Sunday, September 30, 2018

I Have No Classic Gmail and I Must Scream

"New Gmail" is just awful.

I have yet to discern a single redeeming feature in it.

It looks like hell.

It goes wonky and makes it difficult to move my cursor back to the message title or message content fields when I try to paste large numbers of addresses into the send fields.

Google moved access to contacts out of Gmail where it belongs and into its own separate function where it's a pain in the ass to get to.

New Gmail doesn't seem to do anything better than the previous version, and does some things worse, and again it looks like hell.

But of course they're forcing it on everyone and the time period where I could revert to Gmail that actually works seems to have ended.

I'm still auditioning replacement services while hoping someone will come up with a style extension that brings back the old inbox look -- the new one literally makes my eyes hurt -- because changing over is going to be such a pain in the ass. But not as much of a pain in the ass as putting up with this.

When It's All Said and Done ...

... will Matt Damon go down in the history books as the guy who really and for true slammed the door on Brett Kavanaugh's SCOTUS aspirations?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Thing I Hate Most About Health Issues ...

... may be the amount of time they take up. I had an appointment with a cardiologist this morning. By the time I got home I had calls waiting to schedule three more appointments (two tests the cardiologist ordered, and the follow-up consult for a different test, the test being already scheduled for next week). So, one step forward, two steps back, sort of.

I can't complain a bit about the medical treatment/service at Shands/UF in Gainesville. I've never had to wait past an appointment time, and in fact often when I arrive early they get me in early (I arrived at 8:40 for my 9:30 this morning because that was how transportation issues fell out; they had me in before 9 and out five minutes after my appointment was supposed to start). I've never experienced anything but friendliness and the doctors and nurses, etc. seem to be thorough and professional.

But between preparation, transportation, making sure I arrive a little early, etc., a single appointment is basically four hours out of my day, and it's looking like I can expect two or three appointments a week for the next few weeks, even assuming no surgery or whatever.

Anyway, what came of this visit was 1) a third ECG confirming what the first two said (left branch bundle block), 2) orders for an echocardiogram and a cardiac stress test to check for other issues (I have an abundant family history of angioplasty, stent, bypass, aortic aneurysm, etc. and the doctor wants to check all that out before proceeding on the initial thing), and 3) a dramatic increase in prescribed dosage for an existing medication that some friends tell me I shouldn't be taking at all (atvorstatin).

I guess I shouldn't complain about the time factor while taking time to blog about it, should I?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Cody Wilson: Did You Notice This?

From the NPR version, since it works as well as any and I happen to have it open at the moment ...

Camera One: "The 30-year-old had reportedly fled [to Taiwan] after having been tipped off that the girl had spoken to law enforcement about their alleged encounter."

Camera Two: "Wilson was released Sunday from the Harris County Jail in Houston after posting a $150,000 bond."

Translation: The guff about him "fleeing" is purely for media/public consumption. If there was really any evidence to substantiate the claim, prosecutors would have raised the roof to have him held without bail as a known flight risk. At the very least he would have faced very high bail, probably have been required to wear an ankle monitor, etc.

Just sayin' ...

I Agree

"We cannot allow the world's leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet's most dangerous weapons."
US President Donald Trump to the United Nations General Assembly, 09/25/18

Naturally, I look forward to hearing what immediate steps Trump proposes to follow through on that sentiment by bringing the US into compliance with its nuclear disarmament obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This May be a Dumb Question, and I May Have Asked it Before ...

... but after not thinking about it for some time, I'm thinking about it again and don't remember asking it or getting answers. So:

There are various "mini-routers" for sale that seem to chiefly serve the function of letting one interpose a VPN and/or Tor in between a laptop and a public WiFi hot spot, hotel WiFi, etc.

If I use one of those (with Tor installed/configured/running) to connect a Chromebook or Chromebox to a WiFi network (such as my home network), am I getting such functions as Tor offers? That is, am I connecting to .onion web sites via entry/exit nodes with full Tor connection privacy protections, (aside from as regards the connection between my computer and the router itself, and the fact that my ISP would "see" that I'm using Tor)?

Yes, I understand that Tor isn't quite the bee's knees some people think it is. It's obviously not going to make me "anonymous" at a site where I log in using the same credentials I use to log in when I'm not using Tor.  I understand there are (or at least were) vulnerabilities.

In fact, I'm not thinking about it because I want to visit sites that might get me in trouble or anything. I look at it the same way I look at encryption: The more people using it, the less any one person using it stands out. So considering how cheap these things are, if they effectively let me use Tor on a Chromebox, I might grab one some time.

Side note: I've seen a Chrome extension that lets one access .onion sites from a Chromebook/Chromebox. But as I understand it, that extension doesn't actually provide any of the confidentiality benefits of Tor. It just lets you get to the sites.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Days of Leaving High School Foolery Behind are Over

Brett Kavanaugh's high school yearbook is playing a increasingly big part in the effort to convince the public that he's the type of guy who might have sexually assaulted a fellow teen.

"Keg City Club (Treasurer) -- 100 Kegs or Bust."

"Renate Alumnius" (Renate being the name of a girl who attended a nearby school and whom Kavanaugh and friends apparently boasted of, you know ...).

And so on, and so forth.

That yearbook is from 1983.

Note to teens and pre-teens who aspire to someday be elected to office, appointed to SCOTUS, etc. ... don't even sign up for social media accounts. Hell, don't even use email.

No, I'm not saying that Kavanaugh's yearbook scribblings support his innocence of anything.

I'm saying that 35 years from now, you might be surprised at what feels innocent now but could be read then as confirming your guilt.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

If You Don't Think the Cody Wilson Prosecution is Political ...

... ask yourself this:

An American is accused of the non-federal crime of hiring a not-quite-of-legal-age sex worker.

The federal government tracks the accused to a foreign country.

In the absence of an extradition treaty, the federal government revokes the accused's passport and diplomatically cajoles that foreign government into turning the accused over to US federal law enforcement via some kind of fast-track deportation proceeding.

US federal law enforcement then flies the accused back to Texas and hands him over to state authorities for pre-trial incarceration.

All in a matter of five days.

What are the chances of those things happening, that fast, if the American's name isn't "Cody Wilson?"

Saturday, September 22, 2018

B-12 Bomber?

So, my two-week quest to increase my platelet count got its success measured yesterday. I added 500 micrograms of B-12 to my supplement stack, increased the red meat and green leafy vegetable components of my diet.

Result: My platelet count went down from 137k to 129k.

That excludes me from further participation in the research study / drug trial that discovered three health concerns (left branch bundle block in the heart, fibrosis of the liver, and the low platelet count).

I certainly can't complain. I got all that information, and $100, out of the deal. I do feel bad that the study folks spent all that time and money getting that information for me and don't get a study subject.

Next: Doubling the B-12 and planning to eat more steak.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Three Things You Should Know About the Cody Wilson Affair

A couple of news stories to catch you up if you haven't been following this:

Three factoids to help you put the matter in perspective:

  1. No, Wilson is not accused of actually sexually assaulting anyone. He's accused of violating a Texas statute which labels sex, consensual or otherwise, with individuals under 17 years of age "sexual assault of a child." There's a difference.
  2. No, the "victim" is not a "child" under any reasonable definition. She's a sex worker who claimed to be 18 years of age or older as a condition of registering at a "Sugar Daddy" web site (, which is where she (allegedly) connected with Wilson prior to (again allegedly) having sex with him in return for payment. She is allegedly 16.
  3. The basis for the affidavit under which an arrest warrant was obtained (included in the Wired story) does not depict the "victim" as alleging any kind of assault, sexual or otherwise, when interviewed by a detective (she merely described a consensual sexual encounter for pay), nor was it the "victim" who went to police (it was an unnamed "counselor" to whom the "victim" described the encounter).
A few additional questions/thoughts ...

Q: Was it a "setup?"

I've seen ideas thrown out there ranging from "the police set it up as a sting from the beginning to get Cody Wilson" to "the 'victim' is anti-gun and when she came across Wilson on the sugar daddy site she saw an opportunity to get him, or it's the 'counselor' who is anti-gun and saw such an opportunity."

If there's anything hinky on that end of things, and I am not saying there is, I'd guess one or both of the latter two rather than the first one. If the police were setting up a sting, they'd have used an adult cop posing as a minor and tried to get Wilson to overtly reference a desire to have sex with a minor, then nabbed him when he showed up for the meet.

Q: Does it matter if he didn't know she is a minor?

According to the statute, no. But the statute is clearly defective in trying to get around the intent angle by making the sex illegal "regardless of whether the person knows the age of the child at the time of the offense."

Let's go to analogy here and suppose a statute defines killing a person with poison as murder "regardless of whether the person knows that he or she is feeding the victim poison." Would that pass mens rea muster? Not a chance.

Q: Is Cody Wilson a pedophile?

Not based on this charge. The "victim" was clearly both post-pubescent and posing as an adult. If he was a pedophile, he would by definition have been looking for sex with a prepubescent child.

Q: Do you think Wilson should go to jail for this?

Based on the available facts, to the extent that I think I know them, no. This charge is complete bullshit from beginning to end. He allegedly engaged the services of a sex worker, which should not be illegal. She turned out to be younger than a number drawn out of a hat by some politicians, which does not define actual ability to consent. She seems to have 1) falsely held herself out as older than the number drawn out of the hat, 2) convincingly held herself out as fully competent to consent, and 3) actually consented.

Q: What does this mean for Defense Distributed?

Wilson is alleged to have picked the "victim" up in a vehicle registered to Defense Distributed. Depending on what the asset forfeiture laws look like in Texas, the state might seize that vehicle, any computers used in arranging the encounter, and possibly even go after the non-profit's assets.

And, of course, the whole thing will be used to demonize both Wilson personally and Defense Distributed itself. In theory, that shouldn't affect the outcome of the free speech / free press case regarding publication/downloading of CAD files for home manufacturing of guns, but it will certainly be used to influence public opinion on the case.

Q: Is there a defense fund, and if so will you contribute to it?

I've looked and there doesn't seem to be a defense fund yet. When and if one pops up, yes, I will contribute to it and I hope you will too. At this point, I see no case for anything less than full moral and material support for both Wilson and Defense Distributed from all who support freedom.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


No, I have no opinion on whether or not he did what he's accused of having done during high school.

I do find this passage from a piece by Quinta Jurecic at The Atlantic thought-provoking:

What level of certainty about the nominee’s guilt should drive a senator to vote against that nominee? The standard to convict a defendant in criminal court is often understood as requiring anywhere from 95 to 100 percent certainty of the defendant’s guilt. In civil court, the “preponderance of the evidence” standard requires 51 percent certainty. As the economist Justin Wolfers asked on Twitter, “Would you appoint someone to the Supreme Court if you think there were a 25 percent chance they’ve done bad things? A 10 percent chance? A 5 percent chance? A 1 percent chance?”

And what about the nature of those bad things? What about whether an adult man, against whom no further charges of sexual harassment or assault are known to have been raised, should be denied a seat on the highest court in the land because he did something objectionable—even horrifying—as a boy on the cusp of adulthood?

The only advice I'd give a Senator who was dumb enough to ask me for advice would go something like this:

Assuming that he's qualified credentials-wise by whatever criteria you deem relevant (the only actual qualifications for serving on the Supreme Court are that the president nominates you and the Senate confirms you -- if the president chose the White House janitor or his kindergarten-age kid's favorite playmate and the Senate concurred, it would be so), does your gut say that he's honest and trustworthy or that he's a lying, scheming weasel? Vote accordingly.

I haven't seen more than a few minutes of Kavanaugh's Senate hearing testimony. He pings my Lying, Scheming Weasel Meter pretty hard. Or at least my Smug, Entitled, I'm in the Club so Let's Get These Formalities Over With and Quit Pretending You're Actually Thinking About This, Shall We? Meter.

I'm less bothered by what Kavanaugh may or may not have done 30 years ago than by who he is. Former fellow in the office of the Solicitor General of the United States. Former Associate Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel. Former Associate White House Counsel. Former Assistant to the President. Former White House Staff Secretary.

In. The. Club.

I'd like to see a constitutional amendment that rips out the open door and puts up a wall, or at least a time-locked door, between the legislative and executive branches of government on one side and the Supreme Court on the other. Something like:

No person shall be appointed to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States who has previously [alternative weaker version: within a period of 20 years prior to his or her appointment] served as an elected official of, or an employee in the executive or legislative branches of, the government of the United States.

If I could pick my ideal Supreme Court justice, he or she would have spent a couple of decades working as a criminal defense attorney (possibly a public defender, non-federal) and have never, ever, ever fed at the federal trough.

Time for a Leaker to Step Up

US president Donald Trump has ordered some material declassified. Hold that thought, because we'll be back to it in a moment.

Bloomberg reports:

President Donald Trump has demanded the “immediate declassification” of sensitive materials about the Russia investigation, but the agencies responsible are expected to propose redactions that would keep some information secret, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are going through a methodical review and can’t offer a timeline for finishing, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive matter.

The authority governing classification of information is Executive Order 13526. In other words, the whole setup is a matter of presidential authority -- this a case where the president really is "The Decider."

So. Trump has ordered some material declassified.

That means it is declassified.

Which, in turn, means two more things:

First, the people who are using "going through a methodical review and can’t offer a timeline for finishing" are illegally keeping public information secret.

Secondly, anyone who "leaks" that public information isn't breaking the laws on classified information because that information isn't classified anymore.

So, let's see it.

Best Libertarian Podcast EVAH ...

... on the subject of slavery, the causes of the Civil War, etc. Anthony Comegna vs. John C. Calhoun in episode 74 (an updated version of episode 61) of  the Liberty Chronicles Podcast!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Is Declassifying Information a Way to Hide Something?

Just came across an overheated piece by Melanie Schmitz at ThinkProgress concerning Trump's declassification of some "Russiagate" material. My opinion on that is up at the Garrison Center.


The move to declassify is troubling for several reasons. ... Even if the decision to declassify did not fly directly in the face of national security, it still represents a gross attempt at obstruction. ... It could be argued then that the impetus for Monday’s decision was concern over what the Page FISA might eventually reveal. In trying to undermine the purpose for that surveillance, Trump and Republicans could potentially be working to hide crucial information relevant to the Russia investigation’s conclusion -- an act that would clearly constitute obstruction of justice.

So Trump is endangering "national security" and "obstructing justice" and "working to hide" stuff by revealing stuff. The derp is strong with this one.

Mueller has had nearly a year-and-a-half to get the goods. He's gone after Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI (about events that took place after the election the Russians allegedly meddled in). He's gone after Paul Manafort for tax evasion (on income earned before the campaign the Russians allegedly assisted). He's indicted some Russians he knows will never testify in court. He's gone after Michael Cohen for paying off a porn star (an American porn star, not a Russian porn star).

Where's the "collusion" beef, Mueller? And why don't your people want the rest of us to see it?

Declassify it all. Every text message, every memo, every warrant request, everything related to this investigation.

No, I Don't Want to be an Obsessive Health Blogger ...

but since I recently mentioned the "I may have had a heart attack and not even noticed" and "hmm, I seem to have swapped livers with an old wino" stuff, I should probably update you.

Went to the doctor yesterday. Got a new ECG. Yep ... I seem to have experienced something that causes a cardiac problem, specifically a "left branch bundle block." It's an electrical problem. So I'll be seeing a cardiologist for further investigation. Among other possibility it looks like there may be a pacemaker in my future. I'll also be seeing a hepatologist about the liver fibrosis, but I have a lot less information on that, just "yeah, you need to see a hepatologist."

Cato Implicitly Agrees With Me: School Vouchers are a Terrible Idea

From a Cato commentary by Corey A. DeAngelis, dated yesterday:

Why does regulation reduce the quality of private schools that participate in voucher programs?

Individual private school leaders decide whether to participate in voucher programs each year. The decision is made by comparing expected benefits to expected costs. The primary benefit associated with voucher program participation is, of course, the additional voucher funding. The main cost of participation is additional red tape. Private schools that participate in voucher programs have to comply with many regulations such as admitting students on a random basis, requiring all teachers to have bachelor’s degrees, and administering state standardized tests.

Of course, what DeAngelis wants is for government to back off on its regulation of "private" schools that accept vouchers.

That's a utopian fantasy. He who pays the piper calls the tune.

I'm not speculating here. We've seen the same effect previously with the GI Bill, government-guaranteed-or-granted college student loans/Pell Grants, etc. When the state hands out money, that money always comes with requirements that the recipients do things the state's way.

Vouchers don't bring market values to government ("public") schools. They turn market schools into government schools.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Trump Imposes New $20 Billion Tax Increase (Rising to $50 Billion in 2019) on US Consumers

That's what the headline SHOULD read, because that's exactly what he's doing. But of course CNBC covers it up a little:

OK, I've Had Enough

To whom it may concern:

Google keeps sending me "content that we won't  tell you what it is except with a garbled identifier that means nothing to anyone but us has been removed because we've incorrectly classified it as spam and if you keep posting the stuff we won't tell you what it is your account may be suspended, and no, there's no plausible way to discuss this with us" messages regarding the Rational Review News Digest Google+ page.

Rather than risk problems with my other Google services, I'm shutting down RRND at Google+. You can still find us at various other venues:


Sorry for any inconvenience.

I also post daily editions (and other non-RRND stuff!) on my personal accounts at:

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Rational Review News Digest

Strange Questions That Pop Into My Mind at Odd Times and Without Obvious Reasons #784,589,045

In The Matrix, agents are irresistibly strong and incredibly fast. They can e.g. dodge bullets. And an agent can re-spawn occupying the body of anyone who lives in the Matrix.

So in the subway fight scene, why is it that after Agent Smith is run over by the train, he has to stop the train (much more quickly than trains actually stop, btw) and exit the door like a regular passenger?

Why not just break a window and jump out? That train isn't moving as fast as he can move, and dealing with the effects of jumping from a moving train onto a concrete platform doesn't seem out of line with his abilities.

Or, better yet, why not just occupy the body of someone walking past the station so he can intercept Neo at the top of the stair instead of chasing him from behind?

Just wondering.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Are You on Liberdon Yet?

Come on in, the water's fine.

What is Liberdon? It's an "instance" of Mastodon, a decentralized but networked social media app. Functionally a lot like Twitter. In format, a lot like TweetDeck, probably the best of the apps for making Twitter make sense.

The cool thing is that anyone can start an instance and anyone with an account on one instance can follow someone else even if their account doesn't reside on that particular instance. There are instances devoted to various niches/interests, "general conversation" instances, etc. Liberdon is an instance specifically built for libertarians. Hope to see there (I am @thomaslknapp)!

Some Unsolicited Advice for Podcasters

The libertarian podcast scene is growing like Topsy. Over the last couple of years, Rational Review News Digest has gone from struggling to find five cool podcast links to feature each day to easily finding ten, often 15.

In particular, at least three libertarian podcast networks  -- Rodger Paxton's Pax Libertas Productions, Chris Spangle's We Are Libertarians, and Johnny "Rocket" Adams's The Launch Pad Media -- have been growing fast, adding new and fun shows.

It's all good from my point of view, except for one minor gear grind:

Many of the newer shows I'm seeing present only as "play the podcast as Flash media from the episode page." Some others offer only one additional option -- "download an MP3."

It can be a bit of a hassle, but guys ... please take the time and make the effort to make your podcasts available via iTunes, Google Play, and a bunch of the other outlets available to podcasters and used by prospective listeners. It's a hassle that takes time and effort, but it's pretty much a one-time "fire and forget" project. My own podcast is by no means popular or widely promoted, but about 20% of the most recent episode's listens came from those external venues.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thanks For Asking! -- 09/13/18

This AMA thread, and the episode to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry and Free Pony Express ...


In the comment thread below this post. Or, if you'd like to throw a dollar my way, via If you use the route to ask me something, please specify that you're asking for public/AMA consumption.


In the comment thread, or on a future podcast, or both.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Word PSA

mandatory, adjective 1. authoritatively ordered; obligatory; compulsory: It is mandatory that all students take two years of math. 2. pertaining to, of the nature of, or containing a command. 3. Law. permitting no option; not to be disregarded or modified: a mandatory clause.

Apparently Fox News needs dictionaries:

As more than a million people head for higher ground, South Carolina officials say they have no plans to move 650 inmates at a medium-security prison -- opting instead to have them take their chances with a monster Category-3 hurricane barreling towards them.

Current plans call for a pre-planned crew and inmates at MacDougall Correctional Institution to stay put as Hurricane Florence -- expected to gain strength Wednesday night -- heads right for them.


MacDougall is located in Berkeley County, one of five counties under a mandatory evacuation from the governor.

Another Kind of Unreasonable Bail Condition

The 8th Amendment to the US Constitution reads:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

I've commented on excessive cash bail requirements -- and outright denial of bail -- in the past, opining that given the supposed presumption of innocence in American courts, the only legitimate purpose of bail is as an incentive to appear at trial. The whole "he could be dangerous, don't let him out" argument doesn't fly, because insofar as the legal system is concerned, until he's been convicted there aren't any grounds to treat him as if he actually committed the crime.

It seems to me that that argument gets stronger and stronger as more and more cases get resolved with pre-trial "plea bargains." Presumably the single-digit percentage of defendants who go to trial rather than cop a plea do so because they believe they'll be acquitted, which would seem to be an incentive to show up and get their bail money back (or not have a bail bond company's bounty hunters after them).

But then there are also "bail conditions" other than merely posting a cash or property bond against a future court appearance.

I've noticed such a condition several times that strikes me as both "excessive" and as "cruel and unusual punishment." Here's the exact wording from one court document:

... that he have no access to the internet, text messaging or email, or devices that were capable of executing these functions ...

As of the end of 2016, more than half of US adults had ditched landlines entirely and had only cell cell phones. The percentages ran higher for demographics probably more likely to be charged with a crime (renters, the poor, Hispanics) than e.g. white middle class property owners. And those percentages are probably increasing across all demographics. As far as non-phone communication, I'm guessing that the vast majority of Americans use email in preference to sending a postcard or whatever.

So this kind of bail condition is essentially a demand that the defendant hold himself incommunicado except for in-person, face-to-face conversations or maybe writing notes on paper airplanes or something.

Seeing as how pay phones exist only in a few places these days (I've seen some at airports and bus stations), how is a defendant even supposed to communicate with his lawyer in between office visits? And how many people work in environments where texting and email are part of the job?

In cases where the concern is that a defendant will harass his or her alleged victim, what difference does it make that the harassment would have to take place over a landline instead of via email, text, etc.?

Any judge who imposes no-phone/no-Internet bail conditions should be required to adhere to precisely the same conditions. Including at work.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 144: 24 Sixes of One, Twelve Dozen of the Other

This episode is brought to you by Free Pony Express and Darryl W. Perry!

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (John McCain and the Sound of West Side Story Music -- full thread here); #ShunMunn. [Note: Soundcloud licensing notes notwithstanding, all episodes of The KN@PP Stir Podcast are published under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain Dedication -- use them as you like!]

Monday, September 10, 2018

Some of These Things Are Not Like the Others

Justin Raimondo, 2003:

While the domestic arena is pretty much impervious to Presidential bullying, except in a national crisis, such as an economic depression, it is only in the realm of foreign policy that a President can make his real mark, as the case of George W. Bush makes all too ominously clear. Congress long ago ceded this arena to the imperial Presidency, abdicating its constitutional duty in the process, and so what happens, every four years, is that we elect a foreign policy dictator who can take us into war -- or out of it -- at will.

Justin Raimondo, 2008:

[T]he growth of presidential power -- epitomized in the openly authoritarian legal "theories" of the current administration, which give the White House something very close to absolute power in wartime -- is greatly accelerated by imperialization. Indeed, this has been the main engine of the growing imbalance of power between the three branches of the federal government. They don’t call it the "imperial presidency" for nothing.

Justin Raimondo, 2009:

In the age of the imperial presidency, where Congress and the people play only an advisory role, the emperor can certainly choose to "listen" to various petitioners, whether they be members of Congress or just ordinary non-titled mortals, but in the end The Decider decides -- and he does so, we are told, in a void, as the vessel of a perfect objectivity, in utter isolation from both lobbyists and the voters who put him in office.

Justin Raimondo, 2018:

Isn’t the President the most powerful person on earth? Doesn’t he (or she!) determine US foreign policy? Well, no, the President is not a dictator, nor is he the final arbiter of US policy: he is, in large part, at the mercy of the 'permanent government,' i.e. the career bureaucrats who persist no matter which party is in power, and without which the government cannot function. ("A President Held Hostage?" 04/19/18)

On one side is the Deep State, with its self-interested globalist leadership so invested in our interventionist foreign policy that even Trump’s limited (albeit surprisingly radical) critique poses a deadly threat to their power. On the other side is Trump, the outsider, who often has to work against and around his own government in order to pursue his preferred policies. ("Saboteurs of Peace: On the Road to Helsinki," 07/16/18)

[P]lease don’t bother me with objections like “But what about our Syria policy?” or “Didn’t he just impose new sanctions on Moscow?” whenever I point to Trump’s transitional role as the harbinger of a new foreign policy. Because the real culprits are the self-selected “officials” of the “steady state” set up by the coup plotters in the White House basement. ("The Seditionists," 09/10/18)

Google's One-Way Conversational Style

So, the other day I suddenly started receiving email messages that read like this:


Your Google+ content has violated the Google+ User Content and Conduct Policy, which is against the Google+ Terms of Service. As such, your content has been removed or blocked.

Content type: Post or comment
Reason for removal: Spam
Content identifier: z13wvtwpjo2jwt2ts232gp0gbku4efjkr

Certain removal reasons may result in your content being visible either only to you, or only in certain countries.

The Google+ Team

Replies to this email will not be monitored. If you have other questions or concerns regarding Google, please visit the Google Help Center.

I've been unable to turn that "content identifier" into any way of um, identifying the content.

This morning, that passel of emails was followed up with this one:

Dear Google+ user,

Your Google+ post or comment activity has recently violated the Google+ User Content and Conduct Policy.

Spamming, including sending unwanted promotional or commercial content, or unwanted or mass solicitation, is not permitted.

This is a warning, and your access to Google+ should not be currently impacted. If you continue to create or share content that violates our policies, you may lose the ability to use some or all features of Google+. Learn more


The Google+ Support Team

Replies to this email will not be monitored. If you have other questions or concerns regarding Google, please visit the Google Help Center.

So -- warnings that I am "spamming" one of my own accounts (it's the Rational Review News Digest page on Google+)*, with no way to identify what content the warnings refer to and no one to ask WTF. And then a "we're STILL not going to tell you what you're doing, but you better stop doing it" warning. The links, including "Learn More" lead to non-specific help pages, not any useful information on the specific case.

Kinda pisses me off.

* I try not to be paranoid, but I have an inkling that the warnings are generated from user complaints, and that this set of user complaints is a spiteful little prank by an admin on another social medium who accused me of "spamming" while proving that he or she has no idea what "spamming" is (what he or she was actually complaining about was "flooding" -- small user base, more messages per hour from one user than he or she liked,  a complaint which I addressed accordingly while simultaneously urging him or her to stop defaming me with a false "spam" label).

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Of Course, He Doesn't Mention Why

Ian Urbina in the New York Times:

Sold from vending machines in Pennsylvania, feed depots in Nevada, pharmacies in Georgia and jewelry stores in Texas, ammunition is in many states easier to buy than cold medicine.

As you can probably guess, Urbina doesn't proceed to suggest that it be made easier to buy cold medicine. He wants it made more difficult to buy ammunition.

And he doesn't even mention that the REASON it's hard to buy cold medicine is the evil, anti-human, unconstitutional "war on drugs" and the fact that cold medicine can be used to make methamphetamine.

Friday, September 07, 2018

That LP News Article I Mentioned Earlier ...

... is now available online in PDF format here. My bit on the Libertarian Party's immigration platform plank change is on page 5, and there's lots of other interesting stuff in the issue.

Of course, if you are a sustaining member of the party, you get the print edition in the mail before everyone else sees it online. Maybe I'll get asked to write more stuff for them in the future :)

World's Smallest Violin Time

Washington Times headline:

Assaults on ICE, Border Patrol surge
as illegal immigrants [sic] get more violent

If true, perhaps this will incentivize some of the the ICE/Border Patrol gang-bangers to give up the thug life, stop leeching off taxpayers to support their amoral and degenerate lifestyle choices, and seek legitimate employment in the productive sector.

I Learned Another New Word Today!


Normal platelet count in blood is 150,000 or more.

Mine's 130,000. Probably related to the liver fibrosis that I found out about from the same research study (which also basically informed me that I've probably had a heart attack and didn't notice).

I'm starting to feel like Drew Barrymore in Santa Clarita Diet, only not nearly so attractive. I have an appointment soon with my primary care physician to discuss all this and am beginning to think that the whole conversation may end up being about hospice options!

At least I'm not at risk for ligma.

Update: On the up side, the pulse oximeter I ordered from Amazon via Purse (affiliate link!) on the recommendation of reader dL arrived a few minutes ago, and is giving me readings in the normal range (94-98%), even though I've been a smoker for ~35 years. So hopefully that heart damage the ECG indicates is minor.

Thursday, September 06, 2018


More test results ...

VCTE (measures liver fibrosis)

6.0 - 7.5: mild or borderline fibrosis

Above 7.5: moderate liver fibrosis

Above 10: severe fibrosis and/or cirrhosis (> 12 or 14)

Your score 14.0

The blood work would seem to rule out hepatitis, and any "hard-drinking" image I might have is more cultivated by talk than realized in action.

That is, in my early 20s I suppose I drank to excess on occasion, but not on a sustained daily or even weekly basis. Even that tapered well off by the time I hit 30.

In the last 20-22 years, I have probably only been even a little "drunk" less than 10 times, completely sozzled once or twice, and these days probably average less than a drink a month (for example, the last time I drank was in New Orleans at the beginning of July; over the course of three days, I consumed one double bourbon and cola, and one swig of moonshine; before that, I think I had one double bourbon and cola in March).

I see from a little online research that fibrosis occurs more rapidly in men (check,) people over fifty (check), people with compromised immune systems (not that I know of), people who drink heavily (see above), and people with insulin resistance (check). But as to root cause, I have no idea yet.

Word PSA

victim, n. 1. One who is harmed or killed by another, especially by someone committing a criminal or unlawful act: a victim of a mugging.

When you launch a sudden, surprise, unprovoked* physical assault on someone, knocking him to the ground, and your victim then shoots you in self-defense, it stretches that definition well beyond the breaking point to describe you as, or at least exclusively as, the "victim."

*No, talking to your girlfriend from several feet away, absent an offer to do harm, does not create a legitimate "defense of self or others" claim on your part.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Live from the West Wing ...

Sad News

I just learned via email that Steve Gordon has passed away after a heart attack.

For those who don't know of Steve, he was a life member of the Libertarian Party and LPHQ's former press secretary.

Before that he was campaign manager for Aaron Russo's 2004 campaign for the party's presidential nomination (I was privileged to serve under him as that campaign's communications director, and then to follow him to Michael Badnarik's post-nomination presidential campaign where he was the communications director and I worked for him again with a title I don't recall at the moment).

In between those two party bookends, he was key staff on Bob Barr's 2008 LP presidential campaign where we went up against each other (I managed Steve Kubby's nomination campaign and also worked for Mary Ruwart). He won that round, but we had a few drinks over the fight :)

I miss him already and my prayers and Tamara's are with his wonderful wife, Deb, and his other loved ones.

More on funeral arrangements and so forth when I hear more myself.

A Modest Proposal to Test True Sentiment

Bryan Caplan notes a seeming dearth of gratitude to Big Tech for its provision of awesome "free" services of types pretty much unheard of (in some cases, maybe not even much imagined) 30 years ago but considered essential these days.

[Y]ou might expect these giants of the internet age to be popular, admired, even loved. Instead, they’re drowning in resentment. How often does a pundit or politician give a speech thanking them for their astounding work? Virtually never. Instead, we live in a world where pundits bemoan the market leaders‘ alleged failures -- and politicians casually threaten to regulate them -- or even treat them like public utilities.

You could remind me that, “Actions speak louder than words.” People who contently use Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon far outnumber the complainers. This is a fine observation -- if you want expose the pettiness and myopia of the critics. "If company X is so bad, why do they have hundreds of millions of repeat customers?" is not a decisive response to complaints, but it is a mighty response nonetheless.

So who cares what the naysayers say? Sadly, every satisfied customer of these great companies should care, because in politics, words speak louder than actions. Pundits and politicians seek fame and power by saying and doing what sounds good, even when the consequences are awful.

Disclaimer: As you might guess if you're a regular reader here, I do not agree that the "free" services -- Caplan doesn't put scare quotes around the word and seems to believe it -- are in fact "free." Gmail is not a service that's "given" to the user. It's a service that's traded to the user in exchange for personal information, the use of which is then rented to the real customers, Google's advertisers.

I also don't agree that words necessarily speak louder than actions. Or, rather, I think that particular actions by Big Tech could elicit words from its currently contented users that carry more political weight than do the protestations of e.g. Mark Zuckerberg in Senate hearings.

There's a certain kind of strike that the left brings around every so often, usually without great effect -- "A Day Without Women" or "A Day without Latinos" or whatever, in which people of particular identities are encouraged to stay home so that the rest of us see how much we need them.

I think such a strike might be a bit more effective if the strikers were the Big Tech companies, a la:

503 Service Unavailable
The server is currently unavailable (because it is overloaded or down for maintenance). Generally, this is a temporary state. In this particular case, a 24-hour temporary state. Given recent rumblings in Congress, we've decided to take a day off for an employee seminar on the regulatory outlook. We've shut our servers down for that time period since our employees will be busy discussing what the politicians are trying to do to us. [Google search, Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google News, Facebook, Twitter, et al.] will resume service at [time/date]. If that leaves you with nothing to do, consider calling your US Senators and Representatives to discuss the dangers of toying with things they neither understand nor are entitled to control. Have a nice day!

I Like Numbers with my Election News

In yesterday's Democratic congressional primary for Massachusetts US House District, "progressive" Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley defeated 10-term incumbed Michael Capuano.

I've now read five accounts of the outcome at fairly major news sites: Yahoo! News, the Boston Globe, Fox News, the New York Times, and The Daily Beast.

The first paragraph of the Daily Beast account informs me that "it wasn't even close." And then goes on for another thousand words without telling me how not-close it was.

The New York Times story notes that Capuano conceded with "barely 13 percent of the votes counted," but offers no clue as to how many votes were cast or what the final result was, other than that Pressley won.

Fox reports that Pressley had a lead of 10,682 votes with 69 percent of precincts reporting. Out of how many votes cast?  What relative percentages does that number reflect? Nary a word.

The Boston Globe piece is an editorial that refers to a "resounding victory" and links to a paywalled article that may or may not have actual numbers. I guess they get half a pass here since they're discussing something they've apparently already reported elsewhere.

No numbers at all in the Yahoo piece.

It seems to me that vote percentages -- even if only incomplete ones because not all precincts have reported -- are the third basic and essential element in a news story about how an election came out (the first two being what office the election was for and who the candidates were).

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Double Issue: Things I Hate to See #913,461/Things I Hate to Hear #4,623,531

Things I Hate to See #913,461: A doctor getting a raised-eyebrow, quizzical look on her face while looking at my ECG.

Things I Hate to Hear #4,623,531: "Are you sure you've never had a heart attack?"

Well, I was pretty sure, but I did hedge my answer: Not that I know of.

And it turns out that I may just not have known. I've known people who hadn't known what they were having were  heart attacks when first having them, and who had to be told by ER doctors, "yeah, that's a heart attack you're having there." But I kind of figured that if you had a heart attack and didn't notice it, the next thing you would notice would be be being dead, or in an ambulance with people yelling 'clear' and shocking you with paddles, or something.

I still don't know that I have had a heart attack, because this ECG was part of a physical for participating in a drug trial. It wasn't this doctor's job to diagnose me, just to establish whether or not I'm eligible to participate. So she sort of told me the minimum while telling me I need to take a copy of the ECG to my primary care provider.

That minimum: There seems to be some kind of "conduction problem" (i.e. problem with parts of the heart's transmission/receipt of electrical signals), and diabetics are among the population that might not notice heart attacks because diabetic neuropathy can reduce/block pain signals.

Bonus: The drug trial is liver-related, so there was also an ultrasound-type procedure to look at that. Some fibrosis. That surprised me too. Other than the usual "wooh! Party on!" stuff in my late teens and early 20s, I've never been a chronic heavy drinker and -- back to "that I know of" -- have never been diagnosed with e.g. hepatitis.

Possible second-round bonuses: They drew blood and I should hear about those results next week.

Looks like there might be treadmills and biopsies in my future.