Facebook/Instagram Embeds

WordPress stopped supporting interactive embeds for Facebook and instagram back at the end of October. Facebook was changing the way that their content was going to work with outside sources like WordPress and other publishing platforms, making it necessary for anyone who wanted to have interactive embedding on their platform to maintain a official relationship with Facebook (an official relationship that probably has dollar figures attached to it) if you didn’t do this new thing that Facebook wanted, Facebook was going to cripple your ability to embed their content.

Back when I was writing on Blogger, I never had the really nice ability to just pop in a link to outside material and have it work seamlessly inside my blog articles. If I wanted to post my comments to Robert Reich’s or Stonekettle’s or whoever’s work on Facebook, or include photos from Instagram, I had to make a picture of the thing and embed that in my article, then manually add caption material to the image in order for readers to find what I was talking about.

When I started writing on WordPress I realized just how arcane the entire blog-writing process had become on Blogger. It was possible to embed all kinds of material from outside sources directly into my articles and never have to take another screenshot again unless I wanted to pretty up the article when linked somewhere else. Now that Facebook has decided it will take its toys and leave the sandbox, I realized just how spoiled I had become. It was going to be a serious pain the ass to go back and re-edit all those articles that I had put interactive links into, replacing the links with images like I used to have to do on Blogger.

Luckily for me I was given a heads-up on the upcoming changes, and the fact that WordPress was going to stop supporting Facebook and Instagram embeds as part of their core editing interface. That heads-up came in the form of a recommendation that I install some new plugins for WordPress that would handle the issue for me.

There are a lot of plugins for WordPress that you really do need to have installed if you are going to be using WordPress at all. Essential things that need to be addressed such as website administrator security and spam comment filters and a whole host of other things that I might or might not get around to writing about when I finally finish the article I threatened to write two years ago when I migrated to WordPress and realized how much work was involved in just leaving Blogger and taking my stuff with me.

So adding two more plugins to handle Facebook and Instagram embeds? Not a big deal. I looked them up. Lots of installs for the plugins. Very highly rated plugins. So I installed them and I’ve had no complaints. Had no complaints until I noticed a curious problem with disappearing captions.

The only reason this article exists on the blog today is because the Smash Balloon plugin put a nagger on the top of my editing screen and encouraged me to leave a review for their plugins, since I loved them so much. This was the review I wrote for them.


I’m happy that these plugins exist, the Smash Balloon Custom Facebook Feed and the Smash Balloon Instagram Feed. You could say I’m ecstatic, even. I mean, since WordPress decided that they wouldn’t do the required work that Facebook added to the ability to link directly and interactively to Facebook and Instagram articles, someone was going to have to do the work for them and I certainly wasn’t going to be able to do the work myself. I would just go back to screenshotting the articles I wanted to discuss on the blog and then add captions back to them for anyone interested enough in the source to go look at the original article.

Captions are the problem with these plugins, though. I can add captions to them when I’m editing and they will show up in the article. But if I go back in and re-edit (as any writer does and should do) the captions are strippped off of the embed and I have to recreate them again. This is more than a little maddening since historically I have left off linking information and so lost access to source material when that material went offline later. With captions I can at least go look on archive.org or the google archive for historical information about missing articles. When the plugin then strips the data that I’ve taken the time to put into my captions specifically because I don’t want to lose the original linking information, it is basically breaking the thing that I take extra time and effort to do. In the meantime I will pull captions off of the embeds and put them under the linked article in a separate paragraph (like I used to have to do on blogger) but it seems like a cludgy way to get around a plugin behavior that I never encountered when WordPress was doing this work for me. If someone could fix that issue, that would be great.

wordpress.org


I just tested it with an Instagram embed. I hadn’t actually used the Instagram embed plugin before, but lo and behold I had an article that had an instagram embed in it (I did remember writing one) that I hadn’t published before today. Weirdly enough, Instagram embeds don’t strip the captions off of the embed, only Facebook embeds rebuild themselves each time you open them, stripping off the captions in the process. So, there you go. Just figure out why the Instagram one works right.

Justice

I’ve been studying the subject of impeachment in the United States for several years now. Any of you who take your job as a citizen of the United States seriously have also been doing this. If not, shame on you.

In the course of my education on the subject of impeachment I’ve discovered a glaring error in the arraignment of our government and it’s various competing functions. Congress has no ability to enforce its will on its own. It is beholden to the executive branch to see that its lawful orders are followed.

This error only shows up when the executive branch and the legislature are held by different factions, as has happened since the House of Representatives flipped into Democratic hands in 2018. The executive branch, for the first time in history, has refused to honor lawfully executed subpoenas and requests. Never in history has the executive refused outright to comply with requests made of it by Congress.

In the past, the house has had to create its own arm of enforcement, the few times that it was required to contest with an unlawful, intractable executive. The first presidential impeachment, that of Andrew Johnson, saw congress having to create its own jails and create its own police force to do its bidding so as to be even capable of doing the oversight work that is delegated to it in the Constitution.

The justice department should not belong to the president. This is one of the errors in government arrangement that will have to be addressed when the presidency changes. What do I mean? Congress has no enforcement arm without being able to secure compliance of the justice department. This needs to be spelled out in plain English. The Justice department SHALL enforce congressional subpoenas and all requests for information issued by congress. The Justice department will arrest and detain ANY individual that attempts to evade a lawfully executed Congressional subpoena. The Attorney General shall answer to congress and can be fired by the Congress as well as by the president.

Justice should be effectively severed from the Executive branch. Permanently.

instagramfacebook

Mueller Time

Facebook – Stonekettle Station

The Democrats are connecting the dots for the far too stupid American public. Ploddingly stupid. The Republicans are still crying about “Why was there an investigation?” and “Why didn’t you pursue Hillary?” Also, they are sticking pins in the balloons holding other ongoing matters aloft. If any of the sitting Republicans on that committee are returned to office (at least the ones I’ve heard so far) then their constituents are even dumber than the average American.

Devin Nunes, Trump’s personal congressional lapdog, appears to be obsessed with Fusion GPS. It is regrettable that no one took the time to refute the oft-repeated lie that Fusion GPS started it’s opposition research under Hillary Clinton, the Stormtrumpers favorite whipping boy. As the quote below illustrates, the Clinton campaign did not initiate the research that the Republicans want to pin on her,

In September 2015, Fusion GPS was hired by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative political website, to do opposition research on Trump and other Republican presidential candidates. In spring 2016 when Trump had emerged as the probable Republican candidate, the Free Beacon stopped funding investigation into Trump.[28] From April 2016 through October 2016, the law firm Perkins Coie, on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, retained Fusion GPS to continue opposition research on Trump.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nor is the Steele dossier the basis for opening investigations into the Trump campaign, again, an oft-repeated lie by all the Republican members of the two committees who interrogated Mueller.

Instagram.com – righthandedleftyartist

Mueller can stick to the script as far as I’m concerned. What he discovered was enough to have Donald Trump impeached. That is clearly what he was hinting at while he was on the witness stand.


December 22, 2019. It is now clear to me that most people had no idea what Mueller found out, even six months later. It is almost as if their brains can’t retain facts in the face of so much repeated bullshit.

#MAGA: Nativism

The guy on the left is a native. The guy on the right is a Nativist. A Stormtrumper.

The Star & McKinnon on Artizans

A white man and an elderly Native man became pretty good friends, so the white guy decided to ask him: “What do you think about Indian mascots?” The Native elder responded, “Here’s what you’ve got to understand.”

“When you look at black people, you see ghosts of all the slavery and the rapes and the hangings and the chains. When you look at Jews, you see ghosts of all those bodies piled up in death camps. And those ghosts keep you trying to do the right thing. “But when you look at us you don’t see the ghosts of the little babies with their heads smashed in by rifle butts at the Big Hole, or the old folks dying by the side of the trail on the way to Oklahoma while their families cried and tried to make them comfortable, or the dead mothers at Wounded Knee or the little kids at Sand Creek who were shot for target practice. You don’t see any ghosts at all. Instead you see casinos and drunks and junk cars and shacks.”

“Well, we see those ghosts. And they make our hearts sad and they hurt our little children. And when we try to say something, you tell us, ‘Get over it. This is America. Look at the American dream.’ But as long as you’re calling us Redskins and doing tomahawk chops, we can’t look at the American dream, because those things remind us that we are not real human beings to you. And when people aren’t humans, you can turn them into slaves or kill six million of them or shoot them down with Hotchkiss guns and throw them into mass graves at Wounded Knee.”

“No, we’re not looking at the American dream. And why should we? We still haven’t woken up from the American nightmare.”

Kent Nerburn, Neither Wolf Nor Dog

A hat tip is owed to another social internet user for putting this quote and this image together. (I first ran across the quote here -ed.) They so masterfully compliment each other that I really hope the quote is accurate, but I haven’t read that book to confirm the veracity. I did take time to track down the author of the book and link his work, as well as track down the artist for the political cartoon, and link his work as well. Due diligence is a particular obsession of mine, some of you may have noticed this about me.

I am reminded of a book I read recently, Steve Inskeep, Jacksonland, a masterful work that puts you right in the middle of the Indian Removal Act and the profits that accrued to Andrew Jackson and his friends as they stole land given to native American tribes; stole it over the objections of the Supreme Court of the time. The narrative of Jacksonland balances the views of Jackson and his cronies with the views of Jackson’s counterpart in the Native tribes, Cherokee Chief John Ross.

Andrew Jackson, who defied a direct order from the Supreme Court being the only president before Donald Trump to demonstrably commit a High Crime and not be impeached for it. We’re 2 & 0 so far.

Paris in Perspective

As the Charlie Hebdo artist said after the recent attacks in Paris, #ParisIsAboutLife. I tried to broach a tangent to this subject when I wrote the recent piece, Greece in Perspective. I sometimes wonder if I’m not too subtle in my writing.  Other times I know I am, because the message never seems to get across.

Joann Sfar on Instagram
h/t to Independant

Jim Wright wrote a particularly moving piece today that reminded me of the more subtle point I was trying to make with that other blog entry.  Titled The Price of Civilization he goes into precisely why I ended the Greek piece with a reference to war and the Marshall Plan.

I’ve always been struck by the apparent contradiction that the most humane policy ever adopted by the United States was crafted by a General who oversaw so much bloodshed.  But that was the wisdom of Truman and Marshall, overlooked by many these days.

Which is too bad.  Because Jim got it right when he said;

Terrorism, the kind we face today? It comes from the fact that we, us, we keep blowing up civilization and leaving nothing but death and ruin in our wake. Terrorists are like cockroaches, they thrive on chaos and destruction and we’re damned good at creating that chaos. 

Those of us on the liberal side of the aisle like to point at Bush II for creating the problem of Daesh by removing Saddam Hussein from power (as his father predicted would happen during the first Gulf War) but truthfully it is the American people who are to blame. Our own imperial nature which we coyly disguise and defend as capitalism.

We’re the ones who insisted that we wanted out of Iraq as soon as we could get out, instead of actually spending the additional decades it was going to take to make the region into a self-sustaining conglomeration of disparate elements.  The kind of time that was spent helping to rebuild Europe after the war. A Europe that was already embracing self-determination and democracy.

Maybe we’re just blind to it, we inhabitants of the most egalitarian association of completely disparate influences, commonly referred to as the US.  Because, no matter what detractors might say, no where on Earth do you have the mixture of varying cultures like those present in the current US social structure (maybe Oz. Maybe) all of them more or less harmoniously governed as a single nation.  We take the bloodless transfers of power that occur here like clockwork as something everyone experiences, when the truth is that nowhere is there anything like the US when it comes to government, good and bad.

Listening to the Polish election celebrations, where a new isolationist government has been elected, it becomes apparent just how insulated most other places in the world are when it comes to exposure to other cultures.

Even in the conservative bastion of Texas all I have to do is travel to a different part of Austin to experience a whiff of almost any culture you can name. Asian cultures. African cultures. Native American cultures. These flavors are spread all over the nation in pockets. When I lived in Garden City several hundred Vietnamese refugees were dropped just outside of town in a little makeshift neighborhood constructed hastily to accommodate them. There was a lot of grumbling about this, but little violence. Why would there be? It’s a free country, isn’t it? Most of them moved away before too long, apparently to places like Austin where I live now, but we folded them into our society with hardly a hiccup, compared to the experiences of previous generations.  That is what America really is good at.

It is a shame that more people don’t understand this. Even the average American doesn’t get it.  As violent as we are, the thought of seizing control of the levers of government with force occurs to almost none of the citizenry.  This is because there is no need to use violence.  Those interested in getting involved in government do so; the doors are open, come on in and roll up your sleeves. If you are among the conspiracy-minded who doubt this is true, find your local precinct meeting place and show up for a meeting.  You might be surprised.

Yet the government we set up in Iraq was seized by the majority religious faction in the first election held there, and they proceeded to exert their authority over the other minorities in ways that lead directly to the creation of Daesh-held areas of the country in response. We allowed this to happen in a country we had effective control over. What did we do? We left, not that we really had much choice.  But we failed to impart the most important bit of knowledge that all of us should have gathered from our experiences in this free country before we left there. That is to our shame and the world’s detriment.

Freedom doesn’t mean you get to have your way. Freedom means you get to present your arguments. You get to present your arguments without fear of being killed for expressing them. If you are very persuasive, you might actually get to see your arguments accepted by others.

Pointing a weapon at someone will get you compliance, but it will ultimately lead to betrayal and violence, because coercion has a way of backfiring. That is why our military adventurism fails us as a nation. The civilizations we invade at the point of a gun just see the gun. They certainly don’t see the America that the average American actually experiences. The America where guns are frequently a topic of discussion, but almost never used anymore. We all know that when someone points a gun at you, you do what they say. But we also know that the tables will turn, that the aggressor will one day be the victim. Because that is the way of all things human.

So it will be with the violence in Paris that we all witnessed yesterday. The perpetrators of violence will either die violently or be subjected to French justice, a good bit more genteel than American justice. But Paris will go on just as before. Cities are for the living.

In the end, that may be the best response to terrorists everywhere.  The best response to those people who encourage us to do violence out of fear. Create a civilization, a society, that can withstand their attempts to destroy it with fear.  To slowly smother those who believe that there are things worth dying for with the millions more of us who know that there are many things worth living for. To go on living as if these fear-mongers never existed in the first place.

To pay the costs of establishing a civilization that can withstand the trials of living.  Like Marshall did after seeing so many good men die. You either go on living or get busy with dying.  There aren’t any other choices.

Cable Wars

I haven’t mentioned this on the blog, but I’ve been watching The Walking Dead since 3rd season rolled around.  I dismissed the concept when it was bandied about before production started, because I didn’t think you could do a television series that could be kept interesting throughout its run based on the the general idea of a post-apocalyptic setting.

The Wife has worked on zombie films in the past. Our garage has been turned into an effects studio and art studio more than once when the demands for getting effects completed for the films she has worked on grew larger than could be completed on set; if the film even actually had an official set they were shooting on.

So when The Walking Dead was proposed as a TV series, it crossed the radar here at the house simply because of the subject matter. When the series failed to disappear as I predicted, I decided to give it a viewing just to see what it was about. I binged-watched the first two seasons on Netflix, paid for the few of the third season episodes I had missed on Amazon, and started watching the show live after that.

I’d say I love the show, but really I’m just there for the characters and for Greg Nicotero‘s excellent effects work. The storyline has been inconsistent over the seasons and really could do with some long-term plotting in advance of shooting, in my completely amatuer opinion.  If there is storyline plotting across seasons, it isn’t apparent in the progression of the story. However, it is one of the few things I do watch on television these days, my tastes ranging to the truly eclectic corners of rarely watched channels available on cable television.

I used to watch a lot of programming on BBCA, having a long-term love of a wide range of BBC programming including the recently relaunched series of Doctor Who and the even more recently canceled Top Gear. I was forced to give up BBCA last year because of costs increases phased in by my local cable provider.  That and the Science channel (which I wish had more actual science on it) and several other channels I watched more than the more normal fare available on basic cable were priced out of my reach in the latest price increases rolled out by US cable providers.

Rather perversely, most of the cost that I pay for my cable subscription goes to fund the incredible price tag placed on live broadcast of sporting events.  The last time I ever watched a sporting event of any kind on television was the first Superbowl that the Seattle Seahawks qualified for, because the Wife loved the Seahawks when fantasy football first appeared back in the 1980’s.  She never watched a game in her life before that Superbowl, and I had to explain the most basic facts about gameplay (4th and ten? What is that?) to her in order for us to get through the game. That was also the game that was stolen from the Seahawks with a bad call by an umpire, reminding me precisely why I hated sports in the first place; that arbitrary interference by non-players on the field can alter the outcomes of games in ways that are patently unfair. So that was the first and last game ever watched in this household, and the common joke that my TV is broken it won’t display sporting events has held sway ever since.

Consequently the news that my local provider may be removing AMC from the list of channels I can currently afford has gotten under my skin.  I remember when Paramount pulled Voyager from syndication and insisted that Austin had to create a broadcaster for UPN (and the local cable companies had to then carry that broadcaster) in order for fans of the show to be able to see it. That is the number one reason I stopped being a Star Trek fan, a change in my preferences that was solidified by the creation of the Abramanation.   I also remember when Time Warner threatened to stop carrying football games because of the costs that cable provider refused to underwrite for the NFL.

We are in the midst of yet anther cable war, with the various parties attempting to get more of the piece of the pie than they are currently getting, and I really don’t have time for any of them. I am unconcerned about the profits of the various corporations who want to prove to their shareholders that they have the clout to get what they want, so buy our stock. All I want is to be able to watch the programming that I am interested in, however that content is delivered.  KeepAMC or TV on my side (one of the worst programmed sites on the internet, hands down) a pox on both your houses.

I have been threatening to cut my cable and get all my entertainment directly from the internet for a couple of years now. If my cable company really was on my side as their website claims, I would be able to watch the shows I wanted to watch without having to pay extra for programming I don’t watch. The cost of providing me access to old and independent films and even well-produced television series runs about $8 for Netflix, why do I have to pay upwards of $100 dollars to my cable company for virtually the same menu of items? If AMC really wanted me to watch their programming, they’d make it available directly from their website and not force me to subscribe to a cable provider.

Those are the facts of the case, not the crap that they offer as excuses through their proxies. If AMC is priced out of my ability to pay for it as the rest of their network currently is, I will be cutting the cord like so many other Americans have done. I have no use whatsoever for continuing to pay for cable access that is limited to programming that I don’t watch anyway.  Paying too much for that already. 

Stormtrumper

A name coined for Donald Trump fans by Berkeley Breathed in these two cartoons.


Instagram tribute.

Editor’s note. This was added as a definitive source when I started using stormtrumper as a noun on the blog. It was backdated to when the comics first appeared on Facebook. BB occasionally pulls down the comics he posts to Facebook. Also, non-Facebook users do not have access to those posts. I have two birds …er problems, that I solved with this one post. Simple solution.