Saturday, July 27, 2019

Heading Out ...

... for Tampa shortly. Instead of Tamara getting up at oh dark thirty to drive me two hours to the airport, she'll drive me there this evening and I'll pass the night there before my 6:xx am flight out to Springfield, Missouri.

There may actually be more blogging than usual. Or less. Don't know. I'll be spending the days with my mom and have tentative evening "dates" on Sunday with a favorite cousin and Monday with an old Marine Corps comrade.

How much "free/unoccupied" time I'll have is anyone's guess. But if you're in that area and want to get together, hit the contact form. And if you're willing to subsidize my travels, I've got Uber gift cards on my Amazon wish list.

I expect to be back at my desk Tuesday evening. Have a great weekend.

O Canada (or, a different take on homeschooling, ideology, and the "culture war")

Kent McManigal rightly points out that government schools are used to indoctrinate kids as pro-state troops in the "culture war."

He does so in response to some wit's claim that that's the purpose of homeschooling (just that homeschooling is boot camp for the other side of said "war").

Part of my response to the wit would be somewhat like Kent's -- that is, pointing out that much of the purpose of "public" education is to turn helpless kids into helpless adults -- "good citizens" who do as they're told and don't think too terribly much.

But the other part would be to note that my own reasons for homeschooling my kids, to the extent that they had anything at all to do with "culture war," weren't to turn them into culture war soldiers, but quite the opposite.

Think, for a moment, of the "culture war" as analogous to the US war in Vietnam.

"Public" education is the equivalent of drafting a kid into the US Army and preparing him to go kill soldiers serving with the People's Army of Viet Nam.

In the wit's version of things, homeschooling is the equivalent of putting the kid on a plane to Hanoi so that he can join the PAVN and fight the US Army.

In my version of things, homeschooling was the equivalent of throwing the draft notice in the trash and putting my kid on a Greyhound to Toronto.

Now, that's not to say that politics and "culture war" type topics never came up in our homeschooling journey, or that I refrained from filling my kids' heads with libertarian ideas when those subjects DID come up.  But to the extent that they came up, they were generally brought up BY the kids (we "unschooled," so they had substantial leeway to decide what they were interested in and study it in various ways, with "ask dad what he thinks" nowhere near the top of the list).

And "culture war" wise, I'd have to call the results very mixed. One of the kids is a trans version of Abbie Hoffman, the other is a troll version of Alex P. Keaton.

There's Nothing at All Stopping Uber Drivers from Unionizing

Whenever I read about lawsuits or legislation seeking to turn Uber drivers into "employees," one of the key talking points is that unless they're "employees" or otherwise somehow re-classified by the government, they "can't unionize."

The latest instance is in South Bend, Indiana mayor (and Democratic presidential primary candidate) Pete Buttigieg's plan to "empower workers in a changing economy":

Pete will support codifying the simple "ABC test" for classifying workers nationally in order to prevent workers in the gig economy from being denied minimum wage, overtime, and antidiscrimination protections -- and their ability to unionize. In order to classify a worker as an independent contractor under the ABC test, an employer must demonstrate that the worker (A) is free from the employer’s control, (B) is performing work that is outside the employer’s usual course of business, and (C) customarily works as an independent business in that industry. The test will also ensure that Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protections like the minimum wage apply. As a backstop to the ABC test and in order to guarantee collective bargaining rights to gig workers, Pete will also propose amending U.S. law to allow independent contractors with no employees, little capital investment, and substantially similar working relationships with a single company to unionize.

Here's what needs to happen for "independent contractors with no employees, little capital investment, and substantially similar working relationships with a single company to unionize":


Uber drivers are already free to join or form unions.

Those unions are already free to approach Uber and attempt to negotiate contracts covering various aspects of their members' relationships with the company.

What "progressive" politicians  like Buttigieg are trying to do (at the behest of a particular variety of rent-seeking fat cat business executives -- "union officials") is magically turn Uber drivers into "employees" rather than the independent contractors they actually are so that they can use the National Labor Relations Act to force 100% of Uber drivers to join a union (and pay dues to, and create rake-offs for, the aforementioned rent-seeking fat cats) if 50%+1 of those drivers vote to make it so.

Many of those same "progressive" politicians are openly calling themselves "socialists" while at the same time fighting tooth and nail against the core tenet of socialism -- worker ownership of the means of production -- and on behalf of the union boss fat cats' "right" to exploit Uber drivers and coercively extract surplus value from their labor.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Yet Another Domain Name For Sale

I bought it with a specific use in mind, and just never got around to it:

It expires relatively soon. I'd rather see it get a good home than just go back on the market.

And yes, sure, I'd love to get some kind of princely sum for it (or at least enough to defray my soon-upcoming Uber costs), but as long the "good home" provision is in play, if necessary I'll let it go for what it costs to renew/transfer it (less than $20, probably less than $15).

If you're interested, hit the contact form.

Discussion Topic ...

The Most Interesting Exchange in the Mueller Hearing

To me, anyway. Not much media play.

Here's a version I've cut down a little (where you see ellipses) to get it to more readable size. You can read the un-cut version here.

US REPRESENTATIVE JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Director, the FBI interviewed Joseph Mifsud on February 10th, 2017. In that interview, Mr. Mifsud lied. You point this out on page 193, Volume 1, Mifsud denied, Mifsud also falsely stated. In addition, Mifsud omitted. Three times, he lied to the FBI; yet, you didn't charge him with a crime. ... why didn't you charge him with a crime?

MUELLER: I can't get into internal deliberations with regard to who or who would not be charged.

JORDAN: You charged a lot of other people for making false statements. ... from about the moment Papadopoulos joins the Trump campaign, you've got all these people all around the world starting to swirl around him, names like Halper, Downer, Mifsud, Thompson, meeting in Rome, London, all kinds of places. The FBI even sent -- even sent a lady posing as somebody else, went by the name Azmiturk, even dispatched her to London to spy on Mr. Papadopoulos. In one of these meetings, Mr. Papadopoulos is talking to a foreign diplomat and he tells the diplomat Russians have dirt on Clinton. That diplomat then contacts the FBI and the FBI opens an investigation based on that fact. You point this out on page 1 of the report. July 31st, 2016 they open the investigation based on that piece of information. Diplomat tells Papadopoulos Russians have dirt -- excuse me, Papadopoulos tells the diplomat Russians have dirt on Clinton, diplomat tells the FBI. What I'm wondering is who told Papadopoulos? How'd he find out?

MUELLER: I can't get into the evidentiary filings.

JORDAN: Yes, you can because you wrote about it, you gave us the answer. Page 192 of the report, you tell us who told him. Joseph Mifsud, Joseph Mifsud's the guy who told Papadopoulos, the mysterious professor who lives in Rome and London, works at -- teaches in two different universities. This is the guy who told Papadopoulos he's the guy who starts it all, and when the FBI interviews him, he lies three times and yet you don't charge him with a crime. You charge Rick Gates for false statements, you charge Paul Manafort for false statements, you charge Michael Cohen with false statements, you charge Michael Flynn a three star general with false statements, but the guy who puts the country through this whole saga, starts it all for three years we've lived this now, he lies and you guys don't charge him. And I'm curious as to why.

MUELLER: Well I can't get into it and it's obvious I think that we can't get into charging decisions.

JORDAN: When the FBI interviewed him in February -- FBI interviews him in February, when the Special Counsel's Office interviewed Mifsud, did he lie to you guys too?

MUELLER: Can't get into that.

JORDAN: Did you interview Mifsud?

MUELLER: Can't get into that.

JORDAN: Is Mifsud western intelligence or Russian intelligence?

MUELLER: Can't get into that.

Is it possible that the whole "Russiagate" fiasco -- in which, need I remind you, a two-year investigation found no evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian state actors -- started with an intentional entrapment attempt by a US intelligence asset?

It's an Old, Old American Tradition

Human sacrifice as part of the state religion, that is.

Human sacrifice (Codex Laud, f.8)

Trump's god is named Winning, and his base loves the death penalty. That's all the explanation required for yesterday's announcement.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Reminder: I'm Heading for Springfield, Missouri on Sunday

(Actually, I'm leaving Gainesville on Saturday -- my flight out of Tampa leaves at 6:xx am so I'm going to catch a few zees at the airport overnight instead of expecting Tamara to drive me down at oh dark thirty).

I'll be arriving in Springfield Sunday morning and flying back out Tuesday morning. Just a quick run up there to visit my mother for her 86th birthday.

Since she goes to bed early, I expect to have Sunday and Monday evenings free (other than the time consumed by whatever mechanics are required to secure cashew chicken and McSalty's pizza) -- if you're in the area and want to get together, for coffee or something, hit the contact form.

Forewarning: I'll be staying at a hotel on South Campbell, and won't have a vehicle, so it's 1) Uber, 2) local bus, 3) I walk, or 4) someone picks me up.

I was planning to sign up for a 3-minute open mic set at the Blue Room on Monday night, but I just don't have three good minutes together at the moment (I took my writing in a different direction -- I'm developing a specific character and he's not hitting on all cylinders yet).

Whether you're in the area or not, if you want me to have transportation, feel free to hit my Amazon Wish List and buy me an Uber gift card. I figure I'll spend at least $50 on transport to and from the airport.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Who's That You Thought @RealDonaldTrump was Working For?

The Russians?

Well, maybe, I guess, although the evidence is better for Hillary Clinton having been Putin's mole in the US State Department than for Trump being Putin's mole in the Oval Office.

But a look at presidential vetoes might be somewhat more enlightening than anything related to the Russian proposition.

Trump has vetoed three bills.

One was of a bill saying he can't just rule by decree by declaring an emergency whenever Congress won't give him whatever he happens to want at the moment.

The other two, including one today, were for bills saying that no, Saudi terror kingpin Mohammad bin Salman isn't Supreme Exalted Maximum Leader of the United States.

And That Right There is the Problem with "Public Goods" Theory

Interesting piece on "public goods" by Jon Murphy at

Samuelson shows that public goods will tend to be underproduced compared to a socially optimal level ...

Not exactly.

Yes, it's reasonable to predict that if a good collects "free riders" who use it but don't pay for it because it's non-excludable and they don't have to pay for it, less of that good will be produced than if everyone who used it had to pony up.

But a "socially optimal level" is a matter of subjective valuation, not some kind of indisputable factual claim.

When someone calls for government subsidies of a "public good" to spread the cost around, he's doing so because he thinks there should be more of it and doesn't want the costs to be borne only by those who agree, not because God struck "400 more tanks and 20 new fighter-bomber aircraft for the 'public good' of national defense" onto stone tablets and dropped them from the sky onto all our heads.

Some of us may not value those new arms at all. Some of us may even place a negative value on them (we'd be willing to pay to STOP them from being produced). The fact that they're not excludable doesn't mean we want them or think they're a good idea. Our idea of "socially optimal" differs from the "public goods" yammerer's.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Shocked -- Shocked!

That the Democrats and Republicans reached yet another spending deal that gives all of them everything they want and puts another $50 billion on the bar tab they expect us to pay.

They get the drinks. We get the hangover. Well, at least until the day when the interest payments stop coming and the bond-holders end up with a very bad case of the DTs, anyway. Which, hopefully, will be soon.

Friday, July 19, 2019

No, Trump's Strategy Shouldn't be to Target "Swing Voters"

Over the last couple of days, one of the criticisms I've been seeing of Donald Trump's decision to go after "the squad" is that it's bad political strategy.

Generic version: He's throwing red meat to his base, but what he needs to be doing is trying to bring "swing voters" into his camp.

That's wrong. Here's why:

With respect to Trump, there are no "swing voters." The same people who liked him last time like him this time. The same people who didn't like him last time don't like him this time. So throwing red meat to his base is exactly what he should be doing. It's more important to keep his existing supporters excited so that they get out and vote again than it is to run around looking for potential new supporters who don't exist and aren't going to suddenly start existing.

A factoid I've pulled out before:

In 2012, Mitt Romney received about 60,000 votes in Erie County, Pennsylvania.

In 2012, Donald Trump also received about 60,000 votes in that county.

But in 2012 Barack Obama received about 91,000 votes in Erie County, while in 2016 Hillary Clinton received about 58,000.

That 33,000-voter difference isn't made up of people who might vote for Trump this time. It's made up of Democrat-leaning voters who just couldn't bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Trump isn't going to get any more votes in Erie county in 2020 than he did in 2016. If the Democrats can re-motivate 2,000 or so voters out of that 33,000, they carry the county again.

Similar situations exist all over Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida.  The ball is in the Democrats' court. If they nominate a better candidate than Hillary Clinton (not too difficult) and run a better campaign than Hillary Clinton's (ditto), they're probably going to win.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

It's Not About Whether or Not Trump is a Racist

Maybe he is, maybe he isn't.

As for that set of tweets, no, they didn't specifically reference race, so if you want to make the argument that they "weren't technically racist," feel free to out yourself as a moron and I'll spot you a point. You get "not technically racist," I get "idiotic, revolting, and xenophobic." Does losing 3-1 really feel better than losing 4-0?

So, "not technically racist."

But clearly intended to appeal to racists and other bigots.

If this was the first time Trump had let slip something idiotic, revolting, xenophobic, and arguably racist, AND perhaps if he had caught himself, apologized for mis-speaking, etc., some other conclusion might be plausible.

But it's far from the first time and this time he didn't even give the audience he's appealing to a wink and nudge out like he did with, say, Charlottesville.

So either he's a drooling imbecile who never has any idea what the hell he's actually saying and probably needs someone to change his diaper, wipe the drool off his face, and hold his hand when he crosses the street, or he meant to do that because he considered doing that politically useful.

Take your pick. It's one or the other.

Change My Mind

"National Conservatism," aka Trumpism, is the Marriage of Peckerwood Populism to Mussolinist Socialism

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

An Interesting Film ...

Every so often I get an email offer from Vudu (not an affiliate link) -- watch one of their "free with ads" movies and get a discount on my next rental or purchase. When that happens, I pick a movie, start it running on one of my two desktop monitors ... and it either keeps my attention or doesn't. Either way, it runs and I get a buck or three off something I really want to see.

I wasn't expecting much from The Assignment except perhaps an opportunity to see Michelle Rodriguez naked. But hey, that's enough for something I don't otherwise have to pay attention to, right? Based on the trailer, I figured it would just be a cheesy "transploitation" action flick with, as I may have already mentioned, hopefully some naked Michelle Rodriguez.

It's actually quite interesting, and in a more than naked Michelle Rodriguez way. Much of it follows the doctor (played by Sigourney Weaver) who performed involuntary gender reassignment on a hit man who killed her brother (Rodriguez) as she's being interviewed about her motivations and actions by another doctor (Tony Shalhoub) while confined in a mental institution as mentally unfit for trial. I'll probably watch it again with my wife and (trans) daughter to see what they think about the discussions relating to transgender stuff.

Also, yes, you get to see Michelle Rodriguez naked, in two different genders. And Sigourney Weaver in a bathtub, but you really only see her head and hands. Which is more important to the movie than you might think.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

No Bail is Excessive Bail, Even for Jeffrey Epstein

The US Constitution's Eighth Amendment forbids "excessive bail." What does that mean? According to the Supreme Court of the United States (in Stack v. Boyle) it means "[b]ail set before trial at a figure higher than an amount reasonably calculated to fulfill the purpose of assuring the presence of the defendant."

Jeffrey Epstein is a very wealthy defendant, so what's "excessive" by that definition?

Per CNN:

Lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein proposed a bail package on Thursday that would allow the multimillionaire alleged sex trafficker to remain out of jail pending trial and live instead in home detention at his Upper East Side mansion, one of the largest residences in Manhattan and valued at $77 million, according to court documents.

The arrangement ... also would put Epstein under electronic monitoring by GPS, require him to post a "substantial" personal recognizance bond secured by his Manhattan home, and deregister and ground his private jet.


Along with home detention, Epstein's lawyers propose that he consent to US extradition from any country, require anyone who enters his New York home aside from his attorneys to have prior approval from federal authorities and have a live-in court-appointed trustee who would be required to report violations of his bail conditions.

Prosecutors' counter-proposal? No bail.

Constitution says: Nope, that would be excessive.

There is some set of conditions which could be reasonably calculated (nothing is 100%, of course) to ensure Epstein's appearance at trial.

If the prosecutors don't think the conditions his attorneys have proposed constitute such a set, their obligation is to propose a set of conditions that does, not just demand that the Supreme Law of the Land be thrown out the window.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

"Infighting" Isn't the Libertarian Party's Problem

I'm always hearing that it is. Usually that happens on Facebook, but I was hearing it before Facebook ever existed. The pitch usually goes like something this:

How can the Libertarian Party ever succeed when its various factions are always arguing about strategy or policy? The only way we're ever going to start winning elections is for everyone to stop arguing, otherwise we're just spitting in the wind.
The complaint about "infighting" comes up, naturally, in the context of the complainer's position on something (or the complainer hirself) being rejected, attacked, etc.

Thing is, the same argument gets made in every political party (or political movement organization), because such organizations are always arguing about policy and strategy.

In fact, in my experience, the Libertarian Party and libertarian movement organizations aren't nearly as plagued with "infighting" as either of the two "major" American political parties. And if you want to see real "infighting," drop in on any state leftist organization's events (or read conflicting accounts of such events).

I'm told that libertarians argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Maoists would never get to that point. They'd get bogged down on whether, and if so, the production of the pin was exploitative and whether or not it would oppress the angel proletariat to make them dance on it.

There's a reason that this video clip isn't just popular with libertarians:

Groups fight among themselves. Complaining about it isn't going to get everyone to sit down, shut up, and agree to do things your way.

The Laptop I Would Like ...

... wouldn't have a screen built into a lid.

It would have two built-in projectors, each treated as a monitor. Preferably projectors that could be focused to produce (among other options) nice, clear, 20" "screens" on a wall or some other surface two feet from the machine.

I know that there are some high-end laptops that come with single projectors built in to use for presentations or whatever. That's not what I'm looking for. I like having:

  • Two monitors; and
  • Large monitors
That's how I like to work, and I'd like to be able to work that way on the road without dragging my desktop rig and two big ol' monitors along with me (I've been known to do that when traveling by car and staying at hotel for several days, but that wouldn't fit in my carry-on on a plane nor would I want to put the setup in checked baggage and risk losing it or getting it damaged and also have to pay for an extra checked bag).

I suppose an optional "traditional" lid-size screen that plugs into an HDMI port would be cool for using the laptop, well, laptop-style while sitting on a plane or something. I wouldn't personally find it that useful, but I can see why some people might.

So, anyone know what the holdup is on something like that? I can't imagine I'm the only one who'd like it. Is it that projectors are still too expensive to really come standard on low-end laptops? Or that they haven't been sufficiently miniaturized for what I'm talking about? Or something else?

Friday, July 05, 2019

4th of July Speeches

Trump's 4th of July comments:

The KN@PPSTER Caucus response, delivered by Ron White:

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Good Idea, @DougDucey, but Dumb Reason

Arizona governor Doug Ducey plans to withdraw an offer of government bribes to Nike if it opens a plant in his state.

Good. Arizona's taxpayers shouldn't be forced to hand money over to private enterprises that politicians want to bribe. If Arizonans want to give Nike money, those Arizonans can buy Nike's shoes with said money.

On the other hand, the only reason Ducey is withdrawing the bribe offer is that Nike has decided to not produce a shoe with an American flag on it.

Yes, you read that right. Ducey  apparently hates the American flag so much that he wants you to step on it over and over and over and won't bribe Nike unless they go out of their way to help people desecrate the flag by producing a shoe that would be illegal to sell in the District of Columbia.

Oh, well. At least the whole incident exposes the "government bribes for businesses" scam as being just another political game.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/02/19

You've got questions. I've got answers. They may not be correct answers. Hell, they may not even be answers that are particularly relevant to what you seek when you ask the questions. But the only way to find out is to ask. This "Ask Me Anything" thread is brought to you by Free Pony Express!


  • Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer in comments, or a stand-alone post, heck, maybe even on a surprise return of The KN@PP Stir Podcast.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Pings My Irony Meter Every Time

 Others cover stories. We uncover them. 

That's the message I get at the Washington Post ... in the paywall scold box that pops up to, um, COVER the story I'm trying to reach once I've reached my "free" article limit for the month (or whatever timing cycle they're on).

Name That Progressive Democrat

We need a labor market that offers dignified, rewarding work to every worker who wants it .... We need to encourage business investment in workers rather than capital hoarding, investment that will drive new opportunities to the towns and neighborhoods of the American middle class. ... [W]e need a better understanding of liberty. For in the end, liberty is more than selling or buying or the right to be left alone. It’s the ability to have a say, to have a stake, and together, to set the course of our own history.

Elizabeth Warren? Or perhaps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Nope.  It's freshman US Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), channeling William Jennings Bryan at The American Conservative.