Friday, March 30, 2018

It's Over 9,000!

Because, well, it's over 10,000.

My doctor is always after me to exercise, and my problem with exercise is this: I go at it aggressively, I make real improvements in strength, endurance, blood glucose level, blood pressure, weight loss ...

... but then when something knocks me out of my aggressive routine -- a cold snap, for example -- there's about a 50/50 chance that I will stay knocked off of it for weeks or months. I was riding the bicycle 10 miles a day, etc. for about a month starting in late November. IIRC, I did a 20-miler on Christmas Eve, or perhaps the day before that. Then there was a week of lows in the 20s and highs in the 40s or 50s, and I hate riding in the cold. So I stopped, and never really got back to it.

Now I'm taking a different approach. Instead of getting all hyped up and locked into something that's just too easy to let myself quit, I'm walking 10,000 steps a day. I got one of those little wrist monitors to keep track. Not one that keeps track of heart rate, sleep patterns, etc. This one just counts steps, estimates distance and calories burned, and works as a wristwatch (it also connects to my phone via Bluetooth for storage of stats and such. I paid $5 for it at Ollie's. So far, five days of 10k steps. I think this is something I can keep up and build on.

Naturally, about the time I decided to do it, a new study came out saying that 15,000, not 10,000, steps per day is optimal. But instead of jumping right in on that, I decided to start at 10k and then do one or more of several things:

  1. Raising my step goal by 1,000 ever yso often, once whatever level I'm at seems so easy that it's probably peaked in terms of benefit; and/or
  2. Start requiring myself to jog parts of my daily step goal, likely in 10% increments, intermixed with the walking a la fartlek.
  3. Adding in some other form of exercise in between walks/jogs. Maybe the bike (which I do want to get back to using for transportation anyway), maybe the kettlebell, whatever.
Complicating that is the fact that I do a good deal of the walking while holding onto a leash with a dog at the end of it. Since she's getting older and her legs are about six inches long, there are limits to how fast or far I can expect her to hang in there.

But anyway, I'm going to see if I can resist the urge to throw myself into the exercise stuff and get burned out such that I find myself stopping and not re-starting at the first excuse to do so.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

All of a Sudden

I got a bunch of friend requests on MeWe, a social network I joined a long time ago and then promptly forgot all about.

The friend requests are almost entirely from libertarians.

Is there an en masse libertarian Facebook emigration phenomenon going on and I didn't get the memo?

Monday, March 26, 2018

One Letter, a World of Difference

gunplain, v. To whine about guns, gun owners and gun rights.

gunsplain, v. To inconvenience a gunplainer with facts that make it clear he has no idea what he's talking about and is thus not entitled to have his opinion respected by anyone who cares about the truth.


I know what you're thinking -- another post about Trump. Nope. This is a post about social media and data-mining.

I'm seeing commentary from a bunch of people, operating from various ideologies, to the following effect (not a quote, a paraphrase of a number of such claims):

Social media giants (e.g. Facebook) and data miners (e.g. Cambridge Analytica) dispose of such enormous power in terms of "opinion leader" mojo that they are effectively (and effectually) engaged in mass brainwashing of the hapless mass of ordinary voters, skewing election results, opinion poll results, etc.

But the fact that that claim is being made constitutes an implicit claim itself: The claim that the person making the claim is somehow magically immune to this brainwashing, unlike the rest of us poor gullible wind-up toys. All of us rubes just need to pay attention to the special people who are immune to influences outside themselves (and who, of course, have only our best interests at heart), and we'll all be saved by and by.

Oddly, most of these people are the same types who claim to be dedicated to "democracy" -- that is, rule by people who are so congenitally mentally crippled that a "Help Jesus Beat Hillary" ad on Facebook will throw a wrench into their capacity for judgment and ruin everything.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

But Speaking of Payza ...

Apropos of this morning's post on the US regime's attempt to take the online payment service down:

I do not like the service, and do not recommend it.

Payza has been around for several years, and functions as an alternative to PayPal for many "Internet Marketing" sites, especially since PayPal pulled a weird crackdown on such sites that pay affiliate commissions (yes, I am still involved in Internet Marketing -- fortunately my latest project involves no movement of money between myself and customers).

Payza always looked cheesy to me, and I never used it until recently.

I wanted to buy something from a site, and saw that the site accepted Bitcoin. When I pressed the "buy" button, it turned out that the Bitcoin payment would be routed through Payza. No problem.

OK, well, problem.

Once I sent the Bitcoin to the specified address, I got an error message referring to network congestion and directing me to send in a help ticket, which would first require me to create a Payza account of my own. So I did.

After I created the account and sent in the help ticket, I got an email informing me that the Bitcoin transaction had gone through. Not to the merchant I was sending it to, but to my new Payza account.

I conferred with the merchant, who confirmed that he hadn't received the Bitcoin or even seen a note on the transaction. Then I went back and forth with Payza, whose rep:

1) Denied that the problem was what Payza had said it was (network congestion);

2) Suggested that the problem was with the merchant; and then

3) Switched to insisting that the problem was with me, because I had multiple Payza accounts -- the one I had just set up, and one I've never heard of, associated with an email address I've never seen before.

I finally stopped talking to them, and shortly thereafter saw something else, somewhere else, for just under the amount in my Payza account, and bought it. So I think I have 75 cents or so in Payza, and have no ambition to have any more, or to conduct any further transactions through them.

Which doesn't mean I approve of the US government abducting one of the company's principals, charging a company in Canada with violating a local District of Columbia money transfer licensing scheme, etc. All it means is that I don't like the company much.

There Really Need to be Repercussions

Per CoinDesk, "Digital payment processor Payza has been charged by the U.S. government with running an unlicensed money services business. ... The court filing lists several charges: conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, conspiracy to launder money, and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business in the District of Columbia."

Except that Payza isn't in the District of Columbia. It's in Canada.

The authoritahs abducted one of the firm's founders while he was in Detroit (which is also not in the District of Columbia). The other remains "at large," which presumably means "at home, in Canada." The indictment actually dates from 2016, but seems to have been publicly released in conjunction with the abduction.

Not the first time the feds have pulled this kind of shit. Several times they've abducted executives of online casinos that operated from foreign countries, when those executives would happen to travel through the US, and charged them with breaking US law because some of their customers happened to be Americans.

They've also prosecuted Swiss banks for doing business in Switzerland, because some of those banks' customers may not have told the IRS everything it wanted to know about their business dealings.

Since the Canadian and Swiss regimes seem disinclined to react to this Barbary pirate style bullshit in the same way that the US reacted to, um, the Barbary Pirates, it seems to me that foreign-owned-and-operated businesses need to set up some kind of insurance pool,  under which professionals are retained for high-speed reactions to this kind of thing.

When DoJ abducts an insured business owner, US Department of Justice employees start disappearing.

When the DoJ releases the abductee, the insurer releases the DoJ employees.

Perhaps a timeliness clause, in keeping with the "tough on crime" posturings of the US regime, under which for every month the thing drags on, the head of a US Attorney shows up at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in a flat rate Priority Mail box or something like that.

I hate to recommend the latter even for terror kingpins like US Attorneys, but if businesses don't start getting tough with these DoJ thugs, the nonsense won't ever stop.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The NERVE of That Guy!

Calling up Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his victory in Russia's presidential election? Who ever thought the US would have a president who would do something as low and tin-eared as that?

Oh, wait ...

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

I Wonder ...

In a piece published yesterday at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Cory Doctor points out something important:

This week, we made you a tutorial explaining the torturous process by which you can change your Facebook preferences to keep the company’s "partners" from seeing all your friends’ data. But what many folks would really like to do is give you a tool that does it for you: go through the tedious work of figuring out Facebook’s inscrutable privacy dashboard, and roll that expertise up in a self-executing recipe -- a piece of computer code that autopiloted your browser to login to Facebook on your behalf and ticked all the right boxes for you, with no need for you to do the fiddly work.

But they can’t. Not without risking serious legal consequences, at least. A series of court decisions -- often stemming from the online gaming world, sometimes about Facebook itself -- has made fielding code that fights for the user into a legal risk that all too few programmers are willing to take.
I admit to still wrestling a bit with the morality of, for example, ad blockers. Using one is basically saying "I am going to use your resources (e.g. bandwidth and CPU time) to serve content to myself, under rules other than the rules you, the owner or renter of those resources, have set for using those resources." Which sounds a lot like theft. I finally started using an ad blocker when it became basically impossible to get anything done without one, but I'm still not comfortable with the idea and wish that someone would come up with a plausible argument that it's not an initiation of force.

Anyway, the question that just occurred to me is this:

Regarding the property status of the content itself, rather than the resources for serving it, are there people who support the notion of "intellectual property" while simultaneously thinking it OK to view or listen to that content while avoiding the (at least implicit, and in some cases explicit) content "owner's" payment condition of "you have to put up with ads?"

Yep, Looks Like I'm Sticking with ChromeOS

With some travel coming up, I've been looking around for a better laptop.

My circa 2013 Samsung Chromebook is showing its age. With an ARM CPU and only 2Gb of RAM, it slows to a crawl with only a few tabs open or apps running. Also, it's an 11.6" screen and my eyes just aren't what they were even five years ago. Don't get me wrong. It's been a fine machine. But time to move on and up.

On the other hand, I do not want a Windoze machine, after my most recent Mac experience that's not where I want to go either, and just about any new laptop I'd want to put Linux on (other than a Chromebook, which I might use Crouton to turn into a dual boot machine) doesn't compare well on price for specs (versus my needs) to the Lenovo IdeaPad 14" Chromebook.

4Gb of RAM and a dual core Intel processor slightly faster than the one in my Asus Chromebox, which is still working just fine for me. A 16Gb solid state drive, and likewise that has proven plenty of on-board storage for me over the years across Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, an old "netbook" that was my first machine with an SSD rather than an old fashioned hard drive. If the reviews I've read are correct, it is part of the new generation of Chromebooks that will run Android apps, too.

Yes, it is ChromeOS. Yes, ChromeOS is Google. I know that many people decline to trade as much personal information and personal privacy as Google demands in return for its "free" browser, OS, email client, word processor, etc. Can't say I blame them. But the deal works for me. So I've arranged with a client who buys me a new machine every few years to make the IdeaPad the next one.

Anyone Know an Easy Way ...

I had no intention whatsoever of buying the "petro," a cryptocurrency issued by Venezuela's Maduro regime. I don't want state-sponsored "money" in general or Maduro-connected money specifically.

But now Donald Trump says I can't buy the petro.

Anyone know which wallets/exchanges support the damn thing? I'd rather not go to a lot of trouble, and I certainly won't go to any great expense, but if it's reasonably easy and reasonably cheap I'll get some precisely because Donald Trump thinks he gets to tell me what I can and can't buy.

Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Huntin' for a Good RSS Reader -- Again! -- Blues

Dammit: "Digg Reader is shutting down on March 26, 2018."

I'm testing Inoreader (my old favorite before it got slow and I moved to Digg), NewsBlur, and the Slick RSS Chrome extension.

I used Slick today, and like it better than NewsBlur (for my purposes -- your mileage may vary).

Tomorrow I will see if Inoreader has solved whatever problems it had that drove me to go to Digg.

I remember not being a big fan of The Old Reader when I tried it back when, but I may give it another look as well.

Naturally, I hate paying for anything when there are so many "free" options out there, but I spend much of my work day hunting down stuff on the web and plugging feeds into an RSS reader is the best way I've found to do that. So I may fork over a little if I find the right app.

Is Donald Trump Suicidal?

Per NBC News:

President Donald Trump announced new steps to combat the opioid addiction epidemic on Monday, pressing for "toughness" in punishing drug dealers -- even if it means sentencing them to death.

"If we don't get tough on the drug dealers, we're wasting our time," Trump told the crowd, some of whom shouted "yes!" in response to his statement that "that toughness includes the death penalty."

Thing is, Trump himself is a drug dealer, engaged in the manufacture and trafficking of alcohol. And at least as of 2016 he was involved in several other conspiracies to manufacture and traffic in drugs, including Pfizer, Merck, Celgene, and GlaxoSmithKline. In fact, I'm pretty sure all of those companies deal in precisely the drugs that Trump wants to "get tough" on dealers of.

So if he gets the measures he wants, is he going to turn himself in, don orange coveralls to match his complexion, and request his legendary McDonald's order for his last meal?

Or are the rules he wants just for those other drug dealers?

Thanks to an Anonymous Supporter and a Commissioned Piece of Writing ...

... I've effectively got the trip to Columbus in May, for the Libertarian Party platform committee meeting, paid for.

As I wrote in a blog post yesterday, it pays to schedule creatively and shop for air fares.

Flying major commercial, I would have spent an absolute minimum of about $350 to land at the airport about 20 minutes before the meeting started (11am Sunday), and probably have had to leave a little before its set adjournment (2pm Monday) to clear security, etc. for the flight out.

Flying Allegiant and going Greyhound, I will be able to arrive in Columbus the day before the meeting, maybe have to leave a little before adjournment to catch my flight home, and pay my mother in Missouri a pre-Mother's-Day visit en route for about $300. And that visit to Mom actually makes the schedule easier since Allegiant doesn't fly everywhere every day.

I'm figuring another $100 for two hotel nights. Maybe not quite as much -- I've got two roommates lined up -- but that's what I'm budgeting.

That leaves $100 of my projected $500 budget for food and sundries. Of course, I would be eating anyway, but it will be a little more expensive on the road, and I figure I'll do a little drinking, too, something I don't indulge in much any more.

Not that I would turn down more support, mind you -- see the sidebar for options -- but it looks like this particular expense is covered. Thanks, anonymous supporter!

I Don't Think That Word Means What Paul Rosenberg Thinks It Means

parasitic, adjective 1. of, relating to, or characteristic of parasites.

parasite, noun 1. an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment. 2. a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others. 3. (in ancient Greece) a person who received free meals in return for amusing or impudent conversation, flattering remarks, etc.


Facebook, Google, and all the free services operate as parasites. So do the "discount with card" groceries, etc., etc. All of these operations are pushing you to give them your information, which they will use to manipulate you. And when they’re done manipulating you, they’ll sell your information to others, so they can do the same.

Regardless of how creatively this is justified, it is plainly parasitic.

It is true that when it comes to these kinds of "free services," the user is the product, not the customer. The customers are the advertisers, etc. who get your information or the use of it.

But that doesn't make the user/provider relationship "parasitic."

First of all, Google and Facebook don't swim up under your arm and attach themselves without your knowledge or permission. If you have a Google or Facebook account, you have one because you decided to get one and took steps to make that happen.

Secondly, what's taking place is an exchange of value. The user values Google's GMail or Hangouts or Voice or whatever service because he or she can use them to do stuff. Google values the user's information because it can use that information to sell ads to people who want to sell stuff to the user. Ditto Facebook's social media outlet, Messenger service, etc.

You may or may not like the product. You may or may not like the price. You may consider the deal too creepy for you, or just not sweet enough to be attractive. But "parasitic?" No. At least not any more so than buying a burger or a pair of shoes, or taking part in a focus group in exchange for cash or samples.

I know people who avoid Facebook and/or Google and/or some other such companies for various reasons, including not wanting their personal information floating around being used by God only knows who. And that's fine. It's even fine to try to convince me to do likewise. But if the best argument you've got is the absurd claim that the relationship is "parasitic," try again.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Let's Call it What it is

From a WaPo piece on Saturday's shooting at a California mall:

The gunshots at the shopping center with open-air and indoor shopping space led to some chaos and a lockdown.

Jeffrey Simpson, 17, was shopping with his mother at a department store when an announcement came over the intercom about a threat outside the mall.

'I went to Nordstrom to get pants, and the next thing I know, the doors are being sealed,' Simpson told The Associated Press.

He said he and his mom were "a little shaken" but OK. They were in the store for more than an hour but shoppers were free to move around and employees were helping people stay comfortable and calm, Simpson said.

If it was me, I'd be feeling a lot more comfortable and calm after receiving the multiple settlement checks for false imprisonment, etc. Presumably those checks would be large enough for me not to really notice the deduction of the cost of the plate glass window and whatever I put through that window to get out of there very much.

"Lockdown" is just shorthand for "we're doing something to you that we'd go to jail for if we didn't persuade you to think of it as a 'lockdown.'"

No Competition in Air Travel? In What Universe?

I've seen this complaint numerous times, most recently from Glenn Harlan Reynolds (hat tip -- Steve Trinward):

[I]n today’s airline world, there’s not a lot of competition. The fact is that between airline mergers and hub-and-spoke networks, most air routes are dominated by one or two airlines. It’s not like the heady competitive days of the 1980s, which is why fares are up and service is down.

Now, it just so happens that last night I booked my flights for May, to attend the Libertarian Party's platform committee meeting in Columbus, Ohio.

Let's look at the competitive environment in my area:

Fares are high to fly directly in and out of Gainesville, Florida's small airport. But there are at least five other airports within a three-hour drive: The large airports in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa, as well as the smaller Orlando-Sanford and St. Petersburg-Clearwater.

When I ran an initial search for flights that covered the major airlines, I got choices ranging from $330 to $1,000+.

Then I went to see what Allegiant Air (flying out of Orland-Sanford and St. Petersburg-Clearwater) and Frontier Airlines (flying out of Jacksonville, Orlando-Sanford, and Tampa) had to offer. Allegiant had what I was looking for:

St. Petersburg, Florida, to Springfield, Missouri, total cost $125. That's ticket, taxes, baggage, the works.

Columbus, Ohio to St. Petersburg, Florida, total cost $72.50.

Add in a $100 Greyhound ticket, and I'm going still going to be able to make a side trip on the way (to visit my mother in Missouri) for at least $50 less than I would have spent flying straight to Columbus and straight back on one of the big carriers.

Reynolds's point stands, sort of: Air fares would likely be far lower absent all the regulation (with attendant regulatory capture) and other government involvement. And the nature of air travel, taking place to and from centralized locations instead of from your driveway to someone else's parking lot, makes it very vulnerable to that stuff.

But there's still plenty of competition even in that broken environment.

And not just price competition. I've always found the planes just as clean and comfortable, and the staff just as polite, on Allegiant as on the major airlines (I haven't flown Frontier, but Tamara has and she says they do well on those metrics too).

As far as price competition goes, one way the budget guys do it is by having a very low base fare and then charging extra for, well, extras. You don't get free drinks on the plane. You get one carry-on "personal item;" if you want an additional carry-on or a checked bag, you pay more (the fares I mention above include a checked bag, btw). If you want to pick your seat, it costs extra. But that kind of works both ways, doesn't it? If I fly one of the big airlines, I get -- and pay for -- all that stuff "included" whether I want it or not.

Where do the budget airlines not compete well with the big guys?

Well, they don't fly to and from as many cities. I'm very lucky because I live in Florida. Basically on Allegiant you can fly between 1) Florida or 2) Las Vegas and a bunch of other places, but not so much between those other places (it's not hard to figure out why). So I couldn't fly Allegiant from Missouri to Ohio, thus a 13-hour Greyhound ride is in my future in between the two Allegiant plane rides.

Also, most of their flights don't run every day, presumably because they want to run their planes as full as possible. Any given flight might run once, twice, or three times a week. If you want to fly budget, your trip is probably going to be at least a couple of days long, not "there today, back tomorrow."

But we face the same kinds of choices in every area: Price, features, and convenience are all things we balance when we buy pretty much anything. Store brand bread from Walmart, or name brand from a convenience store? Buy, maintain, fill up and insure a car, or summon Uber when you need to go somewhere? Different people in different situations will make different decisions based on their priorities.

By all means, let's push to de-regulate air travel as much as possible (how about completely?) ... but over-stating claims about lack of competition doesn't seem to be a very good way of convincing people.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Simple Solution ...

... to the phenomenon of cops getting exposed to deadly drugs during car searches.

Stay out of other people's stuff.

Problem solved. You're welcome.

Quick Garrison Center Update

For various reasons, it took me until nearly mid-month to count up last month's "pickups" and "citations" of Garrison Center op-eds.

A "pickup" is when a mainstream newspaper or non-libertarian political publication publishes one of the op-eds. A "citation" is when a mainstream newspaper or non-libertarian political publication mentions or responds to one of the op-eds.

So anyway, last month's pickups plus citations (that I've found) come to 162. That's the Center's record month, as was January (135) before it. If March returns similar results, the first quarter of 2018 will come to not quite as many pickups/citations as the entirety of 2015.

Most interesting pickup in February: "Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of Russiagate" appeared in the Times of Oman. So far as I know, my first publication, and the Center's, in that country.

Of the two "citations," one was a radio interview about my take on the Korea "situation," and the other was a horrified letter to the editor concerning my argument for abolishing the FBI.

Thanks to my financial supporters for making this stuff possible (if you'd like to be one of those supporters, see the sidebar for options).

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Goods, Borders, and Armies

When Don Boudreaux latches onto an issue, it tends to be with a great deal of tenacity. For quite some time, that issue was the minimum wage, but lately and for obvious reasons, it has been tariffs and protectionism.

In a letter to the New York Sun published today on his blog, Boudreaux points out not just the obvious holes in the case for "national security" as a reason to put tariffs on steel and aluminum, but also notices that if the national security case was sound, the kvetching about "unfair trade practices" by other governments would be irrelevant.

I want to hit one "national security" angle that I don't think Boudreaux has touched yet. Actually, he may have, because he's been posting two or three items on tariffs/protectionism per day lately and I may have missed it. But anyway:

"When goods don't cross borders, armies will."

That saying is often attributed to Bastiat, but it's actually Otto T. Mallery.

So suppose that the US buys lots and lots of steel from, say, China. And suppose that that steel is vital to national security.

The fact that China supplies the US with all that steel is an incentive for the US to NOT go to war with China since it needs the steel, and it's an incentive to China to NOT go to war with the US since it needs the money.

I just went looking for a video clip of an old episode of The West Wing, where Toby Ziegler makes the point I'm making here ...

... and that's pretty much the case. Tariffs and protectionism are the opposite of "national security."

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

I Just Got a New Doorstop

My old copy of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th Edition disappeared some years ago and frankly I don't miss it. But since a significant portion of the Libertarian Party's platform committee activity seems to be about Professional Registered Parliamentarians [TM]* claiming "the rules mean I get anything and everything I want," I had to order a new copy.

716 pages of fairly small print.

The 1970 edition appears, per Amazon, to have been less than half as long and to have used a larger typeface.

Why so much stuff? Well, part of it is to deal with new developments like email and electronic meetings. But I would bet that most of it is sea lawyer bullshit intended not to facilitate orderly meetings, but to let a priesthood tie those meetings in knots and get whatever outcomes they want (or to charge fees for untangling the messes their system makes of things).

The Libertarian Party should switch from RONR to the Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure as its parliamentary authority. It should also strongly consider modifying its membership pledge to "I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals, and that I am not a Registered Parliamentarian [TM], a Professional Registered Parliamentarian, or a member of the National Association of Parliamentarians [TM]."

Just sayin' ...

Friday, March 09, 2018

Columbus, Ohio, May 13-14 -- Libertarian Party Platform Committee Meeting


When I ran for platform committee, and was eventually chosen as a state alternate, I told you that I would make the effort to attend any in-person meetings of the committee, but would probably ask for assistance in meeting the expenses.

Well, we have a meeting scheduled -- starting at 11am on May 13 at the heaquarters of the Libertarian Party of Ohio in Colulmbus, and likely ending (there's an email ballot on setting a "hard" end time so that people can schedule flights, etc. in expectation of getting to the airport on time) by 2pm on the 14th.

I've been looking at the expenses, and the number I'm coming up with is ~$500.

Going by budget airlines, I can probably fly for about $200 if I don't check a bag ... but the schedules aren't daily, which would mean I'd spend at least a day more than necessary in town, with the attendant expenses.

Going by major airline, the cost will be $300-350, including checked bag. I can do without the bag if necessary, but it would be nice to be able to take a suit and so forth instead of just cramming a couple of light casual outfits in a carry-on. And I can make up the airfare difference by spending 1 or 2 nights at a hotel instead of 3 or 4 nights.

Uber to and from the airport looks like $25 or so each way, so that brings the total cost up to $350-400.

As far as hotel goes, my three priorities are 1) near the meeting venue (so I can walk instead of paying Uber or cab fare), 2) cheap, and 3) acceptable to one or more roommates to split the cost (I've already got a rideshare/roomshare thread going on the platform committee email list). My best guess is two nights at $50 per night (there are nearby hotels starting at ~$65 per night, but I'm figuring on it being more with taxes, and on probably splitting out a slightly more expensive room with more than one bed, or perhaps even a cheap suite).

So that gets it to $450-$500.

I'm going to eat whether I'm in Gainesville or Columbus, of course. If I can afford to go out for a nice ($20 or less -- I understand there's a Waffle House near the LPOH HQ!) meal with some fellow Libertarians, I will.

I may look at flights into or out of other cities where I might meet a local committee member and share a car ride. But I'd expect any airfare savings to be spent on helping with gas.

Of course, I plan to go whether I get much assistance or not -- but your help will make it much easier.

For those who care:

  • I voted against having an in-person meeting. It's 2018, not 1988. Electronic meeting facilities are well developed and they don't cost $500 or more per person for meeting.
  • I specifically voted against meeting in Columbus. Not because I have anything against Columbus specifically, or Ohio generally, or of course against the state's Libertarian Party, which generously offered its offices as meeting space to save the LP facilities rental costs, but because Columbus is not a major airport hub and that means higher fares and less accommodating schedules. Which, frankly, is the reason it was proposed (by a guy who once put a state LP convention on a cruise ship to keep the "povertarians" from attending).
So, if it matters, I didn't just say "hey, I think I'll take an opportunity to hit Libertarian activists who support my work up for more money." I had hoped for no in-person meetings except a day early at the national convention, and if we had one my personal recommendations were for Chicago or Atlanta. But Columbus it is, and so to Columbus I shall go.

I do hope that any Libertarians who can make it to Columbus to visit with the platform committee will do so. We'd love to hear your thoughts, and to have you keep an eye on our work. Or at least I would :)

Anyway, ways to support me are in the sidebar, and please feel free to drop a note designating anything you send for the specific purpose of getting me to this meeting, as opposed to financing a visit to a casino or something.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Of Legs and Meetings

Q: How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg?

A: Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.

Q: Between email meetings, telephone meetings, web-conferencing meetings, and in-person meetings, how many kinds of meetings are there if we define an email meeting as not being a meeting?

A: Four. Pretending that words don't mean things doesn't make them stop meaning things.

meeting, n. 1. a formally arranged gathering 2. the social act of assembling for some common purpose

Very Brief Libertarian Party Platform Committee Update

OK, the platform committee has got itself moved over to an email list on the LP's server. Its future discussions should be mirrored here if you'd like to follow them.

The committee will meet electronically from 8-10pm Eastern this evening via Adobe Connect. If I am not mistaken, this is the link if you'd like to observe. When entering the "room" and asked for a name, please preface your name with "zz" -- e.g. zzDonaldTrump. The purpose of that is to clump all the actual committee members together for easier vote counting, speaking recognition, etc. And also because observer status at a platform committee meeting makes you an honorary member of an iconic Texas blues/rock band with great beards.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Let's Be Clear on What Trump is Doing and Why

Regarding the newly announced steel tariffs:

Trump wants to take money out of the pockets of people who buy stuff made of steel and put it into the pockets of the shareholders of American companies that produce steel. That way those latter companies don't have to compete with foreign steel producers who charge less.

Which, in terms of economic impact, is about as "America First"ish as 9/11.

So, why? Why does Trump want to make a lot of the stuff you buy more expensive and do massive damage to the US economy just to pay off a few fat cats?

Well, this is exactly the back-scratch I'd put out there for steel producers if I owned, say,  a construction company and expected some reciprocity. I'm just sayin' (and we're just payin').

Speaking of Trade Deficits ...

How much did you pay in taxes last year? Federal income tax, state income tax (if your state has one), property taxes, sales taxes, etc.?

For the sake of argument, let's go ahead and stipulate that maybe you got some things in return that you wanted -- roads, schools, whatever. The fact that you were forced to buy that stuff is important, but it's another basked of snakes than what I'm talking about here, so let's just say that you bought stuff from "your" local, county, state, and federal governments.

Um ... what stuff did they buy from you and how much did the bill come to?

Unless you're a government employee or contractor, the answer is probably "not a damn thing and not a damn dime."

It seems to me that based on his concern with "trade deficits," US president Donald Trump should implement an executive order requiring the federal government to start spending as much to buy stuff from you as you're required to spend buying stuff from it.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

A Promise Fulfilled

It's a promise I only vaguely remember, but someone recalled it to my attention this morning and I do like to keep my promises, so I did.

That promise was that if I ever served on the Libertarian Party's national platform committee (something I didn't expect would ever happen when I made the promise, but that has now in fact happened), I would propose the adoption of the World's Smallest Political Platform. To wit, replacement of all planks in the platform with a single one:

The Libertarian Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope or power of government at any level or for any purpose.

A few notes:

  • The only part of the platform that would not be superseded/replaced by this, because it's hard-coded in the bylaws to require a 7/8ths vote to touch, is the Statement of Principles. Other than that, everything -- the preamble and all the planks -- would be replaced by that single sentence.
  • No, I do not expect the committee to approve, nor the convention to adopt, the WSPP, for a number of reasons, many of them good, including but not limited to the process being, well, parliamentarily arduous (it would presumably require a separate vote on the deletion of each of the other planks).
  • No, I'm not sure I would want it to be adopted, especially since it is just half of an agenda, the other half (creation of a biennial program) of which would have to be dealt with in bylaws. The platform without the program would be less than ideal.
It takes four co-sponsors to bring a proposal to an email ballot. In addition to me, Darryl W. Perry of New Hampshire is sponsoring the proposal. That's not especially surprising given that he has in the past served as chair of two of the three political parties which have used the WSPP (the Boston Tea Party and the New Hampshire Liberty Party -- the third, of which he has not served as chair, is the Libertarian Party of Maine).

I don't expect to see third and fourth co-sponsors or an email ballot, but if that does happen I'll report back.

Anyway, promise kept. And now that I think about it, I wonder if anyone has ever written a political platform adopted by three different political parties in the same country before? I rate the WSPP as a big part of my exceedingly tenuous claim to eventually being a minor historical footnote in American politics (along with being one of only two, so far as I know, former US vice-presidential nominees who are also former Marines, the other being Darrell Castle of the Constitution Party, in the same year I ran; if the LP had nominated Larry Sharpe in 2016, he would have been the third that I know of).

Let Me, Unlike Obama, Be Perfectly Clear

The past 24 hours are not unusual in that:

  • I've found myself blasted as a "Trump apologist" in one place, for continuing to notice that not a shred of credible evidence has yet been presented to suggest that Trump and/or his campaign colluded with the Russian state to change the outcome of the 2016 presidential election; and
  • In another venue, a reader tells me he has "had quite enough of your angry liberal anti-Trump bullshit statements ..." because I pointed out that Trump is an evil, authoritarian, human-shaped, shambling stack of feces.
So, to clarify:

  1. I dislike Donald Trump intensely on both a personal and political level. I did not vote for him, nor did I vote for his major party opponent, and in fact the only really positive thing I can say about his election is that at least that major party opponent didn't win. I would be tickled pink to see the son of a bitch impeached, removed from office, and sentenced to a long stretch in whichever federal prison has the worst living conditions ... BUT
  2. Only for something he actually and irrefutably did. For example, offhand, sanctioning the murder of 8-year-old American girl Nawar Anwar al-Awlaki.
  3. I'm only a "liberal" in the sense that libertarianism overlaps with "classical liberalism." Usually these days the term "liberal" is freely exchanged with the term "progressive." I am not a progressive. I'm especially  not a whiny, rich, entitled, business-as-usual establishment progressive like, say, Donald Trump.
That is all.