Monday, December 31, 2018

Louis C.K. Enjoys a New Degree of Creative Freedom

"Listen: Fuck it. What, are you gonna take away my birthday? My life is over and I don't give a shit."

Outraged headlines samples:
CNN: "Louis CK mocks Parkland shooting survivors"
OUT: "Louis C.K. Is Just Fully Doing Transphobic Comedy Now"
The Daily Beast: "Louis C.K.’s Leaked Comedy Set Panders to the Alt-Right"

My opinion:

Great set. His best? I don't know if I'd go that far, but it's rock-solid stand-up. It's funny, and funny is what matters in comedy.

Mocking "the Parkland survivors" wouldn't have been funny if they hadn't tried to set themselves up as moral authorities just because they got shot at. But they did set themselves up that way, and part of the price tag on doing that is that someone's going to mock you.

His bit on gender identity wasn't even remotely "transphobic." He made fun of the habit of demanding that others use one's chosen pronouns. To the extent that that is in fact often uttered as a demand, it is, again, something that deserves to be made fun of.

His set was no more "alt-right" than any given bit from Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, et al. But in bringing him low, the puritanical proggies freed him to say whatever the hell he feels like -- and to be as funny as he's ever been.

I'm Shocked -- Shocked!

That yet another political class multi-millionaire has decided to run for president as a "regular working/middle class (if you don't look closely)" type.

I am Not Now, Nor Have I Ever Been ...

... a member of People For the American Way.

I got on their email list somehow (from a scan of my email archive, I think it had something to do with the Kavanaugh SCOTUS abomination nomination), but I've never joined and have no intention of joining.

For the last week or so, I've been getting emails from them begging me to "renew" the membership I've never asked for, paid for, been notified of, or accepted.

That's annoying.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Proposal: The LG Heuristic

Yes, philosophical, political, and policy issues can be complex and multi-faceted. And I do think it behooves us to explore them all as thoroughly as possible rather than just jumping to conclusions.

But, if you need a quick method of figuring out which way to lean, I propose the following.

  1. Do a quick news search to find out Lindsey Graham's position on the topic of the moment (he's never long in expressing an opinion on anything); then
  2. Provisionally and subject to convincing rebuttal, but with a reasonably high level of confidence, assume that said position is the exact opposite of the correct one.

Wrap + New Year's Resolution

There will be 365 days in 2018.

This is my 365th post of 2018.

So, I made my goal of averaging one post per day in 2018.

I'm not increasing the goal number for 2019, but I am resolving to not find myself in a November/December situation where I need to play catch-up. In other words, not just 365 posts for the year, but seven posts for any given week.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

DNC Openly Embraces the Creepiness of Constant Tracking ...

Subject line noticed in my inbox:

You haven't opened one of our emails in awhile, Thomas

"According to our records, it's been a while since you opened one of our emails. So we'd like to give you the option to stay in touch with the Democratic Party by receiving text messages instead."

Tip for Lost WordPress Users

With the release of WordPress 5.x, the "post editor" has changed to a new format called "Gutenberg," whic is geared toward creating "media rich pages and posts." That is,

WordPress is moving further from its origins as a blogging system and toward its current usage as a more overall Content Management System.

Gutenberg is the default post editor in new versions of WordPress. Changing to it is automatic when you update your WordPress installation to 5.x (and some hosting services automatically update WordPress installations "for" you after a certain amount of time, whether you ask them to or not and whether you want them to or not).

If your site is set up the way you like, and you don't want to change the way you create content, never fear -- there's a plug-in that lets you revert to the "Classis Editor." I've used it on two of my sites and, after a few days of use, I've found no problems with it

Note: Apparently some users, for some reason, have to go to their "Writing" settings and select "Classic Editor" as "default post editor." I didn't, it was automatic, but if you install the plug-in and nothing seems to change, that's where to look.

Friday, December 28, 2018

First "Historical" Find ...

I didn't find this in the hole where I dreamed there were pieces of eight. I was just kind of swinging the detector around while walking back toward the house from said hole, and ...

That's a nail, photographed next to a 100mm cigarette to show its size -- maybe 5" in length.

Minimal Internet research says that these were around as early as 1820 and started getting replaced by more modern nails in the late 19th century. So it's presumably at least 120 years old and maybe close to 200.

It was only a few inches under the surface, so I guess it might have been used elsewhere and then dropped in my yard much later, perhaps when a load of dirt was brought in or something. But for the moment, I'm going to assume that there was an old house, barn, whatever, 150-200 years ago,  in what is now my "side yard."

Well, it Works ...

The metal detector I ordered from Amazon using Purse (affiliate link!) at a 23% discount, that is.

It arrived today.

I tested it on a couple of known metal locations around the house, and it beeped.

Then I took it to the spot in the yard where I dreamed I found old Spanish pieces of eight*, and it beeped some more. Haven't found whatever's down there yet. Lots of tree roots to dig around. But it's beeping where I know there's metal, still not beeping where I know there's no metal, and finding metal I didn't know was there (an old bolt in the yard, after I got tired of digging and decided to sweep around elsewhere just to make sure I wasn't fooling myself).  So I think there's metal there.

I'm fairly confident I'll find some stuff that's at least fairly old in the area I'm focusing on. It's near some trees that separate my lot from my neighbor's. My neighbor had a tree guy tell her they were at least 200 years old, possibly older. If that's true, they were already big, mature trees as of the Civil War. I suspect they were a dividing line between plantations or plantation fields, or perhaps fronted property on a now long-gone road, and that it's reasonable to believe that at some point, people congregated to work, rest, party, whatever in their shade. And dropped stuff.

* No, I don't think that my dreams possess special predictive/locative powers. But that dream (probably 4-5 years ago) got me thinking about seeing what might be buried under the place where I live. The itch never went away, I finally decided to scratch it, and the dream location seemed both an appropriate and otherwise practical place to start.

Best of Both Worlds

Trump says that until he gets funding for his wall, the fake government "shutdown" will continue.

Perfect -- no wall and a smidgen less government. Can we just keep it that way for, say, another 50 years or so?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

What Would Market "Perfection" Look Like?

Max Gulker, writing at the American Institute for Economic Research, asserts: "Markets are not perfect, but markets are essential."

The piece is a response to this tweet from Niskanen Center president Jerry Taylor:

Gulker alludes to the economic concept of "perfect competition" and his take is quite interesting, but I'm going to take a different tack vis a vis "perfection" here.

While I usually discuss actually free markets versus the state-coercion-tainted markets we actually have, here I instead assert that each and every market transaction, state-coercion-tainted or not, is, and markets such therefore are, in fact "perfect" in the sense of being "Brought to consummation or completeness; completed; not defective nor redundant; having all the properties or qualities requisite to its nature and kind; without flaw, fault, or blemish; without error; mature; whole; pure; sound; right; correct" on the only metric that really matters. That is:

In any market transaction, all parties perceive themselves as better off due to the transaction than they would have been absent the transaction.

Let's take the example from Taylor's tweet: Places that rent (including "rent to own") furniture, appliances, etc.

The deals they offer are not "good." But they are "perfect." That is, the people renting refrigerators and televisions from them want those refrigerators and televisions more than they want the money they have in their pockets; and the rental places want that money more than they want to keep the fridges and TVs sitting unprofitably in their warehouses. Everyone may not be as happy with the transactions as they would have been with other, but for whatever reason unavailable, transactions ... but they're happier with the available transactions than they would have been without them.

Do I recommend the "rent to own" places? Nope, not for most applications. By the time you've gained ownership of a particular thing from them, you'll have paid four or five times its cash on the barrelhead price. So if you can pay cash at a regular store, or get reasonable financing terms, that's preferable. But if you only need something for a very short time, or if you just can't scrape together the cash and really, really, really need X now, it may make sense.

In the distant past, I've considered doing business with these places twice.

Once I did so. I needed to furnish a new apartment for a few weeks until I had time to get out and find used/inexpensive stuff -- I was working a lot of overtime, I had company coming, and wanted I furniture in there NOW more than I wanted the money it cost to rent the stuff. So, a perfect transaction.

Once I didn't. I needed a working computer. Looking at the rental prices on what they were offering, I calculated that two months of rental fees equaled what I would pay for the computer I needed. So I reverted from Windoze to a DOS box for a couple of months, saved my money, and bought a newer PC when I could instead. What they were offering at the price they were offering wasn't worth as much to me as they wanted for it, and I was willing to do without a GUI for a little while (this was the mid-1990s), so we just didn't do the deal. A perfect non-transaction.

ChromeGrrr ...

Google constantly updates the Chrome browser and ChromeOS, and most of the changes are usually either not user-noticeable, or cool.

But it seems like every few months, they say "hey, why don't we change the appearance of the tabs at the top so that it looks terrible and makes it very difficult for the user, at a glance, to distinguish the active tab from all the other tabs that are open?"

At which point, I have to go looking for the fix to make Chrome go back to usable non-ugliness.

The fix usually shows up pretty quickly thanks to bloggers who understand better than I do how Chrome works under the hood.

So, ChromeOS build 71.0.3578.94 is out, and once again the "hey, why don't we change the appearance of the tabs at the top so that it looks terrible and makes it very difficult for the user, at a glance, to distinguish the active tab from all the other tabs that are open?" crowd got their way yet again.

Waiting for the fix.

Occasionally, Trump is Refreshingly Honest ...

... even if it's with a wink and a nudge.

Per CNN:

Video footage and the written report of Trump's visit with service members in Iraq showed the President signing "Make America Great Again" hats and an embroidered patch that read "Trump 2020."

But troops' requests for the autographs could brush up against Department of Defense guidelines for political activities.


Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, a former Obama administration spokesperson and a CNN analyst, said on CNN's "The Situation Room" on Wednesday that service members having Trump sign the items was inappropriate.

"It is in fact a campaign slogan, that is a campaign item, and it is completely inappropriate for the troops to do this," Kirby said.

Kirby assigned some blame to Trump himself for political activity around the military: "Every time he's around military audiences, he tends to politicize it, and he brings in complaints and grievances from outside the realm of military policy."

Every time any president politician addresses a military audience, or visits troops in the field, it's a campaign event.

The only difference with Trump is that he doesn't make any really visible effort to pretend it isn't.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

"Prolonged?" Really?


The partial government shutdown entered its fifth day Wednesday with no signs of a breakthrough and hundreds of thousands of federal workers about to feel the pinch of a protracted standoff.

Five days. Two of them were weekend, one was a holiday, and the Monday between was probably a very popular vacation day. Today is pretty much the first real day of the fake "shutdown."

I guess I can't blame Politico for hyping it a little. The Christmas-to-New-Year period is generally slow news time, precisely because (and thankfully so!) nobody's in Washington doing anything during that time frame.

They Say That Posts About Sex Get More Clicks ...

... so hey, here's a video about how !!!THEM RUSSIANS!!! used sex toys to !!!STEAL!!! the 2016 presidential election.

N.B. -- I'm not especially familiar with Jimmy Dore, and a little research says I probably disagree with him on lots of things. But the first five minutes of this video (I'm still watching it as I post this) are pretty freakin' funny.


I've read theories about biblical manna, and even Jesus, being psilocybin mushrooms.

What if Santa Claus was Amanita muscaria?

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

And Another Government Secrecy Thing

John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, acted yesterday to hold off a contempt citation versus an unnamed company in an unspecified case.

The company's arguments against being required to comply with the subpoena are:

1) That it's not a US company and therefore not subject to US jurisdiction; and

2) That complying with the subpoena would violate the laws of the country it is from.

Which both make sense to me -- it seems the last few years, the US government just seems to assume that its laws apply to everyone and everything, everywhere. I strongly suspect the US government would react very negatively to, say, the Russian government trying to enforce Russian law in, say, the District of Columbia.

But at least as bothersome to me is the "unnamed" and "unspecified" part.

We're supposed to have a public judicial system in this country. Prosecutors and courts shouldn't be able to keep secrets concerning who has been subpoenaed and why.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Kevin Spacey Has Talent. And Balls.

He's not going gently into that good after-fame night after all ...

So What are YOUR holiday plans?

We don't do the "presents under the tree" thing. For one thing, our cats would make short work of a tree. We generally buy a few things for the kids (main things -- a Chromebook for one, a new mattress for the other) and each other (I got a sweet ukulele for Tamara, and my main present was the trip to Wisconsin), and give them when they arrive.

To my recollection, a total of one present hasn't arrived yet. I used some cryptocurrency via Purse to order a metal detector. I've been wanting to do that for years, ever since dreaming that I found some pieces of eight in the back yard. Which is actually possible! But I'll be happy to find any metallic evidence of, say, pre-1950s habitation.

We're having dinner with one of the neighbors tomorrow. I've got a standing rib roast and a ham to cook. There will also be mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (yech -- but the others like them), green beans, etc.

If you're not too busy, share what you're doing for whatever winter holiday (or just winter break) you celebrate.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

"File Under Mistrial" Revisited Revisited

So, they're holding the show trial of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman with a secret jury and in New York (the Constitution says it has to be a public trial and "in the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed," i.e. Mexico) and he's not even allowed to speak at his own trial.

Now, they're openly admitting to tampering with the witnesses.

The difference between this stuff and Vyshinsky's show trials in the Soviet Union is that people noticed the latter. Today, in America, it's just business as usual.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Still Heroic

Mark Rober built a great "package thief punishment device" ...

Now it turns out that some of the thieves who got filmed reveling in its splendor weren't thieves after all:

Rober explained that he'd asked his friends -- and friends of friends -- to try out his invention, even offering to pay those who could recover their packages.

What Rober didn't know, he said, is that some people called on their own buddies to pretend to be robbers, then sent the sham reaction videos to Rober, who passed them off on social media -- unwittingly -- as authentic.

Rober apologized when he found out:

Still very cool, though.

I Prefer Flying Cheaply to Feeling Special

Hannah Bogorowski at The Daily Caller:

Airlines are getting creative in an effort to streamline their boarding processes and get passengers on planes faster, but many see the rules as a guise to charge customers more and satisfy those who pay more.

The upshot: A lot of airlines are moving to things like paying extra to pick your seat, to bring a carry-on, to check a bag, etc.

My view: When I fly, I fly Allegiant Air if at all possible, and cost is a big part of that equation.

My round-trip flight from Florida to Wisconsin (specifically, Clearwater-St. Pete Internationl to to General Mitchell International in Milwaukee) came to a total of $120.

About six bucks of that was air fare ($11.xx minus a five-dollar discount for booking a round trip.

About $64 of it was government taxes/fees.

And I paid $25 each way for a checked bag.

I could have paid (IIRC) $12.50 each way to select my seat, but I was fine with sitting anywhere they put me. Yes, I prefer a window seat, but not so much that I'm willing to pay extra for one (I did have a window seat on the return flight, and an aisle seat on the return flight ... both of them better than the middle seat).

Each passenger is allowed a "personal item" -- a purse, laptop bag, whatever -- and the size allowance is fairly generous.

If you want a second "carry-on" item, you pay ($15 per flight, IIRC).

If you want to check a bag, you pay ($25 per flight).

Since I was going for a full week, the checked bag made sense (I did consider just mailing my stuff up and back in a flat rate box, but decided not to get too fancy just to save a few bucks).

If I was going somewhere for a day or two, I might save $10 per flight and just do a carry-on.

I like it that way.

The people complaining about this stuff prefer the old days when the fare was the fare (unless you bought first class), included a checked bag and a carry-on, and had "priority boarding" that made them feel superior to the people who had to get on after them. I'd rather be able to cut my expenses by taking only what I really need to take (instead of paying full fare even if I don't take everything allowed), and by getting on the plane whenever they feel like it's my turn to get on the plane.

So, the trip:

$120, plus gas (maybe 300 miles at ~30mpg, so add another $30 for gas). $150. About 2 1/2 hours of flying each way, with a short drive from Milwaukee to Racine and a two-hour drive at each end between Gainesville and St. Pete. So, total, call it 10 hours.

Google maps makes the drive to be about 1,100 miles, 16 1/2 hours each way. So driving would have been 33 hours and about $220 in gas if there were no hotel stays or meals purchased along the way.

Greyhound: At their cheapest fares, the trip would have cost $453.00 and involved nearly 80 hours on a bus.

I could have flown Delta or United out of Jacksonville, but that would have been at least an extra $100 in base air fare, not counting any baggage fees, etc.

Flying Allegiant, due to the features described above, saved me somewhere between $70 and $300 and between one and three days. And since my brother and his wife fed me well, etc., while I was up there at their expense instead of mine, and since I would have been eating if I had stayed home, I figure the trip was pretty much free. Heck, I may have made money on it!

So I'm not gonna complain about it.

Friday, December 21, 2018

This Could Get Interesting: @RealDonaldTrump v. the Perpetual War Lobby

Trump has announced a pullout of US ground troops from Syria.

Apparently a drawdown of the US presence in Afghanistan, by about one third, is in play as well.

The Secretary of Defense has announced his pending resignation, and he's not doing it on the usual specious "time to spend more time with my family" claim. He's very clear that it's because Trump's foreign/military policy views and his just don't mesh.

The usual suspects are wailing and gnashing their teeth.

Will he stick to his guns (typed before I noticed the pun, but heck, I'll leave it there)?

If so, good on him.

I just hope it doesn't turn out to be a "decrease ground presence, increase numbers of drone strikes on weddings, funerals, hospitals" move.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

More Than 500 Libertarian Op-Eds ...

... more than 1,000 comments, even though the site itself isn't where the op-eds are really intended to be read ...

... and, last time I checked, on track for more than 1,500 pickups of op-eds this year by mainstream newspaper and non-libertarian political publications (where the op-eds are intended to be read) ...

... that's what things look like at the Garrison Center as of today. I usually don't notice the total op-ed and comment numbers, but I happened to be in that part of the dashboard a few minutes while checking for any weirdness in the upgrade to Wordpress 5.x.

Pretty good outreach, IMO. If you agree, why not hit the sidebar here at KN@PPSTER and support what I do?

They Say Elections Have Consequences ...

... and in Florida, one of those consequences is that, as of January 8, convicted felons (excluding those convicted of murder or felony sex crimes) who have completed their sentences are eligible to 1) register to vote and 2) vote.

That's because last month, Florida voters approved (with nearly 65% of the vote) a constitutional amendment (Amendment 4) with said effect.

But Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner and governor-elect Ron DeSantis don't like how that vote came out*, so now Detzner says the legislature needs to provide "guidance" to election officials and DeSantis says the law shouldn't take effect until the legislature passes "implementing language."

That's bullshit. There's nothing unclear about the law and any delay in implementing it, or legislative attempt to alter its effect, is a crime under federal law.

Per Section 11(a) of The Voting Rights Act of 1965, "No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote under any provision of this Act or is otherwise qualified to vote ..."

Section 14(c)(1) specifies that "The terms 'vote' or 'voting' shall include all action necessary to make a vote effective in any primary, special, or general election, including, but not limited to, registration ..."

And Section 12(a) specifies that "Whoever ... shall violate section 11(a) or (b), shall be fined not more
than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

Any election official who fails, on or after January 8, to process the registration of someone made eligible to vote under Amendment 4 -- including the Secretary of State and the new governor, if either of them or both of them order election officials to so act -- should face the maximum penalty prescribed above.

* They don't like how the election came out because they're Republicans who expect the bulk of newly eligible voters to vote (if they vote at all) for Democrats.

See Something, Say Something, GoFundMe Edition

Some nob has started a GoFundMe campaign to finance Trump's Berlin Border Wall project.

In addition to being an evil and stupid idea, the campaign violates at least three sections of GoFundMe's rules on prohibited content:

Section 8: The campaign is specifically in "support of, or for the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to ... national origin ..." (since Article I, Section 9 and Amendment 10 of the US Constitution deny the federal government a power to regulate immigration, any attempt on its part to do so is unconstitutional and therefore illegal; and this particular violation of law is aimed specifically at persons of Latin American national origins).

Section 10: The campaign funds human trafficking/exploitation/vigilantism by making immigration more difficult and exposing immigrants to the cartels and "coyotes."

Section 21: The campaign facilitates the violation of proprietary rights of third parties (the land owners whose property is to be stolen through "eminent domain" for construction of the wall being funded).

There's a "report campaign button" at the campaign link. I used it. I hope others will too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Soooo Boring ...

I started catching on to the formula for Shutdown Theater back in the 1990s when it was the Republicans vs. Bill Clinton on "draconian cuts" to Medicare (in actuality, the argument was about whether to increase Medicare spending by one amount or by one infinitesimally smaller amount).

The formula looks something like this:

  • Have an argument about something that doesn't really amount to a hill of beans but riles up both parties' bases (in this case, it's about whether or not to spend a few billion bucks making the US-Mexico border just a little more East-Germanish);
  • Raise the specter of a "government shutdown" which is actually no such thing ("essential services," VERY broadly construed, aren't affected -- if a service ISN'T essential, why the hell is the government doing it in the first place);
  • Either one side wusses out and a "stopgap spending bill" prevents the supposed "shutdown" (that's what appears to be happening this time); or
  • America settles in for a few days of whiny feel-bad stories about how Mom and Dad can't take the kids to Yosemite because of the mean ol' Republicans, after which one side or the other wusses out and a deal is reached (under which all the non-essential bureaucrats who got sent home get paid for their vacations).
Trump seemed to be feinting toward the approach that I've always recommended (instead of whining that the shutdown stuff "isn't my fault," own it -- "damn right I'm responsible for the shutdown, and it will STAY shut down until you say uncle") this time, albeit over a stump-stupid demand. But after two years it's become obvious that if anyone can be counted on to wuss out, it's Trump.

Then There are Those Days When I Actually LIKE Trump

Per Bloomberg:

Donald Trump declared victory over Islamic State and ordered a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria in a sharp reversal of American policy that appeared to take the Pentagon by surprise.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump said Wednesday morning on Twitter.

The U.S. military is working to quickly carry out Trump’s order, according to one official with knowledge of the plan. But it wasn’t clear how soon the approximately 2,000 troops would be coming home and what the president’s decision would mean for vulnerable Kurdish allies that they have supported.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Carl Bussjaeger read the 157-page "bump-stock ban" rule so you don't have to.

Austin Petersen points out that you don't need one of the banned devices to do what the banned devices let you do.

My opinion:

  • "Bump firing" is dumb. It sacrifices accuracy for high rate of fire. Such a trade-off only makes much sense in a few military scenarios involving units, not individuals (covering avenues of approach in a defensive position, forcing an enemy unit to keep their heads down while aiming shooters take them out in an ambush, etc.).
  • BUT: Any ban on any weapon or part thereof is inherently evil. Individuals have the right to defend themselves, and the right to possess and use such equipment as they deem needful for doing so.
The ban is a joke.

There's no "grandfather clause" and when it goes into effect the owners of the banned devices will be expected to turn in their gear within (IIRC) 90 days. I expect very low single-digit-percentage compliance with that demand.

I don't expect any real attempt to enforce it as such -- they'll just "enhance charges" against people nicked for other crimes (real or imagined).

If there are any organized attempts to track down and confiscate the devices, I expect we'll see a few dead bump-stock owners, a few more dead cops, and a quick declaration of victory and loss of interest in pursuing the matter further.

Which, frankly, may be the best possible outcome if it makes a few politicians re-think their more ambitious victim disarmament ("gun control") proposals.

If You Can't Win an Actual Election ...

... just wait for someone to retire and get yourself appointed, I guess. Per the Washington Post:

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has appointed fellow Republican Rep. Martha McSally to the Senate, he announced Tuesday, picking a favorite of GOP leaders to fill the seat John McCain held for decades.

McSally, who lost a close race for Arizona’s other Senate seat this year, will succeed Sen. Jon Kyl (R). Kyl will step down at the end of the year following a brief time in McCain’s seat after McCain’s death in August.

The Interesting Ways of "Influencers"

From a piece by Taylor Lorenz at The Atlantic:

A decade ago, shilling products to your fans may have been seen as selling out. Now it’s a sign of success.


the hardest deal to land is your first, several influencers say; companies want to see your promotional abilities and past campaign work. So many have adopted a new strategy: Fake it until you make it.

Sydney Pugh, a lifestyle influencer in Los Angeles, recently staged a fake ad for a local cafe, purchasing her own mug of coffee, photographing it, and adding a promotional caption carefully written in that particular style of ad speak anyone who spends a lot of time on Instagram will recognize.


When a local amusement park paid several bloggers to attend the venue and post about their experience there, Joshi, a fashion and lifestyle influencer, went on her own dime and posted promotional posts as if she were part of the bigger influencer campaign.

A few years back, when the "influencer" cult was really just getting started (with e.g. the recently defunct Klout), I had a little bit of fun and scored some free products for review, sponsored blog posts, etc.

I never considered pretending that stuff was sponsored/compensated when it wasn't, though. In fact, I went out of my way to make it clear whether or not that was the case (and I still do vis a vis affiliate links and so forth).

I'm obviously not an "influencer" on the scale of a well-known athlete, model, or whatever, but I do hope I exert a certain amount of benevolent influence on those who bother to check out what I'm up to.

Maybe I ought to start promoting (and thanking) "sponsors" who've never heard of me?

Monday, December 17, 2018

One Thing I Missed While Traveling

Alexa, what's the weather?

Alexa, set an alarm for 4:30am.

Alexa, who won the University of Florida's football game today?

Alexa, what's the square root of 934?

Alexa, play songs by Bob Dylan.

Alexa, play reveille on all devices.

If you ever buy one (not an affiliate link), you'll probably get used to it, and start relying on it for various things, very quickly. I did, anyway. And yes, I know some of you don't like something listening in on you all the time and would never dream of sticking one in your house. Which is fine. But I like it. We have three of the damn things.

Bingo, Sort of

"This is the one investigation that the sole purpose of the investigation is produce crimes, not to investigate them." -- former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino on Fox & Friends.

I disagree on the "this is the one investigation" part. In fact, the FBI's general modus operandi seems to run toward either actively inciting, or just plain manufacturing, crimes. Sure, when there's a real high-profile crime or suspect, they'll investigate. But if they've got nothing real on a suspect, they'll just throw a "lying to federal agents" charge at the wall and see if it sticks. And if they're not busy, they'll go out and actively work to radicalize young Muslim men and hector them into pulling the triggers on fake bombs just so they can make the evening news.

That doesn't mean Trump's clean. In fact, I'd bet money he's dirty in 50 different ways. But the purpose of the Mueller probe isn't to investigate that dirt per se. Rather, the purpose of the Mueller probe is to discredit (and, so far as possible, nullify) the outcome of the 2016 presidential election so that Vladimir Putin, rather than Hillary Clinton, can be deemed responsible for Hillary Clinton running a piss-poor loser of a campaign.

OK, so Once Again I am Behind the Blogging Curve

Yep. I had planned on average two or more posts a day in December. More than halfway through the month, this is my third. I'm not great with math, but I think I'm lagging the goal a bit.

I got back home early Sunday morning after spending a week in Racine, Wisconsin (where I had breakfast one morning with Dave Kristopeit, aka The Racinian). The occasion for the trip was my brother Mike's move from a drafty little apartment to a new (well, not new -- built in 1930, in fact, but new to him and his wife, Pam) house. The air fare was $35 each way and hopefully I saved him hundreds of dollars on hiring a moving crew (we moved little stuff in his pickup truck and rented a U-Haul for one day to move the big stuff).

The situation there was not ideal for blogging, etc. There was Internet access at the apartment, but not the house, I was working on a laptop (I hate working on a laptop and seriously considered checking a bag with my desktop and two monitors), and in addition to publishing RRND and writing one of the three Garrison Center columns I should have (I got one out; Joel Schlosberg, whom I had contracted to write three in three months, brought his final one of the deal in and partially covered my ass), well, there was about eight hours a day of move-related stuff to do (packing boxes; shopping for, staining, installing a knob in, and unsuccessfully trying to hang, a new door in the house, etc.).

So, blogging got short shrift.

Nice trip, though. I hate cold, and Wisconsin was colder than I liked, but not terrible. I love Mike and Pam and was glad to spend some time with them. I like volcano chicken, and got a plate full of that at a place called Sticky Rice in Racine, which I highly recommend if you're in the area.

While I was gone, my 20-year-old finally got her driver's license, then promptly totaled the family car (at least we think it's totaled, have to wait for the insurance company to say one way or the other) in an encounter with an off-ramp guard rail on her way to a cosplay event in Orlando. Fortunately, there were no injuries.

Anyway, I am back and expect to blog more. Maybe a lot more. I want to hit the 365-post mark for the year.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Food for Thought

Suppose you (a US citizen) visited Mexico.

And suppose that while you were visiting Mexico, you got arrested and told you would be extradited to China.

For violating Beijing's trade sanctions on Rwanda.

That's how ridiculous this is.

Wow ... It's Been More Than a Week Since Last I Blogged?

I guess it has. Doesn't feel like it. Between Tamara traveling to Miami for work (she got home last night) and me getting ready to head for Wisconsin tomorrow, with other minor emergencies and regular work stuff interspersed, that's what got put off.

But I need 33 posts this month to make my "one post per day on average" goal for the year, so ... make that 32, and I'll try to get with it a little.