Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Ghosting, But Happily Not Ghosting You

Well, it's been a few days since my last post, and I was surprised to notice that I've already got eight in the bag (this makes nine) on only the sixth day of the month. So even though it's been a few days, I haven't been ghosting you.

I have, however, been ghosting for others the last week or two. It's election season. While I no longer offer the full-service management bit (thank God, and frankly I was only ever very good at that in local races that I could give my full attention to), and don't bother to advertise, I do still do some writing for the right candidates. You'll know them when you see them.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

I Don't Object to the United States Breaking Up ...

... but I see no compelling reason why such a breakup would have to be along the lines of its 50 component parts, which are each at least as irrationally composed as the whole.

All of this "national divorce" talk seems to be about some or all of those 50 component parts seceding, and probably forming multiple new federations to replace the old single one.

There are people in all of those states with whom I have more in common than I do with the vast majority of people in Florida. Why should I have to move to exercise those things in common?

There's a better way.

Rumors of the GOP's Death are Greatly Exaggerated

Back in 1997, the late and lamented RW Bradford of Liberty magazine edited and published an interesting volume of essays, including some by authors you may have heard of:

 The Last Democrat: Why Bill Clinton Will Be The Last Democrat Americans Elect President

Not an affiliate link, btw.

That instantly came to mind when I saw the headline at the Washington Examiner today:

Liz Cheney warns GOP 'can't survive' if Trump becomes 2024 nominee

All good (and bad) things must come to an end, of course, but chances are that the Republican Party will cease to exist at the same time as, and for the same reason as, the Democratic Party. That reason being the final collapse of United States itself.

The Republicans lost five presidential elections in a row once (1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, and 1948) without dying off.

They also they went from 1955 to 1994 without ever controlling the US House of Representatives, and from 1955 to 1979 without ever controlling the Senate, without dying off.

One reason for that is that neither the Democrats nor Republicans are really parties.

We've lived in a de facto one-party state since the late 19th century when the government seized control of voting with "ballot access" laws so as to effectually exclude any would-be competitors to the two then-dominant parties.

Since then, the two "parties" have converged into one actual party of two factions. Both jealously guard the single party's prerogatives while going through occasional cycles of re-balancing their comparative power while divvying up the spoils.

The fiction that the US is a multi-party democracy rather than a single-party regime is a useful fiction, so the two factions of the single party will maintain that fiction. But it's still a fiction.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Garden 2.0 is in Motion ...

... because so many different sources offer so many different planting times under so many different conditions that it's pretty much just guess work.

For example, one source tells me (for my area) to have started bell pepper seeds indoors by June 11th, for transplant outdoors by August 6 ... and "N/A" next to "start seeds outdoors by ..." Similar information for tomatoes, etc.

Two things:

1) I've given up on starting seeds in cells, let alone indoors, because I've just not had a lot of good luck with that; and

2) While I may not plant all crops on the same day, I'm not going to hop around planting each crop on a different day, over the course of weeks. Everything's going in over the course of a week or two, although in two separate swoops.

That may produce worse results, but while I'm trying to put gardening just a little bit higher on my priority list, I'm not going to be putting it anywhere near "full-time job and constant worry."

Making sure I have fertile soil, putting the stuff in the ground, feeding it, watering it, weeding it, and harvesting it is pretty much my limit.

So, this morning (at pretty high density -- a 4x4 plot) I planted four cucumber, seven zucchini, ten tomato, about 20 radish, and 15 bell pepper seeds. The squash and cucumber have some metal framing to climb, and the tomatoes are in those round metal "cages."

Some time in the next few days, I'll do another 4x4 space with, likely, an onion set (still have to go buy some), some kind of lettuce or spinach, and maybe peas with more climbing structures.

The guide I'm going by says corn goes in the ground by August 16 and cauliflower is to be planted inside by August 13 and outside by September 10, so I plan to put them, and tobacco, in the ground in early August, and use whatever room I happen to have left for potatoes, cantaloupe, and maybe more zucchini. Between now and then I'll be getting the space for that stuff weed-free and tilling some compost into it (I still have corn that may or may not be producing edible ears to harvest from part of that space).

Hopefully that means a reasonably bountiful harvest circa October. I'll try to remember to take and post pictures when there's something more than bare dirt to take pictures of.

Garden 1.0 produced some stuff that got eaten. Not as much as I'd have preferred -- a lot got grown, picked, and went to waste -- but that just gives me more information on what to bother planting (and how much -- we had enough cucumbers to open a pickle factory) and what not to.

I'm Shocked -- Shocked!

That a formerly promising institution which memory-holed all of one of its co-founders' writings would eventually descend to the level of public Maoist self-criticism sessions.

That's the sarcastic version of shocked -- shocked.

The non-sarcastic version is real shock that a few otherwise quite worthwhile writers still willingly associate their good names with that raging dumpster fire.

Slippery Slopery vs. Easy Availability

Over time, I've tended to resist "slippery slope" arguments as applied to policy, and abortion was one of the obvious candidates for that rejection.

"If abortion is outlawed, or even regulated, women will have to report their menstrual cycles to the government and police will be rummaging through garbage to find the tampons to prove/disprove the reports" never struck me as obvious or inevitable, because we have historical examples of things running both ways.

In the US, prior to Roe v. Wade, I've never seen claims that there was any kind of universal "pre-crime" investigatory regime. The closest things I've seen are claims that Border Patrol would question young women crossing into Mexico on the possibility that they were going abroad to procure abortions. Other than that, it was more a matter of acting on reports ("I think my neighbor is running an abortion clinic out of his house").

On the other hand, the communist Ceausescu dictatorship in Romania does seem to have resembled that surveillance state prediction.

And I think there's good reason to believe that what's coming here and now in the US is closer to the Romanian experience than the pre-Roe US experience.

I have two reasons for thinking that.

One is that modern American "conservatism" has evolved over the last 30 years or so into something closely resembling East German communism, with Jesus rather than Honecker as General Secretary of the Party.

The median age in the US is about 38, which means most Americans weren't even born when Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush ran against each other in the 1980 Republican presidential primary in part on which was the more "open borders" (in those exact words) candidate.

That majority was also either not alive, or not of voting or typical "political awareness" age, during the period when "conservatives" were fairly united against the notion of a "national ID" to control internal travel and employment.

These days, "conservatives" largely support East-German-style border walls, Soviet-style internal passports ("REALID compliant" state-issued identification to travel by plane -- with bus and train in the works -- between states), universal "E-Verify" checks before you're allowed to work for a living, etc.

The intent to build a king-hell panopticon surveillance state is definitely there, where it doesn't seem to have been pre-Roe.

The other reason is that the means is increasingly there, as we've learned from e.g. Edward Snowden's disclosures of government eavesdropping, data mining, etc.

A few years ago there was quite a bit of talk about Google's advertising algorithm being able to figure out that women were pregnant before the women themselves knew -- the woman would start seeing advertisements for disposable diapers, car seats, etc. before she ever peed on a stick and saw a plus sign. If governments really want to enforce abortion bans, is there any real doubt that they'll seek access to such algorithms, or develop similar ones?

The slippery slope does seem to exist, and we seem to be more than halfway down it.

On the flip side, though, access to reasonably safe abortion, legal or not, is probably far closer to universal now than it was pre-Roe and will probably stay that way. In many cases, it's as simple as a pill, and government has proven itself incapable of suppressing traffic in pills for more than a century. Even "surgical" abortion is probably something that pretty much anyone can procure the basic equipment for (no more coathangers) and, I suspect, learn how to perform online. Maybe not as safe as with an MD at a clinic, but far safer than the kitchen table scene in If These Walls Could Talk. And there are ways to avoid all but the most specifically targeted government surveillance of one's browsing and purchasing and communications histories.

As Harry Browne pointed out a quarter of a century ago concerning government "wars" on domestic "problems," if government declares war on abortion it won't be long before men are having them. But, as with the war on drugs, the prisons will probably also be full of people accused of involvement in abortion, even as it remains available to anyone who wants it.

Which sounds like the worst of all possible worlds to me.

But to today's neo-Stalinist "conservatives," it probably sounds like utopia.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Here's How to Either Resurrect the JCPOA or Put it to Bed with Finality

It's pretty much a constant theme in's news section -- the Iranians are ready and willing to enter into a new "nuclear deal" to replace the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but the US (which is in continuing violation of the existing deal) keeps backing, filling, hemming, hawing, etc.

Let's rehearse the steps that led to the JCPOA in the first place:

US: We want a deal. Here are our demands.

Iranians: OK, cool, let's do this!

US: Well, in that case, no, we have further demands.

Iranians: Sounds good, let's do this!

US: Wait there's more!

Lather, rinse, repeat for more than a decade until Barack Obama needed a foreign policy accomplishment and finally did the JCPOA with Iran (and China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany).

After which it failed to fulfill its obligations under the deal until Donald Trump pretended to "withdraw" from the deal (he didn't actually "withdraw" from it because he couldn't -- it's a UN Security Council resolution and therefore binding on all UN member states -- he just announced the US would continue to be in intentional violation of it).

All of this, lest we forget, despite a lack of any substantial evidence that the Iranians had any desire to develop nuclear weapons, and despite that fact that the Iranians were perpetually in compliance with their obligations under the already existing Non-Proliferation Treaty.

So, here we are: The US is in continuing violation of the deal,  the European signatories kowtow to the US sanctions while telling Iran it's not their fault, and the Iranians have progressively gone into violation of the deal because why should they keep a deal that nobody else is keeping?

Here's what the Iranians should do:

  • Approach all the non-US state parties to the JCPOA with an offer to come back into immediate complete compliance if
  • Those other state parties immediately return to compliance with the deal (including any sanctions relief they're withholding under US pressure), and
  • Those other state parties agree to sanction the US in the same way and to the same degree that the US is sanctioning Iran if, within 90 days, the US remains in non-compliance.
If those other state parties agree and hold up their end of the deal, the US either extracts cranium from rectum and does what it committed to do, or the US gets all the sanctions it's levied on Iran levied on it.

If those other parties decline the deal or don't hold up their end of it, they can no longer just shrug their shoulders and blame the US when the Iranians walk.

Off The Hook

For the last couple of weeks, I've mostly kept my "smart phone" -- a Samsung S6 -- turned completely off. It started doing things like freezing up and heating up. The latter makes me think there are battery issues involved.

It so happens that I got the phone (and the service) eight years ago as part of ... well, a benefits package, I guess ... from a place I do some work for. In theory this was so they could get in touch with me ASAP, so I could use it as a "hot spot" if I was away from home and needed to get in to do the work, etc. In actuality, I consider it just a nice thing they did for me, since there's not been a WHOLE lot of work calling or hot-spotting involved.

So anyway, when I let them know that the old phone was going, they cheerfully agreed to get me a new one. There was some talk about what I needed, to which my answer was "pretty much any  reasonably modern Android phone will do." Until the hardware started screwing up, it was still plenty of phone for me even after nearly a decade. I don't run a whole bunch of wild apps or anything. I talk, text, message, run crypto wallets, etc. Heck, I don't think I even have any games still installed, and when I did they were "casual" apps that weren't too resource intensive.

One question I got asked was, did I want a phone with a physical home button? And yes, I prefer that. Tamara has a Motorola Moto, and any time she hands it to me and asks me to do something, I find it confusing because it's ALL touchscreen stuff. But times are moving on, and if I have to learn to do things the new way, I will.

Anyway, they found me a phone with a home button.

And, if it's the phone I think it is, 4Gb of RAM instead of 3Gb.

And 64Gb of internal storage instead of 32Gb.

And a slightly faster CPU.

None of which is surprising since my phone is so old, but like I said, the old phone was plenty of phone for me even now, so I figure this one should be good for at least another eight years.

Also its case is pretty much an Otterbox, so I don't have to buy one. I got my first Otterbox on sale for something like seven bucks, probably because it's pink (I consider that a feature, not a bug -- makes my phone more easily identifiable) and for an older phone, but they're normally much more expensive. Not that I drop my phone a lot. I bought the Otterbox after the first and only time that I laid my bicycle down and the phone went flying, years ago. I seem to be the only person in the house whose screen doesn't crack when I look at a phone sideways.

I think (based on trying to remember the conversation, and on a web page listing available phones under my benefactors' group plan) that the phone we're talking about here is the Sonim XP8. It seems to be designed for -- or at least marketed toward -- military, "first responder," and outdoor utility worker types. Not just the rugged casing, but a speaker that will hit 100 decibels, a "SecureAudio" connector that you can get a "push to talk" handset for, etc.

So that's on the way, and then I'll be connected 24/7 by phone again. Which may be a bug rather than a feature.

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/01/22

Here at KN@PPSTER, there's no such thing as a quick one, but unlike Joe Biden I'm not out of here. All month long, ask me anything in the comments below this post, and I'll answer (in the comments or linked from the comments).

If you truly understood the lengths I go to to bring you these answers, you'd ... well, I don't know what you would do. I'm working with some people who wish to remain anonymous to produce a documentary on my techniques. Teaser clip:

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Senate Prediction Update

Quinnipiac on Georgia: Warnock Opens Up 10 Point Lead Over Walker.

To garner a majority in the US Senate, Republicans need a net gain of only one seat.

But there are only five seats in obvious contention -- the others look reasonably likely to stay in the same partisan column as before -- and at the moment the Republicans hold two of those five seats and the Democrats hold three.

Pennsylvania looks likely to switch from Republican to Democrat.

Wisconsin looks likely to switch from Republican to Democrat.

Arizona looks likely to stay Democrat.

And now Georgia looks likely to stay Democrat.

That leaves Nevada, where the most recent polling is from May and has incumbent Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto up by 21-23 points over the two plausible Republican nominees.

So ceteris paribus, if the election was held today, the Republicans would probably lose a net two seats.

Is ceteris pribus? That is, could any leaning/"safe" seats move into "tossup" territory?

Well, sure. But it's not looking that great for the Republicans there, either.

Ohio "leaned Republican" (as it already was) until JD Vance got the GOP nomination. As of May, the polling was mixed with Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan within a couple of points of each other.

In Missouri, even disgraced former governor and accused wife-beater Eric Greitens is polling well against all likely Democratic nominees to succeed Republican Roy Blunt ... but anti-Trump Republicans are trying to put an attorney (whose latest position has been as an investigator for the January 6 exploitation committee) on the ballot as an "independent." So the Show-Me state could move from "safe Republican" to "dicey" as well.

Four-and-a-half months is a long time in politics, but I don't think it's long enough for Republicans to recover from a two-seat loss to a one-seat gain, especially since things are moving in the opposite direction.

So I'll make my first firm "my story and I'm sticking to it, call me on this if I was wrong" prediction: The Republicans will not come out of the November elections with 51 or more seats.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Wow, This Sounds Dangerous!

My Nakto Camel F electric "cargo" motorcycle weighs, IIRC, 76 pounds and runs on a 250-watt motor drawing on a 36-volt battery. Its supposed top speed is 20 miles per hour, although I've recorded 22-23 mph on fairly level ground with a tailwind.

The Splach Twin scooter -- yes, one of those you stand on,  a roughly skateboard-sized platform with two tiny wheels and handlebars -- weighs 52 pounds and runs on two 600-watt motors and a 48-volt battery. It advertises a top speed of 28 mph.

Interesting, but scary. And the idea that $899 ("super early bird" price) is in the "budget" category for this vehicle type strikes me as kind of silly. Within the last decade, I've bought used cars for less than twice that.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Why Not Pardon Trump?

In today's Washington Post, former Watergate prosecution counsel Philip Allen Lacovara considers "What the Nixon pardon tells us about the perils of letting Trump walk."

But what about the benefits (to the Democratic Party) of letting Trump walk?

Suppose that tomorrow morning, Joe Biden walks into the White House press room waving a sheet of paper reading:

Now, I, Joseph R. Biden, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Donald J. Trump for all offenses against the United States which he, Donald J. Trump, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 2017 through January 20, 2021.

Then makes brief remarks -- interspersed, no doubt with "come on, man," "you know, the thing," and stories about Corn Pop -- to the effect that it's time to move on, that his administration is not going to waste any more time on recriminations and the politics of personal destruction, etc. Just, you know, leave that lying dog-faced pony soldier alone.

The value of Trump's most substantial political asset -- his butt-hurt martyr mythology -- would instantly plummet.

Not to zero, of course. He'd still be on the hook for a number of state-level charges, some related to his presidency and some not. And if there's one guy on the planet who can always find some perceived persecution to whine like a petulant toddler about, it's Trump.

But on the January 6 stuff, etc., he'd be reduced to running around denouncing Biden ... for pardoning him ... and claiming he doesn't "need" a pardon.

Heck, he might say he "refuses" the pardon, and maybe even go to court to contest it. And if he won that case, well, maybe that next knock at the door would be Merrick Garland with a stack of indictments.

Meanwhile, Biden was just the nice guy who tried to help a brother out and get the country past all this nastiness.

Nah, it won't happen. But it would be a smart move on Biden's part.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

On Victim Disarmament, the Answer is Still "No" ...

... and the "bipartisan" victim disarmament bill signed by US president Joe Biden doesn't change that even a little.

Per CNBC, the bill:

  • "enhances background checks for 18- to 21-year-old gun buyers," which just means that buyers in that age group will be acquiring guns through methods that don't take them through said background checks;
  • "close[s] the so-called boyfriend loophole and restrict gun ownership for domestic violence offenders who are not married to their partners," as if those people won't find ways to get guns if they want guns;
  • "sets up grants for states to encourage red-flag laws" that allow guns to be confiscated without due process, as if that's not already being done and as if that accomplishes anything but getting innocent victims and guilty cops killed; and
  • "fund[s] school safety and youth mental health programs," except of course programs that train teachers and students in appropriate use of firearms to take down mass shooters.
Anyone who wants to get a gun is still going to get a gun. Anyone who wants to keep a gun is still going to keep it (or, quite possibly, use that gun on someone trying to take it away). Anyone who wants to use a gun is still going to use a gun.

The overall effect on gun ownership/retention will be: Almost none.

The overall effect on "gun violence" will likely be a slight incremental increase from "red flag" confiscation attempts and from the inability of those who unwisely decide to be "law-abiding" in this case to defend themselves. Or maybe not, since the confiscation attempts were already happening whether justified by "law" or not, and most of those who unwisely choose to abide by victim disarmament measures were probably already doing so and then some.

In other words, this "bipartisan" nonsense is mostly just the usual theatrics.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

No, Dobbs Isn't "Decentralization"

I've seen some people celebrating yesterday's SCOTUS ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on Tenth Amendment grounds of "states' rights" (a misnomer -- states don't have rights, only people do).

I've also seen some people touting "states' rights" as an example of "decentralization."

Whatever one thinks about abortion, and whatever one's opinions of the logic/soundness Roe or Dobbs as SCOTUS rulings, this is most manifestly the opposite of "decentralization."

Roe completely decentralized abortion, as a legal matter, to the level of individual choice.

Dobbs actively and specifically centralizes abortion, as a legal matter, from individual choice to the edicts of state legislatures.

Friday, June 24, 2022

I'll Take "The American People are Full of It" for $500, Alex

What is "forbearance?"

n. 2. The quality of being forbearing; indulgence toward offenders or enemies; long-suffering.

Every time a tax collector gets a check instead of a punch in the nose, that's forbearance.

Every time an ICE or DEA or FBI thug ends his shift at home in the recliner with a beer, instead of in a drawer with a tag tied to his toe, that's forbearance.

Every time a member of Congress finishes a "town hall" event with refreshments and photo opps instead of face to face with a barrel of tar and a sack of feathers, that's forbearance.

The American people exercise a lot of forbearance.

But probably not an unlimited amount of it.

Their self-appointed masters would be wise to keep that in mind.

Looking Ahead to 2024

It's pretty much too late to get much done for 2022 (although some things are going on in e.g. New Hampshire), but I've been thinking about the future.

It seems to me that someone really should organize an American libertarian political party and get it in shape to run candidates by 2024.

A missed (or at least mostly missed) midterm election is bad enough. A presidential election would be worse.

If any of you notice anyone doing that kind of thing, please let me know. I might want to get involved.

The Dobbs Ruling's Effect on the November Midterms

Three important questions heading into any election:
  1. What have you done for me lately?
  2. What have you done to me lately?
  3. What are you likely to do to or for me next?
The second and third questions are bigger turnout drivers than the first one.

Fox headline: "New poll: Only 15% of voters view abortion as most important midterm election issue, economy still top concern."

But of the 15% who consider it important -- or who maybe even constitute "single issue" voters, the "pro-life" voters just got what they wanted, while the "pro-choice" voters just got something they had taken away from them, and want it back.

Which means that more of the "pro-choice" voters are going to be more motivated to get out and vote.

Even if the effect is small on net in any direction, that direction this November "Democrat," and that will make the difference in some close races.

Among other things, it probably dooms the GOP's chances of taking control of the US Senate.

270 to Win still rates five states -- Arizona (currently Democratic), Georgia (currently Democratic), Nevada (currently Democratic), Pennsylvania (currently Republican), and Wisconsin (currently Republican) -- as "tossups."

Assuming the Republicans win all of their safe and "leaning" seats (and at least three of the "leaning" seats -- Ohio, Missouri, and Utah -- might get dicey for them), they need to win three of those five seats.

They're almost certainly going to lose both of the two seats they currently hold:

Ron Johnson in Wisconsin was already in trouble. Then this week he got (more) mired in the January 6 scandals, and now the Dobbs ruling will get out the vote for Democrats.

The seat in Pennsylvania is "open," but Democrats are pretty united around / motivated by lieutenant governor John Fetterman, Republicans are not particularly united around / motivated by Trump endorsee Mehmet Oz, and the Dobbs ruling just gave Fetterman a boost.

Mark Kelly was already on cruise control toward victory in Arizona, polling well versus any likely Republican opponent.

Which leaves Nevada and Georgia. Even if the Republicans take both those seats, they're right were they were before -- 49 seats. And I suspect they'll take only Georgia, if even that, knocking them down to 48 seats.

The Latest Learning Curve

I spend a portion of my work day finding, summarizing, and linking news stories for Rational Review News Digest, the Internet's oldest daily email news and commentary roundup for libertarians.

Among the tools I use to do my niche aggregation/curation are the RSS feeds of a number of newspapers, and non-niche aggregation/curation sites like Google News and Bing News.

And on that latter front, one thing I notice is that those big services seem to operate an ongoing "if it ain't broke, fix it anyway" imperative.

Until fairly recently, Bing News's "World" section offered breakdowns by region (Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, etc.). They stopped doing that (now it's just "World," all mixed together) about the time they switched to a format of photos with headlines instead of lists of headlines. So now it's harder both to narrow down where the news is at, and to scan the page for interesting stuff.

Now Google is switching to a "fresh look, brand-new briefing, & customized topics." The "customized topics" are the same topics they've always offered, but you can drop some of them and re-order their display. And, as with Bing, now you see one version of a story with a graphic from Google's chosen source, instead of a list of stories and an obvious "full coverage" link to show all the stories on the topic. There is, however, a little button that takes you to a "full coverage" area -- also with lots of graphics making it harder to see the damn list.

The new Google News is optional ... for now. But presumably all users will be forced onto the new -- and, from my perspective, less rather than more usable/useful -- format over time. So I guess I'll start futzing with it now. And starting to look for some better news portals to use for what I do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Thoughts on Biden's "Gas Tax Holiday" Proposal

I hate taxes.

I'm all for any non-taxation, including "holidays" on particular taxes. So yay, Biden.

Now, will the proposed federal gas tax holiday have a huge effect on people's lives?

On a quick search -- I'm sure the number has changed since 2017, but I assume not terribly much -- American drivers use an average of 656 gallons of gasoline per year.

That's 12.6 gallons per week.

The federal gasoline tax is 18.4 cents per gallon, so the "holiday" would produce a savings of $2.32 per week for each American driver.

Well, it ain't nothin'.

But neither is it really anything to write home about.

One argument I've heard against it is that it would be "inflationary."

I guess it would be, in two senses.

Inflation is more money chasing fewer goods/services, and writ large it's a matter of how many new dollars the Federal Reserve creates versus production of goods and services.

At the micro level ("price inflation"), well, you now have $2.32 more in your pocket after you buy gas than you otherwise would have, and you're presumably going to spend it on stuff that you wouldn't have spent it on otherwise. So there will be an additional tiny increment to the already ugly "price inflation."

At the micro level -- the Fed creating new dollars -- the question is:

Is the federal government going to cut its spending by the amount of revenue it's no longer bringing in due to the gas tax holiday?

And the answer is:

Sure, and if you believe that, I would like you to also know that the word "gullible" is written on the ceiling.

Government spending is going to keep on rolling.

Instead of collecting gas tax revenues, they'll just borrow that money on top of all the other money they're already borrowing.

Which means that the Fed will wave its magic wand and create even more dollars out of thin air, even though there's not any likely corresponding increase of production of goods and services in the economy.

Which means inflation.

If I had to guess, that inflationary effect will hit your wallet for at least a good chunk of, if not more than, your $2.32 weekly windfall.

So yeah, I guess the "gas tax holiday" is just feel-good do-something-anything bullshit.

But I still like non-taxation, including "holidays."

Monday, June 20, 2022

In Which I Agree with Mitt Romney

"Corporations are people, too."

And that's the root of my disagreement with the US Pirate Party's platform:

Putting People Before Corporations

The Supreme Court and Congress have expanded the power of corporations for over a hundred years and made them more powerful than people. Whether it is the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows corporations to buy elections, or Congress’ cuts in corporate tax rates while raising payroll taxes, real people end up with the short end of the stick. The Pirate Party will make sure our laws put people before corporations.

When I say that corporations are people, I'm not doing the "corporate personhood" thing.

A corporation is not a person.

It is a group of people who jointly own a business.

And those people should be treated exactly the same as other people. Same free speech rights, same tax demands (if any -- but of course there shouldn't be any), etc.

If you and I form a standard non-corporate business partnership to, say, sell shipping containers, and one of our containers falls on someone, any culpability/liability attaching us to that  tort will reach not just the capital we've invested in the business, but to our personal assets.

State privilege, in the form of "limited liability," artificially insulates the owners of the partnerships called "corporations" from that risk. The most they can lose is the money they've invested in the partnership.

That has distorting economic effects. It makes buying corporate stock artificially more attractive than buying into a regular partnership or starting single proprietorship because, with a wave of the state's magic wand, it reduces risk and cost, relieving the owners of the need to purchase insurance against ruinous litigation/judgments.

I don't think that law and governance should discriminate against corporations or their owners. I think it should simply not subsidize corporations and their owners by creating a special class of business that, solely due to those subsidies, is relieved of market risks.

Emphasis Matters

Former Trump aide Alyssa Farah Griffin:

"He admitted, he blurted out watching Joe Biden on TV, 'Can you believe I lost to this guy?'"

But even if he did say that, listen to how Farah presents it at about one minute into this clip:

She doesn't use any particular emphasis there, so we don't know if he said:

"Can you believe I lost to this guy?"

Or "can you believe I lost to this guy?"

Or "can you believe I lost to this guy?"

Or "can you believe I lost to this guy?"

Or some combination of those emphases.

Only the second really lends itself to the characterization of an "admission," and then not in slam-dunk fashion. The others listed could just as easily have reflected incredulity/disbelief.

Yes, Trump lost. And yes, Trump knew he lost unless he was high on crack or in the grip of schizophrenic fantasy. But him saying that -- even if he did say it -- isn't "smoking gun" stuff.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

One Problem with Prosecuting Trump ...

... is that no matter what he was charged with, or where he was charged, even if he was convicted, he'd have solid grounds for appeal on grounds of "ineffective counsel."

No lawyer worth a damn is likely willing to touch Trump with a ten-foot pole. He's stuck with grandstanding ambulance chasers who'll go straight to pounding the table without bothering to even consider the facts or the law.

Why? Two reasons.

First, he's got such a record of throwing associates and employees under the bus to save his own hide that nobody with an eye on a future career as anything but  a Fox "News" talking head is going to take the chance.

Second, the first piece of advice any competent attorney would give him is ...


... and he just can't ever bring himself to do that.

He would make it impossible for any lawyer to effectively defend him, then find some other lawyers to file an appeal because he was ineffectively defended. And unless he's got some inside track on life extension methods, no matter how incompetent those lawyers were, he'd have stroked out and died while perched atop a solid gold toilet seat at Mar-a-Lago long before those appeals were exhausted.

The obvious disclaimer: I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

A Pirate's Life for Me?

Although I ended my memberships in and associations with the state Libertarian Parties that I used to belong to (Florida, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania) when they were taken over by the Mises PAC, I remain a "sustaining member" (read: newsletter subscriber) of the "national Libertarian Party" (read: the Libertarian National Committee), if for no other reason than that my monthly pledge (canceled when the LNC was taken over by a Republican PAC) has me "paid up" through next May.

I have not rescinded my membership certification pledge ("I hereby certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals"), and unless I do I will, per the LNC's bylaws, remain a "member" in perpetuity. Things would have to get worse than they are now for me to do that.

But some libertarians are leaving the "national LP," and some of them are going to other parties, including the US Pirate Party.

In fact, at least one such libertarian, Brianna Coyle, is now a member of the Pirate National Committee, and key language from the LP's former anti-bigotry plank ("we heard they were done with it") has been added to the Pirate platform.

I'm not quite there yet. Since I don't really need to affiliate with a political party at all, I can afford to be choosy. And while I like the cut of the Pirates' jib, already have the mustache for it, and am about to get my ears pierced for hoops, I have some problems with that platform.

The first plank ("Putting People Before Corporations") is just kind of incoherent. While I'm anti-corporate because I'm pro-free-market, the plank seems to treat it as a matter of  speech not being speech if we don't like the speakers ("the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows corporations to buy elections"), and to treat taxation as being a  balance between competing interests ("cuts in corporate tax rates while raising payroll taxes") rather than what it is (theft/extortion).

The second and third planks ("Opening up Government" and "Defending Your Privacy") aren't bad.

The fourth ("Promoting Culture & Knowledge Through Copyright Reform") goes both not far enough and too far. Copyright should be abolished, not limited, and DRM software should be perfectly legal (as should the breaking of such software). It should be more like the fifth ("Fostering Innovation by Abolishing Patents").

The sixth ("Police Reform") could use some work (where's the money to be "invested" in "community care" going to come from?), but overall not bad.

The seventh is the pirated LP anti-bigotry language.

The seventh is basically an omissions plank that says they're working on more stuff.

Under the party's bylaws, the Pirate National Committee "may adopt such optional platforms and policies as it sees fit by a majority vote. It may further enhance these mandatory platforms with optional positions by a simple majority vote."

And "A Subcommittee shall be a working group formed by act of the PNC to achieve a specified purpose."

What I'd personally recommend is that that the PNC create a "platform subcommittee" to rewrite that platform from top to bottom, in a coherent manner, embodying whatever they consider to constitute a "pirate ethos." I suspect there's a fairly strong similarity between that and a "libertarian ethos," but I could be wrong.

I'll continue keeping an eye on the Pirates, as I consider them promising. And who knows, I may eventually spit on my hands, hoist the black flag, and beginning slitting throats with them.

And Yet Further Thoughts on FIO

An update from this post ...

I started "staking" FIO tokens -- that is, making them available for network use and earning rewards from a pool -- in February as soon as that functionality became available via the Edge wallet.

What's my rate of return? Well, I can't tell you exactly. Earlier stakers earn bigger rewards, and I've added tokens to my staked amount over time. But it's an average of more than 10% over four months. To be more precise, as of today, my rewards are equal to 10.36 of the total number of tokens staked.

Of course, the value of the FIO token has gone down since February -- but no more so than the value of the cryptocurrency/ies I used to buy the tokens I staked. My expectation is that when e.g. Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash come back up to higher prices, the FIO token will do the same.

FIO is a good use case. It makes crypto transactions easy, and bookkeeping-friendly, across a range of currencies.

My only complaint about FIO staking remains: Rewards only become accessible when you un-stake your staked tokens. I wish it was possible to access the rewards without un-staking, if only to stake them as well.

As for use of the FIO protocol, I'm interested in that bookkeeping-friendly aspect. You can attach memos to each transaction over the protocol. For example, if I send Bitcoin from my FIO name to yours, I can specify that it's "for 1 kilogram of pure cocaine." And that memo, if I understand things correctly, is encrypted specifically to our mutual FIO addresses so that unfriendly eyes can't read it. The transaction itself will appear on the blockchains of whatever cryptocurrencies are being used, but our reasons won't be visible to everyone.

I'd like to see some kind of toggle on that, so that the FIO chain could be used as a public message registry too.

For example, suppose I wanted to start a petition to free Julian Assange. The way to "sign" that petition would be to send any amount of any cryptocurrency to any FIO address, from any FIO address, with "free Julian Assange" in the memo line, set to "public." Then a blockchain explorer could easily pull up a number and list of FIO names which have "signed the petition."

The fact that there would be a cost, however slight, to "signing" the petition is a feature, not a bug. It would reduce fake/multiple signatures. And in the example above, it wouldn't be "pay the petition organizer." You could send any amount of any cryptocurrency to anyone -- all that would matter would be that you included that message.

An alternative to a public message toggle would be to simply set up an FIO name for the petition or registry. Sending any amount of any cryptocurrency to that address would constitute "signing." But if I understand the FIO protocol correctly, transactions between FIO names are not themselves publicly searchable. Your FIO name is connected to a set of cryptocurrency wallets and the transactions to and from those addresses are on the public blockchains, but you can't just go and see a public record of transactions to, to use my FIO name, knappster@edge.

If you've read my posts on e.g. Ravencoin assets, you know this public registry thing is a been in my bonnet. There are applications I have in mind, and I haven't yet found the perfect tool for them. The FIO protocol looks promising given certain feature additions, but those additions might be at odds with FIO's chosen mission.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Backgammon: I Learned to Stop Worrying About the Idiotic Error Algorithm

For a little while there, I kept trying to find ways to game around Backgammon Galaxy's broken "error rating" algorithm, which rewards slot machine ("land on any single and hope for the best") play.

One hypothesis I tested was that slot machine players would prefer shorter matches, since they win entirely on luck and luck eventually runs out. Therefore, they would go for the short (1, 3, or 5) game matches rather than the full-length 15-game matches.

I only gave that hypothesis a short test, since I don't have much time for longer matches (I fit my backgammon play into time periods when I'm e.g. waiting on something for work and have a few minutes to kill). Four or five of the longer matches, I think. Nope. All but one of them were slot machine players. And there's nothing more boring than 15 points of slot machine play.

In doing a little online research, I ran across a hypothesis that I haven't been able to verify but that seems sound: When you get trapped in the gammon, your error rating goes down, because you keep rolling, but aren't making moves (and if you can't make a move, you can't make an error, right?). The other player is making more actual moves, meaning more potential errors. I don't know if that's true of the algorithm or not, but it would explain some crushing wins that come back "you made more errors than the guy you skunked."

So I've pretty firmly defaulted to paying attention to win/loss ratio rather than player ratings points, which slot machine players do well in since they gain points when they win, but don't lose points when they lose because the algorithm treats slot machine play as having fewer errors. For example, I just finished a 3-game match. Won it 3-0. Backgammon Galaxy said I had much worse luck and many more errors, so I gained no ratings points and the loser lost none. No biggie. I tacked a win on my record.

My ratings points go up and down, but my win/loss ratio continues to improve as I'm continuing to win more than half my matches. At the moment, I'd need a pretty bad losing streak to get back down to 1 win for every 2 losses over my whole "career," and if I keep playing, I figure I'll be at 1:1 and beyond some time later this year.

I'm Always Full of Helpful Advice ...

... and today's helpful advice was just sent (via a contact form) to Indiegogo.

The advice:

Offer gift certificates or gift cards, spendable on any campaign on the site.

A lot of bloggers and other "content providers" make at least some of their money in the form of non-cash donations. I'm among them. Thanks for the mic, Clayton! Thanks for the trip to PorcFest, Greg! And so on and so forth.

I think that's probably especially true of writers who review new stuff and tell you whether it's good or not. They might get a review copy from the maker, or perhaps a supporter who'd like to see it reviewed buys it for them.

For example, one of you might really, really, really want to know what I think about this, but actually getting it to me would involve a bunch of communication regarding my email address. It would be so much simpler if I mentioned that the "Basic Starter Set" is $599 and then I checked my email and saw that someone had sent me a $599 Indiegogo gift certificate, wouldn't it?

Of course, the gift certificates wouldn't just be good for things like that. If your father is into the latest gadgets, etc., give him one for Father's Day, etc.

I think it's a good idea.

As far as the particular thing I picked out for an example, it's right up my alley: "Permissionless" solar.

Since I'm a renter rather than a property owner, I'm not eligible for one of those "we install the system, you pay for it by letting us collect the money the utility has to (by law) pay you for excess generation" deals.

And I'm certainly not going to invest several thousand dollars in a bunch of stuff that I can't take with me.

But this system ($599 for the bare basics, but there are other versions with more stuff) functions entirely "behind the meter," doesn't feed back into the grid, and can just be plugged into any power outlet in the house, without having to get permits, hire licensed electricians, etc.

Instead of putting the panels on the roof, I'd put them at ground level (since the landlord took out 90% of the trees around here, I have plenty of space that's never in shade), run some cord/conduit under the trailer and up through the same hole the cable coax comes in at, plug into an outlet, and be getting up to 300 watts taken off my metered electric consumption during sunny weather (which is most of the time because Florida). So when I moved, it would be as simple as unplugging, packing up the panels, and taking them to use at my next residence.

Naturally, I'd review how easy it was to set up, how well it worked, how much it reduced my power bill, whether there were any problems, etc.

Of course, I'd do that review even if I paid for it myself.

But I still don't know when or if I can comfortably pay for it myself.

If Indiegogo sold gift certificates, they would be among the "support" options in the sidebar.

Nothing New Under the Sun

A political figure of some stature. A spouse who may have been up to some sketchy stuff.

An outcry from one side of the "bi-partisan" aisle that of course each had to know what the other was up to, and of course what the other was up to would affect the politics, and of course it must be investigated, and at least maybe the political figure should consider exiting the stage.

An outcry from the other side of the "bi-partisan" aisle that this is just "the politics of personal destruction" or "a high-tech lynching."

Yes, I'm talking about Clarence and Ginni Thomas.

And about Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Of course Clarence Thomas had to know that Ginni Thomas was hectoring John Eastman to find a way, some way, any way to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. And of course that had to affect how Clarence Thomas functioned as a Supreme Court justice.

Of course Bill Clinton had to know about Hillary Clinton's ... unusually profitable ... cattle futures trading, and of course Hillary Clinton had to know that Bill Clinton was fucking pretty much every woman who would lie still, and maybe even some who tried to run. And of course that had to affect how Bill Clinton functioned as a governor, a presidential candidate, and a president.

No, wait -- of course those other guys are just grasping at straws to take down someone successful who's not on their side, resorting to manufacturing personal scandals involving the spouse, because that's the only way they can get their punches in on the main target.

And heck, maybe all of those of courses are correct!

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Yeah, I've Been Lazy with the Blogging ...

... sometimes I hit those periods when nothing really seems interesting enough to blog about. And I assume that at least half of you find at least half of what I post boring anyway.

But elsewhere, I've been called "absolutely delusional," "a lying disingenuous piece of shit," a "con-man -- and a very small-time one at that," a "pathetic little asshole to whom very few people are listening," and a "nonentity shitstain ... whose [sic] hardly a blip on the fucking radar screen," all in the last 24 hours, all by the same guy, and all because I don't consider Mike Lindell and Dinesh D'Souza the final and unquestionable authorities on the 2020 election.

For some reason, I take all that in kind of the same way Bill Murray's character in Caddyshack took the Dalai Lama's blessing in lieu of a tip.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Ron DeSantis: "Parental Rights" is the New "Make Sure My Authoritarian Social Media Laws Don't Negatively Affect Disney"

It was only what, three months ago, that Florida governor Ron DeSantis scoffed at the claim that he supported a "don't say gay" law? Why no, you silly groomers, it wasn't about saying gay, it was about PARENTAL RIGHTS.

And it was only last year that his "social media free speech" (read: "Social media platforms' practices must meet with the approval of Ron DeSantis") law specifically excluded any platform which owned an amusement park with more than x visitors per day.

Of course, as soon as Disney said something he didn't like, that was the end of DeSantis's favorable treatment.

And now his dedication to "parental rights" ends at the point where parents take their kids to entertainment events he dislikes. Do that, and he'll have the state's "child protection" bureaucracy harass you (no, he's never very original -- he cribbed that move from Texas).

Ron DeSantis is all about your rights -- as long as you only use them to say and things he approves of,  and never, ever, ever question his authority to run your life down to the tiniest detail.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Nope, Still Not Worried

About cryptocurrency, that is.

A few minutes ago:

"Alexa, what's the price of Bitcoin?"

"One Bitcoin is worth 22,000 US dollars, down 6.9% over the last 24 hours."

Do I like that number?


Do I expect that the price may go even lower?


Do I expect Bitcoin to go to zero?


Do I expect Bitcoin to recover and its price, within some reasonable period of time (by, say, the end of 2023) hit $100k?


Do I expect cryptocurrency in general to thrive over time?


Of course, I'm not one of those people who put substantial life savings into cryptocurrency at, say, Bitcoin at $50k. Or who's running a fund, exchange, etc. with lots and lots of loss of value of crypt v. fiat at the moment. While I've got some skin in the game, it's not so much skin that a worst-case scenario would make the difference between survival and starvation or anything like that.

But I'm not "cashing out" what I have from fear that its value in terms of US dollars and/or the goods and services I could buy with it will continue to fall.

In fact, if I had some disposable fiat lying around I'd be buying right now.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Picnic Tables Seem Pretty Expensive to Me

I've been thinking for several years that I'd like to have one. We have a couple of crepe myrtle trees in the front yard, and between them would be a perfect spot.

My main reason: This is Florida. For most of the year -- pretty much all of it except for a few scattered sub-freezing-temperature days -- I could work outside at a picnic table, especially if it included an umbrella. Just set up my laptop and travel monitor instead of using my desktop PC.

I like being outdoors. If you go far enough back on this blog, you'll find my account of sleeping outdoors every day for several months, giving myself one "inside night" per month. Lowest temperature sleeping in a tent: Six below zero Fahrenheit. Highest I never kept track of, but probably high 90s, maybe over 100.

But damn. Even a rickety folding picnic table would set me back a couple hundred dollars.

I could buy a fiberglass or metal frame set for one for $100-$120, but I'd spent about as much on the lumber to put it together.

I could probably build one from scratch for $150 or so given current lumber prices. But even that seems like more than I want to spend.

I'm hoping I'll come across a reasonably sturdy  table/umbrella setup at a yard sale, but that hasn't happened yet.

Or I may start wandering around the house and yard and come up with some kind of rigged abomination. I do like doing that sort of thing, too, although I'm not sure the neighbors would want to see whatever it is sitting in the front yard.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Fairly Short and Hopefully Spoiler-Free Review -- Top Gun: Maverick

I'm beginning to notice a recurring theme in my Fairly Short and Hopefully Spoiler-Free Reviews: You'll like Film X if you're into Thing Y. This one is no different.

When I looked around the theater during Top Gun: Maverick, I guesstimated the average age of the audience as around my own age. A few younger folks, a handful definitely older, but most probably in the 50-55 bracket. In other words, the generation that most likely saw the original Top Gun during its big-screen run 36 years ago. That could be anecdotal, though. The film has already grossed more than $600 million, so I doubt it's just old folks going to see it.

If you're nostalgic for Top Gun in particular or dig aerial combat war porn with a retro plot feel but outstanding flight footage of a type unavailable in the '80s, you'll enjoy Top Gun: Maverick.

If you haven't seen the original film, you will presumably be able to figure out a couple of its major plot anchors (the Maverick/Goose/Rooster relationship and the Maverick/Iceman relationship) from context/flashback, but it won't be as cool. I re-watched the original on DVD ($1 garage sale score a few weeks ago) before going to see the sequel.

About that flight footage: The US Navy provided F-18s and pilots. The actors took the back seats, which were covered by multiple camera angles. So when you see a character's face flattening out from high-gee maneuvers, etc., it's not acting or special effects. These crazy actors actually got in those planes and underwent those maneuvers (after going to the military school for non-pilot flight crew to learn water evac, etc.). As we all know, the US military loves to "assist" films that glorify the US military.

I can't even begin to tell you whether the scenarios were realistic. I was a grunt, not a pilot. Some of it seemed kind of hokey and over-the-top to me, but what do I know? The closest I've come to aerial combat is sitting in an F-4 Phantom on the ground as a kid (courtesy of my brother, who was in aviation ordnance in the Marine Corps) and watching an Iraqi F-4 get shot down by a US F-14 over Saudi Arabia.

I thought Top Gun: Maverick was both fun and sappy in a good way. I'll be trying to get Tamara to re-watch the original tonight and go see the sequel tomorrow.

Your mileage could definitely vary, though.


In Summation

Donald Trump attempted to, and conspired with others to, overthrow the government of the United States.

I have no problem with overthrowing the government of the United States (though I found his cause unworthy/fraudulent), but I can see why the government of the United States would have a problem with it.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Undecided, Leaning Against

Watching the Capitol Riot Exploitation Commitee's prime time campaign infomercial public hearing, that is.

But I may, just in case something worth commenting on happens.

Whether I watch it or not, here's the livestream embed so you don't have to go hunting for it:

And if I do decide to watch it and live-blog it, I'll do it below.

9:20 -- Yada, yada, yada, going to bed. Sorry I couldn't hang with it for longer, but even thought it's fairly well done as campaign infomercials go, I'm just tired and have an early wake-up time!

9:02pm --  Ten-minute recess.

9:00pm -- Based on this video, it's hard to make the case that the Capitol Police shouldn't have just set up a couple of Browning .50s at a high point and started "mowing the grass" before these guys actually got into the building.

8:50 pm-- "Video presentation of the violence of January 6th."

8:48pm --  Cheney to Republicans still defending Trump: "There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain."

8:35 -- Going through the evidence that Trump had co-conspirators, e.g. John Eastman, in his plot to overthrow the government of the United States.

8:26pm --  Going through testimony from Trump regime officials to the effect that Trump knew damn well he had lost the election because they repeatedly told him he'd lost the election, but persisted nonetheless in lying about it.

8:17pm -- Well, I tuned in late, but Liz Cheney is still lecturing in her distinct foghorn/nasal voice, so I probably didn't miss much.


Am I turning into a "libertarian [sic] paternalist?"

I dislike the whole idea of government "nudging" people in the "right" direction a la Cass Sunstein.

But at my very first meeting as a member of the Gainesville / Alachua County Bicycle / Pedestrian Advisory board, one thing our coordinator / liaison pointed out is that members are encouraged to come up with projects of the "public information" variety. There's no specific funding for such projects, but if there's a small financial angle it can be worked into e.g. the printing budgets of the various government bodies we "advise" (the Gainesville City Commission, the Alachua County Commission, and the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization).

So I came up with an idea that I facetiously labeled "Stop the Steal."

It's meant to address two problems, the first absolutely, positively real and the second more, I guess, a matter of perspective.

Problem #1: Theft of bicycles and bicycle parts is a real problem in Gainesville. I've had a tire stolen myself, only a couple of feet from, and highly visible from, a busy roadway. And I see other obvious cases of that kind of thing almost every time I take a ride through town.

Problem #2: A lot of businesses (and e.g. apartment complexes and housing developments) have either no dedicated bike parking at all, or else bike racks that aren't close to entrances and highly visible to deter thieves.

The second is a matter of perspective because hey, markets. If there's real demand from customers and tenants/homeowners for good bike parking, businesses and landlords/developers will respond to that demand, right?

But, the raw, untrammeled power of my government position being so tempting, I came up with an idea (with help from the aforementioned liaison as to how it could be implemented).

Not an ordinance. Not a requirement. Just a "nudge."

When someone plans on building a business or apartment complex or housing development, they have to apply for a crap ton of permits, etc.

And apparently the city and county have pre-made packets concerning the various requirements that they hand out to anyone considering such construction.

The "nudge" would be a brochure or rack card pointing out that while there are no ordinances or permit specifications requiring good bike parking, it just makes sense. Noting that Gainesville is definitely a bicycle town in which lots of people use bikes not just for recreation or exercise, but for everyday transportation. Suggesting that giving them a reasonably safe place to park their bikes -- strong racks, near entrances and within the view of any nearby surveillance cameras -- is good business. The grocery store with metal bike posts anchored by concrete, 20 feet from the entrance, with a camera overhead, is likely going to be more attractive to cyclist customers than the grocery store with no rack at all or with a flimsy, un-anchored rack around the corner from the entrance, behind a bush, with no lighting or camera coverage.

I think it makes sense. In my capacity as a "private citizen," I've talked with more than one business owner about putting in a bike rack after e.g. having to lock mine to a tree.

But like I said, I'm conflicted since 1) taxpayer money is involved, even if it's already-taxed money that just happens to not be yet specifically encumbered for printing something else; and 2) it's government "nudging" toward something, even if it's not government "ordering" that thing.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

A Bike Option I Don't Think I've Thought of Before

I've been waiting -- for a long time -- for Bitcoin to hit $70k, at which point I was planning to spend $300 worth of mine on a spare battery for the Nakto electric bicycle. With two batteries, I'd have a "no work at all" total range of close to 30 miles, a "take it fairly easy range of 50-60 miles, and a "do a lot of the work but not all of it" range of at least 100 miles.

But today I was thinking (I know, bad idea) ... "hey, for about $700, give or take, I could just get a second Nakto bike of the same model."

So I'd have two batteries, if I wanted that extended range.

And I'd have two bikes, so I could take a ride with a family member within the one-battery range (or let two other family members use both bikes).

And if the first one "wore out" in some final way, e.g. the motor went kaput, I'd just use the second one. Or, I could cannibalize parts from one to keep the other going.

And so on and so forth.

So I'm thinking about it.

But I'm also still thinking of just getting a better electric bike and keeping this one as a spare and for other family members to use.

Or getting my Critical Harper in shape with wider tires and moving back to (mostly) non-electric cycling.

Or getting my driver's license and buying a 49cc scooter, riding it for a while (it's the kind of thing that would make 100-200 mile day trips possible if not really that reasonable), and then trying to scrape together the money for a motorcycle (I've still never been to Seattle ...).

Yeah, I probably think too much.

I Normally Don't Post That Much About How Much I'm Posting ...

... but hey, every once in a while can't hurt, right?

There will be 365 days in 2022.

This is day number 159.

And this is my 183rd post at KN@PPSTER in 2022, which means that even as I type, I'm passing the halfway point toward one post per day for the year.

If I wanted to, I could take off until July 2 and still be on track to make that goal.

But of course I won't do that.


Interesting ...

CNN headline: "Overweight people lost 35 to 52 pounds on newly approved diabetes drug, study says."

The drug is tirzepatide, which "activates both the GLP-1 and GIP receptors."

I've been on a different drug, semaglutide, for some time now. Semaglutide "acts like human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1)."

Semaglutide effectively made me non-diabetic -- it brought my A1C to sub-diabetic levels.

And I assume it's responsible for my weight loss.

Once I was "no longer diabetic," I stopped paying as much attention to my diet as I had been, although it's lately occurred to me that I just don't want pasta as often as I used to. Whether the drug's effects caused some metabolic change that affected cravings, or whether I just developed better habits, I can't say.

But even without worrying about my diet, or pursuing regular exercise, I lost weight.

At first, it wasn't clear to me that the semaglutide was really that responsible. I got down to about 225 pounds, but I've done that fairly often. In fact, the last 20 years or so, I've basically bounced back and forth between 220 and 250, but was never really able to get below 220.

At this point, I have to credit the drug. I weigh every week or two, and for the last few weeks I've been floating in the 210-212 pound range.

Which is why I'm thinking about getting back on a regular bicycle instead of just using the electric Nakto. Less weight to push around may mean my knees don't go to shit from riding.

If I can get below 200 pounds, I may even give running a try. Haven't been able to do more than a quarter mile or so for years without several days of knee soreness afterward.

Once I get below 200 pounds, if I am exercising regularly, I may even talk to my doctor about dropping the semaglutide. At that weight and with regular exercise, I don't expect that high blood glucose will be of great concern. But I plan to remain on metformin for life, as it may have anti-aging properties.

Learning to Roll With It ...

The Backgammon Galaxy "error rating," that is.

As I've noted in the past, their algorithm seems to heavily reward a "land on any blot and hope for the best" approach. People who play like that seem to get a lower "error rating," versus those who carefully marshal their pieces around the board, playing a good defensive game by 1) turning their singles into binaries to protect them from attack and 2) filling their home area with doubles so that an opponent on the bar has trouble getting off.

The effect of that is that if a "land on any blot and hope for the best" player gets lucky and wins, he gains rating points; but if he isn't lucky and loses, it doesn't cost him any rating points because he gets a lower "error" rating than the person who's actually, um, playing backgammon.

For that reason, I've started focusing on win/loss ratios as opposed to ratings points to tell whether I'm playing well and/or whether I'm facing a skilled opponent. I've played opponents with ratings above 2,000 who have won a quarter of their games. For comparison, at the moment, I'm still winning about half of mine and have still won about a third overall since I started playing.

Over the last few days I've changed my approach, though: When I realize I'm playing a "land on any blot and hope for the best" opponent, I simply adopt that approach myself.

I can't say I like those kinds of matches. It's like playing a slot machine instead of, say, Omaha Hi-Lo. It's entirely luck instead of part luck, part skill. One player gets the whirling lights and sirens amdcoins falling into the tray -- WHOOPIE! JACKPOT! -- the other one doesn't. But the loser has a good chance of getting a low "error rating" and not losing ratings points on the game. And it's not like trying to playing skillfully versus such an opponent is much fun even if you win.

Anecdotally, it seems to be having that effect -- I'm getting lower than usual error ratings when I match a "land on any blot and hope for the best" player's approach instead of playing backgammon for real. But it's just not that much fun. Win or lose, I have more fun when I'm up against a player who's actually thinking.

Looks Like Someone Needs to Crack a History Book ...

"January 6 marked the first time an American president incited a lethal attack on another branch of government ..."


Lincoln's whole theory in calling for 75,000 troops to conduct a "lethal attack" on seceded states was that those states were just other "branches" of the government he ran, rather than independent entities which were free to end their federation with that government at any time.

Yes, secession, and therefore the war, was about slavery. That doesn't change the fact of Lincoln's methods, or the justification he offered for those methods.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

About Those Hearings

Whatever you might happen think about the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot, it's important to keep in mind that if truth in advertising laws applied to Congress, the "US House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol" would be called "The US House Select Committee to Exploit the Capitol Riot for Partisan Political Purposes."

The Democrats on the committee are there to promote themselves and the Democratic Party, and slam Republicans. The Republicans on the committee are there to promote themselves and the "Never Trump" faction of their own party while slamming the "Trump faction" of their own party.

So when the committee schedules its rollout of its "findings" for  prime time, and when almost every network and cable news channel -- the big exception, as you might guess, is Fox "News" -- agrees to carry those hearings, be very aware of what's going on. Which is:

The mainstream media is making a very large (large enough to be illegal if the Federal Elections Commission recognized it as what it is) in-kind campaign contribution for the committee's members / parties / party factions in the form of free advertising.

The fact that the committee exists is news.

The committee's claims ("findings") are news.

Live, prime-time, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the committee's hearings is just an attempt to boost the committee's narrative to the electoral advantage of the committee's members / parties / party factions with a lengthy prime time infomercial.

Which doesn't mean it's completely valueless, of course. But don't bet the ranch on it being objective, factual, etc. That's not its purpose.

They're Breaking the News Search Algorithms ...

... and pissing me off.

"They" are the publications that, over time, have begun switching to "live updates" format for news stories.

I'll be browsing Google News or Bing News, and see a headline something like:

Fed Raises Rates; Minutes Project Further Increases in Q3

But when I click thru to "the story," the headline is now:

New US Home Starts Down 5%

Because that publication is just running a single, frequently updated page (e.g. "US Economy -- Live Updates") with the latest story on top, and now the Fed story is fourteen items down in the mix.

I don't have anything against the "live updates" format, I guess (I like live-blogging events, etc.).

But "live updates" stuff being indexed by news search engines makes it difficult to use search to find an interesting specific story and go to it.

Maybe Google/Bing should come up with (and penalize the non-use of) a metadata tag to distinguish static stories from "live updates" pages.

Monday, June 06, 2022

Looks Like I was Wrong About Arizona

 On April 25th, I wrote:

In Arizona, the nomination of anyone but [state attorney general Mark] Brnovich on the Republican line moves the race [from "tossup" status"] into at least "leans Democratic," and maybe even "safe Democratic."

May polling has incumbent Democrat Mark Kelly up on Brnovich by 17 points. It's also got him up 13 points on fake Trump elector Jim Lamon, and 16 points on Blake "the cause of gun violence is black peope, frankly" Masters.

Arizona is definitely in "leans Democrat" territory even with Brnovich as the GOP's US Senate nominee.

I Try Not to Be the Typical OMG CAPITALISM Fanboy ...

... who's constantly marveling at everything from Big Macs to fidget spinners, pretending that those things actually emerged from free markets (which we don't have), etc.

But I do want to put in a good word or two for the modern era.

My wife wears a particular type of light wrist and thumb brace which is not particularly durable. It's made of silicone and its function is just to kind of hold stuff in place because she has Musculoskeletal Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and tends toward e.g. unpredictable thumb subluxation. She goes through a pair every few months.

I don't even know when this particular product came into existence, but if there was anything even remotely like it 30 years ago, you'd probably have had to go to some inconveniently located medical supply shop to get it, or else find a specialty mail-order catalog and wait four to six weeks for delivery, and the price would have likely been very unattractive.

Now you can pop on over to Amazon and, inside of five minutes, have a pair on the way and arriving tomorrow for $13.99.

I don't make the mistake of believing that Amazon arose in, or operates in, a free market. It emerged from decades of, and between some gaps in, "progressive" regulatory rule.

But I still dig the whole "my mom was born in a log cabin, her family didn't have a motor vehicle until she was in her teens, and it was a five-mile walk to the store --  I click a button and stuff arrives the next day if I don't happen to feel like getting on my electric bike to go out" continuum.

Friday, June 03, 2022

Fairly Short and Hopefully Spoiler-Free Review -- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

If you're fairly immersed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially the Avengers films, you will probably be able to make sense of this film and enjoy it.

If not, it's probably just going to be two hours of "WTF just happened and why should I care about any of these people?"*

I got by, and even enjoyed it, though I'd probably have been less initially confused if I had watched (or even read summaries of) WandaVision.

Since Doctor Strange is by far my favorite Marvel character, in or out of the "cinematic universe," and since Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect casting decision for that character, catching it on the big screen was well worth the 12-mile round-trip (electric) bicycle ride. I wouldn't say it's as fun as the first Doctor Strange film, or even as good as the character's outing in Infinity War, but definitely enjoyable.

* If you're just now wanting to get into MCU movies but you're unwilling to start at the beginning (Iron Man), for the love of God do not start with this one. Best to start at the beginning, of course, but you'd probably need to go at least as far back as the beginning of "Phase 3" (Captain America: Civil War) and preferably to late "Phase 2" (Avengers: Age of Ultron) to really get much out of the franchise. I've seen all the big-screen stuff, and quite a few prior Marvel adaptations (some characters from outside current MCU appear in this one), but not most of the TV stuff, which handicapped me a bit for this movie.

Thursday, June 02, 2022

I Think I May Have Found the Solution to Wordpress's Bloated, Janky "Updates"

 ClassicPress is "a community-led open source content management system and a fork of WordPress 4.9.x ..."

Tag line: Stable. "Lightweight. Instantly Familiar."

I'm using it for a new site I'm working on, and so far it's like Wordpress before Wordpress turned to shit. So I'm hopeful.

How Did He Know ...

... that after a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain?

"I've really become a fan of Thomas L. Knapp. I think he has a very solid take on a lot of the issues that are going on, and I like that he also has that gift, that Ernest-Hemingway-like gift of being able to express powerful ideas in very few words." -- Bryan Hyde

Sussmann Trial: Justice Actually DID Get Done ... Twice

The Hill describes the acquittal of Michael Sussmann on charges of lying to the FBI as a "massive blow" to John Durham's special counsel investigation of the Russiagate scam.

I don't see it that way. Or at least I don't see it as a miscarriage of justice.

Nobody would reasonably expect a District of Columbia jury to convict a Democratic operative of offenses related to a Democratic scam carried out on behalf of a Democratic presidential candidate. The best Durham could  have plausibly hoped for was a hung jury on the basis of one or two holdouts.

Furthermore, the acquittal was just. Over time the DOJ has become used to getting people convicted of lying to the FBI on the basis of nothing more than the FBI's claim that those people lied to the FBI. With no third party witnesses to Sussmann's alleged lies, there was certainly reasonable doubt, even if lying to the FBI should be treated as a crime, which it shouldn't.

What Durham got out of this for the purposes of justice was an admission, in public, under oath, by Hillary Clinton's campaign manager (Robby Mook), that Hillary Clinton was not just aware of, but personally authorized the perpetration of, the Russiagate fraud from the very beginning.

No, Clinton won't be going to jail, either, because she's Hillary Clinton.

But absent successful prosecution of Mook for perjury, or a successful defamation suit against Mook by Clinton, Mook's admission is now known fact rather than mere reasonable supposition.

I doubt that Durham is down in the mouth about the verdict. He got what we wanted, and what the historical record needed.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

It's Time for the Periodic Wordpress Gripe

First it was the idiotic "block editor," which fortunately can be preempted with a "classic editor" plug-in.

Now it's the idiotic "block widget editor," which fortunately can be preempted with a "classic widgets" plug-in.

But instead of choosing something to make all janky and unusable with every version update, why don't they keep just the stuff that works fine and always has worked fine?

Over the years I've tried any number of site content management systems, and have always found the alternatives not as good as Wordpress. Or at least not enough better (or with enough of an add-on community) to bother learning so I can ditch Wordpress.

But if Wordpress keeps getting worse instead of better, that's where it's headed.

Thanks For Asking! -- 06/01/22

The usual -- ask me anything in comments, and I'll answer (in comments, or somewhere linked from the comments).

Personally I'd Go With "Sat in Your Lap" ...

... if I had to pick a favorite Kate Bush song.

But I'm personally happy to hear that the youngsters are discovering Bush via the use of "Running Up That Hill" in the Netflix series Stranger Things, and don't see why anyone would be pissed off about it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Two Proposed 2024 Amendments to the Libertarian Party's Bylaws

The purposes of both suggested amendments are:

  • to allow new national convention delegates to learn to do the party's business with relative ease instead of having to memorize a doorstop-sized book if they don't want to get out-maneuvered at every turn by Robert's cultists; and
  • to allow national convention business sessions to do an hour's worth of agenda business in an hour to an hour and a half rather than in six hours.

Suggested deletions are signified by strike-thru text. Suggested additions are signified by purple bolded text.

Proposal 1:


The rules contained in the current edition of Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised Democratic Rules of Order shall govern the Party in all cases to which they are applicable and in which they are not inconsistent with these bylaws and any special rules of order adopted by the Party.

Proposal 2:


2. Delegates

a. Delegates shall be required to be members of either the Party or an affiliate party, and may not be persons accredited as Registered Parliamentarians or Professional Registered Parliamentarians by the National Association of Parliamentarians. At all Regular Conventions delegates shall be those so accredited who have registered at the Convention.

Recommendations for Libertarian Party Members in the Wake of the Mises PAC "Takeover"

TL;DR -- I don't have any. I'm not interested in telling you what to do. You can and should reach your own conclusions about it and make your own decisions on what actions to take or not take.

Longer version:

I didn't like the idea of the Mises PAC "taking over" the Libertarian National Committee.

I did what I could within my limited means to persuade fellow Libertarians (the upper-case "L" means I'm referring to partisan political Libertarians, i.e. members of the Libertarian Party) to fight and defeat the "takeover."

It happened anyway.

And life goes on.

At the time the "takeover" commenced, I was a member of three state-level Libertarian Parties -- Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. Those parties were "taken over" by Mises, and I ended my memberships/affiliations with them.

I'm not ending my membership in the Libertarian National Committee's newsletter subscription program, aka "sustaining membership in the notional national Libertarian Party."

For one thing, I'm already dues-paid for the year because until a few minutes after Mises PAC candidate Angela McArdle won election to the position of LNC chair, I paid a monthly pledge that more than covered "sustaining membership" dues.

For another, I am still on record in writing to the effect that I "certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals," which according to the LNC's bylaws makes me a member, "sustaining" or not.

Thirdly, I am always willing to admit, if shown, that I was wrong.

It is my considered and strongly held opinion, based on (among other things) its acts when "in power" in the state parties, that the Mises PAC is a Republican Party "infiltrate and neuter" operation with the goal of ensuring that the Libertarian Party doesn't put up meaningful Libertarian competition that might cost GOP candidates wins, especially in otherwise close races.

But if the new Mises PAC dominated LNC doesn't resemble that description in its actions, I'll re-evaluate that opinion and, if justified, offer a mea culpa and possibly go back to financially supporting and actively participating in the organization.

In the meantime, I'll continue my non-party-related libertarian activities, possibly affiliate with state Libertarian Party or parties that aren't Mises-PAC-dominated (and that may not be LNC-affiliated), possibly switch parties if a new libertarian party comes into existence to replace the LP, etc.

Is that what you should do? Hey, that's up to you. Don't follow me, lead yourself. But feel free to let me know what you're doing, because it might be something I want to do too.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Libertarian National Convention Follow-Up: A Bit of Troubling Irony

As those who followed my live-blogging know, on Saturday the Libertarian National Convention voted that it is not bound by the bylaws and that it has a time machine which it can use to go back and make it so that Caryn Ann Harlos was never actually removed as LNC secretary.

The most obvious problem with that, to me, was that in declaring itself not bound by the bylaws, the convention was inherently declaring itself not the convention. At that instant, it became a mere mob of people milling around and shouting, with no authority to conduct convention business.

But of course, few if any will recognize that.

Here's the thing, though:

What the convention did, on behalf of Ms. Harlos and at her urging, was attempt to rectify history 1984-style to erase something that happened and pretend it didn't.

Ms. Harlos was removed as secretary, with full due process as required by the party's bylaws. Agree with why  she was removed or not, that happened. Period. It's a fact. Nobody has to like it. It's a fact whether anyone likes it or not, and nothing will change the fact that it is a fact.

And in addition to her current and past roles, Ms. Harlos is a member of, and last time I noticed chair of, the party's ...

Historical Preservation Committee.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Libertarian National Convention, Day 3

Thing One: I do not expect to live-blog, or anything close to that today. If anything unexpected or interesting happens, I may update this post or do a separate one.

Thing Two: Brief recap. The Mises PAC, a Republican "infiltrate and neuter" operation masquerading as a party caucus, dominated the first two days, electing all of its endorsed Libertarian National Committee officer candidates yesterday.

Thing Three: What's next part 1. The elections of at-large LNC members and Judicial Committee are likely to also be Mises PAC romps. If the convention reaches the point of platform work, the abortion plank will likely be deleted. No attempts to bring the platform more into conformity with libertarianism and the party's Statement of Principles are likely to succeed. The Mises PAC may or may not have the votes to significantly de-libertarianize the platform.

Thing Four: What's next part 2. We're basically at the boring part of the hostage situation -- the part between the initial takeover and the haggling over demands for helicopters and suitcases full of cash. Any hostage executions, SWAT team interventions, car chases, etc. are likely to take place after, not at, the convention.

Thing Five: Here's where I'll embed the convention livestream, when and if it becomes available ...

Addenda on Major Events:

11:12am -- The convention is theoretically voting on LNC at-large candidates. But with the previously noted action, they effectively declared themselves un-bound by the bylaws, which constitutes a de facto adjournment insofar as they are now lawless/rogue body rather than a duly constituted convention body. So any subsequent actions would be void and of no effect. The LNC at-large and Judicial Committee positions will, therefore, either be left vacant (to be filled by the legally elected officers and regional reps), or illicitly occupied by unelected persons.

9:50am -- The Libertarian National Convention just rectified history 1984-style, in defiance of the bylaws, the LNC's authority under those bylaws, and the Judicial Committee's authority under those bylaws, requiring the party to pretend that Caryn Ann Harlos was removed as secretary without due process and that her removal is therefore retroactively null and void. Harlos did ask the convention to leave John Wilford in place as convention secretary, but the body pretty much just announced that nothing further it does has any legitimacy, since the bylaws are no longer in force.

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