I've actually been doing stuff, just not blogging regularly. I got back from Qt DevDays in Munich, and have some pictures to show off from the Deutsches Museum and other spots in that fair city. See the photos.
I've just release QBrew 0.4.1. This is a bugfix release. It also includes printing improvements including print previes, and I've converted all the DOM to Qt's streaming XML. Get it at http://www.usermode.org/code.html
The reason I haven't had a recent post is that I've been busy. I'm running for local office. I'm running committee member for the county Republican Party. It's as low as you can get on the ballot. Even dog catcher is higher! I'm doing this because I think the Republican Party is going in the wrong direction.
I'm a write-in candidate. I've collected my necessary signatures, and if I can get the necessary votes on June 3rd, I'm in.
I just got back from a two week trip to Disneyland. My job took me to the backlot of the park, where I worked on their parade control software. Here are some touristy photos from the trip.
Apparently Lew Rockwell has gotten onto the conspiracy bandwagon. Two posts today at his blog show that he has fallen for the conspiracy theory of the Kennedy assassination. Once you ignore parsimony and start multiplying entities, anything seems possible.
Why do so many libertarians fall for this kind of nuttery? The answer is simple. It's called "confirmation bias". When you believe that government is evil, you start seeing government behind all evil.
Super Tuesday and the California primaries are over. Ron Paul only earned 4% of the popular vote, and none of the delegates. I saw this coming in advance, and now that it has happened, let me offer up a blunt post mortem analysis.
Why we lost:
- Lack of Central Leadership
- From the beginning the official campaign kept a hands-off attitude towards the grassroots Meetup organizations. Ostensibly this was so that the campaign would not be responsible for the actions of the Meetups. But in retrospect it meant that there never was a local campaign. The Meetups were composed of volunteers with zero political experience, trying to figure this all out on their lonesome.
- Unresponsive Campaign
- When the Meetup did need seek guidance or help from the official campaign, the response was either non-existant or very slow. The best example I had of this was in trying to get the county voter registration data. The campaign never provided any help in getting this data, despite repeated requests from several people and myself.
- Acting Like a Cult And Not a Campaign
- This blame goes to the grassroots Meetups. We spent way too much time trying to find committed activists, and way too little time trying to find voters. We waved signs and hung banners instead of going door to door. I sent out repeated calls for telephone canvassing throughout the month of January and first of February, but out of several hundred Meetup members, I only got four respondents. Door to door canvassing was slightly better, but was still woefully short of the effort needed.
- Libertarian Naivete
- Political inexperience has always afflicted libertarian campaigns. We don't know what we are doing, are unwilling to compromise a minor principle to achieve a greater political gain, and have this bizarre belief that if only we can get our message out people will automatically vote for us. We need to grow up and get a clue.
- Ignoring Republicans
- As amazing as it may seem, the grassroots and campaign seemed to ignore Republicans, even though Ron Paul is himself a Republican running in Republican primaries. Way too much emphasis was placed on converting Democrats and independents. We expected that they would change their registration. Stupid. In the meantime, we never did any outreach to actual Republicans.
I have other criticisms, but those are the main ones. Already I am hearing people cry conspiracy that Ron Paul did not win. But it was no conspiracy that lost him Super Tuesday, it was old fashioned poor campaigning. We need to learn from our mistakes.
Eric Dondero, former libertarian leaning Republican, finally melts down into a puddle of frothing hate. In response to a perfectly ordinary article talking up at Third Party Watch, Mr. Dondero has this to say [redacted]:
A BIG FAT <bleep> YOU FROM A FORMER FRIEND. DONT YOU EVER <bleep>ING CALL ME OR CONTACT ME FOR ANYTHING EVER AGAIN. YOU HATE AMERICA AND EVERYTHING IT STANDS FOR YOU <bleep>.
This rant and several more like it in subsequent posts came out of nowhere. This jerk is seriously unstable. Any respectability he had in the libertarian movement has just evaporated.
You would think that anarchists would be a fairly homogenous group. They might favor different bands, watch different television shows, and partake of different cuisines, but politcally they would all pretty much be the same. I mean, once you separate the anti-state anarchists from the anti-hierarchy anarchists, there don't seem to be more faults to cleave.
But you would be wrong. In a post in the comment section of his "Take the A-Train" article, RadGeek lists an impressive number of them:
So the term includes not only Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists (which I'm not one of), but also agorists (such as Brad Spangler), voluntaryists (such as Wendy McElroy), Proudhonian anarchists, American equitists and mutualists such as Josiah Warren or Stephen Pearl Andrews, and the voluntary socialism or free market anti-capitalism of individualist anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Voltairine de Cleyre, or - to move ahead to the modern day - Kevin Carson or Joe Peacott.
And that's just the market anarchists!
I am at the KDE 4.0 Release Event. Tons of KDE developers and users are here, as well as a couple of Trolls. Some people I know, most I am meeting for the first time. Google is hosting the event, which is just down the street from where I live. I think I live the closest from everyone else.
Today is mainly breakout sessions and hacking. So far I have attended a FreeBSD BoF (birds of a feather) with Adrian de Groot. A tour of the Google facilities starts in fifteen minutes. Tomorrow will have the actual release celebration. Speeches and presentations and stuff.
The Ron Paul newsletter has been all but ignored by the mainstream media. But the cosmotarians have picked up on this as an excuse for an all out purge of the less-than-moderates in the libertarian ranks.
There is list of the witch hunters on Timothy Sandefur's blog. Reading through those postings, how can you call it anything other than a purge? They are calling for the ousting of everyone associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, stretching so far as to include even Walter Williams in that group, for daring to write the introduction to Thomas DiLorenzo's book. Even the father of the modern libertarian movement, Murray Rothbard, is not immune. This isn't new of course. Many of the same players were involved in the 1984 split in the Libertarian Party.
I hate taking sides, but that does not stop me from looking on in horror at the cosmotarians gathering faggots for the stakes. God forbid that a libertarian message escape their cloisters.
Main Entry: cosmotarian
Etymology: fusion of cosmopolitan and libertarian
2: Libertarian living in a diverse upper class Washington D.C. neighborhood, works for vaguely market-oriented policy institute, blogs on esoteric ecumenicalist musings, actively disdains provincial individualists, wholly uninterested in political activism. Frequently seen eating their young.
The mainstream media thrives on controversy, fashions itself a kingmaker, and is biased towards big government. So it was only a matter of time before big media decided to turn its attention to the Ron Paul campaign. That was today, with the New Republic's smear piece by James Kirchik. I won't link to it here, it's too distasteful. It alleges racism, bigotry, and "neo-confederacy".
Here's the nuts: A long time ago Ron Paul lent his name out to a newsletter; someone ghostwrote a racist article using Dr. Paul's name; Ron Paul neglected to read the article before it went out in his name. Years later they came up in his congressional campaign, and he disavowed them. Then again. And again. The media is only able to find one ball of mud to throw at Ron Paul, but it keeps throwing it over and over again.
Here is his response:
"The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts."
... "When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name."
Anyone who knows Ron Paul or has followed his career with any attention, knows that he is not a racist or bigot. His error in this episode is only that he has not rent his beard and put on sackcloth and ashes to validate the smearmongering (as some in the libertarian quarter are demanding of him). I fear that this may be the crippling blow to his campaign. I hope I am wrong.
Silly me, it seems I've volunteered for KCalc duties. There are a tiny handful of apps that need some loving or they will be dropped from the KDE 4 release. KCalc was one of them. Since this is an app I use frequently I stepped forward. I hope there won't be a trigonometry quiz on this!
The first major problem I see is the interface. I am currently converting this to Designer UI format. The other major problem is the use of GMP. It's license was recently changed to LGPL3, which some people say is incompatible with KCalc's GPL2+.
Breaking news! Eric Dondero, an infamous advocate for military interventionism, had his head explode today. In response to a post by yours truly on Reason's Hit & Run blog, Mr. Dondero's head exploded in an overload of rage.
Brandybuck <bleep> YOU. YOU ARE <bleep> SUPPORTING ISLAMO-FASCISM IF YOU DON'T SUPPORT THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAND AND IRAQ.
You're as good as <bleep>ing Osama Bin Laden's <bleep>, if you oppose the War on Islamo-Fascism. Stop with all the bull<bleep> you little <bleep>ing coward.
See full unexpurgated post here.
An awesome quote I stumbled across today.
Today is Guy Fawkes Day. Please don't celebrate it.
For some bizarre reason, libertarians have adopted this day as their own. I'm not sure they know what it means. For several centuries in England, it was an anti-Catholic holiday. Then along came the graphic novel and movie , "V for Vendetta", and suddenly Guy Fawkes became a libertarian hipster. His attempt to blow up parliament would have killed many innocents not party to any wrongs he had suffered. This is what many misguided libertarians are celebrating, violent nihilist revolution.
It is justified to meet violence with violence. One may legitimately use force to defend themselves against government tyranny. But the force of the defense must be proportional to the force of the offense! If we want to change our government, we must do it at the ballot box and with the soapbox. Not by murdering people with bombs.
Celebrating Guy Fawkes Day is as stupid as celebrating Timothy McVeigh Day.
This makes me mad. A few months ago some NAU conspriracists starting showing images of an Amero coin as "proof" that the North American Union was genuine. I've seen pictures of these coins on anti-NAU literature and in forums. One person I talked to face-to-face said "It's true! I've seen the coin!"
The only problem is, the coin is fake. Not only is it a fake, the coin artist fully admits to it. Daniel Carr is the artist for these coins. You can buy them on his website, http://www.dc-coin.com/. Here's a link to the Amero coin page.
I have no problem with people making fake or parody coins to promote an issue. I have a major problem, however, with people deliberately using fake evidence to prove their conspiracy.
Thanks to Reason for the tip.
I've made to software releases this week, that have been a long time in coming. The first is QBrew 0.4.0, the second is HârnMaker 0.5.0. Both have been ported to Qt 4.3, with corresponding UI improvements. You can access them at http://www.usermode.org/code.html
You just can reason with some conspiracists. Even Canadian cartoonists know this.
For years GPL advocates has been spreading the idea that a second party can relicense a copyrighted work. Because of this, it is a common belief in many Linux communities, that it is permissible to "file off" certain unrestricted licenses and replace them with the GPL.
Recently a few Linux developers, on advice from the FSF's lawyer, did just that with the Atheros driver in OpenBSD. This is in violation of copyright law, and nothing short of bald faced plagarism.
A quote from Theo de Raadt:
In their zeal to get the code under their own license, some of these Linux wireless developers have broken copryright law repeatedly. But to even get to the point where they broke copyright law, they had to bypass a whole series of ethical considerations too.
I'm not bringing up this story to tweak the noses of GPL developers, but rather to urge the community of Free Software developers to behave morally and ethically when dealing with other people's code.
I'm stepping down from the Silicon Valley Ron Paul Meetup after only two meetings. My stated reasons are lack of time and organizational skills. Another reason, and the emotional impetus, are all the conspiracists. There are enough of them in the grassroots that my comfort level is exceeded.
I've uploaded some photos of last week's vacation. I went to Nevada, Oregon and back to California. Highlights are Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Mount Lassen, Oregon Caves and the California coast.
Thanks to my employer, I now have a subversion repository for QBrew. Public read-only anonymous access is at https://cvs.ics.com/svn/qbrew, using account "qbrew" and password "qbrewguest". You will need a Subversion client.
Will these conspiracies never stop coming? Now my mother is sending me links regarding the North American Union conspiracy. Sheesh.
There are a lot of dots behind the NAU theory, and those dots are indeed dangerous. NAFTA is a horrible trade agreement (that has nothing to do with "free trade"). It's highways are financial boondoggles. The SPP has been given more power than it ought, and needs congressional oversight. And as always, the CFR is still a bunch of nefarious globalists. Those dots are real and deserve genuine concern. But the connections the conspiracists draw between then are pure delusional fantasy.
It is impossible for the NAU to happen in secret. It cannot happen without lots of treaties, lots of congressional bickering, and a constitutional amendment. None of this is happening. It has not even started.
All this energy expended on "uncovering" the NAU conspiracy, could have been spent promoting the idea of genuine Free Trade.
Some related thoughts by others:
I am listening to an audio lecture by Walter Block on Austrian Economics. When he got to the section on money, he criticized Milton Friedman for objecting to the gold standard. This is almost a kneejerk response for Austrians. They don't seem capable of discussing money without ragging on Friedman.
What sort of monetary system would arise in a truly free society in the modern age? I do not know, and neither do the Austrians if they are honest. Instead of insisting on one particular kind of money, the Austrians should instead leave it to the free market to decide.
It would be as silly to replace the Federal Reserve with a mandatory gold standard (and matching central bank), as it would be to replace the Department of Education with mandatory homeschooling. The key word here is "mandatory". Let people choose for themselves what kind of education they give their childen, and what kind of money they will use to pay for it. While Milton Friedman's idea of an indexed money supply is not the ideal, how is it worse than a central government bank issuing gold certificates?
If Austrian economists really do want a free market in money, then they should say so, and stop using the term "gold standard". That term has become a shibboleth.
To quote Congressman Ron Paul,
"Repeal of legal tender laws would restore constitutional government and protect the people's right to use a currency chosen by the market because it serves the needs of the people, instead of having to use a currency chosen by the State because it serves the needs of power hungry politicians and special interests."
I got to the rally early, and helped direct traffic. There was some confusion from Google Security as to where we could park, but that situation was resolved. When Ron Paul arrived and parked, I headed down to the rally. Joe Banister was finishing up, and Mr. Griffin started. He talked about damned conspiracy crap. At least he was only allowed to spew for ten minutes. Then Justin Raimondo spoke, to bring back some sane rhetoric.
Then Ron Paul came down! People stood and cheered. The good Dr. Paul talked on the proper role of the President and Federal Government, the monetary system, foreign policy, government secrecy, and individual liberty. "The purpose of government is to protect that right [life and liberty], not to meddle in it!"
After his speech, there was a lunch fundraiser at Michael's Restaurant at Shoreline Park. Ron Paul spoke again, talking about the campaign and growing support.
I'm at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Foster City with Ron Paul and thirty to forty supporters in a private campaign briefing. Earlier today Dr. Paul took a tour of Google. I have heard that there were one thousand Google employees there!
Burt Blumert and Lew Rockwell introduced Ron Paul, who then told us of the campaign and its building momentum. There were lots of pictures and videos taken of this event, so you may see some of them here soon.
Tomorrow is the Big Rally in Mountain View! I will try to make some blog entries during the rally.
Silly me, I've gone and signed up to take over the Palo Alto Ron Paul Meetup. There's a big rally this weekend at Google, and I'm planning to semi-live blog it. There are several related events Friday and Saturday, so I'll be quite busy.
As you can tell by my latest posts, the current burr up my butt is conspiracists. I've collected some links debunking various conspiracy theories, as well as some general information regarding them. I'm posting some of them here for you.
Income Tax and the Federal Reserve
My last blog entry was about conspiracists. Elsewhere on the net I've been much harsher in my opinions of them. Imagine my shock this afternoon upon discovering that I was heading down the path to becoming one myself!
Politically, I am opposed to the income tax and the Federal Reserve. So upon watching Aaron Russo's "America: Freedom to Fascism" last week, I was hooked! My politics and the film were in sync. I was determined to spread this news to as many people as possible, so I made a bulk order of 100 DVDs to pass out to friends, family, meetups, etc. Today the order arrived. I was so excited!
I wasn't completely stupid, however. I knew the film was sensationalist and engaged in quite a bit of hyperbole. I could see that Mr. Russo had played fast and loose with some facts. I also didn't like the over-the-top clip with Lou Dobbs at the end. But I believed that in the whole it was telling the truth: The IRS and the income tax were unlawful, and the Federal Reserve banks were running the country.
But I'm a natural skeptic. I was smelling something fishy. I was thinking up excuses to tell people, to get them to watch the film. I imagined telling folks, "Yeah, it's sensationalist, but once you get past that it's a good film." I was trying to explain to others why it wasn't a conspiracy film like "Loose Change". Most disturbing of all, the 9/11 Truthers were glomming onto the movie. The smell became strong enough that I had to do a tiny bit of fact checking.
I knew there had to be more rebuttals to this film than just the IRS FAQ. I found them. I should have looked at Wikipedia first, because it has some good information. I don't always trust Wikipedia, but it's a good place to start from, and it helped me find some good rebuttals of the film. More importantly, I discovered the law that Aaron Russo said didn't exist!
The message in the film is still a good message, but it is a message that does not need to be bolstered with lies. The income tax may not be illegal, but I still want to abolish it. The Federal Reserve may not be a conspiracy, but it still has too much control over the economy. And of course, our government is far too large for our good.
I now understand a bit better the mind of the conspiracist. It's a trap one falls into. If I had been a bit more credulous, I might be one myself. That's a sobering thought.
I wrote this letter to a Ron Paul mailing list. I received so much positive response to it, that I'm posting it here. Ron Paul's campaign is striking a chord, and attracting supporters from everywhere. Some of these new supporters are conspiracy theorists. This is my letter to them.
Re: Conspiracy Convention From: David Johnson To: firstname.lastname@example.org On Saturday 19 May 2007, Xxxxxx wrote: > Is anyone going to the Conspiracy Convention this weekend?
I do not believe in conspiracy theories, but I know some of you do. Please hear me out. If we want to get Ron Paul elected, then we cannot have him get labeled a conspiracist. It doesn't matter how right his message is, no one will listen to it if they think he's a nut.
Did some of you tune me out when you read the word "nut"? Well guess what? When people see the word "zionist", they tune out! It's racist. When people see the phrase "9/11 truth", they tune out. When people see the words "Bilderberger" or "Trilateralist", they tune out. Heck, they even tune out when the see the words "Council on Foreign Relations", and that's an organization that's not even secret!
It is my firm and unwavering belief that evil men are capable of doing evil things without having to resort to conspiracies to explain it. Really, they are. It doesn't matter whether the government is being controlled by a secret cabal of masters or not, it is STILL the same government: bloated, unjust, oppressive, subjugating. Focusing on the conspiracies only misdirects your attentions away from the real problem: the government is bloated, unjust, oppresive and subjugating!
It is a diversion, a diversion that dilutes and diminishes the message. The message that we supporters need to be spreading is one of limited government and individual freedom. Do not diminish that message, please.
I'm still figuring how I want this blog to work. I'm trying to feel the direction I want to go. Since I've become uncomfortable with including political rants here, I have removed them. I may still occasionally make a positive political post, but I'm keeping the negative rants and screeds out.
I've uploaded some photos I took last week while I was in New Mexico. I visted Bandelier National Monument to see ancient Pueblos, then drove up to the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos.
The Phase widget style is still being maintained in KDE, but since it is now a "pure" Qt 4 style, I am making a snapshot available for it. There are still some TODO notes in the code, but it is complete and usable. You can find it on my software page.
There once was a fabulous apple tree. No matter how many apples one would take from it, there were just as many as before! When this was heard by the villagers they all rushed to the apple tree and took apples. But no matter how many they took, there were just as many apples as before. But some of them came and took apples and locked them within a chest, so that none could steal them. And they laughed at the other villagers, saying, "Look, they do not protect their apples. Surely a thief will come and steal them."