Saturday, November 18, 2017

Yet Another Peril of Shared Hosting: Process Limits

So: I've been using Hostgator (not a referral link, I just like them) as my web host for lo on 15 years now, and occasionally blog about problems that come up and how to solve them. I think I've solved a new set of them after an informative chat with their tech support.

For the last several months (at least), the admin sections of my Wordpress sites have slowed down and started throwing off an unusual number of 500 server errors. It wasn't that bad for me, but it seemed to be really bad for Steve when he was trying to enter content for Rational Review News Digest, and it would be worse for both of us when I was online at the same time, proofing and scheduling items as quick as he entered them.

So, Hostgator (and lots of other hosts) like to advertise "unlimited storage" and "unlimited bandwidth" for shared hosting accounts, and that much is true. A little less well known is the limit on CPU capacity. That is, your sites are on one computer with several other people's sites, and your site can't be allowed to hog the resources in terms of CPU capacity. If I recall correctly, the user limit is 20%. That is, if your sites are using more than 20% of the CPU's available cycles for more than a short time, Hostgator is going to come down on you. It usually starts with a warning message letting you know there's a problem, and shortly thereafter people visiting your sites get a "suspended" message instead of the sites themselves.

A pat on the back to Hostgator: The last time the above happened to me, it was obvious that I was under a DDoS attack or the equivalent. There were suddenly thousands of content requests coming in (direct to the server, not through my Cloudflare DNS proxies) for no apparent reason. The database queries hogged up processor cycles. I got the warning message, took a look, got on support chat, and within minutes Hostgator agreed that that was the problem and did something about it instead of shutting down my sites and expecting me to deal with it.

That wasn't the problem this time. In tech support chat I learned about another limit that you don't see in the big up-front "unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth" promotional language. That's a limit on the number of processes that can be going on at a time, each "process" being whenever one of your programs is doing something that talks to the CPU.

This isn't a limit on how much of the CPU's power is being used, it's a limit on how many things can be using that power at one time. At Hostgator (and at a couple of other hosts I was able to find information on this from), the "process limit" is 20-25. Go above a "soft limit" of 20 and weird stuff starts happening. Things slow down. Users start seeing "500 Server Error" messages.

The biggest culprit for bloated process numbers in Wordpress sites, my Googling told me, are the "plug-ins" that do various things. Every one of those plug-ins that does something every time a page is displayed will create additional processes. I spent quite a bit of time yesterday going through various plug-ins, thinking about how resource-intensive they might be in terms of processes, and ditching the likely resource hogs I could live without.

In particular, I ditched a really cool plug-in that I suspected was using all kinds of resources and that hadn't produced results I had hoped for -- not because it didn't do what it does, but because apparently nobody cares. That plug-in is called Transposh. Every time I wrote an article at The Garrison Center, it would automatically create versions of that article in a crap ton of other languages. Looking through my stats, I didn't see any people visiting the versions of my articles that were in Tagalog or Hungarian or whatever, so I axed it ... and suddenly my process count was way down and all of my sites were running the way they should be.

So: If you're noticing slow Wordpress site behavior or getting 500 errors, check out your "processes" and look at your plug-ins. There are lots of neat plug-ins that do lots of neat things, but they don't do those things with magic, they do them by acting as processes that use CPU power. If your web hosting uses the popular cPanel admin tool, you can find your process usage over in the left sidebar:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"For the want of cheap aluminum foil, your burrito was not lost exactly, but made more expensive for no good goddamn reason."

"Other than political pull and the economically illiterate policy decisions of President Donald Trump." -- Reason's Nick Gillespie on the latest tariff idiocy

The Only Place Where You're Entitled to a "Presumption of Innocence" is in Court

I've been seeing a lot of the following lately, and I know MamaLiberty won't take it personally that I'm using her version of it. I'm singling her out solely because it's an opportunity to send people to her excellent blog, The Price of Liberty. At which she says, in the customary "Mama's Note" on a post by Nathan Barton about "dealing with predators":

Innocent until proven guilty, by a jury of one's peers. Too much of this sexual "scandal" is built on unproven accusations, especially those being made after decades.

People accused of crimes are entitled to a presumption of innocence 1) in court, 2) by the judge for procedural purposes, and 3) by the jury until they've heard the evidence.

Nobody else is entitled to a presumption of innocence anywhere else or by anyone else.

Nobody else is entitled to "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" to shatter any such presumption anywhere else or by anyone else, either.

Most people, I suspect, make snap judgments about the guilt or innocence, the rectitude or reprobateness, the purity or evil of other people all the time, all day long. Those snap judgments may or may not be correct. They may or may not be well-informed. But they, and the other judgments we make as we learn more following our first reactions, are natural and necessary.

If I'm told that someone I know or know of is a thief, I may want to know more before fully believing or fully dismissing the accusation, but deep down I'll almost certainly do one or the other, at least provisionally, based on my experiences with and observations of that person, based on my perception of the accuser's credibility, etc. It's good to be as certain as possible, but I don't owe the accused any presumptions unless I'm wearing a black robe or a a juror's badge.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Am I The Only One Seeing This?

The Atlantic's Julia Ioffe broke the story of Twitter messages that WikiLeaks sent to Donald Trump, Jr.

This set everyone all a-twitter (yes, it's a bad pun, but I like bad puns).

At Reason, Brian Doherty looks at the matter from the perspective of the question "Did The Atlantic Prove WikiLeaks Considered Itself 'Pro-Trump, Pro-Russia?'" He notices two things:

1) "[Y]ou could easily read what WikiLeaks is doing as a rather transparent attempt to trick someone they think is sort of dumb (Donald Trump Jr.) into leaking things to them;" and

2) That read in context, the messages are evidence that WikiLeaks is appalled at being considered "pro-Trump" and "pro-Russia," referring to those claims as "slander."

My question beyond those two things is: "Am I the only person who recognizes continuous trolling when I see it?"

The first message mentioned in Ioffe's piece: "A PAC run anti-Trump site is about to launch. The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is 'putintrump.'"

Some others:

"Hey Don. We have an unusual idea. Leak us one or more of your father's tax returns. ... If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality. ... The same for any other negative stuff (documents, recordings) that you think has a decent chance of coming out."

"Hi Don. Hope you’re doing well! In relation to Mr. Assange: Obama/Clinton placed pressure on Sweden, UK and Australia (his home country) to illicitly go after Mr. Assange. It would be real easy and helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to [Washington,] DC."

"Hi Don. Sorry to hear about your problems. We have an idea that may help a little. We are VERY interested in confidentially obtaining and publishing a copy of the email(s) cited in the New York Times today."

WikiLeaks yanked this guy's chain over and over for months. It's telling that the people who want to see admissions of "collusion with the Russians" by WikiLeaks and/or the Trump campaign are seeing that instead of the epic trolling campaign that actually happened.

Monday, November 13, 2017

"I'm running for public office since 2004. It's just that I never had a chance to develop my campaign."

That's Jose Vasquez, the Democratic Party's special election nominee for state representative in Florida's 58th district. Vasquez was also the Democratic nominee in 2012 and 2016, and ran as an independent write-in in 2008 and 2014.

Maryam Saleh, writing for The Intercept, isn't covering Vasquez's campaign so much as the campaign of "progressive Muslim" Ahmad Hussam Saadaldin, an independent candidate trying to stir up some Bernie Sanders style mojo in a district the Republican Party has owned for years. At a recent meeting, each candidate (or at least each candidate's supporters) suggested that the other should drop out of the race. And of course both candidates declined to do so.

Which is neither here nor there to me -- I don't live in that district, and I doubt that I could in good conscience support any of the three candidates in the coming election.

But that quote caught my eye.

When you've run for the same office four times, "I never had a chance to develop my campaign" doesn't seem like a very good excuse for four losses or very good justification for a fifth shot. How many campaigns does this guy have to run before he "has a chance to develop" one of them?

Yet Another "Fundamental Right" That Doesn't Exist

Writing at The Daily Beast, Karen Hobert Flynn flogs the "Honest Ads Act":

[T]he bill would require Facebook and other website companies to maintain a searchable, sortable, online database of people and groups that purchase political ads. The database would include a digital copy of each ad, the targeted audience and number of views, and the rate charged, as well as information about the purchasers.

Ads that run online close to an election would be required to include a disclaimer identifying who is paying for the ad, just as television and radio ads that air in the same window of time before an election must identify their sponsors.

These are sensible requirements that advance our fundamental right to know who is trying to influence our votes and our views on public policy.

There is a fundamental right at stake here, that being the fundamental right to communicate in any way one damn well pleases, including anonymously.

If you don't know who's telling you something, your rights include:

  1. To believe or to not believe what you're being told;
  2. To peacefully inquire as to the identity of the source; and
  3. To condition your belief or non-belief, in part or entirely, on whether or not you recognize or can identify the source.
There is no "right," fundamental or otherwise, to know who's trying to influence your votes and views.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

An Obvious Line that Google Says No One Has Used Yet ...

... so I'm just gonna throw it out there before someone who writes comedy for a living does. Don't worry, this blog is public domain, so if it works in your act, grab it.

Show me on the doll where Louis CK touched himself

It is Obvious and it Should be Simple, Part 9,364,585

OK, it's one thing that Amazon and Google are both angling for dominance in the world of streaming video and that therefore I can't just easily use my Fire TV stick to watch movies rented or purchased via Google Play. I get it. Both companies want me to buy my device from them, and then buy the content I stream over the device from them as well.

I'm given to believe that Google is the more aggressive party here, i.e. that Amazon would let me stream Google content over Fire TV if Google wasn't being dumb about it. But Google IS being dumb about it. Even though I can access YouTube (owned by Google) on the Fire TV, and even though I can access the movies I rent or buy from Google over YouTube, I can't access them over YouTube on the Fire TV YouTube app.

All of that is very annoying, but like I say, I get it.

What I don't get is this:

Early on, the Google Chromecast worked with a Chrome extension, and within that extension there were user-controllable settings. Which meant that if I didn't want to stream at HD quality, I could set the thing to 480p.*

But then, Google decided to do away with the extension business and just back "casting" into Chrome itself. And I cannot find a settings panel in Chrome to control stuff.

So now, Chromecast (at least the original Chromecast -- I haven't bought the newer model) does what Amazon Fire TV used to do**, which is detect what kind of device it's connected to and stream at the highest quality that device can handle.

Some Google Play movies can be purchased in SD quality (that is, 480p) video, but others are only available in HD, which was the case with a movie I bought yesterday.*** So if I want to watch it in SD, I have to find a display that will only handle that video quality.

When Google changed "casting" from an extension to a a built-in capability, they should have created a user-accessible settings panel in Chrome for stuff like this. Since they didn't, they should go back in and take care of that now.

* I prefer 480p because it uses much less bandwidth than 720p or 1080p. If my family watched all our stuff in HD, we'd bust our ISP's bandwidth cap halfway through the month.

** I complained about that some time back here on the blog in a post that I won't bother to link to. Shortly after I did -- I'm sure it was coincidental -- Amazon updated its Fire TV OS to include user control of video bandwidth levels, which correlate to video quality. I set mine to SD. Problem solved.

*** So why buy movies from Google instead of from Amazon, meaning I have to switch sources to Chromecast (or mess around with weird un-supported sideloading schemes on the Fire TV)? Simple: I buy them for "free." There's a little app on my Android phone that lets Google hit me up to complete short surveys, for which I am paid in Google Play credit. I can buy apps, books, songs, movies, etc. with that credit. I decided I'd rather spend $4.99 in Google Play credit to buy Lawless from Google than spend $4.99 in cash to buy it from Amazon.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

99 Years Later ...

I read this poem every Armistice Day (now known in the US as "Veterans Day"), and when I remember to, I post it here as well. Wilfred Owen is, I think, still the poetic authority on war:

Dulce et Decorum est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind; 
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. -- 
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, -- 
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

PS: There's a Garrison Center column for the occasion as well.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Here's What's Different about Louis C.K.

And no, it's not that instead of being accused of groping/assaulting people, he's accused of wanting to masturbate in front of them.

Vulture's Matt Zoller Seitz says "Louis C.K. is done." His distributor, The Orchard, canceled last night's scheduled premier of his new film, I Love You, Daddy. Shades of erasing Kevin Spacey from a film he's appeared in, maybe not releasing his new flick, etc.


Louis C.K. maintains a direct commercial connection with his fans. I've purchased a couple of his comedy specials via direct download from his web site. Not from Amazon. Not from Netflix. From Louis C.K. When he's got something new coming (a comedy special, a tour, whatever), he sends email to a whole lot of people, including me, explaining what it is and how to get it.

Here's an excerpt from the email I got the other day about I Love You, Daddy:

A lot of you might remember that about two years ago, I created a series called Horace and Pete (still available at I paid for that show myself. When I did it, I told myself that I was parting with the money forever. It wasn’t an investment. It was a 4.5 million dollar grant to the "Make whatever the fuck I want" Foundation.

By that approach, I was able to make and roll out the show exactly the way I saw it, the way I wanted the audience (you) to see it, without any concern for commerce or profit.

In the end, the show made all the money back and more (with zero advertising) through website sales, and through licensing it to HULU, I was able to actually make a sizable profit for me and the actors and some of the crew, who own a piece of the show. That was a pretty good result.

So this year, I decided, I got the money back, I can throw it away again. This time to the "Make a Black and White Movie about a Shitty Father foundation."

All that to say, that I want to really thank all of you who bought Horace and Pete because you gave me the freedom to make this movie.

Did he make more money by licensing Horace and Pete to Hulu than just by selling it direct, and might that be a possibility that's disappeared with all the masturbation talk? Sure.

But The Orchard is just the distributor he got together with to put the movie in theaters. He produced the movie on his own dime and if The Orchard doesn't want to make money putting asses in theater seats to watch it, Louis C.K. is presumably still free to make money selling it directly to those of us who want to see it.

While I'm not interested in watching Louis C.K. masturbate (that's just not my thing), I'm very interested in seeing this movie. I was thinking of popping for a theater ticket to see it (something I don't do very often at all), and I'll certainly pop for a download if he wants to do it that way.

Because he's taken the time to connect directly with his fans and push his creations directly to them instead of working through intermediaries every time, there's a degree to which he has the freedom to say "well, fuck you then" to those intermediaries without it being a career ender. Here's the trailer for I Love You, Daddy:

PS: You know who I bet will stick with a friend instead of throwing him to the wolves? Doug Stanhope. He didn't roll over and join in the Johnny Depp bashing and I don't think he'll play any of this bullshit with Louis C.K. either. Just sayin' ...

Thursday, November 09, 2017

To Avoid "Gross Injustice," Eschew Gross Stupidity

There's a new movie coming out soon -- All the Money in the World. Kevin Spacey was in it, but the filmmakers are replacing him with Christopher Plummer.

When I say "new movie coming out," I don't mean the movie is being made. The movie has already been made. It's listed on IMDb as "completed." They're taking a movie that's done, yanking an actor from it, and re-shooting his scenes.

Not because Spacey didn't do a good job.

Not because Spacey turned out to have poor chemistry with the rest of the cast.

Not because the movie will be better with Plummer than with Spacey.

Because Spacey is accused (credibly) of doing Bad Things off-screen.

From TriStar's statement:

There are over 800 other actors, writers, artists, craftspeople and crew who worked tirelessly and ethically on this film, some for years, including one of cinema's master directors. It would be a gross injustice to punish all of them for the wrongdoings of one supporting actor in the film.

Yes, it would be. So why is TriStar doing it?

A whole bunch of people worked very hard to make a film, and now instead of releasing the film they made, TriStar is turning it into a different film, fucking around with a very expensive piece of art for cheap virtue signaling purposes.

It's not just Sony/TriStar. Netflix has a biopic of Gore Vidal in post-production. Starring, you guessed it, Kevin Spacey.  I don't walk the floor at night waiting for movies, but this happens to be one I've vaguely remembered and looked forward to since hearing about it. And now they're publicly wringing their hands about whether or not to release it.

I've been a Netflix customer for pretty much as long as there's been a Netflix, and I think the other day was the first time I've ever contacted them directly about a non-technical issue (for that matter, I don't recall any technical issues, either). Summarized content:


If Kevin Spacey is a problem for people to work with because he won't keep his hands to himself and his pecker in his pants, fine, let this be the end of his career as an actor.

If some movie fans base their ticket-buying and viewing habits on their judgment of an actor's moral fitness rather than on the quality of the product, well, okay, that's the market speaking in the form of social preferencing.

But re-shooting scenes to remove him from completed films, and not releasing films because he's in them? That's stupid.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Black Friday / Cyber Monday Are Running Early This Year

I've noticed a couple of news stories in the last few days along the lines of "[insert online retailer here] starts its Black Friday sales early." Cool. Didn't see anything I couldn't live without.

But then yesterday I got an email from Musician's Friend (not an affiliate link, but I do recommend them -- I've ordered several things from them over the years with a uniformly good customer experience): "Shop Our Holiday Doorbusters."

So I did.

I've had my heart set on a Les Paul type guitar for some time. My current "everyday play" electric is a Stratocaster clone that I got for $10 (including amp) at a garage sale. Worth every penny ... but not much more. My other electric is the Epiphone Joe Pass Emperor II that I inherited from my dad. A beautiful instrument. It only comes out of the case on special occasions, and that will remain the case until and unless I feel like I'm good enough to do it justice.

Hard to beat $95 (with free shipping) on an Epiphone Les Paul Special I P90.

Happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 11/07/17

This installment of The KN@PP Stir Podcast's perpetual AMA thread is brought to you by the anonymous supporter who lets me promote anything I want to promote, which at the moment is:

Up above the main title, you may notice the words "Volume II." That's correct, and you really should read the whole series, but I picked this volume because I consider it particularly applicable in a "history doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes" kind of way. I almost picked Volume I because it includes a likely rhyming situation (in 1872, Horace Greeley ran as the candidate of the Liberal Republican Party against the sitting Republican president, Ulysses S. Grant). But the fascination with populism seems like a more over-arching historical rhyme, so Volume II it is. But again, read all of them. Darcy Richardson is to the history of "third parties" as Shelby Foote is to the history of the Civil War. He misses few details and keeps it fascinating.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for ...




A Tale of Two Deserters

At CounterPunch, John Grant asks the question "Whose Decision Was a Greater Threat to Soldiers' Lives: President Bush’s or Bowe Bergdahl's?"

Obviously, to ask who endangered soldiers more, President George W. Bush or Bowe Bergdahl, is a rhetorical question. The real issue is whether a Dishonorable Discharge, a demotion and a fine is enough punishment for Bo Bergdahl. It's clear by now it's out-of-bounds (poor etiquette) to suggest our major leaders should be held accountable for bad military decisions that put soldiers in harms way and cost lives. It's a variant of the bumper sticker, 'Kill one person, it’s murder; kill 100,000, it’s foreign policy.'"

Well worth a read (and I'll take this opportunity to plug my Garrison op-ed on Trump v. Bergdahl as well).

I do notice, however, that Grant leaves out an important element of the Bush/Bergdahl comparison.

Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, for which he was sentenced to -- in addition to his five years of imprisonment by the Taliban -- reduction in rank from E-5 to E-1, a dishonorable discharge, and a $10,000 fine.

For George W. Bush, misbehavior before the enemy was never a potential offense. He didn't desert in Vietnam and spend five years in the Hanoi Hilton. He deserted from the relatively safe stateside Air National Guard billet Daddy secured for him. Instead of imprisonment, he got notes pleading for him to return and all would be forgiven. Instead of a dishonorable discharge, he got assigned to non-flight duties so as not to have to undergo the flight physical (including drug test) that seems to have prompted his desertion. Instead of reduction in rank and a $10,000 fine, he got a promotion to an eight-year tour as Commander in Chief.

Some military personnel whose last names begin with "B" are more equal than others.

Monday, November 06, 2017

F**k Art, Let's Dance

Scott Lemieux wants the US Supreme Court to "tell anti-gay baker his cakes aren't art" (hat tip -- Steve Trinward). Why?

The shop is arguing that, given the artistry involved in creating a custom wedding cake, compelling it to create a cake for a ceremony it morally disapproves of would violate its rights to freedom of speech and expression.


[A]s the libertarian legal scholars Dale Carpenter and Eugene Volokh argue in their persuasive amicus brief on behalf of Colorado, if Masterpiece's free speech claim were accepted by the Court, it would 'apply to a vast range of conduct.' Many of the activities employees and their supervisors engage in on the job have elements as potentially 'expressive' as baking a cake, and this is true of both tiny storefronts and Fortune 500 corporations.

In other words, if something that clearly is art is recognized as art,  "public accommodations" laws are going to come apart at the seams and everyone's going to just start associating or not associating as they damn well please rather than buckling down and doing as they're told by their betters.

I don't agree with Lemieux on whether or not that outcome is desirable, but I do hope he's right about the stakes.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 140: Special Broadcast from Area 51

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by, um, you -- at least those of you who have made it possible for me to pay Soundcloud another $120 for another year of hosting tomorrow. Thanks for your support, and for those of you who have been meaning to kick in, see the sidebar for options.

In This Episode: Thanks For Asking! [Secession, Florida LP's Ethno-Nationalist Tumor, New York Con-Con, Operating Systems, Mises Caucus] :: Who Expects a Killer to Hold on to a Smoking Gun for 54 Years?

"[O]ften a short-sighted and toxic little man"

That's L. Neil Smith on Murray N. Rothbard. In passing, but an interesting evaluation.

Sunday, November 05, 2017 is Now

After I went to all that trouble making a link graphic, they changed their name. That's OK, though. It's not like the link graphic was that great. Got a new one, over in the sidebar.

It still works the same way. For the princely sum of $1, you can contact me and get a response. Of course, I'm promoting this as a way to participate in the Thanks For Asking! feature of The KN@PP Stir Podcast that supports said podcast financially, so you should let me know whether you want a public answer for that forum, or a private answer to whatever it is your contacting me about.

You should also join yourself (no, that's not an affiliate link, just a recommendation) and monetize your expertise in various areas (you can join lists of e.g. Bitcoin buyers, college students, whatever so that people targeting certain demographics for surveys, proposals and such can hit a bunch of people up in one fell swoop). The pay comes in Bitcoin, and yes I have in fact withdrawn my earnings (amounting to a little over $20 in USD total as of the time of each withdrawal, although of course the Bitcoin they represent has varied in value since withdrawal).

Strict Constructionism vs. Original Intent, Libertarian Party Edition

When it comes to the Libertarian Party's Statement of Principles and platform, I am a strict constructionist. That is, they mean what they say and say what they mean within reasonable understandings of language. Anything outside reasonable construction of actual language is both highly interpretable and subject to new understanding.

Caryn Ann Harlos is an original intentist, where the Statement of Principles in particular, and the platform to the extent that it flows from the former document, are all to be understood in terms of what the few dozen founders of the LP believed about issues (and the philosophical depths of issues), beliefs that neither they nor the SoP/platform may have even explicitly mentioned.

Unsurprisingly, on the issue that brings out this difference of approach at the moment, Harlos believes that the unstated position of the party's founders just happens to be Harlos's own position. Imagine that.

UPDATE: Caryn Ann informs me that I'm incorrect on the point of her claims as to the founders' positions agreeing with her own. She claims to be defending the historicity of a position, not the position itself. Fair enough.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

J. Neil Schulman is Brave

I thought it, but he wrote it. Why didn't I write it? Because if you say it, people who don't understand the meaning of the word "pedophilia" will accuse you of supporting pedophiles. Schulman:

Kevin Spacey has lost his Netflix series House of Cards and future Netflix production relationship because of decades-old gossip that he made homosexual advances toward a biologically post-pubescent man. Fourteen isn’t a man? Tell that to Blaize Teague, a 14-year-old being tried as an adult for murder in Oklahoma.

I'm kind of embarrassed that I didn't have the guts to write it myself instead of just agreeing with it once someone else stuck his neck out.

Yes, I know there's more to it than the above. Not all of the claims are old -- some of them are from staff/crew on House of Cards itself -- and not all of them are as trite as "he made a pass at me and I didn't like it so I got out of there."

One of them is from another guy who claims he engaged in a consensual relationship with Spacey, who was then in his early 20s, as a 14 and 15 year old. Now the guy has decided that he was being manipulated by a predator. Then, he apparently didn't think so.

Personally, I find the idea of sex, or a romantic relationship, with a teenager to get creepier and creepier as the age of the other party increases. That is, a 20-year-old and a 17-year-old, no biggie. A 24 year-old and a 16-year-old, not quite kosher. A 30-year-old and a 14-year-old, creep alert. Any adult and someone 12 or under and I'm throwing the "not capable of meaning consent" flag on the play and asking a jury to sort it out ("age of consent" laws are BS, as individuals differ as to when they can meaningfully consent; I've written at more length on that before).

But that's just me. At a remove of decades, there's plenty of he said / he said factor as to the facts, and there's also a "changed my mind over the years" factor as to whether the alleged victim was willing or unwilling and able or unable to consent. So I'm content to just say "well, that sounds like it was pretty creepy, not sure I like Kevin Spacey very much" and get on with my life instead of calling for the guy's head on a platter.

I can't say I agree with Schulman entirely. For one thing, no, it is not libel to state something not yet proven. For another, no, we don't all owe everyone a presumption of innocence until proof of guilt is established beyond reasonable doubt. That's a worthy standard for criminal prosecutions, but not for personal opinions.

The witch hunt metaphor is well done, but my preferred metaphor is a more genteel (so far) version of China's Cultural Revolution, starting on American college campuses and  now ramifying through society in "show me on the doll where Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey touched you" form.

But it's still a good piece, so go read it. And thanks for saying what others were afraid to say, Neil.

Some Twitter Accounts are More Equal Than Others

Garrison Bleg

The mission of The William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism is to get libertarian op-eds published in mainstream newspapers and non-libertarian political publications.

That happened 545 times in 2015. In 2016, I set a goal of 750 such pickups and ended up with 913. This year, I set a goal of 1,000 pickups and things are looking pretty good (844 for the year, 82 in October, that I know of  -- based on experience, I expect to find more when I spend a whole day at the end of the year going back and aggressively Googling).

You can help keep things building, and all it will cost you is a few minutes of your time.

Your town probably has one or more newspapers.

Your town's newspapers probably don't carry the Garrison Center's op-eds.

But if you ask, they might.

There's a good chance that I'm already sending those op-eds to your local paper and that they're just ignored and thrown in the trash folder. If so, a word from you might cause the editor to take a closer look.

And it's always possible that I'm not hitting your paper's inbox. I submit (three times a week) to about 1,500 newspapers in the US and, when appropriate, another thousand or so abroad, but I may have missed yours, or removed it from my mailings because the emails bounce and I can't find a good address, or because they've asked me to stop bothering them.

If you have a moment sometime soon, why not jot off a note to your local paper telling them you'd like to see my columns? Or, if you actually personally know someone who works for the paper, chat him or her up about it? That's thegarrisoncenter dot org on the web, media at the by email.

Big daily papers or small town weekly papers or anything in between. I'm not picky. Thanks in advance.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

It Looks Like Democrats May be Ready to Take Up a Republican Slogan

"Hillary For Prison," that is.

Prediction 1: The Democratic Party will be in better shape by 2020 than the GOP.

Prediction 2: But probably not by 2018. The party that holds the White House usually loses seats in Congress during the mid-term elections. Some particularly ebullient anti-Trump people expect the GOP to lose its majorities in both the Senate and the House. Unless something changes (and things do change), I'd say there's a 10% chance of the Democrats taking a Senate majority and a less than 1% chance of them taking a House majority.

Saipov Should Get the Death Penalty ...

... says the head of the largest terrorist organization on the planet, who has himself supervised thousands of terror killings.

Well, I guess he's an expert on the subject, then, isn't he?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"My" State Senator is an Idiot

Last year, the idiot got caught on video slapping a constituent for no longer wanting a "Keith Perry for State Senate" sign in his yard.

Now the idiot wants to re-name a section of 13th Street in Gainesville "Tom Petty Memorial Highway."

I'm a big Tom Petty fan.

And of course Petty is a Favorite Son here in Gainesville.

But I'm guessing that even Petty would oppose re-naming "Martin Luther King Jr. Highway" after himself.


Linus Polling

A Halloween Treat: @Walmart's Creepy Customer Tracking Smarm

Yes, I know that when I go to a web site and look at stuff, I'm almost certainly being tracked by the site or by the advertising service, or by both, plus presumably by the NSA and all sorts of other nefarious characters. And the people trying to sell me the stuff I'm looking at, or stuff like it, will want to follow up by showing me targeted ads or sending me emails about the same or similar products.

But really, Walmart, sending me email with the subject line "Caught ya lookin’ 😉" is NOT the way to make me feel all warm, fuzzy, and comfortable with shopping at

Some Questions for the "Every Mass Shooting is a False Flag" Crowd

Suppose the US government really IS behind every mass shooting -- Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, all the way back to Columbine and even before -- and that it's some kind of plot to desensitize us to "gun control" or whatever other draconian measure they have in mind to enslave us all.

Why in God's name would the conspirators bus in "crisis actors" and fake it all up? Why not just actually kill a bunch of people? They evince a truly bizarre design to reduce us under absolute despotism, but they're also so morally upright that they'll go out of their way, at great risk of detection, to avoid any real deaths in implementing their plans?

Also, what's with this?

Per the US Centers for Disease Control, the US death rate (for 2015) is 823.7 deaths per 100,000 population.

Ceteris paribus -- I've seen no close demographic breakdowns of the Vegas concert audience -- given the reported crowd size in Vegas of more than 20,000, we'd expect 165 people from that audience to die in the year following the concert, or about 14 in the month since the incident.*

Have there been that many deaths or more? And if what's so "mysterious" about them? Do the causes of death vary statistically in some way from the usual? And if so, why? After all, a giant conspiracy to fake a bunch of mass shootings would presumably also pay attention to the post-shooting cover-up and try not to create a bunch of "mysterious" statistical outliers, wouldn't it?

And why would the conspirators go out of their way to not kill anyone in the shootings themselves, then go around killing people "mysteriously" afterward?

Is there any evidence for the "all mass shootings are fake" claims beyond "out of thousands of people I see in crowd shots, a couple look sort of a little bit kinda like people I once saw in breakfast cereal commercials?"

* OK, so ceteris is probably not wholly paribus. The top two causes of death being heart disease and cancer, one could make the case that the crowd was weighted against those since they were at a concert and not in the hospital, and that the number of deaths closely following the event should be lower. Then again, a giant conspiracy that could do a Broadway mass shooting production could presumably fake heart attacks and such as well, right?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Because I Always Forget to Mention Quora Here at the Blog ...

... I'll mention Quora here at the blog while I'm thinking about it, because I just answered a question there (that's what Quora is -- people ask questions, and people answer questions).

In addition to asking questions at Quora, you can direct those questions at particular people whom you expect might have good answers. Sometimes I get emails asking me to answer questions because those questions are about something Quora expects me to know about, and sometimes I get emails telling me that some individual wants an answer from me specifically. According to their stats, my answers have received 43,000 views since I started there, which seems to have been in late 2014.

It's pretty fun. Give it a try (no, not a referral link, I don't think there is any such thing, or any financial angle to participating).

"If it's not a currency, it is nothing else"

That's Mark Edge (quote from memory, but I think I got it right) talking about the Bitcoin/Segwit/2x controversy on last night's Free Talk Live. Mark and Ian Freeman did their weekend broadcasts from the Texas Bitcoin Conference.

Mark's statement refers back to Saturday night's show, on which John Sacco defended the current track of Bitcoin, asserting that Bitcoin will never be able to scale up to handle the volume of e.g. Visa and that we might as well just accept that it's going to become and remain a low-transaction-volume, high-transaction-fee "settlement layer" and store of value.

Of course, Mark is saying exactly what I've been saying for some time as well. If Bitcoin is not an increasingly going concern as a cryptocurrency that normal people can buy normal things at normal places with, where's the real value in a large network of expensive graphics processors tossing around bits as "proof of work?"

Let's talk about scaling.

When I was in high school, I worked at a gas station. My guess is that 95% of customers paid cash for their gas.

When one of the 5% pulled out a credit card, I in turn pulled out a bulky analog machine, stuck the credit card on it, filled out two slips of paper (one original, the other one a copy made with a piece of carbon paper between the two slips) with the transaction details by hand with a pen, put the paper on top of the card, slid the machine (KA-CHUNK) to make an impression of the physical card, then went in the back room where I punched the transaction information into a little terminal that took over the phone line (MODEM NOISE) for about two minutes and then let me know whether or not the card was any good.

32 years later, most people use credit or debit cards for most transactions in most stores. There's little or no interaction required by store personnel. See the total, slide the card, hit OK (enter PIN if it's a debit transaction), wait a few seconds, done.

I wonder how many transactions per day Visa handles now versus in 1985?

Better computers, better networks, cheaper bandwidth, cheaper storage ... the wheels may come off Moore's Law at some point, but there doesn't seem to be any particular reason why the Bitcoin network can't scale up well into the future instead of pulling over to the side of the road like it has an empty gas tank and four flat tires as soon as it starts getting popular and its network starts getting congested. Increase the block size and keep on truckin'.

Which, of course, is what Bitcoin Cash is doing, just as envisioned in Satoshi Nakamoto's inaugural white paper. And that's why Bitcoin Cash is "real" Bitcoin and the impostor still calling itself "Bitcoin" and forking off into Segwit, 2x, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Silver, Bitcoin WTF is well on its way to becoming a has-been altcoin.

I do wish that my cloud mining service of choice, (yes, that's a referral link -- buy some hashrate -- you can get in for single-digit USD, and use code Halloween holiday code HF17HLWN10ALL for 10% off!), would hurry up and start offering Bitcoin Cash mining. It hasn't yet, so for the nonce I'm mining Ethereum and Dash.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Word PSA

succession, n. A series of persons or things according to some established rule of precedence; as, a succession of kings, or of bishops; a succession of events in chronology. [1913 Webster]

Example: The War of the Spanish Succession

secession, n. The act of seceding; separation from fellowship or association with others, as in a religious or political organization; withdrawal. [1913 Webster]

Example: The Referendum on Catalonian Secession

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 10/26/17

Three words from our sponsor, Paul Stanton:





Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Two Things That Are Related Even Though They May Not Seem Like It at First

Thing One:

I don't think anyone is likely to mistake me for a Hillary Clinton supporter. There's not much I agree with her on, most of the things I do agree with her own I suspect she's lying about agreeing with me on, and I think she's both unduly authoritarian and thoroughly corrupt.

However, my response to the latest "news" about Clinton -- that her campaign and the Democratic National Committee were among the persons/parties who paid a British former spook to compile the infamous "pee dossier" on then-presidential-candidate Donald Trump -- is a giant yawn.

Candidates and campaigns do opposition research. They do it on opponents (to dig up surprises), and the smart ones do it on themselves (to ensure that there are no surprises). If you're not doing oppo research, you're not running a very good campaign.

So I just don't see any "there" there to slam Clinton on.

Thing Two:

Based on a recent column concerning other aspects of Clinton's evil ways, I was contacted earlier today concerning a prospective interview (by a Very Prestigious Media Organization) to share my opinions on the "pee dossier" topic. I declined for two reasons.

The first reason, you see above. I just don't really have anything controversial to say about it.

The second reason is that, like many media organizations which may be Very Prestigious but don't have studios located conveniently near Gainesville, this one uses Skype to interview people who are Far Away. The web version of Skype sucks, and there's not a native Skype client for ChromeOS. Furthermore, all the machines I own that I might install Linux or Windoze on are circa a decade old or more (I've been ChromeOS all the way since 2012 and none of my non-Chrome computers back then were particularly new).

This is not the first time I've missed out on a chance to take my bloviations more highly public for lack of a decent Windows machine with a decent web cam. "Decent" not meaning especially high-powered, just enough to run Skype.

So, I've placed a webcam (first priority -- maybe web Skype has improved lately?) and an el cheapo Windows mini PC (second priority -- I'll keep trying other options if it doesn't show up) on my Amazon Wish List. If you'd like to possibly see me on TV or think that it's important that I do so, this is how to make it happen.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 139: Nazi Punks F**ked Off at UF (But Not at LPF)

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Paul Stanton, whose message to you is:


In this episode: Need to work on that blues scale :: Thanks For Asking! (Spencer Comes to Gainesville; Opera v. Gay Right-Wing Troll v. Country & Western; Rasslin'; Prohibition wishes) :: The LPF Won't Have Stanton to Kick Around Any More.

Flaky. Whiggy?

US Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) just became the latest Republican congresscritter to announce he won't be seeking re-election in 2018:

He told The Arizona Republic ahead of his announcement that he has become convinced "there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party."

Flake, 54, said he has not "soured on the Senate" and loves the institution. But as a traditional, libertarian-leaning conservative Republican, he is out of step with today's Trump-dominated GOP.

Is it possible that there's a plan (or that there will emerge one) over on the Never Trump side of the party to let Republicans take a big ass-whipping in the 2018 elections, then launch a new party (composed, at the candidate level, of old faces) to contest congressional seats and possibly the presidency in 2020?

Mere opposition to one individual doesn't seem quite as durable or weighty as slavery, the issue that broke the Whigs and created the Republicans back in the 1850s. On the other hand, the individual in question is Trump. He seems to have a talent for creating the kind of chaos that permanently breaks organizations. So I'm wondering.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

This is supposed to be arriving today:

It's a present to myself for finally having buckled down and started working on blues scales, etc. (trying to turn writer's/podcaster's block into something productive). The only amp I have is one that I got as part of a $10 package at a garage sale including a cheap Stratocaster clone. The guitar is a much better instrument than you'd expect to find at a garage sale for $10, but if I'd known how crackly the amp was I would have thrown it in the trash. I'll probably mostly play one of my flat-top acoustics through this using a transducer pickup. Maybe with it clipped to my belt while I walk around.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Couple of Late Thoughts on Yesterday's Nuremberg Rally

There were casualties at yesterday's event. I was one of them. My feet are blistered from walking about 11 miles, looking in vain for a Nazi presence in Gainesville, in boots that didn't fit as well as I thought they fit.

This morning, I see that there actually were a few Nazis present and that one of them even got punched, but the two biggest unified group presences at the counter-demonstration consisted of 1) police and 2) the press. Dozens of camera trucks, several hundred reporters, camera operators, etc., and the press I talked with were all doing the same thing I was -- wandering around asking if anyone had seen any Nazis.

I think I can tease a story with a couple of morals out of this thing, and I'll be trying to later. But the immediate takeaway is that the whole thing was kind of boring and stupid.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Couple of Early Thoughts on Tomorrow's Nuremberg Rally

So, as you may have heard, Richard Spencer (one of the architects of the Charlottesville white nationalist riot) is coming to the University of Florida to tomorrow.

Who else is going to be there? Well, me. But I only live 8 1/2 miles away from campus and I fall into a couple of the general categories of people I expect to see there.

Remember, Charlottesville took place on a summer weekend. This is a fall weekday. That probably means different crowd composition.

On a summer weekend, a lot more amateur activists from around the country were likely to be able to show up, on all sides.

On a fall weekday, I expect that "outside agitators" will be fewer, and of the more professional variety.  People who have regular jobs are more likely to be working on a Thursday than on a Saturday. Students who actually study are in school now.

Obviously the University of Florida student body (about 55,000) will field contingents, presumably weighted heavily toward the anti-Nazi side of things. But I'd expect to see fewer student activists from other schools than might have been able to make it to Charlottesville.

There will be plenty of police, naturally (the number I've heard is 500).

My "in case of CS attack" getup
There will be plenty of press, naturally (I have press credentials myself).

And there will be the professional activists.

By "professional," I do not necessarily mean "paid." I mean people for whom politics is their central personal daily activity (in addition to be being "press," I fall into this category). I know quite a few "professional activists" who make little if any money for their work. Some of them have taken an effective vow of poverty so that they can devote their time to it. At least a few have sources of income -- inheritances/trust funds, investment earnings, retirement income) that don't require them to work a "day job."

The governor has declared a "state of emergency." Yes, a "state of emergency" -- because some knothead is going to speechify. That's pathetic. If I had to bet on when was the last time that happened, my bet would be that the speaker in question was Martin Luther King, Jr.  If Spencer is as much a challenge to the existing system as King was ... well, let's be clear on that, he isn't. The "state of emergency" is security theater.

A certain amount of any writing I do about, but from or after, the event is pre-promised to the publication that gave me press credentials, but I'm sure I'll have some things to say here as well, once I get home (hopefully without stops at the hospital or county jail). See you on the flip side.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Who Knew Cultural Appropriation Could be so Comfortable?

Those Thai fishermen know how to do pants (not an affiliate link, nor am I being compensated for talking about how great they are).

Less than $10 (with free shipping for Prime members, of course).


Light fabric, 100% cotton, great for Florida. They seem to be reasonably well-made. I wouldn't want to slide into second base in them or anything like that, but remember, I work sitting in a chair all day.

Waist size, 56 inches. Yes, you read that correctly. The thing is, they are designed to be multi-size. You fold over the slack to your comfortable tightness and tie two strings (sewn on at the rear). Which means that my clothes don't stop fitting every time I lose or gain weight (the last few years I range from a tight 34-inch to a loose 40-inch waist size and that can change pretty suddenly when I start or stop exercising regularly).

Just got my second pair (as pictured; the first pair is black and gray instead of black and red). I expect to get three more, and make them my usual casual go-to.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On Decapitation, Literal and Figurative

CNBC (citing state-funded South Korean news agency Yonhap) reports that "North Korean hackers are believed to have stolen a large amount of classified military documents, including a South Korean and U.S. plan to 'decapitate' North Korea's leadership ..."

That's somewhat different than the headline: "North Korea hackers believed to have stolen US-South Korea plans to kill Kim Jong Un."

Of course, we don't get to see the content of those documents -- we are just supposed to pick up the check and STFU.

In military terms, "decapitating North Korea's leadership" does not necessarily translate to "killing Kim Jong Un." It merely means cutting off communication between strategic decisionmakers (including top military HQs and regime figures) and on-the-ground actors (troops in the field and the infrastructure supporting the movement, feeding, etc. of said troops).

In my opinion, actually killing Kim Jong Un if war breaks out would be a strategic mistake.

For as long as he can exercise power and communicate orders, he's likely to be a poor decisionmaker.

Once his ability to exercise power and communicate orders has been degraded (which will be very quickly, almost certainly within 24 hours and probably much less), it's better if "his own people" (read: ambitious or desperate generals) kill him so that what follows (as I've previously predicted, probably an invitation for Chinese "peacekeepers" to come in with the US party to a ceasefire agreement) can be embraced by North Koreans as "we deposed Kim" rather than resented by North Koreans as "the US killed Kim."

Personal Cryptocurrency Update

I had high hopes for Bitcoin Cash, but after one spike it seems to have settled/flattened in value -- and, more importantly, to not be getting a lot of adoption as a medium of exchange. It seems that places that are spoken of as "accepting" it mostly really just accept Old Bitcoin -- in order to spend your Bitcoin Cash (BCH) at those places, you have to use e.g. to convert/deposit it as Old Bitcoin (BTC), which defeats the whole purpose. You still get the Old Bitcoin fees. You still get the Old Bitcoin confirmation wait times. And you pay a fee to convert them as well.

What I want out of a cryptocurrency is something that I can use to buy a soda and hot dog at a convenience store in roughly the same time it would take to use a debit card, and with lower transaction costs. That utility, of course, lying atop some measure of anonymity and resistance to state seizure.

Maybe I'll get that at some point -- I'm keeping my eyes on e.g. Dash, ZCash, Monero and so forth to see if there's a breakout crypto that gains enough user adoption, merchant acceptance, etc. to move in that direction.

But with regard to Bitcoin Cash, I'm definitely out of "holding my breath" mode. I just converted my tiny (mid-double-digit in US dollars) holdings to Bitcoin (at a loss due to fees, of course) and spent all but a few cents worth on a 1-year Ether mining contract at HashFlare (yes, that is a referral link).

Why HashFlare, and why Ether?

HashFlare: I looked at several cloud mining services, read a few reviews, etc., and HashFlare looked like a reasonably reputable, not fly-by-night outfit. Also, unlike most pool/cloud mining outfits, HashFlare lets you buy lower amounts of "hash rate" so that you don't have to jump in at a minimum mid-three-figures like some places require. In fact, you can get in for a couple of bucks.

Ether: I might have stuck with Bitcoin Cash, but mining that was not one of HashFlare's offerings. I am skeptical of Bitcoin's future. The big players seem to be reneging on the "2x" part of the "Segwit 2x" agreement. There's another hard fork coming and it looks like Old Bitcoin is going to continue refusing to get back to the idea of being a usable cryptocurrency on the "common man's medium of exchange" front.

I thought about going with Monero (especially since I have a bit in a wallet that's just a little too small to move OUT of the wallet), but since I'm doing something that's "fire and forget" for a year, I decided to go with the second biggest cryptocurrency by market cap and hope that a year from now it will have returned more in actual market value than I put into it. Maybe by then the real players will have been winnowed down and there will be a real "common man's medium of exchange" winner that I can convert to and use to, you know, BUY STUFF.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

FreedomPop Seems Pretty Cool

Tamara's employer decided she needs a smart phone (or at least something better than the circa 2010 phone she's been using since, well, circa 2010), and authorized $X per month, first year paid in advance, for her to get cell and data service.

After some research, we decided that FreedomPop (yes, that's an affiliate link) made the most sense.

For less than the amount she received to cover the first year of service, she was able to get a pretty decent phone (a refurbished Samsung S5) and a year of one of their premium service tiers (unlimited talk, unlimited text, 1gb data). I expect that's going to be plenty of data for her needs, since she can just hook to wifi at home and work if necessary.

FreedomPop also has a free plan with 500 texts, 200 minutes of talk and 500mb of data. They sell phones for as little as $39.99, or for $1.99 you can get a FreedomPop SIM card and move any unlocked phone to their service. On top of the data that comes with whatever plan you choose, you can earn more by referring friends (there's that affiliate link) or completing offers.

So far, so good -- making and receiving calls and texts, downloading and installing apps over a wifi connection, etc. Tamara is traveling at the moment, so I haven't heard whether or not she's had occasion to really put cellular data to the test.

She wanted to keep the phone number she's had for more than 20 years. Instead of porting it from her previous carrier to FreedomPop, I am in the process of porting it to Google Voice. That way she never has to mess with porting  it again. When she changes carriers or phones she can just change the forwarding.

Absent some horrifying as yet unseen development (I'll update this post in that case), I'm sold on FreedomPop. If I'm in a future position where a client isn't keeping me on their cell plan, that's where I'll plan on going. Maybe you should consider it too. One tip: Don't go for their cheapest phones. Old Android rigs are, so far as I can tell, slow and cranky.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Thanks For Asking! -- 10/05/17

This week's AMA thread is brought to you by whomever I designate, and I again tag Rodger Paxton's new project, Essential Libertarianism -- Selected Readings from Tag, Rodger, you're it. Don't miss Rodger's LAVA Flow/LAVA Spurt Podcasts or any of the other Pax Libertas Productions podcasts either!




Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 138: What Happens in Vegas Slays in Vegas (Too Soon?)

This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by an anonymous sponsor who lets me promote whatever I want, which this week is Essential Libertarianism. Check out Rodger Paxton's new podcast-format readings of seminal libertarian material from The Voluntaryist.

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (candidates and foreign policy; three chords and the truth; military sci-fi) :: Feinstein does the Bump-Stock Boogie on the graves of the Vegas dead.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Yes, There is a Podcast Coming.

In fact, it's partially recorded, dated today in the intro, etc. But I can't finish it tonight due to temporarily irremediable environmental conditions, also known as some kind of gigantic ongoing noise activity in the neighborhood. I'll try to get it to you tomorrow morning, with other wondrous blogstuff to follow ASAP.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Brief Explanation of my Seeming Absence

I've been busy list-cleaning.

In 2010, I started building a list of newspapers worldwide for the Center for a Stateless Society. That was a loooooong process of working through a paid subscription to a directory and resulted in, IIRC, email addresses for about 1,500 US newspapers and another 1,000 foreign newspapers.

I tried to make time to keep that list updated (removing defunct publications, correcting changing editor addresses -- you might be surprised at how many papers want op-eds sent to a particular editor who may leave and be replaced rather than to an address that remains stable -- adding the occasional newly detected publication, etc.), but that can be a pretty intensive process and over time the list began generating a lot of bounced emails.

When I started the Garrison Center, I left the existing list with them ... and retained a copy for myself. Since then, I've slowly continued the process. But recent developments add urgency to it.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a bunch of emails from several addresses (I do that because Gmail has daily sending limits). I got the usual bounces ("the address does not exist"), but I also got a number of blocks. One of my addresses had made it onto a spam list, even though I don't send commercial email and even though I promptly and politely remove newspapers from my list on request.

So, it became time to start using a paid service. I've been using Sendgrid's free version for quite some time, always sending to the same subset of my list and trying to keep that portion fairly clean. Now I'm paying them about $10 a month to handle all of my op-ed submissions.

Advantage: When Sendgrid gets spam blocks that aren't true, they actually contact the spam list maintainers and work it out.

Disadvantage: Sendgrid has a "reputation" system based on how many bounces/unsubscribe requests/blocks/invalid domains (e.g. the publication closed or changed its web site URL) your mails generate. If your "reputation" falls below 80%, they want to know why, and if it falls below 70% you're likely to get the ax.

So, each time I send out a Garrison column, I'm going through the bounces/invalid domains (haven't seen any blocks or spam complaints yet) and either finding new, working addresses or deleting the publications from my list.

It takes time, but it's necessary. And at the end of the process, I will have a clean list of working addresses. And that list will be a different enough product far from both the paid directory I started from and the C4SS list circa 2015 that I see no ownership/IP problems with sharing it with others who want to do mass submissions of op-eds.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Cool New Way to Support KN@PPSTER!

I mentioned on the last episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast that I might try to implement this -- and it's done.

Short version: If you'd like to support my work without any real effort or great cost on your party, you can go here to lend me your CPU time to mine Monero (a popular cryptocurrency).

Slightly longer version:

The page (here's the link again) contains a Javascript Monero miner. Whenever you're thinking about how much you'd like to support KN@PPSTER (I know you think that, a lot), and also happen to be planning to be away from your computer for a bit, just click that link (it's also over in the sidebar!), start the miner, and go get yourself a drink, catch a movie, whatever. While you're away, your computer will be earning a little cryptocurrency for yours truly.

If you'd rather just mine for yourself in the same way, you can grab the miner from Coin Hive, and here's a YouTube video with helpful instructions and a simple template for setting stuff up (the Coin Hive site made it kind of complicated).

Thanks For Asking! -- 09/19/17

This week's AMA thread is brought to you by the anonymous sponsor who lets me promote anything I want to promote, and this week I'd like to promote Scott Horton's new book, Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. No, I haven't actually read it yet, but I will soon and you should too.

Procedure recap:

  • Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer your question in comments, on a future podcast, or both.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 137: OK, Irmageddon Over it Now

This week's podcast is brought to you by my anonymous sponsor who lets me promote whatever I want. Which, this week, is, a social media site that I think you'll like (yes, it's a referral link). Check it out.

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! (climate change, to the moon Alice, groups that aren't libertarian but that I like anyway) :: EFF leaves W3C over EME/DRM (see here for the referenced letter).

Friday, September 15, 2017

Home Again, Home Again ...

Post-hurricane update ...

We're back in the house. Power has been restored, there's a tarp over the damaged roof, contractors will be in tomorrow to start fixing stuff. We don't have water at the moment because something caused a controller/pressure unit to burn up, but we do have electricity. The landlord's property manager is acting with alacrity to get things done, for which I am grateful.

Last week, I mentioned that I hadn't seen any "price-gouging" going on around Gainesville in the run-up to the hurricane. This morning, I ran up against a bit of what I would call "price-gouging." It was, unsurprisingly, driven by government. Specifically, the University of Florida's athletics program. Here's the rundown:

After several days of sheltering at our church, we were able to find a hotel room for two nights at a reasonable price (less than $100 per night -- there are cheaper places in Gainesville, but they were full up; a lot of people wanted to vacate them, but until Wednesday couldn't find gas to get out of town).

As of last night, we weren't certain whether we would need, or be able to get, a room for tonight. We had a text message from a neighbor letting us know that the power was back on, but we weren't certain if OUR wiring had been damaged (doesn't seem to have been -- or at least the trailer hasn't burned down around me since turning things back on).

So anyway, this morning, Tamara went down to the desk to see if a room would be available tonight. The answer: Maybe, maybe not, but if so it would be about $250 per night rather than less than $100 per night. Because ...

... the University of Florida Gators have a football game tomorrow.

Whenever that happens, every hotel in town sells out at inflated prices because the whole city is full of fans, alumni, etc. The campus is filled with alumni RVs, and the people without RVs rent hotel rooms.

I can't blame the hoteliers for pricing accordingly. And fortunately we were able to get back into our home. But I know there were people staying in the same hotel as us from Miami, Naples, Tampa, etc. -- people whose homes may be inaccessible or even destroyed and who will be either unable to find a room or be charged twice as much for tonight as they were for last night.

UF is not taking cognizance of a continuing situation which is an emergency for at least some people. And they are actually hurting those hoteliers, who could be sold out at regular rates to hurricane-displaced people right now and sell out at the higher rates for a re-scheduled football game.

Here's the letter I just sent to the editor of the Gainesville Sun (conforming to their length limit of 150 words):

It's awe-inspiring to see how people can come together to help each other in the wake of a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma.

It's less awe-inspiring to watch the University of Florida insist on an immediate return to its high financial ritual of having students toss a piece of pigskin around a pasture.

I saw no storm-related "price-gouging" in Gainesville's private sector, but in the public sector, UF's actions encourage local hotels to jack up their rates and evict non-recreational guests for the express purpose of parting alumni and other fans from their money.

The University could have exercised some simple civic virtue and common sense. Waiting a week would have made a big difference to storm survivors who are on the road back south or whose homes in this area are damaged/uninhabitable. But with UF, the almighty dollar apparently comes first.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Word PSA

Two signs I've seen in the last two days:

Store close -- no electricity

Pool close until further notice

If something is not open -- that is, if it is shut -- it is closed, not close.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

After the Storm ...

... we're still sheltering at our church (where, thanks to helpful people, there's a generator for recharging phones, running hot spots, etc.).

Irma remodeled our kitchen via the roof with a pine tree:

Looks like it damaged two trusses on its way in. You can't really see in this picture, but in the very upper left hand corner there's actually a limb poking through the ceiling. Another limb looks like it fell on our central air/heat unit and bounced off. Because I can't be certain there wasn't any electrical damage (e.g. wires stripped and crushed together that might short and cause a fire), I have the master breaker turned off (no telling when power will be restored to the neighborhood -- there are lines down all over).

Hopefully we'll hear about repair ETAs from the landlord in the next day or two. We'll probably go looking for an extended stay hotel situation today and plan on being there for up to a week in any case. Once we get settled in somewhere with real electricity and wi-fi instead of a generator powering a phone hot spot, I'll be full-on back at work and posting regularly.

Hey, if you're a reader who was in the storm's path, let everyone know you made it OK!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Plan -- Final Version

Well, this morning was our go/no-go time for evacuation, but we made our decision last night -- we're staying and riding Irma out at our church, which is open and outfitted as a shelter. It's a sturdy Quonset hut with lots of windbreak (also known as seven acres of jungle) around it. I spent part of yesterday afternoon nailing plywood over its windows and we moved some of our supplies into the common pool there last night.

Main contributing factor to the decision: We still don't know where the storm is going to go, or how strong it's going to be when it gets there, but as commenter mrjarrell pointed out in comments on another post, our planned evac destination -- Tupelo, Mississippi -- was actually in the storm's late "probability cone," and even though it would be weaker by the time it got there, we would be trading hurricane conditions for tornado conditions. We thought about making a boogie more due west for Gulfport, Biloxi, New Orleans or Baton Rouge ...

... but, you know, screw it. We've got reliable shelter and good friends available here, versus harried travel with no certainty that trading one location for another would end up being an improvement. Also, we would have been leaving about now if we were evacuating. Staying, we've got another good eight hours to continue prepping the house for a hit, and then a three-minute drive to get to the shelter well before even the outer edges of Irma start approaching.

So: I will be online, here or at the shelter, as time allows and until after power goes out, cell towers go down, whatever, and back on as soon as humanly possible after that. All of you who are also in the storm's path, here's hoping you make it through in safety and in health.

Thanks For Asking! -- 09/10/17

This week's AMA and the podcast to follow are brought to you by Paul Stanton, who's still hung up on peace. Check out, the Libertarians For Peace Facebook group, and Veterans For Peace.

Ask me anything in comments -- I'll answer in comments, on a future podcast, or both

Saturday, September 09, 2017

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 136: Irmageddon a Little Nervous ...

This week's podcast is brought to you by Paul Stanton, who's all about peace at the moment. Check out, the Libertarians For Peace Facebook group, and Veterans For Peace.

In this episode: Thanks For Asking! [amnesty for immigrants is not enough] :: Hurricane Prep (surge pricing and responsible conduct -- based on a column by Skyler J. Collins).

No "Price Gouging" in the Gainesville Area Yet ...

... at least that I can see.

Some items are in short supply. The shelves everywhere are empty of bread, and it's hard to find batteries or bottled water.

But yesterday evening we visited the Save-A-Lot in Archer.

One of the items on our list was "more water, if we see any" (we thought we could use one more case, wanted one to give our older neighbor who insists on weathering the storm in situ, and any more could be dropped off at our church, which is operating as a shelter). We didn't expect to find any water, but we were keeping an eye out for it.

The store is located on a small highway that runs north out of Tampa. Lots of traffic, and probably 100 vehicles lined up for gas at the convenience store next door. But when we walked in, there were pallets of bottled water ... priced at $2.50 cents per case of 24 16.9 oz. bottles. Limit two cases per customer, but certainly not any "price gouging" going on.

Same thing in Gainesville -- if you can find the things you're looking for, the stores aren't doing disaster pricing. But they are closing down. Some today, most starting tomorrow.

Our plans are still contingent on the forecasts.

As of tomorrow morning, if it looks like Irma will hit Gainesville as a Category 3 storm or higher, we plan to head for northern Mississippi using back roads (the freeways are pretty much parking lots; the smaller roads look busy, but not nearly as bad). I'll be packing today with that in mind.

If it looks like we'll get by with Category 2, we'll go to our church, which is a nice stout building and pet friendly.

If Category 1, we'll either ride it out at the house or go to the church.

I'll try to get a podcast out some time today, because I don't want to break my new weekly streak. If you've got any questions for Thanks For Asking!, get them in ASAP.

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