • Sundry expenses (gas, possibly car rental if we aren't in something more reliable by then -- hopefully we will be -- and the elevated cost of eating out in Cocoa Beach rather than at home) ... I'm going to ballpark that at $120 just to get a nice round max expense figure of:
!$500!

I don't have $500 lying around so it's time to start figuring out ways to cut costs and/or make the idea of me going worth money to others.

Cost-cutting:

  • There's a carpool/roomshare group on Facebook. If it comes down to that, I'll see what I can manage, but I have reasons to not want to. Put simply, I don't know how easygoing or tense things will become vis a vis party business and so forth and I don't want to ride down and/or bunk with someone and then find myself e.g. sleeping in the hallway and hitch-hiking home (or tempting that fate and making all parties tense).
  • I've done some hotel research. There are some nearby places but nothing significantly cheaper (hint: The base rate at Motel 6 is more expensive). If I find a way to save $30 a night and not have to walk more than 20 minutes or so between venues, I'll go for it, but that's not looking likely. In extremis I will give up the Friday night reception and only book one hotel night. For that matter, if I end up sleeping in the car or nodding off in a chair in the hotel lobby, it won't be the first time I've done that in order to be somewhere I think I need to be.
Making the idea of me going worth money to others:

  • If you're holding any kind of unofficial/side event at the convention and would like a speaker, let's talk. I'm not looking for a huge honorarium, I'm looking for ways to make this trip affordable.
  • If you'd like me to advertise your product, service, web site, etc. in some way (wearing a t-shirt, getting a tattoo on my forehead, putting fliers on the convention tables, staffing a table, stripping down to a thong while dancing and yelling about whatever it is you're selling, etc.), maybe we can work something out.
Presumably time is somewhat of the essence when it comes to hotel reservations and all that, so if either of the above interest you please hit the contact form ASAP and we'll get whatever it is going. If you just want to throw money at me on general principle, there are options in the right sidebar for doing so, and thanks in advance.

Naturally I'll plan on blogging and podcasting from the convention as well -- and I do expect there may be some goings-on of interest to non-Floridians. Specifically, some of you will recall the recent incident at the International Students For Liberty Conference, and you might even have noticed that Richard Spencer was actually the second string provocateur -- the entryists' original plan was to bring in Augustus Invictus from Florida. I expect Invictus to attend the convention, and one of his supporters is running for state vice-chair. Developing ...

UPDATE, 03/02

The cost-cutting has begun. My initial estimate of hotel costs, including taxes and so forth, was $200. Two nights at the convention hotel (the rate required payment in advance, but I can cancel if necessary) came to $153.12. So the new, updated total estimated cost of attending the convention is almost 10% less ...

!$453.12!

... and of course I will continue looking for ways to make it cheaper. Now I just have to start moving the needle from the bottom in terms of actually, you know, paying for this thing. I plan to talk to a couple of possible movement-related sponsors/advertisers who might have some work for me to do there. If you're someone who has such work in mind that I probably don't know about, talk to me.

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/01/17


This AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by an anonymous sponsor who's letting me promote anything I choose to promote ... and what I'm promoting this week is a cause: FREE ROSS ULBRICHT.

In fact, I used the $5.99 episode sponsorship fee to support the cause by buying six squares (for $1 each) in a little game on the site. Each square you buy uncovers a little bit of a picture drawn by Ross. It's a worthy cause (the donations fund an American political prisoner's appeal of his life sentence for running a web site), a fun way of contributing to it, and when the entire drawing is uncovered 21 lucky donors who picked particular squares will win one-ounce silver Liberty dollars from Roberts & Roberts Brokerage. Please, go buy some of those squares for yourself, or heck, just make a donation.

Side note #1: Last night's episode of Free Talk Live, broadcast from the Anarchopulco conference, includes an interview with Ross's mother, Lyn Ulbricht. Listen to it!

THANKS FOR ASKING MANUAL OF PROCEDURE

1. ASK ME ANYTHING (in the comment thread below this post); and
2. I'LL ANSWER (in comments, on the next episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast, or both.


Side note #2: I'm considering a format change in which I pick ONE Thanks For Asking! question to answer on the podcast and the others are answered only in comments. The theory behind that possible format change is that I can talk for 5-10 minutes about one thing instead of trying to cram two, three or five things into the podcast segment. Let me know what you think about that idea!


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