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Parowan half marathon

Parowan UT Half Marathon

Parowan half marathon
It’s 7 AM in Utah and the Parowan Half Marathon just started. This will be my fourth time running it. Don’t be fooled by the sylvan scene in the photo with the level road. The course starts at 8,200 feet elevation and goes down a steep canyon road for 13.1 miles ending in Parowan at 6,000 ft elevation. The scenery is spectacular much of the way, with big red cliffs on both sides. Woo-hoo!

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No more free rides

We all need to financially support websites we like

No more free rides

Ad revenue that used to support websites is plummeting. Vastly increased competition, sharply lower advertising rates, and ad blockers are the primary reasons. We all need to financially support content creators we like, especially smaller ones. If we don’t, many of them will simply vanish. The dream that the web can always be free, supported by ad revenue, was just that, a dream. The web can’t and won’t be free forever.

Tech video blogger Chris Pirillo has been delivering quality tech content since 1996 and is now using Patreon to attract people who will pay for his content. Prices start at a mere $2 a month. He says one webmaster tells him his page views are up 40% while ad revenue has dropped off a cliff. This is the problem many websites are facing now.

Getting attention for ANYTHING is challenging enough with valuable content available everywhere, but layering on top of that the problem of ad blocking, and you’ll see why indie publishers like myself are turning to ongoing crowdfunding campaigns to further sustain our efforts and offset our absolute costs (let alone, the cost of our time).

So, if you haven’t realized it by now: the only way I’m going to be able to continue to do this is by appealing to my core supporters. I currently only have one campaign on Patreon, but am working on bringing that value closer to my own domain and adding private forums for those who want me to continue doing the things I’ve been doing for them for quite some time.

Pirillo is not alone. Pando Daily has switched to a subscription mode for $10 a month. The No Agenda podcast fund-raises each show and after years of hard work and quality content you won’t hear elsewhere, probably averages about $6,000 a week, split between Adam Curry and John Dvorak. They have no advertisements.

I support Pirillo on Patreon, donate to No Agenda, and will be joining Pando soon. Support your favorite content creators with donations and contributions now.

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Jail door open

Maybe El Chapo was released to restore order to drug cartels

Jail door open

A cartel operative, Mexican intelligence agent, and U.S. narcotics agent – seasoned veterans all – opine that cartel violence, especially against the government in Mexico, has gotten so out of control that El Chapo was allowed to walk out of prison so he could knock off a few cartels and restore relative order. Too much violence is bad for business. It interferes with profits. And that interferes with bribes, money flowing across the border to our dirty banks and to London, and to all who are enriched by drug money. So really, isn’t it best to allow the leader of Sinaloa, the strongest cartel, to kick some ass so business can get back to normal? Well, not really, because it implies Mexico is a failing state and can no longer fight the cartels. Not that corrupt elites care much about that.

They were convinced it was all a deal cut at some link in the system’s chain. Our breakfast minister even thought that Chapo had likely walked out the front door of the jail, and that the whole tunnel-and-motorcycle story had been staged to make the feat sound so ingenious that the government couldn’t have foreseen it, much less stopped it.

Such an outlandish notion may not be surprising to anyone who knows anything about Mexico. But as someone who lived there for 10 years, and reported on the country almost twice that long, what surprised me were the men’s theories on why anyone in the Mexican government would have been interested in such a deal. Perhaps, I wondered aloud, Chapo had possessed information that could have incriminated senior Mexican officials in the drug trade and, rather than try him, they had agreed to turn a blind eye to his escape?

The heads around the table shook back and forth. Chapo, they believed, had been thrown back into the drug world to — wait for it — restore order. Things have gotten that crazy.

The tunnel story is indeed a bit preposterous, isn’t it? Are we to believe no one heard a thing while it was being built. Chapo has vanished into the mountains, whereabouts unknown. Everyone is suitably gobsmacked and embarrassed.  Ah well, it’s always better to appear idiotic than culpable.

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23DZ

What if a DNA test shows you have genes from Those People?

23DZ
Water blogger David Zetland tested his DNA and discovered he is 14% South Asian. Happily, he’s never been biased against Asians so this just adds to his knowledge of who he is. Imagine, as has happened, what occurs when a white supremacist learns he is 14% African. Heh. Craig Cobb’s head basically exploded when he learned the news and of course said it was a multicultural plot against his precious whiteness.

My hair is curly to the point of being frizzy. While I’ve not been able to find any African-American in the family tree, my hair type is common in Ireland. Guess what, 6% of Irish genes are African. So there you have it.

Zetland has a much better idea than Cobb. When you learn who you are, embrace it.

From a genetic perspective, I am German, English and Indian. Luckily for my sanity and self-esteem, I have never been prejudiced or bigoted towards Indians, as I would now face quite a dilemma of hypocrisy.

What’s interesting is that my eyes now see differently. In the past, I knew that the Germans and English were “me” in some way. Now I know (with some statistical probability that may be wrong but is certainly more right than my previous “just-so” heritage) that I am also linked to Indians in some way. This is confusing because I do not share culture, heritage and/or nationality with most Indians. But it is also comforting: I have more in common with “those people,” and common roots make for compassion.

To put my thoughts in perspective, imagine that YOU get a DNA test back that reveals your roots in Thailand, Mexico, Norway or Iran. Wouldn’t you be more curious and perhaps sympathetic to those your people?

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IMG_4301.JPG

Bryce Canyon Half Marathon


It’s 6:00 AM in Utah and about 1,000 runners, including me, just started the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon. It starts at 7,600 ft elevation near the entrance of Bryce and ends 13.1 miles later in Cannonvile at 5,800 ft.

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NTEU logo

Federal Treasury Employees Union sues OPM over data breach

NTEU logo
The theft of highly confidential data from the Office of Personnel Management was avoidable. OPM Director Katherine Archuleta is an apparatchik appointed by Obama because she is a loyal Democrat. That would be ok if she had the faintest grasp of technical and security issues. However, she rather clearly doesn’t. Compounding the problem of incompetence at the top is the huge lacking of funding for government entities like OPM. Budgets have been so decimated they have little to spend on securing up and modernizing existing computer systems.

I would not be even slightly surprised to learn OPM is running dinosaur COBOL systems that were originally written decades ago and are a convoluted spaghetti mess of patched-together code. Data comes in, the right answer goes out. No one quite knows why, or what happens when you change code that was written in the 1980’s now that the original programmers are long gone. Security? What’s that?

NTEU joins the lawsuits against OPM.

A second lawsuit has been filed against Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta for failing to protect federal employees’ personal information.

The National Treasury Employees Union alleges breaches of its members’ personnel records and potentially background investigations are unconstitutional.

The legal tactic differs from that of the largest federal employee union, the American Federation of Government Employees, which last month asserted that employees suffered financial and emotional harm from violations of the 1974 Privacy Act.

OPM has been warned for years about their security deficiencies.

Federal watchdogs testified last month to Congress that OPM was put on notice of numerous security deficiencies dating back to 2007. The lapses include noncompliance with federal security rules, weak security management, and inadequate controls for all databases.

From the comments:

When my personal information is sold, my accounts drained and my credit ruined, what will the government say? oh so sad to be you.

I am being spied on daily by the alphabet agencies, yet they can’t keep my private information protected? – and remember if you cited any of your loved ones as beneficiaries on documents you had to give their social. So their information has been compromised too!

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Washington Redskins logo

Mongols, Redskins, and overreaching trademark cases

Washington Redskins logo
One would think if you named your organization something the federal government wouldn’t come charging in and try to take the name from you because they don’t like the name or you. Yet that is precisely what is happening with the Mongols Motorcycle Club and the Washington Redskins.

The Mongols Motorcycle Club is in court fighting to keep their name and patch. In a bizarre, overreaching attempt that most certainly would be a slippery slope down if successful, the feds took Mongols to court saying they had the right under copyright law to stop Mongols from wearing their patch or using their name.

In the Fall of 2008, in announcing a racketeering case against the Mongols titled U.S. v. Cavazos et al., then U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien had bragged to the world press that the government was using trademark law to forbid Mongols from wearing their patch. O’Brien, who had a distressingly incomplete knowledge of the law for a U.S. Attorney, claimed that “if any law enforcement officer sees a Mongol wearing his patch, he will be authorized to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back.”

Happily, it appears, after a multi-year battle, the feds attempt to seize Mongols name will fail, as their case is no doubt unconstitutional.

The Washington Redskins have lost trademark protection for their logo and name due to an administrative ruling not a court. Yes, many do find the Redskins name and logo offensive. However, shouldn’t removing trademark protection for it by done by an actual court, and for demonstrable reasons, not because some functionary somewhere thought the name icky?

The Redskins lost a major challenge this week to the cancellation of the their trademark protection by the Patent and Trademark Office. I have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name as well as the underlying law used to strip the team of its trademark protection. The law allows for a small administrative office to effectively dictate the outcome of a long simmering societal debate over the team name.

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peasant-revolt

The Servitude Economy. Peasants service the well-off

Sometimes the peasants revolt

Insanely silly startups coddling the whims and needs of the few now have ludicrously high valuations. Of course it’s a bubble. And it will pop. Meanwhile, armies of the poor are being exploited to coddle the well-off, some of whom are so befuddled they apparently can’t even figure out how to take out the trash. Yes, there really is an app for that. You can also hire the homeless to clean your home at such a low rate it probably barely covers their bus fare.

No matter. Silicon Valley gentry are not concerned with such trifles. This is the magic new sharing economy! Venture capitals and startups share the wealth. Users get trivial tasks done for them. The people who do the work are contract labor, an afterthought, and just not very relevant, are they? And they are expendable, replaceable parts.

Here’s my tiny theory. There’s gold in them thar hills. Money’s pouring into the tech industry today. Too much money, chasing too few truly groundbreaking investments. And so a bubble is inflating—but not just any bubble. A bubble of an especially insidious kind. Of stuff that’s beyond eyewateringly, painfully, mind-numbingly trivial.

I’m going to call it a Servitude Bubble. For the simple reason that it is largely based on creating armies of servants.

The Servitude Bubble is creating “jobs”, sure—but only of the lowest kind: low-end, deskilled, dead-end, go-nowhere “service” jobs — that don’t only crush your soul, damage your psyche, and break your spirit—but waste your potential.

What Silicon Valley hasn’t figured out yet, primarily because it views low-level contract labor as fodder for their startup valuations (when it thinks about them at all), is sometimes the peasants revolt. Or the bubble bursts and they have to create startups with actual value.

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ISIS

Intellectuals and their attraction to fascism, communism, ISIS

ISIS

True believers, who are always supported by at least some intellectuals

Part of the attraction of intellectuals to totalitarianism is, as Bob Dylan put it, “you just want to be on the side that’s winning.” The regime may be thugs, however intellectuals can find cozy, lucrative positions inside it. That they may eventually be tortured on orders of Maximum Glorious Leader is an occupational hazard of apologists for brutal regimes.

Mark Safranski details the fascination by some intellectuals for fascism and communism. I was once in a far left group and saw first-hand the fanaticism and focus of true believers. They work longer and harder than others because The Cause is their life, everything else is secondary. This accounts for their influence often being way greater than their numbers. When intellectuals join totalitarian regimes, their power becomes even more multiplied.

Totalitarianism attracted as supporters and admirers not just intellectual crackpots, but genuinely substantive men of letters, art and science. Many of these did not officially become “party comrades”, though some like philosophers Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt did, most were content to wield their pens as admirers, fellow travelers, enthusiastic supporters and public apologists. Being intellectuals, they were of course entranced by ideas – on the Right, the totemic, mythic, reactionary idolatry and the volkisch ur-narratives of messianic nationalism. Neither Hitler nor Mussolini were innovators here; the bombastic poet Gabriele D’Annunzio’s grandiose adventurism in Fiume, for example, presaged much of Fascist Italy’s swaggering Il Duce and his bullying blackshirts. On the left, by the intoxicating prospect of revolutionary “justice” and being on the “right side of history”, which could allegedly be explained with “scientific laws” of dialectical materialism. It was all rubbish but it was politically potent rubbish.

While this may seem like history and not relevant now, the growth of ISIS is happening in very much the same way. It is a Cause, a reason to exist and to fight.

What alarms me regarding ISIS is that it is theologically a radical-apocalyptic Islamist movement blending insurgency, terrorism and conventional warfare that is also reviving the secular pageantry of Fascism with its grandiose mythmaking, blood rituals, compelling uniforms, Fuhrerprinzip and war-worship. It is an unholy combination that exudes a dark romanticism, a glamour of evil that rootless young Muslim men – a new generation of “armed bohemians” and “armed intellectuals” – find mesmerizing the way young Germans, Italians, Spaniards and Japanese did decades ago. Worse, while we may rightly laugh at the mummery of a dime store “Caliphate” and Islamists cribbing their P.R. style from Triumph of the Will, their success in manipulating deep cultural avatars as the key to power will inspire imitators in barbarism elsewhere that we can ill afford.

Fascism is dead – but it may not stay that way.

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Irwin Schiff book

To sovereign citizens, tax protesters, and other idiots

Irwin Schiff book

Schiff is currently serving 13 years for tax crimes

Tax protesters contort the Constitution to meet preconceived notions that they are magically exempt from paying income tax. Their efforts are both comical and delusional. They write books, give expensive seminars, rope in the gullible and greedy, and convince them they are “sovereign citizens” or other such rubbish, and thus don’t have have to pay income tax. Sometimes they go to prison. Generally, they end up owing the IRS large amounts due to interest and penalties. And yes, when there is fraud and continued noncompliance the IRS can and does seize property and bank accounts, but only after giving lots of advance warning and attempting to work out an agreement.

Tax Protesters Dossiers has voluminous information on tax protesters, many of whom seem to be outright charlatans and / or have mental issues.

Irwin Shiff is a real gem, and is currently in prison again, this time for thirteen years, for tax crimes.

Most of Schiff’s advocacy/litigation include the following claims:

There is no law making anyone liable for the federal income tax.
The word “income” means corporate earnings and not wages or salaries.
The income tax laws can be satisfied by filing a “zero return” with zeros for each line for reporting income.

Steven Swan met Irwin Schiff in 1995 and, after hearing Schiff’s theories and talking with him, Swan bought Schiff’s books and even began teaching Schiff’s theories at seminars and preparing tax returns based on Schiff’s theories. The results were disastrous because Swan was forced to close his real estate business after the IRS assessed taxes and penalties against him and began levying on his bank accounts and other assets. Swan sued Schiff for misrepresentation, fraud, and negligence, but the suit was dismissed summarily. Showing his typical compassion for his victims, Schiff publicly referred to Swan as “an idiot.”

Their FAQ debunks in loving detail the idiot arguments tax protesters make. The IRS deems such arguments “frivolous” and rejects them outright.

For example, on the sovereign citizen silliness:

The income tax cannot apply to natural-born “sovereign state citizens” because they are not “citizens” within the meaning of the 14th Amendment.

There are actually a number of problems with the concept of “citizens” of the states of the United States who are not “citizens” within the meaning of the 14th Amendment. If this tax protester claim were true, then:

  1. The words “citizen of the United States” would have a meaning in the 14th Amendment that is different than the meaning given those same words in other parts of the Constitution.
  2. The words “United States” would have a meaning in the first sentence of the 14th Amendment that is different than the meaning given those words in other parts of the Constitution.
  3. The word “jurisdiction” would have a meaning in the first sentence of the 14th Amendment that is different than the meaning given that word in other parts of the Constitution.
  4. The 14th Amendment would extend the power of Congress to legislate for “federal citizens” without regard to the limits on Congressional power found in other parts of the Constitution.
  5. The 14th Amendment would have created a new kind of citizenship, and did not merely extend the existing definition of “citizen” to include former slaves as well as whites.
  6. The 14th Amendment would not mean what it says, and would not apply to “all persons.”
  7. The power of Congress to tax would limited by citizenship, and Congress would not be able to tax immigrants or foreigners who are within the United States but not citizens of the United States.

All of the above statements are wrong.

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