Fun With History

I’m a history buff. I know, what fun blogger isn’t? But my interest in history doesn’t lie in anything specific. While there are a few historical topics that greatly interest me such as feudal Japan and Viking Age Europe, I generally find myself studying random topics because something about that topic piqued my interest. Recently I’ve found myself interested in the history of alchemy, the predecessor to chemistry. To satisfy this interest I have been reading The Secrets of Alchemy (Synthesis) by Lawrence M. Principe. It’s an excellent title if you are interested in the topic.

During the first part of the book, which discusses Greco-Egyptian alchemy, there is a short discussion of the monetary debasement that was occurring in Rome at the time. As I didn’t expect to find a common thread between my interest in alchemical history and economic theory this discussion surprised me. As it turns out Diocletian was busy debasing the Roman currency by reducing the amount of precious metal in issued coinage.

Diocletian apparently ordered the destruction of all alchemical literature involving silver and gold. While alchemists at the time had not found a way to transmute base metals into noble metals they did find numerous ways to make base metals look like, at least on the surface, noble metals. In addition to writing down processes for making base metals appear to be noble metals the alchemists also wrote down processes for discovering such slights of hand. The theory put forth in the book, which I find very intriguing, is that Diocletian ordered the destruction of alchemical works involving silver and gold because he didn’t want the knowledge about how to detect debased currency to spread.

One of my favorite aspects about studying history is finding all of the common threads that run between my various interests. This story was certainly one of the most interesting collision between my interests that I’ve encountered.

When Something Doesn’t Look Right There’s a Very Good Chance It Isn’t Right

I periodically discuss self-defense on this site but haven’t delved must into the topic of defending others whom you don’t know. The reason I haven’t delved into this topic is because, for the most part, defending somebody you don’t know is an extremely risky proposition. Without any knowledge of the situation a stranger may find themselves in you cannot make an educated decision on whether or not your intervention would cause further grief (for you or for the stranger). But there may be times when you stumble across a situation that doesn’t seem right to you. If your gut instinct is telling you that a situation isn’t right then there’s a very good chance that it isn’t and you may want to consider intervening.

This story is a good example:

Last night when I saw a tiny girl in a miniskirt and heels, slumped over in the arms of a guy, I had to stop and at least ask what was going on. At first, the guy had a startled look in his eyes, and was definitely sweating–maybe from the strain of carrying her, or because he was so damn suspicious. His first response to me was that her friends told him to take her home from an event, but I knoooow that gals travel in packs, especially when going o-u-t for real, and few friends would ditch their distressed miss into a strange man’s arms.

I wasn’t sure if this girl just drank too much, or was potentially drugged, so I treaded lightly at first.


My instinct was to ask this dude as much info about Jane as I could until he either cracked and gave up, or his story didn’t add up and I could straight up report him for being a creep. Key questions:

  • Where are you coming from?
  • What are you doing here tonight?
  • How much did she have to drink?
  • Where are you headed?
  • Where are her friends?
  • Why aren’t you bringing her back to her own place?
  • What is her name?
  • Where does she go to school?

Most importantly, I didn’t give him the option of being alone with her. Confronting a suspicious person can be dangerous, so always exercise caution if you choose to intervene in a suspicious situation. Approach carefully, pay attention to body language and don’t be alone with this person.

Since this is nominally a gun blog most of the time discussions of defense revolve around the use of a firearm. But many defensive situations can be resolved without having to use violence. Seeing a passed out person being carried off by another lone person should raise a few red flags. Those red flags don’t authorize the use of a firearm but they certainly authorize a cursory investigation. Our species has been developing instincts in our current form for a couple hundred thousand years. Those instincts have kept us alive all of this time, which means they’re probably worth listening to.

While I won’t go so far as to claim I know what the right response is in every situation I do believe it’s a worthwhile idea to do what you can to help keep your fellow human beings safe. That can often be accomplished as easily as being physically present. Predators tend to look for isolated prey and the presence of even one additional creature is often enough to persuade them to reconsider an attack.

Comcast is the Government

The upcoming merger between Comcast and Time Warner has many people demanding the government step in and prevent it. Such demands are amusing to me because anybody demanding the government stop the merger is really demanding that Comcast stop the merger. Comcast is the government. It bought its shares fairly through some amazing lobbying effort:

On the first night of the Olympics, Comcast (CMCSA) threw a big party at the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, a short walk from the U.S. Capitol. About 700 guests, including congressional aides and administration officials, drank chilled vodka, made s’mores over indoor fire pits, and had their photos taken with former Olympic athletes.


As Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, seeks the federal government’s approval for a $45.2 billion deal to buy No. 2 Time Warner Cable (TWC), the company, and Cohen, are everywhere in Washington—pressing their case with members of Congress and their staffs by day and entertaining them by night. In 2013, Comcast spent $18.8 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, more than any company except defense contractor Northrop Grumman (NOC).

When a company throws around money like that they usually get whatever they want. Even if the government prevents a direct merger between Comcast and Time Warner (which they probably won’t) there will be some form of backdoor deal that allows the two companies to effectively act as one.

Many people mistakenly believe that the United States government is of the people and for the people. In reality it is more like a giant corporation. Members of Congress are the shares and anybody can buy in through the lobbyist firms that are political stock exchanges. When an organization wants political favor it merely buys enough shares to make it happen.

Mark Dayton Sending Mixed Messages

For those of you living outside of the thawing tundra of Minnesota one of our current political battles is cannabis legalization. This battle hasn’t been going well for proponents because higher ups in the state, namely Mark Dayton, are basing their decision on that of the law enforcement lobby. The law enforcement lobby, predictably, opposes cannabis legalization because property stolen from suspected violators of the prohibition is a major income source for police departments.

Not satisfied with being a coward hiding behind a major lobby Dayton decided to open is mouth again. This time he acknowledged that cannabis may be beneficial for people suffering certain ailments, mentioned the fact that cannabis can be purchased in almost any city, and then reminded people that his will still order law enforcement agents to aggress against individuals buying cannabis for medical reasons:

ST. PAUL — Minnesotans who want marijuana to ease pain and deal with other medical conditions already can get it, Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday.

However, he quickly added, buying pot on the street is illegal, and he does not endorse it. In a conference call with reporters, he said that possessing a small amount of the drug could bring a fine about the same cost as a traffic ticket.

“I am not advocating anybody do whatever it is that they do,” Dayton said. “I am just trying to point out reality.”

Dayton added: “The fact is that you can go out in any city in Minnesota, I am told, and purchase marijuana.”

In other words those of you suffering from chronic pain, glaucoma, epilepsy, or other ailments that can be improved with cannabis can buy it but doing so will put you at risk of the only thing known to kill cannabis users: police aggression. While possession of small amounts of cannabis only officially results in a fine the fact of the matter is it also results in interaction with police officers, which is often very harmful to one’s physical well-being.

It’s funny watching Mark Dayton try to appease both advocates of cannabis legalization and law enforcement agents that profit greatly from cannabis prohibition. Either side could cost him the next election and that seems to be making him rather nervous (and that would be a good thing if he wouldn’t simply be replaced by a different psychopath).

Mother of the Year Award

I know a lot of older people who complain about today’s youth. But behind many problem children there are problem parents. Take this story for example. Roman Rodriguez left class to find eight teenagers beating up a smaller child. Rodriguez approached the group, determined who the ringleader was, and addressed him with a request to leave the child alone. His request was met with an attempted punch, which missed. Reacting to the initiated aggression Rodriguez, a teenager with martial arts experience, put the aggressor on the ground and held him. What happened after that makes one ask what the fuck is wrong with some parents:

Rodriguez’s strategy worked. The teen, who Rodriguez could only identify as “Angel” ran home, with his group of friends following. What he wasn’t prepared for was the threat he yelled.

“The kid threatened to stab or shoot Roman,” Colón said.

Rodriguez ran back inside the building to tell his father, who was still packing up after class, what happened.

“My son is a pretty mellow kid and I could tell something was wrong as he was pretty hyped up,” Ricardo said.

As they walked outside together, Ricardo said, the teen had returned brandishing a large kitchen knife with his mother by his side.

“I witnessed this kid’s mother encourage her son to stab mine. She was instigating a fight,” Ricardo said. “My first reaction was to protect my son, but also to avoid any kind of tragedy.”

Emphasis mine. The aggressor returning with a knife is bad in of itself but it’s pretty easy, based on this stroy, to figure out where he learned such behavior. What mother on Earth would give a knife to their child, accompany their child to the scene of a previous fight, and encourage him to stab the kid that had previously won the fight (that, I might add, was started by the kid who lost)? That has to be one messed up household.

Kudos to Roman Rodriguez for doing the right thing. I don’t think the situation could have been handled any better than it was. But the mother of the aggressor… holy shit. The fact that parents like that exist in this world saddens me greatly. Can a child with such a mother have any chance of a decent life?

CPAC Hilarity

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) recently went down in National Harbor, Maryland. For those who don’t know, which is likely few of your judging by the typical reader of this site, CPAC is the annual conservative circle jerk. The only thing that really happens there that people care about is the audition for potential Republican presidential candidates. While the conference itself is boring and of little consequence to those outside of Republican politics there is one redeeming feature, the Craigslist ads that appear for that area during the conference:

Ask anyone who lives in the D.C. area about Craigslist when CPAC is in town. They will tell you that the casual encounters ads are rife with attendees looking for some weekend love.


CPAC – I need a MAN. NOW! – m4m – 36 (CPAC convention)

So. I spend so much time in rural Indiana, CPAC is my only outlet for this sort of thing.

What I’m looking for, you, a masculine Ayn Rand, me, the 47%. And I want you to slap me around hard and give it to me good.

Or. . .you could bust in my room, catch me trying to enroll in a healthcare market place/state exchange, and the punish me for it. Punish me good.

We can meet at the bar first, if you want. I will be wearing khakis and a navy blue blazer. (possibly a joke but fun anyway)


@CPAC looking for my Allen West – m4m (CPAC)


What an incredible day today was! Christie and Jindal and some great sessions. I am ready to unwind and have some fun. I am looking to make one of my biggest fantasies come true.

Me: Police Uniform

You: Army Uniform

I want you to bring a couple other guys for this fantasy too!

We begin by you storming into my room with the other guys. The other guys will proceed to beat me (paddles, whips, floggers is up to them! or be creative 😉

After I have been beaten, I want you to threaten my life and tell me that I am going to die for what I did. I got a nerf gun for this fantasy and I want you to blindfold me and place a garbage can next to me.

Here is the most important part…

Shoot the nerf gun at the garbage can and NOT me. I want to feel like you are going to shoot me but at the last moment you do not.

It may seem like a crazy fantasy but we all have our kinks

Afterwards we can hj, bj and a2m

Photos of the type of man I am looking for and of the nerf gun

With how much time most conservatives spend worrying about men and women who enjoy sex with others of the same gender it’s pretty damned funny to see ads like this appear during CPAC. I know that these ads could be posted by some “evil liberals” as an attempt to make the “moral conservatives” look bad but it doesn’t matter; these ads are comedy gold whether they’re real or just part of somebody’s Operation Mindfuck.

If You’re Reading This Then You’re On the NSA’s Watch List

Good news readers, you’re officially on the National Security Agency’s (NSA) watch list! I know what you’re thinking, how can I be on the agency’s watch list when I haven’t done anything. It turns out that the NSA assumes anybody using encryption is a suspect and this very website employes encryption. Some time ago I switched this site over to using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and forced any attempt to access the insecure version of this site to the secure version. It’s bad news for government spies trying to snoop on your web traffic but good news for the NSA when it comes time to point out how many suspected terrorists it’s tracking:

AUSTIN, Texas — Glenn Greenwald, editor of the newly launched digital publication The Intercept, told attendees at SXSWi that the National Security Agency is wary of anyone who takes steps to protect their online activity from being hacked, such as using encryption tools.

“In [the NSA’s] mind, if you want to hide what you’re saying from them, it must mean that what you’re saying is a bad thing,” Greenwald said via a Skype video call. “They view the use of encryption… as evidence that you’re suspicious and can actually target you if you use it.”

Why stop at using encryption for just websites? Since you’re already on the watch list you might as well start encrypting your e-mail and other forms of communication. Those agents at the NSA get paid good money so we might as well make them work hard for it.

Surveillance is For Thee Not For Me

Dianne Feinstein isn’t just an unpleasant congress critter (but I repeat myself) when it comes to guns. The crone is also unpleasant when it comes to the police state. Since she’s part of the oligarchy she’s all for mass surveillance… unless her and her compatriots are the ones being spied on:

WASHINGTON — Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a staunch defender of government surveillance of ordinary citizens, took to the Senate floor Tuesday with the stunning accusation that the Central Intelligence Agency may have violated federal law to spy on Congress.

Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, railed against the CIA for compromising the legislative branch’s oversight role — a theme echoed by many of her Senate colleagues throughout the day. The outrage was palpable among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and some suggested CIA Director John Brennan should resign if the allegations are true. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has stuck up for intelligence agencies in the past, declared a potential war.

“This is Richard Nixon stuff,” Graham told reporters. “This is dangerous to the democracy. Heads should roll, people should go to jail if it’s true. If it is, the legislative branch should declare war on the CIA.”

Her hypocrisy, and the hypocrisy of all those who advocated for government surveillance, is palpable at this point. But I’m not surprised to see this kind of double standard from Feinstein. After all she is the same woman who supports any law that restricts the ability of individuals not employed by the government to own firearms while also enjoying the protection that accompanies her armed body guards. I stopped paying attention to what that dingbat says long ago and I think you should to.

Individualists Must Act as a Collective and Other Political Inconsistencies

Libertarianism, at least here in the United States, is a strongly individualist philosophy. The core of libertarianism is built on the idea that we are each individuals who interact with one another. But according to libertarianism each individual has their own dreams, hopes, and aspirations that they are uniquely qualified to fulfill. Collectivism is the opposite point of view that see individuals as mere components in the real idea of importance: society. Where libertarianism asks what is best for the individual collectivism asks what is best for society. Which one is correct? I side with individualism but that doesn’t mean you have to. However if you subscribe to an ideology I feel that it’s important to be consistent.

Consistency is a problem many libertarians have when it comes to politics. One of the heated debates raging in libertarian circles at the moment is whether or not Rand Paul is good enough to deserve the support of libertarianism. This debate has lead to some real ideological inconsistencies such as this one:

Libertarians need a similar model to help decide which candidates they can support and which they can’t. Without these distinctions, it’s all too easy to reject a candidate who is wrong about an opinion-level issue even though he’s awesome on all “dogma” issues. Or libertarians might support a candidate who got a 90% on simple purity tests—but the 10% he got wrong was a “dogma” vital to liberty.

Concentric circles of politics give us a more dynamic rubric to help libertarians make logical, consistent voting choices without letting media spin, or—I’m gonna say it—the emotional fact that a candidate isn’t his dad get in the way.

So for libertarians who haven’t ordered their political opinions in a concentric circles model, your reason for hating Rand Paul pretty much (logically) sucks.

Libertarians as a whole need a model to decide which candidates they can support and which they can’t? That sentence screams of collectivism, which is ideologically opposed to libertarianism (at least as defined in the United States). Instead of demanding all libertarians adopt the same model for deciding politicians anybody who claims to be a libertarian should defer to each individual.

Who can decide whether or not Rand Paul is a candidate worth supporting? You can. In fact only you can. Based on my beliefs I cannot support Rand Paul. That doesn’t mean you can’t. We are all individuals and must choose our own paths based on our own beliefs.

Political battles are won by getting enough people to agree with your opinion, which makes politics necessarily collectivist (which is probably why socialist ideologies fare better in politics than libertarian ideologies). As an individualist I have found myself unable to remain ideologically consistent while participating in politics. That is part of the reason I have chosen to route of agorism instead.

There are a lot of libertarians who claim that “we” need to stand behind Rand Paul even if we don’t agree with him in order to win politically. Any victory that requires me to go against my most valued beliefs is no victory. Demanding that I do so and arguing that any reasons I have for not doing so are stupid is also a claim that you know better than I do, which you don’t because you’re not me. Claiming that you know what is best for me is, in my opinion, ideologically inconsistent with libertarianism. Therefore I find demands by so-called libertarians that “we” support Rand Paul to be doubly inconsistent with libertarianism itself as it relies on political strategy and requires the person making that demand to believe he knows what is best for everybody else.