Categories
Social Media

Facebook, You’re Stupid

I received my second Facebook jail term this weekend. Why? Because I told the person who wrote a comment promoting horse deworner to cure COVID that I reported their comment for spreading misinformation.

Then I committed the crime: I said the comment was stupid.

For my crime I’m in Facebook jail, while the misinforming comment remains. What’s bitterly ironic is the misinforming comment was to an ABC news story about a young woman who died of COVID because she was misinformed about the ‘dangers’ of the COVID vaccination.

(Do you think Facebook appreciates the irony? Do you think ‘irony’ is among Facebook’s terms that automatically get you banned?)

Why do we continue with these social media companies? At one point in time, all we needed was a weblog like this one or one hosted at Blogger or Radio Userland, and an RSS reader. The conversations were smarter, and the bullshit ruthlessly and surgically removed.

We owned our spaces. We still own our spaces but they’re mighty quiet nowadays, because all the action is on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever is the ‘gee wiz’ site loaded with influencers most of us would have considered too vapid for words years ago.

The only reason I stay on Facebook is because it allows me to connect with people I really like. And I should limit my Facebook interactions solely to my friends, because the third time I respond to someone spreading misinformation about COVID (or a certain election), I’ll probably get banned for life.

I won’t refrain from giving my honest opinion about their comments. They’re stupid. Just like Facebook.

Update

Timing is everything.

Last night, 60 Minutes had an interview with Frances Haugen, Facebook whistleblower who provided several documents to the Wall Street Journal for a damning series on the company.

The following is particularly relevant…especially in light of the fact that, at the end of my Facebook jail term, the comment noted above and others I reported for spreading COVID misinformation still have not been removed.

Neither has the direct threat against my friend Dori’s life in a Facebook post. This, even though several of us have reported an obviously blatantly violent comment.

Blatantly violent threat

Facebook seems to have no problem with blatantly violent threats.

Categories
Political

The next tea party: water bottles at 25 feet

Georgia Republicans in the state legislature just passed a voting omnibus bill that will effectively restrict voting access for many people in the state of Georgia. I say many ‘people’ using a generic term, but the real effect, and the intended recipients of the voting restrictions, are Black Georgians.

The text of the bill tries to ‘both sides’ it by referencing concerns expressed about the 2018 election, and comparing it equally to the lies former President Donald Trump mouthed whenever he had a microphone. Any thinking person would understand the two are not comparable. The two aren’t even on the same planet. But that doesn’t stop the Republican legislators from implying their actions are to help ‘both sides’, even if they can’t answer a simple, direct question: would you be pushing these laws if Trump had won in Georgia.

snapshot of tweet

There are very disturbing elements in SB 202 including the fact that the Georgia legislature has given itself significant control over country election boards, in addition to undermining the Secretary of State’s traditional authority over election procedures and processes. This is the same legislature that invited Trump cronies to ‘testify’ in committee hearings on the ‘rampant fraud’ in the state and how most of our votes should be tossed and the state just anoint Trump.

(It takes a lot of chutzpah to, on the one hand, undermine the very democracy on which this country is based, and on the other, call your voting restriction bill the “Election Integrity Act of 2021”.)

Over time, I’ll get into more detail in exactly why this new bill is bad, but for now I want to focus on one measure that is extreme—not in its danger to democracy, but in its sheer pettiness.

It is now a crime to hand a bottle of water to a person standing in line to vote.

Water Bottles at 25 Feet

Just to assure you that I’m not taking any section of SB 202 out of context, I’m reprinting the passage associated with water bottles:

Section 33 (a): No person shall solicit votes in any manner or by any means or method, nor shall any person distribute or display any campaign material, nor shall any person give, offer to give, or participate in the giving of any money or gifts, including, but not limited to, food and drink, to an elector, nor shall any person solicit signatures for any petition, nor shall any person, other than election officials discharging their duties, establish or set up any tables or booths on any day in which ballots are being cast

(1) Within 150 feet of the outer edge of any building within which a polling place is established;
(2) Within any polling place; or
(3) Within 25 feet of any voter standing in line to vote at any polling place.

I highlighted the addition to the existing law.

Basically, it states you can’t give food or water to any voter standing in line, regardless of where they are in the line and how long they’ve been in line. If you give a voter a bottle of water, you will be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.

Turning an act of kindness into a crime

In the past we’ve seen voters standing in long lines in order to cast their votes. Frequently, these voters are people of color, and the polls are located in largely urban areas. To encourage voters to remain in line, and to thank them for voting, people have taken to sending pizza, meals, and bottles of water to those waiting. Contrary to the delusional imaginations of the Georgia Republicans, doing so is not a bribe nor will it impact on how a person votes. It is a celebration of democracy, and a simple act of human kindness.

The fact that someone has to be in line over 15 minutes at any time is bad enough, but now the Georgia Republicans, in their infinite capacity for petty meanness, have determined that no matter how long you wait, no person can give you a drink of water.

snapshot of tweet

By any human standard, what does denying water or food to voters have to do with election integrity and fraud? Do Republicans believe we’ll slip microchips into water that will somehow manipulate voting machines? Do they really think a voter is going to change their mind because someone hands them a slice of pizza or a cup of coffee?

(Don’t let Donald Trump know of this new change in the law, or that will be the topic of his next twitter-like press release: “Microchips in the water! Steal!”)

Giving someone a bottle of water when they’re in line to vote won’t change votes. What will change votes is making this simple act of kindness into a crime.

Optics, Guys. Optics

I’m astonished not only at the level of pettiness represented by this new rule, but also its stupidity.

I already know of dozens of people who intend to show up with bottles of water to give out during the next election. I can just see the optics of police moving in to arrest people solely for this act of human kindness. I can guarantee the arrests will show up on the evening news. Even Fox News will telecast it.

Why on earth would anyone incorporate something so blatantly idiotic in a voting bill?

It could be that the food and drink addendum is a distraction, intended to focus people on this new rule rather than some of the more insidious, and dangerous, modifications to the state’s voting laws.

However, the regulation fails miserably as a distraction because it demonstrates that none of these changes to our voting law were really about solving a problem. The real reason for the changes are because when an election is a fair fight, Republicans are losing. Not even Sydney Powell at her most idiotic, or Rudy Giuliani at his most desperate, made any claim that handing out water to people in line is why Donald Trump lost.

Categories
Photography

It Snowed Little Yellow Flowers

The most difficult aspect of moving to Savannah (other than moving during a pandemic) is getting used to the weather.

You expect the hot and humid summers. But it’s the lack of clearly defined seasons that feels a bit off.

The Savannah temperature is mild in the winter. When it falls below freezing at night, it always warms to above during the day. There are times when you can go about in t-shirts and shorts, even close to Christmas. I had both roses and azaleas blooming late into December.

Pink Azalea bud
Christmas blooming azalea

Because there is no harsh winter, the spring doesn’t pop up like it does in more northern climates. Fall is a gradual process of browning, and Spring seems to be a gradual process of unbrowning.

That is, until you see the Carolina Jessamine bloom. You go for a walk one day and suddenly you see it everywhere: delicate, beautiful tulip-shaped flowers covering every tree and bush. It’s like Christmas, but in Spring: every tree is dotted with bright yellow flowers.

Jessamine vine
Carolina Jessamine vine

During the night when it rained and the wind blew, it snowed bright yellow pollen and little yellow flowers.

Jessamine flowers scattered on the ground
Fallen Jessamine flowers
Categories
JavaScript Technology Writing

My Last O’Reilly Book

The editor for JavaScript Cookbook, 3rd edition, just sent me a draft to review and comment on. This is the last of the O’Reilly books that will feature my name on it. I wasn’t actively involved in it; my name is on it because they kept about 15% of my old content. New authors, Adam Scott and Matthew MacDonald, took on the majority of the work.

They did a good job, too. I particularly like the chapter devoted to error handling. The days of using an alert message to debug have been gone for decades, and JS developers now have sophisticated error-handling techniques and tools. It is no longer your Mom’s JS.

Good. I’m happy the language and its uses have evolved. But…

I sometimes miss the simpler days when an alert was your JavaScript best friend.

I’ve been working with JavaScript since it was first introduced over 25 years ago. Not just traditionally in the web page, either. I worked on a small project that used Netscape’s server-side JavaScript (LiveWire) in the 1990s. It was so very different from an application made with Node. as you can see for yourself from an old Dr. Dobb’s article on LiveWire.

Writing about JavaScript today requires a different mindset than writing about it years ago. Then, JavaScript was laughably simple. It’s simplicity, though, was also its strength. In its infancy JavaScript was so embraceable. You could literally toss a tiny blurb of JS into an HTML file, load it into a browser, and see an immediate implementation. You didn’t have to fiddle with compilation, installing special developer tools, or figure out a framework.

My first book on JavaScript, the JavaScript How-To for Waite Group Press was published in 1996. The hardest part of writing it was trying to find enough about JavaScript to actually fill a book.

JavaScript today, or ECMAScript if you want to be pure, is not so simple. And oddly enough, that’s its strength now: it is powerful enough to meet today’s very demanding web applications. And the hardest part of working on a book such as the JavaScript Cookbook is limiting yourself to the essentials, because you could easily write three or four books and still not envelop the world of JavaScript as it exists now.

When O’Reilly asked me to do a new edition of the Cookbook I knew I just didn’t want to take on that kind of burden again. It was hard to give up control of one of my favorite books, but after 25 years of working to deadlines and dealing with tech editors, I knew I just didn’t have the energy or patience to do the book justice. I knew it was time for me to hang up my drafts.

Thankfully, the new Cookbook team have done an exceptionally good job. I’m happy to have my name on the Cookbook, one last time.

If I write now, it’s solely for me: my ideas, my deadlines, my expectations. I may only write in this space. I may try my hand at self-publication.

Who knows? Maybe all I’ll do is write incendiary commentary in Facebook and Twitter and see how often I can get banned.

Categories
Political

Biden’s Immigration Plan and ICE FUD

I just finished reading another poorly done conservative piece in the Savannah Morning News; this one full of hearsay and innuendo. It was published at the same time as another piece that formed the point of this particular point/counter-point.
 
Both writings are supposedly about Biden’s immigration plan, but only the positive one really discusses it. The conservative opinion, written by Ryan Smith, a communications professional, seemed to be more focused on ICE, as defined under Trump, rather than Biden’s plan. He writes:
 
‘Many of these changes are cosmetic. But according to Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, a fundamental change in immigration is underway, a change that members of America’s border security agencies say could bring even more changes to our immigration system.
 
“I’ve heard from multiple sources that dismantling ICE and ending its enforcement role was discussed by [Department of Homeland Security Secretary] Alejandro Mayorkas at a town hall meeting for ICE staff in San Antonio,” Vaughan told InsideSources. “The apparent purpose of this reorganization is to abolish immigration enforcement by starving the agency of resources, personnel, and authority, and at the same time stifle internal resistance by busting the deportation officers union.”’
 
Hearsay and innuendo.
 
Hearsay from multiple sources about dismantling ICE and ending its enforcement role. There could actually be truth to half of this: there has been significant discussion about dismantling ICE. ICE was a knee jerk reaction to 9/11 that was hastily contrived, and has been poorly managed ever since. Even many ICE agents have recommended it be dismantled.
 
But then we get the innuendo: the sole purpose for dismantling ICE is to abolish immigration enforcement, something that no one with any intelligence should find credible. Even less credible is a asserted secondary purpose: to bust the deportation officers union. We assume the writer picked this up from an article published by the Center for Immigration Studies, about a nefarious plot to abolish deportation officers.
 
(How does one abolish deportation officers? Does one wave a magic wand and with a “bippoty boppity boop” they vanish in a sparkly cloud?)
 
ICE was originally intended to be a small organization whose sole purpose was to prevent acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities. It then morphed into this large blob of an agency that is re-defined by whoever is President to do whatever the President deems it should do.
 
Under Trump, it became such a symbol of hate and fear that the officers within ICE who are actually tasked with enforcing ICE’s original duties cannot do so because police agencies would no longer work with them.
 
As we have painfully discovered over the last several years, no agency with sweeping police powers should operate with such ill-defined boundaries. The potential for abuse is enormous.
 
I can truly believe that there was a meeting in the DHS about dismantling ICE. There have been meetings in the DHS before Trump was President about doing the same. And there have been calls from groups outside the government, both conservative and liberal, to eliminate the agency and return both people and duties to the agencies originally tasked to manage both.
 
But this opinion was supposed to be about Biden’s immigration plan, wasn’t it?
 
As if reminded of the fact, Smith casually tosses in a couple of indifferent paragraphs about the plan, but only after he’s sufficiently stirred up enough fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) to ensure a negative reaction to anything anyone might read about it. He also manages to work Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s into the piece, because you can’t have a conservative writing without mentioning her least once.