Friday, December 29, 2017

To get more exposure for your blogs, write less???

Tonight Ramsay Taplan, “Blogtyrant”, retweeted a controversial article from another source about how bloggers make a living at it, that is, “Why you need to stop writing content if you want to get traffic”, link here. The site is called “Amp my content” and the Twitter handle was called “ Inbound Ascension”.  Ramsay commented "This is real", probably especially for his very person-like cat.  

The underlying concept seems to be a “single short article” spread over multiple platforms that spread themselves.  There is this idea of “lead compounding.”

Still, this is an article of real world advice for people whose writing has to pay its own way and probably provide for other people, even if it has to be partisan.

The article gives one point of interesting advice: a site with a lot of weak content items will drag down the search engine ranking of the stronger items.  That could mean I should purge the weak or outdated or redundant items on the old "" site, finally. I need to keep all the reviews, major essays, and book texts.  Might happen in 1Q of 2018.  
I get annoyed at desperate attempts to get me to join other people’s campaigns, as if I didn’t have my own mind, but is that what “playing ball” really means? 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Congress says it want to look into Internet addiction (including Trump's); Facebook offers tool to determine if the Russians punked your account

Tonight ABC News reported that Congress is looking at whether some tech companies, especially game providers, are deliberately trying to “addict” consumers to tube time and associated social media, video story here

The story mentioned clinics which treat Internet addiction, which are even more common in South Korea and even China.

Facebook (under /help) offers a tool that indicates whether a user was befriended by a fake account (usually from Russia).  My check did not show one.  However, I recall a few bizarre foreign accounts which were added quickly in late 2016 and which all suddenly disappeared in the late summer of 2017.  I’ve also reported one threatening message, only one, a few months ago in bad English (maybe spam), and reported one account that was fake.  Another account constantly kept sending messages about wanting help getting into the country (a real no-no today with Trump) but then his account got deleted.  I did report one account as fake in June.  And finally, a fake profile of me was put up about eight months ago and caught by another friend, and Facebook removed it before I even knew about it.

The tool is not available on mobile devices. 

I talk about spam mainly on my Internet safety blog, but some of it is so laughable that I can’t believe people still fall for it.  

Monday, December 25, 2017

Kialo: a website that sets up a template for "opposing viewpoints" debate

I found a site, Kialo, that aims at promulgating “opposing viewpoints” about a variety of issues.  It sets up pros and cons for issues and groups the arguments into fitted subcategories.  I signed up for it through Facebook, and made the following sub-pro argument on “network neutrality”. 

"There is precedence for regulating large public "facilities" as "utilities": that is, power and phone companies. It matters whether there is competition. Is website access a "utility"? True, over time the Internet could be balkanized as websites convert to favored "apps" (as in mobile world now). ISP's must be expected to leave normal http(s) access to lawful websites alone."

Some of the debate topics are challenging or point toward some real confrontations in the culture wars/.  For example, should all confederate statues be removed from public spaces, or should gender-specific bathrooms be eliminated.


I had proposed developing such a scheme myself  (see Feb. 29, 2012).  I had particularly thought about it in the mid 2000’s, before Facebook and Twitter blossomed. 

Update: Dec 26

The "claim" was deleted.  Apparently it was not a clear pro or con statement (it is in the middle between the two) that could fit into their debate stream.  I'll have to figure out what they consider acceptable claims. 

I see that there is a panel on compulsory military and/or national service.  I'll look into this later. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Radical resistance instructions, or, you've been punked

I came across this set of “New Years Resolutions forRadical Resistance”.  The piece on Medium is written in such a manner as to make you wonder if you’re being punked (point 8), or if the speaker means it.


There is something to the idea that if better-off people don’t give back very visibly, others may have no reason not to express their indignation about the meaningless of what is happening on floors above them.  Particularly offputting is the idea of reverse targeting: that you have to pick out people who deserve your generosity based on race. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Baby boomers and hyperindividualism; paywalls and the lack of neutrality

Sean Illing has a damning interview article on Vox, “How the baby boomer – not millennials – screwed America”, link.

Illing interviews Bruce Gibney, author of “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America”. The boomers. If born after 1946 (I was born in 1943) never new personal sacrifice, so they took the world for granted.

But then should this become a condemnation of individualism?

The boomers were willing to let their own kids and grandkids get squeezed into increasing debt.
An essay by Jason Furman on Project Syndicate expresses a similar concern less directly.

With this site I ran into a rather aggressive paywall.  It sounds like the site wants to hook you into therm, and not visit other opinions sites.  If you think about it, that’s how the website world could work some day in a no-neutrality environment.  Only relatively few aggregate speakers compared today can be heard, so they have to charge and get you to join them.  It’s a kind of forced tribalism. 

Update: Dec 25

Here's another site, shared by Rick Sincere, with good articles, that now has a free-content max per month (paywall).  It's as if some of these companies want a world where only sites with paywalls are up so that everybody has to compete to become "your news provider".  That is how some people see things. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Twitter apparently will ban users with "affiliations" to violent groups, esp. neo-Nazis

There had been surprisingly little attention until maybe Friday about various reports that Twitter, starting Monday December 18 2017, will ban or at least suspend users with “affiliations” to groups that support violence against civilians, including foreign terrorists (ISIS) but especially domestic white supremacists or neo-Nazis.
The most obvious problem with the proposal would be pinning down what Twitter means by “affiliation”.  Some observers claim that Twitter will check the cookies of computers or phones that upload tweets to determined users who visit hate sites.  But this would require “hacking” and would be illegal except for sites actually hyperlinked from tweets.

What seems most reasonable is that Twitter wants to prohibit persons “working for” extremist groups from posting sanitized messages in order to recruit followers.
In the past, people have been banned from some kinds of employment because of associational membership, like in the Communist Party.  “Membership in” or support for foreign terrorist groups is a crime already, but the law seems less clear on domestic groups, even those connected to neo-Nazism.

The most objective piece seems to by Dave Morris Nov. 18, 2017 on Fortune.

Aja Romono is more whimsical on Vox about “banning the Nazis” here. 

Look at the attitude of “Wife with a Purpose” and her claims here
This piece in the Atlantic Aug. 31 “Distinguishingbetween Antifa, White Supremacists, and Black Lives Matter” seems pertinent. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Local magazine examines volunteerism for teens, and indirectly for adults and seniors like me

While at the Westover Market in Arlington VA late yesterday, on an icy day, I picked up a copy of Arlington Magazine having, on p. 46, “Teaching Kids to Care”, by Ellen Ryan, photos by Erick Gibson. The byline says, we want our kids to be altruistic, so it starts with us.  Ayn Rand does not appear to be welcome. 

The article, as the name suggests, deals with getting high schoolers and probably college undergraduates into volunteerism.  George Washington University, after all, has its annual day of service in September of every academic year.

Recently the Red Cross has been offering to train volunteers to go into low income homes and install smoke detectors.  The article describes kids going into homes and look for energy leaks.

I’ve done sporadic volunteer assignments for a couple hours at a time, and I don’t find it very effective.  Right now, it seems to take all my time to get my own projects done, sort of a continuation of the way it was when I was “working”. So I can’t practice what I preach (it’s easier, as Charles Murray has intimated, to preach what you practice).

I think it takes a minimum regular commitment to make volunteerism effective.  You need to get into something physical and hands-on and that intersect with people’s real lives and real needs, whether it is food, housing construction, clothing, job opportunities, etc.  You could learn some good skills.  That’s a little less relevant since I sold my own estate house.  But I can also see how this fits into “Survival Mom” type of thinking.

Some school systems have a community service requirement for graduation. It’s imaginable that as time goes on, more interests will pay attention to an individual’s “community engagement” in evaluations for employment or other business matters.  But this sort of thing gives non-profits some personal power over their own volunteers’ lives.  This fits especially into the ideology of the Left of compelling people to become horizontally as well as vertically connected and may sound counter to libertarian individualism.  (Charles Murray would disagree – consider “Coming Apart”).

Let’s ponder also what the best way to get recovery work done after a natural disaster.  Is it by having companies mass-build manufactured housing?  Companies are good at it.  Survival Mom says that local neighbors helping with cleanup was very critical around her own home area north of Houston after Harvey.

There’s even more at stake here, with the issue of national resilience.  With our tech dependency, we could face a vulnerability to enemies (like EMP) that is simply unprecedented.  Think about that the next time Trump (or Milo, or even I) publicly shames fat little rocket man. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Blogtyrant suggests website owners get ratings for carbon neutrality

Ramsay Taplan has a new piece, “How to Make your Website Carbon Neutral”  He refers to the CO2NeutralWebsite which will give every website (I guess that means independently hosted Wordpress blog) a grade on its carbon imprint and have the website audited by an accounting firm.
It is interesting to note that cloud processing is said to consume more energy that paper;  but cloud processing also disperses backup data, which may be a good antidote to threats to Internet architecture (like rogue EMP). 

Websites leave a footprint based on load time and time of visit. 


But what strikes me is that personal lifestyles have a lot to do with carbon imprint.  It is true, that functioning well in a social unit (family) is more efficient for the planet than doing things alone, although the way my own life has gone I could not live up to that. I drive places alone (and rent cars when I fly) a lot.  Electric-only cars don't have enough range yet.  Does the travel that supports my website content count in its carbon rating? 

Here's a mischievious thought about today's 3-2 "loss" in the FCC on net neutrality -- not carbon neutrality.  I've already speculated that in the future telecom companies could limit website access by safety ratings or by requiring https everywhere.  Now I wonder about a carbon rating with this concept. 

Friday, December 08, 2017

Video conference: "Fake News and Social Media: the New Propaganda"

Here’s a video of a panel on “Fake News and Social Media: The New Propaganda” at DraginCon in Atlanta on Nov. 19, 2017.

Speakers were Amie Spetanovich, Blair B. Chintella (moderator), Gennie Gebhart, William C. Nevin, and K’Tech.

Anie adds that Google got rid of the “objective search results icon” recently.

There was also discussion on whether “truth” exists in consumers’ minds.
Vox has an interview by Sean Illing of author David Patrikarokas (“War in 140 Characters”)  that examines whether individual bloggers really change the world and challenge governments, as illustrated by the work of Eliot Higgins, a gamer who exposed Russia’s complicity with the Malaysia Flight 17 crash.  

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

"Blogtyrant" 's niche blogging advocacy, with a warning about copyrighted photos

“Blogtyrant” (Ramsay Taplin), while recently on his own vacation in native Australia and noting the importance of trees in fighting climate change, has put out a couple more important articles on blogging.

The first of these is “What to do when your child says they want to be a blogger”.  (Note the “they” – plural – yet that is becoming accepted English as a gender neutral singular pronoun;  I prefer “she” if I want to sound inclusive enough, without really implying binary-ness).  My own mother would not have approved in her old age when I moved back in, but I don’t think she really understood.

More critical is “11 Beginner Mistakes that Cripple Blogs intheir First Year”.  I can’t adhere to 1 and 2 very well, which I think really apply to niche blogging  -- and what matters there is that the underlying small business is successful (and the blog serves the business).  I don’t run email lists, and I guess that means I’m not the “GO TO” (no COBOL please) person for anyone’s practical needs.  There are reasons why that may change soon if I can combine others to cover some critical topics (like infrastructure security from foreign threats).  But #9 (not the same as the DC bar of that name) is about the risk of lawsuit for copyright infringement especially for photo and video infringements.


There’s a personal story of a photo copyright infringement here from Ron Loren worth citing. In general, realize that some photo collections online are copyrighted and the photos may not be used free.  Some publications actually sell rights to use photos as part of their income (DC’s gay paper Metro Times does that) so they depend on being paid for their business model.  It is possible that embedded photos could cause a problem, but less likely than one on your own server. Photos of copyrighted material might lead to problems.  I doubt that photos of ads like in Metro stations would (you’re promoting them for free).  A few years ago bloggers were getting sued by a “troll” named Righthaven for using articles and images from plaintiff’s small newspapers. The fact that a service provider does a DMCA Safe Harbor takedown does not protect the blogger from a later lawsuit or demand for payment. 

Here's another piece, from a UK site called Connotations, on how to write an effective blog posting that gets the desired attention.  Sounds like an English theme. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

Does blogging about white supremacists for journalistic motives make the neo-Nazis look "credible"? Vox weighs in

Karen Turner has a interesting discussion with Tom Rosenstiel on Vox, “How can journalists responsibly cover neo-Nazis: a media scholargives his advice.” 

There is a lot of flak on the left that even covering them gives them credibility as a movement, that could some day become very threatening to specific minorities if politicians had to take them seriously.

A major big city newspaper with national circulation has to consider that different parts of the country will react variably to the same coverage.

There’s a question when amateur bloggers cover it, too.  If a blogger happened to film the Charlottesville rally “for documentation” some people see this as promotion. Correspondingly, it seems that a few journalists might be in trouble now for filming the anti-Trump rally and vandalism on Inauguration Day.

Update: Dec. 3

Yesterday I went on a day trip to investigate the KKK Flyers incident in Rappahannock County (and Warren) VA,  But some would say that my doing so, as an amateur, only encourages more incidents like this because a perpetrator knows someone like me will pay and give attention to it.  When am I responsible for what other people feel motivated to do? 

Later Dec. 3

I saw a ThinkProgress plea (after an article about Orin Hatch and CHIP, children's health, and people "helping themselves") that ad networks were blocking them because they "produce 'controversial political content'" and "cover white nationalism and other controversial topics".  Well, so do I, on my own. I'm "fortunate" enough not to depend on ads or members, but in a way that could be a bad thing. What if every website had to pay its own way to stay up (to keep well-off people from steering the debate)?  

Update: Dec. 4

Now there is a flyer incident on the SMU campus in Dallas (University Park) (CNN story). 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cell phone metadata may have very little 4th Amendment protection

I’m not sure I agree with all those crying wolf on. Carpenter v. US, where the FBI secured cell phone metadata about the suspects without a warrant.  The Detroit News has a typical story here

Here is the transcript of oral arguments on Nov. 29. 

I’d wonder about analogous cases, such as records where my Metro Smart Card had been used. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Snapchat is social, not media

Evan Spiegel has a piece on Axios, “How Snapchat Is Separating Social from Media”. 

I got his tweet, and retweeted with the comment that I don’t use products that don’t store what I said.  (I can just use the phone or be in person, or maybe Skype).  I have to admit that as I go down my own agenda for my books, screenplays, music I could encounter people who want me to be able to use it to communicate.  I’ll reconsider. (It’s also a little dangerous not to have an account – someone could impersonate you – this almost happened with Instagram).

Spiegel has a good point in that algorithms ought to focus more on what “you” do rather than what “your friends” do.   Maybe that played into the susceptibility of Americans to the Russian fake news attack.

The other thing is that the “ethics” of wanting to create media may lie below relationship building, which puts your skin in the game.  But, “I hate speed-dating”. 

Here is "Business Insider's" account of Speigel's announcement. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Op-ed wants Facebook and other social media to prohibit images of people without permission; also, prior restraint of press

An op-ed on CNN by Amy Adele Hasinoff seems to want Facebook to adopt a policy that before any image of anyone can be posted, the subject must give permission.  The article is “The Policy that the uS Porn Industry Has but that Facebook Needs”. 

Theoretically, all images in any photo would have to be tagged before they could be posted on Facebook (or possibly any online place with user generated content).  This would sound totally impractical: in a public place, you don’t know everyone.  And even in a disco you probably don’t (although some bars prohibit photography). Or does she mean only nude images?

Generally photography of people in totally public places is legal in the US now, for example here.  
In Australia, Facebook is experimenting with a program of automatic comparison with a digital image library (a technique already used to identify child pornography known to the NCMEC).

CNN has an important story today on prior restraint of the press, with the background from Near v. Minnesota (1931) leading to the New York Times and the Pentagon Papers (1971), by Sonja West, here. In the Minnesota case, the muckraking publisher (whose stories were actually true) was actually enjoined from publishing anything until the Supreme Court, with some fortuitous luck, rescued it. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Under Trump, wealth seems to affect access to information and susceptibility to propaganda

I’ve written a lot recently about network neutrality on other blogs, and the concern that both telecom companies and large content companies like Facebook and Google will control inordinately what their customers see, for political and “fiduciary” purposes. 

I make it my own practice to look at news sources myself.  Even though I use Facebook and Twitter (Instagram not so much) I make the effort to go to news sites myself, especially all the major ones (Washington Post, New York Times, Wal Street Journal, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, as well as conservative (OAN. Fox, Intellectual Takeout, Reason, and yes, some Breitbart and some Milo) and “leftist” (Truthout), and some of the LGBT sites (Blade), and tech sites (Wired, CNET).

The major newspapers do have paywalls.  Right now I subscribe to three of them.

I also use what I think is the best source for my own articles.  These often include newspaper sites that have paywalls.  Facebook is reportedly working on a way to have a universal subscription to anything that previews but has a paywall.  But the point that the “Left” makes, especially in the network neutrality debate, is well taken:  less well-off people don’t have the money for paid subscriptions or fast lane service, and will be more vulnerable to believe “propaganda” that the companies encourage them to see.  While fake news should recede as a problem, vulnerability of poorer people to control of what they know and understand could increase in this Trump-like world.
I am concerned about the future of access to individual sites (not so much free-hosted blogs like this one but to hosted sites of small businesses and writers) because the “proles” may have less reason to know that they’re there.

The battle against elitism has only brought it back.

In the meantime, this Thanksgiving day, notice YouTube’s new rules for content that carries ads (story in the Verge) 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

When is it "OK" to write your own memoir? What if it is really a "manifesto"?

Recently I’ve seen a few articles on why you should write your memoir, even if it isn’t going to sell.
This particular article explains the difference between autobiography and memoir. 

The memoir is more about key life periods and feelings about it.  Maybe a distinction without a difference.

Is this an exercise in personal self-indulgence, wanting to be heard if you are to be of service?

That sounds like we need a distinction between a memoir and a "manifesto", which has become a bad word. (Elliot Roger, Kaczynski).  The former's ("My Twisted Life"), particularly, seems to say mixed race kept him from having his own sexual capital, so he went off the deep end.   

I have to say that three DADT books are all part memoir, especially 1 and 3.  And many amateurish novels turn out to be overly autobiographical, although I’m gradually trying to wean myself of that with my own manuscripts. But readers kindly called my DADT-1 book "The Manifesto". 

By the way, I can’t believe he bald tone of the email I just got, “because you have been identified as a supporter of President Trump…”  Sounds like a hit list. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Law journal posts big article on threats to Section 230 while the Senate Commerce Committee approves SESTA.

Cindy Cohn and Jamie Williams wrote a valuable article for “” about the history of Section 230 over 20 years.Cindy Cohn and Jamie Williams wrote a valuable article for “” about the history of Section 230 over 20 years.  EFF has also shared the article on its own site. 

The article goes back to the 90s with the Zeran case (regarding possible defamation related to the Oklahoma City bombing) where someone tried to force AOL to take down harmful speech.  Soon it was apparent that the law needed to recognize a difference between “distribution” v. “publication” of speech, even after 230 had been past.

Another wave of attacks came with regard to responsibility for ads for housing that discriminated illegally.  We’ve seen something similar recently with Airbnb.

The article goes on to speculate about the burden on platforms.  Some of them, like Google, Facebook and Twitter, have considerable resources in dealing with some “dangerous” stuff (terrorism, for instance). I’m more concerned about hosting companies (Bluehost, for example) that are normally mucy more distant from their users.

Note also Eliot Harmon’s report on EFF that SESTA was just approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, with a lot of discussion of automated filters (like we saw with COPA).  

(See my COPA blog for related article today.) 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Sci-Hub case is back, as a court ruling could implicate associated third parties for "infringement"

With respect to open-access, I see I discussed the Sci-Hub (Alexandra Elbakyan) before, on Feb. 22, 2016, in the good old days.
A federal court in Virginia issued an injunction for ACS, a science publisher, a ruling unnameunnthat indirectly holds unnamed associated parties like domain name registrars in violation, more or less trying to circumvent the concept of DMCA Safe Harbor (not sure if it really applies to trademarks or wordmarks). It also got to search engines and potentially web hosting companies.

This sort of protection in the copyright world from downstream liability is comparable logically to Section 230 protection.
Electronic Frontier Foundation has a story on the matter today by Mitch Stolz.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Roy Moore: gratuitous, politically motivated allegations? could allegations of 4 decades ago trip anyone?

Just look up “Roy Moore” on the Washington Post website.  The Post is understandably obsessed with him

 Try this story out, about fundamentalist Christian men. 

New York (Margaret Hartman) has as good account as any on Moore’s threat to sue the Post. 

As a public figure, Moore would have to show “malice” and “reckless disregard of the truth”. Pretty hard for a politician.   Trump wanted to change this to the English rule (“open up the libel laws..”)

There are stories that the girls did not come forward after 40 years. The Post learned of some stories and went out and got the stories.

Are bloggers like me spreading the panic for no gain other than “because we can”?  You wonder if gratuitousness becomes a legal question itself. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Inequality, unfairness, elitism, and "real life"

Here’s a couple pieces for thought, maybe for more expansion later.

One is by Brian Lufkin on BBC News.  “There’s a problem with the way we define inequality”. 
  That is to say, that most of us accept the inevitability of some kind of inequality if there is going to be ego that can drive progress, but in time abuse of unearned “privilege” and particularly “unfairness” will cause life to lose a lot of meaning to some people, and tend to drive the less competitive young adults toward autocratic belief systems (religious or not) and causes they can belong to – or else to nihilism itself.   Preoccupation with "unfairness" has its own downside implication, that people are to be ranked on some kind of scale.  Authoritarians love that.  
Then on Vox, Ezra Klein writes, “For elites, politicsis driven by ideology; for voters it is not”.   He adds the byline, “committed conservatives and liberals don’t realize how weird they are.” Real people tend to be driven by social and trial alliances, not to truth they can really find out on their own. 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Mozilla (and then Writers Guild West) warns us about gatekeepers

These days when you sign on to Mozilla you get a warning about gatekeepers.  You see this text:

“Big corporations want to restrict entry. Fake news and filter bubbles are making it harder for us to find our way. Online bullies are silencing inspired voices. And our desire to explore is hampered by threats to our safety and privacy. It’s time to join Mozilla and do our part as digital citizens. Donate today to support programs that keep the internet healthy, free and open for us all.”

In mid-November, Mozilla added "Will the future of the Internet be a set of walled gardens with restricted entry? Or an open, productive commons where creativity and innovation flourish."  I thought about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon after the Jews were put into exile. 
Yup, as I noted in several recent posts and on a short film from Vox today on the Movies blog, ungated speech seems to be coming under pressure.

Here’s a story about gatekeeping, from Variety (by Dave McNary).  The Writers Guild of America West has told members (often Hollywood move and television screenwriters) that they may not work on artificial virtual reality projects not already covered by union contacts.

I have one screenplay script (“Baltimore Is Missing”, 2002) filed with WGA West.  I hope that doesn’t hem me in later somehow. 

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Billionaire Ricketts insists his local newspapers pay their own way; when they tried to unionize, they got shut down

Billionaire Joe Ricketts, who owns a newspaper company specializing in local news, shut down his papers (DNAInfo, Gothamist) abruptly a few days after his 100+  employees had voted to unionize. 
Andy Leland and John Leland have a detailed account in the New York Times here. The Times article embeds a copy of what visitors see when trying to visit one of the sites.   Callum Borcher of the Washington Post weighs in here
Ricketts maintains that his venture had to pay its own way and be profitable.  This is unlike the case with me (I have some means but orders of magnitude less than him), or even companies like The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper said to be published for its speech value and not money.

But it’s interesting also that the paper had specialized in local news.  I can recall a gay paper that tried to start in Minneapolis shortly after my own layoff from my career that insisted it would remain local. I don’t recall how it did.
Joe Ricketts has an interesting perspective on his refusal to let his own businesses unionize.  I guess he has the right to shut them down, it they’re really his.  

Friday, November 03, 2017

Sexual harassment complainants face risk of "frivolous" litigation

The increase in sexual harassment claims has resulted in countersuits now, at least one. Brett Ratner has sued Melanie Kohler over a Facebook post accusing him, link to Variety story here
The Los Angeles Times has a story by contact reporters Amy Kaufman and Richard Winton 


The threat of litigation could make it hard for people to pursue sexual harassment charges, as they would need financial resources to defend themselves.  Truth is an absolute defense to libel in the US, but you have to pay for the defense (usually) unless you take the risk of being your own attorney. 

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Personal domains are more likely to be blocked than "free service" blogging subdomains

Although pundits on blogging recommend getting your own domains to call up blogs rather than depending on free-service subdomains of Blogger and Twitter, it seems that many workplaces block these kinds of domains but may allow Blogger and Wordpress themselves.

Today, at Koons Ford, in a guest computer, I found my three Blogger domains (including this one) blocked.  The Wordpress sites said I needed to login – but you don’t, just to see them.

But my one https domain kept getting http 403 Forbidden in IE or Edge, and “this site can’t be reached” in Chrome. 

Also my legacy doaskdotell site (in IE)  kept saying the security certificate was revoked when it never had one.
In any case, “free service” blogs may be more easily reached on public computers than regular amateur sites that were paid for. This goes against conventional wisdom. 

Update:  Nov. 3

I tried all these pages at a UPS store this morning and they all worked. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Open access bill is before Congress again (FASTR)

Electronic Frontier Foundation has urged the public to support FASTR, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act, advocated by Rand Paul (R-Ky), in an article Oct. 27 by Elliot Harmon, link  

The bills at issue are S 1701 and HR 3427.  There are provisions to allow open access by the public to documents, typically after six months (NIH normally requires a year).

Would this be the “Jack Andraka Act”? 

I have an important Wordpress posting today on Goldman v. Breitbart and a new threat to embeds, here

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The role of web designers servings small business; shared hosting issues

Ramsay Taplan (Blogtyrant) discusses the changing role of web designers in a detailed post, shared on social media, here. (I note that Blogtyrant has gone to https everywhere). 

Since Wordpress particularly has made “do it yourself” easier, the role of web designers, especially for small businesses, may have become more challenged.  Remember when you needed help with things like Dreamweaver?

But web designers may be needed for advanced security consultation, and for advanced plugins and themes.

I think the jury is out on SEO optimization, because rules keep changing.  I can remember the days of coding my own metatags, until I found them not needed.  I do think adding taglines to wordpress (as opposed to categories) does help sites be found, especially with respect to proper nouns and important concept names.

People using shared hosing can find once in a while that the webhost has created an error 503, service not available.  This can happen because of a spike in the application pool managed by IIS, and it may sometimes be due to one customer.  Here’s the best link I could find on the problem.  It would sound plausible that this could happen with a DDOS attack on one customer on the server, so this could be a sensitive issue. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

NY Times offers a quiz on Facebook's hate speech standards

The New York Times offers a 6-question quiz on what Facebook considers hate speech, in an article Oct. 13 by Audrey Carlsen and Fahima Haque, link

The guidelines prohibit slurs against protected classes, which to include classes defined by sexual orientation and gender identity. They do not include speech against subclasses, like poor people within a racial group.

That leads to odd results in what the public views as hate speech.   Many people don’t consider the statement “white men are a-holes” hate speech, but Facebook does.  But limit it to “cis-male whites are …” then it is not.

Personally, I don’t pay much attention to a person’s membership in a protected class in my own statements about policy.  Even personally, I may be attracted to one person and not another for superficial reasons, but the class membership is coincidental (even if probabilistic), not existential, following James Damore’s ideas. 

And I don’t favor making policy by categorizing people.  (Imagine if the draft had demanded proportional service by race.)  Singapore does just that in who lives in various luxury buildings, demanding ethnic balance.

Self-publishing companies do "content evaluation" of submissions for "hate speech". 

And, "by the way", Michael Smerconish on CNN says he is locked out of his Facebook page and that the Russians hacked it.