Lessons learned from the Wayback Machine

I’ve learned many lessons from recovering weblog posts from the Wayback Machine.

If you feel the need to freshen your site, you really don’t need a new domain or subdomain, and most of the time you don’t need a new site redesign. All you need, is a break.

It’s OK to mix content types. So what if your techie stuff is side by side with your poetry? People can skip what they don’t like.

Don’t ever embed a dependency on a third-party web site for anything. So many of my recovered posts referenced photos in an account on Flickr that I no longer have. I recovered most images, but not all.

If you’re going to embed a tweet, embed a screenshot of the tweet and then provide a direct link to it. That way if the account is gone, you don’t end up with gibberish in your page.

For your own media, be wary of using the weblogging software add media functionality. In the process of recovering my writings, I decided to go from a WordPress multisite to a single site installation. It wasn’t a complicated task—export site’s content, install a fresh WordPress installation, and import the site—but the export/import munged the media I had added using the WP Add Media functionality.

(Thankfully, there’s a plugin, Broken Link Checker, that helped me find the broken image links and get them fixed.)

Don’t use excerpts on the front page, or the category page, or archive. I lost some writing because the Wayback Machine had a post in the main page, but hadn’t captured the actual post page, itself. When I displayed the full contents on the main page, I was able to recover the writing. When I didn’t…well, that writing was lost.

Lastly, even when recovering old posts I still left internal links to the Wayback Machine. So much of the older stuff is gone but still preserved in the Wayback Machine.

And if the post had comments, I included a link to the Wayback Machine entry at the top of my posts so that folks can see it, and the discussion, in its original form.


Documents Legal, Laws, and Regs

Court Cases with Docket Sheets and Downloadable Documents

Following are the court cases I’m following and/or docket sheets and associated court documents provided by others:

Front Range Equine Rescue et al v. Vilsack et al: Several animal welfare groups and individuals sued the USDA for issuing horse meat inspection permits without conducting a proper NEPA review. This case is based on the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), and the USDA has provided the Administrative Record underlying its decision. I have both the AR index as well as the associated documents. Ongoing and frequently updated.

Animal Welfare Inc. et al vs. Feld Entertainment: (formerly ASPCA et al vs. Feld Entertainment) Several animal welfare groups and one individual sued Feld Entertainment for violations of the Endangered Species Act. The decision was in favor of Feld, and the animal welfare groups lost on appeal. The court is currently determining lawyer fees for the defendant. Ongoing but infrequently updated.

Feld Entertainment v. Animal Welfare Act Inc, et al: (formerly Feld Entertainment vs. ASPCA et al) Feld is suing several animal welfare groups and individuals under RICO based on activities associated with the previously listed ESA action. Ongoing and infrequently updated.

The Michael Brown Grand Jury documents – no court docket, but files used in the Michael Brown (Ferguson) grand jury. Includes all transcripts.

Burningbird Just Shelley

Weblog Penance

How many times have I written about this change or that to my site? Not enough, it seems.

I’m in the process of using that wonderful, magnificent site The Wayback Machine to recover posts from all my various incarnations of weblogs and whatnot sites. Yes, I do have backups from recent sites, but not the ones from 1998, or 2003, or 2015, and so on. And certainly not all the posts for all variations of weblogs I’ve had.

I estimate now that I’ve had a weblog, split or singular, on 83 domains and subdomains. Does anyone remember Thank the NRA? Bad Kitty? Missouri Green? Practical RDF? BB Gun? Script Teaser?

I split my weblog and combined it dozens of times, utilizing 23 different domains, and probably twice that many subdomains.

Even my main site, my weblog, this thing here…it’s been accessed as,, and, in addition to the location.

To make things even more interesting, sometimes the article URIs would be listed as ‘fires’, other times as ‘nodes’, sometimes as the full date, and finally, just the post title.

I was on Blogger, and on Graymatter, on Movable Type and Drupal, on Radio, and now on WordPress. I began with manually coded static web pages, back before weblogs and weblogging software were things. I even tried my hand at creating my own weblogging software: Wordform, a  fork of the early WordPress software.

And not since the very earliest days have I had all of my writings in one single site.

So, I’m recovering each writing/post/article, one at a time, either from my own backups, or mostly from the Wayback Machine. I’ve already recovered over 1300 posts, but I estimate I have about 4000 or so to go.

I think it was Tim Bray who spoke out, decades ago, about the wrongness of missing webpages—the 404s we have come to know and dislike. That’s the beauty of The Wayback Machine: web pages aren’t gone for good, they’re just finding a comfortable niche to settle into for a good sleep.

Thanks to Internet Archive for providing The Wayback Machine, I’ll be able to restore most of my writing. However, I shouldn’t use the word ‘restore’ to describe what I’m doing. After all, ‘restoring’ sounds somewhat noble—as if I’m taking a fine old web site and returning it to its glory.

I’m really not restoring my web sites: I’m doing penance for not being able to sit still for 26 years.

Social Media

Outrage Porn

This week we’ve reeled from one outrage to another.

First, it was the letter DHS IG Cuffari sent to Congress, asserting that Secret Service people deleted texts after his department requested them. Followed by a claim that North Carolina is passing a bill making women who get abortions into murderers in the first degree. Then it was AG Garland sent out a memo that demonstrates he won’t charge Trump. This occurred in parallel with another outrage: Politico breathlessly claims that anti-abortion states will use geofence warrants to discover who is getting an abortion.

There were also assorted and sundry pronouncements, accompanied by exclamations and shouts of “How dare ____!” You fill in the blank.

Things aren’t great right now. We have an excessively dangerous political party controlling an increasingly dangerous court. We’ve already lost one right, bodily autonomy, and we fear we’re on the precipice of losing others.

At the same time, though, we’re going to miss the real dangers if we spend all our time up in arms about phantoms.

The items I just described are all good examples of these phantoms. They sound plausible, they imply danger, and the outrage us. But when you look more closely, the risks are minimal, the dangers not apparent. The outrage is more about driving attention than effecting change.

I call these phantoms outrage porn.

Secret Service deletes January 6 texts

Second Update

And, as expected, people are finally, finally beginning to question Cuffari, and his motives.

In addition, we’ve also heard that Secret Service Agents typically don’t even carry their smartphones in secure locations.


It’s hard to get a clear story on what happened with these texts. Previously, the Secret Service said the texts were not deleted and were provided to the committee. But now they’re saying text messages were deleted because of the program they ran. At the same time, they’re saying texts had been given to the committee in the past.

So, am I wrong on this? Yes. The texts were deleted.

At the same time, I do no believe this action was based on some controversy,  covering up attempts to hide some agency-wide conspiracy to support Donald Trump. No, anyone who has ever made a major roll out of new systems in a large corporate setting will recognize what happened here.

The Secret Service deserves the flack it’s going to get. But no, the only controversy here is why Cuffari decided to send his letter last week, when he knew about the texts last year.

The Secret Service has had problems, not the least of which their behavior while on location. But there’s never been any indication of widespread support for treason in the ranks. A couple of agents wanting to get Pence into a car so they can move him to a place of safety is not an indication that the Secret Service is some form of shadow agency seeking to undermine our government.

So when Inspector General Cuffari sent a letter to Congress—totally out of the blue—making a claim that the Secret Service deleted texts about January 6th, and did so when his department asked for them, it called for us to examine the letter and its intents objectively. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen.

One well-known talking head after another breathlessly claiming the Secret Service is corrupt, deleted texts, calling for investigations and heads. Several even implied the Secret Service colluded with Trump.

Funny how people ignored some plain facts right in front of us. Facts, such as IG Cuffari being a Trump-appointed IG who has been heavily criticized for not doing his job; whose department is under investigation; who received a letter himself recently from Congress; who came to the job with some red state experience and a diploma from a diploma mill.

They also ignored the statement issued from the Secret Service, bluntly denying Cuffari’s claims; that if some texts were deleted it was because of a standard phone upgrade, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because the texts he mentioned were never deleted.

How do we know they were never deleted? Because when the House subpoenaed the texts, the Secret Service stated they would turn them over the very next business day after receiving the requests.

Why would Cuffari come out with this letter now? Oh, I don’t know, but I have a guess. Both Republicans and the media were on the hot seat because of the outrageous claims they were making about a little 10-year old rape victim getting an abortion in another state because of the SCOTUS actions.

Then there are all those calls for Biden to fire Cuffari.

But this is all just a guess.

North Carolina and First Degree Murder Charges


This one now has an official Fact Check entry.

This one came to us not from the professional media, but one of the Twitter talking heads. A talking head who has since deleted the tweet, but I managed to capture a shot.

Tweet claiming women will be charged with murder for abortion

Even though he deleted the tweet, his work was done: the thing has legs. Just search on Twitter for “North Carolina abortion murder”.

You know what this is based on? Someone in the North Carolina legislature introduced a bill to add a state Constitutional amendment defining that people are people from conception and anyone that kills people is guilty of murder.

From this, Hultmark built up the claim that women be jailed until forced to give birth or sentenced to death if they aborted.

Folks, here’s the thing about state legislatures. They all have nutcases. Every single one has at least one fringe element who is typically ignored. Fringe elements file bills. Sometimes they file a lot of bills. And do you know what happens to these bills?

They die in committee. This particular bill didn’t die just once, it died twice.

Now personhood for fetuses is a real threat. We know states are introducing personhood for fetuses in their legislation. But not even this crazy GOP is crazy enough to put something like this into law. In fact, the GOP is twisting itself into a pretzel trying to say that aborting an ectopic pregnancy isn’t really abortion. Or that a 10 year-old terminating a pregnancy really isn’t getting an abortion.

The one thing the GOP does not want is even the remotest possibility of jailing pregnant women until they give birth, or executing a woman who gets an abortion. This is the bridge too far for the American populace, and the GOP knows it.

Bills are passing right now that are a danger right now. Our attention should be on them. Not a bill introduced February of 2021 that died in committee.

Maddow, Garland, and the Memo

This one is a bad one on Rachel Maddow. She discussed a memo that AG Garland released that seemingly re-affirms a memo AG Barr put that ‘talks about the importance of avoiding “partisan politics” in decisions regarding investigations and criminal charges and protecting the agency’s reputation for “fairness, neutrality, and non-partisanship.”‘

But, as others have noted since, this memo is boilerplate, standard, has been around for many administrations, and is no big thing.

I could go on, but the point has been made. Maddow and folks: do better.

I have a Geofence, you have a Geofence, we all have a Geofence

Last but not least is the Politico story released today that equates red states going after those getting abortions and states requesting geofence warrants. It then ties the two into making a claim that red states will use geofence warrants to target women getting abortions in other states.

This was Politico click bait. The publication is notorious for this.

First, a geofence warrant is based on a specific event. What police do is when there’s an event like a murder or bank robbery, it goes to a company like Google and asks for data for smartphones in the general vicinity of the event at a certain time.

As EFF notes, it’s a horrid invasion of privacy, and likely unconstitutional. A Virginia judge recently decided it was unconstitutional. But is it really that great a risk to women seeking an abortion?


First, though geofence warrants are overly broad, they’re not completely without boundaries. These warrants are for cellphone data in the vicinity of a specific event within a specific period of time. They’re not endless trolling of all location data near abortion clinics that somehow will get tracked back to women in the state who may or may not be pregnant.

Even the reddest judge won’t stomach what will end up being a never ending netting of generalized location data for all time.

The example Politico used is anti-abortion people using ads to target people near an abortion clinic. This is nothing more than one company who used location data to display location-specific ads, who then got its ears pinned back by the Massachusetts state’s AG, and who promised to never, ever do that again.

There was no warrant related to this action. There couldn’t be, because there’s no event. Only the location.

That’s the key: there’s a difference between a generalized display of ads on your phones because of location and a police force vacuuming up all data for all smartphones in areas outside of their own jurisdiction in order to somehow capture that one woman that got away.

And how would these police be able to track woman A going to location B in order to do C? If you think they’re going to get search history data for anyone and everyone who searches for the word ‘abortion’, and then somehow magically trigger that into a warrant to wait to see if this same woman appears at any of the thousands of abortion clinics still operating in the country, think again.

Frankly, not even Alito or Thomas would stomach this one. OK, well, maybe they would, but I suspect Gorsuch, Roberts, and Kavanaugh wouldn’t want to come anywhere near it.

Fight Outrage Porn

I understand that people are wary and a bit paranoid, and frankly we should be considering the GOP is redefining evil daily, and SCOTUS is off its rocker.

But if we spend all of our time in a state of outrage over events that really aren’t outrageous, we’re going to burn out. Our senses will become numb. We’ll be drowned out in that chorus of “How Dare They!” and miss the real threats that come at us.

So when you hear a story that triggers outrage, just stop for a moment. Before you retweet, reply, share, or blast out to your followers, take the time to think about you just read or heard; to consider the source; to do a little googling of your own to see how very real the outrage is.

We all want to be the firstest with the mostest, but I would hope that it’s more important for us to raise the alarm when the alarm really does need to be raised.


JK Rowling is a bigot

Politico has a new story about JK Rowling and her battles with the trans community.

I liked the Harry Potter books and the Fantastic Beasts movies, but I’m not a fan of Rowling. Or that sad excuse for a human being the NY Times let write an awful piece this week.

These people are using the fight for women’s rights as a transphobic attack. They’re no longer even hiding it.

I had thought we, who have long fought for equality, would be better than this. Evidently, not.

Here are two terms for you: AFAB and AMAB.

They stand for assigned female at birth and assigned male at birth. They’re inclusive terms that can be used in debates such as those around the right to control our access to abortion, to pregnancy prevention aids, and to healthcare used to treat gender dysphoria.

If we want to include cis women, transmasculine, and non-binary in a discussion—and we do when it comes to the harm tossing Roe aside does—then AFAB will do until something better comes along.

I am a woman. I am a cis woman. I use she/her as my pronouns. Even fitting society’s stereotypical model of a ‘woman’, it is still a fight being the person who I am. I can’t even imagine how much harder it is being someone who does not identify themselves the same way, but is facing the same, or worse, healthcare restrictions. The least I can do is make sure when talking about abortion rights, we’re all included.

We’re all being hurt by the same people: those who value power over humanity. I’d be a pretty sad excuse for a human being if I allowed this.

So, sorry that Rowling gets her feels hurt. She’s a bully, and a bigot.