First of all, our apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced or annoyed by any issues with our site recently, especially those who received a rapid-fire blast of several dozen tweets yesterday. We’ve been in the process of moving the site to a new webhost (DreamHost) over the past couple of days. That process is now complete. We have been able to fix some longstanding problems with the site as well as provide you with new features.
The problems with our old WordPress install were caused by how our previous host had set things up after a server move. The blast of tweets was caused by activating our WordTwit plugin on the WordPress install with our new host. A long queue of Twitter announcements for blogposts had built up in the plugin on the old host. For some reason the tweets were being blocked from release to Twitter. When we transferred everything over and activated the plugin, suddenly the block was gone and all those tweets were released at once.
Whatever the problem was with our old host, our WordTwit plugin is working again and we’ll once more be able to push out Twitter announcements of new blogposts automatically when they’re published.
There were a few other issues on the backend of the site that have been fixed, which will make the site easier to maintain.
We’ve dropped the Libertarian FAQ, since it didn’t garner enough interest from our readers and, it turns out, ourselves.
One new feature is that we’ve dropped the “www.” prefix on the url. Minor perhaps, but it’s a nice convenience. Hopefully, the site will be a little faster now as well.
Here’s the biggie:
With our old host we were unable to get our newest feature installed and up and running. We’re now able to offer you community forums where you can discuss myriad subjects from libertarianism and Austrian economics to politics and history and more. The forums are powered by the Simple:Press plugin. It’s similar to a phpBB system, but it’s built right into WordPress, so you only need one user account for the forums and the rest of the site. Come help us get the conversation started!
And please, let us know if you spot anything that might be broken.
I have much to say about Brin’s attacks on “dogmatic libertarians,” by which he means followers of Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand who worship property too much, but watch the video first and then continue on below for my commentary.1
Laissez Faire Books (LFB) is a seminal libertarian institution that dates back to 1972, six years before I was born. In its heyday, it played a central role in the libertarian movement as the largest libertarian bookseller, a publisher of libertarian books, and an old-school social network, hosting social gatherings and other events. This was before my time.
I’d never bought a book from LFB until yesterday (the 19th). By the time I became a libertarian in my undergraduate years at Louisiana State University, after reading the work of Ayn Rand (starting with The Fountainhead) at the urging of a friend, I was able to learn about libertarianism and Austrian economics from a large and growing sea of resources online. I bought books from Amazon and the Ludwig von Mises Institute (LvMI), read online articles and blogs, and took advantage of the growing library of digitized books and other media put online and hosted by the LvMI.
Laizzez Faire Books was fading into irrelevancy and, I think, in danger of being shuttered for good as it was passed from new owner to new owner. Enter Agora Financial, the latest owner of LFB, and hopefully the organization that will oversee its resuscitation and return to relevancy. With Jeffrey Tucker at the helm as executive editor, the prospects for profitability, innovation, and spreading the message of liberty are exciting indeed.
Many, if not most, of you know Jeffrey Tucker as the editorial vice president who led the LvMI into the digital age, building it into the open-source juggernaut with a vast online and free library of liberty and a thriving community that it is today. We were sad to see him leave that beloved institution, but eager to see what he would do in charge of a for-profit publisher and bookstore. Now we’ve been given the first taste.
You may have heard that the Department of Justice decided to launch antitrust litigation against Apple and some major publishers for alleged price fixing and that most of them decided on the same day to settle. The alleged sin was that Apple and the publishers decided to go with the agency pricing model in which the publishers get to set the prices for their books in the iBooks Store, while Apple takes, I believe, a 30% cut.
And if Steve Jobs really thought Amazon screwed up, he was clueless as well. Amazon is WINNING.
Jobs pushed the agency model on the publishers? I don’t think so. They preferred that model but couldn’t get Amazon to go along with it without Apple’s help. It’s the screw-your-customers model and it wouldn’t have been good for the publishers over the long haul. They want high ebook prices so that they can hang onto their outdated IP-dependent business model of selling paperbacks and hardcovers in big box brick & mortar stores for as long as possible.
Via Radley Balko comes the news story of a father of three who, so he claims, attempted to be a good samaritan and offer two teenage girls caught out walking in a snowstorm without protection a lift home only to be charged with disorderly conduct for his trouble. The girls, you see, were “alarmed and disturbed” by the offer. They waved him off and, like good citizens, did as they were taught in public school — they wrote down his license plate number and reported him to the “authorities.”
Now, we don’t know what really happened. It’s a he-said/she-said situation in which no one was harmed, which makes charging the alleged good samaritan with a crime all the more ridiculous. Maybe the guy really did have bad intentions in this case, though I doubt it; but it hardly matters for our general point because more clearcut cases can surely be found to illustrate how our culture and the US legal system discourage and punish good samaritans.
This is a likely tragic example of the state’s corrosive effects on society as it breaks down social bonds, foments fear and distrust of strangers and even friends and family, encourages snitching and dependence on its protection and support, and punishes good samaritans. In America, the state can let no private good deed go unpunished.
Those who favor laws requiring people to be good samaritans should bear incidents like this in mind. You’re setting people up to be criminals no matter what they do or don’t do, and you’re employing the very institution responsible for creating the conditions that led you to perceive a need for such laws in the first place.