Category Archives: Internet Stuff


“I am not a robot.”

I heard parts of a long story on NPR’s “Mental Floss” a day ago. Here’s a brief summary. Its about the genius service that allowed every New York Times newspaper for a hundred year be digitized by the hundreds of millions of people who took words that computers couldn’t read and using human skills identify their letters. This was done in order to order stuff online. It turns out that this fantastic service has been used by nefarious hackers to break into the Internet. An arms race developed which pitted the CAPTCHA folks against the hacker’s robots. Will the robot handlers win the arms race?

A new Era of paranoia?

This mornings anonymous emailer sent me a gracious if paranoid message to my reply about the District’s Building sales. Let me first mention that what caught my attention about the email was the tag end that said it was encrypted to guarantee anonymity. I had just read a news story in the wake of Yahoo’s announcement that 1 billion of its subscribers had been hacked explaining that since the Trump victory there was a huge wave of people hiding their online identities with a number of encryption systems.

Here’s my anonymous friends second email and my subsequent reply:

Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I understand your point, but for at least the next four years, I am in complete stealth mode. I have/will be very critical about the powers that be, and I have muslim friends and family members. It’s VPN’s, Tor and proton mail for me. Elected to oversee administers? Did you mean watch them as they do whatever they want including looking for employment elsewhere? I understand that this isn’t your fault, but I and I’m sure you are more than sick of it by now.
Keep fighting the good fight.

Sent from ProtonMail, encrypted email based in Switzerland.

And my reply:

To: Minkdevil
Subject: RE: School Sales

I don’t blame you one damn bit Minkdevil. Orwell was off by a few decades.

All l can do is fight the good fight locally and nationally.

I have some Muslim friends. I can only imagine how they feel. Hang in there.


Wild Swans and Mao and AWWWWWWW my old website is down

Claudia and I finished a weighty biography tonight, Wild Swans. We apparently acquired it in February but only began reading it May 29th. Today’s July 9th so we managed to get it done in six weeks. I’ve just attempted to add the book to my lifetime reading list on my old blog It appears that the blog is no longer working. This page and the snow sculpting page are about the only parts of the once vast site that I kept updating. For ten years the website was my life although it was eventually eclipsed by Lincolndemocrat. I suppose I can go back to the wayback machine if I really want to review it. Maybe it can be fixed but I’ve let dozens up software upgrades go by without keeping the old site up to date. I’d hoped to have it survive me but I don’t think I have it in me to rebuild it. At the moment the homepage is still up but I haven’t found any internal links that work.

Well, that deflates me and my will to say something about the wonderful book that Wild Swans is. It had twelve million copies sold by 2003 so I’m a late reader. It was finished in the early 1990’s. It can only be read in China underground or that was the case as of 2003 when its author penned its brief afterward.

It was a wonderful character study and, although our situation in Duluth doesn’t come close to the extreme, of Maoist China, I kept running into a lot of parallels with our little ongoing sagas.

Speaking of Groupthink

An indictment of my favorite info dump – Wikipediea:

For the past 10 years I’ve immersed myself in the details of one of the most famous events in American labor history, the Haymarket riot and trial of 1886. Along the way I’ve written two books and a couple of articles about the episode. In some circles that affords me a presumption of expertise on the subject. Not, however, on Wikipedia.

Speaking of hyperbolic

A loved one emailed me this poppycock which is falsely attributed to Thomas Sowell concerning President Obama’s and Occupy Wall Street’s America:

It is an America where humans have been degraded to the level of animals: defecating in public, having sex in public, devoid of basic hygiene. It is an America where the basic tenets of a civil society, including faith, family, a free press and individual rights, have been rejected. It is an America where our founding documents have been shredded and, with them, every person’s guaranteed liberties.

I love the Internet

I’ve always hated sweeping dust under the carpet. There has been no better dust revealer than the Internet. I’ve watched a number of world events through materials made available to me that way.

What is happening in the Middle East is fascinating and may rank up there with the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is ironic that many of the same crowd of pundits who championed our war in Iraq as way of bringing democracy to the Middle East are now tripping over their tongues warning of a new French Revolution. The Arabs will get us. The Arabs will get us.

Maybe they will but I’m not too worried about that. I’m more worried that we will let the world’s oil run out before we have found a good substitute and that we will poison the oceans by letting them fill up with too much carbon.

This gives me hope. It shows a television interview (in five parts) that escaped Egyptian censorship. In it a Google Egypt executive explains his arrest by the authorities. The fifth clip with stilted English subtitles shows how he reacted when the host shows him pictures of some of the young people killed in the protests. This young man is now a hero in Egypt.

In a perverse way the former pundit champions of democracy in Iraq are now advocating suppression of democracy because they are afraid other nations will elect people who are hostile to American interests. Go Tyrants! Go Fox Television! Save us from Sharia.

I presume the rationale for the suppression of Democracy must come from God. According to The Fox our nation was founded to fulfill and expand the mission of Christianity.

My Reading List

In 1999 after timidly following my daughter into AOL Chat rooms I began exploring the Internet. I was soon building my own website now largely neglected and mutilated. I transferred most of my energies into a fight for my right to vote which led me to create and work on other websites and this blog. I also abandoned book reading for better than two years. Last year I tried to do a little catching up. Here is the list of books I read (or that I can recall reading) last year:


Sunburnt Country by Bill Bryson
Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
Lincoln, The biography of a writer by Fred Kaplan
1776 by David McCullough
The Diary of Anne Frank (Definitive edition) by Anne Frank
Nature’s Building Blocks A-Z guide to Elements by
John Emsley
In Tasmania by Nicholas Shakespeare
The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes

I just added one to the list that I’d forgotten until this morning and posted it on one of the webpages for my original website – “My Reading List.” I’m just learning to master some new software that has made working on my old websites a bear. I may yet get back into the groove again. There are some things this blog just isn’t good at communicating.

Katyn Forest

Few people reading or hearing about the plane crash that killed 93 leaders of Poland probably know much about the historical event that they flew into Russia to commemorate. I found a number of sites that explained the event. This one is from the CIA, Yup, the Central intelligence Agency. This one is probably not contaminated but the most of the first twenty google hits that showed up all warned of dire Internet infections that could result should I be foolish enough to enter them. Most of the websites advertised pictures of the exhumation of 4,500 Poles.

The Poles in question were the top echelon of Polish society – military and political. They were murdered on Joseph Stalin’s orders after Stalin’s agreement with Adolph Hitler, the Non Aggression Pact, to divide Poland between Germany and the Soviet Union. I wonder who would be taking it upon themselves to warn people off looking at these pictures? Possibly its Russian nationalists who don’t want Russia’s dirty secrets made too available.

When Hitler broke his pact with Stalin and invaded he had Stalin’s victims exhumed and the story publicized to embarass Stalin and make it harder for the world to sympathize with the Russians as his Panzers rushed to conquer Stalin’s socialist utopia.

When I was little I found and kept a scrapbook my Father made about the early years of WW II before he himself enlisted in the Navy. He was fascinated with the war in the way a historian was fascinated by current events. On a trip to Poland before the fall of the Berlin Wall he was listening to a Polish, (communist) tour guide talk about the destruction of Warsaw by the Germans when the Russians reinvaded Poland. The Guide made it clear the Germans did the dirty work. When my Father pointed out that the Russians were close enough to save Warsaw and put an end to the destruction but held back to let the Germans finish the destruction the Polish guide grimly agreed.

He was a communist but he was also a Pole.

American communists who were bought and paid for by Staliln’s Russia defended the much reviled Non Aggression Pact.” They never lived their toadying of Stalin’s party line down. Nothing should have more humiliated a good communist than a pact with a fascist devil. But buy into the Pact they did. They didn’t dare second guess the Communist Party’s great leader Joseph Stalin.

The silence of communists at the beginning of World War II is not that surprising. People are afraid to bite the hand that feeds them. Just look how Republicans suffered the bloating of the national budget under President Bush with gritted teeth. Look how they mocked Republican Congressman Ron Paul for warning against getting involved in foreign wars that were none of our business. Hypocrisy runs rampant in the GOP today. Oh, I know Vic, give it a little time and the same thing will true of the Democrats.

Before the fall of the Soviet Union no Russian would have dared admit what happened in Katyn Forest. How ironic that seventy years later it should once again be the site of the decapitation of Poland’s military and political leadership.

Wooing Goo and the broadband speed test

I first got quite excited about the competition to win Google’s investment to wire up a small city. I was however too distracted to do anything about it and have subsequently ignored a couple requests to join the Duluth facebook group to woo Goo.

I often get irritated when streaming media at sites like youtube stops in its tracks to buffer. Surely what I pay my broadband provider should be fast enough so that this doesn’t happen.

It turns out to be very easy to test your download and upload speeds as the Federal Government is attempting to make sure a nationwide network is put in place permitting 100 Megabits to be downloaded every second. Go to: and test your computer’s connections.

Just click the test by the stopwatch image. It took me less than a minute.

My download speed was 15723 kilobytes in one test and 11290 in another. In Megabytes that would round out to 15.7 and 11.3. I tried to find out how fast my provider,, said their cable service would work but couldn’t find any speed promises for home computers on their site. However, my download speed was comparable to what they offered in a small business package at 8M per second. Mine best actual speed was almost twice that fast.

Google’s competition would award speeds that would smash these download speeds to smithereens at 1 gigabit per second. The Federal Government is shooting for speeds roughly ten times faster than I got on my slowest test today.

limitation of googling

I just remembered that I meant to insert the name of a book and its author in a previous post. I tried googling but I’m temporarily stumped about the book title or author’s name. It will come to me and I’ll plug it in. Ten minutes of googling did me little good. There are dozens of books of a similar nature.

Good graphic data

I just found this website which has superior, if not perfect, graph graphics. The thumbnail above comes from its most recent interactive graph on giving to Haiti in the wake of the earthquake.

I’ve got too much to do today to spend more time on the site but I did spend a little time pouring over the preceding graph on state by state abortion statistics. The posts below that graph give a good indication of the limitations of any data analysis. For instance the graph shows the very high number of abortions performed in California which appear to equal 28% of all live births in California. However, people commenting on the graph noted that the graph does not provide any information about the home states of the women getting the abortions. Because many woman are unable or unwilling to have their pregnancies terminated in their home states the graph makes the abortion rates in other states per thousand live births appear to be lower than they would if abortion was not such a hot potato.

The website churns out a graph every week and are sure to be great time absorbers.


This is another non Red Plan related post. I am reading an interesting NY Times story on the most nihilistic abusers of the Internet, folks who are called and call themselves “trolls.” They “experiment” by using the Internet to attack and torment people they deem unworthy. One well publicized case of trolling led to a girl’s suicide. Bloggers are apparently high on the list of people who the Trolls disdain. The story has this paragraph about tolerance that struck me:

“One promising answer comes from the computer scientist Jon Postel, now known as “god of the Internet” for the influence he exercised over the emerging network. In 1981, he formulated what’s known as Postel’s Law: “Be conservative in what you do; be liberal in what you accept from others.” Originally intended to foster “interoperability,” the ability of multiple computer systems to understand one another, Postel’s Law is now recognized as having wider applications. To build a robust global network with no central authority, engineers were encouraged to write code that could “speak” as clearly as possible yet “listen” to the widest possible range of other speakers, including those who do not conform perfectly to the rules of the road. The human equivalent of this robustness is a combination of eloquence and tolerance – the spirit of good conversation. Trolls embody the opposite principle. They are liberal in what they do and conservative in what they construe as acceptable behavior from others. You, the troll says, are not worthy of my understanding; I, therefore, will do everything I can to confound you.”

“Be conservative in what you do; be liberal in what you accept from others,” is a good principle for life in general. In political terms it could read: Be a Republican in your personal life but a Democrat toward others. Of course, in this day with Dittohead Republicans extolling the virtues of torture I’m not so sure that being a Republican and a conservative are all that synonymous.


I haven’t had time to do a video of the day but other opportunities have reared up their heads. I got a notice from Facebook yesterday to put a campaign facebook page. This is the popular site for college kids which has recently expanded beyond those borders.

Yesterday I couldn’t get the login info correctly filled in but I figured it out today. I was surprised to discover several people waiting on a short list of people who had already linked to my campaign. Cool.


Answer Bus

Today will be a much better day if the computer doesn’t die on me. I’ve got a long list of things to do but most of them are at least half-done so its just a matter of tidying up.

I’ve got a couple emails waiting from Mel and Chris about a meeting we are planning later in the week at which I will hand over blog and campaign duties to them.

I’ve been agonizing for the past couple days about the statistics for my websites. Because my web host updated their system its taken me five days to find the new stats. There were hundreds of them before. Now there are thousands. They will take some getting use to, but I discovered that my pageviews at www.welty4congress are still increasing, and this was an interesting: 31% of my visitors are marking the site on their browsers as a favorite place.

I found a new site that had linked to this blog called Answer Bus. Its a new search engine which kicks back seven or eight quotes from other Internet sources in response to very specific questions like “How many stomachs does a cow have?” Check it out.