Thursday, July 02, 2020

Two Terms That Sometimes Get Conflated or Confused

"Epidemiology" is the study of the incidence/distribution/spread of disease, with an eye toward finding (usually statistical) correlations that might aid in containing disease.

"Public health" is a political movement advocating for technocratic rule by, among others, epidemiologists.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

A Brief Platform Committee (and Convention) Update

In my last post on these subjects, I noted that I was getting iffy on attending the "second sitting" of the Libertarian National Convention for several reasons.

At some point I stopped being iffy and decided that no, I'm not going to Orlando. I'm something like 29th alternate for my state, so it's not like I'm desperately needed. My family will be traveling, which means that if I was traveling too there would be a bunch of pet care nonsense to make arrangements for, etc. And so on and so forth.

And now there seems to be a pretty good chance that the Orlando event won't happen (if you're not up on that situation, hit me in the comments).

BUT: The platform committee will be meeting both electronically and physically if the Orlando event does happen. So I can participate that way.

We had a meeting last night, with basically a two-part agenda:

  1. Deciding whether to modify some of our already passed proposals to appease the "oh dear god, no -- the party can't be libertarian on that, what will Fox and Friends think?" crowd who responded negatively to them in the delegate/member survey (offhand, police abolition, gender identity, and intellectual property were the big ones); and
  2. Formally adopting our report for publication (deadline -- today), which we didn't really need to do, since each element of the report has been formally adopted.
By the end of a 3 1/2-hour 2-hour meeting, we had managed to

  1. Amend the previously passed police abolition plank into something I guess is still pretty decent;
  2. Become thoroughly enraged with each other to a degree that might have entailed physical violence if the meeting itself had been physical.
  3. Adjourn.
So yeah, the usual ;-)

Just because the report is being published today, that doesn't mean there won't be any more work by the committe, on the proposals. You can keep up with everything at the committee email reflector.

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/01/20

Because they sent me a free t-shirt and I really like it, I hereby declare Libertas Bella the sponsors of this month's Ask Me Anything thread:

  1. Ask Me Anything (yes, anything) in the comment section below this post!
  2. I'll answer in comments (or in some other format and point to that format in comments)!
  3. Bonus/Gratuitous/Extraneous Exclamation Marks!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Some Barrators and Conspirators Against Rights

Some Barrators and Conspirators Against Rights, openly acting in violation of Code of Virginia § 18.2-452, and US Code 18 § 241, and operating under color of law in violation of US Code 18 § 242:

G. Zachary Terwilliger, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
Tracy Doherty-McCormick, First Assistant US Attorney
Kellen S. Dwyer, Assistant United States Attorney
Thomas W. Traxler, Assistant United States Attorney
Gordon D. Kromberg, Assistant United States Attorney
Alexander P. Berrang, Assistant United States Attorney
Adam Small, Trial Attorney, National Security Division, US Department of Justice
Nicholas Hunter, Trial Attorney, National Security Division, US Department of Justice


It's important to remember that while the people above are cowards who generally conduct their violent crimes through proxies, they are violent, dishonest criminals and are therefore potentially dangerous to all honest persons.

Negatively socially preferencing -- shunning, ostracizing, refusing to do business with, etc. -- them isn't just a punishment they deserve, it's a defensive measure for your protection.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Could the 2020 Republican National Convention Cost Trump Florida's Electoral Votes?

In 2016, Donald Trump carried Florida by 1.3% over Hillary Clinton. He carried Duval County by a slightly larger margin than that.

Current polling has Joe Biden carrying Duval County in November, and the county's residents opposing a Jacksonville show by the Great Traveling Republican National Convention Circus.

If the numbers of votes cast are similar this time, only about 60,000 votes out of 9.4 million cast have to go the other way to change the outcome. So if the sentiments that seem to be playing in Duval County are radiating out into other Trump 2016 territory, it may be the ballgame.

Friday, June 19, 2020

This Will Not Stand, This Aggression Against the Gator Nation

Easily the dumbest goddamn thing I've read this week.

If you don't believe me, ask Lawrence Wright.

Note to University of Florida president Kent Fuchs: That thing you're doing that you think is thinking isn't.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Survey Says ...

Well, I don't know what it says. Nobody will know what it says until y'all take it.

If you're interested in what the Libertarian Party's 2020 platform committee is recommending this year, please do so!

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

The Good News and the Bad News

Got the results of my chest X-ray. Straight paste from the online chart:


INDICATION: 53 years Male Dyspnea, unspecified type




CARDIOVASCULAR: Normal heart size. Normal central pulmonary vessels.
PULMONARY: Normal lung volumes. Lungs are clear of consolidation. No pleural effusion or


ACUITY LEVEL: 1. Routine: A normal examination or findings that are inconsequential.

All of that looks good vis a vis lung cancer or congestive heart failure. I had a "good result" stress test and echocardiogram a couple of years ago as well. My pulse ox runs about 97.

That's all good news.

But I've felt slightly short of breath, all the time, for several months now, ever since a two-week bout of really difficult breathing and terrible cough in January that I considered the "come to Jesus" moment on smoking (I quit doing that on February 15, with the assistance of Chantix, and was off all nicotine sources -- lozenges and patches and vapes, oh my -- by February 20).

Hopefully I'll get the breathing figured out soon.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Libertarian Party Platform Committee Update

Hey, everyone ...

The platform committee's report is in version 4 of draft. I'd say it's fairly well complete. Whether this link to that draft works for the general public, I don't know. It's the link from the "Draft Committee Report" thread on the publicly viewable committee discussion group, so hopefully it does.

Per the current draft, the committee has passed 21 proposals for consideration by delegates to the 2020 Libertarian National Convention.

In my opinion most, maybe even all, of the proposals would bring the party's platform more into line with its Statement of Principles.

Also in my opinion most, maybe even all, of the proposals would make the party's platform more relevant to political and policy discussions in America circa 2020.

Since those are the effects I think the platform committee's proposals should seek, I'm happy with, and proud of, our work and hope that my contributions to that work were helpful.

So, what happens next?

In theory, the 2020 Libertarian National Convention is in hiatus until early July, after a "virtual" session (in which the party's presidential ticket was nominated) and before a "physical" session in Orlando, Florida.

In fact, I think there's some chance (call it 25%) that the Orlando event won't happen at all, or that if it does happen it will lack the necessary quorum, or the credentialing legitimacy, or both, to do business* (call that chance 50% if the event happens).

My initial plans to attend the event were pretty firm regardless of those possibilities, because if nothing else, there are a lot of old friends I'd like to visit with and I've already got some sunk costs (the bare-basics convention "package" and $100 in donations toward rental of a suite where I planned to crash on the floor).

At the moment, my plans are becoming somewhat more tentative, for several reasons:

  1. The rest of my family will be traveling at the same time, to my mother-in-law's memorial service/celebration of life in Illinois (originally scheduled for June, then re-scheduled due to continuing COVID-19-related statism). That makes travel on my  part a little less convenient and more expensive, and also represents some problems and/or expenses vis a vis making sure pets are cared for.
  2. I am not a delegate. I'm an alternate from Florida. Due to a clerical error, it may be difficult for me to get credentialed even as an alternate, and since the event is in Florida, it's unlikely I'd end up with a voting delegate seat. My attendance would therefore be more along the lines of a social outing than a working trip.
  3. I have a chest X-ray to get next week and an appointment near the end of June to learn what the doctor thinks about the results of that and some other stuff (I had blood drawn this morning). My guess is that I'm in the early stages of congestive heart failure, but "quit smoking too late -- lung cancer" seems like a dark horse contender as well. Either one would presumably be yet another co-morbidity that might make me want to avoid likely COVID-19 hot-spots (although I think a third possibility is that I already had it and got some lasting lung damage out of it).
  4. I'm not very happy with the current direction of the party, so it may be time to go do other things instead (and again).
We'll see.

Thanks to all of you who've made it possible for me to serve a second stint on the platform committee.

* The "virtual session" adjourned on a motion that automatically "checked out" all the delegates. If that motion was valid, the convention is over and no business can legitimately be conducted. If it was invalid, the convention can continue, but only if a quorum of 40% of the delegates who registered at the "virtual" convention are present.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

The Main Battle Rifle of the Next Revolution ...

... won't actually be a particular rifle. Rather, it will be a particular ammunition type: .22 Long Rifle.

The ammo is cheap and plentiful, and comes in a variety of configurations for different uses. Easy to stockpile.

The weapons that fire the ammo are cheap and reliable and come in a variety of configurations for different uses.

Wounding an enemy soldier is usually better than killing an enemy soldier because a wounded enemy soldier has to be cared for instead of just buried or left to rot. That forces your enemy to divert people and resources away from fighting you. Smaller-caliber ammo like .22LR is more likely to wound than to kill.

But it can kill, so if you decide you need something heavier, you can kill one enemy with your .22, take his weapon and ammo, and go to town.

The foregoing sermon was not specifically intended to promote the purchase of ammo in a way that generates ammo-buying power on my part too, but now that I think of it ...

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

A Corollary to "Don't Steal -- the Government Hates Competition"

"Law enforcement" is shorthand for "the officially approved versions of looting and rioting."

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Thanks For Asking! -- 06/02/20

Oh yeah? Really?

Yes, really.

Ask Me Anything in the comments below this post and I'll answer in comments, in a separate blog post, or maybe even by secret carrier spy pigeon.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Why I'm Not Blogging Much

I don't know, really. The spirit just ain't been moving.

Part of it is being busy with silly internal Libertarian Party stuff, which mostly but not always manifests via Facebook.

For example, yesterday, the platform committee had an online meeting.

There was a motion (in effect, not in these words) for the committee to re-constitute itself as a party caucus for the purpose of promoting the committee chair's view on particular issues of internal party governance.

I objected that the motion was out of order (it was).

The chair ruled that it was in order (she was wrong).

I appealed the ruling of the chair.

The body (incorrectly) upheld the chair's ruling.

But then the body voted against the motion to abandon its job and re-launch itself as a party governance caucus.

So it's all good, I guess.

But yeah, that kind of thing has been using up a lot of my time.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Platform Committee -- and National Convention -- Update

Earlier today, the Libertarian National Committee voted to:

  1. Invoke the "impossibility" clause in its convention contract with the JW Marriott in Austin Texas; and
  2. Postpone the 2020 Libertarian National Convention to a place to be determined, and an opening date no later than July 15; and
  3. Adjourn their e-meeting to next Saturday to consider options for that move.
It is my opinion that the LNC had no authority to do (2) above, and that it is now operating outside the scope of its bylaws. Others disagree, but that IS my opinion.

It is my further opinion that a bylaws-compliant 2020 Libertarian National Convention could not plausibly take place in meatspace by July 15, or for that matter by the bylaws deadline of August 31, even if the LNC did have the authority to reschedule.

That leaves two options:

  1. Call the whole thing off and let the LNC nominate a presidential ticket (and itself serve for another two years apart from resignations or, in the case of regional reps, replacement by the state parties in their regions); or
  2. Hold some kind of "online convention."
In a previous post, I supported option (1) and explained why I think option (2) would be a train wreck.

I won't say I have changed my mind exactly, but I'm leaning more and more toward (2) on both practical grounds and for reasons of "legitimacy" considerations.

Since we are operating beyond the scope of the bylaws already,  I'm not that worried about bylaws considerations.

But I do think we should get a presidential ticket nominated ASAP -- around the time the original convention was scheduled to take place -- rather than continue to kick the can down the road pretending that a "meatspace" convention is likely.

And I also think the party's members would be happier if they saw that nomination take place by delegate vote rather than by LNC "vacancy-filling."

Just to be clear, this is an advocacy AGAINST INTEREST:

If we have a "meatspace" convention, I plan to go, and although I am only a lowly alternate, I expect that attendance will be low enough that I will end up being seated as a full delegate.

If we have an "online" convention, there's no damn way I get a delegate seat.

Furthermore, an "online" convention is much less likely to get any platform work done. It will be removed from the agenda in favor of doing nominations/elections and getting things over with. I think the platform committee has done really good work, I am proud of my part in that work, and I would prefer to see that work considered by delegates in convention assembled.

But I don't think we should continue fucking around pretending that a "meatspace" convention is likely to happen.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I'm Pretty Sure I've Pledged Before to Never Run for Vice-President Again ...

But I'm doing it anyway, for REASONS. Wouldn't be much of a politician if I didn't lie now and again, would I?

Some people announce their political candidacies with tweets, but I aspire to a higher standard of professionalism. I announced my candidacy for the Libertarian Party's 2020 vice-presidential nomination in a Facebook post that's too boring to even bother linking to.

So far the only campaign promise I have made is to demand a recount if nominated.

I have expressly REFUSED to promise not to use mescaline while on duty if nominated and elected.

My campaign platform is Guns and Dope Party Position Paper #23.

Guinness Book of World Records busk: So far as I know, I'm the first person to seek the vice-presidential nominations of three different political parties (exclusively, as opposed to fusion propositions) in three different election cycles.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Folk Songs Evolve

In 1931, the Carter Family recorded "Can't Feel at Home":

Not finding any claim to the contrary on a quick search, I'm going to assume that this is one of A.P Carter's "found songs," a traditional hymn that was made famous by, but not written by, the Carters.

Close to a decade later, Woody Guthrie offered his take on the song, "Ain't Got No Home," on the Dust Bowl Ballads album:

It's been 80 years, so I'd say about time for an update! Same simple chord progression as its two predecessors. I might get around to recording it myself at some point, and if so I know the results will be as lo-fi as the preceding versions.

by Thomas L. Knapp
CC0 Public Domain Dedication, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be might good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern.

We've been ordered to stay in and to stop a-roamin' round
It's not like there's much open if we make it into town
Can't go to see a movie, a barber, or a whore,
No, we can't leave our homes in this world anymore

We've had to give up working except for the essential
Like busting up block parties or play-acting presidential
Turns out that unemployment is really quite a chore
But we can't leave our homes in this world anymore

When my hometown re-opens I'm heading for the bar
To suck down sudsy beverages and hear some folk guitar
The politicians say they saved our lives but I'm not sure
And I will not let them keep me in my home anymore

A Brief Platform Committee Update

Hey, everyone ...

I've lost track of what I've kept y'all informed of and what I haven't, BUT:

The big question at the moment is "will we even be having a convention this year, and if so will that convention take up platform committee proposals.

The Libertarian National Committee will meet on May 2nd to discuss options, which I'm given to believe include:

  1. Having the convention as scheduled, Memorial Day weekend, in Austin;
  2. Pushing the convention back to the 4th of July time frame, and possibly moving it (Vegas sounds like the strongest candidate for that option)
  3. Having a "virtual" convention of some kind; or
  4. Not having the convention at all -- the LNC picks a presidential ticket and its members serve until the 2022 convention (unless, as seems likely, some of them choose to resign and the body fills its own vacancies)
My preference is for #1; failing that, I support #4. We can talk about why in the comments if anyone is interested, but the short version is that #2 looks just as likely to get pranged as #1, and that an online convention with 1,046 delegates would be a technical nightmare, especially in the absence of bylaws written specifically to enable one. So my attitude is either "do it as planned if possible; otherwise, don't fuck around, just cancel."

A few days ago, my flight to Austin was canceled by the airline. It had already been bumped once and that bump would have caused me to miss the one physical meeting the platform committee had planned. If we do try to meet in Austin, I'll do my best to find a way there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A Couple of Opinions About Movies

Opinion One: Movie theaters were dying before the COVID-19 panic, and they're probably dead now. I'm not happy about that, but I think it's true.

Opinion Two: Since Opinion One means streaming is going to be the new default release model, it's time to talk about prices. In my view, the highest reasonable price is $10 to rent a new release movie. I'm not saying that's what the market will settle on, just that I think it's what's reasonable.

Thus endeth the two opinions, but here's the TL:DR on my $10 price assertion:

The average price of a movie theater ticket as of mid-2019 was a little under $10.

The studio/theater split of ticket revenues is about 60/40.

I wasn't able to (easily) find a statistic on the average theater viewing group size, but I think two is a reasonable assumption. That is, there are some individuals who go to movies at a theater, and there are some families, school groups, etc., who go to movies at a theater, but on average, it's probably two people (married or dating couples, etc.) who go to see a movie together.

I also wasn't able to find any stats on the average streaming group size, but I'm going to assert that it's probably lower. Still lots of couples and a certain amount of family/friend-group streaming, but the the single-viewer component is probably higher.

So, if we want the studio to gross as much on a movie at home as it did at the theater, $12 sounds about right. That's the equivalent of two ticket sales.

BUT: There's probably a lot less overhead of various kinds with release-to-stream than with release-to-theater.

AND: If everything is direct to stream, there's a lot more competition. Instead of "there are 4/8/16 films playing here, which one do we want to watch?" it's "there are 50 new releases this week and the entire catalog of past releases to choose from, which one do we want to watch." And competition should drive prices down.

So I think $10 to rent a new release is about right.

What I've seen so far in the COVID-19 panic is studios renting new releases for $20 a pop when they normally sell for that three months after release. I don't think that's going to fly in the market for very long. People will just wait and spend the same $20 for a keeper instead of a loaner.

Friday, April 10, 2020

About That There Acumen for Predictions ...

Me on March 20th: "The number of dead [in the US from COVID-19] will be closer to 200 than to 200,000." I was responding to a guy who was predicting a minimum of 200,000 and possibly as many as 2 million. I think the discussion is pretty interesting.

In order for me to be correct, there would have to be fewer than 100,100 COVID-19 deaths.

Now, there's one easy way for me to be wrong on this, and that way is by assuming that the prediction is not limited in time. Which you're free to do, because I was not careful in stating the claim. And my guess is that COVID-19 will be killing people for years to come and eventually pass the 200k mark in the US.

In MOST places where I've discussed COVID-19 fatalities in the US, I have been more specific, and time-limited my predictions to the period between January 21, 2020 (the official "first case" finding) and December 31, 2020.

Anyway, the DC set have been substantially walking back their own predictions, while trying to take credit for the numbers being lower than their predictions. And as of today, the word is "Trump says US headed to death toll 'substantially below' 100k."

Note: I did make an early bet that the US death toll in that time frame would be less than 10k. I was obviously wrong on that one.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

As Surely as the Sun Rises in the East ...

... the politicians and bureaucrats who neither anticipated nor responded in a non-brain-damaged way to the COVID-19 pandemic will afterward congratulate themselves on how essential they are and assure us that given more money and power, they won't blow it nearly as badly next time.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Geez, What a Bunch of Whiners

All kinds of "essential" workers -- everyone from medical personnel to truck drivers to grocery store cashiers to fast food cooks -- are going to work every day while the politicians and media scream at them that THEY'RE ALL GONNA DIE unless the politicians "do something."

But when it comes to doing something -- something abysmally stupid, but something, namely the biggest single welfare handout in human history -- those same politicians consider it some kind of rude imposition to insist that they follow their own quorum rules, and those same media are calling Thomas Massie's stated intention to require them to do so (by forcing a roll call vote instead of a voice vote) a "threat."

Yo, congresscritters:

You claim this is an emergency of epic proportions that only you in your wisdom and holiness can address. So why aren't you already in Washington addressing it, then?

Are you not as "essential" as all those other people who are doing their fucking jobs?*

If you don't want to be members of Congress anymore, stop whining and resign. That way your states' governors can appoint replacements who may not be any better but who are at least won't throw a hissy fit about having to, you know, show up for work.


Monday, March 23, 2020

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/23/20

It's been longer than it should have been. Hi-o Silver, away.

Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post, and I'll answer in comments, in a stand-alone post, or in some other format. If COVID-19 doesn't get me first, that is.

Why I'm Not Blogging THAT Much This Month


No, not because I have it. I don't know if I have it or not, or if I've already had it. Since 80% of cases are asymptomatic and 15% are sub-clinical (i.e. not bad enough that a normal person would go to the doctor over it), I don't really have any way of knowing absent a test that's not easily available to me and that I'm not particularly interested in taking.

COVID-19 is responsible due to the fact that it's crowded almost everything else out of the news and just isn't that interesting for this format.

It's OK for instant-outraged-response social media talk.

If I'm going to keep writing three op-eds a week, they're mostly going to be that for a little while since there's not much else on the news radar.

But here, it would mostly just be boring filler. And I try to avoid that.

The Politicians Keep Saying We Need to Move Faster Than Italy Did. I Agree.

Mussolini e Petacci a Piazzale Loreto, 1945
Benito Mussolini and friends

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Hmm -- Apparently GEICO Got the Results of My Brother's Test ...

... which says we have some Ashkenazi Jewish DNA in our family tree.

Email subject line:

((Kubby.communications)): Check to see if you qualify for better car insurance

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

John Yoo, as Usual, is Wrong

Yoo at National Review:

Last week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized an investigation of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by U.S., Afghan, and Taliban troops in Afghanistan, as well as by CIA black sites operated in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania. While the prosecution will likely fail, it represents another effort by a global elite -- consisting of European governments, international organizations, and their supporting interest groups, academics, and activists -- to threaten American sovereignty.

Exactly backward.

The decision by a government to ratify (or not ratify) the Rome Statute and put its territory and its people under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (or not do so) is an exercise of "national sovereignty."

For the US to send personnel into Afghanistan, Poland, Lithuania, or Romania, and to deny that those countries' rules, including ICC jurisdiction, apply to those personnel, is a denial of those countries' "national sovereignties."

The ICC has no jurisdiction over US personnel in the US. If it claims such jurisdiction absent US ratification of the Rome Statute, then there will be a "US national sovereignty" issue. Investigating the actions of US actors in ICC jurisdictions is no more at threat to "US national sovereignty" than is an Egyptian cop arresting an American tourist for drunk and disorderly at the Great Pyramid.

Monday, March 16, 2020

A Little More Perspective

As of today, CDC reports that the COVID-19 virus has killed 68 Americans (since January 21 when a case was first noticed in the US).

Also according to CDC, that's fewer Americans than heart disease and cancer each kill every hour of every day all year long.

Funny, thing though: I never see news stories about people rushing the stores to empty the shelves of Metamucil and nicotine patches.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Little Perspective

As I write this, Bing's "COVID-19 Tracker" says there are 3,324 total confirmed cases in the United States.

The population of the United States is 327.17 million.

So the confirmed total case count in the US comes to just a smidgen more than one one thousandth of one percent.

Yes, the actual infection rate is certainly higher than the confirmed case rate.

But part of the reason for that is that there are a crap ton of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases that never get reported. The "not bad enough to bother seeing a doctor about and getting confirmed" rate may be as high as 80%.

The actual mortality rate is probably a full order of magnitude lower than the 2.x%-3.x% claim being thrown around.

As of Friday, there had been a total of 41 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the US according to CDC.

Influenza kills 60 people every day (more, actually -- 22,000 is the CDC's low-end estimate for deaths during the 2019-2020 flu season, and I'm pretending the season is a whole year long instead of just a few months long).

COVID-19 is nothing to sneeze at -- really, sneezing isn't one of the symptoms -- but it's nothing to panic about either.


I'm cited right next to Alan Dershowitz in an Albany Law Review article. I'll have to remember that next time someone asks me what my qualification is to argue with Dershowitz's claims.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Non Sequitur

Someone told me today that the COVID-19 epidemic proves the US needs some form of universal socialized healthcare -- "Medicare For All," or single payer,  or whatever.


Q: In what countries is the outbreak seemingly doing the most damage?

A: China, Iran, and Italy.

Q: What kinds of healthcare systems do those countries have?

A: Highly socialized healthcare systems.

It seems to me that things would have to get a lot worse here than they are in China, Iran, and Italy before we could consider the outbreak to constitute evidence that the US needs to make its healthcare system even more like the healthcare systems of China, Iran, and Italy than it already is.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Online Convention? Not So Fast ...

Given the COVID-19 hysteria, and especially government moves to limit travel, ban large events, etc., I've heard a number of people suggest that instead of convening in Austin, Texas over Memorial Day weekend, the Libertarian Party should hold its 2020 national convention online.

I'm not against the idea of online conventions in general, or on principle. In fact, I organized and chaired the first (so far as I know) entirely online gavel-to-gavel national convention of a political party in history.

But let's compare that convention and a prospective online Libertarian National Convention.

The Boston Tea Party's 2006 convention ended up having 30 delegates. The Libertarian Party's national conventions have more than a thousand (and an equal number of alternates).

The Boston Tea Party's 2006 convention was conducted ... asynchronously ... via text posting and simple online polling. The Libertarian Party's national conventions, if held online, would more likely take place in real time with extensive use of live video conferencing and frequent, immediate voting.

The Boston Tea Party's original interim bylaws were written with online conventions in mind. The Libertarian Party's bylaws were written for, and have continuously evolved to facilitate, meatspace conventions, and its parliamentary authority, Robert's, is still pretty much stuck in the meatspace paradigm as well.

And even the tiny Boston Tea Party convention had credentialing/voting security problems. For example, we detected individuals creating multiple memberships from the same IP address and trying to cast multiple votes in polls.

Any transition from meatspace to electronic conventions is going to take quite a while to get right, and it's going to depend on meatspace conventions to pass the bylaws/rules changes required to get it right.

Any transition from meatspace to electronic conventions is also going to require careful consideration of what conferencing and voting software to use. LP committees currently use Zoom, which is proprietary and which might, just barely, be able to handle the number of participants in question. The open source offerings I've found so far don't come close to accommodating 1,000+ delegates, and open source software is preferable since you can't really trust code that can onlyy be examined by its seller.

Neither Zoom nor those open source offerings seem to be set up to facilitate secure identification/credentialing of delegates, or secure, verifiable voting. That's just not what they're FOR.

And the bylaws deadline for the convention is the end of August.

Without the bylaws provisions and technical infrastructure already in place, any attempt to move the convention online is almost certain to be a fiasco.

I suggest we muddle through this as best we can. Try to have the convention as planned; if it's just not physically possible, forgo a 2020 convention entirely, let the Libertarian National Committee fill the "vacancies" in the presidential slate, re-boot in 2022, and get to work on how to do online conventions and do them right.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Update -- My Libertarian National Convention Plans

Hey, everyone ...

I hope you've noticed that I haven't hit you up for as much help, or done so as often, this year as I did in 2018 vis a vis serving on the Libertarian Party's platform committee and attending its national convention.

That doesn't mean I don't want your help, it just means I've been economizing as best possible and haven't HAD to ask yet. Here's an update:

- I purchased the lowest level of convention package this year ($79).

- The platform committee voted NOT to have a physical meeting before the convention, which would have entailed ~$500 in travel and lodging costs. Pursuant to my pledge to do so, I donated $100 to the Libertarian Party in lieu of said costs.

- I just booked my flights. Sort of. The devil is in the details.

- THE DETAILS: So far, I've spent $90.35 for the bare-bones round-trip flying experience. Flying out of Orlando to Austin on JetBlue the evening of May 20th (the platform committee meeting meets the morning of the 21st as the convention opens), flying back on American the morning of May 26th (the convention ends on the 25th, but no telling how late). That was the combination of "best timing for the lowest price" that I found.

- THE DEVIL: Because I booked through a third party site (Priceline), the fare didn't include any carry-on or checked baggage other than a "personal item." You're supposed to add that via the airline after booking. And oh, how I have tried. Apparently I'm going to have to wait until 24 hours before each flight and add bags when "checking in" via phone. And if that doesn't work, they'll presumably rape me for extra "adding a bag at the airport" fees. IF adding bags at check-in works (or if either airline replies to my "WTF, little help here" messages, the baggage total should be about $70 (one checked bag each way; I probably need more than a carry-on, but I don't need both). I would have flown Allegiant -- avoiding this aggravation AND getting my bags for free as a "veterans' benefit" -- but their flight days from Tampa to Austin just didn't fit the schedule.

- Once I get to Austin, I'll be winging it on lodging. I've been donating $25 a month to the Povertarian Caucus so that I won't feel like I'm taking advantage of anyone if I crash in the caucus suite because I don't run into any other roommmate opportunities.

By my reckoning, all of the above comes in at well under $500. Of course, I expect $100 in Uber/Lyft costs, and I intend to eat while I'm in Austin, and I may be forgetting a thing or two.

I think the whole shebang is going to run $600-$700, $800 if I really treat myself luxuriously (I've always wondered how much hotel room service would charge to fill a bathtub with ice cream and hot fudge ...),  quite a bit of which has already been covered by a generous cryptocurrency donor and by my decision to stop smoking. But I do appreciate any help you might want to sent my way -- see the sidebar for support links!

I am Not an Investment Advisor and This is Not Investment Advice

But if I was an investment advisor, and if I was offering investment advice, my advice would be to buy stocks  (in a diversified way, e.g. index funds) right now while the general market is down and in panic.

Ain't rocket science:

If civilization collapses your cash isn't worth anything anyway, so why bother holding it tightly? (Yes, having some gold and silver put back is a good idea too).

If civilization doesn't collapse, the market will come back, and when it does most of those stocks will sell for more than they did a week ago and a damn sight more than they're selling for today.

I'm not a big investor myself, but I've deposited a few extra tens of dollars above and beyond the usual in a retirement investment account this week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Libertarian Party Platform Committee Electronic Meeting Tonight

More information on the agenda, and details on how to watch or listen to the meeting, here.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Notes to Ronan Farrow and Hachette Book Group

To Farrow: This is not the correct meaning of the expression "bury the Hachette," you back-stabbing sociopath.

To HBG: You're a book publisher. The employees who walked out to protest against you publishing a book ought to be sent off to find jobs they're better suited to, and you should publish the damn book.

One Way to Tell ...

... that something is almost certain to be among the dumbest things I've read this week is when a site that normally allows commenting decides to not allow comments on that particular thing.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

A Sixth Theory

"What Happened to Elizabeth Warren?" Elaine Godfrey asks at The Atlantic, before offering five different theories explained/supported by five different public figures.

Here's the one they left out:

6. The longer her campaign dragged on, the more apparent it became to everyone watching that everything Elizabeth Warren says or does is only and entirely for the benefit of Elizabeth Warren. Stories not being true, numbers not adding up, etc., don't matter as long as the lies advance Elizabeth Warren's  career or political aspirations or pad her checking account. At some point, enough voters caught on to her self-serving authoritarian dishonesty that they went looking for someone else -- at the very least a better liar -- to believe in.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Q: Who Won the Democratic Party's Super Tuesday Primaries?

A: Donald Trump.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Post-November-2020 To-Write-or-Build List

Declaration of Pan-Independence
Constitution (Global Transitional Administration/Global Basic Law)
Registry of Unanimous Consent Polities
Registry of Political Membership Bureaus
Registry of Arbitration and Mediation Providers

Anything I'm missing vis a vis the documentation framework for dissolution of the Westphalian Model in favor of de Puydt style panarchy?

Monday, March 02, 2020

In a Sane, but Polite, Society ...

People like Christian Klossner would be given a few days' notice to leave town, change their names, find productive employment, etc., before sanctions ascending over time from mere ostracism to serious and substantial bounties on their scalps started getting promulgated.

A very few days' notice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Quick Libertarian Platform Committee Update

The Libertarian Party's platform committee recently passed (by email ballot) this recommendation, which I supported but initially considered doomed to fail:

Add new Plank 2.5 as follows:

As we oppose all government intervention in marketplaces, we favor the repeal of intellectual property laws. Disputes between inventors, creators, authors, artists, businesses and other such entities should be resolved without government intervention.

My similar initial view is that the convention delegates are unlikely to pass the committee's recommendation. But I'm glad the LP is finally starting to wrestle with the notion of "intellectual property." We'll get to discuss it on the floor, assuming it's early enough in the committee's report for the delegates to actually get to (at present, the convention agenda only allows two hours for platform business, because non-business dog and pony shows take priority over the party's actual work with the convention committee).

The committee has its first electronic meeting tonight from 7pm-9pm Mountain Time (yes, you're all invited to watch if you're really that hard up for entertainment). The information, not all of which I understand:
Meeting ID: 307 741 855

One tap mobile
+16465588656,,307741855# US (New York)
+16699009128,,307741855# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 307 741 855

Hard to Believe ...

... how little I've blogged this month.

For that matter, I basically took a week off of doing anything but the absolute minimum.

Got a painful ear infection that made it difficult to concentrate (the antibiotics haven't finished it off yet, but they're working on it).

Also, I quit smoking at right about the same time (ten days ago).

I'm not sure what the ear infection / non-smoking ratio of grouchiness and complete exhaustion is, but I do think I'm starting to come out of it.

NB: I don't know if Chantix works for everyone, but it's working for me. Except for the vivid dreams part. I was hoping for vivid dreams, but if I'm having them I'm not remembering them. On the "suppresses nicotine cravings" end, it's great stuff. I used a patch for the first couple of days, and have had a nicotine lozenge every day or two, but 90%+ of the time, I don't even miss the cancer sticks.

Hopefully I'll be completely back in the saddle by the end of the week.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Oren Cass Gets It

Via James Hohmann at WaPo:

"When you had a situation where the free market was delivering the social outcomes that conservatives most prized, libertarians and conservatives tended to agree,” [Cass] said. “What we've seen more recently is a growing understanding that the market does not necessarily in all cases deliver a set of social outcomes that conservatives prize.”

Or, to put it a different way, libertarianism and conservatism are not and never have been allies as such.

Libertarianism is a river that always flows in a particular direction (toward a future of freedom) on principle.

Conservatism is an improvised beaver dam of pragmatism built to block/contain that river.

Every so often, the dam breaks and conservatives yell "see, we're going in the same direction!" as they float down the river helplessly until they can get their acts together to start their blocking operation again.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

"Fractured and divisive contest for the nomination"

That's WaPo for "Bernie's winning."

The results in Iowa and New Hampshire aren't that dissimilar from 2008 or 2004.

The difference is that in 2004 and 2008, only reasonably party-establishment-approved candidates were putting up the winning or near-winning numbers.

If the vote totals for Sanders and Buttigieg in New Hampshire were reversed, WaPo would be crowing about how Buttigieg is "uniting the party."

Brief Platform Committee Update

The Libertarian Party's platform committee has finished voting by email ballot and the following proposal has passed:

Amend Plank 3.4 as follows:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.

The committee is currently voting on the following proposal, and it looks pretty good for passage:

Add new Plank 2.5 as follows:

As we oppose all government intervention in marketplaces, we favor the repeal of intellectual property laws. Disputes between inventors, creators, authors, artists, businesses and other such entities should be resolved without government intervention.

Looks like we've got a nicely radical committee this year! Of course, passage of these proposals is up to the larger body of delegates to the national convention, but we're certainly going to be giving them some things to discuss.

We STILL haven't decided on whether to have a meatspace meeting between now and national convention time (I'd like to get that settled one way or the other ASAP -- if the answer is "yes," air fare and lodging costs go up every day we delay setting a time/place).

In fact, we haven't even scheduled our first "e-meeting" yet.

My personal opinion is that almost all of our work could be done more efficiently by email, but I'm in the minority on that. Most people want at LEAST some Internet-based conferencing.

Monday, February 10, 2020

OK, Time for an Either an Oscar Consolidation or an Oscar Exclusion

Last night, Parasite became the first non-English-language film to win the "Best Picture" Academy Award.

It also won several other Oscars, including "Best International Feature Film," the award for "a feature-length motion picture produced outside the United States with a predominantly non-English dialogue track." That Oscar used to be called "Best Foreign Language Film."

The awards should either be consolidated or exclude each other.

That is, now that it's been established that a foreign-language and/or foreign-produced film can win "Best Picture," the academy could get rid of the "Best International Feature Film" category as redundant.

Or, if Parasite is consider an outlier and it really isn't time to get rid of a special category for "foreign films," it could allow a film to be nominated for one or the other, but not both.

I haven't seen Parasite, so I don't know if it really was the best picture in either category. But if e.g. The Irishman and Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood weren't eligible for both categories, Parasite shouldn't have been either.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Blog Bleg

I don't recall making any big changes to this blog lately, but all of a sudden it loads verrrrrrrrrrry slowly for me (in multiple browsers, on multiple OSes).

Anyone else having the same problem? Anyone have an idea as to why?

FreedomPop is Dead, Long Live Ting

A couple of years ago, we got Tamara signed up with FreedomPop, which seemed like a pretty good cell phone deal ($79 per year of phone/text/limited data, decent price on a refurbished Samsung S5 phone).

It turned out to be kinda crappy -- the "phone/text" part of the deal was actually VOIP, which used your data unless you were connected to Wi-Fi, etc. Tamara usually ended up spending another $10 a month on data because of that, and half the time the damn thing didn't seem to be able to find a tower or whatever.

A few months ago, we received notice that her service was being transferred from FreedomPop to a company called Ting (yes, that is a referral link, and if you're looking for inexpensive cell/data, I suggest you use it see below).

Now she's paying $10 a month plus tax ($11.74 total) for real cell phone/text and a gigabyte of data (she hasn't had to buy additional data yet). The service always seems to work and she's had no complaints.

Well, one complaint, but not with Ting -- her S5 took a dirt nap, and she has to get a new phone. She's getting a Motorola Moto G6 from Ting for a hundred bucks.

If you use that there referral link to go with Ting, you get $25 credit and she gets a referral spiff.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

I Can Name that GOP Impeachment "Trial" Tune in One Word


Friday, January 31, 2020

The Libertarian Party's Platform Committee is Voting ...

... by email ballot on its first recommendation, to amend platform plank 3.4 (Free Trade and Migration) as follows:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.

Current wording of the plank is in plain text. Words proposed for removal are in red with a strike-thru. There aren't any proposed additions or other modifications on this ballot.

Other, possibly repetitious, updates (aka things I don't remember if I mentioned before):

  • Caryn Ann Harlos was elected permanent chair of the committee by email ballot.
  • We're in the process of nominations for secretary.
  • We're still discussing whether to have a pre-convention meatspace meeting. Sentiment seems to be running against, with something like $1,300 pledged by committee members as donations to the LP if we don't have such  meeting. I'm in for $100 of that, as it would probably save me (and, therefore, those of you who support my work on this) at least $500.
You can follow the committee's email deliberations here.

Cross-Platform Coolness and Difficult Decisions

I'm still messing around trying to get Linux to support my preferred dual monitor setup.

In Linux Mint, switching from USB --> DVI to straight VGA gets that second monitor running, but it just mirrors the first one and the OS doesn't detect two monitors. That may be my fault: I screwed around with proprietary drivers and messed something up (Linux Mint keeps telling me that there's a problem, that hardware graphics handling has been turned off, to check the driver manager ... and the driver manager tells me there's no problem, round and round we go). So ...

... as I write this post, I'm burning an ISO of Kubuntu to a USB drive to see if that will work out better (or at least more easily).

But what I'm actually thinking about while that ISO burns (actually, it just got done), is a secondary consideration I had in getting a new machine.

The primary consideration was that a dual core processor and 4Gb of RAM was starting to feel insufficient based on a silly benchmark of mine: If the web-based game "Forge of Empires" strains my resources, time to upgrade. So I did, and going straight PC made more sense (both financially and in terms of CPU/RAM available) than sticking with the Chromebooks/Chromeboxes I've been using exclusively for eight years now.

The secondary consideration was "maybe I should seize the opportunity to get away from relying on Google."

When I became a ChromeOS fanboy, "cross-platform" seemed mostly notional, except maybe for Java apps.

But now, web-based apps make it all easy. And Google Chrome makes web-based apps easy.

To put it a different way, back in the old days if I switched platforms, I needed to choose, install, configure, and learn to properly use new text editors and such. Now I can use my preferred apps (in text editors, those would be Writebox and Caret) on any machine that runs Chrome or Chromium. The last few days, I've been doing that in Windows 10. Once I get Linux running, I can do it there, too.

Not having to change things up is easy!

But I kind of wanted to change things up. Dump Gmail. Dump Google Drive. Dump Chrome. Goodbye Google. Etc.

And I still may do that, if the utter convenience doesn't seduce me.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

So the New Computer Arrived ...

... and I'm blogging atcha from it.

Unfortunately, I'm doing so on Windows 10. Linux Mint doesn't like my "run the second monitor via USB and a DVI adapter" setup. So I'm going to have to get a VGA cable, etc. and get that taken care of.

But a very nice machine!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Brief Libertarian Party Platform Committee Update

Election of the permanent committee chair (by email ballot) is ongoing.

So is discussion of whether to hold a physical meeting prior to the party's national convention in May.

Here's a publicly viewable archive of the committee's email discussions.

And here's an email I just sent pursuant to that discussion:

I've seen two main arguments offered for an in-person meeting.

The first is that more can get done in a shorter period of time because of time limits built into the agenda (and into venue reservation times, people's travel plans, etc.) and a hypothetical sense of urgency created by those time limits.

While e-meetings do lack the sense of urgency because no one is going to miss a plane and the venue isn't going to kick us out, they do have agenda-based time limit functions which the chair enforces unless the body chooses to extend time.

Email work has a hard time limit once email balloting begins, and both prior to and during the balloting, each member is free to spend as much or as little time as he or she wants considering or debating the proposal.

So I don't find that argument persuasive.

The second is a more motivational/personal kind of thing -- that in-person meetings are conducive to the members "gelling" as a working group, learning to work and play well together.

I DO find that argument persuasive as far as it goes, but I'd offer two counter-arguments to consider:

1) We are not a long-term body. About four months from now, we will cease to exist as a group. It's not like we have to get along for the next 20 years to get our job done. I'm as irascible as anyone "in this room," and I'm pretty sure that I can get through the next four months without killing any of my fellow committee members.I'm also pretty sure that any work-related conflicts are going to happen whether we have a physical meeting or not. The only difference there is that in email or e-meetings, any of you with a sudden and uncontrollable committee-work-related urge to throw a cup of hot Starbucks at someone or something won't be able to throw it at ME.

2) While I do love you all, even the ones I don't know well yet, a physical meeting entails considerable expense, including but not limited to possible venue rental, document printing, etc. (does LPHQ cover that?), and probably at LEAST several hundred dollars in personal travel/lodging/food spending, not to mention time wasted getting from Point A to Point B and back, by most or all members of the committee. I knew that such an expense was a possibility when I applied for the committee. I managed that expense last time, and if necessary I'll do it this time. But as a matter of costs versus benefits, I just don't consider it a wise use of either party or individual resources.

So, Who Do I Call to Arrange My Surrender?

I encourage anyone and everyone who wants to come to the United States in search of work and/or safety to do so, and to stay in/reside here for however long they might damn well please, whether the US government says they can or not.

According to 8 U.S. Code § 1324, saying the above puts me on the hook for five years in prison.

Actually, ten years, because part of my purpose for offering such encouragement is "commercial advantage or private financial gain" -- immigration improves the economy in general, and thus supports my own prosperity.

In theory, I could even be imprisoned for life or executed if a death is somehow linked to my encouragement of immigration. For example, if an ICE/Border Patrol gang member murders an immigrant who was encouraged by me to come here, or if one of the ICE/Border Patrol thugs is killed in self-defense by one of his or her victims.

The Ninth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals rightly struck down the "encouragement" provision on First Amendment grounds, but I live outside the Ninth Circuit, and the Trump regime is appealing that correct ruling to the US Supreme Court anyway.

I'm far from confident that SCOTUS will uphold the First Amendment -- let alone Article I, Section 9, Article V, and the Tenth Amendment, which would make the case moot since they combine to forbid federal regulation of immigration -- so I may be looking at some hard time here.

No problem, but can we do this arrest thing in an orderly manner, sans snipers, helicopters, dogs, etc.? I'll peacefully bring myself to any reasonably convenient surrender point on demand and save y'all the trip.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Hillary Clinton on Bernie Sanders, Wrong and Right

Wrong: "Nobody likes him."

Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in 23 of 57 Democratic presidential primaries, knocking down 43.1% of the total national Democratic primary vote, in 2016. Apparently some people like him.

Right: "He was a career politician."

He's spent the last 38 years in, or briefly out of while running for, political office -- the last 28 of them in Congress. So yeah, he's the very definition of a career politician.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Yep, BTC is Still a Train Wreck

I've had a "standard fee" transaction sitting in mempool for more than four hours.

Yeah, I know that BCH has fewer transactions to handle on its blockchain. And that BTC actually seems to be running a slightly lower average block time. But anecdotally, I haven't had a BCH transaction take more than a few minutes, ever, that I can remember.

Crypto needs to be finding ways to confirm in seconds, not minutes, to fill a "medium of exchange" function.

Without that function (in addition to "store of value" and "unit of account"), there's no use case for regular people doing regular commerce. And that's the use case I want.

This Morning's Ridiculous Impeachment Claim

Per CNN:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to give House impeachment managers and President Donald Trump's legal team each 24 hours divided over two days for their opening arguments in the Senate's impeachment trial, a move that indicates Senate Republicans are pushing to finish the trial as quickly as possible ...

Emphasis mine.

The purpose of "opening arguments" -- actually "opening statements" -- in a trial is for the prosecution to describe what they're accusing the defendant of and summarize how they intend to prove it, and for the defense to describe why the prosecution is full of beans and summarize how they plan to show that.

One hour for each side might be a little short. Much more than that -- more than, say, splitting one eight-hour work day between the two sides -- isn't about opening statements, it's about intentionally dragging things out.

If the Democratic impeachment managers are smart, they'll wrap their opening statement up in less than two hours, making it clear that they have a slam-dunk case that they don't need 24 hours to summarize, then let the Republicans be the ones who bore America to death with two 12-hour days full of nothing but whining about how unfair it all is.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Linux Distro Bleg

The new computer is on the way.

I may keep Windoze 10 on it just so I can play some old games (I miss Starcraft now and again), but I'll certainly want to turn it into a dual-boot box and do most things in Linux.

But it's been ages since I've had to choose a Linux distribution, and never for a PC this loaded. So I'm looking for recommendations.

The CPU is a quad-core AMD 5500B, operating at up to 3.7GHz. It's got 16Gb of RAM, and I'm pretty sure it can support up to 32Gb if I ever want to buy more.

One possible fly in the ointment: I'm pretty sure this machine comes with something called the "Trusted Platform Module (TPM 1.2) Security Chip." I recall hearing complaints -- or at least fears -- in the past that this and other "secure boot" schemes might not work and play well with some Linux distributions.

I've always preferred the KDE desktop to Gnome and other GUIs, but I'm not unwilling to abandon KDE if necessary to get a Linux installation that meets my needs in other respects. Which are, pretty much, browsing the web and editing text and support for at least two monitors (my current configuration is HDMI direct to one monitor, USB adapted to DVI on the other; I'll be trying to get the new one to work that way but with the HDMI adapted from DisplayPort); everything else optional.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Platform Committee and Libertarian National Convention Update

Hey, everyone -- I'm trying to get in the habit of updating y'all whenever there have been significant developments, and there have. Here they are:

  • The Libertarian Party's platform committee is beginning the process of electing its permanent chair by email ballot. The candidates are Caryn Ann Harlos of Colorado (who chaired the 2018 committee), former state legislator Laura Ebke of Nebraska, and Libertarian Party of Florida member (and former state vice-chair) Omar Recuero. I think any of these three would do a great job as chair, and will be happy to work with any of them, but I've endorsed Ms. Harlos for the simple reason that I've actually seen how she chairs platform committees and know she does a great job.
  • A straw poll of the committee on whether or not to hold an in-person meeting between now and the party's national convention went ever so slightly in favor of "no." That doesn't mean there won't be such a meeting, and if there is I plan to attend (and to request your financial assistance to do so).
  • Until today, when she finally made up her mind for certain not to, I was hoping that my wife, Tamara, would attend the national convention in Austin with me. That's bad, but it does have up sides, one of them being that instead of finding a distant and cheaper hotel room for two, I'll either find equally budget-conscious roommates or impose myself on the Povertarian Caucus's "hospitality suite," saving some money and some daily commute time (I've set up a $20 per month donation to the Povertarian Caucus with the latter eventuality in mind).
  • I haven't purchased my convention package ... yet. But I have cryptocurrency set aside to buy the $79 "training only" package, and plan to do so in the next few days. I always try to buy a package (unless the LNC decides to impose a "floor fee," in which case that's all they get out of me). Last time, a donor made it possible for me to by a "bronze" (I think) package, but this time I'm going the cheaper route simply because a reception and a breakfast don't strike me as worth an additional $100 given my likely busy schedule.
  • I won't be able to attend the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania's state convention, but if they have any unfilled seats, hopefully an LPPA member "living abroad" and there anyway for platform committee will be welcomed. Otherwise, I'll ask around. I've never attended a national convention and not found a seat.
Hey -- I'm not hitting y'all up for assistance yet!

That doesn't mean I won't break out the begging bowl. There will be air fare and Uber costs for the convention, and of course travel and lodging costs if the platform committee does meet in the flesh before the convention. But, as I did last time, I will keep costs to an absolute minimum and only ask for the help I really, really need.

And that's your update.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

And the Winner of "Dumbest Thing Tom Knapp Read This Week" ...

... is clearly, and far and away, going to be Alan Dershowitz's howler at the Gatestone Institute. Quoth Dershowitz:

The Constitution allocates to the president sole authority over foreign policy (short of declaring war or signing a treaty). It does not permit Congress to substitute its foreign policy preferences for those of the president.

Naturally, Dershowitz leaves out any reference to precisely where the Constitution does something like that. Why? Because it doesn't.

According to the Constitution:

The president can negotiate treaties -- which become law if, and only if, the Senate approves them.

The president can appoint ambassadors and a Secretary of State -- who get to assume those positions if, and only if, the Senate approves them.

The president is commander in chief of the armed forces, but only when they're "called into the actual service of the United States." Which generally used to happen when Congress declared war.

Congress gets to "regulate commerce with foreign Nations."

Congress gets to "define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations."

Congress gets to "declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water."

Congress gets to "To provide for calling forth the Militia to ... repel Invasions."

And the president's use of money for foreign aid or any other purpose is only allowed "in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law," i.e. by Congress.

Yes, presidents have increasingly seized de facto control over US foreign policy, but nowhere in the Constitution is it so "allocated."

The "New Computer" Saga Continues ...

... but I think it's going to come out well.

Recap of my last post: I need a new computer. Dual-core CPU with 4Gb of RAM is starting to not be enough on the "Forge of Empires benchmark."

 I was looking at a Lenovo ThinkCentre M73 -- still dual-core but faster, with 8Gb of RAM, for about $140. Then came a timely donation and a price drop to $110. Ordered! through Purse (affiliate link).

But Purse is taking longer these days to pass through "standard 5% discount" orders.  At one time, that took minutes. Now it takes hours, sometimes days. And shortly after I placed the Purse order, the price on the machine went back up to $129.

So, I started looking, on the assumption (followed by communications to Purse) that since the BTC escrowed for the order wouldn't cover it, we're looking at a cancellation.

Hey! Newegg takes cryptocurrency! And I found a quad-core machine with 16Gb of RAM for only about $150 there!

OK, false alarm. Newegg takes crypto for items sold and shipped by Newegg, but not "marketplace" items from third party sellers/shippers.

So, back to Amazon. Which has the same machine, for about the same price, but with only 8Gb of RAM.

At this point, I've given up on a tiny form factor. And I've also set my sights higher. I want that 16Gb. And for only $50 more ...

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M78.

Quad-core 3.7GHz AMD CPU.

16Gb RAM.

500 Gb hard drive (I'm easy on drive space -- on my ChromeOS machines, I've never come close to filling the 16Gb SSD, and past hard drives are a similar story).

Since it's not a small form factor, it has an optical drive. Comes with keyboard, mouse, power cord, Bluetooth and WiFi adapters (not clear whether those are internal or USB, but the thing has two US 2.0 ports on the front plus six USB ports -- two 2.0 and four 3.0 -- on the rear), and the 1 year warranty and tech support are from "Amazon Renewed" instead of a third party.

So that's twice as many CPU scores (and at much higher speed) and four times the RAM I've ever had in my life.

ORDERED! (Again, through Purse).

The tradeoffs:

  1. I will presumably pay a slight premium in higher electric bills. Those little ChromeOS machines just don't draw much power at all compared to a full-size PC.
  2. The OS will presumably use more resources than ChromeOS. It comes with Windoze 10, which I expect to use little if at all (I might have to reinstall Starcraft; it's been ages). I'll turn it into a dual-boot box and use Linux most of the time.
  3. I think I already have the monitor set-up in hand -- I have a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter to connect to my main monitor, and a USB-to-DVI adapter fr the second -- but that's often one of those "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy" situations. There may be some cable/adapter purchases in my near future.
  4. I guess I'll have to make some room on or under my desk. My last two Chromeboxes were about the size of four packs of cigarettes, and my current "headless" Chromebook setup is thin and doesn't get in the way. I haven't had anything like a full-size desktop in more than a decade (I went from a Mac Mini to Chromeboxes in 2012).
But I can make room, and I don't expect my resource use to strain a fast quad-core 16Gb system anytime soon (I've been managing on dual-core and 4Gb or less since 2012). I'll still mostly just be browsing the web and editing text. Barring catastrophic CPU/motherboard failure, this may be my machine for the next decade.

BLEG: Opinions on the best Linux distribution for this machine. It's been ages since I paid much attention. Linux Mint was my go-to for a while, then Puppy when I needed something very light. I've always preferred the KDE desktops, but as long as I have a reasonably navigable GUI and can do text editing and fairly standard web-stuff, I'm good to go.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

I Think It's Time to Consider a New Computer ...

I have a sort of "top of performance needs benchmark" for computers: Does Forge of Empires hog all the RAM?

It's not that I play FoE all the time. I usually play it obsessively for a couple of days, then here and there for a few weeks, and then not at all for months until one day the urge takes me. In other words, it's nothing that I can't live without.

But when the urge does take me, as often as not my main purpose is to find out if the game's requirements tax my computing power. Since the developers are always adding new memory-hogging features, I figure that when the game slows down my machine significantly, it's probably time to start looking for a new machine.

I've been making do with no more than 4 gigabytes of RAM for right at eight years now, and last time I played FoE (which was probably close to a year ago), it was just starting to get squirrelly. Other browser tabs would die and have to reload when I switched over to them, etc.

This week, I decided to play some FoE and it nearly instantly started killing the content in every other open tab, and crashing the Great Suspender extension I use to reduce the load by, well, killing the content in tabs I haven't used for a few minutes.

So I need more RAM, but none of my existing machines will support more than 4Gb.

So, here's what I'm looking at:

The Lenovo ThinkCentre M73 sports an Intel dual core CPU at 2.6 GHz and 8Gb of RAM. It's a WIndoze machine, but if I got it I'd wipe it and install Linux. It's $137.95.

The Asus Chromebox 3-N017U is also Intel dual core, but only 1.8 GHz, and also sports 8Gb of RAM. It runs $299.99.

I'm partial to ChromeOS, but have been thinking about abandoning it. Half price to do so, with a better CPU, pushes me in that direction.

But before I make a decision, I'm going to see if someone else does so for me -- both machines are on my Amazon Wish List ;-)

Alternatively, I may just build a box from the empty case up. I've helped my son do several. But I like a tiny form factor while his have been nice spacious towers, so I'm somewhat skeptical that I can do things my way.


Wow ... a timely cryptocurrency donation came in (thanks, GL!), and Amazon dropped the price of that ThinkCentre to $109.99, even as I was looking at some higher end stuff! Ordered the ThinkCentre through Purse (affiliate link).

I was toying with really upping my computer game -- 16Gb of RAM instead of 8, a quad core CPU, etc. -- before I noticed the price drop. But based on the screwing around I've done with light Linux distributions, etc., I expect the ThinkCentre to be all the machine I need for years to come.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Roberts' Rules v. Senate Rules?

Article I, Section 3 of the US Constitution gives the US Senate "sole Power to try all Impeachments."

Article I, Section 5 of the US Constitution specifies that "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings." And the Senate has done so vis a vis impeachment.

But back to Article I, Section 3: "When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside ..."

Under Senate Rule IV for impeachment:

When the President of the United States, or the Vice President of the United States upon whom the powers nd duties of the office of President shall have devolved, shall be impeached, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Untied States shall preside; and in a case requiring the said Chief Justice to preside, notice shall be given to him by the presiding officer of the Senate of the time and place fixed for the consideration of the articles of impeachment, as aforesaid, with a request to attend; and the said Chief Justice shall preside over the Senate during the consideration of said articles, and upon the trial of the person impeached therein.

Emphasis mine.

Under Senate Rule III:

shall continue in session from day to day, (Sundays excepted) after the trial shall commence, (unless otherwise ordered by the Senate,) until final judgment shall be rendered, and so much longer as may, in its judgment, be needful.

And under Senate Rule XII:

The hour of the day at which the Senate shall sit upon the trial of an impeachment shall be (unless otherwise ordered) twelve o'clock m.' and when the hour for such sitting shall arrive, the presiding officer of the Senate shall so announce; and thereupon the presiding officer upon such trial shall cause proclamation to be made, and the business of the trial shall proceed.

So, what happens if Roberts announces he has a tee time or lunch date that he has no intention of canceling or postponing just because 100 politicians finally roused themselves to put on a show?

The Senate is allowed to make rules for the Senate, but I doubt they're allowed to make rules for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Note to Lincoln Chafee

From an interview with Gary Doan of The Libertarian Republic:

TLR: What is your overall philosophy concerning monetary policy and the Federal Reserve?

LC: Well, I’m anti-deficit and all my 30 years in public service have my votes and actions support that. Certainly as a mayor, required to balance a budget ... Governor, required to balance a budget. As Senator, yes, I voted against all those tax cuts, because I did not see the commensurate cuts in spending. And that’s exactly what happened with reduction of our revenue and soaring expenditures on wars and entitlement programs. And then, of course, natural disasters such as Katrina.

All well and good, I guess, but the question was about monetary policy and the answer was about fiscal policyThey're two different things.

It's Not Hard to Decide Who to Believe Here ...

Elizabeth Warren:

Bernie and I met for more than two hours in December 2018 to discuss the 2020 election, our past work together and our shared goals .... Among the topics that came up was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate. I thought a woman could win; he disagreed.

Bernie Sanders:

It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for president, I would tell her that a woman couldn’t win. ... What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course!

[Lots of versions of this story -- I picked this one from ABC News for the quotes -- and of course they had a dust-up over it at last night's beauty contest debate]

While I won't vouch for Bernie's overall honesty -- he is, after all, a career politician -- anyone who's been paying even minimal knows that Elizabeth Warren is a compulsive and self-serving liar, particularly on anything relating to her personal history, actions, and experiences. She lies about her ancestry. She lies about her past employment. She lies about her father's employment. She lies about where her kids went to school. If she thinks it makes her look better, she lies like a rug and without a second thought.

Based on her record, the safe bet is that whatever Sanders said in that meeting, it's not what Warren says he said.

Yep, Giuliani is Screwed

Not quite a month ago, I predicted:

Unless he receives a presidential pardon, dies, or is so sick he receives sentencing leniency in the form of e.g. house arrest, Rudy Giuliani is eventually going to end up spending some time in Club Fed over this whole Ukraine affair.

The latest House document dump pursuant to the prosecution of US president DonaldTrump in impeachment proceedings is mostly getting noticed for an offered trade: If Trump fires a troublesome ambassador, Ukraine provides dirt on Biden.

Getting less notice is a letter from Giuliani to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, requesting a meeting (which apparently didn't end up taking place). And getting even less notice than the letter itself are three references within the letter:

I am private counsel to President Donald J. Trump. To be more precise, I represent him as a private citizen, not as President of the United States. ... In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent, I request a meeting with you ...

Emphases mine.

Whatever Giuliani was up to vis a vis Ukraine, in this letter he openly stated that he was up to it for the personal benefit of Donald Trump, not as part of advancing some supposed "anti-corruption" public policy initiative. And he openly stated that Trump knew what he was up to and approved of it.

He's going under the bus whether Trump personally kicks him there or not.

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Sexist Case Against Tarantino, Pitt, and Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood

I generally don't have strong opinions on what pictures should receive Academy Awards. And I confess myself shocked -- shocked! -- that a movie with its plot and theme situated in, and clearly in love with, the movie industry would enjoy a lot of mojo with Oscar voters, who just happen make their livings in the movie industry.

That said, I do consider Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood to be, by far, the best 2020 film I happened to watch in 2020,  and think it deserves every award it nabs.

Comes Marlow Stern, Senior Entertainment Editor at The Daily Beast, asserting that the film has a "Big Harvey Weinstein Problem."

And what, pray tell, might that problem be?

[S]omehow, the celebrated filmmaker and his age-defying star have managed to avoid any scrutiny over their troubling relationships with Harvey Weinstein. ... a culture of complicity allowed the superpredator’s reign of terror to continue unabated. ... Pitt, like Tarantino, had the power and cachet to expose Weinstein with the snap of a finger. Instead, they let it slide, opting for cashing dirty checks and chasing awards. ... it’s worth asking whether it sends the right message to honor two Hollywood power players who turned a blind eye to Weinstein’s sexual abuse, and whether it’s fair that they’ve artfully dodged any questions about it this entire awards season.

So, director Quentin Tarantino and co-star Brad Pitt had good reason to know that Weinstein was at best a creep and quite possibly an actual rapist. Yet they kept their mouths shut and cashed his checks for years, if for no other reason than that they feared the damage he could do their careers if they publicly went after him.

Just like most of Weinstein's accusers.

Stern's brief against Tarantino and Pitt is that they were obliged -- as males -- to suit up in their white knight armor and publicly joust Weinstein on behalf of his poor, helpless, female victims, whose corresponding duty was, apparently, to daintily wave handkerchiefs and blow kisses from the viewing stands before retiring to their fainting couches. And, further, that they should be punished in the awards arena for not fulfilling that duty.

If not bucking Weinstein until it became safe to buck Weinstein is an Oscar disqualifier, it should be a disqualifier across sex/gender lines and the Academy should probably just cancel the ceremony and FedEx all this years' statues to Rose McGowan.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Why Elizabeth Warren's Campaign Faded

It's not that her particular schtick (ever so slightly "left" populist welfare statism) played any worse than any of the other candidates' approaches.

It's that whenever she comes up against a question that requires her to either stand by her guns in a way that might not be so popular and/or doesn't fit with her narrative about her own personal history, or else retreat from her position, she chooses a third option.

That third option is: She lies.

She lies about her and her family's economic situation in her younger days.

She lies about whether her children went to the private schools that she doesn't want you to be able to send your kids to.

She runs from the question of whether her version of "Medicare For All" will require a middle class tax increase, trying to portray it as a matter of "overall expenses" rather than taxes per se until she can drum up a complex but unconvincing lie to cover up the fact that yes, it will require a middle class tax increase.

She's not the only politician who's lying, of course. It's just that she's not very good at it. Her lies are pretty easy to identify as lies.

And getting caught lying so often and so obviously just doesn't mesh very well with her morally superior "I know how to run your life better than you do" Church Lady campaign persona.

In lying contests, the liars who are better at lying win.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Reminder: I am NOT Running for President

But I do appreciate whoever it was that wrote in my name in the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire's presidential primary/straw poll.

Note: Those are JUST the write-in votes (LPNH members received mail-in ballots some time ago, and some candidates, including Jacob Hornberger and Lincoln Chafee, have entered the race since those ballots were printed and sent). Vermin Supreme won the poll with, IIRC, 26 votes.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

One of These Things is Not Like The Other

Thing One:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Thing Two:

Initially, Congress said the ERA -- passed in 1972 -- would be obsolete if not ratified by the required three-quarters of state legislatures by a 1979 deadline. Later, Congress extended this deadline to 1982. It still wasn't met.

"We conclude that Congress had the constitutional authority to impose a deadline on the ratification of the ERA and, because that deadline has expired, the ERA Resolution is no longer pending before the States," DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel said in a January 6 opinion, released yesterday.

I've read Thing One carefully, several times, and nowhere in it do I find any mention of a congressional power to decide how much time the states have to ratify an amendment.

Another Amazon Shipping Musing: Artificial Preservation of "Fast Shipping" as a Premium?

(I have a previous post on this same shipment, with a slightly different topic).

So, my Amazon order went in on January 4th.

Projected delivery date: January 14th.

My assumption as to why the "fast shipping" claims turned out to not be true is that the buyer (I'm using Purse as an intermediary -- you should too, and we both get $5 USD worth of BTC, once you've spent $100, if you join through my affiliate link) is not an Amazon Prime member.

But here's the thing:

It's January 9th, a full five days since the order hit Amazon.

And according to Amazon, the package hasn't BEEN SHIPPED yet.

My hypothesis:

One of Amazon's big selling points for Prime membership is that you get free two-day shipping on most products (in some areas and for some products, free one-day shipping).

But shipping in general is getting faster and faster, especially as Amazon handles more of its own shipping in-house.

So I think that Amazon may be purposely holding non-Prime orders for a little while, not putting them into the shipping pipeline in the first place as fast, so that regular ol' non-Prime customers don't get their stuff in a day or two anyway, potentially causing Prime members to wonder if Prime is worth paying for.

What do you think?

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