Fuzzy little things that I find interesting.

Political musings from someone who thinks the S-D curve is more important to politics than politicians.

Call me silly but I think this is kinda cool.

Nostalgia BSET300AQ Retro 3-in-1 Family Size Breakfast Station – Aqua Blue


Irony. Or Socialism in a nutshell, as illustrated by socialists.

If Socialists Understand the Free-Rider Problem, Then Why Are They Socialists?

There was a funny sideshow to the recent Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision. That decision essentially made it impossible for local or state governments to require that all employees pay support to certain public employee unions, even if they are not a member of that union and/or don’t support that union’s activities and, particularly, that union’s political speech. Progressives, many of whom feel increasingly confident to admit that they are socialists, rushed to point out that this was a death knell for these unions because of the free rider problem. If workers who benefitted from the union’s collective bargaining activities were not forced to pay, then what incentive exists for any one employee to pay the union if they still will enjoy the benefits without paying. Soon, everyone will become a free rider and the union will die.

As they say, read the whole thing. It’s only three paragraphs, and I won’t give away the punch line.

I find such things humorous. Well, I have to–because they illustrate how god-awefully fucking stupid socialists and their useful idiots on the left actually are, and if I didn’t find humor where I could, I’d be perpetually depressed.

This will have far reaching consequences. None of them are good.

There is a move towards “the cloud”, a proxy term for not maintaining your own servers but using a platform like those provided by Amazon to host your data and web applications on the Internet. The advantage of such an arrangement seems obvious: it frees up manpower maintaining equipment, and it allows a corporation to easily host their own data without having to physically run an (expensive) Internet trunk line into your business, or having to buy servers and ‘co-locate’ them at an Internet provider.

But there seems to be a move afoot by employees at Amazon to kick corporations off their cloud services based on the politics of their corporate leaders:

Amazon employees seek to deplatform Palantir – founded by Peter Thiel — from Amazon cloud service

Trust me: this won’t end well.

It won’t end well for a number of reasons:

First, corporations who believe they may be deplatformed from Amazon based on the political winds will have a strong incentive not to develop to the Amazon platform. Amazon’s web services are not easy to integrate with–and to have all that work flushed down the toilet because a handful of loud agitators demand it means there will be a lot of developers who decide perhaps they want to use an alternate technology.

And corporations need to start taking the chance they will be deplatformed–and effectively knocked off the air for weeks or months or even years as they scramble for a new solution–into their risk estimates.

Second, there are various legal considerations: corporations are required in many states (such as California) not to discriminate based on political affiliation or political activities. By discriminating against customers based on their political affiliation Amazon puts itself in the cross hairs of a number of state laws.

Third, a corporation which begins to censor against editorial content they disagree with may no longer be shielded by the DMCA’s safe-harbor provisions relating to materials posted on their system–since Amazon has demonstrated it is a publisher rather than a neutral provider of content (that is, they’re more a newspaper who controls the content of their paper than they are a telephone provider who has no ability to monitor what is said on their phone lines). This makes Amazon potentially liable for all the copyright infringement, all the libel, all the child pornography, that may be hosted on their service.

Fourth, in the long run as tech companies become increasingly politicized, we will lose trust in them. And this will create an opportunity for competitors to directly take on the Internet giants.

Why the fuck do we trust dishonest security companies?

I just saw this newscast this morning: Lumberton woman ends up with 2 security contracts, says she was misled

Long story short: Alder Security sales people misled this woman into thinking they were assuming the contract of her old security company, ripped out the old equipment, put in new equipment, and increased her rates to $50/month from $30/month.

Then she found out that they didn’t assume the old contract and in fact she was being charged twice.

And at the end of the day the ABC news troubleshooter was able to get her a refund for all the time she was double-charged, and got her rates lowered to $15/month.

Okay. Happy ending.


Why the fuck is she trusting a security company who is dishonest?

I mean, isn’t the whole point of a security company the trust we have that they will keep us safe?

And if a security company is dishonest as all fuck up-front, doesn’t that sort of blow that trust out of the water? I mean, if they’ll do shit like this, why shouldn’t we trust that security company won’t take the whole Bootleggers and Baptists thing literally by hiring burglars to target surrounding homes? Why should we trust that security company won’t look around someone’s house and decide cleaning out some old woman’s home (if she happens to have a lot of cash or valuables stashed away) wouldn’t be more profitable?

Why do we trust dishonest security companies?

Shit like this boggles my mind.

Hell, why is she staying with the company who sold her a security system dishonestly in the first place?

Well, okay then.

You Know Trial Went Poorly If the Judge Orders You Back to Law School

Judge Julie Robinson didn’t actually order Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to go back to Yale and start over, and I agree with that only because Yale shouldn’t have to put up with him a second time. No, wait. I just rethought that, and now it seems like Yale is at least partly responsible for him and should have to take him back and try again. Please ignore the second clause of that first sentence.

Judge Robinson did, however, order Kobach to take six hours of continuing-legal-education classes, in addition to those otherwise required in order to practice law, as a sanction for his repeated attempts to introduce evidence at trial that the court had ruled would not be admissible.

Remember: not everyone who graduates from college graduated at the top 10% of their graduating class.

The privacy policy I want to write.

Look, I don’t know who you are, I don’t want to know who you are, I barely have the wherewithal to know who I am, and it’s not like our apps connect to anything or…

What, I’m supposed to have a privacy policy now? Really?

Warning: Language. If you’re under 18, get your parents to read this to you, so they can skip over naughty words, because trust me: this whole thing is full of naughty words that you shouldn’t use until you’re an old crotchety software developer drinking an Old Fashioned. (And if you don’t know what an Old Fashioned is, ask your mommy and daddy. Or the cool kid at school who often shows up looking a little… out of it.)

After all, if you’re under 18, you shouldn’t be here. You’re certainly not old enough to legally be held to a stupid privacy policy which I didn’t want to write. Instead, here’s a link to Nickelodeon. I hear they have games staring that weird sponge with pants…

All privacy policies start with the following words:

Your privacy is important to us.

Then they tell you all the ways they’re screwing you, what information they’re taking, how they’re selling it to other people, how they’re going to abuse the hell out of your privacy just as soon as they can figure out how to “monetize” your sorry ass. Because money is king, right?

But what no-one tells them is that it’s hard to monetize someone’s information. I used to work for Yahoo! (and you know that’s true because I spell Yahoo! with a stupid exclamation point), and I know just how much work it is to squeeze a penny for every page you visit.

And me, I just want to be left the hell alone so I can make software that someone out there may enjoy.

So let me start with the cold, hard truth.

I don’t give a damn who you are, where you are or what you do here.

I don’t care. I don’t want to know who you are. I don’t want to spend tons and tons of effort “monetizing” you or your behavior or giving that information to anyone else, unless there is a pretty damned good reason to do so, which I will spell out if and when I have to.

So as a rule if I have to go through the trouble of tracking you, it is not nor will it ever be for the purpose of sharing or selling your information to third party resellers or those obnoxious jerks who call you in the middle of the night asking if you want a “free” vacation to the Bahamas. Because those trips are never “free.”

Now all that is different if you want to be friends. I could use more friends, to be honest. But at that point, I’d be a pretty crappy friend selling your privacy out for a couple of bucks, right?

So look. The way this shit works is simple, and it works the same way on every web site, mobile app, desktop app, grocery store purchase or gas station you visit.

There is personally identifying information, such as your name, your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other crap which would allow a private investigator or a government official to send the cops over to have a “chat.”

Then there is non-personally identifying information, such as the IP address, the version of your web browser, the web page you visit, where you visited from, and a whole bunch of other crap which–well, while we can’t use that information to figure out who you are, it’s not like there aren’t a whole bunch of companies trying to trace that back to individuals.

Which I always thought was bullshit.

Now, when you visit this web site, including visiting it from our apps (Kythera and RSSNews), WordPress (who hosts this web site and my other web sites) does gather a bunch of non-identifying information. They even have this lovely “Stats” page which displays summaries of all this information, and once in a while I confess I may log into that page to say “someone hit my web site from Germany. Cool!”

And if I get off my lazy ass, I may even use that information to “optimize” my web site–though frankly I probably won’t get past the map of countries. But I might. And if I do. I may use that non-personally identifying stuff.

Now that “Personally Identifying” stuff–well, that happens when you log into WordPress in order to leave me a nasty-gram. And when you do that, I get to see who you are: the information you foolishly provided WordPress. Now they are the ones who track all that information, and they share it with–well, as far as I can figure, they can share it with Gravitar, other WordPress hosted sites, and for all I know, the NSA. They have their own privacy policy, and if you care about such things, maybe they’re the ones to talk to.

Me, I got nothing to do with any of that.

And in point of fact, I won’t share any of that information you plug into the web site, including your name, home address, mother’s maiden name or any other information you gave WordPress thinking “what can it harm?”–because as I said above, I don’t give a damn who you are.

By the way, the same goes for if you e-mail me or send me your information via the contact page.

No-one is telling you to use the contact page or even visit my web site (but please stay; I’m begging you to stay!), but if you do, well, I’ll get an e-mail with your name (or whatever name you made up when setting up your account), and of course your e-mail address.

By the way, I am required to tell you this by law, because that’s how screwed up as a society we’ve become: if you e-mail me, I may use your e-mail to send you back a response!

I know, right? Damned sly of me.

But, and this is important: I won’t use your e-mail to send you unsolicited notices or sell your e-mail to a third party for solicitations.

Because it’s just too damned hard to make money selling e-mails a single e-mail address at a time, especially now when the last spam I received told me I could get like a million e-mail addresses for $25. I mean that’s what, like 0.0025 cents per e-mail?

And frankly I’m up to my eyeballs in junk e-mails as it is, and I’m sure you are as well.

Someday I may (and emphasis on “may”) figure out how to use MailChimp and set up a mailing list so you can hear self-important drivel about me. And when that happens, you’ll be able to opt-in and opt-out.

Until that day happens, however, just keep reading my blog. Perhaps using RSSNews? (Hint hint.)

A couple of more things.

Cookies are these little pernicious bits of data that are handed to your web browser, and they fall under the same category of nonsense that can be used to track what web sites you are on, where you’re going and all that stuff.

WordPress certainly uses cookies; I mean, they have this whole Cookie Policy which can be used to bore yourself to sleep.

But none of the software I develop (except the web site for Hollins Certificates) uses cookies–and there cookies are only used to track your session (and go away when you close your browser), and (ironically enough) to track if you’ve seen the cookie warning.

I mean, how meta is that, having to set a cookie so I can know you’ve already read my cookie policy?

Also, something a lot of apps do nowadays which often people forget to mention in their privacy policies is that they often embed analytics libraries from companies like Google to track how you use your software. They’ll track what windows you have open, what pages you visit, and basically spy on your every move within the app–all for “performance reasons.”

Bah. That shit is just too much trouble, it never really helps you tune your app, rarely does it work right, and frankly I’m too lazy to use it.

So as a matter of policy (and personal disgust) I don’t use any analytics software on any of our apps. Kythera and RSSNews will never “phone home” with reports as to how many minutes you spent staring at porn reading the news. RSSNews does access the web to download RSS feeds–but that is between you and whichever web sites you’re visiting.

I don’t care.

And Kythera will send you to our web page if you ask for a tutorial–at which point, well, see all the drivel above.

Now here’s a whole bunch of other nonsense some guy wants me to say, including some stuff which should be so painfully obvious it hurts.

(1) If you visit another web site from a link on ours, I have no idea what’s going on there. So follow links at your own risk, because their privacy policy may be completely different than mine and WordPress’s. They may be selling your personal information to Russia for all I know.

(2) If you’re in Europe, you have the right to download all personally identifying information I’ve gathered. Since that’s “none”, well, there you go.

(3) Likewise, if you’re in Europe you have the right to be forgotten and for us to delete your information. But that requires that I actually remember you in the first place, right?

Now the WordPress half of things–talk to them. Not my monkey, not my circus.

(4) You also have the right to know how we use your information and to object to the processing of that information. But since I don’t use your information (except to draw pretty maps in some stats page I may visit, and to e-mail you back if you contact me), well, it’s hard for me to know what you could object to.

That map on my stats page? Again, talk to WordPress.

(5) You also have the right to know which technologies I use to secure your information. But since I don’t gather your information, unless you e-mail me–well, there you go, right? And if you do e-mail me, it’s stored on my laptop unless I “accidentally” delete it. And I use a firewall at home because I’m the distrustful curmudgeonly type.

Now periodically I may change shit around on this web page, or WordPress may do something stupid forcing me to switch to another provider. I may also release a new app or two which requires things like me going through the hassle of setting up an account page and e-mailing you password reset instructions and all that crap.

And when that happens, well, the privacy policy above may have to change, right? And when that happens, I may blog about it, or (if I ever get MailChimp working) I may e-mail you.

(I probably won’t get MailChimp working; I’m lazy that way.)

There. That’s my privacy policy. Just like pulling teeth.

Now if you want to bitch about my language or if you think something above isn’t clear, or if you just want to hang out and talk about 3D rendering algorithms, drop me a line.

Your daily moment of zen.

A dog on a treadmill.

Is it my imagination…

… or is it the regulation from the European Union that requires web sites to notify people they use cookies on their web site–and then set a cookie on your browser to indicate the cookie warning was displayed–has become the California Proposition 65 of Europe?

Anthony Bourdain, RIP.

CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61

Anthony Bourdain, the gifted chef, storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61.

There are few celebrities who, when I hear about their passing, really makes an impression on me. I think it’s because at some level, I don’t give a shit. I don’t mean that in a terrible way; I don’t mean to suggest, for example, that a celebrity who dies is a shit or is less than the rest of us. But in a country of 320 million people, in a world with an excess of 7 billion souls, where easily millions die in this country each day, the passing of one more person doesn’t really affect the calculus all that much.

At some level it’s sad to hear of the passing of a celebrity who is still producing entertainment products; we’ll never get to see Robin Williams in another role, for example. But in the scope of things that affect me, the passing of a celebrity is something to observe, something perhaps to note, perhaps a reason to make a comment about how they influenced the cultural gestalt.

The passing of Anthony Bourdain, on the other hand, genuinely saddens me.

I think it’s because when I watched his travelogs, as he went around the world meeting people and understanding their cooking and the culture and the politics surrounding them–as he went around the world genuinely trying to learn and understand what they were doing–I really respected the man.

I respected his travelogs, because he made no bones to hide his own point of view, his curmudgeonly attitude, his appreciation for great food–be it the product of one of the finest chefs in France, or a waffle from The Waffle House. If you watch nothing of his except one, watch the first 15 minutes of his “Parts Unknown”, Season 2, Episode 6: Sicily.

And at some level, I guess, I wanted to be like him: traveling around the world, visiting new places, meeting new people, trying new foods–and replicating them at home when we got back. My wife and I took a cooking class when we were in Marrakesh recently, and I think I’d like to do more stuff like that. Because it gives you a genuine appreciation for the world when you go out there, meet its people, learn their culture, and break bread with them.

I don’t understand why someone like Antony Bourdain would take his own life. It’s something I will never comprehend. I hope he is at peace.

But the world is definitely worse off without him.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

Here, let me summarize this for you so you don’t have to read the article.

‘Never Trump’ and the Trump Trauma

Trump is turning out to be a pretty good president.

There, I said it, and by doing so I’m sure the people who most need what I’m about to write are going to discount it instantly. And I instantly feel the need to footnote it by saying I don’t agree with Trump on every issue, which is pretty much what you’d have to expect since I’m a national-defense libertarian and Trump is an FDR Democrat in an elephant suit. But I agree with him way more than I expected to, and I’m very impressed at what he’s done in particular in foreign affairs: both bringing North Korea to something that looks like real negotiations, and getting Saudi Arabia and a bunch of other Sunni nations into an alliance against Iran, and at least grudging tolerance of Israel.

So now, after 18 months or so, we’re in a situation where the conservative wing of the coastal clerisy — people like Bill Kristol, my erstwhile PJ Media colleague Jennifer Rubin, and Ron Radosh — are all pushing the notion that to “punish Trump,” to “get Trump’s attention,” and to “save the Republican Party,” conservatives need to campaign for and vote for Democrat candidates in the midterms. …

Bottom line: there is a very strong movement in this country who honestly think destroying the Republican Party, or destroying our country and our position on the world stage, as well as undermining the stability of our Democratic order is worth it in order to get back at President Trump.

Now compare and contrast to Rush Limbaugh’s famous words wanting President Obama to fail: it wasn’t because he wanted the country to fail, but because Rush Limbaugh honestly believed President Obama would destroy the American economy and position on the world stage–and Rush Limbaugh wanted President Obama to fail in his inadvertent quest to destroy American excellence.

But today, a lot of people who dislike President Trump want him to fail–even if they have to undermine the very greatness of America in order to help along that failure. And you can see this undermining our institutions to make Trump fail everywhere: in Republicans telling Republican voters to vote Democrat “to send a message”, in lawyers and government leaders who appear to have committed spying operations within the Trump campaign in a manner which makes Watergate look like a picnic, in “Not Our President” protests which even toyed with overthrowing the legally elected President of the United States in a coup d’etat reminiscent of third-world banana republics, floated not in some marginal rag written by some fevered moron in the basement of his parent’s house, but by the Los Angeles Times. (And those who accuse Trump of being an authoritarian are simply distracting us from the reality that they and their brethren advocated the overthrow of the United States Government, because they hated Trump that much.)

So here’s the summary I promised you, a summary of a lot of articles the above article refers to, on the “Never Trump”ers and “Not Our President” folk:

“Fuck Trump, and we’ll get him even if we have to turn our country into a third-world shit-hole to do it.”