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

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.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

A Quick Update on my Status as Political NVIP

My three-year terms as an appointee to the Gainesville / Alachua County Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board is just getting started -- my first official meeting is tomorrow night -- but I've already cast two votes online: Nominations for the "Bicycle/Pedestrian Friendly Awards."

I wasn't familiar with several of the prospects in several of the categories yet, but in two of the categories (individual and organization, both for past good community service), one person/organization stood out, because that person and organization were both very helpful to me when I started cycling in the Gainesville area.

That person is Ryan Aulton, and that organization is (actually, was) The FreeWheel Project.

I first met Ryan when he was running Pleasant Cyclery. I took a used bike in for a "tune-up," and occasionally bought other things there and participated in events that Ryan and the shop organized.

Later, he started The Freewheel Project, a non-profit work space where members could come in to repair their bikes, "check out" a selection of bikes from a "lending library," and participate in repairing / refurbishing donated bikes to be given away to various groups ranging from children to low-income community members to veterans.

Unfortunately, the Freewheel Project shut down some time back, for reasons I don't have knowledge of, but it was a great idea, Ryan and Jamie Aulton did a great job of implementing it as far as I could tell, and they and it richly deserve any recognition I can vote to send their way. So I voted for Ryan and the project for those awards.

As for tomorrow's meeting, I have a big stack (virtually speaking) of documents I'm looking over, and I'll be blunt: I don't expect to cast any meaningful votes tomorrow. It's basically a matter of approving some recommendations/documents that the board has no doubt been working on for a long time, so unless I come across some kind of giant red flag, I'll abstain.