Friday, August 30, 2013

"Made in the USSR"

Also posted at the Freedom Bunker

Soviet Chemical Warfare ShellWith all this Assad chatter and Obama sabre rattling, I missed something in the mix.  If the Assad regime shelled a village with chemical weapons, where are the “Made in USSR” (or however they say that in Russian) captions under pictures of the bomb fragments?

In Egypt it seemed to be a daily call to arms.  ”Look! Tear gas grenades “Made in USA!!!!”" yada, yada, yada.  Of course, the rifles shooting people dead were made in the USSR, but that never got much play.

So in Syria, where every single item in their military inventory was sold to them by the Soviets, except for a few odds, ends and curiosities from North Korea and China (the one on the UN Security Council, not the one in Taiwan that has real elections).
Mark Steyn makes an interesting observation too:
Like his patrons in Tehran and Moscow, Assad’s reaction to American threats is to double up with laughter and say, “Bring it, twerkypants.” Headline from Friday’s Guardian in London: “Syria: ‘Napalm’ Bomb Dropped on School Playground, BBC Claims” — which, if true, suggests that even a blood-soaked mass murderer is not without a sense of humor. Napalm, eh? There’s a word I haven’t heard since, oh, 40 years ago or thereabouts, somewhere in the general vicinity of southeast Asia.

Being fresh off of a Weatherman binge, stuff like that jumps out at me.  They whined a lot about the Napalm, but only when it was made in the USA.

Well, don’t hold your breath on seeing any complaints of nerve gas “Made in the USSR”, unless National Review sends Steyn over with a film crew.

Steve is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Finance.  He is a 30 year veteran Aviation Officer of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, and former Defense Contractor in Resource Management.  He has always had a libertarian streak, no matter which major Party flag he flew. Today he is a Minarchist leaning to Anarcho-Capitalism. He and his wife reside in a secret, undisclosed, subterranean lair with the clan motto of “Leave us alone and nobody gets hurt.” The Anarchist’s Soufflé  Book is Steve’s current work in progress, along with Time Bomber: The Forgotten Yippie, coming soon any year now.  Steve has been published by the Reason Foundation, and the Foundation for Economic Education.  Follow Steve @AustrianAnarchy and view his Austrian Anarchy blog.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Why I am no longer a Panera customer

Also posted at Freedom Bunker.

So friends, what would you say if I had a sign out front “Free Self-Serve Car Wash with every book purchase” and, after you bought my book you pulled around back to discover there is no water, would you have a complaint?

I think so, and that is why I am complaining about Panera.

I spent over two hours in their Peters Road #203830 (205 North Peters Road Knoxville, TN 37923) trying to connect to the internet.  I even made the most boring YouTube video ever about one attempt.  It takes about 2 min. to find out that, yes everybody who got there before you can connect, but their system can’t handle the crushing usage of 20 people.  Yes, you heard me.  There were other people working away online, but when I tried to connect, they were overloaded or something.

Now, one of my Facebook friends claims I have no right to complain, because I could have brought my own connection.  Does that make any sense to you, dear reader?  If I had my own connection, I would not bother with a joint that charges almost $6 for chocolate and coffee (mocha, for you fancy-pantsers).

There was something that drew me to that cafe, something called THE OFFER OF FREE INTERNET CONNECTIONS!  Now mind you, I am not one to just plop down, take up space and bandwidth, make a mess, and expect someone to clean up after me.  No, I hung in there trying to connect through the business I actually made a purchase from, I even asked the staff about it not once, but twice.  Also, the price of my hot beverage was elevated to pay for the one thing I was really there for, to get some work don while connected to the internet.

Finally, I connected to the Lowe’s up the hill so I could email my wife and let her know I would be picking her up for an appointment.

All was not lost, I did make the most boring 2 min. video ever uploaded to YouTube.  Well, unless there is a paint drying video up there.  The experience was 60 times longer than the video and quite annoying.  Also, on Facebook I did get what someone thinks passes for a speech about commerce when she informed me that I should have brought my own internet.  You know, just like you should bring your own water to that free car wash with every fill-up, or book.  Makes me wonder if everybody 50 years old or younger received their economics education from Marx and Keynes, just like president Obama.

Rather than dining at Panera, like I had planned, I relocated to the nearby Krystal and sure enough, those folks know how to run a WiFi connection all the way up to the cloud.
Bottom line: If your internet is not working, be a good enough businessperson to put out a sign.

Steve is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Finance.  He is a 30 year veteran Aviation Officer of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, and former Defense Contractor in Resource Management.  He has always had a libertarian streak, no matter which major Party flag he flew. Today he is a Minarchist leaning to Anarcho-Capitalism. He and his wife reside in a secret, undisclosed, subterranean lair with the clan motto of “Leave us alone and nobody gets hurt.” The Anarchist’s Soufflé  Book is Steve’s current work in progress, along with Time Bomber: The Forgotten Yippie, coming soon any year now.  Steve has been published by the Reason Foundation, and the Foundation for Economic Education.  Follow Steve @AustrianAnarchy and view his Austrian Anarchy blog.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Time Bomber Book Stuff

Sorry to be away from the blog for what seems like forever.

Things have been a little hectic on the new book front.  Looks like my first book will be Time Bomber: The Forgotten Yippie, and am going with a new start-up publisher.  Looks like I have the cover all set, now I have to finish writing the book.


Cover design, even with professional help, is pretty rough stuff.  I suggest everybody watch this video of Chip Kidd at TED to get your head in the right neighborhood on what a good cover should be.

If you have the time, and I happen to have too much of that on my hands right now, I suggest you do a YouTube search for Chip Kidd, set the filter to videos longer than 20 min. and watch a few more of his videos.  Even if you think he is repeating a talk, keep watching and there will be something new in there.

He emphasizes that the cover by itself does not sell the book.  I must agree.  However, and I think he agrees too, a horrible cover will not get anybody to pick the thing up and look inside.  Especially if you are an unknown author like me.


Designing the cover is not the end of the story either.  The interior of the book needs to be designed too.  Sure, you can sit down with MS Word and bang out a bunch of pages, but they won't look like a book.  You will end up with something that visually resembles a high school history class paper that never ends.  Sure, some people might start reading it, and if it is good then they will buy it.  But they have to get to that point first.

Another point, some book people do not like MS Word and want you to use something else.  It is fine if you already have Adobe Creative Suite and know how to use it, but if you have any relatively new MS Word/Office version you can design the interior like a pro.  Of course, a pro might be better at it than you, so you might want to let them do it.  However, it is YOUR book, so wanting to take some control of the process is understandable.

Templates and Tweaking

CreateSpace.Com has book interior templates for MS Word that get you most of the way there.  However, you still will not have a professional look.  For that, you need to look at some books in the bookstore and get some ideas.

One thing I noticed is that I never paid much attention to book interior design when I was "just" a reader of books.  I started noticing when I started looking at books for researching Time Bomber.  I liked Mark Rudd's beginning the first chapter with a "dropped cap".  I'd seen that before, but never paid much attention.  I am using it in my book.

Of course, I like to see my name at every turn of the page just like any other writer.  However, as a reader I like to see where I am at the top of the page.  With the CS template, the even and odd page headers and footers are different.  So, I put my chapter titles on the even pages and the book title on the odd pages.  At the bottom of the even pages is my name, and on the odd page footers is the publisher's spot.   None of that is on the first page of a chapter.

If you don't already know how to do this in Word, it is pretty easy.  You paste and format your chapter title into the header of the side you want it on (even for me), select "same as previous" on the next even page.  For the odd pages, paste what you want in their headers and footers and do the same.  You really don't want any of that on the first page of your chapters, but the first pages are unique, so if everything is set right you don't need to worry about it if you didn't put anything in there.

Something I finally noticed was hyphenation in print books.  I was under the mistaken impression that justifying the document to both margins would create a better looking book.  Well, it doesn't.  It makes big giant spaces that look crappy, like someone created the book in a word processor.  Under Page Layout/Page Setup, turn on automatic hyphenation.

While you are at it, learn about "Orphan Control" and use that too.  I use Word 2007, and this is a good set of instructions:
Open your document in Microsoft Word. If you have not started writing yet, you can set the widow/orphan control before you start. If you have already started writing, select all of the text before proceeding. 
Select the "Home" menu. In the "Paragraph" section, click on the box to the right of "Paragraph." A dialogue box will appear. 
Click on the "Line and Page Breaks" tab. Look for "Widow/Orphan Control" at the top, under "Pagination." Click on the box to the left. If there is a check mark in the box, the widow/orphan control is turned on and Word will make sure there are no single lines separated from their paragraphs. If there is no check mark in the box, the control is turned off. 
Click "OK" when you have made your selections. Your paragraphs should now be set the way you wanted.
There is a style debate about putting page numbers on the first page of a chapter.  Some publishers do, others do not.  I like all of the pages of the body to have numbers, so every page of every chapter has a number.  The first page of my chapters has the page number in the bottom center.  Other pages have the numbers at the bottom corner farthest from the spine.  Of course, that can change before it goes to print.

One thing I do not like at all, and most everybody does it, is sticking every picture in the center of the book.  I stuck most of mine at the end, other than four pages of scrawled notes by the bomber that I placed in the first chapter, along with transcripts of the notes on facing pages.  Also, I have a few FBI documents in there, so when they come up in the narrative I transcribed them using a typewriter font and reference the document in the documents section that they came from.

One thing I am saving for last is the index.  Some of the books I've read were jammed full if great information that you have to just remember where it appeared in the book, because there is either no index, or the index is horrible.  I've never used the Word indexing tools yet, so wish me luck.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chris Christie thinks I am dangerous, and I am glad.

Looks like the old boy in New Jersey finds libertarian views "dangerous":
The House earlier this week narrowly voted against a reduction in funding for the National Security Agency’s program collecting Americans’ phone records, as libertarian-leaning members from both sides joined together to vote for the amendment. 
“As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.

Glad to see I still don't have any common ground with him.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Of Bitcoin and Empire

Maybe I am a bit slow on the uptake, but I am just now noticing how the US government reaction, especially in the courts, to Bitcoin is similar to the British discovering that they stopped running the world after WWII.

Of course, everybody but the British knew they were not running the world anymore long before they did.  At the end of WWI they had the roughest, toughest military in all of history and they dismantled it to the point that the could barely defend their own little home island cluster by the time Hitler came a callin'.

What does this have to do with the peaceful, utopian world of the Bitcoin?  Everything actually.  The United States held a prestigious place in the world of money for quite some time.  This prestige was built in a laissez-faire manner, to great extent.  Our central bank came and went, the shining jewel in Andy Jackson's crown was its abolishment.

This arrangement went on until a central bank was reestablished, designed in part to prevent great depressions, it came on line just in time to create a worldwide depression.  How did the US central bank manage to do this?  By hijacking the good name of the US Dollar, and misusing the gold standard:

Note to the goldbugs out there:  In the video, Dr. Friedman gives a very concise and informative lecture on how the gold standard was used.  For some reason, my government gold standard friends can mention returning to the gold standard in the same breath as they use it as an example to prevent financial calamity.

Then World War II came along, Stalin won and let the West keep some of their own stuff.  The communists were already operating on a purely fiat currency, they didn't have a real price system to help with rational decision making.  Of course, the brightest Economists in the West loved this system and placed in charge of dismantling any vestiges of free market economies folks like Henry Dexter White:
Harry Dexter White was the architect of the post-war financial system, which paved the way for the West to dominate the 20th century and win the Cold War. 
But it has now emerged that the brilliant economist was in fact a staunch anti-capitalist who privately praised the Soviet Union's communism.

Something funny about that article is the shock and amazement by the Daily Mail writers "discovering" this fact in early 2013 when it was known for decades.  Actually they mention this in their article while continuing to be amazed.

So, what is going on now?  A peaceful public uprising and the US government is amazed that they are not running the world anymore in the realm of currency.  What is really amazing is that they act surprised.  Surprised that they have reduced what is supposed to be a stable, easy facilitator of exchange (money in general, the dollar in specific) to worthlessness and people created something else as a substitute.

The bureaucracy jumped into the game first, from what I can tell, with the courts, which lead to a Homeland Security seizure of accounts.  The courts are still leading the way too, one court just ruled that Bitcoin is "money" in the sense that it is something that can be regulated by various tentacles of the US government.  This strikes me as a the actors in the current government reacting like the post-WWII British, wishing to cling to a prestige that no longer exists.

What is the whole purpose of the Bitcoin anyway?  I'll spare you the faculty lounge claptrap and skip to the short answer.  Bitcoin is a facilitator of exchange, and nothing more.  Just like any fiat currency in some aspects.  However, the Bitcoin makers established controls to prevent inflation (actual inflation of over creation of money, not relative price appreciation of individual goods).

One important feature of the Bitcoin, that is a desired feature in coined or printed money, is forgery prevention.  The stuff is as impossible to forge as you can get, from what I understand.  More difficult to forge than government money.

So now we have a real competitor for the US dollar and the US is pissed.  The only thing the competitors had to do was make a currency that doesn't suck, and from all appearances, they did.

Also posted in my column at Freedom Bunker.

Ⓐ Steve Ⓐ