Modernizing the Shire Society Forum for 2017

Shire Society Forum

Join other Shire Society members inside and outside the Shire on the Forums.

Before the behemoth that is Facebook, there were forums. On these forums, people in communities were able to communicate about various things, and with the right amount of moderation, it worked well. Then Facebook came along and sucked up all the people and gave them terrible forums called “groups” where the only moderation tool is to delete discussion threads.

With forums, moderators can move threads between the forum’s subforums, meaning off-topic posts could be moved to more appropriate places in the overall forum. This cannot be done on facebook. There, one group is not connected with another group. An off-topic post will either be allowed to clutter the group, or it will be destroyed. There is no move option. That’s only one reason why Facebook groups suck, but it’s a major one.

Early on, there were two main forums in the NH liberty movement, the NH Underground and the Free State Project forums. Eventually, we launched the Free Keene Forum which eventually became the Shire Society Forum a couple of years after the signing of the Shire Society Declaration in 2010.

All three forums still exist, but have nowhere near the popularity they once had. Many new people to the movement don’t even know they exist.

Shire Society Bumper Sticker

Have you signed the Shire Society Declaration yet?

In order to stay as relevant as possible and compete as much as possible with the evil Facebook, last year the Shire Society Forum was upgraded to a more “modern” forum software, “Vanilla Forum”. It was better than the old software, “SMF”, in some ways, but lacking in others. Now, the Shire Society Forum is modernizing further for 2017 with the switch to the “Discourse” forum software.

So far my experience with Discourse has been very good. It’s snappy – posts appear instantly without having to reload an entire webpage. It’s got a modern feel and allows logins via a bunch of major accounts, including Google, Yahoo, GitHub, Facebook, and Twitter, and sharing of posts via Facebook and Twitter.

The Shire Society Forum has, despite its decline in popularity, still attracted new users over the years. Each month, there are new potential movers to the Shire who arrive and post an introduction, which is a requirement in order to enter the forum. Would you be willing to come welcome them? The forum has subforums for all the regions and major cities in New Hampshire and we’d welcome your input.

Please give the new Shire Society Forum a try. I hope you like it. Death to Facebook!

Final Robin Hood NH Supreme Court Hearing Set For November 9th

Robin Hood Chalk Art

Robin Hood Chalk Art in Downtown Keene

Keene’s Robin Hooders are heading back to the NH Supreme Court on November 9th at 9:30am for what should be the final round in a three-plus-year run through the courts.  Robin Hooders are the activists who have made international headlines for saving thousands of innocent motorists from parking tickets in the small city of Keene.

The city’s persecution of the peaceful activists has failed at nearly every legal turn. In its first visit to the NH Supreme Court, only one aspect of the city’s case was sent back to the superior court for review. The city gang then lost again at the superior court level and are now appealing that most recent decision to the Supreme Court.  (You can read both sides’ legal filings here.)

The NH Supreme court has already decided the allegations of “tortious interference”, “civil conspiracy”, “negligence”, and the demand for financial compensation were unfounded and the activities engaged in by the Robin Hooders are protected by the first amendment.

The appeal is for the NH Supreme court to look ONLY at the lower court’s ruling regarding the request for the “buffer zone” injunction.  The court will hear oral arguments from heroic free speech attorney Jon Meyer and the city’s expensive tax-paid private attorneys on 11/9 at 9;30am.  (The city’s attorneys are claiming they’re taking this case pro-bono, but that’s only after they charged the city likely over $100,000 for the first three court hearings.)

Here’s a Facebook event for the hearing – hope to see you there!

Full Video of NH State House Commission to Study Cryptocurrency – First Meeting

State House Commission to Study Cryptocurrency

All speakers were pro-liberty and against regulation.

A half-dozen liberty activists from Keene carpooled up to the Legislative Office Building in Concord yesterday for the first publicly-attended meeting of the New Hampshire state house “Commission to Study Cryptocurrency”.

The audience was filled with mostly liberty-friendly folks. There were a few lobbyists present, but the only one who spoke was Darryl W Perry of the new Liberty Lobby LLC. The overall message from the speakers was against any regulations whatsoever, and the chairman of the committee, Representative John Hunt of Rindge, spoke favorably of the free market and seemed against any regulations. There was only one real proponent of regulation, Maryam Torben-Desfosses. She was representing the NH Banking Department and it’s her job to regulate, so it’s no surprise she was there speaking in favor.

The goal of the commission is to either recommend for or against regulation of cryptocurrency. After hearing from several speakers, the commission scheduled its next meeting for October 6th at 10am, room 302 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

David Brooks of Granite Geek has a good preview writeup of the meeting on his site with a full article coming. Here’s the full video:

UBER Grandma Trial Date Moved Again, Facing $7,500 in Fines for Driving

UBER Grandma Driver Stephanie Franz

Civilly Disobedient UBER Driver Stephanie Franz, courtesy CBS Boston

It’s been almost a year since Stephanie Franz aka “UBER Grandma” was the first UBER driver cited for driving people safely to their destination in Portsmouth, NH. The city has been targeting brave UBER drivers with tickets for operating without government permission slips. In the Summer of 2015 the city gang declared UBER drivers who did not jump through the city’s hoops in addition to UBER’s background check and sign up process, would be targeted for ticketing.

The heroic grandmother has been ticketed multiple times in the last year and has racked up at least $7,500 in fines.  She’s also been targeted by local taxi drivers for harassment and vandalism of her car.

UBER has provided Stephanie with an attorney and she’s ready to face down the city gang in court. However, there have been multiple reschedulings of the date, so hopefully this is the final one: Please join UBER Grandma at Portsmouth District Court at 8am on December 13th (here’s a facebook event) and support her courageous stand for your freedom to drive people places without having to ask government permission!

Beer Pong Event Planned for Keene’s Railroad Square This Saturday!

Beer Pong Girls

Maybe it should be strip beer pong instead? Photo courtesy theCHIVE.

This Saturday, 9/17 at noon, activists will gather in Keene’s Railroad Square and play beer pong in protest of the open container ordinance. The event will be in the spirit of 2010’s Drinking Game, which resulted in my arrest in the city council chambers for “disorderly conduct”, but the charge later dropped. Inspired by the past actions, a new batch of movers to Keene will be taking up the banner of protesting the ridiculous ban on open containers of alcohol.

There are many towns and cities where open containers are allowed, including some right here in New Hampshire. Nearby Westmoreland, for instance, does not have an open container ordinance. The oppressive ordinance is just an excuse to target college students and poor people, give them tickets, and reap thousands of dollars into the system from the victims. It doesn’t stop drunk people from being on the streets, nor does it discourage them from drinking. The ordinance merely takes advantage of drunk people. It’s shameful and needs to be abolished.

I spoke with the beer pong event organizer, Bob Call, today about his motivations. He said, “I think the law is unjust and it’s ridiculous that you can sit outside at local businesses in Keene and consume alcoholic beverages legally, but not if you consume your own alcoholic beverage.”

Open Container Officer

Labeled containers are likely probable cause for a search. Don’t carry them around.

I’m no attorney, and this is not legal advice, but if you are ever targeted by police for a suspected open container of alcohol, DON’T CONSENT TO A SEARCH! This is the number-one mistake made by the police’s victims. Law enforcement officers are trained to intimidate. If you are walking with a drink in a bottle or cup that is not clearly an alcohol container, the officer will likely approach and say something like, “I have to ask you to hand that over.” At that point, most people will hand it over, consenting to a search of their container.

Take note of the careful wording of the officer’s statement. “Have to”, plus it being spoken in an authoritative manner makes is sound a lot like an order. However, it’s not. He says “ask”. If you’re ever uncertain about what an officer is saying, you have a right to ask, “Is that a request?” or whatever other questions you want. If you are clearly carrying am actual beer bottle, that’s likely enough probable cause for a search, and they won’t have to ask. On the other hand, if there is no clear way they could know by looking that it’s likely a container of alcohol, they have to get your consent to search. Don’t do consent. Politely decline their invitation, ask if you are free to go, and walk away.

See you Saturday 9/17 at noon at Railroad Square in downtown Keene for the beer pong event!

New Hampshire’s Amazing, Unmatched Bitcoin Community

Manchester, NH Bitcoin Meetup

Manchester, NH Bitcoin Meetup

It’s not a coincidence that New Hampshire has arguably the highest concentration of bitcoin and crypto-friendly people anywhere. For more than a decade there have been active migrations of libertarian, voluntarist, and liberty anarchists moving to New Hampshire. Many of these movers are activists who are into alternative currencies and the bitcoin community here has exploded as a result.

The oldest migration of libertarians to New Hampshire is the Free State Project, which as of September 2016 boasts nearly 2,000 participants already in New Hampshire, with 18,000 more pledged to move by the year 2021. There’s also the more decentralized Shire Society which has been encouraging liberty-loving people to declare their personal independence and move to “The Shire” since 2010.

These early movers are not only users of bitcoin, but are also some of the key developers and creators of the bitcoin world. Liberty migrants to New Hampshire created the iconic, most-installed-in-the-world Lamassu bitcoin vending machine in Manchester. Some are developing the evolutionary “Open Bazaar” and “LBRY” software. Decentralized ride-sharing app “Arcade City” has also sprung up just this year, and within a week of it being announced, signed up 1000 drivers worldwide. Arcade City founder and liberty migrant Christopher David said, “With its libertarian leanings and an influx of free staters, New Hampshire is perfectly positioned to become a major hub for bitcoin and blockchain startups. That’s a big reason why I moved here.”

Cheshire Fair 2015

Bitcoin Outreach Booth at the Cheshire Fair

Here are some more fun facts about the burgeoning bitcoin scene in the Shire: Manchester is home to the world’s longest-running weekly bitcoin meetup, plus regular meetups are being held in Keene and the Seacoast. According to Overstock.com, the highest concentration of their bitcoin orders comes from New Hampshire. Plus, you can actually use bitcoin in real life here, at mom-n-pop businesses like “Corner News”, “Local Burger”, and multiple food trucks in Keene, plus “Pizza 911”, “Dancing Lion Chocolate”, and more in Manchester. It turns out that Keene, the Southwestern NH city of 23,000 people, even outdoes San Francisco in amount of bitcoin-accepting business per capita! Take a look at CoinMap.org to see the dozens of New Hampshire businesses that are taking crypto!

New Hampshire also boasts New England’s only public Bitcoin Vending Machines (BVM), connecting people with bitcoin from as far away as New York and Boston. (more…)

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