Time is the Fire in Which We Burn

Each minute bursts in the burning room,   
The great globe reels in the solar fire,   
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)   
What am I now that I was then?   
May memory restore again and again   
The smallest color of the smallest day:   
Time is the school in which we learn,   
Time is the fire in which we burn.

From: Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day
by Delmore Schwartz

Featured image: Screencap from Star Trek: Generations

Crafting Speculative Fiction

I’m entitled to make any assumptions I like, if they are internally consistent. This is an exercise in speculation, remember? Speculation starts with assumptions. If you don’t like mine, try your own; you might get some interesting results.

Larry Niven – Exercise in Speculation: The Theory and Crafting of Teleportation

This was part of:

Madness from the Inconstant Moon: A Collection of Short Works from Larry Niven (read by Bronson Pinchot)

It has been well worth the price even though I’ve read most of the stories before. I can’t sleep while listening though, Larry Niven crafts his narratives too well. I love Bronson Pinchot’s voice.

Use Our Website to Order!

It can’t even accept a feedback request.

I tried calling in to the Freebirds locations that I usually go to (Tech Ridge and Hancock) and they instructed me to go to the website to order because they weren’t allowed to take orders over the phone any more. There is a problem with this scenario, of having to go use the Freebirds website. The problem? The website sucks.

I’ll go through the order just to prove the point. I can’t order all three types of beans or multiple meats on the website. Maybe I want more than one kind of bean on my burrito. Maybe I’m in the mood for steak and chicken. I can get ancho on the side for the Daughter and extra chicken for the Wife, but there is no way to say extra pico for the one and extra lettuce for the other. We don’t want to talk about food allergies. That is a lecture too long for this feedback. It will require a second submission.

Use the custom field, I hear you saying. That would be a wonderful challenge for my communication skills since the custom order field is limited to forty-five characters. When Twitter limited me to 140 characters it was sometimes tough to get the right message across in one tweet. That was a challenge that I was willing to take on because the worst outcome was that my message was misunderstood and I would have to tweet a second time to try to clarify my statement. I wouldn’t have to pay for and then eat the resultant mess. A custom field of 45 characters means I have to write the order out in code, and I’ll be willing to bet that my code and your code will not match since the encryption/decryption key isn’t provided with the order form.

The problem of “go in the restaurant and order or use the website” is solved for me by going to a different restaurant. Going to a restaurant with a drive through or having food delivered from some place that answers the phone or whose website allows me to clearly and unambiguously order what I want from the menu. I love Freebirds burritos, but I don’t love them enough that I will jump through extra hoops, settle for something made in a way allowable by the kludgy website or risk my health during a pandemic in order to get Freebirds food. Lady Liberty is going to have to find another job if those are my choices.

Politics 101: Defusing Trumpism? Jungle Primaries

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The conundrum of the problem we now face appears when the next election rolls around. No Trumpist can be allowed to regain power. Not in 2022, not in 2024, not ever. They will never surrender power again, so it would be senseless to ever let them have it again. Who is anti-democratic when that situation occurs? The people who know the other side won’t surrender power, or the people who know the other side doesn’t merit power, because they won’t draw blood to keep it?

In order to head off this impasse, it becomes imperative that we break the calcification off of every state we, the people, control. Here. Now. Today. What we need to head off the Trumpists at the national level is a viable third party, fourth party, fifth party here in the United States, and our system doesn’t allow for anything more than two parties to compete without breaking the system lose from the duopoly.

This fact was proven to me over the course of the years I spent working in the Libertarian Party. We could get on the ballot here in Texas and in most other states, but none of our candidates ever made it into office because they were hobbled by the system that requires members of the two major parties to win elections at anything above the local level. In the end, the knowledge that the candidate would be hobbled without party support at the national level, the active discrediting of candidates from outside the two party system that is present in any media coverage of election events meant that if the candidate didn’t have an R or a D in front of their name, they wouldn’t matter anyway.

It is also true that math itself defeats minor party candidates for high office. Game Theory has long established that plurality voting, winner takes all general elections between more than two candidates yields the least favorable electoral outcomes. Game Theory essentially predicted that we would have the least favorite candidates in competition with each other at the end of the 2016 election. Does anyone doubt that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did not together represent the least favorite candidates in competition?

In Oklahoma you had to be a Republican or a Democrat to be on the ballot back when I was a libertarian. Oklahoma wasn’t the only state that so baldly proclaimed the suzerainty of the duopoly in the past, but they were the last holdout state that refused to concede that government endorsement of particular private parties establishes a monopoly on ideas, a clear violation of the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In 2020 Oklahoma was finally forced to admit that the Libertarian Party was a real party, twenty years after the LP had been on the ballot in the other 49 states pretty routinely. That is the pace at which political change has moved in the past in the United States, in all fifty states. That is the first thing we have to adjust, the pace of change.

Before the next election we must take apart and reassemble the election systems in 47 states. This is the first major imperative. Only California, Louisiana, and Washington conduct jungle (blanket) primaries, and jungle primaries are how to decouple party and plurality from the results in the general election; and we have to decouple both of those things from the general election results if we want to make democratic inclusion the goal of our election process. This has to be the goal because it can’t continue to be the race to the bottom that has dominated our politics since 1980.

We have functionally hit bottom now. When the power goes off in your house and stays off for three days, and the leaders of your state aren’t even slightly embarrassed by this event occurring, don’t even think to apologize for the deaths that occurred because of their negligence, your modern government has just moved back a thousand years in history. Without electricity there is no modern civilization. Without electricity there is nothing but the means of survival left to calculate, and that doesn’t take much ability in math to achieve.

So we have hit bottom, democratically, republic-ly. If we continue the two party monopoly, the Trumpists will reclaim the government in less than a decade and create a hereditary dictatorship to take the place of the democracy we’ve enjoyed since we were all born. The Republicans are openly adopting the methods of the White Nationalists who dominated politics in all the years leading up to the election of Richard Nixon. When Nixon invited the Southern Democrats into the Republican party, he set the party on the course it has been on ever since. Republicans win by excluding the votes of minorities and undesirables. They do this by wielding law enforcement as a club, to turn potential voters into undesirable felons who can be excluded at the ballot box. They do this by stacking and packing, gerrymandering districts so as to render their opposition effectless.

This was done to the Democratic party in Texas more than a decade ago, and we have yet to emerge as a viable state-wide party since that time because of the gerrymandering and the division that it forces on political entities that should naturally be united. Austin is effectively without a national voice because Austin doesn’t have a set of representatives that speak for it. That is what Greg Abbott’s Republicans think of opposition to their unquestioned rule in Texas.

Presidential dictatorship has been the trend for decades, and it became obvious in the Bush vs. Clinton battles that seemed preordained from the perspective that the media took in 2016. It had to be Bush vs. Clinton in the eyes of the media because those were the two family names that were most important to politics, the two names that everyone knew. The Trumpists have now confirmed that this is where they think US politics is headed, as they continue to back their loser president even as his crimes go public, and his transparent coup attempt is revealed to be exactly what it seemed to be at the time. They think coups are fine as long as they are the ones that have power afterwards. This is a complete abandonment of everything our country has meant to ourselves and to the world at large since the founding of the United States.

Party is not family, and party shouldn’t even equate to cheering on your local sports team. Party will always be ideological, which is why party seems to be turning into religion for some people. Trumpists are overwhelmingly evangelical and salute their leader as a god-king. At CPAC this weekend, they had a golden calf made in the likeness of Donald Trump to worship right in the conference hall. These people seem incapable of understanding hypocrisy, irony, or tradition. They can’t be allowed to win an election ever again, and that means we have to break the country out of the binders that the duopoly put it in over the course of the last one hundred and twenty years, and we have to do it in less than a decade for it to be effective.

Jungle (blanket) primaries is where we have to start. Some form of the California model should be adopted in the 46 states who have yet to embrace this approach to winnowing the field of candidates, and any new states that we create over the next decade need to also embrace this approach. The top two vote getters will have, by definition, some form of a majority behind their candidacies.

Jungle primaries will break the stranglehold of there being two parties and only two parties represented in the system and the worst of those two parties coming out on top. Expanding jungle primaries will continue the process of opening the door to new ideas being able to be incorporated directly into the systems we govern with without requiring the leadership in a particular party to endorse those ideas. Let us not abandon representative democracy and one person one vote. Not after all these decades of work that we have put into this cause. Let us continue the work that the framers phrased as creating a more perfect union.

Featured image: screencap from Khan Academy – Open primaries, closed primaries, and blanket primaries

The Enron Legacy

there were many factors that went into creating the energy disaster with which Texans are now dealing. But at least in one respect, the problems in Texas are a product of an approach to the energy business that Lone Star State companies like Enron pursued at the end of the 20th century.

wapo

Ken Lay was George Bush’s best friend, back when George Bush was governor of Texas. That was what Ken Lay would tell you, if he was still alive today. The story is more slanted now that Ken Lay has been convicted of felony crimes and his flagship business, Enron, went bankrupt and took $40 billion dollars and the fortunes of thousands with it. Also, Ken Lay is conveniently dead of natural causes, so it is easy to blame him for all of the greed that was behind the drive to deregulate the energy sector in the United States.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (book) (movie)
Movieclips Classic TrailersEnron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) – Nov 20, 2013

It is because of Ken Lay’s friendship with Governor and then President Bush that the Texas and California electrical grids ended up being the mess that they are today. It’s just taken longer for Texas’ grid to fall apart than it did California’s, which has been on the ropes since Enron arranged for it to start suffering rolling blackouts back at the turn of the century.

I watched/read The Smartest Guys in the Room when the movie/book came out back in 2005. The story itself was just another nail in the coffin of my belief in market solutions, the death of my libertarian delusions. Every time that the fraudsters finally convince someone in authority to deregulate, it doesn’t take long to prove that government regulation had been there for a very good reason after all. Enron bought energy companies and then created energy markets for their power to be sold on. That was what those regulation stood in the way of, huge profits on Wall Street.

One of the last acts of desperation in the failing business that Enron became after its meteoric rise on the stock market was to turn off power generation in California’s electrical market in order to drive up the price of electricity and put money in the pockets of Enron executives and traders. Enron created rolling blackouts on purpose in order to profit from the suffering of California citizens. One of the last acts of desperation of the Texas Public Utility Commision during the recent winter storm was to set the price of electricity high enough on the Texas market to inspire power generators to turn on their excess capacity and flood the Texas power grid in their time of need. It’s just too bad that there wasn’t any capacity to be had because the power generators hadn’t bothered to insure against freezing by weatherizing their supply systems. Just too bad that electric energy generators and their investors were more interested in profiting off of the suffering of Texas citizens than they were in spending money weatherizing against winter storms that they hoped would never show up, but still manage to show up about every ten years anyway.

KUT 90.5 – Texas’ Power Grid Was 4 Minutes And 37 Seconds Away From Collapsing. Here’s How It Happened – February 24, 2021

kut.org

Shares of Macquarie rose 3.4% in Sydney on Monday after the company raised its profit outlook. They are now down 2.8% over the past 12 months.

One customer told the Dallas Morning News that his electric bill for five days stood at $5,000, the amount he would normally pay for several years of power. Another told the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate that he had been charged more than $16,000 for February.

wsj.com

It is also too bad that Texas’ hostility to federal regulation caused it to seek an isolated grid through ERCOT, which meant that most of Texas went without power when it’s isolated grid went down and no one could send it power to keep it afloat. Unless you were lucky and lived around El Paso, which (along with Amarillo and the panhandle) are not under ERCOT and consequently only saw minor interruptions in service.

This is what happens when you make the essentials for survival into profit-driven commodities; commodities that no one can understand how to profit from unless they are scarce enough to drive demand over available supply. When there is more demand than there is supply of the essentials some people won’t survive. The death toll across Texas due to the winter storm and resulting power outages is still unknown but is likely to be well over 100 people, and a bank in Australia made 200 million off of those deaths.

Texas is misnamed. Texas (tejas) supposedly means friend or ally. Nothing could be further from the truth than seeing Texas as your friend or ally. That is the ploy of the confidence man, the demand to trust him even though he seems to be oilier than all get out. The Texas mascot should be the irresponsible teen who wants to shirk all the day long because he can. It should be the grasshopper that whiles the summer away instead of storing food for the winter. Like the grasshopper and the irresponsible teen, Texas is always unprepared for adversity because of these infantile behavior patterns. Texas is a great place to be young and healthy, because there are no worries about tomorrow here, and no requirement to save anything for that day of need. Texas is a horrible place to be old or sick in because there is no place to go when you reach your hour of need. No allowance for the slackers that we pretend to be fond of, but throw out in the cold the minute that things get tough.

The true beneficiary of Texas largesse is the corporate raider, the false priest, the con artist. Texas is made for thieves. Personal and corporate greed are rewarded here, rewarded more highly than any human virtue. Just look at Ken Lay. He understood what Texas was for. He rode that pony hard and put it up wet counting on not being there when the tax man came for his cut. He died a millionaire, of the diseases of old age he could have avoided if he had straightened up and flown right. Why bother? No one gets out of this life alive.

The Enron legacy is ERCOT and every other Texas boondoggle ever hatched. Every scheme that amounted to nothing more than stealing from public coffers and crafting a golden parachute for yourself. If we had those billions that Enron stole from us, we wouldn’t need to go without water or power, the average Austinite wouldn’t have to be out there hand-delivering necessities to people on the verge of death during a pandemic. This lunacy has to stop. The question is, will we pay attention long enough to make it stop?

Featured image from twitter.com/austinenergy

Immigration Still?

facebook.com/RBReichnytimes.com

By the time October of last year rolled around I had already stopped commenting on immigration stories anymore. It was just too painful, too hard to follow and pretend that any of this shit was normal, should be considered normal. I have long considered myself the brother of my hispanic friends. My father’s service station in our hometown in the middle of the great plains was staffed with hispanics, men with brown skin and Spanish surnames. Their children were my friends. They occupied the same social status that I had in school. Not athletic and not masculine in the traditional sense, I was never going to be first class when it came to social standing. I was always a misfit; and as a misfit, I tended to group with the minorities who were generally outcast everywhere I went.

Watching hispanics tormented as the other among us is something that makes me physically ill. I can’t do it, and I don’t understand people who can, much less the people committing the inhumanities that I’ve been forced to witness these last four years.

The Wife’s foster mother is a Tejano. She married a police officer in the small Texas town where they lived, and she considers herself a part of his social standing as a white law enforcement official in their small town. Being from a small Texas town it is almost a given that the two of them supported Donald Trump when he declared himself for office. The Wife and I tried to talk sense into both of them the few times we’ve visited with them over the last four years, but that effort was fruitless. The signed color photo with the bulbous orange face and fake hair hangs in a location of pride in their living room.

She supported Donald Trump even after she had to avoid detention and deportation from the country, when it was discovered that her birth certificate came from a hospital where it was known that birth certificates were forged. There was no doubt she was born in the country because her parents were not immigrants. They were Tejanos.

Her parents and their parents before them had simply lived in a Spanish speaking area of the state that had never acknowledged the United States absorbing their Mexican state after it was severed from the mother country, and that area had remained a backwater that eventually dried up and blew away because of its disconnection from the current reality in Texas. Like a lot of places have done in different states over the years, as fortunes changed and trade changed and people changed or didn’t change.

But then Donald Trump and his White Nationalist agenda came along, and suddenly a person with brown skin who never had a reason to worry about being deported because she had never been out of the country had to face that reality even when she didn’t think of herself as Tejano anymore. She was a Texan and an American and why are you treating me like I was ever a Mexican? That was the reality that Stephen Miller created through the vehicle of Donald Trump and his accidental presidency.

Administration will house migrant kids in tents in Tornillo, Texas
nbcnews.com – Administration will house migrant kids in tents in Tornillo, Texas

…and that has been the United States that we have lived in for the last four years under Donald Trump’s almost dictatorship. The Wife’s foster mother supports the former president to this day as far as I know, and the immigration nightmare continues.

Through putting children in cages, pointing fingers at Barack Obama for putting children in cages (he didn’t. But he didn’t do enough, either) Letting these poor people languish and die from lack of care along the border. The lies about the border figured largely in the 2018 recapturing of the House of Representatives by the Democrats. Trump had gone too far and it was obvious to anyone who was paying attention that he was lying his ass off about immigrants. Then COVID happened and everything went to shit:

All Things Considered – Marisol Mendoza Has Been In ICE Detention Since 2016. Now, She Has COVID-19 – June 21, 2020

COVID spelled doom for Donald Trump. Anyone who follows politics should have understood this fact, but apparently a lot of people didn’t, including a lot of his supporters. Joe Biden won because he wasn’t Donald Trump and the United States wanted Joe Biden back in the White House, like it was when everything was better than it has been for the last four years.

Over the last year of COVID the immigration problem has just gotten worse. Now we have people trying to escape from disease as well as trying to escape from terrorism and poverty in their home countries. We have a different president but largely the same government, and everyone expects miracles right now. They expect miracles even when Texas has torpedoed Joe Biden’s lukewarm migration agenda that simply reverts to the Obama White House status quo of four years ago:

Texas thinks that’s going too far. We apparently like being able to rough up anyone we don’t think belongs here and then send them back across the Mexican border whether they even immigrated from there or not. We push people back across the border and then say “What? His legs were fine when we dropped him off:”

So let me get this straight, CPB. You are saying they broke their own legs after you dropped them off across the border? Are you sure that is the story you want to stick with? What, exactly, are you trying to say?

This is the atmosphere that heralds the return of the god-king Donald Trump and his head White Nationalist Stephen Miller to the evangelical tent circus that Donald Trump has been fleecing suckers with since 2016:

Beau of the Fifth ColumnLet’s talk about Trump and Miller coming back this week – Feb 24, 2021

When Beau says that Biden isn’t going to propose anything remotely close to being up to his standards, I’m right there with him. There isn’t any way that what I think justice for these people will look like legislatively will ever be proposed or make it through congress because congress doesn’t understand what its job is. That is the first point that needs addressing.

I don’t understand why the representatives who stood up and said “Biden didn’t win fairly” were even seated in Congress. Their credentials should have been rejected and their states should have been sanctioned until they managed to send representatives that were willing to work within the system as it has been created. If 117th legislature had done this policed their own bodies as they have the right to do, then the policies that Biden wants to pursue would be achievable because the states that don’t want to be part of the process would have no voice in the process.

Saying that immigrants can’t come here is an unenforceable position unless the people who want to keep the immigrants out are willing to kill them themselves; and if they do that then we have some nice murder charges that will fit them perfectly. Please step over here now, sir. The immigration issue is just the most visible of the festering sores on the body politic. Unless we get a Congress that is willing to do the work that needs to be done, there will not be an end to the sickness that is killing our country.

What would justice look like? Green cards for everyone with a clean background that wants to work. Let’s start there. Citizenship for every person who works here and doesn’t have citizenship anywhere else. If you work here, pay taxes here, have children here, you are an American. It is time we accepted this fact.

But justice goes deeper than just being humane to our immigrants. We need to acknowledge that poor people have the right to continue to live, not just the immigrants but every single American. We can’t very well expect Americans to care about immigrants when their country demonstrably doesn’t care about them, either. Those festering sores will kill our country sooner than the immigration problem will, and will sabotage any attempt to reform the immigration system if they aren’t dealt with at the same time.

Filibuster? Blame Aaron Burr.

It’s 1804. Aaron Burr kills Alexander Hamilton but he’s still the vice president, runs out of town. Back, 1805, he’s in the chamber. He’s still dispensing advice in the Senate. And Burr says, you’re a great deliberative body but a really great chamber has a very clean rulebook and yours is a mess. And he singles out that previous question motion. They get rid of it in 1806, not because they wanted to create filibusters, right, not because they saw the great deliberative body of the Senate and they needed a right way to protect the rights of minorities. That rule was gone because Aaron Burr told them to get rid of it and it hadn’t been used yet.

Sarah Binder
On the Media – The Filibuster: Protection or Obstruction? – Apr 6, 2017

Robert ReichThe Only Way Democrats Will Get Anything Done – Feb 25, 2021 (facebook)

The Senate isn’t a democratic body. It is a body created to ensure that states had a voice in the federal government. That is its reason for existing and that is why it is made up the way that it is. But that doesn’t mean that the rules that govern the Senate should be broken in such a way that it can’t get business done because the minority wants to roll around on the floor like a temperamental child that doesn’t get what it wants (Yes, Ted Cruz. I’m imagining you with chocolate smeared on your face and wearing an OshKosh jumper rolling on the Senate floor right now, destroying my fond memories of Green Eggs and Ham. Petulant. Small. Child. Ted Cruz) The Senate simply needs to restore the motion to call the previous question that still exists in the House rules and in the basic parliamentary rules that govern most legislative bodies (Robert’s Rules of Order) Striking that rule in the Senate is what has lead to the impasse of the filibuster.

It is amusing to me that the rule was originally struck because it was thought that Senators were too civilized to need to end debate with a vote since no Senator had ever refused to stop talking when it was clear that he was not convincing anyone. Had the original Senators known the future, known that James Calhoun would use the filibuster to bring the United States to the brink of Civil War, that Mitch McConnell and his Republicans would use it to stop the Senate from being able to get anything done, they would have left the ability to call the previous question in place. If we could talk to them today they would probably marvel at our inability to simply set the filibuster aside as a bad idea that has long outlived its usefulness. They had just voted themselves as no longer subject to the King of England a few decades earlier. Don’t like the rules? Change the rules.

Editor’s note

This was originally published as a quote from the episode of On the Media that tops the article, near the date when the episode released. Since this is a problem that we are still talking about four years later, I have moved it forward to today and added more of my thoughts on the subject, like I had originally intended to do when I set the quote aside to be published later, and then published even later after my thoughts evaporated.

Microfiber Blanket Entity

The microfiber blanket we recently purchased is almost miraculously soft, and it’s cozy warmth is a comfort on winter nights when your state has left you stranded at home with no electricity, gas or running water in the middle of a blizzard.

When we put it on the bed for the first time and noted its behavior, we were concerned that it might have been possessed by a mischievous spirit. Since it hasn’t sucked out anyone’s soul, bled anything dry or eaten our pets, we’re guessing it’s either a benign spirit or a new form of life.

In addition to warmth on cold nights it also provides entertainment. While you are asleep, it will crawl across the bed to keep the spouse warm while leaving the  purchaser cold, and it will repeat this process nightly if required to. Simply put the blanket back in its original position on the bed, and then go back to sleep again. When you wake up you will once again discover that you have all the blanket.

Through experimentation I have established that the blanket moves in the direction that the tag is.

I highly recommend microfiber blankets. Get your spouse to buy one for you. If you discover what it eats please let me know so I can keep mine properly fed.

Sentient Bed Covering Review posted on various sites. The Wife kept wanting me to change this one, so if it looks different than you remember, it’s her fault.

Eliminating GIGO

When I wrote:

…I think I got the most volume and some of the most varied feedback I’ve ever gotten for any post I’d ever written before. It ran the gamut from “this is easy to do and Facebook can’t seem to do it, so they must not care” or “Facebook is in bed with X group, their behavior demonstrates this.” to “Any attempt to moderate speech violates my freedom of speech.” When I queued up this episode, one of the first things that the guest says on mic is that she figured that the Facebook Supreme Court was just a way to get Facebook out of the crosshairs for making the decisions that need to be made, content-wise:

Radiolab – Facebook’s Supreme Court – February 12, 2021

…and by the end of the episode I was where Jad was “we have to ban Facebook, don’t we?” But then I thought some more about the varied responses to the tests that were put forward to illustrate just how hard it is to make judgements about what is or isn’t acceptable on social media, and I started to realize that what Facebook will ultimately achieve, if it succeeds, is some form of internet protocol for allowing the greatest amount of speech possible without misleading the populace or allowing for the targeting of segments of the population. I wish them luck with their supreme court experiment. Hope it all works out.

Tangentially, there were two more episodes later in my podcast feed that dealt with the same conundrum. Speech, the freedom and limitations of:

Amicus With Dahlia Lithwick – First Amendment Fallacies – Feb 27, 2021
What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law – Deplatforming and Section 230 – 02.27.21

If I were to craft a tweet for this episode of Trumpconlaw, as I have tried to do for it’s 49 brothers (failed at a few) It would run something like “Section 230 allows your internet to serve you the porn you want on demand, it does not enable Facebook to silence your god-king, no matter what he says about it.” The #MAGA remain MAGA no matter how many times they mash their faces against the screens, though.

…which reminds me. While #48 about pardons was largely a rehash of the previous pardon episodes of Trumpconlaw, #49 speaks explicitly to the title of this article because:

What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law – Incitement – 01.30.21

Incitement is by definition GIGO that should be eliminated. “Trump’s behavior since the November election proves that his intention was to incite violence on January 6th. He would have caused more violence on January 20th if he had not been deplatformed.”

Gutenberg Editor Bug

February 22, 2021 – Updating and moving this generic article forward for a new bug in Gutenberg. I don’t know how many users have run across this one yet, but I have. I have several snippets of HTML code that I like to reuse. I do this because it streamlines getting things I want to regularly add to my posts added without having to lookup or re-enter the code over and over again. Things like podcast embeds and the like (the subject of the previous bug I wrote about here, actually) well, they changed the way that reusable blocks work, again.

This bug report touches on the problem that I am experiencing: Comparing old and new Reusable block UX methods. #29178. It doesn’t quite cover the problem, though. Part of the usefulness of the reusable blocks was the ability to explode said blocks back down into base elements, such as code blocks and text strings and whatever. The ability to take pieces out of the reusable block has changed along with the editability of the blocks, and the dot next to the publish button stays present even if I completely remove the reusable block from the document being edited, because I have to change the block in question in order to be able to remove it.

Here is a snippet of my screen as an example. One of the blocks that I frequently did use was an HTML block that was just a horizontal rule (named “Separator”) that I could manipulate to suit my own visual issues. Basically, I wanted the rule to be of a particular length and a particular number of pixels. I am not really a coder, I’m just a user who is forced on occasion to fiddle with code, and I’m okay with this situation, as long as it doesn’t mean I have to code every single time I sit down to write something.

As you can see from the image, the block now sees itself as a group, not a single HTML code block like the Audio Embed block next to it. This is because I inserted the block and then saved the document I placed the block in. As soon as the code block is inserted into a document, it turns itself into a group. Unless you know to turn off saving reusable blocks at the prompt, this error will occur every time you use a reusable block and then save the document the block is placed in.

If you place the reusable block and then try to delete it, the group remains without the block you’ve added. The best part of this is that saving after you think you’ve removed the reusable blocks and not noticed the prompt is that if you save blocks that you thought you completely removed from your document, the editor creates empty group blocks in place of the reusable block that you had previously created. Without the ability to just remove the block and not have it turn itself into a group; without the ability to explode a block and reduce it to simple code and text, the end user is left with having to leave multiple tabs open set to various configurations of files just to be able to assemble a single document. A process that simply isn’t feasible on a mobile platform, for example.

h/t to paaljoachim for creating three bugs reports to deal with these issues 29267, 29268, 29269.


November 4, 2020 – This bug has to do with inserting coding blocks into the text that I’m working on. Like images, I occasionally have need to reference a specific podcast, either one that has sent me off on this fool’s errand of illumination, or one I want to provide to readers in order to give them some understanding of where I am coming from. Podcasters are as plentiful as the various kinds of life in a rainforest, and their approaches to embedding, whether it is even allowed or not, varies almost as much as the podcasters themselves.

The most plentiful podcaster out there at the moment is NPR. They are everywhere, all the time, and I link their podcasts as frequently as I link podcasts from any other source. However, the current version of Gutenberg does not recognize the embed codes for NPR podcasts, just like it has never recognized most of the embed codes for other podcasts.

This has never been a problem before because I have simply been able to introduce my own code into the text, taking the place of a paragraph, and that has solved the problem. Now the wise coders working on Gutenberg have seen fit take out my ability to write my own code into the text automatically, and I have to go to extreme lengths just to be able to get my code to appear unmolested in the published article.

I had a reusable block that I called Generic Embed. In that block I had assembled the code that rendered something like what I expected to see in the finished blog article. That block isn’t even visible in the block interface anymore. I have to scroll to the bottom of the reusable block list and select Manage all reusable blocks, and then find the block within the list of reusable blocks that I have created.

Looking at that list I can see that it is time to thin the reusable blocks down again. However, I can show you the code that is in the block because there are a couple of blocks that let me do this for you. Here is the code:

<figure><iframe src="embed url"></iframe><figcaption><span style="font-size:8px"><em><a href="webpage">author - page title - date</a></em></span></figcaption><br></figure>

That is the default block for verse. I suspected that block would leave the code alone because I’ve transformed text into verse in the past and it faithfully reproduces the verse exactly as typed within the constraints of the screen that is displaying the text.

If you use the default code block provided with the Gutenberg editor you will have to use an HTML encoder (h/t to the users at Stackoverflow for the tips) to change the code into the escape strings necessary to reproduce the code. Why this process is not automated within the block is beyond me.

Using the encoder I can now put the transmogrified code strings into the code block and get displayed text that looks like the verse block does just by pasting the actual code into it:

<figure><iframe src="embed url"></iframe><figcaption><span style="font-size:8px"><em><a href="webpage">author - page title - date</a></em></span></figcaption><br></figure>

In trying to present the raw code, I discovered that the ever helpful WYSIWYG is trying to make the code do things even when it is NOT SUPPOSED TO DO ANYTHING TO THE CODE except to display it as code. In the various tests I have conducted trying to discover a work-around, hours of trial and error and research into coding and displaying code that I should have learned years ago, I was driven to near madness trying to figure out why I could not just paste text as typed directly into the interface. No. I have to learn how to decode and recode in order to explain anything.

Modern day problems, being driven into a homicidal rage by things that should work one way but don’t because no one ever thought to eliminate that step in the process. However, my lack of formal training aside, this embed error shouldn’t have been allowed out in a supposedly finished product. A product people pay for. Thankfully, I don’t pay for it, or I’d be more pissed off than I am. Maybe you should fix this problem, WordPress?

In the meantime, I will come up with a work around for my podcast embeds, which will involve simply putting a dumb HTML block into the text and then manually adding the code that I want to appear there. It is a more time-consuming process to do it this way, but I will soldier on until the next update for Gutenberg fixes this bug and breaks something else.

Like the image bug that is documented below (but remains fixed, please don’t break that!) the embed bug also produces embedded objects that I cannot manipulate and captions that appear too large, but are manipulable from the settings menu, which does show up above and to the right if you have those menus turned on. The block isn’t there for all intents and purposes and can only be found by clicking off the object and moving the cursor so that it enters the embed, or selecting it from the pulldown at the top of the screen. Also, if you modify the text in the caption you will cause an irrecoverable block error and then have to do the whole thing over again.


The constrictions on adding a horizontal rule to a document have annoyed me from the first day that I worked with WordPress, even before Gutenberg. To be fully honest about my frustrations here, there have been no text editors that have ever been exactly what I wanted when it comes to presenting my words the way I want them seen, with proper margins, font styles, display graphics, etcetera. Every word processor has some deficiency that has left me cold towards it, and so being unsatisfied with all of them as much as I remain unsatisfied with my words themselves, I simply try to make do with whatever tools I have to work with.

I’ve finally come up with a version of the <hr> that displays properly within the Gutenberg editor specifically and WordPress in general.

<hr style="width:44%;height:3px" class="aligncenter">

Now that I know you have to generate escape strings to display code properly in the code box (again, why?) I can now display the code that works for me. Fingers crossed that they’ll automate that process. Or maybe not. That might get broken too if they try it. The verse block works so how hard is it to do a grey background (that for some reason means “code”) that doesn’t screw with your pasted text exactly like the verse box does?


March 14, 2020 – The latest release of the WordPress Gutenberg editor has dumbed down the editor to the point that it won’t work properly in the desktop interface. Basically, I can’t manipulate the images embedded in the text of my articles because the handles that show up at the manipulable edges of images disappear after the image is initially placed.

unusualjuggernaut.tumblr.com (I can’t click on this image in the desktop editor. For all intents and purposes, it isn’t in the document. I can go to the shiney-new block navigation hamburger and select the image block from the list. However, I can right-arrow scroll right out of the caption area but cannot left-arrow scroll back into it. I have to, once again, go to the hamburger and select the image block. This behavior could not be more annoying.)

Color me unimpressed with the latest release. I look forward to the next release, when they fix that bug and I can edit properly again.

Gutenberg version 7.8.1 seems to have fixed the image manipulation problem. I’ll leave the above block as I created it just as a reminder of the annoyance I felt at the time.