Archive for the ‘general’ Category

Who’s to Blame?

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

The unthinkable has happened. Unless there’s an unprecedented revolt by the electors in the Electoral College, we’re about to inaugurate the vilest President imaginable, a person who embodies the worst traits of America: bigotry, misogyny, arrogance, pseudo-Christian hypocrisy, wealth-worship, anti-intellectualism, etcetera.  And to go along with the Evil One in the White House, we get  Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. How did we get here? Who’s to blame for this horrific turn of events? I’ve composed a series of open letters to the culprits.

But first, yes, it is important to play the “Blame Game”. If we don’t face up to what went wrong, if we blame the wrong people, we will inevitably repeat the same mistakes. Exhibit A: The election of 2000. People who should know better continue to blame Nader voters, not Gore’s gawdawful campaign, for that debacle. So, this time around we get a blandocrat putz as a VP nominee, and a Republican-Lite POTUS candidate who pathetically fails to offer a real vision. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.


Culprit number one: Trump voters

Dear Trumpsters-

What the fuck is wrong with you people? Seriously, where did you get the idea that this reverse-Midas Cheetoh would make a good President? His record includes zero public service of any sort. His business record is awful; he inherited zillions and has bankruptcy after bankruptcy; he refuses to pay thousands of people who’ve worked for him; his businesses are a long list of pathetic failures and frequent frauds. He has no real policy proposals, just lies, platitudes, frothing resentment, racism, misogyny, and more lies. No, I don’t think you’re all racist misogynist imbeciles. You just don’t think that being a racist misogynist imbecile is a deal-breaker for a candidate. Come to think of it, that’s a distinction without a difference. You ARE a bunch of racist misogynist imbeciles.


Culprit number two: non-voters

Dear Apathetics-

Yeah, I get it. You don’t like voting for the lesser of two evils. There was nobody on the ballot you could get behind enthusiastically, so you stayed home. Yes, both parties are awful, but they’re not equally awful. Yes, Clinton and her fellow corporate blandocrats down-ballot are boring, uninspiring, and wrong on a whole host of issues. But the Republicans are just plain evil. Get in your time machine, go back to election day, control of your gag reflex, and fucking vote. And next time, educate yourself and work for candidates you actually support in the primaries.


Culprit number three: the DNC and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership

Dear Corporatist Buttwipes-

Stop barfing up these pathetic spineless unprincipled douchebags you call candidates. Nobody likes your corporate blandocrats. Nobody likes your retread Republicans. Nobody likes your corporate super-PAC puppets. Just being a little less awful than the Republicans does not mean you automatically cruise to victory; it just means that barely half the registered voters bother to show up.

Everybody at the DNC should resign or be fired immediately; replace them with principled progressives. Completely revamp the Presidential nominating process. No more superdelegates. No more bizarre convoluted incomprehensible caucuses. Balance the schedule geographically so that conservative southern states do not have disproportionate influence.

Then, get to work on the congressional candidates you bless. Reject previously unchallengeable dogma. The best fundraiser is not necessarily the best candidate. The most (cough-cough) “moderate” candidate is not necessarily the best choice, either.

Then, after these reforms are implemented, we can have a progressive POTUS and a progressive-majority Congress governing the smoldering ruins left over from the Trump administration.


Culprit number four: Hillary Clinton


It must be rough. Three national campaigns with all of the advantages a candidate could possibly have: universal name recognition, endorsements from big political and media names, big money donors up the gazoo, your buddies making up the rules for the party nominating process, and what do you have to show for it? You lost the D nomination to a charismatic whippersnapper in ’08. You barely eeked out an unconvincing nomination victory over a grumpy geezer who entered the campaign with 4% name recognition in ’16. Then, with the Presidency practically handed to you on a platter, you managed to lose Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan to Donald Fucking Trump. Seriously, a Democrat lost fucking Michigan to a Nazi. What kind of a craptastic campaign do you have to run to make that possible?

Face it, regardless of whatever merits you may have in other walks of life, as a candidate, you suck beans. Maybe you would have been a tolerably decent President, but as a candidate, as a campaigner…

Enjoy your retirement.

If there’s one piece of good news in this disaster, it’s that we will never have to endure another Clinton campaigning for anything ever again.


Culprit number five: hyper-feminists

Dear Gynocentrists-

Allow me to mansplain for a second, and say a few really outrageous things that will make steam come out of your ears: candidates should be evaluated based on their merits as individuals. A pair of X chromosomes does not make one a better person or a better politician. All criticism of a female politician is not necessarily automatically intrinsically sexist. When you deflect all criticism of your candidate as automatically sexist regardless of specifics, you lose the argument, and you lose votes for your candidate. Hillary lost because she’s a lousy candidate, not because she’s a woman. There are a few women (Elizabeth Warren, for starters) who would have won easily, if one of them had been the Democratic nominee. Hillary lost because her slogan might as well have been “vote for me, because inertia”, not because she’s a woman. Hillary lost because she’s a status quo candidate when nobody likes the status quo, not because she’s a woman. Hillary lost because she failed to offer a real vision of what she wanted to accomplish and what she wanted America to be, not because she’s a woman.



Do you notice how Bernie supporters and minor party voters don’t make the list?

The Coming Re-Alignment

Friday, October 14th, 2016

A few years ago, in the course of a political discussion with some friends, I made a comment something along the lines of “if we must have a two-party system, couldn’t we at least have one where the current corporate ‘Democratic’ Party is the conservative one?” Now, it looks like that re-alignment is actually happening.

The recent primary elections have exposed major schisms in both of today’s parties. The Republican Party’s post-Reagan madness has seen it devolve into several squabbling factions: the bigot Republicans, the theocracy Republicans, the libertarian Republicans, and the “moderate” Republicans. On the Democratic side, the corporate blandocrats remain in charge after fighting off a progressive rebellion.

Republican Humpty-Dumpty

For the moment, the Bigot Republicans have taken over that party. Facts are irrelevant, policies are irrelevant, science is an evil conspiracy. If we just blame all our problems on brown people, black people, women, homosexuals, and liberals while chanting “USA! USA!” really loud, all of our problems will be solved. In simple electoral terms, that strategy is doomed. The Orange One is seeing major blocks of his own party peel off, and he’s not picking up significant numbers of independents or disaffected Democrats. America is not as white, or as male-controlled, as it used to be. I’m not sure if it ever was quite that stupid.

The coming election will see not only the resounding defeat of Trump, but substantial losses by the Republicans down-ticket as well. The evangelicals are trying to hold their nose and vote for the serial adulterer, but their enthusiasm is under-whelming. Libertarians have their own candidate, who will attract a substantial number of votes that might otherwise go to a Republican. The moderate Republicans—both of them—will wind up voting for Hillary. Plus, Republican House and Senate candidates are in a damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don’t dilemma: do they support Trump and go down in flames, or do they disavow Trump, lose the support of their base, and go down in flames?

It’s hard to imagine a future Republican leader who can re-assemble the shattered fragments of the Reagan/Bush coalition and put together a nationally viable party. Today’s America is too diverse for a party which only appeals to uneducated straight white male Christians. Sure, the remnants of the Republican party will continue to win local races and congressional seats in the deep South and parts of the Midwest, but its fragmentation and dogmatism will preclude it from winning a national election in the foreseeable future.

Progressive Revolt

On the Democratic side, the primary election revealed a simpler, dichotomous split between the corporate wing of the party and the progressive one. On many issues, the post-Reagan Democratic Party has drifted rightward alongside the Republican Party’s rightward plunge into madness. Today’s Democrats support grossly bloated military budgets, bombing Middle Eastern wedding parties, job- and environment-destroying trade deals, private for-profit prisons, more drilling for oil, fracking, pipelines, low taxes for the uber-wealthy, overseas tax havens for profitable corporations, and on and on. Is this Democratic Party part of the solution, or part of the problem? Is it a surprise that the candidate pre-selected by the ruling cabal before anyone had actually voted faced a revolt?

Yeah, yeah. I know… today’s Democrats are really good on some issues too. Gay marriage, equal pay for women, abortion rights, great. You want to know a dirty, politically incorrect, secret? Social issues are cheap. You can support gay marriage and still rake in the big campaign contributions from Exxon, because that’s not an issue the global corporate monoculture cares about. Meanwhile, we’re still pumping billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere and the perpetual war in the Middle East and central Asia continues apace.

You want to know another secret? Talk is cheap, too. The corporate Democrats talk the talk regarding climate change, but the moment they face some resistance they capitulate utterly and walk… away. The obstructionist Republicans are convenient props for the corporate Democrats. The Ds can claim to want to do stuff, and then just throw up their arms and walk away when faced with resistance. If shit happens, it’s all the Rs fault for obstructing the Ds’ proposals. If good stuff happens, it’s a triumph of the Ds over the obstruction. And all of this without the Ds demonstrating a hint of a trace of an iota of a vestigial remnant of backbone. The corporate cash keeps flowing, because the Ds haven’t meaningfully challenged their corporate overlords.

The Bernie Sanders rebellion shows that I’m not the only one who is sick of the bullshit. A two party system where one party is completely insane and the other is content to be slightly less bad is not a healthy, sustainable democracy.

The Future

So, where are we going, and what are we doing in this handbasket? The short term prognosis for the corporate Ds is great. Hillary’s certain to be the next President, and even the bland, unprincipled, big money candidates the DNC recruits will likely win control of the Senate and cut deeply into the Rs’ majority in the House. But this should not be read as a ringing endorsement of corporate blandocracy, only a repudiation of the vile, poisonous Republican brand.

The corporate Ds will then have to govern. The Rs will still have the ability to obstruct, and the few progressives aren’t always going to march in lock-step with Clintonian ‘compromises’.

Will Clinton’s really, truly, honest-to-goodness, completely sincere attempt to overturn Citizens United succeed? Of course not. She’ll make a timid effort to start a constitutional amendment drive and then give up. Possible legislative mitigations will be ignored. As one of the biggest beneficiaries of today’s Money Rules system, she has little reason to try too hard. As the leader of an ostensibly progressive party, she has an obligation to give the issue lip service.

Will Clinton’s really, truly, honest-to-goodness, completely sincere opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership prevent it from being implemented? Of course not. If it’s not shoved through the lame duck session of Congress, she’ll “re-negotiate” the deal, making superficial changes while leaving the guts of the monster intact. Then, she’ll shove that through Congress, using the fast track authority passed while she so conveniently hadn’t declared a position yet.

So, Clinton winds up with a rebellion from the left, belligerent obstruction from the right, and a ringing mandate to not be Donald Trump. Not much will get done by the federal government the next four years. But she gets multiple scapegoats to blame for this. Wonderful.

In the 2018 Congressional races, the DNC will succeed in nominating another herd of neoliberal corporate blandocrats. Turnout will be low, and many of them will lose. Hillary and the DNC will blame the hippies for not marching in lockstep behind her anointed nobodies. OK, that prediction was just too easy.

I’m not sure what happens in 2020. Will Hillary seek a second term? Will the progressives make one last attempt to reform the Democratic Party, or will they form a new party?

But, by 2024, a few things will have happened:

  • The Republican Party as we now know it will have dissolved into national electoral irrelevance, a victim of a diversifying electorate and factional squabbling. The Democratic Party will continue to drift to the right on a whole host of issues. It will continue to wallow in giant pits of corporate cash. It will lose support from the left, and gain support from today’s “moderate” Republicans.
  • The Libertarian Party will gain support from the government-hating factions of the former Republican Party, but not enough to be much of a factor nationally.
  • A new left wing party will form. It will win a good number of seats in Congress from the West and the Northeast, but it will be very difficult for this new party to gain power nationally, as the Ds will have all of the money and campaign finance reform won’t pass any time soon. One immediate benefit of the existence of this party is it will stop the inexorable rightward drift of media discourse. It will be impossible for the media to ignore future Bernie Sanderses.
  • The Green Party will continue to be irrelevant. The new left party will form outside the current Green structure.

So, eventually, the two party system re-establishes itself, with the Clintonistas in the right wing party. Where they belong.

looking critically at sciencey claims: a layperson’s guide

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

The web world is full of claims about what science has supposedly proven or what a recent study has shown. Many of these claims are dubious; some are pure distilled bullshit, some actually have merit. Here I present my guide to separating the wheat of wisdom from the chaff of fraud, hyperbole, and pseudoscience.

First, start with a bold claim from the interwebz. “According to a new scientific study…” …maybe it’s a nutritional claim, maybe it relates to climate change, maybe vaccine safety, or maybe… any of dozens of topics. How do we go about verifying the veracity of this claim?

Look at the source. Inevitably this is a secondary source, rather than an actual journal article detailing scientific research. Is it from a respected purveyor of science news to laypeople? A mainstream news site? An unfamiliar website? A known purveyor of ka-ka? If it’s from a well-known manure spreader like NaturalNews, CollectiveEvolution, Mercola, or WorldNetDaily, you’ve got a big red flag already. If the site is unfamiliar to you, check it out. Look at the other articles on the site. Is it full of paranoid fantasies? Biblical prophesy? Really wacky New Age twaddle? If the site is a mainstream news site, take the conclusions with a big grain of salt; many otherwise respected news sites do a really crappy job of science reporting. If the site is a quality science site, good. But it’s still not exempt from critical analysis.

Read the source. Does it commit flagrant logical fallacies? Perhaps the most common is assuming that correlation proves causation. Grandiose extrapolations? Another red flag is a persecution complex. They mocked Galileo, they mock me, therefore I’m just like Galileo…. uhhh… no.

Lool at the source’s sources. If we’re really looking at a new scientific study, find the study. If your secondary source doesn’t link to the actual study, that’s a little red flag. If it doesn’t provide necessary clues to find the study, it’s a big red flag. If there is no peer-reviewed study to be found, you’re probably dealing with a crackpot making wild claims without foundation.

Look at the actual scientific paper. First off, most serious scientific journals don’t let everybody browse the entire journal. This sucks, but it’s the way things are at this point. Generally, you can read the abstract for free, but if you want to read the whole thing you have to fork over the big bucks. Fortunately, the abstact is usually enough for our puposes as laypeople. The abstract outlines the question, procedures, and conclusions of the study briefly. Often, when I’ve looked up the source for a claim, I’ve learned that the author of that secondary source article completely misrepresented the actual findings. When this happens, you can write off the original claim as crap. Often, the analysis of the secondary source author is shakey, but not outrageous. Perhaps a tentative call for further study has been stretched into a bold conclusion. Perhaps a petri dish study of tissue in a lab has been extrapolated grandly into (yet another) cure for cancer. Another question you should be able to answer from the abstract: is this  original research, or are the authors just crunching numbers? Meta-analyses can be useful, but often analyzing other people’s data is just a cheap way for someone to get published. Tally up the number and size of red flags accordingly.

If you haven’t completely rejected the original claim at this point, check out the journal which published the study. Is it a known, prestigious journal like Nature, Cell, JAMA, or Lancet? This brave new world we live in is full of dubious “peer-reviewed” journals which publish anything that somebody pays them to publish. It may take some Googling to assess the reputation and credibility of a journal.

Then, check out the authors of the study. Are the authors experts in the field they’re writing about? One category of bad science I’ve noticed a lot lately is experts in one field writing about a completely different field. When a computer scientist makes wild claims about biochemistry and the biochemists laugh at the study’s absurdity, I’m inclined to believe the biochemists. An astronomer doesn’t necessarily know any more about mammalian paleontology that you or I do, regardless of how many degrees that person has earned.

Please, people, follow this procedure (or a similar one) before you share that sciencey-sounding meme which just happens to reinforce what you already believe.

More on Thomas Hardin

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

I’ve wasted enough time that I should spend doing money work on Thomas Hardin. For now, at least. I have learned a few things in the meantime. The Elic White/Thomas Hardin was a different dude. There were lots of Hardins in the West Virginia/Kentucky region (there’s even a Hardin County) at the time, and quite a few folks moving west from the over-harvested forests back east to the virgin ones in the Pacific Northwest. The two Thomases with Comforts were probably some kind of cousins, and both lines kept the alternating generations of sons getting the recurring family names thang. Plus, different branches of Hardins were marrying and shooting different branches of Blankenships throughout the region at the time. It looks like Elic White lived a normal life after the episode which sent him to Oregon; the Thomas Hardin who shot my gg grandfather was a bad bad dude through and through.

When I wrote the previous post I wasn’t sure about the Bateman shooting/robbery in 1901. That really was our guy. One of the newpaper articles about the triple murder/suicide discusses the Bateman episode and tells how TH’s father and step father secured a pardon for him after only part of his sentence had been served.

A few of the articles about TH mention multiple wives, with some of them dead under suspicious circumstances. I haven’t been able to track them down. As I said, there were lots of Hardins and several Thomas Hardins in the area at the time. Several of them got married. But none of the documented marriages seem to be THAT Thomas Hardin. It’s likely that he didn’t document his conquests, but it’s also possible that the newspaper accounts exaggerated his nastiness.

There are also report that he torched a family member’s home, with several people narrowly escaping from the burning building. I can’t find a trace of that in the newpapers of the period.

The circumstances of his marriage to 12 year old Rosa Belle Smith seem really nasty, too. The newpaper accounts of the murder mention assault, possible drugging, kidnapping, etc. But details are hard to come by. Rosie’s father died in 1906. Did TH have something to do with it? I do not know.

Most of the articles about TH are on his page in the genealogy part of my site.

The Strange Case of Thomas Hardin

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

One of the intriguing frustrations about genealogical research is that each answer just generates more questions. Most of the questions are pretty mundane and interesting only to other relatives, but once in a while one stumbles into a web of intrigue and mayhem which is a great story regardless of ones ancestry. I’m trying to untangle one of those at present. I’ve got to get some money work done, so I’ll do a quick post about what I’ve found so far, then I’ll get back to the research later.

I’ve known for quite a few years that William H. Hagerman, Sr., my great-great grandfather, was a victim in a sensational murder in Chehalis, Washington in 1914. The event has intrigued me, and I’ve had fantasies of making a documentary about the murder. The other day, I took a break from work and poked around the web a bit to see what more I could find. The basic facts of the case are pretty simple. WHH and his (third) wife, Artha Mae Justice (I’ll refer to women by their birth names, rather than their married names) were sitting down to supper with Rosa Belle Smith (AMJ’s daughter by a previous marriage) and two other people. Thomas Hardin, estranged husband of RBS, broke in and shot and killed the three diners I’ve named, then went outside and shot himself.


In this round of  research, I’ve been focusing on the perpetrator, Thomas Hardin. He was apparently a very nasty fellow. It started with this newspaper article, which documents hearsay about his violent past without giving many details:



I set out to learn how much of TH’s past I could document. The Oregon City episode was pretty easy. The University of Oregon has an excellent online library of historical newspapers, so I could track down news of that episode. Yes, TH stabbed a man named Frederick Hoffman in 1911. TH was convicted of the crime, but received a suspended sentence because of his family. And I thought liberal judges were a product of the 1960s. The other episodes were not so easy. Without specific dates and locations it’s rather difficult to come up with much. But I did find news reports from Bluefield, WV about Thomas Hardin robbing and shooting a fellow named Bateman. TH was convicted and sentenced to ten years. There’s no age or place of birth given for this Tom Hardin, so I can’t be certain it’s the same dude. It’s also interesting that he was sentenced to ten years in prison just four or five years before the marriage to RBS. But other newspaper articles refer to him being from Virginia, and How many Thomas Hardins could there be going between the Virginia-W Virginia-Kentucky region and the Pacific Northwest around the turn of the Twentieth Century committing various acts of mayhem?

So, at this point I had a more or less coherent timeline for TH. I had census reports from 1880 and 1910. I had an outline of his family tree. The dates were a bit inconsistent, and there were hints of other violent episodes and wives which I haven’t been able to document. Then, I stumbled into “Tom and Comfort Hardin killed Levi Blankenship, a brother of Tom’s wife,
Peggy Blankenship” on the coalexchange site. I’ve visited that site quite a few times. It’s a fountain of (not necessarily reliable) information about the Hagerman family. This Hardin-Blankenship episode ocurred in 1895. The Tom Hardin who commited the murder-suicide had a father named Comfort (he also named a son Comfort, but the son wasn’t born yet). Other online researchers claim the TH of the Blankenship episode changed his name to Alec (or Elic) White, moved to Oregon, and lived under that name until 1932. Those researchers also document a more-or-less coherent timeline for a different (!?) Thomas Hardin. Different birthdates; different census reports, sometimes from the same years; different wives; different death dates. But both Thomas Hardins lived in both the Virginia-Kentucky region and Oregon. Both had close male relatives named Comfort Hardin. Both left a trail of violent crime in their wake. While Thomas Hardin is a fairly common name, it seems bizarre that there would be two of them in the same time period in the same geographic areas with the same strange father/brother/son name commmiting similar violent crimes. There’s got to be a connection…

More research to follow.


Orbs Crush Quack

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Today I received an email through the contact form of my girlfriend’s website, It started out:

Our Website [dreamhealer dot com] has a link from your website. We request you to remove that link at earliest because the backlink is hampering our website ranking and seo very badly.

We also understand that your website integrity isn’t in question here but the penalty from google is severely affecting our business. The link has already had a very negative effect on our website SEO and business.

We believe that you would take action over it immediately or in case of no action within 24 hrs, we are going to have to file a “Disavow Link” report with Google. If we do this, it may affect your site’s Google rankings…

Orbgoddess is a silly little site which gets very little traffic or attention. It does no black hat promotion which might possibly cause problems with Google.  It baffles me how a nice friendly link would be blamed for poor search engine rankings of a relatively large site. It should help their rankings, actually, but since Orbgoddess is a low traffic site, it wouldn’t help much, just an itsy-bitsy bit. The notion that it would have a serious negative impact is ridiculous. But not as ridiculous as the profitable quackery barfed up on dreamhealer dot com.

Dr. Quack’s Web Dude: I do not work for you. You do not pay me. Do not give me orders. Do not demand I snap to attention on a holiday weekend. Do not threaten me. Your ideas about search engine optimization are preposterous, and your boss’s naturopathic crackpottery should be illegal. I will remove the link which is benefitting your site when I get a round tuit, but at the moment I have other things to do. Like working for paying clients. Like writing a snarky blog post. Like going home and eating dinner.

For the rest of you: do you want to learn how you can spend hundreds of dollars attending a workshop about bullshit? Want to see a picture of a naturopath wearing a stethoscope so he looks like a real doctor? Want to buy DVDs and books full of new-agey gibberish? Follow this link for a heap of pseudo-scientific quackery from Adam.

Mini Sites for Everybody?

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

This is part of the ongoing saga of the development of Sort of, sort of not.

While I was doing data collecting and data entry for the directory section of realMendocino, I noticed that many of the local businesses and self employed professionals have no website at all. This doesn’t seem wise to me.

On the one hand, most of those folks don’t need a fancy-shmancy site; they’re not doing e-commerce, they don’t need to reach beyond the local community and people who actually visit the area. But, on the other hand, this is the Twenty-first Century. Fewer and fewer people use old-fashioned phone books. Every business needs some kind of web presence of their own, otherwise the only sign of their existence to many of their potential customers may be an inaccurate, rarely updated page on Yelp (or some such global corporate monoculture site). And that Yelp page is likely to have a nasty review by some grumpus who visited the store a year ago.

So, I saw a need to develop an option for mini-sites for these people. One easy-to-set-up, easy-to-edit page with the pertinent information about the business or service. They’d just need to fill out a few forms with info about their business, upload a few photos, pick some colors, define the order in which those elements are displayed, and *voila!* an instant mini-site!

It’ll be inexpensive (maybe $100/yr) for the people setting up the sites, but still a decent source of steady income for me, once I get a decent number of folks interested.

As is often the case with such things, actually developing the gosh-darned thing has turned to be vastly more complicated than it seemed like it would be. I’ve put a lot of time into designing the database, writing the scripts, securing it from malevolent code, trying to anticipate all credible contingencies, etc. But I’ve been persevering, and the monster is almost ready for me to draft a few friends to be beta testers.

Today, as I was working on some of the editing scripts, a new thought ocurred to me: maybe this isn’t just a section of realMendocino. Maybe I should offer the mini-sites to the larger web world. The scripts themselves are portable, I could set them up on a separate site and people in Hoboken and Biloxi could set up their mini-sites and I’d get rich. Or maybe it’d just get lost in a sea of other options which are supported by giant ad campaigns and stuff. Hmmm…

Indiegogo Sucks

Monday, April 29th, 2013

In a previous post, I wrote about how I had started a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo to raise capital for my Mendocino community website project, realMendocino. It didn’t go well. A week after the campaign ended, I’m still trying to get the money the capaign raised out of the greedy clutches of the Indiegogo monster and into my bank account. Furthermore, there is not one hint of a shred of a scintilla of evidence that my campaign benefitted in any way from its presence on the Indiegogo site; the donors are all people I already knew. There’s no sign of anybody else even looking at the campaign’s page.  If I’d posted a Youtube video, sent pretty much the same Facebook posts and emails I did, and just asked people to send money to my Paypal acount or my post office box, I would have raised at least as much money. Faster. Furthermore, the Indiegogo vampire wouldn’t have gotten to suck out a cut of the action, and they wouldn’t get to squeeze out a few more nickels of interest by  incubating my money after the campaign is long over.

The Indiegogo scum’s support desk is remarkably unhelpful. They  just endlessly regurgitate a line buried in a FAQ page in a remote corner of the Indiegogo maggot’s site saying that “it may take two weeks for us to get around to transferring your money to your bank account, or maybe we’ll just hang onto it until hell freezes over”. OK, maybe that’s not an exact quote. Repeated queries as to why, exactly, it should take up to two weeks to send a few bytes of information from one computer to another in the twenty-first century have gone unanswered.

The Indiegogo demon likes to crow about its “GoGo Meter”, which picks campaigns which are already doing well all by themselves and features them on the site’s homepage. That way, it looks like the Indiegogo vermin are successfully helping campaigns, when they’re actually just milking them.

So, if you’re looking to start a crowdfunding campaign, there doesn’t seem to be much to be gained by using one of the monster sites (I  haven’t tried the others, maybe they’re just as bad) instead of  just running the campaign yourself. If you’ve got the family/friends/colleagues/Facebook/Twitter network in place, you don’t need the greedy Indiegogo motherfuckers. Just do it yourself.

It’s not just me. There are plenty of other people complaining about the Indiegogo scam.

WordPress Paypal Plugins

Friday, March 29th, 2013

A possible new client wants to do some hyper-simple e-commerce. Usually, I create custom sites, but WordPress has a lot of advantages, starting with easy set-up and maintenance, and this site will be so simple, it shouldn’t really require anything I can’t do with WP. But, I’ve never used the WP add ons for e-commerce. Let’s try a “buy now” button for one of my photos. I just took this one a few evenings ago, and it’s been getting lotsa “likes” on Facebook, so I’ll do a live test. If somebody actually orders this, I’ll ship it.


moonrise over mendocino

I’m offering this as a 12×16 canvas print gallery-wrapped on a stretcher frame, for $250.

Are the WP gods smiling on me today? I’ll click “publish” and check it in another browser.

Well, poo. That plugin requires more setup than I want to do, and it has more features than I need. For that particular client, anyway. They just need a few “buy now” buttons, and than plugin is a more complicated shopping cart.

Now I’ll try the Easy Paypal Payment or Donation Accept plugin from the same folks (

Let’s see if I can get that one to work easily.

Moon and the Maiden Photo

Well… making progress. How about this method with the same plugin?

Barfarooni. Let’s try another plugin.

realMendocino and crowdfunding

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

I’ve been contemplating, planning, and dabbling with regards to, my Mendocino community website project, for a couple of years. I’ve got a lot of the background code written, and some of the data entered for the directory. But there’s a great big heap of work to be done. I’ve been trying to rustle up enough enough loot to focus on the project for a couple of months and get it running properly. Once it’s running and getting traffic, I’ll be able to sell ads and get some ongoing income from it.

But where does the startup loot come from? Borrow it? Tee-hee. No sane person or institution would loan me money. Advances from future adverstisers? I’m open to offers, but the ads ain’t worth nothin’ until the site is up and getting traffic. Friends and family? Uh… maybe. But who, exactly, and how many times would I need to deliver the same basic pitch?

Which brings me to crowdfunding. Theoretically, I should be able to make a quick video, write a little blurb, post ‘em on one of the crowdfunding sites, announce it on Facebook, email a few other friends and family, and let the money flow in. Sounds nice. That’s what I’ve tried. You can visit campaign’s page. So far, the results are rather underwhelming. Maybe I just suck at this whole begging thing. Maybe I should move to North Dakota and get a job driving a truck in the oil fields or something.

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