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:

ARTICLE 16: PARLIAMENTARY AUTHORITY

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:

ARTICLE 10: CONVENTIONS

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.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Libertarian National Convention Live-Blog, Day Two


 Thing One: Livestream, when/if available ...




Thing Two: Resources ... Libertarian Party YouTube Channel | dedicated thread at Independent Political Report | PDF of the purported "Strategic Action Plan" from the Mises PAC, a Republican "infiltrate and neuter" operation attempting to take over the party at the national level to protect the GOP. They implemented some of that action plan yesterday, including replacing the agenda with one of their own.

Thing Three: Live updates, in reverse chronological order,  below whenever I notice something happening that I think is worth passing on. Probably not as comprehensive as yesterday's, but we'll see.

Thing Four: By all means, feel free to offer your own opinions on events (and any news updates you might get scoop on) in comments.


LIVE UPDATES BELOW



7:12pm -- Smith beats NOTA 66.26% to 32.08%. Convention recesses until 9am tomorrow.

6:35pm -- Smith 48.75%, Raudsep 44.69%. Next ballot: Smith versus NOTA. Vote to adjourn until morning fails.

5:18pm -- Second ballot vice chair results. Smith 44.74%, Raudsep 40%, Hauptmann 4.64%, screen cut, but Smith and Raudsep will be the only remaining two candidates due to a suspension of the rules.

5:08pm -- Orders of the day called after the usual orgy of parliamentary fuckery (including Alicia Mattson saying that a footnote in RONR overrules the bylaws) . Chair trying to get through the votes involved, "point of order" or "point of information" every three seconds from literally every delegate who's three double bourbons deep in inattention, etc.

4:23pm -- Vice chair vote totals. Donald Trump loses. Again. As a write-in candidate. So does Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, and dead gorilla Harambe. Smith 38.17%, Raudsep 35.43%, Hauptmann 7.41%, Flores 5.18%, Thrasher 4.37%, and then they cut the screen. D'Orazio eliminated. Goes to a second ballot. Starr tries to suspend rules to allow multiple candidates to be eliminated.

4:04pm -- Note to self: Jo Jorgensen is really not a very good public speaker. Just sayin' ...

3:09pm -- Voting to commence. 2020 LP presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen will speak while votes are counted.

2:27pm -- Nominations for vice chair. Joshua Smith, Eric Raudsep, Tony D'Orazio, Christopher Thrasher, Joe Hauptman (sp?), Alex Flores. This is the only officer race without a Mises PAC nomination. The PAC originally supported Eric Raudsep. Then Joshua Smith whined about that. Then Raudsep made the mistake of publicly wishing former LNC chair Joe Bishop-Henchman a happy birthday and got dragged big-time in the PAC's fever swamps. So no Mises PAC endorsement. No prediction here, unless one of the speeches really impresses the delegates.

2:23pm -- Hagopian wins treasurer with 76.07% of the vote.

1:38pm -- Nominations for treasurer. Tim Hagan and Todd Hagopian.

1:35pm -- back to order. Sober Caucus has a suite for people struggling to get away to.

Also Noon -- I had to be outside for a few minutes, and only just now see that Harlos won the secretary election with 70% of the vote.

Noon -- Hall of Liberty inductees: Don Ernsberger, Geoff Neale, and Dave Walter. Jim Lark doing the introductions, etc. Lunch break until 1:31pm.

11:25am -- Voting for secretary under weigh. Maybe doing awards, etc. while votes are counted. Lunch coming up soon.

11:01am --




11:00am -- Nominations for secretary. Caryn Ann Harlos v. John Wilford.

10:54am -- Chair vote totals: McArdle 692, Dabach 151, D'Orazio 103, NOTA ? (I had 995, but that was clearly wrong), two write-ins (Adam Kokesh and Tiffany Deleon).

10:52am -- Just a note: I think Spike Cohen may be the party's best public speaker since Jacob Hornberger in his heyday (e.g. the 1998 national convention keynote).

10:20am -- After a bunch of wrangling over whether NOTA gets a nomination speech, voting appears to be under weigh, and Spike Cohen will probably be giving his speech.

9:35 -- Scott Horton's nomination speech for Angela McArdle is too good not to embed separately.



9:20am -- Nomination speeches.

9:15am -- Scott Horton publicly defiles himself by nominating Angela McArdle for chair. Jessica Etheridge nominates Steve Dasbach for chair. Tony D'Orazio nominated, I didn't catch by whom. Nominations closed.

9:06am -- Livestream up, convention preparing for chair election. Moellman presiding.

9am -- No livestream yet as the business session should be opening.

8:26am -- A source of mine on-site tells me that national chair Whitney Bilyeu is in the hospital. No details. If it's true, presumably vice-chair Ken Moellman will chair the business session.



Friday, May 27, 2022

Libertarian National Convention, Day One Wrap-Up


I tried to be reasonably comprehensive today. Tomorrow, I may or may not, depending on e.g. family stuff to do.

Absent some kind of major turn-around event, it looks to me (based on vote counts, etc. today) like the Mises PAC's candidates are going to win the chair race, the secretary race, and a significant portion of the at-large Libertarian National Committee seats, and my impression is that they've got some of the regional seats sewn up. I'm not as sure about vice-chair and treasurer.

If it unfolds that way, I'll be interested to see if there are any major breakdowns at, rather than after, the convention. Either way, it looks like the "national LP" is going to become a dead stick for libertarian purposes for at least the next two years. And that may mean non-Mises-overrun affiliates abandoning the LNC in favor of a new mutual affiliation mechanism for libertarian parties.

Of course, I could be wrong. Perhaps overnight a delegate majority will come to its senses. But I wouldn't bet on it without getting really good odds and point spreads.

If I sound really down about this, I'm not as down as I sound. I've been well aware for a long time that the Libertarian Party doesn't need me very much ... and that I need it even less than it needs me. The movement will continue, and I'll continue to do what I can for it even if the enemy takes the LP off the board.

"See" you tomorrow. Maybe. In fact, probably, even if to just briefly report vote outcomes.


Libertarian National Convention Blogging: Maybe Light, Sometimes Live


Thing One: When and if live-streams of the convention sessions (beginning at 9am Pacific) show up on the Libertarian Party's YouTube channel, I'll attempt to embed them here (just embedding the channel is harder than it sounds and won't necessarily feature current live-streams, so I'll have to try to keep up manually).



Thing Two: A few resources. Here's the Libertarian Party's YouTube Channel. Here's the convention schedule/agenda. Here's a dedicated thread at Independent Political Report where you'll find other people's reportage/perspectives. Here's a PDF of the purported "Strategic Action Plan" from the Mises PAC, a Republican "infiltrate and neuter" operation attempting to take over the party at the national level to protect the GOP.

Thing Three: Live updates, in reverse chronological order,  below whenever I notice something happening that I think is worth passing on. Yes, I love you guys so much that I'm giving up the opportunity to inflate my post count in favor of putting it all in one place (or at least most of it -- SOME things may merit their own posts as well).

Thing Four: By all means, feel free to offer your own opinions on events (and any news updates you might get scoop on) in comments.


LIVE UPDATES BELOW




5:02pm -- Adjourned for the day. Note: McArdle's performance improved once she stopped staring at a sheet of paper and mumbling. And debate performances aside, she probably has this in the bag. The thing about Republican "infiltrate and neuter" operations is that they have the money to get their operatives to the convention, and we're a small enough party that it's not that hard to overpower us.

4:30pm -- Dasbach speaks. McArdle reads from a sheet of paper. About having better communication skills.

4:23pm -- Motion to suspend the rules to move the chair debate to 7pm, proceed with Spike Cohen's speech, etc. Motion isn't seconded. Orders of the day are called to get on with the damn debate. Objection, someone has a motion. Shouted down. Jim Turney moderates chair debate, starting now.

4:20pm -- Motion to suspend the rules to adjourn immediately after chair debate instead of during the middle of it. Passes.

4:16pm -- Something something recess, something regional caucuses, point of information, point of parliamentary inquiry, yada yada yada.

3:52pm -- Chair debate to commence, eventually. Included candidates are former chair Steve Dasbach and Mises PAC candidate Angela McArdle. But maybe others, because there's action on the floor.

3:38pm -- Credentials report while awaiting token count.

3:29pm -- Took a nap during the speech. Woke up to Harlos chewing people out for something and someone yelling about rainbow shirts and tokens for the debate for chair being counted. Motion to suspend rules to open nominations for chair. Fails.

2:55pm -- Finally, maybe, getting to keynote speech. Maybe. Yes. So 30 minutes until business resumes. See you then. Maybe.

2:47pm -- Argument over how to count votes in divisions.

2:43pm -- Mises PAC's alternative agenda wins. Moving to keynote address by Justin Amash.

2:23pm -- Vote on alternative agenda. Chair says motion fails. Harlos calls for division.

2:09pm -- More haggling over credentials (number of delegates and alternates eligible to vote, etc.).

1:43pm -- Gavel back to order. Some kind of medical situation on the floor.

1:26pm -- In an attempt to liven this thing up a little bit, I had lunch. And for dessert, a dried-up, desiccated mushroom cap and stem of a particular kind (IYKWIMAITYD) that I found abandoned in an old drawer. As Hunter S. Thompson noted, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. So hopefully the going is about to get weird.




12:12pm -- Recess for lunch  (90 minutes) while alternative agenda is printed, etc. for vote to suspend the rules and hand the party over to Michael Heise.

11:59am -- Harlos moves to suspend the rules to adopt alternative agenda (the Mises PAC's agenda for the destruction of the party).

11:55am -- Motion to adopt the agenda (yes, after three hours, that's where we are at).

11:52am -- Mises PAC fails to remove Whitney Bilyeu as chair. Resolution to call Josh Smith the dishonest anti-LP grifter he is rejected as out of order. 

11:27am -- Vote on the motion to replace the chair. Counted vote coming up.

11:18am -- Motion to replace the chair, and replace her with Ken Moellman, who has just announced that he's not interested in the job.

11:17am -- Question called after Harlos's attempt to bulldoze the chair fails. Fails. Credentials report ACCEPTED WITHOUT OBJECTION. WOW!

11am -- Motion to strike Massachusetts delegation (Mises PAC impostor organization) from report and replace it with the other delegation (actual Massachusetts LP plus impostor faction). Harlos attempts parliamentary witchcraft, appeals ruling of the chair, Starr attempts to take over the mics as usual. But makes a sound point.

10:55am -- Delegates vote to NOT hear the minority credentials report. Moving toward vote on accepting credentials report. Move by "Gravy King," aka Matt Hicks, to amend the report to strike the Pennsylvania  delegation report as having been selected in violation of state laws and Pennsylvania LP bylaws. Question called. Motion fails.

10:22am -- Still a bunch of procedural stuff going on, delegates are at ease during delegation polling, etc. The credentials report has NOT been voted on yet. Per the agenda, that should be done by 10:35 am. I wouldn't bet the ranch on that.

9:45am -- If the live stream is buffering for you, it's not just you. It's everyone. It went south during the discussion of delegate numbers. I suspect that Aaron Starr may have gained control of all microphones simultaneously and overloaded the available streaming bandwidth. While we're down, I'm going to think about whether it's "live stream," "live-stream," or "livestream," because I've been using all of them.

9:33am -- Objection to hearing credentials committee minority report by Caryn Ann Harlos, who is already attempting to assume the position of Parliamentary Fuckery Alpha.

9:28am -- Credentials committee report begins after parliamentary fuckery apparently dies.

9:25am -- Called to order, immediate point of order concerning the use of "voting cards." Turns out they are not "voting cards" but "delegate management cards." Ruling of the chair appealed. Immediate parliamentary fuckery, lots of yelling, etc. Yes, shocking, I know.

9:04am -- Chair informing the delegates that people need to clear the aisles for floor mics to be put out before things can get going. Live feed is up above, but it seems to be audio only, no video.

8:55am -- Things should be kicking off very shortly. BTW, I will also do some select re-tweeting of things from the convention here.

6:15am -- Found a Facebook thread on the LNC meeting mentioned previously. Nothing of great interest seems to have happened there. Which explains why my more reliable sources didn't mention anything of interest happening there. So I expect any real news won't come until the first full convention business session kicks off in 3 hours and 45 minutes.

5:20am -- The rumors of actual (instead of merely predicted) skulduggery are already spreading. Per the LNC's email discussion list, a Libertarian National Committee meeting was scheduled for yesterday at 2:30pm. There's video of "Libertarian National Convention" from that time frame listed on the party's channel, but that video has been removed. What happened? I don't know. One (only semi-reliable) Facebook commenter posited that the entryist PAC may have pulled some kind of coup. I haven't heard back from the more reliable sources I've queried on the matter.

4:58am -- Setting up the placeholder post, mainly so that I can cue myself to stick to Pacific Time rather than Eastern Time (I'm blogging from the latter time zone).


Thursday, May 26, 2022

A Possible Libertarian National Convention Preview


The Libertarian Defense Fund is distributing (provenance unknown, at least to me) a document purporting to be the Mises PAC's "Strategic Action Plan" (PDF here).

While it's presented as contingent based on circumstance, the document seems to bear out the rumor that the Republican "infiltrate and neuter" operation fraudulently masquerading as a party caucus will open the convention by attempting to replace the chair.

Discuss if you want to. Or not if you don't.


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Green Beans, First Harvest


 


Not an insane amount -- basically three or four meals for two or three people if used as a side dish, or as part of a big casserole.

There are maybe half this many still on the vine and not fully grown yet. I'll probably use at least some of those as seed for Garden 2.0.

I don't think the yield is too bad. Ten plants, maybe -- an eight-to-ten foot row, with the plants spaced a foot or so apart.

I'm kind of planning on green beans with baby/new red potatoes and a little bacon for flavor tomorrow.


What Does Georgia's Turnout Portend for November?


In yesterday's Georgia primaries, Republican turnout was about 1.1 million and Democratic turnout was only about 700,000.

Is that a good sign for Republicans?


The question is why GOP turnout was so much higher.

The answer is that the GOP primaries for governor and secretary of state were very much a referendum on Donald Trump ... and as usual with referendua on Donald Trump, Donald Trump got his ass whipped. 

Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger both won their primaries over Trump's whining about their refusal to steal the 2020 election for him, and over Trump's endorsed opponents, and they did so with actual majorities, not just pluralities to trigger run-off elections.

The Democrats, on the other hand, didn't have that kind of controversy to energize its various and sundry voting blocs. While a couple of their statewide races did proceed to run-offs, that was due to crowded fields without big names, not to major party splits of the type that get out the primary vote. Everyone Democrat who their gubernatorial and US Senate nominees were going to be, so why bother voting?

That doesn't mean the Democrats are safe in November. In fact,  there's a very good chance that GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker will flip the seat away from Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and that Kemp will, once again, defeat Stacey Abrams.

On the other hand, there's also a very good chance that enough of the Trumpist voters whose candidates lost this time will boycott the election and/or just not be excited enough about it to produce Democratic victories.

So I'm still calling Georgia a toss-up. On the other hand, while 270 to Win still has Pennsylvania and Wisconsin marked as "toss-ups," I've got them as "leans Democrat." And I'll be interested to see if Ohio still "leans Republican" instead of being in "toss-up" territory when I see new polling -- in March pre-primary polling, Public Policy Polling had Democratic nominee Tim Ryan within two points of GOP nominee JD Vance.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

As Always, My Convention Blogging Will Probably Be Fairly Light


If I was attending this year's Libertarian National Convention, I wouldn't have time to blog about it much because I'd be busy doing convention stuff -- delegate work and hob-nobbing with my Libertarian Party A-List friends.

Since I'm not attending this year's Libertarian National Convention, I won't be positioned to get all the good scoop to share.

So either way, I probably won't be doing a lot of breathless "this just happened" posts, etc.

But, just to start prepping up for any convention blogging I might end up doing:

Some possible high (or low) points:

  • The call to order is at 9am on Friday. I've heard rumors that the Republican "infiltrate and neuter" operation masquerading as a party caucus (the "Mises Caucus") may immediately attempt to remove the party's chair as the convention chair, presumably to replace her with a convention chair who's likely to rule in its favor on parliamentary questions, etc. If such an attempt is made, whether it succeeds or not will be a strong indicator of whether the GOP entryists' "takeover" plans are likely to succeed.
  • After the call to order, the credentials report is likely to become a floor fight as at least two states (Massachusetts and Delaware) will presumably send multiple delegations based on arguments over what organization constitutes the LP's affiliate in those states. While the Libertarian National Committee and the party's Judicial Committee have in various ways -- illicitly and in violation of the party's bylaws -- attempted to intervene in those arguments, and while the credentials committee voted to lie in its report and pretend that the issues are settled in particular organizations' favor, it will still be (and always was) up to the delegates to decide those issues.
  • On Friday and Saturday (by this time I expect the exact time frames in the agenda to be long gone out the window due to lengthy parliamentary arguments), the delegates will elect a new Judicial Committee and a new Libertarian National Committee. These elections are, of course, central to the Republican entryists' "takeover" plans.
  • Later Saturday and on Sunday (contingent on how long other things run -- and on whether, as in 2020, the GOP entryists contrive to simply adjourn the convention without considering it) is the platform committee report. Which, by the way, was a very nice bit of work when last I looked at it. There will also first be "up or down" votes to delete planks based on a token system. As always, the most popular (or, rather, unpopular) plank to be considered for deletion will be the abortion plank, and I suspect there's a good chance it will be deleted.
If I blog about the convention, those will be the four most likely topics.

Concerning Rule V


In Writing the Libertarian Op-Ed (which I've been meaning to revise and re-issue for years ... and WTF, it's been TWENTY of those years now?) I list six rules for writing op-eds.


Rule V is "Practice Parsimony."


Unless you’re the Unabomber, you don’t get to ramble on at book length in your local paper’s editorial section. You have to accomplish your mission tightly, using the minimum number of words to make your point well. ... If you submit your article to a newspaper as is, at 500 words versus the 400 specified in the newspaper’s guidelines, it may still be published. In those guidelines, you’ll likely have noted that the editor “reserves the right to edit for length.” You can cut it down to 400 words. Or the editor can cut it down to 400 words. Who do you trust to know your thoughts and priorities better? Yourself or that editor? Do you want the piece to reflect your priorities, or his? Cut it until it bleeds. Someone is going to. 


Looking back, I should probably have practiced more parsimony there.

I've been thinking about this rule a lot lately.

When I worked at C4SS, I encouraged our writers to keep their submissions to 800 or fewer words to maximize the likelihood that an op-ed would be picked up.

When I started the Garrison Center, I set a rule that I've broken maybe once or twice myself: Keep the op-eds within the 400-500 word range. That seemed like the "sweet spot" to fit within most newspapers' guidelines and maximize media pickups (especially in print publications where there are a certain number of pages and a certain number of column inches available, as was the case when I started writing for newspapers).

The other regular writer at Garrison, Joel Schlosberg, usually breaks that rule -- on the low side, 300-400 words.

And he gets pickups.

I broke it myself today (350 words). I'll be interested to see how that works out.

You might think that it's easier to write a short op-ed than a long one.

You'd be wrong ... in most cases. It's easy to ramble on (as you can tell from this blog). For most people, it's hard to compress an argument or arguments into a minimalist format.

It was hard for me when I first started focusing on this particular format. These days, it's second nature. In fact, I have to work harder to write a 600-800 word piece than a 400-500 word piece. On the blog, I can let myself go. When writing an op-ed, something in my brain just keeps tapping the brake even when I'm not consciously considering word count.


I'm Retiring


No, not like that.

Like this:


By my count, that is my 101st correct Wordle in a row.

I say "by my count," because any time you clear cookies, change browsers, etc., your "streak" gets erased. So I've been manually keeping track, and mentioning my count on Facebook whenever I hit a prime number so that I don't lose my place.

Well, I'm going to stop keeping track now. I'm tired of bothering with that, and I figure 101 "wins" (or correctly solved puzzles, anyway) in a row is a reasonably solid demonstration (to myself if to no one else) that I'm not too bad at this Wordle thing.



I'm Still Skeptical of "Generic Ballot" Polling's Predictive Utility


I explain why here.

But it's worth noting that when I wrote that post, the GOP was ahead of the Democrats on the "generic ballot" by seven points. As of now, one poll has that margin reduced to 2% and two others have the Democrats up by 2%.

I wouldn't use that to predict any particular race, or even the overall outcome, in this November's midterms. But it says to me that the possibility of a "red wave" may be much lower than most people seem to have been expecting since, oh, November of 2020.


On the Profit & Loss Side of Things


Johnny Depp claims that his career was damaged by Amber Heard's allegations of domestic abuse.

But those claims run both ways: Witness Says Johnny Depp’s Online Mob Sabotaged Amber Heard’s Career.

It seems obvious that Depp's career was damaged. He's gone from one of the most in-demand actors in the world to not getting much work.

Heard, on the other hand ... well, I first noticed her in The Rum Diary, playing Depp's love interest. I see that I tried to be nice about it at the time, but I distinctly remember thinking "why did they go for eye candy qualities over acting skill/talent in that role?" and entertaining a demeaning/sexist answer to that question.

To me, the question is not whether Depp and his fans have "sabotaged Heard's career." It's whether her "career" would have limped on much longer, in any direction other than maybe infomercial or off-network game show host gigs, if she hadn't managed to associate herself with him.


Monday, May 23, 2022

THIS is What I'm Talking About ...


 ... when I say that Backgammon Galaxy's way of calculating "errors" is BS.





This was not a single game. This was an 11-point match which I won in eight games, winning six of those games. The two I lost were ones where my opponent doubled (he liked to double) and I passed because it was clearly a bad bet.

That's. Not. Fucking. Luck. Period.



SCOTUS Has Only Itself to Blame ...


... for people jumping to conclusions about justice Samuel Alito's "draft opinion" in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The Court itself claims that "justices circulate draft opinions internally as a routine and essential part of the Court’s confidential deliberative work. Although the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case."

But at least some point previously, per a number of sources (including Bob Woodward's The Brethren), that's not how it worked.

First there was a decision.

Then there were opinions.

A majority opinion, with authorship assigned by the Chief Justice (or, if the Chief Justice was on the losing side of the vote, the senior justice on the winning side), and any dissenting or concurring opinions.

For example, in Roe v. Wade, the justices first voted to overturn the Texas abortion law, then Chief Justice Warren Burger "assigned [Harry Blackmun] the task of writing the majority opinion" justifying the ruling.

Instead of whining that a draft opinion being leaked is a "betrayal," the Court should be transparent as to its procedures. In fact, it should live-stream its internal debates and its votes.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Just Finished My Latest Study/Trial ...


... which is my second for Radicle Science (not an affiliate link).

This was a trial for improving sleep quality. I took the substance every day per the study directions.

What did I receive/take?

It may have been a single agent, CBD or melatonin.

Or it may have been a combination: CBD + CBN,  CBD + CBN + Melatonin, CBD + CBN + CBC, or Full Spectrum Hemp Distillate + CBN.

Whatever it was, I can't say that I noticed any improvement in my quality of sleep. As directed, I took it about half an hour before I planned to go to bed at night, with food, and didn't notice that I was any sleepier or less sleepy when I tucked in than usual, or that I got to sleep any more quickly or any more slowly than usual, or that I slept longer or for less time than usual, or that I felt any more or rested than usual upon awakening.

Now that I've completed the trial, some time soon Radicle will let me know what it was they had me take. 

I am hoping that it was not anything containing CBN, because based on conversations with friends it's supposed to be a real sleep improver and I've had high hopes for it. In fact, I was planning to buy some and then this study came up so I decided to wait.

I know that CBD improves my sleep (and slightly reduces my chronic nerve pain) because I've used it, both in a previous study and by purchasing it myself. So I'm guessing that I either got melatonin alone (in a low dose -- when I use it, I generally use 10mg before bed and it helps a little), or or very low dose CBD alone, or Full Spectrum Hemp Distillate + CBN with very little CBD in the "full spectrum hemp." But I guess I'll know soon.

New Tales of Knapp the Gardener Agonistes


I can't say I'm disappointed, but I am realizing that I didn't do a great job with this attempt at a garden.

The zucchini was beautiful. Two plants. I harvested one sizable ripe squash. Then some kind of critter treated the plants like a buffet, ate most of the little baby squash, and broke both plants at the main stem near the ground. So the plants are composting now.

I thought I planted plenty of peas, but they didn't seem to do well. I don't know if I didn't water them enough, or if I watered them too much (that's what I suspect), or if the soil just wasn't right for them (I also suspect that). From a whole row of planting (IIRC, 13 plants), only seven or eight survived and only five produced pea pods. When they looked ripe yesterday, I picked them, pulled up the plants and put them in the compost bin, and realized I had about enough for one good stir-fry. May do that with the peas, the zucchini, and stuff from the store (onion, pepper, cauliflower) tonight.

I'm pretty sure I did plant plenty of green beans, and they're about ready to pick. Hopefully more than one family meal's worth, probably cooked with baby/new red potatoes, a bit of bacon, etc.

There's leaf salad ready to pick and have in salads and I will probably do some of that that this week.

The corn plants have tasseled.

Some of the peppers have started flowering, and it looks like I've got a couple of tiny cayenne actually fruiting.

The cherry tomatoes look good. They're still green, but definitely going well.

The cucumbers are doing too well. I unthinkingly planted a whole row of them and they are going gangbusters. Problem: I don't eat cucumbers (they make my mouth break out), and there will be way too many for e.g. Tamara's salads. We may try pickling, but pickles aren't so popular in our household that it would really be worth the effort. Next time, it will be one or two plants.

The cantaloupe is flowering and hopefully about to fruit. I'm looking forward to harvesting a cantaloupe of an evening, sticking it in the fridge over night, then cutting and eating cold cantaloupe the following morning for breakfast.

The pumpkin plants look kind of sickly and haven't flowered yet.

A little while back I started a "container potato" project with an old rectangular plastic container with an opening lid. I put in its side, cut a hole in it, planted a red potato with an eye or three in it (with nice fertile soil), and kept it wet. It's sprouted. The idea is that I can just open that lid (which is now on the side), pull out a few potatoes, and keep the thing going/growing in perpetuity. If that works out, I'll be doing more of it. Potatoes are a huge staple in our household.

This is really the first time, as an adult, that I've put in the effort and follow-through to really make a garden grow and go such that it's providing food. But Garden 2.0 will be laid out very differently. Most of the stuff -- tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, peppers, green beans, lettuce -- will be planted "square foot" style for maximum yield versus density. Then I'll have a more sprawling area full of fairly closely packed corn and less densely packed squash and cantaloupe. I haven't decided whether to try kidney beans yet, but those, along with the tomatoes and peppers, would be the base for chili, which we like a lot.

And I'll be doing more research on what the various plants need in terms of water, sun, etc. so that I can get things right for each plant instead of just giving them all the same amounts of this and that and the same soil type. I would love for Garden 2.0 to be able to produce all the veggies we want/need for the time between Garden 2.0 and Garden 3.0.


I Still Haven't Figured Out the Entirety of the Algorithm ...


 ... at Backgammon Galaxy, but I think I've reverse engineered one part of how it calculates "error rating."

After 400-odd matches (of which, as of a few minutes ago, I've now won exactly 1/3 -- I'm winning more than half these days), I've noticed a very specific trend, and emulated that trend to see if it produced the result I anticipated. It does.

The trend:

I've noticed that many players -- including some pretty highly rated ones -- seem to play a "strategy" of "if there's a single checker you can hit, hit it no matter what the situation, and hope for the best."

In a match this morning, an opponent had seven checkers either on the bar or in my home area, and almost all of them got on the bar by taking out singles of mine while he had singles scattered in his home area that my rolls to get off the bar took out.

I've also noticed that these players seem to get lower error ratings. Which means if you beat them, you don't gain any rating points. But if they happen to win, they do. In the aforementioned match, I ended up winning ... and gaining no rating points.

I played several matches using that "strategy" -- just take out the other guy's checkers, with no regard for getting my own checkers home or seeing to their safety -- and scored lower error ratings than usual. Of course, I lost most of the matches, but I got rating points for the matches I won and didn't lose rating points for the matches I lost. In fact, that probably accounts for the majority of the change in my rating over the last couple of weeks, during which I went from sub-700 to 1,000+.

Something in the algorithm seems to treat taking out a single as inherently less "erroneous" and producing greater "equity," even when doing so is an insanely dumb move.

I've started making a habit of looking at win/loss ratios instead of ratings when I think about clicking on another player's game offering. They seem to be a better indicator of whether I'm going to actually get challenged to play well, or just spend all my time on "let's see who can take out the most checkers, and hey, eventually there will accidentally/incidentally be a winner."


Thursday, May 19, 2022

One Thing is Not a Trend


As I often do when discussing campaign/election stuff, I'm going to riff on Dave Weigel's excellent WaPo campaign/election newsletter, The Trailer. You really should subscribe if campaign/election stuff is your thing

As I don't often do, I'm going to dispute something in it -- the title of this edition: "Four trends from Tuesday's primaries in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and elsewhere."

A set of data points on one election is not a "trend" that tells us much about the next election.

One of the "trends" that Weigel mentions is: "Turnout was up for both parties -- especially for Republicans."

What does that tell us about how turnout will look in the general election?

Not necessarily anything.

As Harry Enten noted in a 2016 article at FiveThirtyEight (which also happens to be an exception that proves the rule kind of thing), primary turnout is not, for the most part, predictive of general election turnout.

In fact, I suspect that high primary turnout for a particular party can, in at least some cases, be predictive of lower turnout for that same party in the general election.

Why was Republican turnout so high in Pennsylvania on Tuesday?

Because there were hotly contested races between warring factions of the Republican Party -- Trumpists who agreed with Trump's endorsements, Trumpists who thought Trump's endorsements weren't Trumpy enough, and non-Trumpists.

Once the votes are all in, not all Republican primary voters are going to be happy.

Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz is in a recount-close standoff with non-Trump-endorsed David McCormick at about 31% each.

Two other "Trumpier than Oz but not Trump-endorsed" candidates knocked down a combined 30% (24.7% for Kathy Barnette, 5.4% for Carla Sands).

If McCormick wins, it's not obvious that supporters of Oz, Barnette, or Sands will be especially inclined to get off the couch and vote in November -- or, if they do, that they won't choose Democratic nominee John Fetterman, who has some of the "populist fighter" mojo that seems to attract a sub-set of Trumpists.

If Oz wins, it's not obvious that he'll get enthusiasm from McCormick's supporters --or, for that matter, Barnette's and Sands's.

Meanwhile, while Democratic turnout wasn't up as much as Republican turnout, Fetterman knocked down a solid win, and has a clear deck to campaign as the front-runner while Republicans won't even know who their nominee is for a little while.

And Fetterman has a second  advantage: Doug Mastriano, the GOP's nominee for governor. Mastriano is the Trumpiest of the Trumpy, so no matter how the Senate primary comes out, Pennsylvania's general election will be a referendum on Donald Trump rather than on Joe Biden. And so far, whenever there's a referendum on Donald Trump, Donald Trump or his proxies receive an ass-whipping.

The last time I called an election six months out was when I predicted that Donald Trump would win the White House in 2016.

There's one, and only one, reason I'm not calling Pennsylvania for Fetterman right now: His health. He suffered a stroke the weekend before the primary, and while we got the usual "full recovery expected" message from him and his campaign, and in a fairly convincing way, it seems like the kind of thing to watch and wait on a bit.


Wednesday, May 18, 2022

My Rank is Still Pretty Low, But My Play is Definitely Improving


I've started playing on the "normal" rather than "casual" clock, after noting that I hardly ever used up much of my time on the "casual" clock and that I'm winning more than half my matches (and recently beat a player ranked, IIRC, in the 2200 range). I'm going with single game matches to start, though.

I had better luck and a higher error rating than this player, but it still feels pretty good to beat an "international master."




I Think It Bears Discussion


Whenever there's a "lone wolf" mass shooting or terror-type attack, especially if it has a racial component, I come across at least a few references to the concept of "leaderless resistance."

That's unsurprising, as the concept was popularized within the white supremacist movement by former Ku Klux Klan muckety-muck Louis Beam in the 1980s (the specific term actually originated in the 1950s with former military intelligence officer and "private intelligence firm" operator Ulius Louis Amoss as a Cold War tactic to get around the problem of CIA operatives operating on a hierarchal/organizational model that required being, or reporting to, "leaders" getting betrayed/captured/killed).

What I don't see are many references to another, earlier phenomenon: The "propaganda of the deed" associated with anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Quoth Mikhail Bakunin: "We must spread our principles, not with words but with deeds, for this is the most popular, the most potent, and the most irresistible form of propaganda."

The most famous (in America, anyway) example of propaganda of the deed was the assassination of US president William McKinley in 1901.

Abroad,  the attempted assassination of Tsar Alexander III was one of many attacks on the "nobility," political officials, even just "bourgeois institutions," but possibly the most historically impactful. It was carried out by a group (Narodnya Volya) rather than by a "lone wolf," and their leading ideologue and bomb-maker, one Aleksandr Ulyanov, was arrested and hanged. That seems to have been the main trigger for his younger brother's political aspirations. Young Vladimir Ulyanov is today mostly remembered under a different name, Lenin.

In terms of intention, acts like the Buffalo shooting strike me less as "resistance" of any kind than as propaganda of the deed. Payton Gendron didn't plan and carry out an action or series of actions that would materially advance his goals, at least by very much.  He planned and carried out an action with the main goal, so far as I can tell, of calling attention to his manifesto.

As an anarchist myself, I can see why anarchists would find the parallel discomforting. But I still think it's pertinent.


Monday, May 16, 2022

As Long as There's No Eagle or Birdie, Pennsylvania Looks Like a Hole in One of the GOP's Must-Win States


In Pennsylvania, lieutenant governor John Fetterman probably has the Democratic Party's US Senate nomination nailed down -- even though he suffered a stroke over the weekend. For one thing, there's been a lot of early voting during a period when he's enjoyed a double-digit lead over both of his significant opponents.

And, assuming there's no second or third major health event, his nomination will likely nail down a win for Democrats in Pennslyvania. In fact, the stroke and the fact that he's talking normally after it tend to accentuate his powerful physicality (he's 6'9" tall, shaved-headed/goateed, and tattooed).

The seat is currently held by a Republican who's not seeking re-election (Pat Toomey), and the GOP field is a dumpster fire. Trump has endorsed one not-very-Trumpist candidate, and the MAGA base seems to like a different, very Trumpist, candidate.

All the Democrats really have to do to win this race is not nominate Conor Lamb. And it doesn't look like they will.

As I pointed out in a previous post, in order to get their net gain of one seat to assume control of the Senate, the Republicans have to win both of the "toss-up" seats currently occupied by a Republican, AND one of the "toss-up" seats currently held by a Democrat, while the Democrats could retain control just by winning all three of their currently held "toss-ups."

At the moment, the Democrats look reasonably, though not certainly, set up to hold their own "toss-ups," and flip Pennsylvania, and flip Wisconsin (the other GOP-held "toss-up"), and possibly flip Ohio, which wasn't a "toss-up" before JD Vance got the GOP nomination but may well become one now.

And as I always like to point out, and pointed out vis a vis Pennsylvania in a 2019 post, these "toss-up" races always come down to turnout -- which party gets its voters to actually vote. The GOP seems to be divided three ways this year, especially in Pennsylvania: Trumpists who do what Trump says, Trumpists who are Trumpier than Trump, and non-Trumpists. It's unlikely that any GOP nominee will satisfy all three of those camps as much as Fetterman will enthuse a less divided Democratic base.

Of course, Fetterman could always have a fatal heart attack on the hustings or whatever, and the effect of that on the outcome in November isn't really knowable (I lived in Missouri when Mel Carnahan won a US Senate race after he died). But if his health holds out, I'm pretty sure he's going to whip ass in November.


My Next Project


So, the landlord ripped out all of the pines on our lot (and every other lot he owns in the neighborhood, which is most of them.

Now the front yard is mostly churned up dirt and stumps.

I've been spending a few minutes each day pulling up anything in that area that's vertical, trying to leave nothing but creeping ground cover plants. When there were pines there, it seldom needed mowing because the pine straw suppressed a lot of growth. The last thing I want is another portion of an acre that has to be mowed frequently.

I thought about spending big money on a number of reasonably fast-growing hedge-type plants to run across the front of the lot.

BUT!

We have a couple of beautiful crepe myrtles closer to the house. I like those trees, and Tamara loves them.

While doing some research on the Intertubes today, I found that it's just about the right time to take cuttings, plant them, and get some crepe myrtle saplings growing.

So I just spent $5 on some rooting hormone at Amazon, and I'm going to take a crap ton of cuttings. They'll go in cells, then pots, and probably come inside for the winter before getting planted in the ground out front next spring. They're not an especially fast-growing tree, but I'm hoping that even when young, they'll spread out at the top and flower, producing something like a hedge-like effect in depth (I'm thinking three rows, offset, with a tree every 11 feet or so across the frontage). We probably won't live here long enough to see them at full growth, but I'm still hoping they'll prettify things and give me a "grove" with low ground cover rather than mower-requiring grass around them.

When and if we buy our own place that we'll likely spend our retirement at, I'm hoping it will be well-suited to growing date palms or some other fruit-bearing tree.


What Strikes Me as Odd About e.g. the Buffalo Shooting ...


... is that it's apparently based on something that, even if true, would be inane in its conspiratorial form and trivial in its actual effects.

I have not read -- and probably won't read -- the alleged shooter's manifesto, but I'm given to believe that it grounds the attack in "replacement theory" or, more properly, "The Great Replacement" as outlined by French writer Renaud Camus in a way specific to France, but since adopted/adapted elsewhere, including by former quasi/faux-libertarian CNN gadfly, now Trumpist blowhard Fox News talking head, Tucker Carlson and others in the US. Here's the Camus/French version per Wikipedia:


[W]ith the complicity or cooperation of "replacist" elites, the ethnic French population -- as well as white European populations at large -- is being demographically and culturally replaced with non-European peoples -- specifically Arab, Berber, Turkish and sub-Saharan Muslim populations -- through mass migration, demographic growth and a European drop in the birth rate.

Setting aside the implausible notion that "replacist" elites would have any reason to pursue such an intentional program, let's consider the effects of a "Great Replacement" based even on "natural" mass migration, demographic growth, and lower birth rates in "white" countries:

Over time -- at least generations, probably centuries -- the populations of these "white" countries will get slightly darker in skin tone on average, and different languages, foods, musical styles, religious preferences, etc. will rise in usage and popularity.

That's an about as sane, sound, and earth-shatteringly important basis for, or justification of, an ideology as Little Caesar's pricing on Crazy Bread, which I have to assume is this "theory's" adherents' food of choice.

Why would anyone with, you know, a life, give a tinker's damn if his great-great-great-grandchildren are going to be two shades darker on the Pantone Color Chart, speak some Arabic mixed in with their English, prefer falafel to chili dogs or dubstep to bluegrass, or worship with a congregation of the Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912 rather than of the Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879?

Seems a lot more a matter of crazy people coming up with crazy reasons to do crazy shit (or, in the case of Carlson, to talk crazy shit) than any kind of major philosophical, ideological, or political cause.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

A Bit of Negativity, and Also Some Positivity


Early last week, two people in the household tested positive for COVID-19, another two pretty clearly had it despite one testing negative and one not getting tested, and I felt like my same old self -- kinda crappy, but nothing unusual in that regard.

As of yesterday, one of the two positive testees was still positive and the other negative -- and then our "free" government tests arrived in the mail.

Just ran one on myself:


That's a "no."

I'd say a week in close household contact with two confirmed and two almost certain COVID-19 cases without getting it is a pretty good anecdotal testimonial for the efficacy of the Novavax vaccine (of the four people who've had it, three are fully mRNA vaccinated, one un-vaccinated, with the un-vaccinated person having the worst symptoms -- fever as high as 102, etc.).

Tamara -- the symptomatic negative testee -- on the other hand, just tested positive on another of them there gummint tests. She's mRNA vaccinated and boosted.


This Week's Combo Binge


When there's sickness in the house and nobody feels like doing much of anything, it's TV binge time.

It started with a bit of a Ryan Reynolds binge: We re-watched the two Deadpool flicks, then went back for three of Reynolds's films we hadn't seen: The Proposal (excellent if you like rom-coms -- oddly, I do and Tamara doesn't), Green Lantern (meh), and The Hitman's Bodyguard (great fun).

Then it hit me that it's been quite some time since we've revisited The X-Files, so we watched part of the first season (and will get back to it later) before deciding to check out:




It's pretty good. There's only one season so far, and we're more than halfway through it. I enjoy Michael Connelly's novels featuring Mickey Haller, and liked the 2011 film version starring Matthew McConaughey, and the Netflix series version measures up.

One way it measures up that I find interesting is in casting. I'm not, generally speaking, big on "reboots," and I always want to see if the new actor will do as well as the previous one.

For example, after two Jack Reacher films featuring Tom Cruise, could Alan Ritchson really pull off the character without everyone looking at him and wanting to see Cruise instead? He did.

Likewise, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo makes the character of Mickey Haller his own, and Neve Campbell as Maggie McPherson and Becki Newton as Lorna Taylor hold up their roles at least as well  as Marisa Tomei and Pell James did in the movie. The series also brings in the characters Cisco and Izzy, well-done by Angus Sampson and Jazz Raycole.

A full-length series season obviously has more time to fill than a 90-minute feature film, and the series works various angles -- the relationship between Haller, his daughter, and his two ex-wives; two addicts and their recovery struggles; the Cisco-Taylor romance; etc. -- well.

One of my complaints about the modern TV series, especially of the "police procedural" and related varieties, is that they tend to turn each episode into a video-game-level-like "track down this week's maguffin" quest, with a cliff-hanger chaser. The Lincoln Lawyer doesn't seem to give in to the temptation to get lazy like that.

It's not that there aren't any cliff-hangers or that there's no progression ethos in sight, but the writers seem to have realized that they had time to let us care about the characters instead of just about "we must find that file" or "the protagonist's pliers are poised over the red wire (episode ends)" stuff. So far, they're doing a damn good job IMO. While we've watched two or three episodes a day, we've done so because they're interesting, not just to get past the latest cliff-hanger. It's not really a "binge" in that respect. It's just a series that's interesting enough to hang with.


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Good Ideas. But Personally, Right Now, I'd Buy Cryptocurrency.


 



Wednesday, May 11, 2022

How Useful is "Generic Ballot" Polling ...


... or, rather,  is it useful and if so when and why?

"Generic ballot" polling is simple: Ask a bunch of voters whether they're likely to vote for 1) this party or 2) that party in the next election.

Ceteris paribus, it's useful in the sense of being broadly predictive.

But there are ceterisi that can go non-paribus in ways that make it less useful.

One is the local/incumbent factor: "For all those other races, I prefer Party X. But my district's Party Y congresscritter, well, he took care of my gammy's Social Security problem, and besides, Party X's candidate in my district looks like of shifty (read: The incumbent had a lot more money to spend making the challenger seem shifty than vice versa)."

Another is enthusiasm/turnout. If 51% of "generic ballot" respondents prefer Party X to Party Y, but Party Y gets out 90% of its supporters and Party X only manages to get out 50% of its supporters, Party X is going to lose.

For an obvious example, let's look at non-generic polling in the 2016 presidential election. More Americans polled for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. But a lot of Clinton supporters weren't enthusiastic enough to act on that preference, while most Trump supporters were.

To quote a previous post of mine:

In 2012, Mitt Romney received about 60,000 votes in Erie County, Pennsylvania.

In 2012, Donald Trump also received about 60,000 votes in that county.

But in 2012 Barack Obama received about 91,000 votes in Erie County, while in 2016 Hillary Clinton received about 58,000.

As you can probably already tell, this factor is what's driving my skepticism when it comes to a "Red Wave" in November.

I think the Democrats are in good position to hold on to their 50 Senate seats and maybe even pick up one or two.

Not because most Americans prefer Democrats to Republicans, but because Democrats have a couple of tools at their disposal to get out their voters in higher percentages than Republicans.

One, likely coming in August, is large-scale student debt "forgiveness." That will tip some voters off the fence on the Democratic side, and some of them enthusiastically so.

Another, likely coming Real Soon Now, is the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

And a third is the assistance of Donald Trump in making the midterms -- to the extent that they can be turned into a "national election" -- a referendum on Donald Trump rather than on Joe Biden. We've had two such referendums on Trump (2018 and 2020 -- 2016 was more a referendum on Hillary Clinton), and in both he got his ass whipped.

The Democrats don't have it in the bag, or even close, but it's looking a lot better for them than  "generic ballot" polling (which, last I noticed, had the GOP up by 7%) reflects.


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

And Then This Happened ...


My youngest turns 21 today.

He got an early birthday present yesterday: Feeling off -- scratchy throat, etc. -- and his sibling coming home with a brand new shiny positive COVID-19 test.

So he's cranky, feverish (but not dangerously so, at least yet), and probably not planning to hit the clubs to celebrate his legal drinking status tonight (that's not something he'd be into anyway).

So far as I can tell, I'm either uninfected or asymptomatic. I've been a little sneezy for a few days, but attributed (and still attribute) that to the usual pollen allergy stuff. Other than that, I think I've actually felt BETTER than usual. Maybe that's due to being vaxed and boosted with the (not yet approved) Novavax vaccine. Or maybe it's something else at work. Or maybe it just hasn't hit me yet.

Update, 9:24am: I'm still not running a fever or any other specific symptoms, but shortly after this initial post I started feeling, well, a little woozy/wonky. Maybe it's THE COVID, or maybe it's just that I didn't sleep well last night or something. "Out of an abundance of caution," I'm putting off publishing today's Garrison Center column. I just finished the first draft, but I'm not feeling very sharp or inclined to trust myself at the moment. It might be full of terrible typos. Or it might even be "all pure gibberish -- a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate," which would be a feature, not a bug. Maybe later today, almost certainly by tomorrow.


Monday, May 09, 2022

My Gardening Efforts Are Bearing Fruit


Squash!


Pea pods!



No cucumbers, green beans, or tomatoes yet, but they're all flowering.

The corn is about three feet high.

The peppers look like they're about to start doing something.

The green onions are coming along.

The radishes have been harvested and are already doing their thing in Tamara's salads.

The lettuce is looking good.

The spinach isn't -- I planted it behind, and too close to, the cucumbers and it isn't getting enough light, I think.

I've also got some other lettuce, some carrots, and one red potato in the dirt, but too soon for results on those yet. Oh, and some canteloupe and pumpin. They're well-sprouted and growing, but not flowering yet.

Bike Decisions ...


I weighed myself the other day, and was surprised to see that I'm down to 215 pounds, a weight I haven't seen in at least a decade. I don't know if that's an effect of the Ozempic, if it's a dietary thing (I haven't been watching what I eat, but it does occur to me that I haven't eaten much pasta lately), or if something else is going on.

Noticing that coincides with some stuff I've been doing with bicycles.

One of my pet ambitions is to turn the old Trek 7000 into an electric bike ... but tearing it down to the frame, fork, and crankset, it looks to me like I'd be in for more than $1,000 to rebuild the bike as an e-conversion. And for that kind of money, I could buy an entire decent e-bike. In fact, even just converting it to a single speed would require not insignificant money. It's a really nice frame, my favorite I've ever had, but I don't know if I want to go in for big bucks and trust my limited mechanical skills to get any of that right.

One way to save money would be to see if I could remove all the guts of my current e-bike and move them to the Trek. I'm skeptical that that's even possible and even more skeptical that I would get it right.

Moving right along ...

My second favorite frame is my Critical Harper. It's a nice large 57cm frame like the Trek, but lighter/thinner. The only thing I don't like about the bike is the wheels and tires. They're thin rims, 25mm tires, Presta valves. I hate Presta valves. Even with little converter doodads, they are a pain in the ass to air up at a gas station.

BUT!

I see that Critical -- now known as RetroSpec -- has begun selling a "Harper Plus" bike with wider rims/tires that will accommodate the traditional Schrader valve. And they sell the wheelset separately. I hit their support email to find out if the old Harper frame would accommodate the Harper Plus wheel set, and the answer is yes.

I like the gold color (I used to tend toward flat black on everything, including clothing but then woke up one day realizing I'm not a goth kid, so I've been getting flashier):


It's $180, but that's the rims, and the flip-flop hub (in case I lose my mind and decide to go fixie), and 32mm tires. Even cheap tires go for $25 each, and two tubes would be another $15 or so. That's $65 worth of necessary gear I'd have to buy separately if I just bought some other brand of rims/hub. And the only thing I hated about the original rims/tires was the Presta valve thing. Other than that, they were solid. I probably put 1,500 miles on my first set of tires before replacing them (shortly after which I stopped riding until I got the Nakto electric -- see below).

I'd love to get back to riding without necessarily having a motor under me.

And I love the Harper. I've done my longest rides (60+ miles) on it.

And for that matter, the wheelset would work just fine with the Trek frame if I decided to buy new brakes, a new crankset, etc. and go that way instead.

And with the weight loss, I hope that maybe I could ride regularly without blowing out my knees, as inevitably happened whenever I'd put in 100+ miles per week for more than a few weeks straight, leaving me off-bike for a month or more until they felt like they could handle the pedaling again.

But that's the problem: I can't know for sure until/unless I actually do it.

As always, I think it's fun to crowd-source opinions on such things.

There are two ways to opine on this.

One is in the comments; I'll take opinions expressed there into account, maybe ask some questions about them, etc. while I weigh the matter.

The other is for that wheelset to magically arrive at my front door via my Amazon Wish List. If someone feels strongly enough about this to shell out $180, who would I be to say no?


Sunday, May 08, 2022

Fun, But Not Really All That Historical


Saturday Night Live's cold open is great fun, but it gets things kind of backward:

The first American anti-abortion laws were proposed and pushed by early "progressives" and "feminists" on the premise that abortion was a dangerous procedure that women were being bullied into by men who didn't want kids.

Roe v. Wade, on the other hand, was a 7-2 vote in which all five "conservative Republican" justices voted for the majority opinion (in SNLese, against the medieval logic of the skit and in favor of an expansive interpretation of the Constitution's rights guarantees) and two of the four "liberal Democrat" justices voted against it (in SNLese, for vile medievalism, i.e. leaving the states' prerogatives that their "progressive" forebears had insisted be exercised versus abortion, intact). 

The turn on a dime that occurred after Roe was a simple matter of identity politics -- Republicans wanted the increasingly influential Catholic vote (especially after JFK had proven it could be mobilized), and evangelical Christians, who had either been pro-choice or not given a tinker's damn about abortion before, jumped on board as well; while Democrats finally noticed that the 19th Amendment was a thing and decided that abortion could be a key issue in attracting female voters.

So they switched positions (but not, really, sides). Because this is a  routine power game, not a battle of principle, for the establishment.




Saturday, May 07, 2022

By Popular Demand ...


... because Thane Eichenauer is very popular with me.



I love coffee.

I also love Jack Reacher -- the novels, the movies, the series.

I do not like my coffee in precisely the way Jack Reacher likes his.

He takes his black and in large quantities at whatever diner or donut shop he happens to find himself in while kicking bad guys' asses.

I take mine with fru-fru creamers/flavorings. My Starbucks favorite is the iced white chocolate mocha latte. But the copious quantities part, well, I could probably give Jack Reacher a run for his money.

As to the back story ...

Well, Reacher grew up in a Marine Corps family, graduated from West Point, and spent more than a decade (I don't remember the exact number of years) in the US Army as a military policeman before getting out as a major on a "Reduction In Force" that he welcomed.

Presumably coffee is to the Army as it is to the Navy and the Marine Corps: Omnipresent. That's where Reacher really picked up the habit.

I didn't grow up in a military family, didn't graduate from West Point, but spent more than a decade in the Marine Corps during the same time frame as Reacher's fictional army service (depending on which fictional Reacher we're talking about), essentially got out due to the same Reductions in Force (after my first eight years, I kept getting offered six-month extensions instead of a second full contract, and at a certain point I tapped out rather than go through the extension rigmarole any more, taking an honorable discharge as an E-5 who probably should have been an E-6, but you know, I was kind of a troublemaker) ... 

... and I don't think I drank a drop of coffee for most of my Marine Corps career.

I tried black coffee -- probably Taster's Choice instant -- as a kid, decided it tasted like hot water and wasn't interesting, and just never got around to it again. Until.

When I was dating my second wife, circa 1993-94, we were walking around downtown Springfield, Missouri, and it came up that I didn't drink coffee because yada yada yada. So she took me to a real coffee place (it was called Mudhouse) and got me one of them there fru-fru drinks, and I've been a coffee fiend ever since.

I'll drink pretty much any coffee with some vanilla or sweet cream type creamer in it, but I prefer a dark roast if it's a coarse grind coffee, and I prefer Cafe Bustelo Cuban-style espresso grind to a coarse grind, even if I'm brewing it in my Keurig or my French press, rather than my espresso machine.

I've never had a real espresso machine, mind you. I've gone through a couple of the el cheapos, and last weekend I scored a seemingly brand-new, apparently unused (it still had the "clean after every use" tag hanging from the frothing attachment, etc.) el cheapo (Mr. Coffee brand) at a garage sale.

So right now, I start my morning with four shots of espresso (about 300 mg of caffeine versus 65-120 mg per cup of "regular" coffee depending on grind, brew technique, etc.) and some sweet cream flavored creamer. I usually go back for at least one more four-shot serving of that in the morning, four more shots over ice in the afternoon, and perhaps a cup or six of "regular" coffee at other times of day. I've been trying to remind myself not to drink coffee (or at least not four-shot pots of espresso) after 6pm, but sometimes I slip.

I've considered trying to match Honore de Balzac's consumption (rumored to have been around 50 cups per day) to see if it causes me to write at his pace (30 words per minute, seven hours per day), but I find the idea a little scary.

A few years ago, a research study I enrolled in referred me to a hepatologist because my liver tests came back a little off. The hepatologist didn't find anything wrong, but dropped the tip that drinking lots and lots of coffee is apparently good for the liver. So that's my excuse, if I need one.

As for Reacher, well, look ... the novels aren't especially believable, but they're enjoyable in a "crack cocaine version of literature" kind of way. And while I was never an Army MP, there's a ... verisimilitude ... in the descriptions of military life that tends to click with me. The coffee is part of that verisimilitude. My brother probably drank a million pots of coffee during his Marine Corps career, and drinks it by the gallon to this day, and he's happy with Maxwell House, the coffee that the US armed forces buys in bulk. His wife is a shill for Starbucks beans ground immediately prior to brewing and scoffs at his uncultured ways, but hey, if it makes him happy, it makes him happy.

Well, it's after 8pm, and writing this has made me really want four shots of espresso. But I'll try to resist.

Hope that this post makes the grade, Thane.

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Such an Odd Line of Attack


I'm seeing lots of complaints -- from America's ersatz "left" -- that a Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (as seemingly revealed in a leaked SCOTUS opinion) would be anti-"democratic."

Let's set aside for a moment the fact that the Court is supposed to be an anti-"democratic" bulwark against violations of constitutionally protected rights by majorities.

Have the complainers about the prospective ruling being anti-"democratic" bothered to look around lately?

If they had, they would presumably have noticed that "democratic" majorities in a number of states have indicated -- both in issues polling and by electing the legislators they've elected -- that they want an abortion regime more restrictive than that allowed by Casey and, in some cases, more restrictive than that allowed by Roe.

In point of fact, the leaked ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization upholds the actions of exactly such a democratic legislative majority in Mississippi.

Whatever problems there might be with the Court overturning Roe and Casey, being anti-"democratic" is not among those problems. In fact, the opposite is true: The ruling would turn the matter of abortion over to democratic majorities/pluralities in each state instead of restraining those majorities/pluralities.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

It's Been Five Years ...


... and I still think about Lee every day. The world is a worse place without him than it would have been with him.




Three Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide
Some graphics and styles ported from a previous theme by Jenny Giannopoulou