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

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.

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.