Sunday, October 2, 2016

A critique and defense of Gary Johnson, LIbertarian (and a sideways recommendation)

The idea that you don't know what is happening in Syria or what should or could be done about it because you don't instantly recognize the name of a town in Syria is idiocy on it's face.  A gotcha question.  Johnson gave a well thought out answer to the question once he was reminded that it was actually about Syria.

My issues with Johnson stem more from open borders (can't have a libertarian society when people from non-libertarian societies are free to flood in and vote), religious freedoms (he doesn't appear to support them at all, vis a vis his stance on the gay wedding cake issue), and his running mate, Bill Weld's, anti-Second Amendment record and ongoing statements.

I know that this was titled as a post about Johnson, but if I'm going to suggest that voting for Johnson is not a solution then I guess I am obligated to mention the alternatives.

I doubt that anyone who is paying any attention at all is aware of Clinton's issues, from her illegal and reckless use of a private email server to transmit classified information, to her lack of response to the Benghazi issue that resulted in the deaths of several Americans, to her amassing of hundreds of millions of dollars at the Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State from governments and organizations that benefited or stood to benefit from her decision; or to go back farther her secrecy when heading up a government funded commission on health care during her husband's tenure as President.  Add to that her positions on the Second Amendment (the SCOTUS got it wrong when they said it was an individual right), her backing of an Australian style gun confiscation, her support for a Constitutional Amendment that would allow Congress to restrict the First Amendment in the matter of political speech (the primary type of speech for which the amendment was written, by the way), and the list goes on and on.  Oh, and did I mention as many as three or four Supreme Court justices who could be making the type of Progressive policy decisions that Sotomayor and Kagan have been making for the past several years?

I will be voting for Donald Trump this year.  He would not be my first (or second, third, ... thousandth choice) but this election isn't about who we would have voted for given the choice, it is about who, between Clinton and Trump will be the better President and do the least damage to the Constitution and the American way of life.  Yes, he has flaws.  Yes, he has issues.  But he is not Clinton who has explicitly promised to gut the First and Second Amendments, to flood the country with low skilled immigrants from socialist leaning countries, and who has a record of secrecy and political intimidation that would put many a third world dictator to shame.  For that reason I will be casting my vote for Trump as well as actively recommending him for the next month or so.  I hate to do it, but...

I would love to vote for a libertarian candidate who could actually win and who wouldn't impose his religious values on us, restrict our Constitutional rights, and flood the country with immigrants from socialist countries, but there doesn't seem to be one.  The Libertarian party is, in my opinion, wildly self destructive with their open borders policy and way to hung up on the drug legalization issue.  As much as I support legalizing all drugs and getting the government out of the business of regulating what free people do to themselves, it seems that this is the main focus of the LP and has been for many years.  If they would spend as much time publicizing their policy proposals for reforming welfare, the tax code, business regulation, foreign policy, etc; laying out a workable plan and showing the American people how they and the country would benefit from libertarian policies, we might well be in a much different and better position.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Today is the day the internet died

As Churchill once said in a different context:
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
A brief history:

The internet really began in the 80s, with the creation of Internet Protocols (TCP/IP), interconnectivity of networks, commercial ISPs, and the world wide web.  Since 1998 the management of IP addresses (that weird number that identifies your network and computer, looking something like that you see occasionally if you are a casual user) and Domain Names (the people friendly version of the IP address, for example has been contracted by the US Department of Commerce to ICANN, (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit based in California.  ICANN has operated for the past thirty-five years or so with very little government interference and very few complaints.  I would venture to guess that very few people even know it exists.  ICANN and the internet naming system were created and funded by the United States taxpayer.  One could argue that the whole system is owned by the American people.

The problem in the minds of some, however, is that the system is run by the United States.  Never mind that the internet may be the freest system of exchanging ideas in the history of humanity, it is run by the US.  This apparently doesn't sit well with some foreign governments who think that they should have a say in what is done.  To this end, the Obama Administration has unilaterally decided to turn over control of the system to the United Nations.  It hasn't been specifically said that the UN will run the system in the future, but it can only be run by a government entity, otherwise it becomes subject to  anti-trust regulations and would immediately be in violation of the rules of most countries that have anti-trust laws on the books. 

So what's the problem with the UN running the show?  Well, for one, governments like China, Russia, North Korea, and other dictatorships now have a voice in who gets access to what.  Criticize the Russian government, they have a say in whether you get a domain name and access.  Does this seem like a good idea, to have dictatorships with no history of freedom of speech having a say in who gets access to mass communications?

For two, Progressive policies include things like making "hate speech" illegal.  UN control over domain name access could result in the shutting down of any website that they deem to be hateful.  What is hateful?  A short list of what is considered hate speech in some countries includes criticism of Islam, criticism of the man made global warming theory, criticism of LGBT movements, and even discussion of biological differences between races or genders.  There has been a significant movement on the left to criminalize disagreement on global warming, there have been boycotts of North Carolina because they passed a law saying that cities could not require businesses to allow men to use women's bathrooms based purely on "self identification", and college professors have been fired for suggesting that there are biological differences between various races and genders.  An internet controlled by the Progressives at the United Nations could very easily be an internet where speech deemed unacceptable by a slim majority of those in control is banned on the only forum that allows for easy and accessible debate and promulgation of ideas.

Meanwhile, one might ask the question, "What freedoms will be enhance worldwide by this transfer?" What freedoms is United States currently preventing people from exercising by controlling the root of the internet ourselves? Is there actually a problem here?  The United States, almost alone in the world, has a strong tradition of freedom of speech, a tradition unmatched even in the other Western democracies.  Why turn over control of the primary means of speech to those who don't value it as we do?

Second question, why or what gives the president the authority to give away something that was created and paid for by Americans? Is there any president or constitutional Authority at all for the present to give away American stuff?

This is an issue that seems to have flown pretty much under the radar, probably because it is a technologically complicated concept which doesn't lend itself to easy explanation.  It is, however, vitally important to free speech and continued debate over ideas.  If this transfer is not stopped I'd be willing to bet that within ten years the internet will no longer be nearly as free as it is now, with dissenting opinions to the Progressive ideology being blocked.  Today is the day that the President is supposedly making that transfer.  I don't know the details, maybe he is just announcing it.  Who actually starts controlling it and when is a bit of a mystery to me.  Congress can block this by passing bills prohibiting the transfer although they would have to be veto proof.  They could also strip funding for the transfer.  Presumably someone could take the issue to court and I hope they do.  I would donate to that fund.

I don't know what can be done but I emailed all three of my representatives (Progressives all in my state) yesterday.  Might be too little, too late, but I guess we do what we can.

The Sword of Shannara: The book v the TV show

I know, I said that my last post was the "final update".  The problem is that I started reading Elfstones of Shannara again (the book that the show was actually based on) and everything that I thought was wrong with the TV series has been reinforced. 

In the book people aren't humping like rabbits at every available opportunity, no one is raping anyone, no one is bisexual (in fact we have no idea what their sexual preferences are since Brooks doesn't bring it up, but rather focuses on the story).  There aren't, so far, piles of rusting stuff from our modern world heaped everywhere, the trolls don't wear welding glasses, etc, etc, etc.  Elven warriors aren't inept bunglers who fall over dead whenever someone looks sideways at them, the Rovers aren't gangs of predators but rather gypsy communities with little sympathy for those not of their society. 

I could go on and on but I'll stop here.

I can only assume that the creators of this TV show thought that no one would watch a show that was traditional high fantasy unless they injected lots of sex and lots of foreshadowing (aftshadowing?) about how the series is actually a post apocalyptic look at our world.  The problem is that the Shannara books have been immensely popular without any of that and injecting casual sex and unnecessary plot lines that don't add to the story, don't make the world more interesting, and don't have anything to do with the actual plot doesn't improve on the work of a fantasy master.  Not strictly a Macguffin but along those lines I suppose.

Either way I won't be watching the continuation when it comes back next season.  I would much rather have this one die a well deserved death and maybe, just maybe, someone will do it right down the road.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sword of Shannara (final update)

Made it through to the end without scratching my eyeballls out.  One last comment.

Elven warriors are possibly the most useless species in the four lands, if not on the planet.  Not once did I see an Elven warrior do anything intelligent or win a fight on any terms.  Mostly it was "run forward waving sword and get killed" or "throw down weapon and get killed" or even just "stand there on guard and get killed".  They aren't capable of closing doors if an enemy force is rushing towards them, and when they are assigned to stand guard in one case, they stand with their backs to the door they are guarding, allowing the enemy to open the door behind them and, you guessed it, kill them.

Oh, and they have stupid looking helmets that keep you from every seeing their faces so in complete violation of the Evil Overlord List so if I were trying to infiltrate the Elven kingdom I'd totally get me one of those uniforms.  Which would be easy because they are so useless.

In fact they are so useless that I can't even find a picture on the interweb to show you.

I believe this is based on the book "Elfstones of Shannara" rather than the original "Sword of Shannara" although it's been a long time since I read either.  SoS is almost unreadable it is so poorly written so I'll probably go back and try to reread EoS just to check.  Terry Brooks progressed wildly as an author after that first one.

Oh, and spoiler alert...

... the new bad guy shows that he is the new bad guy a dozen times and everyone is so oblivious that they just let him walk out, cue sequel.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hiking. Finally

Been saying I was going to get back into this for a long time, but other than Colorado last year it hasn't happened.  Til yesterday.  Horseshoe Bend, up towards Mt Baker.  Recommended by a friend.

I felt a bit overpacked but this is my usual day hike load.  Sweatshirt, hat, knife, paracord, emergency blanket, sunscreen, flashlight, matches, windbreaker/rain jacket, journal, pen, 1911 magazine, beef jerky, almonds, energy bar, shake.  The pack holds 2.5l water in addition to all this stuff.  To many stories about people who went out completely unprepared for a "day hike" and died because they weren't ready to spend the night when something went wrong.

Turns out that if you go until the trail just peters out it's about four miles there and back.  Not super challenging but some good climbs as the trail climbs up and down next to the river.  Nice hike.  Looking forward to the next one.  Sooner.

Not sure that I have the hang of the selfie thing yet, but they are definitely getting better.

Easy applesauce

Start with two of these:

Pick a bucket about this sized of these:

Cut them into quarters and put about half of them in here, seeds, skins, stems, and all:

Cook them until they are sort of mushy and run them through this:

That will give you about this much of this, to which you can add about two cups of sugar:

Stir in the sugar, bring it to a boil, add to hot jars, cap and boil for 20 minutes in water bath.  Do this twice and that gives you this (in green jars, not pea soup colored applesauce):

Optionally, it takes about two of these:

Who thought this headline was a good idea?

HT Patriot Post from this morning