Saturday, April 30, 2022

Pulled the Trigger ...


... on upgrading to the new 64-bit Raspberry Pi OS.

Instead of ordering and waiting for a 256 Gb micro SD card, I used a 64Gb USB drive. After various problems with things like:

  1.  Making it bootable (e.g. contra several tutorials, I was NOT able to just set a boot order so it's one or the other -- if the SD card is in there, that's what it boots from);
  2. Getting my preferred text editor, Caret, to work (when I installed it as a Vivaldi app, it couldn't load or save files; I installed it as a Chromium app, problem solved);
And so on and so forth, I've now got essentially the same setup I had before, but it anecdotally feels like it runs faster, and now I can install 64-bit apps.

By "same setup I had before," I include at least one existing problem, which is not being able to get Widevine to work so that I can watch DRM content in Vivaldi. But that hasn't been a big deal anyway. When I want to watch TV, I do it ON the TV ... and if I REALLY don't feel like that, well, my old Amazon Fire TV stick is plugged into the extra HDMI port on one of my monitors, so I can just switch inputs and run a movie on the left screen while I work on the right screen. I think I've done that a grand total of one time ever, though.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Decisions, Decisions (Raspberry Pi 4 Edition)


I'm still happy with my Raspberry Pi 4, running the 32-bit Raspbian "Buster" OS.

But the machine has 8Gb of RAM and a 64-bit processor, and more and more I'm looking forward to upgrading to a 64-bit OS (which, among other things can address more of that RAM; also a lot of software only comes in 64-bit versions these days).

When I got this machine, the 64-bit version of Raspbian wasn't in stable release. Apparently it is now. Or there are some other 64-bit ARM Linux distributions to choose from. But I like Raspbian, so I'd rather stick with it.

However, upgrading in situ seems complex at best and maybe even impossible. So I'll just do it from scratch -- buy a new micro SD card and write the image to it, then swap it out for the old one.

Up side: If something goes wrong, I just pop the old one card back in, stay 32-bit, and give the new card to Tamara to store photos on or whatever.

Second up side: The machine came with a 128Gb micro SD card. I don't use a whole lot of storage, but while I'm at it I might as well boost that side of things to 256Gb.

I'm not undecided -- I'm going to do this sooner or later -- but there's also no hurry. I'll probably wait until one of two things happens: I get an Amazon gift card from Bing Rewards or for completing YouGov surveys, or someone wants to see how this comes out badly enough to hit my Amazon Wish List and make it so.


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Blackmail! Threats! Etc.


That's what the EU and US regimes are saying about the Russian regime turning the gas valve to "off" for Poland and Hungary. But who's the blackmailer here?

EU: We're sanctioning you so that you'll not be able to spend euros. But we're going to pay you for gas in euros.

Russia: Well, no. If you're going to sanction us so that we can't spend euros, you'll have to pay for your gas in rubles.

EU: Nope, ain't gonna do it. That's not in the contract!

Russia: You know what else wasn't in the contract? You making it impossible for us to spend the money you plan to pay us with.  And now the bill is overdue and you haven't paid. We don't give our gas away. Let us know when you're ready to get caught up and start buying gas again.


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

I Think I've Recommended These Shoes Before ...


... but if so it was shortly after I got them. Now I've had two pairs of them for, respectively, ten months and seven months (I just checked my Amazon order history), and I think I should recommend them more highly.


They're about $40 from Amazon (not an affiliate link). I think I paid closer to $30.

I've worn them every day for, as I said, ten months and seven months. I've worn them in the house. I've worn them in the yard. I've worn them on road walks. I wore the first pair to PorcFest. Other than occasionally wearing hiking or dress boots for an outing to a club or whatever, these are what I wear.

The results so far:

Other than minor tread wear (less than I'd expect for the amount of time they've spent on sand, roadway, sidewalk, etc.), and very slight fading on the second pair (which are light gray with red stripes; the original pair is all black as above), they might as well be new.

The worst thing about sneakers, etc., in my opinion is that even expensive ones often start to get peeling of the sole away from the upper if they take even a minor stubbing or scrape in that area. These are still solid. No fabric tears either, even though the stuff their made of looks and feels like it would be kind of fragile.

They're not for everyone, I'm sure. If you need arch support, these aren't for you. But I like going barefoot, and these feel pretty much like going barefoot. The problem with actually going barefoot is that I have enough neuropathy that if something pokes me in the foot, I may not even notice until/unless it swells or gets infected. So I had to give it up, and then these came along.

They're advertised as "cross trainers." I haven't put them to that kind of hard use (e.g. trail running, road running, etc.). I just use them as everyday footwear. But they've already outlasted more expensive and less comfortable shoes.

I know they'll wear out eventually. But my initial hope was that they'd each last a year, and so far it looks like they'll both exceed that easily (I could be wrong -- they may suddenly go to shit on me -- but I've seen no signs of that).

I'm thinking of buying another pair or two soon and setting them aside for later, because I can't imagine going back to another shoe type.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Prepping My Midterm Election Predictions, Part 2


In my first "prepping" post, I went over which of this year's Senate elections are for "safe," seats, which seats "lean" toward one party or the other, and which are "toss-ups." Now let's look at what has to happen for control of that body to switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party.

The TL;DR is that the Republicans have to get a net gain of one seat. The Senate is currently split 50-50 ... sort of. Actually, it's composed of 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and two fake "independents" who are functionally (even to the extent of seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination twice in the case of Bernie Sanders) Democrats and caucus with the Democrats.

In terms of policy, a net gain of one seat wouldn't change that much at the raw final vote level. There are several "moderate" Republican Senators (three that come to mind are Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine) who often vote with the Democrats (or, simply, with the party of the president, whichever party that might be). And there are at least two "moderate" Democrats (Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia) who often vote with the Republicans.

A small net gain also wouldn't change the math of cloture, in recent times used as a poor synonym for "filibuster." It takes 60 votes to move a bill to the floor for a final vote, so only 41 to block that final vote.

What it would change is "leadership" within the body, not just including positions like Majority Leader, but also committee chairmanships (and majorities). Which would mean bills Republicans didn't like wouldn't even make it to, let alone over, the cloture hurdle.

There's a lot of opportunity for gridlock here. Which would be a good thing if that opportunity got seized, but real gridlock doesn't happen much anymore. Instead of shutting down bad things, the majority and minority just trade away good things so that both sides get the bad things they want.

So, a net gain of one seat is required. Of the 35 seats in play, 23 are "safe" -- unlikely to change parties. Of the remaining 12, seven are "likely" to go to the same party they're already held by.

That leaves five seats as "toss-ups."

Two of  those seats are currently held by Republicans (Pat Toomey in Pennslyvania, who isn't seeking re-election; and Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, who is).

Three are currently held by Democrats (Mark Kelly of Arizona, Ralph Warnock of Georgia, and Catherine Masto in Nevada -- all are seeking re-election).

If the "safe" seats remain "safe" and the "lean" seats continue to "lean," then the Democrats just have to win their own three "toss-up" states to retain control of the Senate, while the Republicans have to win both of their toss-ups AND one of the Democratic "toss-ups" to get where they want to go.

This looks like harder going for the Republicans than most analysts seem to think, for a couple of reasons:

  1. In Pennsylvania, the Republicans don't have an incumbent. It's an open seat.
  2. In Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona, as well as the "leans" states of Ohio and Missouri, "the Trump factor" seems to be working against, not for, Republican victory. That is, Trump himself has endorsed candidates who aren't the "Trumpiest" pleasers of his base, and/or who don't poll the best versus likely Democrats (Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and JD Vance in Ohio); he seems to be leaning toward endorsing the GOP's worst nightmare, Eric Greitens, in Missouri; and he's made it pretty clear that he won't endorse the Republicans' bet bet, Mark Brnovich, in Arizona.
A Greitens nomination in Missouri would move the state at least close to "toss-up" status, and Ohio may already be there. The Republicans are going to have to spend a lot of money just to keep one seat that they otherwise would have won in a walk and another that they wouldn't have likely had too much trouble with.

An Oz nomination in Pennslyvania versus Democratic Lt. Governor John Fetterman will move the state out of "toss-up" territory and into "leans Democratic."

In Arizona, the nomination of anyone but Brnovich on the Republican line moves the race into at least "leans Democratic," and maybe even "safe Democratic."

In Nevada, Masto is not yet "safe," but April polling has her up by eight points versus either likely Republican nominee (Sam Brown or Adam Laxalt), and incumbency will probably bring in the money to keep her in good shape.

In Georgia, Democratic incumbent Ralph Warnock is running behind likely Republican nominee Herschel Walker, but other than having a football name to conjure with, Walker doesn't seem to be a very good candidate, and the same Democratic turnout machine that put Joe Biden and Warnock himself over the top in 2022 will likely be operating on steroids this year.

I'm not ready to make actual predictions yet, but at the moment, it looks like this just may be one of the rare years in which the president's party gains Senate seats.

If the Democrats win only two of their three current seats that are in "toss-up" status -- Arizona and Nevada -- and only one of two currently Republican "toss-up" states (Pennsylvania), the balance of power doesn't change.

If they can also win Georgia or Ohio or Wisconsin (where Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes seems to be polling well against Ron Johnson), they'll gain a seat.

But the election is more than six months out, and six months is forever in politics. I'll probably make my actual predictions in September.


Friday, April 22, 2022

Note to Andy Greenberg


Ross Ulbricht doesn't "owe" "restitution" to the US government. He didn't steal from them, they stole from (and abducted) him.


I Still Think the Backgammon Galaxy Algorithm is Busted


Got up this morning, caught up with my work, and decided to play a quick five-game casual backgammon match.

I beat my much more highly-rated opponent five points to one, and the algorithm rated that opponent's "luck" as better than mine. But I got no rating points because I supposedly had a higher "error" rating than my opponent.

The supposed purpose of the "error" rating is to not award rating points for wins based on "luck."

Yet the algorithm itself says that I didn't win on "luck." It says my opponent was "luckier" than me.

If I didn't win on "luck," I won by outplaying my opponent. Which, by definition, means I won by making fewer errors than my opponent.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

I Wonder if Ron DeSantis is Getting the Politics Right Here ...


So, the "Don't piss off Ron DeSantis or he'll throw a tantrum" bill has passed both houses of the Florida legislature and awaits DeSantis's signature.

How will that affect his prospects for re-election this November?

An off-the-cuff assessment might look something like this:

"Hey, the base likes it, and Orange and Osceola Counties went Democrat in 2018 anyway, so fuck'em, I don't need their votes."

But let's look at the numbers a little more closely.

In 2018, DeSantis only won election by a margin of 32,463 votes out of more than 8 million votes cast.

About 475,000 votes were cast in Orange County, which he lost with 174,229 votes to Andrew Gillum's 296,257. 

About 112,000 votes were cast in Osceola County, which he lost with 44, 627 votes to Gillum's 68,707.

Ceteris paribus, if 16,232 -- 7.4% -- of the 218,856 people who voted for him in 2018 in those two counties decide to vote Democrat instead this year, he's out.

What could possibly turn 7.4% of DeSantis's 2018 voters in Orange and Osceola Counties against him?

Disney's "special tax district" collects $105 million in annual revenue from itself, i.e. from Disney, which it spends providing government and government-type services in the district. With this bill, those services, and that money, vanish into thin air. Or, rather, $105 million in taxes prospectively gets shoved onto the shoulders of voters of Orange and Osceola Counties.

Oh, and the district has bond liabilities of up to $2 billion which, with the disappearance of the district, will immediately become liabilities of Orange and Osceola Counties. So even more taxes for all those voters.

I could see that not just swinging 7.4% of DeSantis's vote to the other column, but also driving Democratic turnout up.

There are other respects in which deciding to go after Disney may be political suicide for DeSantis (would you want Disney running against you if you were trying to become president?), but these are big ones. If he can't even hold on to the governorship of Florida, why would 2024 GOP presidential primary voters think he has a shot at the White House?


A Solution to the Florida Disney Kerfuffle


After Disney dared to counter-virtue-signal Florida governor Ron DeSantis on his "let's call everyone groomers, that will get the base out this November" bill, DeSantis went to full-on war, asking the legislature to repeal Disney's "special taxing district."

The "special taxing district" basically treats Disney-owned land in Florida as its own polity. Disney levies the taxes, provides the law enforcement, handles zoning/permits, etc.

What Florida got in return for that was a crap ton of tourist dollars pouring into Orlando specifically, and Florida more generally, for decades.

Now it looks like the deal may be off.

I've heard some suggest that Disney should pull up stakes and move, but that doesn't seem very realistic given the big investment they have in Disney World, Epcot, etc.

It would also be terrible for Florida.

But there's a way for Disney to keep things pretty much the way they are, minus a bunch of direct tax revenue from Disney itself to the state of Florida, but not destroying all the surrounding hanger-on tourism:

Disney should simply secede from Florida.

Not shut down. Not move. Simply declare that its property is no longer part of Florida. And maybe raise some taxes to put an army in the field if DeSantis wants to keep doubling down.


Wow, That's a Lot of Content ...


Today's edition of Rational Review News Digest is the 5,000th since we started up in December 2002.

That's not counting probably another 2,500 or so editions of our predecessor publications, Libernet and Freedom News Daily (we're the oldest, longest-running daily news and commentary roundup for libertarians on the Internet).

If you're not one our readers yet, you can subscribe to the daily (ONE message only, no spam) email edition here (or just visit our web, Twitter, or Facebook editions).


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Did Anyone NOT Expect This?


Per CNBC:
Shares of Netflix plunged 37% Wednesday morning after the streamer reported earnings Tuesday evening that showed it lost subscribers for the first time in more than ten years.

The company cites "competition" (true) and "easing pandemic restrictions" (true) among the causes of the subscriber losses. It was a no-brainer bet that a bunch of people who tried out Netflix when they couldn't go out to movie theaters, or for that matter anywhere else, would decide it wasn't all that once the lockdowns and closures faded away.

And prices are a thing too. Later in the story, it's mentioned that "considering a lower-priced ad-supported tier and suggested a crackdown on password sharing is coming."

I might go for that lower-priced tier. If it was just me who used Netflix, I'd have dropped it some time back, because I hardly ever do use it these days. But a couple of family members use it quite a bit, so we still have it.

I've been a Netflix subscriber since, IIRC, 1999 or 2000 -- pretty much the instant I noticed that I could get DVDs sent to me in the mail and just send them back when I was done instead of having to buy them or go to a video store (remember those?). I've always loved it.

When they went to streaming, I subscribed to the "standard" plan. They raised the price on "standard" in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2019. And on the "basic" (which, IIRC, the introduced in 2014 as an alternative to the "standard" hike) in 2019. Now I'm on the "basic" plan.

I think I got a notice not long ago that they're jacking up the "basic" plan -- one screen at a time, no HD -- again.

Netflix is in competition with a lot of other streaming services these days. Every time their prices go up, some of those other services look more attractive. But I'm still with them.

For now.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

I'm Pretty Sure This Suggests a Diagnosis of Insomnia


10:00 pm: "Alexa, read The Critique of Pure Reason from my Kindle library."

10:07 pm: "Alexa, stop."

10:08 pm: "Well, guess I'll get up and go post something on the blog then."


Why the CDC's Face Decoration Mandate is Probably Over for Good


Two reasons:

  1. The Biden administration wants it to be over for good; and
  2. The particular court route to try and have it kept wouldn't likely succeed.
Why does the Biden administration want it to be over for good?

Because if people are still being forced to wear masks come November, that will cost Democrats votes. If the forced masking stops now, it probably won't be a big issue by then.

BUT!

The administration couldn't risk pissing off the sub-set of Democrats who really, really, really, reaaallllllllllllly want pandemic-justified mandates to remain in place forever as  rituals of the Cult of the Omnipotent State, by just  deciding not to extend the mandate.

They needed to be able to blame Republicans for ending it.

When US District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of Florida (a Republican judge) nixed the mandate on Monday, she was giving the Democratic establishment and the Republican base what they both wanted (and Democratic Branch Covidians something they could enjoy hating themselves silly over).

Instead of running to the Eleventh Circuit or SCOTUS for a stay, which it would have done in about two minutes  flat they really wanted to keep the mandate, the administration and the CDC simply mumbled that they would be "reviewing" the judge's order.

But even if they had pursued the matter in court, well, the Eleventh Circuit and SCOTUS are both heavily stacked with Republican appointees and probably wouldn't have ruled in favor of the mandate. 

Which makes for a great excuse -- "we hate it, but we're moving on." Everybody's happy.

But Democratic candidates will probably be happier for longer. Republican candidates can effectually brag on this for about five seconds before everyone forgets all about it.  Democrats no longer face the choice between "we need to end this mandate, it's costing us votes" on one hand and "we can't end this mandate, part of our base would go even more batshit than it already is" on the other.


Twenty-Nine Years Later, and Still No Justice


On April 19th, 1993,  federal thugs launched an armored assault and chemical weapons attack on a church compound near Waco, Texas, starting a fire in the process and murdering 76 congregants (including 25 children) in cold blood.

The raid followed a 51-day siege after a federal raid, initially conceived as a publicity stunt for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, went bad, resulting in the murders of six congregants and the killings of four ATF thugs in self-defense.

To date, none of the ringleaders in the Waco massacre have faced justice.

US president Bill Clinton remains at large.

US Attorney General Janet Reno died free and uncharged.

Jeffrey John Jamar, the FBI gang's shot-caller for the siege, retired in 1994 and is still collecting his blood money pension.

Bob Ricks, who served as the FBI's version of Tokyo Rose or Baghdad Bob during the siege, likewise retired from the FBI and went on to jobs in Oklahoma's state government and as a local police chief. He's probably a multiple dipper in government's 30 Pieces of Silver Fund.

ATF director Stephen Higgins did pay a price of sorts: He "retired" following a report "faulting the ATF's handling" of a raid that should never have occurred.

Murderous sociopath Lon Horiuchi, head of the FBI's "Hostage Rescue Team" and a sniper who also skated on manslaughter charges after killing a housewife in Idaho, likewise never paid for his probable crimes (there are credible claims that HRT snipers murdered victims trying to escape the fire) at Waco.

In a just society, all the people above would have been charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced as the criminals they are, right after their immediate firings or impeachments and while they and their employers were being successfully sued down to their underwear by the families of their victims.

But for some reason, they don't even live in fear of any of that happening.

That's sad.


Monday, April 18, 2022

Oh, The Humanity!


Poor Lawrence Gostin ... "Trump's Worst Judge" has "Made Travel a MAGA Nightmare" by telling Gostin's spiritual advisors that they can't require everyone to carry a lucky rabbit's foot ... er, wear a St. Christopher medal ... er, sport a very special sacred face decoration that Gostin's religious cult of preference tells him (contradicting the actual science) will STOP the BAD THING from GETTING HIM when he travels.

The judge's order, Gostin says, will "sow chaos and confusion at the nation's airports," because apparently everyone except Lawrence Gostin (and, well, Lawrence Gostin too) is too goddamn dumb to make their own decisions about their own safety and be left alone to travel in peace, and will end up melting down in terror and confusion at the prospect of having to decide for themselves whether to cover their faces in the fervent belief that if their mouths and noses can't see the BAD THING, the BAD THING can't see their mouths and noses.

Perhaps Gostin's cult will come up with some new ritual to ward off the BAD THING. Dancing mania in the TSA lines could be interesting.


It's Time


Now that I've got the 'stache for it, I should be learning to speak Russian, drinking vodka, smoking cigars, and working out with a kettlebell.

I don't speak Russian yet but may hit Duolingo for that. I don't have any vodka handy, and don't care for cigars, so I settled for doing a few sets of one-arm snatches and bent presses with the 32-pounder. Consulting my books on the subject and thinking about a real workout plan now. Time to put some muscle back on.





Sunday, April 17, 2022

Starting to Prep My Midterm Election Predictions


270 To Win is my usual source for initial "these races might be worth watching" information.

Of the 100 US Senate seats, 35 are up for grabs this year.

270 To Win has 22 of those seats marked "safe" -- Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma (both seats), South Carolina, South Dakota,  and Utah for the Republicans; California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, and Vermont for the Democrats.

The first thing to notice there is the Republican advantage -- they've got 15 "safe" seats to the Democrats' seven. Every "safe" seat is a seat that isn't eating up a bunch of money from the party's national committee, Senatorial election committee, national PACs, etc. That money can pour into the contested seats.

Of the 12 non-"safe" seats:

  • Three (Florida, Missouri, and Ohio) are marked "likely" Republican, and one (North Carolina) as "leaning" Republican.
  • Two (Colorado and Washington) are marked "likely" Democratic, one (New Hampshire) "leaning" Democratic.
  • Five (Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) are marked as "toss-ups."
I'm not going to touch the "safe" states yet, but I'll be keeping an ear to the ground listening for anything that sounds like a sea change (how's that for mixed metaphorism?).

In the "likely" category:

  • In Florida, the last poll shown at FiveThirtyEight had incumbent Republican Marco Rubio up 18 points versus US Representative Val Demings. Personally, I'd mark Rubio's seat "safe." Demings is pretty popular as Florida Democrats go, but otherwise the Democrats aren't sending their best into this election. Governor Ron DeSantis is likely to win re-election in a walk, and his coattails will save even some Republicans who might otherwise have been in trouble. Rubio's not in trouble and isn't likely to get in trouble.
  • In Missouri, the only real hope the Democrats have is if the Republicans nominate former (resigned under a legal cloud) governor Eric Greitens. And even after his ex-wife accused him of abuse in divorce filings, he's still in the running. As of last week, a Trafalgar poll showed him in a close second place at 24% behind US Representative Vicky Hartzler 's 25%, and ahead of Attorney General Eric Schmitt at 22%.
  • Ohio looks interesting. If JD Vance's endorsement by the disgraced former president boosts him to the nomination, it's looking like a tossup -- both likely Democratic nominees (US Representative Tim Ryan and former State Treasurer Amy Acton) were polling, as of last month, at 2-3% ahead of Vance and also neck and neck with State Treasurer Josh Mandel and Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken.
  • My gut feeling is that the three "leans Democrat" states will continue to lean harder that way and be "safe" Democratic seats by November. But I haven't taken a hard look at them yet.
I'll get into those "leans Democrat" states, and the states that are already "tossups," in a later post, and also look at how many races each party has to win to keep, or take, the Senate majority. The takeaway for this post is that Missouri and Ohio could conceivably go from "leans Republican" to "tossup" status, and that could make the difference for control of the Senate.


Friday, April 15, 2022

I Guess I Might as Well Throw My Hat in the Ring


Consider this post my bid to buy Twitter.

My offer is $54.20.

Not $54.20 per share. Just $54.20.

I'll be looking under the couch cushions for the change I need to close this deal while I await the board's reply.


Thursday, April 14, 2022

This Strikes Me as Prima Facie Unconstitutional


Recent law (s. 11 of Chapter 2021-11, Laws of Florida) requires a person seeking nomination as a candidate of a political party to be a member of that political party for the 365 days BEFORE the beginning of the applicable qualifying period. Additionally, the law requires a person seeking to qualify for office as a candidate with no party affiliation to not be a member of any political party for the 365 days BEFORE the beginning of the applicable qualifying period. -- Qualifying Information, Florida Division of Elections

The US Constitution sets forth the qualifications for US Senate, US Representative, President, and Vice-President. There's nothing in there about states getting to decide who may be nominated by a political party, or how, or about non-party-affiliated candidates having to have been non-party-affiliated for such and such a time.

If I had the money to sue over it, I'd file as an independent write-in (or, if I had the money for that, balloted) candidate for Congress just to do so.

Hopefully someone else will.


What Does It Mean to "Exploit, Dismiss, or Condone?"


I got an email from Google AdSense (which I've seldom used and haven't used for years) yesterday. A couple of relevant quotes:

"Due to the war in Ukraine, we will pause monetization of content that exploits, dismisses, or condones the war."

"This pause includes, but is not limited to, claims that imply victims are responsible for their own tragedy or similar instances of victim blaming, such as claims that Ukraine is committing genocide or deliberately attacking its own citizens."

That seems like a pretty broad demonetization.

Any mention of the war for the purpose of getting a reader's attention, generating ad revenue, etc., is "exploiting" the war.

Any expression of sentiments like "yeah, there's a war on, but we still need to discuss [insert topic other than the war]" is "dismissing" the war.

Any expression of support for e.g. providing Ukraine with weapons to continue to fight is "condoning" the war.

And there's absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the Ukrainian regime has attacked people it claims are its own citizens. But I guess we can't mention the fighting in the Donbas region both prior to and since the Russian invasion, or Zelenskyy's announced intent to enslave every Ukrainian male between the ages of 18 and 60, if we want to monetize our content through Google.

It seems to me that this policy pretty much bans Google monetization of any content relating to the war whatsoever.

Which is their choice to make, I guess, but since it's not what they really mean, I wish they'd say what they really mean. Which is: "Only content that unreservedly supports the position of the Ukrainian regime, the US regime, and NATO can be monetized."

Timely, Though Not Painless


Every week or so, I try to remember to run sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade on the Raspberry Pi so that I always have the latest stable versions of all my software. Especially my browser of choice, Vivaldi.

I did that last night (that's when I usually do it, right before heading to bed, so that I'm not sitting around while the machine reboots, etc.). This morning, I discovered a bug I disliked very much:

If I clicked on the "site info" lock in the browser bar and selected "cookies," Vivaldi would close. It didn't seem to interpret the closure as an abnormal shutdown. For example, it didn't offer to restore the lost tabs, etc. It just re-started as normal.

Deleting cookies is something I do on a daily basis, on a number of sites, to avoid paywalls. It's not really optional for someone whose job is to curate a large amount of content five days a week. The first time this happened, I just assumed I'd clicked something incorrectly. The second time I knew I had a problem. And of course I had to go back and find a bunch of closed tabs both times.

I was about to go look up how to file a bug report, but then it occurred to me -- why not just run sudo apt-get update/upgrade again and see if the bug was already found and fixed.

And it was.

I can't say it was a "quick" bug fix, because I don't know if last night's update got a version that was a week old and it just got fixed this morning. But it was timely for me, because I didn't have the bug last night, did have it this morning, and got it fixed in a couple of minutes. So bravo, Vivaldi!


I Would Love to Have This ...


It's an IndieGoGo campaign by Legion Solar.



I'm thinking hard about whether I can part with the amount of money for even the basic "starter set," but it looks like what I've been looking for when I start thinking about getting started on solar, minus (apparently) the need for a battery and having to either tie into the grid or use separate outlets.

Since I rent, I can't get into the "free" solar build, where the company fronts installation and just takes whatever profits come from selling power back to the grid until it's paid off.

This is "permissionless," doesn't sell power back to the grid, looks very easy to install and expand, and probably just as easy to move to a new home.

The starter kit is just a 300-watt panel, but that would reduce the electric bill some. It would likely offset the power costs of my computer set-up and a few other electronic devices (Echo Dots, television, etc.). Two additional panels would probably cover the kids' computer/game console use and a few other things  as well.

Of course, the company says that prices will go up once the IndieGoGo campaign is complete and the thing is on general public sale.

But my guess is that if they succeed at all, copycats will swoop in to compete at lower prices. So I may wait. Decisions, Decisions.


My Unsolicited and Probably Ignorant and Useless Opinion of Elon Musk's Offer to Buy Twitter


I don't think he should, even if the offer was likely to be accepted.

He values the company at $43.4 billion.

What kind of competitor to Twitter could he quickly build for half that amount, with the other half as an operating cushion until it's in profit?

It's not like Twitter is a start-up with some novel new patented technology that won't be available to others for years. It's an established company that has up sides and down sides to its existing infrastructure and operations. Musk could build the social media platform he wants to see, instead of trying to remodel a fixer-upper that's getting long in the tooth. He could incorporate cryptocurrency hooks into the platform from the start instead of trying to find places to hang them on those peeling, yellowed Twitter walls.

What Twitter offers him is a large user base from the start, and an existing set of revenue streams.

But based on a quick web search, Twitter's user base (396.5 million) isn't as large as TikTok's, which is relatively new and has more than 1 billion users. So it's obviously possible to catch up with and surpass Twitter if people like what you have to offer. And where the users are, the revenue potential goes.

I bet a well-built Musk social media platform would sign up ten million new users its first day if its servers could handle the volume -- and an average of a million or more per day for at least the first year

On the content end, I could see SpaceX and Tesla streaming their launches and public events live only on a platform he starts. Not to mention Musk himself doing stuff exclusively there.

Speaking of which, if he wants to buy an existing brand and remodel or re-launch it, this one would probably be much cheaper and its name recalls his previous outings.

Build it and they will come.

But that's just, like, my opinion, man.


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Submission Recommendation Bleg


Tomorrow is "write a Garrison Center column day."

I don't have a news hook in mind yet. I'll find one, I'm sure, if I look, but why not ask around first?

I'm also feeling the urge to write/submit an "exclusive" somewhere instead of the usual "post it to the site, submit it everywhere."

Any suggestions for topic and venue?

Exclusions:

  • A few years ago, I had a note from The Hill saying (paraphrase from memory) "we only accept exclusives, and most of your stuff isn't for us. But please keep sending it just because we like reading it." I've submitted several exclusives there since, without having any published. So they're out this time.
  • Not very long ago, I submitted to the Washington Post. Within one minute -- I'm not kidding -- I received an "after carefully considering your submission" rejection notice. So I'm not going to bother with them, either.
Two targets I've had in mind for some time are the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. But I don't see any reason to limit the suggestions to those two.

Let me know what you think!


But Wait -- There's More!


In his latest column at the Washington Post, George Will makes some pretty good arguments against student debt forgiveness (and student debt in general).

He then issues a prediction:

When the latest payment pause expires after Aug. 31, it is highly unlikely that most borrowers will then have to resume full payments. It is highly likely that there will be not just another payments pause but a splashy and expansive loan forgiveness — one of the largest wealth transfers in U.S. history, by presidential fiat.

Biden — subtlety is not his strong suit — probably assumes that the gratitude of up to 41 million beneficiaries will exceed the resentment of borrowers who scrimped to pay their debts. Biden is probably right.


Yes, Biden is probably right. And Will's missing some important math.

There's an old saying about government programs -- benefits tend to be concentrated, while costs tend to be diffuse. Ditto gratitude for those benefits and resentment of those costs. The borrower who's getting the break, for the most part, will notice and appreciate that break more than most of the many taxpayers who are coughing up to provide that break will notice and resent it.

But there's a "slightly more diffuse benefit" angle at work here, too.

So, 41 million borrowers. To account for single-family households, multi-borrower families, deaths, etc., let's assume each only has one living and/or involved parent. Many of those parents will be grateful on their children's behalf. Some of them will be glad that the phone stops ringing  -- at least back when I noticed much of this, parents often co-signed student loans and were definitely on the collectors' "call and bug every day" lists.

That's another 41 million, probably mostly grateful, potential voters.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 60% of college graduates born from 1980 to 1984 were married at age 33. Let's apply some Kentucky windage here. Not all student borrowers graduate, and many who did graduate and who got married are now divorced, and many who are still married probably already have spouses who are in student debt as well. But it's probably not way out there to suggest that, say,  five million (12%) of the 41 million borrowers have spouses or partners who are not themselves in debt but who would be grateful to have the student debt monkey off the family's back.

So we're up to 86 million prospective voters who have good reason to be grateful to the president who delivered the goods, and/or to that president's party.

That's five million more than voted for Biden last time around, not counting people who may support the idea despite having no pecuniary or familial interest being served.

The only real question is how highly they rank the issue versus other issues in importance.

Whether student loan forgiveness is good policy or not, it's almost certainly good politics for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Why I Oppose Canceling Tom Woods


From a Facebook post by at-large Libertarian National Committee member Richard Longstreth:

Ive [sic] been asked several times about the LNC removing Mr. Woods as a speaker at the national convention given new evidence showing he began courting his wife when she was 15 and he was the employer of her mom. I think such a motion should come forward but I will not introduce the motion because, quite frankly, I do not want to be the #1 fall man on this again. I will sponsor the motion, even second it immediately if asked. I have already spoken with someone who intends to put a motion out if they can get the votes. Talk to your reps and at larges, specifically.

I'm agin it, for a few reasons.

One of those reasons is very practical, but one that the LNC shouldn't really take account of in its calculations because that would be putting its finger on the scale of internal politics, namely the party "takeover" attempt by a Republican PAC / astroturf operation styling itself the "Mises Caucus," with which Mr. Woods is affiliated.

If his appearance at the national convention is canceled, the cancellation will just give the Mises PAC's Legion of Whine something to whine about (and raise money on). If the appearance isn't canceled, the reception he gets is likely to reduce the GOP takeover PAC's chances of success.

But, like I said, that reasoning shouldn't play a part in any LNC decision on the matter. Whether  the Libertarian Party gets "taken over" and effectively dismantled as an electoral mechanism, for the benefit of Republican political candidates, is a matter for the convention delegates, not the LNC, to decide.

But there are other reasons.

One of them is that, frankly, I personally like Tom Woods. He's always been cordial with me, even -- heck, especially, since that's when he usually notices me -- when we disagree. I find the particulars of the matter a little creepy, but I'm not enjoying any moment of schadenfreude over it, or feeling inclined to pile on in a big way (I've made a couple of jokes at his expense, but I do that with people a lot closer to me than he is).

And just because I find the particulars (which do not, to my knowledge, include a sexual relationship while she was a minor) a little creepy, that doesn't necessarily mean anything illegal, or even immoral, happened. I grew up in rural southern Missouri in the 1970s, and most of the older ladies in our church hadn't started dating at 15 because they'd been married for a year or two by then (and were still married, or widowed, 50 or 60 years later). It's only fairly recently that drawing a number out of a hat and assuming that anyone below that number was incapable of consent (morally or legally) to anything more consequential than putting a penny in a gumball machine became a thing.

Could anything change my attitude about the matter? Well, if his ex-wife came out and said "yeah, in retrospect, I was groomed by a predator, and probably wasn't competent to consent to what went on," I'd give that some weight. Not total weight -- they were married for, IIRC, 13 years and ex-spouses can't always be expected to recall relationship history in a way that's fair to each other -- but weight.

As for those who feel more strongly about this, and have a more settled view of it, than I do, why de-platform him (to the benefit of the party's opponents) when you can confront him in public (to the benefit of the party)?

Monday, April 11, 2022

Goldfinger's Rule


 "Mr. Bond, they have a saying in Chicago: 'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action.'"

The Mises PAC's successful efforts to nominate toxic candidates and/or no candidates for governor on the Libertarian ballot line in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania and and Minnesota are a demonstration of intent, not of happenstance or coincidence.


But Is It, Really?


The anniversary of the release of the Apple I, that is.

Wikipedia says it is, and so do several "this day in history" sites.

But Wikipedia also says that Steve Wozniak demonstrated the first prototype at a Homebrew Computer Club meeting three months later, and that it went "on sale" about that time, too.

So I'm not sure what "release" is supposed to mean.

Was April 11 the day they got the prototype assembled, called it complete, and started trying to figure out how they'd promote and sell it?

Or was that maybe the day that Jobs took the prototype in to the Byte Shop and got an order for "something like 50" of them?

I dunno. I was coming up on ten years old at the time, and I'm not sure I noticed computers until the Apple II arrived with a splash in 1977. I didn't learn to program (in BASIC on a TRS-80 Model III) or get my own first computer (a Commodore VIC-20) until the early 1980s.

Whatever the actual dates, I'm glad those two got the ball rolling.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

The Voter Fraud Calls are Coming from Inside the House


Salt Lake County, Utah:

"Two Republican delegates, using paper ballots, were caught voting twice during Saturday’s nominating convention."

Anecdotally, it feels like almost entirely Republicans claiming that voter fraud is a problem ... and like almost entirely Republicans getting caught doing it.


My Latest Kitchen Gadget Indulgence


I have a weakness for those things. They're often AS SEEN ON TV! and they're almost never remotely as cool as advertised. In general, they tend to seem inexpensive for what you're getting, but mostly aren't, because they're usually cheaply made and seldom really work as well in real life as in the infomercial.

I don't by them when I SEE THEM ON TV! Usually I come across them at garage sales or thrift stores, and if the price is right I give them a try. After which I usually end up throwing them away as useless or nearly so.

This one may be an exception.

The item pictured is sold for $59.95 as the "Microhearth 1.5-Quart Nonstick 4-piece Everyday Pan Set for Microwave Cooking, Red" (not an affiliate link).

The one I bought for $3 at a garage sale, including those silicone steamer and muffin pan attachments and user manual/recipe book was sold as the "Range Mate." That product's web site seems to be gone, although there are some fairly similar "Range Mate" products sold on Amazon. The one I got looks identical to the Microhearth product except that it's orange and white rather than red and white, and doesn't have that extension on the handle.

The idea has been around forever in various permutations: A handy-dandy device that lets you cook stuff in the microwave that you'd normally bake, fry, broil, etc.

I've only tried one of the recipes, but I've tried it twice and it came out pretty well -- a pizza using pita bread as a crust, cook time of 3 to 3 1/2 minutes (prep time maybe two minutes -- brush some olive oil on the pita, top the pita with cheese/sauce/whatever). The pita actually got semi-crisp and the cheese melted, etc., so it "works." It's listed as an "appetizer," but it works as a meal for one, and it's pretty good. There are also recipes for things like vegetable stir fries, fried chicken, etc.

Between Tamara and the kids and myself, we have wildly conflicting schedules, and I often have occasion to "cook for one." This may prove a nice alternative, and possibly a healthier one, to a cold sandwich or a pre-made "toss it in the microwave and take it out" burrito, etc. Especially when vegetables start coming out of the garden. Steamed or stir-fried vegetables, maybe with a little chicken or whatever. That kind of thing.

Or it may end up in the trash if it doesn't do as good a job at those other things as it does with the little pita pizzas. I figured three bucks was a reasonable amount to risk on something like this.

Saturday, April 09, 2022

The Current Garden and the Next One


So far, the current garden seems to be doing pretty well. I've got, at least sprouted and some well into growth:

  • three varieties of lettuce, plus spinach
  • tomatoes
  • radishes
  • peas
  • green beans
  • cucumbers
  • two varieties of peppers
  • radishes
  • corn
  • green onions
  • zucchini
  • canteloupe
  • pumpkins
But looking at the layout, I don't feel it makes great use of space for the amounts of ultimate likely food production involved.

Growing up on the farm, we had a huge garden laid out in rows. Which makes sense when your garden is probably an acre and a half.

For my current space  -- one raised 4' x 8' bed, and another roughly 4' x 12' space next to it -- I think something along the lines of "square foot gardening" will make a lot more sense for most stuff. Right now I'm probably wasting significant amounts of fertilizer / plant food on soil that will sprout either nothing or weeds, no matter how carefully I apply it.

Once this growing season is over, I'll probably convert that second space into more raised bed, and go "square foot gardening" style there, with a separate, more spread out space for potatoes and the stuff that tends to grow a long vine with its fruit on the ground.

Not that I'm dissatisfied with the likely output of the current setup. It's likely to provide Tamara with several weeks' worth of salads, both of us with some good stir-fry meals, me with several meals' worth of corn to toss on the grill with steak or burgers, as well as canteloupe to pick fresh of an evening, slice, stick in the fridge, and have for breakfast, etc.

But if I do this right, I think I can probably cover a high percentage of our food needs excluding meat/dairy/mushrooms/breads from a garden on a regular basis without an insane amount of work.


Things That Remind Me of Each Other, COVID-19 Mitigation Ideas Edition


Thing One:

Is It Time to Start Masking Again?

Thing Two:




Friday, April 08, 2022

Scaramucci Predicted This ...


... as I mentioned here.

Per CNBC:

Blockstream and Jack Dorsey’s Block, formerly Square, are breaking ground on a solar- and battery-powered bitcoin mine in Texas that uses solar and storage technology from Tesla. Tesla’s 3.8 megawatt solar PV array and 12 megawatt-hour Megapack will power the facility.Blockstream co-founder and CEO Adam Back, a British cryptographer and a member of the “cypherpunk” crew, told CNBC on the sidelines of the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami that the mining facility is designed to be a proof of concept for 100% renewable energy bitcoin mining at scale.

I'm Trying Not to Let All That Raw Power Go to My Head


Last night, I attended the periodic meeting of the Gainesville / Alachua County Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board, where we considered matters such as recommending that "the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization set the Public Transportation Safety Performance Targets consistent with the Regional Transit System Targets shown in the attached Exhibit 1 and transmit to the Florida Department of Transportation."

Believe it or not, that's not as boring as it sounds when reading.

To the extent that I made any contribution, it was in proposing an amendment to a recommendation vis a vis some traffic light  / street light updates. We being the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Board, that recommendation was for due attention to, you guessed it, bicycle/pedestrian safety in the updates.

One of the particular intersections involved (Archer Road at SW 16th Avenue in Gainesville)  seems to be particularly dangerous. When I first started riding in town, I noticed a bike hanging on a fence with flowers around it near the intersection, a memorial for a cyclist killed there. I've had at least two dangerous interactions there myself. The right turn from Archer onto 16th is a curve rather than a turn, without good rear visibility if you're a cyclist crossing 16th going east. So you can be in the intersection, in conformity with the crossing signal, and not see the guy who's coming down Archer at high speed into the curve behind you until he's nearly on top of you.

The board does not dispose of money or approve projects. It merely makes recommendations. But that was mine. The intersection is 1) at the edge of a major university campus; 2) adjacent to two major hospitals; and 3) along a major bike trail. There seem to be quite a few negative vehicle interactions within a couple of blocks either way, many involving pedestrians and some involving cyclists.  It seems like a natural place to use traffic safety funds vis a vis those two categories.

In other news, we elected our next chair, vice chair, and secretary. I was fortunate to be nominated for none of those positions.


Thursday, April 07, 2022

Told You So, "School Choice" Edition


In more than one post, op-ed, etc. (here's an example), I've predicted that adoption of "voucher" and "tax credit" schemes, rather than creating non-state alternatives to "public" education, would actually turn supposedly "private" schools into de facto "public schools."

Why would I predict such a thing? Because we've seen it before:

Since the inception of the GI Bill, Pell Grants, and government-guaranteed student loans, formerly “private” colleges and universities have increasingly found themselves required to implement government-mandated standards on everything from curricula to athletics to hiring practices if they want to accept the students who bring that money with them, or receive federal grants for things like research.

The result: Of about 4,500 colleges and universities in the US, a grand total of 18 remain truly private, refusing federal grants and declining to admit students who participate in federal student aid programs so that they retain full control of their admissions standards, curricula, etc.


And now, to Scott Shackford at Reason:

Two Ohio Republican lawmakers are attempting to follow in Florida's footsteps with a bill that would censor some race- and sex-related content in public schools. Ohio's bill wouldn't just ban topics in public schools, though -- it also covers private schools that students may attend through vouchers, thus undermining the benefits of school choice.


This version is being done by "conservatives." But if you think "liberals" won't do the same thing to ensure that "private" schools are bound to government-created "standards" as a condition of receiving "voucher" or "tax credit" money, that thing you're doing that you think is thinking isn't. 


A Poor Argument Against Ending the Student Loan Repayment Moratorium


At The Hill, Liz Peek argues against the student loan repayment moratorium begun by former president Donald Trump and continued (and now to be once again extended) by current president Joe Biden. 

There are plenty of arguments, some of them good ones, against the moratorium and/or forgiveness. In my opinion, Peek's isn't among them:

Inflation emerged in the U.S. last year because amid a fast-recovering economy, federal spending went through the roof. ... This taxpayer-funded generosity caused excess demand, exacerbating supply-chain problems brought on by COVID-19; it also led to a labor shortage. ... Every time Biden hands out another benefit, like the just-announced extension of paused student loan payments, it gives a cohort of people one more reason to stay out of the workforce.


In the case of the student loan moratorium (or for that matter actual debt relief), I suspect the opposite is the case.

I never had a big student loan "problem," because I dropped out of school fairly quickly and in the 1980s. A couple of thousand bucks, IIRC.

But I've known people who borrowed and blew big money on college, came out of the experience with huge debt, and specifically stayed out of the formal work force precisely because getting a job would mean forking over most of the income toward that debt.

The following is  a composite of true stories that I've seen play out:

Sally racks up big student debt getting a degree in, say, psychology, or some other field that doesn't tend to produce an instant great income right out of school. She also moves in with a romantic partner late in, or right out of college, and is almost immediately pregnant.

After her pregnancy, she surveys the job field. She can get a job making $50,000 a year. That's $4,166.67 per month.

FICA taxes immediately knocks $318.75 off those monthly earnings. Income tax withholding (even if her income will get her a refund) will also be deducted. There may be state and/or local income tax as well. Let's say all this gets her down to $4,000 per month.

The average student loan interest rate is 5.8%. The standard repayment period is ten years. That's a payment of $550.09 per month. So now she's down to $3,449.91 per month.

Then there's daycare -- average cost, $340 per week. With 4.3 weeks in the average month, she's forking over $1,462, so her net income is now down to $1,987.91 per month.

Working has its own costs. Does the family need a second car, which will have to be insured and gassed up? Does the job require professional clothing? Does it entail extra hours with attendant extra daycare payments? Etc.

I'd be surprised if she knocks down $1,500 per month. At 40 hours per week, that's $8.72 per hour.

That $550.09 per month loan payment might make the difference between Sally entering the labor force and Sally deciding to be a stay-at-home mom. Especially if she can round up a little "informal economy" income by say, babysitting a friend's child for $200 a week, entirely "off the books."

You've heard of the Laffer Curve -- there's a tipping point in tax rates where the incentive to earn more diminishes. In my opinion, that applies to debt as well. That is, there's an income-after-debt-service threshold beneath which many people will just move into Mom and Dad's basement, or be a stay-at-home parent, or mow lawns for the bare minimum they need to get by and can avoid reporting to the government.

But I could be wrong.


Wednesday, April 06, 2022

They Can't ... or Can They?


Any time there's an international conflict involving one of the "Big Five" -- the US, the UK, France, Russia, or China -- the United Nations Security Council is effectively powerless to act because each of those "Big Five" regimes has a permanent seat and veto power over all resolutions.

Ukrainian president Volodomyr Zelenskyy says that Russia should be "removed" from the Security Council.

If I'm not mistaken, the portion of the UN Charter relating to the Security Council can't be amended to remove any of the "Big Five" from it.

BUT! There is a way.

Russia was not one of the original "Big Five." The Soviet Union was. Russia was recognized by the UN as the Soviet Union's "successor state" in 1991 and given the Soviet Union's Security Council seat.

But just because they were recognized as the "successor state" then, that doesn't mean they always will be.

This has happened before. Until 1971, China's seat was held by the Republic of China, aka Taiwan. But then the UN General Assembly decided that the People's Republic of China was the "rightful representative of China."

So there's precedent. The General Assembly could just up and decide that, say, Ukraine rather than Russia is actually the "successor state" and/or "legitimate representative of" the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

More Thoughts on FIO


As I mentioned a little while back, I'm kind of excited about the Foundation for Interwallet Operability's protocol. It makes it easy to send, receive, and request cryptocurrency (and attach explanatory memos to transactions) via a single, human legible address (mine is knappster@edge).

The protocol isn't perfect. As I understand it, it maps to one, and only one, particular address for each blockchain, so if you value anonymity it's not for you. But people are a lot more likely to adopt cryptocurrency if it's easy to use, and this makes it easy to use.

Then there's "staking" of the FIO token, which "rewards users for participating in blockchain governance."

I've got a bunch of the token staked, and am earning the rewards, but as for participating in governance, that appears to be doable only via one wallet -- a wallet I don't use (Anchor Mobile Wallet). I may look into that at some point.

Anyway, there's a rewards pool, into which a fraction of every fee earned on token transactions goes, and if you have tokens staked you earn a portion of that pool.

At the current token price, it looks like I've earned about $20 USD since late February, when I first started participating. My total amount staked is in the mid-three-figures in USD, and most of that was staked more recently, so I can't complain about the rate of return. If it continues as it has (including the token price holding steady around 10 cents -- I've noticed it as low as 7 and as high as 15, IIRC), I'm guessing the return will be about 20% over the course of a year. Not bad, although not the currently "estimated" 34.9%.

The only problem I have with staking is this: You don't get the rewards until you un-stake the tokens that are earning them. I'd really like to see an option for automatically staking the rewards themselves without having to un-stake other tokens to get at them.

I haven't decided on the circumstances under which I'll un-stake, collect my rewards, and go on my merry way. I might just get tired of having tokens (that I can sell) tied up, with a seven-day waiting period after un-staking before I can sell them. Or the price might take a huge jump and I might un-stake and see if I can dump my tokens before the price falls again even with that waiting period. Or I may just let it ride for a long, long time. I can see a lot of reasons why I might do any of those things.


Looks Like a Lawsuit in the Making to Me


Per Politico:

The Treasury Department will no longer allow Russia to make payments on its debt using dollars held at U.S. banks, stepping up its efforts to choke off financial resources for President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The Treasury had already moved to freeze Russian government assets held at U.S. institutions, but now it won’t allow Moscow to access those dollars even to meet its obligations to bondholders, moving the government nearer to default.

That money doesn't belong to the Treasury Department. It belongs to the Russian regime -- at least the part of it that doesn't belong to the Russian regime's creditors. I expect that the Russian regime will shortly be telling its creditors "hey, it's your regimes sitting on our dollars -- you get paid in rubles they knock that shit off." And I expect those creditors to sue the US regime to get their money.

Divining Intent Isn't Always Easy or Even Possible


But consider this:

The Florida legislature comprises 120 representatives and 40 senators, plus a "non-partisan, professional staff" to draft legislation. The governor also has a staff at his disposal, not to mention an Attorney General with staff presumably capable of looking over legislation and flagging any potential legal problems with it.

So when the legislature spends nearly three months on a seven-page bill, it's reasonable to assume that the use of ambiguous language virtually guaranteed to produce vexatious litigation in the final product is intentional, not just a fuck-up caused by poor writing skills on the part of one staffer or lack of time for consideration/amendment.


Wordpress Bleg


I semi-broke (for my purposes -- the site users probably won't even notice) Rational Review News Digest this morning, and hopefully someone can tell me how to fix it.

The problem:

I need our posts to show URLs, not destination page titles, in links. The reason I need that is that I paste page content into a text editor for the email editions.

I had that working -- presumably through a plug-in called "Disable Embeds" -- until yesterday.

But for some reason, "Disable Embeds" didn't disable one kind of embed -- specifically, YouTube video links.

I tried to fix that with a different plug-in.

Not only did it not work, but it undid whatever functionality "Disable Embeds" had for stopping Wordpress from displaying links instead of page titles (even after I ditched the new plug-in and re-enabled "Disable Embeds."

I also tried some functions.php code that was supposed to fix the problem. It didn't.

So instead of what I want, which is:

Attention! Deficit Disorder
Source: Garrison Center
by Thomas L Knapp

“On March 28, US president Joe Biden unveiled his 2023 budget proposal. It totals $5.8 trillion, which would bring federal spending and deficits back below their pandemic-era heights (although not back to 2019 levels). Biden’s ask comes to nearly $18,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. Oddly, The Hill reports, the White House’s big brag on the proposal is that it would reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next ten years. Usually when a politician pitches a plan to do something over the course of a decade, I expect a bunch of rosy projections that won’t ever come to pass. It’s easy to make promises now and leave them to another president and other Congresses to keep. This proposal doesn’t even bother with the rosy projections, though. Its tables, which run through 2032, project higher, not lower, deficits.” (04/04/22)

https://thegarrisoncenter.org/archives/16767

I get:

Attention! Deficit Disorder
Source: Garrison Center
by Thomas L Knapp

“On March 28, US president Joe Biden unveiled his 2023 budget proposal. It totals $5.8 trillion, which would bring federal spending and deficits back below their pandemic-era heights (although not back to 2019 levels). Biden’s ask comes to nearly $18,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. Oddly, The Hill reports, the White House’s big brag on the proposal is that it would reduce the deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next ten years. Usually when a politician pitches a plan to do something over the course of a decade, I expect a bunch of rosy projections that won’t ever come to pass. It’s easy to make promises now and leave them to another president and other Congresses to keep. This proposal doesn’t even bother with the rosy projections, though. Its tables, which run through 2032, project higher, not lower, deficits.” (04/04/22)

Attention! Deficit Disorder!

Anyone got any ideas, other than maybe giving up on Wordpress and switching to some CMS whose creators don't assume that every user will want every new whiz-bang feature they come up with and make it hard to disable that feature?

Monday, April 04, 2022

True Cat Story


I'm not really a cat person, but my wife is, as was my first wife. My only rule is that I (usually) get to name them, and I usually name them after revolutionists, not necessarily of the anarchist variety. One pair was Sacco and Vanzetti; a current pair are Rosa and Karl.

Maybe 35 years ago, the first wife adopted three kittens. I named them Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky. One day Lenin just suddenly died in his sleep. If I had to guess, I'd guess some kind of congenital heart defect. A few weeks later Stalin chased Trotsky into the street and he was run over by a car.

I don't remember what happened to Stalin. He may have been given away while I was overseas.

Sunday, April 03, 2022

I Don't Understand the Algorithm


I'm still playing a short (usually five game, but sometimes one) match or two per day at Backgammon Galaxy. My rating is so low I'm too embarrassed to share it, but my play is markedly improving. I'm winning 1/3 to 1/2 of my games and matches now.

What I don't understand is how the site awards points toward ratings.

Recently, I beat a much more highly ranked player 5 points to 1. Of the two metrics that the outcome screen shows other than victory itself, I had a better "error rating" (i.e. I made fewer mistakes), and worse "luck" (presumably this refers to things like getting dice rolls which give you no choice except to leave a post exposed). The changes to ratings that resulted were that I gained nothing and my opponent lost nothing.

Also recently, I lost 5-4 to a player whose rating was very close to mine. I had (again) worse luck and about the same error rating. On that match I lost 19.x points off my rating and the player who beat me got 19 points.

One would think that a bigger victory  against a more highly rated opponent would produce more upward movement than the downward movement produced by a close defeat against an opponent with a similar rating to one's own.

Very strange.


Should I Stay or Should I Go?


Some time back (looking up the post would be too much trouble), I decided that I probably wouldn't attend the Libertarian National Convention this Memorial Day weekend in Sparks, Nevada (everyone seems to think it's next door in Reno).

Events since then have confirmed that tentative decision. All three state Libertarian Parties I was a member of (Florida, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania) were taken over by the Mises PAC, a Republican astroturf operation masquerading as a party caucus, making it unlikely that I could secure a seat as a delegate even if I chose to attend.

My opinion was, and is, that going would be a waste of money better spent on other things.

My opinion was also that going would be a waste of time better spent on other things.

BUT!

I had a note the other day asking if I'd be interested in attending just to do floor work, etc. with the goal of help defeating the Mises PAC's attempt at taking over the national organization.

My response: I'd consider it if there was money involved to defray my expenses.

People who know me (including the person who brought the matter up) know that I'm willing to sleep on a hotel room floor, live on cold cut sandwiches instead of eating at the restaurants around the venue, etc., and work for free when I feel like I need to be at an event to get something important done.

So if the effort can come up with air fare and sleeping space, I'm probably going to do it.

If so, when I'm not working, I'll likely be ... researching. It's been 20 years since I wrote my first gambling book (on roulette). Ever since then I've been considering writing one on craps. And since the convention is at a casino, I'll presumably have some spare time to test out the basic odds-maximizing strategy (bet the pass line and take odds), perhaps winning enough to cover those aforementioned cold cuts.

I think it's been about 30 years since I spent time in Reno, and 20 since I've been to Nevada at all, and I'd certainly enjoy getting back there if it's affordable (and especially if it might even be profitable).

What do you guys think? Should I stay home or go west?


Saturday, April 02, 2022

The Fallout From This Could Be Interesting


From Newsweek:

The Walt Disney Co.'s proclamation that it will somehow force an overturn of Florida's "Parental Rights in Education" bill that Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law on Monday could mean the loss of government perks that will lead to "a living hell" for the company best known for family-friendly theme parks and movies, state Representative Anthony Sabatini told Newsweek on Friday.

I doubt that governor Ron DeSantis's fulminations against Disney will kill his re-election prospects, although they might negatively impact his ability to get the 2024 Republican presidential nomination if he seeks it.

Sabatini and other Republicans in the state legislature aren't nearly as safe.

The state legislative primaries are in August. The filing deadline is in June.

That's plenty of time for Disney to identify legislators who seem to support the DeSantis/Sabatini jihad and arrange for well-funded primary campaigns to unseat them.

That wouldn't likely change the partisan composition of the legislature much if any (the state seems to be nicely gerrymandered to create "safe" partisan districts, mostly Republican), but it might take down a few guys who thought they were unbeatable so long as they kept the red meat coming.


I Mustache You a Question


I waited for April to arrive before abandoning my winter beard, and have decided to keep the mustache, at least for now.

Should I keep going with the handlebar (possibly transitioning into Salvador Dali styling at some point), or fade back to a chevron? I'm liking the handlebar look.





Friday, April 01, 2022

Thanks For Asking! -- 04/01/22


I'm the guy with all the answers (because, after all, "how the hell should I know?" is an answer).

So, ask me anything in comments and I'll answer in comments (or elsewhere, linked from comments).




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