Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Why Not a Crowd-Funding Site Specifically for Legal Defense Funds?

At the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Rainey Reitman and Jillian C. York point out:

While it’s understandable that, in the wake of the Capitol Hill riot, people are grasping for ways to limit the spread of right-wing extremism, the demand that companies prevent individuals from raising funds for a legal defense is deeply troubling. Our adversarial judicial system is built on the idea that people -- even guilty people -- should have access to a fair trial with adequate representation. In a criminal case, that ideal is often elusive, with the government having nigh unlimited resources, especially for a high profile case, while most defendants have few resources at all. 
Demanding that companies deny individuals the ability to effectively raise funds for a defense attorney tilts the playing field from the start. People would be outraged if, for instance, protesters detained during last summer’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations were de-platformed by fundraising sites.

It seems to me that there's an opportunity here -- perhaps for some association of defense attorneys or a  civil liberties organization with a brief for defending defendants' rights to due process, representation, etc. -- to  create a crowd-funding site that's:

  1. Committed to (and legally bound to) raise funds that, once aggregated, go directly to a defendant's attorney's "Interest on Lawyer Trust Account," so that the funds can't be diverted to other purposes/uses; and
  2. Committed to non-discrimination between defendants on principle.
Would that shut up the "people I don't like shouldn't be able to raise funds to get lawyers because they might use the money to have swastika flags made instead" crowd? Of course not. But it would eliminate even the slightest hint of any validity to their case. And it would give defendants access to legal defense crowd-funding that wouldn't get yanked just because a mob howled about it.

A Music Poll ...

... to settle some disagreements.

Which band was the greatest band on the planet between 1980 and 2011?
R.E.M. from Chronic Town through Reckoning
R.E.M. from Fables of the Reconstruction through Monster
R.E.M. after Monster
Those Irish wankers whose lead singer hung out with the Pope
Created with QuizMaker

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

This Post is Brought to You

by the number 3.

As of earlier today -- I wouldn't do this post just to get there, only to celebrate getting there -- I've logged three straight months of averaging at least one post per day (my ongoing goal). You're welcome.

About that @LPKY Tweet

This one:

Some people, including some people I respect, are upset about it.

I'm not.

Is putting it that way the best idea as a communications strategy? I don't know. Among other things, that would depend on who LPKY hoped to appeal to with it.

Is it an accurate analogy? Yes, it is.

And it would be almost, but not quite, as accurate to compare the "vaccination passport" scheme to the old Soviet bloc's internal passport systems.

Almost, because the Star of David patches were, like the vaccine passports, at least partially predicated on "public health" claims (Jews were characterized as having lice, and thus blamed for spreading typhus).

Even if it is a bit of a messaging fail, and I'm not seeing that, it's at worst a tiny tempest in an itty-bitty teapot. To the extent that it's noticed, it's going to be noticed almost entirely by two kinds of people: People who already agree with it, and people will never, ever, ever agree with us.

If other people identifying Nazi-like policy proposals as Nazi-like policy proposals bothers you, I suggest working hard to make proposing Nazi-like policies socially unacceptable. The tweet, in its own way, represents exactly that kind of work.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Land Speed-Reading Record?

Three times a week (most weeks, anyway), I write a Garrison Center op-ed and submit it to newspapers -- at least 1,400 of them (if it's likely to be of interest only to US readers), sometimes as many as 2,500 (if it's likely to be of interest in e.g. South Korea, Jamaica, Azerbaijan, et al.).

Today, I wrote a column and didn't submit it to all those publications, or post it on the site. Since it ran beyond my usual 500-word maximum for mass submissions, I figured I'd hit up one of the places that only accepts "exclusives."

Or, if necessary, more than one.

It's at Venue Number Three now.

Venue Number One replied reasonably quickly: Sorry, we're overwhelmed with submissions right now, why don't you shop it somewhere else? Fair enough.

Venue Number Two responded at near light speed. Three minutes after I hit "send" on the email, they replied that they had "carefully reviewed" the submission and were "not able" to publish it.

The piece is 700 words long. Average adult reading speed is 200-300 words per minute. So it's not completely impossible that an editor read the piece. But I doubt that editor carefully reviewed the piece. As for not being "able" to publish it, well, they can publish anything they damn well please. Why not just say "we don't want it," with or without a reason?

Sunday, March 28, 2021

For Once It's the Guitar, Not Me

I've had my Epiphone Les Paul Special for more than three years (purchased as a $95 Cyber Monday "doorbuster"), but have barely played it. Reason: It needed a good setup, and I wouldn't say I'm an especially good setter-upper. The intonation was off (audibly flat at the 12th fret).

So I set it aside, meaning to get around to it Real Soon Now, and never did, until last week I bought a new set of strings and resolved to do it this weekend.

Adjusted the truss rod. Adjusted the bridge. Intonation: Good!

Plugged the guitar in to an amp: Bad! Intermittent sound with accompanying crackles.

Bad instrument cable? Nope, cable's fine, the acoustic/electric and the bass I have sitting nearby both work just fine.

So, it's in the guitar's electronics somewhere. That's another adventure that may get put off for another three years. Guess I get what I pay for.

On the other hand, in my experience cheap guitars usually deliver more than I pay for.

And I do have a set of Ernie Ball Slinkys that I need something to put on.

So I may be doing a little shopping.

Friday, March 26, 2021

1970 Album of the Week, March 26- April 1: Bitches Brew, by Miles Davis

A confession: I've always wanted to like instrumental jazz (ever since coming across a couple of collections of Nat Hentoff's old jazz columns from Down Beat, the Village Voice, etc. in my high school library).

I wanted to like it while growing up in a country music household in a small midwestern town where jazz wasn't  to be found outside of the local high school's jazz band and junior high school's vocal jazz ensemble (in which I performed as a baritone). But it's never really gotten its hooks into me. I just have to  have a singer or singers to dig jazz.

So while this week's 1970 Album of the Week -- Miles Davis's Bitches Brew, released on March 30 of that year -- is incredibly influential in many ways, and while I've listened to it a number of times, and while it richly deserves inclusion in any recap of great 1970 albums, I can't say I'm personally gaga for it. The only vocals on it are Davis in the background prompting soloists, etc. I don't really have the musical / instrumental vocabulary to appreciate it properly, I guess. Or to describe it properly either.

My "track to feature" selection from the album is the shortest track on the album, "John McLaughlin," on which Davis doesn't even perform (and on which John McLaughlin does). The biggest exception to my "don't care much for instrumental jazz" rule is McLaughlin's "fusion" outfit, Mahavishnu Orchestra, formed the year after the release of Bitches Brew.

Two Things

Thing #1: Free Talk Live seems to be back to "normal" in terms of getting its nightly episodes up on the show site as archived podcasts. That's how I generally prefer to listen to the show. I don't think they missed even a single day as live radio, but after the federal terror attack on their studio, intertube viewing options were temporarily interrupted/ not as easy to find / less than reliable (helpful friends immediately got things covered on Flote and, after a day or two, episodes started showing up on Soundcloud again).

Thing #2: Speaking of which, SUPPORT THE CRYPTO 6! Two of FTL's hosts are still in jail, from among six freedom fighters who are charged with the "crime" of exchanging cryptocurrency in ways that pleaseth not the crown.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Too Short to Really be a Review: Five Guys Burgers

I've been putting off trying Five Guys Burgers for years, because frankly they're a little pricey. But being near a burger joint and never, ever, ever trying it was getting to me, so today I went ahead and ordered for pickup. Here's my review, such as it is:

Burger: I got the burger with cheese, grilled onions, and mustard. I won't say that I didn't like it. I did like it. But other than that it came on a sesame seed covered bun, that the onions were grilled instead of raw, and that it cost a good deal more, well, it was indistinguishable from a Wendy's double with cheese, onions, and mustard. I mean exactly the same taste and texture of bread and beef.

I happen to like Wendy's burgers, but if I want one I'll go to Wendy's. I can get the burger with fries and a soft drink for less there than I pay for the burger alone at Five Guys.

Shake: They serve one flavor of shake (vanilla), with a giant list of mix-ins that you can have as many as you want of. So I ordered mine with bacon, peanut butter, malted milk, and whipped cream.

It's a buck or two more expensive than most fast food shakes, but well worth it. I'll be going back there for shakes. Probably just swing by when I'm on my way to Wendy's for burgers.

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

First Time I Can Recall Agreeing with Tom Homan About Anything

He says Kamala Harris is the "worst pick" to lead the Biden regime's response to the fake "border crisis" (as Andy Craig points out on Facebook, "Everything that’s wrong at the border is a product of the government trying to stop people from crossing it").

I agree.

I don't agree with his reasons. He thinks she's a bad pick because "she supports sanctuary cities," she's spoken disdainfully of the ICE and Border Patrol street gangs, and she's a Reagan Republican, aka "an open borders advocate" on immigration in general. The first two complaints are among the few decent things about her. As for the third, if it's true, she's been lying about her position since at least as far back the early days of her failed presidential campaign.

I think she's a bad pick because her political modus operandi has always been to throw as many people as possible in cages as a way of advancing her own career.

"Epidemiology" and "Public Health" Aren't the Same Thing

I keep having to discuss the differences between the two with people, so I might as well write a short piece on it that I can just point to.

"Epidemiology" is "the study and analysis of the distribution (who, when, and where), patterns and determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations."

"Public health" is  the application of action and policy to the goal of reducing the incidence and spread of disease and other negative health outcomes.

Yes, "public health" may be informed by epidemiology (and other sciences and disciplines), but public health is not those other things.

John Snow figuring out that the Broad Street cholera outbreak was associated with a particular well was "epidemiology."

John Snow persuading the Board of Guardians of St. James's Parish to remove the pump handle from the well was "public health."

So, here's the problem:

To the extent that "public health" involves policy, it also involves politics. And whenever politics is involved, science gets skewed, misdirected, or even falsified to serve the agendas of politicians.

Take, for example, the Third Reich's "racial hygiene" laws -- everything from ridding the German gene pool of mental disability through selective euthanasia to ridding German society of typhus by ridding German society of Jews. That was "public health" in action, with bad (in fact, often entirely fake) "science" as its justification.

Yeah, I know. Godwin's Law and all that. But it is an indisputable fact that the last year has seen epidemiology and other branches of science abused in much the same way.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

He Says it Like it's a Bad Thing

"Hundreds Of Far-Right Militias Are Still Organizing, Recruiting, And Promoting Violence On Facebook," Christopher Miller reports at BuzzFeed. And he seems to consider that a problem.

If I was especially worried about "far-right militias," I'd want them to organize on Facebook.

They're going to organize one way or another.

Does Miller prefer that they do so in a place where he's clearly -- the article is the proof -- equipped to monitor them and their activities, or would he rather they did so in places where he has no idea what they're up to?

Even if Government Should be in Charge of "Infrastructure" ...

... and it shouldn't, of course ...

Right now seems like a particularly bad time for a "major infrastructure bill."

Transportation and the generation / delivery of electricity (two major infrastructure concerns) are changing in a big way right now, and it's not obvious how fast they're going to do so. As electric, self-driving, and shared vehicles increase in adoption, and as more and more electricity is generated with wind and solar, highway and "grid" needs and loads are going to change.

Why build the infrastructure of the day before yesterday for the world of the day after tomorrow? And you know that government will either do the former or make exceedingly dumb predictions while trying to catch up to the latter.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Real Story Makes Sidney Powell Look Stupid and Dishonest, so Why Lie About Her in the Headlines?

A couple of sample headlines:

Sidney Powell argues in new court filing that no reasonable people would believe her election fraud claims

Sidney Powell's legal defense: 'Reasonable people' wouldn't believe her election fraud claims

But that's not what the actual stories say.

What the actual stories say is that her attorneys argued in court that no reasonable people would take her claims as claims of fact, rather than as her personal opinions.

She (or her attorneys) aren't saying that "reasonable people" wouldn't believe her claims. They're saying that that "reasonable people" would understand her as expressing an opinion, then go look things over and make up their own minds.

Why are they saying that? Because they're trying to thread the libel/defamation needle.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. I'm just giving you my basic understanding of US libel/slander/defamation law here.

If I say that you're a bad person, that's just my opinion and not actionable.

If I say that on March 23, 2021, you robbed a liquor store, that's a claim of fact which, if untrue, is actionable.

Based on my limited knowledge of Powell's theatrics, I doubt this defense will fly. My recollection is that she made very specific claims regarding Dominion that a "reasonable person" would regard as claims of objective fact, not just personal opinions.

The real takeaway from the story is that instead of defending those factual claims as true and attempting to prove them via the discovery process, she's trying to retroactively turn them into mere opinions to save her own ass. Which makes her look plenty bad. So why did CNN and NBC (and probably others) feel a need to lie in the headlines about the actual content of the story?

Sunday, March 21, 2021

We Are Living in Amazing Times

I doubt I'll be buying this for several reasons (including likely needing to run it through Windoze), but look at what it includes -- all kinds of guitar effects and amp simulators, etc., for basically the price of a couple of inexpensive pedals or a decent used amp.

I recently bought a cheap Laney practice amp ($50, IIRC, on sale) that includes a plug-in for my cell phone to feed it data from a free app called Tonebridge. Choose a song from a very large catalog of hits, and it intercepts your guitar's signal at the amp and applies effects so that the sound coming out of the amp is like unto the sound of guitar from that song.

None of this magically improves playing skill, but to the extent that a player has any skill, it makes it insanely cheap to apply that skill to get the sound the player wants to get. Thousands of dollars cheaper, in many cases.

Support The Crypto 6!

I wanted to wait until there was a reasonably well-verified (and hopefully uncompromised) mechanism for supporting the Free Talk Live associated political prisoners now known as "The Crypto 6." Here's a link to last night's Free Talk Live, which names this site as the place to do that.

The site only accepts cryptocurrency, but (perhaps in a nod to the number of victims) accepts six different types.

I just kicked in $50. Consider this a "matching challenge" if you can afford it. These people have done a lot of great work for the freedom movement and deserve every bit of help they can get.

An Anniversary I Should Have on My Calendar But Would Have Missed ...

... if not for Quillette's David S. Wills:

Today marks 50 years since the publication of what may be the greatest work in American letters.

Link (not an affiliate link)

Friday, March 19, 2021

A Note to Those of You Who Thought Joe "RAVE Act" Biden Might Come to Jesus on the Drug War

That thing you were doing that you thought was thinking wasn't.

How dumb is this? Well, if America in general ran on the same principle, US unemployment would be at (a minimum of) 52%.

1970 Album of the Week, March 19-25: Band of Gypsys, by Jimi Hendrix

If you've been reading my 1970 album reviews (or pretty much anything else I write about music), you know that guitar is my thing. That, in turn, means that I treat Jimi Hendrix as like unto a god. I'm not going to argue against the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's characterization of him as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music."

Band of Gypsies, released on March 25, 1970 was several things: Hendrix's first live album (and the only one released before his death); his first album without The Jimi Hendrix Experience backing him; his last non-posthumous full album (he appears as one act on the Woodstock "soundtrack" and as a sideman on Timothy Leary's You Can Be Anyone This Time Around, both released between Band of Gypsys and his death); and more the incidental product of a pressing need to give Capitol Records an album to settle a contract dispute than a project undertaken for its own sake.

Is it Hendrix's best album? I don't think so (I'm partial to Electric Ladyland). Roger Bannister's 3:59.4 mile on May 6, 1954 wasn't his best running time, either (he ran 3:58.8 that August),  but that doesn't mean it wasn't remarkable.

Another bit of conventional wisdom I'm not going to dissent from is that "Machine Gun" is the standout track:

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

These Three People are Dangerous Criminals

John J. Farley, acting US Attorney
Georgiana L. MacDonald, Assistant US Attorney
Seth R. Aframe, Assistant US Attorney

See here and here for details.

Avoid these thugs and their (as yet unknown) co-conspirators if at all possible. Certainly, if you value your life and freedom, don't sell them gasoline or groceries, serve them food, provide them with sacraments if you're clergy of their denominations, let your kids play with theirs, etc. I'll let y'all know when and if I learn of a legal defense fund for these thugs' victims.

When My Hand is Fully Recovered ...

... I will want to celebrate with a new guitar. Probably this one:

I've never owned a Telecaster or clone thereof. Based on picking instruments up at the store and noodling with them, I know I prefer a semi-hollow thin-line to a solid body, and Grote gets great reviews on their budget guitars (I considered buying their semi-hollow jazz model for my "Mom Memorial Guitar" before going with the Ibanez).

At $119 with pretty good reviews, it looks like just about my speed.  I've put it on my Amazon Wish List, in case it would break anyone's heart to see me have to pay for it myself. But I'll also be keeping an eye on the used racks at my local Guitar Center to see if a Squier Tele or something similar shows up cheap and in good shape.

It Occurs to Me That the Way I Judge Whether Music is "Progressive ..."

... is by whether it puts me to sleep. And I mean that in a good way.

At the end of 2020, I got a set of statistics from Amazon Music, telling me which songs I had streamed the most over the course of the year. The winner, by far and which surprised me, was the first side of Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick. And that's because, more often than any other song, I'd tell Alexa to start playing it when I lay me down to sleep at night. And usually, by the time the youngest of the family was ruling with authority, I'd be off to dreamland. Not because it's boring -- it isn't -- but because it's ... well, pleasant.

I've mentioned before that I don't really think of Jethro Tull as "progressive," precisely because my favorite tune of theirs is "Locomotive Breath," which just feels like hard rock, not "progressive," to me, and which will never, ever put me to sleep. But Thick as a Brick clearly is prog, no doubt about it.

Maybe the reason I don't think of Rush or Pink Floyd as "progressive" is because I just don't get somnolence out of their music. I'll probably never go to sleep listening to 2112 or Wish You Were Here. Your mileage may vary.

I'm about 100 pages into David Weigel's The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock (not an affiliate link) and enjoying it immensely. I'll probably give it a more thorough review later, but for now I'll just say that it may be the most enjoyable "rock music history/fandom" read I've picked up since Stephen Davis's Hammer of the Gods (not an affiliate link). Unlike the latter book, of course, Weigel's isn't about a single band, but about a fuzzily defined genre. But it's still absorbing.

Confession time: Before yesterday, I had never listened to King Crimson. I mean, really listened, in earnest. I'd heard bits here and there, and found them interesting in a way, but never bought an album or asked a streaming service to throw them at me.

Last night, under Weigel's influence, I said "Alexa, play In the Court of the Crimson King," and before the album was over I was soundly and restfully asleep. It was interesting, but also enjoyable enough that ... zzzzzzzzzzzz, with a smile on my mind. Which was probably not their intent at all, and I'd no doubt respond differently to a live performance with light show, etc., but which is, again, a good thing. I'll probably put it on again later today, when I'm not trying to sleep, and like it just as well.

So, yep, King Crimson is "progressive."

Sunday, March 14, 2021

So Close, Yet So Far Away ...

The tendonitis-afflicted right hand getting back to 100%, that is.

Over the last couple of weeks, it will feel much better, then get worse.

As of yesterday morning, it felt like, say, 90%. Almost no soreness, and not as much "popping" of the tendon as usual. I had taken most of Friday away from the computer, etc. and just let it rest.

As of last night, almost 100% -- I spent most of the day working on Tamara's car with my neighbor, in ways that didn't put my right hand to its normal mousing/typing usage.

Then, by maybe 30 minutes into this morning's "day job" work on the computer, it was back to maybe 70%.

Thing is, I can't realistically take more than 24-48 hours even mostly "off" and still get the things done that I'm needing to get done.

I'm probably going to talk to a doc about a steroid injection. Hopefully if that kind of intervention will relieve the symptoms for some time, the permanent ergonomic changes, etc. I've made will prevent it from coming back.

Friday, March 12, 2021

1970 Album of the Week, March 12-18: Egg, by Egg

I'm going to open this particular 1970 Album of the Week installment by promoting a book which I have not yet read (been meaning to since it came out, but only got around to ordering a copy this morning) but which at least mentions the band in question: David Weigel's The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock (not an affiliate link). If you're into progressive rock, or rock history, or Dave Weigel's writing (I resemble those last two remarks), you're probably going to like it. I certainly expect to. You might also want to give a listen to the National Review podcast "Political Beats," episode 43, on which Weigel discusses King Crimson. I expect that will give you a certain advance feel for the book.

One reason I'm opening by flogging Weigel's book is that he is, while I'm about as far as it's possible to get from, an authority on / major fan of "progressive rock."

That's not to say I don't like prog rock, depending on how you define it. I've seen everyone from the Yardbirds to Jethro Tull to Pink Floyd to Rush identified as prog, but I don't really see them that way (I'm more into "Train Kept a' Rollin'" than "Shapes of Things," for example). When I think of progressive rock I think of Yes, Tangerine Dream, and Genesis. And while I don't dislike that latter batch of bands, I like the former batch far more.

So: Egg. And Egg, the band's 1972 debut album.

The band formed in 1968, recorded two albums, broke up in 1972, then briefly reformed to record a third album in 1974. Finis.

The second side of the album consists of one track, "Symphony No. 2," and the first side includes J.S. Bach's "Fugue in D Minor," which should tell you something about where their heads were at. I picked this album for this week not because of any special dedication to the band or to the album, but because I found it quite an enjoyable listen. My favorite is the jazzier "I Will Be Absorbed" --

Thursday, March 11, 2021

I Have a (Bike) Dream

Mentioning my daydream of re-building my old Trek 7000 as an electric bike turned it into a more detailed dream. Here's the bike when I first bought it in very, very, very used condition, for $100:

I rode the hell out of that bike, but other than perhaps mounting lights, I think replacing one tire, and initially taking it to a bike shop for a going-over and "tune-up," I didn't invest money in it. And it needed investment -- new derailleur and probably, to be honest, a new rear hub/cassette.

What I want to do with it, time and money allowing over the next few years is:

  1. Strip it completely down to frame and fork and throw everything else away.
  2. Sandblast and re-paint frame and fork.
  3. Rebuild it -- crank set, seat, wheels, tires, etc. -- from the ground up as a single-speed with a great electric motor setup on it.
  4. Add a solar bike trailer (I have a frame that may be resurrectable) -- top and sides all made of tiltable solar panels that power a battery charger inside the trailer so that I can carry extra batteries and have them be charging while I'm riding or parked in daylight.
This would make it into two things:

  1. A trip bike. With the ability to carry two or three extra batteries and get at least some charging done on the road, I expect I could go from nursing 30+ miles out of one battery to having a 100+ mile range. And I'd get a kit that either doesn't have a speed governor built in, or that I can disable the governor on. Most e-bikes won't do more than 20 mph or so by intentional design because local governments don't want a bunch of electrified speed demons on the streets (I've measured my Nakto at 22 miles an hour with a considerable tailwind). I'd like to be able to get 30-35mph when it makes sense (e.g. riding down a reasonably good, not very busy two-lane country highway). So if I got it into my head to visit Jacksonville or even Orlando, I could make it in four hours or so (and, after a few hours of plugging my charger into a wall, come back). The trailer would have room in it, even with charger and batteries, for some clothing and camp supplies.
  2. My last bike. Really. I love that 57 centimeter frame on 700c tires. It's comfortable. With the right saddle and handlebars, I could bear to sit on it and move for hours at a time, especially not having to pedal so much. If I get it right, I'll just maintain it and keep my eyes off of other rides.
My guess is that I'm looking at $1,000 or so (not including the trailer and extra batteries) to make this happen. Maybe even more. I haven't started costing it out yet. But that expense would be spread out over time, as I'd pick up a saddle here, a crank set there, etc. and build it slowly. First step is getting the frame stripped. I have a friend with sand-blasting and painting equipment I can use, which would be the second step. Then start putting stuff on the frame.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Not Exactly Karma ...

 ... Bikema, maybe?

Last week, I dragged out the Nakto e-bike and started going places on it for the first time since December. Cycling is transportation, not exercise, for me these days and when it's cold I either see if Tamara will drive me or just don't go. But nove I've been running little errands -- dropping some clothes off at a donation bin, visiting a nearby "little free roadside library" to dump off four paperbacks for every one I take, etc.

Then, this morning, I reached the point in a yard project of mine that involved cutting a bunch of thick brush away from our old shed that got trees dropped on it in a hurricane, and dragging out several old bikes (including my dilapidated Trek 7000, which I've been daydreaming about stripping down to the frame and re-building as an electric bike).

Then, just now after months of wondering if anything was ever going to happen, I finally got a phone call letting me know that the Alachua County Commission will be filling the vacancies on it its Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board in April, and that my application will be one of those they consider.

According to Google, I've never blogged here about that. Funny, I thought I had. I saw the notice of vacancies on the county government's site, accompanied by an email address to apply. So I did. Twice, several months apart. No response.

Then I saw an ad in the local independent university paper (The Alligator) leading to a site with an actual application in PDF format. Printed it out, mailed it in, quite some time ago. Of course, those guys have been mostly working from home, while snail mail has been arriving at their offices, and the gentleman who called explained that my application had simply been missed until he came across it while looking for something else.

So, KN@PPSTER is applying for a government position. WTF? I explained this on Facebook or whatever, but apparently not here, so here goes:

  1. Yes, I'm still a libertarian. An anarchist, even. But the county government does exist, and it does maintain a road system, and it's going to continue to exist and to maintain a road system for the foreseeable future.
  2. The advisory board in question has no legislative or spending authority so far as I can tell. All it does is make recommendations to the Alachua County Commission and Gainesville City Council on how to operate its road system in ways consistent with safety, usability, convenience, and enjoyment for cyclists and pedestrians (and motorists in interaction with same).
  3. If there's going to be a government-operated road system (paid for not just by taxes on automobiles and gas, btw, but by sales taxes and such that also hit cyclists and pedestrians), I'm all for cyclists and pedestrians (both of which my anarchist/libertarian self is) having some input on how it should operate.
  4. I think I'm fairly well qualified, as a cyclist and pedestrian who's biked/walked much, maybe even most, of the city and county, to offer informed opinions on such matters.
  5. So no, I don't see any ethical conflict here between my beliefs/positions and seeking/accepting such a position. Someone's going to fill the vacancy. I suspect the recommendations I support will be more sensible and less expensive than the recommendations someone else might support. And they're just recommendations in any case. The only difference is that I might be a little tiny bit more listened to when making them if I'm on that board than when making them if I'm not on that board.
  6. OK, ya got me, the hypocritical Achilles' heel: If the county's taxpayers are forced to pony up for coffee and donuts at board meetings, I might partake.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

I am a Lazy Bird Watcher

We keep a frequently stocked bird feeder (and a less frequently stocked suet cage) in a crepe myrtle out front of the house. I enjoy watching the birds come to feed when I'm sitting on the front porch for a smoke or because I've taken the dogs out to do their business, but am somewhat lazy about identifying them. I have a phone app that's supposed to help with that (snap a picture and it runs through a database), but haven't bothered to use it.

We have at a couple of mating pairs of cardinals who stop by several times a day, as well as a single bird that I think is a male cardinal (it looks like one but is more brown/gray -- older and mateless, perhaps?) who also visits frequently.

Also a pair of pigeons who come by at least daily and feed on the seed that's been spilled from the feeder. And some mockingbirds. And a hairy (I think, it might be downy) woodpecker who investigated the feeder once, but now shows up every day or two and makes a little noise on the tree before moving on.

And hundreds of smaller birds of various types that I haven't identified yet. At any time of day, there are usually 10-20 birds hanging out around the tree and taking turns at the feeder or scrounging on the ground around it. At some point I guess I'll deploy that app and figure out what they all are.

We've got crows, owls, buzzards, etc. around here (and I'm pretty sure a bald eagle), but I guess they're too big to perch on the feeder, or just aren't interested.

Also, I seem to be developing a relationship with a squirrel. At least I think it's always the same squirrel. We have a couple of pairs of them who constantly chase each other across the yard.

I started interacting with this squirrel a couple of weeks ago. I came out on the porch and sat down while he was scrounging seed from the ground, and instead of running away as usual, he (or she, but I'll stick with "he") just kept scrounging, but more warily. I talked to him a bit. When I told him he was fat, he took off.

After that, he stopped automatically running off when I came outside. Then one day I came out just as he was launching his scheme to get at the feeder. He was in the tree. I sat down. He pretended to ignore me. He crept up the tree and out on the branch the feeder hangs from. I waited until he snaked down the line the feeder hangs on and got his paws on the top of the feeder before yelling "booga booga" at him. He ran to another tree and scolded me for several minutes, then ran off when I ran toward him.

The next day, I opened the door and there he was on the bottom step of the porch. He didn't run until I opened the outer door and stepped out. And then he just ran as far as the area beneath the feeder, where he proceeded to eat and watch me for several minutes before sauntering away in what seemed to me a rather surly manner.

On my to-do list is finding out what food squirrels like best, and trying to get the little bastard to eat out of my hand.

Yes, I am a boring person. But not a bored one.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

A Contradiction I Frequently Notice

"To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one’s thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one’s mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality." -- John Galt in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

I've come across some libertarians, even prominent ones, who simultaneously hold that:

  1. There are only individuals. The groups they organize are not collective "super-organisms" with their own rights, interests, property etc. that are separate from the rights, interests, property, etc. of their members; BUT
  2. A business model (the "corporation") in which only a collective, and not that collective's individual members/owners, can be held liable for torts or debts is defensible.
The first holding is clearly anti-collectivist. The second holding is clearly collectivist. They can't both be true. Logically, you have to pick (at most) one.

Friday, March 05, 2021

The Horror ... The Horror ...

Alex Pareene says that requiring legislation to be read on the floor of the US Senate before voting on it is a "stunt" or "antic" and that the Senate should change its rules so that one Senator can't force the issue. Pareene's complaint is, in the moment, about the COVID-19 "relief" bill, which is 600-700 pages long and will take several hours to read aloud.

I think that the Senate should change its rules, too -- so that even with "unanimous consent," no bill can be voted on without a full public reading on the floor, period.

Requiring a full public reading would discourage long, complex bills (often hundreds or even thousands of pages long) with all kinds of weird and evil crap buried in them. Or, alternatively, it would mean the Senate would pass far fewer bills.

Many years ago, the city council of the eerily Pyongyang-like (in terms of governance) town I lived in added an ordinance adopting the New York City electrical code to the agenda for their next meeting. As a city resident who attended council meetings, I showed up at that meeting and in the public comment period noted that their own governing ordinances required them to read it aloud before adopting it. Twice. All 100,000 pages or so of it.

Unfortunately, my objection had neither the effect of forcing them to read the fucking thing aloud twice, nor the effect of moving them to reconsider the question of whether a town of 310 households really needed an electrical code written for a city of millions (the town already had more ordinances than people, including, I shit you not, one prescribing the number of holes per square inch required in window screens). Instead, they just voted on a resolution that their own rules didn't apply to them in the matter.

If you want to govern, you shouldn't be too lazy or secretive to do something as simple as having a public reading of what you're about to do. If you are that lazy or secretive, get a job in the productive sector.

I Like Free Stuff

Morning Brew is an interesting and useful and FREE morning email newsletter (take it from the publisher of the Internet's oldest daily email news/opinion roundup for libertarians!).

They also hand out perks to subscribers for bringing in MORE subscribers.

If I refer five more subscribers, I get a coffee mug. If I refer five more subscribers by Sunday, I get a water bottle.

I want a coffee mug and water bottle.

So please check it out.

1970 Album of the Week, March 5-11: Deja Vu, by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Deja Vu -- released on March 11, 1970 -- was the second "Crosby Stills & Nash" album and the first of six "Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young" album. It's the career best-selling album for each of CSNY's members. The album only spent a week at number one on the pop albums chart, but three of its four singles cracked the Top 40, and two ("Teach Your Children" and "Woodstock") in particular remain in heavy rotation on oldies/classic rock radio to this day.

I'm a much bigger fan of Neil Young personally than of CSN, CSNY, or any of the other members, but  regard this as an eminently solid album. Given its persistent influence (number 148 on Rolling Stone's "greatest 500 albums" list, etc.), others clearly agree. If I have any problem with it, or with the quartet, it's the omission of an Oxford comma both versions of the band name.

I'm going to exercise usual my tendency to promote lesser-known tracks instead of the obvious picks. Let's groove to "Almost Cut My Hair." And let's go with the Farm Aid 2000 live version instead of the album version because, well, just because.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Speaking of Starting New Political Parties ...

Because I sometimes have flashes of ... well, not inspiration, exactly, but maybe whimsy ... I just purchased the domain name

Not sure whether I'll do anything with it or just put it up for sale in case someone would like to, but the first year came to less than five bucks.

I can imagine a genuine (if humor-based) political party operating out of that domain. Or an anti-[insert party here, but you know which one I'm thinking of] news/satire site.

If you've got ideas or proposals, that's what the comment link is for.

1970 Album of the Week, February 26-March 4: Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends, by Screaming Lord Sutch

Normally, 1970 Album of the Week appears on Fridays. Last Friday, I forgot. Sorry about that.

One of the cool things about David Edward Sutch, aka the Third Earl of Harrow, aka Screaming Lord Sutch, is that, like me, he founded a political party -- in his case, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, which I think is a much better name than the Boston Tea Party. He also held (and still holds) the record for running in the most UK Parliament elections. Which, to my mind, makes him an honorary member of last week's 1970 Album of the Week Band, Funkadelic.

In terms of performance, he was something of a bridge between Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Alice Cooper -- coffins and other horror props, etc.

Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends features a number of prominent guest artists including Jeff Beck, Noel Redding, and at least two members of Led Zeppelin. But apparently the guests thought they were doing demos, or just jamming/messing around, or something of the sort, and were angry when the album was released (exact date unspecified in the Wikipedia article, but some time in February of 1970).

In a 1998 BBC poll, Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends prevailed for the title of worst album of all time. I'm not sure that's fair. Then again, as of 1998, Taylor Swift was only nine years old and hadn't recorded anything eligible for consideration. Hell, you decide. Here's "'Cause I Love You" ...

Monday, March 01, 2021

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/01/21

Monthly AMA thread -- you ask (in comments), I answer (in comments, or in some other format I link to from comments).

Keeping things short today because while the De Quervain's tendinosis in my right hand is much improved, the Dupuytren's contracture in my left hand is acting up, probably from using my left hand so much more this last week or so. The latter is a long-standing problem that's eventually going to require "real" medical attention. The former seems to be responding well to ice/immobilization/rest/NSAIDs, ergonomic retro-fitting of my computer/office setup, etc.