The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 77,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Wall Street Journal recently (Thursday July 14, 2011) published an article in the Marketplace section where various analysts reported valuing the company at $100 billion and upwards. Redpoint Venures’ Geoff Yang notes that Facebook created a new ecosystem – the ‘social web’. His valuation was based on a $25BB market in online ad revenue with Facebook having a 27% share. In 2015 that $25BB will grow to $45BB and Facebook’s share translates to $7BB in revenue. Add in the local advertising market today estimated at $133BB and project that to the future for $150BB. With the Internet taking 20% and Facebook 20% of that, add $6BB in revenue. Add in international revenue and the estimated 2015 revenue goes to $19BB. With a P/E of 25, Facebook is worth $140BB in 2015. The high end of the scale in the report was $240BB valuation. Some of the higher P/Es are undoubtedly because Facebook is still a private company, lots of investor want in, and the law of supply and demand is active.

Going back to Geoff Yang’s comment about a new ecosystem, the thing about ecosystems is that they contain lots of niches, some beneficial and some not so beneficial. Looking at Facebook as a social media, people automatically assume that Facebook is about communications. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, Facebook has the ‘potential’ to be a communications tool but to be specific, one has to remember that, as Claude Shannon established, communications requires three elements: a sender, a channel and a receiver. Social media over the Internet is clearly the channel and the millions of members participating are senders. I am not so certain about the receivers.

Facebook is a means for participants to throw out to the world (dare I say ‘vomit’) pithy comments about life, mostly as a means to assuage their egos and establish that their thoughts are somehow worthy of publication. Admittedly, blog writers succumb to the same predisposition, as do contributors to refereed journals. In our case as well as the case with journals, we impose some sort of peer review.

The problem comes when participants believe and expect that Facebook is, in fact, a means of communication, when it typically is not. Personally, being inoculated by Inter-relay Chat (IRC) in earlier days, I know enough to not assess my self-worth by a post or response to a post that comes flying my way, and do not participate in “flame wars”. There are lots of people out there using Facebook with less unassailable egos, fragile personalities and low self-esteem. When these persons become involved in Facebook interactions; and the inevitable trolls and digital demagogues line up like sharks at a chumming, the potential for damage is high.

In verbal communications, most people learn quickly that a self-imposed delay between thinking and speaking is a survival trait. Facebook provides minimal feedback to reinforce an equivalent delay between thought and post. This is not a new concept – books have been written on email etiquette. What is new is that email did not have the potential to impact participants to the same degree. Technology has provided enablers: streams of friend’s posts requires bandwidth; computational power; and storage – all of which have made significant improvements over the last ten years. The result of which is a much more rapid and wider dissemination of accidental stupidity and intentional cruelty.

A 2009 report showed that 1 in 5 divorces are attributed to Facebook. Verbal bullying on Facebook has been reported and is increasing. Blackmail related to Facebook posting of photos is noted. Some interesting work on the phenomena is found here.

Returning to Facebook’s valuation, an infelicitous confluence of factors – high valuations, widespread usage and the potential for material damage (psychological – resulting in treatment costs; suicides, etc.) make Facebook an obvious target for tort lawyers. Expect novel theories of liability to emerge directly in proportion to Facebook’s rising valuation.

The other night I needed to get some work done. Work that required access to my employer’s network. Access that required me to install the VPN software on my new laptop. And that’s when things started to go wrong.

You have to register with the VPN provider before can dowmload their VPN client. And it’s not just any registration process — it is a highly secure one that looks like some command and control freak setup the process. First you have to give them everything from your phone number to your job title. Then you have to come up with a password that has not only letters and numbers — get this — but mixed case. Because I’m sure crackers are getting into the provider’s web site to download this free software via exhaustive password guessing instead of just registering for free on the site. Happens all the time.

But just in case I forgot the password to download free software I got to pick not one, but two security questions. And oh — my login name has to have between 9 and 50 characters, with no spaces, at least one letter, and may contain numbers. I couldn’t make something up this silly.

So, I registered. Eventually. After going through maybe 200 “errors” presented by the regristration page screen was…. another page that said “Your session is no longer active.”

The second sign that something was wrong was… it didn’t actually work. Yep, every time I entered in a new user id it was … simply forgotten at the login screen. And the password reset screen.

One more point of joy — clicking on the “Log in” link at the web site’s home page gives you “The page you have requested is not available.” I’ll bet.

So I try copying over the MacOS application directory from my old laptop. And this is when I realized that the VPN provider folks are fools. It looks like the installation sprays its contents over a wide variety of directories, like some kind of … Windows install. If you just copy over the Application directory you find out that the crapware expects to find a library installed in /Library/Frameworks/.

Around the time I realize that this resembles a Windows install, I realize that most Mac OS users would never put up with this — Steve Jobs would have someone executed before putting up with this. The distinguishing difference between Windows users and Mac OS users is that one wants to use a computer and that the other wants to get work done — so there must be a Mac OS solution to this.

It turns out that Mac OS has the VPN built in. But wait… it requires a shared secret, which it is very careful to not let you see. However, it is stored in an encrypted form. Thinking once again that most people wouldn’t put up with this I start googling for a solution — and find a web site that will decrypt it for you. And possibly harvest it as well.

So, as a result of wanting to get work done, and school boy security engineering, I’m sending the shared secret over the Internet to a site I’ve never heard of to decrypt it.

Awesome!

Hola muchachos! It’s your hombre-in-chief, Angry New Mexican here. I stumbled upon this article the other day, which explains why requests for Obama’s birth certificate is starting to have a non-trivial cost on the government of Hawaii. I shared it with my fellow angry men and they had some better ideas than just making it illegal — charging the birthers to for their requests. Angry Overeducated Catholic, explains it all using his usual wit.

Angry Overeducated Catholic

I agree with the proposal to turn birthers into a profit center; this seems to be a no-brainer. It’s not even an ideological or political issue—agencies regularly charge reasonable recovery fees for FOIA requests, and rightly so.

Processing documents is expensive…even if, as I’m sure is the case, the birth certificate is in a special file near the main desk since it’s requested constantly…

The thing that gets me is, why the heck do people keep requesting the documents? If you weren’t satisfied with Hawaii’s documentary standards the first 100 times, what do you expect to learn from the 101st? If Hawaii was snowed by a crafty foreign devil and his bewitched American sugar momma and gave a birth certificate to a shift foreign-born baby, what can you possibly learn from the birth certificate that will substantiate that? There’s clearly no smoking gun, or the first 1000 folks would have found it.

(It would be like constantly pestering the USAF to re-release the Project Blue Book documents. Not the real, super-secret ones proving alien life, you understand, but the same ones they’ve already released that you didn’t like. Again, and again, and again.)

Hey, birthers, move along! There really is nothing to see here! The princess is in a different castle!

But, as others have pointed out, they have every right to request it, and Hawaii has every right to charge them each a $25 processing fee. Heck, waive the fee for Hawaiian residents who have made less than 10 requests in a year. And waive the first 10 fees for any given document, if you are really generous. But by all means if thousands of dumbasses keep requesting the document they’ve already viewed on the Internet a million times, make those idiots pay!

The Economix blog over at the NYT turned me on to how the Midwest is the “Beer Belly” of America, where bars outnumber grocery stores. You see, the folks at floatingsheep.org have done all sorts of exciting things, such as the awesome “pizza map” which shows whether your region prefers pizza, guns, or strippers. I was very surprised by the small number of Southerners who liked strippers. But Angry Overeducated Catholic put me straight…

Angry Overeducated Catholic

Well, remember that this doesn’t really show that Southerners don’t like strippers…only that they like guns (or pizza) more.

Also, we should always remember that one stripper can “service” a goodly number of customers, and strip club customers may not mind driving for 20-30 minutes to the club, since they plan to spend hours there….thus we should expect pizza places to be more numerous, because nobody wants to wait an extra half hour for pizza (except Chicagoans)…

The real apples to apples are strip clubs to gun shops, as:

  • both have obsessive customer bases which love to spend hours and hours at the establishment and have a significant subset of “creepy” customers
  • both cater to both the weekend regulars and the once-in-a-blue-moon customers
  • the once-in-a-blue-moon customers usually need some handholding and instruction in the etiquette of the place
  • both employ security…for obvious reasons
  • both are subject to harassment and busybody cops
  • both tend to be located on the sketchy outskirts of town (okay, that’s true for pizza places frequently too)
  • both are defended vehemently by ideological purists who would, quite frankly, be horrified by a large subset of the actual customers

After reading Bang Bank you’re safe I thought it would be interesting to produce a graph of the Brady Gun score against the gun homicide rate per 100,000.

2009 Brady State Score vs Gun homicide rate

2009 Brady Score vs. Gun homicide rate

No real surprise: the gun score doesn’t seem to have much to do with your chance of being killed with a gun.

There are a lot of problems with this graph; correlation is not causation, the scale is a bit off, and California tends to dominate the eye, being all the way on the right.

But the biggest problem is that the underlying Brady score is measuring inputs instead of outputs. It is like trying to figure out if a school is any good by looking at how much money it spends instead of how well the students learn.

[I have been gone for some time, and perhaps the loss of lackluster McCain and subsequent abandonment of "moderate" Barack Obama to the machinations of Pelosi, Reid, et. al., affected me more than I knew. But if so, Brown's victory has revitalized me! Or, equally likely, I was just a lazy ass who got distracted and wandered off for no good reason and am now back, again for no good reason. Your choice, I guess. --- AOC ]

Back in the summer of 2009, while celebrating a notable birthday of a good friend, I was chatting with two of the birthday boy’s very liberal, very activist friends. They were naturally overjoyed by Obama’s election (and, in fact, by Biden’s selection—being that rarest of things: Biden groupies), and were certain it was just the start of a sweeping demographic and electoral shift to a permanent progressive majority. Not unlike our own Angry New Mexican (well, except for ANM’s odd infatuation with Her Thighness and low opinion of our President).

Having had some of the same experience a certain number of years before (remember that coming permanent Republican majority?) I expressed skepticism. I told them that the Democrats had arrogantly assumed that the electorate’s mandate for reform and fiscal responsibility was a mandate for sweeping progressive changes, despite the massive evidence to the contrary. And the public was, I told them, becoming angry at this apparent disconnect and the apparent arrogant disregard for Main Street’s traditional center-right views.

They were scornful, and in the fullness of time we made a little bet. In our conversation, we had each agreed that the GOP would gain some seats in the House during 2010, but not enough to pick up a majority. But we disagreed on what would happen in the Senate in 2010. So I bet that the GOP would pick up enough seats to end the super-majority (but not retake the Senate) and my counterpart bet that the Democrats would pick up at least one additional net seat, increasing their super-majority. We agreed to a push if things remained 60-40.

I’m not going to assume victory just now, as there’s plenty of time for the GOP to screw up or for the Democrats to get their act together, but I have to say that my fine dinner at an excellent restaurant on my liberal acquaintance’s dime is looking pretty solid. And, even more gratifying, for the reason I mentioned: the sheer arrogance and incompetence of the Democratic leadership. (The mirror image, to be fair, of the Republican arrogance and incompetence that lost the GOP the whole shebang in 2008.)

Witness Brown, a moderate, country-club style republican in the mode of a McCain or Olympia Snow, become a rallying point for libertarian and Tea Party money. And doing it not by concealing who he is, but by emphasizing who he’s not. He is a moderate, center-right guy, he is not a progressive lackey of Pelosi and Reid. That was enough, even running for Ted Kennedy’s hereditary seat in Massachusetts, and it will be enough for lots of other folks in the elections to come. Unless the Democrats change course—which they won’t (as a party, at least—many of the reform-minded Dems who ran in 2008 may take action to remind folks why they got elected, and that’s a good thing).

Oddly, this could all actually end up working out well for Obama in 2012, if he sees the writing on the wall and, like Clinton before him, reinvents himself to be what folks like Angry Midwesterner assumed he was in 2008: a fiscally responsible reform minded candidate who wants to change a broken corrupt system. As I said at the time, he really did have an historic opportunity to accomplish great things, if indeed he was the moderate reformer he claimed to be.

Conspiratorial folks might even whisper he was always that and this was all a grand scheme to depose Witch Queen Pelosi and Crown Price Harry from their thrones…but I think that misses the true tragedy. Obama was always both a reform minded candidate and a progressive true believer. He was seduced into believing that the 2008 election had given him the historical opportunity to move beyond simple reform and enact the Second Bill of Rights of his hero, FDR. He thought he could follow through on Saul Alinsky’s goal to radically transform society without all the blood and revolution and slaughter of the enemies of the people. So he allowed himself to be used by Pelsoi (another true believer) and Reid (a corrupt bastard) in a shameless attempt to grab power over most of the American economy (by effectively nationalizing the financial, heavy industrial, and medical industries). For our own good, of course.

And now, the people have reminded him that that’s not really what America is all about. Perhaps now he can refocus on doing the things that really do need to be done and that he said should be done: bringing transparency and fiscal responsibility back to the Federal process, finding a way to keep health care affordable for the average American without breaking the economy, restoring America’s image around the world, and working with our international partners to help spread prosperity and rule of law wherever we can. Those are truly great goals, and worthy of real bipartisan effort.

Which we may now, finally, actually get.

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