Feedly Attacked by Hackers & Extortionists

In case feedly’s blog goes down, too, I thought I’d repost this FYI:

Denial of service attack
Posted on June 11, 2014 by @feedly
2:04am PST – Criminals are attacking feedly with a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). The attacker is trying to extort us money to make it stop. We refused to give in and are working with our network providers to mitigate the attack as best as we can.

We are working in parallel with other victims of the same group and with law enforcement.

We want to apologize for the inconvenience. Please know that you data is safe and you will be able to re-access your feedly as soon as the attack is neutralized.

We will update this blog post as soon as we have more information:

Thank you for your understanding,

/Oliv, Seb and Edwin

Blogging Again

After a very long break due to such real-life distractions as a difficult computational mathematics class and duties as the Suffolk Democratic Committee chairman, I’m going try this again.

Anyway, to start off with, I just sent an email to my delegate Rick Morris, in response to an email from him about his recent town hall meeting and a poll he conducted prior to the meeting. In that email, he wrote

71% of those polled agreed that Obamacare should be repealed and 68% agreed that Medicaid Expansion is not for Virginia.

75% of those polled did not want to repeal the Virginia Marriage Amendment which is an amendment to the Constitution of Virginia that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman and bans recognition of any legal status of gay marriage.

I wrote,

If most of those who took your recent poll were on your mailing list, then that fact would skew the results away from an honest sample. Also, I’m sure you know that questions phrased like …

“Do you support or oppose ObamaCare’s Medicaid Expansion in Virginia? While expansion could provide coverage for 400,000 currently uninsured Virginians, it could cost the Commonwealth of Virginia over $1 billion per year, forcing cuts to other key services like education, mental health and public safety.”

… don’t yield honest results. An honest sampling of your constituents would certainly yield different results.

As disappointed as I am with the push-poll, I do applaud you for hosting town hall meetings. I hope you will continue to increase your efforts to honestly represent your constituents.

I don’t blame Mr. Morris for conducting an email poll of those who are on his mailing list. I would only ask him to acknowledge that such a sampling is made up almost entirely of people who support him and not of the general population of his constituency. If he makes that acknowledgement, then the fault is on the part of his constituents who have chosen not to involve themselves in the political process simply because they don’t agree with the views of their representative.

I do blame Delegate Morris for his push poll questions. It is dishonest to tell people what to think and then brag about how they agree with you. This is common practice for the likes of Randy Forbes, and here Delegate Morris seems to be following Congressman Forbes’s lead.

On the other hand, Rick Morris seems to be making some effort to reach out and hear his constituents. For that Delegate Morris deserves some recognition.

Remember that your political leaders are your representatives, but it’s hard to hold them accountable for not representing views of those who don’t voice them.

Delegate Morris represents Virginia’s House District 64. His website includes not only a (somewhat confusing) contact form, but very clearly includes his email addresses and phone numbers.

I’m messing around with my domain settings

I’m going to map bnmng.com to another server because I’m so much more than just an erudite blogger, I want to have a place under my URL for such projects as my WordPress themes and by blog reader/sharer if I ever get around to finishing it.

This blog will still be under https://bnmng.wordpress.com, but no longer under bnmng.com.

If you’re one of my countless devoted followers, there’s no need for panic or suicide! I think I can keep the old RSS feeds going by creating a directory on the new server called “feed” and creating an index.php file with the following code:

<?php

$url='https://bnmng.wordpress.com/feed';
if(isset($_SERVER['QUERY_STRING'])) {
$url=$url . '?' . $_SERVER['QUERY_STRING'];
}
$output=file_get_contents($url);
echo $output;
?>

So the RSS feed “http://bnmng.com/feed?cat=262&#8221;, which was mapped to this wordpress blog but will be mapped to the new server, will grab and return the contents from “https://bnmng.wordpress.com/feed?cat=262&#8221;. That should work.

I don’t know if email subscriptions will be affected at all, but I think when I select bnmng.wordpress.com as my primary URL, those will automatically be updated.

It’s OK to Defend the White Guy

Three innocent Black people were murdered by two White men in an unprovoked hate crime in Tulsa. Two years prior, the father of one of the murderers was killed by a black man after the father knocked the black man down with a stick for making threats against his daughter. In the comments of a story about this horrible crime, I disagreed with a commenter who said the father had it coming, and found myself arguing against people who I might normally agree with and being “liked” by people who I might not “like” in return.

Being progressive doesn’t mean always defending the Black guy. It means looking at the facts and not jumping to conclusions. It means not retaliating against people just because they remind you of others who did you wrong. It means not convicting unless you’re sure beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime, while at the same time trusting facts and logic to guide you towards getting it right more often. And it means considering mitigating circumstances, even if the subject is a crotchety old White man beating a Black guy with a stick.

Edit: I added “by two White men” in the first sentence for clarification.

Update: Soon after I added “White men” I read that Mr. England is Native American. For now, I’ll leave my words up there as written.

Blog Reader / Post Sharer

I’ve been experimenting a way to share posts on my sidebar. Rather than a static blogroll which just lists blog titles or an RSS feed which shows every post from the feed, I want to specifically select the posts that appear on the sidebar. I don’t know if there’s already something out there that does this.

I’m working on a blog reader which lets me select posts. When I choose to share a post, it writes an XML file which includes only those selected posts.

On my blog, I have an RSS widget which reads the file that I created.

My source is a yahoo pipe:

I use the regex module to add a feed title to the beginning of each post. Doing this is useful for a mashup because the feed title would otherwise get lost.

But the source can be any valid feed, either a mashup or a feed from a single blog.

What my reader does is displays all posts from the source feed, each with a “Share” button, which, when pressed, recreates my XML file. The XML file is an RSS feed which only includes posts which I have selected. It doesn’t include posts which have scrolled off my feed, so this isn’t like a bookmarking service which will save bookmarks indefinitely.

The result is on my sidebar, titled “Selected Posts from my Blogroll”.

It only updates when I use it, so my sidebar will be stale if I don’t keep up on it.

The server that this all runs on is at suffolkian.com. My xml output file is http://www.suffolkian.com/bnmng_blogroll/selectposts/selectedposts_bnmng.xml

I’m still just experimenting, but if you want to use this application or help me test it, use the contact form and let me know your user name, email address, desired password, and source feed. This is real low security, so you probably shouldn’t use the same password that you use for your online banking. I’ll make a configuration file for you and email the link to your reader and the link to the xml file that the reader generates. I make no promises that it will work or that you won’t loose your saved posts as I make changes to the code.

Charts

As the Rational Republican points out, Democrats and Republicans can each refer to charts which bolster their arguments for or against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

source: http://reflectionsofarationalrepublican.com/2012/02/09/did-obama-help-or-hinder-the-recovery-dueling-campaign-narratives/

One chart that I haven’t seen used much is the employment/population ratio.

Employment Population Ratio (falls at end of Bush years and after Obama takes over but then flattens out).

What this shows is in the end of 2009, our jobs losses stopped. Not a very good chart to use against Obama but also not the most impressive chart to support him, because it flattens out in the end rather than rises up.

Much better for Obama is the chart showing the amount of jobs lost and created. Clearly we were loosing jobs at a rate unseen for over 60 years, but after stimulus we started adding millions of jobs back into the economy. But our population also grows, so we have to add millions of jobs each year just to keep up. It’s a lot better for the Obama administration to say, “We’ve added millions of jobs” than, “We’ve added millions of jobs and are keeping up.”

Bar chart showing negative job growth prior to ARRA then positive.
source:http://www.democraticleader.gov/blog/?p=4707

Republicans like to show the labor force participation rate, because it looks so bad. Republicans point out that unemployment figures only show people looking for work, so they actually improve when people give up. Labor force participation drops when people stop looking for work, so they claim it’s a better indication of the nation’s employment situation. But the labor force participation rate only tells a small part of the story. If during hard times two people loose their jobs, than one finds a new job while the other gives up, the labor force participation rate will go down even as the employment situation improves.

Chart showing decline of labor forced participatin rate.
source: http://www.redstate.com/congressman_jim_jordan/2012/02/17/the-stimulus-chart-obama-doesn%E2%80%99t-want-you-to-see/

It may be misleading for the Obama administration to show jobs created without putting them into the context of an ever growing population, but it’s more misleading for Republicans to present a chart that only shows a piece of the puzzle and use that chart to suggest that we’re actually loosing jobs.

If you want to understand our employment situation, you’re going to have to do more than look at a chart.

Paxus of Twin Oaks

I’ve been using more graphics as per the advice of Paxus, of the Twin Oaks community in Mineral, Virginia. I enjoy reading about Twin Oaks and occasionally think about joining such a community, but Sasha and I are going off in our own direction, and when I stop obsessing about politics and economics I’ll get back to writing more about our farm.

What I like most about Twin Oaks is it proves that people can are motivated to participate in fulfilling the needs of their community even without the promise if individual wealth (or threat of being sent to the Gulag). Right wingers often accuse the Left of having so little faith in humanity that we need an authoritative government entity to force people to do the right thing. But at Twin Oaks, they have so much faith in humanity that they’re willing to base their success on the idea that people will willingly work for the common good.

A Day in the Life of a Video Post about the Occupy Movement

I recently came across a video that was first posted back in October. It’s titled “A Day in the Life of an Occupy Wall St. Participant” by Matt, in Portland Oregon. This post is so full of misinformation I wish I could be surprised about it’s many thousands of facebook likes and comments of approval. Unfortunately, accurate information is less important than sarcastic rhetoric.

In the video, Matt describes Dakota, Marin, and Simon, a group of young, mindless, consumers, as they plan for a day of protesting while purchasing and using products sold by big corporations. Matt says that they are hypocrites for being compulsive consumers while protesting the evils of “corporate greed” and asks, “If you really wanted to change the system, wouldn’t you want to boycott these evil corporations?”

Well, no. Generally, what the occupiers hoped to accomplish was financial regulations to prevent the kind of investments which create great risk to people not making those investments. The target of the protest were primarily financial institutions, hence “Occupy Wall Street”. Since most of companies that Matt lists in his video aren’t financial institutions, the Occupy movement, though diverse, wasn’t generally targeting those corporations. As it turns out, many of the protesters did put their money where their mouths where, and closed accounts at large financial banks and moved them to local banks and credit unions. But even if they were protesting Verizon, Dell, and Cisco, boycotting isn’t the only way to voice displeasure and sometimes isn’t event he best. A massive boycott of dozens of major corporations would cause an even greater financial crisis than the one we’re recovering from now. That would be hypocritical.

Thus, Matt uses the activities of his three characters (I don’t know if he completely made them up ) to describe the entire movement as a bunch of “Self righteous, morally indignant hypocrites”, even though their activities, real or not, don’t demonstrate hypocrisy (thoughtlessness and consumerism, perhaps).

Towards the end of the video, Matt starts to sound a little bit like a liberal. He chastises his three characters for not giving money to homeless people, then he talks about Chinese slave laborers and Vietnamese children who make all the products that we mindlessly purchase. He actually says, “It’s your consumerism that’s driving the social inequality that you’re out protesting”.

So true. Interesting that the occupy movement was started by an anti-consumerist organization called
Adbusters (according to Wikipedia). Perhaps Matt and the occupiers have more in common than he realizes.

Matt doesn’t seem like a really bad guy, and I won’t chastise him for not telling us if Dakota, Marin, and Simon are real people, amalgams of stories he’s heard or read about, or just three dopes he dreamed up. He wasn’t expecting his little video to go viral.

The problem isn’t Matt, so much, as all the people who took this little story seriously, despite all of its irrelevancy, and hailed it as proof that the occupiers were all just a bunch of hypocrites.

I just read the headlines.

I’m actually fascinated by the dishonesty of Dana Loesch in accusing Jimmy Hoffa Jr. of inciting violence. She even posts a quote about Mr. Hoffa and claims that the quote proves her point when it actually proves the opposite.

Jimmy Hoffa Jr. did not call for violence. He said,

“Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back & keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of bitches out”

By repeating the last part of that quote and minimizing the rest of it, right wing bloggers have suggested that Hoffa’s words were incendiary. After the left wing’s reaction to the false accusations, Loesch defended herself by writing “Hoffa […] made it very clear that he wasn’t talking about “voting.”, and she pulled a quote from Talking Points Memo. That quote was:

Teamsters union president James Hoffa would say it all again if he could, he told TPM Monday.
Hoffa riled up Fox News and the right wing Monday with a Labor Day speech in Detroit in which he called Republican members of Congress “sons of bitches” and said union workers are ready to “go to war” with the tea party next year and “take out” Republicans at the ballot box.
Hoffa said he’d say the exact same words all over again.

“‘Take out’ Republicans at the ballot box”. Clearly, nothing about the quote she pulled backs up her thesis. In fact, the quote contradicts it. Even without TPM’s editorializing, Hoffa’s words were clearly metaphorical. But that the quote she pulled contradicts her assertions indicates that she doesn’t expect her readers to actually read past the first few lines. This is one step up from writing “Obama is a Muslim Extremist Communist Thug” and filling the rest of the post with “Lorem ipsum”s. She expects her audience to read the zinger at the top, and note that the post has a few quotes which must back up her bullshit. After all, her readers don’t spend $70 a month for 150 channels just to spend all their time reading.

Her writing is sarcastic, simplistic, and false. It’s a simple formula but it’s fascinating how well it works.