Monday, August 02, 2021

Phish/Scam Warning ...

... to anyone inclined to financially support my work here, at the Garrison Center, at Rational Review News Digest, etc. Or even just to send me money because reasons.

I recently received and appropriately disposed of several emails, which I interpreted as phishing attempts, implying that an account at Venmo was associated with my email address ("confirm your address," etc.).

Just now, I received what appears to be a legitimate email from Venmo:

You may have recently received unexpected emails from Venmo. The emails were triggered as a result of what appears to be an unauthorized attempt to open a Venmo account using this email address. 
We have blocked this Venmo account and restricted its ability to engage in transactions. We want to assure you that this incident involved your email address and did not involve your financial information. 
There is no action required by you with Venmo at this time. While we have blocked this account, you will not be prevented from creating a Venmo account using this email address if you wish to do so in the future. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. 
-- Team Venmo

If you come across any attempts to get you to send me money via Venmo, it's a scam. I do not have a Venmo account, nor do I (at this time, anyway) have any intention of setting up such an account.

And Yet Donald Rumsfeld Died in Bed and George W. Bush Remains at Large

Per ABC News:

A German court has set a trial date for a 100-year-old man who is charged with 3,518 counts of accessory to murder on allegations he served as a Nazi SS guard at a concentration camp on the outskirts of Berlin during World War II. ... The suspect is alleged to have worked at the Sachsenhausen camp between 1942 and 1945 as an enlisted member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing.

They're still going after people more than 75 years after the fact, and I guess that's okay.

But more recent war criminals, with far more firmly established evidence for their crimes, get to hang out with Ellen DeGeneres at football games without fear of arrest and charge.

Oh, I See: The Problem is Google

I've been running a Linux box, with Chromium as my preferred browser, for a year-and-a-half now.

Yes, that means I didn't really leave Google World when I abandoned the Chromebox as my desktop computer. I just find Google apps (like Drive) and Chrome apps (like Caret) too damn useful.

Normally, I don't have to worry that much about synchonizing e.g. passwords and bookmarks between machines. For one thing, I use a password manager (LastPass) that's independent of my browser. For another, I have to abandon my desktop in favor of my laptop (still a Chromebook) fairly rarely, because I just don't travel that much.

When I was getting ready to go to PorcFest, I couldn't for the life of me get my Chromebook to sync up with my latest bookmark set (which had changed significantly since the last time I had used the laptop). I ended up manually exporting my bookmarks and manually importing them. No biggie.

Then last night I was setting up the new Raspberry Pi 4. This was a straight Linux Chromium to Linux Chromium change, and there was a handy-dandy "turn on sync" button on the new browser, so I clicked it. It had me sign in to Google, then went to a basic screen full of Google links. But no sync. After trying that two or three times, I went into "settings" and tried to turn on sync. Same problem. No sync.

So, I just installed my preferred extensions and imported my current bookmarks.

Then, this morning, it finally occurred to me to type "Chromium sync doesn't work" into Bing. Per OMG! Ubuntu:

"Users of the Chromium web browser are about to lose access to several key features, including bookmark and password sync. Google is cutting off access to a number of private APIs used in Chromium builds from March 15, 2021."


I haven't started trying to use the Raspberry Pi as my desktop machine yet. Since I'm going to have to tear down everything and set it back up in a few days pursuant to my office re-configuration, it makes more sense to wait and do that once instead of twice. But the Pi is set up, with Raspbian installed and fully updated. I expect I'll move the tower over to the new desk as well and have it there and available in case the Pi doesn't work out (or for occasional use if I want to do things the Pi won't handle, even if it handles most of what I throw at it).

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Major Office Reorganization Pending

... partly due to a message from the universe this morning.

I'd been considering buying a new desk to replace the one I've been using for at least eight years and that was old and used when I picked it up at (IIRC) a yard sale.

Part of that possibility was predicated on the likelihood that I'd be moving my desk, computer, etc. to a different part of the "office" room, a little alcove with just exactly enough room for a 4-foot-wide desk. The old desk would fit in that space, but wouldn't efficiently use that space, because it's sort of semi-circular in shape, which has always bugged me.

But, being a cheapskate, I've been mentally drawing up plans to just nail a four-foot wide board onto the part of the desk where I think the width matters most -- the rear, where I need monitor risers. Currently, the rear of the desk has one 3" or so integral wooden riser across the middle, with glass risers another 2" or so high on each end. So it seems kind of complicated.

Then, this morning, one of those glass risers, which seems to have been secured to two posts by glue for the last eight years plus however old the desk was when I got it, just suddenly fell off.

That's what I interpreted as the message from the universe: Time to make the move.

I already have a Raspberry Pi 4 "extreme" kit on the way (arriving today, in fact), which may or may not become my daily desktop work machine.

After converting some of the BTC I've been HODLing to an Amazon gift card via BitRefill, I ordered a 47" rectangular desk. It will be here Tuesday.

Using some BCH I've been saving, I went to and ordered a set of risers (the desk comes with one, but I use two monitors) and an Amazon Basics 8-outlet standby UPS (that's been on my to-do list for some time, and since the area where I'm moving my desk to also happens to be where the cable modem and wifi router plug in, it now makes even more sense -- both my computer and the Internet connection necessaries will stay on during brief power outages). Those two things will take a bit longer to get here, but it's not a huge deal, I'll improvise as necessary.

I figure the major move elements will occur next Friday or Saturday. 

FYI, the links above to BitRefill and Purse are affiliate links. The Amazon product links aren't.

Thanks For Asking! -- 08/01/21

If you have to ask why, the answer is usually "money."

Except, of course, in the monthly KN@PPSTER AMA thread, where you can ...

  1. Ask me anything (yes, anything) in comments; and
  2. Get an answer (in comments or in some separate, linked stand-alone format) that usually isn't "money."

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Anyone Got a Cigarette?

I always run out of them on National Orgasm Day.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Rothbard's Single Most Damaging Error (or, @ComicDaveSmith goes Stockholm Libertarian)

In my opinion, Rothbard's single most damaging error was a subset of / piece of particularly pernicious fallout from his "paleo strategy" fail -- his reversal on immigration.

Not because that reversal was dumb in and of itself, although it was, but because it undercut the single most valuable strategic insight Rothbard ever offered: "No particular orderism."

[L]ibertarians should push for and accept with alacrity any reduction of State power or activity on any front. Any such reduction at any time should be a welcome decrease of crime and aggression. Therefore, the libertarian’s concern should not be to use the State to embark on a measured course of destatization, but rather to hack away at any and all manifestations of statism whenever and wherever he or she can. -- For a New Liberty

What brings that to mind: Nick Gillespie's Reason interview with Dave Smith, who lays out a "particular orderist" case for not having immigration freedom until we've 1) ended the drug war and 2) wound down the welfare state.

There's actually some pretty good stuff in the interview, but the Stockholm Libertarianism really grates.

Well, It's Not Like He Isn't an Admitted Serial Liar

US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) wants the US Department of Justice to investigate Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for allegedly lying to Congress about NIH funding of "gain of function" research.

Personally, I have trouble working up much outrage when someone lies to Congress. After all, Congress as a group, and most or all of its individual members, lie to the rest of us all the time. And when someone tells Congress a lie it wants to hear and promote, there's seldom any penalty.

That said, it's not hard to believe that Fauci lied. After all, he's lied -- or at least publicly claimed to have lied (and if the claims weren't true, then they were lies) -- to the public several times during, and about, the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In March of 2020, Fauci (so far as I can tell, truthfully) claimed that "the science" doesn't support the idea that wearing masks reduces the spread of viral disease. Then he changed his story, and when asked why, he claimed he'd just said that so that there wouldn't be a run on masks (in other words, he claimed that he'd been lying the first time).
  • Then, he changed his story on the vaccination rate required to achieve herd immunity, and when challenged on the change, he replied "When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent. Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, 'I can nudge this up a bit,' so I went to 80, 85." In other words, he was lying at least one of the two times.
  • When the UK adopted a "get everyone a single shot of vaccine before worrying about second shots" strategy, Fauci opposed that strategy for the United States, claiming that "the science" didn't work and that such an approach would encourage variants. When challenged on that later, once again he claimed -- you guessed it -- to have been lying before, and said that the real explanation was that "changing our story" might make people less confident in the already adopted strategy.
I don't know if Fauci lied about this particular thing. But it's hard to make a case for the guy as some kind of pillar of loyalty to the truth.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Can't Say as I Really See the Difference

I don't know if I've ever recommended The Bryan Hyde Show here on the blog before, but if not, consider it recommended. I hate to immediately follow that recommendation with nay-saying, but I'm gonna. From the description for today's show:

It used to be fun to watch sports. That was before woke culture began projecting its groupthink through various athletes and organizations.

I haven't been listening to Hyde for long enough to know that it's true in this particular case, but usually when I run across such statements, the people making them are kind of late-comers to the "just play sports, leave politics out of it" spiels.

That is, I don't recall hearing those people bellyache about all the militaristic / flag-waving crap that's been part of sports for a looooooooooong time, and to a mindlessly overbearing degree ever since the "war on terror" started, presumably because the US Department of Defense shells out big bucks ($53 million between 2012 and 2015 alone) to have sports teams put on the pageantry.

While I tend to agree that if I turn on a football game I'd rather see football than politics, I don't find "hey look, that guy's taking a knee" any more boring or silly than "put your hands over your hearts for the national anthem while the marching band forms a giant flag on the field, accompanied by a color guard and a kazoo orchestra made up entirely of quadruple amputee combat veterans."

Own Goal, Kim Reynolds Edition

Iowa governor Kim Reynolds tries to pin the blame for rising COVID-19 case numbers on un-vaccinated immigrants.

Part of the problem is the southern border is open and we've got 88 countries that are coming across the border and they don't have vaccines so none of them are vaccinated and they're getting dispersed throughout the country.

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that she's right. I doubt it, but she doesn't have to be wrong for her claim to be self-damning.

From ISideWith:

Q: Should the U.S. build a wall along the southern border?

Reynolds: "Yes."

Q: Should local law enforcement be allowed to detain illegal immigrants for minor crimes and transfer them to federal immigration authorities?

Reynolds: "Yes."

Q: Should working illegal immigrants be given temporary amnesty?

Reynolds: "No."

Q: Should the U.S. increase restrictions on its current border security policy?

Reynolds: "Yes."

The US government and most state governments are doing everything short of mass roundups at gunpoint to get people vaccinated.

But based on the "leadership" of authoritarians like Reynolds, immigrants have no particular reason to believe that ICE won't have paddy wagons waiting out back to pack full of brownish, Spanish-speaking people who show up at vaccination locations without "their papers in order."

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Because I Am a Cheapsake, Part [Insert Very Large Prime Number Here] ...

... I'm thinking about changing computers. Again.

It's not that I don't really, really love the Lenovo ThinkCentre M78 I've been using for a year-and-a-half or so, thanks to a supportive donor. I do love the machine. It's dual boot Windoze/KUbuntu (I've probably used Windoze twice in the last year), Quad-core 3.7Ghz, 16Gb of RAM, etc. What's not to love?

Well, my electricity bill.

Yeah, I know that air conditioning is probably a much larger piece of that bill than my computer, but I'm the kind of guy who starts yelling at people to turn off the damn (low-wattage LED) lights when they leave the room after I get a big bill.

And this tower probably pulls upward of 100 watts, maybe 250 when it's under a heavy load.

While a Raspberry Pi 4 under 400% CPU load stress pulls about 6.4 watts.

I've got the CanaKit "extreme" kit (8Gb of RAM, 128Gb SD card -- it's got two HDMI ports to support my dual monitor needs as well!) on my Amazon Wish List. If nobody really, really, really wants to buy it for me but the value of crypto keeps its on-and-off climb going, I'll probably grab it soon.

I like the Raspberry Pi. I bought the Model 3, but handed it off to one of the kids some time back. Not quite powerful enough to run fast for the load I put on it, but the Model 4 has a better CPU and a lot more RAM, so I expect it would be a workable desktop computer.

And if not, I might just pay Cox for extra bandwidth some month so that I can turn it into a Lightning node. Which would likely defeat the purpose of conserving electricity, but which would also be really cool.

It Appears My Initial Skepticism of "Long COVID" May Have Been Well-Founded

I don't recall if I've opined on the matter in writing before, but I certainly have in personal discussions: 

Ever since the term "Long COVID" started showing up on my radar, I've been skeptical. Not entirely dismissive -- I have no particular reason to believe that there aren't or can't be long-term effects associated with the virus -- but doubtful as to definition.

So far, "Long COVID" strikes me as a grab-bag of symptoms, any or all of which may be related to a prior COVID-19 infection, but many of which may not be, rather than an identifiable syndrome defined on the basis of hard data and well-explained causality. It's early days, of course, but there seems to be a lot of post hoc ergo propter hoc in play at the moment.

Disclosure of priors: I've had occasion to wonder about this thing before. Specifically, "Gulf War Syndrome." I've had symptoms myself that I attribute to likely sarin exposure (from an incident the US Department of Defense insists wasn't a chemical attack despite chemical monitor sensors being set off -- I slept through the whole thing), but when I read that "Approximately 250,000 of the 697,000 U.S. veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War are afflicted with enduring chronic multi-symptom illness," with "a wide range of acute and chronic symptoms," I have to think that there are probably lots of different involved and that not all of them are necessarily causally linked to the war itself at all, let alone to any specific piece of the war.

So anyway ...

As Phillip W. Magness notes at the American Institute for Economic Research, it appears that the initiators and popularizers of the "Long COVID" idea, although praised by National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins as "citizen scientists," were actually "an odd assortment of psychic healers, magic crystal gurus, and alternative medicine activists" which "frequently relied on self-reported descriptions of Long Covid symptoms, instead of independent medical verification [and] had a habit of diagnosing people with Long Covid even after they tested negative for Covid-19 itself."

I'm not opposed to researching the possible long-term effects of COVID-19. But it should be real research that starts from hard facts, not from throwing every bad thing into one basket and attributing it to one cause.

The Term That Comes to Mind is "Self-Importance"

Self-importance, n. An exaggerated estimate of one's own importance or merit, esp. as manifested by the conduct or manners; self-conceit.

Top Biden administration officials are weighing whether to recommend that states and communities with low vaccination rates reimpose mask mandates .... Top Biden health officials in recent days have also debated whether to encourage businesses, health care facilities and other institutions to require proof of Covid-19 vaccination as a condition for returning to work ..." [emphases mine]

One one hand, it's great that the federal political and "public health" establishments seem to be awakening to some sense of limits to their power to simply order such things.

On the other hand, given their record over the last 18 months or so, it's risible for them to operate on the assumption that their "recommendations" and "encouragement" deserve to be taken seriously.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Like There Was Ever Any Chance This Kind of Thing Wouldn't Happen ...

"ShotSpotter" was supposed to make it easier to solve crimes. Instead, it's being used to manufacture fake evidence. Via Motherboard:

On May 31 last year, 25-year-old Safarain Herring was shot in the head and dropped off at St. Bernard Hospital in Chicago by a man named Michael Williams. He died two days later. Chicago police eventually arrested the 64-year-old Williams .... A key piece of evidence in the case is video surveillance footage showing Williams’ car stopped on the 6300 block of South Stony Island Avenue at 11:46 p.m. -- the time and location where police say they know Herring was shot. How did they know that’s where the shooting happened? Police said ShotSpotter, a surveillance system that uses hidden microphone sensors to detect the sound and location of gunshots, generated an alert for that time and place.

But ShotSpotter actually "spotted" the "shot" as a firework, and placed it a mile away from the location in question. A ShotSpotter analyst manually reclassified it as a gunshot.

Then, months later, another analyst changed the location to match the location where Williams was seen on camera.

Naturally, Williams's attorney challenged the "evidence." And rather than let a judge examine it, the prosecutor withdrew it.

And that's apparently not unusual. Back to Motherboard:

Motherboard’s review of court documents from the Williams case and other trials in Chicago and New York State, including testimony from ShotSpotter’s favored expert witness, suggests that the company’s analysts frequently modify alerts at the request of police departments -- some of which appear to be grasping for evidence that supports their narrative of events.

And whenever prosecutors are challenged, they withdraw the supposed evidence rather than let ShotSpotter's technology and procedures be examined.

ShotSpotter's end users -- police and prosecutors -- want "evidence" that gets convictions. And if the unmodified data doesn't work for that, ShotSpotter apparently takes a "customer is always right" attitude toward modifying it. Go figure.

World's Smallest Violin, Heimatschutz Edition

According to the Washington Times:
The massive immigrant legalization program that Democrats plan to include in their upcoming budget would overwhelm the government’s citizenship agency, adding millions of new cases to an agency that is already running well above its red line, according to a secret internal study.

There's an easy fix for that: Open borders.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services had, as of 2019, 18,738 employees.

That's not just employees who process citizenship applications. It also includes visa petitions (not required under open borders), asylum applications (not required under open borders), "applications for adjustment of status" (i.e. "green cards" -- not required under open borders), refugee applications (not required under open borders), administration of immigration services and benefits (not required under open borders), issuing employment authorization documents (not required under open borders), and adjudicating petitions for non-immigrant temporary workers (e.g. H-1B visas -- not required under open borders).

Eliminating all that busywork should reduce the stress on CIS as regards citizenship applications.

Additionally, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (more than 20,000 employees as of 2016) and Customs and Border Protection (nearly 63,000 employees, including "more than 20,000 Border Patrol Agents" as of 2021) could be drastically cut (I'm assuming that free trade isn't part of the deal and that there would still be some customs work for them to do -- but hey, let's free up trade and eliminate them completely!), so if CIS needed to staff up they'd have a ready-made labor pool.

Problem solved. You're welcome.

Friday, July 23, 2021

One Reason I'd Like to Go to Mars ...

... is that I'm just not that well-traveled.

By very rough calculations based on latitude and longitude, my travels encompass an area of about 5 million square miles: Westernmost point, somewhere not too far from Reno, Nevada (actually west of that, but I'm not sure how far). Easternmost point, in the neighborhood of Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait. Northernmost point, in the vicinity of Bangor, Maine. Southernmost point, around Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Figure in the top cruising altitude of a commercial airliner (43,000 feet or 8.14 miles), call it  40 million cubic miles. Yeah, I know my math is very rough and quite possibly incorrect in some respect, but I think it's ballpark.

Average distance from Earth to Mars, 14 million miles (minimum distance, about 38.6 million miles). That would really up my distance traveled/encompassed game. Especially if I ever came back, since the planets' respective orbits would presumably be different, meaning I'd be covering different ground ... er, space ... each way.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Blackjack and Global Pandemics

Back in the 1990s, I knew a guy who worked as a blackjack dealer in Vegas. Naturally, I asked him about counting cards.

He told me the casinos' attitude toward card-counting had quickly changed from "kick'em if we catch'em" to "let'em keep losing." Because, he said, most people who tried to count cards just weren't very good at it, but tended to play longer (and lose more) than regular players who followed the basic, reasonably sound, strategies.

I try very hard to keep that story in mind when I see someone leaping to a broad conclusion from limited data (or, especially, a single datum). Especially in a casino as big as Planet Earth and with a game as complex as COVID-19.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

@MarcoRubio Admits the US Embargo on Cuba Doesn't Work

Rubio: "The suffering in Cuba isn’t because of an embargo,it’s because  socialism always leads to suffering."

The purpose of an embargo is to cause suffering.

The US has had an embargo on Cuba for sixty years. If that embargo hasn't caused suffering, it hasn't worked.

Why does Rubio support keeping a policy that's had six decades to produce its intended effect, but that he claims hasn't done so?

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Two Things About "Zero Emissions" Vehicles

Thing One: There's mostly no such thing. If you drive an electric car or an electric bicycle, the electricity came from somewhere. If it came from e.g. a coal-fired power plant, or from wind- or solar-powered plants built with a bunch of materials that used fossil-fuel inputs, the CO2, etc. emissions just happened somewhere else, that's all. And if you decide to walk, do you think there weren't any emissions associated with the production of the food that gave you the energy to do that? Or, for that matter, from your own, um, tailpipe? Which is not to say that this or that power source might not entail more or fewer emissions.

Thing Two: It does not follow from the above that all emissions are equally bad in all respects. Vis a vis overall climate effects, maybe. But if you live in a big city, wouldn't you rather the smog was coming out of a smokestack out in the wilderness than from a million car exhausts at street level on your block?

Sunday, July 18, 2021

This will not stand, you know. This aggression will not stand, man.

I recently mentioned that I use and recommend Bing Rewards (affiliate link) to rack up points for little lagniappes like $5 Amazon gift cards, etc.

In the normal course of things I accrue points just by using Bing as my default search engine.

But there's also a daily set of things you can do to pick up a few extra points -- for example, daily quizzes on current events, and a daily preference poll.

I just took today's preference poll and was appalled to learn that the majority of Americans who grill burgers do so over gas rather than charcoal.

What the fuck, people? That's just sick.

Friday, July 16, 2021


A new study, published in my brain, reveals that among people who don't read Rational Review News Digest, about half suffer from below-median IQ ... and all of them face nearly certain death before the end of the century.

Please, for your health, read Rational Review News Digest.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

A Worthy Petition ...

 ... from George Phillies. It's an appeal to the Libertarian Party's Judicial Committee on the matter of the Libertarian National Committee letting Robert's Rules of Order be used to overrule the explicit language of its own bylaws, even though Robert's is the organization's parliamentary authority only where it is "not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order adopted by the Party."

If you're a dues-paying member of the party, and especially if you were a 2020 national convention delegate, I hope you'll sign it. The abuse of Robert's to trump the party's bylaws has been a problem for quite some time, and it seems to be getting worse. Time to put a stop to it.

Monday, July 12, 2021

I Haven't Bothered with "Payment by CPM" Ads in a Long Time ...

... but I figured what the hey, might as well give them another try. If you look over in the sidebar (or in the footer at Rational Review News Digest), and if you don't have an ad blocker running, you should see a tall ad of some type via Cash-Ads (that's a referral link).

No, I'm not asking you to click the ads. That's up to you. But I do want to know if the ads cause any kind of disruption for you, or if you like them, or if you hate them, or if you have any opinion on them at all.

If they don't cause problems for users, and if they bring in, say, $10 a month or more, I'll probably keep them. If not, no biggie.

Update: I'm already seeing a problem with Cash-Ads. Their dashboard allows me to specify whether I'll accept 1) gambling ads (I said yes) and 2) "adult" ads (I said no -- not because I'm a prude, but because I try to keep this blog mostly "all-ages-friendy"). And even if I said "yes" to (2), they would only supposedly be displayed during the overnight hours.

Normally, I see a "you are the site owner" graphic when I load the blog, presumably to keep me from racking up ad views by reloading my own site. But this time (late afternoon / early evening), I saw a very sexually explicit graphic for something called "C*nt Wars." Either the on/off toggle for "adult" ads just doesn't work, or Cash-Ads doesn't do a very good job of classifying their ads.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

They Keep Using That Word, "Monopoly." I Do Not Think It Means What They Think It Means.

The social media platforms aren't monopolies. If you don't like Facebook or Twitter, you can go to Minds, MeWe, Diaspora, Mastodon, Gab, Discord, et al.

The state, however, IS a monopoly.

Arguments in favor of state regulation of social media platforms aren't arguments against monopolies. They're arguments in favor of extending a monopoly's reach into new markets. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Naturally, Here Comes the Litigation ...

While I was away at PorcFest, a mass shooting took place at a teen party (I think one news account specifically described it as a birthday party) at my American Legion post.

The basic outline seems to be that there was a party at the post, and a group showed up and shot up the affair, wounding five, then fled (and were caught and arrested).

Now one of the five has died, and that victim's family is "pursuing legal action."

Says the attorney involved: "You know, the venue has got a duty to provide reasonable protection against any known dangers and whenever you’re going to have a large party, a lot of people there, there’s the risk of having bad things happen and that’s why there’s know[n] security risks and known security needs."

I disagree, for several reasons.

One is that the only "duty" the venue has is to provide whatever it has agreed to provide.

Another is that "known security risks and known security needs" are contextual. A teen birthday party is not the kind of event that one reasonably expects an armed gang to show up at with murderous intent, unless the teen's father is Tony Soprano or something like that.

A third is that this is a pretty small post building, with a bar. Florida law prohibits concealed carry in such places except by employees.

I doubt that the venue agreed to hire an armed security force for a teen party when the arrangements to host that party wer made. And anyone who was not an employee was legally forbidden to possess the means to defend themselves, let alone the party's attendees.

The only people responsible for the shooting were the shooters.

Friday, July 09, 2021

Another One of Those "You Get Cool Stuff and so do I" Things

I know a lot of you avoid the "major" search engines for various reasons such as a desire for privacy.

Me, I have Microsoft's Bing set as my default. Every time I type a search into my URL bar, it brings up results from Bing, then I go elsewhere if what I'm looking for isn't obvious.

And every time I do that, I get "rewards points." Every month or so, I rack up enough of those points to redeem them for e.g. a $5 Amazon gift card.

And if I talk you into joining "Bing Rewards" through my referral link, I get some points for that, and subsequently when you earn points of your own.

But I'm not going to try to talk you into it. I'm just going to mention it and trust you to know whether it's your kind of thing or not.

Just Say No ...

... to the Haitian regime's request for US troops to "protect infrastructure!"

The best thing that could happen to Haiti would be for the US government to get, and stay, completely out of its internal affairs. And it would be good for Americans, too.

Is Biden's "Door-to-Door" Proposal Sinister, or Just Another Government Make-Work Plan?

Intentionally or not, President Joe Biden's suggestion that the US government should send people "door to door" to boost COVID-19 vaccination numbers launched a wave of concern. Does the federal government know who's been vaccinated and who hasn't? Is it going to get pushy with those who haven't? Is this some surveillance state fuckery? Etc.

US Health and Human Service Secretary Xavier Becerra told CNN that it "is absolutely the government's business" who's been vaccinated and who hasn't, because the government used COVID-19 as an excuse to spend trillions of (our) dollars. Then he complained that he'd been "taken wildly out of context" and insisted that the government "has no database tracking who is vaccinated."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki characterizes the door to door idea as a way to "get remaining Americans vaccinated by ensuring that they have the information they need on how both safe and accessible the vaccine is."

If we (very provisionally) trust Becerra on the "no database" claim and Psaki on "information" claim, it sounds like the idea is pretty much going to be Jehovah's Witnesses for the vaccines -- people knocking on doors and handing out brochures so that everyone knows there are vaccines, knows a little bit about them, knows how to get them, and knows that they've already been paid for with their tax dollars and that there won't be some kind of payment demanded at point of service.

Of course, everyone who lives in a place with a door to be knocked on (as opposed to under a rock deep in the forest) already knows there are vaccines, knows a little bit about them, knows how to get them, and knows that they've already been paid for with their tax dollars and that there won't be some kind of payment demanded at point of service.

So, what's the point?

I suspect the point is really just to offer a whole bunch of people a whole bunch of temp jobs -- at $15 an hour or better -- a la the census, as a way of further "stimulating the economy."

Those Who Refuse COVID-19 Vaccination Deserve Our Thanks


Yes, really.

People who have decided not to accept a COVID-19 vaccination have their reasons, and I respect those reasons whether I agree with them or not. There's rational skepticism over the possible side effects of new technology like "messenger RNA" vaccines. There are people who already have immune system problems, or a history of adverse reactions to injections of strange stuff into their bodies. There are people who calculate, correctly or not, that those risks are worse than the risks of the virus itself. And, yes, there are a few dumb-asses with dis-proven or un-provable hypotheses, and some contrarians who won't do anything someone else pushes them to do, whether doing it makes sense or not.

But all of those people are helping humanity beat COVID-19.

The natural evolutionary path of a highly contagious virus that causes disease in humankind (or any other host) looks something like this:

  1. At first, the virus cuts through its hosts, whose immune systems are utterly unprepared for a new kind of infection, like a scythe. It kills a lot of people, especially those who already have co-morbidities that an infection can make worse.
  2. Then, the virus begins to mutate. Some of these mutations are more deadly or more contagious, some are less deadly or less contagious.
  3. The mutations that are more contagious and less deadly are more successful at reproducing. They tend to displace, or even drive to extinction, the less contagious and more deadly mutations. And often, the immune response to one mutation will turn out to be helpful in fending off other mutations.
The "delta variant" of COVID-19 is currently the leading mutation. It's thought to be more contagious than most other mutations. The jury's still out on how deadly it is, but it may well be less deadly than other strains.

All the un-vaccinated people out there are helping it spread. They're moving humanity toward some semblance of "herd immunity" in the same way that vaccinated people are, but they're also helping COVID-19 mutate toward even weaker variants such that at some point the dominant strain of the virus will be of no more general concern than that other family of coronaviruses, "the common cold."

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Had to Go Look at a Map ...

... to reassure myself that I was correct and that Haiti is not a US state or territory.

AP Headline: "Biden with few options to stabilize Haiti in wake of slaying"

Why on Earth would it be Joe Biden's job to "stabilize Haiti?"

A couple of excerpts and thoughts:

"With the era of gunboat diplomacy long over, the U.S. is unlikely to deploy troop" to Haiti. Well, that's nice, anyway.

"[Assassinated Haitian president Jovenel Moïse] appeared to be on his way out, having set Sept. 26 to hold elections for president and parliament. The electoral timetable was backed by the Biden administration, though it rejected plans to hold a constitutional referendum ..."

What would Joe Biden call it if Vladimir Putin "backed" the US having 2022 congressional midterms, but "rejected" a proposed amendment to the US Constitution? Haven't we been having such a public discussion about things like that for a few years now?

Among the Things We're Losing and That I Already Miss

We had a pretty bad experience at Steak'n'Shake last night. I'm not blaming anyone there. They were slammed, and almost certainly short-handed (like just about every food establishment these days), but I think it took about 45 minutes just standing there waiting to pick up food that had been ordered before going in, via smart phone app. And while Tamara was in there waiting, she noticed that they've started in with the electronic ordering "kiosks" even inside.

No, I've got nothing against the kiosks, and I understand that "fast food" isn't nearly as fast these days as it used to be. But that got me thinking about what Steak'n'Shake used to be like, and how it is an example of a dying way of dining out.

As recently as a couple of years ago, Tamara and I would occasionally dine in at Steak'n'Shake. They had service at your table, or at the counter "bar." The food was inexpensive, it was of reasonably good quality and competently prepared, and it came on real plates with real utensils, not in paper wrappers with sporks.

Steak'n'Shake used to be, in all but the "reclaimed train dining car" layout, a diner. I think the slide in that particular quality may have begun when they started offering drive-thru service. Over time they've become mostly just another "fast food" joint, albeit one that continues (so far as I know) to offer traditional dine-in service.

As for actual diners, I haven't seen one in ages. I see places that call themselves diners, but they're not small train-car-or-approximation-thereof joints offering cheap, rib-sticking food. They're moderately upscale "yuppie" establishments that offer some of the traditional foods (e.g. meatloaf, pork chops, open-faced roast beef sandwich), but probably also offer avocado toast with an arugula and goat cheese salad on the side. They don't look like diners, they don't feel like diners, and even if you can order two eggs over easy with bacon and grits, it just isn't going to have the same feel or weigh in on the same price range.

Another restaurant type I'm thinking of in this general class is the truck stop. As recently as maybe 30 years ago, the only "chain brand" associated with any particular truck stop was usually which brand of gasoline they sold. The restaurant was a greasy spoon affair where you could get the aforementioned eggs/bacon/grits with a bottomless cup of coffee and a slice of pie (probably baked there) to top it all off, and not break the bank. Then the brands started taking over, and today most "truck stops" are gas stations / convenience stores with fast food chain restaurant attached.

All is not lost, of course. There are still un-pretentious, not-pricey, laid-back local places. And on the chain side, there's still Waffle House. I hope those places don't die out completely. I've got nothing against fast food, or the slightly more upscale dine-in options. But this is one respect in which I miss "the good old days" that are slipping away.

Libertarianism and "Generations"

Over the last few years, I've run into a number of individuals -- most of them, just to be clear, fine libertarian thinkers and activists -- who identify themselves as "second-generation libertarians." I take this to mean that one or both of their parents are/were libertarians, and that they were raised in an environment where libertarianism was discussed and/or taught, and/or exemplified.

I don't like the term "nth-generation libertarian."

Libertarianism is a philosophy, not an eye color. It's not something genetically inherited or magically transmitted. Even if it's discussed, taught, or exemplified, it has to be knowingly accepted or adopted.

From this, it seems to me that one of these three things are likely to come along with the whole idea of "nth-generation" libertarianism:

  1. The "nth-generation" libertarian is selling herself or himself short, not taking due credit for having done the work to learn about libertarianism, having recognized libertarianism as a correct philosophy, and having adopted and practiced it. Sure, you can be grateful to your parents for having exposed you to it, but you were the one who decided to be or not be a libertarian. In my experience, this is probably the most frequent case.
  2. The "nth-generation" libertarian doesn't really understand what libertarianism is, and the "generation" claim is no different than assuming one's self to be a "nth-generation" Christian because mommy and daddy were Christians, even though one has not done whatever things that particular type of Christian entails (e.g. being "saved" or "born again" in typical modern American evangelical Christianity).
  3. In the worst case, probably an extension of the previous one, the "nth-generation" libertarian sells whatever he or she happens to believe as "libertarian," treating that "nth-generationalism," rather than the actual merit of the ideas involved, as the test of what constitutes libertarianism.
What do you guys think?

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

What Elsa Ya Got?

So far, in my neighborhood anyway, Tropical Storm Elsa is producing some gusts of wind typical of any thunderstorm. I've had one brief Internet outage and no power outages.

Which means I'm sitting at the computer, getting as much work done as possible before things get worse. If they do. And they may.

Not great weather, but thankfully there didn't seem to be a need to pack up family and pets and go seek better shelter. Hopefully that judgment call will prove sound. If not, well, that's how it goes.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Grinds My Gears: No Zero

I read a lot -- non-fiction and fiction, the latter in several genres.

My "light" reading tends toward thrillers of various sorts, from spy novels to legal potboilers to police procedurals to "guy or gal wandering around and getting into hairy situations" stuff like.

Many, maybe even most, of these novels, for obvious reasons, reference firearms. Some do a better job of getting those references right (Stephen Hunter's novels in which the protagonist is sniper Bob Lee Swagger, for instance, go into loving and seemingly correct detail quite often). Some do a worse job. Sometimes a bad job.

Here's one thing that bothers me in many of those novels, even the ones that get shooting technique, etc., mostly right:

The protagonist is in a situation requiring gun work. He or she is a skilled, experienced shooter. The shooting technique is well-described.

BUT! The shooter picks up a random rifle -- maybe off a bad guy's corpse, maybe from the closet of a fellow protagonist, whatever -- engages in proper known-distance shooting technique (good sight picture, good stock weld, proper eye relief, stable position, etc.; Breathe, Relax, Aim, Stop, Squeeze), and puts his or her first round in the chest, or even the head, of an antagonist at, say, 300 meters.

Do you see the problem here? I'm no sniper, but I was a trained marksmanship instructor in the Marine Corps, and what I just described doesn't happen except under a very unlikely set of circumstances: That the rifle's sight or scope just happens to already be battlesight zeroed to the standard (for the M16A2, the last rifle I taught, anyway) 300 meters that the individual shooter requires.

That would be insanely unlikely to happen to me. I don't remember the dope on the last M16A2 the Marine Corps issued me (it's been more than 25 years), but it was a crap ton of clicks on the rear sight, likely for the simple reason that I learned to shoot right-handed and right-eyed even though I am left-handed and left-eye dominant.

Even for a right-handed, right-eye-dominant shooter shooting right handed and right-eyed, any random rifle is almost certainly not going to put its first round right where a dead-center sight picture or scope crosshair shows the round hitting at any significant range.

I suppose some writers know this but decide they can't let it interfere with the flow of action, while perhaps other writers aren't really familiar with firearms and skip to the good part (the combat shooting) instead of researching the work that goes in before the shooting starts. But it bugs the shit out of me every time I see it.

That is all.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Size is Starting to Matter

While I was traveling, I noticed that I seem to be having a harder time reading both my phone and my laptop screen.

My last eye exam was only a few months ago, but I think I may go in early to see if my "near" vision is sliding (and, since I have been running "high normal" ocular pressure for years, to get a re-check and make sure glaucoma isn't finally manifesting).

For years, I've been able to avoid either doing bifocals or just rocking two pairs of glasses. I wear glasses for everything "distance." That is, everything except reading a book, phone screen, computer screen, etc. If my "near" vision is degrading, I'll probably just keep one pair of glasses for reading and one for "distance" rather than trying to get used to bifocals.

BUT! I'm getting ready to reorganize my office, and buy a new (fairly cheap) computer desk to replace the one I've had for more than a decade (IIRC -- it was either a yard sale or hand-me-down-from-a-friend item, isn't really the shape I like, and wasn't in the greatest shape when I got it).

As I do that, I may go ahead and shell out for bigger monitors. I run a two-monitor setup, both 19". I may go to a larger size. Since I like prime numbers*, probably either 23.x" or 29". Not that that would solve the phone and laptop reading problem, but it would be, well, cool. If I can find a really good deal, anyway. But I see monitors for $5 at garage sales all the time, so I can probably do it that way.

* It's not so much that I like prime numbers as that I'm slightly obsessed with them. I didn't mention it to my travel partner, but having camp site #46 at PorcFest bugged me a little. If 47 hadn't been taken, I might have asked if we could move over one site. But I wasn't quite obsessed enough to ask anyone if we could trade sites. I'm not sure why prime numbers bother me so much. I have a history of mild OCD (not diagnosed, but when you go back three times to make sure you've locked the house door every time, you know). I've mostly, but not completely, gotten over the desire to move in a clockwise direction whenever possible. At PorcFest, I usually took shorter routes even if they ran counter-clockwise, and it didn't really bother me.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/01/21



* Ask in the comments below this post
** I'll answer in comments, or link to an answer in some other location/format

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

A Suggestion for Future PorcFests

It's not like there aren't plenty of tools for people to find each other at PorcFest -- Facebook groups, Telegram groups, etc.

One problem, though -- I checked my phone very rarely while there. I suspect many others checked their phones infrequently, if at all.

PorcFest has a system for identifying attendees -- they've registered, paid for a ticket, and when they arrive they register and receive a bracelet to wear so that they can get into events and so forth.

I think it would be really nice if there was an opt-in system -- check a box during registration, maybe -- and a computer at the registration tent where any attendee could look up any OTHER attendee who had opted in. MAYBE even send a message to that other attendee if email addresses were part of the opt-in information set.

There were several people I wanted to see at PorcFest but just never ran into. If such a system had existed, I'd have looked those people up, and would also have opted in to allow other attendees to see which camp site I might be found at, that kind of thing.

Not a big thing, I guess, but it would be kind of cool. Rogers Campground is a fairly big place, PorcFest is a fairly large event, and randomly running into this or that friend turned out to not be as likely as I'd have expected.

Bad News Moments at PorcFest

While I was at PorcFest, Mike Gravel and Steve Horwitz died. Fred Foldvary had died earlier in the month but I didn't hear about it until I was at PorcFest. John McAfee was found dead in his Spanish prison cell right before I left for PorcFest. If I believed in some kind of magical cause/effect setup, I might be tempted to avoid PorcFest in future years just so large portions of the libertarian movement don't keel over dead every time I decide to go to New Hampshire.

Also, just as I started to fall under the influence of some LSD a friend helped me procure, I got a text message indicating that the Biden regime had launched airstrikes against Iranian targets. Fortunately that wasn't quite true in the way I initially understood it (the targets turned out to be "Iran-linked militias" in Iraq, which is pretty much business as usual), but not the kind of scare you really want right at the moment when you're expecting to start seeing weird shit.

I still had a great time up there, though, including but not limited to the time spent under the LSD influence.

I'm Back From PorcFest / ForkFest

Right up front, I want to thank reader, supporter, and friend GL for making the trip possible -- five days plus or minus at that the end of PorcFest and beginning of ForkFest was the vacation I kind of knew I needed but couldn't really figure out how to take until someone else offered to do the bulk of the paying and working to make it happen. It was just a great, great time.

And, as soon as I got home, I found out that I was very lucky to have finally made it this year instead of waiting until next year to try. Listen to last night's Free Talk Live to find out why (and, not related to why, the show opens with Aria DiMezzo giving me a chance to prove what a boring radio guest I am).

Over the years, PorcFest has been better and worse at different times, in the opinions of those I've heard from about it. Last year's was apparently quite good and many people seemed to think this year's was the best ever.

But now it's set to get worse again as the organizers of PorcFest proper attempt to capture more of the potential money and accuse ForkFest evangelists (there are no real "organizers") of "theft of services" for having the gall and temerity to bring more people to PorcFest without also running everything those people might happen to do through PorcFest's revenue-capturing mechanisms. So the PorcFest people are apparently doing things like buying out the campground for next year so that one can't show up early to ForkFest without also buying a PorcFest package, and probably to prevent would-be ForkFest vendors from serving PorcFest attendees without paying PorcFest something.

Now hear this: I probably wouldn't have been that interested in PorcFest if it wasn't for ForkFest.

It's not that PorcFest is bad. I did attend and enjoy some of the formal events.

But let's face it: If I want to hear Scott Horton or Tom Woods or Jeffrey A. Tucker speak, I can click on a podcast link. And if I want to see/meet one of them in person, there are a bunch of events, year-round, that don't require me to fly 1400 miles, drive 2 1/2 hours, and live in a tent for several days to do so.

My real interest in being there was based on seeing old friends (and physically meeting some of them for the first time). Sitting around shooting the shit (possibly with the assistance of certain chemical compounds). Watching the Free Talk Live crew do a show (recorded because they were doing it in the fucking wilderness, but still).

For those things, PorcFest was only useful in that it brought some of those people out to that place. And PorcFest made money from my activity because it did that, not because it had its own events. ForkFest is in some respects the goose that lays a golden egg for PorcFest, and apparently PorcFest wants to kill the goose.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Low Interest in X is not Necessarily a Desire for -X

That may not seem like something I need to point out, but it's actually been at the back of my mind for weeks, beginning with a Facebook invitation to a group titled something along the lines of "Favorite Excuses for Wanting to Die."

Finding that invitation ... well, disturbing if not intriguing ... I went to have a look at the group. It was basically a collection point of "excuses" people interested in life extension hear from people who aren't really interested in it.

Now, to be clear, I'm not completely un-interested in life extension. I don't consider it a bad thing. I'm even willing to take minimal, convenient, low-time-consumption measures toward it if I happen to notice them and they aren't completely off-axis to how I otherwise choose to live.

I know some people who spend, or have obviously spent, a lot of time thinking about life extension, researching life extension, and modifying their lifestyles in ways they expect (or at least hope) to result in longer lifespan. And that's absolutely fine. I wish them well. I hope what they do works, both for them and for others who notice that it works and adopt it.

For me, it's a matter of (very roughly) expected investment versus expected benefit.

Let's look at a couple of extreme possibilities.

One is that I spend 20 minutes researching the subject and discover that I can easily and cheaply extend my life indefinitely.

The other is that I can spend 16 hours a day, for 20 years, researching the subject and die well before average lifespan anyway.

Obviously, I'd take the first deal if it was a sure thing. Obviously, I'd reject the second deal if that one was a sure thing.

Neither is a sure thing. The latter strikes me as a lot closer to a sure thing than the former, but it isn't one either. The likelihoods are mostly somewhere toward the latter end.

I don't spend a lot of time researching and attempting to implement life extension for the same reasons I don't spend a lot of time researching and attempting to implement quantum computing.

One of those reasons is that while I find quantum computing mildly interesting, it's not something I find so interesting that I'd rather be doing that than, say, reading a good novel or attending a good concert or any of a bazillion other things.

Another is that I know that a lot of people who are a lot more interested in quantum computing than me are working on the problem, and that there's a greater likelihood that they'll deliver a consumer-priced quantum computer (or some particular benefits of quantum computing that I can use) than that I would do so even if I committed myself fully to the project.

It's my opinion that if significant life extension is achievable in the near term, there's a much better likelihood that someone else will develop a pill I can buy in bulk at Sam's Club, or a shot I can get at my doctor's office, or even a somewhat inconvenient but not terribly painful life extension method that's openly available to me, than that I would develop any of those things myself.

And I'm happy to let them do that while I do the things I'm more interested in. If they succeed, I benefit. If they don't, well, what was going to happen anyway happens anyway.

I don't particularly want to die, although I expect I probably will at some point. What I want is to live the way I like living until I do die, instead of spending a lot of time trying not to

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Advice to Myself, But Probably Worth Sharing With Others

  1. It's usually, although not always, a mistake to assume your opponents are operating from motives which they correctly understand to be immoral or even evil, while you're operating from motives which you correctly understand to be moral and good.

  2. It's almost always a mistake to assume your opponents are operating from naivete, while you're operating from an astute assessment of the situation.

  3. Carefully examine your opponents. And yourself.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Here Comes the Bleg

My hope and expectation is that the Libertarian Party of Florida's platform committee will focus more on improving the writing quality of, rather than adding to the written quantity of, the existing platform, which you can find here.

I'm not opposed to proposing new planks, or deletions of or substantive amendments to old ones, if it seems needful. My general approach to that is "is it needful, and is it something I believe the delegates will be likely to at least give a fair shake before passing or failing?"

Yes, I understand the "get a discussion going" value of proposing something that's right but that will almost certainly be rejected out of hand. But that's the kind of thing that has to be done rarely, and for only the very best of causes, if it's to be effective in terms of getting that value out of it. Otherwise, you're just pissing people off for the sake of pissing people off. Which I've been known to do, but which I wouldn't try to get a platform committee to do, because I think a platform committee should do its job, not play games.

The bleg: If you have suggestions, hit me with them in the comments (or via the contact form if you don't want to be public with them).

Ah, For My Sins They Punish Me

I've been appointed to the Libertarian Party of Florida's platform committee.

Just kidding about the punishment part -- glad to do it. And to get to work with Chris Rose II, Omar Recuero, Libertarian, and Jonathan Loesche on it.

These days, platform and rules committees are a lot more my speed than executive committees at any level. Single job, get it done, next thing instead of juggling a bazillion balls in the air. I think this is my fourth in five years (two national platform committees and one LPF rules committee, and this).

Concerning the Appeal to Location

I guess it's a minor variant of the "appeal to authority" fallacy, with the person making it implicitly claiming to be that authority.

The example I have in mind goes something like this (paraphrases cobbled together from multiple such comments over the years):

"I bet you've never been within a hundred miles of the Mexican border. If you had been, you would know, as I do (because I live in e.g. Laredo, Texas), that your opinions on borders and immigration are completely wrong. You haven't seen what I've seen, etc."

Now, I could respond that I've spent plenty of time not just within a hundred miles of the Mexican border, but occasionally right on that border and even across it. And that at the moment I've spent more than eight years living inside the 100-mile "Constitution-free zone" where the American police state just pretends the Bill of Rights doesn't exist where immigration is concerned.

But all of that would be irrelevant. While location can be a good thing in terms of making it easier to collect information, it's not a substitute for information. It's fallacious to assume that having spent time in a particular location makes one's claims incontestable simply because one has spent time in that particular location.

My assumption is that most of the people appealing to location vis a vis borders and immigration also have strong opinions on many things happening elsewhere.

I don't tell them "I bet you've never been to Washington, DC, and I have, so you should probably STFU about Congress and the president."

I don't tell them "I bet you've never crossed the mine fields separating Saudi Arabia from Kuwait, got first degree burns from getting too close to a burning oil well, and rummaged through Iraqi bunkers full of feces and gore and booby traps while hunting documents, and I have, so you clearly can't have an informed opinion on Desert Storm."

Either they can support their arguments with fact and logic, or they can't. And whether they're in Brownsville, Boston, or Boca Raton when they try to do so is largely irrelevant.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Behind, But Not Really

Yes, I am behind on my "average one blog post per day" goal ... for June.

But I'm past 180 posts for the year because I stayed ahead of things for the first five months of 2021.

Got several things going on that don't lend themselves well to blogging daily.

One of them is preparing for travel (if you're going to be at PorcFest on or after Thursday, or at ForkFest for the first day or so of that, let me know and we can get together!). Back in the day, I went a lot of places all the time. These days it's kind of rare, so I obsess over planning, packing, etc. for days or weeks ahead.

The other is the current situation in the Libertarian Party, where Facebook feels like the more natural venue for talking smack, etc.

But I do still hope to hit my 30 posts for June. Possibly with some pics from New Hampshire, etc.

Friday, June 18, 2021

I Used This One Weird Trick to Get Margot Robbie to HAVE MY BABIES ... and Then This Happened

Reader Thane Eichenauer seems to think my clickbait headline game is a bit rusty.

So I'm working on it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

An Open Letter to the Libertarian National Committee (from an Email to Joshua Smith)

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am writing to you in your capacity as an at-large member of the Libertarian National Committee. I'm also posting this letter to my personal blog, and hope that you will pass it on to the LNC via their business list.

Why am I writing to you specifically? Because we are factional / ideological opponents, and it seems to me that the statement I'm about to make is strengthened by sending it through someone I would not normally be expected to share much "common ground" with. Here's that statement:

It is my considered opinion that the Libertarian National Committee's legitimate affiliate in New Hampshire is the organization currently headed by interim chair Nolan Pelletier, rather than the new organization headed by Jilletta Jarvis.

It is also my considered opinion that properly identifying the legitimate affiliate and treating it, rather than some other organization, as the legitimate affiliate is the only action which the LNC is entitled to take in the matter. Everything else is either an internal Libertarian Party of New Hampshire dispute, or a dispute between the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire and another organization now using that name.

Vis a vis that dispute, here's why I must conclude that the Pelletier organization, rather than the Jarvis organization, is the legitimate affiliate:

Ms. Jarvis relied on LPNH bylaws Section IV(F)(2) -- "The Chair shall have the power to appoint persons to leadership roles within the State Party, subject to the confirmation of the Executive Committee, and may make immediate temporary appointments without confirmation if required to carry out tasks that require urgency" -- as justification for accepting the "constructive resignations" of the entire LPNH executive committee and all other party committees and their members, save herself.

That bylaws provision leaves a lot of room for skulduggery, and hopefully it will be amended in the future to more carefully outline the chair's powers (if nothing else, perhaps the Judicial Committee should be exempted from non-confirmed appointments so that there's someone to appeal abuse of it to).

But, even assuming that Ms. Jarvis had the power to do what she did with respect to the LPNH's committees, she did not have the power to dissolve the affiliate, replace it with an entirely new organization, and have that new organization automatically inherit the LNC affiliation which belonged to the old organization.

In announcing new "interim" bylaws and new membership requirements which were not approved by the LPNH membership in convention, Ms. Jarvis clearly established a new organization separate and distinct from the old one.

That new organization is not the LNC's New Hampshire affiliate, and cannot become the LNC's New Hampshire affiliate without a full vote of the LNC to 1) disaffiliate the Pelletier organization and 2) affiliate the Jarvis organization. Absent the first of those two actions on the LNC's part, the Pelletier organization remains the legitimate affiliate.

I've been a member of LPNH since 2016, and have served as a New Hampshire delegate to the Libertarian National Convention, although I don't think my dues are current. I'll be visiting New Hampshire for the first time later this month.  I hope that the LNC has resolved this matter in favor of the legitimate affiliate before I arrive there, and that I find an LPNH in the process of healing its divisions.

Best regards,
Tom Knapp

A Thought on Traveling

Next week, I'm going to travel across a bunch of imaginary lines drawn on the ground by politicians. 

These lines are called "borders," and they separate areas known to most as Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. There are also a bunch of other borders, too numerous to mention, separating places called "counties," "cities," etc.

At any place along my route where I happen to be on the ground, few would think to object if I decided to stop traveling, rent an apartment, hit the "help wanted" ads for a job, etc. If I did so in Lancaster, New Hampshire, I'd simply be assumed subject to the laws in New Hampshire rather than the laws in Gainesville, Florida. No biggie. Bazillions of people move back and forth across all those lines every day without incident. Nobody so much as says "boo" to them.

But if I want to travel less than 50 miles north from Burlington, Vermont to Saint-Armand, Quebec, or less than 60 miles north from Lancaster, New Hampshire to Dixville, Quebec, or either of those trips in reverse, a bunch of cultists on both sides of the imaginary lines separating those places (mostly, but not entirely, on the side I'm going to rather than the side I'm coming from) are possessed of a strange belief that my business is now their business. They fervently hold that those invisible lines imbue them with a  special magical right to require that I get their permission to move, to stop, to live, to work, etc.

Unfortunately, the members of that cult employ large numbers of thugs to enforce their superstitions at gunpoint.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Not Terrible

I've seen a little bit of bragging to the effect that the Mises Caucus "swept" state Libertarian Party elections in Florida yesterday.

My understanding is that Mises-affiliated or Mises-endorsed candidates (not all of the latter being the former) won a total of eight seats (out of 21) on the state executive committee.

That's eight more than I'd have liked, but it could have been worse. And it doesn't really sound like much of a "sweep" to me.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Ah, the Old "Two Organizations Claiming to be the REAL Libertarian Party of [Insert State Here]" Conundrum

Not the first time it's happened. Two that come to mind are the Libertarian Party of Arizona circa 2000 and the Libertarian Party of Oregon circa 2010-????.

Now it's happening in New Hampshire.

The very short version, and while I'm not going to pretend to be unbiased, my position is not what you'd probably assume:

  • Recently, the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus "took over" the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, winning most of the seats on that party's executive committee (the exception being the chair, Jilletta Jarvis).
  • The new Mises-dominated executive committee promptly began implementing the LPMC-endorsed "messaging strategy" of trying to consolidate Dank Meme Fandom into a viable political base. It also began purging its opponents.
  • Yesterday, citing alleged bylaws lawlessness on the part of that executive committee, Jarvis announced a new organization, claiming to be the "real" LPNH, with a new executive committee and interim bylaws (based on the "constructive resignations" of the allegedly lawless previous executive committee members) pending a convention.
  • There are claims, which seem at first blush to be credible, that Libertarian National Committee chair Joe Bishop-Henchman knew of, and intentionally aided, Jarvis's plan.
  • Naturally, those allegedly "constructively resigned" executive committee members claim that their organization is the "real" LPNH.
  • Vis a vis party assets, the Jarvis group has control of the party web site, social media accounts, and some physical property that was relocated from an LPNH-rented storage unit as the aforementioned events unfolded; that organization, supported by a letter from Bishop-Henchman, has probably filed for official party / ballot line recognition by New Hampshire's secretary of state. The Mises group has the party's bank account, and is operating from alternative web and social media accounts.
So, what do I think about all this?

Well, my sympathies are with the Jarvis organization, but I'm a process guy and from where I'm sitting it doesn't look like that organization did everything According to Hoyle. I consider that important.

On the other hand, there are occasional "we must burn the village in order to save it" situations. Whether this is such a situation is, at the moment, an open question.

The Libertarian National Committee has no choice but to become involved, if for no other reason than that the two entities claiming to be the "real" New Hampshire affiliate will both presumably send delegations to the 2022 national convention.

In the past, the LNC has done a piss-poor job of handling such situations. In Arizona, they disaffiliated the state party, held a mail ballot among national party members in the state as to which claimant to re-affiliate, and ended up losing the 2000 Libertarian Party presidential ballot line to the losing group. In Oregon, we went through several years of competing delegations showing up at national conventions demanding to be seated. And so on, and so forth.

I don't envy the LNC's job on this one.

I do have something of a personal interest here. I'm an LPNH member and have previously been a New Hampshire delegate to the national convention. My dues aren't current. They will not become current so long as the Mises Caucus runs the "real" LPNH. But I'm not yet convinced that the Jarvis group is the "real" LPNH, and won't be sending them money until I am convinced.

At the moment, it looks to me like the bad guys have the procedural right of things and the good guys don't. I could be wrong on that. Or it's possible that, as in Oregon, there is no procedural right and that I just have to pick between the good guys and the bad guys. In which case I'll pick the good guys.

Friday, June 11, 2021

1970 Album of the Week, June 11-17: Workingman's Dead, by The Grateful Dead

Ah, the first (but not the last) 1970 Album of the Week from the Grateful Dead ... Workingman's Dead is their fifth album and fourth studio album. Among the band's releases, it runs neck and neck with American Beauty (also released in 1970, so you know that one's coming) as my favorite.

Here's what drummer Bill Kreutzmann has to say about both albums in his 2015 autobiography, Deal: "We tried to be like a Bakersfield band -- but one that still sounded like we were from 300 miles north of that town." Workingman's Dead, he says, was "all about discovering the song," while American Beauty "became all about having the harmonies to do that." By the way, you should read Deal. Just sayin' ...

I'm not sure I'd call Workingman's Dead a "Bakersfield Sound" album as such, but I can see what Kreutzmann's getting at there. I could imagine Buck Owens recording "Dire Wolf" or Merle Haggard having fun with "Cumberland Blues."

I wasn't a Deadhead until after I married one. I'm not completely sure why. It's not like I wasn't into psychedelics. And country music. I think it may have been due to a misunderstanding I had in junior high. I was into hard rock and heavy metal at that time, and when I heard the term "acid rock," I assumed that the "acid" referred to a hard, corrosive sound. So when someone played a Grateful Dead song to me as "acid rock," I was kind of like "what is this hippie noodling, where's the distortion and screeching?"

My avenue into liking the Dead was two-fold. First, I dropped some blotter and listened to American Beauty for about six hours. Second, I started noticing Jerry Garcia's bluegrass work with Dave Grisman. Those two things pretty much sold me on the whole long, strange trip.

The closest I've come to seeing the Dead "live" was when I bought Tamara a pay-per-view showing of the final concert of the remaining members' "Fare Thee Well" tour as a "good news on the cancer survival front" present (and of course watched it with her). We're supposed to go see Dead and Company (Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann from the original band, with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti) this fall in .. Tampa, I think?

But anyway, back to Workingman's Dead ... I had a hard time deciding between "Uncle John's Band," "New Speedway Boogie," "Casey Jones," and "Dire Wolf" as the song to feature. I'm going with "Dire Wolf" because I think it best captures the "Bakersfield Sound" they were going for. But I could listen to the whole album all day long. And have.

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

OK, I'm at Least Semi-Sold on Lightning Network

I just purchased an Amazon gift card via (that's an affiliate link -- if you spend $50, I get $5) using Lightning, and the transaction took about as long as a debit card transaction at a physical or online store.

On the front end, I'm not sure how hard it is to get into Lightning from the git-go, because I had a supporter holding my hand through my first set of transactions. But once you're in, it seems to me that Lightning does a decent job of fulfilling the "buy a Coke at a convenience store" function (fast transactions, low fees) that cryptocurrency has to be able to handle if it's going to be a widely adopted medium of exchange.

Also, having just spent $100 worth of BTC that way (to finish buying my PorcFest / ForkFest camping supplies, a new pair of shoes, etc.), I am fairly confident that it will go to the moon overnight. Usually it enjoys a big bump within 12-24 hours of me spending any significant amount.

Kind of Puts a Hole in the "Immigrants are Poor and Will End Up on Welfare" Claim, Doesn't it?

Per the Washington Times:

According to The Times’[s] data, Mexicans paid an average of about $7,900 [to be smuggled across the US border] in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic upended cross-border traffic. The average payment this February rose to about $8,900. Central Americans’ average payment increased from about $9,400 last year to $11,000. Rates have held fairly steady in the months since.

Presumably those Mexicans and Central Americans were earning a lot less at home than most Americans earn here, yet they were able to come up with thousands of bucks to relocate. Compare to Americans circa 2019, per ABC News:

Almost 40% of American adults wouldn’t be able to cover a $400 emergency with cash, savings or a credit-card charge that they could quickly pay off, a Federal Reserve survey finds.
Looks like "illegal" immigration probably brings thrifty savers into the country and thus increases aggregate US wealth.

Monday, June 07, 2021

I'm Not Sure I Miss it Very Much

Facebook, that is.

The other day, I found myself logged out and unable to log in. It kept telling me that there was no account associated with my email address or phone.

Eventually, I got an email from Facebook to the effect of "we see you're having trouble logging in, let us help." I was able to get back in and "secure my account" (password change, etc.). There were a couple of spam posts from when I was not able to get in, indicating, I guess, that my account had been compromised somehow.

Then it happened again on (IIRC) Saturday. I did manage to get back in on my phone, but despite all kinds of cookie deletion, cache clearing, etc., on my computer Facebook still exists there's no such account as mine (even though it keeps sending me email notifications of friends' posts, etc.).

While I find Facebook useful for a number of things (including keeping in bare touch with old but physically distant friends), if this keeps up I'll just stop bothering with it.

I'm Putting Together a Light/Compact Camping Kit for PorcFest and Beyond

I've got an ideal situation in which to put together a very light complete camping kit: At PorcFest, I will have access to both a tent side and a hotel room, so if the camping end goes completely to shit with respect to weather or factors I'm missing, I won't likely die of hypothermia.

Of course, the kit isn't just for PorcFest / ForkFest, etc. I'm hoping to do a little "primitive" camping, with travel by bicycle, later this summer and fall. I want something that will fit easily into my pannier saddle bags and not weigh me down much at all.

Here's what I've either already got or have on my shopping list for the next couple of weeks (NOT affiliate links):

Tent: I already have a Rhino Valley Camping Tent (weight: 3 pounds, 3.25 ounces) around here somewhere, but "around here somewhere" has become a problem (my guess is it's in a not very well marked box in a storage unit), and I'd like to have two for music festivals where Tamara might want to stay overnight as well, or just nap. So I've ordered an L Runnzer, which supposedly weighs in at 3 pounds but which one reviewer got down to 1 pound, 7 ounces by using lighter tent pins:

I'll probably grab a dollar-store tarp to go with it -- weight less than one pound, and I can use it for several things, including as a rain fly if necessary, instead of having a dedicated rain fly.

Bag: Later this week, I'll order a compact, 1.7 pound ECOOPRO Warm Weather Sleeping Bag. I thought about just bringing a blanket, and probably would if it was just for PorcFest / ForkFest. But, see above. Any significant blanket is going to be added weight and bulk. Most of my camping will presumably be in Florida during warm weather. If I go farther afield in winter, I've got a mummy bag rated for -20 Fahrenheit. I've got an extremely light (8 ounces, maybe?), extremely thin rubberized mat (probably advertised as a "yoga mat" -- I got it at a garage sale for 50 cents and it has Time magazine's logo on it) to use as a vapor barrier between myself and the ground.

Cooking: My camp stove, including fuel, isn't much bigger than a cell phone and weighs about 10 ounces. It says it's an "emergency" stove, but I've done a two-day campout with it before and it met my needs.

I haven't decided whether to take my 3-cup (10.7 ounces) or 6-cup (22.4 ounces) "moka pot" to brew coffee in. The "cups" in question are tiny Italian espresso cups. To get a sizeable cup of coffee in one brew, the 6-cup is the one.  I have both glass and plastic "camping style" French presses, but I'm traveling by air and not sure either would survive my baggage being thrown around. And I'm not foregoing coffee.

Previously, I just dragged a regular kitchen pan or two along on camping trips, but they're bulkier and heavier than I want for this project, so I've ordered a Coleman 10.4 ounce "nesting mess kit" -- frying pan, pot with lid, plate, and cup.

That gets me up to 8 pounds or less (assuming the bigger moka pot), and all of it (plus a flashlight, solar phone charger and power banks, mylar "emergency blanket"/poncho, canteen, etc.) should fit in a fairly compact "student book bag" type pack (when I'm not using the bicycle saddle bags).

As for food, my plan for PorcFest / ForkFest is to cheat a bit. I don't have to hike in with my food in my pack, and I don't want to bulk up my luggage by buying it in Florida. I expect my travel partner and I will stop somewhere between the airport and the festival site at a Walmart or whatever to pick up cheap styrofoam coolers, ice, and camp food (including my fru-fru coffee creamer -- I don't drink it black and I don't like the powdered stuff). And of course it looks like there will be plenty of food vendors there for when camp-cooked bacon and eggs doesn't sound that great. But when I do the "bike or hike in and out" primitive camping, the low weight and bulk of this kit should leave plenty of room for me to carry a reasonable amount of food.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

If You're an Amazon Prime Member, Here's a Pretty Nice "Early Prime Day Deal"

  1. Buy a select Amazon e-gift card of $40 or more in value (not an affiliate link)
  2. At checkout, enter the promo code "GIFTFORPD21"
  3. Wait a couple of days and Amazon will add a $10 promotional credit to your account
So if you were planning to spent $50 on stuff Amazon any time soon, you could buy a $40 gift card and get the last $10 gratis. Which amounts to a 20% discount. Pretty nice.

Friday, June 04, 2021

Thanks For Asking! -- 06/04/21

Yeah, I'm running late on the monthly AMA thread. Go ahead and sue me -- I'm judgment-proof ;-)

The drill: Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comments, and I'll answer either in the comments or some other way (said other way linked from the comments).

Notes on My First Board Meeting

OK, not really my first board meeting -- I've served on various committees, and this is my second "government" appointment.

The other "government" appointment (local draft board member) had a grand total of one meeting in the eight years I was on it, and that was a training session in how to do the job if the draft ever cranked up. So yeah, that was easy.

But anyone who's served on a political party committee of any kind has a reasonably good idea of what it's like to do the same thing on a government board, and I've done that at every level from county committee to state committee to national platform committee to national committee to national convention (which is, essentially, a short-term, very large committee meeting). There's parliamentary procedure. There's an agenda. There's discussion/debate. There's voting.

A lot of it is, frankly, boring. It may sound very empowering and glamorous to people who have never actually done it, but mostly it's really just the scutwork that keeps any organization operating according to whatever its larger scheme is.

In the case of the Gainesville/ Alachua County Bicycle / Pedestrian Advisory Board, that work involves making recommendations to the Gainesville City Commission, the Alachua County Commission, and the Gainesville Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization with respect to federally funded stuff concerning, you guessed it, bicyclists and pedestrians.

As is usual with being new on a board, I promised myself I'd mostly keep my mouth shut at my first meeting. And, as is usual with me, I wasn't able to to that. I discussed, questioned, made/seconded/voted on motions, etc. Hopefully I did so productively.

A good part of the two-plus-hour meeting was spent deciding whether or not to advise MTPO to adopt its current draft Transportation Improvement Program, draft List of Priority Projects and draft Public Involvement Plan.

The "staff recommendation" on all of those items was, of course, to advise MTPO to adopt them.

And that's what we did, after some discussion of their content. I voted in favor of those motions (in fact, I believe I made at least one of them).

Which is not to say that I support everything in any of them, but all of them had been worked on for a long time before I joined the board, and had presumably been drafted with past input from the board. I was satisfied with the answers given to my questions about them, and the answers to the questions asked by other board members. My expectation is that over the next three years I'll be able to watch the future iterations of these plans as they're developed and perhaps have some input of value to offer.

My experience of being on, and watching, boards tells me that many of them nearly automatically, and without many questions, tend to go with "staff recommendations" on almost everything. I'll do my best to avoid being that kind of board member. 

Will there be a lot involved here that offers opportunities for libertarian advocacy?

Hard to tell, other than perhaps advocating that the board advise against particular projects that look wasteful or unnecessary (the federal funding as a whole is likely an "on rails" kind of thing powered more from the federal end by budgeting rather than from the city/county/MTPO end by requests; it's how it's spent that's more in question).

Old Zen saying: "Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment chop wood, carry water."

Boards, be they charitable, political, governmental, etc. are the chopping of the wood and carrying of the water. If I can bring some libertarian "enlightenment" to that chopping/carrying I will, but the price of any such potential opportunity is the willingness to chop and carry in the first place.

1970 Albums of the Week, May 28-June 3 and June 4-10: Deep Purple in Rock by Deep Purple, and Self Portrait by Bob Dylan

A couple of weeks ago, I ran a poll on whether this feature should continue. Results: Two votes for continuing it, one vote for "don't really care." I take that as a signal that it's pretty much about whether or not I enjoy doing it. And I do, kind of. So, here's another "two weeks in one" wrap-up.

May 28-June 3: Deep Purple in Rock was the band's fourth studio album. I can't speak for most music fans, but when I think of Deep Purple I think of Machine Head, their sixth album (source of their most famous tune, "Smoke on the Water"). Deep Purple in Rock was the first album to feature the "Mark II" lineup (in which bassist Nick Simper and vocalist Rod Evans were replaced by, respectively, Roger Glover and Ian Gillan) that gave us Machine Head (drummer Ian Pace is the only original member who's always been a member whenever the band was actually together, which has been since 1968, except for a period from 1976 to 1984).

Deep Purple doesn't make my list of favorite bands, really, but I can dig them at times, and this album is the start of what I consider their "classic" period. Here's "Child in Time":

June 4-10: I probably don't have to point this out, but I will anyway -- if there's a release by Bob Dylan in any given week, that release is going to be the Album of the Week. Same for the Grateful Dead, unless there's a Dylan release. It's just hard to imagine it any other way.

Even if that album is Self Portrait.

Most of the album consists of covers, losing the advantage of Dylan's skill as (still!) America's greatest living songwriter. Most of it is sung in the style of Nashville Skyline, which is my least favorite Dylan vocal style. Dylan himself called the album a joke and a way of escaping the "voice of a generation" burden. Rolling Stone critic Greil Marcus opened his review with "What is this shit?" Jimmy Guterman and Owen O'Donnell rated it the third worst rock album of all time (behind Lou Reid's Metal Machine Music and Elvis Presley's Having Fun with Elvis on Stage).

But. It's. Dylan. See the rule, above.

Here's a live take, included on Self Portrait, of "Like a Rolling Stone," recorded at the Isle of Wight on August 31,1969. Which, for some reason, I can't find on YouTube, so I'll try a Spotify embed.

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